28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 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 undersigned citizens of Aus. tralia 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 Barnard, Mr Adermann, MrDrury, Mr Katter, Mr Killen, Mr Yiner and Mr Wilson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme.
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a General Practitioner, Specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bonnett, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Cooke, Mr Corbert, Mr Jarman, Mr McVeigh and Mr Eric Robinson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the undersigned men and women of Australia believe in a Christian way of life; and that no democracy can thrive unless its citizens are responsible and law abiding.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will see that the powerful communicator, television, is used to build into the nation those qualities of character which make a democracy work - integrity, teamwork and a sense of purpose by serving, and that television be used to bring faith in God to the heart of the family, and national life.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Stewart, Mr James and Mr Ruddock.
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 Jarman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to immediately revoke all whaling licenses issued by the Australian Government and to reimpose a total ban on the importation of all whale produce.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Kitten.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that he has received a report from a committee reviewing grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act? Does the report recommend that grants must be increased from $5,200 to an amount in excess of $7,000 per person accommodated to restore the subsidy to a $2 for $1 level in respect of land and building costs at current prices? Should organisations with projects in an advanced stage of planning delay signing contracts pending the decision on the new grants so as to benefit from the increased grants, or should they sign contracts under existing subsidy arrangements so as not to be prejudiced further by escalating building costs which in some areas are rising at the rate of 14 per cent per annum? Will the Minister remove doubts and stop speculation that it is his intention to torpedo a scheme which, so far as church, charitable and benevolent organisations are concerned-
– Order! The honourable gentleman must ask his question. Before I call the Minister, let me say that there have been many complaints about the long answers given by Ministers. The present question invites a long answer.
– It is true that I have received an interim report from the Social Welfare Commission. Only this week have I had the opportunity to read it. I regret that I had not been able to do so earlier. I had had it for only a couple of weeks. The report has a series of recommendations, but the decisions on those recommendations involve a policy decision by the Government. I assume that the honourable member for Sturt would not expect that I should give a policy decision at question time, before the Government has had an opportunity to consider fully the suggestions put forward in the report. I intend to table the report, but I shall not have an opportunity to do that today. I intend to do it as soon as possible next week, so that discussion on the contents of the report can take place in the community.
The future of the aged persons homes accommodation program again is a matter for a policy decision by the Government. I have indicated to the House on previous occasions that I do believe that it is necessary to thoroughly review the assumptions on which this program has been established and the way in which it operates. Such a review would involve not only the mechanics of the program but also the benefits which are provided through it and whether there are alternative ways which are more desirable for developing this sort of a program. Those matters will require subsequent consideration by the Government following a later report which we expect in the early part of next year from this working party set up by the Social Welfare Commission. In sum, then, I cannot give advice to any organisation about what it should or should not do, until the Government has made a decision on this matter. I am sorry.
– Has the Acting Minister for Education seen reports that the Government is being asked to provide an amount variously estimated at from $3m to $15m in grants to the schools to which honourable members opposite send their children? Can he say whether these grants would cost $15m as mentioned by the honourable member for Wannon, $5m as mentioned by Senator Rae or an even lower figure, as mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition? Can he say whether the real cost will be $114m? Can he say whether the schools which will benefit from these demands are already superbly housed, staffed and equipped, and can he say by what percentage of Australia’s school population they are attended?
– This matter was debated on Tuesday last. The whole issue revolves around clause 66 of the State Grants (Schools) Bill, which was opposed by the Opposition. The idea of clause 66 was to terminate the provisions of the old legislation. Under that legislation there is an appropriation of $114m. No other amendments were moved by the Opposition to that legislation which would in any way relate to a figure of $3m, $5m or $15m. This is a sort of deathbed repentance by the Opposition but it has been thought of after the debate. The real issue that the Government faces - and this is made clear by the spokesmen for the Opposition - is that it is being compelled to accept 2 Acts. If the 2 Acts are accepted, there is a figure of $700m plus $114m for which there is no appropriation. What has happened here is that the Opposition has decided to hold a gun at the head of the Government on the basis that unless $5m is given to wealthy schools, $700m will not be given to the needy schools. It is on that basis that the Opposition acts. There is no question of negotiation or of any equivocation on this matter. Clause 66 must be carried. Any other matter as to what aid might be given has nothing to do with clause 66. If the Opposition had had enough wisdom to realise that it could have moved amendments - -
– Order! I point out in the first place that I understood that the question was for the purpose of seeking information as to Government policy. The Minister must not get on to what happened in a debate in the current session.
– I appreciate the point, Mr Speaker. But if we are talking about Government policy - and I accept your ruling - we have to talk about the present legislation. If that is out of order, to that extent I cannot continue the answer.
– Well, sit down.
– That is the position.
– Order! The Standing Orders are quite clear that one cannot refer to a debate that has taken place during the current session. Any honourable member is quite entitled to ask a Minister for an explanation of Government policy.
– That is right. Well, the Government’s policy is as explained in clause 66. But the question related to Press statements issued since that debate as to what should have happened. It is quite clear that the authors of those Press statements are plucking figures out of the air. Those figures have no relationship to the mathematics of the situation. It is quite clear that the Government is being stood up on the basis that, unless it does something for wealthy schools, nothing will be done for the schools in need.
– I call the honourable member for Deakin.
– That is your interpretation of it.
– That is the position.
– You have got out on a limb.
Mr Lionel Bowen - You will deprive all the children of these benefits. (Honourable members interjecting) -
– Order! The House will come to order. Honourable members are taking up a lot of the time allocated to questions by behaving in a disorderly manner. I do not intend to allow anyone to ask a question until the House comes to order. If epithets continue to be thrown across the chamber I will certainly take action. I warn the House to come to order.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that 25 cadets and midshipmen in the Royal Australian Navy had their appointments terminated on 28 September this year? Is it true that in 10 years time, when, as the Minister has stated, a threat to Australia’s security could well be imminent, these cadets would have been executive officers in the naval forces but for the termination of their appointments? Is it also correct that the Navy has been instructer.1 that its establishment is to be reduced this year by 80 officers and 1,180 men? Where and when is this dismantling of Australia’s defences going to end? Is the Minister aware of the low morale that the actions of this Government have created in the defence forces in general and the Navy in particular?
– Replying first to the last part of the question, let me once again assure the honourable member, who has suggested that there has been a lowering of morale as a result of the actions of the present Government, that more has been don? by the present Government in terms of defence and improving the conditions of serving members of the forces in the last .1 1 months than was done in the 23 years of office of the previous Government. (Honourable members interjecting) -
-Order! I have issued my last warning. I will name anyone who persistently interjects.
– Having answered that part of the question, let me come to the first part of it. The honourable member referred to a number of cadets apparently, according to his information, being discharged from the Services. I have no information on this; I have no information on the numbers. Therefore, in relation to this matter and the total figure that the honourable member has suggested will be discharged from the Services this year, I suggest that he put this question on the notice paper.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. I ask: Is the Treasurer aware that a Sydney newspaper which is not normally noted for .its sympathy to the Government recently carried a major feature by its economist in which he endorsed the Government’s action on the exchange rate, the tariff cut and monetary policy as basically sound policy? Does the Treasurer agree with the author of that article that, in view of the explosive growth of the money supply brought about by the previous Government’s misguided budgetary, monetary and exchange rate policies, for Labor to have followed other than a tight money policy would have been economic lunacy?
– I thank the honourable member for drawing attention to a very lucid and informed article which appeared in the newspaper. I commend it to serious study by honourable members on the other side of the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Overseas Trade.
-Order! I am sorry. The Minister is not present in the chamber.
– May I direct it to the Prime Minister?
-The Prime Minister also is not present in the chamber. It is possible that if the Prime Minister had known that the honourable member intended to ask a question of him he would have been present.
– Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister informed me that he would be out of the chamber for a while. I know that there was a good reason for his leaving the chamber.
– May I direct my question to the Treasurer?
– The honourable member has had 2 picks so far. Does he want another one?
– I have not asked the question yet.
– The honourable member may address his question to the Treasurer.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that the Australian Industry Development Corporation was initially allocated $50m, giving it a borrowing right of up to $200m, and in view of the fact that it was indicated by the former Government that an additional S50m would be made available to it, providing it with a total borrowing entitlement of S400m on the home money market and on the overseas money market, why have the Government and the Treasury not funded the AIDC to enable it to have the funds that it requires to assist in its program?
– Firstly, the AIDC does not come within my portfolio.
– No, but you are interested, Frank.
– Yes, I am interested, and 1 hope everybody is. The AIDC was set up by an Act passed by the previous Government. As my colleague, the Minister for Overseas Trade, fully indicated yesterday, the AIDC has certain problems now because it was sought to amend the Act and to extend the Corporation’s powers quite widely, and the enabling Bill passed through this House but is held up in another place. I understand that it has now been referred to a committee for investigation. As the Minister indicated yesterday, quite a number of projects have been entered into involving the use of the available funds, and in terms of the present funds and future commitments it requires more finance to enable it to expand. I suggest that the honourable member read in detail in yesterday’s Hansard the full answer the Minister gave to the question yesterday.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Territories. Following his recent visit to Christmas Island, is the Minister concerned about the wages and working conditions of Asian workers employed by the British Phosphate Commission? Does he see a conflict between the Commission’s charter to extract phosphate at the lowest possible cost and the provision of wage justice to workers in an Australian territory?
– It is true that the British Phosphate Commission operates on the basis that phosphate should be extracted at the lowest possible cost. On my visit to Christmas Island recently I was concerned to find that Christmas Island was being run very much as a company town. The workers are principally from Malaysia and Singapore and, although, as an inducement, the wages are better than those paid in Malaysia and Singapore, they are well below Australian awards. Following my visit to Christmas Island I asked for a review not only of wages and conditions but also of environmental matters related to mining and the protection of wildlife. I have also had a government statistician review the cost of living index for Christmas Island on the basis on which the wages are determined. Anomalies have been found in the cost of living index used by the Phosphate Commission. These will be rectified and I hope arrangements will be made before Christmas for an increase in wages paid on Christmas
Island in accordance with the cost of living adjustments.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister and I refer to the honourable gentleman’s observations yesterday concerning China. Does he agree with me that it is the essence of futility to imagine that you can temper or moderate the attitude of a man by pretending that he does not exist and, a fortiori, that the attitude and politics of a country can ever be moderated by pretending that it does not exist? Does the honourable gentleman accept that as a sound principle in the conduct of international affairs? If he does, will he ensure that his Government gives every encouragement to the councils of the world to accept that principle?
– I did not hear the last word in the first sentence of the question. What was the country?
– The Government seeks to have, within the limits of its resources, diplomatic relations with all countries, irrespective of their ideology. It is essential in the view of the Government, and it was essential in the view of preceding governments, that there should be diplomatic relations between Australia and China. This has been the situation since those relations were established, I would think, more than 30 years ago by an earlier Labor government. There has been no dispute between the political parties in the Australian Parliament that there ought to be recognition by the Australian Government of a government of China. Except for an interval between 1949 or 1950 and 1966, when there was an ambassador from the Republic of China in Australia but not an ambassador from Australia in Taipeh, the capital of ti Republic of China, there has been diplomatic representation by each country. That has been the position for 30 years, except for that gap.
The dispute between the political parties in the Australian Parliament has been about which was the government of China. There were 2 rival governments. Our predecessors took the attitude, from 1949 to the end of their period in office, that they should recognise as the government of China the government headed by Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek and resident in Taipeh, the capital of the province of Taiwan. My Party had taken the attitude since 1955 - I myself had expressed the attitude since 1954 - that Australia should recognise the government in Peking as the government of China, lt has not been possible for any country to have diplomatic relations with or to extend recognition to both the government in Taipeh and the government in Peking. Every other government in the world has had to make a choice as to which of those rival governments it would recognise as the government of China. Both rival governments asserted that their writ ran or should run over the whole of China. Both rival governments asserted, and still assert, that Taiwan is a province of one country - China. Both also have asserted that Tibet is part of one country - China. There are some minor border differences between them concerning Mongolia, North Vietnam or some other countries, but on matters such as Taiwan and Tibet and their position in the country of China there has never been any dispute between the 2 rival governments.
The dispute between the political parties in the Australian Parliament, of course, took practical effect just before Christmas last year when the present Government changed its recognition from Taipeh to Peking and withdrew its representative from Taipeh and sent one to Peking. Whatever other countries may think or whatever people in Australia or successive governments in Australia may think about the geographical or political realitities of the situation, the fact is that one can have recognition of a government of China or have diplomatic relations with a government of China only on the basis of there being one government of China. Every country has to make a choice. The Australian Government had told the people, and for years past as leader of the Australian Labor Party at the last 2’ House of Representatives elections I made it quite plain, that we would change our diplomatic representation from Taipeh to Peking. That being so, we promptly carried out what we had always told the public we would do, what the rest of the world knew we would do, and we took the earliest opportunity of telling the countries most closely associated with us that we would do it.
MIGRANT EDUCATION Mr BIRRELL- Can the Minister for Immigration confirm that the Melbourne education task force has advised him that only 20 per cent of Melbourne’s non-English speaking migrant children are receiving adequate educational opportunities? Would these opportunities be improved substantially by the grants for disadvantaged schools recommended in the report of the Interim Committee of the Australian Schools Commission? Does the Minister anticipate that serious harm will be done to the migration program and to the capacity of migrant children to take advantage of the opportunities open to them in Australia if the Government is forced to divert to schools which are already highly privileged, the funds which were to have made up the Karmel Committee grants?
– Every task force that has so far reported to me on migrant matters in all the States has emphasised that the first priority is to correct some of the grave deficiencies in migrant education. The survey to which the honourable member has referred was jointly sponsored by the Australian Government and the Victorian Government and referred to inner city schools, particularly in Melbourne. So the need has been validated by both governments. At the meeting of Immigration Ministers in Adelaide just recently, it was unanimously accepted that a new thrust and a new effort would have to be made to correct some of the serious deficiencies in migrant education.
The situation is that classes are being held in some instances in shower recesses. In one Queensland school the language class for migrant children is held in a cellar, and there is a series of desks made out of trestle tables. The need is urgent. There is no doubt that there is a need to implement urgently the recommendations of the Interim Comittee of the Australian Schools Commission, and any delay in bringing about these desirable improvements will bring widespread and deep resentment and, I think, would be opposed by all of the State Ministers who also are concerned to see improvements in this direction.
– I ask the Postmaster-General whether he can give the House any progress information concerning the inquiry into the operations of the Post Office.
– The actual control of the royal commission is under the authority of another Ministry, but I am aware of the present situation because the assistant secretary of the commission is an officer of the
Post Office. I am informed from that source that the commissioners have virtually completed hearing all the evidence, the report is in the process of compilation and it is expected that it should be available in March of next year.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to reports of widespread illiteracy and other symptoms of gross socioeconomic and educational deprivation among students at the Glebe? Is he aware that the problem of the disadvantaged child is widespread among government and Catholic schools in some areas? Does the Government intend to provide special assistance for schools of this kind, and is the Prime Minister aware of any attempts to frustrate this intention? Are such attempts directed to diverting available funds to schools where illiteracy and the poverty and cultural deprivation from which it arises are unknown?
– I have noticed the articles on the cultural deprivation and the educational hardships of migrant children at the Glebe. They are, of course, paralleled by the deprivations and disadvantages and the handicaps of migrant children in particular in a great number of inner suburbs around Sydney and Melbourne. There is no possibility of the children of migrants in those circumstances achieving an equal opportunity in life in their new country unless the Commonwealth provides the resources to get more teachers, particularly specially trained teachers, and better accommodation and better equipment in the schools.
It is just impossible for the State systems or the relevant Catholic schools to provide an adequate education unless the Australian Government provides or earmarks the resources necessary for that purpose. I gather from statements made by political leaders outside the House yesterday that an attempt may be made to frustrate the Australian Government’s efforts to alleviate the situation and to produce a position of educational equality within Australia for all pupils, whether they attend government or non-government schools and whether they were born here or overseas, within the term of 2 parliaments, that is within 6 years.
The attempt referred to takes the form of wanting to retain the provision that was made by the preceding Government in September last year involving the per capita system. The Opposition wants to preserve that and to frustrate the attempt which the present Government has been making on the basis of the Karmel Committee’s report tabled in the Parliament 6 months ago tomorrow. The Government’s legislation provides for the substitution cf the Karmel Committee’s recommendations for the per capita system that was introduced in September last year. The Karmel Committee’s recommendations referred to replacing the per capita system by the recommendations, on the basis of need, set out in the report of six months ago. I welcome the opportunity to make it plain that the public has a choice between the needs system, much more lavish overall, and the per capita system which would preserve the inequalities throughout Australia between systems, between regions.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security whether it is a fact that under the Government’s proposed health scheme the $16 per day bed allowance for patients in private hospitals will cease after approximately 180 days and long term patients will then be forced back to standard wards in public hospitals, as the special account arrangements which at present provide indefinite cover for such patients are to be abolished. The White Paper does not mention this restriction but it does state that the Government will restrict private insurance cover for private patients to $15 per day. Does this not mean that the Government’s claim of freedom of choice for patients and support for private hospitals and private patients is not true?
– The White Paper does not suggest that the cover will be restricted to $15 per day. The health insurance funds may provide whatever level of cover they care to provide for those people who want to take out additional private hospital, private ward including intermediate ward cover. Consistent with the principles which have been written into the existing National Health Act people will not be able to obtain more benefit than the amount of cost they pay for hospital services. Secondly, the $16 a bed day subsidy is paid for occupied bed days in non-public ward treatment including private hospital treatment. The proposition the honourable member put forward about the special account does not apply.
– I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Secondary Industry. Is it a fact that even Conservative members of the British House of Commons find that the business sector in the United Kingdom feels very emotional about the role of even a tory government and even feels threatened from time to time by that government? Is it a fact that the present feeling in the Australian private business sector that communications are not what they ought to be with the Australian Labor Government falls into the same emotional category? Is it a fact also that the Australian Labor Government has gone far further than its predecessors in setting up regular means of consultation between industry and government, including industry panels? What is the latest development with regard to industry panels?
– I think the answers to the first 2 questions are yes. If one reads the newspaper reports from Britain one sees the same degree of criticism levelled at government, coming even from business leaders and directed towards a conservative government, as one sometimes finds it in this country. A report which went to the then Minister for Trade and Industry last year made the same point. This Government has taken many important steps to institutionalise the solution to the need for close consultation between business and government. Before the change of government my predecessor began the process of setting up industry panels. Under the Liberal-Country Party Government of last year and previous years there was no such system. They occasionally used panels on an ad hoc basis to solve some problem as it arose but there was tittle, regular, institutionalised structural system of consultation.
The system of industry panels is well under way. About eight have been established. They meet regularly. They represent employer, employee and consumer groups. They are chaired by senior officers of the Department of Secondary Industry - usually the Secretary of that Department. Following every meeting a report is made to the Minister for Secondary Industry so that government knows what that particular industry is thinking and so that in the same way that particular industry is fully aware of what government is thinking. A close relationship is being established. I should also add that in this country - I cannot comment on the situation in the United
Kingdom - a lot is achieved by the good work done by local members of this House and presumably by the Senate. They frequently bring leaders of industry into contact with the Government through the appropriate Minister. A lot of good work is done there. In recent months I have been talking about the advantages that might be gained from having an industries council for Australia, which would include not only State Ministers with appropriate responsibilities but also Australian Government Ministers with appropriate responsibilities. It would also include leaders of industry So something of a cultural kind can be created in Australia to take the process still further. But we have made very significant progress in the first year of a Labor Government.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that some countries have recognised the PRC - Provisional Revolutionary Government - as being a legitimate government within South Vietnam? Is he also aware that one of his acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Secondary Industry, has publicly advocated Australian Government recognition of the PRG? Did his consultations in China include the question of recognition of the PRG and is his Government going to recognise it?
– The Government has not considered this matter for some months. It was in fact discussed at the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party last July. I expressed my views that in the circumstances then obtaining it would be inappropriate to recognise the PRG. I am not aware of any change in circumstances since that time which would persuade me otherwise. I am not aware that my colleague the Minister for Secondary Industry has expressed a view on this matter. He has not discussed it with me. I have not discussed it with the Foreign Minister. The honourable gentleman also asks whether 1 discussed the matter in Peking. I suppose he means with Chairman Mao Tsetung or Premier Chou En-lai or Foreign Minister Chi Peng fei. No, I did not raise it, nor did they.
– I address my question to the Minster for Science. Has he or his Department studied reports of experiments by a lecturer in environmental health at the Papua New Guinea University? These experiments, at the Bomana Prison Farm piggery, use pig manure to produce methane gas for boiling water, providing light and power, operating a gas refrigerator and powering a 6- cylinder combustion engine? I understand that a Queensland farmer also has produced fuel in this way. It is estimated that 30 pigs can produce sufficient methane gas to provide daily cooking, lighting and refrigeration needs for a family of six. Have these developments been investigated to ascertain whether sewage treatment plants in Australian towns and cities could be adapted as fuel producers?
– I have seen the reports and on a visit to Papua New Guinea I saw the farms to which the honourable senator has referred. The waste digestion process is very well known. In fact it has been used in certain towns in Australia. It has been estimated that about one per cent of our total energy requirements could be provided by the processing of human waste. The difficulty at the moment under present economic conditions is that it does not provide an economic way of producing energy. I think all of us have to look at this process in terms of the energy crisis and also in terms of getting rid of pollution. It seems to me, with the fuel crisis exacerbating, that this form of waste digestion providing methane gas could be a goer much sooner than most people think. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has a special program on sewage treatment. Following representations by the honourable member for Robertson we are looking, in conjunction with the Cities Commission, at a special program in the Gosford-Wyong area. It is a field in which the CSIRO is doing an increased amount of research. It can provide a form of energy which can be useful, particularly for household consumption, and also is a way of overcoming one of our great problems, which is the disposal of human waste.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer in the absence of the Minister for Overseas Trade and it concerns the Australian Industry Development Corporation. No doubt the Treasurer’s colleague has kept the Treasurer very closely informed in recent developments concerning that Corporation. Is it a fact that the Australian Industry Development Corporation’s proposed investment in the Redcliffs project is approximately 845m? What amount of funds can the AIDC borrow on its present capital of $50m? What is its full potential capacity to borrow under the Act? To what extent is that capacity being utilised at present? Having regard to the answers to these questions which the Treasurer no doubt will put on the record, will he not agree that his colleague has grossly misled this House by alleging that the AIDC has insufficient funds to enable it to expand and also by alleging that the Opposition’s attitude to the new legislation is jeopardising the Redcliffs project?
– As I indicated earlier this matter is not directly my ministerial concern. However, the AIDC, as presently constituted, was set up by an Act passed when the Opposition Parties were the Government for this country. The Act gave limited powers to the AIDC to borrow. In fact the Act states that the AIDC should seek to borrow principally overseas. At the moment the Australian Government, in view of the buoyancy of our overseas funds, sees no need to borrow overseas. We are endeavouring to widen the charter of the AIDC so that it can operate on the capital market internally. The Bill, at the moment, is meeting with some difficulty in being passed into law. My understanding is that existing funds of the AIDC are largely committed already to certain undertakings of a large kind, one of which is the Redcliffs project. Surely these days we ought not to be thinking of the AIDC in terms of an investment fund of $50m, rather we should be thinking in terms of $500m. That is the kind of capital development that this country requires and the sort of thing that is being talked about in the mineral fields, the gas fields and so on where in the ultimate the capital outlay is of a magnitude of billions of dollars. The majority of the capital funds available in Australia come from internal sources, but in our view they are not as properly mobilised as they should be and we see the AIDC as an agency to do that job better.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the fact that higher fees will be charged by Catholic systemic schools in the new school year? Were these schools encouraged .to keep their increases to a minimum in the belief that substantially increased Australian Government assistance would be available to them in the new school year? Does the Prime Minister anticipate alarm among Catholic education authorities at the prospect that the Government will be held back from providing the assistance, and will he advise these authorities that the funds earmarked for them are likely to be paid instead to the Melbourne Grammar School and other similarly deprived schools under existing statutory obligations?
– I would think it would be premature to advise the authorities that they might receive no more than they were receiving this scholastic year under last year’s legislation. I have no doubt that they would be concerned to read the proposals which have been made by Opposition parties to continue those payments instead of replacing them by the larger payments recommended by the Karmel Committee 6 months ago. I do not assume that the Karmel Committee’s recommendations embodied in legislation which this House has passed and which is now before the Senate will not in fact be enacted.
– Did you break a promise?
– There are category A schools even if there is not category A conduct by the right honourable gentleman from the other side who interjects. I would point out that last year, when our predecessors in office introduced the States Grants (Schools) Bill to cover a period of 5 years thereafter and to provide by way of grants the nongovernment schools with a percentage of the cost of conducting state schools, the then Opposition said, that, because plans would be being made for the 1973 year it would not oppose those grants under that legislation. We made it plain however, that for 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 we thought that the grants which the Commonwealth should make for nongovernment schools as well as government schools should be on the basis of needs. I was the Minister for Education and Science at the time and on 12 December last I asked Professor Karmel to prepare-
– And the greatest, too, of course.
– Up to that time I had been. The last Minister for Education and Science was the best. I will happily concede that the present Minister for Education is still better. The Karmel Committee very promptly was commissioned 10 days after the last election to make recommendations for grants by the Commonwealth to non-government schools, on the basis of need, and also to government schools. The report was made 6 months ago and it was a unanimous report. Members of the Committee were associated with every type of school in Australia.
The Karmel Committee members of which were drawn from every school system in Australia, unanimously recommended 6 months ago that the grants which were provided in last year’s legislation for Catholic schools, among others, should be replaced in 1974 and 1975 by grants which it recommended. Legislation fulfilling those recommendations with respect to those Catholic schools has gone through this House. I would hope that it would go through the Senate.
As I said earlier, there is a very clear choice here. It was put to a vote in this House a couple of days ago. The choice is between a continuation of last year’s legislation and the substitution of this year’s legislation. Much more money is being made available in this year’s legislation and it is being made available on the basis of need. It is well to recollect that while Opposition leaders are so solicitous of the category A schools they did not venture to put to the vote a proposition which would have benefited those schools. It would have been possible to do so under that legislation. They did not do so in this House. It is significant that the pupils about whom I was asked a question earlier do not go to category A schools. How many migrant children go to category A schools? How many children from disadvantaged localities or families go to category A schools? Yet, under the legislation last year, which the States Grants (Schools) Bill would replace but which members of the Opposition wish to retain, there would be more money for category A schools every year, based on the increased expenditure in State government schools. That is, the schools which do not need anything, according to the Karmel Committee report - those schools which the Karmel Committee recommends already have more resources than the rest of Australia’s schools will have by 1979 - if the old legislation continues are to get still more. The Karmel Committee very rightly said that that could not be justified.
– Honourable members will recall that, on 7 November, the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) in a question asked the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) whether consideration could be given to the Parliament recognising the winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature by Mr Patrick White. At the suggestion of the Prime Minister, and with the concurrence of other Party Leaders, I communicated with Mr White inviting him to take a seat on the floor of the House in recognition of his splendid achievement. I have now received the following reply from Mr White:
Dear Mr Cope,
Thank you for your telegram inviting me to the House. Unfortunately, this is the kind of situation to which my nature does not easily adapt itself. I have received congratulations from the Prime Minister, from friends, and from hundreds of Australians unknown to me. It is gratifying and moving that so many people from such varied walks of life should have wanted to express their enthusiasm. So may we, please, leave it at that?
– On 6 March last, I tabled the statement I made following my meeting with the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in Canberra on Friday, 2 March, concerning problems associated with the use of River Murray waters. For the information of honourable members, I now present the summary record of the discussions between us.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Department of Science for the period 20 December 1972 to 30 June 1973. I present also separate reports, for the year ended 30 June 1973, for each of the operational divisions and branches which were transferred to the Department of Science. The units concerned are: The Bureau of Meteorology, the Patent Office, the Antarctic Division, the Ionospheric Prediction Service and the Analytical Services Branch.
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, I present the Committee’s report on the proposals in the 55th series of variations of the plan of layout of the City of Canberra and its environs as gazetted in 1925.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Mr Speaker, I would like to correct a misapprehension in a question I posed to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) today.
– Is the honourable member seeking the indulgence of the Chair?
– Yes. In my question I mentioned the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) as having advocated publicly recognition of the Provisional Revolutionary Government in South Vietnam. In fact it was the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns), who was also Minister for Secondary Industry at the time.
– Hansard will note that rectification.
– I thank the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) for the correction. Mr Speaker, 1 also seek leave to make a statement.
– Is the Minister seeking the indulgence of the House or seeking leave to make a statement? I have already asked whether there were any ministerial statements.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker.
– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. In this morning’s issue of the ‘Canberra Times’ there is an article which referred to me and which was headed ‘Memorial model “too warlike” ‘. The article states:
A life-sized figure depicting Vietcong in action in South Vietnam has been removed from the Australian War Memorial following representations by the Member for the ACT, Mr Enderby.
The article went on to describe how a military officer had telephoned the ‘Canberra Times’ about the change in the display, stating that the change disgusted him and his colleagues. The suggestion was that I had taken a view about the display and objected to it being there. The truth of the matter is that I have not seen the display and did not even know of its existence. In my capacity as the member for the Australian Capital Territory I received a letter from a gentleman in Armidale, New South Wales, expressing a certain point of view about it. My secretary forwarded it to the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) for his comments. He referred it to the trustees of the Australian War Memorial. They investigated the situation and, I gather, took certain action on their own behalf. I just wanted to correct the situation in that respect, Mr Speaker.
- Mr Speaker, I seek leave to have recorded in Hansard page 578 of the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, which records the names of the 51 members of the Opposition who voted against the adoption of clause 66 of the States Grants (Schools) Bill 1973. It is contrary to statements which have been made outside the House by Leaders of the Opposition Parties.
-Is leave granted?
– I could not hear the request, Mr Speaker.
– Leave is not granted.
Locust Plague - Barton Group of CompaniesGovernment’s Economic Policy - Education
That grievances be noted.
– During October there were numerous reports in the newspapers of locust depredations. Those reports seem to have tailed off because the depredations, although still continuing, are in a phase of lull.
I do not believe that this is anything more than a temporary respite. I think the position is likely to become a good deal more serious next month. This is not inevitable; it depends upon the weather. But if the weather pursues its likely course, as far as one can foresee the locust plague which we will have next month and during the autumn will be the worst ever experienced in Australia. This has come about because of the quite unusual weather pattern - the succession of cold fronts which have come over from the west and which have brought to the centre of Australia and the western part of Queensland and New South Wales quite unaccustomed rain.
The potential seriousness of this situation should be realised. I know that the Government has done something in this regard. I acknowledge that it has made available, I think, defence auxiliaries costing about $60,000 and that it has offered, I think, $500,000 as a dollar for dollar subsidy to the States. But I am afraid that what the Government has done has been too late and will be too little in view of the quite extraordinary weather patterns which have established themselves during this year. The New South Wales Government, I think, has requested the establishment of an anti-locust commission, and I am hoping that this proposal will receive more sympathetic and energetic action from the Government than it has to date.
The position of the Commonwealth has been complicated by a tragic event, namely, the recent death of Dr Clark, who was the key man in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in the locust campaign. I can realise, and we all would realise, that an event of that character must throw things out of gear to some extent. The Commonwealth, I think as long ago as 1964, embarked on an anti-locust investigation in the CSIRO and brought in advice from overseas, where for many years there has been an anti-locust establishment which more recently has been taken over by the United Nations.
Let me deal with the nature of the locusts. Our Australian plague locust, the Chortoicetes terminifera, is not the same as the plague locust of the Middle East, the Schistocerca gregaria; but it is a cousin and in many respects it behaves in a similar way. It is a little smaller, but it shares the peculiar manifestation of the phase change and it has the same capacity to migrate. The other locust in Australia, the Austracris guttulosa, what is known as the spur throated locust, is more likely to give trouble in the north, but it can still make some incursion at least into the northern part of New South Wales.
The important point to remember about our plague locusts is what is known as the phase change. In the solitary phase these insects do not breed very extensively, but when their concentration gets to a certain level a population explosion occurs and the solitary locust undergoes morphological and other changes and becomes the plague locust operating in bands and behaving in quite a different way. This apparently is a behaviour common to all related locusts in various parts of the world. This phase change, which was not recognised by scientists, I think, until as late as 1920 or thereabouts, is the specific thing which makes the locust so dangerous. As honourable members know the locust breeds in this manner: The eggs are laid, the hoppers emerge and then they become winged. It is only in the gregarious state after the phase change that they form the locust bands. The cycle from egg laying to egg laying can be as short as 10 weeks, but it can be as long as 6 months or even 9 months, depending upon the weather.
Our locust migrates. The low flying swarms which we see seldom travel more than 10 miles in a day; but night flights, which recently have been tracked by radar and other means, are possible, and a night flight of a swarm can be as long as 250 miles in a single night. So the fact that they are distant is not always a protection. Much depends on the wind, and the breeding depends on the temperature and the rainfall. The meteorological conditions are controlling it. For example, the locusts which presently are operating in the Murray Valley and thereabouts are believed to have originated in a swarm at Blackall in Queensland and to have come south over approximately 9 months, with 3 generations breeding on the way and, of course, with an increase in each generation. Normally, the chief breeding grounds on the western plains of New South Wales and the Darling Downs spill their locusts westward with the wind, and the locusts die out in the western area because the ground is too dry and the conditions necessary for their multiplication do not exist. But this year the swarms, instead of dying out, are likely to have laid their eggs. The cold fronts which have come through precipitate the egg laying phase. This is why the danger of a further outbreak is now so near to us.
Let me mention the chief things that are threatened. The wheat probably will be in before any big plague develops. The plague is not inevitable, but it is highly likely. It depends on the weather. The chief victim would be the cotton in the Narrabri-Wee Waa area. Already the locusts are eating the cotton in the St George area in Queensland. Also threatened would be the fruit and vegetables in the Riverina and all coarse grains and vegetable crops which might be out at the time. We need more resources to combat the locusts. The cotton crop alone, which could be wiped out entirely, would be worth $25m or $30m in the Wee Waa area. I emphasise to the House that, although the danger is not inevitable, the potential danger exists at the moment and we should be doing much more about it. More resources are needed. Control cannot be exercised locally. We need to know more about what is happening. This morning I received a letter from the CSIRO which states that it has received no reports about the Birdsville area since last May. That letter states:
A high density locust population occurred at Birdsville, but no actual swarm developed. However, single swarms were reported from Glengyle and Monkira Stations, and a hopper band was located 40 miles north of Birdsville itself.
The letter further states:
No information is available on whether these locusts produced extensive egg beds.
It is not only this year about which we should be concerned. If the weather continues in its present cycle, the position might be even worse next year. We should do much more about it, particularly about surveys at the present moment. I believe that this is something which both sides of the House will support. I am not trying excessively to blame the Government. I think it could have done more, in view of the developing weather and the developing pattern. It has been slow to react. In the interests of the whole agricultural community of Australia, I think we should be devoting many more resources, both in the CSIRO and in other places, to this potential, not actual, menace which could be one of the worst disasters that Australian agriculture has yet experienced.
– I appreciate the submission made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) about the impending locust menace, particularly in New South Wales. I want to mention another menace. It is not an insect locust; it is a human locust. The locusts mentioned by the honourable member for Mackellar clean out pastures, but the locusts to which I want to refer clean out pockets, particularly the pockets of decent Australian shareholders who invest in companies which they believe to be companies of integrity but which turn out to be companies of ill repute. In his concluding remarks the honourable member for Mackellar urged the necessity for more legislative resources to be made available to combat the type of locusts to which he referred. During my remarks I want to put emphasis on the fact that we need more legislative resouces, implemented by this Parliament, to combat the 2- legged or human locusts that have lowered the name of Australian companies throughout our land and overseas.
The matter I desire to raise today is in furtherance of my remarks relating to dishonest companies formed by the Alexander Barton group which has clipped the Australian shareholders of some $21m and which the Liberal Government of New South Wales appear to condone. 1 ask: What has Alexander Barton got on the New South Wales Liberal Government? If no action is taken soon by that Government the answer in my mind will be clear. It will be that it was there for the Askin. As a result of my exposure of the shocking company rackets perpetrated by Alexander Barton under Liberalism in New South Wales I have received a letter relating to other companies. I will read the letter to the House. The writer has asked me not to disclose his name. I am prepared to show the letter to you, Mr Speaker, and to my Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam).
– What about the Country Party?
– I have not got that much faith in the Country Party yet. However it may build up as the years go on. The letter reads:
Your recent speech in the ‘House’ on Alexander Barton was very impressive and a credit to you for bringing it so clearly forward.
I thought you might be interested in a Mining matter and enclose for your information a Report of Notice of General Meeting of Oilmin NL formerly Exoil NL.
I have been a shareholder for 6 years and have not received a cent in dividends.
As will be seen in the Report it is now recommended the Directors’ fees be increased from $8,000 to $15,000 and other conditions. Directors: C. W. Siller, M.B.E., L. W. Doggett, O.B.E., and H. Munro, M.B.E- all titled men of the Sir Rob. Askin group.
Why are these men allowed to bleed the poor old shareholders and be allowed to almost double their Directors’ fees?
It’s time this sort of thing is ventilated in Parliament and I hope you can do something about it.
The supplier of the information is to be dealt with confidentially.
The writer sent me a copy of the twelfth annual report and notice of general meeting of Oilmin NL on 30 June 1973. Oilmin NL, as was pointed out by the writer of the letter, was formerly Exoil NL. The formation of Exoil was perpetrated in 1962 by Australia’s wealthiest Premier, none other than Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland.
– The honourable member for Maranoa may regret he has said that. It has gone down on the record. If one looks at the Australian’ of 17 September 1973 one will find certain facts. The Petersen family has obtained, through another private company, around 1.8 per cent of the shares in Oilmin, formerly Exoil. The private company is Artesian Basin Oil Co. Pty Ltd which was formed in 1959 by Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland. He did this to hold prospective oil areas which were spotted during low level flying over certain tracts of land in Queensland. Shortly after the formation of this company, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland, was joined on the board of Artesian Basin Oil by the present Chairman of Oilmin, formerly Exoil. I refer to none other than Mr Charles William Siller M.B.E. Is it any wonder that our Prime Minister terminated the granting of titles? Mr Siller is the Chairman of the company. The public issue of16 million shares in Oilmin, formerly Exoil, went to the Artesian Basin company which received a total payment of $280,000 for the transfer to Exoil of authority to prospect lease No. 76P. An amount of $250,000 was to be used to take up one million Exoil shares. Artesian Basin Oil has since made a number of capital reductions to its shareholders, enabling Joh Bjelke-Petersen to take out about $24,000 in cash from the company.
I believe that, because Australia has a bad record in the eyes of the world for allowing shady or crooked companies to exist in this country, the time is long overdue for action to be taken. Canada now has tight company laws. In Canada all companies have to prove to their shareholders and to the Government how they spend the shareholders’ money. Canadian based companies may function successfully in the United Kingdom and in Ireland. People invest in them knowing that they are rigidly controlled. It is time that the Australian Government implemented rigid controls and uniform company laws. I hope that my Government will do this early next year and will strive to restore in the eyes of the world some respect for Australia’s name.
– We have promised to do that.
– The honourable member for Barton reminds me that my Government has promised to bring in such measures. I hope that this will have the backing of every member of this House, because of the disgusting scandals that arise from time to time in respect of Australia’s crooked companies. In the short time remaining to me in this debate I would like to quote from the annual report of Oilmin. On the last page it says:
The firm of Spry Walker & Co., of which Mr. L. W. ‘Doggett is a member, has received professional fees for work done for the company during the year.
Fees totalling $8,000 (1972 $8,000) were paid for professional and administrative services rendered to the company by Mr C. W. Siller.
So Doggett O.B.E. and Siller M.B.E. are, as I pointed out to the House earlier, receiving handouts but the shareholders are not told what the money is actually for. In addition Mr Doggett is a partner in the legal firm of Spry Walker and Co. which does the legal work for Oilmin. I hope that what I have submitted to the House today will bring to the attention of all members of Parliament and to the community in genera] the urgent necessity for uniform company laws to be implemented by this Parliament to minimise the racketeering that is going on and the shady dealings in connection with companies.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to speak briefly in support of the comments made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), in the much too short a time at his disposal, on locusts. Before doing so I would like to refer, contrary to the previous honourable member’s views on the subject, to the book of Exodus in the Bible. In Exodus locusts were referred to as the eighth plague visited on the people. This was due to the misdoings of their Pharaoh. I do not know whether honourable members would like to strike an analogy in terms of the Australian Pharaoh of the moment, or whether this pestilence should be removed. I think it would be quite easy to think of half a dozen plagues on the people. I think of, firstly, inflation, secondly, the broken promises that children should have per capita education grants; thirdly, the promises to the wine industry which, in the view of the Premier of South Australia have been broken; fourthly, the wrecking of the defence structure of Australia; fifthly, the wrecking of the mineral industry and the petroleum exploration industry. Sixthly, one could even go so far as to talk of pensioners being taxed and chiselled, I shall leave the seventh plague as a blank because one would hope that the pestilence might be removed shortly. I should like personally to deal with the eighth plague - locusts - which I hope will not develop.
I back up what was said by the honourable member for Mackellar for the following reasons: Firstly, the number of locusts in Australia at present in 1973 is higher than at any other time. Secondly, I do not unduly criticise the Government for it - I do not believe enough work has been done on matters such as the biological control of the Australian locust problem. Thirdly, there is certainly not enough work has been done on matters such as before the locusts are in the flyer stage - in other words, when they are in the egg or the grasshopper pupa stage. Fourthly, all this boils down to the funding available to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the one hand, and to the State Departments of Agriculture on the other hand, which are left with the dreadful problem of trying physically to effect control of the problem. Control at this stage, of course, is largely a matter of sprays. Let us have a look at the problem of sprays, because this has a great deal of relevance to what could occur if locust populations build up and if weather conditions turn out to be optimum for that buildup.
Firstly, DDT evidently is not of much use in the control of locusts or grasshoppers.
Secondly, malathion, which honourable members will recall was mentioned recently in a debate on wheat storage, has the capacity to build up resistant strains in the insects, such as weavils and probably has a limited future use. However, it can be used at the moment at a cost of about 13c for an acre’s coverage, but it is in very short supply. In fact, it is virtually unobtainable. Thirdly, there is lindane which, in my State, is being purchased at present for, I think, $4 a gallon and distributed to farmers for their own use at $2 a gallon. Lindane is technically the third best spray against locusts, but I believe that no more of it is available. We now come to Fenitrathion which technically is the best of the sprays against locusts. I think that it is marginally more expensive than the other sprays, but no more of it will be available until May 1975 because the only plant in the world where this chemical has been manufactured recently is in Japan, and last month the factory blew up. So, at a time of maximum buildup of locusts in Australia, a total situation of non-supply - to use a generalised term - of the 3 major sprays applies right across the board.
It is for this reason that I have pleasure in congratulating the honourable member for Mackellar for bringing these facts to the notice of the House. Many of my colleagues on this side of the House represent agricultural areas which could - and I stress the word ‘could’ - be threatened by locusts. Perhaps this is flying a kite in a way, but I think that it is part of our job as members of Parliament to point to dangers when they exist. AH I can do is bring the matter to the notice of the Government today and point to the situation as it exists.
In South Australia recently there has been a steep increase in locust numbers due, strangely enough, to a change in wind direction to the northeast. In fact, because of this we have been copping - if that is the right word - grasshopper flyers from central New South Wales. This is the direction - a rather unusual direction - from which they have been coming. So the general picture is that due to this unusual wind direction, the grasshoppers, instead of immediately threatening the breeding areas of southwest Queensland and north-central New South Wales - perhaps they are threatening those areas as well - are presently building up numbers in the Mallee and Nildottee River areas in my own electorate.
Fortunately, the locusts eat, and therefore breed, in arid areas. They like creek beds and feeding on barrel medic, burr medic, danthonia and other annual grasses in those areas. As the honourable member for Mackellar has said, they swarm and fly habitually perhaps 250 miles, on average, during their lifetime, and may be, if they breed because of cold fronts and frosts, they will fly 2 spans of 250 miles from their point of breeding. At present the swarms in South Australia are not dense, though spraying is being carried out by the South Australian Department of Agriculture in the Nildottee area because of the danger to vegetables presently growing there. The real danger - getting into the hypothetical area - is that an autumn migration would, I am told, be a prelude to a move into the lower pastoral and mid-northern areas of South Australia. If there were to be a hot spring and buildups of locusts due to summer rainfalls - heavy January-February rains in South Australia - the danger of a very large locust population buildup would be real indeed. However, a series of generations of locusts probably would be necessary, at any rate in South Australia, to build up the density of the swarms and the area covered by swarms both of grasshoppers and flyers.
Finally, I think that we have to be very careful how we deal with this problem. Locusts, traditionally, have been a problem after plenty - the pestilence visited on the people. They are the oldest pests known - I suppose other than human ones. It is most important that the Government should look in future to a much heavier funding for biological ‘and physical control while the locusts are on the ground and not in the air, and further, for plotting their breeding areas. I back up what was said by the honourable member for Mackellar when I say that I do not believe that enough work has been done on research into breeding grounds as a prerequisite to proper control. Much of the problem boils down to funding and on the insistence of members of Parliament like ourselves to try to make the Government, at every possible opportunity, push more funds into overcoming an age old pestilence.
, when referring to the previous Government’s economic policies, described them as: ‘Sound, progressive, economic and financial policies and sound economic management’. In his Budget speech earlier this year, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) said:
The choice the Australian people have to make is between the economic irresponsibility of the Government and the sound economic management we offer.
An objective analysis of the previous Government’s economic policies and those postulated now by the Opposition shows those policies to be anything but sound. At some other time I shall expose the absurdity of the Opposition’s current economic policies but today 1 want to demonstrate that in its last few years of office the previous Government was utterly irresponsible- - to use another of its favourite words - and left this Government a legacy of grossly excessive liquidity in the economy which accounts for both the present level of inflation and the tight money policy that this Government has had no option but to adopt. The irony of it is that the Opposition now berates the Government for the existence of conditions which are directly attributable to its own reckless disregard for proper economic management during its last few years of office.
The fact is that over the past few years the rate of inflation in Australia rose markedly. A table incorporated in Hansard by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) on 28 March shows that from 1964-65 to 1969-70 the rate of inflation was between 2.6 per cent and 3.7 per cent per annum. Then it rose to 4.8 per cent in 1970-71 and 6.6 per cent in 1971-72. In 1972-73 it was held somewhat and dropped to 6 per cent. The previous Government absolved itself of all responsibility for the increase in the rate of inflation in those years and blamed the unions for seeking excessive wage increases, and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and employers for granting them. The Opposition ignored the fact that inflation had spurted upwards in most other countries in the world and denied that international fac tors were in any way an important reason for that upsurge in Australia’s rate of inflation.
The previous Government sought to overcome inflation by appearing before the Arbitration Commission in case after case to oppose wage rises and also by introducing tough budgetary measures such as we saw in 1971, which led to a dramatic increase in the number of persons unemployed. In August 1971 the number of persons registered as unemployed was 76,000, seasonally adjusted, but in August 1972, only one year later, the figure had shot up to an unprecedented 120,000. Economic growth also suffered as a result of the previous Government’s measures. Although the former Government did succeed in cutting back inflation somewhat by its measures, which are quite unacceptable to the present Government, it was at the same time sowing the seeds of much greater inflation in the near future. This stemmed from the former Government’s utter refusal or inability to see that much of Australia’s recent inflation was imported and that in those circumstances it was utterly absurd not to revalue the currency, particularly as our international reserves were large and growing rapidly.
The theory of imported inflation is one which was first postulated 2 years ago by Professor Harry Johnson of international fame. Professor Johnson maintained that the increase in world inflation during the late 1960s was due directly to the substantial increase in inflation in the United States of America which in turn was due to that country’s deficit financing of the Vietnam war. The resultant upsurge of inflation in the world’s largest economy had been transmitted overseas by way of direct price effects and a balance of payments deficit which flooded the world with United States dollars. I do not have time to explain this in detail but suffice to say that it has been increasingly accepted by economists overseas and in Australia.
In a speech in this House on 16 May last I referred to various notable overseas economists who had endorsed the Johnson thesis. Since then it has been endorsed by other economists in an Australian context, notably Peter Johnson of the Reserve Bank, who produced an article earlier this year which made this point, Professor Galbraith, a distinguished American economist who came to Australia a couple of months ago, Professor Michael Parkin of the University of Manchester and currently a research economist with the Reserve Bank, and Dr Michael Porter from the International Monetary Fund, and also the Reserve Bank this year. All these people have endorsed the Johnson thesis. Despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has achieved international notoriety by describing, during a debate earlier this year, Professor Johnson as a discredited American academic it seems more than likely that imported inflation has been an important factor in accounting for the higher rate of inflation Australia has experienced in recent years. The previous Government, by refusing to acknowledge this factor, pursued needlessly restrictive budgetary policies and left Australia completely exposed to that overseas inflation by refusing to revalue the currency. Thus Australia bore the full brunt of increased import prices which encouraged local prices to rise. As Dr Porter has shown, we were left also with an uncontrolled speculative capital inflow which greatly inflated the money supply and thereby sowed the seeds of further inflation which we are now experiencing. At the winter school of the Economic Society in Sydney on 9 November last, Dr Porter made some comments on Professor Argy’s paper on world inflation. Referring to exchange rate policy Dr Porter said:
A rigid exchange rate tends to guarantee that a country shares in the broad trend of world prices. Countries may resist such trends by steady revaluation combined with a degree of monetary, restraint. Attempting to resist world inflationary trends without revaluation causes the domestic currency to become over-valued and this then generates speculative inflow. The resulting increase in liquidity ultimately aggravates domestic inflation. . . .
That exactly describes what happened in Australia last year and the year before. If we look at the balance of payments and the state of international reserves we find that in the past couple of years there was tremendous inflow into this country. In 1969-70 it was $798m; in 1970-71 it was $l,469m; in 1971- 72 it was $l,858m; and in the last 6 months of last year it was $996m. Much of this capital inflow was speculative and some of it was induced by the higher interest rates applying in Australia as compared with those available overseas.
Dr Porter has produced a paper to be published in the ‘Economic Record’ entitled The Interdependence of Monetary Policy and Capital Inflows in Australia’. In this paper he explains that the previous Government’s refusal to revalue the currency led to specula tive inflow which in turn expanded the money supply, and the Government’s attempts to offset that increased liquidity by using monetary policy, that is, by selling government bonds to soak up money, meant that interest rates remained high and so induced further capital inflow. This in turn swelled our reserves even further so speculators brought in more overseas money as they sensed a revaluation. The Government attempted to offset this by further sales of government bonds. That kept interest rates high and so more capital was induced into the country. In this way our international reserves swelled even further and more speculative capital flowed in. And so the process continued.
The former Government’s stubborn - indeed one might say idiotic - refusal to revalue was leading to a quite uncontrolled explosion of capital inflow, our international reserves and the money supply. I have referred to the figures of capital inflow. An even more dramatic picture is shown in the movement of our official reserves. In June 1970 they were $l,538m; in June 1971 they were $2,280m; in June 1972 they were $3,764m; and then, in November 1972, only 5 months later, they were $4,73 8m, an incredible increase of $974m. In December 1972 the official reserves were $4,8 16m; in January 1973 they were $4,849m and in September 1973 they had fallen to $4,090m.
It can be seen that in the last few months of office of the previous Government the economic policy was not sound at all. In fact, it was totally out of control. Overseas capital was flooding into the country. Overseas reserves were increasing at an unprecedented rate. Consequently the money supply was going crazy. In 1968-69 the money supply increased by 9.1 per cent; in 1969-70 it increased by 6.2 per cent; in 1970-71 it increased by 6.8 per cent; in 1971-72 it increased by 10.5 per cent and in the first 6 months of 1972-73 it increased by 16.7 per cent. By allowing the money supply to increase at such an extraordinary rate last year the previous Government was building up an inflationary time bomb set to go off this year. Economists differ as to the degree of importance to be attached to increases in the money supply but all agree that it is quite inflationary to allow the money supply to increase at a rapid rate.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Government is manufacturing an issue by misrepresentation. The real issues involved in the education matter before us in the public Press today are these: All members of the House of Representatives voted in favour of the expenditure of $690m for education for 1974-75, which was the recommendation of the Karmel Committee. The Opposition not only wants that sum of money spent, but also wants to see retained the principle that every Australian child is entitled to a grant regardless of the school to which the child’s parents send it. This principle was unanimously reaffirmed by the Catholic bishops in August this year and it is a principle which the Liberal and Country Parties have constantly espoused.
The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) have failed to honour clear promises which they gave many times throughout 1972, both before and after the election, in the following terms: The Prime Minister in speaking of recurrent grants to schools said: “The ALP will support any forms of benefit already existing.’ This per capita grant to all school children existed at that time. The Minister for Education said: Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now.’ That clear undertaking is now the issue in this education debate. The Opposition’s policy and the promises of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education are in fact the same thing. The only difference is that the Opposition has the courage and the principle to stand by its policy, and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education deny their clear promises.
The next point is that the Opposition supports the provision of extra funds on the basis of need. There is no reason whatever why the Government cannot honour its undertakings and achieve the expenditure that it wishes. Any representation that this involves $114m is false, and deliberately so. The sum involved is less than $5m per annum. Any representation that it is the wealthy schools only which are to be advantaged is false. Under the Karmel Committee’s proposals, which are included in this Bill, 53 per cent of secondary pupils in independent schools will receive less money than they would have received under the former Government’s legislation. By the action taken by the Opposition in the
House of Representatives the security of the basic grant to every child attending a nongovernment school is preserved, as it should be. Twenty-two per cent of all Australian children attend those schools, and this affects every one of them. There is no valid reason why the $690m of funds for education should be held up by the Government, as it is threatening to do. The previous Government passed legislation which provided grants for each child - $104 for secondary pupils and $62 for primary students, which at that time was 20 per cent of the cost of running a government school. The Karmel Committee’s report introduced a categorisation scheme of all non-government schools from A to H. The category A schools are to receive that amount of money in 1974 and then they are to stop receiving assistance altogether after 1974. Meanwhile the schools in categories B to H are to receive varying amounts - the lower in the alphabet, the higher the amount.
For example, in the secondary area, all schools in categories A to F are to be worse off under the Karmel report. So it is not just category A schools that the Opposition is concerned about; it is the schools in categories A to F. Those categories can be changed at any time at the whim of the Minister. There is no appeal and no criteria for change in the Bill. Two of the Opposition’s amendments relate to that. In the secondary schools, categories A to F - which contain about half the children in the private schools and the Catholic parochial schools - are to be worse off under the Karmel Committee’s report. The Opposition is taking action now to preserve the money sum of the grant to those disadvantaged schools in the private sector - not the continued escalation at 20 per cent of the cost of running a government school as it was when first put, but the money sum in accordance with the promises given by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education.
The fundamental principles as we see them are these: All children, no matter to which school their parents send them, should receive a grant. There should be distributed, on top of this fundamental grant to every child, much larger funds according to need. That is why the Opposition supports the Karmel Committee’s report and why it insists that this per capita grant to every child should be preserved. Surely this must be right. Does anyone say that a child, because its parents send it to a particular school, is not entitled to the equality of opportunity-
– You want the child in a slum school to remain in a slum school.
– Be quiet. Does anyone say that because a child’s parents send it to a particular school, that child, with no choice, is to be removed from the possibility of support from Commonwealth funds? That is the greatest bit of class intrusion by these middle class intellectual socialists that one could possibly get. The Australian Episcopal Conference supports that view and I am sure that every decent minded citizen of Australia supports it. The fact is that there are some courses open. The first course that is open is quite clearly this: The Opposition could not carry that amendment in this House because it does not have the numbers to carry it in this House. Whether that amendment will be carried in the Senate remains to be seen. I can say to this House that I have every confidence that the senators of the LiberalCountry Party joint Opposition will be supporting the amendment in the Senate. We could not move amendments in this House which would have the effect of increasing the expenditure by $5m because there has to be a message from the Governor-General to increase the appropriation. For that reason we could not move the amendment to increase the amount by about $Sm.
Therefore there was only one course open to us and that was to refuse to allow the repeal of the old Act so that we could bring the Government to its senses, so that the Government could honour the promises made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education and not make them untruthful. So the Opposition decided that it would move to prevent the repeal of the Act. We knew that the Government would then face the prospect of introducing an amendment itself to provide this sum of under $Sm or, if it chose to from a misplaced regard for itself, of acting childishly and making the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education look ridiculous in failing to honour their promises. The Government can call for a double dissolution if it wants to. We will have a double dissolution if the Government wants it, and would win the election. (Extension of time granted). We were threatened with a double dissolution over the industrial arbitration legislation. The Government said: ‘Let it through, or we will take you to the people’. We said: ‘We are not going to be cowed down by a threat. It is bad legislation and we will defeat it’. We defeated it. The Government then said that it would bring in 2 separate Bills. We have not yet seen the second Bill. The first Bill came into this House. We moved a series of amendments. The Bill was transmitted to the Senate. The Opposition there carried the amendments. The Bill came back to this House, and the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) accepted all those amendments. We made it better legislation.
Then we were threatened with a double dissolution over the Electoral Bill. It was said that that Bill would make elections democratic. The clear implication was that this Government was elected undemocratically. But we said that we would not be frightened by these threats, and we rejected the Bill. Not only has the Government not called a double dissolution, but it probably has lost the ground for calling a double dissolution on that issue because it has dallied around on it. The Government then said to us: ‘If you do not pass the mining code in the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill, we will take you to the people’. We said: OK, we will take you to the cleaners. We will reject that mining code’.
The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) came into the chamber yesterday fuming and huffing and puffing. A whole pile of papers was brought in. The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner), quite innocently, walked up and took one of the papers. He was halfway down the passage when one of the members of the staff of the House chased after him and told him that the Government had declared the paper secret. The honourable member was told that he could not have it, and it was taken out of his hands. Of course, being a good mannered chap, he gave it over. We still do not know what the Government was planning yesterday. It was going to come in here and take us on; it was going to take us to the people. Then the Minister for Minerals and Energy came into the House last night and said: ‘We now accept the amendment’. Once again we did not have a double dissolution on the issue.
Now we have the States Grants (Schools) Bill. We believe that we are absolutely right in principle. We are saying that, for the sum of less than $5m, every child in Australia shall have that basic equality of education in which every child is entitled to a grant and that on top of that extra sums should be provided on the basis of need. We believe that that principle is right and we believe that the undertakings of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) ‘should be honoured. By implication, throughout the election campaign last year every member of the then Opposition was saying to the parents of children in the private schools: ‘You can vote Labor, and the principle of per capita grants will be retained’. The then Opposition got into office and did not honour the promise. So many promises have been dishonoured that we tend to forget just how deep is the obligation of a government to maintain a promise. If the Government wants a double dissolution on this issue and says that the Opposition is opposed to the expenditure of $690m or to the recommendations of the Karmel Committee report, it will be making a fraudulent statement. That is not true. If the Government does say that, everybody in Australia should know that it is saying falsehoods in an attempt to serve its own political interests. We are prepared to fight the issue out on this basis.
– We have just heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) make a-
– A powerful and compelling speech.
– Yes, powerful in the sense of fear. The Leader of the Opposition is worried to death. He is scared as to what the reaction will be. Let us deal with the facts. The States Grants (Schools) Bill proposes an additional $400m for the government schools and an additional <$56m for the non-government schools. These grants are in jeopardy because the Opposition refuses to accept a clause in the Bill which terminates a part of the old legislation.
– Nonsense. We have supported your program.
– There was a division. The division was put on record on Tuesday. The honourable member for Gwydir and the rest of the Country Party voted against that clause.
– I supported your program.
– The Country Party voted against clause 66. There was no equivo cation. We should look at what was said by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). He said to us, in effect: You will take it the way we will give it to you. You will get 2 Acts. Not only will you get $690m, but we will make you take the additional $114m. We do not care where you get it from, but you are going to get that as well. If you are in difficulty, come back to us and negotiate’. That was the responsible spokesman on education. I understand that he is only the acting spokesman on education and that the real Opposition spokesman on education is in the Senate. I imagine that that senator has a much more intelligent appreciation of the problems on schools. But for the Leader of the Opposition to speak here when the Bill is still to be dealt with in the Senate shows how frightened the Opposition is. That is the reason why he spoke.
Fancy the Opposition saying that it wanted only $5m. The Opposition did not move any amendment to clause 15 to make provision for $5m. The Opposition could have done so, but it did not. It never mentioned $5m at any stage of the second reading debate or the debate in Committee. The Opposition through the honourable member for Wannon; said to us: ‘You will have 2 Acts. No government should expect its legislation to be passed when it knows it has not a majority in the Senate’. The Government has a mandate from the people. The Government went to the electors and said: ‘We will establish a Schools Commission and that Commission will be on the basis of need’.
– Speak up.
– The honourable member does not wish to hear this. He is worried. We said: ‘We will implement that needs commission’. We have done that. There is some criticism of the fact that we deleted category A schools. Paragraph 6.50 of the Karmel Committee report states that there is no justification for the continuation of per capita grants to the category A schools because of their resources. They are the exact words.
– And then the Government followed it up by saying that it would phase them out over 2 years.
– Yes, I will acknowledge that, but there was no justification. When the Interim Committee for the Schools Commission had a look at the needs of the schools of Australia, accepting the norm as being 100, it found that in government and non-government schools the figure was as low as 40. In some cases it was as high as 270. The Opposition is adopting a policy of giving per capita grants to those schools in the 270 category. That shows how fair dinkum the Opposition is on this issue.
The result of the ineffective action of the Opposition in this House is that it says that it still wants 20 per cent per capita grants across the board to those schools with resources of 270. The Opposition is not entitled to do that. The per capita grants will not be made on that basis. The real issue which the Opposition has to understand is that we have $114m available for re-allocation on a needs basis. That is what we have done. That is not the Opposition’s view. It wants the $114m to be given to the wealthy schools as well. That is the Opposition’s attitude.
– What about the changes you made as you went along?
– Why does the honourable member not make a speech later? He ought to talk! He came from the New South Wales Parliament where he opposed every per capita grant. He is the one who did it. He should not talk to me about per capita grants in view of his actions in the New South Wales Parliament. The New South Wales Government still will not give per capita grants to secondary schools because of the means test involved. The honourable member’s Party is hypocritical from the point of view of political theory. It has 2 standards. It has one in this Parliament and one in New South Wales, and the honourable members knows it.
Let us look at this matter from the point of view of what is really being said. In a debate in September 1972, when the then Government was introducing this legislation, my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) moved an amendment which clearly indicated to the then Government that the per capita grants would not be continued after 1973. In that debate he said to the then Government, in effect: ‘I give you fair warning that when we are in power’ - what a good judge he was; we got into power - ‘we will establish a commission. It will assess the needs, and when those needs are known we will reallocate those resources in accordance with need’. That is what we are doing. The Opposition should not come in here and say that there has been deception. That statement is on record on 26 September 1972. The Minister for Education made this clear and certainly the people were told. The honourable member should know that this is particularly so on the North Shore. I was campaigning in North Sydney on that basis. Whom did we meet in that campaign? All these people saying ‘We want you to continue per capita grants.’ We said: ‘We are not going to do that; we are going to do it on a needs basis.’ Our policy was adopted to the needs basis. The Karmel Committee said that need was the essential thing. Now the Opposition says to the Government: ‘Unless you give us $5m’ - a belated figure I might add, not even given on Tuesday - ‘for these schools which have resources well above the norm we will not give you $700m for all these government and non-government schools well below the norm.’ How many Australians listening to me today would think that the Opposition would play politics with the children of Australia?
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I know that there is nothing specific in Standing Orders forbidding Ministers to tell lies at the table, but surely it is implied in Standing Orders-
– Order! By implication the honourable member for Mackellar has now called the PostmasterGeneral a liar. I ask him to withdraw the implication.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I am only saying that he should tell the truth. I withdraw the implication.
– No point of order is involved.
– Thank you for your protection, Mr Deputy Speaker. For the people listening the .issue is this: The Opposition is trying to blackmail us on the basis that unless we give $5m the Opposition will not agree to clause 66 remaining. Where is your legal logic in this issue? Clause 66 has nothing to do with $5m going anywhere else. If you wanted $5m the appropriate clause was clause IS. You had a chance to debate clause 15, or you could have moved the appropriate amendment, not opposing the Bill if you felt something should be done with the provisions in those categories. However, you come here and say that the Government will not obtain the repeal of the present legislation.
– Why do you not keep your promises?
– That remark comes from the Country Party’s professional interjector, who is a likeable fellow but a very bad politician. Now let us look at it from the point of view of what the Opposition is saying. The Opposition is insisting, and the honourable member for Wannon is on record as saying: ‘I will make you have 2 Acts, the one you want and our old one’. If one looks at paragraphs 6.45 and 6.54 of the Karmel report it reveals that an amount of $42m is in one and $72m in the other. I know the Opposition does not like figures, but this is a total of $114m.
– You can do better than that.
– I do not have to do better to beat your Opposition. Fancy the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) raising the matters on Grievance Day - a most appropriate day having not even taken part in the debate on the Schools Grant Bill. He is now worried and issuing Press statements inventing mathematical figures. Where do you move your amendment to pick up the $5m? The amendment involved $114m. That would mean that the whole of the Government’s program to help the needy in the government and nongovernment area is wrecked. You cannot go back and find another $114 out of the Budget - nor would we. We would be denying our principles on need to suggest that we would cave in on that issue. Further, we will take you to the people on the issue. Let us be clear on that. We will see then how well you perform in the Senate. If Opposition member’s have any intelligence and understanding of what they are talking about they would realise that they must terminate the existing legislation otherwise they will be fighting an election on the basis of still wanting 20 per cent across the board which would include those who have resources 2i times that of the norm. (Extension of time granted).
I make the position clear. The legislation we are introducing is in accordance with the Karmel Committee report. The only point of contention that the Opposition is now trying to raise today - and which it did not raise in the debate - is that there should have been some consideration of that aspect of the report which referred to higher category schools being phased out. That I shall acknowledge. However, the fact is that the report said that there was no “ justification for the continuation of those grants but that those schools might be affected in their budgeting and some consideration should be given to them. That is the one kick in the Opposition’s case. But the Opposition is saying that because that little aspect has not been looked at it will give us nothing for the government and nongovernment area which is in need. It could have allowed clause 66 to remain and enable a carrying out of all the programs, which I might add all the State Premiers have endorsed and for which they have already allocated money. Unless the program is allowed to flow through the whole of the State’s programs for the next year is in jeopardy. They are upset now. I am being inundated by phone calls from across the nation.
Responsible Ministers for Education in the States, irrespective of their politics, will have the whole of their programs put in jeopardy. I instance Victoria where they have the land, the buildings and contracts let on the basis of receiving this money and that State’s program will be put in jeopardy unless some more money is given. For a start there was no amendment at all. The first time that I heard of the $5m was in a Press release by the Leader of the Opposition. Let it be put on record that I understand the Opposition spokesman on education and the acting spokesman on education had a little difference in the Press gallery as to who should be issuing Press releases and what they should say. I suppose that because they could not make up their minds on a Press release they got the Leader of the Opposition to do one and he has plucked the mathematical figure of $5m out of the air. He still has not given any indication as to how it would be allocated. Mathematically I do not think he can make it stick, but from our point of view that is not the issue.
The issue is clause 66, the termination of the old legislation and the re-allocation of the appropriation of $114m, which is within the $690m that we are providing in this Bill. The Opposition has placed the whole lot in jeopardy by saying that we are not going to get the $114m for re-allocation. It could have let clause 66 remain and moved an amendment to clause 15 to guarantee that what it is contending could be argued and debated. It is too late for a death-bed repentance of the Opposition to say on grievance day that something should be done. I very much doubt whether there has ever been debate like this where a Bill has passed through the House of
Representatives, to the Senate but is not yet debated there, while grievance day is being used to have another second reading debate. This would be the first time ever. It shows how worried the Opposition is. I thank the House for the opportunity to reply.
– I wish to address my remarks to the question that has been the subject of some debate this morning. I refer principally to what I regard as blackmail by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of the students of this country and his effort to blackmail the Opposition for supporting a position that he supported himself last year when going to the people. This week the Parliament voted unanimously for the States Grants (Schools) Bill. It voted an expenditure of $690m towards education in Australia for the years 1974 and 1975. The Opposition wishes not only to ensure that this money goes to education but also to see retained the principle that every Australian child is entitled to go and his parents have a freedom of choice to send him to whatever school is selected. This principle was reaffirmed unanimously by the Catholic bishops in August this year. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, claimed repeatedly prior to the last election, and I quote the Prime Minister:
The ALP will support any forms of benefit already existing to education and therefore any policies would be additional to those existing in the field of education. Mr Beazley went to great lengths to try to overcome what he claimed was a whispering campaign. He said that no private school under Labor will in future have less than it will receive under the per capita grant system at that time.
So, here is a complete repudiation of Labor’s promise; a breach of faith with the parents of school children in Australia.
Let us look at what happened with respect to the Karmel Committee. The Interim Schools Commission was given terms of reference that did not match the spirit of the undertakings given by spokesmen for the then Opposition, prior to the last election. Those terms of reference said that the Committee should make its recommendations on the basis of relative needs and priorities without a predetermined basic level of support to all non-government schools. It was on that basis that the Karmel Committee made its recommendations for assistance to education, was forced into categorising schools from A to H and was forced to deny the per capita grants system flowing to the independent schools of this country.
Not even the Caucus, the Cabinet or the Government accepted the recommendations of the Karmel Committee. Even the Karmel Committee recommended that grants to category A schools should not be phased out immediately or should be immediately deprived of state aid. The Karmel Committee recommended that aid to those schools should be phased out over a 2 year period. The Government did not accept that recommendation. The reason for that recommendation is a callous and a bitter prejudice against certain schools in this country. It is a bitterness which eats into its soul as maggots eat into a carcass. It is a most unfortunate and sad state of affairs. This aspect of the Government’s policy has marred what has otherwise been a very sound and good approach to education generally. It is quite wrong for the Prime Minister or his Ministers to claim that the Opposition has opposed the Bill to extend aid to independent and other schools.
– Of course it has.
– It has not done that. That is quite untrue. What the Opposition has done is to try to force the Prime Minister and the Government to honour their pre-election undertakings to the Australian people. The Government has failed to live up to those undertakings in these discussions. This is a breach of faith and a broken promise. It is just another one of the promises broken by this Government. The promise to the Australian people on this issue has been broken and the Government is not prepared to go to the people on it. The Government is not prepared to go to the Australian people on any of the issues on which it claimed it would. The Government knows in its own heart that it has broken an undertaking that it gave to Australian parents who were sending their children to independent schools.
– Read our policy.
– I will read it for you.
– Read the policy speech!
– They do not want to hear me.
– Order! I ask the honourable member for Casey to cease interjecting.
– The Prime Minister, in speaking of recurrent grants to schools, said:
The ALP will support any forms of benefit already existing-
– That is what it has done.
– That is what it has done’, says the honourable member for Casey. Yet, as a result of the proposals of the Karmel Committee which were included in the States Grants (Schools) Bill, independent schools will receive less money in respect of 53 per cent of their secondary school pupils than they would have received under the legislation of the former Government. Do not try to deny that. It is the truth. The Australian people should know the truth. Let the media state the truth. There has been a certain degree of misrepresentation in the media of this fact to date.
The Government has failed to honour undertakings that the Prime Minister himself gave, whilst Leader of the Opposition, to parents with children at independent schools. I want to repeat one fact. Let us leave aside the category A schools about which there is so much prejudice and bitterness. Under this scheme that the Government is implementing, 53 per cent of all secondary school pupils attending independent schools will receive less money than they would have received under the legislation of the former Government. If Government members can prove that statement to be incorrect, I will apologise. But that is the situation.
By the action taken by the Opposition in the House of Representatives, the security of a basic grant to every child attending a non-government school is preserved. There is no valid reason why the funds for education totalling $690m should be held up by the Government as the Government is now threatening to do. This is a bluff and a threat. It is not directed so much against the Opposition, although I must say that one could claim as support for a belief that it was an article in the ‘Australian’ of today’s date attributed to a Paul Kelly. That article states:
The Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, told a Labor Party Caucus meeting yesterday the Government would win an election fought on the Opposition’s amendments to the $690m schools grants program.
Mr Whitlam said the Government had a clear mandate. . .
The Opposition parties in the Senate are threatening Australian schools with great hardship and, in many cases, with disaster’-
So it goes on. Look, the Prime Minister is quite wrong and he is quite deliberately forgetting the undertakings which he gave to the Australian people prior to the last election. He thinks that memories are short. He thinks that he can bluff the Australian people and the Opposition on this issue, believing that it might be the thing on which he can win an election.
Country Party supporters - Might!
– That is so. But I believe that members of the Labor Party will see the sense in restoring to those schools what has been denied to them, that is, the sum of $2m in the first 6 months of this year and Sim for next year. Do not tell me that this is a matter of funds. The Government has instituted a program for university and tertiary education to be free of fees. I do not argue against that. But that program will cost $30m. For the sake of $3m, Government members have allowed prejudice and bitterness to become the overriding factor. They have placed themselves in a serious situation. I hope that they will negotiate with common sense for the sake of justice and for what is otherwise a good education program.
– The last speaker, on behalf of the Country Party, mentioned bitterness. Well, we are seeing it here today. We are seeing bitterness in the House on the part of people, half of whom would not have gone to a state school.
– Only half?
– Well, at least half. They went to wealthy schools and they are showing the bitterness that they represent. They want money to be given to schools which really do not need it. The Australian Labor Party came to power on the firm pledge that it would do right by Australian education and by the school children of Australia who needed assistance. I remind honourable members of the extent of that need. It was only last year, or perhaps the year before, that an independent body said that the state of Australian education was so deplorable after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party neglect that $ 1,400m would not put the situation right. I remind honourable members of that fact.
The Labor Party came to power pledged to put that situation right as soon as practicable. What did the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) say in this respect? In his speech which opened the election campaign and which persuaded the Australian people to vote for the Australian Labor Party the Prime Minister said:
The most rapidly growing sector of public spending under a Labor Government will be education. Education should be the great instrument for the promotion of equality. Under the Liberals it was a weapon for perpetuating inequality and promoting privilege.
Is that not what we are seeing here and now? The privilege and inequality, which honourable members opposite fought so hard to preserve and were so successful in preserving for 23 years and which they now see slipping away from them, have produced the bitterness that has expressed itself in all of their speeches. The Australian Labor Party sees the position in a different light. The Prime Minister, as the then Leader of the Opposition, went on to say for example that under the previous Government the pupils of state and Catholic schools had less than half as good an opportunity as the pupils of non-Catholic independent schools to gain Commonwealth secondary scholarships and very much less than half the opportunity to complete their secondary education. Does anyone deny that that is correct? Does anyone deny that it is the policy of the present Government to spend an additional amount of nearly $700m to put the situation right? Are honourable members opposite saying that the additional $700m should not be spent on education? Are they saying that the money should be denied to education?
Honourable members opposite , collectively and individually , are hypocrites when they come along and say that they are not opposed to the additional expenditure. Everything they have said here amounts to their saying: ‘Give us $5m’ - bow they have arrived at that figure Heaven only knows - ‘for Melbourne Grammar and Sydney Grammar’ - the schools they went to- ‘and we might be able to make a deal. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) actually spoke of that. He said: Let us negotiate’. What do honourable members opposite have with which to negotiate? They do not have any credit. They had 23 years in which to prove that they had credit. They have none. The honourable member for Gwydir wants to do a deal of some sort. He said: ‘If you do not let the wealthy schools that are the basis of our support keep the money that we were giving to them we’ - the Liberal and Country Parties - *will see that the people who really need the $700m do not get it. If that is not holding a gun at the head of the school children of Australia, who are represented well toy the Labor Government, I do not know what is. If it is not blackmail, I do not know what is.
The honourable member for Gwydir said: Let us negotiate’. What does the Opposition have to negotiate about? What sort of deal does it want? It wants money for Melbourne Grammar. It wants money for Sydney Grammar. It does not want anything for the children who go to schools in Surry Hills, Balmain or Glebe. It does not want any of that. The Opposition has said: ‘Let us do a deal. Give us $5m Perhaps it will settle for $3m. Perhaps it will settle for $lm. It will get nothing. But the Government will continue its great increase in expenditure on education for the people who need it. The Prime Minister has said that the most rapidly growing sector of public spending under a Labor Government will be education. We will see that it comes about. The spending will not be by way of per capita grants to people who do not need them, so that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and so that the inequality becomes greater every year. Is it not the experience of everyone who has lived in Australia that the gap between the rich and the poor has grown in the last 20 years? Is that not the experience of the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner), who is trying to interject? The honourable member is an honest man. Is it not his experience that the gap between the rich and the poor in this country has grown in the last 20 years? Of course it is. It is the experience of everyone. That is particularly so in the field of education.
An amount of $ 1,400m has been deemed to be what is needed to put the situation right. The Labor Government has said: ‘We will put almost half of it forward in our first year of office. We will not neglect the private school sector. We will just see that its needs arc determined on a proper basis’. The money will go to those who need it most, including the poor Catholic parish schools and the poor private schools - and there are some poor private schools. It will be allocated on the basis of need. What could be more equitable? What could be more just? But honourable members opposite want it on a per capita basis. They are being hypocritical when they come into this chamber and say that there is no difference between the child of a rich man and the child of a poor man. There is hypocrisy in that statement. The children are the same; but honourable members opposite are fooling themselves, although they are not fooling the people of Australia, when they say that there is no inequality between the child of a man on $50,000 who chooses to send that child to Melbourne Grammar or Sydney Grammar and the child of a bus driver on $80 a week, $100 a week, or whatever it happens to be who has to send his child to a state school. There is gross inequality.
Look at the schools in the slum areas of Australia. I remember seeing advertised last year the curricula of a wealthy private school in Queensland. Do honourable members know what was included in the curricula? That school offered private flying lessons in a Piper Cherokee aircraft. That is the sort of school to which honourable members opposite want to give money. They say that a child at that school also needs help. What about the school children in Glebe, Surry Hills and Balmain.
– And Newtown.
– And Newtown. I thank the Leader of the House. Honourable members opposite are hypocrites. They are also bastions of privilege. I do not have anything against wealth. I like it. What I want is a better distribution of that wealth and that privilege.
– I will swap you bank accounts.
Mir ENDERBY- The honourable member for Kennedy would win handsomely.
– Well, let us swap.
Mir DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes) - Order! I warn the honourable member for Kennedy that if he does not remain silent I will deal with him.
– I am sorry.
– The honourable member for Kennedy would win handsomely. The Government set up a committee to take the allocation of funds to education out of the hands of politicians such as honourable members opposite, who would give it to Melbourne Grammar, Sydney Grammar and the like. The Government asked the committee it set up to ascertain where the need really is and said that the money it allocated would go there. Honourable members opposite lost an election on this issue. They know that they cannot win on it in this House because they do not have the numbers. Thank God they do not have the numbers in this chamber. But they have the numbers in a place called the Senate, whose members were not elected at the same time as we were. In fact, half of them were elected as far back as 6 years ago. The circumstances of their election had nothing to do with what led the Australian people to elect the Labor Government to office last year.
Honourable members opposite have called upon their majority in the Senate, in the most undemocratic way possible, to thwart, frustrate and sabotage what the Australian people thought they were electing, that is, a political party which had a better education policy.
Honourable members opposite say that what was implicit in everything on which the Australian Labor Party campaigned and everything for which the Australian public voted, including a better deal in education, can be thrown out the window. They say: ‘Why should the schools which need the money get $700m if Melbourne Grammar and Sydney Grammar do not get $Sm? That is the attitude of honourable members opposite. They have revealed themselves in their true colours when they have stood up and said those things in this Parliament. The record is abundantly clear. One has only to look at it. For example, in 1972, when honourable members opposite put forward the legislation which they now seek to maintain, although they are no longer in office, and which preserves privilege and increases the difference between poor and rich people, the present Prime Minister, in moving an amendment to the legislation, said that the grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1973. He made his position quite clear then. He spoke about the purpose of need. It is in the platform of the Australian Labor Party. It has been there since 1971. It is recorded in the proceedings of this House and it is in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. What could be more consistent and proper than that? We were elected on this proposal.
– You were not.
– We were elected on this proposal. Nothing could be more abundantly clear. If we have said one thing, it is that we will increase spending on education based upon the needs of the people who most need it and not upon the needs of Sydney Grammar. Even the Karmel Committee reported that the allocation of funds to the category A schools could not be justified. That was one of its findings.
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– This is a debate in which one finds members of the Government Party putting forward archiac anachronistic class hatreds.
Government supporters - Ob!
– Honourable members opposite may laugh. One of the myths or lies continually perpetrated by successive speakers for the Government is that all this money will be going to the so-called rich schools, as though all the pupils at category A schools came from rich homes. If they are really concerned about the wealth of individual parents, why do they not move against the wealthy parents who send their children to state schools? Where is the hypocrisy that they suggest is in us when we say that all children, no matter where they come from and no matter what their background, should be treated basically as equals? That is our main proposition. The speech of the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) was a classic of class bitterness. All we seek to do - I want to make this clear to the people of Australia - is to hold the Government to the promises it made last year. I think that must be made clear because the Government is attempting to mislead the nation yet again on this issue. Let me quote from the statements made by the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), last year. On 20 June 1972, speaking on recurrent grants, he said:
The ALP has never voted against any BUI proposing Commonwealth aid lor education and it will support any forms of benefit already existing.
In a letter to Mr Dixon on 13 December 1972 he, as the Prime Minister, said:
Per capita grants to non-government schools for the year 1973 will be paid at the rates now approved under the provisions of that Act. Commencing in 1974 additional Commonwealth contributions towards fulfilling the costs of non-government schools will be considered on the basis of relative need.
Additional - that is the point. Let up keep him to his promise. What about the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley)? On 27 October 1972 he said:
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now.
Now what do honourable members opposite say about that? Let us try to bring a little honesty into the performance of the Government. The Minister for Education, in his speech on 26 September last year, said:
But we give a fair warning that if we are in power, while there will be an expenditure on non-government schools of no less than the sum total that will be appropriated in this Bill, the appropriation will be reapportioned - it will be reapportioned on the basis of need.
He said nothing about cutting it out.
– Reapportioned, surely, but nothing about cutting it out. That is what the Government has done, and not just to category A schools but to a large number of schools. Fifty-three per cent of the independent secondary schools will get less under this Labor Government. Let honourable members opposite remember that. I refer not just to category A schools but to 53 per cent of the independent secondary schools. Despite the preelection promises made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education a deliberate secret instruction was given to the Karmel Committee - ‘government schools will not be pre-determined’. That was in complete contradistinction to the promises delivered to the Australian population before the election, because the Australian Labor Party knew before the election that this was a really live issue. It sought to pull the wool over the Australian electors’ eyes by promising them these things, and it succeeded. Now we are simply trying to hold the Government to its promises so that this 53 per cent of non-government secondary schools will not be disadvantaged by the actions of the Government.
We have a very simple point to make. We believe that every child, regardless of where he comes from, whether he comes from Surrey Hills or the electorate of Casey, has a fundamental right to a basic level of support in terms of education expenditure from the Federal Government. This is the position we take. This is the position we have always taken. Every child - no class distinction, no lower class, upper class or middle class - has this fundamental right. In addition - we make no secret about this; we put it forward, and we put it forward clearly - where there are obvious areas of need we would seek to have additional funds expended. We have made this position quite clear. It is totally misleading for honourable members opposite to say that we seek to hold up or to destroy $690m additional government expenditure on education. We do not. Let them not try to confuse the Australian public. We do not try to hold that up. What we seek to do is have that money spent throughout Australia, because we agreed during the second reading debates on the States Grants (Schools) Bill and the Schools Commission Bill that that money needs to be spent. But in addition we seek to ensure the fundamental right of every Australian child, free from class bitterness and class distinction.
There is no attempt to block this legislation. What we simply seek to do is to put before the Australian people the promises made by the members of this Government when they were in Opposition last year and seek to hold them to those promises. What could be fairer than that?
The Minister sought information about costs. Let me quote to him a telegram received last night from the National Council of Independent Schools. It states:
The Committee of the National Council of Independent Schools meeting in Melbourne today-
That is yesterday - unanimously reaffirmed its strong general support for the proposal of the Australian Government to provide substantial additional funds for the improvement of all Australian schools-
We hold to that. We agree with it, and I am sure all honourable members opposite would agree too. The telegram goes on:
Its firm belief in the principle that each Australian child should receive basic recurrent educational suppott by a grant from the Australian Government of a proportion of the per pupil cost in government schools irrespective of the school attended and that further grants according to need should be added to this bask grant-
We agree with that completely.
Let me just add one more point. What schools in Australia need, whether they be classified in the lowest categories or the highest categories is security, and what they do not have under the legislation as proposed by this Government is security. What they would have under the policies as enunciated by the Liberal and Country Parties would be this security. It would provide a basic firm groundwork for future planning. Anybody who has had any experience in managing any organisation would know that you need to know what security you have for the future. If you do not have this the whole basis of your planning is cast in doubt. That is the position of a large number of schools - not just the lower category schools, not just the higher category schools, but all independent schools. They are deprived this basic security by the legislation proposed by the present Government. Let no headmaster from any independent school, be it Catholic or non-Catholic, be in doubt about that.
The telegram from the National Council of Independent Schools goes on to state that it reaffirms:
Its hope that all political parties will co-operate in the legislation necessary to implement this principle … its belief that the additional cost of such action need not exceed 5 million dollars per annum.
Let us just have one or two clear points made. The Opposition does not seek to block this legislation. We seek to encourage the Government to expend the additional $690m. I repeat that we do not seek to block this legislation. In fact we voted for it in this House, and we made it perfectly clear at the time that we did vote for it. What we seek to do is to provide security for all independent schools, no matter what category they are in. What we seek to do is to provide a fundamental right for all Australian children to support from the Australian Government - to all Australian school children, no matter what school they are at - free of religious bias, free of class bitterness as put forward particularly by the Minister for Secondary Industry. This is all we seek to do, and we would hope that in this place and the other place the Government can come to some accommodation to enable this to be done.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The words that fall from the lips of the Opposition spokesmen fall very heavily indeed, because honourable members opposite do not have a feather to fly with. The situation is that the Bill which the Government put before the people is a Rolls Royce in education legislation, but the Opposition wants to take away the wheels. It wants to stop it working. One would wonder who the Opposition spokesman on education was. This morning the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in this House tried to defend the despicable action which has been taken by the Opposition. Senator Rae said that in his belief it will cost $3m more to allow the sections in the old Act to flow on. The Leader of the Opposition here said $5m and the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said $15m. ‘Whom are we to believe when the Opposition cannot make up its own mind where it is going on this subject?
The fact of the matter is that the failure to carry in the Senate the clause relating to the repeal of the old legislation would involve an expenditure of $114m. I refer honourable members to section. 13 in the old Act, which very clearly points out that there is a onefifth, that is 20 per cent, tie-up between the amounts granted to government schools and those granted to non-government schools. I want to point out to the members of this House and to the people of Australia that under the old Act the former Government would have spent $225m on education in this coming year. We propose to spend nearly $700m, but the Opposition is not satisfied with that. The failure to accept the repeal legislation will mean that an additional $114m will be spent. Honourable members opposite are the people who say that Government expenditure ought to be cut, that this Government is spending too much and it is having an effect on inflation. I say to honourable members opposite that if that is the way they think then their logic is not very good at all and, of course, their figures are not very good.
I pointed out in a debate on social services that the Leader of the Opposition could not even calculate the percentage increase in social service payments. He added 11.4 because of a simple arithmetical error when in fact it was 13.95. Of course the Opposition is doing the same thing this morning. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), backed up by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar), claims that 53 per cent of children will be worse off. I will argue in a moment about the way in which those figures were arrived at. Let me look at this on the basis of the figures of the honourable member for Gwydir. He claims that 53 per cent of secondary school pupils in private schools will be worse off. The reality of the situation is that only 8 per cent of all secondary school pupils go to private schools. Therefore on his own figures - 53 per cent is nearly half - only 4 per cent of all secondary school pupils will be worse off. In fact 96 per cent of the children attending secondary schools in Australia will be better off - and much better off. That is the truth of the argument of the honourable member for Gwydir.
Let me look at the table setting out categories A to H. Last year the amounts payable were $62 and $104. This year in category C - bearing in mind that we go down to category H - the amount payable for a primary school pupil will be $70. This business about abolishing per capita grants is so much nonsense. We have not abolished per capita grants at all. What we have done is to reallocate funds, as we said we would both in statements made in this place and in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). An amount of $70 will be payable for a primary school pupil and an amount of $100 for a secondary school pupil in category C. The amount payable for secondary school pupils is $4 less than it was previously and the amount for primary school pupils is $8 more. It is a fairly good cut-off point. By looking at the number of schools in category C we would really get a true picture. Let us consider the number of pupils in the categories, after appeals. Surely this is what we ought to be looking at in categories A to C. I have even included category A because as I have pointed out primary school pupils are better off and the secondary school pupils are only $4 worse off. Twenty-nine per cent of the children fall into categories A to C and 71 per cent of all children, primary and secondary, fall into the other categories where they clearly get more.
Members of the Opposition have always defended the status quo in education. They talk about security. What security is there for a child in a school like North Fitzroy, Brunswick or Surry Hills? What security is there for a child growing up in a society where he is illequipped to cope with the sort of things that he will have to cope with? What sort of feeling have those who sat on this side of the House for 23 years had for those children? Quite clearly they had very little feeling for those children at all. They allowed them to stagnate in shocking schools. I believe it is worth reading again what the Prime Minister said in his policy speech. He said:
The Labor Party is determined that every child who embarks on secondary education in 1973 shall, irrespective of school or location, have as good an opportunity as any other child of completing his secondary education. . . .
– Order! It being 12.45 p.m. in accordance with standing order 106, I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 14 November (vide page 308), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr LYNCH (Flinders) (12.45)- This Bill seeks parliamentary approval for financial payments to the States arising from the recommendations of the fourtieth report of the Grants Commission. The Bill makes provision for payments of $10m to Queensland, $ 19.9m to South Australia and $8.6Sm to Tasmania. In each case this is the amount recommended by the Grants Commission calculated from completion grants for 1971-72 and advance grants for 1973-74. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) indicated that the advance grants to each of the 3 States will be subject to adjustment in il 975-76 if necessary. Although the role of the Commission has been substantially altered following the entitlement of the Grants Commission Act 1973 it maintains its traditional function of inquiring into applications by States for special grants of financial assistance. This is a vital function since State economies differ in their capacities to provide services for individuals. Although fiscal inequalities are, in practice, largely offset by the pattern of distribution of financial assistance by the Commonwealth Government, the Grants Commission’s recommendations are a vital factor in achieving overall balance.
As the Treasurer has made clear the recommendations of the Commission have been accepted in each case since its establishment. The Opposition notes with interest the Commission’s comments on the 2-part system. This is a system which has, in effect, operated since 1949. The completion grant is a final settlement of the advance grant paid 2 years earlier. The completion grant results from the Commission’s assessment of the audited budget figures for all States with respect to the year of review. The advance grant is based on a forecast of the total financial assistance which is likely to be justified for the year in which the payment is made. The Commission indicated in its report that the question of a onepart grant as an alternative to the present system was not substantially advanced during 1972-73. It commented, however, that it would continue to investigate the matter.
The Commission, in its report, also made a number of detailed comments on its general approach to the treatment of debt charges and its determination of the Budget standard. I raise these matters during the course of this debate to indicate that, while the recommendations of the Commission have traditionally been subject to the approval of this Parliament, they are nevertheless matters which should not be treated as simply a matter of course. The Opposition is concerned that the additional activities to be undertaken by the Commission under the Act enacted this year will not, in fact, diminish the Commission’s capacity to undertake its primary function. A reading of the Board’s annual report indicates the complexities of that function and the need for continuing attention to a number of the problems inherent in such a system.
During his speech on the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill last year the present Treasurer stated that, in Government, he would seek to refine the techniques of the Grants Commission. He commented at that time:
I would keep the broad principles, but I think that in some respects the Commission is becoming a body which is a little over-systematic in trying to work out the relative abilities as between one State and another.
Perhaps I could take this opportunity to raise in the House for response by the Treasurer whether or not he still adheres to that approach and, if so, what action has he taken during the course of the year to influence the operations of the Commission.
Finally, I take this opportunity to place on record the Opposition’s continuing concern at the adverse trends in Commonwealth-State financial relationships under the present Labor administration. Quite apart from the Government’s overall philosophy that a unitary constitutional system is preferable for Australia, there has been a continuing level of practical interference within determined areas of State adminstration. It is possible, as has been demonstrated by a number of Ministers this year, to utilise financial pressures to underpin this predeliction for governmental interference. I therefore restate that the policy of the Opposition is to seek means whereby the constitutional integrity of State governments can be maintained on a continuing, firm, effective and responsible basis. We hope that the Constitutional Convention will provide an acceptable response to a number of the existing difficulties.
It would, of course, be inappropriate to preempt the determinations of the Convention by putting forward detailed propositions at this stage. However, I emphasise, as I have done on previous occasions, that my Party believes that there would be real advantages in a system involving the sharing of income tax revenues in fixed proportions between the Commonwealth and the various States. Equally, there is a very strong need to examine limitations to the application of section 96 of the Constitution, to restrict the nature of the conditions which the Commonwealth can impose on grants made under this section. This present
Government has so clearly abused the powers available under section 96. In short, this Government has shown a flagrant determination to exploit the weaknesses in the constitutional framework in order to increase the dominance of the central government.
The Opposition, in contra-distinction to the Australian Labor Party, believes in the federal system of government. This is not a belief based on outmoded principles; it is based on an acceptance of efficient and sympathetic administration, recognising the need for effective decentralisation and devolution of power. Equally, it is based on a rejection of authoritarian or remote methods of government administration. The Opposition, for the reasons which I have made clear, supports the Bill before the House.
– The Bill being considered by the House at the moment provides for allocations from the Australian Government to the States that are considered to be the less advantaged States of the Commonwealth - the mendicant States which, through the Commonwealth Grants Commission, make application to the Australian Government for additional finance to supplement their own budgets. It has always been the practice of the Australian Government to give finance to the States in accordance with the applications made to the Grants Commission. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) mentioned that this practice has been followed by various Australian governments since the introduction of this method of allocating money to the mendicant States - the smaller and more disadvantaged States.
While I welcome the allocation to Queensland for which provision is being made in this Bill, I think it is appropriate that reference should be made to some of the underlying reasons why such a claim has to be made to the Commonwealth Grants Commission by Queensland. Queensland certainly is a disadvantaged State. It is disadvantaged in a major way by the very system of government that operates there. The greatest burden, the greatest disadvantage that Queensland bears in relation to its economy, in comparison with the other States, is that a bigoted and insular Country Party Premier controls the State electoral system. The corrupt electoral system and the rigged boundaries allow him to be the leader of the major party in the coalition government, although that party receives a minority of votes in elections. This contributes in no small way to the financial problems that exist in Queensland.
I want to refer particularly to the failure of the Queensland Government to get the greatest financial advantage for that State from the royalties that it gains from the mining operations which are carried out in that State. The special report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission in 1972, which referred to the original application made by Queensland, on page 1 1 stated:
The Commonwealth Treasury expressed a belief that the material presented in Queensland’s submission concerning the 1971-72 budgets of Queensland and the standard States ‘is not necessarily reliable as an overall guide to whether or not a special grant is justified-
Nothing has been disclosed in subsequent reports. Certainly this 40th report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission does not throw any more light on the reliability of Queensland’s submissions. I submit that the reason for this is that Queensland’s submissions seek to keep from the Grants Commission the truth of the situation that exists in that State, which was mentioned in the original report of the Grants Commission, namely, the fact that Queensland is not getting from mining royalties as much benefit for that State as it should be getting. The report from which I quoted earlier stated:
The Commonwealth Treasury suggested-
That was the Commonwealth Treasury under the former Liberal-Country Party Government that the value of mining output might give some indication of capacity to raise mining royalties. This would suggest that Queensland’s capacity is above standard; and as the royalties collected per head of population in Queensland are below the average per capita for the standard States it would appear that Queensland makes a relatively low effort in this field.
It certainly does make a low effort in this field. I refer to bauxite. Weipa bauxite attracts a royalty of 5c a ton for Queensland if it is processed locally. The royalty is doubled to 10c a ton if the bauxite is exported. In comparison to those figures, it is interesting to look at the situation in the Northern Territory. Bauxite from Gove attracts a royalty of 20c a ton if it is processed locally and a royalty of 30c a ton if it is exported. The royalty on bauxite exported from the Northern Territory is three times the royalty that the Queensland Government gains for the people of that State from bauxite exported from Weipa.
One of the Queensland Government’s most often used excuses for negotiating contracts with overseas developing companies and allowing them to get away with murder, as far as the low level of royalties is concerned, has always been that there is an offset advantage to the State by the rail freight charges that are made for the cartage of these minerals to the coast for export. But it is as well to remember that in respect of bauxite this advantage cannot be claimed. It is all very well to claim that this is so in respect of black coal. Although this claim, when it has been made in submissions to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, has not been totally refuted, it has been very seriously questioned. But there is no question at all in regard to bauxite because it is mined at Weipa in Queensland and it is exported from Weipa. The low effort that the Queensland Government is making in order to gain royalties from bauxite mined in Queensland is a disgraceful insult to the people of Queensland.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr Speaker, before the suspension of the sitting I was speaking of the situation in Queensland in regard to bauxite royalties. I was about to cite figures relating to the Weipa project in that State. The Weipa project is the world’s biggest bauxite deposit and is now being developed. The argument advanced is that the royalty level attracted that development. I should like to compare the low royalties coming from Weipa with those coming from the Gove deposits in the Northern Territory where the value of royalties per ton are more than 3 times those at Weipa. In 1970- 71 4.242 million tons of bauxite was extracted at Weipa, bringing in a return of $23.3m. The royalty payment received by the Queensland Government amounted to a paltry $412,443 or 1.8 per cent of the total revenue. That was the total gain to the Queensland people in 1970-71 from the development of the bauxite deposits at Weipa. The story gets even worse. In 1971-72 7.7 million tons of bauxite was extracted at Weipa for a return of $42,35m. The royalty payments received by the Queensland Government amounted to only $570,141.
As production increases the percentage of the royalties paid does not increase but in fact shows a remarkable reduction from 1.8 per cent in 1970-71 to 1.35 per cent in 1971- 72. It is easy to see that if any real efforts were made by the Queensland Government for a proper return of royalties on that bauxite deposit, even without taking into consideration coal exports, there would not be a need for that State to go to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The blame for the situation that exists in Queensland whereby it is able to claim to be a disadvantaged State lies clearly at the feet of its own government. It is to the disgrace of Opposition members who represent Queensland electorates that they support the actions of the Queensland Government because the greatest disadvantage to Queensland today is the Country Party leadership of the coalition in that State.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hallett) adjourned.
(No. 2) 1973
Bill presented by Dr 3. F. Cairns, and read a first time.
DrJ. F. CAIRNS (Lalor - Minister for
Overseas Trade) (2.18) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr Speaker, this Bill provides for the validation until 30 June 1974 of the duties collected in pursuance of Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the Parliament since the commencement of the present Parliament and not enacted to date. The tariff changes validated by this Bill relate to Tariff Board reports on acetone derivatives; ethyl methyl ketone; agricultural tractors; cathode ray tubes; cherries; consumer electronic equipment and components; engines, motors, pumps and valves; fire hose; lightning arresters; machine tools for working stone, etc. and wood, etc.; pneumatic hand tools, etc.; New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement - machine tools for working wood, etc.; chain saws (dumping and subsidies); metal plates, etc., for printing purposes; prepared additives for mineral oils, etc.; resins of the propylene type; and synthetic rubber latex; and Special Advisory Authority reports on capacitors; industrial type plastic coated knitted gloves; and phthalic anhydride.
The 25 per cent tariff cut is also validated by this Bill. Subject to the Government’s legislation timetable for the autumn session, a Customs Tariff Bill could be introduced next May. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Snedden) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 2 November (vide page 3538), on motion by Mr Uren:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, I should like the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure in relation to this legislation. Before the debate on this Bill is resumed I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering that Bill, the Albury-Wodonga Development (Financial Assistance) Bill, the Growth Centres (Financial Assistance) Bill and the Land Commissions (Financial Assistance) Bill as they are all associated measures. Separate questions might be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest that you permit the subject matter of the 4 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 4 measures? As there is no objection, I shall allow that course to be followed.
– I have agreed for the Opposition to these 4 Bills being debated in a cognate debate. Those Bills are the AlburyWodonga Development Bill, the AlburyWodonga Development (Financial Assistance) Bill, the Growth Centres (Financial Assistance) Bill, and the Land Commissions (Financial Assistance) Bill. The first 2 Bills are obvious companions for the establishment of the Albury-Wodonga city complex. The second provides finance for that purpose. The other two are not in fact directly related to the Albury-Wodonga complex although they are part of the whole scheme of legislation relating to regional and urban development and they form part of the legislative scheme, but only part because the remainder of the scheme in relation to Albury-Wodonga and the development of growth centres belongs to the States and there will be legislation from the States. I think it is proper that they should be debated together. I welcome all 4 of these Bills. They will be supported by the Opposition. The initiatives in these Bills set out to relieve the pressures on the ever sprawling maritime conurbations. In over-simple terms, major cities are growing too large and therefore there must be active intervention to regionalise development. Really, it means that there is too much concentration on the hub of the major cities and not enough on the circumference.
Therefore, consideration needs to be given to the circumference and also to developing regional development centres so that the pressures on the circumference or the inner city are relieved by the development of the regional development centres. Some natural choice has been manifested by the citizens of this country in coming to the major conurbations. We all know that the non-metropolitan centres are tending to decline in population, although some of the non-urban areas are attracting population and many of the country towns are actually growing. That natural choice needs assistance. We must assist this process in 2 ways. We must see that there is a better standard of life on the circumference and that there is the opportunity for people to find what they would naturally select outside the urban areas. We must not overlook the very significant importance of the inner urban areas, but I will come to that shortly.
The inner cites themselves are in need of renewal and more attractive planning so that open space, playing fields and landscaping become more a rule than an accident. We have very devoted and imaginative planners in Australia and we need to give them scope for their imaginative drive. I am glad to say that not only the Commonwealth Government but also the State governments and the major municipalities have attracted planners who are developing very good schemes.
One of the major reasons why the Opposition wholeheartedly supports this legislation is that last year, while in government, we introduced a piece of legislation known as the National Urban and Regional Development Authority Bill. I am glad to say that the quality of that legislation was recognised by the incoming Government. The amendments that this Government made to the legislation were to provide a role for the new ministry that was established - the Department of Urban and Regional Development - within the structure of the Authority, and to change the name to the Cities Commission. I remember that at the time there was some debate as to whether the name should be the Cities Commission or whether the old name should be maintained. That is in the past. It is the Cities Commission. There is a role for the Department. But, basically, the legislation before the House today is the legislation which was introduced by the previous Government last year. I think that all parties take the view that this scheme should be developed. Some differences of attitude may emerge over time, but we welcome the continuation of that initiative. I do not think it is an issue on which we should compete with each other as to who took the initiative. The fact is that the legislation exists and we must go ahead on the basis of that legislation in the national interest.
We must set out to improve the expectation of people to a clean, aesthetic and yet varied environment. Some of the most beautiful areas of the capital cities are in the inner metropolitan areas. By that I do not mean what might be described as the actual city; I mean some of the surrounding residential areas. In most cities those areas are really very beautiful and ought to be preserved and developed. Yet this beauty is becoming increasingly obscured by lack of care of the buildings and the houses and by the intrusion into naturally beautiful residential areas of other types of residences or groups of residences which do not have the same charm. One thing that is apparent is that many of the buildings in the cities show the grime that has accumulated since coal furnaces and the internal combustion engine were introduced. Australia does not have the range of beautiful buildings that some of the older European cities have. Those who have been to London and Paris recently will have noticed the tremendous change that has occurred in both those cities by taking the grime off the natural beauty of buildings. We must pay tribute to what migrants have done in some of the inner suburban areas in taking old, broken down houses and refurbishing them, painting them and making them very attractive.
– And taking pride.
– And taking pride in them. I have been supplied with the word by the honourable member for Griffith. People have taken pride in these areas. I think it is important that there be selection. I believe that more and more people will be confronted with the dilemma of choice in the future. Young people with young families may very well want to live further away from the city centre; but, as the children grow older and leave home, the parents who are left on their own may very well want to live in the closer city area. In planning we must have in mind the different phases of selection which people will have in their minds when selecting their residence.
I turn now to regional development, about which the first 2 Bills are concerned. The Cities Commission appears to be trying a mix of a number of precepts of regional development, with the intention of locating regional centres at markedly varying distances from the capital cities. Centres such as Geelong and Holsworthy-Campbelltown are most reasonably considered to be sub-metropolitan centres or, to use the word which the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) used in his second reading speech, systems cities. I have not been using that word, although I have been meaning the same thing. I have been referring to sub-city centres and I think it really amounts to the same thing. If the term that is to be used is ‘systems cities’, I do not object to using it; but I believe that the term ‘sub-city centres’ expresses more adequately what I have in mind.
– We live in an environmental age - systems.
– The Minister has just said that we live in an environmental age. Words catch on. The term ‘systems cities’ probably will be adopted, but I will not alter my concept of sub-city centres. Incidentally, it was once reported that I was talking about subsidy centres. I mean not subsidy centres but subcity centres. Initially conceived as dormitory towns for the large cities, there is an increasingly and generally held concept that these systems cities should themselves be selfsufficient with their own services and industries. I support the concept of systems cities on the periphery of the major conurbations. There has been some discussion, if not controversy, about whether regional development should be essentially in the suburbs or spread inland. This consideration has been shown in the Schedule. Quite clearly, it must be both.
I want to make a point about the difficulties of appropriation of funds for metropolitan transport. I believe that there is a great danger that, in allocating funds for metropolitan transport, we could fall into the trap of providing money so that all suburban transport converges on the hub. This must not happen. If it does happen, it will mean that the conurbations will grow worse because everybody will be transported into the hub in the morning and out of the hub in the evening. It is very important that, in developing metropolitan transport systems and making money available for them, there should be major planning on the basis of bringing people into that sub-city centre from around it and not transporting everybody to the hub.
Another consideration that is implicit in the Schedule is the fact that regional centres may arise in ‘new towns’, such as is envisaged in Monarto, or may grow from pre-existing centres such as Albury-Wodonga. In looking through the Schedule, I find that obviously there is an eye to experimentation in this area, even though on page 25 of the Cities Commission report the criteria for selection of a growth centre are set out. Some of these appear more immediately relevant. For instance, the physical resources base - that is, better opportunities - would appear to be an important criterion for ultimate self-sufficiency. On the other hand, providing those better opportunities is more a statement of objective than a quantifiable element. What we must have in mind is converting the objective into some quantifiable element. A natural diplomacy is implicit in the fact that each State has at least one of these centres. This is good, because it must be recognised that the problem of regional development requires a national policy. The funds that come from the Commonwealth Government come from the general body of taxpayers.
The essential consideration is that these regional centres must be attractive enough for people to want to live in them rather than to flock to the pre-existing urban areas. Achievement of this is contingent on work opportunities being made available. I feel that it is essential that both private and public investment in these centres be encouraged. I think that we could very well have in the sub-city centres - the system centres - a priming from public funds of public buildings in those centres. I do not wish to see a series of what I may term public service towns being developed with public servants unwillingly being relocated just because a government has a grand design. Nor do I wish to see regional centres being developed as places where migrants are directed only to escape later when they have served their period, as happened in earlier years when migrants had to remain in a designated place for 2 years.
I agree with the principle of facilitating the settlement of migrants in Australia as expres sed in the Albury-Wodonga Development Bill, but we must remain conscious of the fact that people must retain their freedom of choice to live wherever they want and to have the mobility to move from one place to another. We can achieve this only by making these growth centres more attractive to people. Therefore I am sure the planner of these regional centres would have in mind the need to provide incentives for people to stay in these centres. There must be the development of job opportunities. This applies particularly to young people. There must be the facility for top class education, for entertainment, the theatre, the arts and something we must not overlook, that is, sheer size. Some people only wish to live in a city where there is a feeling of congregation, and they require size.
The whole concepts implicit in these Bills are that they set a development pattern for Australia up to the year 2000. I am unreservedly in favour of any policy which will contribute to this national growth. This means providing a balance between the social environment and the need for Australia to recognise its optimum economic potential. There are varying estimates of what the population of Australia will be in the year 2000. I think we can safely say it will not be less than 22 million or 23 million1 . and very likely will be 25 million. But I think it will not be 25 million if-
– I hope it is not.
– The Minister says that he hopes it will not be. That expresses a very significant difference between the Minister and myself. The Minister is operating on the basis that we must hold down population in order to make the quality of life good. I hold the opposite view. I believe that Australia has potential and capacity; it has people; it has resources, and by growth we can contribute more to our people and we can discharge the idealism that Australians feel to people outside Australia by generating the wealth of Australia. Therefore my belief is that we should grow. We need to make sure that in growing we do not sacrifice qualities. The Minister’s attitude is that he prefers the population not to grow but to concentrate everything on quality. I do not believe that by refusing to grow we will necessarily achieve greater quality. I am sure that if we continue to grow, if we are not afraid, and if we are adventurous within reason so that we know what we are doing and why, we will make Australia a better country in which to live. I do not believe we should stultify growth because we are afraid. I believe the Minister’s attitude is to stultify growth because he is afraid. The task is ours to achieve.
– I have always said that I support the concept of about a 1.1 per cent growth rate.
– The Minister, by way of interjection, has said that he has always accepted a growth rate of 1.1 per cent.
– Instead of 2 per cent.
– I would support a growth rate vastly in excess of 1.1 per cent. The point is that we should take into the country as many people as we can find who suitably fit into our environment, into our way of life, and who can contribute. I do not believe an artificial boundary can be set. I am interested that the Minister acknowledges a growth rate of at least 1.1 per cent, because he is going to have problems with growth.
– The Minister acknowledges that. If we are to have problems with growth let us realise that it is within our hands to take the appropriate measures to ensure the quality of life of the people making that growth. The Bills set out a mechanism for implementation of the design of this complex. The Albury-Wodonga Development Bill sets out a prototype for the development of a regional centre, and I applaud the evidence of Federal and State co-operation as evidenced by this Bill. Without this co-operation the Albury-Wodonga regional centre, first conceived by the Victorian Government in discussion with the Liberal-Country Party Government, would still remain just a good idea. It is said that the original concept of AlburyWodonga came from the Prime Minister when he was the Leader of the Opposition. The story further goes on that on one occasion Graham Freudenberg, not knowing what the Prime Minister should make a speech about, sat down to write a speech and said: ‘Let’s have the Albury-Wodonga complex’. But it was not an original proposal. The proposal had already emanated out of Victoria.
The Albury-Wodonga Development Bill and the complementary Bill dealing with financial assistance set the guidelines for one of our most worthwhile projects undertaken in 1972 and now followed through by the present Gov ernment. I acknowledge that the present Government has followed it through. There are problems implicit in the Bill - the question of how the land once acquired will be held, either as leasehold or freehold. It would appear that the Commonwealth Government is waiting the Else-Mitchell report on land tenure. I do not object to it waiting for the outcome of that inquiry. It will help us all in our debate. But I say quite unequivocally that I believe absolutely, explicitly and without qualification that all residential holdings ought to be freehold. If the land is not freehold it will not attract the support of people to the area whom we do hope to attract to it to make their homes and their lives in a particular area.
There is the problem of involvement of local government in all these ventures. I note that there is no mention of this tier of government in the Albury-Wodonga Development Bill, except as an advisory council with no responsibilities as a link between the developmental authority and the residents. I believe that it is important to have regard of the needs of local government especially in areas which previously have developed a highly institutionalised system of local government, responsible as they are for the provision and implementation of very many services. These services are important in an economic and social sense. I believe the provision of services to the cost of land is of the ratio of four to one. I also believe that the Government, whether Federal or State, should give recognition to the existence and objectives of resident action groups provided these groups are essentially acting within the confines of their own municipality. I see the growth of dozens of action groups which purport to represent the residents, and yet in fact represent multivested interests whether these be politically motivated or are unions or developers insensitive to the expectations and aspirations of the actual residents.
The proposed Growth Centres (Financial Assistance) Bill and the Land Commission (Financial Assistance) Bill extend the concept implicit in the Albury-Wodonga Bills. I do not fully support the concept of land commissions acting as land banks and holding land against possible rather than probable development. This is essentially a State responsibility. I know that both Western Australia and South Australia have enacted legislation whereas Victoria and New South Wales have quite different concepts. Those States have in mind a body which will acquire land as the land is needed. I would rather see the statutory authority, the Development Corporation, as the vehicle for control, having full power of acquisition over a designated area which can be seen by all the community as a denned plan, that is, a strategic action plan of achievement and not merely the taking of a great deal of land and putting it, so to speak, in a bank for future calling upon.
I reiterate my complete support for the concepts of the need for planned decentralisation, and also for planned urban renewal and extension of sub-city centres or, to use the name that is preferred, the system cities. I note in an answer to a question on notice that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has yet to look in detail at this latter area of urban renewal. I would commend that he do so at an early opportunity and in cooperation with each of the States. Having said that, I should like to make a few comments on the actual legislation.
Financial assistance to the States is tied tightly by the Federal Government. My Party’s attitude is that grants under section 96 should be conceived in the context of specific grants as national purpose grants. They should give direction to the overall design but should, as the development proceeds, give more latitude in their use to the States and through them to local government bodies in the further planning of these areas. We must assume that all wisdom in this use of responsibility does not devolve in the central bureaucracy in Canberra. There is great wisdom in the States and in local government bodies and although some people may think they can walk on the waters of Lake Burley Griffin, that is not a widely held belief throughout Australia.
We in the 2 Opposition Parties have not had all the time we needed to examine the Bills in detail. We should have liked more time, but that is as it may be. Specifically I would like to express - and I do not want this to be understood as more than I intended it to mean as a word - a caveat over some areas of the legislation which we will be examining further. I do not expect that if we find them unacceptable to us they would be unacceptable to the Government; I think it would be a matter of discussion. I am concerned to ensure that the parties understand clause 8, sub-clauses (2), (3) and (4) of the Albury-Wodonga Development Bill. The Minister will see that by sub-clause (2) the Corporation is given power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with, or as incidental to, the performance of its function. Its functions are contained in clause 8. Very few functions are enumerated and quite clearly this is because the function of land acquisition must be with the States, as it is in fact.
That carries me on to sub-clause (3), which gives the Minister power, unqualifiedly and not subject to any supervision of the Parliament, to declare any State Act a complementary Act, which is then published in the Government Gazette. This has not been spelt out in any detail in the second reading speech and perhaps the Minister might provide some more information about that. Sub-clause (4) of clause 8 is in the following terms:
It is hereby declared to be the intention of the Parliament that the Corporation may have and be subject to functions, powers and duties specified by an Act or part of an Act for the time being declared under sub-section (3) to be complementary to this Act.
It all ties back and I believe it means - I should like the Minister to reply on this - that once this Bill is passed the Parliament as such will no longer have any capacity to observe what is happening and express views - except by way of the forms of the House, which are not very suitable for this purpose, as to the conduct and success of the development of the AlburyWodonga region. I would expect that these provisions will be contained in other legislation which will relate to other growth centres.
The next matter I should like to refer to necessitates my citing clause 9 (1) of the Growth Centres (Financial Assistance) Bill which is in the following terms:
A payment or advance to a State under this Act is subject to -
such conditions, not inconsistent with this Act, as are agreed between Australia and the State; and
such of the other conditions provided for by this Act as are applicable.
I should like some information as to what is intended by the words ‘as are applicable’. Clause 14 of the same Bill - there are comparable provisions in the Land Commissions (Financial Assistance) Bill - makes it quite clear that there is an extremely tight control over the use of land by the Commonwealth and that the conditions can be applied by the Minister with the concurrence of the Treasurer. There does not seem to be at that point any consultation between the Commonwealth and the States. I should like the Minister to take up that point if he would.
The next point I should like to make is that loan funds are made available and are repayable after the expiration of 30 years, which seems a long time. However, in the context of the Albury-Wodonga complex it is a relatively short period. There is provision for the commencement of the repayment period to be deferred but there is no provision for a deferment of the repayment of the total of the loan after 30 years. My recollection is that a comparable provision in English legislation provides that loan funds are for 47 years. I should like the Minister to consider extending the time for repayment to 47 years or else an extension of the repayment finally when there has been deferment of the initial repayment.
– There are provisions dealing with the cash flows.
– If the Minister would provide me with that information I should be grateful. The next point I wish to make is that there is quite a marked difference between grant money and loan money and the purposes to which they are put. It seems to me that as experience is gained in the Albury-Wodonga complex it may be necessary to alter attitudes as to what should be grant money and what should be loan money. I do not have an objection at this stage and I would not be wishing to suggest that there should be a change in the statute as it is an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. However, as experience develops and if there is a need to change loan money into grant money I should like the Minister to indicate that he would be prepared to discuss it with the States.
By way of summary, the Opposition supports the concepts basic to the Bills. We support the development of regional centres along the criteria set out by the Cities Commission; we support the need to plan rationally and renew the pre-existing urban areas; we support the need for involvement of local government and the recognition of the actions of legitimate relevant action groups. (Extension of time granted.) Finally, the Opposition supports the use of this plan for urban and regional development in the realisation of the maximum economic and social potential of Australia. These regional centres must not be State monuments to somebody’s good idea, but an integrated reality into the fabric of a dynamic Australian community.
Debate (on motion by Mr Cohen) adjourned.
– -by leave - This will be the last time that a Minister for External Territories will address this House. On 1 December amendments to the Papua New Guinea Act recently passed by this Parliament will come into effect. Papua New Guinea will become formally selfgoverning. The portfolio of Minister for External Territories and the Department of External Territories will cease from that date.
This is an historic occasion. Seventy-two years ago this House and the Senate resolved that they are prepared to join in measures for the acceptance of British New Guinea as a territory of the Commonwealth’. Papua was formally placed under Australian administration by the Papua Act 1905 which was proclaimed on 1 September 1906. In 1920 the League of Nations conferred on the Australian Government a mandate for the government of the Territory of New Guinea. Following the Second World War the 2 Territories were unified under one administration.
In his second reading speech on the Papua New Guinea Provisional Administration Bill on 4 July 1945, the then Labor Government Minister for External Territories, Mr Eddie Ward, observed:
This Government is not satisfied that sufficient interest had been taken in the Territories prior to the Japanese invasion, or that adequate funds had been provided for their development and the advancement of the native inhabitants. Apart from the debt of gratitude that the people of Australia owe to the natives of the Territory, the Government regards it as its bounden duty to further to the utmost the advancement of the natives, and considers that that can ‘be achieved only by providing facilities for better health, better education and for a greater participation by the natives in the wealth of their country and eventually in its government . . .
Today we are witnessing one of the last steps in the fulfilment of that promise.
In 2 days time Papua New Guinea will have full legal control over its own internal affairs. But less than 4 years ago the then Australian Government regarded self-government and independence as a remote possibility. The visits in 1970 and 1971 of the then Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), broke the nexus. His proposal for early self-government and independence was met with official hostility and public dismay. But the course and flow of events in Papua
New Guinea were dramatically and irrevocably changed. Papua New Guinea has attained self-government and is moving to independence by orderly constitutional procedures. The Labor Party, having noted the reluctance of colonial powers to give up their colonies - a reluctance which led to wars of national liberation, subversion and bloodshed - was determined that the distresing lessons of history should not be repeated in Australia’s colony - Papua New Guinea.
As a political party, we firmly believe that the decisions affecting the people of any country should be made by the representatives of the people of that country. The people of Papua New Guinea will want to measure their own steps and to set their own course. The National Coalition Government, under the leadership of Mr Michael Somare, has already re-oriented the economic and social development of Papua New Guinea in line with the 8-Point Improvement Program. I am sure that all of us wish the Chief Minister and his Government well in guiding their own country to nationhood. There are problems, some of them daunting, particularly for a young country; but, in the words of an old Persian proverb, Only your own fingers can find the itch’.
The character of any nation is determined as much by the manner in which problems are resolved as by the nature of the solution arrived at. Australia will, as the Prime Minister has stated publicly and unequivocally, continue to provide assistance to Papua New Guinea up to independence and beyond. We will not leave Papua New Guinea in the lurch. The assistance will be applied to the objectives and priorities established by the Papua New Guinea Government. By the very nature of our past relations and the agreed tasks, it will be substantial. But I believe it is important for both countries to recognise that the relationship of donor to receiver is just as complex between nations as it is between people. It is a relationship that requires a sensitive understanding on both sides. A heavy dependence on foreign aid can only be acceptable to an independent country if it is not too long lived. The Papua New Guinea Government, in acknowledging this, has ranked self-reliance as one of its major objectives.
The very closeness of our relations can create problems. The Australian Government recognises that Papua New Guinea will continue to occupy a special position in Australia’s policy, but we do not see Australia as seeking or asserting an exclusive relationship with Papua New Guinea. Let me quote another national proverb, this time from Malaysia: Even good friends must keep their distance’. Papua New Guinea will want to find its own place in the international community. It will want to determine its own relations with Australia with due regard to its own national interests. Australia will want to do the same. There could be conflicts of interest, but the test of our friendship will be in the amicable resolution of any such conflicts.
The attainment of self-government for Papua New Guinea is also the occasion for the disbandment of the Department of External Territories whose staff has worked tirelessly and with dedication in the interests of Papua New Guinea’s future. The contribution it has made is without parallel in the Australian Public Service. Officers of that Department have served successive Ministers for External Territories well and I would like to place on record my appreciation for their support and advice during a very demanding year. To the many thousands of Australians who have served and are serving in Papua New Guinea, we extend our appreciation for their contribution to the development of Papua New Guinea.
At this stage, I wish to read an extract from a letter that I received this morning from His Excellency, the Governor-General. This letter is intended for an occasion that we are to have tomorrow evening - a wake, I suppose one would call it - for the Department of External Territories. In this letter, His Excellency says:
In the continuing labour of government the ending of one job only means the beginning of a new job. There is still a great need for the Australian Government to draw on the training, experience and knowledge gained by its public servants in handling matters related to Papua New Guinea and I trust that full and intelligent use will be made of this asset in the coming years.
It is. too early for an historical judgment to be made on what Australia has done in Papua New Guinea. At this time it is enough to remember with pride, and record with honour the patient and devoted labours and the good intention of Australian public servants. The length of their service gave continuity and the depth of their experience gave better understanding of the wide range of problems and the many changes in situations which successive Australian Ministeries had to face.
That, Sir, is a compliment - I believe a well earned compliment - by His Excellency, who, for many years, was the Minister for Territories and in charge of the affairs of Papua New Guinea for the Government of his day.
I think that it would be appropriate for this House, in taking note of a landmark in its own history, to express to the people of Papua New Guinea through the House of Assembly its warm wishes in the form of a resolution. I ask for leave to move a motion accordingly.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That this House conveys to the House of Assembly representing the people of Papua New Guinea its congratulations and warm wishes on the occasion of Papua New Guinea’s achievement of self-government;
And this House respectfully requests that the terms of this resolution be conveyed to the Speaker and House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea.
– I second the motion. This is not the occasion to express party political differences. The orderly and peaceful transition of Papua New Guinea to self-government on 1 December this year may be regarded, to a large extent, as a tribute to the policies of the previous Liberal-Country Party Government. The date was agreed upon last year by the Liberal-Country Party Government of Australia and the Government of Papua New Guinea. As I said in May of last year, it is not the timing of self government or even the act of self-government itself that is of prime importance; the aim must be to achieve a self governing country and not just a legal facade.
The attainment of self government is also a tribute to successive Australian Administrators and to the officers of the Department of External Territories, both in Canberra and in Papua New Guinea, as well as the officers of other departments which have contributed to Papua New Guinea’s progress towards self government. Naturally I place the greatest emphasis on those who worked for the Administrator and the Department of External Territories. Their role has been greatly understated and underestimated. Indeed it is, as the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) has said, unparalleled. So too was the contribution made by those from this Parliament who served as the Minister for Territories or Minister for External Territories. Naturally I exclude the present incumbent and myself. I refer to those who are not members of this House today.
Australia’s task in the past has been to carry out the United Nations mandate to advance the people of Papua New Guinea politically, economically and socially to the position where they could run their own affairs and to do this in accordance with the wishes of the people expressed through their elected representatives in the House of Assembly. The people of Papua New Guinea, to all intents and purposes, now run their own affairs and Australia has nearly completed its task. A major step in this constitutional advance occurred in April 1972 with the election of the present House of Assembly and the exercising of increasingly greater responsibilities since then by Papua New Guinea Ministers.
The date of the next step- that of independence - has become a subject of some controversy. On this I merely wish to say today that the prime determinant of the date of independence must be the desire of the people of Papua New Guinea as expressed by the leadership group. The Government of Papua New Guinea must determine that date. Australia ought to respond to the date that the members of the House of Assembly determine. As I have said before, it is their country and their future, not ours. I said in a speech in June last year:
Independence should not represent a sudden break from one status to another. Australia has long held the view that there should be a smooth and orderly transition which establishes Papua New Guinea by the time of independence as a state able to manage its own affairs with a government responsive to the wishes of the people. There is a need to plan ahead to avoid the hangover that so often follows the intoxication of emotional independence celebration.
In most areas of government Papua New Guinea is now responsible for the evolution of policies. That has been so for some time. Indeed, the people of Papua New Guinea are uniquely qualified for this responsibility, since only they have a fundamental understanding of the fabric of life in their own country. Only they can properly develop policies that will assist the progress of national unity, the formation of further land legislation and the evolution of the legal system to marry traditional law with existing concepts of British justice.
Only they should work out national priorities in various fields, such as in the setting out of new foreign investment guidelines as announced by the Chief Minister, Mr Somare, this week and. his eight point improvement program for 1973-74, which outlines his Government’s development philosophy. This philosophy envisages a more self reliant economy, decentralisation of economic activity, with emphasis on agricultural development and small scale artisan business activity, and a rapid increase in the proportion of the economy under Papua New Guinean control. In a speech I made in June of last year I quoted comments of a noted Australian economist, Mr E. K. Fisk, which are pertinent to my remarks at this moment. He said:
The aims of development are not solely or even primarily economic. In trying to direct development our concern must be first with the type of society and environment we are trying to produce. In this the economic aspects are of course important, but they are important as a means and not as an end. In the difficult process of defining goals the subsidiary status of the economic factor should not be forgotten.
So, in determining such priorities, Papua New Guinea now makes the decisions, but Australia and Australians with the necessary expertise still have a role to play in advising, not directing, policies - if our advice is sought - and of helping, not hindering, Papua New Guinea.
From this Saturday, 1 December, in the period between self government and independence the Government of Papua New Guinea will be responsible for all domestic matters. Between 1 December and independence Australia will be dealing with defence and foreign affairs matters on behalf of the Papua New Guinea Government and its people but also in conjunction wim them. This pattern of cooperation was initiated under the previous Liberal-Country Party Government when Papua New Guinea was represented, for example, at the first talks of the AustraliaJapan Ministerial Committee last year. Before that it became an associate member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the Asian Development Bank, the World Health Organisation and the South Pacific Conference. The recent creation of the portfolio of Defence and Foreign Relations in Papua New Guinea and the appointment to it of a Papua New Guinean Minister, Mr Albert Maori Kiki, is proper recognition of the fact that Australia will retain reserve powers in foreign affairs and defence only until Papua New Guinea is fully independent.
A new set of relations based on respective national interest and taking into account political and geographical factors affecting both countries will need to be established. The terms of this relationship will, I hope, be planned and some elements of it negotiated before the actual date of independence. We should be remiss if we found ourselves completing the independence of Papua New Guinea without adequate preparation for the post-independence world. The need to look beyond Papua New Guinea’s independence to the future relationship and to the form of the future relationship between the 2 countries is urgent. Events of history and facts of geography have dictated that this must be a close one. We are mutually important to each other. Papua New Guinea will be our closest foreign neighbour; we will be her closest but not her only source of aid and expertise. It is indeed a special relationship.
On Australia’s part, as long as Papua New Guinea looks to Australia for aid, it is the declared intention of both the Government and the Opposition parties in the Australian Parliament to provide such aid. The existing relationship between the 2 countries and between many hundreds, even thousands, of their peoples creates a special kind of situation where the development assistance Australia offers can be given on the basis of much greater understanding than is usual between developed and developing countries. Although it is desirable that Australia and Papua New Guinea should have a special relationship and that Australia in’ particular should not lag in fostering that relationship, Australian policies and those of Papua New Guinea need not necessarily always be in tandem, nor should they be.
It is necessary to distinguish between Australia’s relations with Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guinea’s own foreign relations. We have to determine our relations with Papua New Guinea with proper regard to Australia’s own national interests. We should expect Papua New Guinea to do the same. It should be expected that each country will pursue its own national interests, sometimes complementary, sometimes conflicting. But the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea also will be a part of their broader relations - collectively and separately - with the countries of the South Pacific and with other countries in Asia. Papua New Guinea, with its 2i million citizens and its economic potential, will be a nation of consequence in the Pacific. But Papua New Guinea also will have a major interest in South East Asia, sharing a land border with Indonesia and already developing a relationship of economic interdependence with Japan. I observed in an address to the New South Wales Branch of the Institute of International Affairs in June of last year:
While Australia will remain important to Papua New Guinea, we should not seek to build an exclusive relationship based on a mistaken belief that past assistance places Papua New Guinea under an obligation to us. Looked at from Papua New Guinea’s point of view, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan, as well as the island nations of the Pacific, will have important places in the eyes of the Papua New Guinea Governments. Other Governments will be seeking to assist Papua New Guinea. We will do well to recognise this. Not to do so might adversely affect both our and Papua New Guinea’s relations with third countries.
Through close consultation with one another, Australia and Papua New Guinea could begin now to formulate policies which will make more fruitful our relationship and theirs with both the Asian and the Pacific regions. It is significant that Papua New Guinea’s attainment of self-government is acclaimed by all parties in the Australian Parliament and is endorsed not only here but also in the Commonwealth and the ‘United Nations. In both these international forums it is expected that Papua New Guinea, on the attainment of independence will take its rightful place as a sovereign nation.
Finally, may I say that during my period as Minister for External Territories I tried to convey an understanding of trust between Australia and Papua New Guinea, in particular a trust between myself, the Chief Minister and his Ministers, to ensure that the Chief Minister realised at all times that when one spoke of Papua New Guinea one spoke not just of a country but of its people, and that as fellow human beings we should jointly seek a ‘better life and a better relationship between our peoples. I hope to some extent I succeeded, but of more importance I fervently hope that it will be the basis of a close and trusting relationship for years to come. We wish the Chief Minister, his Government and his people well in the endless human adventure that is before them.
– I join with the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison), speaking as the Minister for External Territories in this Parliament for the last time, and his predecessor, the former Minister for External Territories, the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), in endorsing on behalf of the Australian Country Party the message to be conveyed to the people of Papua New Guinea through the House of Assembly of warm wishes on the occasion of their self-government. Of all the qualities which go to foster relations between people and between countries, good will is paramount. In the relationships that have evolved between Australia and Papua New Guinea it is that quality above all others which has distinguished the successive relationships at a ministerial level, at a parliamentary level and at a personal level between Australians, Papuans and New Guineans both in peace and at war.
On 1 December a significant event will occur not only for Papua New Guinea but for Australia. We are as a parent to a child moving out into the world on her own. The relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea is almost as close as that personal one. We have had a very close involvement in the past, and I believe we should maintain - and there is the will to maintain - a similar close relationship in the future. It has been a personal involvement not only by those who are today in this Parliament and in the House of Assembly in Papua New Guinea but also by those who have been in the Ministry or in the Department of External Territories over the years. I would like in particular at this time to compliment the present GovernorGeneral, a former Minister for External Territories; my colleague, Mr C. E. Barnes, another former Minister for External Territories; the honourable member for Kooyong and the present Minister on the way in which the goodwill between our 2 peoples has been maintained. But in particular to Sir Paul Hasluck and to Mr Barnes, I think, the credit must go for the capacity of the people of Papua New Guinea to take the step which tomorrow represents.
The present Minister said in his statement in the House today that he believes it was the visit to Papua New Guinea of the Australian Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that served as a catalyst for change. I do not believe that that statement is accurate. To me it is regrettable that there should have been that type of visit at a time when, through a progressive support of the actions and the initiatives of which the people of Papua New Guinea were capable, there had been a remarkable transition from a state of complete dependence on Australia to a state in which economically the people of Papua New Guinea were more and more able to sustain their own future development. I believe that through a process of gradual transition there has developed a feeling of confidence in the future which would not otherwise have been possible. It was that confidence in the future which was unfortunately so violently disrupted by the actions and statements of the present Prime Minister as Leader of the Opposition when he visited Papua New Guinea in 1970 and 1971.
However, I believe that it is important that, Papua New Guinea having attained selfgovernment, the good will that has been in existence between our 2 countries is preserved during this next transition stage in the move towards independence and in the period thereafter. It is important that there be no feeling on the part of the Government, the Parliament or the people of Australia that we will force upon the people of Papua New Guinea decisions which they themselves do not desire to take. One would hope that in this transition to independence a capacity is developed within the people of Papua New Guinea which will enable them to accept the greater responsibilities which the final step will involve.
To all those who have been officers of the Department of External Territories under its several names I also pay credit. Both the Minister and the honourable member for Kooyong have made reference to the contribution that these men have made. Their actions both in the past and in the present represent the highest contribution that men can make within the obligations that are theirs as members of the Australian Public Service. I believe that their contribution to the self-government and to the status of Papua New Guinea must be a great tribute to their own personal efforts. To Michael Somare, the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea and to his parliamentarians the responsibility for the future is now passed. It is a step of gradual transition. One would hope that this step is seen not as one of violent change but rather as one of progressively taking on a wider burden of responsibility. I believe that in Michael Somare and his Ministry there is the capacity for the guidance of Papua New Guinea in the future in a sound and constructive way. Indeed, in the remarkable contribution which he has made towards unifying the country since he has taken up his present responsibility, I believe there are signs and symptoms of a man who is a great leader at a time when his country needs him.
To all those in Papua New Guinea, to those in the House of Assembly, on behalf of the Australian Country Party I wish the very best for the future. It is with a real feeling of a significant time in history that I give my own personal endorsement to the motion moved by the Minister for External Territories. So it is that on this last occasion on which a Minister for External Territories speaks in this House the Minister moves a motion with the complete endorsement of all honourable members. 1 believe it is a motion which will lead not towards the severance of relations between our 2 countries but rather to the fostering of a closer and a permanent relationship which will give to both the people of Australia and the people of Papua New Guinea greater promise for tomorrow than might otherwise have been the case.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-I present pursuant to statute the supplementary report of the AuditorGeneral for the year ended 30 June 1973.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed (vide page 4109).
– We are debating 4 Bills - the Albury-Wodonga Development Bill, the Albury-Wodonga Development (Financial Assistance) Bill, the Growth Centres (Financial Assistance) Bill and the Land Commissions (Financial Assistance) Bill. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) spoke in this debate for about 35 minutes. I was mildly amused to hear him claim credit for the program of decentralisation which is encompassed in this legislation. We all recall the haste with which the Liberals and the Australian Country Party suddenly discovered one month before the last election the problems facing the cities. After years of ignoring totally the problems in capital cities around Australia there was a sudden upsurge of interest. One would hesitate to suggest that it might have been the wrath of the voters that honourable members opposite were anticipating that broupht on this interest. But of course history will record that the man who was responsible for making the issue of the cities a national issue was the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), so ably assisted by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I can recall the famous Walter Burley Griffin memorial speech which set the tone and the pattern for political campaigns in 1969 and 1972.
What we are really encompassing in these 4 Bills is a totally new concept, a new vision of an Australia of the future. Decentralisation has been the catchcry of the Country Party down the ages. But unfortunately the Country Party has been singularly ineffective in its attempts to achieve anything remotely resembling decentralisation. It has had a total lack of success in implementing decentralisation programs. What we have seen has been a continued expansion of the growth of major cities. The population of Sydney is almost 3 million and in Melbourne it is almost 2i million. It is almost inevitable that those cities will progress to a population of 5 million each. It is not a question of stopping them now; it is a question of stopping them from rising to a figure of 10 million. The facts are that there has been a continual drift from the country to the cities. We have been unable to retain our population in the rural areas. There are a number of reasons for this. There was in recent years a rural recession. The main attraction of cities is that they offer employment; they offer a great range of educational opportunities; they offer cultural and recreational advantages that small country towns do not have. The primary attraction is employment. A wide range of employment opportunities exists in large towns. What we really have to do is to establish in other parts of Australia large towns equal in size to a city, such as Albury-Wodonga.
– Gosford is almost denuded.
– I do not know to what the honourable member is referring. Perhaps he could explain it to me later. We are really aiming at 2 types of growth in this program. Albury-Wodonga represents an artificial growth stimulus. People would not have gone to Albury-Wodonga in great numbers unless there had been a massive program such as the one proposed by the present Government. The other aspect of our program is to plan properly those areas which inevitably would grow, for example, Holsworthy, Menai, Appin, Campbelltown and Gosford-Wyong. People were going in their thousands to those places anyhow because they are close to the city. They are new areas in which land is available and in which there is room to move.
There are 2 distinct types of growth involved in this program. I think people ought to bear that in mind because I have heard honourable members on the other side say what a terrible thing it is to say to people in an area: ‘You will have 300,000 or 400,000 people’. In most cases that figure would have been reached anyhow. What is desired is that those 300,000 or 400,000 people will go into the area in a properly planned environment. I think it is important that the people of Australia recognise that there is no instant decentralisation formula. It is a long slow program. We have only to look at Canberra as an example of this. I said earlier that there had been no effective decentralisation. There has been one, and that is the development of Canberra. If there is one thing that the previous Government can take credit for it is the development of this city of Canberra. But in the early 1950s Sir Robert Menzies said: Yes, let us make Canberra the capital in reality, not only in principle.’
The Menzies Government set out on a program of encouraging growth - a massive rate of growth. Yet in the 20 years that has elapsed since that time the population of Canberra has risen from about 20,000 to only 170,000. In contrast the city of Sydney is growing by 70,000 a year. To keep Sydney’s growth at that level we must aim at creating towns that are able to absorb 70,000 people a year. Clearly that is quite impossible. We will not see immediate results of the program. Planning in Canberra takes a long time. The creation of suburbs like Tuggeranong or Belconnen takes a minimum of 9 years from the time planning is started, the plans go into the pipeline and the suburb is established. In this program we will not see the results immediately. It will be a long slow process but it will lay the foundation stone for new cities and towns of the future. I hope the people do not expect to see this happen overnight because it is not on.
It is important that we should be selective. The 1968 report of the New South Wales Department of Decentralisation said for the first time that there must be selected growth centres; that if you spread decentralisation in a pepper and salt method all over the country you would achieve nothing; that a city had to get to a certain minimal size before it started to generate its own growth. The figure given for that was a city with a population of between 50,000 and 100,000.
The problem that we have had has been a political one. The Country Party has a sort of schizophrenic attitude towards the question of decentralisation. It wants it but it does not want it. Its members talk about it in their electorates. They demand that it be their bailwick. They all want it so long as it is theirs but they do not want it in the next fellow’s area. They expect it to be in every country town and this is simply not on. If honourable members read that decentralisation report I referred to they will recognise the common sense contained in it.
The other problems with the members of the Country Party is that once they demand it in their own bailiwick they hope that it is not the one chosen because unfortunately decentralisation brings with it people who are known as urban voters and who inevitably vote not for the Country Party but for the Labor Party. Unfortunately the Country Party has had this schizophrenic attitude towards decentralisation. Its members talk about it. They are in favour of it just like the national anthem, motherhood, Anzac Day and the Returned Services League. But by God if it ever happened they would all be out of this place on their ears.
We must get away from ad hoc planning of the past. Unfortunately I have been asked to keep my speech within a limited time. I want to deal very briefly with the community which I represent, the community on the Central Coast of New South Wales. The development on the Central Coast is typical of the type of poor development that has occurred almost throughout the whole of Australia. The community has grown like Topsy. I do not say this in any derogatory sense but developers were allowed to pick off little sub-divisions hither and thither all over the Central Coast. They were able to move in on perhaps 100 blocks of land on the edge of a lake, near a river or down near a beach; flog them off without any kerbing, guttering, roads, electricity, telephone facilities-
– No sewerage.
– No sewerage, hospitals, libraries and recreation facilities. All those amenities have to be provided by the rest of the community. It is simply a matter of economics: If you have to provide all those sorts of facilities in a community to 60, 70 or 80 villages - and if honourable members are familiar with my area, they will know that it is broken up into a whole lot of little communities - it is a very expensive proposition. There are some major towns in my dec.troate, but there is an enormous number of places which one would describe as villages of 50 or 60 houses. Some little villages extend out 6 or 7 miles from the main centres. That means that the authorities have to provide 6 or 7 miles of bitumen road, telephone cable, electricity cable and so on. It is just as economical to provide those facilities for 1,000, 2,000 or 5,000 people as it is to provide them for 100 people. This is the way in which we have wasted our resources, and this is what we have to avoid in the future.
This is what this new concept will do. We will move in and plan townships with communities of 4,000 or 5,000 people and suburbs of larger towns which perhaps will consist of 40,000 or 50,000 people. The whole project will be planned at the beginning. It may mean that a vastly greater amount of money will be outlaid at the beginning, but in the long term the capital investment that is ploughed in in these early years will show an economic result in the future. We will do this rather than spend money constantly to get an adequate result, which we are doing now. For example, in the case of a road, a little dirt track is made, it is widened a few feet, a few years later a bit of bitumen is put on it, then as the population grows a 4-lane highway is put down, and so it goes on. Millions of dollars are expended over a long period of time, and this results in an enormous waste. If the project is planned, the 4-lane road is put down in the first place, and one bite is taken at the cherry. The same principle applies, whether it be telephone services, electricity, water, sewerage, schools, hospitals and so on.
The final thing I want to say in the last few minutes of my speech is that as Chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety I have viewed with grave concern the enormous number of pedestrian deaths that occur in our community. About one-quarter of the 3,500 people killed on our roads every year are pedestrians. In a planned community, such as Canberra, the pedestrian death rate is about one-sixth of that in any other community in Australia. In the next 30 years we will build as many communities as we have built in the last 140 years. The Committee has asked the Department of Urban and Regional Development to make a submission to it, and the Department will do so. By planning our communities in this way we can save many thousands of lives. Pedestrian deaths, I repeat, comprise one-quarter of all Australian road deaths, and in most cases little children or older people are the victims.
If we are looking for ways of saving lives, one way is to build communities in which one separates the pedestrian from the vehicle. The Radburn principle of planning, in which there are overpasses and underpasses, where children can play safely and walk to school, to playing fields and to shopping centres without ever coming into contact with a vehicle, is, I believe, the hope of the future. When I was in Western Australia recently I had the very great privilege of looking at a development called ‘Crestwood’, where a township is being built by a gentleman named Mr Sloane. It is a very fine performance. About 1,250 homes are to be built in an area in which the vehicle and the pedestrian are completely and utterly separated. I commend the Bill. I am delighted to see that the Opposition will support it. I look forward to the day when we will receive that unequivocal support on a whole range of measures.
– Firstly, I take up one point that was made by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). He referred to the lack of progress that had been made over a long period of years towards achieving a better balance in the distribution of population in Australia. I cannot help but agree with the comments that he made. I do not do it in any political sense because, although all political parties may have had a good philosophical approach to the problem of decentralisation and a better distribution of population, it has been very difficult over the period to get sufficient public enthusiasm for this approach in Australia. Governments of all political persuasions in all States have been aware of the problem, but they have not been able to approach the problem satisfactorily. Obviously, there is only one way in which they can make the sort of attack on the problem that is necessary, and that is with the aid of finance from the Australian Government.
Honourable members, and indeed the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), will recall that last year the former Prime Minister introduced legislation to establish the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. This is the genesis of the legislation before us today. Indeed, in the debate at that time in September or October of last year I said:
This proposal marks an historic landmark in the direction of Australia’s future development.
At the time of the introduction of this legislation to establish the National Urban and Regional Development Authority we also pointed to the mammoth task which would confront all governments, both State and Federal, in making a real dent on the problem. The Leader of my Party, the Right Honourable J. D. Anthony, made this comment when that legislation was introduced:
It marks the beginning of a major attack on the imbalance of population and industry that has plagued the nation for a long time.
The formation of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority was the result of many years of consultation between officials of the State and Commonwealth governments. They met together in an officers committee which was established to work out a formula that would provide a policy for the comprehensive and balanced development of Australia.
During 1971 and 1972 the then Department of the Interior, upon my instruction, undertook far reaching studies of ways and means to set in train a pattern of new town development. Indeed, I asked the permanent head of that Department, Mr George Warwick Smith, to undertake an overseas study of new town development in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Scandinavia. He prepared a valuable report as a result of those studies. I also had general discussions with Sir John Overall who was at that time the Commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission and who later became the Chairman of the Cities Commission. I asked him to turn his mind to ways and means of bringing about new town development in Australia. As a consequence of these efforts and the other efforts, and indeed the years of efforts of the present Minister, who brought to his Department a degree of knowledge and a very good approach to the problem, we are now seeing an approach to comprehensive and balanced development getting off the ground.
Although the Minister began the year with what I thought was a heavy hand in his approach to the States, I commend him for the way in which he has been able to negotiate with the various State governments to achieve the sort of machinery that has been necessary for new town development. It was no easy task. It would not have mattered as to what party the Minister had belonged; he would have had some difficulty in trying to accommodate the views of the various State governments, with their jealousies, and the position of the Commonwealth. I believe that if he had not approached the matter in the manner in which he has he would have imperilled progress towards any meaningful approach to any new pattern of urban and regional development. I think that the Minister has shown a great example of how other Commonwealth Ministers should deal in their discussions with State Ministers. So I commend the Minister quite sincerely for the way in which he has succeeded in getting the cooperation of the States.
Earlier this year at a meeting of the Ministerial Council it was agreed to establish an interim consultative committee in regard to the Albury-Wodonga growth centre. After protracted negotiations an agreement was signed on 23 October 1973. Although it did not completely conform to the New South Wales Government’s position, a compromise was reached. The structure of the proposed development corporation ensured that the States of New South Wales and Victoria would have rights equal to those of the Australian Government.
The agreement also required the States to establish land corporations or commissions to acquire land under State legislation, with the State nominated deputy chairman of the development corporation as the chairman of the land corporation. There was a battle over land tenure. The Commonwealth took the position that leasehold would be the most desirable form of tenure for any designated area. However, once again the Minister expressed the view that before the Commonwealth took a position with regard to land tenure it should await the outcome of the findings of the inquiry into land tenure by Mr Justice Else Mitchell.
The States will retain the right to establish their own policies of acquisition and compensation payable in respect of land acquired for the development corporations. I understand that within the next week or so the New South Wales Government will introduce legislation to set up a lands commission, which is essential. One thing is clear, namely, that no land owner should be either the beneficiary of a great land boom windfall in a designated area or a loser as a result of an area being designated in an interim order. However, that is a matter for the States, although the Commonwealth is indirectly financing land acquisition by loans at the bond rate. Those loans are repayable by the States. There are provisions to assist the States in the repayment of some of those loans. There is provision also for grants to be made for specific projects.
One would hope that the Government would be generous with grants in such an important national program, which we hope will remove the pattern of ugly urban development we have seen in Australia. If the Whitlam Government is serious and sincere in its approach to this problem, it should ensure that generous grants are made to the Minister and his Department from the Treasury, so that there is a degree of flexibility and so that nonrepayable grants are available to the various State development authorities to enable the program to accelerate, now that it is getting off the ground. The allocation of $24m of loan funds for a new cities program is only a flea bite on the massive problem. The provision of $9m in repayable loans to enable the New South Wales and Victorian Governments to commence a program at AlburyWodonga is but a start. Admittedly, $30m has been provided for land acquisition. For any program of decentralisation to succeed, it must be one of comprehensive balanced development. The recent savage Budget - the Minister for Urban and Regional Development is not directly responsible for this - with its effect on rural areas in taking away a range of rural incentives, is a serious setback to decentralisation. The partial elimination of the petrol price equalisation scheme of the former Government and the threat of losing it all in next year’s Budget, the increased postal and telephone charges in rural areas, the abolition of the rural investment allowances, the reduction of depreciation allowances and the increases in air charges and air fares will reverse any real efforts towards decentralisation in the rural areas of Australia. The total budgetary cost to rural Australia is of the magnitude of $140m at least, and must be regarded as a severe blow to the rural areas of our nation.
It is more severe when one realises that these measures came on top of the equivalent of 3 appreciations of the Australian dollar which reduced the returns to export industries, whether they be rural, mining or manufacturing. Our exporters are now at a 26 per cent disadvantage, in terms of currency and exchange rates, compared with their competitors in the United States of America and Canada.
– It would have gone up more if the Government had floated the currency. Your Leader is now advocating floating the currency.
– It might be wiser to float the currency than to have it tied to the United States dollar when the United States dollar is getting stronger. We are continuing to appreciate from a high base as a result of 3 unilateral revaluations.
We are informed that this year’s Budget is only phase 1 of the adoption of the recommendations in the Coombs report. Phase 2 and phase 3, certainly supported by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun), are yet to come. Yet, these measures are replaced by a $54m loan allocation to the States to aid a new cities program for the development of new cities within 150 miles of our capital cities. The combined result of these programs will accelerate the drift of population to the cities. Needless to say, these measures tend to receive the applause of most of the metropolitan Press and editorial writers who are aiding what I believe to be a one-eyed, lopsided, crazy and ugly trend of population distribution and development in this country.
Australia is the largest island continent in the world. It has vast resources, enormous space and a relatively small population; yet it has the most urbanised population in the world. It has a Prime Minister who calls himself a cities Prime Minister and calls his Government a government of the cities. In truth, Australia has all the ingredients for an escalating cities growth trend, although it has the opportunity to achieve comprehensive balanced development. It must be our national objective to ensure that our largest cities do not grow at their present rates and to such sizes that human endeavour within them takes too great a toll of human time, comfort and pleasure in living. Any attack on the problem of regional development should be directed towards ensuring that people who prefer to live in country towns or medium sized rural cities such as Dubbo may do so without forgoing a reasonable range of employment opportunities and a fair share of the social and economic opportunities at present found only in the major cities.
The Whitlam Government’s 2-pronged approach to comprehensive balanced development is not broad enough. In the longer term it will not be sufficient to alter the trend of population congestion in Australia. I believe that, if anything, it will tend to accelerate the drift in the movement of people to the metropolitan cities. The only way in which a real impact on the problem of gaining balanced development will be achieved is by a joint Commonwealth-State 4-pronged approach. I have said this before in the House. I reiterate it because I am sure that the Minister ultimately will see the sense in it, if only he can persuade his ministerial and party colleagues. That is not something that applies only to him; but it applies to all Ministers of all governments. If the Minister can persuade fellows such as the honourable member for Kingston on this point, then his job will be much easier.
The first prong in my suggested approach is the commencement, on an annual basis, of selected regional growth centres, each to accommodate up to 300,000 people, and located throughout Australia and away from existing cities. The Minister would agree with that entirely. The second prong is a metropolitan redevelopment program to help overcome problems of population and environmental pressures in the major cities. The third prong is the provision of general incentives and subsidies to assist country areas to overcome their existing economic disadvantages for industry, commerce and investment and social disadvantages for the people. The fourth prong is that State governments should be given every encouragement to continue with their selective support in country towns generally in order to maintain a healthy and viable growth rate in those towns. People who live in country towns with a population of up to, say, 10,000 or more are Australians and are just as important as those who live in the cities. We are one people, one nation and one Australia.
The first 2 prongs are of equal importance, and the prospect of any program achieving a balanced distribution of population, with people living at desirable standards, will depend upon the balance achieved in those 2 areas. The other 2 prongs in the approach are also important and appear to have been disregarded in the current approach to the problem. However, the main thrust in any decentralisation program must be towards selective decentralisation in spite of the political considerations and parochial jealousies it can arouse. I concur fully with the Minister in that regard. The success of the program will also depend on the incentives it can offer industries to relocate or locate their enterprises in these new centres. It will depend on how much confidence it can inspire among those in the private sector to invest in the new development. Incentives offered to industry, especially labour intensive industries, should be designed to make them better off than similar industries in metropolitan areas. If they only neutralise cost disadvantages because of rural locations they fail to achieve the carrot objective. This is especially so when an industry’s viability is related to its proximity to markets.
Before concluding I wish to refer to one other aspect of the legislation - the land commissions. I have been provided with an information paper by the Department of Urban and Regional Development. Paragraph 3 on page 2 reads as follows:
It is proposed that an Australian Land Commission will eventually be formed as the vehicle through which the agreements between the Australian Government and the State governments would be brought into effect and monitored and through which funds would be made available by the Australian Government.
I just hope that this does not grow into some unnecessary monster bureaucracy, because the States will be establishing their own land commissions. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in his second reading speech sought clarification from the Minister for Urban and Regional Development on several questions. I fully support him and his requests. I hope that satisfactory answers can be provided so that we can give a speedy passage to these Bills and enable the Australian and State governments to get on with the job of new town development and a new approach to comprehensive balanced development. The Australian Country Party supports these Bills.
– After hearing the last speaker, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), pay such a generous tribute to the work that has been done during the past 12 months by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) in his negotiations with the States on this important matter of new city development I felt moved to pay a similar tribute to the Australian Country Party and to the honourable member. But with the best will in the world, thinking back over the record of decentralisation over the last 23 years, I find it impossible to pay such a tribute. The statistics speak for themselves. The honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke), who is interjecting, may throw doubt on the statistics if he wishes, but the fact is that in 1947, 31 per cent of this country’s population lived in non-urban areas, and In 1970 - the last year for which consolidated statistics are available - only 14.7 per cent were still living in non-urban areas.
The years of Liberal-Country Party hegemony have been years of steady decline in the rural population and of steady consolidation and growth of population in our 6 capital cities. The legislation which we have before us today will be remembered in the history of this country as marking a point of new departure. It will be remembered that, through this legislation, Australians broke out of the urban straitjacket of 6 capital cities in which they had lived throughout their history. The Albury-Wodonga project, exciting as it is in itself, is only the forerunner of further new city projects. In his speech today the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) referred to the fact that each of the States contained within its boundaries at least one designated growth centre. He properly paid tribute to the wisdom of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development in so arranging things.
The Government has based its thinking on urban affairs from the very beginning on the proposition that urban development in this country would occur most productively if it occurred as a function of co-operative federalism. There is no design, no thought, on the part of the national Government of this country that, in the words used by the Leader of the Opposition, all wisdom resides in Canberra. The work of the Department of Urban and Regional Development and of its Minister throughout this year has been a copy-book example of the workings of co-operative federalism, in that the Department and the Minister have sought to involve at every stage of negotiations representatives of all 3 levels of government which makes up our federal system. It is a mark of the fruitfulness of that approach that we should have this legislation setting up the Albury-Wodonga Development Authority at such a relatively early stage in the lifetime of the Government and in the working out of these new programs. Honourable members opposite should be particularly pleased at the selection of Albury-Wodonga as the first of the growth centres in the new program. It was. as I recall, in December 1944 that Albury housed the conference at which the Liberal Party of Australia was established. It is proof of the incapacity of this Government to bear a grudge that Albury-Wodonga has been singled out for the honour now bestowed upon it. We do not hold its history against it.
It is important that we should not see the new cities program in isolation from the Government’s overall approach to urban development, because whether it be the new cities, the establishment of the land commissions, the program of catching up with the sewerage backlog in the existing State capitals, the program for the upgrading of public transport, the program of improvement of recreational facilities initiated by my colleague the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart), all these things are aspects of the practical commitment of this Government to the improvement of the quality of life for Australians wherever they may elect to live. There is a particularly close inter-relationship between the 4 Bills grouped for this cognate debate.
The land commissions are designed primarily to tackle the problem of soaring land prices in this country. Honourable members will have noticed in the last few days that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development cited figures showing that over a 2-year period ending in March this year land prices in Sydney went up by 157 per cent. Yet Sydney, notorious though it is for the escalation of land prices, does not hold a candle to some other areas of Australia in this respect. In the city of Knox which straddles my electorate and the next door electorate of La Trobe the increase in land prices has been 100 per cent over a period of only 12 months. Nothing could bring home more vividly the predicament of the couple who are anxious to acquire a block of land on which to erect their first home than the fact that land prices have been rising for the past couple of years at a weekly rate far exceeding the maximum possible capacity of such a couple to save towards the purchase of their block. Nobody, I think in this House or in the various State Parliaments would deny that a very great part of this increase has been occasioned by the activities of land speculators. The other principal cause, of course, is the shortage of land that has been brought about by the failure of State governments to provide their departments or instrumentalities - the case differs from State to State - with the funds necessary to keep up with the provision of such basic services as sewerage. We have frequently heard cited in this House the backlog in each of the State capitals in that respect.
In the Bill before the House today we are tacking both these problems. The Lands Commissions are designed to acquire, subdivide, service and make available plots for residential purposes in competition with the various private undertakings engaged in this field. At the same time honourable members will have noticed in the last week negotiations reaching the point of conclusion on the matter of Commonwealth assistance for making good the backlog in sewerage services of the State capitals. They will have noticed that for the one year period immediately ahead such assistance will be provided in the form of low cost loans and that when the process of negotiation still under way is complete very greatly augmented sums will be provided not only in the form of low cost loans but also in the form of grants from the Australian Government to the States to see that this crucial backlog of services is made good.
The Lands Commissions in themselves can have only a limited effect. I live 20 miles out from the centre of Melbourne. My electorate is 20 miles out from the centre of Melbourne and yet if the projected increase in the population of Melbourne, the increase which will take our population past 5 million by the year 2000, were to take place as scheduled the Casey electorate and the City of Croydon in which I live would become middle-distance suburbs in stead of outer suburbs. It is to this problem that the creation of new cities, and in the immediate sense the creation of AlburyWodonga, is addressed. The whole purpose of the setting up of the growth centres is to ensure that for the first time Australians are given a choice about where they shall establish their homes and to where they can look for appropriate opportunities in employment, recreation and all those things which make our cities acceptable places in which to live.
It ie for this reason that we in this Government place such stress on the new cities program, for its liberating influence, for the fact that for the first time it gives the resident of Melbourne and the potential resident of Melbourne an opportunity to go and live somewhere else entirely without forsaking all the advantages of city life, and yet that alternative be a place other than the 5 State capitals. Similarly it gives an alternative to the person living at present in a rural community and obliged by economic pressures operating on that rural community to seek a different style of life in one of the established State capitals. That is why I was disappointed with the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) when he appeared to be over-anxious to have his cake and eat it in this matter of decentralisation, to argue at one and at the same time for the Country Party’s traditional approach of dispersed development - a program which has been so conspicuous a failure over the years - and in the same sentence almost to argue for the program of concentrated development to which this Government is committed. The simple fact is that the resources are limited and we cannot have both.
The question is not whether we will have 6 State capitals and the present arrangement of dispersed development. We will have effective decentralisation, we will guarantee the opportunity of the man on the land, the proprietor of the family farm, to stay where he is only through policies of concentrated development which scatter growth centres across this country on a systematic basis so that appropriate opportunities for recreation, for employment and for education are accessible to Australians wherever it is they may live.
– It is all too rare an occasion in this House when one side of the House seems to be on reasonably good terms with the other. I had hoped that this attitude would continue. I am afraid the last speaker, the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), brought in a certain note of politics. I know it is extremely difficult in a place like this to keep politics out of it altogether but I feel it is a pity when we get back to that old political stock-in-trade of ‘What did you do?’. Of course none of us have been as successful in the field of decentralisation as we would have wanted either in the Federal sphere or in the State sphere. The honourable member for Casey was blaming us for the drift to the city. There is no doubt whatsoever, and figures can prove it, that this drift occurred over a period. It did not occur only during the period of government of my Party. The fact that we were in power for 23 years did not give the Labor Party an opportunity to show just what sort of drift it would have had if it had been in power. The basic factor which has caused this - I am afraid the honourable member for Casey ignored it - is the vast change which has occurred in relation to land. In the old days - and I talk about the time when I first went on to my property - it was a manpower job. We were still using draught horses. In those days 10 men did less than 3 men would do towards the end of my time, because- manpower has been replaced with machinery. I am sure that the honourable member for Casey would not want us to go back to the days of almost peasant farming. If we go back far enough, it was peasant farming. We have got away from that situation and no one would think of going back to it. That is the basic reason why there has been a drift to the cities.
I do not wish to extol the virtues of anything we should have done. All I can say is that if we had not done a number of things we did do undoubtedly the drift to the cities would have been worse. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) mentioned the amount of assistance that was given to primary industry. This had a remarkable effect particularly at a time when everything was going against the man on the land - prices, seasons and everything else. In addition, of course, we had policies in regard to the location, encouragement and development of mining which had a tremendous effect. People do not often realise that during the decade of the 1960s at least 25 towns were established in Australia. Most of them were completely new; a few were resurrected from ghost towns. This had a tremendous effect on decentralisation throughout the whole of Australia but more particularly in the north.
Having said that, let me refer to this measure. I intend to make some critical remarks concerning certain aspects of the second reading speech of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), but this certainly does not mean that I oppose the principle of decentralisation. I only oppose the way in which the Government is carrying out some of this decentralisation. Ever since I came into this House I have spoken on many occasions on the necessity for decentralisation and the necessity for policies which encouraged a greater spread in the country. After all, we in the Liberal Party have decentralisation as our official plank. I was glad that it was the honourable member for Casey who mentioned the fact that one of the 2 meetings which led to the formation of the Liberal Party was held at Albury. Going back even further, Corowa, which is not far from Albury, was where one of the major meetings which was held which led to Federation and to the formation of the Federal Parliament in which we sit. It is interesting that that area should be selected for this growth. I believe that the Liberal Party is the only political party which has as one of its officials planks an Australian nation in which decentralisation of industry is encouraged.
A major problem in Australia, which has been brought forward and highlighted by previous speakers, is that it has a small population and an extremely large continent. I think that 40 per cent of our population lives in Sydney and Melbourne and 56 per cent lives in the capital cities. The worst feature is that the position is becoming worse. Between 1961 and 1969 the total population in New South Wales increased by 558,000. Of this number only 68,000 went into areas outside Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. Some humourists have said that N.S.W. stands for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, and I think that it virtually does because the rate of increase in Sydney in that period was 6 times that in country areas. If this rate continues, there will be some extreme problems with traffic congestion, transport, sewerage facilities, pollution and the availability of houses, land and water.
As cities develop, public investment becomes more costly. I can recall the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), when he was Minister for the Interior, telling me that a study carried out by his Department showed that it. cost almost twice as much to set up one person in Sydney as it did to set up one person in Canberra. This was because of the increased cost associated with traffic, roads, water, sewerage and all the other services that went from the public sector into setting up that one person.
I believe that all honourable members would like to see encouragement given to people and to industry to relocate in the country. There are advantages in country establishment and in dwelling in the country. I suppose that one of the greatest advantages is the fact that there is less pollution, a better life closer to nature and less time lost in transportation. It is not unusual for a person living in a city to take an hour or more going to work and another hour or more coming home from work each day. On the other hand, although there is less traffic congestion, very little public transport is available in country areas and this means that in most cases country residents need to have their own transport.
Basically, there are more recreational facilities in the country, although one might not get some of the spectacles, such as Collingwood v. Carlton and similar football matches. Nevertheless, I suppose that if we can see the Benalla and Albury teams play that is almost as good. Cheaper land is available in country areas. In most cases there is no shortage of labour, particularly female labour. Generally speaking, the country work force appears to be more reliable and stable, although not always as technically competent and skilled. Normally, in most country areas it is possible to get cheaper water and sewerage facilities.
Against that, there are disadvantages. For instance, transport costs are more expensive. This is one of the greatest problems militating against industry setting up in the country, which involves the cost of bringing raw material to a factory, then working on it and then sending the finished product back to where the major markets are located - usually in the Melbourne and Sydney areas. Also, there is the problem of higher telephone charges. I shall say a little more about that later. Further, if an industry does move into a country area it is not easy to get those who are working in the industry - in some cases skilled labour - to move to the area. I can recall that when the Borg-Warner Company’s factory was moved to Albury the company had considerable difficulty initially in getting its top management to settle in Albury. However, those who did go there were so thrilled with it after a short time that now there is a waiting list and people are anxious to go there as quickly as they can.
I do not need to mention again the fact that we set up the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. This has been mentioned already by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). Whether we had won or lost the election, this had been set up under Sir John Overall, an extremely able person. I believe that if a Liberal-Country Party Government had remained in power it would have been extremely likely that the Authority would have recommended that Albury-Wodonga be one of the first areas selected as future growth centres. I think the main difference between the Labor Party and our parties is the way in which our parties would have sought to build up Albury-Wodonga as a growth centre and to run the area. It is of interest to note that last year many of the citizens of Wagga, which also is in my electorate, were green with envy when they learned that Albury was to become a growth centre; but I can assure the Minister that today many of them are thanking their lucky stars that their city was not selected.
– That is not the impression that I got.
– The Minister needs to go there. I believe that a similar change has occurred in Albury - from a euphoria 12 months ago to a doubt, and I do not put it any higher than a doubt today. The Minister claims that the Bill represents ‘our achievements’, but the people of Albury are asking what has been the achievement. All that appears to have happened so far is a stopping of the natural growth. There was a rate of increase of about 6 per cent per annum and a great deal of this has been stopped. Of course, land prices have been frozen and very few sales occur now. The Albury City Council does not know what authority it has, if any. It has been directed to cancel 5 major development projects that it was about to approve. The result is that industrial builders, who depend on major industrial projects and are not equipped for home building, have had to stand down staff and their activities are virtually at a standstill.
Through me, the mayor and deputy mayor of Albury tried for some weeks - almost months - to see the Prime Minister about some of these problems. Finally, we received word that he was too busy. After all, he was the greatest and he was going off to China. Last year he had plenty of time to see them, but unfortunately he has none today. I am afraid that it is quite obvious to me that there is no place for local government in the new set-up. Sooner or later, the councils or shires in the area either will cease to exist or will have so little authority as to make it difficult to get anyone of top quality to stand for election to these bodies. Perhaps the Minister will point to the fact that the proposed Development Corporation will have 2 representatives of local government on it, one from New South Wales and one from Victoria. But they are in a minority of 2 to 3 government representatives. As three is a quorum, the State and Commonwealth representatives could operate on their own. Certainly, their view could prevail over that of the local people.
– Why are you so sour?
– I am not sour at all. I am only pointing out to the Minister the problems. After all, I live in the area. The Minister goes there only occasionally and on many occasions, no doubt, he would be speaking to officials there and would not get the feeling to the same extent as would a person who lives in the area. I am sure that when the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) speaks on this matter he will inform the Minister of the same problems.
Perhaps the Minister will point also to the fact that there is to be set up a consultative council which will have the function of advising the Development Corporation. Those of us who have witnessed the ineffectiveness of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council over many years could not have any faith that the views of the proposed council would be listened to or that it would be likely to attract people of the quality and ability that we would seek. People are attracted to local government because they have an executive role and not an advisory role. On occasions the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council has resigned because its members felt that their advice was not accepted. I expect that the AlburyWodonga council will find itself in the same position. The situation is bad enough in Canberra. The Minister responsible for the Australian Capital Territory at least resides for some part of the year in the Territory. But it will be much more difficult to control the growth of Albury-Wodonga from 200 miles away.
A great deal will depend on the ability, especially in the field of urban development and city planning, of the Commission members. But the Minister is claiming that events have moved quickly and that the Government has achieved a great deal. I feel that all that it has achieved so far has been the creation of committees, councils and bureaucracies. We still seem to be a long away from getting a final plan or even a suitable interim plan. As a result, uncertainties and confusion exist. Neither has the Government foreshadowed any way in which Albury-Wodonga is to be encouraged to grow. Canberra has grown on the strength of the public servants mostly transferred from Melbourne, and later increased in number as Australia grew. I cannot see Albury ever housing very many Commonwealth public servants. It would be too remote from their Ministers, their departmental heads and other public servants with whom they are required to confer constantly. Albury-Wodonga must grow as the result of attracting industry.
There is no other way in which it will grow. What people are waiting for is some indication of how and when this is to be done. So far, the policies of this .Government, such as revaluation and tariff cuts, have led to the closing down of some local industries which appeared to have good prospects a year ago but which cannot today compete with overseas industries. What we want to know as soon as possible is this: What are these incentives to be? Will tax concessions be available to decentralised industry? Will subsidies be provided with respect to freights, rates, land costs, power costs, and fuel costs which, of course, as my colleague from Gwydir (Mr Hunt) pointed out have recently been increased?
When will the Government implement its election promise to give local call access by telephone from Albury-Wodonga to Melbourne and to Sydney? What is being done to enable aircraft larger than Fokker Friendship aircraft to land at Albury? When is an instrument landing system to be installed at Albury airport? What are the Government’s proposals for improving the availability of primary and secondary schools to cope with the increased population which will result solely from the decision of the Whitlam Government to make this area a growth centre? Whenever one writes to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) he says that this is a State matter; but it is not entirely so. The Commonwealth must take some of the responsibility. When are we to get a university or improved tertiary facilities at Albury-Wodonga? When will people know whether their land is to be resumed? If it is to be resumed, will they be compensated immediately or will they have to wait years, unable to sell their land, until the Government decides whether it wants that land? These are some of the questions which. I hope the Minister for Urban and Regional Development will answer when he replies at the end of this debate.
Will the Government agree to freehold tenure? This, I think, is probably the most important question of all- certainly from the point of view of the people who live in that area. They want a freehold tenure system, and it is desired by the State Governments of New South Wales and Victoria. How much of the funds which the States will use for land acquisition, development and building works will be repayable loan funds, carrying the present interest rates which, under Labor as we know, are running at the highest level in living memory? Should a 5 per cent preference be given to country industries and should loans be offered to those industries? I understand that such action is undertaken to some extent by State governments. Overseas it is not unusual for loans to be offered to industry, for example, in such remote areas as Sardinia or regions of Scotland where the setting up of industry is desired. Has the Australian Government plans to do the same?
I see that the time available to me in this debate has nearly expired. I say to the Minister that I am sorry if I have sounded overcritical. But the fact is that for 12 months now in Albury we have faced a situation in which all that happened has been a freeze. Things which were going ahead naturally have ceased to go ahead. We do not yet seem to have any firm development. Perhaps I am expecting results too quickly. But no doubt exists that, as yet, we have had nothing other than committees, commissions and bureaucracies; not one extra brick has been added to the area by the actions of the Minister. Having said that, I would be grateful if the Minister could give us answers to some of these queries which I have put up, because I know that the people who live in this area are considerably concerned as to what the future holds for them.
– I rise briefly to support the 4 Bills now before the House. May I comment first on some of the remarks made earlier by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt)? The honourable member used the occasion of this debate on legislation proposing to establish urban growth centres and land commissions and to provide funds for the State governments to establish their land commissions, to attack the Australian Government for its withdrawal of certain tax concessions and subsidies to the rural community. He said that this action would adversely affect the level of population in the Australian country districts.
The first thing which ought to be said about the honourable member’s remarks is that the measures that we are considering today are an acknowledgement of the fact that the urban population of Australia will increase, whatever may happen in other respects. Irrespective of the prosperity or otherwise of the countryside, the urban population in Australia will increase. Our aim is to ensure by these measures that that urban population will not all be concentrated in the 6 capital cities. We wish to try to avoid our cities acquiring excessive size, and to establish new regional growth centres. This action, therefore, has nothing to do with the size of the rural population in our various country towns and villages. That is a separate matter.
Nevertheless, the honourable member for Gwydir did raise a couple of points which I wish to rebut. He said that the withdrawal of certain subsidies and tax concessions would be damaging to the rural community. The fact is that the loss of income which the rural community may have suffered as a result of the withdrawal of these concessions and subsidies has very much more than been offset by the boom in commodity prices in the rural sector. As much or more money is available for re-investment and expansion in the rural sector from the return on present prices for rural commodities as would have been available if no increase had occurred in those prices and had we retained all the subsidies, tax concessions and the plethora of other benefits which were provided by the Country Party for 23 years on behalf of the sectional interests for which it operated.
We believe that the specific problems faced in country areas must be overcome by measures designed to help directly those in country areas who suffer definite need. These problems cannot be overcome by a blanket measure such as tax concessions or subsidies because such action benefits selectively the better off people in the rural community who do not face the problem of rural poverty. Rural poverty should be treated as a social welfare problem. People suffering rural poverty should be treated by social welfare measures designed selectively to help those people who are most in need.
Of the 4 Bills now before the House, the one on which I wish to speak primarily is the Land Commissions (Financial Assistance) Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to provide land for housing purposes at as low a cost as possible to families which want to buy houses. This is a very good exercise in co-operation between the Commonwealth and the State governments. The concept is that this money will be provided by the Commonwealth to assist the State governments to purchase land prior to the development of that land. First by the provision of cheap land and secondly by planned development we will be enabled to make land available as cheaply as is possible and to develop it as efficiently as is possible. Of course, this proposal contains nothing new. This is the system that has operated in the Australian Capital Territory for many years. Unfortunately, judging by its attitude recently to the acquisition of land in Canberra, it looks as if the Liberal-Country Party Opposition in the Senate wants to depart from this principle. By and large, the idea of the Crown acquiring land and developing it as cheaply as possible for home purchasers has been adhered to by governments of all political complexions ever since 1908.
The honourable member for Gwydir suggested that the previous Liberal-Country Party Government should take the credit for these measures because it established the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. It should be pointed out that it did so in the dying weeks of its term of office. In actual fact the credit should rightly go to the present Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, because of his attention to and preoccupation with the problems of the cities for several years. In 1970 I suggested to the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), who was then the Prime Minister, that the benefits which flow to the. people of the Australian Capital Territory from the acquisition by the Crown of land at rural prices and its subdivision and development at low cost perhaps ought to be passed on to the people in the States. That suggestion fell on deaf ears. It was only quite recently that the Liberal Party of Australia saw the error of its ways previously. It now agrees that measures which have applied for many years in the Australian Capital Territory are also appropriate to the rest of Australia. As a result of that and as a result of the initiatives taken by the present Government, negotiations have been conducted between the Australian Government and the governments of New South Wales and Victoria about the acquisition of land for the development of Albury-Wodonga as a growth centre.
That land will be acquired at prices which obtained on 1 October 1972 and in accordance with the principle that there is no justification for the Crown’s paying urban prices to a farmer for his broad acres. That is a principle to which the Australian Labor Party holds very dearly. I am glad to see that the governments of New South Wales and Victoria have gone along with it in the case of the AlburyWodonga project. The same principle is applied in South Australia. Land prices in the new city of Monarto in South Australia have been set at a certain value. An allowance has been made for some increase because of inflation but, by and large, the price at which land will be acquired at Monarto will be the same as the price which obtained at a particular date. So it is quite a simple proposal.
Unfortunately the track record of the Liberal Party on this question is a rather mixed one. I have mentioned what happened in 1970 when I made certain suggestions to the then Prime Minister about’ Canberra. We have had the episode in recent weeks of the acquisition of ‘Lanyon’ station for the development of the satellite city of Tuggeranong. In the case of that acquisition the present Government has sought to uphold the views of the previous Minister for the Interior, the present honourable member for Gwydir, that the proprietors of ‘Lanyon’ station should be paid at rural prices for their broad acres. That would involve the payment of an amount of SI. 875m However, the price has been contested by the owners of that property, who have put in a bill of $35m - if you do not mind - for their property. Not surprisingly the present Government, in the interests of the taxpayers of Australia, wishes to avoid having to pay that if possible. For some reason the LiberalCountry Party Opposition in the Senate has frustrated such a move. If it gets its way the taxpayers of Australia will be up for a considerable amount of money.
The record of the Liberal Opposition in South Australia is, unfortunately, even worse than it is in this Parliament. I am sad to say that the Liberal Opposition in the South Australian Parliament even opposed the establishment of a land commission in that State. The measure that got through the Legislative Council was, unfortunately, considerably emasculated. One of the most unfortunate features of the provisions introduced into the legislation by the Legislative Council in South Australia was the provision that a person to whom the Land Commission applies to acquire land has 3 months in which to submit plans for his subdivision of the land and if he can develop the land himself within 2 years he will get the unearned increment. A farmer who is in cohorts with a private land developer can make a capital gain, instead of the Crown. We believe that there should be no unearned increment; the savings should be passed on to the person who purchased the land so that the cost of providing a house for his family will be lower.
The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) spoke about the question of leasehold land. It is not suggested under any of these measures that the States must provide land on a leasehold basis, but for the life of me I cannot understand the obsessional fear which the Opposition has to the leasehold system. After all it is the system which has operated for some years and which still operates - admittedly in a prostituted form - in the Australian Capital Territory. There is no difference between leasehold land and freehold land as far as the security of tenure of the property built on it is concerned. If a person has a house in his name and the title to the land in his name his security of tenure to his house is the same irrespective of whether he holds the land in fee simple or leasehold. Just because one holds land in fee simple would not stop a highways authority or any other public authority from serving a notice to treat, which would enable it compulsorily to acquire the land. For that reason I find it most difficult to understand why the conservative parties have an obsessional fear about the leasehold system.
The object of the Lands Commission (Financial Assistance) Bill is, by various means, to enable land to be provided cheaply to people for housing purposes. I have already mentioned that such land will be purchased at rural prices and that the person who owns the broad acres will not be able to make a capital gain from a decision made by the Government to develop that land. Another way in which land prices can be controlled is by the controlling of the resale price of the land. It is no use paying rural values for land and passing it on to a person for the construction of a house upon it if that person is allowed to capitalise on the benefit afforded to him by reselling the house on the open market, particularly if the open market value is very much higher than the value at which he purchased the land and house. In my view the best way of overcoming this is the leasehold system. But there are alternatives.
One of the alternatives - I believe it was suggested to the committee of inquiry being conducted by Mr Justice Else-Mitchell - is a system of restricted freehold, which would to some extent curtail the ability of a person who obtains land cheaply to capitalise upon its resale. Another method by which the lands commissions in the various States would be able to control land prices is by making land freely available and not withholding certain blocks from the market, which is a common practice with private developers. That is perhaps one of the most serious problems. Unquestionably there has been a shortage of serviced land for housing purposes in recent years. One of the reasons has been the predilection shown by private developers towards withholding land from the market. The land commissions can overcome that by acting in the public interest; that is a term which I do not like very much, but I have used it in this case. The land commissions, also could make sufficient land available to ensure that land prices do not become excessive.
Another method is the development of land on a planned basis. That will be the most important sphere of activity of the South Australian Land Commission in the metropolitan area of Adelaide. Most of the rezoning has already taken place in the Adelaide metropolitan area. The private developers have already taken the cream and have developed the best, most easily serviced areas themselves. What remains is an area that will require maximum efficiency in its development. This is something that can only be done on a coordinated basis by the Crown, by the Land Commission, acting in co-ordination with the other authorities which provide services, such as the Engineering and Water Supply Department, the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Electricity Trust and all the rest. The idea will be that the activities of the Land Commission in the Adelaide metropolitan area will be to plan the development of the parts of metropolitan Adelaide which have not yet been developed.
I think I should go back to the basic premise as to why land is becoming more expensive, particularly on the outskirts of Australian capital cities. The reason is the sustained demand for land on the outskirts of the cities, and the fundamental factor here is proximity to employment. As the cities get bigger it becomes more costly and more uneconomic to provide serviced land on the outskirts of the cities, but it is still required because that is where the jobs are. We can overcome the problem of the high cost of providing serviced blocks by building our regional growth centres, but they will not be of any use to anybody unless there is sufficient employment there. We must decentralise employment opportunities as much as we can by either providing them in the growth centres or providing the means of commuting between the growth centres and the capital cities.
I would not agree with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) that Government employment is not a suitable basis for establishing a growth centre. I think government and particularly tertiary institutions are a basis. Finally, in reply to the remark of the honourable member for Farrer in relation to Albury, I point out that the Australian Universities Commission has made a decision and has nominated Albury as the site for a university. I have much pleasure in supporting the 4 measures before the House.
– I commence by endorsing the commendatory remarks that were made by my colleague, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), about the efforts of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), particularly his attitude in the extremely complex negotiations that he and his staff, the staff of the Victorian and New South Wales Government departments and the respective Ministers had leading to the introduction of this legislation. But I do not agree with the Minister’s philosophies or the means that will be adopted to achieve the objective of having 300,000 people in the Albury-Wodonga area by the year 2000. I also endorse the comments of the honourable member for Gwydir in his criticism of the Government’s actions towards rural people generally in this year’s Budget. Worse is to come. The Budget provisions seem to be the very antithesis of what we are discussing here today in the way of encouraging decentralisation. I also emphasise that this legislation and the future activities of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation must place emphasis on people and their rights. The changes will affect a lot of people.
I support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in the inquiries he made of the Minister. I am sure the Minister will give us some answers to those inquiries. Mention has been made by several people about the official policy of the various parties. One or two speakers implied that the Country Party did not have a policy on decentralisation. So to put it on the record I quote from the policy of the Australian Country Party. It states under the heading ‘Decentralisation’:
The balancing of the growth and development of Australia is basic to the policies of the Australian Country Party. Australia is already one of the most urbanised nations, with the majority of people living in only nine cities on the edge of the continent. Correlated with the need to check the drift of population from the country to the city are the increasingly serious financial and social problems associated with centralisation. It is the belief of the Australian Country Party that decentralisation of industry as an aid to correcting the rapidly increasing imbalance of population distribution is of vital importance to Australia.
I place that current Country Party policy on decentralisation on the record. I welcome the introduction of these Bills into the Parliament. I accept the concept of them and the principles involved, but there are some aspects that concern not only me but also people whom I have the honour and responsibility to represent in this Parliament. As most honourable members will know, the Wodonga section of the AlburyWodonga growth complex is in the electorate of Indi, which I represent. I will be putting forward to the House some of the areas of concern that my constituents have expressed to me.
The objective of the Biills is to give legislative meaning and authority to the historic agreement which was signed by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria in Wodonga in the electorate of Indi on 23 October. I had the privilege of being present at the signing. It must be emphasised that for this agreement to work as it is intended to work the 2 State government Acts are crucial in the overall picture. Proper debate on the ramifications of the complex legislation before the House is not really possible without the availability of the other 2 sets of corresponding Bills which must be passed respectively by the Parliaments of New South Wales and Victoria. The Victorian Bills are available, but have become available only in the last few days. To me it is regrettable that the Government has again rushed legislation into the House before adequate time has really been given for consideration. This set of Bills involves many complex issues, and it is most unsatisfactory to many people - many of my constituents and people both inside and outside the House - that there has been insufficient time to assess all the aspects and effects of this legislation.
– Give us an example.
– The Minister asks me to give him an example. I referred to people outside the House. The legislation arrived on the table of the House only last week.
-What are the worries?
– I will be spelling out some of the worries that people have. They might have other worries that they would bring to the fore if they had a chance to study the legislation. I said that I would be passing on some of the concern of my constituents, and these are thoughts that have been expressed to me. As I mention, the 2 sets of State government Bills should be available to be read in conjunction with these Bills so as to ensure that the terms and conditions of the agreement signed on 23 October between the States and the Commonwealth have been fully included. Unfortunately these sets of Bills are not available. I am well aware of the necessity to get things moving and to keep things moving in the AlburyWodonga area, but more time should have been allowed. I am aware of all the difficulties in this matter, but I repeat that more time should have been allowed to give citizens and their advisers the opportunity to study the legislation from both the State and Federal Parliaments. As I understand it, the New South Wales legislation is not before the Parliament as yet. There is a tremendous feeling of frustration and stagnation and also feelings of uneasy concern affecting many people in the cities of Albury and Wodonga at the moment.
The Albury-Wodonga area, of course, is a natural for a growth complex. Many people naturally are associating themselves with the concept or with having thought of the concept of developing Albury-Wodonga in a population and economic sense in order to diminish the growth of Melbourne and Sydney. There are many people who fought over a long period of time to gain more facilities in the AlburyWodonga area. My thoughts turn to the late Dr Merrylees, to whom I would like to pay a brief tribute, because he was so energetic and enthusiastic in his advocacy of the development of the regions of southern New South Wales, northern Victoria and northeastern Victoria. I am sure that his drive and determination played a big part in keeping the Albury-Wodonga area in the forefront of government thinking. He would be a happy man if he were alive today.
I personally was interested to find a news release of my own which was published in the Albury based ‘Border Morning Mail’ newspaper dated 3 August 1966, which is more than 7 years ago. The news release quoted me as saying that I was urging continuing pressure to gain support from the Federal Government for the establishment of a university in the Albury-Wodonga area. I wrote to the Australian Universities Commission in June 1966, suggesting that it should initiate discussions on the possibility of the New South Wales and Victorian State governments combining to ret up a joint university, thus adopting the principle of co-operation between Federal and State governments. In that article I suggested that the Secretary of the Universities Commission should visit the area with a view to establishing the suitability of the Albury-Wodonga area as a site for a joint university. I was quite interested to see that news release of mine, which is more than 7 years old.
In the whole structure of the AlburyWodonga complex, its administration and the activities up to date, the Allbury-Wodonga Interim Consultative Committee which was appointed has, I think, done a first-class job. This Committee basically comprises citizens of the area assisted by senior Commonwealth and State public servants. They have been performing their duties in a very energetic and conscientious manner. It has been quite obvious to me that they have been holding many meetings and consulting many organisations and individuals about matters which are of vital importance in the overall development of the Albury-Wodonga area. The wide scope of the activities and interests of the Consultative Committee is illustrated by some decisions that the Committee made at a recent meeting. It is appropriate, I think, that I place them on the record of this Parliament to illustrate the efforts of this Committee.
The Committee stated that it wanted a study made of the effects of the growth centre on present and future residents. Dr Henry Nowik who has been a stalwart member of and tower of strength on this Committee, told a committee meeting that there would be tremendous changes in the region, and of course that is obvious. The Committee decided to press the urgent need for an integrated approach to the planning of health and welfare services in Albury-Wodonga; to bring to the notice of the Ministerial Council the acute shortage of social welfare workers in the area, particularly those experienced in youth work; to ask the Cities Commission for a study of the effect of the growth centre on the ecology; to press for the regular release of planning information so that Albury-Wodonga businessmen can plan for the future; and to ask that the Development Corporation consider the need for infant and child care facilities in commercial development and community facilities, as well as providing for the disabled. That illustrates the good work that the Consultative Committee is doing.
– Those people should co-operate and consult with you more.
– Thank you. Great concern has been expressed by representatives of resident organisations in the area about certain matters connected with the Albury-Wodonga complex. I received a telegram from Councillor Macaulay - who is on the Wodonga City Council - on behalf of the Albury-Wodonga Growth Centre Landholders Association. The letter was not sent on behalf of the Wodonga City Council. I also have a telegram from the secretary of that Association. The telegram says that the Association strongly opposes the Development Bill; that land tenure is still undecided; that the future role of local government is obscure; and that there is no time limit on the operations. Both telegrams request that the whole of the legislation be referred to an appropriate Senate committee.
I am sure the House would agree that it is completely understandable that many long established land owners in the area are sitting on the edge of their chairs, waiting for the announcement of the areas that are to be acquired. Many of these people are members of families who have lived in the district for a long time. Many of them have given long and distinguished service to the district through many community organisations. Now they are experiencing a period of great uncertainty, with a possibility of being told that their property and their occupations will be taken from them. In fact, it is a certainty that this will happen to quite a few people. Many of the people to whom I refer are farmers by nature, by tradition and by actual experience. Most of them would know no other occupation. On the matter of compensation, due regard should be paid not only to the value of the land but also to the fact that these people have not had the benefit of long service leave schemes and government supported or industry supported superannuation schemes that will provide for their retirement. They have not had paid annual holidays, sick leave and so on. It is very important that these people have their rights protected by both Federal and State legislation. Every avenue must be taken to ensure that the principle of just compensation is made mandatory in regard to acquisition.
Other areas of concern have been expressed to me. I have been asked whether this move is decentralisation or centralisation. Other people have said: ‘Why do we have to have this Development Corporation at all? We already have certain local government and government machinery within this area and we are going along pretty well at the moment. Progress in the Albury-Wodonga area has been very good without the Development Corporation’. Migrants are mentioned specifically in the Bill. They want to know the reason for that. People are concerned that the principle of land tenure is still not clear. I favour the freehold system. I know that the Victorian State Government also favours the freehold system. I realise that the Government is waiting to see the recommendations of the ElseMitchell Committee before making a decision. But the Premiers should be commended on their stand, with the Commonwealth at the last moment, of insisting that another look be taken at the principle of land tenure. They are some of the things about which the people in the Albury-Wodonga area are concerned, and quite rightly so.
I now want to refer to a part of the policy speech which has not yet been carried out. I am not saying that an undertaking was given to carry this out in the first year. But everyone will be watching very closely to see that the Government maintains its undertaking in regard to the equation between the costs of telephone calls in the AlburyWodonga area and in other areas. The Government said:
In our first term of office, we will concentrate our own initiative and endeavours on 2 areas - AlburyWodonga and Townsville.
The Government said that the cost of telephone calls and telephone rentals in these new growth centres will be the same as the cost of those services in the capital cities. The puzzling factor to me, which indicates a little inconsistency, misunderstanding and disagreement on the part of the Government, is the Prime Minister’s statement about the Dart mouth Dam, which of course will be vital to the future of Albury,Wodonga. We had the extraordinary spectacle of the Prime Minister a couple of months ago writing to the Premiers of the 3 States concerned - South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria - and suggesting that the expenditure on Dartmouth Dam should be deferred or cut down. He got short shrift, of course, from the Premiers of those 3 States. It seems contrary to the whole philosophy of encouraging decentralisation, which, of course, is the basis of this Bill, that the Prime Minister of Australia should advocate the deferral of expenditure of money on the great Dartmouth Dam project. Of course this dam will be further above AlburyWodonga than the Hume Weir. The Prime Minister’s action was extraordinary.
I should like to mention other matters but unfortuantely my time has almost run out. Therefore, I am not able to mention all the aspects to which I wanted to refer. They include a statement by Senator Geitzelt on 28 November 1972, that the people of Albury-Wodonga would think Father Christmas had arrived when the Labor Government got into power. The Government has loaned the people only $9m, which they will have to repay with interest. The ultimate practical success of this project will call for the highest level of goodwill and co-operation between the Federal and State Ministers, departmental officers, local government and local residents. I wish the whole project well. Any individual or organisation that seeks my assistance and co-operation in any sphere connected with the development of this Albury-Wodonga project will certainly receive my wholehearted support.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is disappointing that the previous speaker, the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten), on the one hand supports the legislation before the House, and on the other hand has to fall back on the old catch cry of the Australian Country Party of talking about support for decentralisation and calamity howling about the provisions of the Budget that has been adopted. As one who comes from the Newcastle region, I have experienced the decentralisation policy of the Liberal-Country Party Government in New South Wales. For year after year it has been a policy of talking about decentralisation but never doing anything about it. The New South Wales Government knows very well that the implementation of a policy of decentralisation would bring about an electoral imbalance, which would only seal the Government’s own doom in the future.
If the New South Wales Government wants to talk about what, has been done for the Hunter Valley area or the Newcastle region it might talk about the electrification of the railways, which was promised by the present New South Wales Minister for Transport back in 1965 but for which we are still waiting; the deepening of Newcastle Harbour which was promised and for which we are still waiting; and the dockyard which perhaps we will get now after pressure from our own Federal Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones). I have to take exception to the continual crying and calamity howling about conditions in the countryside that we hear from members of the Country Party, because they are not telling the people of Australia the truth. All they are doing is spreading fear. Probably their best title would be that of fearmongers. The reference by the honourable member for Indi to the Budget and to the fact that there is worse to come reminded me of the statement of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), after the first revaluation of the Australian currency, about the doom that was going to befall this nation, and the worst things that would happen when the second revaluation was made. Then when the tariff cuts were made the Leader of the Australian Country Party said that the situation would be worse still. Yet this morning out of the blue came the knight on the white charger with the announcement that we should float our currency. So I hope that members of the Country Party go back to their electorates at the weekend and explain to the people how they can justify that statement.
I should like to move on to more positive things rather than to dwell on the untruths and misrepresentations of the members of the Country Party. In this cognate debate I am pleased to speak in support of the Land Commissions (Financial Assistance) Bill. It is a most important Bill. I remind the House that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in presenting the Australian Labor Party policy speech on 13 November 1972, said:
We will set up a Commonwealth-State land development commission in each State to buy substantial tracts of land in new areas being opened up for housing and to lease or sell at cost fully serviced housing blocks.
The passage of this legislation will enable the implementation of the major part of that promise. Private enterprise and all levels of Government have a responsibility to work in harmony for the benefit of the Australian people. There will always be an important role in development for private enterprise. It will always be the role of government to provide leadership, to establish guidelines and to co-ordinate national growth. However, because the provision and development of land for home sites and new cities has been left too much to the private sector, especially since World War II, the home seeker has been subjected to artificial shortages of home sites and what can only be termed as exorbitant prices for homes and land.
While I said earlier that there is a role for private enterprise in the development of commercial and residential land, some of the practices followed by land development companies in the past have been so outrageous that the word ‘developers’ has become a dirty one. This Bill seeks to plan and develop land in cooperation with the respective State governments and to provide Australians with a greater, more reasonable opportunity to obtain land on which to erect a home or establish a commercial activity. Decisions by governments at the 3 levels - Federal, State and local - and expenditure of public moneys by governments in the provision of public services such as water, sewerage, power, construction of public buildings, all add to the value of land. A stroke of the planner’s pen can cause massive increases in land values for those persons fortunate enough to hold land which is the subject of rezoning proposals. Fortunes have been made as a result of this process. At the same time large tracts of land are held back, particularly by companies associated with developers, in anticipation of possible rezoning.
In addition, individual landholders, particularly in recent years in a climate of spiralling land values, have held back their land in expectation of higher prices. The tragedy has been that the expenditure of public moneys in improving essential community services to land has been a contributing factor to the rapid increase in land values, thus forcing up the cost to the community of land required for public purposes. In each of the States we have had varying degrees of planning at various levels. What has been lacking always has been a co-ordination of planning objectives and implementation for the community benefit.
This Bill aims to provide just that, at considerable savings to the people. The eminent British sociologist, Dr Raymond Pahl, once stated:
All planning is social planning, considering the people not the buildings. There can be no planning without the power to influence the allocation and reallocation of substantial resources. Planning is about power; planning without power is singing to the seagulls.
Land is a vital resource. Co-operation between the States governments and the Australian Government in the acquisition and development of land as a result of this legislation will provide a new quality of power in planning and development. The operation of the Land Commissions will enable the achievement of 3 main aims: Firstly, land will be made available at reasonable prices; secondly, land will be able to be planned comprehensively and developed; and, thirdly, some of the increase in value which derives from the process of urban development and community expenditure will be retained for the benefit of the community.
In the past one of the major characteristics in the growth and sequence of development of our urban areas has been that of private initiative for profit. It has resulted in heavy and avoidable stress on public expenditure in providing essential services and in scattered development within urban areas - a fact well known by city and shire planners in local government. The acquisition and development of land by the Land Commissions will put a stop to all that. The conditions governing the purchase, zoning and subdivision of land in past years have provided a paradise for speculators at the expense of home seekers and the public purse.
Let there be no mistake, this Government is committed to a course of action that will put an end to the excessive profits that speculators have made from land. Under the terms of the Bill financial assistance will be made available to the States under 2 main groups of conditions, the first of which deals with the usual conditions relating to terms of finance. The second group could generally be called performance conditions, the main two of which are that each State should carry out its land acquisition programs through an organisation structure agreeable to the Australian Government, and that the States should enact legislation to acquire land at prices uninfluenced by announcements of intended urban development.
It should be understood quite clearly that the objective of the legislation is not to reduce the capital value of assets or to place a freeze on land prices but rather to ensure that any increase in price as a result of Government decision and announcement is not loaded on to purchasers. Rezoning land from low density land use to higher land use patterns causes the price to rise. Speculative demand has thus concentrated in areas where development is planned. Increased prices paid for land by developing bodies, whether private or public, are invariably passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices for services for land and housing.
I have mentioned the speculative and inflationary role played by private enterprise in land development. In New South Wales the Government of that State has participated fully in the auctioning of crown land at what can only be described as exhorbitant and highly inflationary prices. That Government’s sole object has been to obtain maximum return for the State Treasury without regard for the needs of home seekers and the inflationary effects its activities in the sale of land have had on prices in the relevant area. The Minister for Lands in the New South Wales Government has deliberately set out to force up land prices by setting absurdly high upset or reserve prices on blocks of Crown land. In my electorate they were absurdly high prices as was shown recently at an auction of crown land at Whitebridge.
What happened at that sale? Buyers protested and refused to pay the exorbitant prices set. On 11 August 1973 42 serviced home sites were offered for auction at reserve prices ranging from $9,000 to $14,000 a block- a new level for land prices in the shire of Lake Macquarie. Some 50 or 60 people turned up at the auction. One group expressed passive opposition to the reserve prices set by displaying signs calling for a return to the ballot system. Only 12 blocks were sold out of the 42 offered. All the blocks sold went at the reserve price except two, one of which brought $50 above the reserve and the other $100 above the reserve. In each case there was only one bid. The sale quickly became known as the Whitebridge fiasco. When the State member for the area, Mr Richard Face, M.L.A., raised in the New South Wales Parliament the subject of the high reserve prices set for those blocks the Minister for Lands, the Honourable Tom Lewis, M.L.A., who is a member of the so called law and order Government of New South Wales threatened to send police along to future Crown land auction sales to prevent the attendance of passive protestors. What a ridiculous attitude for a Minister to adopt. In effect the Minister said that police were available and will be used to ensure that higher land prices are obtained for the New South Wales Treasury coffers. However apparently there are not enough police in New South Wales to prevent fire bombings in Kings Cross. I hope that the establishment of the lands commission will put an end to that kind of approach by the New South Wales Government to the provision of home sites.
The result of the contrived scarcity of land and the artificially high land prices in the Lake Macquarie shire in my electorate can be seen in the new land valuations now issuing in that shire. Increases range from the order of 200 per cent up to 500 per cent and in some cases 1,000 per cent compared with the previous valuations of 1968-69. Ratepayers, many of whom are pensioners, will be faced with staggering rate increases. Clearly, some will be rated out of their homes. Those who are on fixed incomes will be the most vulnerable. I have no doubt that the council will seek to adjust its 1974 rate on the basis of the new valuations but no flat rate in the dollar on an across the board application can take account of the distortion in values that occurs following speculation in properties and the artificial forcing up of the price of land.
The presentation of this legislation to the Parliament signals a new high in the closer co-operation of this Government and the various State governments. I remind honourable members of the Opposition of this. It shows that it can be done and is being done and that the States do want to co-operate. It shows that there can be harmony and productive liaison between the Federal Government and the States for the benefit of the community, contrary to the phoney divisive catchcries of members of the Opposition parties who seek to fool the people into believing that Labor is out destroy the States. We know the results of the Opposition’s 23 years of stagnant administration that catered only to the concern of the vested interests who donated so heavily to their campaign funds. It is appropriate, in conclusion, to recognise the achievements of the Minister who in his first year of office has made great progress through wise negotiation and supreme patience in reaching agreements with his State counterparts and in bringing this Bill before the House. I support the Bill.
– We are debating 4 Bills and much time has been devoted to that aspect of those Biills which relates to the regional growth centre proposed for Albury-Wodonga. The Albury-Wodonga concept is only part of the total program which the Oppoosition is supporting. The program involves the development and establishment or a corporation to create AlburyWodonga as a growth centre. It involves also the provision of finance for the establishment of other growth centres. It involves the provision of finance, though for one year only, to land commissions. In the area of urban development, using that in its broadest concept, there have been in recent years exciting developments.
It is unfortunate if too much credit is sought by any particular political Party because the improved development in urban areas and urban thinking is a result of changes in community attitudes. As we have overcome other difficulties so the attention of the Australian people has been directed to the importance of the urban environment. For years we have lived on the myths of our early reading of the characteristics of small towns but the psychology of the small town life is now becoming part of history for the great majority of Australians. The life we live is a life in complex large urban areas. The problems that confront these large urban areas are quite different to the problems that confront small centres. The solution to those problems must necessarily be different to the solutions that would apply to problems encountered in small towns.
As the community has become aware so have all those involved in the political process in this country become deeply conscious of the concern of the average Australian for the improvement of the urban environment. This has meant that we have directed our attention to both the improvement of the existing urban environment and the more rapid establishment of new urban areas. There was a time when as a people we accepted the fact that when we bought our first home it might be on the outskirts of a large city and it might be located in an area where public facilities and services were lacking. But, as our affluence has grown so too, as with so many of the consumer durables that we have come to regard as essential whereas 2 generations ago they were a luxury, have we come to expect the development of urban areas into which we move for our first home to be of a high standard. And that is quite rightly so. As a result of this emerging consciousness by the Australian people as to the importance of urban development we have seen increasing attention paid to the policies of governments - national, State and local - in ensuring that the environment is developed in an orderly fashion.
The concepts that are involved in these Bills, as I have pointed out, have been developed over a long period under governments of all political persuasions both here in Canberra and in the States. We are reaching a stage where there is a much deeper public consciousness of the importance of paying attention to policies relating to urban development. We are recognising that there is a need in the large cities not merely for the provision of roads, kerbs, drains, water reticulation and electricity, but also for the provision of adequate open space, recreation areas and recreation facilities. This is a good thing because the type of life that we are able to live in these large urban areas where people are highly mobile is being progressively improved. But it is important that in all of these policies we should ensure that the maximum amount of freedom of choice is left in the hands of the individual citizen.
It is equally important that there should be a maximum amount of community involvement. I hope, as a result of the expressions contained in the various speeches made by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) about the Government’s desire to involve the community in some of the decision making that affects them, that the comments express a real concern and do not merely pay lip service to an aspirations of the people. When we look at urban areas we tend to apply a small town psychology to community involvement. I direct the attention of the House to the importance of recognising that we are dealing with large cities and that what we formerly described as a community based rigidly on geographical boundaries may not necessarily apply today. There has been a manifestation of the community’s desire to be involved in urban development, by the expansion of resident action groups and council action groups. I believe that it is important that this community desire to participate should receive the response of government so that people can play a real part in the decision making process on the type of environment in which they live.
Having made those general remarks, I wish to draw the attention of the House to a number of points. I express my concern at the way in which this legislation could possibly be used. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) drew the attention of the House to some of these points earlier today. Were it not for the fact that the legislation involves grants for one year only, that we are able to see the manner of its operation and that there will be an opportunity of examining this legislation in closer detail in another place, it could well be that we would have been seeking the inclusion in the legislation of specific guarantees to allay the concerns that have already been expressed and to which I shall now direct the attention of the House. The first point I want to deal with relates to the question of acquisition and the compensation paid to the owners of land that is acquired. The second point relates to the question of tenure. Under the Australian Constitution, if this Parliament wishes to acquire land it is obliged to make compensation available on just terms. There is nothing in this legislation which requires that the States to whom the money is to be granted are themselves to acquire the land on just terms. I hope that the Minister, in laying down conditions, will make it a condition of the grants that acquisition legislation used to acquire land with this money should match the standards set by the Constitution for Commonwealth acquisition of land and that the States be required to acquire on just terms.
From my researches so far it appears that most of the States have legislation that would match that test, but there is one aspect of the matching of that test which causes me some concern. In a case that was decided before the High Court it was indicated that it was not necessary for a court to take account of the declining value of money in assessing compensation - the decline between the date of acquisition and the date of payment following a judgment in the court. There has been much debate in academic and other circles amongst people of all political persuasions concerned about stabilising land prices, as to the manner in which compensation should be assessed. Stabilisation of land prices differs substantially from what might be described as price control.
I draw to the attention of the House a statement issued by the Ministerial Council Meeting of Land Commissions held in Melbourne on Monday, 22 October 1973. In that statement Ministers from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development stated as follows:
The distinction between control of land prices generally and land price stabilisation for growth centres or areas was recognised. The latter seeks only to preserve for the community, rather than for speculators and individuals, any increase in land values which arises from a Government’s decision for the benefit of the community on growth centres or areas.
Similar sentiments were expressed in the report issued by the Department of Urban and Regional Development. It said that land price stabilisation legislation ‘is aimed at ensuring that land does not inflate in value merely because it has been chosen for acquisition for urban development. Such inflation could make the land so costly that the States would be unable to continue with their plans to acquire the land and develop the area.’ If one accepts that approach and says that the land owner should receive the value of the land as at the date of announcement that his land is to be acquired in order to guarantee that he receives just terms - ‘just’ in a real sense - I think it is important that account be taken of the fact that compensation paid 10 years from the date of the announcement may not necessarily be just terms compared with payment immediately after the announcement and at the time of actual acquisition. I am not suggesting for a moment that the land owner should gain as a result of any government decision that land shall be brought into urban use, but I point out to the Minister that there is a gradient between land in urban use and that now in rural use. I believe that it should be recognised when we look at compensation that, as a result of that gradient or hope value that has been placed upon certain land, the land owners under the gradient, yet not at the rural land price level, should receive just compensation.
We hear a lot about the large speculator, but I draw to the attention of the House the fact that there are many small property owners and home owners whose homes will need to be acquired for the development of growth centres and land on the edges of existing cities. Account must be taken to ensure that the real value of their asset is preserved. The Institute of Urban Studies has put forward a land conversion value proposition. In its report it says that the conversion value would need to be carefully defined before inclusion in special legislation. I agree with this. It needs to be carefully defined. I believe there should be a guarantee within the legislation to ensure that just and fair terms are provided. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Minister and his Department have made general statements about this. They have talked about the value of land as compared with an inflation factor. They have talked about relating it to some form of price index. I express concern that a great amount of detail has not been put forward as to how the real value of a person’s assets will be preserved to ensure that he is not disadvantaged, while not advantaged, at the expense of the community as a consequence of government announcement.
The other matter to which I should like to refer but have not the time because of the limitations upon this debate, is that I too would stress the importance of retaining freehold tenure for residential urban land. I should like to have seen this guarantee included in the legislation so that it was mandatory on State land commissions when they come to sell their land to sell it under terms of freehold tenure so that there could be no fear that the home owner could sustain a loss by confiscation as a result virtually of forfeiture consequent upon his breach of some minor covenant in the lease. I think these matters can await examination in another place or can be included subsequently in legislation to make grants available in future years. I urge the Minister to look at the question of the provision of adequate compensation as if the constitutional requirement were there for the provision of just terms and a recognition of the importance of providing an increase in value to take account of the declining value of money notwithstanding an earlier decision of the High Court taken under different conditions and at a different time.
– It is pleasing to see that members of the Opposition Parties are supporting the Bills which are before the House, even if they do so with some reservations. I hope that their fears or apprehensions will be overcome when they see the arrangements worked out regarding the finance and the operation of the Corporation as mentioned in the Albury-Wodonga Development Bill. Perhaps I should make reference to land tenure and just price. It seems to me quite obvious that if a government, or for that matter any other community organisation, produces works in an area which increases the value of the land which has no relationship whatsoever to the effort which the original owner of the land has put in, the original owner of the land is entitled to compensation only on the value of that land and the money that it would have brought if the land had been sold under normal circumstances.
I draw attention to problems which have arisen in the United States of America where buildings and land have been acquired for the national estate or its equivalent. In fact, in times past, there has been quite a jockeying for position to get one’s land declared in this category so that massive compensation can be paid. It is quite obvious if we intend developing land in this way that we cannot afford to pay the developed value of the land. I think we ought to pay a just price, but a just price in relation to the use to which the land would otherwise be put. We cannot have the public paying an enormous price for the land because the whole program will break down and we will not be able to do the things we need to do.
There are 4 Bills. The Albury-Wodonga Development Bill sets out the functions and powers of the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. This organisation brings into cooperation the States of New South Wales and Victoria and the Australian Government. The Corporation is to be governed by a Ministerial council comprising the New South Wales Minister for Decentralisation and Development, the Victorian Minister for State Development and Decentralisation and the Australian Minister for Urban and Regional Development. In conjunction with the ministerial council 3 corporations are to be set up. The Development Corporation will be composed of 3 Ministers, of which the Australian Minister for Urban and Regional Development is the chairman. The Victorian corporation will have as its chairman the Victorian Minister and the New South Wales corporation will have as its chairman the New South Wales Minister. The corporations will carry out the various functions which are outlined in the Bill.
Perhaps there is one point of detail which I might mention - community participation. The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) mentioned this. I agree with him that this is very important indeed. The Consultative Council of Public Participation has a membership of representatives of community interests such as local government advisers, cultural groups, trade unions, women’s groups and new interests. Its functions are to advise the Development Corporation on matters which it raises and those referred to it by the Development Corporation. I see this as a very important function of the whole organisation. Many times we have heard talk about the centralism of power in Canberra. One much more important thing to my mind is the centralisation of power in the major capital cities. Local governments do not have any real say at all. Most of their powers are delegated powers under the various local government Acts. For instance, under the present Act in Victoria, if a local government organisation wanted to develop land or build houses it would not be able to do so without special permission. If a local government organisation wanted to run buses, because neither the State government organisation nor private enterprise was prepared to do so, it would not be able to because it does not have the power to do so. The local government organisation would have extreme difficulty in setting up a factory to produce concrete pipes or something similar, although that sort of thing has been done in the past with special permission.
I think it is important to note that if wc are to have true decentralisation we have to allow local people and local organisations to have a say. This is one of the very important aspects of the Bill which we ought to take into account. We, as the Australian Government, are approaching this project and others in the regional growth centres with a view to improving the quality of life of Australians. I live in an outer suburban area, as do many of the new members who were elected to this Parliament after the 1972 election. We represent the aspirations of the people who live in those areas. We represent not only their hopes but also their fears that they in turn will become swamped by increasing urbanisation of their area. Many of these areas are in the belt stretching from the north-east of Melbourne around to the east of Melbourne and include many scenic areas. If we do not siphon off the population increase which inevitably will occur in Sydney and Melbourne over the next 30 years, these particularly beautiful areas and places of recreation for both the major cities of Melbourne and Sydney and perhaps others in time will be lost to the public. I do not want to see that happen; neither do the people who live in those areas.
Another aspect which I think I should mention is that working people are spending more and more of their time in travelling across major urban areas. What is the good of reducing the working week when a very great proportion of the potential increased recreation time is to be spent in travelling. I would like to see, as I have mentioned before in speeches on related subjects, a completely new look at the way in which cities are designed.
One of the very big problems in urban life arises from the motor car, which has made life in cities very difficult. Yet without motor cars it would be most difficult to move around in outer suburban areas. We have just not bothered to plan our transport properly. I should like to see much more thought given in the future to linear cities or similar types of development to ensure that people can use public transport effectively and easily, to ensure that they only need to walk a short distance from their home to obtain public transport. That is not an impossible dream. It is something than can be achieved with proper planning. When one flies over Australia one observes the huge open spaces and realises that the scope for development of our continent is tremendous. We ought to take up the challenge. 1 should like to quote the following statement that was made about 30 years ago and is repeated in the report to the Australian Government by the Cities Commission:
The unplanned development of towns has led to unplanned transport and to an excessive amount of travelling between different parts of large towns. This in turn had involved high cost of transport to the community as a whole, as well as to the individual who pays this cost not only in money but in time and fatigue . . . The rising price of land . . . has driven people to the outer areas where land is cheap, but the location had forced them to pay high fares, often leaving them worse off than before. The decentralisation of industry and the possibility of establishing satellite towns will need to be considered.
Unfortunately it has taken 30 years to get to this stage. I am sure that all those who have thought about town planning would welcome this latest move with open arms as it will provide a real opportunity for Australians to have an improvement in their quality of life, so that we do not have to suffer the problems of pollution, open drains and similar inconveniences that exist in the areas around Melbourne that I spoke of before.
Finally, something must be done about land speculation. This is one way of approaching the problem. I do not buy the argument of some honourable members opposite who assert that we must have freehold land tenure. This system does not really work. The honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) has pointed out already that this is really a complete myth and unless it is for rather base political motives I am at a loss to understand why some Opposition members are endeavouring to frighten the Australian public on this matter. A variant of it has worked very successfully in Canberra and I would like to see the principle extended generally. This would have undoubtedly a great effect on the value of land in Australia. Young people would be able to buy land much cheaper than they can now. This and the associated Bills are very important. I am very pleased to see that the measure has the support of the House and I hope that it will receive just as much support in the other place.
– Australia today is entering an era of development which was never envisaged when the first settlement took place less than two centuries ago, and which was not fully realised even at the time of federation 72 years ago. No time is more opportune than now to take stock, plan ahead and organise so that development will be smooth and beneficial to all and the mistakes of the past will not be repeated or aggravated. There is no doubt in my mind that Australia’s No. 1 problem is decentralisation. Decentralisation means far more than encouraging a few industries to establish themselves outside the big capital cities, although this industrial movement may be termed the core of decentralisation. Decentralisation is the spreading of our whole industrial, commercial and business life more evenly over the land we occupy, according to each part’s relative capacity. It is a vital national problem, and to succeed it must become a national way of thought.
We live in a country which, potentially, has the greatest promise of any in the world. What a grand thing it would be if we had a properly distributed population and industrial, transport and commercial strength, which, I believe, are vital necessities for the proper and orderly functioning of our society and the proper and adequate usage of our country. Now that we have our large cities, quite out of proportion to our total population, we are, to use a colloquial term, stuck with them. But if the nation is alert to the potential and actual danger of large cities then the development of these cities can be slowed and a better distribution of population and all the essentials of a modern society can be achieved. Decentralisation must begin at the top. You must have wider and more intimate control through more States, if you are a federalist - and more regions, if you are a centralist - because centralisation of control in the big capital cities is the great barrier to the decentralisation of every other form of activity. All this cannot be achieved overnight, but if the will and the unity of purpose can be found, Australia could witness a revolution in the development of this land that would make her one of the greatest nations on earth.
To deal fully with the question of new States one must look back to Australia’s history to see how the present division of administration occurred and where it fell short of perfection. Its basic cause lies in the fact that for many years after 1788 Britain had no interest in Australia other than as a place in which to dump unwanted citizens. Nor could Britain, at that stage of history, with poor communications, appreciate any real potential in the country. But the spirit of men here was greater than the vision of faraway politicians, and gradually the people spread out from Port Jackson to the north, south and west.
As new areas developed, demands for selfadministration grew and Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia emerged. It is difficult to understand why the division stopped there. As the people spread north to Queensland and into the New England and Riverina areas of New South Wales one might have expected new colonies to arise as people got further and further away from the centres of administration, particularly in view of the slow transport facilities in those days. Yet today we have large administrative areas in which more than half the people live in or near big capital cities. The remaining half get government at a distance. It is no criticism of a metropolitan government to say that it does not understand or appreciate the day-to day problems of people hundreds of miles away. Members of Parliament are, after all, ordinary people. If a member of Parliament is born and lives practically the whole of his life in say, Sydney he cannot, no matter how hard he may try, have a proper appreciation of the problems of the people of Bourke, or Walgett or Coonabarabran. In the first place, their way of thinking is entirely different; their lives are poles apart. And where there is no real appreciation, and no proper understanding of the problems of others there can, unfortunately, be no true sympathy with them.
In all the mainland State parliaments metropolitan members outnumber those from the country. In Victoria, for example, there are two metropolitan members to every member from the country. If only half as many people live in the country as in the capital city it not be claimed that this is unfair - no section can claim any greater proportional representation than another - but it does mean that up to two-thirds of the State’s parliamentary representatives ‘think metropolitan*. This is not unreasonable; in fact it is only natural, as I have already pointed out. But it produces a state of affairs where those outside the big cities get government at a distance, and government not fully sympathetic to their needs.
I do not suggest for one moment that State governments have been totally unmindful of their obligations to all the people in their States. I am simply suggesting that people living long distances from the centre of administration would be better suited if allowed to conduct their own affairs. The metropolitanmindedness of governments must always be a barrier to proper decentralisation, uvi the claims of success made for decentralisation policies are somewhat exaggerated.
The big capital cities are still outpacing all other areas. The really big industries have mostly congregated in or near the capitals. After World War II many industries established annexes in country areas, setting them up in old school buildings, public halls or temporary structures. There was never any really permanent aura about them. Certainly some of them have remained, but just as many have long since closed down. The movement < »me at a time when labour everywhere war in short supply. These industries soaked up the labour available in the country, and they have now returned to the big cities and have taken this labour with them, actually worsening the position. What happened, of course, in a great number of those instances, was that the industry so established in a country town was just large enough to utilise the spare labour available in and around the town. There were few big enough to create employment opportunities over and above the labour force available locally that would bring new people to the locality.
The big industries continue to crowd the capital cities. It is argued that they must be established there because that is where the labour is. That is not a wholly valid argument. Obviously the labour is there, because that is where the jobs are. Continuing to provide avenues of employment in the big cities is only further ensuring that more labour congregates there. It must follow that, if jobs are created elsewhere, the labour will move to them. One of the classic examples of this is the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. There could be no suggestion that the great industry of this valley should be established in Melbourne, because the very essence of it, the huge browncoal deposits, happen to be 90 miles away from Melbourne.
Another example is Broken Hill, a city of 30,000 inhabitants in what is a barren and somewhat unprepossessing area. If labour could be found for the Latrobe Valley because the brown coal was there, and if labour could be found to establish a city of 30,000 people at Broken Hill because the silver-lead was there, it must follow that if a big automobile plant is established in a relatively small town or city the labour will move to it. There is only one difference in the 2 cases. In one case circumstances force the establishment on a site, whereas in the other case private enterprise cannot be forced to set up its establishments in any particular place. But governments may point the way, and can encourage such movements, whilst industry itself should be able to realise that by crowding into the big cities it is contributing to their target potential in time of war and to a bad balance of population in times of peace. In addition to the defence and population imbalance factors, there is a third reason why we must endeavour to slow down, stop, or even reverse, the growth of the big capital cities. It is simply that Australia cannot afford such large cities. A factor not often realised, but nevertheless true, is that big cities cost money. These are costs that every nation must eventually meet, but they should not have to be met on the present scale in a country with a population of only approximately 13 million people.
Like our over-large administrative divisions, our big cities are a legacy of our history. They began as ports, simply to supply the needs of the settlers. They became the administrative centres for colonies covering large areas. When people began to move inland, the governments stayed where they were. Commerce gathered around them, and eventually industry followed. Because of this administrate failure to reach out into the new land, as the Americans had done, commerce, industry and administration all became concentrated in the one spot. It was simply a case of applying a European administrative concept in an American-sized country.
There seems to be in Australia a general conception that a State capital must also be the chief port. That is not so. It is interesting to note that of the SO American State capitals only three, Boston in Massachusetts, Providence in Rhode Island and Honolulu in Hawaii are ports, and of these only Boston can be regarded as being a port of any importance in the American scene. There is also the view that the capital must be the largest city. Again, only 14 of the 50 American State capitals fall into this category. Obviously when, a century ago, our States became selfgoverning colonies, no consideration was given to whether the place where the administration had been set up for the convenience of far away England was, in fact, the best site for the capital of the colony.
It is interesting to note that, in the last 100 years, the population of Ballarat has risen from approximately 47,000 to approximately 65,000, while that of Brisbane has increased from 22,000 to 817,000. The fact that Brisbane became the chief port for the south Queensland area made it inevitable that it would leap ahead of Ballarat which was, in any case, bound to lose population as the gold rush subsided. However, it is obvious that the retention of administration at Brisbane has resulted in the proportional increase being out of all reason. Naturally at this stage it is too late to make a change. Leaving aside the enormous cost that such moves would involve, it is doubtful whether any useful purpose would be achieved, for the capitals have developed where they are. However we should recognise them as mistakes of the past and not repeat them in the future.
Unfortunately the mistake is already being repeated in Darwin. The capital of a territory 1,000 miles long, it is being groomed as a future State capital for the whole of that area. It is the chief port, the chief air terminal and the administrative centre. As Darwin grows, commercial and industrial life will concentrate there while the remainder of activity in the Territory, except for mining and a few other allied industries, will be left to develop more slowly. It is another Sydney or Melbourne in embryo, and 100 or 150 years from now the scattered inland people will feel just as badly about metropolitan-dominated government there as country people in New South Wales do now. Darwin has an assured future as a port and an air terminal. The Government should be assuring a future for some other centre.
The establishment of new States cannot adjust Australia’s population imbalance overnight. In fact the big cities have such a start that there will always be a fairly bad imbalance. However, with a realistic administrative approach to the problem, new States will achieve much that is worthwhile. First, they will give people who are now a long way from their administrative centres the opportunity to govern themselves. Secondly, they will produce more compact areas, with which the administration will be in closer touch. Thirdly, they will provide an opportunity to draw indus.tires to particular areas. Fourthly, provided the total force is not simply enlarged, they will draw their public service from the existing and reduced States, bringing with them people to provide the necessary additional services. Fifthly, they will create avenues of employment; they will have to draw on the big cities for labour. Lastly, they will produce a change in the ‘centre of gravity’ of people’s thinking, a new spirit and a new interest. All these factors must tend to slow down the growth of the big cities and build up smaller cities elsewhere, but they must be accompanied by a virile decentralisation policy in the States governed from the big capitals to ensure a better dispersal of population to the new areas.
Many proposals for new States have been made. The most active movement has been in the New England area of New South Wales. Proposals have also been made for new States in the northern half of Queensland, in the
Riverina area of New South Wales, in the south-eastern corner of Australia - taking in a section of New South Wales and a section of Victoria - and in the western section of Victoria and the southeast of South Australia. This would give a total of 1 1 States, but there is sufficient population for 13 States to be formed in the populated areas of Australia. I suggest that 7 developmental regions should be established in the more sparsely populated area. It is difficult to say by what rules one would determine an area’s ability to govern itself but it would appear that when some of the existing States assumed self-government a population of somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 was considered sufficient. All of the proposed 13 States would have populations well in excess of the 60,000 mark. However, if any principle of minimum population were adopted, it would affect the future of the suggested development regions.
There must be a general awakening to the fact that if we are retain our present standards of living we must decentralise. There also must be a re-adjustment of the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. There must be a re-appraisal of the role of the Commonwealth and the States. There must be a properly integrated interstate highway system and a modern, efficient railway service. Since the war years, mainly because the Australian Government gained taxing powers by means of the Defence Act, the position of the States within the framework of the governments of Australia - Federal State and local - has greatly lessened and weakened. This weakening continues as the Australian Government moves into the various spheres of State government responsibility. Those of us who believe in the federal system rather than unification must work for the formation of new States and the strengthening of their status and importance in the areas of their responsiblity. The question is: Do we fool <about with this problem for the next 25 years or do we sit down in a responsible manner and work out our destiny in a quite and orderly way? The land is here for us to use. We must use it so that no one will challenge our right to any portion of it and so that the millions of Australians yet to come will be able to rejoice in the heritage that will be there.
Debate (on motion by Mir Scholes) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.7 to 8 p.mn.
Bill presented by Mr Hayden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill before the House provides for payments for medical benefits, hospital services and certain other specific services, and is the culmination of a great deal of investigation, planning and community debate concerning the most equitable and efficient means of providing health insurance coverage for all Australians. The Bill will enact principles for a health insurance program which were placed before the public at the last Federal election and for which the Government was given a clear mandate. They are principles which have had firm community support for several years and which have withstood, in recent months, a deliberate campaign of deceit and misrepresentation such as has seldom been seen in this country.
The legislation the Government is now proposing represents a sincere endeavour to build a new health benefits system in a way which will meet the expectations of the public for high quality health services to be readily accessible to all, which will expand rather than inhibit the opportunities for freedom of choice, which will promote efficiency in the delivery of health services and which will assist in the upgrading of hospital and community based health facilities. The principles of social equity, universal coverage and cost efficiency which form the Government’s intention in this legislation are central to our whole philosophy of social progress. These principles have been, and will continue to be, pursued with great determination. This determination, however, has not been characterised by doctrinaire or rigid viewpoints which might exclude freedom of choice and flexibility. I submit that the course of the debate on our health insurance proposals, including our deliberately ‘open government’ approach to our policy planning, speaks for itself about our attitude of listening carefully to responsible criticism and seeking to achieve the best balance possible between the legitimate interests of patients, doctors and hospital managements.
Honourable members will remember that we published in April of this year the report of the Health Insurance Planning Committee which outlined a series of proposals on how a health insurance program could be introduced. When I tabled the report in this House I emphasised that its contents were proposals only and that we looked forward to widespread and valuable debate. After 6 months of debate throughout the community we published a White Paper setting out our intentions for this legislation. Objective critics throughout the country have noted that the White Paper demonstrates the Government’s receptiveness to constructive criticism about the health insurance proposals. It is in that light and in that spirit that this legislation has been drafted. As far as I can ascertain, such an open government’ exercise has not been undertaken before in Australia and I feel it is a significant innovation and, although it has not yet attracted such widespread attention as the health insurance proposals, I would call the attention of honourable members to the fact that I have also tabled in this House a discussion paper on the Australian Assistance Plan. This concept of placing our proposals for social innovations and improvements before the public for discussion before final policy details are expressed in legislation is one which I advocated as an Opposition spokesman and which, despite the advantages which can be taken by unscrupulous pressure group opponents, I believe to be both desirable and necessary.
– What pressure groups?
– Order! I intend to maintain silence during this speech. As honourable members know, this is a very important second reading speech. I intend to see that silence is observed also when the honourable member for Hotham replies next week. If there are any more interjections, I will take action.
– We have undertaken this open government’ exercise while adhering to the principles presented to the people of Australia for a new and equitable health insurance system and for which, I repeat, we were given a clear mandate.
Before proceeding to outline the purpose of specific clauses within the Bill, I will mention in broad detail the salient points of the health insurance program which will result from this legislation. I must first explain, however, that this Bill is the main legislative instrument for the introduction and operation of our health insurance program. As honourable members are aware, a Bill has already been introduced which provides for the establishment of the Australian Health Insurance Commission, the main function of which will be to operate the program. Further legislation relating to the scope and operation of private health insurance organisations and the introduction of levies on taxable income and on motor vehicle third party and workers compensation insurers and the protection of individual privacy will be introduced in the autumn sittings of 1974. In the meantime provisions are included in the Bill to protect personal records. Together, this legislative framework will provide for a health insurance program such as I shall now outline.
The program will enable all residents of Australia to be automatically covered by medical and hospital benefits. Pensioners at present eligible for general practitioner consultation services under the pensioner medical service will have their eligibility extended to a full range of medical services, including specialist services, under arrangements designed so that they receive these services free of charge. All other residents will be entitled to receive medical benefits which will total at least 85 per cent of the cost of medical services for which doctors charge the appropriate fees. In no case will any single medical service where the scheduled fee is charged cost the patient more than $5.
Adult residents will be issued with health insurance cards as a means of establishing entitlement to benefits. There will be no obligation to produce the card for any purpose. I wish to emphasise that the cards will simply be a device to make the claiming of benefits as convenient as possible. Clause 5 of the Bill covers the issue of the cards. I have mentioned that legislation complementary to this Bill will provide safeguards against the misuse of these cards and will also guarantee privacy of information for individual citizens. I draw the attention of honourable members to what the White Paper says on the matter of the health insurance cards and privacy of information. On the matter of the card it states:
It will not be necessary for a card to be produced to a doctor or hospital for a patient to receive medical or hospital services. It must be emphasised that the purposes of the card is simply to enable members of the public to obtain benefit payments as conveniently as possible. It should be borne in mind that many existing health insurance funds require contributors to produce numbered membership cards or books to facilitate benefit claim processing. Indeed, one large fund is issuing to contributors membership cards similar to the health insurance cards proposed for the Program.
On the matter of privacy in general the White Paper states:
The Government will insist that complete confidentiality regarding individual patients and doctors is maintained by the Commission. The information required for the processing of claims will be less than is now required by private health insurance funds. A special committee has been established by the Government to recommend steps necessary to guarantee the privacy of individuals.
- Mr Speaker, I apologise, but may I interrupt the Minister. Members of the House who are here now are vitally interested in this Bill. Will the Minister consider authorising the release of copies of his second reading speech while he is reading, as I used to do, so that honourable members may follow his speech? It will help honourable members.
– Of course.
– I thank the Minister.
– I am flattered by the priority the honourable member gives to the speech.
To help finance the program taxpayers will pay a levy of 1.35 per cent on their taxable incomes. People whose incomes are below certain levels will be exempted from the levy. The maximum amount of levy any taxpayer will have to contribute in the first year of the program will be $150. This Bill does not specifically provide for the introduction of the levy. As I have mentioned, other legislation will be introduced during the autumn 1974 sittings of this House for this purpose. I should mention that careful study will be given to the question of exemptions from the payment of the levy, with particular reference to repatriation beneficiaries, Service personnel and low income earners.
Within the health insurance program, there will be complete freedom of patients to choose their own doctors in private practice. Both public and private hospital treatment will be provided for within the program. Patients admitted to public hospitals will be able to choose either to enter a standard ward and to receive full hospital care free of cost, or to be private patients with preference in allocation of any intermediate or private ward accommodation, under the care of their own doctors. In respect of public hospitals these arrangements will stem from separate agreements to be negotiated with the State governments. I shou’d mention that negotiations are well advanced with several States but that the
States of New South Wales and Victoria have indicated they would prefer to wait until this legislation has been passed before entering into substantive negotiations. Medical fees charged to private patients in hospital will attract medical benefits under the program. Patients who incur hospital charges will, through hospital insurance with private funds, be able to cover their hospital charges. Hospital benefit tables will be designed to meet the costs of intermediate and private ward fees in pub ic hospitals and fees for most types of accommodation in non-public hospitals. Private medical insurance funds will be able to offer coverage against medical costs to the extent that they are not covered by benefits under the program. These discretionary additional costs will be a taxation concessional item.
That, then, is a general outline of how the program will work for the public. I would like now to outline in more detail for honourable members the principles contained in the more significant clauses of the Bill. Before doing so, however, I remind honourable members that the health insurance program is outlined in the White Paper which has been widely distributed and is available to all who are interested in the subject. Rather than go into perhaps excessive detail at this stage and delay the House I would ask honourable members to consider what I shall now say in conjunction with the intentions and detail contained in the White Paper.
For the information of honourable members studying the Bill, Part 1, clauses 1 to 7, are the preliminary sections. Part II, clauses 8 to 23, cover the medical benefit provisions. Part III, clauses 24 to 38, cover the payments for hospital services. Part IV, clauses 39 to 46, cover health program grants. Part V, clauses 47 to 124, covers committees and review tribunals. Part VI, clauses 125 and 126, relates to financial arrangements and Part VII, clauses 127 to 133 covers miscellaneous provisions. In addition, there are 2 schedules, one setting out the schedule of appropriate fees and the second setting out the heads of agreement for the agreements to be negotiated with the States. I should also point out that the Bill is drafted so that all clauses will come into operation on the date of Royal Assent except where it is otherwise specified that a clause will operate from a date to be proclaimed. This has been done to enable administrative procedures necessary to the early introduction of the program to be implemented at the appropriate times.
While the Bill provides for all residents of Australia to be eligible for the benefits of the program, it also makes provisions which will allow, at some future time, the introduction of arrangements whereby non-residents of Australia may purchase Australian health insurance program coverage by payment of a suitable premium. The above provisions relate to the eligibility of people while in Australia. The Bill also makes provision for the payment of medical and hospital benefits to Australian residents who incur medical and hospital expenses while overseas. These payments will be made from the commencement of the program. The Government also intends to enter into negotiations with overseas governments with a view to the initiation of reciprocal arrangements for the coverage of medical and hospital costs. The authority for such agreements is outlined in clause 7 of the Bill.
The proper operation of the medical benefit arrangements within the program will depend on doctors in private practice accepting a responsibility to charge appropriate fees. This will enable benefits to be set at levels which will ensure a proper degree of financial protection for the public against the costs of medical treatment. Schedule 1 of the Bill, incorporates the determination made by the Medical Fees Tribunal under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Ludeke, for consultations and visits. It is expected that, on completion of its enquiries, the Medical Fees Tribunal will issue a further determination covering the remaining medical services in the schedule. The Government will move as quickly as possible to incorporate in the schedule the fees which the Tribunal then recommends. The Bill provides that benefits will be calculated at 85 per cent of appropriate fees outlined in Schedule 1 of this Bill or to a formula which will provide that in no case where the schedule fee is charged, does the cost to the patient exceed $5. The operation of this formula will mean that for all medical services where the fee is greater than $33, the benefit will be more than 85 per cent. I should point out that surgical procedures and anaesthetics constitute separate medical services and that the $5 maximum gap will apply to each service.
The program is based on preservation of the patient-doctor relationship and indeed this relationship has aways been an essential feature of our proposals. The methods by which a patient exercises his entitlement to benefits are part of this relationship and, under the program, will remain a matter between the patient and doctor. Basically there are 3 convenient methods provided in the Bill for the claiming of benefits. In precis form, the methods by which patients may receive their entitlements are:
The assignment of benefits will have particular significance for pensioners who have pensioner medical service cards. The Bill requires the Minister to request doctors to undertake that where medical services are provided to persons who present to the doctor a pensioner medical service card, the doctors should give these pensioners an opportunity of assigning their benefits to the doctor instead of receiving a doctors account. The effect of assigning benefits will be that the doctors accept the benefits as full payment for the services they provide to eligible pensioners. This arrangement is designed so that, on the one hand, eligible pensioners enjoy the same entitlement to medical services as everybody else in the community and, on the other, that they are not charged anything for services they at present receive free. At present pensioners eligible for the pensioner medical service are entitled only to general practitioner surgery and home’ visit consultative services. They are not entitled to procedural items provided by general practitioners and they are not covered for any services provided by private medical specialists. The new arrangements will give them coverage for all of those services.
Clause 13 of the Bill sets out the arrangements which are to apply when there is a medical attendance as a result of which spectacle lenses are prescribed. For such attendances the regulations will prescribe that the benefit which will be payable will be that part of the benefit specified in the Schedule which is financed by the health insurance levy. The principle which has been adopted is that the new benefit in these cases will take the place of the fund benefit which has generally been paid in the past. Commonwealth benefit has not been paid in the past and consequently the new arrangements will not place patients at a disadvantage in comparison with the existing arrangements. The actual amount of benefit under the new arrangements will depend on the scheduled fee for the consultation concerned. This will vary depending on whether it is a consultation with a specialist to whom the patient has been referred or whether the patient consults the specialist directly. Assuming that the normal benefit where no spectacles are prescribed is, say, $16, the benefit for a consultation at which spectacles are prescribed will be 40 per cent of $16, that is $6.40. The patient will be left to pay the doctor the balance of his fee. Patients who consult optometrists will pay the optometrist’s consulting fee, which will not be eligible for benefits. Because optometrists’ consulting fees are considerably lower than medical specialists’ fees, patients generally, I am informed, will be left in approximately the same situation whether they consult a medical specialist or an optometrist. This is the situation which has existed under the present scheme. The arrangements incorporated in the Bill are interim measures and the Government has established a working party to thoroughly review the arrangements with a view to recommending what measures can be taken to resolve the difficult issues that exist in this matter.
In any medical benefits system it is necessary to have expert, independent committees to make recommendations on such complex matters as the scope of the medical services to be covered, the level of appropriate fees to be included in the Schedule and to adjudicate on matters relating to the provision of services which attract medical benefits. The Bill, in Part V, provides for the establishment of a number of committees for the purposes I have outlined. The existing Specialist Recognition Advisory Committee for each State and the Specialist Recognition Appeal Committee are to be continued. The functions and operations of these committees will be the same as those established under the existing legislation. In fact the Bill provides for the present committees to continue these activities.
A Medical Benefits Advisory Committee will be established with the broad functions of determining the nature and scope of medical services to be included in the Schedule and the fees for those services. The members of this Committee will be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Australian Medical Association or any other association or college that the Minister considers appropriate. I should mention that within its broad functions, this Committee will have the power to formulate principles for the determination of fees in respect of medical services which are of undue length or complexity. This will enable appropriate benefits to be paid in particular cases where a medical practitioner is justified in charging in excess of the scheduled fee for any service. In practice, the Bill provides for the Health Insurance Commission to determine fees in such circumstances in accordance with the principles laid down by the Committee.
Honourable members will recognise that it is necessary to have a method of ensuring that false or excessive claims are not made on public funds. We have indicated, in the White Paper on our health insurance program, that we will consult with the medical profession about appropriate forms of ‘peer review’ arrangements. In this Bill, we have made provision for committees of inquiry whose functions relate to the services provided to pensioners, but I wish to stress that we will be consulting with the medical profession to ensure that, on the one hand, there is no abuse of the medical benefits system and, on the other hand, that the professional freedoms of doctors are protected.
Under the present committee of inquiry system, there is no established right of appeal for doctors against whom rulings are made by the committees. Division 4 of Part V of this Bill establishes a Medical Services Review Tribunal to which a medical practitioner who is dissatisfied with a determination of a committee of inquiry may appeal for a review of the determination. In addition, a further avenue of appeal will be available, on questions on law, to the Australian Industrial Court.
I turn now to the arrangements covering payments for hospital services. These are contained in Part III of the Bill. The administrative procedures spelt out in the Bill provide that all hospitals must be approved for the purposes of hospital payments. In this context I would point out that all hospitals currently approved under the National Health Act must apply for approval under this legislation so as to become eligible for Australian Government payments. The basis of the hospital payment arrangements will be agreements to be negotiated separately with each State government. The agreements have not, of course, been formulated at this stage but Schedule 2 of the Bill sets out heads around which such agreements will be negotiated.
In broad terms these heads of agreements envisage arrangements under which everybody will be entitled to receive comprehensive standard ward hospital treatment free of charge. They also envisage that up to SO per cent of the net operating costs of public hospitals will be met by the Australian Government. This commitment by the Australian Government will comprise daily bed payments at the rate of $16 payable direct to hospitals with the balance of the commitment being paid direct to State governments.
Before mentioning the arrangements for hospitals not covered by agreements with the States there is a point on terminology I think it is important to make. The term private hospital is often used to categorise all hospitals not owned by the State or Australian governments. It should be noted, however, that there are some privately owned religious, charitable and community hospitals which regard themselves as public hospitals. These hospitals are certainly public in the sense of the functions they perform, despite the fact that they may not be owned and operated by government authorities. The comments about, and safeguards for, what we referred to in the White Paper as private, religious, charitable or community hospitals are meant to apply also to the type of hospitals I have just referred to.
For hospitals not covered by the agreements with the States, the Australian Government will pay daily bed payments of $16. In addition, the Bill provides for supplementary daily bed payments to certain religious, charitable and community hospitals where these hospitals provide free treatment to patients whom they accept as ‘hospital patients’. As has been unequivocally stated in the White Paper, these hospitals will be free to set and control their own policies without Government interference and they will retain the sole right to appoint the members of their governing bodies. A corollary of this is that they will retain autonomy of management in the medico-moral area.
The financing of the program will take place through the mechanism of a Health Insurance Fund, which will be established under Part VI of the Bill. All payments authorised by this legislation will be paid by the Health Insurance Commission out of this Fund. I should mention that when the levies I have referred to earlier are in operation, the revenue derived will be paid into the Fund, as will payments from consolidated revenue and amounts recovered under the provisions of the Bill.
In conclusion, I turn to the reasons why the Government has committed itself so firmly to seeing that the legislative proposals I have just outlined are brought into operation. I mentioned at the beginning of this speech that our proposals seek social equity in health insurance. We believe this to be an obligation of government. And, we believe, the Australian Government not only has an obligation in this respect but it also has a clear duty, as the custodian of public funds, to ensure that taxpayers get the best value in terms of health services for the money they contribute. This, in turn, means we have a duty to see that money is not wasted on an inefficient system of health insurance.
As an indication of scale, it is worth noting that the Australian Government will spend over $350m in the 1973-74 financial year on direct subsidies to hospital and medical benefit funds, on pensioner medical and hospital services and on repatriation medical services. There is also a substantial indirect subsidy through taxation concessions, which are of course also a cost to the Australian Government revenue. A great deal of this money will be spent in propping up the ramshackle, inequitable and wasteful private health insurance scheme - a scheme which can only retain any facade of respectability through the injection of more and more taxpayers’ money. For the record, the average proportion of medical benefit refunds met directly by the Australian Government has risen from 45 per cent in 1969-70 to 56 per cent in 1972-73.
One of the reasons for all this is simply that the 90 health funds, with their separate and often extravagant managements, are wasteful. They unnecessarily accumulate large amounts of reserves. At the last count these reserves totalled over $124m. The larger funds spend a significant proportion of their contributors’ funds in salesmanship - in chasing new members and in paying head bounties for each one signed up. In all some 15 per cent of the contributions of medical benefit funds is lost in administration expenses. With a universal system, in which everybody is automatically covered and in which we can dispense with the services of bounty hunters, we can cut this rate in half. The money saved will be re-applied to finance better benefits for more people. For the same total cost as would be needed to sustain the present scheme, we can provide improved coverage and we can bring into our program over a million people who at present lack proper protection against the costs of medical and hospital treatment.
The Opposition now acknowledges that the present scheme has defects. They had some 20 years with the scheme but only very recently, under the pressure of the logic of our proposals, have they acknowledged that what they were once fond of hailing as ‘the best scheme in the world’ has serious deficiencies. So now, in pretending to have a policy on health insurance, they are proposing a $3 00m first aid job to patch up the low income family and pensioner sections of their scheme. What I must point out quite forcibly here is that this $300m would be additional to the total cost of the medical and hospital services covered by private health insurance and by pensioner medical and hospital services and repatriation medical services. The program we are proposing will, with no addition to the costs of the present system, cover everybody in the community. But the time is past for ‘band aid’ health care expedients. Like other advanced countries of the world Australia needs a health insurance program which will truly provide the doctor and the hospital of the citizen’s choice at the price he can afford. (Extension of time granted)
– It is a ghastly speech; nevertheless we agree to the extension.
– That is uncharacteristic generosity from the honourable member for Moreton. A lot of specious nonsense has been spoken in recent months about freedom of choice and the doctor-patient relationship. Our program gives true freedom. It gives freedom from fear of the financial consequences of illness, it gives freedom of choice of doctor and hospital and it does this in a way which does not levy a penalty on the sick and the economically less fortunate members of this community.
The present system is indeed a ‘scheme’. It is an iniquitious method of ensuring that those who can best afford health care get it more cheaply than those who can least afford it. It perpetuates social inequality and it wastes public money. Our program is not one which stems from doctrinaire beliefs but it is one which flows from a sense of social justice. It is a program which rejects the belief that health care is a commodity to be traded rather than a social utility to be used to improve the quality of living. It is at the same time a program which acknowledges the professional and vocational aspirations of those who provide health services. It is, in total, a program which is a challenge to the social conscience of this Parliament and this nation. It is indeed a program which must cause this Parliament to decide whether health care is to be a privilege to be purchased or a right to be enjoyed equally by every Australian. I commend the Bill to the House.
-The question is: That the debate be now adjourned. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it. The question now is: That the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
- Mr Speaker, I ask for the indulgence of the House to speak for no longer than 3 minutes about the resumption of the debate, or I could go through the forms of the House. May I ask for leave to make a statement not exceeding 3 minutes?
-Order! You can speak to the motion or if you wish you can move an amendment. That is in your hands.
– I know, Mr Speaker. I was trying to overcome the necessity for that formality. I move:
I appreciate the difficulties of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) in having such a complex Bill as this brought in at 8 p.m. on a Thursday in the second last week of the sittings. I know the reason why the Leader of the House wants the House to rise next week but I would like to point out, in fairness, that that is not the problem of the Opposition, it is the problem of the Government. I would have thought that a Bill such as this which literally affects every family in Australia should be debated while the proceedings are being broadcast and that there should Be a maximum time allowed for debate so that honourable members on both sides of the House can exercise their right to speak on this proposition.
– Sit for another week. How do you like that?
– The honourable member for Melbourne suggests that we sit another week to determine this matter. That would be welcomed by the Opposition.
Opposition members - Hear, hear!
– Is there that kind of unanimity in the Government ranks about the suggestion that we sit for another week to debate such an important issue?
Mr SPEAKER -Order!Honourable members will cease interjecting.
– I do not want to be unreasonable about this matter but I suggest that it would be scandalous if the Leader of the House forced this debate on next Wednesday - I understand that that may be his intention - so as to preclude honourable members on this side from speaking at a time when our proceedings are being broadcast to something like 20,000 people, in view of the fact that the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) has been not unpro vocative in some of the statements he has made about the Opposition and various aspects of this matter. I could use the forms of the House and force a division on a motion that the debate on this Bill be not resumed on Wednesday next but I will not do that. At this stage all I do is appeal to the decency of the Leader of the House and of the Government to bring this Bill back on for debate, a full debate, when the nation can hear it in the way that the people are accustomed to hearing important debates being broadcast.
– May I reply reasonably quickly, with your leave, Mr Speaker? We were proposing-
– Order! Is the honourable member speaking to the motion before the Chair?
– Order! There are so many Chairmen and Deputy Speakers in the House I do not know where I am. The Minister is speaking to the motion before the Chair.
– We were proposing that the debate should be resumed next Wednesday evening. We thought this would suit the convenience of members of the Opposition. We had noted that so many of them have been absent from the sittings of the House in recent weeks and the great difficulty experienced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) in attending the sittings of the House this week. We have noted, with some concern for the interests of members of the Opposition, that quite a number of them have bookings at luxury holiday resorts to be effective from the end of next week. The last thing I would ever want to do would be to interfere with the recreation and rest of members of the Opposition.
As the spokesman for the Opposition on matters relating to health and welfare, the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Ohipp), and members of the Opposition want to sit for a further week and thereafter. I have discussed the matter with the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) and we are quite happy to accommodate them. We are prepared to defer the debate until Thursday of next week and to return the following week to continue the debate. We will be very happy. I trust that those members of the Opposition who have put deposits on their holiday homes will be able to get refunds.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Without amendment -
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1973-74.
Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill 1973.
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill <No. 1) 1973-74.
Wheat Export Charge Bill 1973.
– I present the eighth report of the Publications Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 4141).
– The soaring cost ofland and the question of how it is made available are among the most obvious of today’s urban problems. The cost of land has increased faster than the average rate of inflation in the past few years and is continuing to grow at an accelerating rate. According to the Commonwealth Institute of Valuers survey published only last month the value of land in Melbourne is likely to increase at a rate as high as 60 per cent in the next 12 months. The survey, showing inner suburban land price increases of up to 75 per cent, indicated that Melbourne was rivalling Sydney in the real estate price spiral. In the Waverley municipality, about 15 miles east of central Melbourne, land that a year ago sold for $22,000 an acre is now selling for $40,000 an acre. A survey of 40 Melbourne municipalities by the Institute showed that prices had increased by up to 75 per cent in Carlton, parts of Fitzroy and South Melbourne - all inner suburbs - in the 12 months ending in April this year.
At these rates of price increase young couples are forced to the outer fringes of Melbourne, but there the scene is worse. Outer Melbourne areas in an arc from Bulla extending through to Eltham and Lilydale to Mornington and Hastings have had land price increases varying from 45 per cent to 55 per cent. The cost of a building block in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs is rising by an average of $50 a week, according to a survey carried out by Knox City Council and published in May this year. In Knox, which is in my electorate of La Trobe and in one of the fastest growing suburban areas, the average land price increase for the 12 months to February 1973 was 62.63 per cent. Prices have gone mad; they have gone up even faster in the past 6 months. The Knox survey is the most accurate one yet taken on rising land prices. It is based on sale returns lodged with the Knox building department. The increases included 50 per cent at Wantirna, 63 per cent at Boronia, 66 per cent at the Mountain Gate estate, and 55 per cent at Johnson Park estate in Fern Tree Gully.
All of this land is situated between 15 and 20 miles from the General Post Office, unsewered but with made roads and all other services. Sewered blocks in the area have just been released and are selling at between $9000 and $11,000 a block. Blocks on unmade roads jumped 59 per cent in price from $2900 to $4600. Within the next few years owners will have to meet a council road making bill. These rises are alarming, even frightening, and can be attributed mainly to the lack of supply of residential land. Unless a land policy is developed it will be 18 months to 2 years before we see any substantial improvement in the land shortage and a slow down in price increases. At present Melbourne has a population of 2.5 million and it is increasing at the rate of 50,000 a year. To stop the growth of Melbourne it would be necessary to build the equivalent of 15 Canberras within Victoria. Syphoning off the increase in population from big cities is not effective in restricting growth, as there will always be an increase in population in these areas. It is that problem which unites these Bills in this cognate debate.
Large rises in the price of land, caused by speculation, are socially undesirable and must be overcome. First, citizens with similar interests and needs for obtaining land should have equal opportunities to do so. At present high and rapidly inflating land prices produce a redistribution of wealth in the community away from tenants of houses and buyers - the have-nots - to existing land owners - very much the haves. This redistribution merely exaggerates the inequalities that exist in our society. Secondly, as I have indicated, the price of land can rise as much as $50 in a week, or $2,500 in a year. This is the amount of extra saving that must be put aside by the average salary earner. As long as the rate of inflation in the price of land and houses exceeds the general rate of inflation such a task is impossible. While land prices are not kept in check prospective home buyers on low or moderate incomes are penalised. Thirdly, the present system, provides unearned windfall profits for those already owning excess tracts of land.
The Opposition is always quick to criticise the social welfare system Labor has developed and the few so-called bludgers who receive unemployment or sickness benefit. They call loudly for a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay but they are silent in relation to unearned profits from land sales. To me it is immoral that large profits should be enjoyed by land holders who receive this sort of increment without lifting a hand to earn it. I should like to give some examples of sales and potential sales of land in the city of Knox in Victoria. The first example relates to 294 acres purchased at nominal price before the area was rezoned urban. In 1972 40 acres were sold to land developers for $260,000. The remaining 254 acres is estimated to be worth almost $2m.
Recently 120 acres in Knox were sold for $1.8m. A market gardener who profited, from rezoning bought 333 acres 10 years ago for about $200 an acre. He could now get $10,000 an acre, giving him a gross return of about $3m. In a recent sale another 60 acres realised $1.5m. The vendors still hold 44 acres, estimated to be worth more than $lm.
A well known bookmaker owns 80 acres in an industrial zone. Recently 21 acres were sold for $400,000. His present holdings plus the profits from that sale will make him a millionaire. Industrial land covering an area of 244 acres is valued at $2.5m and a recent sale of only 45 acres realised approximately $333,000. Vendors are entitled to the interest due on their original investment as they could have earned that, plus the real value maintained by a factor equal to the general rate of inflation. This is a price stabilisation formula but profits over and above that are gained at the expense of future home buyers. This Government cannot condone such unearned increments and capital gains. Many of the inequities and inefficiencies of the newer areas of cities are the direct result of growth on a small unco-ordinated scale resulting from lack of large scale finance and an inability of public developers to work with broad acres. Rezoning of land to cater for varied community uses, from low density land use to higher land use patterns, causes the price to rise. Speculative demand is thus concentrated in areas where development is planned. Private developers geared for maximising profit and not community benefit cannot ensure proper distribution of urban amenities. This can be achieved only through a public development corporation.
Let us examine why land prices are rising so sharply and what are the remedies to the problem so that we might bring about stabilisation in land prices. There is a trend towards more people living in urban areas. The percentage of the population living in rural areas as pointed out by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) decreased from 32 per cent in 1947 to 14.7 per cent in 1970 - less than half. There is pressure on available blocks for residential and income earning purposes. There is a shortfall of land zoned residential on the fringes of cities and in growth centres. About 2,000 new homes are built each year in the city of Knox but about 1000 blocks are held by speculators and investors and 1400 blocks by people waiting to build a home. Little if any broad acre land is zoned residential and available for immediate subdivision. Seven years ago there were 11,500 vacant building blocks in Knox. This has been cut to 4,400, of which only 2,000 are available. A further 6,000 blocks will become available if rezoning occurs. How can we equalise the supply and demand for land so that prices stabilise? Solutions offered are many. For example, the chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works listed suggestions for price control in an article published in the ‘Age’ on 28 August last. He listed the following points.
Legislation to compel people to market land which is ripe for development.
Consideration given to levying a holding charge on people who withhold land.
Adequate finance for servicing authorities.
Amendment to the Sale of Land Act to allow stage release of new allotments.
A speed-up at all levels of council, board and Government procedures to reduce delays.
Agreement by municipalities on uniform requirements for sub-division.
Availability of money to developers at reasonable interest rates.
Legislation requiring land owners to contribute to common services so that the cost is spread equally.
Greater co-operation by land developers with authorities.
The final approach adopted by this Government will need to recognise that more serviced land must be made available to satisfy the demand, that land prices are contained so that all who need the land are not denied it merely because of impecunious circumstances or by earning average incomes, and that a comprehensive view must be taken of land use leading to the development of urban amenities. Unless the adopted policy satisfies these three elements it will fall short of desirable measures. How do the suggested policies face up to these criteria? Holding charges, levies, capital gains taxes and so on can all be passed on to the buyer. This denies the availability of land to low income groups. Legislation which is designed to compel people to sell ‘and staged releases of new allotments do not avoid price increases, and such legislation has not proved easy to implement. Ad hoc rezoning is not complementary to good town planning and creates windfall profits for land owners. The price of land is not stabilised. The availability of money at low interest rates to developers, private and public, adequate finance for servicing authorities and the sharing of service costs by the community through progressive taxation are all desirable, but they need to be part of a co-ordinated program instituted by a Federal government.
Most of the remaining measures can be achieved by the national Government entering the field of urban and regional development, in co-operation with the States. This is the purpose of the 5 Bills. If land problems are to be solved, consultation between the various levels of government will be essential. The chief method by which the Government currently hopes more serviced land will be made available, land prices contained, land use recognised and State co-operation achieved is through the establishment of land commissions in the States. “The Australian Government has proposed that each State should establish a land commission or an equivalent body which, with the help of Australian Government finance, would acquire large tracts of land needed for urban development. The commissions would be expected to release the land, fully serviced, as needed. The eventual establishment of large banks of land should help solve the problem of scarcity. The establishment of land commissions, which would be State agencies, controlled and managed by the States, would make for a more efficient use of land. By having large tracts of land needed for urban development under the control of the States, a comprehensive approach to investment in urban facilities by both the public and private sector would be made easier. This approach is necessary for the efficient use of both land and resources, which will necessitate long term planning and co-ordination of investment.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) is concerned that action will be taken on the fringes of existing large metropolises for urban planning and in inner suburbs for urban renewal. He need not be so concerned. The land commissions, or their equivalents, would aim initially at buying land required for urban development in areas designated by the States. This would include land on the fringes of metropolitan areas, such as Knox, as well as land required for regional centres and new cities. Their major objective will be to make land available for residential purposes and for other public purposes such as health, education, recreation and transport. The commissions would hold and control the land they acquire, but where large tracts are involved a development corporation would have the responsibility to develop. The corporation or, in the case of small areas of land, the commissions may let contracts to private developers for the servicing and developing of the land. In this way the skills of both the public and the private sector would be used in the operation of the land commission program.
In April the Australian Government announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry into land tenures under the chairman ship of Mr Justice Else-Mitchell. The Leader of the Opposition is concerned about future land tenure of acquired land after development. He said that the Opposition is adamant that the form of tenure must be freehold. We are not so presumptive as to state categorically just what form tenure should take. The precise form of the tenure system by which land controlled by the commissions would be made available to the public would differ from State to State. Details of the applicable tenure would not be settled until the commission of inquiry into land tenure had reported, but the Australian Government has said that public equity in land is necessary for effective co-ordination of development and also to prevent individuals from receiving massive profits as the result of public decisions to acquire and develop land with public money.
We are not alone in this wish. During recent hearings held by the National Estate Inquiry in Melbourne, the Westernport Regional Planning Authority appealed to the Federal Government to acquire substantial areas of Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island. The Authority said that its present planning powers and finances were inadequate to protect Westernport against escalating pressures for undesirable change. It said that these pressures - the demand for hobby farms, holiday houses, rural residential allotments and fringe urban activities - were now threatening places of national significance in Westernport. The Authority also said that from experience in our type of democratic society, planning control can arrest the rate of such development but cannot prevent it when land is in private ownership. Public equity in land is necessary if land use is to be regulated by advanced and community oriented town planning and not allowed to degenerate through ad hoc decisions resulting from indiscriminate purchasing of land and profit motivated pressures to rezone different areas.
Land price stabilisation legislation is seen by the Australian Government as an essential part of the land commission project. It is aimed at ensuring that land does not inflate in value merely because it has been chosen for acquisition for urban development. Such inflation could make the land so costly that the States would be unable to continue their plans to acquire the land and develop the area. Although legislation would differ to suit each State’s individual requirements, it is expected that where it is introduced it would follow general principles. Such legislation would stabilise the prices to be paid for the land to be acquired at the market value at the date set out in the initial proclamation of the study area, plus a value increase factor to allow for normal increase in land values, but excluding any increase principally arising from the identification of an area as a growth area. A capital cost adjustment would also be made for improvements to the land. The value increase factor and the adjustments for improvements would ensure that land owners, while they would be prevented from making windfall profits, would not lose in real money terms if their land is marked for acquisition.
– That would be fair enough.
– Fair enough, as the honourable member for Diamond Valley says. Safeguards incorporated into the legislation would allow rapid acquisition in hardship cases, so giving the legislation flexibility. Such land stabilisation cannot be described as price freezing. It allows for legitimate increments in earnings on land sales. It avoids the disadvantages of land price freezes such as the creation of a black market, the devaluation of property as inflation generally leaves real value of land behind and the creation of under-the-counter key money, often amounting to $2,000 to $3,000, on the side. Time prevents me from saying more. I congratulate the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) on the advances that he has made towards conquering our urban and regional problems. There are no panaceas and no immediate solutions, but these programs, backed by $30m of the current Budget’s funds, will make a great start for tomorrow’s urban dwellers, particularly in land price stabilisation. I commend the Bills to the House.
– It would be churlish of me not to congratulate the Minister for Uiban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) on being the first Commonwealth Minister to bring the Commonwealth into planning for cities. Whether the methods which he intends to use will be successful. I think it is irrefutable that now the Commonwealth is deeply involved in what is happening in the cities, both old and new. Whatever change of political circumstances may come about, I think that the Commonwealth’s involvement in this area must continue and will continue to expand in the years ahead. However, I think that the Minister’s Department has not yet settled down to a classification of the programs which it wants to implement. The Minister, in his second reading speech on the Albury-Wodonga Development Bill said:
The Government is committed to a direct and continuing involvement in cities, old and new.
A little later he said:
New cities are designed to reduce population pressure on existing cities.
He referred to what he called regional growth centres. I think that there are probably 4 classifications which could be used with greater advantage and greater clarity. Firstly, there are new towns. They are certainly created to reduce population pressures on existing cities. New towns require a different approach and have different problems to solve in their development. The second type of classification is expanded towns. If I might say so, the Albury-Wodonga project would fall into this category because there already is an urban existence in Albury and in Wodonga. The Minister proposes to expand this town into a much larger town with a population of some 300,000. I believe that this is the most difficult sort of project to undertake, and I will say more about that when I deal with the Bill.
The third type of classification is a project involving urban renewal in the inner city areas. The inner city areas of most of the capital cities have run down over the years. They require massive injections of money to assist in buying back land that has passed into seperate ownerships, to bring them into larger agglomerations and thus provide them with all the expertise and techniques that are available to us now. This means that more people will be brought back into the urban centre and this will create a more vital inner city.
The fourth classification I suggest is suburban assistance. This covers the project of the rapidly developing suburban areas where what is needed is Commonwealth money to assist in providing public services which have fallen behind on account of the rapidity of development - things like sewerage, the provision of schools and public libraries and particularly the provision of open space. Very often local councils on the perimeters of cities find that there is a spill-over of ‘population into the outer area and it all happens very quickly. Of course, a small local council does not have the finance to cope with the increase in facilities that are required when subdivisions occur at such a rapid rate. Most of them have town plans which are admirable; most of them have provision in their town plans and zoning schemes for open space and public purpose lands; but they do not have the money to acquire these when they are needed. So I see that the fourth classification would be for the Commonwealth Government to provide money to assist in the acquisition of those facilities within the framework of already existing town planning.
Let me briefly give my view of the Commonwealth’s role in this field. I see it as a threefold role. The first is to provide teams of experts which could be made available to the States and local government bodies to help with planning and development of new projects. The cost of assembling expert teams of this sort is very high and it is beyond the means of most local councils in Australia. Assistance from the Commonwealth level would be most welcome. The second role for the Commonwealth is to provide money for urban projects. The third is to provide the staff necessary for development corporations where these are required. In my view, development corporations would be required where a new town or an expanded town was being established.
Let me now come to the project which is in fact a pilot project for the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and his Department. I refer to Albury and Wodonga. Without wishing to put the kiss of death on the project at this stage may I perhaps issue a word of caution. I think that Albury-Wodonga is an unhappy choice for the first pilot project. It is an inland city, and everyone knows that the establishment of facilities is far more expensive in the inland than it is on the coast. Also, inland cities have problems with regard to the supply of essential services such as water. That leads on to the second problem which, in my view, means that this is an unhappy choice.
Water control on the Murray River must be an important and worrying consideration for the Department in developing Albury-Wodonga as a city of 300,000 people. Only last week a newspaper article drew attention to the problem of water pollution at Mildura. This must be a serious problem. This morning the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) tabled the minutes of a meeting between himself and the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria. At the meeting the main question debated was the quality of the water in the Murray River and the serious problem that exists there with regard to the salinity of the water. Other problems which were also discussed concerned the establishing of a very large city on the Murray River whose waters are required further down, for both irrigation and urban uses. This creates an additional problem for anyone developing a city in this situation.
The third objection - one which I find most puzzling - is that the Government has selected as its pilot project a city which has all the problems one could possibly think of. There are 2 State governments to deal with; there are 2 local authorities to deal with; and they are all in the centre of the inland area. With that sort of arrangement, trying to obtain agreement on what is to be done in the development of Albury-Wodonga will be a job for a magician. I make a comment in passing on the agreement, which is a schedule to the Act. It looks as though it were drawn up at a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on the Murray under a gum tree. It provides for the establishment of a Commonwealth Development Corporation, a New South Wales Development Corporation and a Victorian Development Corporation. Then there is the curious business of the Ministerial Council. Nothing can be done unless the Ministerial Council comes to a unanimous decision. With these complications I would think that the Ministerial Council should have thought the thing through before it reached any agreement at all. The Minister is shaking his head. I have no doubt that they had great difficulties at this particular tea party. But the point I am making is that the Government has made this selection which has nothing to recommend it at all. Its tremendous administrative problems could have been overcome if the Government had selected a site and dealt with only one State government. That would have been a very much easier task in providing the pilot operation for the types of new cities and expanded cities that the Government wants to produce.
I hope that, as the Minister and his Department gain more experience in the development of new towns, they will arrive at agreements with the States- I hope that the States will be more sensible in their approach to these matters as well - and that more sanity will prevail and a more reasoned and balanced agreement will be arrived at. In my view, there ought to be one development corporation. The development corporation ought to be vested with power to plan and develop the area. It ought to be relatively free from ministerial veto at every turn. It ought to be able to proceed with the planning and development of the area. At the end of it all it ought to be able to hand the area over to some form of local government. This is one of the things which I fear has not really been thought out by the Ministerial Council in relation to Albury-Wodonga. What will happen to AlburyWodonga when it is fully developed by whichever of the 3 development corporations does the job? What form of local government will take the place of the development corporations? The development corporations cannot go on for ever. At some stage they must be wound up. Local government must be established in this area. This is one of the critical things that certainly should be agreed on before things proceed too much further.
I commend to the Minister’s attention the provisions of the Bill for Treasury advances to the development corporation. I think that this is a sensible way to go about it. I also urge the Minister to ensure that the Development Corporation keeps proper accounts, because we know that here in Canberra a lot of the development has been paid for by taxpayers’ money and no one has any idea how much it has cost. I believe that new towns and expanded towns can be developed in Australia with the assistance of a Treasury advance of some millions of dollars in the first instance. After that the Development Corporation ought to be self financing out of sales of developed land and so on, because in the future the Development Corporation will have the advantage of the rising prices of land in the developed area and ought to be able to break even at least, if not to show a small profit on the Treasury advance. This is something which the Minister ought to keep firmly in mind, to make sure that the accounts are properly kept so that the people of Australia and honourable members can see every year exactly how much money is being spent on this project and how much revenue is being returned from it. I envisage that we would expect this program to cost the Australian taxpayer millions of dollars in direct Treasury advances and in subsidies of various sorts. If we are to establish new cities, we have to accept that. Industry will not go and establish in such new cities unless some inducements by way of financial and tax concessions are offered to it. So we must expect that a considerable amount of money will be spent.
I wish to speak briefly about the land commissions which seem to be associated with the Albury-Wodonga project. They do not come in directly in that development project but they are associated in general terms in one of the Bills that we are discussing here tonight. I do not know what purpose the land commissions will really serve. The Minister said in his second reading speech that their purpose is three-fold. He said that we want to allow areas to be comprehensively planned and developed. I agree with him in that. I think that in most cases it is proper that a development corporation should acquire the land in large lumps if the development is to proceed in an orderly fashion. I am not quite so sure whether it is necessary for the development corporation to acquire all the land within a designated area. It may be possible for the development corporation to acquire only essential public sections of the land in a development plan and allow others to develop privately. I do not know. This is something which perhaps experience will show us and on which the reports of the department will enlighten us as the years go by.
The other point I mention is the acquisition of land. I agree with the Minister that it is reasonable that once an area has been designated as a growth area the owners of land within that designated area should not be unjustly enriched as a result of Government money being spent in developing the project. But on the other hand, I do not believe that owners in the designated area should have to wait up to 10 years before they are paid compensation for the land which was compulsorily acquired from them. I would like to see a reduction in the period for which compensation could be withheld. I would like to see the period reduced to, say, 3 years so that the development corporation, once it has decided to develop an area, could move in and compulsorily acquire all the land which it needed within 3 years of the declaration of the designated area. I think that this would resolve some of the problems which are now causing concern.
One of the other objects of the land commission, according to the Minister’s second reading speech, was that the Government wanted to make land available at fair prices. I notice that the Minister used the expression at fair prices’. He has not said that he wants to make land available to people at prices which are less than they can obtain land for now. I think that he is very sensible in doing that because the price of land today contains a very high component for development costs. The price for the raw land will be the same to the Minister’s land commission as it will be to the private developer. The development costs of the land will be the same to the Minister’s land commission as they will be to the private developer. One would imagine that the margin of profit would be somewhere in the same vicinity if the corporation has development funds with which to finance its own projects. The only thing which the commission will not have to face but which private developers do have to face is the very high rates of interest that have to be paid between the period when the land is bought and the time when ultimately it is sold. Those interest charges may add $500, $600, or $700 to the cost of a block of land, depending on how long it takes for the council concerned to approve of the subdivision and for the property to be sold. So I do not think there will be very much difference in the price of the land which is released by the Minister’s land commission, if the commission is to make available fully serviced land for the home buyer. I know that other members on this side of the House want to speak, so I will not say anything more about these Bills now. I may get an opportunity to make a few passing comments on various clauses when the Bills are considered in the Committee stage.
– I realise that time is going on. I just wish to join with all honourable members from this side of the House in wishing the Government well with its new concept and particularly with the Albury-Wodonga project. As I say, I have no intention of endeavouring to cover all the ground. There has been a very good debate from honourable members on both sides of the House. It is quite interesting to participate in a debate in which both sides of the House are basically in agreement. I trust that next week when there will be other legislation before the House we will have this unanimity of feeling in the chamber. Hopefully that will be the case.
I would like to make the point, as the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) did today, that really there is a four-pronged attack against the decentralisation. I would like to take up the last 2 points which he made and which I feel have been overlooked by the Government in all these Bills and other actions, taken by the Government. He mentioned blanket incentives for decentralisation. I will not dwell on those. But I feel that the general support for the initiatives shown by some of our States in supporting decentralisation in some of our minor or provincial towns may have been overlooked to a large extent. I mention this because there are many provincial or rural towns with populations between 5,000 to 20,000 people which are looking not for something spectacular, such as is happening in the Albury-Wodonga area or the other anticipated growth centres, but are looking for a small, gradual growth within their community. It may be a small, gradual industrial growth, perhaps just to take care of the unemployment situation which still exists in rural areas, and to take care of the children of the district who are growing up and who wish to stay in the district and seek employment. I know that the Government has ridiculed what it has described as the salt and pepper attitude of decentralisation of which it accused the previous Government. But I feel that with this Government there is too much emphasis on the cities. I would like to quote from an answer given by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) in reply to a question asked in the House on 1 1 October. I will not read it all. The question was asked in regard to decentralisation. I will just read the end where the Minister says:
We want decentralisation to be successful. The only way that we can achieve this is by determining special growth centres and by then using all the resources of Australian, State, local governments and the private sector to make these centres a success. That is why the Government has stated clearly that industries in selected growth centres agreed upon by the Australian Government and the State governments will receive special assistance and special attention in regard to tariff and other policies.
I feel that the whole emphasis is on the cities. I know that a regional report has been prepared and hopefully other areas can look towards the Grants Commission. But it was in all seriousness that I asked the Minister a further question a couple of weeks ago. What prompted me to ask this question was that on 23 October 1973 there was a report in the West Australian’ newspaper that the mayor of Bunbury, Mr P. J. Usher, had been told by the Federal Government that it was not considering exemptions to the regulations to restrict foreign investment. I bring this to the attention of the Minister and the House because a couple of days later I asked the Minister about the proposed Alwest refinery. Just let me quote that question. Actually, I addressed it to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), but he passed it on to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. The question was:
The proposed all-west project is of tremendous importance to the south west of Western Australia. It will mean regional development, the development of the Bunbury port, increased power generation at Collie and increased employment opportunities throughout the region. As this project was planned during 1969-70 and has been held up awaiting the development of the infrastructure, particularly the port of Bunbury, will the Government reconsider its attitude on foreign capital investment in this instance, bearing in mind the true decentralised nature of the project?
The Minister answered:
As the honourable member would know, 4 studies have been carried out in Western Australia by the Cities Commission. Studies have been made of Sal.vado, north of Perth, and studies have also been made of 3 regional areas - Geraldton, Bunbury and Albany. The study is a continuing one and until such time as it is completed no decision will be made by the Government. Foreign investment in real estate in Australia is the joint responsibility of the Treasurer and myself and each case will be judged on its merits.
It is not only the all-west project at Bunbury which is involved. There is also a tannery at Albany. There are other towns throughout the Commonwealth such as this. There are other small industries that could start and operate at no cost to the Government whatsoever. With more Government consideration, we could achieve in these small towns a limited amount of decentralisation with a thoughtful and balanced policy towards foreign investment. That is the only comment I wish to make. Again I wish the Government well with its whole project.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
Motion (by Mr Nicholls) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Giles did that deliberately and therefore the Opposition will not get replies to the queries raised in the second reading debate.
– On a point of order. I object to the Minister’s remarks. We have taken 2 speakers off the list and I intend to take 3 minutes.
-Order! It is not a point of order.
– It is if you heard what the Minister said.
-I heard what he said. It is not a point of order.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Uren) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21 November (vide page 3603) on motion by Mr Uren:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The question is that the Bill be now read a second time. All those in favour say aye, against say no. I think the ayes have it.
– I should like to take my rights in this House to say a few words at this stage in relation to this Bill. I have no intention of keeping the House for more than a few minutes. I have no intention of being steamrollered if I can help it by outrageous remarks by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), who is at the table.
– Are you raising a point of order?
– It is not a point of order.
-I have already put the motion.
– You have not-
-It has been carried.
-I am in the hands of the House.
– I raise a point of order. It being a cognate debate honourable members cannot speak on the second reading of each Bill.
-It is in fact a cognate debate and I uphold the point of order raised by the Minister.
– Have I got the call or not?
– No, you have not.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– I have several amendments to move to clause 10 which in part reads as follows:
– I would like, if I may, to speak to clause 4 of the Growth Centres (Financial Assistance) Bill.
– The motion that the Bill be agreed to has been carried. The motion at the moment is that I report the Bill with amendments.
– If that is the motion may I talk to it? I thought that the Bill-
– No, it is not open for debate.
– I thought that the Bill had moved into the Committee stage and I thought I was on my feet to get your call.
– You were on your feet nowhere near in time. I have put 2 motions. The motion that the amendments be agreed to has been carried and the motion that the Bill be agreed to has been carried and I have put the motion that I report the Bill with amendments. That is not open to debate. It is not my ruling; it is the state of the situation.
Bill reported with amendments.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)The question is that the report be adopted. All those in favour say aye, against say no. I think the ayes have it.
– I ask for leave to move that the report be adopted.
– I rise a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I distinctly heard you say the words: Those in favour say “aye”.’ But you did not call for ‘noes’. That happened previously when the honourable member for Angas sought to speak and you said that he was too late. I think it is time we had proper procedures in this place.
-I suggest that the honourable member may have misheard me, as I speak rather fast.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to speak on the third reading.
-I call the honourable member for Angas.
– I approve very much the concept behind all of the Government’s actions in relation to these 2 Bills. I can remember many years ago when I first entered this House, talking about the economic principles involved in regional development. If I may hark back to those days, I remember that the sort of argument that I used then was that at that time governments, both State and Federal, were in the habit of propping up from time to time small country industries, such as country abattoirs, in the hope that those industries would contribute to some form of decentralisation. In States such as Victoria-
-Order! We have got slightly out of focus on the procedure. The Minister has asked for leave to move That the report be adopted’. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Report (on motion by Mr Uren) adopted.
Motion (by Mr Uren) - by leave - proposed: That the Bill be now read a third time. Mr GILES (Angas) (9.33)- I apologise if I started a second or two before the firing of the gun. As I said a little earlier, I have no intention of delaying the House for very long. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), who is at the table, has my support for the general concept of the legislation. I want to put to the House - I am sure that I could have been more concise a little earlier - the arguments that were put many years ago by members, I guess, from both sides of the House. I want to point out the mistake of making a piecemeal approach to country industries, where State governments sometimes vied with one another to get enterprises across one border or another. That was patently absurd and patently counter productive. The States also put funds into such projects as country killing works, to which I referred a moment ago. This policy was quite successful in many of the regional areas of New South Wales, but in most other States - in particular Victoria - it proved to be most unsuccessful. That proved, by and large, that there is a need to take hold of this problem and to infuse large amounts of finance into regional areas-
– I will listen closely to the honourable member.
– As I was interrupted in the middle of a sentence, perhaps I should repeat what I was saying. I believe that the whole principle of proper decentralisation and regional development is one in which governments have to grasp the nettle and infuse fairly large amounts of capital into growth areas. There is not an economist in the land who specialises in this field who has not recognised for quite a long time that this is the proper way in which to proceed-
Motion (by Mr Uren) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (The Deputy Speaker-Mr V. J. Martin)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 21 November (vide page 3604), on motion by Mr Uren:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The time for hilarity has finished.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– I have several amendments to move in respect of clause 10, which reads, in part:
Subject to sub-section (3), the loan is subject to the following conditions: -
interest shall accrue in respect of each payment or advance, calculated from the date on which the payment or advance was made, on so much of the payment or advance as for the time being repaid by the State;
the rate at which interest shall accrue under paragraph (a) shall be the long-term bond rate or such lower rate as the Treasurer, with the concurrence of the Minister, determines;
interest so accrued shall be paid by the State to Australia on15 June and15 December in each year;
the State shall repay to Australia each payment or advance (not being an advance repaid under section 7) by 60 equal payments, the first payment in each case to be made on15 June or15 December next occurring after the expiration of 12 months after the date on which the payment or advance was made to the State, and the subsequent payments to be made at halfyearly intervals thereafter.
Commencement of repayments of principal, and payments of interest, by a State in respect of payments and advances made to the States in relation to an approved program may be deferred for such period, not exceeding 10 years (in this section referred to as “ the period of deferment “), as is agreed between Australia and the State before the first payment or advance to the State is made in relation to that program and, in that event, sub-section (2) does not apply, but the loan is subject to the following conditions: - «* o o o o o
the State shall repay to Australia each payment or advance (not being an advance repaid under section 7) by equal consecutive half-yearly payments, the first payment in each case to be made on15 June or 15 December next occurring after the expiration of the period of deferment and the last payment in each case to be made on15 June or15 December next occurring after the expiration of 30 years after the date on which the first payment or advance was made to the State in relation to that program.
The aim of the amendments is to provide for flexibility in the term of each loan. The Bill as originally introduced provides for all loans to have a term of 30 years. The amendments allow the repayment term to be any period up to 30 years. Also the amendments correct some minor drafting errors. In respect of amendment No. 1, the original paragraph (d) required repayments by way of 60 equal halfyearly payments. The amendment provides for flexibility in the method of repayment subject to the proviso that the repayments must be completed within 30 years.
Amendment No. 2 is necessary to ensure that the period of deferment can be reviewed in about 5 years time. Amendment No. 3 is a drafting amendment to ensure that the capitalised interest is repaid in the same way as the original advance. Amendment No. 4 is similar to amendment No. 1 and applies where there is a deferment period for the commencement of payments of interest and repayments of principle. Amendment No. 5 allows a review to cover incidental matters.
– The new township of Monarto is within the electorate of Angas. I want to make it clear to honourable members that the Government seems to have some stupid reason for trying to gag me all the time before I can express an opinion and congratulate it on the fact that it is helping South Australia bring about this great concept. That is all I wanted to do in the first place until the ill-mannered people opposite gagged me and prevented me expressing a view. There is only one other thing I may say tonight and that is to advise the Government, as I did once before, to watch very carefully before it again proposes schemes like Albury-Wodonga upstream on any major river of this nation. For a long while now I have been anxious that the South Australian Government, or even perhaps one would hope the Federal Government, would draw up some watertight - probably that is the wrong word - or set scheme-
– Order! The honourable member for Angas is out of order in discussing the Albury-Wodonga complex or the Murray River in debating this Bill.
– Mr Chairman, I am debating clause 4 of the Bill, which is before the Committee, and if you look at it you will see reference to ‘approved program’. If I might deign to disagree with the Chair, under approved program’ surely to blazes by any form of logic comes a site that should be approved for action by this Government or any other government.
– I object to the Chair trying to take a biased point of view.
– Order! The honourable member will remain silent while I am calling for order or he will not be saying anything else.
– It might not be a bad idea at that.
– I would suggest to the honourable gentleman -
– Just relax.
– Don’t you try to tell me what to do.
– Oh please don’t be so upset.
– This is ridiculous.
– Mr Chairman, have I the call to continue?
– Order! I am waiting until the Committee comes to order. I do not need the assistance of honourable gentlemen who seem to think that they can run the Committee from outside their places in the chamber and make snide remarks about the Chair. I would suggest to the honourable gentleman -
– A loud voice will not do it.
– I would suggest that the Albury-Wodonga Development (Financial Assistance) Bill has been dealt with and the Bill which the honourable member is debating now concerns the growth centres program. He referred specifically to Albury-Wodonga and I asked him not to do so. The honourable member then challenged my right to draw his attention to that matter. If he speaks to the Bill he may continue his remarks; if he does not, he may not continue.
– I certainly did not mean to disagree with your ruling or your reading of the Standing Orders. I was carefully, I thought, dealing with clause 4 of this Bill, the sidenote of which, in italics, says: ‘Approval program’. Under the approval program, I was trying to suggest that in future the Government should not lightly, without very deep consideration, put one of its projects upstream on a major river in Australia unless proper safeguards are written into an agreement. Might I add at this stage that there has been only a lot of words - words that people do not take a lot of heart from - between the Premier of South Australia, on the one hand, and this Government, in the other hand. I am saying in relation to clause 4 that I hope, because it is a proven ecological fact, that before governments lightly plan growth centres upstream on major rivers on which, as in this case, entire States depend, they should firstly, consider the matter very carefully and, secondly, ensure that agreements are made between the 2 parties to protect people who live in those areas downstream from the projected growth centres. That was all I was trying to say. I could have said that, as I said a little earlier, a lot more concisely a long time ago with much less waste of time. I thank the Committee for its consideration and for listening to my views at long last.
– I do not want to delay the Committee, but I want to reply to the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) to put the record straight on this important and historic Bill. Firstly, the Australian Government has taken every precaution to safeguard the environmental standards of all growth centres. In passing, it is true that one of the comments on the water catchment area applies to Albury-Wodonga, which is not being discussed in the debate on this Bill. However, on the same water catchment as that which is being discussed, which would affect the South Australian border, is the BathurstOrange area. What has to be realised - and I hope that honourable members opposite really understand this - is that because AlburyWodonga is on the Murray River, it does not mean that that is the only centre that would affect the quality of water in South Australia. There is an interconnected relationship. All the water systems - whether it be the Murray River, Darling River, Mumimbidgee River or Lachlan River - are interconnected, and they will all affect the quality of water in South Australia.
It so happens that in this debate we are discussing the allocation of $24m, and part of this amount will be allotted to the New South Wales growth area of Bathurst-Orange, which is also on the same catchment area as Albury-Wodonga. So we are being very careful, and we are concerned. Might I say again that it is not the experience of our Government that we are going to use. The Government of which the honourable member for Angas was a supporter had experience of the water quality of the Murrumbidgee River to which the Canberra water supply is linked. It is also in the catchment area that affects the quality of water in South Australia. We are continuing - and in fairness to honourable members opposite, the previous Government actually made the decision to improve the water quality of the lower Molonglo River - the plan to set up a water treatment works on the lower Molonglo River to treat the water for Canberra which comes from the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee Rivers. These works will treat the water to such an extent that they will take even the nutrients out of it, and the water will be pure to drink as it comes out of the water quality works. We intend to apply to Albury-Wodonga and BathurstOrange, and to any other growth centres in inland cities, the type of experience which we have applied in Canberra. I give that assurance to all honourable members opposite. It is collective experience gained from what the National Capital Development Commission did under the previous Government. We are going to draw on that experience when planning for the development of any cities near rivers in the future.
– I appreciate the Minister’s reply to my comments. We all know that there has been a big drawing on the water resources of all the rivers that he has mentioned. I acknowledge that. My only point is that the whole increase in South Australia’s water supply, which was agreed to some time ago, will come about with the completion of Dartmouth Dam. My only complaint there is that inconsistently, governments do not acknowledge the fact, as the Minister has, that there is a drawing problem, from all the areas he mentioned, on those limited water resources, and one more regional development would not exactly help. I think that even the Minister will acknowledge that it would magnify the problem. That is the point I was trying to make.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Uren) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 21 November (vide page 3607), on motion by Mr Uren:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– I have several amendments to move to clause 10, which reads in part:
Subject to sub-section (3), the loan is subject to the following conditions: -
Commencement of repayments of principal, and payments of interest, by a State in respect of payments and advances made to the State in relation to an approved program may be deferred for such period, not exceeding 10 years (in this section referred to as “the period of deferment”), as is agreed between Australia and the State before the first payment or advance to the State is made in relation to that program and, in that event, sub-section (2) does not apply, but the loan is subject to the following conditions: -
I seek leave of the Committee to move the amendments together.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
In sub-clause (2), paragraph (b), omit “be a longterm”, substitute “be the long-term”.
Omit paragraph (d) of sub-clause (2), substitute the following paragraph: - “(d) the State shall repay to Australia each payment or advance (not being an advance repaid under section 7) by instalments in such manner, and within such period, not exceeding 30 years, after the date on which the payment or advance is made to the State, as is agreed between Australia and the State, the first instalment in each case to be paid on 15 June or 15 December next occurring after the expiration of 12 months after that date.”.
In sub-clause (3), omit “before the first payment or advance to the State is made in relation to that program”.
In sub-clause (3), paragraph (c), omit “as at which it was calculated, and interest shall accrue in respect of that amount, calculated from that date,”, substitute “on which the payment or advance was made, and interest shall accrue in respect of that amount, calculated from the date as at which that amount was calculated,”.
Omit paragraph . (f) of sub-clause (3), substitute the following paragraph: - “(f) the State shall repay to Australia each payment or advance (not being an advance repaid under section 7) by instalments in such manner, and within such period, not exceeding 30 years, after the date on which the payment or advance is made to the State, as is agreed between Australia and the State.”.
Before sub-clause (4), insert the following subclause: - “(3a) An agreement fixing a period in accordance with this section may include provision for the variation of that period before the expiration of that period and for the consequential variation of other matters.”.
The general purpose and aim of the amendments is to provide for flexibility in the term of each loan. The Bill, as originally introduced, provided for all loans to have a term of 30 years. The amendments allow the repayment term to be any period up to 30 years. The amendments also correct some minor drafting errors. The first amendment corrects a printing error. In regard to the second amendment, the original paragraph (d) required repayments by way of 60 equal half-yearly payments. The amendment provides for flexibility in the method of repayment, subject to the proviso that repayments must be completed within 30 years.
In regard, to the third amendment, a deletion has been made to ensure that the period of deferment can be reviewed in about 5 years time. In regard to the fourth amendment, this is a drafting amendment to ensure that the capitalised interest is repaid in the same manner as the original advance. The fifth amendment is similar to the second amendment and applies where there is a deferment period for the commencement of payments of interest and repayments of principal. The sixth amendment allows a review to cover incidental matters.
– As we are debating a whole series of amendments, I wish to draw to the attention of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) the desirability of considering, when future legislation is brought in on this matter, an amendment to cover the point that I raised in the general debate to provide that ‘a payment or advance to a State under this Act shall not be made in respect of expenditure for the purpose of acquiring land, unless that land is acquired on just terms, including suitable adjustment for inflation.’ Without developing that argument again, the reference to adjustment for inflation is proposed so that the acquisition laws of the States should provide that the land owner should not lose the real value of his asset as a consequence of the declining value in the currency due to inflation. It is not intended to give the land owner inflated compensation as a consequence of the urban development brought about by government decision.
I turn to the other amendment which I ask the Minister to consider. I know that he will wish to leave this matter to the decision of the Else-Mitchell Committee, but I hold views in advance of the determination of that inquiry. I would like to see in this legislation provision that any land acquired under it when developed for residential use shall be made available for sale on a freehold basis. I recognise that today under freehold systems of title, there are many restrictions - and proper restrictions - on the manner in which the land can be used. But I think that there are many advantages that a freehold title has, such as giving to the home owner a sense of security, that are not attributed to the form of tenure that is commonly described as leasehold.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Uren) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 4103).
– The States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill affects 3 States. In this legislation, Queensland is allocated $10m, South Australia is allocated $ 19.9m and the sum of $8. 65m is appropriated for Tasmania. Western Australia was a claimant State under the principal Act until a few years ago when it withdrew following a decision arrived at in the course of a Premiers Conference. Some financial arrangements were made. I hope that Western Australia will be able to retain its position of monetary independence without the need to apply again to the Grants Commission. Earlier in the day the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) in addressing himself to this Bill spoke of happenings in Queensland. He stated that very little was received by that State from certain developments there. He was referring in the main to the bauxite industry in Queensland. Very little was being returned to Queensland from those enterprises. But the honourable member told only part of the story. A few days ago I referred to some of the development taking place in Australia and suggested that some honourable members should take a trip to see what is happening beyond the cities of Australia in terms of development. A lot of this development has been occurring in Western Australia. There seems to be very little evidence that Canberra knows what it is all about.
Today the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) made very false statements about the benefits which have been derived by the various States and the Commonwealth as a result of the introduction of large amounts of money, running into hundreds of millions of dollars, which are needed to develop various projects. There is not just a royalty paid to the State Government. There is the development of entire towns. The railways are built by developers and the ports are built by developers. This message is coming home to even Ministers of his own Party in Western Australia - Labor Ministers. I want to refer to the heading on the front page of today’s Western Australian Press because of the things said by the honourable member for Bowman earlier in this debate. The newspaper article is headed WA Minister’ and the next 2 words are: Canberra mad’. The article states:
The Western Australia Minister for the north-west, Mr Bickerton, yesterday described as mad the Federal Government’s policies limiting foreign investment in developing remote areas.
He said: ‘I can say unequivocally that without foreign capital our remote areas will not be developed.
It is a matter of sensible people sitting down to work out how to arrange this foreign capital which at no time will prevent local capital coming in’.
Mr Bickerton’s criticism of Federal policies is the first in such blunt terms by any Western Australia Minister.
His remarks were similar in sentiment to comments by Opposition spokesman in Western Australia and Canberra, but carry more weight politically because he is a Labor Minister criticising a Federal Labor Government.
Mr Bickerton, who attended the first meeting of the Northern Development Council in Canberra this week, said that the Queensland Premier, Mr BjelkePetersen, held similar views.
We did not have anything in the North West till we got foreign capital,’ Mr Bickerton said.
It is not a matter of knocking back local capital, it is a question of getting capital - foreign or local.
The Australian content has not been available.’
I could read a lot more of what Mr Bickerton has said in a similar strain. It is precisely what I have been saying in relation to these things in this House in recent times. The only way in which we can develop this country, in view of the magnitude of the things that have to be done, is with very large amounts of capital. We have seen this happening in Western Australia but I fear that as development is being held up because of certain policies of this Government it may be necessary at some future time for Western Australia to go again to the Commonwealth Grants Commission to seek assistance. I hope that will not be the situation but unless the people in Canberra, in this Parliament and the Government of the day, can see what is required and can change their policies I am afraid there will not be much more of this development taking place.
I have every faith in our country; I have every faith that the Australian people will in time be in a position to supply large quantities of capital for this sort of development. But at present the bulk of the capital and the knowhow required to do these things which are so necessary is coming from overseas. This has never been more important that it is in our oil industry today. Over the last few years we had a program which up to this point has provided 70 per cent of our oil requirements. But now the know-how and capital which has been coming here is disappearing very rapidly. That is something we cannot afford in view of the politics that are being played in the Middle East today and which, I might say, are extremely dangerous for any country or group of countries in that or any other part of the world to be playing. An explosive situation could occur if those countries continue to apply those sorts of tactics. Australia cannot afford to lose one day in getting on with the job of finding the quantities of oil that no doubt exist in this country. Britain has done it in the North Sea, although it will be a few years before she can really harness it.
To get back to this Bill, it is interesting to note that Western Australia was given a grant back in 1910, which was before the Grants Commission was established, of some $500,000. Tasmania was given a grant in 1912. South Australia was given a grant in 1929. The Grants Commission itself was not established until 1933. The reason why there was a need for such a grant at that time was that the claimant States, of which Western Australia was one and I think South Australia and possibly Tasmania were the others, were dependent mainly upon agriculture and did not have the industry in which to generate the finance necessary to encourage development within their borders. The Grants Commission was set up with the object of assisting those States. The basis at that time for the making of claims was mainly the disabilities suffered in relation to development within the States themselves. All sorts of arguments were advanced in those days. But the situation is somewhat different today in relation to the way in which the grants are in fact made. Quite a different formula is adopted. I thought I had it in front of me, but that does not appear to be so.
The Grants Commission has done quite a useful job in this area over a number of years.
Its charter has been extended considerably into other areas following the passing of legislation by this House earlier this year. The Grants Commission’s responsibilities have now been brought into the area of local government. In fact the local government regions that were drawn up were the subject of a document tabled some weeks ago by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). There is a considerable amount of confusion in the local authorities throughout Australia as to precisely what terms and conditions are applicable to the making of applications for these grants. I wrote to the Minister quite recently asking him for further information on this matter. I again appeal to him to spell out or to have somebody within the Government spell out in precise terms to the local authorities throughout Australia how applications should be made for grants in this respect. I assure the Minister that there is quite a considerable amount of confusion on this matter right throughout Australia.
As I read it the provision for making application for grants is laid down in the 1973 report of the Grants Commission. Time is against rae quoting from the Grants Commission report as it relates to this area. At page 36 of the report there is reference to what the authorities have to do. As I read it they have to make application to the Special Minister of State, who, if after due consideration he thinks it is fit to pass on to the Grants Commission, passes it on and who, if he does not think it is fit to pass on, will not pass it on and it therefore will never see the light of day. It is necessary to spell out these things so that local government bodies throughout Australia will know precisely where they stand and what their accountants have to do. I made a plea to the Minister last week, I think it was, and I make it again to let us have the details so that everybody will know what to do.
The Grants Commission, of course, covers only some sections of the requirements of the various claimant States. As far as the States as a whole are concerned, the Commonwealth has used section 96 of the Constitution to make grants for many purposes over many years. One, for instance, is water supplies. A considerable amount of money has been spent on water supplies from grants made to the various States over the last 20 years.
-Order! It being 15 minutes past 10 o’clock, in accordance with the order of the House of 1 March I propose:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I require that the question be put forthwith.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Order! The proceedings will proceed at the point at which they were interrupted.
– I was referring to other grants that had been made to the various States under section 96 of the Constitution which are separate from those made by the Grants Commission. I want to refer to a grant which has been made available to Western Australia for a number of years. Under the Western Australian (Southwest Region Water Supplies) Agreement Act 1965-71, the Commonwealth has been providing financial assistance of up to $12m by way of interest bearing loans to Western Australia to accelerate works undertaken by the State to extend the comprehensive water supply scheme in the south-west portion of the State. The new areas which are being served total approximately 4 million acres. The Commonwealth assistance extends over an 8 year period from 6 July >1965 and is on a dollar for dollar basis. Repayments of these loans will be spread over 15 years, commencing 10 years after each advance is made. Payments by the Commonwealth to 30 June 1972 were $11.8m including $2m in 1971-72 and it is estimated that payments will amount to $158,000 in 1972-73.
It has been put to the Government that the scheme be extended and that financial assistance again be made available by the Commonwealth to complete the works when these payments have been finalised. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to that request as this is a very important scheme. As I said earlier in my address the State may not be able to carry out the work over a particular period as is required. The scheme could not be completed without Commonwealth help.
As I see it there are many problems under the Grants Commission scheme in arriving at a formula which is satisfactory to all. One is the amount of tax which is levied by a State.
For instance, revenue received by New South Wales from poker machines licence fees has no counterpart in other States. I hope that the Grants Commission would not apply the principle which it applies in other areas such as the registration of motor vehicles. I think that if a claimant State does not apply as high a registration fee as a non-claimant State, it should not be forced to do so. I cite that as an example that could be considered. I would ask the Government to clarify at some time whether the widening of the Grants Commission’s powers under the Act which was passed earlier will extend to local government regions around Australia. I support the Bills before the House.
– I am very pleased that the member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) has entered the chamber. Just before the sitting was suspended for lunch and immediately after the resumption of the sitting he made a rather vicious attack on the Queensland Government. I wish to take the opportunity in a few words to put the record straight. He referred to the fact that the Queensland Government charges 5c a ton on some of the minerals taken from the ground in that State. He speaks almost as if he is ashamed to be a Queenslander, but it is appropriate to remind him whence he comes to this chamber. I remind the honourable member for Bowman and other honourable members of the record of an Australian Labor Party State Government. When the Australian Labor Party was in power in Queensland it charged a royalty on coal of exactly 6d a ton for the first million tons, 3d a ton for the second million tons and Id a ton thereafter, no matter how many millions or billions of tons were taken out of the ground in Queensland. It also had a system whereby it charged those persons leasing the area for mining one lousy shilling an acre.
Because I am eating into the normal adjournment debate time I shall make my remarks short, but I remind the honourable member for Bowman of the things he omitted to say. He omitted to tell the Parliament today that in Queensland the railway lines which have to be put into the areas to be mined must be financed by the mining companies. They are paid for in toto by the mining companies. Furthermore, the moment they are completed, the mining-
– I rise a point of order. It it correct for the honourable member for Griffith to criticise a member of this Parliament in another place? He is criticising the ex-Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Gair, who was Premier of Queensland when these contracts were drawn up. I know that he would want to be protected from the honourable member who depends on his preferences to get into the Parliament.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– Often the contributions by the honourable member for Bowman are of the type that would be made in the Queensland Parliament. Perhaps after the next election he will be out looking for a seat in the State Parliament, because he certainly will not continue as a member here. As I was saying, these railway lines must be handed over to the Queensland Government; the lines then become owned by the State Government, and the State Government charges the mining companies for using those lines for carrying freight. Last year the Queensland Government made $17m on freight charges alone. The honourable member for Bowman referred also to Weipa and the bauxite deposits in that area. The fact is that the people who have developed Weipa had to dredge a port there and build port facilities. This has happened in many other places in Queensland. The mining companies have had to outlay their finance to develop the State. My case rests there, but I remind all members on the Government side, particularly the honourable member for Bowman, that an Australian Labor Party Minister in Western Australia is reported in today’s paper as referring to Canberra madness and as standing by the utterances of the Queensland Premier, Mr Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
– He does not know him as we do.
– The honourable member for Wide Bay is another who will be lucky to hold his seat after the next election, likewise the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) who has a grimace on his face. No wonder the gallup polls show that the Australian Labor Party has the support of only 36 per cent of the Queensland people. I conclude by reminding honourable members opposite that an Australian Labor Party Minister from Western Australia has said that the Government is gripped by madness if it thinks that by kicking foreign capital in the belly continually it is helping the people of Australia or Western Australia or Queensland.
I just say: Wake up to yourself. Go and do a little bit of reading and get an understanding of what is going on and what you are doing in this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly) - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– The time that this House has spent on the vital subject of defence under this Government has been ludicrously small. The Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) made a statement on defence in August. This has never been debated and it now lies buried as No. 43 on the notice paper. Then the debate on the defence estimates was gagged by the Government after only 3 Opposition members had spoken, and even these three-
– They had 10 minutes each.
– As the honourable member for Griffith said, they had only 10 minutes each and 10 minutes is a ludicrously short time in which to develop an argument on such a complex subject as defence.
In my brief remarks on the defence estimates I touched on a subject of very great importance - the amalgamation of the defence group of departments. I will elaborate my remarks now. I should like to make clear at the outset that I am in favour of such an amalgamation, if it is done properly. There is no suggestion, I hope, on either side of the House, of the removal of the distinctions between the 3 armed Services. This has been tried in Canada, and it has been a disaster with no redeeming features whatever. But even though we must keep the separate Services, we must integrate their administration and operational control. At the moment each
Service Board has statutory responsibility for its own affairs. The authority of the Department of Defence is very tenuous, being based largely on a letter written more than 10 years ago by the then Prime Minister. Of course the Department of Defence has greater influence because of its control of the ear of the Minister. But the statutory contradictions remain.
The existing organisation was perhaps adequate when the role of our armed Services was to make contributions to assist the forces of major allies. Then the major contacts were between our Services and the corresponding Service authorities of other countries, with our Department of Defence acting as a sort of secretariat. With the withdrawal of major friendly powers from our region, this pattern no longer fits the requirements. Our forces are likely to have to act alone, and they must have firm central control. But this control must be professional - as it is of course in other departments controlling professional disciplines, such as the Department of Health, or the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Attorney-General’s Department. If the Government merely expands the present basically non-professional Department of Defence, with a token infusion of Service personnel as advisers at subordinate levels, it will be totally rejected by the Services and the result on Service morale will be catastrophic.
Some information is gradually becoming available about the way this reorganisation is tending. My remarks on this subject are, I can assure the Minister for Defence who I am glad to see is in the House, intended to be constructive, aimed at avoiding some highly undesirable consequences that I can foresee. It is obvious that the Government is thinking in terms of having a 2-man team - a diarchy of one military and one civil member - at the top of the Department of Defence. If the system is to work, it must be made clear by statute that they have joint control of the affairs of the Department of Defence. Sole control by either would be intolerable.
There are a number of points I should like to make about this. Firstly, I should have preferred a broader based committee - a Defence Board - instead of a diarchy, but this is an option that apparently the Government has evidently already rejected. Secondly, each member of the diarchy must clearly be responsible for one special function - the military member for operational matters, the civilian member for financial matters. But for the remaining functions, it is essential that they be jointly responsible - and this must be clearly spelled out in the Act. Thirdly, these posts will not be easy to fill. The military member must be an effective operational commander, with the confidence of all three services. The civil member must have experience, understanding and sympathy for military problems. In the past, the position of Secretary of the Defence Department has been relatively unimportant, but with the transfer of much greater responsibility to the new Department, the Government will have to look for Secretaries of outstanding calibre and experience.
Underneath this diarchy, there will, I understand, be something like 8 separate divisions, covering such matters as operations, intelligence, personnel, finance and production. Each of these divisions, except operations and finance, will have to have integrated civil and professional staffs, but I believe that the heads of at least 4 of these divisions must be professional Service personnel. Anything less would be an outrageous insult to the very high degree of professional skill and experience that exists in our armed services. The divisions which should have military heads are fairly obvious, but I should like to draw particular attention to Intelligence. I have drawn the attention of the House before to the undesirability of having the Head of the Joint Intelligence Organisation automatically a Foreign Affairs officer. Although there are some notable exceptions, diplomats are, by background and training, usually unsuitable as intelligence officers.
The reorganisation clearly must also tidy up the present chaotic system of operational command. The Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee, now has no command power. Each Service is commanded separately. The new Chief of Defence Staff clearly must have effective operational command of our armed services, working through the Chiefs of Staff of each service in peace time, but with the right in wartime to issue orders direct to Unified Commanders - Commanders who are in charge of all armed services involved in a particular operation. This must be laid down in the Act. I should be very reluctant to see the Chiefs of Staff Committee given wider responsibility than for operational matters, for this would subvert the chain of responsibility through the functional divisions of the Defence Department.
I should like to make a number of other points briefly. If the reorganisation is properly done, we should be able to eliminate the plethora of Committees which have clogged defence administration in recent years. One committee which must remain, though, is the Defence Committee, through which the Services, the Defence Department, Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Department and the Treasury get together to consider defence problems jointly. I believe the Minister for Defence must be the Chairman of this Committee, probably wit hthe Chief of Defence Staff and his deputy. The three armed Services now have different organisations. Until recently, the Army was organised on a geographical basis, the Air Force on a functional basis, and the Navy on a mixture of both. Now the Army has changed to a functional basis, but a different one to the Air Force - and one that was actually tried and rejected by the Air Force.
I believe the three Services should be organised on the same functional basis, with the corresponding functional commanders of each service co-located. In this way we would certainly get improved co-operation and economies. I have no time to discuss political responsibility, except to say that this House will surely insist on having sufficient Ministers - probably functional - to ensure that political responsibility can be sheeted home. This is a complex subject, but I urge the Minister to consider the points I have raised, for future Service morale and efficiency depend crucially on the decisions he will be asked to make in the near future.
– Tonight I speak in support of the recommendation of the Karmel Committee on Medical Education that a medical school be established in Newcastle. In its report brought down in July this year the Committee recommended:
The University of Newcastle should establish a medical school to take its first students in 1977, maintaining a second year enrolment of 60 until 1983 when it should be increased to 100.
Whilst I am aware and apreciative of the needs of other cities that placed submissions before the Committee for the establishment of a medical school, I believe that the claim of the Newcastle-Hunter region is an outstanding one. I am indebted to the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) for his assistance this evening in the preparation of this speech. The
Hunter region, with a population in excess of 400,000 - that is, a population greater than that of the State of Tasmania - is without a medical school. Royal Newcastle Hospital, through its outpatient clinics, conducts more than 900,000 consultations per year. It has the largest outpatient department in the southern hemisphere.
At the outset, I want to pay tribute to the board of directors, the executive officers and the 2,218 staff of Royal Newcastle Hospital for the exemplary standard of service they provide to the people of Newcastle. The hospital, first established in 1817 in a building intended as a convict gaol, is the second oldest and third largest in the State. It is held in high regard by all persons concerned with the provision of health services. Last year its admissions were approximately 21,470 and its outpatient attendances were more than twice the number at any other hospital in New South Wales. Its specialist medical staff consists of 64 honorary and sessional specialists and 31 full time salaried medical officers. There are also 30 registrars and 47 resident medical officers.
The following visiting specialist medical services in medical care and orthopaedics are provided by Royal Newcastle Hospital to hospitals in the Hunter Valley: Full time physicians undertake care of medical patients in the public wards of Maitland Hospital; the orthopaedic department provides a regular clinic service to Maitland, Kurri Kurri and Cessnock Hospitals; the consultants of the obstetric department co-operate with the Department of Health in providing a consultant service to doctors in the area; and for the past 13 years the hospital has supplied Maitland Hospital with resident medical officers.
The hospital’s domiciliary care service provides supportive home care service for almost 2,000 patients. The team consists of specialist geriatricians, with occupational therapists, district nurses and housekeepers working in conjunction with patients’ own general practitioners. Clearly this service would provide an excellent basis upon which to build medical student training in community medicine and family practice. A unique feature of the hospital is its outpatient contribution fund which has provided casualty, outpatient, radiology and pathology services for the past 24 years. The hospital runs a blood bank which collects about 10,000 pints of blood a year and supplies all hospitals in the city.
Let me refer briefly to the 6 units administered by the Royal Newcastle Hospital Board. The main unit in the city comprises 509 beds, of which 73 are for obstetric patients. This site could accommodate an additional ward block and extensions for teaching facilities. At Rankin Park the 128 beds are used for chest disease patients and general medical services. Also there are facilities where male patients are given graduated work as part of a rehabilitation and retraining program. The Lodge at Rankin Park provides hostel type accommodation for unmarried mothers. The William Lyne unit is the centre of the domiciliary care service, where about 600 elderly and disabled patients receive treatment each year. This unit also accommodates long term crippled children. Belmont Hospital, with 108 beds, is a new general and maternity hospital with adequate room for expansion. Shortland Clinic, which has 21 beds and is located about a quarter of a mile from the main city unit, provides care for psychiatric patients as inpatients, outpatients and day patients. In addition, accommodation is available for up to 30 students in residence during obstetric and other live in terms.
The Royal Newcastle Hospital has pursued a policy of community involvement and total patient care, insofar as this is possible, for many years. Its training programs cover a broad range. The hospital has 30 specialists in training, all of whose posts are approved by the various postgraduate examination bodies. Resident medical officers are offered appointments over a wide range of terms for a maximum of 3 years, subject to annual reappointment. Since 1972 University of Sydney fifth year medical students have received training in surgery, gynaecology and geriatrics. Nurses’ training courses are available for general nurses, obstetric nurces and intensive care nurses. The hospital has a long and proud history in the training of nursing graduates to the highest standards. A postgraduate medical education committee has been established and is developing at all postgraduate levels. An extensive medical library is maintained.
Mr Speaker, there is need in Newcastle for a new medical school which should be developed at the University of Newcastle in association with the hospitals in the area and centred on the Royal Newcastle Hospital for the following reasons: The supply of potential teaching beds; the size of the existing medical schools in Sydney; the population distribution; the general desirability of decentralisation and the orientation towards social medicine and family practice. Over a period of many years the residents of the Newcastle-Hunter region have waged a continuing campaign to have a medical school established there. I have the complete support of my colleagues, the Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones), the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James); the State members, Mr Face, Mr Jones, Mr Hunter, Mr Wade and Mr Booth, all members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in this project; also the Newcastle City Council, the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, the Central Northern Medical Association, all of the hospitals in the region, many other citizen organisations and, most importantly, the citizens themselves and on this occasion, the support also of the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) and the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock).
It is only 2 years ago that the then New South Wales Minister for Health, Mr Jago, foreshadowed a medical school for Newcastle within 5 years, that is, by 1976. However, the New South Wales Government’s submission to the Karmel Committee proposed that foreseeable future needs for medical education could be met by extending the capacity of existing schools in Sydney.
Following the Karmel Committee’s report, Mr Jago in a letter to the Newcastle City Council said:
The New South Wales Government’s submission to the Committee clearly indicated foreseeable future needs for medical education could be met by extending the capacity of existing schools. While not opposed to establishment of an additional school in Newcastle, the State Government would insist on a satisfactory financial arrangement with the Australian Government for all increased costs.
Does Mr Jago’s statement mean the establishment of a medical school at Newcastle is to be inhibited by the economies of scale available by simply expanding existing schools in Sydney? If this is all that is withholding New South Wales support for Newcastle, then his successor and the Australian Government should consider the bad features of further enlarging medical schools which are already too large by the international standards accepted by most authorities. When medical schools become too large they become too impersonal, and it becomes increasingly difficult to experiment and diversify with new teaching methods. This is particularly serious in an age when medical and teaching techniques are changing with an increasing rapidity.
With the dynamic new concept which this Government has implemented of making the national Government responsible for tertiary education and searching for quality of life and a bare quality of opportunity rather than economies of providing minimum of essential education, we should not delay any longer doing what is necessary to prevent further growth of Sydney’s already overgrown medical schools. If extra finances are needed to start a new medical school, this Government ought to declare itself in favour of this principle. Likewise, Mr Jago’s successor ought to spell out his support for this same principle. Mr Jago has said that his Government wanted further development in Sydney only and throws the onus entirely onto Canberra for a different initiative and new financial arrangements. If the New South Wales Government has any intention of decentralising and improving medical training, it ought to say so clearly and stop hedging.
I strongly request the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), supported by the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) to give the green light to the Australian Universities Commission to implement the recommendations of the Karmel Committee on medical education which gave Newcastle top priority for the next medical school in New South Wales. It has better developed facilities than any of the other applicant centres, which would mean early operation of the school, a point which the Australian Minister for Health has conceded is one of the strongest arguments in favour of Newcastle. I hope that the Minister for Education will act promptly to initiate implementation of the Karmel Committee’s recommendation on the Newcastle medical school. I hope that the New South Wales Government will show the same spirit of co-operation with the Australian Government as has been exhibited with respect to the Albury-Wodonga proposals and act quickly, as barely 3 years remain to prepare the school for the intake of its first students in 1977.
– It would appear to be a true saying that 2 great minds think alike. I assure the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard), who is at the table, that it is purely coincidental that 2 concerned Australians - the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) and myself - should select the same subject on which to speak on the same night during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House. Because of a series of events which are taking place or which have taken place, Australia today faces one of its blackest periods for its armed forces in peace time. It is one of the blackest periods because our Minister for Defence has decreed more and more defence cutbacks which sap our military strength and imperil the security of every Australian. In answer to a question today he added his name to the ever-increasing list of those who say: T am the greatest’. Never before in Australia’s history has a Minister taken action which openly invites a potential aggressor to attack this country. Our defence effort has been cut back savagely. This indicates that the Minister cannot win an argument in Cabinet against his socialist mates, let alone one with his own conscience.
In the election campaign last year the Minister promised, as did all other Australian Labor Party candidates, that a Labor government would spend 3.4 per cent of the gross national product on defence. In its first Budget, this Labor Government has reduced that figure to 2.9 per cent and has proved conclusively that this Labor Government and this super whiz kid ALP Minister cannot keep their promises when it comes to defence, let alone keep their principles regarding Australia having an effective defence force. Just recently the Minister announced another round of defence cut-backs. All these cut-backs in general will reduce the operational effectiveness of the armed forces. Let me remind the people of Australia of some of these cut-backs.
First of all, there has been a 35 per cent reduction in the Army strength and a 10 per cent reduction in the defence civilian staff. The Government has disbanded one Mirage squadron and has cannibalised 15 other Mirage aircraft for spare parts. The Government has reduced flying hours for Army, Navy and Air Force aircraft. It has put the Fill crews into mothballs. It has cancelled the Cockburn Sound, the DDL and the aircraft procurement programs at a time when the number of Russian vessels patrolling the Indian Ocean has increased. What about our oil and gas wells on the north west shelf? This Minister and this socialist Government apparently do not take into account the vulnerability of our vital fuel resources. We must not forget the Bass Strait oil wells and the pipelines that come from them. Surely it should be obvious that instead of reducing our defences, we should be strengthening them to protect our vital resources. The Government has ordered a reduction of 20 per cent in the steaming time for the Navy. It will probably be more like 50 per cent when we have taken into account the fuel oil costs and other problems. The Government has abolished vital armed Services units, such as the air field construction squadron, and has reduced numbers of other vital units, such as Army surveys and medical units together with the intake of trainees. Let us face it: Who would want to go into training with the future operations so uncertain? This paints a pretty deplorable picture, particularly for those of us who place the protection of our Australian society on a very high priority.
These cut-backs are shameful. In fact, they could be more aptly described as disgraceful. They should not have occurred. The cut-backs will further destroy Service morale and will strip this country - this nation which we all hold so dear - of its military strength. It belittles us in the eyes of the world. But, of course this Government could not care less. In fact it is probably part of the Governments plan to submit quietly to the outside philosophies often enunciated in this chamber. Everything possible has been done by this Government to estrange us from our former allies - from friends in time of need. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) refers to ‘open government’. I say: ‘Open season on Australians’.
How could the Defence Minister boast that he identifies himself with the Australian fighting man when he has proved himself to be the greatest .sham fighter of all time? At times I have believed that this Minister is sincere. If he is, can he tell me why he has allowed these cuts to take place when one considers what he promised and what he said even shortly after he became the Deputy Prime Minister? If he has a streak of sincerity left in him, there is no alternative for him but to resign his portfolio, and in doing so, draw the attention of all Australians to what has happened to defence. If he made his promises to the electorate in any sincerity, he has no option. It is a coward’s excuse to justify these cutbacks on the ground that a strategic study shows that Australia faces no defence threat. That study was not even prepared by his own Department. It was foisted on him by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister.
Talk of no possibility of aggression in the foreseeable future reminds me of Mr Chamberlain and his umbrella when, in 1939, he visited Hitler in Germany and was assured that there was no threat to the defences of Britain. His own strategists within his Department do not agree with this study. Recent international events have proved its fallibility. This Minister has no choice. He has allowed the country to retreat into the field of defence isolationism and combat sterility, let alone operational impotence. The cutbacks do not take into account many important issues. For instance, how does our expected fighting force learn weapon technology? In the recent Middle East outbreak of hostilities we saw a completely incompetent comprehension of the development of the surface to air missile. We saw an enormous amount of weaponry and mobile armament battered into submission because of a lack of understanding. This is what happens when men are not trained to use the weapons.
Training in these fields is more necessary than this Government believes. The energy crisis resulting from the Middle East activities could spark off a world involvement. Anybody who stops to take a look at the situation would see that. Australia faces unforeseen or hidden potential dangers within the Indian and Pacific Oceans that surround us. It is true to say that Australia is one of the largest islands in the world and is vulnerable along a great area of her coastline. We have oil wells on the northwest shelf. I heard someone mention the morale of our defence personnel? It is stated in the Canberra Times’ today that during the 3 months ended 31 October 85 commissioned officers left or applied to leave the armed forces. In the same period last year, 27 officers resigned. Is this showing confidence and complete faith in the future of those in charge of our military forces? Mr Speaker, I ask you that question.
– The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) started off his speech in a very unfortunate way. He said that great minds think alike. He was obviously comparing himself to the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). Of course, the honourable member for Isaacs at least has some knowledge of defence matters and I very often respect his opinion. But I have never listened to so much complete and absolute nonsense as I have just listened to from the honourable member who claims to be an expert on defence. Obviously someone wrote the speech for him because he could not even read it correctly.
He referred to a number of matters. Unfortunately the time that I have at my disposal will not allow me to answer all of them. The honourable member does not even do his homework. He referred to the number of flying hours now permitted in the Royal Australian Air Force. Certainly, there have been some reductions in flying hours but let us look at the record of the previous Government. The honourable member was not a member of the House then. He certainly will not be here in the period of the next government. He had a lot to say about flying hours. Let me give the House some of the facts. In 1970 the number of flying hours for Army aircraft was 34,938. In 1972 - this is when the honourable member’s Party was in office - the number of flying hours was 23,722. The flying hours had been reduced by 11,000 hours.
Let me turn to the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1971-72 the flying hours were 144,000, which was a reduction of 12,000 hours from the previous year. In 1972-73 the flying hours numbered 133,000, a fall of 11,000 hours. This did not happen under this Government; it happened under the previous Government. The forecast for 1973-74 is 124,000 flying hours. I have reduced the flying hours by about 9,000 flying hours a year. I ask the House to compare this to the reduction of 12,000 hours. The honourable gentleman should understand that at least I have been honest enough to tell the people of Australia. These matters were concealed by the previous Government. I have cited the figures so that the honourable member will not be misinformed. So that he will have the opportunity to look at the records of the previous Government I seek leave to have the table of hours incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
– Let me turn to one other misstatement of the honourable member. He referred, with what he inferred was great knowledge, to the strategic basis document and he said that this flowed from the Department of Foreign Affairs. The honourable member knows this is a complete distortion of the facts. I said in this House that the strategic basis document arose as a result of my instruction to the Department of Defence to inform me and the Government on what was the strategic position of Australia between now and the 1980s. The strategic basis document was drawn up. I will again enumerate the persons who comprised the relevant committee, for the benefit of the honourable member. He needs to be informed on these matters, because he deliberately distorted the facts. It included the Chairman of the Chief of Staffs Committee, Sir Victor Smith. It included also each of the Chiefs of Staff, that is, the Chief of the Air Staff, the Chief of the General Staff, and the Chief of Naval Staff. It also included the Secretary of the Department of Defence, and also a representative from the Joint Intelligence Organisation. These are the men - they are not members of the Government - who made this recommendation to the Government.
-Order! Leave is granted to incorporate in Hansard the document which the Minister sought to incorporate. (The document read as follows) -
– I indicate to the honourable member that this is the recommendation of those who have been appointed to lead the armed forces in this country. The honourable member inferred, deliberately of course to distort the facts, that this was something that had flowed from the Prime Minister and the ‘Department of Foreign Affairs. 1 think I am quoting him accurately. The honourable member needs to be informed on these matters. We are now spending 2.9 per cent of the gross national product on defence. The honourable member should do his homework on these matters. If he compares our expenditure with that of New Zealand and most of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries he will find it is considerably higher. In New Zealand the expenditure in terms of gross domestic product or the gross national product, whichever term the honourable member prefers, is 1.7 per cent. Canada spends 1.7 per cent of its gross national product on defence. West Germany is spending no more than we are here.
Let me come to the next point. The honourable member said that we were reducing the number of forces in this country. I think that the honourable member would like to go back to a situation of conscripting the youth of this country - to a situation where young men who have reached the age of 20 years are selected by means of a ballot with a marble drawn out of a barrel to be conscripted into the armed forces of this country. This is the type of service that he would support. Now-
-Order! All words after the first time I said ‘Order’ will be eliminated from Hansard. It being 11 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until Tuesday next at 11 a.m. or such later time as Mr Speaker takes the Chair.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
Further to question No. 1068 and in light of the answer provided by the Minister and that provided by the Prime Minister in the House of (Representatives on 7 November 1973, has the Prime Minister instructed the Minister to provide a list of interdepartmental committees of which officers of his Department are members; if so, will he now provide me with such a list.
– The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
I refer the right honourable gentleman to the answer I gave on 7 November (Hansard, page 2970) and to the Prime Minister’s answer to his Question Without Notice on 15 November 1973 (Hansard, pages 3373-4).
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Following his answer to question No. 1064 and in the light of the Prime Minister’s guarantee in the House on 7 November ‘1973 that the information will be made available, will he provide a list of the interdepartmental committees established since 2 December 1972 of which officers of his Department are members.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
I refer the right honourable gentleman to the answer I gave on 13 November (Hansard, page 3278) and to the Prime Minister’s answer to his Question Without Notice on 15 November 1973 (Hansard, pages 3373-4).
Department of the Special Minister of State: Interdepartmental Committees (Question No. 1362) Mr Snedden asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
Following the Minister’s answer to question No. 1068 and in the light of the Prime Minister’s guarantee in the House on 7 November 1973 that the information will be made available, will the Minister provide a list of the interdepartmental committees established since 2 December 1972 of which officers of the Department of the Special Minister of State are members.
– The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the right honourable member’s question:
See my reply to question No. 1307.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731129_reps_28_hor87/>.