26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that a wealthy London book publisher is emigrating to Australia under the $25 assisted passage scheme and that in other cases assistance is refused, such refusal being based on income tests? In the light of this case does the Government intend to apply to all intending migrants similar assistance irrespective of the applicant’s financial standing? I also ask whether greater assistance can be provided to those migrants from other Commonwealth countries who are not now entitled to the benefit of the $25 assisted passage scheme.
– I draw the Senate’s attention to the fact that Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, who represents the Minister for Immigration in this chamber, is absent on urgent business in Western Australia. Consequently I ask that any questions which would be directed to her be placed on the notice paper or held until next Tuesday.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, whom I am aware is a former Minister for Civil Aviation. As it is generally accepted that the acknowledged power of the Press stems more from banner headlines than from detailed articles written underneath them, can the Minister make a statement to the Senate to deny or affirm the headlines in today’s Melbourne Sun’ which reads: ‘Airlines are unsafe, says Labor MHR’?
– The matter which the honourable senator raises is one with which I was closely connected during the two years I was Minister for Civil Aviation. I have no hesitation in saying that the record of Australian civil aviation and the work of the Department of Civil Aviation are so highly re garded in many countries that I think they speak for themselves. The Department of Civil Aviation has rules and regulations which are not excelled - and I do not think they are equalled - in any other part of the world.
– Yes they are.
– They are certainly not excelled in any other part of the world. Internationally the regulations stem from the Internationa] Civil Aviation Organisation, commonly called ICAO, which is based at Montreal. But these have been added to in Australia. The Department of Civil Aviation has additional rules and regulations which cover safety standards in Australia. For myself, I think that the record of civil aviation in Australia over the years speaks for itself. It does not need anybody to speak for it. The Australian pilot is not excelled anywhere in the world, either. In the final analysis it depends on his judgment whether or not he takes an aircraft into the air. In this instance, I place the highest reliance on the efficiency of the Australian pilot.
– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise able to advise at what date his Department will be vacating the old Customs House, Melbourne, for the newly erected building so that alterations for conversion of the old building to parliamentarians’ offices may commence?
– I am not able to give the information because the building has not yet been handed over to the Department of Works. There is a number of possible dates. Therefore I prefer to seek information from the Department of Works and give an answer to the honourable senator, possibly next week.
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question which I preface by directing the Minister’s attention to a statement in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of today’s date, wherein it is reported that the Managing Director of Ansett-ANA intends to take no action regarding alleged safety shortcomings on a Viscount passenger plane, as debated in another place yesterday. Will the Minister now assure the Parliament and those members of the public who use air transport that his Department will insist that safety precautions be strictly adhered to on all aircraft carrying passengers and that any company or person using unairworthy aircraft for the carriage of passengers will be appropriately dealt with under the laws administered by the Department?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation himself made it perfectly clear in another place yesterday that the standards set by his Department in relation to safe flying are very rigidly adhered to. In fact, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate has already said in this place this morning, the standards of the Australian Government in relation to civil aviation are probably unequalled anywhere in the world. Therefore, I suggest that any implication in the honourable senator’s question that this is not so is to be deplored. There is nothing to suggest that any of the operators in the field of civil aviation in Australia are not doing what is required of them by the Department of Civil Aviation.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In a statement made recently in Adelaide the Minister announced a trial of new baggage examination procedures which were due to commence on 1st April and which would have the practical effect of eliminating a good deal of frustrating customs paper work to which incoming travellers have been subjected in the past. Can the Minister comment on the new procedures and on any results of the trial so far?
– It was his April Fools Day joke.
– Contrary to being an April Fools Day joke, as the Leader of the Opposition interposes, this is a very real thing. As from 1st April no less than 75% of the people who come into Australia will not be required to make a formal written declaration. All I can say at this stage is that I received a report several days ago - I remind the Senate that the system has been in operation only since 1st April - that the new procedures are working very satisfactorily indeed. If the procedures continue to prove satisfactory, the intention is that the system will be extended to the other points of entry to Australia. You will appreciate, Mr President, that this new system will require a high degree of co-operation from the airline operators, and I am happy to say that in the initial trials this co-operation has become quite evident. It must also be remembered that apart altogether from the collection of customs revenue at the point of entry very rigid quarantine provisions are inherent in customs declarations. This aspect of the matter has to be carefully examined in the course of the trials that we are conducting at present.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question. Can a copy of the new constitution for South Vietnam drawn up by the recently elected Constituent Assembly be made available to senators?
– I shall ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he has a copy of the new constitution and whether it can be made available to senators.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Has he seen reports of a statement by Mr D. F. Anderson, Educational Research Officer at the University of Melbourne, that financial restrictions imposed on the University were sure to cause a drop in the student pass rate? Will he comment on this statement?
– Order! The Minister will not comment but may reply to the question.
– I shall try to observe the distinction, Mr President. I have seen a report of the statement mentioned by the honourable senator. I believe that she and other honourable senators should bear in mind that the income to be received by the University of Melbourne to meet general recurrent expenses during the ensuing triennium is approximately $47.7m. The University had budgeted for expenditure of approximately $48. 8m on general recurrent expenses over the triennium. This means that over the three years its income will be some $l.lm less than it hoped. The reduction represents about 2.2%. It has been incorrectly represented as 7%. The distribution of the available funds between the various faculties and between undergraduate and postgraduate training is a matter for the University itself. If there were any truth in Mr Anderson’s prediction - it is only a prediction - that could be due only to the University itself having cut its allocation of funds to some undergraduate faculties in favour of postgraduate training or of other undergraduate faculties. The result envisaged could be due only to the manner in which the University itself apportions the small reduction of the funds available to it. I doubt whether it will come about.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the following question: Is he aware that there are inconsistent provisions relating to disability pensions as between servicemen contributing to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and employees of the Commonwealth Public Service? Is he aware that in May 1965 the present Minister for Health, Dr Forbes, who was then Minister for the Army and Minister assisting the Treasurer, stated that amending Bills would be introduced in the Budget session of that year? Can the Minister now give to the Senate any information about proposed amendments to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act?
– Over recent years there have been a number of suggestions that the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act be amended. Some of these proposals are based on alleged anomalies. I am informed that these suggestions arc being actively considered and that a submission will be made to Cabinet as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the South Australian Government has carried out tests that prove that overhead sprinklers used for watering on war service land settlement blocks in the upper Murray areas are unsuitable because of increasing salinity and that conversion to under tree sprinklers, with Commonwealth assistance, is advocated by the South Australian Canning Fruit Growers Association? As most war service land settlement growers are unable to meet the cost of such conversion, will the Commonwealth Government consider making a financial grant for this purpose?
– I am aware of the troubles that arise from the salinity of water in some areas. I was not aware of the particular instance mentioned by the honourable senator. I will convey the question that he asked to the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain an answer for him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. In view of the inherent responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to encourage Australian industry wherever practicable, will the Minister inform the Senate whether any real action is being taken to ensure that as much as possible of our increasing defence forces requirements of equipment, food and other supplies is procured from Australian sources?
– We are steadily increasing the amount of manufacture and supply of Service needs in Australia. A liaison committee has been set up between the Services and the Department of Supply which is the purchasing authority for ‘their needs. This co-operation has been growing steadily, particularly in the field of the future needs of the Services. I believe that this field has been weak. It is being improved. If we can have advance information on the future needs of the Services, Australian industry will be advised in advance of those needs and will have the opportunity to act accordingly. We are also constantly exploring new methods, means and sources of manufacture within Australia. I have noted with interest that, in 1965- 66, 80% of the Army’s requirements were purchased in Australia. A quick check that I made recently showed that its Australian purchases this year are running at about the same level. About 80% of the money that the Army spends on the manufacture and supply of goods is being spent within Australia.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science read a Press report that according to a United Nations report last year fourteen desalination plants were completed with a capacity of more than 1 1 million gallons a day? The report speaks of the sources of energy used as being fuel oil, electricity and natural gas. In view of the increasing knowledge of the availability of natural gas within Australia, can the Minister say what progress the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is making in its experiments regarding desalination? Has the use of natural gas any bearing on the practicability of the establishment of desalination plants?
– 1 will obtain a more detailed answer from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the honourable senator. To the best of my knowledge, at present the Organisation would not be experimenting or closely following experiments with the use of natural gas as such in desalination plants. To the best of my knowledge ths CSIRO keeps in touch with overseas experiments in large scale desalination. The honorable senator has been talking of small scale desalination. I understand that in large scale desalination overseas great use is made of heat developed initially by atomic energy. This seems to offer more hope for really large scale desalination than for smaller plants. In the case of smaller plants inside Australia, the CSIRO has developed plants which are suitable for small farms or small houses and they are designed only to give a drinking supply of a few hundred gallons a day. These are using solar energy to turn salt water into fresh water. As to the actual use of natural gas and the economics of the use of natural gas as compared with heat generated by other means, I shall have to get a more detailed answer for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Having regard to a recent statement by the Minister for Primary Industry indicating the phasing out of certain dairy farm lands 1 ask: Will the vacant land be used for forestry and does the legislation involving this reconversion embrace the New South Wales north coast area?
– As 1 understand it the scheme is not so much a question of phasing out as it is a matter of building up the smaller farms into larger areas. In saying that, I am not suggesting that perhaps in some cases farms will not go out of production or be used for purposes other than dairying. The emphasis has been in the main on growing beef cattle in these areas, but I should think that in some cases afforestatior could play its part.
– 1 direct a question to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. In reply to an earlier question the Minister said he would try to obtain a copy of the South Vietnam constitution. While he is doing that, would he endeavour to get for me a copy of the North Vietnam constitution and get one extra copy in case some honourable senators on the Opposition side might be interested to see under what constitution Ho Chi Minh is operating?
– I could nol undertake to get a copy of the North Vietnamese constitution for the honourable senator, because we are not at the moment in any sort of diplomatic relationship with North Vietnam. Further, I doubt whether a copy of the constitution, if there is one and if it were obtained, would be of any use to Senator Branson or any other honourable senator, because, as is the case with so many of the constitutions of totalitarian countries, it would just not be worth the paper on which it was written. However, I shall get for the Senate, if the Department of External Affairs has it and if the Minister makes it available, a copy of the constitution of South Vietnam as worked out by the constitutional convention in that country, and I express the hope that if that constitution is put into practice the people will be able to vote without being murdered by guerillas. I hope that Senator Cavanagh, who is interjecting, will agree with me.
– I direct a ques tionto the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Are there a number of Housing Trust homes for rental vacant at Wood vi lle Gardens in South Australia because they are being allocated to the Army for Army personnel? Have such homes been vacant for nine months? As there is a waiting list of some four years for South Australia Housing Trust rental homes will the Army consider releasing these homes for civilian occupation until they are needed by Army personnel?
– I do not know the answer to the question the honourable senator has asked. I very much doubt that the position is as it has been represented to him; but here again, I do not know. [ will inquire from the Minister for the Army and let the honourable senator know the position.
(Question No. 16)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Acting Prime Minister has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
The employment of Australians in both broadcasting and television is specifically referred to in the Broadcasting and Television Act. The Broadcasting Control Board has indicated requirements about the proportion of transmission time of television stations which shall be given over to programmes credited as being Australian in origin.
It is understood that Mr Webb will be visiting Australia. He has been invited to follow up his correspondence in discussions with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
(Question No. 19)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 36)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 57)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
With respect to the estimate of $147,000) in the Civil Works Programme 1966-67 for the erection of Commonwealth offices at Port Pirie in South Australia -
Where in Port Pirie will the offices be situated?
What is the size of the building?
Of what materials will it be constructed?
Will it be air-conditioned?
What Departments is it expected will be housed in the building? (0 When is it expected to be completed?
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 58)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
With reference to the estimate of $100,000 in the Civil Works Programme 1966-67 for the erection of a new building for the Division of Mathematical Statistics in Adelaide for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (a) where will the new building be erected; (b) what number of persons will it accommodate; and (c) if not yet finished, when is it expected that the building will be finished?
– The Minister for Works has replied as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
With reference to the estimate of $45,000 in the Civil Works Programme 1966-67 for the extension of the main laboratory of a radioactive area in the Division of Soils of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - (a) in what location is the extension to be; (b) what is the nature of the extension; and (c) if not yet finished, when will it be finished?
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following reply:
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Works, upon notice:
With reference to the estimate of $40,000 in the Civil Works Programme 1966-67 for the construction of an additional car park at Adelaide Airport -
how many motor cars is it expected to hold;
what charges, if any, will be made for the use of such car park; and (c) when is it expected to be in use?
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answer:
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Works, upon notice:
With regard to the estimate of $59,000 in the Civil Works Programme 1966-67 for the extension to the repository area adjacent to the store of the Prime Minister’s Department at Medindie Gardens in South Australia - (a) what is the nature of the extension being carried out; (b) what is the general function of the store being added to; (c) when is the extension expected to be ready for use?
– The Minister for Works has replied as follows:
(Question No. 78)
asked the Minister for
Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are:
– I present the following paper:
Third Annual Report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30 June 1966, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s Report on those statements.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Pitt Exchange Building, Sydney, New South Wales
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
The report is signed by the Chairman, Mr F. C. Chaney.
Motion (by Senator Henty) - by leave - proposed:
Leader of the Government in the Senate, three to be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and one to be appointed by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Henty) - by leave - proposed:
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
STATES GRANTS (SCIENCE LABORATORIES) BILL 1967
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill seeks authority for the Government to double the amount of money annually available from the Commonwealth to provide science laboratories and equipment in independent secondary schools throughout the Commonwealth. The present Act provides for $29,717,400 to be available to government and independent schools for this purpose during the three year period ending on 30th June 1968. This requires an annual allocation of $9,905,800 and of this annual amount $7,237,800 is provided to government run schools and $2,668,000 to independent schools.
In the light of our experience of the scheme it is evident that an increased measure of assistance to independent schools would be of great benefit and, bearing in mind that of the $20m now granted for science facilities and laboratories in secondary schools and technical schools, (he State schools are receiving $17,237,800 and the independent schools only $2,668,000, we have decided that it is reasonable and just to increase the amount payable to independent schools to $5,336,000 out of a total annual grant for these purposes of $22,668,000. The Government, therefore, now proposes, as was stated in the policy speech for the last general election, that in the 1967-68 financial year and subsequently the amount annually available to independent schools should be doubled. We believe that as a result virtually all secondary schools, both government and independent, will have received during the next four years the basic science teaching laboratories and apparatus they need, though in the case of government schools this target will depend on the various States continuing to provide the same resources to this end as they have done in the past.
Up to the present time every State high school has received Commonwealth assistance in the form of science teaching apparatus and the State Departments of Education have chosen some 253 high schools at which to build science teaching laboratories with Commonwealth money. By 30th June 1967 the States expect to spend$1 4,475,600 which is their entitlement for the first two years of the triennium ending on 30th June 1968, and each State has in hand a programme of work which will, we hope, take’ up the whole of their three years entitlement by 30th June 1968. So far as independent schools are concerned 771 secondary schools have registered with the Department of Education and Science as being interested in receiving assistance and 508 schools have so far received assistance, or will receive assistance, in the triennium. During the operation of the scheme the Government has made available grants of sums recommended by the State advisory committees for projects in schools recommended by those committees. The Government, in doing this, undertook to meet the full reasonable cost of assisted projects when the initial grant did not do this. This undertaking was given subject to the proviso that Parliament continued the scheme and that a definite date for payment of outstanding costs could not be given by the Government.
The additional money to be provided for independent schools by this Bill will, in the financial year 1967.-68, be used to discharge the indebtedness of building projects in respect of all schools assisted during 1964-65 and a number of schools assisted during 1965-66. The latter schools will be chosen in the order in which payments were first made to them in 1965-66. The remainder of the schools assisted in 1965-66 and the two succeeding financial years will have their indebtedness discharged in full in the financial year 1968-69. At the same time the process of assisting new school requirements will continue. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 469) on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill has been introduced solely to correct certain typographical errors and incorrect citations in the Statute Law Revision (Decimal Currency) Act 1966. That being so, it is purely a technical Bill and the Opposition has no objection to its passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 470) , on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to increase the loading on man-hours worked in the stevedoring industry from 331/3 c to 48c per man-hour. The loading was fixed at 3s 4d by Act No. 1 8 of 1 962 and converted to 331/3c by Act No. 93 of 1966, the Statute Law Revision (Decimal Currency) Act. For the general public, in conversion to decimal currency an amount is rounded off when there is no exact decimal equivalent. For example, 4d becomes 3c. But the Government’s method of conversion is to make each penny equal to five-sixths of a cent. This extra one-third of a cent based on man hours worked in 1 965-66 is equal to an additional impost on freights of $96,510. This is the amount added to the cargo handling charges on overseas, interstate and intrastate freights. It is also the amount added to consumer costs. If we look at the latest published accounts of the Authority we find it had a debit balance of $6,122,809 in 1965-66; a debit of $5,875,742 in 1964-65 and a debit in 1963-64 of $2,289,760. In 1962-63 there was a credit balance of $156,198, This reveals the very quickly deteriorating financial position of the Authority, which cannot all be blamed, as is usual with the public information media, on improved conditions and increased payments for waterside workers. The increase in the charge will quickly relieve the position unless increased expenditure about which we are not informed is proposed.
The increase of 141 cents in the charge, based on the hours worked in 1965-66, will bring in $4,246,440 annually. Yet at this point of time we have a debit of a little over $6m. This seems to be an unnecessarily high amount of increase even though waterfront conditions are changing rather rapidly.
Looking ahead into the next ten years, it seems that the cargo handling revolution will not have a very marked effect. I shall substantiate that statement as I go along. Therefore it seems that the increased charge will tend to build up a great surplus of funds. The effect of this trend will be to increase shipping freights unnecessarily. The Australian Country Party should be interested in this, because our major exports are primary products and the return from them is bound up with the prices on world markets. The primary producers have no control over the prices at which the goods will be sold overseas, and every increase in freights means a reduction in the net income of producers.
It is interesting to note that the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) in his second reading speech gave some of the reasons for the increase of 14) cents in the stevedoring industry charge. The Minister said there was an 18% increase in the hourly rate of pay for waterside workers on which holiday pay, sick pay and annual leave were based. This was reflected in statutory holidays, annual leave and long service leave. There had been an increase of 32 hours in annual leave from 88 hours to 120 hours per annum. There had been a reduction in the qualifying period for long service leave and an extension of long service leave to B class ports. The Minister also referred to increases in administrative costs. He said there had been an increase in the daily rate of attendance money payments from $2.83 to $3.10 a day, an increase of 9.5%. The Minister said it was expected that this financial year payments on this account would rise to a record of $3,200,000. The amount paid in attendance money in 1965-66 was $1,726,219. This represents an increase of 54% in the annual payment compared with a 9.5% increase in the daily rate of attendance money.
What, then, is the cause for the increase over and above the 9.5% increase in the rate per day? Is it anticipated that there will be a very large decrease in the number of daily engagements or that a greater number of registered waterside workers will not be able to obtain employment on the waterfront? Has the registered strength at the major ports been increased beyond the requirements of the industry since the Authority has taken over the recruitment of labour? Is the industry now overloaded with registered waterside workers in order to satisfy the demands of the ship owners? I remind the Senate of the rigid control maintained by the Waterside Workers Federation over the recruitment of labour so that the waterfront would not become overloaded and -there would not be a redundancy of labour on the waterfront. Redundancy cannot be avoided where it is brought about by improvement in handling conditions by the introduction of, for instance, containerisation, palletisation, preslung cargoes and bulk cargoes, but there was rigid control by the Federation to ensure that the number of registered waterside workers did not exceed the requirements, even though the registered number at times was below the quota set by the Authority or determined by the ship owners and not by the Authority.
Has the Authority overloaded the industry now, at the request of the ship owners? There seems to be some room for this assumption if we examine the declining weekly earnings and the number of hours worked each week. The assumption is strengthened further if we examine the average age of waterside workers. Figures relating to the age of men working in the stevedoring industry are published in the annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for 1965-66 at page 41. It is significant that while there has been a recruitment of younger workers into the industry, the young people can see no future in it because of the decline in earnings and the number of hours worked, and as a result they are moving out of the industry. The annual report of the Authority stated in this connection:
The average age of registered regular waterside workers was 45.9 at 30th June 1966 compared with 44.8 at 30th June 1965. This year the exodus exceeded the intake, 2,124 as against 667. Of this exodus. 1,444 men were under 45 compared wilh the intake of 642 men under 45. This attrition from the lower age groups together with the natural age increase of all groups is the reason for the higher average age of 45.9.
The fact that the younger men are not prepared to remain must be a disturbing factor in the industry. They apply to become registered waterside workers and then when they find the conditions are not all as they have been presented, and the position is deteriorating, they leave the industry to find a vocation elsewhere. If we consider increased attendance money payments we find that despite the vigorous recruiting campaign by the Authority there was an actual fall of 7% in the number of registered waterside workers in 1965-66. The figures are published in the report of the Authority at page 40. The Authority reported that the total number of registered waterside workers decreased by 1,485 and that the number of registered waterside workers had fallen by 7% .
– How does the honourable senator reconcile those figures with his earlier statement about redundancy?
– Because the build up is in various major ports and the fall off is in the other ports. This is one of the problems to be faced with the system of containerisation. It means a centralisation of cargo handling methods at major ports and an increase in road or rail freights to assembly areas for containers. A build up occurs in the major ports and a fall off occurs in the minor ports.
Although plenty is said about delays to shipping caused by waterside workers, little is said about delays caused by employers. At page 8 of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June 1966 it is stated: lt is a matter of concern that on 108 occasions during the year, a total of 13,530 man hours was lost when vessels attempted to work cargo with gear which was either defective or failed to conform lo the Navigation (Loading and Unloading - Safely Measures) Regulations. The regulations have been widely circulated, and almost without exception shipping companies when informed of such instances have replied that their ships’ officers are aware of requirements. Although the overall loss represented a decrease of 964 man hours compared with the previous year, the position is far from satisfactory.
Those details are not published by the mass media of public information. No publicity is given to them. The Authority went on in some detail in its report for the year ended 30th June 1964 at page 9 where it stated:
Inefficiencies as shown by the Authority’s survey included -
Delays in arrival of cargo from ihe cold stores.
This is still happening. Complaints are made in the 1966 report about the delivery of apples to the Hobart wharf. The report continued:
Failure to maintain the supply of cargo to the gangs employed at the vessel. (In this connection, the working practices at the meatworks and their effect on the supply of meat to the ship and on general efficiency were important.) Conditions at Borthwick’s Wharf and the working practices there were not conducive to a satisfactory flow of cargo. The large proportion of non-productive time, particularly that spent by waterside workers in covering and uncovering hatches. The considerable number of delays brought about by breakdowns in the ship’s gear. Failure by foremen to ensure positive direction of labour. Lack of a standard carton for frozen meat. Principally because of the inefficiencies, the loading rale was unsatisfactory.
Honorable senators will note that it was not principally because of the inefficiencies of the workers that the loading was unsatisfactory, but because of the inefficiencies of the employers; but that receives no publicity whatsoever. At page 82 of the Authority’s 1966 report particulars are given of non-productive time. A table is set out in some detail, but I shall take the broad headings. Details of award provisions are given. I do not know why they are published because all awards contain provisions for workers to have rest periods, morning tea breaks, and that sort of thing. The total time lost in respect of award provisions for the year ended 30th June 1966 was 12.8% of time worked. Ancillary stevedoring operations, which include covering and uncovering, rigging and so on of ship’s gear and shore gear, dunnaging cleaning and so on, represented 14.5% of the time worked. Other delays represented 11%, making a total of 38.3% nonproductive time of the total time for which waterside workers were engaged. That is the order of inefficiency that operates in the industry to the detriment of Australian consumers, exporters and importers.
Many of the delays could be avoided if employers operated efficiently. The Authority drew attention to this aspect at page 8 of its 1966 report, where it stated:
The Authority is, however, concerned that although employers have given some training during the year to foremen, there is an urgent need for this to be intensified and extended.
Since the Authority has taken over the recruitment of labour it has given a measure of training to the waterside workers it recruits. About five days of instruction and practical training are given, but the employers fail to give that sort of (raining to their supervisors, the men responsible for the output of labour on the wharves.
These matters and many more have their effect on freight charges as well as, of course, the increased loading of 143c. It is interesting to note the increases in freight charges that occurred between December 1962 and December 1966. It is estimated that if the loading of I4$c on man hour charges is incorporated in increased freight charges, it will result in an increase of about 1±%. During the period from December 1962 to December 1966 the freight rates on greasy wool exported to the United Kingdom and the continent increased by 11%; on scoured and washed wool by 10.9%; and on tops by 4%. On exports of wheat parcels, freight rates increased by 54.3%, This aspect should be examined very seriously by the Government because wheal exported from Australia today uses little labour. Practically all wheat exported is handled in bulk, yet in four years freight rates on wheat increased by 54.3%. On frozen beef exports freight rates increased by 17.1%: on lamb by 17.3%; on mutton by 17.1%; and on frozen meat in cartons by 6.7%. Freight rates on general cargo exported to Canada’s east coast - St Lawrence ports to Montreal - increased by 9.9%. Freight rates on greasy and scoured wool exported to the Atlantic and Gulf ports of the United States of America increased by 20%; on frozen beef quarters by 9.4%; on beef in cartons by 10.7%; on carcasses of mutton by 8.7%; on mutton in cartons by 10.7%; and on general cargo by 9.9%.
– What is the authority for those figures?
– The Parliamentary Library. I shall read the precise authority when I have finished citing the figures. It is interesting to note that there has been no increase in the freight rates charged on wool exported to Japan, but there has been an increase of 4.8% in the freight rates on general cargo exported to Japan. These figures were compiled by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Legislative Research Service from information supplied in Transport and Communication Bulletin No. 53, 1961-62, and Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics No. 262, December 1966 issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. I hope that that is authoritative enough for the honourable senator.
These freight rate charges have increased despite the introduction of mechanical loading methods. In these circumstances we must look for the cause of the increase. This is not hard to find. If we examine the ports and port facilities throughout Australia we find that practically every port in Australia is controlled by a separate port authority. There is no co-ordination between these authorities even within a State and less co-ordination from State to State. The result of this state of affairs is almost complete chaos at the ports themselves. One has only to visit the major ports to gauge the chaos that exists. No attempt has been made to co-ordinate services at the major ports. Continual bottlenecks occur in the road and rail transport systems and a great deal of rime is lost in getting cargoes to and from the wharves. In some pons merchants use the shipping sheds as warehouses and take delivery of cargoes at their convenience.
We are constantly told by the Government that Australia is one of the great trading nations of the world. Yet we leave the organisation of our ports in the hands of so many port authorities. On top of this fact, we leave the organisation of waterside labour in the hands of numerous stevedores. Many of these stevedores are in competition with each other for labour and port space. This results in massive inefficiency which creates increased costs. There is not another great trading nation in the world that has not a co-ordinated plan of operation. One has only to look at the reports from the various countries to find out this fact. But planned efficiency is foreign to this so-called free enterprise government.
If we look at the various reports of European countries we find that each and every one of them has organised to take advantage of methods of automation and mechanisation on their waterfronts. Italy, England, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, West Germany, Norway and Sweden are all re-organising their port facilities, but
Australia continues with an outdated fragmented system. Surely it is time that we had a look at this matter from a national point of view. Surely it is time that we realised the importance of continually increasing costs in this industry. Under the present system we attempt to operate a modern sea transport system with facilities that have been installed from the days of sailing ships. Our ports have become congested by the growth of urban development around them. Road access to our ports is not capable of handling the traffic that we impose upon those roads. We have a road system that was able to cope in the days of the bullock dray but it is not able to cope in the days of the motor car.
Again, this is a national problem about which, we, as the National Parliament, have done nothing. Generally, when we complain about these matters we are told that they are matters for the States. But ample power exists in the Commonwealth Constitution for the Commonwealth Government to play a bigger part if it felt inclined to do so. This authority is contained in Section 51 of the Constitution which provides:
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States.
Section 98 of the Constitution goes further. It provides:
The power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping and to railways the property of any State.
– It has been held that that section applies only to interstate trade. This is one of the constitutional amendments that was recommended.
– Even if that is so, ample power exists in section 96 to enable the Government to control this industry. The Government has power to nationalise this industry and so make it a national industry in the interests of Australia by the provision of funds for the development of our ports in a co-ordinated manner. The Government has power to provide for the development of the approaches to our ports and the development of mechanical handling methods at the ports in order that the drain on Australian resources as a result of Australia being an island nation will be reduced as much as possible and the people obtain the benefits of automation and mechanisation instead of these methods providing increased profits for the shipowners. Action to nationalise the stevedoring industry directly or the attainment of this objective by means of financial grants is the only answer to this problem. If a small country like Singapore can afford to spend $38 million on the improvement of one of the best ports in the world, surely Australia can afford to do something about its major ports. The Government of Singapore proposes to expend over the next two or three years $38 million on the development of the port of Singapore. It is a matter that should interest all of us in this place because, after all, we represent the electors in the various States. We come to the Senate as a co-ordinated body to regulate the affairs of Australia which comprises six States. The longer we leave this problem the more expensive the solution of it will become.
At this time when a revolution is taking place in cargo handling it is opportune for this Government to step in and exercise the authority that it undoubtedly has, whether it be financial authority or not. I respect the interjection from Senator Wright regarding section 51. If the power does not extend within this specific provision of the Constitution, it certainly extends under section 96. We on this side of the Senate support the Bill because of the purposes for which the money is required. But we believe that the workers employed in this industry are entitled to the benefits that will be provided by the money that is collected. We believe also that an increase in freight charges should not follow this increase, which should be absorbed in the process of the mechanisation of the wharves. We believe that the industry should be nationalised and that the people should receive the benefits of greater efficiency and modern cargo handling methods. Modern methods of cargo handling should not result in greater profits for shipowners.
– 1 have listened with interest to Senator Cant discussing the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1967. Undoubtedly he has raised matters of great interest. I will return to those matters at a later stage. At the outset, 1 want to say that I oppose this Bill, and give the reasons why I do so. As I think the Senate by now understands, this is not a new attitude for me to adopt, because since I first came to this place 1 have felt discontent with the organisation which manages this industry. I have never been satisfied with the organisation set up in 1956, which the Government has proved itself unable to put on a proper footing in the subsequent ten years.
The point that should be made at the outset is that we are now asked to support a proposal to increase waterfront payroll tax. Ever so many arguments have been advanced from time to time for the abolition of the general payroll tax or, alternatively, for its contraction into limited areas. I do not think any employer is liable for payroll tax now unless his payroll amounts to £10,000 a year. In recent years we have seen a reduction in payroll tax to provide an incentive to exporters. Arguments relating to the general payroll tax have been advanced in the Estimates debate each year, but here we have a specific taxation measure i.n relation to a specific and peculiar tax, namely, the payroll tax levied in relation to waterfront stevedoring labour.
The gigantic proposition involved in this Bill is that the specific tax I have mentioned shall be increased by 50%. The present rate of tax is 33ic per man hour. This Bril proposes to increase it to 48c per man hour. As I have said, this special tax, which has a specific effect on shipping freights, is to be increased by 50%. Yet there is silence in some quarters of the Senate which represent the primary producer exporters who are particularly affected by the proposal. Prior to 1962 the rate of payroll tax was 25c per man hour. In that year it was increased to 33ic and now it is to be increased again to 48c. This represents an increase of almost 100% since 1962. Surely the magnitude of such a taxation increase should excite opposition from those who represent primary producer exporters, who truly have been said to be in such a position in ihe cost structure that they have to bear the final burden of cost because they receive only a net return.
I will examine with the Senate in a few moments the reason for this proposed in crease. If the increase is inevitable as an incident in waterfront employment we, as a house of the Parliament, should be able to devise some method of reducing its effect. This is primarily a matter for the Government but the mere fact that the Government has a responsibility does not mean that the Senate should be sterile of ideas when problems such as these, which demand the exercise of statesmanship in their solution, arise. If this additional cost is inevitable then, as I have said, to give some degree of equity to the primary producer exporters some remedy must be devised and presented to the Parliament, contemporaneously with this legislation, which will temper this cost and its effect on the already over-costridden primary producer exporters.
I am suggesting, as 1 have suggested on previous occasions, that a subsidy should be paid to reduce export costs in industries where the net return is below average. If it is not proper to grant a subsidy, why is it proper to reduce the general payroll tax payable by exporters as an incentive to them to increase their exports? Of course that is done in the interests of something we all encourage and applaud - an expansion of Australia’s exports, because exports are most valuable to the country’s economy. I do not remember any opposition when the proposal to reduce the general payroll tax for that purpose was advanced, but those who have proved to be the beneficiaries of that reduction are much better able to afford the unequal costs of export than is the primary producer who is exporting his meat, apples, wool or wheat. I refer to Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and other organisations which are receiving in large measure the benefit of the reduction in general payroll tax.
If we are confronted inevitably with an increased cost of waterside labour which demands a 50% increase in the specific payroll tax, why has the increase to be levied in such a way that it is imposed first on the employers of stevedoring labour? Obviously it then becomes an ingredient in freight charges and is passed on to the primary producer with all the current surcharges which already apply. If this cost is inevitable, why can it not be borne for the time being by general revenue in the same way as the cost of the reduction in the general payroll tax is borne by general revenue? If we want to provide an incentive for increasing our exports of primary products, as we do, why can we not meet the deficiency in the cost of employing waterfront labour incurred by the Department of Labour and National Service, through the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, by the simple device of making general revenue bear the burden?
If one looks at the general revenue impost that is being placed upon our export trade and not at the present man hour rate of payroll tax, one can see the gravity of the situation. It has increased from $6,800,000 in 1961-62 to $9,600,000 in 1965-66. In other words, the revenue from this charge, under present rates, has increased from $6,800,000 in 1961-62 to $9,600,000 in 1965-66. What is the reason for this increase? I wish to pay a tribute to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) for the candour, clearness and conciseness with which he has explained the reasons for the increase. His summary was:
There is regrettably no alternative to an increase in the charge.
That is his view. I have suggested two alternatives. He continued: lt is proportionately a large increase but it is no more than is required to enable the Authority to meet its commitments.
Earlier on he said: . . the need to increase the charge now is very largely the consequence of decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Public Service Arbitrator.
The Minister analysed the need for the increase. He pointed out that four main increments are involved in the increase. The first resulted from the decision of the Arbitration Commission on the hourly rate of pay for waterside workers on which payments for holiday pay, sick pay and annual leave are based. He pointed out that the hourly rate of pay had increased by nearly 18%. Then he stated:
Apart from the effects of this, the annual leave provisions in the waterside workers award have been amended to provide for a maximum of 120 hours annual leave instead of 88 hours.
– That is three weeks leave.
– I am obliged to my friend, Senator McClelland, for interjecting and pointing out that that is three weeks. But at some rates it would be four weeks. lt is between three and four weeks. The award has been amended to provide for 120 hours instead of 88 hours annual leave. This means that since 1962 payments have increased by 80% or more than $1,450,000 a year. That is the first reason for the increase in the stevedoring industry charge.
The second reason relates to an increase in an item which 1 would not criticise. Attendance money payments have been increased from $2.83 to $3.10 per day. That is to say, the daily rate of attendance money is 31s. I have always been amazed that the amount of the attendance money has been kept as low as it is. But if attendance money is a proper unit in the wage structure, then the retention of this low rate of attendance money is due to the original decision by Chief Justice Kelly when he pointed out that it was really compensation for the element of compulsion in the registrant being available day by day for work. I have invoked that concept to ask for improved compensation for the man who is compulsorily required to do military service. Attendance money has been increased from $2.83 to $3.10 per day which, as I have said, is 31s per day. It is estimated that this will result in a payment of $3,200,000 in this financial year. That is the second reason for the increase in the stevedoring industry charge.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The third matter that the Minister mentioned as requiring this increase was that in October 1966 amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act had been made and due to an adjustment of long service leave provisions reducing the qualifying period from twenty years to fifteen years the extra cost occasioned would involve an impost of $300,000 this financial year and, of course, a larger amount next year. That is in respect of long service leave expansion. The fourth matter that the Minister set out so clearly in his speech as requiring this increase was the increase in administrative expenditure. It is implied that the main item that he is considering - indeed, the most important item - is staff salaries and wages of the Authority itself. They are increased by $300,000 per year. That is how I read the speech.
As I said before the suspension of the sitting, it all sums up to this: these increases are the product of adjustments made at the instance of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Public Service Arbitrator. The adjustment made to long service leave by legislation last October was made so that the waterfront provisions would be put on the basis of other Arbitration Commission awards in other industries and would maintain parity. Before I comment further upon that, I want to say that in 19S6 a permanent piece of legislation was introduced into this industry which set up an organisation of the greatest complexity, and in my view one that defies any efficiency in the industry. We have the employees and we have the employers and superimposed on them we have the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to roster and to discipline. That in my view leads to a sense of irresponsibility on the part of both the employee individually, and the employer with regard to his responsibility of control. Then on top of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority we have a special Commissioner of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission assigned to deal with disputes that occur in regard to employment conditions.
The complexity of that structure is overwhelming and in a despairing effort to get some reality out of it the Government in October 1965 appointed Mr A. E. Woodward QC, as I understand it, as chairman of an industrial conference and also with a commission to inquire into the conditions in the industry. The last public statement that I have seen emanating from the Government or Mr Woodward with regard to his achievements is one dated September 1966. On that occasion he issued a public statement after a fairly lengthy conference in which he said that he had held fourteen meetings spread over twentyseven days up to date. Going to the report of the Authority we are told that he has concerned himself mainly with permanent employment, wages, a pension scheme and other provisions. If we look at the statement that Mr Woodward issued in September last we see that on the subject of permanent employment he has considered the allocation of labour among employers, wages and conditions that should be paid on a weekly basis, representation of employers on the ASIA, the likelihood that some companies will employ too much and some too little, and the question of interchange, and then the function of the ASIA in regard to this different type of employment.
I mention these matters just by way of headings to indicate the complexity of tha inquiry that is the subject of his conference. The next subject is redundancy and then, of course, the subject which I submit is the kernel of the whole of this activity, that is to say, that which attracts the Waterside Workers Federation to interest itself in this conference which it threatened at first to boycott - the idea of pensions. As I understand the position, it is Mr Woodward’s conception of his responsibility that he should consider what the two sections of the industry are prepared to agree upon as a scheme for pensions in this industry. We arc given to understand that one of the most contentious matters under that heading is the contributory element of the pension. Having taken a little time to focus attention upon that matter, I want to say that I regard neither side of that conference as being in any real position to act for the industry in a matter such as this. The employers have been divorced from any responsibility and deprived of any real authority in this industry ever since 1956. They go along with the idea that any increased imposts put upon them automatically are recovered from the exporting community by way of freights. To me a conference so organised is artificial and should not be the centre out of which such a pension scheme should be formulated.
Since Mr Woodward commenced his duties, the Parliament passed legislation to alter the system of recruitment. The last time that 1 addressed myself to this subject I was disappointed to have to record that the altered system of recruitment did not seem to be followed by an improvement iti work output. Let me refer to page 69 of the 1966 report of the Authority. I am now glad to say that so far as cargo handling is concerned there is an improvement. There is a weighted index for all cargo handled on the basis of 100 being the average for the three years ended 30th June 1963. In 1964 the figure was 100.1, in 1965 it was 101.4, and in 1966 it was 107.5. So I think it is due to the Federation that one should make an acknowledge- ment of that improvement in the index of throughput.
The next thing that I wish to bring to the attention of the Senate is that, as appears from page 917 of the same report, last year the return that waterside workers received for a week of 28.3 hours was $51.53. I suggest that that indicates that, as with the members of the House of Representatives, there is no evidence that they are suffering under a gross overload of work. For a working week of 28.3 hours they receive $51.53. I suggest to my friends in the Australian Country Party that that represents an excellent wage compared with the return received by the average small farmer for his efforts.
– Would the honourable senator comment on the fact that in the waterside industry the working week is fixed at thirty hours?
– 1 do not intend to comment on that, but I would be obliged for any comment on it that the honourable senator can make. I am just comparing this industry with industry generally. I want to make clear the present situation in the industry and the indefiniteness that exists during the continuance still of an inquiry that was instituted in October 1965 by Mr Woodward. The report that he presented in September 1966 is not indicative of any immediate and definite result that would lead anybody to expect a real improvement in the industry. The main topic being considered by the National Stevedoring Industry Conference is the negotiation of pension schemes by two parties, each of which has no real responsibility in the industry. They are bargaining at the expense of the exporting primary producers. Whatever they agree on will have to be paid for in higher freights on exports at a time when we should be ensuring the greatest possible encouragement for an increase in exports.
Having made those observations, Mr Deputy President, I now wish to turn to another specific topic that has in the main been the basis of my interest in this industry since 1949. I refer to the impact on the apple industry of the developments that I have been discussing. The apple industry is an export industry and about 80% of our exports of apples go from Tasmania. Some 85% or 90% of our trade in apples is still with the United Kingdom and Europe. I ask honourable senators to consult the twentieth annual report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, for the year ended 30th June 1966. It gives the freight cost for apples for the 1966 season as more than $1.90 a carton and states:
This represents close to 80% of the f.o.b. value of the product - probably the highest incidence of any primary product exported in volume from Australia. The Board is most concerned therefore to note that further increases in freight rates are indicated from the latest results of the Formula exercise.
In fact, freights have increased since that report was presented. For all practical purposes they now represent $2 a carton of apples. Both shipping services and freight rates are dealt with in this report. Perhaps more significant is the fact that in the early part of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June 1966 there is a chapter dealing with the Tasmanian fruit export season and exports to United Kingdom and Continental ports. That Authority is concerned with the whole of the waterfront industry throughout Australia. Not only were we confronted last season with an immediate freight increase that brought the freight up to about 80% of the f.o.b. value of the product, but also we have to contend wilh another increase this year. It is now common knowledge that the market has declined and that trade interest in the market has been neutral and inactive. Therefore, yet another freight increase is a matter of immediate importance to the apple growers of Tasmania, who last year exported some 7 million cases of apples and earned considerable export income for Australia. They have to meet still higher costs and get some return for themselves. That is why, having an old fashioned idea that I come here to represent people and am bound to speak according to their interests as I understand them, I am taking up the time of the Senate in pointing up the acutely critical situation that will result from the proposed increase of the stevedoring industry charge, this being an industry in which the gap between costs and returns is now almost non-existent. It is almost closed. The importance of the apple industry to the stevedores and the members of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia is illustrated by the following statement in the last report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority:
– Would not those figures be based on the penalty rates for the evening shift up to 12 midnight and then the late night shift, because they go right through? Those figures represent the average.
– Yes. 1 am pleased that Senator Kennelly has brought out that point. I was about to state it myself. 1 merely wanted to emphasise that the apple export season provides considerable opportunities for employment for waterside workers and attracts interstate transfers from Melbourne and Sydney. The yield in higher wages during the season is quite big compared with the earnings available to waterside workers at other ports. This is because we in Tasmania have to get our fruit away within a limited time. It must be exported when it is mature and it must arrive when the market in the northern hemisphere, over three months, is most ready to accept it. So overtime and weekend work are available. I hope that these observations have put in balance the considerations on which I want the Senate to pass judgment. I now want to direct attention to the fact that last year’s experience at Hobart revealed something that relieves the waterside workers of a tot of responsibility. Let me state two incidents which occurred and which indicate the delicate nature of the management required in this industry in matters in which the waterside workers have no responsibility. The report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority, at page 19, states:
The vessel ‘Duquesa’ spent 33 days lying at anchor at Hobart before departing, still empty.
The other incident that I wish to bring to the attention of the Senate in the same spirit is that the ‘Hornby Grange’, after being idle at Hobart for twenty-seven days waiting for fruit, eventually loaded at Port Huon. They were two very exceptional experiences in our trade which were due to the fact that the varieties of fruit that had been scheduled for shipment on the dates of arrival of those ships were late in maturing and at that stage the shipowners did not receive the foreknowledge to enable them to switch the ships to other refrigerated cargoes in Sydney and Queensland. I do not stop to inquire whether there was culpability on the part of the shipping committee, the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association or the people who bespeak the freight.
I point out those exceptional facts in relation to last year to illustrate the extremely delicate mechanism of this trade which has gone on for 60 years and for whose continuance 1 strive. We have always had to depend on the co-operation of 1,200 or 1,500 orchardists growing numerous varieties of fruit, with their difficulties in regard to seasons, in landing a shipload of fruit by road at the quayside so as to coincide with the arrival of the ship. This is a delicate trade, but we have to continue it. The Authority’s report points out that the cost of stevedoring is a significant proportion of the freight cost. It also states:
The daily throughput of vessels that did work at Hobart was 440 tons, an appreciable drop from the 475 tons of the 1965 season. Though the overall rate of work declined slightly, this was not a significant factor in the slower turnround. 1 am not preaching any deprecation of waterside workers. I am only saying that the cost of the system that we have built up, with the adjustments to which I have referred, has become so high and so disproportionate to the returns received by the farmers, particularly the orchardists, that it is our bounden duty to ensure that this industry is relieved not only of general increases in costs but also of the proposed increase in costs which, if imposed at the present time, will leave the industry without a return. The industry is threatened with a real reduction by orchardists leaving Lt in the next year or two if the cost burden increases.
I have dwelt on those matters of direct relevance to the Bill to such an extent that in my judgment I have not time to deal with the more general factors to which Senator Cant referred. But I cannot forbear to say a few words on the subject of recruitment to which he referred. I submit that he was hardly fair in asserting that recruitment by the Authority is less effective now than it was formerly. If we look at page 40 of the Authority’s report we see that the total number of registered waterside workers decreased by 1,485 last year and that the total number of new registrations during the year was 600. So about 2,000 waterside workers left and 600 came into the industry, making an overall reduction of about 1,400. In regard to Senator Cant’s contention that the numbers were built up unduly in the main ports, I submit that the list on page 41 of the report does not bear that out.
I have spoken in this way as a protest against an increase in costs as the means of financing this inefficient and complex organisation that bedevils the waterfront in the hope that the Senate will take an interest in the proposal that we finance this increase in costs, which has such an acute incidence in an industry such as the apple industry, by means other than making a direct imposition on that industry. Such an imposition means that the middlemen, the shipowners and the waterside workers receive the benefit and only if there is threepence left do the orchardists receive anything.
- Senator Wright has said that this Bill relates to a payroll tax levied on stevedoring companies and that by this legislation the tax is being increased by 50%. Whilst it is not for me to defend the Government, I remind him that the Minister lor Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service, pointed out in his second reading speech that although proportionally the increase might be large - between 334% and 50% - it is no more than is required to enable the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to meet its commitments.
Whilst not opposing this Bill, one might ask: What is the purpose of the increased commitment? The answer is that it is for the payment of sick leave, statutory holidays, long service leave, annual leave and attendance money awarded under determinations of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to waterside workers. In fact, the money is paid by the stevedoring companies to the government employing agency- namely the Stevedoring Industry Authority - to meet the decisions made by the Commission insofar as they affect waterside workers. The fact as I see it is that if the waterside workers were on the direct payroll of the stevedoring companies - that is. in their employ - those companies would have to find the money to pay these amounts directly to the waterside workers.
Senator Wright went on to ask why this tax has to be lieved in such a way that it is first imposed on the stevedoring companies and then is obviously an ingredient in freight charges. He said that it is passed on to the primary producers through surcharges. As I understand his argument, he suggested that, in order to avoid that, this cost should be met from general revenue. In fact, what he is asking the Parliament to do is to absolve those who derive benefit from the use of labour on the Australian waterfront from meeting their responsibilities as users of that labour. He is saying that those companies should not have to meet the increased costs involved and that the ordinary taxpayers should be asked to meet them from Consolidated Revenue. In other words he is suggesting that the costs of arbitration judgments and determinations which affect stevedoring companies should be met by the taxpayers through Consolidated Revenue and not by the companies which benefit from the labour of waterside workers.
I disagree with that, but I tend to agree with the honourable senator on his statement that the members of the Australian Country Party in this Parliament who are supposed to have the interests of the rural community at heart seem to have given little consideration to the possible consequences of this legislation. The primary producers whose returns are pegged by the prices they receive on overseas markets are the victims of the prices spiral and the high cost structure in Australia as much as are the ordinary salary and wage earners and those on fixed incomes.
– As much as?
– They are ‘ affected in the same way as, and in like manner to, other Australians because, as costs rise, the primary producers get a lesser return for their labour. So they are in much the same position as the ordinary worker in secondary industry in this respect, lt is rather significant that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony), when addressing a recent meeting of the Federal Council of the Australian Country Party, said the Australian economy would collapse if the cost spiral hit the primary producers too hard.
I now wish to deal with another matter, to which Senator Wright referred. His statement should be corrected in the interests of those who work on the waterfront. The honourable senator appeared to suggest that a gross return of $51 for 28.3 hours work was lair and reasonable and that the working of a mere 28 hours or so meant that the waterside workers were pretty well off in terms of the return they received. But I point out to Senator Wright and the Senate that work in the waterfront industry is in the nature of casual work. As Senator Wright well knows, casual workers arc entitled to a loading because their work is casual work. As Senator Kennelly pointed out by way of interjection to Senator Wright, the waterside industry also involves shift work and, again, working at different times around the clock attracts an additional loading.
The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority pointed out in its annual report that the return of $51 a week for 28.3 hours casual work in the industry represents gross earnings and not net earnings. I am sure that if the Government or the Authority were prepared to give these men a regular wage for a regular working week they would bc very happy to get it. They are working to an award, and an award sets minimum standards; but this is one industry where one does not find any overaward payments.
As the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) pointed out in his second reading speech, the purpose of the Bill is to fix the rate of the stevedoring industry charge at 48c a man hour. The charge is paid by the employers in the industry. The money collected goes to Consolidated Revenue and then equivalent amounts arc paid to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to meet the costs of the industry. The Minister added:
Since the amount of the stevedoring industry charge was last before the Parliament in 1962, there have been very sizeable increases in the amounts of the money required to service these payments. … the hourly rate of pay for waterside workers on which payments for holiday pay, sick pay and annual’ leave are based has increased by nearly 18%.
The Minister also stated that there was provision for a maximum of 120 hours annual leave instead of 88 hours as previously. I inferred from Senator Wright’s remarks that he thought three weeks annual leave in this industry was on the generous side. Again I disagree with him. The Minister also pointed out that the daily rate of attendance money increased last year from S2.83 to $3.10. This is an increase of 27c.
The Opposition does not oppose the measure, but we on this side of the Senate take advantage of the debate to air publicly matters relating to the Bill which call for consideration by this Parliament and the Australian community generally, because it seems that manual workers, particularly those engaged on the waterfront, are most likely to be affected by the rapid extension of automation in Australia. The word ‘automation’ has been bandied round now for some years until it has become part and parcel of everyday industrial jargon. The manual workers of Australia, many of them victims of the depression, will be hit hardest as automation techniques are developed and expanded.
Without having the figures before me I think it is fair to say that in recent years the number of persons engaged in white collar occupations has increased significantly while the number of men engaged in heavy industry and manual work has, on a comparable basis, declined. Let us take the waterfront industry as an example. According to the annual report of the Authority, in 1951 there were 18,354 men employed as waterside workers. In 1965 there were only 13,679. In fifteen y.ears the number dropped by nearly 5,000. Of course, the number declined further in the last twelve months by some 1,400. But while the number of workers in the industry has fallen, over the same period some 13 million more tons of cargo has been shifted. In 1951 24 million tons of cargo was shifted compared with 37 million tons in 1965. This quantity of cargo was shifted in 12 million fewer man hours compared with 1951.
Last year the exodus of manpower from the industry exceeded the intake. Those leaving the industry numbered 2,124 compared with new registrations of 667. Comparing the number of those who went out of the industry with the number of those who entered it, there were 1,457 fewer men in the industry last year. When one appreciates that the average age of the registered waterside worker is only 46 years, that he has usually been a victim of the depression and knows very little apart from manual work, one can appreciate the concern felt by these men for their welfare and that of their families in view of the growth of automation.
They are virtually all untrained men except for the skills and talents they exercise during the course of their calling. They earn their money by toil with their muscles and they find themselves thrown on to the labour market at an average age of forty-six years. This anxiety is causing them great concern. Recently I read an article by a British expert on automation. 1 think it was by Lord Roberts. He said that in the lifetime of a working man he could expect to have to be retrained three times to equip himself to keep pace with changing technological developments in industry. Developments in containerisation are occurring hour by hour and the employment problems of wharfies will be accelerated and accentuated by those developments. It appears that no assessment has yet been made of this matter, and no-one can assess properly the loss in work opportunities that will take place for waterside workers.
I think it is only natural and fair to say that employment opportunities will become less and less and the difficulties connected therewith will become more acute as each year passes. A lot was said in the Senate yesterday about automation and, more particularly, its effects in the field of containerisation. Containerisation means simply the loading of goods, at the point of manufacture, into a container or on to a pallet. Those goods are not touched again until they reach the point of wholesale distribution. Waterside workers, who earn their wages by loading and unloading ships’ cargoes and shifting goods on wharves, will not be the only people affected by containerisation. Many other people will be vitally affected, including managers, clerks and workers in road transport, engineering and the ancillary industries connected with the shifting of goods from one place to another.
All the plans in the world, apparently, are being made to meet the changing face of the stevedoring industry. A journal published by the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour in August 1966 reported that several major ports had announced far ranging plans to cater for container cargoes arriving in and leaving Australia. A complex of container berths is being built at an estimated cost of $10m at Balmain, Sydney. In Melbourne a scheme involves the widening of the Yarra River at a cost of about $3m, in addition to the sum of $5m already earmarked by the Melbourne Harbour Trust to build the first of possibly two container berths. In Newcastle a wharf to handle container cargoes is to be built at a cost of more than $lm.
Millions of dollars are being spent to effect these changes. Recently the managing director of Overseas Containers (Australia) Ltd, Mr R. W. Eaton, discussed his company’s investment of $60m in a revolutionary cargo handling system. He said that the system would come into being in January 1969, when the first all container cargo ship reaches Australia from Britain. He said that to date his company, in the establishment of new shipping and berthing facilities, had not encountered any problems which could not be overcome. Whilst millions of dollars are being spent to effect these changes, no-one on the capital side seems to be showing any interest in the problems and difficulties of the men whose very livelihood and way of life will be affected by the changes.
Last year the average gross earnings of waterside workers were $51 for 28.3 hours worked, compared with $55 for 31.4 hours worked each week in the previous year. The Minister said in his second reading speech that the attendance money payment is being increased by the miserly sum of 27c. So despite the increase in productivity that has occurred, on the figures presented to us by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, certainly no share of the increased productivity is being spread amongst the waterside workers. Appendix 4 at page 80 of the last annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority provides a table showing the tons handled and the man-hours worked by waterside workers. From 1957 to 1965 the total tonnage handled increased from 23,636 to 28,953. As conditions are progressing in this industry, with increased productivity and a decreasing work force, bearing in mind the advent of containerisation to Australian ports, it is quite possible that within a decade the wharfie as we know him in the Labor movement today will become as rare as the oft referred to village smithy. As I see it, for years waterside workers have been taking the barb of criticism from conservative government Ministers, the Press, employers and others in order to conceal the inefficiency of employing authorities in the industry and their failure to effect improvements.
As long ago as 1952 Mr Basten, when reporting upon the waterfront industry, had this to say:
The principal causes of delays to ships lie in the inadequacy of many berths in the ports, in the halting pace at which goods are removed from or brought to wharves and in the industrial practices of the stevedoring authorities.
The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in 1950 had this to say about Sydney which is, of course, the largest port in the Commonwealth:
Sydney is notoriously deficient in modem cargo handling equipment with the striking exception of the bulk wheat loading apparatus at Glebe Island. Sydney is regarded as a ships’ gear port, and promises to remain that way for some time to come.
Changes have begun to take place in recent months so far as containerisation is concerned. The port of Sydney in 1966 was practically the same as it was when the report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority of 1950 set out the conditions that I have related. Generally speaking, I think that the situation, apart from the bulk loading facilities in north Queensland, had remained practically the same throughout Australia.
The New South Wales Maritime Services Board in 1946 announced plans to modernise the port of Sydney. But nothing was done until about 1955. The Board announced at that time its intention to demolish nineteen jetties between No. 6 and No. 34 Darling Harbour, the work to be completed in ten years. A decade later, in 1965, most of the old wharves remained. Only three new wharves have been provided, including the No. 7 wharf in Darling Harbour which has been built recently to handle vehicular traffic. It is with this obsolete and antiquated equipment under this old arrangement that waterside workers have been expected to work and load and unload vessels for many years. At the same time, they have been the victims of the barbs of criticism from conservative Ministers of this Government, the Press and others who may be prone to denigrate them. But despite the obsolescent equipment, the lack of storage facilities, the use of wharf sheds as warehouses - a subject to which Senator Cant referred - the general conglomeration on the wharves, the inefficiency of the stevedoring companies, waterside workers have been able to turnround the ships. Now there is the modern trend towards containerisation. As 1 have said, while everybody is interested in beautifying our ports, while everyone is interested in getting the best handling equipment available and in seeking a solution to the problem of the changing requirements of the metropolis, no-one seems to be giving a tinker’s cuss at all for the men who rely on this industry for their living and for the welfare of their families.
Not long ago Lord Devlin conducted a survey and reported on the waterfront industry in Great Britain. A portion of the report was published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 11th August 1965. Lord Devlin said:
As in Austra’ia the great contributor to lack of efficiency is outdated ports and equipment.
The report recommended that this situation be remedied as soon as possible. Lord Devlin went on to say:
Profits arising from increased productivity caused by these changes should be shared, and employers should guarantee that no one would lose his job at any stage because of the requirements.
Although I do not suppose it is possible, while operating under the present capitalist system, to guarantee that no-one will lose his job at any stage of the present development of automative techniques, it is nonetheless possible to give some form of guarantee and some form of retraining to workers to ensure that they will not be thrown on to the labour market as leftovers from the hard old manual days in these modern days of containerisation.
The British Labour Government had to give consideration to this problem, lt has taken steps to protect people who are so affected. The British Government has provided for redundancy payments and the continuance of pension or superannuation rights. I am given to understand also that the French Government, facing much the same type of problem, has enacted legislative measures to protect people from tha results of unusable labour. This is one thing that I suggest to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. This is one thing to which the Minister for Labour and National Service certainly should be giving consideration. Whatever the industrial penalties that might be imposed on waterside workers or those who work for a living on the wharves, the fact of the matter is that all the penalties in the world will never be able to replace the system where men are contented in their jobs and in their surroundings and where they believe in their hearts that they are getting a fair go.
Recently an American publication, ‘Men and Machines’, which is a study of the effects of automation and the product of a survey conducted in the United States of America on automation published the following passage:
All of the old fears return to the average worker when the machine threatens his job and his security and his pay cheques stop. If he is likely to bc hurt he sees no difference between the machine and the guillotine.
Surely that is a factor to be taken into consideration by this Government today.
Let me turn from this subject to the matter of new ports. Now is the time, I suggest, for the Government and its instrumentalities to give consideration to the decentralisation of our shipping industry and our freight industry generally. In relation to this matter, I should like to take a few minutes to deal with some of the ports of New South Wales. The principal ports of course are Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla which respectively serve the metropolis of Sydney, the city of Newcastle and the rapidly growing district of Wollongong. Those cities are expanding at an enormous rate. I think I said yesterday that the New South Wales Minister for Transport, Mr Morris, recently said that if the eventual choking of these cities is to be stopped it will be necessary for the New South Wales Government to obtain from somewhere about $50m a year for the next three years in order to be able to cope adequately with this situation. Whilst this inefficiency is building up in our cities, the cost spiral is being affected and is rising very rapidly indeed.
Something was said about making Botany Bay another port in order to relieve the congestion that is taking place in Sydney. I believe that it would be absolutely stupid and futile to consider the provision of container ports at Botany Bay because of the constant dredging that is required as a result of the silting of the Georges River and Cooks River that flow into Botany Bay, with the oil refinery at Kurnell on the southern head of Botany Bay and with the extension of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport runway into the watershed of Botany Bay. I hope that the authorities, when considering new facilities for container ships, will look at such places as Iluka and Coffs Harbour on the north coast of New South Wales, and Jervis Bay in the south.
The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of Wednesday 5th April contains the following report:
Grafton City Council will make new representations for Commonwealth assistance in the development of the deep sea port at Iluka, at the mouth of the Clarence River.
A meeting of the Council this week decided to ask the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr C. Adermann, and the Minister for National Development, Mr D. Fairbairn, that Commonwealth aid be made available for the port works.
The present situation must be given earnest consideration by those who for the time being are in control of the treasury bench because Australia, being one of the largest trading nations in the world - I think we are the fourth largest trading nation in the world - relies predominantly on exports and imports. It seems only commonsense, therefore, that if we decentralise our port facilities rather than centralise them in the main capital cities, as they now are centralised, we will improve the nation’s general efficiency. The expenditure involved might be high in the first instance but it will be recouped in next to no time because increased efficiency reduces costs.
Australia is a rapidly growing nation. I believe it is our responsibility to plan for the future of those who will follow us.
As Sir Arthur Kirby, Chairman of the British Transport Docks Board, said recently when referring to the situation in Britain before new arrangements were made:
Wc are living on our forebears when we should bc building for our own children.
As was mentioned by Senator Cant, we of Ihe Opposition do not oppose the Bill, but we hope that the constructive views we have put forward on behalf of the men engaged in the industry today, and those who might be affected tomorrow, will be heeded, to say the least, by this Government and by ils instrumentality, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority.
Senator BULL (New South Wales) 1.3.18] I rise to express my keen disappointment that the Government has found it necessary to increase stevedoring charges. On Tuesday night last 1 referred at length, and 1 think in detail, to the matter of the cost of production generally and particularly the cost of production in rural industries. I cited figures to prove that for the two years ended 30th September last there had been an annual increase of 5% in the cost of rural production. The Government now proposes to increase stevedoring charges at a time when primary industry is overburdened with costs. I recognise that we must be realistic and admit that costs generally have increased. We must admit also that some increase in stevedoring charges was inevitable; but it seems that a 44% increase, which eventually must be borne by the exporters and importers of this country, is extremely high. It may not be generally known - I do not think it has been mentioned here today - that stevedoring charges already represent 20% of shipping costs. I believe I am correct in saying that Australia is regarded as having among the highest cost ports of call in the world.
Let me relate this particularly to the wool industry. Keeping in mind that South Africa grows wool similar lo our own I point out to the Senate that 1 lb of such South African wool can be purchased for lc less than Australian wool costs. That gives an idea of the disadvantage that we have in relation to South Africa in the marketing of our wool. The proposed increase must either be absorbed by the United KingdomEurope Conference lines or we must meet it. No doubt charges will be increased. It always seems to happen that way. In fact, it has been estimated that the increase in freights both in and out of Australia which will follow the increase in stevedoring charges will be of the order of H%. Already the cost of shipping wool to the United Kingdom and Europe is $12 a bale. I have calculated that the proposed increase will represent an additional 16c on each bale of wool so, carrying the calculation further, the wool industry will be burdened by at least another S600.000 annually in snipping freights.
Let us consider meat, another commodity of vital importance. Although 1 cannot give the Senate the actual amount of the increase in the cost of shipping our meat which will result from the Government’s proposal, I must point out that the graziers will be faced with an additional impost at a time when we are having great difficulty in selling our lamb because of the high level of production in the United Kingdom, coupled with the fact that the United Kingdom proposes to increase the subsidies it is already paying on its own production. This will make it still more difficult for us to export our lamb to that country.
I cannot cite any accurate figures in relation to wheat, but naturally the cost of production must increase. Senator Wright has referred to the fruit industry, which is having an extremely difficult time. The proposed increase in charges will be a burden which, as he says, 1 believe correctly, could completely close the gap between the price received for the commodity and the cost of production. That is on the export side. Now let me turn to the import side where the same conditions will apply. Imports will cost more and eventually this increased cost will fall on all industries, including the rural sector.
Following a reorganisation by shipping companies of their services, and a restriction on the number of ports of call, shippers have looked forward with a great deal of confidence to a reduction in freight rates. We hoped also to have improved services in the very near future and to obtain considerable benefits from the introduction of containerisation, but it could well be that the proposed increase in stevedoring charges will swallow up some of the gains we expected to receive. From time to time over the past year or two the Government has referred to the high costs of shipping. The Government should have tried to avoid the proposed tremendous increase in costs. I agree with much of what Senator Wright said in this regard.
Senator McClelland referred to waterside workers having a share in increased productivity. I do not disagree with him in that regard. Of course they are entitled to a share in increased productivity. But remember, costs are becoming so high for primary industry that we are getting far beyond the point at which we will receive anything from our productivity. In fact some industries have gone beyond that point. I tried to bring this aspect before the Senate very forcibly on Tuesday night last. I think the burden should be shared. As I said then, I believe it is high time that the Government amended the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act to provide that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission shall take into consideration the economic consequences of its decisions. I hope that that will be done before many months pass. As I said before, al a time when the export industries are facing this serious cost problem, greater endeavour must be made to bring more efficiency to the waterfront. We do not have a good record in this regard and it is high time that those in control of the waterfront endeavoured to bring about greater improvement in this direction.
– I had not intended to enter this debate but some things have been said during it that I think should be answered. I would like to comment firstly upon some figures that were produced by Senator Cant relating to wheat freights. If one looks down the list of figures that have been presented - and these are genuine figures - one finds that increases in wheat freight rates are out of all relationship to the percentage increases in the other items mentioned. Of course, anyone who knows anything about the manner in which wheat freights are quoted could understand that if one took a specific freight rate, as was done here, on a specific day, 3 1st December 1962, and compared it with the rate on the same date in . 1966, one could get this result. But wheat export is handled under charter and the rates vary from day to day. It is quite possible - and I have no doubt that it is true - that on that date these were the rates. But the intervening rates would vary with the demand on shipping. It would be quite possible to take a date a few days or a few months later, compare it with another date and get a completely different result.
As a matter of fact, the efforts of the wheat industry, particularly in Western Australia, have resulted in a situation in which we have introduced into the handling of wheat and the turnround of ships a degree of efficiency that is unexcelled in any other part of the world. If, as has happened in this debate, some measure of criticism is implied that the representatives of primary producers - and I am proud and happy to be one of them - are in any way negligent regarding the conduct of the ports of this country, I think that is a very far fetched sort of allegation. I agree that if anything like the degree of efficiency that has been introduced into the farms of this country had been introduced into the ports, we would have had a much happier state of affairs generally. But if we look at the primary producing sector of the economy we find that it has extended its interest beyond mere production. It has gone into the efficient handling of produce in order to try to reduce costs. Had the general public been as interested in this matter as primary producers have been, we would have seen a much healthier state of affairs in the ports.
I was interested in a remark made by Senator McClelland. He said that primary producers were affected as much as the rest of the community. I interjected in order to draw the Senate’s attention to the phrase as much as’. As Senator Wright illustrated very ably in his speech, the primary producer is concerned a great deal more than the rest of the community. The general public, that is, the working people whose employment is governed by awards and decisions of courts, are protected against increases in costs. In the main, protection is not given to the primary producer, particularly in the wool industry which is completely unsheltered in this respect. The fruit industry is another one which is not protected. To suggest that we are not concerned about what is happening in the ports is just simply not true.
I would point out that the increase under discussion is a man-hour increase. It is not necessary that we should continue to expend the same number of man-hours for the same result. With an increase in the efficiency of the ports there is a possibility of reducing the man-hour component and so reducing the incidence of increases in labour costs. I think that this is being done, but it will have to be done more extensively. I was interested also in the suggestion by Senator McClelland that one of the answers to this problem was to decentralise our ports. How I wish that he and his Party had thought of this long ago. If it were not for the disastrous effect upon our coastal shipping of the various strains which have been placed upon it and for which the Australian Labor Party and industrial unions generally are fully responsible, then we could have had a great deal more active development of our coastal shipping and of our smaller ports. A great deal of the cost of internal transport, of the damage to our roads and of the congestion of our roads with the heavy trans-shipment of goods inland could have been overcome by using coastal shipping. But coastal shipping today is almost out of the question. Some figures were cited recently which showed that it was cheaper to ship from Adelaide to Tokyo and back to Melbourne than it was to ship direct from Adelaide to Melbourne. Although I have not the details, I believe that the figures were correct. We have been given many examples of this gross distortion of the economy of our coastal trade. If we are to bring our ports into use we have to look a great deal harder at the conditions operating on coastal shipping.
As I said, I rose to speak because I felt that much had been said in this debate which would not contribute towards the solution of the problem. I think that in some of the speeches there was a change in attitude that could be helpful. If we could, as a result of the various points of view expressed today, co-operate to achieve efficiency, it would benefit this country and the Australian people would find that we were getting from our wonderful resources much more good for the benefit of people generally.
– Like Senator Prowse, initially I did not intend to enter this debate, but his remarks prompt mc to raise one or two questions in relation to the broad subject of the export of primary industry goods. I refer particularly to the problem that now confronts the apple industry in Tasmania. Honourable senators will realise that I have raised this matter on occasions in the past but nothing that has been said in this chamber or in another place on the subject has so far produced any worthwhile results, at least so far as I know. Unless some solution can be found pretty promptly to the cost problem affecting this section of primary industry, particularly as it relates to Tasmania, I fear for the future of the industry, which is a very important one. It is particularly important in the economy of Tasmania, lt has surprised me, as I have sat here over the last two years, that the trend has been continuing in the direction to which I shall refer more particularly in a moment or two and that so little has been done about it. Nobody has been prompted up to this stage to take any positive action to correct the situation.
In the past when dealing with this subject I have referred to the problems which arose with regard to the cost of freight on exports of second grade beef to the North American market when the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association together with the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee, apparently working on a formula which was established in 1954 or 1957 - I am drawing on memory now - decided to establish a formula upon which freight rates on the export of goods could be determined from time to time. This was based presumably on increasing costs of one kind and another. It so happened that late in 1964, I believe it was, the FEOTC in conjunction with the OSRA decided that as from the beginning of October 1965 a 10% freight increase would be levied on the export of second grade beef to North America. At the same time a further decision that an additional 17% freight cost would be added as from 1st April 1966 was taken.
Because of the protests that were made at that time, attention was directed to something which did not seem to be quite right. As a consequence of this, we had an offer by a shipping company based in Israel to carry this cargo to the markets of North America at the former ruling freight rates, with no change in these rates for a period of something like three years. I fancy, speaking from memory, that this would take us up to October 1968, at which stage there would be a review of the rates. The significant thing is that an offer of this kind having been received from someone outside the combined European conference organisations, immediately there was a reexamination on the part of the people concerned m the initial decision, as a result of which it was decided that there would not after all be an increase in the freight rates on this cargo for some considerable period.
The Government recognises and in fact subsidises the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee. So it has Government backing. It works upon a formula that was decided, apparently, upon some mathematical calculation at some time in the past, and it follows the simple expedient of reviewing periodically costs as they have developed and immediately applying a figure representing additional costs to the charge that was formerly levied. This seems to be completely unrealistic when one bears in mind that the primary producers are getting no more for their product and that they are also meeting additional costs of production. They are not working on any formula at all. Obviously, if somebody else is to be taking more out of the bag that is available to the producer and exporter, ultimately the producer himself will not get sufficient out of it to enable him to follow an economic line of production and he will have to go out of business.
– One cannot take out more than is put in.
– That is true. There is only a certain amount in the bag. If some.body else is taking more out - bearing in mind that this is not an Australian organisation, because these shipping companies are based overseas - this particular industry is being hit to kg all the time and the stage is now reached where it is in a critical condition economically. We have heard from time to time in this chamber - and I believe it is quite true - that the cost of shipping a carton of fruit from Tasmania to the European market is about $1.92 or $1.93. This is a substantial figure, bearing in mind the prices that are realised on European markets for this fruit. I have been told on fairly reliable authority - I am prepared to believe it - that the net return to the producer of a case of apples is in the vicinity of 40c. Honourable senators will recall that it is not many months ago that a decision was taken - again by this combined committee of the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee and the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association - to apply a further freight increase of 64% on primary industry goods going overseas. Let us be clear about this. I do nol think it is confined solely to primary industry goods; I think it applies to all goods.
The effect of this is that on dry goods, if 1 may use that expression, the freight rate will be increased by approximately 44% and on refrigerated cargo the increase will amount to something like 10%, but overall the increase levels out at 64%. This means an additional charge of about 1 8c on the former rate of $1.92 a carton. This seems to me on a rough calculation to reduce the net income of producers of apples and pears by about 40%. As the industry was already in difficulties a further impost of this kind probably spells the end of the industry. I do not want to bc a pessimist about it but for the life of mc I cannot at the present time see any economic future, under present conditions and subject to the present charges, for those people who are producing fruit in Tasmania. What the answer Ls I would not have a clue at this stage. Following a suggestion made in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 29th August last year, I believe it is time that the Government had a pretty close look at this situation whereby the FEOTC and the OSRA sit down together, determine the additional amount that will be added to the formula formerly in use and simply, as it were, by a stroke of the pen, following this mathematical calculation drive another nail into the coffin of a pretty important industry in this country.
I mention these facts to the Senate as we are dealing with the general question of overseas transportation of goods. I suggest to primary producers and to those in the Senate who represent the interests of primary industries, that if we are prepared to sit down and take what is going on at the present time we have only ourselves to blame for the result of our inaction. I strongly recommend to all honourable senators who really have this matter at heart to say to the Government: ‘Is it not time that we took some action to see whether we can change this formula somehow so that somebody else gets a little bite of the cherry?’ It is all very well for us to go along with this formula and make sure that the shipping organisations of the world are economically viable, but what about giving a little bit of thought to the economic future of those industries that are so vitally concerned in decisions like this which are taken as a result of a meeting between these people and, as it were, given effect by a stroke of the pen?
I believe that we have gone beyond the stage at which we should be merely talking about this. As I have suggested in the Senate in the past, surely it is time we did something really positive. I believe that the Government could do many things that it is not doing. Unless we as senators express ourselves firmly on this issue and bring it forcibly before the Government we shall have a continuation of a system that will mean the finish, one after another, of many valuable industries on which Australia has depended greatly in the past for its growth and development.
– in reply - As was explained in the second reading speech both here and in another place, the basic purpose of this Bill is to provide the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority with the funds that it needs to conduct ils affairs and to make the payments that it is required to make to those engaged in labour on the waterfront. If the proceeds of the increased stevedoring industry charge proposed are not made available to the Authority it will not have the funds to do its work. I think everyone will agree that the position on the waterfront would be intolerable if it were prevented by lack ot funds from doing its work. I am sure that there will be no argument about the fact that if the Authority has to make the payments that it is required to make, it must have sufficient funds for the purpose.
There has been considerable discussion about the possible results of the proposed increase in the charge, with particular reference to shipping freight rates, which, naturally enough, are causing a great deal of consternation particularly among those concerned with primary production, though not among them alone. I can do no more than repeat what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) said at the second reading stage of this measure in another place. He stated that this problem of freight rates and shipping costs is causing the responsible Minister and the Government considerable concern. The responsible Minister and the Government are paying a great deal of attention to it. Indeed, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), in relation to future developments that may bring down freight costs, has already taken the initiative in an attempt to reach the end desired by many honourable senators who have spoken in this debate. The Government proposes to take such action as it considers it can take, not only to prevent freight costs from increasing further but also to reduce freight rales if possible.
That having been said, it remains true that, for the Stevedoring Industry Authority to be able to make the payments that it >s at present required to make, the increased levy is necessary. The Senate is asked to authorise the increase in the levy by passing this Bill. This measure is designed to provide funds for the Authority to continue the work with which it is charged. The responsible department has pointed out to me that any increase in freight rates as a result of an increase in a charge of this kind is far more likely to be felt in the liner trade or in trade involving considerable handling than in the bulk wheat and similar trades in which the number of waterside workers engaged is much smaller than in the trades in which more handling is involved. Nevertheless, the increase in the levy must have some effects over the whole field, though these effects will vary from section to section. I do not think I can do more than repeat that the increase in the charge is required to enable the Stevedoring Industry Authority to carry on the work with which it is charged. The other matters relating to freights generally that have been raised in this debate are receiving and will continue to receive close attention by the responsible Minister and the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 471), on motion by Senator McKellar:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy President, the Opposition does not oppose this Bill but I believe that we should take the opportunity to discuss it in general terms and to offer some criticism of it. I wish first to discuss some of the figures that were set out in the second reading speech made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). In particular I question the adequacy of the loan moneys being raised. This measure provides the raising of loan moneys amounting to $6,750,000 for war service land settlement in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. This sum is to be distributed among those States as follows: Western Australia, $3,024,000; South Australia, $2,300,000; and Tasmania, $1,426,000. These funds are to be spent for particular purposes. As in previous years, all payments of rent and interest received from settlers, together with repayments of advances made to them, will be paid to the credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. We find that payments by settlers during 1966-67 are expected to reach a total of $8,780,000, of which $6,630,000 is expected to represent repayments of advances. These figures make very interesting reading indeed. The sum being raised will fall far short of the amount that will be returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Let me now outline the manner in which these funds are to be expended. In Western Australia the developmental phase is now complete and the $3,024,000 to be allocated to that State is required solely for the making of advances to settlers. In South Australia $260,000 is required to meet expected expenditure on block drainage of farms in the Loxton Irrigation Area, together with some minor expenditure on the final development stages of sundry other projects. The balance of the allocations to South Australia is required for the making of advances to settlers. I understand that my colleague, Senator Devitt, will discuss the position in Tasmania in considerable detail. In that Slate major developmental work is taking place on King Island and Flinders Island, and $626,000 is provided for this purpose. The State’s requirement for the making of advances to settlers has been estimated at $800,000. I quoted these figures because they have a degree of general interest and because I find the comparison rather interesting.
In the period following World War I grants made available under the war service land settlement scheme were looked upon as being in the nature of charity. In my State of Queensland the areas allocated were uneconomic and the returned soldiers who took them up were advised to grow crops for which markets were not available. Because many of those sorts of things happened, generally the scheme was not as successful as it has been represented to be in some States since World War II. In Queensland generally war service land settlement has been successful, but the general terms under which it was instituted were not applicable to the national scheme because of the different system of land tenure in that State.
One of the problems that soldier settlers encounter today is that frequently economic areas for particular types of crops and industries are not made available and the chances of obtaining additional areas are almost hopeless. That applies particularly in the dairy industry, where land allocations have been much too small in area for the farmers to be successful. It also applies in some grain growing and beef producing areas. The terms in two of the States provide for additional capital. The basic weaknesses in some sections of the scheme have been firstly, that insufficient capital has been available to the soldier settlers concerned from private sources and, secondly, that he has not been able to obtain sufficient capital through the war service land settlement scheme itself. It is only reasonable to say that one of the first requirements on a soldier block, as they are popularly known, is a dwelling of reasonable standard so that the farmer and his family are able to live at the standard expected by the rest of the community. He also needs to have available to him sufficient capital to establish plant with which he is able to farm the area adequately, to stock his holding, to purchase his seed or to do the other things that are necessary to make a successful farmer, whether he is on a small scale or a larger scale.
Because many of these things have not been available over the years, a large number of soldier settlers inevitably have been forced to walk off their blocks. Some of them have done so after periods up to twenty years. Others have become slaves to their holdings. They have been able to make their holdings an economic proposition only because they have operated under slave conditions, with their wives and families being compelled to work in order to make a living. In other cases, where illness has intervened or where there has been a series of droughts or other natural disasters, their position has become nearly hopeless. One of the most unsavoury features of a settler being compelled to walk off his small estate is that frequently a large landholder in the area is able to aggregate land, probably indirectly at the expense of the returned soldier whom we are trying to help under this Bill and have tried to help under previous war service land settlement Bills.
I take this opportunity to direct the attention of the Government to the fact that some sort of land settlement scheme should be put into operation - it will have to be initiated by the Commonwealth - for men returning from Vietnam who either are partly trained or want to be trained as farmers. Quite recently in a well known publication, the ‘Bulletin’, a comparison was drawn between the benefits available to Australians returning from active service and the benefits available to Americans returning from active service. This anomaly should be corrected. It is probably not well known today that the war service land settlement scheme in general is not still operating. I quote from the ‘Bulletin’ of 1st April 1967 the following statement on what allegedly is available for the rehabilitation of Australian conscripts returning from active service, in particular:
National servicemen may apply for postdischarge vocational training. Full-time training will be offered in colleges, universities or approved institutions for one year with all fees paid and financial assistance equal to the basic wage. Parttime training will be assisted for two years . . .
War service home loans are available to a maximum of $7,000 at 33/4% over 45 years. A reestablishment loan is available to some discharged national servicemen for purposes such as purchas ing or leasing land, premises or a business, or improving land, or purchasing tools of trade or stock. The limit for agricultural loans is $6,000, for others $3,000.
As we have heard in this chamber in the last forty-eight hours, $6,000 would buy about thirty-two perches of land in some areas. Consequently, as a loan for the establishment of a returned digger on a farm, it is completely inadequate. He would be forced to borrow money from a private money lender at an exorbitant rate of interest if he proposed to expand in such a way that he could earna proper living for himself and his family. On the other hand, the ‘Bulletin’ stated under the heading American Loans’:
The Government will guarantee loans for the purchase of a house or farm up to $6,750 at 53/4% over thirty years. In special cases this limit is extended to $15,750.
I understand that the latter figure usually operates when a returned serviceman desires to establish himself in a farming community. I repeat my query as to whether the loans proposed to be made under this Bill are sufficient for the requirements set out in the latter part of the Minister’s second reading speech. If they are not, this matter should be reviewed so that we will be able to help these men to an even greater degree and ensure that they are properly established and able to make an adequate living from their holdings, regardless of the industry in which they are engaged. Some great problems are being encountered in Tasmania but I leave it to my colleague. Senator Devitt, to refer to them in detail.
– It is rather surprising to hear Senator Keeffe, who comes from Queensland, speaking on this Bill, because Queensland is not one of the agent States with which we are concerned in discussing this legislation. Some years ago Queensland decided to go it alone. It was a Labor Government that made that decision. The problems concerned with the war service land settlement scheme have to be looked at very carefully. There are those which are the concern only of the State governments and there are those involved in developing farms, particularly in project areas. Senator Keeffe mentioned that many farmers whom he could name had set up farms and then had to walk off them or live the life of a peasant. AH ‘ honourable senators could cite cases such as this.. Perhaps a good example is the experience in Western Australia of the Chase syndicate which settled at Esperance. Because it did not have the knowhow, eventually the syndicate had to walk out of the scheme. So this does not apply only to settlers who have no capital. It can apply also to others who do not know how to work the land and farm it to the best advantage.
I join this debate because I want to raise a number of points connected with the war service land settlement scheme. Before being elected to the Senate I was the leader of a section of primary industry in Western Australia and as a senator I have been vitally concerned with war service land settlement in that State. Through this scheme the Commonwealth Government has been able to settle applicants on 1,011 holdings covering a total area of 1,905,000 acres in Western Australia. Of that area about 1.5 million acres was virgin country until a few years ago. So the war service land settlement scheme has done a wonderful job there. Those in charge of the scheme can claim that they were the forerunners of land development in Western Australia and showed the way in the Esperance area, which has received a great deal of favourable publicity. With reference to the problems of settlers I remember early in my political life attending many meetings of war service land settlers particularly in the project areas. We heard complaint after complaint about what was not being done on particular holdings. Many of the complaints did not actually come within the Commonwealth’s province, but involved the State because of the way in which the land had been cleared. Many were mainly the responsibility of the settlers themselves. Others were problems that anyone would come up against in developing virgin country. Be that as it may, at all times the Commonwealth, through its Ministers and departmental officers, met the settlers to discuss their problems. Properties were inspected and if possible something was done to meet the complaints.
I remember going on one trip with the Minister for Primary Industry and the Director of War Service Land Settlement to look at a problem in the Rocky Gully area, which is heavily timbered and has a high rainfall. We found that because of dry seasons the settlers did not have enough cleared land and pasture. After discussions between the Commonwealth and the State the requirements of the settlers were met and extra clearing was done. On the other hand, some of the problems were connected with the settlers themselves. One settler complained that his farm had not been cleared properly by the war service land settlement authorities. On going to the farm I found there were a large number of rocky outcrops. The settler apparently was too lazy to do some stone picking or something of that nature. In another case, after a long drive to inspect another block we found that a dam site which had been put down by the war service land settlement authorities had leaked and they had gone a few hundred yards down the hill to put in another dam site. The settler’s complaint was that the first site had not been filled in and he was thereby losing a small area of pasture land. There has to be a fair bit of give and take. I come back to the point that in Western Australia a good job has been done. As honourable senators will know, the war service land settlement scheme in Western Australia has been wound up so far as applications are concerned. It now covers only further advances to settlers already on holdings. So the money mentioned in the Bill as Western Australia’s share of the total allocation is to cover advances to settlers.
I really rose to pay a tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) and his predecessors for their handling of the war service land settlement scheme. I pay tribute to the Commonwealth Director of the War Service Land Settlement Division and his staff for the wonderful work they have done in Western Australia. I also pay tribute to the State Directors, Mr Baron-Hay, Mr Barrett and Mr Clayton and their staffs. I pay tribute also to Brigadier Hugh Norman, who has been the Commonwealth representative in Western Australia dealing with this matter. We appreciate very much what they have done. We know it has not been an easy job but it has been well done.
Senator Keeffe referred to the future of war service land settlement and said he hoped the Government would give some assistance to servicemen with overseas service. I remind Senator Keeffe that not all servicemen come within that category. A man who joins the Regular Army does so to make a career. I find it difficult to accept that a man who has served 15 or 16 years in the Regular Army as a career should be given an opportunity to participate in a war service land settlement scheme and take up a holding, but I do believe that national servicemen who have been taken off farms should be given some assistance when they come back.
I could recite a number of specific cases but perhaps one will do. A young fellow whose farm is not far from mine decided to leave his parents’ farm and take a conditional purchase block on a leasehold or rental basis. He purchased suitable equipment on hire purchase. Shortly after he got a start on the holding he was called up for national service. He applied for deferment but the magistrate ruled that he should go. He is in Vietnam now and is due to return to Australia shortly. This man and others like him should be given every assistance when they come back, and I support Senator Keeffe to that extent. I reiterate that the scheme has been of great assistance to Western Australia and to ex-servicemen in that State. Western Australia owes the war service land settlement a great debt for what it has achieved there. I heartily support the Bill.
– I wish to direct my remarks primarily to the part of the Bill which deals with the provision of funds for certain activities in relation to war service land settlement in Tasmania, as was outlined by the Minister in his second reading speech. I agree with the comments of Senator Keeffe and Senator Drake-Brockman about the resettlement on war service land settlement areas of persons who have served in Vietnam. I go further and say that it ought to be possible for people who join the Australian Regular Army, the Royal Australian Air Force or the Royal Australian Navy for a lengthy period of time to be considered for war service land settlement.
Two or three years ago I met a young person who had served for six years in the RAAF. Up to that time I had held the opinion that re-establishment facilities were available in respect of farming activities to servicemen at the end of their service. I found that that was far from the truth. Practically no re-establishment benefits are available to a person who has served his term in the Regular Army, Air Force or Navy. It is not good enough. These people volunteer for service anywhere that the Department of Defence requires them to go. In other words, they are in much the same position as the servicemen of World War II who were subject to the whim or will of those persons under whom they served as to what theatre of war they would serve in, or in what part of the world they would serve.
– Are not those people, on retirement, entitled to payments from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund?
– There are some very limited accrued benefits, but they do not extend to re-establishment in another way of life, particularly in the context we are speaking of now. They are entitled to no re-establishment benefits extending to going back on to farms.
– Why does the honourable senator say ‘going back on to farms’?
– Because I was dealing with a specific case of a young fellow who came off the land to serve for six years in the Air Force. He served in the Pacific area but it was not a defined war zone. Therefore he was not entitled to the re-establishment benefits that would be open to persons who served in a war zone. I believe that there is nothing against providing the benefits of war service land settlement for such people, having particularly in mind the position on Flinders Island at present.
A few months ago, I inspected the extensive war service land settlement project which is under way on Flinders Island. It is almost completed. I spoke with a person who had done an actuarial survey - or a mathematical or economic survey - of the scheme up to that time. Taking as his basis an annual lease or rental commitment of $1,000, he had calculated the taxation payable over a period of thirty years, particularly by people engaged in the production of wool and fat lambs. He had estimated that over that period national revenue would benefit by about $18m. It is a substantial figure. One immediately forms the impression that with such funds coming regularly into the coffers of the Federal Government, an extension of the scheme so as to grant its benefits to people who volunteer their services to this country should be looked upon favourably. Criticisms are made of the dearth of volunteers for the Services and the lack of facilities available to servicemen upon their discharge or completion of their terms of service. They are not such as would induce young people of the proper type to join the Services. The Government might well examine the possibilities of extending the system of war service land settlement to more ex-servicemen.
On Flinders Island there is a further area of about 42,000 acres which could be developed for war service land settlement. That proposition was put to” me recently. I believe that the fertility of the soil and the general condition of that area would measure up in productive value to the area already developed on Flinders Island. By and large, with the exception of one or two areas where problems have arisen the scheme has been a success on Flinders Island. In the main, people engaged there in wool production and fat lamb raising - and to a lesser extent in fat cattle raising - have come out of the scheme reasonably well. One of the soldier settlement properties has produced income subject to an annual tax of $5,400. It is obvious that the owners of that property are not doing too badly.
However, I make a plea for the people engaged in dairying on war service land settlement properties on Flinders Island and King Island. Their position seems to be almost hopeless. I have seen people on Flinders Island who have been slugging away for twelve or thirteen years but have failed in that time to build up any equity whatsoever in their holdings. In fact, they now have hanging round their necks debts of up to $24,000. My first impression was that something was wrong with the farmers themselves. I believe that I am as much aware as any other honourable senator of the problems associated with dairying generally throughout Australia. I am aware, for instance, that the present return to dairymen is less than it was in 1954 and in fact accords pretty closely with the return to dairymen in 1956. Even knowing that, one looks for a reason beyond it for the condition in which half a dozen or so dairy farmers are at present on Flinders Island.
I checked with people who are competent to judge the efficiency of the dairy farmers on Flinders Island and I learned that they are hard working people. They are doing everything humanly .possibly to make their holdings economic propositions. Notwithstanding the fact that they work long hours and are efficient - that is not in question - they have succeeded in their time as war service land settlers only in accumulating debts up to $24,000. I just do not know, on the basis of dairying economics at present, how these people will get out of that situation. I do not think anybody else knows. When I visited Flinders Island I met a soldier settler-a decent bloke with a wife and young child - who was so frustrated and unhappy about his position that he just did not know what sort of future he had. This man was of the mind that the best thing he could do was to pack up the few personal belongings that he had left to him, put them over his shoulder, and walk off his property. What sort of a situation is this for a man who has served his country in war? Surely this country could do a little better than that for these people bearing in mind the fact that, as I have said already, this man did everything humanly possible to make his land an economic proposition. It was not within his power to do so. I have it on the authority of other people in the area that it was not within the power of anybody else who was following that line of agriculture to make an economic go of the land.
– How many cows did he have?
– He was milking sixty-two cows on that property.
– How many employees did he have?
– I beg the honourable senator’s pardon. Let me correct that figure. He had approximately fifty cows. He was carrying out the work on his own. He was hoping to build his herd up to sixty-two cows. The fact of the matter was, as I found out in the course of further research, that this man did not have an economic holding. Something is wrong somewhere when after a period of twelve years this man was not able to work the property as an economic holding. Somebody is falling down on the job somewhere.
– Is it a fair proposition to put to the Senate that he did everything possible? The honourable senator comes to the point of saying that it was not an economic holding.
– He did all that he could.
– One must turn the property into an economic holding.
– Somebody has to assist that man to turn it into an economic holding. That is the point I am trying to make. He did everything humanly possible. But he did not have the land upon which to run sufficient cattle to make it an economic holding. I think that anybody who knows anything at all about dairying will concede that a dairyman has almost to own his own property and milk fifty pretty good cows in order to make a profit in the industry.
– Does the honourable senator mean that his property was not big enough?
– That is so. But it has taken somebody twelve years to arrive at that conclusion. At this stage rather than tell the man, who has had this amount of $24,000 hanging around his shoulder, that the Government will get him more land and make an economic holding of the property he has, the responsible authority writes him a letter informing him that at the end of the current dairying season he must quit his property. I do not know what the position is with this man at the present time. That was the prospect that faced him after twelve years of pretty solid slogging on his holding. Honourable senators, if they had seen the faces of these people when they were trying to work out a solution to this problem, would have some regard for what I am trying to get across at the present time.
Before I leave this question of Flinders Island I should mention that there is always the perpetual problem of the shipping freight charges to the islands in the Bass Strait. The people have the permanent problem of bringing store stock to the islands, getting fat stock off the islands, bringing to the islands the commodities that they require for daily living and sending from the islands the things that they produce. Some cognisance must be taken of this factor. On King Island much the same position obtains with regard to the two main industries, sheep and cattle raising. Whereas on Flinders Island there are very few soldier settlers on dairy farms, it is a fact that on King Island the scheme started off with a great many settlers. I could not be precise about the number of dairymen who were originally established on King Island, but I can assure the Senate that at the present time dozens of holdings are now available for disposal in some manner or another. Some properties have been sold already. The story is current - I would not know how much credence one could give to this story, either– that the debts are so heavy around the shoulders of many of the soldier settlers on King Island that this is one of the reasons why dozens of properties are now vacant and what represents a great deal of capital expenditure is lying idle on them. The story goes the rounds that ultimately the properties will be sold, and the amount of debt, or the figure illustrating the inability of the settler to make a go of his property - this has forced the soldier settler off his property - will never be realised at sale. No man in his right senses would pay the figure of debt that is imposed upon these blocks of dairy property. The situation is that these properties will go under the hammer just as they did after the First World War. People with the necessary capital in their banks or in their pockets will be able to walk in and get the properties at a greatly reduced cost.
– Can the honourable senator explain this point to me? Is the difficulty due to the capital cost of the block that the man originally went on or the debts accumulated by the man in endeavouring to establish his property?
– There is the capital cost ingredient but also there are the accrued debts for reworking the property and that sort of thing. Quite frankly, I would not want to be faced with the complexity of problems that confront the people who live on King Island now. Last weekend, I visited King Island. It would make one’s hair stand on end to hear the stories of some of the problems with which these people are faced. They say that if they leave their properties they will have no equity at all. They will not be able to take anything with them. But they say that they will be happy if they can get off their properties without the War Service Land Settlement Division of the Department of Primary Industry following them up with a bill in respect of the debt that accumulated in the period that they have spent on the properties. One could discuss this matter for a long time. It is my considered opinion that the pursuit of the occupation of dairying, so far as it relates to war service land settlement on Flinders Island and King Island, is a complete fiasco. If I had my way, I would scrap it completely. I would be in favour of the funds that are being provided by the Government being used to re-establish these people in some other form of production or activity which would give them a reasonable chance to make an economic livelihood for themselves, their wives and their families.
From time to time we have discussed the problem of freight from King Island and perhaps to a lesser degree, from Flinders Island. Recently representations were made to those of us who represent Tasmania in this Senate and, I think, the Tasmanian members in the other place. The municipal council of King Island proposed that representations be made to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) for some consideration to be given to the costs involved when people have to come off the island for specialist medical attention. This is a terribly costly business. It means flying the people out. No passenger vessels trade with the island. When somebody becomes ill and requires specialist attention the flying doctor service must be called or a commercial airliner may have to be used. In any case, a patient does not come out on his own or her own. Normally somebody has to travel with the patient. The family concerned faces the problem of finding somebody to look after the children. The people of whom I am speaking are people of an average age of forty-three years or forty-four years. They have children ranging in age from ten to eighteen or nineteen years. The problem of employment for these children is quite substantial. When a member of the family has to leave the island to get medical attention it is necessary for somebody to stay with the younger children, step into the breach, so to speak, look after and run the home, care for the stock and attend to other duties on the property. This must be done while, say, the wife leaves the island for medical attention and the husband accompanies her. Those seeking medical attention are faced with expenditure on accommodation wherever they go and by and large they are placed under a pretty heavy burden from beginning to end.
I submit that it would be an act of charity on the part of the Government if it were to accede to the requests of the people of King Island for recognition of the Island as attracting a zone allowance for the purposes of taxation. This would be at least some recognition of the fact that these people were prepared to go to this area to live and put up with the conditions under which they have had to exist during the course of establishing themselves in a farming community. We must consider this fact along with the other problems such as the additional cost of living on the island. The cost of living there is substantially higher than it is on Tasmania or on the mainland of Australia. So, these people are faced with problems in every avenue. It seems that they are voices crying in the wilderness. As I have said, one could go on at great length describing many of the problems that face these people. One of the first things this Government must do is lay down a clear and definite policy in relation to the re-establishment of those who have served in the war zone in Vietnam. We have been committed in that area for so long now that it is surprising that something has not been done already. We have failed miserably and dismally in the treatment of our ex-servicemen in the field of repatriation, in the field of resettlement and in practically every other field one can mention.
If I had any authority I would, as of now scrap dairying on the soldier settlement areas of Flinders Island and King Island. Unless something is done to understand and solve the problems and difficulties of the soldier settlers the dairying industry there can be described as nothing but a complete and utter fiasco.
– in reply - I shall reply to the points raised by honourable senators in the order in which they spoke. I think that you, Mr Deputy President (Senator Drake-Brockman) pointed out to Senator Keeffe, in the course of your contribution to the debate, that this Bill does not apply to Queensland. The funds sought will be applied to Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Mention was made of the fact that the Government has not seen fit to implement a war service land settlement scheme for national servicemen - not conscripts.
– What is the difference?
– There is a very big difference. One term is insulting to these men who are doing their national service. Why the Opposition goes out of its way to insult them I do not know.
– The Government insulted them.
– The Government did not. The question was asked why no land settlement scheme has been implemented for national servicemen. The reason is that men who served in the First World War and the Second World War did not know whether they would serve for one year, three years, five years or longer. National servicemen are called up for two years - no longer - so there is a vast difference between the two categories of servicemen.
Mention was made of the fact that $6,000 is not sufficient to assist a man to buy a property. Well, it is not suggested that it is. The Government’s thinking in making this loan available is that it helps a man to re-establish himself if he already has a property. Senator Drake-Brockman mentioned the specific case of a chap who had been called up just after acquiring a property. The proposed loan surely would be a help to him when he returned. Of course $6,000 is not nearly enough in the case of a man who has not previously been on the land and intends to take up a property, but if he has some other capital the loan would be of some help.
In many instances those who had the benefit of the land settlement scheme since the Second World War have had a remarkable success story. According to the figures which have been given to me, approximately 9,150 settlers have been placed on 13.5 million acres since the end of the Second
World War. We know that many mistakes were made when the scheme was implemented after the First World War, but I suppose that was to be expected because it was something that had never been attempted before. Some of the mistakes were that the areas of land were too small and that the land itself was unsuitable. Then we must not forget that those chaps ran into bad seasons and a period of low prices. In the main the mistakes that were made after the First World War were not repeated after Che Second World War. Larger areas were made available and then fortunately, particularly for those who were lucky enough to get on the land soon after their return from the War, there was a series of good seasons and reasonably high prices. Indeed, some of those chaps are today quite wealthy men.
Senator Devitt mentioned Flinders Island and King Island. 1 have not been to Flinders Island but I was on King Island in November last year. The picture is not as dismal as he painted it. I saw homes there left empty when the chaps had gone off their farms. I saw also some quite prosperous looking homesteads. One chap to whom I was speaking there, who happened to come from New South Wales, told me that he had just purchased the property adjoining his. So they have not all been failures.
– Was he in dairying?
– He had dairying and sheep. I inspected a butter factory on the island and the tonnage being handled was very creditable in the circumstances. I do not know where I have seen bigger dairy cows than I saw on King Island. They were very well grown.
Without knowing as much about the subject as I should like to know I have the feeling that settlement on King Island and Flinders Island was in the nature of an experiment. Neither the State nor the Federal Governments had as much information about the islands as they had about many areas of the States. In some cases the experiment proved to he a failure, but noone was to know that the experiment would fail until it was tried. No matter where we go or what field we consider there will always be success and failure. While some men are hard working, they are not adapted to this kind of life. Other men are adapted to it and avoid making the mistakes that the other fellows make or perhaps they have a better run of luck. On the whole, as Senator Drake-Brockman mentioned, the war service land settlement scheme since the Second World War has been a pronounced success although there have been some individual failures.
The other point raised by Senator Devitt relating to the freight disadvantages suffered by settlers on Flinders Island and King Island is certainly germane. I know that freights are very high and that there is difficulty in getting the transportation when it is required. Perhaps Flinders Island and King Island have been the least successful of the war service land settlement schemes that have been implemented, but I do not think it is fair to blame either the State Government or the Federal Government, or even the individual settler. I regard it as an experiment which did not give the results expected of it.
Referring again to dairying, we must recognise that Victoria is the only State in Australia which is getting a reasonable return. In New South Wales hundreds of dairymen are in dire straits and are barely making sufficient to exist on. The same applies to Queensland. Dairymen in what is known as the milk zone in New South Wales are much better off than those outside the milk zone, but even they are not making very much money. Although it is very poor comfort for the dairymen on King Island, it is a fact that they are not the only ones in trouble in the dairying industry. I think that I have covered the main points that were made during the course of the debate. I thank the Senate for the speedy passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 476), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- it is my privilege and pleasure to lead for the Opposition in the debate on this Bill which is simple in terms, so far as its ramifications are concerned. It sets out to amend slightly the Tasmania Grant (Gordon River Road) Act 1964. This Act provided for reimbursement to Tasmania to the extent of $5m of expenditure incurred in the construction of a road from the vicinity of Maydena to the Serpentine River in south western Tasmania. Its purpose in the main is to provide access to an area in which it was hoped to generate a fairly substantial quantity of hydro-electricity for the future needs of Tasmania. The main purpose of this Bill is to extend by a term of two years the period for the construction of this road which initally was set at four years. I believe that it was to terminate on 30th June 1967. But in the course of construction of this road which is approximately fifty miles in length it was found that it would not be possible to completely construct and consolidate the pavement and to apply a seal to it within the time specified in the original Act. The main purpose of the amending legislation before us is to extend this period by a further two years.
The terrain in this area is very rough and road construction as an engineering proposition has not always been as easy as it might be in other circumstances. The Tasmanian Government wishes to ensure that the road is properly constructed and that the pavement has an opportunity to consolidate adequately before the final seal is applied to it, at which time, of course, a high class road will be available to serve that area for the purpose of exploiting the substantial power generating capacity of the Gordon River area of Tasmania. There has been no change in the overall cost of the work which has been financed on the basis of the Tasmanian Government expending funds which are properly audited and examined and the Commonwealth Government reimbursing Tasmania the whole cost of the undertaking.
I cannot escape the thought that the timing of the grant was most opportune, so far as the Government was concerned. I think that we all can be reasonably fair about these things. We acknowledge the fact that on the eve of elections governments endeavour to throw out some election bait. I have not the slightest doubt that this was the case with the Gordon River road grant. However, I am not complaining about it. If this were to happen before each election, one could be rather happy that special straight out grants of this nature were to be made available for the development of many essential facilities in a State such as Tasmania. To back up what I have said about it being somewhat of an election bait, I point out that at the general election preceding the one which followed this grant the then member for Franklin had come very close to being defeated. The Commonwealth Government, no doubt with an eye to its future hold on the reins of ‘government, decided that it had better do something to ensure that the prospects of the member for that area were enhanced. Therefore, it made this grant available.
– Does the honourable senator think it was with the same clandestine cunning that an announcement was made refusing an application by Verolme United Shipyards four weeks before the last election?
– The circumstances were somewhat different in that the Minister involved in that instance was looking very much to his interests in Western Australia. One cannot blame him, I suppose, for that, either. I come to an examination of special grants of this nature. I am pleased to see that an amount of this nature has been made available to Tasmania. But I think that if we examine the record a little further it will be revealed that something of a similar character was done previously. As a result of a decision which was taken in 1944 an aluminium production works was established at Bell Bay on the Tamar River in the northern part of Tasmania. As a result of that enterprise, a quite flourishing industry was established, from which began to flow aluminium ingots at the rate of approximately 12,800 tons per annum. It was conceded that this was not an economic production figure but that there was capacity within the industry there for further development to the stage at which it could be a very flourishing and lucrative industry for those concerned. At that time this was a joint venture of the Commonwealth Government and the Tasmanian Government.
The industry came into being about 1949. Since that time production has been stepped up quite substantially. But a decision was taken by the present Liberal-Country Party
Government to dispose of the Commonwealth interest in the aluminium works at Bell Bay. During the period between 1960-61 and 1965-66 the Commonwealth Government, as a result of the sale of the industry, received $8,250,000. Of this amount $1,432,279 was paid to the Tasmanian Government. The balance of $6,818,721 is held in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Commonwealth of Australia. So in the period from 1944 to the present we have had the assistance of the Commonwealth in the establishment of an aluminium works that was subsequently sold and in the provision of $5m for the Gordon River road as a result of a decision of the Government in 1964. In actual fact the Commonwealth has made only these two decisions in a period of twenty years in favour of assistance to Tasmania. One can cancel out any expenditure by the Commonwealth in the provision of the Bell Bay works, because this has now been sold, funds have been returned, and there are still funds to come back into the coffers of the Commonwealth under the terms of sale. So in actual fact all that we have had from the Commonwealth is the $5m with which we are dealing at present.
Tasmania and Western Australia are still dependent on assistance from the Commonwealth Government in their financial affairs. In the last report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission on the affairs of these two States, the observation was made that there was an improvement in the general financial position of Western Australia and that it would appear that that State was moving towards a state of independence of the control of the Commission. A further observation was made that the position in Tasmania had worsened somewhat. This relates very closely, I believe, to assistance of this kind which comes from the Commonwealth to the State.
I know that it is the desire of the Premier of Tasmania and his Government that the stage be reached as speedily as possible where Tasmania can be independent of these annual examinations of its affairs and of the handouts that flow from them. When one examines the position from which the affairs of the State are examined and from which the ultimate decisions flow, one doubts whether under the existing system a stage can be reached at which the State of Tasmania will become independent of handouts from the Commonwealth. For instance, by a decision of the Government of Tasmania certain charges .were levied in relation to hospitals, schools, transport facilities and the like. I have a newspaper clipping - I believe it is from the Tasmanian Mercury’ - which states:
The grant towards meeting the State’s 1964-65 budget deficit was reduced by unfavourable adjustments made by the Grants Commission.
The reason is significant. The report goes on: . . because of Tasmania’s lower State taxes compared with other States, lower university fees, lower off-course betting tax, and higher expenditure on libraries and museums.
I invite the Senate to consider these things. The lower State taxes would be designed primarily to assist people in the State and to act as an inducement to other people to come to the State to build up its industries and its economy. Lower university fees - surely these are commendable. Lower offcourse betting tax - I do not know a lot about that, but it too must be an inducement to people who indulge in that sort of thing to live in or to come to a State where betting tax is lower than it is in other States. Higher expenditure on libraries and museums - these are important cultural activities in the community and the State is penalised because of its approach to them.
How are we ever to build up to the stage at which, by reason of population and industrial development, we can become independent of handouts from the Commonwealth Government and the keen, involved examination of the State’s financial affairs? From 1944 until the present time, I think we can say, the Commonwealth having established the Bell Bay undertaking and having ultimately sold it, the only assistance of this nature that has come to Tasmania is the $5m with which we are dealing at present. We appreciate this assistance and we propose to support the Bill, but I make an urgent plea to the Government on behalf of my State, in an endeavour to assist it to build up its industry and its population and become independent of the system which now applies, to give far greater consideration to many of the projects which have been placed before the Commonwealth and which have legitimate claims for assistance in the development of the State. I mention projects such as that which was put to the Commonwealth some years ago for the development of a power generating industry based on coal in the Fingal Valley. A case was made out, fully documented and presented to the Prime Minister and the Government, in regard to the provision of an irrigation scheme in the Cressy area in the northern part of the State, which is an ideal area for the purpose. A little while ago in relation to another matter I mentioned the problems of the fruit industry in the southern part of the State. Here, too, there would be great benefit from the provision of an irrigation scheme.
All the while we ought to bear in mind the fact that the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales have not made a capital contribution towards the provision of the Snowy Mountains scheme and the development of power that will take place in that area, but Tasmania has financed its own hydro-electric undertaking. When the benefits of the Snowy Mountains scheme begin to flow, those two mainland States will obtain their power from an already established engineering undertaking. We in Tasmania have established our own over the years. It might be interesting to place on record that the Tasmanian Government has by its own initiative and its own effort and from its own limited financial resources provided hydro-electric schemes at a total financial outlay of $197,055,000. In a State of the size of Tasmania - 27,000 square miles and about 360,000 people - it is laudable that the State Government has had the courage and initiative to undertake schemes of this kind, realising as it did that these would bear fruit and would assist in industrial growth and development.
We have the barrier of Bass Strait, the area of water between Tasmania and the mainland, which is something of a bugbear to the establishment of industry in Tasmania. It is a drawback to the establishment of industry because it poses transportation problems which do not exist on the mainland. To offset that, the Tasmanian Government has endeavoured to make power available to industry prepared to establish itself in Tasmania, at a lower rate than would otherwise be the case. This has been done in an effort to overcome the barrier of Bass Strait tradewise. It would be only reasonable and proper for the Federal Government to give earnest consideration to assisting to a far greater extent the State of Tasmania, which has financed its own hydro-electric undertakings to the tune of nearly $200m, whereas on the mainland the great power generating capacity of the Snowy Mountains scheme has been financed by the Commonwealth Government.
In common fairness to Tasmania, would it not be only reasonable for the Commonwealth to make further grants available in an endeavour to assist us to reach a stage of independence of the current system whereby we have to go cap in hand, year after year, have the whole of our affairs examined and rationalised in terms of the experience of New South Wales and Victoria and be dependent upon what that examination suggests to the Grants Commission to be a reasonable proposition?
We support the Bill. The Commonwealth Government has been so generous with us in this respect that we hope it may continue in far greater measure to assist us in the very many financial problems we have in running the affairs of the State of Tasmania.
– 1 rise because I always listen to Senator Devitt, who is a fellow Tasmanian, with the greatest possible inclination to consider carefully and if possible to accept what he says. But I believe that the speech that he has just made was not only mischievous but also ill conceived. I am sure that when I say that he will credit me with just as much sense of purpose in endeavouring to promote the interests of Tasmania and secure federal justice for that State as he himself has. Let me say first, Madam Acting Deputy President, with great respect, that it seems to me most inappropriate to engage in a general discussion of the financial requirements of Tasmania when considering a Bill the perspective of which is so confined as simply to extend the date by which the Gordon River road project may be completed and still attract Commonwealth assistance.
– For the simple reason, first of all, that the Standing Orders of this chamber prescribe that a speech on a measure shall be relevant to the subject matter of that measure. The reason for this is that honourable senators, having had the business of the Senate indicated to them, can see the purpose of a measure by perusing it and can know what is relevant to the consideration of it. They can, on the proper occasions in other debates, discuss the general financial requirements of a State. Secondly, discussion of the financial requirements of a State in the way attempted this afternoon is more than thirty years out of date.
There were heroes before Agamemnon and there were Tasmanian parliamentarians before Senator Devitt. A man who came from Tasmania and rose to the Prime Ministership, even though the Australian Labor Party, to which Senator Devitt adheres, discarded him with a great deal of derision, established the appropriate machinery by which the financial requirements of States are considered and assessed. Let it be recorded once again to the credit of Prime Minister J. A. Lyons that he, having noticed the need for federal financial assistance to the smaller States, proceeded to establish the Commonwealth Grants Commission - a body of ability and independence which, as a result of our experience of it over the last thirty-four years, has been accorded much credit by all State governments and by the Commonwealth Government. So much credit has it gained that there has not been a single instance in which this Parliament, in debates initiated by thegovernment of the day, year after year in passing measures based on recommendations made by the Commission has varied one of those recommendations by as much as sixpence. Why is that? It is because these matters are dealt with by the Commission according to principles laid down in reports made by that body in its early days.
In those times, Professor L. F. Giblin, a distinguished professor from Tasmania who was also a distinguished public man and who gained his political maturity on the Labor side of politics, considered what would be relevant and what items should be considered, and reasoned out the approach that the Commission adopts. Year by year it affords to the governments of the claimant States an opportunity to put before it, through the agency of State officers, up to date information and material on which a responsible judgment can be based. This is the reason why the present Commonwealth Government is credited with a growing readiness to accept the recommendations for increasing assistance to the States that are made by the Grants Commission. Ad captandum arguments put before us in a malevolent fashion and based on the matching of the experience of one political party against that of another merely belittle and bedevil the cause of States grants. Let Senator Devitt not gel from my remarks the idea that I am emphatic in deprecating his intrusion of this great subject into the consideration of this little Bill. I believe that 1 have said sufficient to demonstrate why 1 think it is not proper on this occasion to follow him into the Fingal Valley and through the aluminium works at Bell Bay and the other specific projects that he mentioned. More especially do I eschew that course when I remind myself that the financial documents issued by the Treasury show that Commonwealth moneys received by Tasmania last financial year amounted to $167,000 per head, I think, speaking from memory, whereas the nearest figure among the other Slates was not more than $100,000 per head. 1 now address myself for a few minutes to the subject matter of the Bill itself, having in my preliminary remarks, 1 trust, removed the overburden that has been superimposed on the consideration of this measure. 1 remind myself with a good deal of appreciation that some time ago, after very close and expeditious consideration of ari application that the Tasmanian Government submitted to the Federal Government for a grant of money designed to increase productivity and thereby stimulate exports, this Government announced that it would make a .non-repayable grant to Tasmania for the Gordon River road. The submission that led to that decision was prepared by Mr A. W. Knight, the Commissioner of the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission. This road will extend into the Gordon River Valley and provide access for hydroelectric construction works for a scheme the output of which, if my memory serves me rightly, will be about half, or perhaps nearer three-quarters, of that of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, and the cost of which will be about half. The dimensions of the scheme for which the Gordon River road will provide access are of great importance in the Tasmanian focus. Judged by the standards of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which are acknowledged through out Australia, the Gordon River Valley scheme will be large and economic. It has come about that the conditions relating to the Gordon River Road grant need to be varied, though only in respect of the time allowed for completion of the road. This Bill seeks approval of that. Nobody could think of objecting when it is realised that the request for the extension of time comes from the Premier of the State concerned. So, I have risen to pay acknowledgments to Mr Knight, to the ‘Premier of Tasmania and to the Federal Government for combining in the public interest to make this scheme practicable and within Tasmania’s achievement. I hope that we will reserve to another occasion any discussion of grants to Tasmania for other purposes.
– I am grateful that we are all such a happy family both in this place and in various fields of government. On that happy note and having regard to the limited scope of the Bill, I merely thank the Senate for its support and quick passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 482), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill relates to Customs Tariff Proposals, the subject matter of which would appear on the surface to be quite routine and in normal circumstances the validating legislation would have met with the approval of the Senate. However, the Minister for Air (Mr Howson), who represents the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) in another place, referred to the Tariff Board report on one of the items contained in the Proposals, namely air cooled engines, not exceeding. 10 b.h.p., and parts. This measure covers a number of other matters including coffee, industrial chemicals and synthetic resins, vanillin and ethyl vanillin, candles, clothes pegs, footwear, glassware, hollow bars, tubes and pipes of iron or steel, motor vehicles, butyl alcohols and butyl acetates, ethylene oxide derivatives, PVC products, metal-working sawing machines and coated fabrics. As I said, most of this Bill relates to routine subjects which have been considered by either the Tariff Board or the Special Advisory Authority and on which recommendations have been made. The Opposition has no quarrel with any of the reports, except the Tariff Board report on air cooled engines.
We realise that a vast and ever-widening field of commodities is coining under review by the Tariff Board. The Minister drew attention to the Tariff Board report on air cooled engines and said:
The Government considers this report to be unsatisfactory and it is n’U a?ce-Med. Equally divided reports, with divergent views and recommendations, arc of little or no assistance to ihe Government in determining the action it should take in matters of this kind, in pursuit of the overall objectives of Government policy.
He also issued this rather stern rebuke to the Tariff Board: lt hopes that it will not be faced with similar reports in the future.
I move the following amendment:
That the following words bc added to the motion: but the 5>en:.le is of opinion ih.it thu Turin* Board needs to develop more effective means of ascertaining what are or may become economic and efficient ventures for which it recommends protection or assistance, and that the Government should take steps lo ensure thai the companies to which protection is given follow price, production, export and dividend policies which are in the interests of economic and efficient development, as well as of full employment and a stable and rapid rate of investment’.
During debates in the Senate today we have heard recommendations and suggestions for various avenues that could be explored in order lo reduce costs of production. Certain honourable senators seem to relish being able to expound their views on the influence that the waterside worker or anyone who has anything to do with the stevedoring industry has on the cost structure. It seems that in their minds all evils in the community spread from the waterfront and the stevedoring industry. That may be their pet obsession, but their views are taken at their value which. I am very pleased to say, in my estimation is not very high.
The issue that we face throughout the community today is instability in the economy. This basic instability seems to be growing in intensity to a point where, if one contemplates it sufficiently, it becomes frightening. On every side we find the inflationary process, the cost spiral, the price spiral and the succeeding request to the arbitration authorities to bring the wages and salaries of employees up to a standard which, although it may not give them a greater share of so called prosperity, will enable them to cope with the price spiral.
As I look around the Senate I see many honourable senators who have told the Australian people on the hustings that they will guide them along a careful path in the future. I refer to the period when the Labor Government was in office and submitted to the people a referendum proposal for the introduction of price control. At that time Australia had a high and rising standard of living. Its cost structure and. the cost of living were the second lowest in the Western world. We had an opportunity then to follow in the footsteps of the United States of America in developing our natural resources. We could have found markets for our products such as potatoes, apples, wool and other primary and secondary products, because the cost level was low. If that level had been maintained we could have found expanding markets in all parts of the world, including Asia, despite that continent’s standard of living. Australia could have been an expanding source of supply because our commodities are needed by people all over the world.
That opportunity was wasted and lost because of the very spirit of materialism and greed which lies behind the present inflationary process. Materialism and greed are the essence of the capitalist system, and now the supporters of that system have found to their sorrow that they have unleashed forces which are getting out of control.
– This is not the obsession to which the honourable senator referred a few minutes ago, is it?
– The honourable senator might smirk about an obsession but in economics certain things follow each other as certainly as night follows day. Whatever Senator Wright might think of my opinions about the future of our economic system he can be quite certain that the snowball of inflated costs and rising prices will gain momentum. Senator Wright knows very well, because of his interest in the apple industry, that we are costing ourselves out of our traditional basic world markets.
Queensland senators know that this applies to sugar also. Queensland was able to take advantage of the Cuban crisis. The Queensland Government told the growers that here was a new avenue for the sale of sugar and an opportunity to increase the acreage under sugar cane. That was partly greed, because they were only exploiting a casual and momentary situation. It was not lasting. In its desire to win friends and influence people in the sugar growing area the Queensland Government permitted increases in areas under production and now the growers have been hit by the double problem of over-production and a crash in world prices. Consumers of Tasmanian fruit in the form of jam and householders in Australia generally will be asked to pay for that mistake in Queensland. That was one side of the error. The other was the bad estimation of the effect on world prices of the situation in Cuba. Eventually this will affect the cost of living of the ordinary Australian householder. Sugar is an important component of the grocery bill. The wage earner will find another difficulty in spreading out his wages. Workers will say to their unions: ‘The cost of living is going up. What about another appeal to the court, because we are getting as far behind as we were before we approached the court for a rise previously?’
I heard Senator Lawrie talk about wool marketing and I admired his stand, but I cannot understand his colleagues in the wool industry falling for the three-card trick played by people who, because of greed and fear, persuaded them to vote against their own interests and against the national interest. What happened to Senator Lillico’s beloved potato industry? Here is a man who knows the industry thoroughly. Over a period, he has seen conditions improve, but he could not claim that his potato diggers have become millionaires. To hear Senator Lillico talk about the potato diggers one would think they were living in mansions near Lillico’s Beach. Perhaps they have been able to raise their standard of living compared with Senator Lillico’s earlier days as a farmer.
– They now eat spuds.
– They can eat their own spuds now. I must say that the honourable senator always saw that his employees were well fed.
– The emancipation of the proletariat.
– That is what happened in this particular case, but I am talking about the industry.
– What has gone wrong with it?
– The cost of production has risen to a point where the honourable senator’s commodity cannot compete on markets that previously were his main outlets. The amount of money that people have to allocate to the purchase of potatoes of superior quality has diminished. Therefore there is a glut, and the returns to growers are not sufficient to enable them to meet their responsibilities and pay the various dues and charges, interest, cost of equipment and all the other costs that are loaded on to the primary producer.
– I can always get a loan from Senator O’Byrne if the worst comes to the worst.
– I would always lend the honourable senator a dollar. If I had $2 I would lend him $1. I am a good Socialist.
– How much interest would the honourable senator charge?
– It would be free of interest, but I do not believe Senator Lillico will ever have to borrow ten bob from me unless we are travelling on an aircraft and he has forgotten his cheque book. The matter before the Senate is most important and I have given this preface to my remarks to illustrate the problems inherent in the statement by the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise on the Tariff Board’s report on air cooled engines. Tariff policy is important in stabilising the Australian industrial situation. Its purpose is to assist in the maintenance of full employment and to ensure the supply of goods to the Australian consumer at a price which will enable industry to keep in production yet will not place a burden on the Australian consumer. That has been the role of the Tariff Board over the years. It has held the respect and confidence of the Australian people. Yet the Minister has said of the Board’s report on air cooled engines:
The Government considers this report to be unsatisfactory and it is not accepted.
It is clear that the Tariff Board has come into confrontation with the Government’s policy and the Government has openly and forthrightly stated that the report is not accepted. The Minister has referred to divided reports. I believe that it is the essence of democracy that minorities should be heard. I think it would be a very sad day in our history when intelligent people of good will holding different views from the majority were prevented from expressing them. I believe it to be a very serious situation when the Government specifically states:
Equally divided reports, with divergent views and recommendations, are of little or no assistance to the Government in determining the action it should take in matters of this kind, in pursuit of the overall objectives of Government policy.
I wish now to refer to the Tariff Board’s report of 1 5th December 1 966 on air cooled engines not exceeding 10 b.h.p.
– I do not wish to interrupt the honourable senator, but 1 think I should point out that we are not considering that report. The honourable senator is free to talk about it, if he wishes to do so.
Senatory O’BYRNE - The point I am making is that the report is referred to. The Government has decided not to accept that report.
– But it is not in this particular Bill. I do not mind the honourable senator referring to the matter but this is the Customs Tariff Bill.
– I want to draw attention to the reports of the Tariff Board. I wish to quote a few germane extracts from the Board’s report on air cooled engines, to illustrate my argument. The reference to the Board was on the question as to whether assistance should be accorded the production in Australia of air cooled spark ignition internal combustion piston engines and parts therefor which, if imported into Australia, would be classifiable under certain items of the Customs Tariff; the nature and extent of such assistance if the Board’s finding was affirmative; and if the Board’s finding was that assistance should be accorded through the Customs Tariff, then what rate of duty should be provided for under each of the columns in the Schedule to the Customs Tariff.
Arguments were advanced by James N. Kirby Automotive Pty Ltd, Ronaldson Bros and Tippett Ltd, Villiers Australia Pty Ltd, Victa Limited, Howard Rotavator Pty Ltd, Solo Distributors Pty Ltd, Mcculloch of Australia Pty Limited, ANI Perkins Division, ANI Australia Pty Ltd and Briggs and Stratton Corporation, Wisconsin, United States of America. Those organisations placed evidence before the Board. It was said that the air cooled engine industry is a large one which makes a major contribution to the economy in terms of employment and use of Australian materials. It was also said that manufacturers in the industry are using the latest production techniques, and that the quality of engines produced is of a high standard. The range of engines from Australian manufacturers was stated to be adequate for market requirements.
The argument was advanced that strong competition for the local market, demanding keen pricing, high quality standards and customer service ensured that the best possible use was made by Australian manufacturers of the resources at their disposal. The report states:
The main manufacturer, Kirby, is at present largely dependent on the seasonal lawnmower engine market. Kirby needs tariff assistance to enable it to obtain part of the market for horizontal shaft engines, now supplied largely by imports, so that volume production can be carried on throughout the year.
Reduction of imports of air cooled petrol engines, up to 12 bhp would save up to $2m overseas exchange.
Opposition was raised to the proposed increase in duties. The Board reached this conclusion:
At the inquiry the Australian manufacturers indicated that their main concern was to obtain effective protection against imports of horizontal shaft engines, particularly imports from the United States of America. The industry also expressed concern that its production of vertical shaft lawnmower type engines, both 4 cycle and 2 cycle, is vulnerable to import competition at the existing level of duties. . . .
For these and other reasons the Board is very disturbed by the present unsatisfactory position, and the uncertain prospects of the local industry and its apparent need for a very high order of protection against imports. It has considered very carefully whether it should conclude that the industry is uneconomic and consequently not worthy of protection.
The Board has used very strong words in its official report to the Government, as opposed to the dissenting report. It continued:
The Board has, however, decided that to reach such a conclusion at this point of time might not be completely fair to the local industry. This is because recent conditions do not represent a normal market situation. The industry has been adversely affected by the substantial decline in sales as a result of the prolonged’ and severe drought conditions in Australia. Further, the uncertainty of future demand for 4 cycle vis-a-vis 2 cycle vertical shaft engines in rotary lawnmowers must have affected production planning by Kirby and other manufacturers, and has probably had an indirect effect on Kirby’s production of horizontal shaft engines.
Not without misgiving, the Board has concluded that these considerations warrant the industry being given a further opportunity to demonstrate whether it is capable of producing ‘ air-cooled engines on an economic and efficient basis and with no more than a reasonable level of protection against imports. Because there is little prospect of the industry achieving an economic basis of operations with its present protection, the Board will recommend increased duties on imports for a limited period.
The Board recommended duties of 75% general rate or §13 per engine, whichever is the higher, and that the preferential rate should be fixed at the minimum level in accordance with international commitments. Duties of 42*% general rate and 25% preferential rate were recommended on engine parts. In his speech when introducing the Customs Tariff Proposals the Minister said:
It is undesirable that the matter be referred back to the Board and possibly another two years go by without the industry being aware of the level of tariff protection under which it is to conduct its operations. This leaves the Government no alternative but to make its own assessment of the level of protection which should be accorded to this industry, and under which it should be expected to meet import competition and consolidate and develop. Such protection will be at rates of 65% or, if higher, $13 per engine (general) and 32i% or, if higher, $13 per engine less 32.i% (preferential). The question of .protection for the industry will be reviewed in not less than three and not more than five years time.
The members of the Board were equally divided. The dissenting opinion stated:
Messrs Cossar and Tucker are unable to agree with the rates of duty proposed by their colleagues, and submit the following separate statement: The evidence does not reveal a need for any substantial change in the general level of assistance at present afforded to production of engines with vertical shafts.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I move:
The action of the Government in cutting back research in the universities is a national calamity which is entirely of the Government’s own making. The object of the motion is to show the real nature and extent of the disaster which has befallen the universities and to enable the Senate as a chamber representative of the States which conduct the universities and on behalf of the nation to express the concern which is felt by the universities of Australia. There are disputes over the mutual responsibilities of the Commonwealth and Stales. There is uncertainty about the respective roles of the Government, the Australian Universities Commission and the universities themselves. There is confusion about the exact size and scope of the university budgets.
The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) has wilfully added to this confusion in order to camouflage his own direct responsibility. He has frequently quoted figures which purport to show that the cuts are trifling in proportion to expenditure and that the universities are doing better than they were in the previous triennium. He has made a number of public statements which convey the impression that all the Government has done is to give the universities slightly less than they asked for, when what he has really done is to carry out a hatchet job on the carefully prepared recommendations of the Government’s own advisory body, the Universities Commission. The blame should be placed where it’ belongs, on the Minister and on the Government whose actions in this matter expose the hollowness of its pretensions to be concerned about education and scientific research. What the Government has done repudiates its policy for ten years since the report of the Committee on Australian Universities, known as the Murray Committee. Having assumed the responsibility for tertiary education and for research it is now trying to evade the implications of this responsibility. Having accepted the need for an independent advisory body to study university needs and to produce considered recommendations on them, it has not only rejected the advice of that body but also imposed its own cuts on the recommendations, thus making a mockery of the whole principle on which the Australian Universities Commission was established.
To appreciate the enormity of the Government’s action it is necessary to look at the basis for the Commission’s recommendations so that we can see how the carefully considered policy behind them has been undermined by the actions of the Minister. In its covering letter to the Minister the Commission wrote:
The grants recommended for capital expenditure result from the creation of new universities, the growth of recently established universities and the urgent need to replace obsolete buildings in old universities. The recurrent grants recommended are necessary to support and develop the fundamental activities of universities-teaching and research. The outstanding features of the 1967-69 triennium will be the continuing increase in the proportion of the seventeen to twenty-two year old population seeking entrance to universities and the rapid growth of post-graduate schools and research activities.
I repeat the words ‘the rapid growth of post-graduate schools and research activities.’ lt should be remembered that the Commission’s recommendations take the best part of three years to prepare. They represent many hours of patient work in the universities and by the Commission itself which makes a careful investigation of ali proposals put to it by the universities and also carries out its own assessment of future needs and developments, lt is reasonable to assume also that the Commission is well-informed about the amount which the Government is willing to spend on the universities. It is quite clear that throughout 1966 the universities were under pressure from the Australian Universities Commission to reduce their estimates for the present triennium.
In 1964 a major survey of higher degree problems was made by the University of Sydney as a preliminary to its submission to the Australian Universities Commission for the present triennium. Bearing in mind the long-term interests of the community and the demands from greater numbers of able young people not only in Australia but also throughout the world to go on to full time higher degree studies, the University of Sydney adopted a policy which included as a planning objective the trebl ing of the then number of full time higher degree students, that is, an increase to 1,500 students by 1969. In 1966 the estimate of 1,500 by 1969 had been revised quite seriously and the following revised figures were forwarded to the Australian Universities Commission in May 1966: Full time higher degree candidates for 1966, 702; part time higher degree candidates, 1,116. The estimates for full time candidates for the present triennium were: for 1967, 780; for 1968, 975; and for 1969, 1,075. Tha estimates for part time higher degree candidates were: 1.220 for 1967, 1,600 for 1968 and 1,750 for 1969. To reach this revised objective, however, it was essential that additional financial support be found from the recurrent grants in the .1967-69 triennium and also that increases in the special research grants be made available. At the present time the University is considering the number of students that it will be possible to admit to higher degree studies in 1968 and 1969.
The basic facts are that the numbers will have to be reduced. It will be impossible to reach those estimates because of the action taken through the present Minister for Education and Science. The amounts which have been made available to that university by way of research grants are as follows: In 1966 the Commission research grant was $450,000; the grant from the Australian Research Grants Committee, known as the Robertson Committee, was about $703,000. In 1967 the Australian Universities Commission research grant was up $188,000 and the Robertson Committee grant was down 5612,000. So in 1966 the total was to be $1,153,000 and for 1967 only $800,000. For the same University the recurrent grants for 1965 totalled $14,690,000; for 1966 the same figure, $14,690,000, plus 10%, making $16,180,000; and for 1967 the figure is $16,180,000 plus not the 10% but only 4.7% making an amount of $16,940,000. It will be noted that there has been a severe reduction in the percentage increase in the recurrent grants, a severe reduction which has stifled expansion of academic staffing which is essential in the university’s planned programme of expanding higher degree studies. The increase of 4.7% in effect will allow only for the normal increase in costs to be met. Within the additional amounts there were allocations to assist research of $346,000 in 1966 and $359,000 in 1967. So there is very little change. From those amounts also it can be seen that no possibility existed of making any permanent staffing additions in 1967 compared with 1966. The numbers of postgraduate research students have increased as follows: 1965, 208; 1966, 244; and 1967, 294. Of that number of 294 postgraduate research students, 252 are provided by the Commonwealth Scholarship Board. The total number of full time higher degree candidates for 1966 was 700. The approximate figure for 1967 is 780.
The University of Sydney welcomes these additions but the expenditure associated with these students particularly in the scientific department is extraordinarily high and it is obvious that unless the research grants increase with the number of post-graduate students there will be less facilities available compared with previous years. That University sees the need for both the Commission research grants and the Robertson Committee grants as essential complementary parts of the whole effort to provide adequate university facilities, lt needs both sorts of grants. The one sort of assistance is ineffective unless the other type of assistance is forthcoming also. The University of Sydney cannot hope to increase the numbers of high degree students as planned unless the recurrent grants are increased by much more than 4.7% per annum during the triennium 1966-69. The increase must be of the order of about 10% per annum if there is to be any hope of extending the staff of the University of Sydney to meet what the University regards as vital during the next two decades in this country.
– Do those figures relate exclusively to post-graduate research?
– Yes, the figures that I have given the Senate do apply to postgraduate research.
– I had difficulty in absorbing them. What do they mean in two words?
– They mean thru what the University of Sydney proposes to do simply cannot be done with the funds that have been made available. Mr President, it is as simple as that. Everyone should know that, put in essence as the honourable senator asks, the University planned its objectives in the light of the community needs and in the light of what it could see coming forth. The University of Sydney put its proposals to the Australian Universities Commission knowing that the Commission would examine the University on them. The Commission did examine the University and asked it to submit proposals on a lesser basis. Those proposals were submitted. The essence of what happened is that when the Australian Universities Commission made its recommendations after having considered the proposals carefully - the Commission is the body set up by the Government to do this very thing - ‘the Government, or the Minister for Education and Science, or its agent refused to accept those recommendations. The recommendations were not sent back to the Universities Commission for further consideration, asking the Commission to devise new estimates so that any cuts could be dealt with sensibly. The Government simply chopped them down.
On top of that, the Government dealt with the particular research grants which were to be made through the agency of the Commission and the Robertson Committee in such a way that the bare minimum which even on the Government’s say-so should be provided has not been provided. There has been a complete breakdown. This is apparent from the Minister’s own statement which the Senate heard several weeks ago. The minimum grants have not been provided. The Minister blames the States. He says that the great States of New South Wales and Victoria are to blame. The States say that the Commonwealth is to blame. The University of Sydney and the nation are suffering because the money has not been provided. Whichever is at fault, there is a breakdown between the three Governments. I will leave aside Tasmania because it has its own problems with the bush fires.
– Do not talk nonsense.
– In any event, Tasmania has no control of its own finances as the senator from Tasmania would be well aware. It is a dependent Stale.
– The bush fires have nothing to do with it.
– It is a dependent Slate. The honourable senator would not gainsay that statement. It is entirely under the control of the Commonwealth as far as its finances are concerned.
– The honourable senator has spoken about the University of Sydney only.
– Yes. I say in answer to Senator Marriott that the example I have given of the University of Sydney and the considerations that apply to it apply with equal force throughout the other State universities in Australia.
– More so in South Australia.
– The older universities which for many reasons are well equipped to meet this national need feel that they are being frustrated in their endeavours which are of the utmost importance to the community. The newer universities need research funds to help them commence their higher degree studies which are vital to the well being of any modern university. The universities are concerned in this regard with the national development of Australia and with the provision of adequately trained staff to meet the needs not only of the universities themselves but also of the research organisations such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, of industry and of governmental services. The cutback in research must be examined in the light of the already existing policy of the Universities Commission to slow down the rate of growth of universities. This policy is clearly indicated by its estimates for the growth of student numbers. In the previous triennium - that is the 1963-66 triennium - the total number of students increased by 32%. But the planned figure for the present triennium as given in the Australian Universities Commission report is 20%.
If the number of students is recalculated in terms of equivalent full time enrolments the percentage becomes 39.6% for the last triennium as against 24.5% for the present triennium. The Commission’s report therefore provides for a corresponding slowing down of the expansion of staff numbers. These rose by 41.8% in the last triennium and were to rise by 30.7% in the present triennium. This would have meant a rate of growth of staffing of 10% per year throughout the triennium, most of which would simply have enabled the universities to keep pace with the growth of student numbers. The cuts imposed by the Government mean that there will be only trifling increases in university staffs during the present year and, whatever the ultimate figure for the triennium, it will only be a fraction of the 30% planned by the Commission. In other words instead of a gradual improvement in the staff-student ratio there will be a sharp deterioration. The sole responsibility for this rests with the Government.
The actual scale of the reduction as it affects the particular universities may be seen from the following cases. At the University of Sydney recurrent grants rose by 10% from 1965 to 1966. For the new year the increase will be only 4.7% which will allow only for the normal increases in costs, including an expected rise in margins, and will prevent any increase in academic staff. At the University of New South Wales the figures are similar. To minimise the effect of the cuts on teaching, the University decided to reduce its research staff. Forty-four research assistants and technicians were dismissed as a result of this decision but, even so, a number of teaching positions will remain unfilled. At the University of Melbourne, eighty-five positions have been left vacant in 1967, fifty-two of them academic and, in a further nineteen to be filled, the appointments are to be made only late in 1967.
– Has the honourable senator anything to indicate the importance of those decisions?
– I apprehend that the situation relating to Victorian universities will be dealt with in detail by Senator Cohen. The University of Melbourne has been forced to make other humiliating and unjust decisions like suspending tutorial classes and reducing the stipends of postgraduate students by paying them for only nine months of the year. The Australian Universities Commission’s estimates in relation to staff are also based on a policy of improving the staff situation and reducing dependence on part time tc-aching, which has always been too high in Australia. The grants were calculated to provide for a greater use of full time staff than part time staff. The Commission expected that the ratio of full time staff to part time staff would increase considerably as the numbers of available persons increased owing to this concentration on post-graduate work. At least that was its fond hope at the time the recommendations were made.
By its cuts the Government does three things: It frustrates Australian Universities Commission policy; it worsens the full time staff situation from which the universities will suffer for many years; and it forces the universities to cut part time teaching staff in order to provide sufficient funds for essential permanent appointments. Thus the universities have the worst of both worlds at the same time. Government statements about research in the universities have confused the issue in various ways. The Minister’s statements suggest that the cuts in research funds are comparatively small and that the real villains are the three State Governments which have refused to match Commonwealth funds.
It must be stressed that the Government’s action, taken without reference to the States, involves a reduction in research expenditure to well below the level of the previous triennium. In the 1963-66 triennium the University of Sydney received SI. 25m. For this triennium the Commission recommended a grant of $ 1.88m but the Government reduced this to $l.l2m, of which the University will receive only onehalf because of the attitude of the State Government. The University of New South Wales received S768.000 for the 1964-66 triennium. The Commission recommended a grant of Si. 2m for the 1967-69 triennium but the Government has allocated $720,000 which will also be cut by onehalf. The University of Melbourne received SI. 25m for the last triennium. The Commission recommended a grant of $1.8m for this triennium and $ 1.08m has been allocated, which will be cut by one-half because of the attitude of the State Government.
Although the Queensland State Government’s attitude is different from that of the other State governments there has still been in effect a reduction in the grant. In the last triennium the University received $540,000. The Commission recommended an allocation of $880,000 for this triennium but this has been reduced to $528,000. These sums must be looked at in the light of the continuing inflation of wages and costs that the University has to meet. In terms of actual dollars, the reduction is aggravated.
The States objected to the Commonwealth proposal contained in the Minister’s statement that they should pay one-half of the grants recommended by the Robertson Committee. They argued rightly that the Committee did not come within the framework of the Australian Universities Commission; that it was a body set up by the Commonwealth; that it was controlled by the Commonwealth and that the States had no control over it at all. In addition the States claimed that the grants were national grants. They were not made lo the recipients as residents of any particular State - they could be carried from place to place. In all ways the operations of the Robertson Committee were outside the control and scope of the States. The latest report of the Universities Commission did not even cover the Committee, thereby indicating that it was completely outside the scope of the Commission.
The Commission recommended an allocation of SI Om for post-graduate research. Senator Gorton declared that this would bc reduced to $6m. However, the ARGC grant was to be Slim. This was to be an increase upon the $4m which was previously the ARGC grant. Here was a dramatic change in the two trienniums. Previously the combined amounts totalled $10m made up of $6m from the Universities Commission and $4m from the Robertson Committee. The procedure was changed and the $6m was to go through the Universities Commission and the allocation through the Robertson Committee of $4m was to be increased by more than four times.
The Minister shakes his head indicating that something 1 have said is incorrect. There may have been a slip of the tongue when I was citing the amounts with which I am dealing but the principle is quite clear - the amount which was provided through the Universities Commission was maintained at the same level; the amount which was to be provided through lite Robertson Committee under the control of the Commonwealth was vastly increased. Both the Commonwealth and the States were to contribute to each of those amounts.
Here was a situation where the States were well entitled to take the view that the Robertson Committee had nothing to do with them. This was the Commonwealth’s own concept, it was under the Commonwealth’s control, and the States refused to be put into the position of having to contribute to the amounts which went through the Robertson Committee. The Commonwealth took the view that if any States did not so contribute it would provide those amounts and the States concerned would be denied the contribution which the Commonwealth would otherwise make to the amounts going through the Universities Commission.
The Commission’s report makes clear how research has grown in Australian universities because of the rapid expansion of post-graduate student numbers. Postgraduate students are responsible for a large part of university research, and their work is financed from ordinary recurrent grants as well as from special research funds. The Commission estimates that each postgraduate student is the equivalent of two undergraduates in terms of staffing and other needs. As the proportion of post-graduate students increases, the problem of allocating resources to provide for them therefore increases twice as fast as it does in relation to undergraduates. By its cuts the Government forces the universities to make choices, which should never be necessary, between the needs of undergraduate and postgraduate research students. In the circumstances both will suffer irreparable damage.
The report of the Commission states:
In its previous reports, the Commission expressed its conviction that the development of post-graduate training and of strong centres of university research are of national importance, and recommended special allocations to supplement the inadequate amounts that the universities were able to provide for recurrent grants for this rapidly growing activity.
A contributing factor to the present situation is the Commonwealth’s inability to secure full co-operation with the States. The concept of matching grants is workable only if both parties have the desire to co-operate and also have the resources to do so. The States are obviously the financial prisoners of the Commonwealth. It is useless to blame the States when they are starved by the Commonwealth. Lack of enthusiasm on the part of some States to contribute half the cost of the Robertson Committee’s recommendations for specific research has resulted in the Commonwealth pursuing a ruthless reprisal.
In respect of the States concerned, the Commonwealth has withheld its contribution for general research. The net effect is a substantial reduction from the total amount recommended as the bare minimum for specific and general research. The Government’s cuts mean that the policy of expanding research and post-graduate teaching is suddenly reversed, as I have indicated, in the particular universities and their long term plans are thrown into confusion. It is dishonest and stupid to pretend that this is the fault of the States.
Since the Murray report in 1957 the Commonwealth has accepted the principle that research is a national responsibility. The Commonwealth alone is responsible for jettisoning this principle, and official statements which attempt to pin the blame on the States are utterly hypocritical. It is ironical, if not tragic, that this Government, whose belated acceptance of the need for a national science policy is acknowledged by the establishment of the Department of Education and Science, should usher in its science policy by emasculating the very activity which it is supposed to be fostering. It is equally ironical that this should happen at a time when the Government has accepted the recommendation of the Martin report to strengthen other forms of tertiary education by encouraging the development of colleges of advanced education and by supporting the expansion of teacher training’.
How are colleges of advanced education to be staffed unless there is a sufficient pool of highly trained teachers? The level of training required can be provided only by flourishing graduate schools in universities, and for these to flourish there must be adequate facilities for research. This process of appearing to give with one hand and taking back with the other underlines the fact that the Government has no real policy on education or science, but only the pretence of one. The reduction of the Commission’s recommendations bears all the earmarks of a fiat from the Treasurer which the Minister has not had the hardihood to resist. Having failed in his duty, he is trying to cover up by attacking the State governments for refusing to play his game and the universities for having the temerity to protest.
Apart from the ruinous effects of these cuts on the functioning and the morale of universities, their political and constitutional implications are deeply disturbing. I use the word ‘constitutional’ in the broad sense and not in the sense of the Commonwealth Constitution itself. The present system of university finance dates from the Murray report of 1957. one of the recommendations of which was the establishment of a permanent advisory body on the lines of the British University Grants Committee. The outstanding feature of that Committee has >always been its independence from detailed governing surveillance, even despite repeated suggestions from the British Treasury and the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons that its work should be scrutinised very closely. Although the British Government has sometimes queried the total amount asked for by the British University Grants Committee, it has never of its own accord interfered with the detailed recommendations of the Committee and has left it to the Committee itself to work out the actual reductions in conjunction with the various universities.
– Has the Government always budgeted for what the Committee has recommended?
– As I said, the Government’s policy has always been to accept the recommendations. If there were some Government attitude that the amounts recommended were too great, the Government would refer the amounts back to the Committee and then what the Committee decided would be accepted by the Government. The Government did not, as has been done here, interfere with the details of the proposals made by the Grants Committee.
– Has the honourable senator in mind the year in which the British University Grants Committee was set up? I think it was during the 1930s.
– I am afraid I cannot assist Senator Wright. In Australia we have also accepted this relationship as the . proper one between the Federal Government and its statutory advisory bodies, such as the Tariff Board and the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The former Prime Minister,
Sir Robert Menzies, endorsed the same principle in connection with the Australian Universities Commission when he announced his acceptance of the Murray report in December 4957, and again when he introduced the legislation setting up the Commission in 1959. By his recent actions the Minister has overthrown this constitutional principle and has raised the deepest doubts about the future of the system. Moreover, by appointing a Treasury official as Chairman of the Universities Commission he has given a clear indication of the way he expects it to work in the future - not as a unique organ of mediation between the Government and the universities, but simply as an appendage to his Department and the Treasury. It is not just the reduction of university research funds which is a cause for concern, but the manner in which it has been done. The university’s independence, jealously guarded for many centuries, is one of the triumphs of the British democratic tradition. By his actions the Minister has struck a grave blow at this independence and has raised serious doubts about (he freedom of inquiry in this country.
It is clear that what has been done is a savage blow at the universities. The universities are not to be treated as something apart. They are institutions which are integral to any nation. We depend upon them for our culture. They are the fountainhead, not only of culture, but of science and technology. Without strong and prosperous universities and without universities with great morale we would not be able to progress as a nation. When we cut back on the universities there is no escape from it, whoever is to blame. What does it matter in the long run if the Minister is able to get up in this chamber and say: ‘It is not me and it is not the Federal Liberal-Country Party Government; it is those two governments run by our own Parties in the States of New South Wales and Victoria. They are the villains to blame.’? The Commonwealth has control of Australia’s finances. It is allowing the situation to go on. We arc already into the academic year. It lias allowed this situation to go on whereby on any view at all and on this Minister’s own admissions universities are not being supplied with the moneys which he himself has conceded are the bare minimum and which they say are below the’ bare minimum. He says that they are not getting these moneys because of the actions of the States.
– Who has conceded that? Do not put words into my mouth.
– If the Minister has not conceded it, he certainly ought to do so, and anyone who looks at the documents will see it. He says that the moneys are not going to the universities and he says that it the fault of the States that the moneys are not going to the universities. If that is not a concession, I do not know what it is. The simple plain fact - and honourable senators will hear the Minister speak - is that the moneys which should be going to the universities are not going to them. It is the Commonwealth that has control. He 5s the Minister for Education and Science and he is apparently content with blaming the States and not seeing to it that this tragic situation is corrected. The damage that has been done is irreparable, because when we stop post-graduate work being done, when research is not done that ought to be done, this means that the lives of individual persons are blighted. It means that an atmosphere of suspicion and doubt is created about the universities in Australia. If there is to be no long term planning for the Australian universities, if the future of research is to be uncertain, how are we to get the best people in the academic world to come to Australia, when they see this kind of thing going on, whereby the Commonwealth is able to keep the universities starved of moneys and the Federal Minister stands up and says: ‘Oh, it is the States that are to blame’?
– Docs the honourable senator want to import the brains?
– We want to rake our part in the cultural world and in the scientific world. We want to encourage work in the humanities. We want to get brains from all over the world, wherever we can get them, to educate our young people and our growing population to contribute to the world’s culture and to draw from it. If the Government senator who interjected thinks that that is not a laudable objective, I suppose his attitude seems to be consistent with the financial attitude that has been taken on his behalf by the Government, but it is not good enough for the Opposition, it is not good enough for the universities and it is not good enough for the nation. I ask this Senate to express its concern at the failure to make suitable arrangements for this post-graduate research to be conducted in the universities. How can any honourable senator honestly fail to say that he is concerned about it?
– The first observation that” I want to make on the motion that has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) is that it is couched in very general terms It asks the Senate to express concern at the failure to make such arrangements as would ensure adequate finance for the universities for post-graduate research. All we have really heard from the honourable senator is factual elaboration of the situation which he claims to exist in one university in Australia, the University of Sydney, which he claims is an indication of the situation which exists in all of the universities in Australia. I shall deal with that in a little more detail later on.
The second point, of course, is the use of the word ‘adequate’. I do not know what the definition of adequate is. It will obviously vary in accordance with the individual’s consideration of what ought to be provided, but I suppose it is not a bad idea in a discussion of this kind to take as a starting point that level of post-graduate research, that is to say, the numbers of postgraduate students, which the Australian Universities Commission thought was reasonable to support in the coming triennium. I do not myself express an opinion as to whether that is adequate, more than adequate, or less than adequate, but we have to take a starting point somewhere when we are considering what we are asked to pass judgment on tonight; and I suggest that one of the reasonable things on which to take a starting point would be that level of post-graduate activity which the Universities Commission decided would be reasonable for the universities to carry out.
I have done some work on just what was proposed to be done in relation to the levels of post-graduate students in various universities, the increase in post-graduate numbers in various universities, and what in fact is going to happen during this present triennium. Not trying to confine myself to one university as the Leader of the Opposition did, I should like to take university by university in the State of New South Wales, because this was the State from which the Leader of the Opposition chose a university to be an example. This is a State in which a State Government has provided less for research in this triennium than it provided in the last, and it could be reasonably assumed that it would give the worst possible picture of what is going to happen in this field of post-graduate research. ] should like to start with the Macquarie University in New South Wales, which is a developing university and which did plan when it went before the Universities Commission - the tables for this will be found in the third report of the Universities Commission from page 80 onwards - to increase its post-graduate numbers from ten in 1966 to 100 in 1969. This University, far from having any reduction in the amount which was proposed for it by the Universities Commission - and we must remember that research money is made up from two sources, the general recurrent grants and the special research grants - is to have an increase in this triennium over the amount of money that was recommended for it. I later shall go through university by university showing the amounts that were recommended and the increases that have been given. In fact the tables have already been presented to honourable senators. The University had an increase. Can anyone suggest that in those circumstances it is not going to expand its post-graduate school from ten in 1966 to the 100 in 1969 that it planned?
I should like to look at the University of Newcastle, which planned to increase its post-graduate numbers from 100 in 1966 to 160 in 1969. That University has in fact had a reduction in the total funds available to it for research purposes of something approximating 1% of the recommendation - not 1% of what it had in the last triennium but 1% of the increased recommendation. It is likely not to increase postgraduate numbers from 100 in 1966 to 160 in 1969. It is likely to increase them from 100 to 158.
– Is the honourable senator taking into account the inflation?
– Yes, I am. As Senator Murphy will see later, the vicechancellors have indicated the growth that they plan on now, taking into account their own responsibilities. The University of New England planned to expand post-graduate numbers from 260 in 1966 to 340 in 1969. It is likely that because the increases to that University were not as great as were recommended it, will reach a total of only 333 in 1969. We know on the advice of the Vice-Chancellor of that University that this year - that is, 1967 - it will have an enrolment of at least 270 post-graduate students and that there has been a dramatic increase in the proportion of full time post-graduate students to part-time post-graduate students.
Let us turn now to the more significant, larger and longer established universities in New South Wales, of which the Leader of the Opposition purported to pretend that the University of Sydney would give a general picture. The University of New South Wales planned to go from 1,015 postgraduate students in 1966 to 1,165 in 1967. In speaking of this University I do not merely look at figures and assess what is likely to happen. I present to the Senate what the Vice-Chancellor of the University says is happening and will happen. The University of New South Wales planned to go from 1,015 post-graduate students in 1966 to 1,165 in 1967. It has in fact enrolled in its post-graduate schools this year, not 1,165 students, but 1,272. It had planned to go to 1,310 in 1968. Its present plans are to enrol in that year 1,414 post-graduate students. Initially, as shown by the tables presented to the Australian Universities Commission, it had planned to enrol 1,440 post-graduate students in 1969. It now plans to enrol in that year 1,497 post-graduate students. Here we have a University which, far from reaching the situation that the Leader of the Opposition publicly stated it would reach - a situation in which it would not be able to expand its post-graduate schools and in which there would be frightful trouble - and far from having to remain static and even reduce its enrolments of post-graduate students, is in fact enrolling more post-graduate students than at the beginning of the triennium it told the Universities Commission that it proposed to enrol. ^ I come now to the University of Sydney. Here there will be a drop in the number of post-graduate students. No doubt this is why the Leader of the Opposition presented to the Senate only the situation at this University and pretended that it gave a general picture of what was happening in universities throughout Australia. The University of Sydney planned to go from 1,700 post-graduate students in 1966 to 2,330 in 1967. lt will be able to enrol only 2,069. Here again I am presenting figures prepared by the Vice-Chancellor, lt planned to go tq 2,570 in 1968. In that year it now proposes to enrol only 2,200. It planned to go to 2,830 in 1969 but, on present plans, it will enrol only 2,340. This is the only University in New South Wales that will enrol for post-graduate studies fewer students than it had proposed to enrol if it received the full amount of the grant that the Universities Commission had recommended for it. All the others will enrol either as many as or more than they had planned to enrol when they presented their material to the Commission. These are matters that it is necessary for the Senate to consider when assessing the wild statements that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition.
How can these things come about, Mr President? Quite apart from the special research grants, universities get money for research from the general recurrent grants that are made to them. Let me indicate what has happened university by university to show exactly how great an increase there has been in the recurrent grants to all the universities. The recurrent grant to Tasmania rose from $7,212,000 last triennium to $9,673,000 this triennium - a rise of more than $2.4m. The undergraduate student numbers in that University are expected to increase by 660 in the present triennium. The recurrent grant to the University of Western Australia rose from $’ 16.9m last triennium to $22. 3m this triennium - an increase of $5.4m - and the number of undergraduate students is expected to increase by 1,030. The recurrent grant to the University of Adelaide - the main university in South Australia - rose from $22. 6m last triennium to $26. lm this triennium - an increase of $3.5iri - and the number of undergraduate students is expected to increase by 380 in the current triennium. The recurrent grant to the Flinders University rose from $2. Im last triennium to $7.lm this triennium - an increase of $5m - and the number of undergraduate students is expected to increase by 1,570. The recurrent grant to the University of Queensland at St Lucia rose from $27.6m last triennium to $37.2m this triennium - an increase of $9. 6m - and the number of undergraduate students is expected to increase by 1,440. The recurrent grant to the Townsville University College rose from SI. 6m last triennium to $4m this triennium - an increase of $2.2m - and the number of undergraduate students is expected to increase by 570. The recurrent grant to the University of Melbourne rose from $37m last triennium to $45. 9m in the present triennium - an increase of $8.9m - and the number of undergraduate students is expected to increase by 220 over the present triennium. The recurrent grant to the Monash University rose from $23.4m last triennium to $36. 7m this triennium - an increase of $13. 3m - and the number of undergraduate students is expected , to increase by 3,000. The recurrent grant to the La Trobe University rose from $lm last triennium !o $7.4m this triennium - an increase of $6.4m - and the number of undergraduate, students is expected to increase by 1,600.
I am speaking here of the general recurrent grants, leaving out of consideration recurrent grants for undergraduate hostels, for colleges and for teaching hospitals. The Leader of the Opposition has asked us to believe that something terrible is being done and that the numbers of postgraduate students are being reduced. But half way through his speech he left that question and moved into the more general field. He said that decreases of this magnitude in enrolments would result in a reduction of staffs in universities throughout Australia. But his assertions are not borne out even by an examination of the situation at the university that he chose to hold up before the Senate .as an illustration of what he claimed was happening. On behalf of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Professor O’Neil of that University addressed the staff on the effects on that University of the reduction of the grant recommended for it by the Australian
Universities Commission. On the subject of departmental staff he said:
There will be no increases in staff except in a few emergency cases where some temporary and part-time staff will be added. But there will bc no reductions overall and no vacancies in the establishment will be left unfilled as a matter of policy.
Let me point out that when universities talk of the establishment in relation to university staffs they are not referring to the numbers employed. In the Senate we have before us at Budget time figures presented department by department and setting out on one side of the page the establishment, on the other side the cost of that establishment, and then the amount expected to remain unexpended because no establishment is ever completely filled. That is what we must bear in mind when we hear about establishments being reduced as compared with the real number of people employed being reduced. Professor O’Neil said:
But there will be no reductions overall and no vacancies in the establishment will be left unfilled as a matter of policy. Departmental votes will bc maintained. Departmental research votes overall will bc maintained at 1966 levels. Library votes will be maintained. Buildings and grounds votes will be maintained . . .
Any suggestion of large scale reductions - in fact, of any reduction - in staff is just not borne out by the facts.
There is another factor which I believe the Senate should have drawn to its attention. I have been dealing with money that can go to maintain post-graduate research students from special research grants and from general recurrent grants to universities. But as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, although inaccurately as to detail, there have been increases in the general research grants made available, for the most, part, to individual staff members of universities. Of course, $17m was not the amount provided. It was $1 lm.
– The Minister is quite right. That was a slip of the tongue on my part.
– I am quite right. The Leader of the Opposition made only a 334% error. We need to be reasonably accurate. This money goes not to maintain graduates while they do some work in order to gain a higher degree, but to members of university staffs - nol only professors, but any members of university staffs - who are able to convince a committee consisting mostly of academics drawn from universities all over Australia that their research projects have great possibilities: that they themselves are of sufficient calibre intellectually; and that what they propose to do can be of benefit to the Australian community. For the Sta.te of New South Wales alone, in the current triennium §2. 8m is to be used for this kind of research in universities in that State; $1.7m of it in the University of Sydney.
We have heard from the Leader of the Opposition of the necessity for us to have good staff come to our universities from overseas and the necessity for us to keep brilliant men as teachers of undergraduates in our Australian universities. What better way is there to ensure that that will happen then to see that those men themselves will receive grants to carry out research in their own disciplines in the fields that particularly interest them? If it is suggested to me that they are more likely to be attracted by adding an extra 100 post-graduate students to a faculty in a university somewhere or other than by the opportunity to receive research money for themselves, their equipment and their work, frankly I just do not believe it. Judging from the number at letters that I have received from people in universities who think these grants should continue, neither do a great number of people in universities believe it.
This . is another example of the way in which the research side of the universities is, in fact, having money added to it. I do not say that the money provided in this way will increase the number of postgraduate research students significantly. There will be some bonus along those lines. There will be some bonus in that the equipment provided by votes such as this will be available in a university and, after the man who has received the grant has finished with it, it will revert to the university. This is a real stimulus to research in Australian universities. I hope that the figures I have quoted on the post-graduate enrolments that are actually taking place in Australia indicate that at any rate they are not falling.
The Leader of the Opposition suggested - I think in the mistaken idea that the numbers of post-graduate research students would not rise - that there would be problems for Australia in the staffing of our universities or our colleges of advanced education in the future unless far more money than is being provided at present were poured into the universities to enablethe number of post-graduate students io expand even more. Let us examine this suggestion. Let us not accept it on the basis that it is something that is asserted and re-asserted as being necessarily true and something which cannot be analysed critically. That was the basis on which it was put to the Senate earlier tonight.
Let us look at the staffing needs that the universities are likely to have, not on my say so, but on the basis of the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education. At page 93 of that report the Committee set out its estimate of the number of additional university staff that would be required by Australian universities by 1975. The Committee estimated that 1,420 new staff would be required between 1964 and 1967 - that is, up to the present -2,100 between 1968 and 1971; and 1,320 between 1972 and 1975. So the requirement between 1967 and 1975 will be 3,420. Is it seriously contended that an enrolment of higher degree students, which at an absolute minimum will reach 10,000 throughout Australia by 1969, will not be able to provide 3,420 new staff with higher degree qualifications by 1975? That is the proposition that was put to us by the Leader of the Opposition. He suggested that an annual enrolment of more than 10,000 higher degree students is necessary to provide about 3,400 new staff for the universities in eight years.
What some spokesmen for universities say was also put before us by the Leader of the Opposition. I have not heard any official spokesmen for universities say it. It is that we need far more post-graduate students in universities in order to be able to staff the colleges of advanced education. Let us look at what the people concerned with these colleges have to say about that. I refer the Leader of the Opposition to statements in the First Report of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. I will not read them all. The significant one states:
No hard and fast principles can be enunciated wilh respect to qualifications of staff or criteria for their selection. However, the teaching element should certainly predominate. Whilst higher degrees and research experience can be important, it must be accepted, as stated in chapter 2, that research will rarely play a leading part in tha work of the colleges. Thus in many fields appropriate experience will rank higher than formal post-graduate studies.
The Report contains many such references.
But we do not need to confine ourselves to consideration of this report. I have had a survey made of more than 100 advertisements calling applications for teaching posts in colleges of advanced education in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. For not one post was a Ph.D. said to be required. A very few of the advertisements specified that research qualifications might be of some advantage. For two posts - those of the principals at Rockhampton and Toowoomba in Queensland - it was stated that higher post-graduate qualifications would constitute additional qualifications. But of those 100 advertisements the rest all indicated that what they want is a degree, honours preferred, or a diploma coupled with industrial or commercial experience after the degree or diploma has been taken. Of course, the very concept of these colleges bears out that these are tha staff they require. It is all very well for the Leader of the Opposition to say they want a Ph.D. and if they cannot get applicants with that qualification they will not be able to staff their colleges; but the committees of advice had, and they themselves appear to have, a significantly different idea.
I want to refer now to the suggestion that the independence of universities has been attacked in some way. Let me make it clear at once that I disagree with and refute the statement the Leader of the Opposition has made as to the operation of the Universities Grants Commission in the United Kingdom. There has been more than one occasion in the United Kingdom when universities have been told by the British Government simply to stop all building until further notice. That is one reason why ihe universities here like the surety of the triennial building programme to which has been added a capacity to plan and get ready to build two or three buildings at the end of that triennium.
But what is the evidence suggested to support this claim that the independence, of the universities has been attacked in some way? I do not think it can be that the universities, when provided with money, are provided with some money which is specifically earmarked for building purposes and for capital purposes. Maybe that is it. I do not know, but I would not think it was, because that has been done ever since the inception of this scheme, under which the Universities Commission makes recommendations, and I have not heard any suggestion that that was an infringement of the independence of universities.
– A restriction of money would be.
– Would it? Perhaps that is what the Leader of the Opposition meant. I do not know. Perhaps Senator Cavanagh can speak for the Leader of the Opposition. I do not know that either. But assuming that Senator Cavanagh is speaking for his leader, what he is saying is that unless the universities get all the money recommended for them there is some interference with their independence. Senator Cavanagh need not bother to answer that; I have not time to listen. If that is not it I cannot imagine what the interjection meant. I can only say I repudiate that idea absolutely, it is for the representatives of the taxpayers of Australia in this Parliament and the other Parliaments of Australia to decide what amount of the national’ resources will be devoted year by year to what sector of education.
Any suggestion other than that, or any suggestion that advice from some outside committee has to be accepted, is interference with the independence of parliaments and of. governments representing the taxpayers which in carrying out their proper duties, do not interfere with the independence of universities. I would fight to the last ditch to prevent a real interference with the independence of universities. I would fight’ to prevent governments saying to universities: ‘You must teach this and you must not teach that. This you must teach in this way, and the ‘ other you must not teach in some other way.’ But to decide the total level of resources available for various levels of education, including university education, and apportion them between capital grants whether for buildings, hospitals or student residences, cannot be represented as any interference with the independence of a university nor could it be so represented if governments in the future were to say: ‘This much is allocated for post-graduate research in your universities and this much is allocated for under graduate research. Within those areas spend it as you like’. If the Opposition wants to make an issue of that, let it do so. Let it be a matter of proper discussion and contention. But I do not quite know whether the Opposition wishes to make an issue of that or not, because that has not been clearly set out.
What I have set out to do, dismissing high flown generalities, is to present to the Senate - by the example of the New South Wales universities, I admit - exactly what is going to happen during this triennium in the field of post-graduate research. After all, that is the field with which this motion is supposed to be concerned. I have set out tq indicate the increases which are going to take place. I will interpolate here and add to what. I have said in detail in relation to the New South Wales universities that we know that the University of Tasmania, On the basis of the information given to us, is going not to have smaller numbers of post-graduate students than it said to the Universities Commission that it would, but greater numbers.
I am certain that there will be a rise in total post-graduate research enrolments over Australia during this triennium from the 7,000-odd that there were in 1966 to at least 10,400 in 1969. This may be some 400 less than would have been provided had all the money that the Universities Commission recommended been provided. But is the Senate going to say that a rise of some 3,400 post-graduate students over that period, a rise of 50%, indicates inadequate finance for post-graduate research? Is anybody going to say that, bearing these numbers in mind and in the face of the. warning given by the Universities Commission, which stated in its third report:
Unfortunately it has not been possible to obtain precise figures of the number of students accepted for higher degrees on the basis of a pass first degree. However it appears that a significant number is in this category. In several cases, students whose only qualification was a diploma have been accepted for masters and doctors degrees. Although the undergraduate qualifications of most of the higher degree students appear to be satisfactory, the Commission ls concerned at the number who have no higher prior qualification than a pass degree or even less, for these students are likely to impose a considerable burden on supervision at a time when the available supervisors are already feeling the effect of rapidly increasing higher degree student numbers. The Commission hopes that quality is not being sacrificed solely to increase the quality of higher degree graduated
The Commission makes that comment at the foot of table 27 which it has put in its report indicating that quite a large number of pass degree students, varying between universities, have been admitted to higher research degrees. I do not propound the proposition that no pass degree students or no third class honours students should bc admitted to post-graduate research. 1 believe that there are some people who, on the basis of special commendations by their instructors - perhaps more particularly on the basis of having left a university for experience in industry for a year - can come back and with great distinction take higher degrees than that of a mere graduate. But the nub of the matter is: What are the numbers of such people? fs it to be considered adequate only if every one of those people is admitted to higher degree studies? If that is so, I suggest that we are wasting the nation’s money and not serving it as we ought to serve it.
I have sought to be factual. I have shown the rise that will occur in the numbers of post-graduate students. I have shown the increases each university has had in the recurrent grants made to it last triennium as compared with this triennium. I agree that those increases are not as great as the increases which were propounded by the Australian Universities Commission, i do not agree that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate can cite one instance where I have in this chamber blamed the States for that situation. I have indicated before that what has been done in this matter has been done by joint agreement between the State governments concerned and the Commonwealth Government. I have given a factual account of how it came about in some States that the special research grants were nol as adequate as they would have been had those States given as much to research this triennium as they gave to it last triennium. That is a factual statement. 1 invite the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate to quote an instance of a comment 1 have made to lay the blame at the doors of the States in this respect.
– The Minister’s last statement amounted to blame.
– My last statement in the Senate was a completely factual account of what had occurred and it laid no blame on any side. I ask honourable senators seriously to consider the motion before the Senate and to make up their minds whether they think it is an attempt to make political capital out of a field in which political capital should not be sought. I ask honourable senators to make up their minds on the facts as presented on the increases in numbers of post-graduate students and on the increases in grants as to whether we are indeed providing adequate finance. It is for us to make up our minds. Our minds should not be made up by an unofficial spokesman pf a university or a member of the Opposition who seeks to make capital out of the matter. I trust that the motion will be defeated.
– My remarks on this matter will be brief because 1 believe that it has been very fully covered by the two preceding speakers, both of whom I compliment on their speeches. Like many other people in the community, I have been concerned about statements and suggestions that there will be a grave setback to post-graduate work in our universities and in particular to postgraduate research. I was therefore particularly interested to hear the case put by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). 1 regret that it did not cover as wide a field as I had hoped. I thought that he gave a very clear coverage of the situation as he saw it at the University of Sydney. I would have liked to have heard more about other universities. I hope that the members of his Party who follow in this debate will be able to remedy that fault.
I thought that the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) in his coverage of this question disproved suggestions that the Government has been gravely at fault. I thought that, by his coverage of the situation in various areas of Australia, he showed that the propaganda which has appeared in the Press has been considerably exaggerated. We all want to see everything possible done for education. We would all like to see the utmost possible finance made available for education, but we have to admit if we have common sense that the question of economics must be considered. We like to say: ‘Let us give millions for science blocks and let us give more millions for scholarships.’ We all say it. Let us be honest about it. When somebody in the community says that we want more millions for science blocks, we say: ‘Yes, we are in favour of it.’ Then we say that we are in favour of millions for scholarships, university colleges and new universities; millions more for teacher training colleges and for research. But increased finance for research, teacher training and science blocks cannot be put in separate compartments. The time comes when the Minister has to present a case to Cabinet and to say: ‘We can afford this much. We suggest so much for this particular aspect and so much for that particular aspect.’ Education has so many competing sections today and each of them wants more money that it would not be possible for any government to meet all the demands. A Minister can simply put before Cabinet a reasoned case to do the best that can be done. If we are fair, we have to admit that that is all a Minister can do.
We have heard a suggestion that the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission should have been completely accepted. In this chamber I have advocated on numerous occasions that we should put social services into the hands of an expert committee. On those occasions members of the Australian Labor Party have very powerfully and eloquently said: You could not possibly ask any government to abdicate its responsibility to administer the finances of the country in a reasonable way as far as it can.’ I suggest to members of the Opposition that they cannot have it both ways. They cannot fairly say that they will not allow social services to be determined by experts and thus allow pensioners to receive more and then say that if the Australian Universities Commission says that this and that must be done, the Government should accept its recommendations. They can have it one way or the other.
I regret that in this country there is too much of a tendency to look to the Government as the sole source or the main source for finance for education and research. After all, if the Commonwealth Government is to make millions and millions available for this and that aspect of education, including research, the money can come only from taxation, and a good deal of it can come only from the pockets of the wage earners. I would have thought that in considering the need for money to be provided for education the Australian Labor
Party would have had some regard for the responsibility of the big capitalist organisations in this country which have been making millions in profits and which, with increasing national development, particularly in the fields of minerals, natural gas and -oil, expect to make millions more. I would have thought that an Australian labor party would have said it is not just a responsibility of governments to provide money for research, that these large capitalist organisations ought to be doing their share because they also have a responsibility.
In other countries notably in the United States, Great Britain and in some European countries it is a fact that large foundations are provided with immense sums by big business organisations because those organisations recognise that they have a responsibility to make some contribution to the research from which they so often benefit. Nobody suggests that business firms in Australia will receive all the benefit from research, but much of that research ultimately is of benefit to them. I believe that they have a responsibility which they are not meeting today in Australia to assist in university education and in the matter of research in particular. I think that to some extent the universities are at fault. I do not believe that our Australian universities have made a really effective attempt to place their needs before industry and big business. If they were to embark upon a real campaign of pointing out to these business organisations what has been done by business in other countries and asking them to play their part I believe that many of them would play their part.
When Professor Harry Messel came to this country and entered into a university where he was intensely dissatisfied wilh the facilities available, particularly in research, he did not go to Canberra or anywhere else and say that the Government should do something about it; he set to work and canvassed representatives of industry and big business. He achieved immense success. I believe that if there were a little more drive, business activity and business administration in many of our universities today they also would benefit by an appeal to the community, particularly the business section of the community, for financial assistance. As I have said before, I think there is too much of a tendency to say that education is solely a matter for the Government. It should not be solely a matter for the Government. There are people in our community today who are making immense profits from industry. They are utilising the results of much of the research that is going on and they ought to be called upon the play a big financial part in providing money for the establishment of foundations such as exist in the United States and other countries.
I noticed the other day that it was suggested that lack of finance for the University of Melbourne was going to hamper research and that the University was considering an appeal to the community and particularly the business elements of the community. I think that is something that ought to be done. I believe also that we must recognise that there is a need for our Universities to do something to improve their image in the community. I do not think that they advertise enough the best work that they do. I do not think there is sufficient appreciation in our community of the valuable work being done in our universities, mainly because the universities themselves do not adopt the attitude that they should advertise what they are doing. They ought to do more to get in touch with the community. They are too much apart from the community today and that is one reason why they are not getting much of the assistance which they might otherwise get.
I believe that I need to say no more. The figures quoted by the Minister effectively dealt with the situation. In view of those figures, unless the Opposition can produce more arguments to rebut what the Minister has said, and I doubt if it can, I shall be unable to vote for the motion. I conclude by saying that I was interested in the reference to the fact that there may be attacks on the independence of our universities. I do not agree with this suggestion. Our universities appear to me to be quite independent. 1 would say that one of the dangers today is not so much interference with the independence of our universities as a tendency of some people in the universities to adopt an attitude that if one is associated wilh a university one is entitled to do things in the outside community which the ordinary citizen would not be permitted to do. I believe that that is the danger that exists in our universities today.
– It would be tempting to pause for a few minutes to join issue with Senator McManus on some of the questions he has raised in the course of this debate. I propose to resist that temptation because I want to deal specifically with the case made by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) in reply to the attack by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). I want only to say to Senator McManus that if he has not yet decided how he is going to vote on this motion he should stay his hand and not commit himself to vote for the Government because I believe he has accepted too uncritically the case that has been made by the Minister. I felt that the Minister’s reply to Senator Murphy was, to say the least of it, unconvincing. It was in my view a disappointing performance because he virtually turned his back on the problem that had been raised by the Leader of the Opposition. He seemed stubbornly to resist meeting in any frontal way the real problem that is raised by this motion. I regret that the Minister is not in the chamber. I hope that his absence is only temporary because I wanted to deal, with some vigour, I hope, with the propositions that he has enunciated.
– Go right ahead; it will all be in Hansard and he will read it.
– I think he will be interested. The Minister’s reply has left completely up in the air whether he agrees with the statements that have been made, not by unofficial spokesmen for the universities and not by people, as he puts it, with some political axe to grind, but by those in the community who speak for the universities - by their vice-chancellors, by their senior professors and by the heads of their important departments. What we have been left unclear about - perhaps this is Senator McManus’s difficulty - is whether the impression given by the Minister is correct, that in fact things are going along pretty smoothly and that it is almost irresponsible to raise these trifling difficulties; or whether the true position is, as is accepted by virtually every responsible educationist in the universities, that the universities are passing through a time of crises, that they have had their financial resources seriously curtailed and their wings seriously clipped in recent months, starting with the slashing of the recommendations made by the Australian Universities Commission to the tune of $56m, and, now, that this serious impasse has arisen between the Commonwealth and the States over grants for post-graduate research, resulting in the withholding of substantial funds from the universities for purposes of research.
The Minister was at pains to deal with Senator Murphy’s arguments by referring to matters to which the Leader of the Opposition had not adverted. He based his case largely on what I believe is a fallacy when it is used as an argument. I refer to the fallacy that the recurrent grants for the 1967-69 triennium were in fact larger than those for the 1964-66 triennium. Now, that is’ perfectly true. I do not dispute the figures that he gave. But would not everybody expect them to be larger because we are living in a time of expanding population and economic expansion in a general sense? One would expect that with the larger number of students there would be a larger number of post-graduate students and there would be larger allocations of finance to the university over the three year period.
– (In fact there is. That is what the honourable senator is admitting.
– The Minister said so. He quoted the figures. He is basing his argument on something that does not really compare like with like. The Melbourne Age’ recently referred to the argument that had arisen between the Minister and some academicians at the University of Melbourne. 1 quote from an article by Patrick Tennis’on in the ‘Age’ of 8th March of this year. The Minister, when addressing the University of Melbourne Staff Association, apparently made the point that he made tonight, which is that there had been an increase in the moneys provided for the present triennium over those provided for the triennium that has just concluded. I believe that the point was well made in reply to him that the critical figure was not a comparison of expenditure over the current triennium with the previous triennium but the increase in the first year of the new triennium compared with that of the last year of the previous triennium. In other words, if we are to look at the position realistically, the proper thing is to compare the figure for 1967 with the figure for 1 966. In this context, the body to which I have referred, according to this report, wrote to the Minister in this fashion:
The crucial figure is the increase in the first year of the triennium compared with the last year of the previous triennium.’
This is dealing with the University of Melbourne which, as far as I can recall, did not figure, in the reply that came from the Minister.
– Yes it did.
– He did mention it.
– I do not remember what figures the Minister quoted except the total recurrent grant.
– The University is getting the post-graduate numbers that it planned for.
– Yes, I accept that he made that statement. The letter says:
The recurrent income for 1966 was $13.7m and that for 1967 is $ 14.5m. Of this, $300,000 is required for the medical expansion, so the nominal increase turns out to be $500,000 or an. increase of 3.6% and not 24% as you say in your letters.
This small increase is barely enough to cover normal salary increments and inflation costs, and is more than consumed when one merely puts into the balance the cost of teaching the fifth year veterinary course, which will be first incurred in 1967. .
The substance of that argument appeared to be that the Minister was reminding the Staff Association of the increase in the triennium which is just commencing over the previous triennium. They were saying that the Minister was not really making a relevant comparison. I invite the Senate to say that the- Minister was not really making a relevant comparison.
– Does the honourable senator think that it is a relevant comparison?
– What we have to look at is: What was the figure last year and what is the figure this year? If we come to test the figures in relation to postgraduate research, the figures obviously are startling. In the two Melbourne universities that were operating during 1966, the State contribution to the Australian Universities Commission special research grant was the same as that of the Commonwealth. The amount for the University of Melbourne was $225,000 and the amount for Monash University was $50,000. The Australian Research Grants Committee - the Robertson Committee - in 1966 received $272,000 from the Commonwealth and $272,000 from the State. Monash University received $163,000 from both the Commonwealth and State Governments. In 1967 the Commonwealth is meeting the whole of the Australian Research Grants Committee contribution. This is $518,000 to the University of Melbourne and $285,000 to Monash University. But the Commonwealth is not meeting its half - $180,000- of the $360,000 at the University of Melbourne and is not meeting its half- $90,000- of the $180,000 at Monash University. So, if honourable senators look at the matter from the position of these universities they will see that the figures are substantially down. The University of Melbourne has $698,000 for post-graduate research compared with $994,000. which is a difference of $296,000. Monash University has received $375,000 as against $426,000 in the previous year. The figure for Monash is not so startling perhaps as the figure for the University of Melbourne where the amounts are very plain. I see that the Minister is looking puzzled at my reading of the figures.
– Monash University received $326,000 in 1966.
– I think I said $426,000.
– I have different figures. Never mind.
– My figures represent the total for the Australian Universities Commission special research grants and the Australian Research Grants Committee grants.
– I beg the honourable senator’s pardon. I thought he was speaking about the Australian Universities Commission grants only.
– Will the honourable senator quote those figures again? Can he give the figures for the Commonwealth compared with the overall figures?
– For this year or for last year?
– The figures for last year compared with the figures for this year are what I require.
– The overall figure for research at the University of Melbourne was $994,000 last year and this year it is $698,000. My arithmetic makes the figures for Monash University $426,000 last year and $375,000 this year.
– The honourable senator had better get a computer.
– I think my figures are as accurate as anything that we have heard tonight. What I wish to say to the Minister is this: The disappointing thing about his case tonight is that he did not seem to recognise that the universities themselves, virtually without exception, are very gravely concerned about their present financial situation. The Minister made light of something that Professor O’Neil, the Deputy ViceChancellor of the University of Sydney, had said. While the Minister quoted Professor O’Neil as saying that there in fact would not be any cutback in staffs in the present year, I suggest to the Senate that that was not giving a really accurate picture of what Professor O’Neil was trying to convey. What Professor O’Neil did, according to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, was to outline a gloomy picture at a special staff meeting held on 8 th March of this year. According to the newspaper report, more than 350 university teachers were told that there could be no increases in staff until 1970 and that planned post-graduate training would be badly handicapped.
– The Minister did not tell us that.
– No, we did not hear that from the Minister.
– I was quoting Professor O’Neil, not a newspaper.
– I am quoting from a report by the science correspondent of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. That newspaper presented a leading article on the subject following Professor O’Neil’s statement. What the article refers to are the grim details’ given by Professor O’Neil.
– And I was quoting Professor O’Neil.
– The Minister was quoting Professor O’Neil. But the Minister was quoting that part of Professor O’Neil’s statement which said that nobody would be sacked from the staff.
– That is right.
– That is the negative side of the picture. What the Professor was really saying in a positive way was that there would be no increases in staff until 1970 and that planned post-graduate training would be badly handicapped. The report goes on:
The university would preserve its teacher-student ratio of 1 to 13.3, the worst of any university in Australia. Professsor O’Neil said the university was sorely in need of many new buildings’, and that funds available for new building in the 1967-69 triennium were $7.9m. This compared with $9.1m in the 1964-66 triennium.
Professor O’Neil said $460,000 would be available for student and post-graduate research equipment in 1967, compared with $690,000 last year.
To maintain this growth we need more research studentships and more teaching fellowships’ Professor O’Neil said.
I am saying that it is misleading to take one particular point out of what Professor O’Neil said and use that as though it were the complete picture.
– It could be equally misleading to use a reporter’s-
– We have only a limited time in this debate and it is very difficult to cover such a wide subject as this in a few minutes, so if the honourable senator does not mind I will continue. The Minister spoke of what was projected in New South Wales and gave the impression, or attempted to give the impression, that the University of New South Wales was happy with the situation. Sir Philip Baxter, Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, is reported on 27th February in this way:
If we don’t get extra money, it will in two or three years be almost impossible to staff tertiary institutions and provide the rapidly growing needs of industry for higher degree graduates,’ he said.
Sir Philip said that because of a deadlock between the States and the Commonwealth over financing of post-graduate research the University would this triennium get only $360,000 instead of $1.2m recommended by the Australian Universities Commission. . . .
The 75-odd students we can’t accept are all top students’, he said.
He was referring to post-graduate students. He went on: “The university has dismissed forty-four research support staff, mainly technicians, to enable it to pay the stipends of post-graduate students this year’.
There was reference to the position in South Australia - your State, Mr Acting Deputy President. I invite the attention of Senator McManus to this in the confident hope that he is still reserving his judgment. It may be a pious hope but it is nevertheless real.
– Hope springs eternal.
– Yes. The University of Adelaide has been hardest hit by the Federal cutback of finances for the next three years, lt has suffered a 23% reduction in finances recommended by the Australian Universities Commission and it has had to impose strict quotas on all departments. The Arts faculty took on only 470 freshmen, 108 less than last year. Engineering cut its intake by 40, Economics by 20. Staff vacancies are not being filled and, according to reports, staff and faculty expansions planned for the university have been pigeon-holed.
At the University of Queensland, Senator Morris’s State-
– And my State.
– And Senator Dittmer’s State. I am sorry for not naming the honourable senators in their correct order. These are some States which have not been mentioned. Sir Fred Schonell, the Vice-Chancellor, is reported to have said:
Cutting down finance is a gross error. . . . We must have facilities for an explosive expansion of students. . . .We’ve been cut down on capital building and recurrent costs, so we have had to tighten enterance requirements and introduce quotas. We have to look carefully at quality in the face of quantity. We were hoping to make a modest start on a second Brisbane campus at Mt Gravatt in 1969’-
I interrupt myself by saying it looks as though Senator Gair is trying to persuade Senator McManus to change his mind. As I was saying:
We were hoping to make a modest start on a second Brisbane campus at Mt Gravatt in 1969 but we’re unlikely to do anything now until 1972. It is bad. Other places have opened second or third universities well before they have had the numbers we’ve got.*
– If Senator Gair had remained Premier of Queensland that State would have had all of those universities by now.
– I will not debate that. He did not remain Premier and it has been a long time since he was Premier. If one looks at universities in some of the smaller States - smaller by population - it is obvious that they have problems.
If we take a survey of the Australian Press and its feelings about this problem which we are discussing tonight, we will see that responsible journals such as the Sydney Morning Herald’ and the Melbourne ‘Age’ - newspapers not noted for wild or exaggerated statements or for an over-inquisitive or mischievous interest in the problems of institutions of higher learning - have expressed editorially the gravest concern about these problems. Professor O’Neil’s report was described as giving ‘the grim details’. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’s’ editorial is headed ‘Dark University Days’. The Melbourne ‘Age* refers to the ‘cutting off of the universities from the sources of intellectual strength to a quite perilous degree’. It refers to the ‘academic calamity of the cuts in university finances’ and to the ‘savage economies at Melbourne University’ which has had to impose an overall 7% cut so that it can remain afloat and so that the work of the University can be carried on within the circumscribed limits of the new financial situation.
Senior university researchers like Professor Nossal, Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Clinic, perhaps the most distinguished clinic in the world in the field of immunology, referred to the ‘brain drain’, that is, the loss from Australia to overseas countries of men of intellect simply because they just cannot get the proper facilities in Australia. Most of these men arc more worried about facilities than they are about salaries. I have had occasion in previous debates in the Senate to direct attention to the phenomenon of the brain drain. Sir George Paton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, refers to the ‘erosion of confidence in the universities’. We are also told by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ that morale among postgraduate student researchers ‘is dropping towards zero’.
The question we are facing tonight is whether that is the real picture of the position in Australian universities or whether the real picture is that painted by the Minister, who claims that the criticism is exaggerated because in the next triennium the universities will receive more than they received in the previous triennium, and that it is quite mischievous and wrong to approach this subject as though any responsibility rested on the Commonwealth. In fact, he did not deal in any relevant way with this question of responsibility and he failed completely to answer the case made by Senator Murphy, the Leader of the Opposition.
– He utterly demolished it.
– I think the honourable senator is even easier to convince on this than Senator McManus is. He did not utterly demolish it because he never got anywhere near it. If. Senator Morris is going to take part in this debate he will have to face the question, which we are facing on this motion, as to whether or not there is any crisis in the universities. The Minister’s real reply is that there is not any such crisis. If he thought for one moment that there was a crisis in the universities - if he thought that there was anything in what we have been talking about - then he would be quick to seize upon his own responsibility and try to do something about it or he would be derelict in his duty in failing to take up the challenge. He is in the comfortable position, perhaps in his own mind, of holding the glass up as Nelson did to his sightless eye and being unable to see the crisis.
– Yet Nelson won the battle.
– That was one battle, but he did not necessarily win the war. Winning a battle is not necessarily the sams thing as winning a war. To win an argument here is not to solve the problem of the universities. If you get around among university people, as some of us have done, you will find very quickly that there is a great deal of unrest and genuine concern about this problem. The Minister has a magnificent opportunity in his newly created Department of Education and Science. Whatever the result of this debate, my appeal to him is that that Department should pave the way for a new era in education in
Australia. He should not open his career as the ministerial head of that Department on this grudging and defensive note. Ultimately there will be a confrontation between the kind of approach which he now makes and the approach of the universities.
I am not attempting in any way to stir up trouble in this matter, but the fact is that if you go to the universities you will find that they are seriously disturbed. They do not regard the problems involved in the cutting of the university research grants as limited only to research because the post-graduate student has to be trained whether he is doing research or not. Such research as he docs in working towards a higher degree is important from the point of view of tha training of that graduate so that ultimately he gets a senior degree. Even in the postdoctorate phase there is a lot to be said for further grants for research so that he can ultimately take his post as a university teacher at a very high level.
So we are not talking here about minor things. We are talking about extremely important things. Research is the life blood of the universities. What has not emerged tonight is how we are going to get the extra money for the universities. Are we to be content with the present situation and to say: ‘We have gone as far as we can go. The States did not put in. They did not come up to scratch with what had been agreed upon. That is the end of our responsibility.’ Somehow or other that money should be found. Whether it is found without prejudice for the time being by the Commonwealth or whether somebody should be asked to knock the heads of the reluctant States and the Commonwealth together, from the point of view of the public, the community, the universities and the students this impasse - this sordid squabble - is reprehensible and is leading to disaster. While there is a deadlock between the Commonwealth and the States as to who is to provide this money, the community, the universities and the students suffer. We do not want to see them suffer.
Even at this stage I would appeal to the Minister to indicate that he wants to see this money found this year. Even if we accept the position that the Commonwealth should be responsible for the Robertson Committee grants, which are not grants made to the universities, then on the figures that we have had produced the Commonwealth is still not providing the whole of the money that was recommended in relation to the Australian Research Grants Committee grants. It has provided $9m although $llm was recommended. It is not only the Australian Universities Commission grants that are not being paid. Part of the Australian Research Grants Committee money is not being paid. That is a tragic situation and it should not be allowed to continue without the most strenuous efforts being made, primarily by the Commonwealth.
As Senator Murphy said - and I think that he made a very strong and carefully documented case - the responsibility for financing university education has largely fallen upon the Commonwealth. This was the first educational field into which the Commonwealth entered. Until 1963 it was the only field in which the Commonwealth was prepared to accept even a measure of responsibility. For our part, we cannot see why the Commonwealth does not accept the situation and recognise that this is an important problem which should not be brushed aside. The Commonwealth should meet it frontally and say: ‘Whatever else happens, university research must not suffer.’
I want to give an example of what has happened in an individual university department. As the Minister said, it is not much good talking in generalities. I have attempted to give figures from a number of universities that had not been mentioned before tonight. I went to the trouble in Victoria to try to find the effect on a particular faculty.
– Is the honourable senator dealing with research or a faculty generally?
– Research. I selected the Microbiology Department at the University of Melbourne.
– That is an apt one.
– I subjected it to a microscopic examination. It is headed by Professor Rubbo who is a very distinguished professor and who, it is fair to say, has a worldwide reputation in this field. His school has a very high standing. The position at the University of Melbourne was that following, what I think we are justified in calling the ‘slashing’ of the Universities Commission recommendations by $56m last year, all departments were instructed to reduce their budgets by 7%. This was to operate for the triennium 1967-69. At the same time departments were told that fulltime staff members would not be dismissed. I suppose that is something that the Minister can feel is a good thing. Of course, I would agree with him about that, but it is not the whole picture.
Economies could only be achieved, firstly, by not re-employing temporary’ part-time teachers, tutors, demonstrators and external lecturers; secondly, by not filling all vacancies resulting from resignations of fulltime staff; thirdly, if vacancies were filled, they were to be filled at a lower academic or technical level; and so on. The effect of this, it will be appreciated, was to create an atmosphere of uncertainty particularly upon the sub-professorial staff, and that negates the concept of teamsmanship that operates in such a department as this. I can assure honourable senators that the 7% cut at the University of Melbourne was something more than a financial economy. lt has caused erosion of confidence of the university staff and it even finds expression occasionally in criticism of the university’s administration.
The Department of Microbiology is one of the largest departments in the University of Melbourne. It serves four major faculties, namely, medicine, science, agricultural science and dentistry, lt accommodates 355 students and provides post-graduate courses for thirty-six students and a number of other courses for colleges and institutions outside the University, lt has one professor. A second professor resigned to take up a chair at the ANU early this year and it is unlikely that that chair will be filled during the present triennium, 1967-69. The recommendation of the Universities Commission was that there should be a post-graduate diploma in microbiology. That was- part of a plan to produce professional microbiologists and extend educational aid in this important field in South East Asia. That course cannot be proceeded with at the moment because money is not available. What they have had to do in that department is not replace the proffessor who has resigned, not replace a number of senior technical staff, and not re-employ five external tutors. That has effectively meant a loss of six postgraduates for training in higher degrees. All tutorial classes for medical students in that department have had to be eliminated. That has had a serious effect on an individual department which I have taken just as an example. 1 know of other examples of departments in which one could reproduce the same kind of picture. The overall effect on morale is extremely strong. One can say that final year students lack an incentive to do well when the avenues for post-graduate study are being drastically blocked.
At the University of Melbourne there are some 298 post-graduate students, representing one quarter of the total of 1,140 post-graduate students, who depend entirely on grants from the Australian Universities Commission. There are many others who have post-graduate research fellowships. T am not al the moment concerned with them.
– They are grants from the University itself, not the Commission.
– I am sorry. They are from the University itself - money that comes from the Australian Universities Commission and also from the University’s general recurrent grant. These 298 students arc being paid only for 75% of the year. They are to be paid for only nine months because the University has not the money to pay them further, and it will not get any more unless these funds which have been withheld by the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania are forthcoming, either from those States or from the Commonwealth. They will not get their full twelve months’ pay. What is going to happen next year? On 27th February Sir George Paton, the ViceChancellor of the University of Melbourne, was reported as saying that after the end of this year - that is, 1967 - the only postgraduate students who would be accepted by the University would be those who had gained scholarships awarded by outside agencies. He went on to say:
Our only alternative would be to cut further our overall establishment beyond the 7% already forced upon us by the reduction in recurrent funds. Although this would not mean an immediate reduction in the number of undergraduate students, it would seriously affect undergraduate training.
One could multiply these instances of what is said, what is felt, and what is known by students, by researchers, by teaching and research professors, and by university administrators. All this is common knowledge. All this is taken for granted, and what we want to see is the Minister accepting this as an accurate picture of what is going on in the universities and thereupon accepting the responsibility for acting. That position must definitely be accepted. Obviously there is real concern about the financing of post-graduate research in the universities. The Senate, I would suggest with respect, should measure up to its responsibilities in this matter and express its concern, otherwise the Senate will be fixed with some of the responsibility for the complacency which appears to be part of tha Minister’s attitude when he meets this criticism. That is all that I want to say. 1 believe that the Senate will be doing its duty if it carries the motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.
– It is unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) did not combine all three motions that he has on the notice paper in regard to universities and suggest that we have a select committee of the Senate on the whole question of tertiary education. This would have greater effect than having three separate motions which really do not mean anything. Whether they are carried or defeated they will not alter the Government’s attitude to universities.
– The debate is very useful of itself.
– Quite so, but I think it would serve a more useful purpose if we had a select committee on tertiary education. I have often praised the Government for its attitude towards university education. If we are told that universities are suffering this year, let me remind honourable senators of the position some ten or twelve years ago when they were really suffering. In fact, universities have never had it so good. I think we are losing sight of the fact, that it is only since this Government took office that the universities have really gone ahead - surprisingly so. I do not altogether agree that they should have a cutback this year. Nevertheless, as has been pointed out by other speakers, it is not completely right for a commission to tell the Government how much money it should spend, even though we really support what the commission says. After all, the Australian Universities Commission is interested in universities and not anything else and therefore it is biased towards universities and would recommend everything that it could recommend to increase the status of universities.
But we have got away from what a university basically is there for. lt is there for two purposes - teaching and research - and unfortunately ‘teaching’ in the universities has become almost a dirty word and an inferior job. Research is the glamour part of the universities. I do not want to be criticised afterwards as being against research. I am not against research. I am not against any basic research by any staff member of a university. Most of my remarks are concerned with those who are doing post-graduate research for higher degrees, which is a totally different thing from research that is done in a university such as by a professor of chemistry in his own field.
Basically, then, a university has two projects, one to teach and one to carry out research, and the greater of these is teaching. But we have lost sight of this completely, and universities have lost sight of it. Teaching attracts no wealth whatsoever; research does. And the fact that research attracts money is the reason why research has gone ahead so far. Can anyone tell me that when an appointment is made to a university anyone goes to an applicant and listens to a lecture by him to see whether he can teach? Of course, that is not the case. This sort of thing happens in the medical field, architecture, engineering and so on- the whole gamut. One gets his appointment simply because he has done research and he has so many degrees. He may be the lousiest teacher in the world, but in spite of that university students do get their degrees. No one is sufficiently interested in the teaching side. We focus all our attention on research, because research attracts money. We cannot get away from that. I think it is time the Government went back to the basic concept of a university; that it is there to teach. We should be able to have people appointed to posts in the universities because they are teachers, not because they have a string of degrees and despite the fact that they cannot teach a thing. I recall that when I was a student we had as Professor of Pathology at the university at which I studied the late Sir Peter McCallum, who was one of the most eminent medical men in Australia. Yet he was the worst teacher that anyone could meet. Indeed, he was a shocking teacher.
– Now we understand the honourable senator better.
– I was never any good at pathology, and I suppose that was why. Another of our teachers was Professor Wood, who made even the dreariest subjects attractive to us students. He taught neurology, and one could not find a more dreary subject that that. Yet he could teach it to us in a delightful way with just a crayon and a blackboard. He needed nothing else to teach us most effectively. He was indeed a magnificent teacher. It is men like him that we want. He undertook research too, but it was secondary to his teaching. The universities should subordinate research to teaching. They have to teach students who are seeking higher degrees. There are higher degrees earned by study and higher degrees earned by research. The matter comes down to the basic question: Which is the more important? I believe in the fundamental right of every Australian who passes a university entrance examination - that is, matriculates - to go to a university. I know that the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) does not agree with me. I asked Sir Fred Schonell, the greatest educationist in Australia point blank whether he agreed that we want everyone who passes a university entrance examination and matriculates to have the right to go to a university, and he said: ‘Yes’. That is why I am all for more and more money being spent on undergraduate training in universities and less being spent on postgraduate research, if expenditure on research will deny to some Australian the right to enter a university. When everyone is catered for and all quotas have been abolished, let us then start spending more on research.
The Minister, I think, told us that the money and services required to teach a post-graduate student would provide for the training of two undergraduates. I may not be using his exact words, but this is in effect what he meant. Let me make it clear that I am trying to distinguish between post-graduate students studying for higher degrees and those undertaking research that will not lead to a higher degree. I would rather abolish all this teaching of postgraduate students seeking higher degrees. Those people already have a degree. I would prefer that the available resources were devoted to the teaching of undergraduates in universities. We have to provide more money for the training of more undergraduate students. However there is a limit to what the Government can do. We are told that between 3,000 and 5.000 postgraduate research students are at present being taught in our universities. Are they all doing worthwhile research? This is the basic question. The Minister said that they all have to undergo the scrutiny of the Australian Research Grants Committee. But everyone who has experience of universities knows what happens. A post-graduate research worker mixes with his fellows in the university and he goes to the appropriate authority and says: ‘I want money for my pet project’. It may not be likely to help humanity one iota. But if he wins the good will and co-operation of the ViceChancellor the required funds are provided for his pet research project. I believe that a close inquiry to determine what proportion of these projects is worthwhile and how many of them are undertaken just for the purpose of enabling post-graduate students to obtain higher degrees would be well worthwhile. Many of these projects are undertaken only for the purpose of benefiting the post-graduate students concerned.
I suggest to the Government that instead of making grants for research, Commonwealth scholarships be provided for postgraduate research. These should have to be qualified for in the same way that undergraduates have to qualify for scholarships for entrance to a university. The basis of assessment should be examination results. This basis should be applied to post-graduate students who are seeking higher degrees. Most of them live on the research grants that they receive at present. It is just as difficult for an undergraduate to obtain a bachelor degree as it is for a post-graduate student to obtain a higher degree. But the one who most needs assistance is the undergraduate. He is the one for whom 1 have most sympathy and on whom I consider more money should be spent. Postgraduate degrees are basically sought for the direct benefit of the post-graduate student. He may say that he is engaged on a research project, but he is undertaking it purely for the personal benefit to be gained from a higher degree. I am not so interested in assistance for such postgraduate students, though I believe that some of them should be able to qualify for Commonwealth scholarships in the manner in which undergraduates may qualify for Commonwealth university scholarships. Promotion to senior posts in our universities is in no way tied to teaching. It is tied to research.
– That is wrong.
– It is completely wrong. None of the persons appointed to senior positions in universities is tested to determine his teaching capabilities. This is wrong, and I believe that something should be done about the situation. It is degrading to the universities to think that the only consideration is that research brings in money and that therefore most attention should be paid to research. In medicine the best research which has brought the most benefit to humanity has been undertaken or financed by the drug companies, whom my friends in the Australian Labor Party on my right denigrate. If it were not for the research financed by the drug companies many of us would not be alive today. This sort of thing should perhaps bc extended into other fields. Senator McManus said that if the drug companies can finance research for medical purposes, engineering establishments, architects and the like should be able to provide funds for research in the faculties appropriate to their interests, just as the drug companies do in relation to medical science.
I regret that not enough money is available for post-graduate research, but I am not terribly unhappy about it because I believe that the Government has done a magnificent job in relation to tertiary education. We would like to see it moving faster, but the rate of progress is for the Government to determine. Though at times we on this side of the Parliament attack it for not spending more money, I believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The number of universities has grown considerably in the last few years, the rate of growth of existing universities has increased and the funds provided for the universities have been greatly augmented. In the light of these developments I consider that the Government is doing a good job. I am only sorry that the Leader of the Opposition did not propose the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the whole field of tertiary education. I believe that the Senate would be greatly interested in such a proposal and that we would probably receive an extremely valuable report from such a committee.
– in reply - Mr President, the motion before us proposes that the Senate express its concern at the failure of the Government to make arrangements to ensure adequate finance for post-graduate research in universities. The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) has put up a great smoke screen by asserting that the funds provided for the universities in the current triennium represent a substantial increase compared with the previous one. He ignored the increase in population and the constant progress of inflation. It would be fantastic if the funds provided for the universities were not increasing, just as it would be fantastic if costs were not increasing elsewhere and if in secondary education more funds were not provided in this triennium than were provided in the previous one. The Minister’s claim is no answer to the charge that has been made.
– Did not the Australian Universities Commission take that into account in making its recommendations?
– Of course it did. The tragic thing is that the percentage increases in financial allocations that it recommended were reduced by the Government. That is the basic fact that the Minister has ignored.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 April 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670406_senate_26_s33/>.