23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that a company registered in Australia as Mount Isa Mines Limited is 54 per cent, owned by the American Smelting and Refining Company? Has the United States company instructed Mount lsa Mines Limited to reduce its production of lead by 33 per cent.? Has this same United States company instructed Mount Isa Mines Limited to reduce its sales of zinc concentrates? Will these two decisions taken by a United States firm lead to unemployment for Australian workers at Mount Isa and a reduced export income for Australia? Is this the logical outcome of the Government’s policy of selling Australia by inviting overseas monopolies to set up subsidiary companies here, without reasonable safeguards to protect the Australian economy against decisions such as are reported to have been made?
– I am sure that Senator Kennelly bases his question on a report that appeared in the newspapers last week. I direct his attention to the fact that Mr. George Fisher, the chairman of directors of Mount Isa Mines Limited, corrected that press report a few days after it was published. He made the points, if my recollection serves me correctly, first, that the press report incorrectly portrayed the situation, and secondly, that all decisions relating to the Australian company were made by the board of directors of that company, not by the American company. It is true that the American Smelting and Refining Company has a very substantial share interest in Mount Isa Mines Limited. 1 do not know whether it is a 54 per cent, interest, but it is a big interest. The facts run something like this: At the time when the United States imposed import restrictions on lead, the Australian mining companies thought it would add to the stability of markets for lead if they themselves voluntarily reduced their exports. Speaking from memory, I say that the Broken Hill mines had been working short-time because the world market for lead had fallen, quite apart from the American import restrictions. The Mount Isa people said, in effect, that they , would make their contribution to a solution of the problem by devoting their mining activities to copper instead of to lead and zinc. Again I speak from memory when I say that the result of the Mount Isa decision was that the output of the mine was maintained at the same level. As Senator Kennelly will recall, the Mount Isa expansion programme results in a continually increasing output as the mine is developed. The Mount Isa people said, “ Our contribution to this problem will be to reduce our production of lead and increase our production of copper “. The total output of the mine remained unchanged, though there was a change in incidence as between lead and zinc production and copper production. That was, I think, a rather valuable contribution to the solution of the problem.
The American statement related to that decision, which was made last September or October. The statement appeared to indicate that it was something that was happening at the present time. I do not know whether that was implicit in the statement issued in America, or whether the newspaper report was simply made upon that basis. The fact is that the arrangement has been in operation for months past - to the general satisfaction, I think, of the mining industry generally.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation read a report in last Monday’s Melbourne “ Herald “ which, in relation to international aviation agreements and charter flights in particular, stated that pacts were made in secret and that Parliament was ignored? As this is a subject of some importance to the Senate, I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that there has been a tendency to ignore Parliament in these matters?
– I have seen and read the article to which Senator Hannan has referred and, as a principle of considerable importance to the Senate is involved, I expected that a question along these lines would be asked. Accordingly, I made a few notes on the subject. The answer to the honorable senator’s question is, briefly, that Parliament is not ignored in these matters. As I have said, the question is an important one to the Parliament, and deserves a rather detailed reply.
The story was headed, “ Pacts made in Secret: Parliament Ignored “. This statement is quite incorrect, and the overall story shows that its author had no knowledge of the facts. The story appeared under the name of E. H. Cox, who is head of the Melbourne “ Herald’s “ Canberra bureau. The correspondent may not be expected to have a clear understanding of the often complex international aviation agreements, but by the nature of his work he should be informed on the way in which these agreements are related to Parliament. I. am quite happy to explain to the honorable senator, and to the Senate, the actual position regarding the aviation agreement and the Parliament, and I hope that the facts will be published in the Melbourne “ Herald “ to correct the inaccurate information contained in the article.
In the third last paragraph of the newspaper story, the correspondent states that a search of parliamentary records shows that the last aviation agreement ratified by Parliament was the Chicago Convention of 1944. Mr. Cox has, in fact, led his editor into the same error that he made himself, because I learned to-day that the Melbourne “ Herald “ has again joined issue - in another editorial in which the newspaper makes confusion worse confounded. This leader makes it quite clear that the writer has not taken any cognizance of the statement that I made on Wednesday night.
If the correspondent had carried his research a little further he would have found that, under Article 83 of the Chicago Convention, Australia is required to register - and does so register - all its air transport agreements with the International Civil Aviation Organization which, in turn, registers them with the United Nations. Copies of these agreements are available from the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Organization. So much for secret air transport agreements. Not only are details of all these agreements available in this way, but they are printed in Australia’s Department of External Affairs treaty series, which is available to the general public. In addition, the correspondent obviously did not appreciate - but honorable senators will - that it is the practice to report to the Parliament on all important negotiations. This is shown by statements such as those I have made on international air agreements entered into with the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Turkey, and the report I made to the Senate only a few weeks ago on the progress of negotiations with Canada.
It should be noted that Australia’s regulation of charter flights is in accordance with the Chicago Convention of 1944, the very agreement which Mr. Cox advises was expressly approved by the Parliament in lune, 1947. Part 14 of the Australian Air Navigation Regulations implements the provisions of the convention insofar as it deals with international charter flights. Copies of these regulations have been made public. Mr. Cox says that the act of ratification is a brief document which does not recite the the agreement or show to what conditions Australia has been committed. He does not state that the entire text of the agreement is available in libraries, and has been so for fifteen years.
The article states that subsequent agreements of importance have never been ratified by the Parliament. This, again, is completely wrong. During the last two sessions, international air agreements have been debated at length by both Houses. One was the Hague Protocol, which amended the Warsaw Convention in regard to air carriers’ liability, and the other the Rome Convention on surface damage by aircraft. Both were debated before legislation authorizing Australia to ratify them was passed. Honorable senators will appreciate that, unless an agreement involves changes in domestic law, it is not the practice, nor is it appropriate, to legislate for it. The negotiation of overseas air agreements is carried out by officers of the Department of Civil Aviation acting under express instructions from the Government, and all agreements reached are reported to the Government and Cabinet. Subsequently, statements are made to the Parliament and as soon as possible copies are registered with the International Civil Aviation Organization for the world to see.
The issue raised by the correspondent is an important one Honorable senators must be interested in any suggestion that the Parliament is ignored. I suggest that there has never been such a continuous and complete reporting to Parliament on the policy and administrative aspects of civil aviation, nor have there been provided to honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives more comprehensive opportunities to discuss in detail every aspect of civil aviation than there have been over the last two years. On every major issue of policy the Senate has been consulted.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. During last November an announcement was made about an oil strike at Puri, in Papua, and great interest was aroused in the search for oil in Papua by several large oil organizations. Since that time, the federal Government has intimated its intention to spend £1,000,000 throughout Australia on the search for oil. Will the Minister say whether or not a flow of oil has occurred at Puri? Is there any substance in the view held by some people that a flow of oil has occurred and is under control? Will the Minister, on behalf of the Government, make an announcement to let the Australian people know something about this very important oil discovery?
– That is not a very easy question to answer. I think Senator O’Byrne will agree with me that, as the responsible Minister, I have to be rather careful in statements I make about oil discoveries, because there is a good deal of speculation in oil mining shares. I might say that I have great confidence in the integrity of the board of directors of Oil Search Limited. If at the back of the honorable senator’s mind or anybody else’s mind there is the thought that oil has been discovered at Puri but that that discovery has not been disclosed, I think I should disabuse him, because officers of the department go up and make inspections and there is not the remotest possibility of anything being concealed. I remind Senator O’Byrne that the Commonwealth Government has subsidized the drilling of that hole to the extent of £250,000, so that we have been closely in touch with all the proceedings.
I think that a simple statement of the position is that oil was found, and that that was one of the greatest things that have happened in the search for oil in Australia and Australian Territories. Oil was found, but not in commercial quantities. The discovery confirms the professional opinion that there is oil in New Guinea, but we have the task of finding it in commercial quantities. There is a vast organization at the back of the company concerned. Having found oil, but not in commercial quantities, the company is continuing the search in the way that it thinks best, having regard to the professional advice available to it. It is drilling subsidiary holes from the main hole in order to reach out and see whether the oil deposit is within drilling distance. I think I can say no more than that.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether the Commonwealth Government will pay a part of the cost of construction of the new roll-on roll-off ship to trade between Port Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula? Can the Minister also indicate the extent of the monetary assistance to be provided, and the ratio of the assistance to the cost of the ship?
– Through its subsidy arrangements, the Commonwealth will be assisting in the construction of the vessel referred to by Senator Laught. As he remembers, there is provision under the subsidy arrangements for the payment of a subsidy of up to 33£ per cent. I do not know the precise amount which will be applied to this vessel, because arrangements for its construction are only now being completed. Indeed, I do not think that the actual contract has yet been signed. However, I shall have a look at the question asked by the honorable senator and give him the information that he seeks, or as much of it as I can, as soon as possible.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. As he is aware, I have been asking many questions recently relating to the rigid economic barrier being erected in Europe, known as the European Common Market. It has now been announced that this powerful new economic group proposes to come into the aviation field, and that all the aviation companies within the bloc contemplate an amalgamation of some character or other. These companies include Air France and other European organizations which operate air services to Australia and bring passengers from European and other countries north of Australia. I now ask the Minister whether he has foreseen this problem and, if so, whether he can say how it will affect Australia. Will he discuss with his colleague, the Minister for Immigration, the question of whether European migration to Australia is likely to be affected, in view of the fact that there will be greater freedom of movement between France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries?
– I have no official information concerning the very interesting question that has been asked by Senator Hendrickson, but I have been unofficially informed that several European air companies are, in fact, entering into operational arrangements rather wider than those that they have had in the past. For example, one new development, as I understand it, is a proposal for the use of commonly owned equipment by airlines, the airlines concerned being the nationally designated operators of a number of European countries. If such an arrangement is reached by these operators, I do not think that it will have any effect on Australian aviation. Indeed, I repeat that I only know unofficially of this matter. No official approach has been made, and even if it were made I cannot see any possible nexus between the European operators and the Australian operators in this regard. As to the immigration aspect, I shall bring the matter that has been mentioned to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, but I do not think that it would affect Australian immigration.
– The question that I direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation stems from my desire for a clarification of policy considerations that will apply in respect of the future of the Canberra airport. When answering a question asked yesterday by my colleague, Senator Wright, concerning this matter, the Minister intimated that it might be decided to construct a new airport in Canberra. Does this mean that the Royal Australian Air Force station, also, will be moved, or is it envisaged that Canberra will have two airports? Does not the Minister believe that this would be an extravagant waste of money? Will he assure the Senate that the National Capital Development Commission will not have the final say in the matter, particularly if the final decision could affect the requirements of the R.A.A.F., and bearing in mind that the expenditure of a large sum of money would be involved if a change of site were decided upon.
– What I said yesterday was that the National Capital Development Commission had entered into discussions with the Department of Civil Aviation,- as the commission regarded the site now occupied by the Department of Civil Aviation as ideal for housing expansion in the future. I therefore asked my department to have a look, together with the commission, at the prospect of moving elsewhere. I do not know whether the arrangement would apply to the R.A.A.F., but I should imagine that it would apply to it. The negotiations - if I can so describe them - have not yet gone beyond the point of making inquiries, and even at this early stage it is the view of my department that no better site from a civil aviation point of view could be found for an aerodrome in Canberra than the present site. For that reason, I think that it would be highly unlikely that an agreement would be reached for a transfer. The other aspect of the question involves not only the R.A.A.F., but also the Department of the Interior, on whose behalf I would not venture to reply. However, I assure the honorable senator that negotiations have not gone past the stage I have indicated, and that any projected movement would be, in the ordinary course of events, brought to the notice of the Parliament long before anything of that nature happened.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government a question, in view of the reply that was given by the Minister for Civil Aviation to Senator Hannan’s question. As that reply proved once again the inaccuracy of Melbourne “ Herald “ reporting concerning national affairs, will the Minister ask his colleagues in the Cabinet to consider whether Australia - particularly Victoria - needs a national newspaper?
– 1 know that it is the honorable senator’s objective to nationalize something, but we are not going to nationalize the newspapers.
– Will the Minister for National Development consider making a statement, if possible before the Senate rises for the winter recess, outlining the full scientific programme being, or to be, undertaken at the Lucas Heights nuclear research reactor? Will he indicate particularly the position concerning the production and sale of radio-active isotopes? Will he indicate also whether he will consider the appointment of a full-time scientific officer to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, in addition to the full-time executive officer at present engaged on it?
– The scientific programme relating to atomic energy is not one that is readily expressed and readily understandable. lt is one which becomes extraordinarily technical in its implications. I shall have a talk with Professor Baxter and ascertain whether he can give me not so much a statement dealing with the objectives of the programme - they have already been published in the annual report of the commission, and elsewhere - but something more in the nature of a progress report on the stage that the scientific work has reached and, in particular, the standard of efficiency at which Hifar is now operating. On the matter of radio-active isotopes, a special division of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission headed, I think, by Dr. Gregory, is undertaking not only a research programme as to anticipated production when the reactor becomes more developed, but also - which is very important - an industry advisory programme. I was interested to learn that an increasing number of inquiries is being addressed to the Atomic Energy Commission by manufacturing industries in Australia as the use of isotopes becomes more widely known. I shall see whether it is possible, in the time available, to obtain a comparatively brief statement that I can give to the Senate.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the press of Australia has recently and quite suddenly discovered the plight of recipients of social service payments, has the Prime Minister any information to give the Senate relative to an early review of age, invalid and widows’ pensions and to any alteration of the Government’s policy of opposing in the Arbitration Court the restoration of quarterly adjustments in the basic wage and wage adjustments generally?
– The Prime Minister has supplied this answer -
As to the first part of the honorable senator’s question he will know well that the full range of social service benefits is reviewed annually and the Government’s proposals are included in the Budget. As to quarterly adjustments, the Government believes that the commission should make a full inquiry each year into the appropriate level of the basic wage, having regard to the established principle that wages should be fixed according to the capacity of the national economy to pay.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for
Trade has now informed me as follows: -
– by leave - This morning, the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) made it possible for ten members of the Australian Labour Party to make a flight in a new aircraft. Might I say that I saw in the aircraft one thousand gadgets which I can truthfully say I knew nothing about? I also heard one thousand different noises not one of which I could recognize. Every member of the party appreciated fully the kindness, thoughtfulness and courtesy of the Minister for Air in making it possible for us to have that flight in the new aircraft.
Debate resumed from 28th April (vide page 1082), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the following paper: -
Foreign Affairs - Asia - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 23rd April, 1959- be printed.
– Yesterday, we were treated to a number of speeches on a report submitted to the Senate on what the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) calls his recent assignment. I give great credit to the person who drafted that report. It was a wonderfully well-written document, but it gave very little information indeed. I have taken the trouble to read it more than once, and I have underlined various parts of it. It states, first, that the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East met in Queensland,, on the Gold Coast, and that about 220 delegates attended. The delegates spoke about many questions. One was the very vexed question, from my point of view, of how to deal with the problem of over-population that faces some of the Asian countries. The report states that Japan has attempted to deal with its birthrate, but then the man who wrote the report says, very wisely, that that very vexed question will be left to the individual nations concerned.
Then he goes on to say that the Australian Government is already providing aid to Asian countries, especially through the Colombo Plan. We can agree with that, because it is true. The figures have been mentioned. I think that last year we spent about £4,200,000 on the Colombo Plan. The writer of the report then talks about trade, and apparently he is a bit worried because the Asian countries are not altogether happy about what is happening in Europe under the European Common Market scheme. He then says that something is to be done in the Mekong Valley, and states that the preliminary investigations will involve the expenditure of 9,000,000 dollars. He discloses that Australia’s contribution to this investigation is the magnificent sum of £100,000 - which is, may I say, only one-half of what we gave to ourselves. One cannot be too happy about the amount that has been pledged for this investigation.
The writer then goes on to tell us about the Seato meeting in Wellington, and states, as we all know, that it was mainly concerned with military or defence matters, in connexion with the spread of another ideology, if I may call it such. He tells us that Australia has given to the Philippines some large coastal patrol boats, amongst other things, to help that country to deal with smuggling activities. Mention is also made of what we have given to Thailand.
Following that, we read that Mr. Casey went on to Japan and had a nice talk there with the Japanese Foreign Minister. We are told that he took with him a member of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, to deal with scientific matters. The report states how pleased and delighted the Japanese are with Australia. Everything seems to be all right from that angle.
The report goes on to tell us that Mr. Casey went a bit further, to Korea, where he met the President, Dr. Syngman Rhee. We are told something of the difficulties that face Korea. The writer winds up by saying that the Koreans think that Australia is a great nation and a very friendly nation.
All I can say, after reading through the report is that if that is the view we are asked to take about what we should do in Asia, particularly in the south-eastern portion of Asia, Mr. Casey should go back again, but he should take with him an officer who would not use such flowery language when he came to write his report. With the greatest respect to the officer who wrote this report, I say that if he had left out about three-fifths of the nice words and had got down to facts, if he had really told us something, we would all be the better pleased.
– Do you not think that Mr. Casey wrote it?
– I am not going to argue whether Mr. Casey wrote it or not. If my friend will say that he saw Mr. Casey writing the report, I will accept his word, but I think he knows as well as I do what happens in these cases. I suppose that most of us have had to write reports, and that at times we should have been pleased to get hold of some one who could let his pen flow, producing a lot of words but saying nothing. That, in my opinion, is what has been done here.
The speeches that have been made in this debate have traversed a far wider area than was traversed by the statement that was read. The majority of the speakers were very interesting and, no doubt, believed the words that fell from their lips. As a rule, we hear communism mentioned only during a debate of this sort or at election times. We certainly hear a lot about it during elections. I was rather intrigued by a lot of what was said. We should pay much attention to Asia, because it is vitally important to this country. We have to face the fact that the world is divided into two sections, one section living under the capitalist system, with its private profit motive, and the other living under communism, which has, according to its adherents, a desire to help the mass of the people.
We, as part and parcel of the Western bloc, are very concerned about what will happen in Asia. We have seen remarkable changes there. Yesterday, Senator McCallum gave us a very interesting speech. He told us that the British had controlled India for something like 200 years. He said that in the past young people went from Britain to India, made a lot of money, came back and were called, I think, English nabobs. The inference was that these young people went out to India,’ got as much as they could in the shortest possible time, and then came home and lived on the proceeds. We had from Senator Buttfield who was, I understand, in India last year, a harrowing account of conditions there. What are the facts? Since the end of World War II., the conditions of the Asian people have become of great concern to the Western bloc. I often wonder whether we have not left it all a little bit late. We were in India for almost 300 years. Some of us have been fortunate enough to visit that country. Others have read all they can about it in an endeavour to increase their knowledge. The general opinion seems to be that the mass of the people there are living under conditions that, to us, appear quite indescribable.
All of a sudden we became worried because of the onward march of another ideology. I shall call it that for want of a better term. We began to worry whether people in that area would go over to the other side, or stay with us. What have the mass of India’s people to gain by remaining where they are? Are they to continue to accept a life expectancy that is equal to about half that of Western peoples. Harrowing pictures have been drawn of how people live in India. The West has done very little about it. It is true that the people of India are very little better off to-day than they were when Clive first went there. All I would add is that you simply cannot hope to retain the present system in such countries. You must help them; you must do something real for them. 1 am very concerned about what will happen regarding India’s affiliations after the passing of the present Prime Minister, who seems at least to have control over the Indian people. He has adopted an attitude of neutralism as between East and West. What will happen after he goes? We have been told that already two big States in India are governed by Communists. It is useless to bring down a nebulous report such as this, and to imagine that we shall be able to hold millions of people on our side when what they really want is bread.
I have no doubt that many honorable senators have read of the rise of Communist thought throughout the world. I suppose one can say that it came into being during the 1917 revolution in Russia. It came about then because of the subjugation of the people of Russia; because of what they had suffered under the Czars. For just so long as such conditions exist people will want to break away and try something new. Therefore, I believe that if the Western nations want to hold South-East Asia they must abandon any attempt to hold it by force. They must win the hearts of the people. They cannot hold it by a war between the East .and the West because such a war would end in the same way as do most modern wars - one would not know who was the winner. The West must go out and try to win the hearts and minds of the people of the East.
Similar considerations apply in the case of China. I suppose that that country has the oldest culture in the world, but in years gone by it was split up by war lords, who chose to fight among themselves. In more recent times, the Western nations went into China and divided it into spheres of influence in order to get as much profit as they could out of it in the shortest possible time. Is it any wonder that the 600,000,000 Chinese have to-day turned in another direction? I disagree with communism, but I do not come here mouthing anticommunism because I believe that the Melbourne “ Herald “ will be friendly towards me.
– Neither do I.
– I doubt that. Nor do I do it at election time in order to win votes. Let us at least face the facts. Let us imagine ourselves as being in the same position as the Chinese. After the Western nations chopped up China into spheres of influence, grabbing the last dollar or the last pound sterling out of it, trouble was inevitable. We are face to face with it to-day. I say with all honesty that I should prefer China to belong to the Western bloc, but can we blame such people for fighting for something that will give them a better deal?
I shall tell honorable senators of something that happened to me as recently as Monday. A Pole who had been working on the Snowy Mountains project came into my office. He had finished work there and had then gone to Melbourne. Unfortunately, as a result of an accident he ended up in St. Vincent’s Hospital. When he came out of the hospital he was broke and now he cannot get work. At present he is receiving food from one of the church missions - he told me which one. He said, “ If I can get a shilling or two I can get a bed in Gordon House, in Victoria “. With all due respect, honorable senators know what Gordon House is; but it is much better than walking the streets attempting to get into railway yards so that one can sneak into a carriage. I said, “ What about social services? “ He said, “ I went down there and was told that I had to wait a fortnight before I could get anything “. I said, “ That is true; you must register and then wait “. What amazed me was that, after telling me how anti-Communist he was, he said: “ If I could go back to Poland I would do so. At least I would get food and shelter. It is perfectly true that I would be told what I had to do.”
– In what sort of institution would he shelter in such circumstances?
– I am merely telling the Senate what this man said. He added, “ I would be ordered about and told what to do and where to go, but that would not matter “. He said that he was prepared to give up this glorious freedom that the Government attempts to fool the people into thinking they possess.
– We do not fool them.
– I suggest that ;you do. This man would give it all up in order to get bread. 1 ask honorable senators what they would do if their wives and families needed food, as this man needed it. Would they say, “ Give me freedom and hunger “, or “ Give me regimentation and food “. I was amazed at what he said. 1 am stating exactly what happened in my own office on Monday.
– Is the honorable senator adopting it as his own view?
– No, I am not. lt is all right, my friend, with you and me. It is wonderful for both of us to be able to boast of freedom, because both your folk and mine are well looked after. We are now speaking about countries in Asia where the very thing about which that Pole spoke is happening. Can we blame those people? If we want to hold Asia, we must get the Western nations to do much more than they are doing. They must take from those who have and help to save Asia, because the saving of Asia is vital to us.
Honorable senators will recall what was said about Malaya during the last war. When the Japanese were a great source of worry and concern to us and we wanted the people of Malaya to be on our side, it was said that the plantations of Malaya would be cut up, just as we in this country have cut up large stations in certain States, for closer settlement instead of being retained by people overseas. But what happened? After the war, what had been promised was forgotten about. National movements arise in these countries. I believe that people who believe in communism attempt to get into and control those movements, not so much to achieve the aspirations of those who start them, but for their own ultimate gain. Unfortunately, we have allowed things to reach the stage where it can be said that we are attempting to shut the stable door after seeing the horse’s tail a foot outside. I am just as concerned as are honorable senators opposite about saving what is left of Asia for the Western bloc, but I am as certain as night follows day that you will not - rather, that we will not - be able to achieve it.
– The honorable senator was right when he said “ you “.
– Well, I leave it at that. I understand the honorable senator visited India. She must have been just as concerned about, and as amazed at, conditions there as were some of my colleagues who were with her. The position probably is as the historians have said, and I say that with respect. Senator McCallum said that our kith and kin controlled India for up to 300 years, and all they thought of seemingly-
– For 200 years.
– Well, I think 200 years is sufficiently long to do something for the masses. Can we wonder at the unrest which exists when we see portrayed in pictures the tremendous wealth of the rajahs on the one hand and the abject poverty of the masses on the other hand?
– It was these wealthy people with whom Clive was fighting.
– While Clive was fighting for them he wanted his part of the plum, but they did not want to give it to him. Anyway, why should we argue the point about it? I believe we should urge the countries of the Western bloc to do much more than they are doing, and to do it much faster, if we are to save countries in the East from turning to communism.
Yesterday, some one threw up his hands in horror at the thought that the Australian Labour Party would recognize red China. Let us examine the situation. The Government recognizes Russia. It said it would not do so again, but it has done so. Will that affect the thoughts of any honorable senator opposite about the politics of Russia? Of course it will not! At the next election, honorable senators opposite will still use the famous phrases that they have used since 1919. Our friends opposite know they are wise, and they have wise party administrators who know what theme wins.
I think it was during last year that I addressed a question to the present Leader of the Government in this place about trade with red1 China. He said in reply, “ We will trade, but not in strategic materials “. I have looked at statistics compiled by the various departments and I have noted that wool, lead, iron and zinc are all exported. I was too young for the first war and too old for the second world war, but I understand that those commodities are essential for the successful prosecution of any war. Senator McManus stated a case to show that there has been trade with red China through Hong Kong for years. The falsity of the Government’s arguments is revealed in its own publications. I cannot see any difference in the world between having in this country diplomats who represent China and having others who represent Russia. They both believe in a political system which I abhor and which I think is wrong.
– The Chinese are a lot closer, of course.
– Will they come here in sampans? How will they get here? Not long after the last war, I read1 that it would be necessary to have a million men for a successful invasion of this country. I also read that, at the opening of the second front in Europe, four tons of shipping was required to shift one man. Now I ask my friend, who has had naval experience-
– Is he an old admiral?
– No. At least, I give him credit for his service. Let me say something that will carry some weight.
– I think they would have their difficulties, mark you.
– You say that after it is proven to you. No doubt they would have their difficulties.
– You Victorians fight amongst yourselves a lot.
– Even though we do, outside the Parliament we can chat together in the normal way. The fact remains that in this place one is entitled to state a case. Just as my friend, Senator Hannan, was aghast at what happened in Hungary, I was aghast at what happened in Guatemala at the hands of people who were making profits for their American friends in the United Fruit Corporation. The Government of Guatemala said, “ Either you use the land to its full capacity, so that our people can work and buy the products of the land, or we will take it from you and see what it is worth “.
– How many were killed?
– That does not matter. It is the principle that is important. I knew that Senator Hannan would stand up for what had been done there. I am saying that the motives in both Hungary and
Guatemala were wrong, although I know that the honorable senator will not agree. When one reads something about these matters, he finds that John Foster Dulles, a friend of Mr. Casey, whose statement to the Parliament we are discussing at the moment, happens to be a very large shareholder in the American fruit company. Mr. Casey always used to nod his head when John Foster Dulles spoke. According to what one reads and learns, his brother, Allen Dulles, is head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Of course, nothing is said on the Government side about the action of the United States in sending war material to the invaders from Honduras and Nicaragua. Let us be honest with ourselves.
– The honorable senator picks out the festering trouble spots.
– No, I do not. If these things are wrong in one country they are equally wrong in another country, and we should stand up and say so.
Knowing how vital to Australia is friendship with countries in Asia, one wonders why so many empty phrases should be spoken. When there was a discussion on this question some time ago, I stated in this chamber that if Japan did not trade with China, Japan eventually would go the way of China, because again it would be a case of food rather than glorious freedom - of bread rather than empty stomachs for the mass of the people. Prior to World War II., 41 per cent, of Japan’s trade was with China. Without knowledge of the subject, I am prepared to take Senator McManus’s word for what has happened in trade relations between Japan and China, but I say that Japan, as a Western ally, is essential to our safety.
I believe, Mr. Deputy President, that when we speak of the Asian position as it affects our country we should confess that unless we are prepared to do our share, and to urge the countries of the Western world to do their share, within the least possible time to better the conditions in Asia, we must lose the friendship of some of the nations that are now on our side.
– The honorable senator opposed the Japanese Trade Agreement.
– I did, for the reason, plainly stated at the time, that I was afraid that what happened to Australian industries in 1929 would happen again in 1959. I admit that, although a few industries, such as the textile and the toy industries, are feeling the impact of the trade agreement, the result has been much better than in 1929. While I admit that that is so, I am opposed to trading with China, or with any other country, on an unequal basis. How can there be an equal basis for trade when the costs of production in this country are three times those of another country with which we trade? That was the whole basis of objection to the trade agreement. As I say, I admit that the result has been much better than 1 predicted at the time.
– The honorable senator admits that we were right?
– I am still concerned about some industries. The action of the Government in appointing a special committee to consider the representations of industries that regard themselves as adversely affected by the agreement, must have had a salutary effect on dumping.
– What the honorable senator is saying is that he is not prepared to give the Japanese the right to live if we are adversely affected.
– No, I am not saying that at all. I am sorry if I cannot make myself understood, but, of course, I cannot be blamed for that. All I am saying is that we have to do something, and do it in a hurry. We have one big obstacle to get over in Asia, on account of the White Australia policy, which is not understood in Asia. Any one who has been to Fiji will appreciate what it would mean to this country if we were foolish enough to give away the White Australia policy. It is no good saying that this policy is not a worry, but we believe in it and I hope that we will stick to it.
Debates such as this give each one of us an opportunity to state what he really believes. I regret to say that I do not think it “will be possible for the Western bloc to retain much of Asia. In my opinion, that can only be done by concerted action, taken as swiftly as possible, to lift the standards of the mass of the people. It is no use saying, “ We know how they would fare under communism “, and so on. We have to improve their standards of living. If we do that, we will keep them in the Western bloc and they will be an extremely useful market for many of the commodities, particularly primary commodities, we are finding it difficult to sell to-day. 1 have entered this debate, Mr. Deputy President, only because 1 feel that it affords an opportunity for each of us in this chamber to say what he really believes. I shall finish on this note: The present Prime Minister of Cuba, who has occupied that position only since the recent revolution, when addressing 10,000 students and other people at the Harvard University in America, said, “ There is no freedom where there is hunger “.
– Mr. Deputy President, I should like to say at the outset that I am pleased to note the growing tendency to have more debates on external affairs in this chamber. In my experience of politics since 1949, I have seen a great increase of interest by the people of Australia in external affairs. Of course, this subject has always been dear to my heart, because I believe that events overseas may affect our continued existence as a nation. Many minor matters that we discuss may have an effect on our pocket, and that is a big factor with a lot of people; but external affairs really affect the nation as a whole. Therefore, I am glad that more interest is now being taken in external affairs not only by the people as a whole but also by this Parliament, and I should like to see the practice adopted in the Parliament of arranging at least one debate on external affairs during each sessional period.
I agree wholeheartedly with the opinion expressed by Senator Kennelly that one of the biggest problems facing the world is the raising of the standard of living in Asia. There is not the slightest doubt that that is one of the biggest problems confronting us. However, I am unable to agree with his remarks concerning certain aspects of that problem. For instance, he had a shot at the English-speaking races when he sought to compare the standard of living in India to-day with the standard of 200 or 300 years ago. I lived in India for over 30 years, and during that period the standard of living in that country was raised considerably. During the period of British control of India, canals and railways were constructed. Those modern developments have practically obviated the threat of famine, which used to cause thousands of deaths almost yearly in India. That alone has been a tremendous achievement. It is ridiculous to say that the standard of living in India is now no better than it was in Clive’s time. Indeed, the standard of living is higher in India than in China. In China, behind the iron curtain - or the bamboo curtain, if you like - there are 600,000,000 people on the starvation line, whereas in India 300,000,000 people - half the number who are starving in China - are still on our side. Communism is not growing in India to anything like the extent that Senator Kennelly would have us believe. At the present time, 98 per cent, of India’s population is on the side of the democracies, lt is true that several States have gone slightly Communist, but support for my contention is to be found in the voting figures for the last election in India.
Let us take a glimpse at the job of raising the standard of living in India. It is a tremendous problem, one factor of which is that an Asiatic is not a great lover of work. If he can find some one who is prepared to provide for him and feed him, nothing delights him more than to sit down in the sun and watch the other fellow do his work for him. There is a certain stage in these matters beyond which we cannot advance. Senator Kennelly, in order to illustrate his point, mentioned the case of a Pole who is having a very bad time in Australia. I remind the honorable senator that social service benefits are provided in this country on a comparatively liberal scale, and that charity is a characteristic of the Australian people. 1 have never heard of any one dying of starvation in Australia, although I have heard of many deaths from that cause in other countries. I cannot understand the attitude of the Pole to whom Senator Kennelly referred.
A tremendous amount of money has been provided for the development of the countries of South-East Asia. Under the Colombo Plan, which was originated by Sir Percy Spender since I entered the Parliament, Australia has contributed more than £30,000,000 for this purpose, to say nothing of the amounts that have been contributed by other nations. But we must consider where we are going to stop in this connexion. Are we going to devote half of our national income to trying to raise thestandard of living of the people in the East?’ Are we going to increase taxation in Australia to such an extent that our own standard will be lowered in order to provide sufficient money to raise the standard of living in the East? We have to adopt a moderate view in relation to the problem. We are doing our best. Some say that we: could do more, but that is a matter of opinion. 1 think that the democracies as. a whole are genuinely trying to raise the standard of living in all the Eastern) countries.
I was very interested in the Minister’s^ speech. Quite rightly, he devoted a lot of time to comments on events in Asia which, are of great importance to us because ofl’ our geographical relationship. Nevertheless, 1 should have liked him to say something concerning certain events that are: happening in other parts of the world.. Having regard to basic factors, although weare closely connected with Asia I am convinced that our fate will be determined in’ Europe. Naturally, the Minister wanted toreport to the people of Australia on eventsthat have occurred in the countries that hehas visited during the last few months, but- I should have liked him to express an. opinion on recent happenings in Tibet. ¥ know that it would be extremely hard for the Minister to give us many details in relation to events in Tibet, for the simplereason that it is a very close country; it ishard to get information into, or out of, Tibet, lt is a backward country, whosepeople are ignorant. On the other hand, they are a peace-loving people, who haveno military aspirations; they have had nomilitary training, and they do not possess* military weapons. I think that what hashappened in Tibet was a repetition of what1 happened in Hungary, and there is nc excuse for it whatsoever. It appears to methat if the civilized nations of the West sit down, figuratively, and do nothing - and it appears to me that that is what we aredoing - they will be traitors to their democratic principles. We should raise thematter in the United Nations and anywhere else we can, in order that it shall remaina live issue.
Let us consider what has happened in« Tibet. The Chinese went in and forcibly took control of the country. Undoubtedlythey massacred many thousands of. people;. and they will massacre many more inhabitants of that country before they are finished. The reason for the action of the Chinese in Tibet is twofold. The first objective was to spread communism, with the avowed intention of gaining domination of another country, in accordance with the Russian ideology, and the other objective was to gain control of Tibet for strategic reasons. Tibet is situated on the northern frontier of India and, in this age of atomic warfare, is a central base from which long-range weapons may be used by the Communists in an attempt to control India.
Tibet has been associated traditionally wilh China for many hundreds of years, and there has always been an affiliation between the two countries. In fact, until 1941 what is now known as nationalist China demanded suzerainty over Tibet. When the Communists assumed control of mainland China they tried to establish control over Tibet. In 1950, Communist forces quickly over-ran the country, their only opposition being the difficulty of the terrain. At that time, Tibet appealed to the United Nations for help but the appeal was rejected. None of the great powers, United States of America, United Kingdom, or even India, supported Tibet in her appeal simply because they felt that the situation could lead to far greater difficulties. In addition, Mr. Nehru suggested that a peaceful solution to the trouble might be found because of the influence that he had with the Chinese. However, he failed in his effort, and the position deteriorated until we are now witnessing the end of Tibet.
India’s attitude to China has also undergone a change. Until a short time ago Mr. Nehru was very keen to have peaceful coexistence with China, but now the situation is entirely different. Lying down with the tiger is all very well when the tiger is asleep, but when the tiger awakens and begins to scratch and bite one must protect oneself. I hope that India will realize that peace may be bought, but the price may be too high. I read an article in to-day’s newspapers to the effect that Khrushchev has offered arms to India. I do not know whether Russia is becoming a little frightened by China’s terrific rate of advance, but Khrushchev’s offer is some.thing of a surprise.
Undoubtedly the nations in South-East Asia that have not been already over-run by the Communists have been awakened by the events in Tibet to the fate that could overtake them. If one examines the trend of events in the east, one will see that the Communists follow a pattern. They concentrate on one particular area, and when that area is under their control they move to another. We saw them assume control of Korea, then Indo-China, then the Formosa incident and now Tibet. They are adhering to the pattern they love so well. One might ask: “ Where will they move to next? “ They could move to Nepal, Bhutan or North Assam. Those countries border India, and if they fell under Communist domination India would need to fear for herself. If she does not take steps to ensure her own safety, she may fall into the Communist orbit. Theactions of the Communists in South-East Asia have given us the opportunity to prove to the nations in that area that they are facing the serious danger of being controlled by China. We have the opportunity now toshow China in her true colours, and we must not allow the opportunity to pass. We should do everything in our power, either through the United Nations or by means of propaganda, to make the nations of SouthEast Asia aware of the dangers that confront them.
Two honorable senators opposite have referred to the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia. I should have liked the Minister for External Affairs to make some mention of this in his statement, but he did not. To date, the exact terms under which representation is being renewed have not been announced. Perhaps negotiations on certain matters arestill proceeding, and perhaps we are rather premature in referring to the subject now. but the press - I do not know from which source the press obtains its information - has reported that certain restrictions will be imposed on the number of personnel to be stationed at Canberra. I am in complete agreement with a limitation of personnel. Before the Petrov affair, the Soviet Legation was of a far greater size than was necessary, probably for the reason that many of its staff were engaged in espionage activities. Senator McManus seemed rather concerned that the Government may not have taken adequate steps to prevent a repetition of Russia’s espionage activities. I have sufficient confidence in our security service to feel sure that adequate steps have been taken to protect our security. The press also stated that the movement of the diplomatic personnel would be restricted to certain areas in Australia; in other words, that they would not be allowed to travel beyond a certain distance. That provision corresponds to the degree of freedom allowed to our diplomatic representatives in Russia. If the statement is correct, I think the Government has taken a very wise step, because a limitation on the travel of the Russians will reduce considerably the risk of espionage, if not eliminate it completely.
Let us now consider whether the renewal of diplomatic relations with Russia is a wise move. I do not have any inside information on the matter, but I understand that Russia made the first move. That is probably correct, because the Russians, not ourselves, broke off diplomatic relations when the Petrov affair occurred. They walked out of Australia, and if they want to return it is up to them to make the first move.
– The honorable senator is easily convinced.
– Not at all. It would be quite the normal thing for Russia to do if she wished to resume diplomatic relations with us. Why should we not have diplomatic relations with Russia? If we should not have diplomatic relations with Russia, we should not have them with any other country. We have diplomatic relations now with Germany, France, and many other countries and if we do not gain certain benefits from having those relations, we are simply wasting money. After all, Russia is a member of the United Nations Organization. We have a great deal of contact with Russia on the various committees of the United Nations Organization and on other matters such as world disarmament, the exploration of outer space, Antarctica and so on. If we did not have diplomatic relations with Russia we could be more or less prejudiced in our endeavours to put forward arguments on certain questions. We like to think we are quite a big noise in the world - actually, we are not so big - and it is essential that we have diplomatic relations with other countries if we are to be able to press our points of view. But I agree with Senator McManus that diplomatic relations should not be renewed merely with the object of improving our trade with Russia. That should be the last consideration, and I think it is. I do not think for one moment that a resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia will increase the sale of our wool. We grow the best wool in the world, and if the Russians want the best wool in the world they have got to come to us for it. They have been buying it from us for years, and I am convinced that restoration of diplomatic relations will not increase our sales of wool to Russia one iota.
Another matter about which I would have liked to hear something from the Minister for External Affairs is the present situation in Europe, for there, in the Berlin crisis, we are faced with one of the gravest situations with which we have been confronted for many a long day. It could quite easily put us on the brink of another war. All honorable senators know the background of this matter. They all know of Russia’s ultimatum about handing over Berlin by 27th May. That date is getting very close now. All honorable senators know also about Mr. Macmillan’s reaction to that ultimatum. They all know of his trip to Russia, of his talk with Khrushchev and how the Russians waxed warm one mintue and cold the next. It is my opinion that, thinking he made some slight gain in Russia, he foresaw that our allies might not think along the same lines as he does, and for that reason decided to visit France, Germany and America in turn. The mere fact that he had to visit those other countries is proof that there is not complete unanimity among our leaders. To me, it appears that the question is now really one of co-existence versus co-annihilation. In other words, I think that the Prime Minister of Great Britain - I am sure that we in Australia agree with him - feels that if we can have round table talks with Russia, if we are prepared to give a little here and take a little there, we might get somewhere. I am sure that he favours that course as against the rigid atitude taken by some of our allies who believe in putting the foot down firmly and not yielding an inch anywhere.
– At least Mr. Macmillan is trying.
– He is trying, and 1 think he is following the line that we must take. 1 am certain that we in Australia agree with his policy. I should have liked to hear from our Minister for External Affairs on this rather important matter.
On 11th May next, there is to be a conference of Foreign Ministers. That date is getting very close now and it is essential that we of the Western bloc patch up our differences. It is of no use attending such a conference unless we are in agreement and are sure of our ground. None of us knows which is the right course - not even our Minister for External Affairs can answer that question - but, irrespective of which is right and which is wrong, it is essential that there be unity among the members of the Western bloc before submitting arguments to the forthcoming conference of Foreign Ministers. It is essential that we be unanimous because this conference is to decide what will be discussed at the summit conference which every one hopes will take place in the very near future. There is not the slightest doubt that the main question the summit conference will be called upon to discuss will be the Berlin problem and the future of Germany. Here again we find a wide divergence of opinion.
Another great matter for discussion at such a conference will be how world disarmament is to be accomplished. Honorable senators know that at this moment a conference in Geneva is discussing the problem of disarmament. After fifteen years of talking we have not much reason for optimism, but there are slight signs of agreement being reached. For instance, America and Great Britain have put forward a step-by-step programme for the control of nuclear explosions. Russia rather put a sprag in the wheel on that question by insisting on her right of veto for every step. So recently as within the last few days she did that by refusing to agree to the American-British proposal to ban all tests within an altitude of 30 miles. The main point of disagreement on these matters is the insistence by the West upon the right of inspection. I think also that in submitting this step-by-step approach to nuclear tests we have shown that we are prepared - we must be - to give way a little in order to reach agreement with Russia.
All these are matters about which I should have liked to hear something from our Minister for External Affairs. He cannot give a complete answer to all of these things because he does not know the answer, but he could at least give not only to us but also to the people of Australia as a whole a lead on this most important matter. In conclusion, I repeat the hope that debates on foreign affairs will be more frequent in future sessions. We should have more opportunity to express our opinions and offer suggestions. Many things have been put forward during this debate, and international affairs is one matter which should be discussed in this Parliament in a spirit of co-operation and willingness to help. The subjects involved are too big for party politics, and any contribution that can be made by any member of the Parliament on either side cannot but do good so long as it is offered to serve the best interests of the Australian people.
– The statement under consideration really deals only with the Ecafe conference and South-East Asia. That being so, I do not think it is wise to wander too far from those matters, although, as Senator Wordsworth has said, we would like to discuss such important matters as the European position and the threat arising from the Berlin crisis. Berlin does not appear to me at this moment to present a real threat to the peace of the world, but relations can deteriorate so rapidly that what looks fairly safe ground to-day can be terribly dangerous ground to-morrow. I remember when the other Berlin crisis occurred in 1948. A magnificent airlift saved Berlin and, at the same time, saved the world from war. In those days, Lloyd’s was offering insurance and betting seven to four against war occurring as the result of the Berlin crisis.
Berlin is a trouble spot and must continue to be such because of its position right in the middle of East Germany. If one has been to Berlin, as I have, he will understand the tremendous eagerness of the Russians, who control East Germany, to eliminate Berlin as a citadel of the west right in the centre of their territory. The extraordinary thing about Berlin is the difference you see when you walk through the Brandenburg Gate from west Berlin to cast Berlin. The difference is obvious. By crossing a street you find a people with a different personality. The first thing you see on entering east Berlin is the Stalinallee This edifice was erected as some sort of answer to the tremendous progress of west Berlin, but, of course, it is only a facade. Originally, Russia’s intention was not to rebuild any part of east Berlin until such time as Russia itself had been brought back to the condition in which it was before the war. However, under the pressure of the tremendous growth of west Berlin, the Russians made this gesture and built the Stalinallee There is a line of shops and apartments down a great thoroughfare, but behind this line of apartment houses, stores and shops, through the cross streets, can be seen the ruins of the war. They are just one step away from the great Stalinallee. The buildings that were gutted by fire are crumbling away. It is very important to the Communists and those who control East Germany that they get the valuable propaganda point of Berlin under their control.
However, as I have said, I do not think this is a debate in which we should discuss fully the problem of Europe or another problem which is closer to us, and in which we are becoming more and more interested - namely, the problem of the Middle East. My suggestion is that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) should make a statement on the Middle East. By the way, I suggest that the Minister’s title should be changed from Minister for External Affairs to something more appropriate. The present title is a bad one. I do not know just what it is a relic of. I think the Minister should have a title more in line with the titles of other men who are carrying out similar duties in other parts of the world.
As T have said, I think the Minister should, during the life of this Parliament, make another statement, dealing with the Middle East, because an extraordinary -situation exists there. The Arab union seems to have blown apart. Thi dreams of Nasser, when he was backed by Communist Russia, have gone, and now he is faced with stark reality. Nasser has been publicly berated by Khrushchev, who has referred to him as an impulsive fellow, not as the great leader of a few short months ago. The streets of Bagdad, apparently, are under the control of Communist mobs. Kassem, the leader there, is under the control of the same mobs. Counter-revolution has broken out. It would be interesting if the Minister were to make a statement dealing with the whole of the problems of the Middle East, so that we could discuss those problems on their own. At present, I feel that we should be discussing the matters raised in the report before us.
Senator Wordsworth seemed to place some importance on the fact that Russia had offered to sell arms to India. I am afraid I cannot share his optimistic approach to this gesture. To my mind, it does not show a cleavage between Russia and China. I think it shows only that Russia is, as ever, on the move in its propaganda battle, in which it uses arms, trade and every other thing it can think of. Russia is trying to penetrate India. Already the Indian State of Kerala has a Communist government. This is an effort by Russia to tie India up, in the same way as it tied Egypt. Russia does not give anything away, as we know. Russia is prepared to sell arms to India, as, of course, are Britain and the United States, but if Russia sells arms to India its position there will be strengthened. With the arms will go the personnel to instruct the Indians in the use of those arms, which will be paid for on a barter basis. It was that very thing that led Egypt into serious economic trouble when it began to pay for Russian arms that it had purchased over the last few years. I repeat that a tremendous field for discussion exists in the Middle East, and I think the Minister should make at least one more statement before the Parliament adjourns. If possible, he should make two, one on Europe and another on the Middle East.
The present statement made by the Minister dealt largely with the Ecafe conference. Senator Wordsworth spoke at some length about the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia. I do not think such a happening could be avoided; it was just a question of when ii happened. The Russians broke diplomatic relations with us, and it was certain that if an approach was made by them to the Australian Government - whatever party was in power - that government would, in its own time, have agreed to the resumption of relations. However, I have a very serious complaint to make against the Government for the manner in which this resumption has taken place. Honorable senators will remember that the decision to resume diplomatic relations was made right in the middle of the Ecafe conference. That was a conference to which seventeen Asian nations and seven non-Asian nations had sent delegations, and to which ten other nations had sent observers. Our future is bound up in great measure with the future of Asia. We are dependent upon the goodwill that we can get and maintain in that part of the world.
It can be truly said that we are of Asia. So many of these countries are emerging into nationalism from an imperialism that has left its scars and has influenced the personality of their leaders, making them very bitter indeed. However, most Asian nations are fundamentally anti-Communist. They are anti-Communist, first because of their religion, which sets up a barrier against the inroads of Communist propaganda and indoctrination.
We had all these countries together at Broadbeach, discussing the economic problems of Asia and how they might be solved, but that conference got very poor publicity, indeed. Honorable senators might say, “ Surely we cannot blame the Government for that “, but I do blame the Government for some of it, and the press for the remainder. In the circumstances, the Government should have had present a strong public relations organization to ensure that the great things that were discussed at Ecafe were properly presented to the people of Australia and Asia, so that the work of the conference would be better known. (5ne of the great things discussed there, which provides an illustration of co-operation between nations, was the great Mekong Valley scheme. It takes in the four nations of Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Laos. In all, 17,000,000 people live in the Mekong Valley, and this great conservation scheme is comparable with the Tennessee Valley scheme and our own Snowy Mountains project. Upon completion - and that is a long long way off - it will be one of the most valuable industrial developments in that part of the world, but we read nothing of it in the press.
One of the reasons for the poor publicity afforded the conference was the fact that official liaison with the press was so weak. Another was that, in the middle of the conference, the Government was conducting negotiations with the Russian representatives on the question of re-opening diplomatic relations between the two countries. That was what was splashed in the press. That was what the press wanted to speak about - not the day-by-day decisions of the conference. The people were not told of the way in which all those friendly nations were trying to work out schemes for the common good. Across the front page we saw such captions as, “ Casey meeting in a back room with the Deputy Foreign Minister for Russia “. All these preliminary talks were magnified, and Ecafe was thrown off the front pages of the newspapers. To my mind, that was a serious insult to the friendly, non-Communist nations gathered in Queensland for the purposes of the conference.
Some honorable senators may think that my criticism is not substantial, but surely we have learned by now that the lesson of recent events in Asia is that we are losing the propaganda war up there. Our failure to capitalize on what was happening at our own front door was yet another instance of this Government’s blundering in matters demanding no more than basic intelligence. I am sure that it did a great deal of harm to our friendly allies at the conference.
The Minister made passing reference to Seato. I am pleased that that organization is developing beyond the stage of mere military significance, and is entering upon activities of a peaceful nature that will be of great value to Asian countries where Seato operates. I am referring especially to the plan to combat cholera. As we know, that dread disease sweeps through Asia and regularly takes thousands of lives. A cholera research station in being set up by Seato. It will have the brand of Seato upon it. and I think that it will do more to weld together the countries concerned than all the exercises referred to in the report. I have always had great doubt about the value of such exercises, but I have no doubt that one successful campaign for the elimination of cholera in any of those countries would do more good than would soldiers marching down streets or generals meeting around a conference table. The project is an illustration that we are moving along the road towards the point where we shall be better known and better respected in Asia.
It is extraordinary to realize that though no country in the world has spent more money in Asia, or has tried harder to make friends and do good - a term applied by some derisively - than the United States of America, that country has a very poor reputation in that part of the world. Indeed, I would say that it ranks lowest in esteem among all the Western countries. I do not know any solution of that problem; nor do I think that any solution is apparent to the Americans themselves. It is a tragedy that that should be so after so many billions of dollars have been spent by American taxpayers upon developing other parts of the world. One hardly hears a word of praise anywhere for the United States of America. It is, perhaps, partly a result of the tremendous Communist campaign, emanating especially from China - not to mention the tremendous effort being put forward by Soviet Russia against “ imperialist “ America. That is surely the pot calling the kettle black. The Soviet Union has, behind the iron curtain, 100,000,000 captured Europeans, yet it speaks of imperialism. We who have some small degree of education know what that means, but there are so many people in the world who will take notice of propaganda. That sort of thing has made the task of the United States of America so much harder. That country has spent great sums of the taxpayers’ money in attempting to lift standards elsewhere, but with little result in the way of better relations.
A statesman has described the present position in Asia as “ fluid “. As I am not a statesman, perhaps I should not use the term. It is difficult to know exactly what it means. We have, in continental Asia, the great country of China, with 600,000,000 highly intelligent citizens. One is forced to that conclusion despite the opinion of Chinese intelligence held during the last century. China is pushing its bamboo curtain forward just as Soviet Russia is pushing its iron curtain across Europe. China has done that effectively in North Korea, where Chinese soldiers are still
Stationed. Viet Nam has fallen under the direct influence of red China. In the last few days, we have heard of Tibet and of the tragic flight of the Dalai Lama, and we have not been impressed by the attempts of the Chinese to suggest that he was spirited away against his will. China has just included Tibet in its territory, so we may take it for granted that another independent country has gone the way of the others.
Surely, when we are dealing with the problem of China, we should be careful of what is said by those who come back with reports of the great Liu Shao-chi, Mao Tse-tung, or Chou En-lai. I have never been able to tell the difference between a Nazi and a Communist when either got control of a country, except that the Communist is far more severe than the Nazi ever thought of being. One of the great slogans that was used in the Communist revolution which carried Mao Tse-tung to power was that the land would be freed for the peasants and that each peasant would have his own land. In any revolution, the great slogan has always been that the land would be given to the people who work it and who deserve a stake in the country. But no sooner has the revolution succeeded, as happened in Russia, than an attempt has been made to collectivize the farms. The people are given the farms, but then they are taken away.
In China there has been a greater degree of collectivism than ever. I am sure every honorable senator has read about the new system of communes in Communist China, which has resulted in even more than the land being taken from the people. The peasants are now conscripted labourers on the land they thought they would own. They are not even allowed to live in their own homes to enjoy family life, which I thought was the basic right of any person anywhere.
Family life in China has been destroyed, because now the men and the women must go into separate barracks. They are separated from their children, and they have to work seven days a week for every week of the year. The one holiday that is granted is for the purpose of celebrating the revolution. They have to parade or cheer those who do parade. It is a degree of slavery which I did not think COUld exist in this day and age. For such r. thing to happen to a people of such sensitivity and such a high degree of intelligence - I believe the Chinese are an intelligent people - to me is a very great tragedy indeed. These things cause us to be careful and to resist so much of the propaganda we hear about what the Communist Government is doing for the people of China.
The present government has been in office long enough for us to be able to compare its method of land reform with the land reform that has taken place on Formosa. The first task of the present regime in Formosa was to free the land. The efforts of the Chiang Kai-shek Government in Formosa to make the land available for the people have been extraordinarily successful. Not only are the people working their own farms, and not only has a method been devised to pay the owners of the big areas that were subdivided, but the farmers, unlike those in Communist countries, still own them.
All the reports coming out of China indicate a very desperate situation indeed. I had the pleasure a fortnight ago of speaking to a young Chinese man in Sydney who was employed in China in a clerical occupation. 1 asked him about the holiday situation there. He said “ We do not get one day a year”. He said that nominally there was a holiday period but that one was taken from his clerical job out into the country to work on a farm. That, of course, is done for a pittance. The horrible thing about the commune system is that the need for money has been eliminated. The commune provides everything that a man, a woman, or a child, needs. Eighteen points are listed. Those points include clothing, food, so many haircuts a year and so many hot water baths.
– They are a bit better off than are the Indians.
– I would not say so.
– Yes, they are.
– I am sure they are not. I know where I would rather live. But it is one of those comparisons in relation to which one cannot win, because we would not like to live in either place. The only money that is paid in these communes is something like 5s. or 6s. a month if one does more work than his poor unfortunate fellows. They might get enough to buy a packet of cigarettes at the end of the month.
Before my time expires, I want to deal with the question of trade with China. Trade with China, as with Russia - of course, it does not apply to Russia so much now, because with them this stage has been passed - is a political weapon. It is being used as such throughout the world. It is interesting to note that last year Australia did more trade with red China than she had done previously in her history. .So there is a substantial movement of trade between the two countries. A Chinese trade mission has been through this country. To give honorable senators an idea of what was offered in Australia, I point out that members of the mission were offering plain calico at 7id. a yard, when the lowest Indian price was ls. 3id. and the Japanese price was lid. By bringing those prices together and adding duty, we find that the Chinese are undercutting the Japanese by more than 2d. a yard and the Indians by about 6d. a yard. How can they do that economically? Even though slave labour is employed, there is no certainty that there is any profit in such a deal for the Chinese. But if they can obtain orders in India’s and Japan’s markets, they can disrupt the industries in India and Japan.
We have had reports from Britain that, orders having been accepted, the goods have not measured up to the required quality. I believe that we should trade with China as far as it suits us. By doing that we will not have our fingers burnt. But we should not do as we would do with Britain or America and try to develop something on a larger scale. As I indicated earlier, there was a report in the “ Sun-Herald “ in February last to the effect that British importers had suffered heavy losses because of shipments from Communist China being cancelled as goods were not up to quality. Let us trade with red China, but only to the extent that we please. Let us not try to put such trade on a firm basis, because that is not the way in which it has turned out so far. One can imagine the effect of cancelled orders on the Lancashire mills, which have to plan ahead and order their raw cotton or cotton yarn at least nine or twelve months before they wish to use it. When, at the last moment, other orders are cancelled, no raw material is available and chaos develops. Those are a few words, Mr. President, on the problem of trade with China as I see it.
We have been speaking of South-East Asia. I have said many times, and I repeat it now, that the more Australian members of Parliament, business people, trade unionists and representatives of cultural societies are able to travel to South-East Asia, the better it will be, because there is no doubt that the best ambassador we can have in that part of the world is the average Australian citizen. By his friendliness, he makes an impact that both the Americans and the British fail to make. We are in Asia; we are of Asia. It is important that we in Australia should know as much as we possibly can, and as quickly as possible, about Asia, because that is where our future lies.
– The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in the course of the statement that we are now considering, said -
In the Seato region the principal potential threat comes, as honorable members know, from Communist China, abetted by Communist movements in some other countries.
I enter this debate, Sir, to discuss that phase of the statement - namely, the position of China and Russia in world affairs. I do not think that either Russia or China believes for a single moment that there is any danger of unprovoked attack from the Western powers, now or at any time in the foreseeable future. The only thing of which Russia and China are afraid is that Western policy, with the aid of adequate defence, might stop the expansion of communism.
The idea that poor Russia and China live in deadly fear of unprovoked attack from the West is one of the most astonishing misconceptions of our time. Russia’s alleged fears of German aggression are particularly ill-founded. When we look back, we find that it was Russia which first helped Germany to re-arm after World War I., and that it was Russia which entered into an alliance with Germany on the eve of World War II. for a split-up of the whole of Europe. After World War IF., Russia was the first nation to embark on the re-arming of Germany, by re-arming East Germany. So, the idea that Russia is afraid of Germany is, I think, inaccurate on the facts and the records, though the cultivation of the idea serves Russia’s policy. Russia is not afraid of a German attack, but she is afraid of German obstruction to the advance of communism.
The sole aim of Russia and China has been to terrorize, or to persuade, western opinion into making concessions which would destroy all resistance to Communist expansion. “ Concede or perish “ has been the theme, and I think that this is bluff. Russia has just as much to fear from H-bombs as anybody else. This fear of the H-bomb is being used to force the west into concessions and a reduction of conventional defences. In my humble opinion, one of the most dangerous fictions is the growing belief that war means the use of H-bombs, and that the use of H-bombs means the destruction of the world. I think that that is an unwarranted over-simplification of the situation and that it merely encourages the belief that it is better to concede than to perish.
There are reasons for thinking that there is no real danger of total extermination, as various persons have asserted may happen. I do not think that either side has the slightest intention to risk a nuclear war. Russia will never use the H-bomb so long as retaliation is certain. She knows quite well that the West will never use it unless it is attacked by overwhelming forces. That being so, I think that the best defence we can have is the capacity to retaliate with major nuclear weapons. As long as we have that deterrent, together with ample conventional defences, the necessity for desperate action will be reduced to unimportant proportions. The situation, Mr. President, is more or less as follows: Stalin’s policy has led to a major crisis for Russia. Stalin believed in the Yalta agreement, but he failed accurately to calculate that the overall effect would be an awakening in the West, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the rearmament of West Germany. He also believed that to assist the Chinese revolution would strengthen Russia and make her so powerful that no one could withstand her demands; but what he failed to realize was that China would rise so swiftly and that Nato would emerge. But having liquidated all those in Russia who foresaw these very dangers, Stalin was succeeded by men who were fully committed to his mistakes.
Russia recently has been faced, Mr. President, by growing and grave dangers, of a very different kind from those that have been often mentioned. Russia’s problem is that China is becoming too strong. Russia faces possible isolation if she drops China, or a subordinate position later if she continues to support China. In other words, it is too late to go back and it is very dangerous to go on. Moreover, “Chinn is trigger happy and not overimpressed by H-bomb threats. Mao Tsetung has said that he does not mind if he loses 300,000,000 Chinese, because in his opinion China can afford to do so. China is poised ready to strike decisive military and political blows in several directions. The stage is set for Chinese preponderance in vast areas of the world, and that is why Russia is afraid. If China or India dominated all Asia and Africa, where would Russia be?
On the other hand, Russia cannot draw back. She is committed. There is only one way out, and that is for a new government to be thrown up in Russia by a revolution - a government which could ally itself with the West against a Communist or Nationalist Asia. Khrushchev, originally a believer in Asia-first, would find it very hard to draw back and switch to a liberal alliance with the West, even if he wished to do so, because he has played a very important part in the current situation. He was one of the critics of the Litvinov school which foresaw that very thing happening. But, as I said earlier, the people who criticized Stalin were liquidated, and Stalin’s followers were committed to his mistakes. Therefore, Khrushchev cannot contemplate such a change without extreme danger to himself.
Russia knows that, in order to match China, she must acquire domination of the Near East and the Middle East, and also of North Africa, but she cannot risk such action while Nato sits on her western frontier. If she struck south, Nato would at once strike east, and Russia would then be at the mercy of China; she would have to concede almost anything for which China asked. Moreover, China would at once recognize the purpose of a move south, and would relish it. Russia’s position would be very dangerous indeed, but if Nato could be eliminated the whole position would be changed and an escape would be open. The position is made more dangerous for Russia because, in order to keep up a strong front against the West, she must continue to aid and support China at this stage. At the same time, she must endeavour to gain a decisive advantage within a short space of time. Russia will use every device possible - we have seen some of the devices she has used - in order to destroy Nato. Once rid of this threat on her west, she will deal with the Near East, and the Middle East in due course with relative ease. If Russia dominated the Near East and the Middle East and North Africa, she would then control half the world’s oil supplies, as well as communications between the West and the East, and she would be able to stop an IndianChinesehegemony over Africa. This would put her on almost equal terms with China. Stalin made the fatal mistake of over-playing communism in Asia without realizing that eventually it would become a danger to Russia as a nation.
Russia is trying to ensure against a future danger; she would like to achieve her objective without friction, but events of the last few days might perhaps alter her course. At the moment, she has only one course open to her, and she is trying to follow it in great secrecy. Russia gives all sorts of explanations for her present policies, lest any one should smell a rat. Russia was jerked into action when she saw three things - the establishment of Nato, which represented a threat to her from the West against her expansion south; a revival of British influence in the Middle East; and now at this late stage - the worst of all for her - China’s growing power. It is from the third factor - China’s growing power - that Australia, which, geographically, is a part of Asia, has most to fear. It is indeed fortunate that the Government has the services of Mr. Casey as Minister for External Affairs, because he has done much to ensure our future security. We must keep Nato strong and effective and we must also maintain the Anzus and Seato pacts and our own military preparedness if we are to survive the threat of Communist China.
To sum up, I should say that there appears to be a distinct possibility that the Frankenstein monster that has been built up in China by Russia could turn on the very hand that created it, and there could be war between Russia and China, which might well spell the defeat of communism.
Both fascism and Nazi-ism failed, and ultimately communism is doomed to fail as are all other philosophies that interfere with the right of man to be free to think, to speak, to work and to worship as he thinks fit. I have an abiding faith in the free spirit of man to emerge triumphant from this fearful scourge of communism. War between Russia and China could well mean the salvation of the free peoples of this turbulent and unhappy world.
I urge honorable senators not to fall for the Communist propaganda line that the peoples of Asia want communism because they are under-privileged. Not 2 per cent, of the people of Asia want communism. I lived in Asia for four years as a prisoner of war. Senator Anderson will support what I am about to say because he, also, was there. I spent fifteen months on the infamous Burma-Siam railway line. I lived, worked, ate, drank and suffered with Siamese, Chinese, Malays and Tamils; I nursed them and buried them. They are the most carefree and happy people in the world. They certainly are underprivileged by our standards but not by Asian standards. They live as their forebears have lived for thousands of years. The Communists would like us to think that the Asians want communism. These under-privileged people do not want communism; they know it will bring them misery.
.- I shall approach this subject very differently from the way in which it was approached by Senator Branson. I regard the statement that was made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) as a very subjective presentation. He presented a word picture of conditions of life and labour in the countries to which he referred, which are mainly in the East. The fundamental fact to be understood is that in practically all of the countries in the East, in common with those in the West, the people are class divided. This is more evident in some countries than in others. If Australia were as thickly populated as Europe, America and the Eastern countries, conditions here would be somewhat different from those that exist to-day. We are indeed fortunate - for the time being, anyhow - to be members of a relatively small population in a very large country. Tt cannot be denied that this factor enables us to enjoy more freedom of action than can inhabitants of thickly populated countries. If Australia were as crowded as other countries, freedom of action would be denied .as it is denied in those countries.
When a population comprises owners of landed capital or property, and non-owners, class conflict is inevitable. In these highly mechanized and privately monopolistic days, the class alinement is more viciously spread than it would be under other condition. Class conflict has been the order of the day since property owners began to deny to persons who do not own property reasonable freedom of access to the means of livelihood. The underlying principle has been maximum production and profit for the owners of land and capital, and minimum consumption for the workers. That is why we have a basic wage in this country - the minimum amount of money on which the workers and their families can live. If the workers in Australia were prepared to live on the irreducible minimum - in common with the people in the East - they would be down to that irreducible minimum. The law of parsimony is in operation all over the world - the most for the few and the least for the many. That law has operated ever since so-called civilization began. The owners of land and capital want the most for the least cost. That is why they speak, at every opportunity, of the necessity to reduce the cost of production, having in mind an increase in the profits which they are privileged to accumulate.
Early in the 17th century Sir William Petty, leading economist of his day in England, speaking of the accumulation of wealth, declared, “ Labour is the father; the earth is the mother “. Translated into simple terms, that statement means that the labour used in the production of wealth - all of which comes from the land - is the father, and the earth is the mother. That state of affairs existed long before the 17th century and has continued ever since, both in the most highly developed and mechanized countries in the world and in those countries that have not reached such a high standard of development and mechanization. All honorable senators no doubt know the old saying: “ Needs must when the Devil drives “. The devil has been, and still is, the desperate position into which workers have been forced from time to time. They have been forced to take direct action to obtain for themselves reasonable freedom of access to the means of livelihood. Every strike, every hostile demonstration and every revolution that has taken place has had its origin in the fact that the producers of wealth have forced the workers into a state of desperation.
Senator Kennelly has stated that hunger is the driving force, and that where there is hunger there is no freedom of access to the means by which the people live. In Australia - this so-called free country - we are denying to thousands of our people reasonable access to the means of livelihood. According to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), approximately 500,000 age pensioners have been reduced to the level of what I would call subsidized pauperism. Many of those men and women are quite capable of earning a decent livelihood if given the opportunity to do so. But, because land and capital, which are the means of life, are privately owned, the freedom of the aged people is negative whereas the freedom of the owners of land and capital is positive. They have access to the means of livelihood and deny to the pensioners the right to earn a decent living except, of course, in time of war.
When I was Minister for Aircraft Production in a previous government, I saw trainees manning machines in aircraft factories that had been operated previously by technicians and skilled men. Retired persons receiving superannuation, who were capable and willing to work, were given employment and paid the wage that was prevailing at the time. All they had to do was to see that the trainees did their work.They were responsible for the remarkable progress that occurred in aircraft production. Some 8,000 employees of the Postal Department went to the front, and they were replaced by men and women.many of whom were superannuated persons. I have seen young women manipulating electric cranes under supervision, operating lathes under supervision and, in the Postal Department, doing what was regarded as skilled work. However, when hostilities ceased and we were trying to rehabilitate our country, the elderly men and women who had done so much for our war effort were thrown on the scrapheap again. If another war should break out, no doubt they will be called on again for assistance and, after they have done their job, will be returned to the scrapheap from which they came.
When we study the statement that has been presented to us by the Minister, we should consider the effects of the terrific impact of two world wars on our economy. What happened during World War I.? We saw the revolution in Russia. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m..
– by leave -I inform honorable senators that there is an increasing tendency on the part of some operators of diesel-engined road vehicles to use the industrial non-dutiable type of fuel in lieu of the automotive type on which the duty has been levied in the past. The objects of the tax are being defeated and revenue is affected.
The existing Customs and Excise by-laws define the dutiable fuel as “ of the type used as fuel in diesel-engined road vehicles “, with certain specifications as to diesel index and distillation test, and this fuel has been accepted as being virtually free from carbons and usually a clear straw colour. The industrial type, although coming within the specifications as to diesel index and distillation test, contains free carbon and is dark brown or black in colour. In consequence it has not been regarded as suitable for use in road vehicles and has been exempted from duty. It has been found, however, that it is being used for this purpose and the stage has been reached when it is necessary to bring both the automotive and the industrial types under control.
To this end new by-laws are being promulgated in the Commonwealth Gazette tomorrow. They will widen the definition of “ diesel fuel “, for tariff purposes, so as to impose the duty on both types. No amendments to the existing acts and regulations covering this fuel are necessary. The procedures already operating whereby persons who require fuel for exempt purposes can apply for diesel fuel certificates, to enable purchases to be made free of the1s. per gallon duty, will apply. This means, that persons affected by the new provisions, and who use diesel fuel for purposes other than propelling road vehicles on public roads, may make application to the Collector of Customs in the State in which they reside for a certificate and will be entitled to a rebate on fuel purchased at a price inclusive of the1s, per gallon duty.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Cellulose acetate flake.
Debate resumed from 28th April (vide page 1048), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a secondtime.
. -The bill before the Senate is one to establish the Australian Universities Commission. The Opposition supports the measure. I could, perhaps, leave the matter at that, but, as the measure relates very intimately to the future development of universities throughout Australia, 1 feel that it is of such national importance that I should address myself to it with some particularity, even if with comparative brevity.
The Minister introduced the measure with a relatively short second-reading speech, and I found only one sentence in that speech to which I feel I should take some exception. The Minister said that, under the Constitution, education is a responsibility of the States. I cannot accept that statement without some rather considerable qualification. I point out in the first place that section 96 of the Constitution provides for the making of grants to States for any purpose, with or without conditions. That section, as I shall indicate presently, has been availed of on quite a number of occasions to help universities through grants to States.
Next, in 1946, there was written into the Commonwealth Constitution, when the social service powers were expanded and developed, a power for this Parliament to provide benefits for students. That is an exceedingly wide power, the scope of which, of course, has never been probed by the High Court of Australia; but it certainly does mean that all kinds of facilities can be provided to students direct, and the provision of facilities to institutions like universities must, of necessity, be some form of benefit to students. I am not purporting at the moment to give anything like an exhaustive statement of my view of the scope of the power, but it must be conceded that there is plainly in the field of education an exceedingly wide power ready to the hand of the Commonwealth Parliament.
Thirdly, we have complete power over education in Commonwealth Territories. In a moment, I shall advert to how we have in fact exercised that power in the tertiary field. I point also to the fact that in 1945 this Parliament passed an Education Act. It set up an Office of Education, and it set up the Universities Commission. It gave further great powers in the respective fields to those two bodies. I take a moment to refer to section 5 of the Education Act, where it is pointed out that the functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education shall be-
Then, passing to the functions of the Universities Commission, we find that they were to facilitate the training in universities, under the Commonwealth reestablishment and training scheme for ex-service personnel and, in prescribed cases or classes of cases, to assist other persons to obtain training at universities or similar institutions. They also included the provision, as prescribed, of financial assistance to students at universities and approved institutions, and to advise the Minister with respect to such matters relating to university training and associated matters as are referred by the Minister to the commission for advice. lt is quite obvious that the Commonwealth Parliament must concern itself with the question of education. Apart from everything else the full development of education is basic to democracy, to our development, to our industrial expansion, and to the whole development of our cultural life. I should say that, apart altogether from the fact that the Commonwealth has some of that power in the field, if there were none it would still be proper that the National Parliament should concern itself with the whole of the developments in the nation in relation to education. Upon the standard of education depends even the efficiency of our defence forces and the whole of the technical development in the country.
Passing from the Constitutional aspect, let me come down to the practical and see what the Commonwealth has been doing in this field. I have already referred to the fact that, following the end of the war, under the defence power, the country addressed itself to the university training of ex-service personnel. The Commonwealth provided funds for buildings in universities, for equipment and plant, and generally helped their finances enormously by paying the fees of the various trainees whom they sponsored. So, in that very intimate way, there was a direct nexus between the Commonwealth Parliament and the Universities.
Again, following the end of the war, we established in this Territory the Australian National University, which is quite a milestone in the tertiary field. This institution has proved its worth in the years that have intervened and is now a very conspicuous part of the Australian educational scene. Next, the Senate will recall that in 1949 the Chifley Labour Government agreed to appropriate £1,000,000 per annum for Commonwealth scholarships, for trainees who were considered suitable to undergo university training. That has been an enormous boon in the intervening years to thousands upon thousands of young citizens who, without that aid, might never have had an opportunity for university training.
The next development was the Mills report. Professor Mills, now deceased, was a very distinguished director of the Office of Education. On behalf of the then Uni versities Commission, he made a report urging financial assistance on a specified base by the Commonwealth to universities, through the State governments, to enable the universities to meet their annually recurring expenditure. That report had nothing to do with the capital needs of the universities. Effect was given to the recommendations of that committee in 1951, and from that year until now, as the Minister indicated in his second-reading speech, grants have been made, through the States, to universities to help them meet their annual expenditures. Those annual grants have varied from £800,000 to something of the order of £2,300,000 in 1957, the last year in which grants of that type were in operation.
Then the Commonwealth showed its very proper interest in a very effective way, by appointing the Murray committee. Sir Keith Murray chaired a very competent committee which brought in a report in September, 1957, dealing with the whole of the position of the universities of Australia. The committee looked, not only at the annual needs of universities, but also at their capital needs. That matter was under very close review in this Parliament about this time last year - May 1958 - when the Government saw fit to give effect to most of the recommendations of the Murray committee. The Opposition on that occasion, it will be recalled, paid an unqualified tribute to the work of the Murray committee, and supported the measure that the Government introduced to implement most of the recommendations.
That report indicated that, despite the help that had been given over a number of years to universities to meet their annual expenditures, the universities of Australia were in a desperate plight - that the outlook was grim in relation to teaching, student failures, intake of students and their accommondation, and every one of the many facets of university life and activity. That report really shocked the nation. It shocked this Parliament into taking really substantial action. I think it will be remembered by the Senate that the bill before us in May, 1958 provided for a contribution of some £20,000,000 to universities, through the State governments, to cover the years 1958, 1959 and 1960. The important thing is that in addition to helping the universities with their annually recurring expenditures, provision was also made for a large sum of capital moneys to enable them to expand their facilities. The report by the Murray committee, upon which the legislation was founded, was a most com.presensive one. It went into every aspect of university life and activity in this country. It was certainly a. milestone in the development of universities in Australia.
One of the recommendations of that committee was that an Australian Universities Commission should be appointed. This bill now proposes to give effect to that recommendation, which this time last year the Government indicated it accepted in principle. I recall that the committee recommended that the commission should first be set up upon an informal basis, not as a legislative body. That meant, I think, that it did not want the commission to be a statutory body, but preferred that it should gradually feel its way in a field where some tact and discretion was required. That recommendation has not been adopted. The commission is being created as a statutory body, and we of the Opposition approve that. We feel that a body charged with the important functions vested in this commission should not be an informal body. If it were, it would lack status in dealing with State governments and universities, and would, I feel, fail to gain trust and confidence, and fail to act with the firmness it must have if it is to function efficiently in looking after the balanced development of universities throughout this country.
– The committee suggested that it be informal only in its formative years.
– The honorable senator is completely correct. The committee suggested that, as a preliminary, the commission should be an informal body. I approve the action of the Government in putting it on a statutory base from the beginning. It is my belief that a great deal of the success of this body in the important field of universities will depend on its tact and discretion, and on the confidence, as well as the firmness, with which it approaches its task. It is not an easy matter to go into universities which are autonomous - which value their complete freedom to develop as they wish - and to begin suggesting processes of co-ordination of their activities - co-ordination that may be very necessary, but that may take a good deal of competent persuasion to bring about. One must throughout all this,, in the present set-up, enlist the co-operation of the State governments as well.
The committee also proposed that triennial grants should be made for annually recurring expenditure on the part of universities and that there should be annual grants in respect of capital expenditure. In the latter category it thought the position should be looked at ad hoc from year to year. It proposed a full-time chairman. Effect is being given to that recommendation. Sir Leslie Martin is to have the honour and responsibility of being the first chairman. The Opposition wishes him well in his new post. The committee also proposed that there should be seven part-time members, of whom two would be lay members from the professions or industry and five would be academic members, competent not only to consider university problems on a broad basis, but also to contribute expert knowledge of the many fields of university interest.
This bill departs from the committee’s recommendation as to the members who should constitute the commission. It provides that, in addition to the full-time chairman, there shall be not less than two, nor more than four, other members. So the commission may comprise a minimum of three or a maximum of five persons. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, did not advert to that departure from the recommendations of the committee. I invite the Minister, when replying to the debate that I am certain will follow, in view of the interest of many honorable senators in this subject, to indicate to the Senate why that very well-considered recommendation of the committee was departed from. I think that the Minister would readily agree that the Government owes it to the Murray committee to give some explanation for its action. This bill, in setting up an Australian Universities Commission, follows the pattern accepted in the United Kingdom, where a similar body renders a distinct national service in watching over the needs of the universities, in supervising their balanced and proper development, and in making recommendations to the government on what financial help the nation should provide to enable them to perform their vastly important task.
The commission set up under the bill will advise this Government in relation both to universities established by the Commonwealth and those which, being established in the various States, come primarily within the competence and jurisdiction of State governments. The bill does not propose to remove from the States jurisdiction over the second type of university. In fact, the measure expressly imposes upon the commission an obligation to confer with such universities, as well as with the appropriate State governments. It is quite proper that the matter should proceed on that basis, and quite unthinkable that the commission could have any success in dealing with the second type of university in the absence of the fullest consultation with State governments, which have heavy financial commitments, and with the universities themselves.
I am sure that the commission will recognize the virtue of the comment by the Murray committee that the commission should be exceedingly careful to ensure that the economy of universities in their chosen sphere is interfered with either not at all, or to the least degree possible; and that where it is thought proper to co-ordinate activities - for instance, to share facilities between different universities - the commission will proceed with great delicacy and tact. Unquestionably, there will be need to co-ordinate to a certain extent. The Murray committee dealt with this exceedingly important aspect in paragraphs 306 to 309, and any one really interested in the subject should read those passages. They are too long for me to quote, but I should like to advert briefly to the purport of each.
The committee pointed out that some degree of co-ordination of the ideas and programmes of the different universities was necessary. It indicated that in the ten universities there were only two veterinary schools; that there might be need for a third. The committee added that veterinary schools were amongst the most expensive of university departments, and that no one would suggest that every university, or’ even every State, should establish one. The committee also referred to other schools, such as those for oriental studies, ecology, genetics and geophysics, which certainly need to be provided in Australia, but equally certainly, not in every university. The report referred to- the very expensive machines needed in some work, for instance in the field of physics, and added that no country could afford to sprinkle these about indiscriminately. There must be, it was stated, considered agreement between universities about their placing and use.
In the next paragraph the committee faces up to the position upon which 1 have just touched. It said, “ It is true that the streamlining of university establishments on a national basis could easily be overdone “. That is a point of which I am sure the commission will take particular note. The committee added that a university, to be a university, must comprehend a considerable variety of disciplines, and that even sound principles of economic planning must not be driven to the point beyond which a self-dependent and self-nourishing academic life was rendered impossible.
The committee also adverted to the fact that the general opinion now was that the size of universities had just about reached the limit; that it would be necessary to set an upper figure for the number accommodated at any one university. The committee added that a university, with its sensitive inter-relations of personalities young and old, could not nourish under circumstances where the numbers were too great. Perhaps I may be pardoned if I real in full the committee’s final paragraph under this head -
The conclusion is that in some States more than one university is or will be required. Each university will need to have the necessary degree of comprehensiveness and variety; and yet it would clearly not make sense for each to have everything. A wise measure of co-ordination is necessary, and any satisfactory scheme will have to be acceptable to both institutions. No university would willingly accept regimentation in such matters imposed arbitrarily from above; but no university in modern circumstances will refuse to work for a satisfactory agreed scheme through convenient machinery. In some cases, for problems of this kind, negotiations involving only two or three universities may be all that is required. There will, however, be many instances where wider considerations of an interstate or national character will be involved; and here the proposed Australian University Grants Committee would be able to give useful advice and assistance.
Co-ordination is vastly important but, I repeat, it must be associated with the necessary degree of delicacy and not amount, in any circumstances, to regimentation. I am quite sure that the calibre of the men chosen for the new commission will be such that they will take note of what the Murray committee has said under that head, and Will not blunder in that field.
I should like to say a word or two about the function of a university as indicated by the committee. In its summary of recommendations, the committee puts the position very well in these words -
The committee considers the role of the universities in the modern community is threefold. The most urgent demand which is made of them to-day is for more and more highly educated people in every walk of life and in particular for more and more graduates of an increasing variety of kinds. But education of the graduate is only one of the two central aims of a university; the other is research, the discovery of new knowledge for its own sake. Finally, the universities are or should be the guardians of intellectual standards and of intellectual integrity in the community.
The opening chapters of the report dealt with that theme in a most interesting way, and concluded with a comment that I think is worth repeating. On the subject of research and intellectual integrity, the committee said -
The nations of the Western tradition have a creditable record of consistently seeking to accept the need for personal integrity in their academic scientists and scholars, and indeed to encourage and nourish it. No nation in its senses wishes to make itself prone to self-delusion or to deceit by other nations; and a good university is the best guarantee that mankind can have, that somebody, whatever the circumstances, will continue to seek the truth and to make it known. Any free country welcomes this and expects this service of its universities. 1 say that that is unquestionably true of Australia. We look to our universities to be leaders in thought, in culture, and in integrity amongst people in the professions, and to persist, as the report said, in all circumstances in the search for truth and to make it known. 1 should like to refer to what the Murray committee said in relation to the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. The committee recommended that the number of scholarships should be greatly expanded. That is in complete line with the following passage early in its report: -
High intellectual ability is in short supply and no country can afford to waste it; every boy or girl with the necessary brain power must in the national interest be encouraged to come forward for a university education, and there must be a suitable place in a good university for every one who does come forward.
In that spirit, the Murray committee recommended that the number of scholarships available to the youth of Australia should be substantially increased. The Government made a decision in that matter when preparing the last Budget and indicated that it was not prepared to increase the number of scholarships, having regard to a number of factors - the pressure of student intake, the lack of accommodation for them and. thirdly, the high percentage of failures, which was one of the dismaying aspects of university life to which the Murray committee directed very pointed attention. I am glad to be able to concede that in the last Budget the Government did ameliorate the means test in relation to living allowances, both at home and away from home, for holders of scholarships. Something quite substantial, if not quite adequate, was done in that direction. lt was announced, too, that the Murray committee’s recommendations for postgraduate scolarships would be given effect, and only last month the Prime Minister announced that some 100 scholarships in the post-graduate field had been granted, carrying an emolument of £900 per annum for from two to four years. That represents a very substantial addition to the facilities for research which will be available in universities in Australia. It will help to build up university research departments and to produce in this country the high level technical standard that we require in the sciences. The Opposition applauds that step now, as it did when the Budget made the necessary provision.
I note with pleasure that the Government announced late last year that it had handed over to the universities all the buildings and the plant and equipment which it had lent to them or had provided for them to enable them to carry out the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme for ex-service personnel. I understand that the cost of the buildings to the Commonwealth in the immediate post-war period was £1,000.000 - at to-day’s values, it would be many times that amount - and that the value of the plant and equipment was in the neighbourhood of £500,000. I am delighted that the Commonwealth Government has seen fit to waive its claims to the removal of these buildings or to payment for them. It has imposed some minor conditions as a result of handing over the buildings without charge. But that is an important contribution to the universities of Australia, and the Opposition is delighted to see that the Government has taken that step. 1 was a little concerned, when 1 first read the measure, to see clause 13, which sets out the functions of the Australian Universities Commission. I felt it might be too narrow, because it imposes upon the commission the obligation to furnish information and advice to the Minister on matters in connexion with the grant by the Commonwealth of financial assistance to universities established by the Commonwealth and of financial assistance to the States in relation to universities. That seemed to me to fix too much attention upon the purely financial aspect of the provision of funds. I thought it might be construed to prevent the commission from giving proper consideration to other aspects of the matter with which I dealt earlier this evening - from dealing with the need for new universities at places remote from the capital cities where, for the most part, they are concentrated to-day. 1 was relieved to find that clause 14 amplified the earlier provision. Clause 14(1.) provides -
The Commission shall perform its functions with a view to promoting the balanced development of universities so that their resources can be used to the greatest possible advantage of Australia.
I think that a combination of the two clauses will give to the commission an ample charter to do all the things which 1 am sure everybody in the Parliament would feel it should be authorized and willing to do. An enormous responsibility is thrown upon this body. The Education Bill contains purely consequential alterations which flow from the measure we are considering at the moment. I feel that at this stage I need not say anything more about that bill.
On behalf of the Opposition, I wish the new Australian Universities Commission well. I wish it every success. I repeat that that success will depend upon its own competence and firmness. I hope its work will be facilitated by the State Governments and the various universities, because all those bodies are entitled to give the commission their fullest co-operation. The national interest is involved in the highest way. I trust the commission will quickly establish itself as a responsible and trusted instrument of this Parliament and as a friend, if at times a critical friend, of the universities of Australia. It is my hope that in the near future the commission will establish itself on the same firm basis of confidence and trust as has the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which deals with the important matter of Commonwealth and State financial relations. I conclude, Mr. Deputy President, by indicating that the Opposition very warmly supports the measure.
.- The bill now before us, which is supported by the Opposition, marks a very great step forward in the financial assistance that is being given to the universities of Australia. That fact, I think, was admitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and is admitted by the Opposition as a whole.
Having listened to the speech of Senator McKenna in commendation of the bill, I have a recollection of only one minor criticism which he levelled at the measure. I should like to deal with that criticism before I deal with matters on which we are both agreed. It was levelled against the action of the Government in departing from the recommendation of the Murray committee that the Australian Universities Commission should consist of a chairman and seven members. The Leader of the Opposition thought it right to ask why it had been decided to provide that the commission should consist of no fewer than two nor more than four members besides the chairman.
The short answer to the question is that, after consultation with the chairman-elect of the proposed commission, it was felt that the commission would be able to work better if it were to consist of a chairman and not fewer than two nor more than four members assisted, as is provided in clause 17, by sub-committees appointed to deal with special matters referred to them by the commission. It was felt that that arrangement would provide for more flexibility and would provide the opportunity to bring in a rather wider range of advice in a larger number of fields than was originally recommended by the Murray committee. Since this commission is being set up de novo, I think that the views of the chairman on that matter, running, as they seem to me, on all fours with commonsense, are views which must command a great deal of attention and must be allowed to be worked out in practice.
I should like to traverse to some extent the ground that the Leader of the Opposition has already covered, but perhaps in a little more detail. We should all realize, Sir, that before and during the last war there were, with the exceptions I shall mention in a moment, no Commonwealth grants to assist the universities of Australia, or to assist the States for the specific purpose of helping the universities. Such grants as were given were for special research projects. They were not given at all for the capital requirements of a university in the way of buildings or equipment, or for the recurrent expenses in the way of teaching, maintaining students or paying the salaries of members of the faculties. After the war, with the sudden tremendous influx of exservicemen who had deferred their education, combined with the students who had reached matriculation during that time, the universities found themselves faced with an immense increase in student population, an increase largely brought about by the Commonwealth because of its very proper action in assisting ex-servicemen through a university education.
It was felt, I believe, that because the Commonwealth had contributed to such a large increase in the university population, the Commonwealth had a responsibility to help the States and the universities to cope with these greatly increased tasks. So, under the Commonwealth reconstruction trainins scheme, assistance was given to the universities in two ways: First, by the construction of buildings and the equipping of buildings for purposes of education, and secondly, by making grants for the purposes of recurrent expenditure in the payment of members of faculties and the training of students. Those grants made by the Commonwealth for recurrent expenditure were made on the basis that for every £3 which the universities received from State grants and their own fees combined, the Commonwealth would contribute £1. That assistance continued during the currency of the Com.monwealth reconstruction training scheme i’n,:l. on 30th June, 1950, that scheme fnished The universities then found them.selves without the assistance to which they had become accustomed. They very rapidly discovered that the withdrawal of the assistance to which they had become used placed them in a position of considerable difficulty.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, there was an inquiry into that matter, and in 1951 a new universities grants body was established by this Parliament. By retrospective legislation, dating back to 1st July, 1950, the same conditions as had prevailed under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme were applied to the universities. In other words, they were still provided by the Commonwealth with £1 for every £3 which they raised by a combination of their fees and State grants. That remained the position from 1951 up to the time of the Murray report, which recommended action in the terms of the bill with which we are dealing to-night.
At the time that the Murray committee investigated the universities, as I think the Leader of the Opposition has said, grants made by the Commonwealth were running at the rate of about £2,300,000 a year. Suddenly the Murray committee recommended, and this Government accepted the recommendation, that for the three years 1958, 1959 and 1960 a sum approximating £22,000,000 should be made available. Instead of the assistance to the universities running on at the rate of £2,300,000 for the next three years, which would have been a total of about £7,000,000, it was recommended that there should be made available to them approximately £22,000,000. That recommendation, Mr. Deputy President, was not only an advance, but a new conception of the role which the Commonwealth Government could play in assisting universities to provide the sort of people that Australia needs. Regarded purely from the point of view of financial assistance, it was a gigantic step forward.
I think that about £9,000,000 of that sum of £22,000,000 was to be made available for recurrent expenditure, such as the payment of faculty members, tuition of students, and so on, on the old basis of £1 for every £3 raised by the universities from State grants or from fees. About £9,000.000 was to be made available on a £1-for £1 basis for new equipment and capital construction, the buildings being scheduled in the bill which brought this new act into being. Some £4,500,000 of the £22,000,000 was what is called an emergency grant, made to enable the universities to catch up from the financial position into which they had drifted, to become solvent again and to remove their past worries.
The bill that is before us now aims to establish an Australian universities commission. The commission will not recommend grants for the years 1958, 1959 and 1960, which have been covered by money granted in the way I have already mentioned, but will advise how much money should be made available after 1960 from the Commonwealth to the universities, and the periods of time over which that money should be made available. The Murray committee stated that a university needed to know for some years ahead, if possible, what its income was going to be. This commission will be in a position to advise the Government, let us say, that university A should receive so much per year for the next three years and that university B should receive so much per year. In that way the commission, composed as it will be of both academic people and people with a practical background, will be able, by the reports on those subjects which it will present to the Prime Minister - reports which the bill requires will ultimately be laid before the Parliament - to give an independent opinion to the Parliament of what should be done to help the universities. In that way this commission will, to some degree, take education out of the political arena and, in some way, make it more independent. It will help to preserve the independence and autonomy of the universities and assist them to gain funds which they require for their proper purposes of education.
The related bill that has come in with this measure changes the name of the former Universities Commission purely as a matter of administrative convenience. Previously, the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme was administered by a body called the Universities Commission, which was a part of the Office of Education. That previous Universities Commission which is to be renamed the Commonwealth Scholarships Board will continue to do precisely the same work it used to do and will continue to be a part of the Office of Education, but will lose its name, so that that name translated to the Australian Universities Com mission can be given to a body which deserves it more because it is more concerned with universities than with the granting of scholarships to people who go to universities. What the commission will do, I hope and trust, will not be limited to advising on the provision of finance for universities through the States. It is clearly envisaged in the bill before us that it will be concerned not only with the amount of money which shall be made available, but also with the co-ordination - if I may put it that way - of Australian education; that it will see that there is not in every State a particular school which, because there is only a small demand in every State for that school, would be expensive and probably less efficient, but rather if there is a limited demand in Australia for some particular school or schools, that school, or those schools, should be put in universities where, because of the number of students who come there from all over Australia, the best facilities can be provided most cheaply and the best teachers can be provided most cheaply. It would be concerned, I hope, in such matters as deciding or, at least, in consultation with the universities in the State, advising whether there should not be in university “ A “ or university “ X “ a School of Oriental Studies, to which some specific amount of the moneys to be disbursed should go; whether there is in some particular field in Australia a shortage of graduates, and therefore the buildings designed and the faculties designed to produce those graduates should be helped more than faculties which are producing graduates of which there is no shortage.
All these matters, obviously greatly relevant to the effective running of an education system would, I believe, be within the purview of this commission, acting always with the consultation of the universities themselves and of the States in which those universities find themselves. I would hope - and this, I suppose, is a personal opinion - that a commission of this kind would help to correct in the public mind some of what I think is the nonsense now spoken as to education and, in particular, as to university education. There has been great outcry for some years now on the matter of scientists and on the matter of the shortage of scientists. It seems to me that a commission of this kind, concerned with education rather than with scientists, could well help people to understand that there is no reason whatever to imagine that a scientist per se is an educated man. lt could well draw a distinction between technicians who must be scientists and those scientists who have the technical capacity that is required, but in addition have been given by universities through education the ability not only to carry out technical experiments, but also to make those great unexplained leaps from given scientific data which an educated man and a scientist can make to find some new hitherto unthought of concept in the way Einstein found it or in the way great scientific discoveries have been found.
I believe that if this commission functions as it should, and if the universities get the assistance 1 think they will get from it, it will enable us to draw that distinction between the uneducated scientist and the educated man who happens to be a scientist and who is no different from the educated man who happens to be a lawyer, a publicist or a historian or whatever it may be. I believe that this could open up a new era in the educational history of Australia. Whether it does or not will very largely depend on the personnel of the commission, on the amount of co-operation which it can get from the university staffs themselves and from the State governments. Certainly this bill, when it becomes an act, will provide the sinews of war - the money needed for buildings, for equipment, for proper salaries for the faculties of universities. If the commission does its job as I believe it will, it will also I think enable those sinews of war to be used in such a way that we will get in all faculties properly educated people, and that we will not have people - there are a few - prevented from becoming educated from lack of money. If that does come about, as I think it will, then I would suggest that this bill deserves the support which the Opposition is according to it, and that the unanimous vote of this Parliament, as I assume it will be a unanimous vote, will lead in this field to great benefit for Australia - not only for ourselves, for these things take time, but for those who follow us. For that reason, I feel proud indeed to be a member of the Government which is presenting this bill to the Senate.
.- Mr. Deputy President, to-night we have before us a bill the main purpose of which is to appoint a commission which will inform and advise the Government on matters connected with the granting of financial assistance to the universities for their various purposes. That provision is contained in clause 13 of the bill. All honorable senators are aware that in Australia some universities have been established by the States, whereas the Commonwealth has established the Australian National University, and the Canberra University College. The State universities have functioned for many years. The Commonwealth grant will go direct to the States, and the obligation will then be upon the States to spend the money to the very best advantage. The commission’s duties will not end at informing and advising the Government of the States’ financial requirements for university purposes. It will have to keep itself up to date with the work that is being done by the universities, ascertain whether any shortage of staff exists, and know the structural condition of the universities and other matters related directly to the universities themselves.
Most honorable senators, no doubt, have studied the report of the Murray committee, which was appointed in 1956 to investigate several matters associated with universities. In order to furnish a comprehensive report, the committee set out to ascertain the role of the university in the Australian community. That is the special function of any committee of experts that may be appointed. The committee should be in a position to answer any question asked by the citizens of the Commonwealth. The ordinary Australian citizen walking along the street and seeing a building in the course of construction knows immediately that an architect has designed the building and that structural engineers, quantity surveyors, draftsmen and other men who have had university educations have been employed on their various duties before the building assumes any shape at all. The ordinary Australian citizen walking along the street and seeing roads being levelled or bridges being constructed knows immediately that a civil engineer has been employed by some authority to prepare the plans and supervise the work. The ordinary Australian citizen walking along the street and seeing a hospital knows immediately that medical officers are engaged in that institution. Realizing, also, that our population has increased considerably over recent years, the ordinary Australian citizen knows that many more doctors will be required in the future. Everywhere that one travels in the Commonwealth one sees evidence of the role that the university is playing in the Australian community. The university must continue in that role in the future.
The committee applied itself also to the matter of the extension and co-ordination of university facilities. The report of the committee disclosed that a shocking state of affairs existed in the majority of the universities in Australia. It found that the buildings were inadequate; major repairs were required in nearly all universities; some institutions were under-staffed, and generally no action was being taken to remedy the position. This legislation will go far towards co-ordinating the facilities of universities not only within the institutions themselves, but also as between universities.
Technological education at university level was another matter that engaged the attention of the committee. Some States support their own technological institutions and the committee, in investigating all matters associated with universities, naturally turned its attention to technological education at university level.
The committee also considered the financial needs of universities and appropriate means of providing for those needs. It found as a fact that the universities require a considerable amount of financial assistance. The committee decided that the money should be provided by the Commonwealth, upon request from the States, and that the States should then carry out all the works necessary to bring the universities to the desired standard. The committee stated -
We have also devoted particular attention to the question of the machinery that might be devised to ensure that, in the development of university activities, existing resources are used adequately and needless duplication does noi occur. We have also given some consideration to the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme.
The report of the committee was very comprehensive, and showed that the committee conducted an exhaustive inquiry into universities generally. On the subject of financial assistance to universities, honorable senators may be interested to learn that 75 per cent, of the expenditure incurred by the universities in the Commonwealth is met by direct grants by the Commonwealth to the States, which then have the obligation to apply the grants to the universities. In reality, the people of the Commonwealth are providing the universities with the means to discharge their functions. About 15 per cent, of the total expenditure incurred by the universities is met by students’ fees, and the remaining 10 per cent, comes from gifts and endowments. That information is very interesting because the bill before us relates to the establishment of a commission to inform and advise the Government on grants to be made to the universities in the future. The amount of money now being devoted to this purpose is quite large, and it will increase considerably in the future. The sum of £20,000,000 was mentioned by one honorable senator, but a greater sum than that will be necessary to bring the universities to the proper standard. Because the amount of money involved is so great, and because a high percentage must come from the Commonwealth, we must concern ourselves with the functions of the proposed commission The Murray committee, at page seven of its report, stated -
Inevitably the first question which presented itself for our consideration was, “What is the role of the university, as such and without regard to ra?e or nation, in its community? “
The report continues -
Universities have a long history, and though superficially they have suffered changes, their purpose and way of life have remained, and still remain, essentially the same. It is in the light of what is of unchangeable value in their work and nature that we have sought to base our judgments of the achievements and problems of the Australian universities to-day.
One of the matters upon which the committee reported was the shortage of equipment in some of the new buildings. It is almost inconceivable to us that the universities have been able to function at all if they were short of equipment. Another matter to which the committee had to give consideration was the growth of industry in the Commonwealth. We know how the economy ot the Commonwealth has expanded since the termination of World War IT., and wc must appreciate that it is essential for the Commonwealth Government, as the leading government in Australia, to provide for the future. We also know that the industries now nourishing in the Commonwealth must have mechanical engineers and expert staff to carry out the work that is necessary to be done. Further, we have a measure of automation in industry at present. Here again engineers and scientists are required: Then we have the incessant work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Under that organization, science is being placed on the side ot the man on the land, and we must have some means of training expert staff within the Commonwealth to meet future requirements.
It is of interest to note where the principal universities of the various States are situated. The principal university in New South Wales, the University of Sydney, was founded in 1870, and it had an enrolment of 8,318 students in 1957. The principal university in Victoria is situated in Melbourne. It was founded in 1853, and in 1957 it had an enrolment of 7,908 students. The principal university in South Australia is situated in Adelaide. It was founded in 1874, and it had an enrolment of 4,317 in 1957. The principal university in Queensland is situated in Brisbane. It was founded in 1909, and in 1957 its enrolment totalled 5,709 students. The principal university in Western Australia is situated in Perth. It was founded in 1911, and it had only 2,356 students enrolled in 1957. The committee found that although the university buildings were in need of major repairs, the States in which they were situated had no funds available for this necessary work; and the recommendation of the committee that £1,000,000 be made available to have these buildings repaired and brought up to a proper standard was only what one might expect from a committee that had the capacity to carry out such an investigation.
Another matter upon which the committee reported related to the staffs of th: universities. It said -
We had hoped to find the universities adequately staffed and equipped to discharge their existing responsibilities to the student bodies of the nation, but this is unfortunately far from the case and we have devoted the next three chapters to a survey of the problems which seemed to us to call for special consideration. In this chapter, we deal with two educational problems under the heads: undergraduate education, and honours, post-graduate training and research. 1 do not propose to read every chapter of. the report; but that was a deliberate finding of the committee, and it is rather interesting to be dealing now with a matter similar to that with which we dealt last week. The committee stated in its report -
Probably of little less importance than the salary in the mind of an intending applicant for a university post is the question of the adequacy of the provision for superannuation. It is now an accepted principle of good administration that suitable provision be made for the financial security ot » staff member on his retirement, and of his wife and family in the event of his death.
The conditions governing superannuation payments differ very greatly from university to university: a factor which militates against movement of academic staff between universities.
I need say nothing further about that subject for my audience to understand the difficulties which did exist with regard to staff throughout the Commonwealth.
We have indicated from this side of the Senate that we give the legislation our blessing, but I cannot allow the Commonwealth Office of Education to be deprived of any of the duties it has carried out hitherto without saying a word or two of commendation of the manner in which it has fulfilled its functions in the past. The Commonwealth Office of Education has had various duties to perform in connexion with the universities of Australia over past years. It also had other very important duties to fulfil. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) outlined the functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education to-night, and I do not propose to go over them again. The Education Act of 1945 established another Commonwealth instrumentality concerned with education - the Universities Commission. It is perhaps worthy of mention at this stage that although there still is a Commonwealth Office of Education it has never controlled any education service. To illustrate my point, I mention that the Commonwealth Government controls education in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. The teachers for the Northern Territory are recruited from the South Australian State teaching service and paid by the Commonwealth Government whilst the teachers employed in the Australian Capital Territory are recruited from the New South Wales State teaching service.
There are many people in the community who are not aware of the work which has been carried out in the past by the Commonwealth Office of Education, and I propose telling them of some of the very important things that office has done in the past. For instance, we have had some hundreds of thousands of immigrants from foreign countries. It was most essential that those immigrants be taught the English language so that they might be readily assimilated into our way of life. The Commonwealth Office of Education established the organization which gave those immigrants the necessary education. 1 mention this because the bill under consideration, in addition to setting up the Australian Universities Commission, will effect some amendments to the Education Act.
The Commonwealth Office of Education has also done worthwhile work in other fields. It has been closely associated with the Department of External Affairs in attending to the requirements of the students who have come here from Asia. The Commonwealth Office of Education has done all the administrative work associated with the admission of these students to the universities. If the students came here under scholarship schemes, the Office of Education saw to it that they were paid the sums to which they were entitled. It also assisted students to obtain accommodation and overcome other problems that faced them. It took the students in hand and acted as a good father to them. Furthermore, the Office of Education has been associated with the recommending of grants by the Treasury for certain purposes. Some of its publications are “ English for Newcomers to Australia “, “ English on the Way “, “ English, a New Language “, and “ I Can Read English “. All those books, prepared by the Office of Education, are passed on to migrants to assist them to learn the English language.
The Opposition supports the legislation. We consider that this is one of the best pieces of legislation that has come to this chamber for quite a while. In saying that, I point out that there was a time in the history of the Australian Labour Party when it did not give serious consideration to universities or to those who attended them. It regarded education at universities as something that was the privilege only of the well-to-do people in the community. However, we have now reached the very impor tant stage in our national life when the children of people receiving low incomes find that it is possible for them, by using the Commonwealth scholarship scheme, not only to go through primary and secondary schools, but also to pass on to universities. As we have a scheme which permits the bright juveniles of Australia to go on to a university and equip themselves for professional work, a bill such as this is worthy of the support of every citizen.
– I welcome the unanimity with which this measure has been received, and before I finish my remarks I may have tosay something critical so that this will not be merely a mutual approval society. I support this legislation, because I think the changes proposed by the two bills are necessary. I think that the commission working under the Office of Education, which looks after scholarships, should be renamed. I welcome the proposed method of allotting money to the universities. It has been found to be successful in the United Kingdom, and we must at least try it here. I am sure that other methods of seeing that public money is well spent, such as you might employ in the Public Service or even in relation to education at different levels, would be quite useless and inapplicable within the universities.
The details of the legislation having been fully explained, I will not go further into that matter. The duties of the commission are not defined too closely, and I think it is right that they should not be, because the object of the legislation is to establish a commission consisting of men who understand the purposes of a university, who know the various universities of the Commonwealth, and who will be able to say whether a particular university is worthy of support. At the present moment, I think we should be content to vote the money and accept the advice of these people. That does not mean that we abdicate our power. In the long history of English universities, it has been found necessary for governmentsto intervene at long intervals, but the governments of the United Kingdom havenever attempted to control or follow the work done in the universities. When it was. found that a change of method was necessary, an act was passed - usually after a Royal Commission or some other inquiry - specifying a method of reforming the university, which was then left alone as an autonomous body.
– Have acts been passed?
– There were acts passed in the nineteenth century, but I cannot quote them at the moment. I think the Gladstone Government in the 1860’s sponsored legislation to reform the old universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
The functions of this commission are to advise the Government as to the distribution of money and, as Senator Gorton has explained, where a certain course is needed, but it would not be economical for every university to have it, to recommend which university should be selected. That is a very real question at the present time. Finally, the commission has the duty of ensuring that proper standards are maintained. That can be done only in indirect ways. I happen to know education at various levels. Although it is, I am afraid, necessary to have visits by inspectors and other methods of maintaining standards in primary and secondary schools, I never found the process of inspection one that helped me as a teacher. 1 found it continually annoying. It would be completely intolerable in a university. When I was a secondary school inspector, I found the position so unattractive that I asked to be moved to another position where I could teach instead of impeding other people who were trying to teach.
I instance one study to which Senator Gorton referred. It is one in which I have a great interest, and honorable senators may remember that I mentioned it last night in connexion with another bill. It is the subject of oriental studies. The provision of such a course of study is an immediate necessity, but it must be undertaken by people of great experience and of great knowledge. I would say that at this very moment one important consideration is where the first effective school of oriental studies should be set up. Only on Monday 1 was talking this matter over with some gentlemen who are interested in it. One university has a claim because it already has incipient studies of that sort, although not anything like the complete studies that are necessary. The National Capital certainly has a claim, because here we are close to the centre of government and many people here would profit by such studies. However, I would not even hint whether 1 think a university in one of the capital cities, a university here, or even one of the provincial universities such as the New England University would be the best to choose. That is properly the function of this proposed commission. Honorable senators will realize the grave responsibilities we are imposing on the commission when we ask it to advise us about these things.
Although this rationalizing of studies, as we call it, must go on because the cost of equipment is so great, I hope that there will be no university anywhere in Australia which will not cater for what were considered the traditional studies of an old university - what we refer to as the humanities? I hope it will never be necessary for a student to go to another State if he wishes to study, say, Greek - a subject which very few students take, but which those who do take it find to be one of the most fascinating, interesting and useful studies. I think, Sir, it is well to understand the nature of universities. A university is not the creation of the State, or of any other body. The universities of the Middle Ages grew up naturally. The word university comes from a Latin word “ universalis “, which simply means a guild, association or trade union - though not in the modern sense of the word. The universities of France, England, Scotland, Germany and Italy in the Middle Ages - from the twelfth century onwards - were, with perhaps a few exceptions, guilds or associations of teachers. The individual teachers went out first and taught their subjects. They had, of course, really originated in the church schools, later becoming independent. In order to get their fees, and protect themselves from the students, who were a very fierce body in those days, they formed guilds. At one university in Italy, where law was the major subject, a guild of students employed the teachers, and disciplined them very severely. One could expect that from legal students, I suppose. That was the origin of the universities. The great institutions of Paris, Oxford, Cambridge and, 1 think, St. Andrews in Scotland, all began in that way For that reason, I look at the money being allocated to the universities from a somewhat different angle from that favoured by Senator McKenna.
I believe that education is mainly a State function, but that university education is neither a State nor a Commonwealth function. lt is a function of the university itself, as a separate corporate body, and I could wish that the private endowments of universities were much greater than they are. I wish that universities did not have to lean so heavily upon State or Commonwealth governments. As for the Commonwealth’s justification for helping the universities, its power to vote money and grant scholarships derives from the Constitution. For doing that we need not apologize. We are not encroaching on State rights. We are not taking over the whole field. The autonomy of the university itself is to me the most important thing of all. I hope that the wells of charity will never dry up, and perhaps when the Budget papers come before us I shall indicate some of the ways in which governments might encourage private individuals to give their money to universities.
Sydney University was given a new lease of life by the Challis bequest back in the eighties. The chairs from which I derived most benefit were endowed by that bequest, and owed nothing to governments. Unfortunately, because of the shrinking value of money, universities - in common with every other body - have become more and more dependent on the governments; but I hope that this Parliament will never try to establish the principle that a university is the mere creature of the State or the Commonwealth. Autonomy means that the responsibility for directing studies and for imposing discipline, where necessary, rests on the university itself as a corporate body, subject to the State only in the way that every institution is subject to it under the law of the land. T believe that there was a time in the United States of America - the period to which I referred last night - when wealthy men endowed universities on the express condition that they should teach in a certain way. Happily those days have “one for ever. Certainly, the great American universities would never submit to that kind of dictation. Government dictation would be just as undesirable.
There is some danger in this ready acceptance of the university as being completely desirable. I think that it would be wrong to say that every educational establishment at what we call the tertiary level should be called a university. 1 do not mean to say that the term “ university “ should be confined to those institutions which retain the traditional subjects. 1 do not say that it is wrong to have a university of technology, but such a university must be different from an ordinary technical college or training school. There should be something in the spirit of its teaching that is different from the mere mechanical learning of an art or craft. The same applies to science. 1 listened carefully to what Senator Gorton said about scientific training. Scientific training that neglects all other values and studies, that says arrogantly that the physical sciences teach us all that we can know or need to know about this universe, is quite contrary to the spirit of a university. There have been great scientists who have repudiated that doctrine. The men who really established the physical sciences in England in the nineteenth century were great men, trained in the old classical tradition. The greatest scientific teacher I ever knew, the late Sir Edgeworth David, was steeped in the humanities and in all the traditional values that go with the old university life.
To-day, unfortunately, there are so many studies to undertake, and courses are becoming so hard, that more and more people are specializing. That presents a great problem, which only the individual can solve. Our universities of technology try to avoid it by setting up courses offering studies in literature, history and other matters. The Massachusetts Institute is one of the greatest technical institutions in the world. It does not call itself a university. Some years ago, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities there, a very learned and interesting man, visited this country. In that great institute, whose main purpose was offering training in engineering and practical matters of all kinds, he was keeping alight the old flame of knowledge for its own sake, which is, I think, the very essence of a university.
– The head of the Massachusetts Institute is an Australian.
– I am very interested to learn that. I should like to offer another word of warning. I was rather surprised to hear Senator Benn say that there was a time when the Labour movement did not regard university education as something that belonged to every one who could find his way there, and who was prepared to work. In New South Wales, as far back as I can remember - to my boyhood days - that was not Labour’s attitude. The McGowen-Holman Government, between 191 J and 1913, gave a great stimulus to Sydney University by increasing the number of bursaries. Every member of the then Labour Cabinet - men like Holman and Beeby - always insisted that a university education was not the privilege of a few who might have wealthy parents.
However, I hope that we will not accept the doctrine that the only kind of education worth having is a university education, or even that there is truth in the rather subtly stated phrase that any one capable of absorbing a university education should go to a university. It would be deplorable if that ever happened, because some of the finest minds have owed nothing directly to universities, except perhaps that some of the books they read were written by university men.
It is a curious fact that many of the greatest writers in our English language have been university-trained men; but the very greatest was not. William Shakespeare never studied at a university, and I think that I know enough about the plays of Shakespeare to be able to convince others that they were indeed written by the actor and not by Bacon or any one else. Burns, of course, never saw a university, nor did Bunyan or Dickens. The strange fact abo it politics is that the greater number of Britain’s great statesmen have been university men, but among the very greatest have been some who were not. We recall at once Disraeli, Lloyd George and Churchill.
In this country we have men who have educated themselves in their own way without much help, except the right and the opportunity to read books. Only a week or two ago, I was discussing this problem at the Australian National University with one of the most learned and most sensible men there. We mentioned names well known to us nil. including Henry Parkes and Ben Chifley. This man said to me, “ I think it would be a pity if we got all the bright boys in their middle school years and sent them through a university, because many of them would be better if they did not go through a university”.
I owe too much to a university even to attempt to underestimate the value of universities. I think a university is of inestimable value to those who know how to profit by it. What we need to remember about a university is that all that attendance and the passing of examinations mean is that a person has been exposed for a number of years to certain influences which may make him an educated man but which do not do so in all cases. I have known persons who could pass examinations successfully and who could get many degrees but who betray in almost everything they do the fact that they are not in any sense educated men. I thought that little note of criticism should be entered, because the Senate should not sing a paean of praise for every bill that is presented. When I hear the Leader of the Opposition rise in his place and say that the Opposition will not oppose a measure, I immediately reconsider my own thoughts and say, “ There must be something in it that needs criticism “. I have tried to do that on this occasion. I think the Leader of the Opposition is quite right to-night, but I think there might easily be conveyed to other people the misunderstanding that a university education is the only form of education that counts and is the only one that is good.
I think, too, that we should ask ourselves, since we are asked to appropriate public money, what we expect from the Australian universities. What can they give us? I place first the scholars, the learned men, the men who know their subject, whatever it is. It is of enormous value to any country to have a man who really understands the particular study for which he is responsible, who has a capacious mind, and who has something that is rarer - wisdom.
– Would you say that he alone was learned?
– I have just deliberately said, Mr. President - indeed it has been the whole tenor of my speech - that not all people at universities are learned, that not all are educated. In the teeth of, shall we say, the criticism and adverse statements that have been made, I place great politicians second in what the universities can give us. I have already said that I hope that not all who make our laws will be university men. That would be an intolerable state of affairs. But it should be the function of a university to train men for the great art of government. That is one of the greatest of all arts. It is not just a method of trickery.
– Why does the honorable senator say that?
– I say that because I have studied the politics of many countries and have seen both the folly and the wisdom of men who govern. I say that governing is a great art, particularly if it is government as we have it here - government in the light of public opinion. I think it is even an art if it is accomplished by violence. Even the dictators must have some great qualities. But our form of government is to do without violence and to use persuasion - persuasion of the public, persuasion of our fellows - and to know the right time to introduce a great measure. The university man, if he has had a proper Liberal education, should be the type of man who could do that, and many have done it.
Perhaps I should quote some words from Bacon. He has said -
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.
That is a quaint old idiom, but I think the meaning is quite clear even in our modern times. In one of his essays, which is full of wisdom, he said of studies -
Their chief use …. for ability is in the judgment and disposition of business. For expert men-
By that he meant practical men - can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned.
One of the aims of our universities should be to turn out men who are capable of carrying on the great art of government.
Of course, with the men who make the laws we place our public servants. I think one of the great advantages of the British Public Service and of the Indian Public Service, which has vanished with the winds, was that they had an exacting system of testing the education of their men. They demanded, first, a university degree of a high standard and then certain examinations which compelled those leading public servants to prove their worth. If one knew the full history of the British Public Service, one would find that many of the men who were responsible for the administration of the old British Empire and of the United Kingdom, and even for the suggestion and the bringing in of laws, were obscure men of whom we have never heard. Their work was done in their offices. Sometimes, it was done by university men and sometimes by men of another sort. But it was the original training they had at the university which made them great administrators.
We need educated men in industry. We certainly need them in the teaching profession. There grew up some years ago in New South Wales, and I think everywhere else, the idea that teacher training was a very good thing, that you taught people the craft of training, but that it did not matter much about their general education. It was my duty for some years to be engaged in the training of teachers. I can recall very well a magnificent lesson that was given by a young lady student. When she had finished I said “ That was a wonderful lesson. It was beautifully planned and wonderfully given. You taught those children very well, but unfortunately what you taught them was quite wrong.” 1 believe that a sound education of the teacher himself is infinitely more important than learning what might be called the little knacks of the trade. I am convinced that a soundly educated man cannot help becoming a good teacher if he has the other dispositions which make a teacher. I have never paid much attention to what is called method.
Some honorable members in the other place, and I think Senator McKenna, spoke about primary and secondary education. What is proposed in this measure will help primary and secondary education enormously if it gives us educated teachers. For two and a half centuries Scotland had perhaps the most highly educated teachers in the world. The ordinary village schoolmaster was a Master of Arts. That was no’ the exception; it was the rule. Some people say that the ordinary, elementary teacher, and even the secondary teacher, does not need to know too much; that he just needs to know what he teaches. A person who knows only what he teaches does not really know sufficient. He ought to know much more than that. He ought to know the rather simple things, which he can pass on to his pupils against a background and for that, a sound education is necessary.
Of course, we need educated people for research, for engineering, and for many other avenues of life which are constantly opening up. I approve of the bill, Sir, and I support it. I hope that this commission will lead to the growth of our universities, to the establishment of new universities, and to the introduction of new courses that are necessary for the new place that we are taking in the world. My opinion of a really educated university man, I say again, is one who, to the peculiar discipline that he studies at his university, unites the lessons that can come only from life itself. I conclude by again quoting Bacon -
Crafty men contemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them: for they leach not their own use: but that is a wisdom without them and above them, won by observation.
– The Opposition supports this bill because it sees in the measure some prospect of advancing our educational standards and of providing assistance for our universities. We on this side of the chamber do not by any means consider that this legislation is a full answer to the demand for advanced education and improved educational standards that this young, growing nation requires, but nevertheless it is an advance. Both major parties of the Parliament, and also, I think, the minor parties, regard it as the first step to get into line with the recommendations of the Murray committee. Therefore, it is acceptable and commendable. Nevertheless, I find in it the inherent approach by this Government to education; that is to say, that the problems of education are largely financial. Precedent indicates, as other speakers have stated, that such an approach can lead to the point where education in a country exists only to the extent to which the government is prepared to assist it financially, to enforce it or to encourage it. I think that that approach is not a good one for the nation.
We of the Australian Labour Party, after Australia emerged from the rigours of war, realized that probably the place of education would be fourth in importance in the community, after moral standards, physical standards and family standards. We placed education in fourth position, a high-ranking position, in the belief that on those four standards to which I have referred the full national strength of the country would grow. We believed, too, that education should be available to al! Australian citizens; that is to say, education to the point that the intelligence of the scholar merited. I think that that is a very important point, because from an examination of university results and the products of universities, we have often seen the sad spectacle of persons who had been educated beyond the stage that their intelligence warranted. Simply because they had an academic qualification, they were able to set standards for the nation and to express opinions which were accented because they came from people with diplomas.
The bill proposes to establish an Australian Universities Commission. I note that the bill provides, in clause 7, that - (1.) A member other than an acting member shall be raid such remuneration and allowances as the Governor-General determines. (2.) An acting member shall be paid such remuneration and allowances as the Minister determine?.
I hope that efficient persons will be appointed to the commission, and that their remuneration will be adequate to encourage them to serve in a worth-while way. T believe that efficiency is always well worth its cost, and that inefficiency is always expensive. If we are parsimonious, and do not pay sufficient remuneration to encourage those appointed to the commission to do their job competently, this legislation will be largely wasted. The commission will have a very onerous task placed before it. It will have a great moral responsibility to the nation and to the Parliament to see to it that the money that we expend on education yields beneficial results and a higher national standard in education and citizenship.
I have heard a great deal spoken about universities and education in this country, tout when this question is boiled down to essentials, it seems that our educational standard is that which the Government is prepared to finance, plus what vested interests are prepared to encourage. Added to that is the real value, fast going from our community, of the support that generous, public-spirited people, by virtue of their interest in national standards, are prepared to afford to improve moral standards, scientific standard’s, and, in fact, every standard in the community. In doing so, they are prepared to sacrifice both money and time. If the standard of education is to depend on the amount of financial assistance that the Government is prepared to give to education, plus the degree of encouragement that vested interests are prepared1 to afford, I think we shall have a very lop-sided approach to education, and the individuals coming from our schools and universities also will be lop-sided.
Although we congratulate ourselves and say smugly that we are doing a lot to improve educational standards, it is apparent, when we put aside our ego, that we are only doing what we have to do at this stage, because we are ashamed of the conditions that previously existed. We must, in all honesty, say that we are not doing enough. Countries which acknowledge ideologies that we think might be defeating our ideology, are encouraging education, from the primary standard to the highest standard, much more efficiently and earnestly, and with greater sacrifice, than we are at the present time.
I should like now to refer to Chapter VI of the Murray committee’s report, which deals with the expected increase in university enrolments. Paragraph 295 reads -
The feature of this increase which is particularly significant for the schools and universities is the relatively rapid growth of the younger age groups. The following table indicates the percentage increase in these different groups from 1947 to 1967. The most significant group from the point of view of the universities is, of course, the 15 to 19 age range. Between 1947 and 1952 the percentage in the 15-19 age group actually declined as the result of the low birth-rate in the 1930’s-
That was the depression period - but this relative drop changed into an overall increase of 16.4 per cent, between 1952 and 1957. Between now and 1962 an even greater relative increase of 36.4 per cent, is indicated.
With the leave of the Senate, I incorporate the following table in “ Hansard “. It is included in the report at that point -
This table indicates where our responsibility lies in the matter. I should say that the estimated increase between now and 1962 has been calculated on the basis of the number of students in the fifteen to nineteen years age group who have gone forward to the universities in past years. Account has been taken only of the increase in population brought about by our better living standards. I contend that unless we do much more than we are at present doing we shall not meet the situation. And that applies not only to university education but also to the education of the young up to junior university standard, or the intermediate standard as it is called in some States, and up to matriculation standard.
We point with pride to the fact that many brilliant students have been able, with the assistance of university grants and scholarships - these were introduced by the Chifley Government - to graduate with high distinction, according to world standards. But there is an unhappy side of the picture. When many brilliant young university graduates emerge from the universities, they find that there are relatively few suitable positions available to them in Australia. I know of one instance in which a graduate in engineering was offered a position in the plant yard of a local government authority. Ultimately, that young man left Australia and obtained an excellent post overseas, where both his educational attainments and his capacity were appreciated. Therefore, in addition to raising the standards of our universities - I think they should be raised more than it is in the Government’s mind to raise them by this bill - a very important national responsibility rests on the Government to ensure that brilliant young, university graduates are provided with positions in which they can further the development of this country or engage in advanced research.
I was pleased to hear Senator McCallum say that many positions in the Public Service are available to university graduates. Of course, that is excellent. As we know, it can be rightly said that in some instances public men in Britain rely on the brains of a university graduate in the Public Service; in effect, a man in that position is the veneer of a well-educated public servant. It is true, as was stated recently, that very many of Australia’s well educated public servants receive salaries less than that paid to a first-class police constable. So, we come to this position: Provision is being made to educate our young people, but not to absorb them, after graduation, in positions appropriate to their ability. I think that a very important factor in encouraging the young men and women in this nation to undertake university training is to assure them that, upon graduation, they will be suitably rewarded by being offered appropriate positions in the community.
There is another important feature ot this matter. Many people connected with the administration of universities contend that these institutions should be permitted independence of operation; that they should not be subject to control or to interference by the Government. I consider that that attitude is justified so far as the imparting of knowledge to undergraduates is concerned. Nevertheless, the universities have a responsibility to the nation; and to that degree they should be controlled. I think it will be agreed on all sides that graduates in law or arts are not always capable of directing satisfactorily the commercial activities of big institutions. I have known instances in which brilliant graduates have been absolute failures in this field. Therefore, I contend that all public money that is provided for education should be expended in such a way as to ensure the best advantage to students, industry, and the nation as a whole. There should be the closest co-operation between the universities, the commission and the Government.
I have in my hand a pamphlet entitled “Empiricism and Freedom”, by V. J.
Kinsella, which I have received throught the post. Doubtless copies of the pamphlet have been received also by other honorablesenators. The pamphlet deals with a. cancerous growth in our universities. Time will not permit of my going fully into the points made in the pamphlet, but I should like to quote the paragraph entitled “ Empiricism and the Brutalisation of Society “. It reads -
When the empiricists reject the intellect, they reject that spiritual element in man whereby heis essentially differentiated from the brute. They thereby impose, in the moral order, a standard of brutal behaviour (subjectivism); and in the political order, a powerful inclination to totalitarianism, reducing the person to a unit in the collectivity, and society to a herd or swarm. Hitler and Stalin, Khruschev and Mao-tse-tung. are then right. We should fall in behind them. It is then logical that man, if strong, should behave like a brute, and, if weak, be treated like a brute. And, if unwanted, be relegated to the gas ovens, or prison pens, or to starvation like the millions of Kulaks, or to the physicians who later appeared on trial at Nuremberg. The bees just edge the unwanted out of the hive, to perish in the cold.
That is the statement of a man who had access to people of a very high educational standard - people who had used their knowledge in what they regarded as the cause of science. They regarded that objective as justification for their actions. Honorable senators will realize that our education should be based on moral standards; sound physical standards and high educational standards. On that foundation our national standards will be high.
The pamphlet to which I have referred concludes in these terms -
The “ philosophy “ fed to our youth by the Sydney University is rubbish. It is devoid of strength and manliness, but contains the seeds of moral corruption and political subversion. The senate of the university should give an account of its stewardship in this matter. It should explain why empiricism is the chosen teaching of our university and why monopoly rights have been afforded to it, and why the noble desciplines of philosophy have been excluded. Can the community afford the folly of feeding this atheistic materialism to the elite of its youth, year after year, through generation after generation of students? Can the senate be sure that there will be no retribution? Has the university senate any idea whatsoever of responsibility to the community, to youth, and to the parents who entrust their sons and daughters to the university?
Some honorable senators may disagree with the terms of that statement, which perhaps should not be applied to all universities, but ‘the warning note is well worth sounding because young members of my family who have been associated with universities have found that they require a very strong character to resist some of the practices that have been introduced into, and encouraged in, the university.
– Especially in Tasmania.
– I do not wish to single out the university in any particular State. In discussing these matters one must adopt the national approach. This bill shows the usual lack of imagination in its approach to education. Clause 11 deals with the conditions under which the chairman of the commission shall vacate his position, but apparently the only crime that the chairman may commit that will warrant his dismissal from office is that he becomes bankrupt - the major crime in the eyes of the Liberals.” The person concerned may have become bankrupt because, being a well educated person, he was attempting to live at a standard higher than he could afford on the wages paid him. In those circumstances he is considered unworthy of a position on the commission. Yet university education which is bankrupt of ideas, bankrupt of imagination and bankrupt of moral values is sustained and protected by this Government.
Our educational system should be exposed and examined in the light of day. If we are to survive and be successful as a nation we must base our education on a strong British moral foundation. Other nations which are advancing in the field of science and the arts have encouraged their students to undertake studies in those fields by offering them a privileged position in the community; but their education is completely devoid of moral values. Those nations are a direct challenge to our national existence.
In our country, young students who fail in their first year at university are told that it might be better if they abandoned their studies because their parents perhaps cannot afford to keep them at university and, in addition, only a certain number of educated people can be absorbed into our community. In other countries to which I have referred the young people who fail in their first year are encouraged to continue their studies, and they then become eager to justify the faith placed in them.
Students in their first year at university find themselves facing a course of studies that is completely foreign to them. They are in a wilderness, and very often become disconcerted by some of the practices that are adopted in universities. That is the hurdle that many students in their first year at university must overcome. Therefore, they should be given every encouragement to do their best because sometimes their potential is great. If they are encouraged to remain at university, they will appreciate the sympathetic treatment accorded them and will take their place in the community with a sound university education behind them. The new field of education opened to the university student in his first year should be explained to him, and he should be given time to settle down in his new surroundings.
The proposed commission can do a great deal of good for our country if it realizes that inefficiency is most expensive and that efficiency is never too costly.
.- Despite the cold shadow cast by Senator Benn’s speech on the subject of universities, the support that one feels justified in according to this bill creates in us a warm appreciation of the opportunity that we in this Parliament have to render a service to the cause of university education. In the course of a few brief remarks, which will not be completely uncritical, I hope to make clear to honorable senators the results that can be achieved by a person who has a university education. I speak on this occasion only in my capacity as a person elected to Parliament by the people, and shall direct my remarks to the functions of the proposed Australian Universities Commission. I shall obtrude as few as possible of my personal opinions upon such an elevated subject because, in the presence of such an abundance of most impressive opinions as are contained in the Murray report, I should be presumptuous in the extreme if I gave too much weight to my own opinions. I am disappointed that the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) in his second-reading speech neither referred to expressly, nor explained, the divergence between the bill and the recommendations contained in the Murray report.
Some honorable members in the House of Representatives, and some honorable senators in this chamber, have deemed it appropriate to engage in a discussion of an abstract kind as to the purposes and achievements of universities. I do not regard myself as equal to the task of following that line of thought, but, in the Arctic glow of the fierce debate of last week, 1 content myself with reciting the following brief passage from paragraph 12 of the Murray committee’s report relating to the demands which that committee made upon universities -
The preservation of human integrity in facing truth and the demands of justice is the most exacting task which a nation can impose upon itself.
The committee went on to say that, in his own field, the scholar has the duty of facing truth and the proper use of evidence without fear, favour or self-delusion. I think we have the function of seeing how the practical terms of the bill assist the purposes of the Murray committee in constituting this Australian Universities Commission. In dealing with that aspect of the measure, let us remind ourselves that a committee led by the distinguished English scholar, Sir Keith Murray, who had no doubt a traditional appreciation of the independence and freedom of the English universities and who had presided over the English Universities Grants Commission for some years, with a full knowledge that out of the £41,000,000 that was devoted to university education in England in 1956 or 1957 no less than £29,000,000 had been voted by governments, was fully alive to the threat which the acceptance of government finance would pose to the independence of university institutions. But I suppose never more realistically did the scholar approach the problem and rely for the survival of the true spirit of universities upon the character of the scholars who constitute the universities; and it is now long past the time when we can think of universities as being aggregations of scholars who, by their own efforts, can organize themselves and create effective teaching or research institutions. In plain terms, they are no longer able to expect endowments out of the highly-taxed community of modern times. They are in fact dependent upon government finance and it is for us to ensure that their independence of scholarship shall not be subtracted from by reason of what would ordinarily be regarded as a corollary of government finance- - government control.
One function of the proposed Australian! Universities Commission is to furnish information and advice to the Minister onmatters in connexion with the grant by the Commonwealth of financial assistance to universities established by the Commonwealth and of financial assistance to the States for the maintenance of the State universities. The Murray committee pointed out that the principal single cause of thedefects it found in Australian universitiesand which, unless remedied immediately would become catastrophic, has been financial stringency. As Senator Gorton has reminded us, it was thought appropriateto vote £20,000,000 immediately to coverboth capital and recurring expenditures of universities from 1958 to 1961. I only want to say that I have detected some lack of judgment in the way in which the policy has been applied to universities, because it has immediately created competition for staff and made an impact on expenditure which, unless regulated, I feel can do damage in the immediate period for which it is provided.
We come now to an integral part of the recommendations which the Murray committee made in furtherance of its very strongly expressed views that the Australian universities needed careful husbanding by the Commonwealth Parliament. The whole of Chapter VIII. of the report is devoted to a discussion of the reasons for and the constitution and procedure of an Australian universities commission. I should have thought that when the speech introducing the bill departed from those carefully thought-out recommendations emphasis would have been placed upon the departures; but I find no reference to the fact that departures have been made in the second-reading speech, and that speech certainly does not condescend to give any explanation as to why the Government has thought fit to reject the Murray committee’s recommendations on those aspects and substitute the provisions contained in the bill.
Let us remind ourselves that in its report the Murray committee stated that there are numerous academic, financial and administrative issues to be considered. The committee pointed out that the needs of the universities should not be considered as static. It also adverted to the possibility, which it considered a probability, that over the next ten years the population of the universities might well be doubled. Secondly, it pointed out that the cost structure of the universities over the period that it was considering might change according to whether emphasis was placed upon pure and applied sciences and according to the trend which it thought probably would be developed towards post-graduate schools.
Thirdly, the committee adverted in paragraph 213 and paragraph 350 to a subject which is of importance not only in this place but even in the academic realms of scholarship - salaries. In paragraph 213 of its report, the committee said -
There is clearly an urgent need for the establishment of some body to review university salaries periodically on a national basis, and we think that this should be one of the functions of the permanent University Grants Committee.
Following up that theme, in paragraph 350 the committee again adverted to that fact and assigned that function to the commission that is being brought into existence by the bill. Considering the importance of that function, which is to be conferred upon the commission, I would have thought that it deserved special mention in the secondreading speech of the Minister and also in the bill, I think that if this commission is to recommend the salaries payable to the academic staffs of Australian universities, that is a matter to which the draftsmen of the bill might have devoted at least one section, especially when we reflect how elaborately such matters are dealt with in other jurisdictions.
The next thing that the Murray committee said in support of its view that a commission such as this should be established was that there is an irrefutable need for the development of a national policy for Australian universities. Some people, among them the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who made a speech on this legislation in another place, think that we should be reminded that in promoting a national policy for universities we should not make the universities mere factories for turning out uniform scholars. Another term that was used was, “ scholars whose quality is conformity “. We have to remember that universities provide enlightenment for a greatly increasing number of people.
It is no shame to them that they come out from these halls of learning with a fairly uniform load of knowledge. Immensely valuable contributions can be made by, so to speak, a uniform person who has acquired a skill or an art, if he puts that skill or art to the service of the community or his fellow men. What I wish to say, without digressing too much, is that the committee said that there is a need for the development of a national policy. It went on to say -
We consider, therefore, that the time is now ripe for a permanent Australian University Grants Committee.
It said further that State funds are no longer adequate and, therefore, that the universities must look to Commonwealth funds. It went on to advert to the fact that the vice-chancellors’ committees of the various State universities have already adopted that point of view. It reminds us that the individual States - this is the impression gained by the committee - would themselves welcome a Commonwealth university commission. The committee went on, most thoughtfully I think - especially when we think of the reception by the States of the idea of this Parliament originating constitutional alterations - and adverted to the reaction of the States in these words -
We would hope, then, that as this committee established confidence in its advice to the Commonwealth Government, the State Governments might look to it for advice to themselves.
I believe the foundation was laid for a very thoughtfully-planned commission of this description. The Murray committee felt itself then able to make recommendations as to the constitution of the commission. In paragraph 377, it expressly rejected the idea of a three-man commission. It said that a three-man commission would not be the appropriate body. It went on to consider whether or not the commission should be a statutory body or an informal body, as the British committee is. As Senator McKenna pointed out, the committee advised the Government as follows -
We consider, therefore, that, in its formative years at least, the proposed Australian committee might function better as an informal body, even if later it is deemed desirable, in the light of experience, to give it legislated status.
I have no opinions as to that on which I would care to make a pronouncement, but I think you will find there the intuitive sense of the Anglo-Saxon in creating a new institution - the sense that such an institution should feel its way by persuasion and influence for the first three or five years, and then, having acquired the confidence that comes from competence, should be given statutory and compulsive authority.
Then the committee went on to say that the commission should include within the scope of its authority both recurring grants and capital grants. One factor of great importance, having regard to the timing of this legislation, is contained in paragraph 365, where the committee had this to say -
We feel that the Committee should include the Australian National University and the Canberra University College in its purview since it would require to be cognizant of the whole university scene in the Commonwealth and not merely a part of it if it is to function effectively.
Then, Mr. President, expressly rejecting the idea of a three-man commission, the committee considered the wisdom of including in the composition of the commission non-academic or lay-members, and also the wisdom of having men well versed in academic affairs. It pointed out that there would be not less than five groups of disciplines within a university which should be covered by the committee - namely, arts, social sciences, pure science, applied science, medicine and dentistry. Those groups form the basis of the five academic men suggested. Then, so that the commission should have the confidence of those outside the academic realm, the committee suggested two lay members. It said -
We would recommend, in the light of all these considerations, a Committee consisting of a full-time Chairman, with personal experience of university affairs, and seven part-time members, of whom two would be lay members from the professions or industry and five would be academic members.
We were told by Senator Gorton that the rejection of that recommendation was the result of discussions with Sir Leslie Martin and the adoption of the idea that subcommittees with specialized knowledge could be created to advise the commission. I merely ask that the Senate hearken to what the Murray committee itself said at paragraph 380. It considered that very method and rejected it, commenting that sub-committees, or assessors, would not have the confidence, or the sense of responsibility, that actual members of the com mission would possess. I emphasize these matters because the report created such great respect and admiration in academic circles that any departure from it, especially the adoption of matters specifically rejected by it, should be justified. I content myself with expressing regret that, as an initial approach to the problem, we did not adopt implicitly, and without variation, the actual recommendations of the Murray committee.
– Which might be better suited to English conditions?
– Yes, but if we had not thought that Sir Keith Murray’s experience, and that of the other great Australian scholars and administrators on the committee, was a faithful guide to the Australian sphere, I do not think we would have given the report the acceptance that we did. I am not in a position to argue the pros and cons of the matter, but any departure from the recommendations should be justified. I do not feel capable of debating a matter involving such profound knowledge. The report goes on to say that the constitution of this committee within the federal structure was a possibility, and that great hopes could be entertained with regard to it.
The next aspect of the bill which I regret is that the Government did not simultaneously announce its decision on the relationship between the Canberra University College and the Australian National University, both of which come under its specific control. We know that the Australian National University has been created on a special basis. We know that the Canberra University College has reached such a degree of maturity and scholarship that it has earned the right to become an independent university. I regret to notice that the provisions of the Murray report, set out in paragraph 321 and following paragraphs, have not been adequately expressed in the report of the Canberra University College for the year 1956. A mere fragment of the report is quoted - all too little to present a proper picture of the Murray committee’s view. I shall not stay to develop that point, but the Murray committee said -
It has to be remembered, however, that there is already one university in Canberra, the Australian National University, and it clearly is a matter for very serious consideration whether there should be in so small a centre of population two quite independent universities. la paragraph 325 the committee has this to say about the very natural aspirations of the Canberra University College to become a university -
We sympathize with both of these points of view. On the other hand, we do not think that the establishment of two quite separate universities in Canberra should be lightly undertaken.
I should have received great satisfaction if, in considering this bill, I had known that a decision had been reached on the future of those two institutions.
– Would it not be a proper matter for advice from the new Australian Universities Commission?
– I quite concede that that is a possible view, but I would have been more satisfied if I had known whether the Government intended to refer the question to the newly-formed commission. In the annual report of the Canberra Uni.verisity College for 1957 we find this -
The Prime Minister stated that the question would receive prompt consideration. The ViceChancellor of the Australian National University and the Principal of the College met with the Prime Minister in December-
That reference is to December, 1957. The report continues - - and a conference between the representatives of the two institutions was arranged for January, 1958.
I do not reject the idea that the development of those two institutions might properly be a matter for advice by the new commission. I should have been much more satisfied if I had known what the Government intended to do about these two institutions, which are specifically within its province.
I shall just refer in passing to one or two other aspects of the bill. Sub-clause (2.) of clause 13, in accordance with what seems to have become settled Government policy, makes these high officers of an independent commission dependent upon the executive for fixation of their salaries. I think that that detracts from the independence of a commission such as this. I have taken the time to re-state some of these matters because of the respect that I think is due to the report of the Murray committee.
The proposed commission has an opportunity which should afford it tremendous inspiration. It: has an opportunity of serving the cause not only of pure scholarship, but also of technology. Technology is sometimes spoken of rather disparagingly, but I think that it can be tremendously fruitful for the happiness of our nation. University education, which is becoming increasingly dispersed, contributes to those things which we value in life, and which, in rich measure, promote the national wellbeing.
– The bill before the Senate seeks to establish an Australian Universities Commission. It gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction to be associated with its presentation, and to assist its passage. In my opinion, it is a most important milestone on the road to national maturity. I do not think any single piece of legislation of this kind since that which provided for the establishment of the Australian National University to arrest the flow of postgraduates from this country has been of greater value in providing academic opportunities for intelligent Australian undergraduatesand students.
Senator Wright paid great tribute to Sir Keith Murray for his report. I, too, would like to offer my measure of praise of the comprehensiveness of the Murray report. To study its contents is an education in itself. Not only are the members of this Parliament and the universities of Australia deeply indebted to the Murray committee for the thoroughness of its examination, but the nation as a whole. I believe that the report of the. Murray committee could become a hand-book for the Australian Universities Commission to guide it in its deliberations.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge), in his second-reading speech, pointed out that the major function of the commission would be to advise on the disposition of funds which the Commonwealth will make available to its own universities and to State universities. Its function will include the giving of advice on the distribution of the £20,000,000 that has already been made available under the States Grants (Universities) Act 1958. The commission will also have an opportunity to make constructive reports to Cabinet on the inevitable growing needs of universities in the years ahead.
The whole question of university training for intelligent Australian students is a great challenge to us as a nation. We must not overlook the fact that, comparatively speaking, we are behind other countres in the number of university graduates in proportion to our population. Recent figures have shown that other countries, particularly the United States of America and Russia, are a long way ahead of us in the total output of their universities. The capacity of a country to compete in the modern world, where science and technology are so important, depends largely upon the output of its universities. In every field of human endeavour the need for the scientist and the technologist is becoming greater. Professional and technical services throughout the community are steadily expanding, and the needs of those services can be satisfied only by the output of university graduates. Unless we continually review the need to provide for universities buildings and staff to cope with the expansion of technical services, we will be judged by our fellow men as having been recreant to the trust that has been reposed in us.
It is gratifying to note that at last the federal Government has realized the inability of the States to handle this great problem. The Murray committee, in its report, continually emphasized the fact that economic stringency was the cause of many of the difficulties which confront the universities. Now that the Government has taken this positive attitude towards assisting the universities we can look forward to an amelioration of many of the difficulties that have been brought to our notice by the Murray committee. Stress has been placed on the fact that the Government has no desire to interfere with the autonomy of the State universities. It is very important that that attitude should be preserved and that each State should be able to decide how its university shall be administered. 1 am sure that not only will the States act in very close liaison with the Australian Universities Commission, but that they will be given an incentive to improve the standard of their universities.
It is a very disturbing fact that in the post-war years, with the financial stringency that has prevented State universities from providing more accommodation and more teaching staff, and despite the great need for graduates, there has been such a high student failure rate. I am confident that, with the assistance that will be given periodically to State universities and with a new approach to the provision of accommodation and other facilities which will make universities more congenial and interesting, the failure rate will be reduced.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590429_senate_23_s14/>.