25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister noted a report in the Press that Pope Paul, when granting an audience to the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Opperman, in Rome - I think it was the day before yesterday - expressed interest in Italian migration to Australia? Has the honorable gentleman noted the Pope’s suggestion that possibly the most efficacious way of making a real success of Italian migration to Australia would be for whole Italian families to migrate? The basis of the suggestion is, of course, that family ties are very strong in Italy and quite a few Italians return to Italy, either late or early in life, to rejoin the family circle. If the whole family migrated to Australia, would not Australia benefit as a result. Has the Minister any views on this problem.
– My attention has been drawn to a Press report of the audience granted by the Pope to the Minister for Immigration. I would like to say at the outset that it is Government policy to foster family migration. To supplement that answer, I would like to say that I have noted Senator Ormonde’s two contributions to the Sydney Press in the last few weeks on the subject of Italian migration to Australia. Obviously he has a very real interest in this matter. Having observed Senator Ormonde’s letters, I sought some information from the Department. I would like now to give that information which contains the answer which I think Senator Ormonde seeks. In the five year period ending December 1964, for which information relating to new settler statistics is available, the number of Italian nationals who stated they were departing permanently after coming to Australia intending to settle here totalled 1,000, of whom 137 departed in 1964. In the same period 90,538 Italians entered Australia intending to settle here per manently. The return movement therefore represents only 1.1 per cent, of settler arrivals, a figure very much below the general European level of 6 per cent, or 7 per cent.
The Government’s policy is to foster family migration and family reunion. Wives, children and fiancees are given priority. I think that is the answer in which Senator Ormonde is interested. However, the Italian tradition is for young unmarried men to go abroad seeking their fortune, having no intention of marrying before returning home. No doubt many Italians leave for Australia in this frame of mind. It is a tribute to this country that after a number of years most of the migrants wish to marry and live here. It should be recalled that earlier Italian migration across the Atlantic had a returnee rate of as high as 50 per cent. Family tradition, on the other hand, makes it difficult for single Italian girls to obtain permission to migrate. From departmental records we are aware that each year many Italian settlers, after having spent four or five years in Australia, go to Italy for an extended visit, marry, and ultimately bring their wives gack to Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer. In the light of the introduction of decimal currency in the early part of 1966, will monetary amounts expressed in the next set of Budget papers be shown in decimal currency notation as well as in pounds, shillings and pence?
– I understand that the Treasurer has given some thought to this matter, but I do not know just to what extent he has done so. I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice paper. When the Treasurer returns from overseas, he will be able to provide an answer.
– Is the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer aware of the continued sharp drop of prices on the Sydney Stock Exchange? I understand that in 14 trading days the share price index has dropped by 21.5 points and is lower by one fifth than it was a year ago. Would it not be true to say that this unsatisfactory state of affairs has been caused by fear and a lack of confidence in Australia’s financial activities as a result of the administration of this Government?
– Quite a number of things affect the stock market. I should not think that anything that the Government has done would cause any fear to the shareholders of Australia. On the contrary, they have seen the stability which the Government has maintained in this field for many years. That stability has given great confidence to investors in Australia and to overseas investors. As I said earlier, quite a number of factors associated with trading on the Stock Exchange could cause the price of shares to drop. I do not think that the Government should try to intervene in buying and selling operations on the Stock Exchange. Supply and demand and the judgment of the business community determine whether people should buy or sell shares.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Immigration. Will the Minister convey to his colleague, Mr. Opperman, who I believe is overseas, that there is an acute state of overfull employment in certain trades in Western Australia? Will he inform him that in the metal and electrical trades there are 10 vacancies for every job applicant and that in the building and construction trades there are 6 vacancies for every applicant? Will the Minister ask his colleague to make a special effort to recruit such tradesmen for Western Australia?
– I shall certainly have the question directed to the Minister for Immigration. Of course, it has been the policy of the Department of Immigration to try to bring in tradesmen and people with special skills. As the honorable senator will appreciate, that effort is being made continuously. We are now presented with a specific, localised problem. I am quite certain that the Minister will be most interested to receive the question asked by Senator Branson.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether it is a fact that action is being taken by the Government to compile a new formula to be applied to taxation reimbursements by the Commonwealth to the States. If so, what action is being taken? Will the new formula operate from 1st July? Will the Minister inform the Senate what is contemplated by the Government in respect of this matter and in what way it is expected that the new formula will differ from the formula that has operated for the six years that will end on 30th June next? Will the Senate, as a States House, be given a full report on the matter and an opportunity to debate the new formula prior to its coming into operation?
– The practice in relation to the establishment of a formula or any variation of a formula is that it is hammered out between the Commonwealth and the Premiers of the various States in conference. The honorable senator will recall that this occurred when the existing formula was established years ago. It became the subject of a quite lively debate in both Houses of the Parliament. The same procedure will occur this time, but I point out to the honorable senator that it will be subsequent to the agreement reached between the Commonwealth and the States.
– In other words, the Senate cannot influence it?
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the necessity to develop ways and means of expanding Australia’s export trade, it was interesting to read a newspaper report that a two-year course for a diploma in export was being undertaken by 30 students in the University of New South Wales. Could the Minister say whether the Department of Trade and Industry is aware of this course, or whether the course has been initiated solely by the University of New South Wales?
– I am not aware whether the officers of the Department of
Trade and Industry have a knowledge of the particular course to which the honorable senator has referred, but I know that if they have they will show a lively interest in it. Because of the importance of the question, if the honorable senator places it on the notice paper I shall get the Minister for Trade and Industry to furnish a reply.
– I desire to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a reported statement in Sydney yesterday by General Sir Gerald Lathbury, Governor elect of Gibraltar, that Australia is in danger of losing much of its wildlife within the next 10 years? Will the Minister obtain for the Senate any available information on the extent of the assistance given by the Commonwealth Government towards the conservation of wildlife in Australia?
– I shall make inquiries and let the honorable senator have whatever information is available.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs whether there is any truth in the report that Australia is to send 800 combat troops to South Vietnam. If it is true, was the decision taken as a result of the visit of Mr. Lodge to Australia or at the request of any Government? Will the Senate be given an opportunity to discuss the advisability of this action before any troops are despatched to South Vietnam?
– I know nothing of the matter which the honorable senator has raised. In fact, I have not even seen the report to which he referred.
– Senator Sir Walter Cooper intimated to me that he would be asking this question and I was able to obtain some information for him. It could be that only a small proportion of the Australian public has been vaccinated against smallpox. However, the possibility of the danger from an epidemic of smallpox being introduced into Australia from overseas countries is indeed very remote, as all travellers are required to be in receipt of a current international vaccination certificate. He asks further whether a publicity campaign to emphasise the wisdom of receiving vaccination against smallpox should be undertaken. The specific answer is, “ No “, and this is my view. However, the Department of Health does encourage the States to undertake such publicity for the very good reason that this is their responsibility. The Queensland Department of Health and Home Affairs has shown a very lively interest in this matter and has a vaccination record that I think the Departments in other States might well emulate. Whilst the Commonwealth does not lead the field in publicity, because that is not in its bailiwick, I can assure the honorable senator that it gives every encouragement to those who are responsible for this publicity.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer. On how many occasions during the past 10 years has the Commonwealth Government been approached by State Governments to assist financially after national disasters have occurred? What is the total amount of financial assistance so given? What amount of assistance has been given to each State and what types of national disasters have occurred, and in which States?
– This question obviously should be placed on the notice paper. No-one could supply those statistics off the cuff. If the honorable senator will place the question on the notice paper, where it should have been put in the first place, I shall get the answers for her.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Government likely to act upon or discuss with the countries concerned the suggestion made by the Prime Minister of Singapore and the British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, Mr. Bottomley, that Afro-Asian troops be used to replace or relieve British and Australian peace keeping forces in Malaysia?
– As I understand the reference, which I think I saw in this morning’s Press, this is a proposal which is to go for consideration to the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation conference shortly commencing. As the honorable senator is aware, the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Hasluck, will represent Australia at that conference.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is he aware that 2,000 Corriedale sheep were shippedfrom Sydney this week for sale in China? Has the transaction the Government’s approval? If it has, is there any danger that the Government or sheep breeders, in the interests of developing the export trade, may be considering the shipping and sale of Merino sheep to China?
– As far as I am aware, there is a ban on the export of Merino sheep from Australia. I have no information of any alteration of the ban. The transaction that the honorable senator has mentioned is, I presume, a normal business transaction between an exporter in Australia and an importer in another country. This is not a matter requiring Government approval. There is no prohibition of the export of Corriedale sheep.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, who administers the War Service Homes Division. Will the Minister request Cabinet to increase the maximum war service homes loans from £3,750 to £5,000 so as to conform to present day values and the amount necessary to purchase or build a decent home?
– I am sure the honorable senator is aware that this Government has taken a most realistic and sympathetic view of the problems associated with war service homes. He has only to look at the record which has been achieved in this regard if he wants any confirmation of that. He also knows, I am sure, that matters of policy are not discussed at question time.
(Question No. 401.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
– I have received a letter from Senator Drake-Brockman requesting his discharge from the Public Accounts Committee consequent upon his appointment as Chairman of Committees.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Drake-Brockman be discharged from attendance as a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accountants.
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951, Senator Webster be appointed a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
Debate resumed from 28th April (vide page 508), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Senate take note of the following paper -
Tertiary Education in Australia - Report of Committee - Ministerial Statement, 24th March 1965.
Upon which Senator Cohen had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Motion - but regrets
the Government’s rejection of the Martin Committee’s recommendations on scholarships, teacher education and scientific and social research,
the imprecision of the Committee and the Government in their outline of non-university tertiary institutions, and
the Government’s continuing refusal to establish a Ministry of Education and to hold a national inquiry into vocational, technical, secondary and primary education.’.”.
– When the Senate adjourned I was discussing the position of part time students and the imposition of fees in all Australian universities. I had mentioned that until comparatively recently, Western Australia was the only State where university education was free and available to all who matriculated. There was in that University perhaps a greater proportion of part time students than at any other university in Australia. I also mentioned that many who had held very prominent positions in the community had passed through the University the hard way. In mentioning some by name I omitted to say that the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) was also a graduate who had worked and had been able to take a university course part time. Many others who have achieved some kind of eminence in Australian public life owe a great deal to the fact that the University of Western Australia was a free university and encouraged part time students.
I feel, however, that the general opinion throughout Australia in university circles - and I hope I am wrong in this - is that the part time student is a sort of second rate student. That was disproved in my own university in Western Australia where many part time students took a very active part in student affairs and because they had to make sacrifices to attend the University, they were deeply conscious of their debt to it and tried to repay part of that debt through community service. Now things have altered considerably. The university population has increased remarkably over the postwar years.
There is a trend which is not so apparent at first sight when reading the Martin Committee’s report which followed an investigation of this matter. In Australia we are particularly in need of doctors for rural service. This is marked in Western Australia. There is a shortage of doctors in country areas at a time when the people of the Commonwealth have become more health conscious. Great demands are made upon the time of doctors, yet the number of medical students has decreased in the past few years. For example, in the last four years the numbers of students enrolled in the medical faculty compared with the total number of students enrolled has decreased from 18.1 to 9.4 per cent. That is proportionately about 50 per cent. I do not mean that their numbers have actually decreased by 50 per cent., but the number of students enrolled in the medical faculty in ratio to the total number of students enrolled has decreased by 9 per cent. of total enrolment.
The greatest increase in student courses is in the Faculty of Science which has increased from 12.3 per cent. last year to 16.2 per cent. this year. There was a time in 1961 when the proportion was even higher. I think that this does emphasise the complete change that has come over the community in the last few years. Science has developed many kinds of new skills and a new way of life throughout the world. By so doing, science has brought other problems of its own making of which we must be very cognisant. For instance, the fact that science has been so successful in this regard has brought up problems of leisure. It has brought about a shorter working week. Automation is developing to a large extent. We are now preparing for an age which is so highly developed scientifically that we will be faced with the problem of increased leisure time. What is to be done with leisure time? That question gives us a great deal to ponder particularly with regard to the problems of social behaviour especially among our younger people. We cannot sit back and say that it is no concern of ours, that it is their free time, and that is the end of it.
In my opinion more emphasis should have been placed by the Martin Committee on the development of the humanities and the arts, and not so much emphasis purely and simply on the utilitarian aspects of education. No education which is only a bread and butter education is complete. We have to provide for the complete man and the complete living. There is over emphasis today in Government circles - this is my personal opinion - on the development of the sciences within the universities and our schools. That is why the grants which have been made to the schools by the Commonwealth Government have been for the development of scientific laboratories. I should like to see more help given to schools generally for the development of all types of education and not have attention focussed purely and simply on science. I do not want it to be thought in any way that 1 deprecate the value of science in the community, schools and universities. I do not for one moment do so. But I feel that we can over emphasise science education to the detriment of other aspects of education.
We find also that we are to have more economists and more theoreticians. The number of people taking Economics courses has increased and the number taking Arts degrees has increased also. Here I should like to utter a few thoughts of my own. More women students take an Arts degree course than other courses, not because they are not capable of taking a more complex course but because the Arts degree course offers them more prospects of employment and so on later. Here again we find that only 26 per cent, of our university population consists of women. Looking at the community as a whole, we realise that the ratio of men to women is practically 50:50, yet only one in four university students is a woman. If we look at the examination results each year - these results are the only criterion we have on which to base our judgment or our comparisons, although they are not the absolute authority - we find that quite often it is a girl, completing her leaving certificate examination, who fills No. 1 position in her State.
In Canberra last year, the top honours for the leaving certificate examination went to girls. The same situation applies in my own State. I mention this to show that girls are just as capable as boys of passing examinations and becoming university material. We must look elsewhere for the reasons why girls represent only 26 per cent, of the university student population. I would say that one of the reasons is that, after finishing their degree courses, girls find there are very few permanent posts open to them at the same rates of pay and conditions as for men. This opens up a very big subject. The main employment outlets for qualified girls are found in teaching and, to a lesser degree, in the Public Service.
One does not find very many women holding senior positions in the Public Service. Those who do are on much lower salaries than men and, of course, they must leave their positions on marriage. A girl who marries generally does not want to continue working, but whether she continues in employment or not should, I think be a matter of choice, not of dictation. She should not be obliged to leave her employment. I think the majority of girls who marry want to settle down to home life and so on. They do not want to be obliged either to work or not to work; it should be a matter of choice for them.
There is a huge wastage of intellectual power in the community in this way. I think that in a report such as the one with which we are dealing there should be a recommendation that facilities be made available for women later in life - after they have reared their families - to be brought up to date on the latest developments in the fields of work in which they excelled before marriage, so that they might once more take an active part in the work of the community.
– This is post facto. Why is it that women do not enter universities?
– That is the point I am trying to make. They are looking ahead. Some people take the view that a girl will marry, so it does not matter whether she has a university education. We should try to raise the status of educated women and arouse a public consciousness that education is never wasted. If a woman is properly educated, I think that makes her a belter wife. I do not mean that she will be a better wife if she is a crank, but I think a better educated woman is a better wife.
I find that of the university students who are women, 60 per cent, take an Arts course, because that gives them an opening for teaching, for some Public Service positions and so on. Only 25 per cent, of women students enrol for science courses, and 1 think this is due to the fact that there are not many openings for women in the fields of research. In the Australian National University we find women occupying very high positions. This University is giving a lead to other universities in Australia in appointing women to some of the higher positions in scientific research. We then come to the fact that only 16 per cent, of women students take a medical course. I cannot understand why this is so, because I feel that a medical course would be highly satisfying to a woman. There is plenty of scope for women doctors. I would like to know whether any inquiry has been made to find out why so few women who are qualified to do so take medical courses. I know that the medical course is longer than most of the others and is expensive. The only common factor that I can find in trying to discover why the numbers of students taking medical courses have decreased proportionally and why so few women take medical courses is an economic factor. The fees which are charged for this course are now very high. Even if Commonwealth scholarships are granted, of course they are not adequate. This report tells us that there are insufficient Commonwealth grants.
I suggest to the Government that it examine the fees charged at our universities. I think only about nine per cent, of total university income is derived from fees. Portion of that amount is already being paid by the Commonwealth Government through its scholarships fund and it would not involve the Government in a great deal of further expense if it were to abolish fees altogether. The increased expenditure could be counterbalanced against the amounts paid in Commonwealth scholarships, which could become residential allowances, living allowances and so on. We would know that not one person would be refused admission to an Australian university on economic grounds alone. That is my first submission to the Government.
I think it should investigate this problem because I am sure that it would pay dividends in the long run. if it were adopted.
In Western Australia at present quite a number of students come to me for assistance. They have not been brilliant enough to gain Commonwealth scholarships, the examinations for which are highly competitive. But they are good students who have overcome quite a number of difficulties and handicaps.
– And they may turn out better students in the long run.
– Definitely. They are more tolerant. They may be plodders, but at least they are workers. I believe that the expense incurred in granting them university training would be well repaid. Quite recently I was interested in the case of a student who- had quite a lot of family worry and tragedy in one of the eastern States. She had almost completed a medical course but could not continue with it because of the limitations of the course. She had only a year to go before obtaining her medical degree. She represented a good risk for a loan at a university, but she had to go to Western Australia and take a job last year in an attempt to earn enough money to keep herself at the university for 12 months. Fortunately I was able to present a case for her to the University of Western Australia and obtain for her a student loan from a fund which is run by the University. She will be carried over this year so that she may obtain her medical degree.
I believe that the Commonwealth Government should set up a loan fund for such circumstances. I do not want honorable senators to think for one moment that I am in favour of giving everybody everything for nothing, but I am in favour of the setting up of a loan fund to assist needy students. Each case could be investigated as to character and that type of thing before a loan were granted. It is unlikely that the borrowers would let down the Government. When the money is ultimately repaid by the student while he is practising his profession it would be available to lend to other students. These are human problems which crop up in our universities. They are very real and very delicate problems to handle at times. This report deals in great measure with the utilitarian aspect of tertiary education, but it leaves a lot to be desired with regard to other aspects of training. I would like to see a little thought put into these details.
The other side of the picture is the question of grants for research which are very important. Quite a number of big business firms in Australia have heeded the call of the Australian National University to assist with research grants for special scholars in various fields. The Commonwealth scholarship scheme should be extended to embrace research scholars and students at teachers training colleges. The whole heart of the Committee’s report is the provision of adequate teacher training facilities - not just for teachers in the area of primary, secondary and tertiary education, but over the whole field of education. I may have missed a page of the report here and there, but I could not find in it any reference to the necessity for the adequate training of teachers for mentally retarded, handicapped or disabled children.
– But that would not come in under the heading of tertiary education.
– No, but it does come within . the whole ambit of teacher training. The State training colleges are starved of funds but are doing the best they can. In Western Australia we have two teachers training colleges, both of which are situated in the suburb in which I live. I was a student at one of them for some time. The other one has been established only since the last war. It is housed in old Army type huts. The work that has been done by the staff and students at the Graylands teachers college since its inception is simply amazing. They have planted lawns and have taken a pride in the institution, even though they have only Nissen huts in which to work. A wonderful, corporate spirit has been developed. When looking at it one would think that it was a second rate teachers college, but the standard of the students who graduate from it and of the corporate spirit that has been developed is very high indeed. I regret that the staff and students have to work in such circumstances. There are no covered ways between the lecture halls, which again are only old Army huts. There is not adequate provision for playing fields, but the students have helped to build a tennis court and so forth. The library is housed in another Army hut. The summer climate in Western Australia makes work in those surroundings rather killing; I just do not know how these people manage to work so well. A new teachers training college should be established soon. All these things place a terrific strain on the Budgets of State Governments. The problem is greater than that of paying teachers’ salaries.
I stand to be corrected if I am wrong, but as I said last night, nowhere in Australia that I know of is there any provision for the training of teachers for tertiary education. It seems that in universities note is taken of the amount of material a man has written and whether he has presented papers to learned societies rather than of whether he is good at imparting his own very adequate store of knowledge.
– Is there any such training anywhere in the world that the honorable senator knows of?
– That is what I am trying to ascertain. Some of the most brilliant men to whom I have listened or whom I have known have been deplorable teachers. Only years after one has left the university does one appreciate the full import of what they were trying to teach. This problem must be examined, especially when we think of the number of students who drop by the wayside, particularly in their first year at university. The Commonwealth should be directly concerned about this problem, because continuation of a Commonwealth scholarship depends upon the results of the student in his first year at the university.
The transition from secondary school to university is too sudden for many students. There should be some intermediate step. Students come from a sheltered classroom where everything is turned on and suddenly they find themselves in a completely new environment. If they are holders of a Commonwealth scholarship, .they have the added worry about whether they will pass their examinations and still receive their scholarship in the following year. All these things make it very difficult for students to concentrate. In addition, there are all kinds of activities which are quite new to them. When they go to university they enter a completely new world.
We have become a very examination ridden community. Everything depends upon examinations. It is a wonder that half of our children are not in the mental asylums because after they have got the junior or the intermediate certificate they have to get the leaving certificate, in the last few years in my own State I know that parents, after having struggled to keep their children at school to get the junior certificate, have found that it is worthless for entrance to many positions. Where the junior certificate would have been accepted a few years ago, now the leaving certificate is essential. Then when they get their leaving certificate they soon find that they need a university degree to get a position as a dustman.
I do not mind the community concept of education improving in this way, but I think that we place a lot of false value on many of our university examinations. To me a university degree means not how much I know but how much 1 do not know. It has taught me how much there is still to be learned, and that you cannot get by with merely a university degree. Some people think that once you have a leaving certificate or a degree you know everything and arc fit for anything. That is quite an illusion. Many subjects which are taught in our secondary schools are not of very much help unless a person intends to go to a university. Of the children who commence schooling at five or six years of age, I think that only about 5 per cent, continue on to the university, yet the whole of the educational programme in this country is directed towards that 5 per cent. It should be directed towards all the children who attend schools.
So far as teacher training is concerned, the standards are different in every State. I know of a student who achieved quite a good leaving certificate pass. Great sacrifice on the part of his parents was necessary to enable him to stay at school. He could have left school at the age of 15 years and entered the Public Service, but he continued on at school until he was 17 years old. He passed the leaving certificate in seven subjects, some with distinction, but he missed out by a couple of marks in a compulsory subject. He took it in the supplementary examination and passed, but he could not be admitted to either the university or the teachers training college. He achieved a good average - percentage over all the subjects.’ He got a job cleaning floors in a warehouse, and he did all kinds of other jobs while he was waiting for his application for entrance to the university or to the teachers training college to be discussed. Just as he was reaching the desperate stage, he saw an advertisement for the Adelaide Teachers College. He went to Adelaide and was accepted there. He is now in his final year and is doing very well. He has done well in his preliminary practices and so on. He will make a fine teacher, but he is lost to Western Australia because of this inflexibility, of selection for the limited number of places in our universities and training colleges.
I think that the limitation of faculty numbers has gone quite far enough. I know that it is difficult for the universities to cope with the increased numbers of students who wish to enter them, but I do not think that they should be excluded because people cannot afford to pay the high fees involved: I do not want to make the debate a political one, but I would like to say that it was the Scaddan Labour Government which decided that the University of Western Australia should be a free one. That position continued for over 40 years. I am one who is very sorry to see the passing of that institution, which at that time was unique not only in Australia but also in the British Commonwealth of Nations. This Report does not deal with the numbers of children who complete their secondary school education, but this is the basis upon which tertiary education must be considered. The numbers who start off in first year and drop by the wayside before they get to the final year at high school are surprising. This is a problem in America also. When I was in America 1-8 months ago I studied the problem with some of the authorities there and the way in which it is being tackled. They call it the fall out or drop out problem and they have many of the same problems that we have, but they have a greater range of secondary schools. They have a greater range of liberal arts colleges, which are mentioned in the motion and also in the amendment, so more of their high school population are given the advantages of. going on to some kind of liberal arts college which is not of the standard of a university but which does give them some form of tertiary education.
What the Labour Party does not want to see, in implementation of this Report, is the establishment of some types of inferior educational institutions to take the place of universities, which have been promised and which are warranted in many parts of Australia. Mr. Deputy President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Consideration of House of Representatives’ message (vide page 506).
Clause 5. (1.) The Minister may, by instrument in writing, declare a class of persons specified in the instrument to be an approved class of lenders for the purposes of this Act.
Senate’s amendment -
In sub-clause (1.) leave out “,instrument in writing, declare a class of persons specified in the instrument”, insert “ regulation declare a class of persons “
House of Representatives’ message -
Amendment disagreed to.
Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendment of the Senate.
The matter provided for by the sub-clause to which the Senate amendment relates is an administrative matter proper to be dealt with by a member of the Executive Government, namely, the Minister. It is not an appropriate matter for regulations, which are legislative in nature.
– I move -
That the Senate do not insist on the amendment to sub-clause (1.) of clause 5 of the Bill requested by the Senate but disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
The Government is firmly of the belief that the approval of a class of persons as an approved class of persons for the purposes of this Bill should be made by the Minister by instrument in writing, as was provided for in the Bill as originally drafted. Let me repeat that sub-clause (1.) of clause 5 relates to what is an administrative matter. It is a matter that should properly be dealt with by a member of the Executive Government, namely the Minister - not by regulations which are legislative in character. A declaration by the Minister is a much sim pler and quicker means of operation than the making or amending of a regulation. As housing loans insurance will virtually be a novel undertaking in Australia, both the Government and the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation will be feeling their way. This will certainly be the case when approved classes of leaders are added in order to widen the scope of the scheme and to attract additional capital, which, as I have explained over and over again, is the purpose of the Bill. This may be done simply and quickly by action taken by the Minister. It would not be easy in some instances to define in the precise manner required in a regulation the classes of persons that the Government may wish to declare as approved lenders. It would be much easier to indicate precisely the classes of persons to be approved in a declaration by the Minister than by a regulation. For instance, a mining company may wishto borrow money that it proposes to lend to its employees for the acquisition of homes. One of the conditions under which the company may obtain the finance may be that each individual loan it makes is to be insured. After investigation, the Government might be satisfied that such mining companies should be approved as lenders for the purpose of the scheme. This could be done much more quickly and more simply by a declaration by the Minister than by means of a regulation. Consideration of possible cases that might arise suggest that ministerial declarations would provide the advantages of simplicity, flexibility and speed in administration which would be absent if action were to be taken by regulation.
If classes of persons who are to be approved classes of lenders were to be declared in regulation, the Parliament, of course, would be capable of disallowing any regulation made to approve a class of persons as lenders. Such a disallowance might - I say probably would - seriously interfere with the business of the Corporation, which is being established to carry on a commercial undertaking with as little outside interference as possible. The fact that it might suddenly be prevented from writing contracts with a class of person by disallowance of a regulation could upset the balance of its commercial considerations. It would never know when a regulation prescribing a class as an approved class of lender would be disallowed. Approved classes of lenders will be determined in the light of administrative and commercial considerations, and it is the Government’s wish - 1 repeat, it is the Government’s wish - to admit as approved lenders as many classes of persons as may reasonably be admitted. One of the major objectives of the scheme is to encourage an increased flow of funds into housing.
May 1 point out that in the earlier debate one of the criticisms made of the measure as it was presented was that it was not wide enough. The criticism was to the effect that more classes should be admitted. Under the Bill as it was originally presented, action of a kind which would .provide for quick admission of those lenders was provided by the machinery of the Minister approving. It is rather odd that those who criticised the fact that too few classes were prescribed originally, and who sought quicker admittance of other classes, should now seek to take action which would only have the effect of delaying - and long delaying - the admission of further classes as approved lenders. The approving of lenders is essentially a commercial and administrative matter and one which should be left for determination by the Minister.
.- The Minister has moved that the Committee do not insist upon the proposed amendment. We will oppose that motion by our vote. The amendment which is the subject of the message arose in the Senate on 1st April at the instance, not of the Opposition, but of a Government senator, Senator Wright. The amendment that he proposed was criticised as to form by the Opposition. The amendments which were contemplated by the Opposition were adopted by Senator Wright, so that a composite amendment is now the one before the Committee.
The Committee addressed itself to this matter at considerable length when we debated it on 1st April. I know I addressed myself to it at some length. I do not propose to go over the same ground today. I merely take the opportunity at this stage to traverse one or two of the points that the Minister made in his speech to the Committee. He indicated that the Government’s view was that the act of declaring classes of persons as approved lenders was a purely administrative act in relation to a commercial aspect of the scheme, and that if the matter had to be attended to by regulation it would not be easy and there would be long delays. I think that was the argument he put. That induces me to revert to the theme of the delay that would be involved.
If the Minister is merely to declare the classes by instrument under his hand, that, of course, can be done rapidly. It can be done in a moment. It can be varied in a moment. It is open to the objection that the Bill does not propose that any publication should be given to the decision. There is no provision in the Bill that any publicity shall be given to an administrative act of very great significance in this field. That is a second objection which I state because we are on the subject now.
As to the matter of time, the making of a regulation involves the making of a regulation by the Governor-General in Council. What does that mean? It means that the Minister draws up a regulation and signs it. It is then sent to the Governor-General. Any two members of the Ministry sitting with the Governor-General constitute the Governor-General m Council. Regulations are not read at such a meeting. Only the titles of the regulations are read. In my experience there normally is a long list of regulations, which the clerk of the Executive Council reads. The Governor-General asks whether there is any objection and, there being no objection, he signs all the regulations. At such a meeting no consideration is given to the contents of the regulations. They may have gone through Cabinet; they may not. The particular regulations may have been considered in detail; they may not. I suggest that in a case of emergency the necessity to have a regulation promulgated involves a delay of not longer than one day. It takes very little time. The regulation has to be promulgated in the “ Gazette “, but I have seen a regulation drawn, put through the Governor-General in Council and promulgated in the “ Gazette “ all on the one day. I attribute no merit to the argument on that point which the Minister has put to the Committee.
Senator Wright stated the reasons which actuated him in proposing the amendment. He was supported by arguments from this side of the chamber. Those arguments are no less valid today than they were when they were uttered on 1st April. Certain of my colleagues wish to advance more detailed arguments on the matter. I content myself at this stage with merely indicating to the Committee that we of the Opposition will oppose the motion which the Minister has proposed.
– What amazes me about this procedure is that the prime mover in this matter is not in the chamber.
– The honorable senator has been absent from Parliament himself at times.
– If Senator Marriott will wait a moment and hear me out he might be sorry he interjected in that vein. I should have thought that courtesy at least would have demanded that the Government hold this matter until Senator Wright was present. I know that at times honorable senators have to be out of the chamber. Last night Senator Wright indicated to me that he had to leave Canberra although he did not elaborate on the reasons for doing so. We all take an interest in what Senator Wright says and we would have been particularly interested in his ideas on the most important subject we discussed recently. I refer to the economic position in which Australia finds itself. Without expressing any reasons, he told me that unfortunately he was leaving.
As I have said, he played a major part in this matter and one would have thought that courtesy would demand that it be held over until he was present. When all is said and done I do not think we will get so much money or see so many houses begun or finished between now and next Tuesday. No doubt Senator Wright will be present on Tuesday and a postponement of this discussion would have given him the opportunity to say whether he desired to persist with the arguments he took so long to advance in the last week of the sittings before Easter, whether possibly he is doing on this occasion what he has done on so many previous occasions. I do not know, but since I do not know, I believe there is a responsibility upon him to tell us where he stands.
The situation would be different if we were holding up a building programme, because we all know that while a great many houses have been built, a great many are needed. Comparisons with past home building achievements are difficult because of the growth of population and other factors but I do not think anyone can say with truth that governments, both Federal and State, are not attempting to grapple with this problem. What concerns me is that the matter before the Committee has to be rushed. Why? Is there no courtesy left in political life? At least there should be some decency.
– I always thought the honorable senator’s philosophy was that it is the numbers that count.
– I admit that. With great respect to Senator Sir William Spooner who for reasons best known to himself now sits in the back row of the chamber, I say that with or without the numbers, there should be some decency left in politics. We should retain some courtesy and decency if we want to impress the people outside who elected us and not rush a matter like this through when the prime mover in it is not present.
Senator Wright is not in the chamber and he might not be in the precincts of the Parliament. One wonders about this. Let us have the whole truth. Let us nol hide it. Senator Wright, who was the prime mover in this matter, advanced certain arguments. Let us hope he believes today what he said a few short days ago. I admit that in the past he has changed his mind pretty rapidly but I do not know whether he has changed it on this occasion and we will not know until a vote is taken. If he has changed his mind, he has a duty to the people he represents and to the Senate to tell us why.
Let us consider the arguments that have been submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge). He reminded the Committee that when this Bill was before the Committee on 31st March, Senator Wright moved that the definition of “ approved lender “ be left out of Clause 5. The Leader of the Government said that if this were done, it would cause long delays. I have been a student of politics for some years - though some would say I have not been a good student. Going back a few years, I remember that in 1930 the Attorney-General of the day would bring in a regulation applying to waterside workers on the Tuesday. The Senate would object to it on the same day and then the
Government would bring one in on Thursday. To say that similar action would affect in some way the lending of money in. the terms of this Bill will not hold water. It cannot be supported by logic. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said in his gentle but logical way: How are wc ever going to find out who are the approved lenders apart from the Government’s friends the banks and the insurance companies? I think 1 am in order in reading from “Hansard” of this sessional period what Senator Wright said. Tt shows how earnest he was on 31st March. I leave it to him to speak for himself and to tell us how earnest he is on 29th April. That is his concern. Speaking to clause 4 of the Bill, Senator Wright said -
I wish to refer to a publication entitled “ Studies in the Australian Capital Market”. I am indebted to Senator Prowse for drawing my attention to it. It was edited by R. R. Hirst and R. H. Wallace of the University of Adelaide, and was published in 1964. lt shows that in 1962 the building societies invested £289 million in housing finance; savings banks £239 million; major trading banks invested £95 million; and life assurance offices invested £154 million. .
Then Senator Wright talks about private mortgages arranged through companies mortgage brokers, or estate agents-
– Yes, there is a number of them. He says that the number concerned in 1962 is not expressly stated. He quotes this publication as referring to £300 million in relation to private mortgages. It is true, as the Minister said, that the Minister for Housing or the Chairman of this Corporation can bring these companies into the scheme and get money out of them. But he bases this matter on the delay that has occurred. I do not think he is entitled to tell this House something that is incorrect. There will be no delay which will in any way affect the operation of this Bill. There will be no delay at all. I do not want the Minister to give me quarter at any time. But I ask him: Should he not show one of his colleagues some respect so that his colleague can restate in this chamber the case that he put up on 31st March or tell the Australian people and, more particularly, those of his own State, whether there is any change of view? I hope the other senators who supported Senator Wright on that occasion will, in his absence, uphold the case he put at that time.
– Mr. Chairman, I have listened to Senator Kennelly’s remarks.- While I think he has thrown up a smoke screen, 1 do not consider that he has attempted to answer the central and the prime objection of the Government in regard to the amendment. Senator Kennelly has just said that there will be no delay. But that is not true. One can easily imagine people who would feel inclined to lend money feeling very discouraged to know that a regulation approving them for that purpose could be disallowed some months later. 1 think that is the crux of the argument. It is not a matter of the time it takes for the Government to bring down a regulation. The fact of the matter is that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee can on a subsequent occasion disallow a regulation.
– A member of the Committee can move for the disallowance of a regulation, and Parliament can disallow it. That is true. This is a matter for concern by people who would be prepared to lend money but who realise at the outset that on some future occasion a regulation affecting them could be disallowed in this Parliament. I, for the life of me, cannot understand how senators - and I do not care whether they belong to the Government or the Opposition - who have been claiming for years that there should be more and more money for housing and who have criticised over and over again the insufficiency of loan money for housing, can stand in this place and justify any procedure that delays the use of loan money to people who need it as desperately, as some .of our young people do today.
– Firstly, I regret that a copy of the speech by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) has not been made available to honorable senators, because it contains several propositions which I have been trying to jot down. This bears out Senator Kennelly’s point: What is the need for all the rush about this matter? Surely it could have been handled in a more orderly manner. Honorable senators should have had the benefit of copies of the Minister’s speech putting his arguments why the Senate should not insist upon upholding what was a solemn decision just a few weeks ago.
Senator Wedgwood underlined a matter that we strike in this Parliamentary unfortunately all too frequently. That is the complete misunderstanding of what regulationmaking powers means. This is a problem which the Regulations and Ordinances Committee has run up against time and time again. The problem is how to get into the minds of parliamentarians an understanding of the proper and very important place of regulations. Whenever a regulation is discussed or challenged the whole situation is completely misunderstood. Senator Wedgwood said that, because we all want to see a greater development in housing, nothing should be done through this Bill that could delay the achievement of the objective in any way. This argument could be applied to any act at all.
Before any regulation is ever dealt with by this Parliament, I would advise and recommend - in fact I think it should be prescribed reading - a study of a speech on this subject by the late Herbert Morrison in the House of Commons. Under his administration during the war, something was done with the fire fighting equipment during the bombing of London, and the authority for this action was not contained in a regulation. A regulation had been prepared but it had not been brought before the Parliament. Herbert Morrison got up before the House of Commons, and in a speech which is contained in a book in the Parliamentary Library, he humbly apologised to the Parliament for doing something which, he said, struck at the very right of Parliament to have control of its own affairs. The action was in relation to fire fighting equipment during the bombing of London, but even the importance of that matter did not affect the principle, and the apology was offered most humbly by a very senior Minister. I have mentioned this incident in passing in order to try to draw attention to the importance of regulations, because Ministers in ‘this Parliament have never grasped the significance of what a regulation is. They have never grasped the importance, after having passed a Bill, and let it go to the appropriate Minister and his civil servants for administration, of keeping this Parliament continually interested in and responsible for that Bill to make sure that the spirit of it is observed and all its provisions are implemented as approved by the Parliament.
If we turn to the comments of the Minister for Defence on the amendment a few weeks ago, we find that he recognised the importance of having the classes of lenders in some public form so that they would be available for public scrutiny. Honorable Senators will remember that the Minister said that he would be prepared to have this information published in the “ Gazette “. It was pointed out to him at the time that the publishing of this information in the “ Gazette “ did not meet all the demands of the Parliament because although the action of the Minister for Housing would be revealed to the public, this Parliament still would not be given any power to disallow a regulation or to criticise or discuss a regulation. When a regulation is made, it takes effect immediately. However, it lies on the table of the Senate for 15 sitting days during which it may be challenged. This period could be five weeks or, if Parliament goes into recess, many weeks or many months. This would not be sudden death. The Government promulgates a regulation and it is placed on the table of the Senate. In this case, the classes of lenders could be declared. They could transact business under the regulation. If the regulation were challenged it would be within the power of the Government to postpone the discussion of the matter for the full 15 sitting days. We would have an opportunity to examine the position. Has this Parliament, when dealing with regulations, ever failed to act with complete responsibility and on the basis of full documentation of the subject being considered?
– Would the honorsenator like to lend money and then have the relevant regulation disallowed four months afterwards?
– The regulation would be cancelled.
– It would not be cancelled. A regulation is operative from the day on which it is brought in. The Government is not admitting the existence of the problem with which it is faced. The Minister is not even listening now. It is no wonder that he makes speeches such as he made last night if he does not listen to what is being said. The Minister has talked about this declaration being an administrative act, a minor part of the administration of the scheme. Is it in fact of minor importance? Under the scheme, one person will lend money and another will borrow, yet it will be said that the approval of the lender is only a minor administrative detail. The Government should write into this and into similar legislation provisions to give the people complete confidence in what is being done, but in this instance it says it will not tell anybody what it is doing. That is the sort of thing that brings opprobrium on a government.
On the question of delay. Senator McKenna has pointed out how quickly the machinery can be put into operation. If there is delay in administration, it is the Government’s job to clean the matter up. not to hide behind its own inefficiency, as it is proposing to do. If the Government were efficient and if the machinery were well oiled, it would be possible to write regulations and have them published in a matter of days. There would be no need to delay action under them until they were tabled in Parliament, because, as I have pointed out, they would become operative immediately. The Government is not honest enough to say that the real reason for its present proposal is that it cannot get regulations out as quickly as it would like. There have been inordinate delays in this field over the years. As I have said, the real reason for the Government’s present proposal is the inefficiency of its administration, but it is not honest enough to say “ Because we are inefficient, we have to do other things to get around the problem “. Have we debated anything more important than import regulations? On that occasion the responsible Minister could have said: “ Regulations are inappropriate because we have to move with tremendous speed in these things “. But he did not do so; he did everything he could to help us tn what we were trying to achieve. He did that despite the fact that then the sort of argument put up today by Senator Paltridge would have had some validity.
Today Senator Paltridge has said that the people are asking for a wider class of lenders, and this amendment makes that more difficult to achieve. Nothing of the sort. Half the Minister’s argument was against his own case. We are insisting on proper parliamentary procedure. We are moving into a field where we have a great deal of sympathy for the people concerned. If we declared a wide class of people to be lenders under a regulation, there could be other regulations specifying the standards to be applied, the amounts of money that might be lent and the kind of loans that could be insured. There could be a provision that agreements should be properly drawn up so that there would be no falling for a three card trick by someone who had been in business for only a week or so.
By the use of regulations of that sort, many suspicions that might otherwise arise would be prevented from arising. However, it seems that the Government wants suspicions to be aroused by its use of back door methods. I do not mind how wide the classes of approved lenders are, provided they are specified in regulations. I am disappointed, but not upset, by the Government’s attitude. When we come to the subject of regulations we always find a suspicious attitude on the part of Ministers. They never trouble to find out the true position of the regulatory power in the parliamentary system. In this instance we, on this side of the chamber, have great sympathy with the objectives of the measure. In fact, every person in this Parliament has been trying to assist the Government to make the legislation work properly. What we are now saying is that the Government should follow a proper procedure, because by doing so it would avoid suspicions that might otherwise be aroused as to the operation of the scheme. I believe that many of the arguments put forward by the Minister are in fact in favour of this declaration being made by way of regulation.
Tn conclusion let me say this: What has changed between now and the time when we last discussed this matter? We knew all the facts then and we know them now. The fact that the House of Representatives has rejected this amendment should make no difference to our views.
– The proposition put to us in this amendment is that a class of lenders must be declared toy regulation - a regulation which can be disallowed by either House of the Parliament within 1 5 sitting days, after the meeting of the House. Assume that the Minister has before him a company which he would be willing to approve as a lender. The board of that company says: “ We have a sum of money coming due from certain sources in two weeks’ time. We are prepared to lend this money under the Government’s housing proposals as contained in this Bill, but we would like to be informed within a fortnight whether we are approved lenders. If we are not to be accepted as a lender, we will channel this money elsewhere. We are not prepared to hold it for some weeks; we will invest it elsewhere. Our board has a duty to invest this money on behalf of its shareholders in a fortnight’s time. If you can give us an answer within two weeks, we will channel it into housing loans; if not, we will channel it elsewhere.” The Minister would then have to say: “You are a class of lender of which I would approve, but 1 cannot give you a definite answer because. I have to do it by regulation, and the regulation can be disallowed by either House of the Parliament “.
– The Minister does not understand regulations.
– A regulation can be disallowed. It does not take a committee of the Parliament to disallow it. It needs only one person in the Parliament to rise and move that the regulation be disallowed. If the Parliament votes against it, the regulation is out.
– That could be done six months later.
– The arrangement was made under a regulation which was disallowed and therefore it is not valid. You cannot give any undertaking to this type of person.
– Will the Minister check that at lunch time?
– I checked it with the Treasury before I made the statement, and that was the position. If the Minister had power to give authority in writing, the money would be available for housing within a fortnight. Senator Willesee made the rather infantile statement, if I may so describe it, that we do not know the regulatory process of this House.
– I did not realise how right I was until the Minister started to speak.
– We know the regulatory process. I recall an experience I had in this House which is rather interestingand illustrates how the regulatory position has been prostituted by the Opposition.’ The Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which I hold in high regard, recommended’ against the adoption of a regulation on censorship which I had before this Parliament. The matter was debated in this House. Honorable senators opposite had told me that they approved of the regulation. However, at the caucus meeting on - the Wednesday morning they were told that they had to vote against it. I do not believethat such an occurrence as that is conducive to the operation of this House as a House of Parliament. When the Regulations and Ordinances Committee brings a proposal to this House, members of the Labour Party vote as they arc dictated to by caucus.
– That is not true.
– The honorable senator was one who did this. He told me that he was in favour of the regulation. What is more, he did not speak on it but withdrew his name from the list of speakers until Wednesday, after the caucus meeting, so that he would know what the ‘ Labour Patry told him to do.
– I think the Minister is talking nonsense.
– No. I am right. The basis of my objection to the regulatory process in this House is that it is reduced to political policy of the lowest ebb. Honorable senators opposite, whether they agree or not, must abide by a caucus decision. The matter should be thrashed out on a fair dinkum basis and every senator should say what he thinks. But honorable senators opposite make it a party matter. They are directed by caucus and although they may agree on a certain matter, they are directed to vote against it. I ask honorable senators to recall the debate on the regulation relating to censorship.
– I recall the Minister’s performance in it, too.
– I gave the honorable senator a- compromise which he was very glad to accept. It did not mean a darn thing but it let the honorable senator out and allowed him to save face. It did not mean anything, but the honorable senator gladly accepted it. Many honorable senators opposite told me on the Tuesday that they were in accord with the regulation, but on the Wednesday, after the caucus meeting, they came back to the Senate and said: “ We are sorry. We have to vote as caucus told us.” If this represents proper conduct in relation to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I am very surprised. 1 say that it is not.
– Come back to the point.
– The whole point is that a regulation can be disallowed on a party basis in this House.
– The Government is conducting it on party lines.
– Have we ever told the honorable senator how to vote at a meeting of this Committee?
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! I ask the Minister to direct his remarks to the Chair.
– Yes, Mr. Chairman. I ask whether honorable senators on this side of the House who are members of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee have ever been dictated to as to how they should vote. Have they ever been told what they should do by people on our side of Parliament? The answer is: “ No “. I ask Senator Wood, who is Chairman of the Committee, whether he has ever been directed by the Government parties as to how he should vote on a regulation. I would like to hear him say so if he has. He has a free choice. He knows that he has a free choice and he has exercised it over and over again. He does not go into our party room and come out and say: “ I am sorry, but the party has told me how I am to vote.”
– Neither does anybody else.
– Yes. They do.
– You are a liar.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– Yes. I withdraw it, certainly.
– I should think that the honorable senator would. He gets a little heated at times. The amendment is of vital significance. Under its terms classes of lenders are approved by regulations. But a lender may wish to know within a fortnight whether he has been granted approval and because of the regulatory process, if lenders are to be approved by regulations, this would not be possible. It is not good enough that regulations can be disallowed in this House on a party vote.
– What is wrong with it?
– Senator Cavanagh asks what is wrong with it. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee was set up as a bi-partisan committee. If some members of the Committee are directed how to vote by caucus, it destroys the value of the Committee. It is time that something was done about it in this House, because we have seen it happen over and over again.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr. Chairman, before lunch I was advised by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to have another look at the proposition I had advanced that, if a class of lender was approved under a regulation that was subsequently disallowed, then a loan made by a lender in that class would not be valid. I have taken advantage of the opportunity to look at the matter and I find that there is still some uncertainty about it but that there is a leaning towards the view that approval for a loan given by the Corporation would still be valid and may still continue to operate after the regulation had been disallowed. I thought I should make that further advice available to honorable senators. The advice I was given earlier was given somewhat off the cuff by the Secretary of the Department.
– We did try to advise the Minister.
– Yes. I said that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber had advised me to have another look at the matter. The draftsman says that, if there is a preponderance of view, it would be on the side of the Corporation’s approval being valid.
There is another aspect of the matter that I should like honorable senators to consider. One of the duties of a lender is to service a loan for the period of that- loan. The period may be 20 years. The lender might wish to foreclose on the loan. If so, he has a duty to go to the Minister and to discuss the matter with him. But it would be very difficult for that lender to service the loan adequately if, after approval of the loan had been given by the Corporation, the regulation covering the class to which he belonged was disallowed. I advance that point of view for the consideration of honorable senators and leave the matter to them to decide.
– Mr. Chairman, parliamentary democracy is always in a precarious situation. Everywhere it exists it moves step by step towards the bureaucracy and despotism which ultimately destroy every form of democratic government. What is happening today is an example of what will be an inexorable process unless those who understand it have the strength and courage to resist it. We have not sought, and we do not seek, to make party political capital out of this matter, because we believe that the issue is fundamental.
Throughout history liberty has been gained by restriction of governmental power, not by its enlargement. In Australia our liberties depend upon the maintenance of a strong Parliament. Whatever weakens the Parliament weakens the liberties of our people. Parliament constantly has to protect itself against encroachment by governments. Government by regulation was the first method of weakening Parliament. That method was initiated many hundreds of years ago elsewhere. Over the centuries, and after many bitter battles and revolutions, the supremacy of Parliament was asserted. It is encumbent upon us in 1965 to maintain that supremacy. Government by regulation was met by parliamentary supervision of that form of legislation. That supervision is provided for here in the Acts Interpretation Act. Under that Act regulations may be disallowed. They have to be notified in the “ Gazette “, they have to be brought before the Houses of Parliament, and they may be disallowed by a vote of either House of the Parliament. That is how the Parliament asserts its control over regulations. Persons who may be affected by a disallowance are protected in exactly the same way as are persons who may be affected by the repeal of a regulation. I am pleased that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) indicated that the opinion that he expressed earlier was not correct. I am surprised that he should suggest that there is any doubt about the matter, because the Act specifically provides in essence that disallowance of a regulation shall not affect its earlier operation or anything duly done under it - that it shall not affect any right or privilege acquired under the regulation.
It is undeniable that the particular provision we are considering grants subordinate legislative power. That was stated on the last occasion upon which the matter was discussed. The reasons given officially in another place and here suggest otherwise, but there has been no real attempt in either place to support that position. There is a number of eminent Queen’s Counsel in this Parliament, but not one of them has publicly supported the proposition that the granting of power under this clause is not delegated legislation. If there were even the slightest doubt about that, would not the Government have produced to honorable senators opinions to the contrary, not by one such person but by several? If there were any doubt about the matter, opinions by the Solicitor-General and outside eminent legal authorities would have been produced. It is beyond doubt that the provision we are considering is subordinate legislation. Other provisions in the very same Bill indicate that this provision is clearly of that kind.
I shall not repeat what was said on the earlier occasion. The most disturbing feature about this debate has not been the official answer that has been given but the reasons that have been advanced in this chamber to support it. The Minister has said that the making of an instrument in writing is a simpler and more expeditious method of dealing with the situation than by regulation. On other occasions it has been admitted that a regulation may be made just as quickly as the putting of a notice in the “ Gazette “. There is no doubt that, if the Government conducts its business properly, it may make regulations expeditiously and that those regulations then take effect. This is why the matter is so serious: The Minister has said that, if the Government proceeded by way of regulation, then the Parliament may disallow the regulation. That is an attack upon the whole principle of parliamentary control of the Executive in this kind of action. The Minister says, in effect: “ Trust the Minister, but do not trust the Parliament “. The Minister may make an instrument, and it is said that that gives more certainty than if the matter were to be dealt with by regulation subject to the control of the Parliament. Of course, this is completely untrue. If the Minister can make an instrument, he can unmake it. What he does one week by instrument in writing he may undo the next week. The power which he is given to make such an instrument carries with it the power to unmake and to vary. There would be no more certainty for these business corporations than there would be under the law of the land. A regulation is the law which carries more certainty with it than a law which can be made and unmade by a Minister.
It is an attack upon the very fundamentals of our democracy to say that we must have government by instrument. It means that in 1965 we are entering a period when the Government, standing in front of the bureaucracy which really does these things, has found that the Parliament is properly exercising its supervision over regulations, and it wants to get away from this position. The Government always seeks to evade the control of Parliament. A new device has been invented. If we allow it this time, we shall see more and more of it. It will not be government by regulation; it will be government by instrument in writing which is not public or subject to disallowance by the Parliament. The argument will be advanced again and again: “ Trust the Government. This is the way to govern. It can be done more expeditiously, more simply and so on. You will not be subject to the threat that either House of the Parliament may disapprove of what the Minister has done.” What does this mean when you examine it? It means that the Minister wants to get into his hand the power by instrument in writing to do something of which a House of the Parliament may disapprove. He wants to have it in such a way that neither House of the Parliament will be able to do anything about it.
This is something which honorable senators can view only with disquiet. Why should the Minister be trusted and not the Houses of Parliament? Why should it be said that the Houses of Parliament would act irresponsibly? If the Minister made a regulation and persons operated under it, and the reasons were put to the Houses of Parliament, why would they nevertheless act irresponsibly and disallow the regulation thereby affecting, perhaps, the continuance of someone’s business even though it would not affect anything done to that date under the regulation? It means that the attack is founded really upon the irresponsibility of the Houses of Parliament. The position comes down to this: You must trust the Minister but not the Houses of Parliament. They must not be in the position where they can control or where they can disallow what has been done by the Minister.
Mr. Chairman, I ask the Senate not to accept the view of the Government. We see today the party system at its worst. The Government knows that this is wrong. I believe that the Government now knows the issues which are at stake. The Opposition does not seek to make any advantage out of this situation. If the view that the Senate previously took is upheld we will not seek to say that it is a victory for the Opposition. It will not be a victory for any particular party. If the view is upheld it will be a victory for Parliament itself. I ask honorable senators to uphold the view which the Senate previously took.
– I enter this debate as a result of the trend it had taken until Senator Murphy entered it. I think that he put it on the right track. He dealt with the importance of delegated power and said that Parliament should retain the power. Previously, the matter had been dealt with on the basis that it was purely a question of how much time it would take to get the regulations through or for the Minister to sign a document. That is not the important question. The important question is whether we should give the power to the Parliament or to the Minister. But I think it goes somewhat further than Senator Murphy took it. It goes to the very purpose of the Bill. When the Bill was introduced we were told that it was designed to attract certain money into housing construction. The investors are to be given gilt edged security whereby they will take no risks. In that way they will lend a greater amount of money for housing construction. But if we reached the stage in Australia where all available money was attracted to housing because of the gilt edged nature of the security, Australia could be in a bad position. Clause 5 was inserted in the Bill to prevent that occurring.
Clause 5 deals with two matters. First, it relates to classes of lenders, and secondly, to persons who may seek to lend money for housing. Under the Bill as originally presented the Minister had the right to declare classes of lenders. The illustration which the Minister gave us when he opened the present debate was that if mining companies wanted to invest money in housing he could approve of them as being a class of lenders. The Minister cannot say that the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. shall be approved as a class of lenders, but he can say that mining companies will bc accepted.
Under clause 5(2.) it is provided that the Corporation, after considering whether a particular company’s finances are sound or whether there are any other doubts about it, can approve of it as a class of lender. The Minister declares the class of lender that the Corporation must consider. Therefore, a particular class of lender would not lend money for a particular project if it was known that it would be disapproved of at some time in the future. Under clause 5(1.) once the -Minister approves of a class of lender he cannot revoke his approval, but the Corporation, after having approved of’ a particular lender, can revoke its approval. However, clause 5(4.) contains the proviso that although the Corporation may revoke its approval of .a particular lender, all the rights accruing to that lender are maintained in respect of the particular loan which was entered into before the revocation of the approval. But once the Minister has approved of a particular class of person, it can continue to make applications. In the administration of the Act disagreement could arise between the Minister and the Corporation. There is the possibility of disagreement if, for instance, the Minister were to revoke the approval of a class of lenders. Should the Corporation act on the instructions of the Minister from time to time in relation to particular individuals? The important point is that the reason for the introduction of the Bill was to attract the investment of money for housing construction. It may be that in the future we will decide that it is far better for the development of Australia to attract money into some avenues of investment other than housing. Parliament should have authority to decide from time to time whether it is best for national development that money be invested. If any Minister should have authority to decide the best avenue of investment for national development, it should be the Minister ‘ for National Development rather than the Minister for Housing. If a mining company decided to invest money in housing next year, someone would have to say whether it was more desirable in the national interest that the company should invest its surplus money in housing rather than in mining. This is the very question which Parliament should have the authority to decide and on which it should have the knowledge.
It is obvious that the Minister for Housing, who is keen on his Department and Wants to see it grow, could simply declare all sections as classes under this legislation and attract all the available money into housing, lt was never the intention of the legislation that classes of persons should be declared as approved lenders and that these declarations should be revoked from time to time when in the national interest it was desirable that their particular money be invested in the gilt edged security of housing rather than in Other avenues. In the national interest, it might be more beneficial at a particular time for the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., mining interests or manufacturing interests, to follow their normal investments and activities rather than to invest in the gilt edged security of housing. Obviously, that would be the time for the Minister or the Parliament to revoke a declaration that they were approved lenders.
Now is the time to determine whether the direction of investment for national development of Australia should be left in the hands of the Minister for Housing or in the hands of the Parliament.
This is an important question which Parliament should decide from time to time. I. ask the Minister to look into the question of revoking a declaration which, as has been complained today, would have the authority of an act of Parliament if it were made by regulation. Why would anybody invest in the housing field now if he knew that at some time in the future his status as a member of an approved class of lenders might be revoked? Obviously it is ah important function of Parliament, if it is’ to serve its purpose, to direct the investment of money for certain purposes or the transfer money to other activities, lt should be able to say that in future no mining companies can invest money in housing and that they must invest in mining or some other activity.
The Minister has stated that members of an approved class of lenders would have to service a loan over a period and would therefore require some security. That is not covered by sub-clause (4.) of clause 5. Those who service the loans are not a class but are particular individuals, as referred to in sub-clause (2.). A particular person or company which makes a loan must have approval under subclause (2.). They are the ones which whom we are concerned.
The whole point at issue is whether the Parliament should retain the power to say what type of investment should be attracted to housing, and what class of persons should be allowed the security that this legislation provides, or whether this should be the function of the appropriate Minister, who may be a complete authority on housing but not a complete authority on the whole national interest and investment from time to time. The Parliament should retain that right. A party in its superior wisdom may say that money should not be invested by mining companies in housing if, as a result of this investment, the companies curtail their mining activities. It would be proper for the party to direct its members to vote in a certain way, in relation to the allowance or disallowance of regulations which would have the effect of permitting the transfer of the investment activities of mining companies to other fields. I do not think that anyone could complain about that. This is a very important matter. A government which is interested in the development of Australia in accordance with its own beliefs should have at all times the right to say what benefits will be given to companies to attract their money to the avenues of investment thought to be best suited for the development of the country.
– I have been rather surprised at the tenor of the debate, particularly at the remarks of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty). It astounds me, as a Libera], to hear the type of view we heard expressed here today. We of the Liberal Party tell the people that we believe in the bicameral system of Parliament. I have my doubts about it. It looks as (hough we tell the people this but we do not really believe it.
– Oh yes, we do.
– I am going on the facts. I have been the Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee for many years. I came into this Parliament in 1949 and not very long after that I became a member of the Committee and, except for about 18 months, I have been Chairman of it. The duty of (he Committee is to be the custodian of the rights of the Parliament, to see that the Parliament, not the Executive, runs this country. From time to time the Committee has reported to the Senate on regulations that it thought should be brought to notice. The Minister said ‘that the Committee had moved in regard to certain regulations. The Committee reports, and an individual senator moves accordingly if he feels so inclined.
Since I came to this Parliament in 1949, whether sitting as a senator in this chair, or sitting where you are, Mr. Chairman, as a member of the panel of Temporary Chairmen or as an Acting Deputy President, I have always carried on with a proper sense of the dignity of a senator and parliamentarian. I have always been a strong upholder of the rights and dignity of the Parliament and the rights of the Senate as a States House and a House of Review. Those are the two basic reasons for the constitution of this Senate and I believe that the Senate will play a very important role if senators will recognise their duty. When it comes to voting on a question of the retention of the power of the Parliament in the hands of parliamentarians or reviewing legislation or functioning as a States House, if they act accordingly they will be doing their job. Not only as a senator but as Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I have always kept these principles in my mind. No-one can deny, I believe, looking at the position fairly, that during the period I have been Chairman the Regulations and Ordinances Committee has never come in with anything that was foolish or had a party angle. The Committee consists of Liberal and Country Party senators and Labour senators, but the whole of the time that I have been a member of that Committee - mostly as Chairman -
I have never yet seen any member of the Committee playing politics. It is a Committee that performs its duty in the highest parliamentary traditions. It is a standing committee of this Parliament elected by the senators. Therefore,. I think it is wrong for a Minister of the Crown to imply, as the Minister for Civil Aviation did, certain things in regard to the Committee.
The Committee functions on the highest possible parliamentary principles. Furthermore, its members do not receive any pay. lt is an honorary committee, unlike the Public Works Committee or the Public Accounts Committee or the Foreign Affairs Committee, which pay their members £2 10s. a day, and their Chairmen £3 3s. a day even if they meet on sitting days when, in any case, they get a parliamentary allowance of £6 a day. We work in an honorary capacity, and, in the parliamentary tradition, we try to give the highest thought to anything that comes before us, recognising all the time that we are a standing committee of the Parliament. I was rather sickened by the Minister for Civil Aviation who lashed out at me with the words: “You have the Labour Party with you “. I stand here, first, as a senator of this country. If I think a thing is the best for this Parliament and for this country, I will vote for it. The fact that the Minister for Civil Aviation vents a bit of spleen and heat does not deter me. Honorable senators should know by now that when I decide to make a stand, I make a stand. I do not back out. When 1 decide to make a stand, I make sure that I do make a stand.
So far as the matter before us is concerned, I intend to oppose the Government in its attempt to throw out the amendment which the Senate made. It has been returned to us by the House of Representatives with the story that the Minister in the other place considers this to be a matter for executive decision. What is the previous story that the Minister told? He said that a delay was likely to take place because of factors associated with a regulation. He said that if this were done under a regulation instead of under the hand of the Minister there would be a long delay. Of course, the Minister mentioned the worst that could happen. He said: “ Parliament might go into recess one day and a regulation might be made a day or two later. Parliament then might not sit for three months and when it did reassemble the regulation would have to lay on the table for 15 sitting days. He said that the regulation could then be disallowed and that anything done under it would be invalid.
Our legal friend, Senator Murphy, has made it clear that the Minister’s statement is not true. A regulation comes out of the Executive Council and from that day on it takes the force of law. If any contract is made while that regulation stands, the contract has the force of law even if the regulation is disallowed during the currency of the contract. A contract made in those circumstances is the same as any other contract and naturally would stand up in a court of law. 1 think all legal men will agree that any contract that is made in the interim period has the force of law behind it, the force of a law enacted by this Parliament. As I have said, the first excuse related to the delay that was likely to take place.
The excuse made now relates to a decision by the Executive. Of course, the Ministry likes to have power, lt hates to think that Parliament has power. So far as I am concerned, Parliament stands supreme because Parliament is the focal point of democracy. While Ministers might like to have more power and might feel personally better by having more power, I believe we should retain as much power in the hands of the Parliament as we possibly can. When parliamentarians do not work to this end they are themselves selling out the rights of the Parliament. The suggestion is that the Minister might make better decisions than are made by the Parliament. That is a debatable point. Despite the slow lumbering pace of democracy, I prefer the democratic processes to be carried out as they should be. I cannot see that the argument put forth by the Minister has any real weight. Notice the shift. First of all, the excuse related to the length of time involved. Now it relates to a decision of the Executive. Why the change? To my way of thinking, the argument does not hold water.
Except on very rare occasions - I can remember the rare occasions - whenever the Regulations and Ordinances Committee has brought a regulation before the Senate we have been blasted, sometimes even by Ministers, for having the audacity to take uo a regulation. Then later on, when we have won through, very often it has been with the support of the Opposition, not the Government. I have said before, and I say it now publicly, that this standing committee could not have functioned truly during the time that I have been a member of it if it had not received the support of the Opposition. I do not think that reflects any credit on the Government. I make that statement quite clearly. The Minister had a lot to say about collusion and about working with the Labour Party.
– The honorable senator has just admitted that he is working with the Labour Party.
– Some of our senators cannot see which side is supporting which. Unfortunately the newspapers will say: “ So and so supported the Labour Party”. I point out that the amendment now before us was proposed by a Liberal senator, Senator Wright, who I know still holds the same view about it as he did when he advanced his amendment and when the legislation was amended. Unfortunately some honorable senators cannot discern for themselves that if a motion comes from this side of the chamber and support for it comes from the Labour side, it is a case of the Labour Party supporting a Liberal Party proposal. They just cannot get that into their minds.
My memory is very clear that time and time again when moves have been made for regulations which would affect Ministers, we have had a good deal of trouble. Much has been said about us, but in nearly every case when we have won through with the support of the Opposition the Government has later approved our actions. Let me remind honorable senators about import licensing. They will remember what a hullabaloo there was about it. The Minister has asked me to tell of any instance of an attempt being made to exert pressure on us. The Minister has asked for it so I will tell him. Time after time over a period of years when the committee made a certain decision there was an attempt to exert pressure. In the case to which I am referring the matter was raised at our party meeting - I am telling this because the Minister asked me to do so - and I was spoken to by the Leader of the Government. On that occasion I was accused of trying to run the Government.
What happened? Because the committee received the support of the Opposition, its recommendation went through and in a matter of a year or so this very Minister who today has so lowered the standard of Parliament introduced into the Senate a bill setting up an appeals board to deal with customs matters - based, as I have said before, on the very successful import licensing appeal board which we, the Senate, made the Government set up. The Government took the credit for it but it was set up as a result of the activities of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
I look back on the things that have happened and the rows that certain regulations have caused. One would think that the Government has to be moved by a charge of dynamite to make the slight alteration that is now before us. The Government resents the amendment because it was made by the Senate. Do we believe in the bicameral system or do we not? Let us be honest about it. This Senate made an alteration believing that it was the right thing to do. If we have any shred of feeling about the Senate we will take a stand as senators and see that the proposed alteration remains. If the Government intends to put on the screws to change a decision that is made by the Senate, the Senate does not serve any purpose. Only today I read in the newspapers about a man in Sydney who was brought before a court because he did not vote in the recent Senate election. He said that he did not vote because we were a lot of stooges or a lot of rabbits or something to that effect. Mr. Chairman, if such a charge can be truly laid, only the Senate is responsible for it. So far as I am concerned, as a senator, I have always stood my ground in supporting what I have believed in, and I always shall.
On this occasion I do not feel that there is any real merit in what the Government has sought to do. If a regulation is made extending the classifications of people who may lend money, then any contract that is made with a person within those classifications will stand. It has the force of law. If the Parliament later knocks out that regulation, what is wrong with that? Does not the Parliament, which is the focal point of democracy, have that right? The Parliament is the paramount point of democracy in this country.
I take this stand: If there was any doubt about it or if there was an issue of great importance. I would stand with it. for safety. If this is an issue of minor importance as some people say, 1 point out that there is also a principle involved and although it may be insignificant, a principle is always important to me and, I believe, to the people. Therefore, I stand strongly in favour of the amendment that was made by the Senate and I therefore oppose the move by the Government to have it deleted.
– I do not want to delay the Committee but I do not think the extraordinary speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator. Henty) should be allowed to go without some comment. Senator Wood stole a lot of my thunder in a speech which was unique in this Parliament. He displayed an honesty which has probably been missing for too long and has answered completely the accusations of the Minister.
There was a vast difference between the Minister for Civil Aviation before lunch and after lunch. Before lunch, the Minister made two points. One was that we were completely wrong in our interpretation of what a regulation meant. His second point was that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee did all sorts of things. Senator Wood has dealt with that point. The Minister was a wiser man after lunch than he was before it. Possibly there is something in the old saying that you should never ask the boss for a rise until after lunch. But at least the Minister admits that he was wrong. He has raised some doubts. I do not know what they could be. The matter is so elementary that it should be known to everybody except apparently some of the Ministers who seem to have developed blind spots on the question of regulations.
I interjected harshly which is not my form generally, but I did so on this occasion deliberately to try to shock honorable senators into a realisation of the extraordinary statements that have been made by the Minister. He said one thing he did not like about the Regulations and Ordinances Committee was that the Labour members were subject to the decisions of caucus after it had met and decided on a certain line. He said that the Liberal Party members were completely free without any penalties to vote as they liked and to say what they thought fit. Senator Wood put the record straight on that point when he spoke of some of the pressures that had been brought on him. The Minister’s statements were ridiculous. I have sat in this Parliament and have seen honorable senators taken out into the passageway and steamrolled after they had taken a certain decision in the Parliament.
We must have some honesty in this matter. It is time we got over this- juvenile nonsense of saying that one political party lives in one atmosphere and that it is quite different from that of another political party. Some things are necessary in political parties. One thing can be said about the Australian Labour Party: Everything it does is well reported and you know all about it. Senator Wood has been honest and decent enough to say what goes on.
I regret that the Minister for Civil Aviation is not in the chamber but I regret more than I can convey that he has smeared the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. This Committee was working for many years before I joined it - I have been a member for 13 years - and it has strengthened the Parliament. After a long battle it has secured acceptance of the tremendous importance of subordinate legislation. It has tried to show the Public Service that it is not attacking the Public Service and all it believes in and is not seeking merely to make the job slightly easier than it was. In the 13 years I have been in this Parliament, we have never once reached agreement on the Regulations and Ordinance Committee contrary in any way to the vote of every Labour man in the Parliament. In spite of what the Minister for Civil Aviation keeps repeating, never once has the Labour caucus instructed us to deviate, or suggested that we should deviate from the decisions we reached in the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I cannot put it any more firmly than that. I had to withdraw a word before. I now leave it to the people to judge who is right. The past 13 years have been active ones in the Australian Parliament.
Reference has been made to the use of whips in the Parliament. Is it not ironic that the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) should be the Minister associated with this matter? If you took his shirt off you would certainly see the marks of the flagellation administered to his back by the Prime
Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Yet honorable senators on the Government side imply that only members of the Labour Party are subjected to such treatment.
The Minister for Civil Aviation referred to the importation of literature. He seemed to suggest that there was something wrong in that connection with the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I will not pursue that matter any further except to say that I should think that would be the last matter he would raise because he got up here and said that what the Committee suggested was completely impossible. Senator Wood indicates agreement with my statement. We have cause to remember these things. The Minister said it would be impossible and would render the regulation impotent; yet within an hour he called us in and virtually agreed with all we had said.
I do not want to pursue these things further because I thought that was a happy ending. We have never tried to extract the last drop of juice from the orange. We were satisfied so long as ‘we could solve a problem. Certainly things have not always gone exactly as we hoped because we know the problems of Ministers and try to help them. But when we have these things thrown up at us in the second hysterical speech within a few hours, we have to put the record straight. The Ministers themselves have discovered that one or two of the premises on which they based their arguments have been proved wrong. The fact is that a delay will not impede action. Nothing is being nullified. Have you, Mr. Chairman, ever seen anybody doing anything unnecessarily to impede the Government through regulations? Nobody was interested in picking out any class of lender or in saying that the Government should do this, that or the other. We were merely trying to carry out the rules of Parliamentary democracy in this peculiar form which so many people, particularly Ministers, have never taken time out to study. If we accede to the request of the House of Representatives we shall be throwing away the substance for the shadow and even the shadow will not be all that important in the field of practical politics.
, - I want to intercede at this point because much has been said since I introduced the motion that the Committee is now considering. I want to start at the point in the debate where reference was made to the fact that the mover of the amendment was not present in the chamber today. Because we are proceeding with this matter, an accusation was made that we were guilty of discourtesy to the mover. We can accuse each other of many things across the chamber at different times. For my part I reject entirely any charge of discourtesy in connection with this matter. I reject it on good grounds both general and particular.
The general grounds on which I reject the accusation are well known to honorable senators because they relate to a practice which has become common usage in this place. We deal with our business by introducing legislation or matters pertaining to current legislation as the business comes to ils in one way or another. Indeed, it is equally common practice, although it does not occur as frequently as does the presentation of legislation, that messages from the House of Representatives which relate to amendments are invariably taken into con; sideration by the Committee of the Whole at the time they are received.
Having said that in a general way, I want to say something about this particular case because it should not be forgotten, Mr. Chairman, that the amendment was made by the Senate some three weeks ago and, since that date, the Parliament has been in recess. Not unexpectedly, I think every senator - indeed, every member of the Parliament - would realise that during that recess consideration would have been given to the amendment which was carried in this chamber. I want to make the point as emphatically as I can that this is in fact what happened. The suggestion has been made - and it is quite a groundless suggestion - that this amendment was dismissed because it was introduced by this chamber. I assure the Committee that the amendment received full consideration. Having received full consideration, the amendment was dealt with in the usual course in the House of Representatives. For my own part, I want to make it perfectly clear that soon after Senator Wright arrived here on Tuesday afternoon I made it my personal business to say to him that the Government had rejected the amendment and that the amendment would be dealt with in the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon. I want to make it clear that I have been at pains to make sure that Senator Wright knew what was going on.
Reference has been made to a party meeting. 1 do not usually speak of party meetings but, on this occasion, I feel I am entitled to do so. In order to demonstrate to the members of the Government parties the consideration that had been given to this measure, it was discussed at the instigation of the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) at our party meeting. It was said then again that the matter would be carried forward in the normal course that afternoon. I did receive last night, as it happened, a letter from Senator Wright. It was probably written yesterday afternoon, but 1 did not have the opportunity of seeing it until last night when I returned to my office. In this letter, Senator Wright requested that consideration of this matter be held over until he returned to the Senate. He, by that time, I understand, had left Canberra to go about some other matter. I wrote to him immediately pointing out that I was not prepared to do that. He has not received my letter but I think, in the circumstances, it is fair that I should read it. I said to him -
I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of this date in which you request that any proposal to reject the Senate amendment on the Housing Loans Insurance Bill be not presented while you are absent. Frankly, I see no reason why the matter should not be dealt with in the ordinary course of business and I do not therefore undertake to ensure that it will be deferred until you next attend the Senate.
Against the background of the events which I have chronicled, I think this was a reasonable answer to the request which was made. I merely go to the trouble of recounting that set of circumstances to indicate, I hope with complete clarity and conviction, to the Committee that no lack of courtesy was shown to the mover of the amendment in this regard. I do not want to read a sermon but during a Senate sitting a senator’s first place of duty is in the Senate.
I move from that matter and I come to aspects of the debate which have proved to me to be most interesting. I want to deal first, if I may, with this question of any delay that might occur as a result of the use of the regulation making power rather than the ministerial direction. If I wanted to split hairs with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), then I certainly would take him up on the point of the relative times it takes to prepare at least some regulations and some writings under ministerial hand, because he knows. 1 am sure, as well as 1 do that almost invariably delays occur in the drafting of regulations. Those delays can be lengthy. But I do not make that a point. The delay to which I referred and always have referred during this debate now and previously is the delay that flows from the fact that an approved lender will not regard with complete freedom of action a decision that he may embark on lendings which is not a final decision. That is the point. That is the whole point. How can it be held that an approved lender is going to embark upon a programme of lendings when he realises that somewhere there may be some impediment to that programme for any reason? Capital has been described as the shyest maiden in the chorus. We have all had plenty of examples of that. Throughout this debate, the Minister for Housing, I myself, and those who have supported this Bill have indicated time and time again that the job to do is to get the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation going, to get it off the ground, and to adopt procedures that make for quick implementation of what we believe anyway will be a most desirable social measure. This is the very reason why this particular procedure has been adopted.
– indeed, I look over there and I invariably think of that part of the chamber as “Q.C.s’ corner” - gave us an advocacy about the historical rights of Parliament which, in its place, was a very effective piece of special pleading. But, Mr. Chairman, the matter under consideration has nothing to do with the sort of thing to which Senator Murphy referred. He said that this is subordinate legislation. It is not subordinate legislation at all. This is an administrative power conferred by legislation on a Minister. It is in legislation - social legislation - which, as I said in another context the other day, has a particular need for the vesting of this type of power with certain people. Where you are dealing with individual cases, where you are dealing with human cases, where it is quite impossible to generalise or categorise, it is only proper that you should delegate certain powers.
– The Labour Party wrote Ministerial control into all its legislation.
– The Labour Party wrote that into its legislation. Let me say now that I would support it, because I believe it is the right way to deal with that sort of situation, just as I believe this is the right way to deal with this kind of situation. That is why I have asked my Senate colleagues to adopt the attitude which I have proposed. This is a problem of getting going a really useful piece of legislation. It will be under constant and close parliamentary review and it will not be possible for any of the dire things to happen which have been suggested by various speakers. We in this chamber having given this matter complete consideration and our colleagues in the House of Representatives having given it complete consideration, and having found that within our own party of 103 members no more than two, three or possibly four differ from us, we say that the Government has the appropriate support and we ask that it be supported so that the legislation can go forward. I ask the Senate for that support and move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Resolution reported; report adopted. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the Committee do not insist on the amendment disagreed to by the House of Representatives.
Question put. The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 518).
– As this is my fourth bite at the cherry, I am afraid that my remarks will be almost as disjointed as the opportunities I have had to make them. However, it seems to me that the Martin Report is so important that I cannot let this debate pass without adding my comments. I have endeavoured to approach the matter absolutely on a non-party basis and to give the chief points on which I would like the Minister to express the views of the Government in his reply. 1 have pointed out what I believe to be the necessity for the abolition of fees at universities. This step would not greatly increase the amount of Commonwealth grants. I believe that additional assistance should be granted to the States for teacher training colleges because any system of education is dependent for its strength upon the standards of the teachers who form such a vital part of it.
In examining the Martin Report as a whole, the Australian Labour Party affirms certain points which I should like now to state. These points have been enumerated by the Labour Party’s educational committee and are as follows -
We endorse the insertion in the report of a clear need for an inquiry into all other levels of education.
I said last evening that tertiary education is only one section, and not the most important section of our .educational system. Tertiary education cannot be a success if the primary and secondary stages of education are not duly regarded. Labour’s statement of policy continues -
Tertiary education should not be considered in isolation and this fact is responsible for some weaknesses in the report.
A full inquiry would best be conducted, we believe, continuously by a ministry and department of education in the fullest national sense. At present the State Departments of Education administer the educational policy within their own States. There is a need for a truly national system of education which is more concerned with educational problems at a national level. Perhaps it could become an extension of the Commonwealth Office of Education which to many people is most bewildering, because they are led to believe by that title that the Commonwealth is already taking a wide interest in education.’ If the Commonwealth does not see fit to establish a ministry and department of education, there could be set up by the Government an education committee to carry out this work. I would prefer to see a joint committee of both Houses formed as a preliminary step to the other concept. A great deal of expense is not involved and very little organisation would be needed. The committee could report to this Parliament on the educational problems of this country. 1 believe that in that field the Senate could do a worthwhile job. In my opinion the committee would be able to do a better job if it were a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament. The statement continues -
We endorse the recommendations of the Martin Report on teacher education, especially the recommendations for the establishment of autonomous teacher training authorities and the extension of Commonwealth scholarships to student teachers.
Apparently the Commonwealth Government does not endorse that recommendation of the Martin Committee. The statement then continues -
While giving general support to the proposals of the Martin Report on technological education the party affirms the need for raising the standards of general education in technical institutions, lt also calls for a change in the attitude of the employers towards schemes for day release and part-time courses. Students should be free to spend more of their time studying so as to raise standards of achievement in the national interest. In a world of rapidly changing technology the skilled worker needs flexibility beyond the requirements of an immediate employer.
I said this morning that while the report stresses the utilitarian aspects of tertiary education, we believe that it does not face up to the other section of educational requirements which has come so much to the fore in these times of scientific advancement. Much more leisure has been given to people in industry and automation will enable them to have much more free time. We should have an educational programme which enables that leisure to be well spent and not allowed to lead to so much deliquency. Problems can arise when leisure time is not well spent. The statement continues -
The party considers the Martin Report lacks clarity in its recommendations for non-vocational tertiary colleges.
Our doubts arise here that a cheaper form of tertiary education may be provided. We do not want a second class type of education. We want the establishment of liberal arts colleges of high standard and capable of awarding internationally recognised degrees, but not proceeding to post-graduate research. That still remains one of the functions of the universities. The statement then goes on to say -
If the Martin Report envisages anything less than this it is reactionary and inadequate. In any event it needs clarification . . .
We would like the Government to state its views more clearly on these colleges. We also think that there is a need for a better and more nationally supported system of adult education. A radical improvement is necessary in secondary education, particularly to deal with the fall-out problem. The reasons should be established why so many students who begin their secondary education do not complete it. It is of no use talking about tertiary education if our secondary education is inadequate.
We also believe that the training of secondary teachers as well as tertiary teachers needs to be improved upon. I should like to pay tribute to the teachers in the primary and secondary fields and also to those in technical schools and universities who very often work in very poor conditions. The teachers in Australia who have the best working conditions are those in the National Capital. Many of my friends of my teaching days who come here from other States arc envious of their colleagues who work in the National Capital. However, we still have not in Canberra a teachers training college. That is something else which has not been mentioned in the Martin Committee’s report.
The Martin Committee envisaged the establishment of an Australian Tertiary Education Commission. To establish such a body would be to narrow the field very much. We would like to see established a Ministry of Education which, as I said earlier, could investigate not only tertiary education but the whole field of education from the primary level to the tertiary level. There should be more active national support for research, including the field of social science. The Martin Committee recommended the establishment of a National Science Foundation. We heartily agree with that recommendation. We believe that such a body is long overdue.
I wish to end on the note on which I began. The Australian Labour Party has very strong views about the provision of free university education throughout Australia. We talk much about our free education system. If we really believe that education should be free, why do we in practice provide for free education only at the primary and secondary levels? The Commonwealth Government is already paying portion of the fees that have to be paid by’ university students, but that represents only a very small part of the whole of university revenue. The expenditure of an additional sum of £3 million or £4 million a year would enable every student in Aus.ralia who is qualified to undertake such education to receive the benefit of a university education without any fear of being rejected solely on economic grounds.
As I did last night, I congratulate members of the Martin Committee upon the report that has been presented to the Parliament. Although I do not believe that the Committee has gone far enough or that the Government has promised to act upon sufficient of the Committee’s recommendations, I realise the magnitude of the problem which confronted those who were called upon to investigate tertiary education. I am sorry that their terms of reference were not wider. They have done an excel-‘ lent job within the terms of reference that they were given, and I should like to thank them for their efforts. The presentation of the Committee’s report and the public interest that it has aroused throughout the community cannot but do good for the. cause of education as a whole.
. Mr. Acting Deputy President, possibly Senator Tangney and I are suffering from the effects of an hour or two of emotional tension. Moreover, Senator Tangney’s speech has been interrupted on two or three occasions. Nevertheless, 1 should like to express on my own behalf very considerable appreciation of much of what she has said. She had raised many matters that are of considerable interest to many of us. Her speech has been in sharp contrast to that of Senator Cohen, who led for the Opposition in this place, and also some of the speeches that were delivered by Opposition members in another place.
Senator Tangney has approached the subject of education with a very great degree of sympathy and with a great degree of knowledge. I should now like to comment upon one or two of the remarks that she made. She referred to part time students. I note that it is suggested in the report of the Martin Committee that the number of part time students should be reduced. I am very pleased to note that the Government does not go all the way with the Committee in that respect. Senator Tangney gave us in detail some of the more important reasons why those who desire to pursue part time study should be encouraged to do so. I should like to say more a little later about the part time student.
Senator Tangney warned of the danger that was resident in the neglect of education in the humanities in favour of scientific education. Again, most obviously she was speaking with a great degree of knowledge. 1 am troubled by the fact that, with some justification, some universities in Australia have been referred to as degree machines or degree factories. Such comments can be coupled with what Senator Tangney has said. Much can be lost if, especially at the university level - 1 do not think this altogether applies at the lower levels of education - there is not considerable concentration upon the education of our people to become better citizens as well as citizens who hold degrees. 1 have sons at the university at the present time. As a father, I am eager that they should succeed in obtaining their degrees. But I hope that in obtaining their degrees they will not fail to receive an education in becoming better citizens. I found myself in considerable sympathy with what Senator Tangney said in that regard.
The honorable senator referred also to the need for specialised teachers for handicapped children. I think I said, by way of interjection, that that matter did not come within the ambit of this debate. She agreed, except that she did say that it bore a relationship to the training of teachers. And towards the end of her comments, the honorable senator spoke of the need for an inquiry into all forms of education in Australia. I do not think anybody on either side of the Senate would disagree with the statement that there is a need for teachers for handicapped children. I do not know whether we would regard it as being of the same importance as the various matters that are dealt with in the report now before us. Over the last 20 years I have had a lot to do with educational activity in Queensland in the kindergarten field and in relation to handicapped children. I have had much more to do with that kind of education than with general education. I do not suggest that I am sufficiently qualified to be able to place these various aspects of education in categories of importance. Indeed, they all are important. For that reason I found myself in considerable agreement with Senator
Tangney when she spoke of establishing a joint committee of both Houses on education.
I say this without having given the matter lengthy thought because it is not too long since she made the suggestion. I think it bad much to commend it- Possibly mature thought may reveal certain disadvantages of such a committee. But speaking off the cuff immediately after the suggestion has been made, not only can I see advantages in it, but I would be very keen to serve such a committee in any possible way. Senator Tangney referred also to other problems. They were many and they were certainly real, but I think they apply more to the internal domestic administration within our organisations than to the Martin report. Having said that, I repeat that I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Tangney for the things she said. The least I can do is to say so, and I have great pleasure in doing so.
Senator Cohen opened the debate on behalf of the Opposition. I would say that his speech was the most disappointing one that I have ever heard from him. Usually I listen with considerable interest to what he has to say. I find that his remarks are often pertinent, although I do not always agree with them. On this occasion quite obviously he was fighting for a cause which was foreign to him and with which he did not altogether agree. I am afraid that the old dictum that it is the task of the Opposition to oppose has become rather prominent in the minds of some honorable senators opposite. I might even say that they seem to be somewhat hag ridden by the old axiom regarding the duties of an opposition. On this occasion, not only are the members of the Opposition strongly opposed to the Government, but they also seem to find themselves in the position where they must oppose the Martin report. I think it is a great pity. Senator Cohen with his background of knowledge should have been able to address himself to this debate in a much more positive way than he did in fact.
Not many people have expressed their opinion of the Martin report. I am not troubled by that. I shall express my opinion. I believe that it is one of the finest reports of its type that I have ever read, and I have read many. I must confess that as yet I have not read all of it or studied all of it.
I am in the process of doing so, and I am taking a great deal of pleasure in doing so. The report is not only interesting, but it is also extremely informative. It is of a quality which is possibly a little rare in reports that we are able to receive and study.
Turning to the amendment that was moved by Senator Cohen on behalf of the Opposition, I have to express - I hope that it has become obvious already - my complete opposition to it. The propositions which are included in the amendment are not even correct. I may have read the Minister’s statement incorrectly, but as I understand the position, there has not been a rejection by the Government of scientific and social research. It was pointed out in the Minister’s statement that there are many aspects of the report - several of them were referred to - that are open to further discussion and further negotiation. A little later in my speech I shall refer to specific instances.
The point I am making at the moment is that section (I) of the amendment is certainly very far from being a correct statement of fact. I think that I have more or less covered the other sections of the amendment in some of my earlier comments. Indeed, as to the third section of the amendment Senator Tangney in some of her comments probably has broken down the force of its application. Not only is the Martin report informative and of great value, in my opinion, anyway, but it carries within its pages certain information and material which I have never been able to see before and which has never previously come to my knowledge although I have read a great deal about education generally. That makes it an even more important document.
Having said those things, I want now to go back 15 to 20 years. In that period the responsibility for education lay almost entirely on the State Governments; certainly not on the Federal Government. As the change has occurred over the years, particularly in the last eight or nine years, there has been a great transformation in the attitude to education, not only of governments but also of the people. This matter is referred to at page 8 of the Martin report. There is much material in the report that is valuable, but there are one or two short extracts to which I wish to refer so that they may be included in “ Hansard “. I wish that much more of it could be included The report states -
While there are no grounds for complacency in the matter, one of the more interesting features of educational development in Australia has been the growing recognition of the significance of such an education.
Further on it states -
Yet there is, at least, a minority, steadily growing in numbers, which recognises that education is something more than preparation for a job and that it goes deeper than mere instruction.
Those may be only short extracts, but I think they are very important ones. They underline the movement in education that is detectable within Australia today.
I was interested to discover the financial aspect of the responsibility for education. In common, I think, with other people, I was rather surprised to hear that whilst in 1949-50 between £3 million and £4 million had been spent by the Federal Government on all branches of education, other than Commonwealth reconstruction, today the expenditure is in the region of £55 million a year. As a result of the decisions following this report, there will be a very large increase in this expenditure. It is just fantastic that in those short years expenditure should have increased from three or four million pounds to £55 million. 1 should like to refer to another aspect which appears at page 13 of the Martin Report. In 1947 the sources of funds of Australian universities were these: The Commonwealth provided £.467 million, the States provided £.584 million, and other sources provided £1.246 million. It will be seen that most of the funds came from sources other than the Commonwealth and State Governments. This characteristic persisted al though not quite to the same degree, until i952, when there was quite a change in the character of the provision of funds. In that year £2.919 million came from the Commonwealth, £3.376 million came from the States, and £2.293 million came from other sources. At that point of time other sources were dwindling. The Commonwealth Government, seeing this change, in 1953 began to step up its interest or its financial activity in education. In 1961, £18.699 million was provided by the Commonwealth, £16.056 million by the States and £7.879 million by other sources. I think that this is good and had. It is good that we have a Government, and that in those years of transition we had a Government prepared to step into the breach, but it is bad that other sources of income of universities have dwindled so very much. I should like to see this trend change a little, so that more of our wealthy people would regard the responsibility of assisting universities as more important than they have of recent years regarded it.
Here,I am afraid, I must be political, because this is the only way in which I can describe the position. Up to the stage when this Government took office, Federal Governments showed very little interest in education. With the advent of a Government which is forward looking, which is interested in the wellbeing of young people, a great change came. First was the appointment of the Murray Committee and later the appointment of the Martin Committee, in each case by a Government not under duress in any way but acting of its own volition, knowing that from the reports of these Committees would automatically grow a huge financial responsibility which was hitherto carried by people other than the Federal Government. I do not think that we should lose sight of this fact.It is all very well to say that we have now to look at a need in a way in which we did not look at it before, but had it not been for the forward looking of this Government over the past 15 years we would not be able to move forward, as we are undoubtedly doing, in terms of the statement made by the Minister following the issue of the Martin Committee’s report. I am mighty proud to support a Government which has done so much in its period of office as this Government has done.
We should remember that the proportion of the population in certain age groups pursuing full time education in Australia has risen with tremendous rapidity. Let me refer to males in the 15 to 19 years age group. In 1921 only 8.6 per cent. were engaging in full time education, which is obviously tertiary education. In 1947 the percentage increased to 12.2, in 1954 to 18.2, and in 1961 to 28.4. There was a drastic increase in the interest in education. Let me refer to other supporting facts. The percentage of persons aged 17 years completing secondary education in 1954 was 9, but in 1961 the percentage had increased to 15.6. The expected proportions of persons aged 1 6 enrolling at universities before the age of 30 in 1951 was 8 per cent., in 1956 12.4 per cent., and in 1961 16.2 per cent. All of these facts are indicative of the greater interest about which I spoke at the commencement of my comments. Nobody can deal fully with this report in a speech in this chamber, as it is so full of information. Any one who is interested in the subject of education will undoubtedly find great value in a copy of the report.
I want to offer only a few more comments, in relation to the ministerial statement which was made subsequent to the tabling of the Martin Committee’s report. The first relates to scholarships. It is easy enough, when one has no responsibility, to stand in any Australian Parliament and say that not nearly enough is being done, that five times as much should be done, but no-one has a right to do it unless he does it with some responsibility. We should remember that those who are in opposition today, who speak so glibly about the importance of increasing scholarships, should remember that the present scheme commenced in 1951. At the end of last year 5,129 scholarships had been awarded. This year the number will be over 6,000, each covering periods of three, four or more years. I am only estimating now - I cannot obtain the exact information - but I suggest that at the end of this year probably 30,000 of our young people will be attending universities on scholarships.
It has been argued quite strongly that the Commonwealth Government should accept responsibility for payment of the total fees of all university students. This suggestion, of course, is attractive, particularly to parents who are confronted with very high expenses if their children have not received scholarships. But, as always, there is another side of the coin. The other side is the fear that I have that there is developing within the universities of Australia today a lessening of appreciation of the value of university education. We all have heard the saying: “ Easy come, easy go “. Some young people may say: “ Well, so long as we matriculate we will receive the total cost of our university fees, so why should we worry a great deal? “ There appears to be a lack of even fair concentration, on the part of some students, on the task in front of them. I am not altogether in favour of the suggestion
– I do not think that was the experience in Western Australia when the university there was free.
– But the honorable senator is speaking of some years ago. I am speaking of a spirit which I feel is much more noticeable in our university life today than it was even five years ago. I may be wrong - this is only conjecture on my part - but 1 believe that our young people today are more inclined to say: “ What we can get easily and without any trouble is not of the same value as that for which we have to strive and work very hard “.
– It may be the other way around. Many people may think that * students are more serious minded today than they were in years gone by.
– This is an interesting subject to consider and examine. Possibly we all would differ, maybe to a slight degree or maybe violently. I am speaking of many things that 1 have seen in the last few years which, to my knowledge, were not in existence in earlier years. I think we are moving along in a very generous way in the matter of scholarships. The Minister told us that there will be an additional 1,000 scholarships as a result of the recommendations contained in the Martin report. I cannot say what the percentage increase is but I know that it is high. I know also that in many cases even the present number of scholarships is serving a very useful purpose.
J was quite surprised, and 1 have noted that many other people have been surprised at the recommendation - perhaps recommendation is a little too strong a word so 1 will say suggestion - that there should be a reduction in part time study. Here I express myself most strongly. I know that in Queensland tremendous use is made of the opportunities available to part time students. It would be most tragic if these opportunities were taken away from people who want to engage in a particular avocation and at the same time attend a university on a part time basis. I think part time study brings out some of the best in people. There is no better evidence of that than the evidence given to the Senate today by Senator Tangney. There are many people for whom the difficult brings out qualities that would not become evident in any other circumstances. I am most delighted that the Government has made the decision that it has made.
I think all States, with the possible exception of one, are rather pleased at the additional grants which will be made. Senator Laught told us of the value that they will be to the university in his State. I know that there is always need in this sphere, and no doubt every State will be extremely glad of the assistance.
I have been most interested in the proposal for a new concept which will more or less take the place of the university degree course for some of our matriculating students. There is a great need for a type of additional tertiary education which is not quite on the level of university education. I do not agree, as was implied by one honorable senator, that this may cheapen tertiary education. I cannot see that for one moment. There is in industry and in many other spheres a great need for education beyond matriculation standard of those who, for one reason or another, are unable to take on the responsibility of a full university course.
A final proposal in relation to this new concept, as it has been referred to, has not been placed before us. That is good. I would not like to see a unification of educational approach to the degree that would be indicated if we were presented with a plan at this time. It is a splendid and healthy sign when a Minister will come along with a report such as this, will table the report, will tell us as a Parliament what the Government is prepared to do in this field and then say: “ In relation to various aspects which are of great importance, constitutionally and otherwise, to the States of Australia, we will consult with the State Ministers so that we can set up in each State the kind of machinery that is most adequate and suitable for the educational system which each State, in its wisdom, has developed and intends to use in the future “. I would not like to see the whole matter of education become the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government and so come within the Commonwealth Government’s administration. One of the most healthy signs in the community is that we are permitting the various States - I do not think they would be very happy if we did not, and I do not blame them - to follow the principles they have followed over the years. That is evident in the ministerial statement that is now before us.
Finally, I want to refer to teacher training. Far be it from me to downgrade in any way the importance of teacher training. This is a vital aspect of education; but I do not agree with the Opposition that this is the heart of the Martin Committee’s report and that if it is not implemented, the heart will be taken out of the whole programme. While we pursue individualistic -education procedures, this is a subject which is best left to the States. I am sure honorable senators opposite will say that they would like the responsibility for teacher training to remain with the States but want the Commonwealth Government to provide the finance. They cannot have it both ways.
I have here a resolution which was adopted by the Executive of the Queensland Teachers Union on 6th April last. It is expressed in fairly strong terms. Among other things, it calls upon all of us to face up to the responsibilities of public education. It calls upon members of the Commonwealth Parliament and others to do all they can to urge upon the Commonwealth Government, the Prime Minister and relevant departments to face up to the responsibilities of teacher training. I can only repeat that in 1948-49, the Commonwealth Government was spending between £3 million and £4 million a year on education; today it is spending £55 million. This is a magnificent improvement. If the expenditure were £155 million there would still be those who would cry out for a little bit more.
– Is it not a question of needs rather than just spinning figures?
– I shall answer that question with an illustration: I know what my needs are. I would like a couple of new suits, another motor car and a lot of other things. But the need has to be coupled with other responsibilities.
– It may be a question of national priorities.
– Even if it is a matter of national priorities, that does not indicate what is a national priority. I have been a member of this Senate for only 1 2 months but already I have heard honorable senators on the Opposition side rise and say: “This is a matter of national priority. The Commonwealth Government must forget its responsibilities elsewhere. It must spend more on this project which has the greatest priority.” I am sure that Senator Cohen indicates by the smile on his face that he has heard that, too. It applies to practically every subject that comes up for debate. I suppose that in the final analysis a decision must be made as a matter of national priority but the essence of it is that someone has to decide what is a national priority. Senator Cohen’s judgment of national priorities might not agree with mine.
– Education would at least run a place in any race, would it not?
– Yes, it would in my book. I have always been particularly keen on the greater development of education; but I must say that it has had a mighty high priority in the Commonwealth Government’s book also. The Government, of its own volition has stuck its neck out - if I might use that phrase in this context - by appointing the Murray Committee and then the Martin Committee, both of which have saddled it with a great deal of extra expenditure. This in itself illustrates that in the eyes of the Government, education is a matter of high priority. In this lies one of the reasons why the present Commonwealth Government has retained the confidence of the people. It has been realistic in its approach to priorities of the greatest importance. It has reason to be proud of many of the things it has done but it has reason to be particularly proud of what it has done in the field of education. What is more, it has reason to be proud of what is implicit in the statement that has been issued by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) and the responsibilities it will face in the years ahead.
.- The report of the Martin Committee on tertiary education in Australia has created great interest throughout the Commonwealth. The committee’s report was made to the Australian Universities Commission and through it to the Commonwealth Government. It is a comprehensive report. In my opinion its only weakness is that it is not comprehensive enough to meet the requirements of this stage of Australia’s educational development. It would appear that the Martin Committee has submitted a report along the lines it thought the Australian Universities Commission and the Government would like it to take. On the other hand, notwithstanding its complete mandate. the Committee failed to give a blueprint for the new look that is so necessary in all branches and phases of education in Australia.
In addition to these shortcomings in the report itself, we find that the Commonwealth Government in turn has reduced the potency of the report and, indirectly, its effectiveness because of the Government’s attitude to the recommendations on such important matters as scholarships, teacher training, scientific and social research. Senator Morris spoke of the priority of education. AH of us would agree that the nation that can grapple with its scientific and technological problems has the greatest opportunity, not only to hold its position in the world but also to improve the way of life of its people.
There is a political content in a report such as this for the simple reason that education impinges on every field of human endeavour. The more people apply their talents, the more training and access to knowledge they have and the greater the interchange of developments in science and knowledge generally, the richer a country will be. Yet a degree of conservatism is maintained in the Report, and the reader can hear the undertones of the effect of economic conditions on the proposals.
The great crisis of the 1939-45 war with its threat to our existence, and the improvisations and compromises which had to be made throughout our society, caused us to realise the many shortcomings we were suffering in our early development as a nation. It was driven home to us very forcibly that, when the new era came - that is, when the war was over - we would have to set about putting our house in order. During that period of war, we saw a most exciting advance in technology and science. Unfortunately, much of’ that advance was for military and destructive purposes. Nevertheless, we broke through the barrier constituted by lack of knowledge into a field where the advances could be applied for peaceful purposes and the betterment of mankind. With this impetus that was given to our nation, our scientists and our technologists during that period, there came the urgent problem of giving effect to the basic belief of Australian people that opportunities must be available for education at the very highest standard in this country. Not only should this education be at the highest level, but also from the very beginning there should be new methods to replace some of the older methods used in the kindergarten and in the approach adopted to the stage between kindergarten education and late primary education into the secondary stages of education.
Attention has been given to the matter of the school leaving age. Previously, a boy who reached the age of 14, on the threshhold of puberty and rapid mental development, found that because of the economic circumstances he was eligible and able to leave school. He went into dead end jobs in which he did not gain any experience, and the discipline that would be administered by having education of an advanced form was not available to him. Improvements have been made in that direction. By compulsion, the school leaving age has been increased. In turn, young Australian men and women have been exposed to the discipline administered by the longer period of education. This has had its effect on them.
The setting up by the Commonwealth Government of the Australian National University is an historic achievement which, in the world of education, really confirms that we have arrived as a nation. Until a nation achieves a higher level of university training - a national university - where post graduate courses can be carried out and where its scientists- can be given a field in which their talents can be developed in their own country, it could never claim recognition as a country of any merit. Therefore, we must reflect on this move, which is very desirable.
There is an increasing awareness among our young people, who are able to see either side of the subject, that unless they equip themselves for the scientific and technological age in which they live they will be left behind. Unfortunately, the immediate incentive, of a cash nexus, which has become a god to so many people in the mercenary society in which we live, has encouraged the unskilled man, in the short term and without proper guidance, to leave school at an early age and to take the quick money that is available. In a society which enjoys relatively full employment, that incentive is quite a strong one. Many of our young men are failing to submit themselves to the discipline of further education, or, for that matter, apprenticeship, which is another form of education. They are seeking the quick rewards. Other young men weigh up very quickly in their own minds the immediate advantages of a wage pf £8 or £9 a week as an apprentice or as pocket money as a student as against £16, £18 or £20 a week as a tractor driver. Because of the easy and unplanned approach of our community towards education this sort of thing is going on daily. It will continue to go on until the gaps are closed.
The age group that I have mentioned will be supplying, in the long run, the numbers, personnel and talent which will be the recipients of anything that is done about tertiary education now. Another important matter is that, unless we are able to spread and develop the good that flows from the exchange of students from other parts of the world with our own students, we as a white and basically European people in the South East Asian region could become isolated mentally. It is emphasised often that international trade or trade between countries is the lifeblood of a nation; the exchange of teachers, students and ideas is of the greatest importance to a nation wilh regard to its attitude towards freedom, democracy and culture. But unless we set our sights on a high level of education and unless we are prepared to give priority to education countries which want to foster this exchange of views will have no incentive to send their students here. Universities in other countries, where governments arc more generous in helping to solve this tremendous problem, will attract these people, and we will be the losers. Therefore, when we read a report such as this, which has not aimed high enough to spur the Government to try to achieve other, than the immediately attainable economic goal, we feel that it is rightly a subject for criticism’. The government has continued its indirect interest in education and, by grants and in other ways, has made a contribution to education in Australia, but the States and individuals have to carry the main burden.
The carefully sponsored and. successfully executed immigration policy has created tremendous problems in the field of education, particularly for the States. We in the Federal Parliament boast of our achievements in immigration, but we can see one effect of the programme reflected in the incapacity of our universities and other places of education to cope with a problem which has been foisted upon them. They are seeking ways and means of dealing with a situation which has not been tackled in the forthright way that one would expect the Federal Government to tackle it. Overcrowding in universities, causing discomfort and lack of concentration, is accepted as a factor contributing to the high failure rate among university students. Overcrowding in secondary schools prevents teachers from dealing personally with their students and acquainting them with what they will meet in tertiary education. These are factors which are causing a waste of talent which we can ill afford.
Another matter that I feel should be mentioned is that of specialised training. On all sides we see evidence of great advances in science. Some of the achievements of our scientists leave us spellbound - the probes into space, the conquering of distance and the examination of matter - yet in all these fields research is only in its infancy. Men and men’s minds have been responsible for dramatic conquests in various fields, but as a nation we have no cause for complacency. Many brilliant and distinguished Australians, despite the haphazard methods which have prevailed here in education, have excelled at international conferences and in famous laboratories. They have had honours heaped on them and they have achieved much, but reinforcements must be available. Unless the best possible facilities are provided, the reinforcements will not be available. This brings us back to the availability of finance and to whether we can afford not to provide the best possible facilities for training the men who will become the great scientists and technologists of the future.
I have listened to the debate with great interest. I believe that the more the layman probes into this matter the more he realises how little he knows of the magnitude of the problems to be faced. I am extremely grateful that this Committee has been set up. I know that if I were to study the contents of this report for the next ten years I would still not be able fully to absorb them. A report such as this makes us conscious of our responsibilities. It lays the responsibility for education fairly and squarely on the Parliament of this nation, the only body that can do anything about it. The report is now before us. When this debate has concluded, its repercussions will spread out like ripples on a millpond. I sincerely hope that the recommendations contained in the report will be put into effect.I hope that every member of the Parliament will be inspired anew to look for the wider horizon for which we must strive if we are to progress and prosper as a democratic nation.
The amendment prepared by the Opposition was moved to emphasise the views that I have expressed in a general way. Although great credit must be given to the members of the Martin Committee for the tremendous amount of work they put into their report, I feel that in the preparation and presentation of the report they were suffering under an inhibition. They were prepared only to recommend what they thought could be immediately accomplished, economically. That is the basis of my criticism of the report. But I hope that out of it will come further reports and continuous research. Let us hope that by this process we will be kept aware of our responsibility to maintain Australia in the vanguard of the nations of the world and made to realise that the part of man which is God-like and distinguishes him from the animal is his mind. That is the divine instrument that has distinguished him from the animal. The man who applies himself and the nation that applies itself to the advancement and widening and the fullest appreciation of this godlike gift will not only be fulfilling their destinies but will be bringing great good to all men.
– I am sure that the state of the Senate, especially on the opposite side of the chamber, is not a true reflection of the Opposition’s interest in this debate.I believe that the Opposition has contributed some very worthwhile thinking to this debate. In my opinion this is largely due to the action of the Government in bringing down simultaneously a rather monumental report accompanied by a ministerial statement. Despite the criticism of the imprecision of the ministerial statement by honorable senators opposite, it delineates in fairly precise terms what the Government intends to do with the major part of the recommendations made to it. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have paid tribute to the work of the people engaged in compiling what is known as the Martin report. I wish to add to that tribute. A contribution has been made to our knowledge of educational attainment in Australia. Our deficiencies in education have been examined and some very worthwhile recommendations have been made to correct them.
In the limited time available to honorable senators, I am sure that none of us has given quite enough study to the detail that has been submitted to us in the Martin report. I think that the study we have done has left us very impressed by the soundness and meticulous care of the approach of the Martin Committee and the deep and reasoned judgments that have been put into the recommendations made. I think that any report that the Government brings forward in connection with matters of education must excite considerable public interest. I am sure that both the Martin report and the Government’s statement have created great interest and will continue to do so. All people who study the subject are aware of the increasing demands for education in the world today and the tremendous growth of our store of knowledge. This is one of the matters that concern the authors of the Martin report and the Government. This concern is shown very largely because of the increasing responsiblities involved in meeting the challenge of the growing need for educational facilities and the growing demands upon the resources of the nation - upon available materials, labour and finance. I ask for leave to resume my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650429_senate_25_s28/>.