26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - The statement 1 am about to read was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in the other place earlier today. He said: I wish to inform the House that I shall be leaving for the United States of America on Thursday.. 1st May, for the official talks in Washington which were postponed because of General Eisenhowers death last month. Discussions with President Nixon and senior members of his Administration will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, 6th and 7th May. During my absence my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), will be Acting Prime Minister.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to a statement last week by Australian Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops calling for a civil alternative lo military service for conscripts. Now that this important statement by senior Catholic churchmen has unified opposition by the churches to the Government’s policy, will alternatives to military service or 2 years gaol be considered again by the Government? Will the Government give the Parliament a further opportunity to consider whether there should be some alternative to gaoling, without benefit of jury trial, young men who refuse to fight in the Vietnam war?
– The Leader of the Opposition has read into the series of questions directed to me, a statement made by the Roman Catholic archbishops and bishops. I do not necessarily accept what he said as the complete basis of the statement made by them. I suggest that the question should go on notice. T shall get a considered reply from the Government. The Government’s view on alternative national service is quite clear and has. been debated frequently in this place. .
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for ‘Education and Science: Will the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation arrange to have two cloud seeding aircraft sent to Queensland in an attempt to produce rain and alleviate the severe drought in much of the State?
– The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has, over a period of years, carried out research which has led to the development of cloud seeding techniques. By 1966 the information available from CSIRO and overseas was sufficient for the Commonwealth Government to suggest to’ all State governments that they should make arrangements in their own States for cloud seeding operations to assist in drought and bush fire emergencies. An undertaking was given that CSIRO would assist with advice and equipment and the training of operators. This offer was accepted by the Queensland Government, along with other State governments. Officers of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries have been trained and are in possession of the latest information on cloud seeding techniques. We expect that that Department and the Queensland Government will be in the best position to assess the circumstances, and fix a time and place for the use of the operations.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to a question asked by Senator Murphy on 23rd April in which he referred to a major policy statement by Mr Rogers, the United Stales Secretary of State. Senator Murphy stated in his question that the United States of America was prepared unilaterally to withdraw troops from South Vietnam, even if there is no progress at the Paris peace talks. He asked why the Australian Government is not supporting United States policy.
– Order! I think it is undesirable that a question should be based on one already asked. This’ would not preclude independent questions being asked. The honourable senator may finish his question.
– Now that the full text of Mr Rogers’ speech is available I ask: Did he in fact propose the unilateral withdrawal of United States troops?
– When the question referred to by the honourable senator was asked of me last week I said that it was my belief that Mr Rogers’ statement did not make any new policy declaration at all, and that it followed the pattern of what the President of the United States had said previously. Indeed, a statement was made on 17th April by Mr Freeth, Minister for External Affairs, which covered this position. I therefore repeat that contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition said in his question, Mr Rogers’ statement does not contain any change in established United States policy, which still rests upon the statement bv President Nixon on 14th April last.
– 1 ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has the Government had an opportunity to study the announcement made last week that a team of medical scientists at Monash University has made a discovery that could lead to a new approach to the clinical treatment of diabetes? It is reported that preliminary tests have given dramatic results and that the biochemists are now urgently seeking ways of producing the new drugs in quantity for large scale clinical trials. As this new discovery is of enormous advantage to Australia and the world, will the Australian Government actively associate itself with this work by making substantial financial contributions to Monash University to further this scientific triumph? Will the Government take special note of the fact that the clinical tests of the new treatment were the culmination of more than 20 years of research by Professor Joseph Burnstein. head of the Department of Biochemistry in the Monash Medical School, who began the research in 1947 at the Baker Institute in Melbourne?
– Order! The honourable senator is giving information. Have you finished your question, Senator Hendrickson?
– I have seen the report referred to by the honourable senator. The normal procedure in these matters is for the Government to rely upon the advice of its experts. This advice comes to the Government through the Minister for Health, Dr Forbes, who administers the Commonwealth Department of Health. As the question implies, any evaluation that will have to be made or any clinical trial that will have to be carried out normally will be done over a very lengthy period of time. Whether such a prospect as is referred to in the question would justify the Commonwealth Government’s intervention is a matter of judgment .primarily for the Department of Health, which would make a recommendation to the Minister. The matter would then go to’ the Government for decision. …
– 1 ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Minister for Primary Industry” inform the South Australian Minister of “Agriculture that the Federal Cabinet had agreed to the commitment of $1.10 a bushel first payment on the proposed quota of 367 million bushels of wheat from the 1969-70 crop? Has the Federal Cabinet so agreed?
– The amount of the first payment for next year’s crop hinges on discussions that will take place between the Minister for Primary Industry and the State Ministers for Agriculture and on agreements that will be made. I anticipate that in the very near future the Minister for Primary Industry will make a statement on this matter.
– Does the Minister for Supply consider that the Australian component of the enlarged function planned for Woomera, in co-operation with the United States of America, will be conducted by his Department? If not, what department will be responsible for it? Does the Minister envisage a development of the Salisbury-based functions of his Department?
– If the honourable senator is referring to a ministerial statement that I propose to make a little later in the day, at this point of time I ask him to put his question on notice.
– Wy question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation or to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I. refer to a motion carried by the Senate on 19th September 1968 which resolved that a Senate select committee be appointed to inquire into the Repatriation Act and all matters related to that Act. What is the intention of the Government in respect of this motion carried by the Senate?
– As the honourable senator has mentioned the motion was carried. Matters affecting repatriation payments will be subjects of discussion by the welfare committee which was set up, as the honourable senator will remember, approximately 12 months ago. Officers of the Attorney-General’s Department and officers of my own Department are studying the Repatriation Act itself. I think the honourable senator will also know that since the motion he referred to was carried the Returned Services League has asked - and, I think, other organisations also have asked - that an independent committee, not a Senate select committee, be set up to inquire into these matters. I told the Senate on the occasion that we carried the moi ion las’, year that the setting up of a select committee was not the wish of the ex-servicemen’s organisations, which have now staled ;hat they want an independent inquiry. T’v.t is the position at the moment.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air whether there were any rules and regulations governing the use of VIP aircraft. He stated that he would try to ascertain whether there were any in order to table them. As they have not been tabled can he now inform me whether there are rules and regulations governing the use of VIP aircraft? If so. when will he table them?
– If my memory serves me correctly, 1 informed the honourable senator last week thai guidelines were put down during the Prime Ministership of the late Harold Holt but it was intended to have another look at them.
– 1 do not want to know-
– I am just giving the honourable senator the information. He might not like it but it is the answer to his question. To the best of my knowledge a decision has not been reached so far but when it is reached I will let the honourable senator know. I do not know when the papers will be tabled, if they are tabled.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The Australian Government proposes to purchase two ships. Can the Minister say of what type the second one. which is to be used on the Australia-North America run, will he? Will it be a cellular, unit or deck type of ship?
– The Australian Government has entered into various agreements with shipping companies for the carriage of freight lo northern Europe and America. The vessel he has asked about, which will be carrying cargo from Australia to America and from America lo Autralia, will be a cellular type vessel.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the Government accept as political refugees those West Irians who quite recently have crossed the border into New Guinea? Will the Government extend to them the same favourable terms that it extended to eight West Irians in recent weeks?
– I have seen a reference lo this new situation but I am not in a position to give a precise answer to the honourable senator’s question. Since it comes within the ambit of another portfolio I think T should get a considered reply from the Minister concerned. The situation in relation lo the alleged circumstances of these natives who crossed the frontier in itself has led to some consideration of the problem. In all the circumstances I would prefer to give an answer perhaps tomorrow.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry had an opportunity to examine the latest statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry on the recommendations of the Tariff Board to the Government? ls it the intention of the Minister for Trade and Industry to make a statement to the Parliament clarifying the Government’s relationship with the Board? Does he feel that Australia’s best interests in this field are being served by statements such as that to which I have referred?
– I saw a Press report of a statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry. I did not read into it anything which was inconsistent with the point of view that has been expressed in the past by the Minister for Trade and Industry. To my mind he maintained the fundamental position that in the final analysis the Government itself must accept responsibility for its determinations on recommendations made to it by the Tariff Board. I do not believe there is any need or justification for the Minister to make a further report. However I will direct the honourable senator’s question to him and if the Minister considers that the matter needs any further elaboration I am sure he will provide it.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In the light of the fact that research observations made recently by the Japanese investigation ship have revealed further extensive destruction of the Great Barrier Reef outside Townsville, will the Prime Minister take urgent steps to expedite his answer to the request of the Premier of Queensland for Commonwealth assistance in the protection of the Reef?
– 1 shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Prime Minister.
– Has the
Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities seen Press reports that the crown of thorns starfish had destroyed living coral on the Great
Barrier Reef and was a threat to the whole of the living coral of the Reef? Are these reports well founded? Has the triton shell, which feeds on the crown of thorns starfish, and which has been removed in considerable quantities by tourists and others now been declared a protected shell fish to prevent its removal from the Reef? Is this step proving effective? What steps is the Minister taking to investigate, with a . .view to remedial action, this threat to one of Australia’s greatest national assets and greatest tourist attractions?
– lt is, I think, the prevailing view that the crown of thorns starfish is a predator of the coral, although on my visit to Townsville over the weekend 1 was informed of other- quite significant opinion. I noticed this morning a viewpoint put forward which I thought deserved consideration. lt was that if there were a prohibition on the sale of the triton shell and if a reward were given for- the collection of the crown of thorns starfish ‘ these measures would relieve the coral of ‘this agent. As to the measures that I am taking, these relate to the development of a policy which is under the Government’s immediate consideration. I am sure my, colleague would not think it appropriate to detail them at question time. This would take a far greater length of time than would be appropriate to use in answering a question.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it the intention of the Government to withhold from the Parliament the terms of the agreement between Australia and the United States of America concerning the new defence space base at Woomera? Is it a fact that under the constitution of the United Nations Organisation the agreement, will be available to members and this will include the Soviet Union? If this last is true, will the Government reconsider its decision and make the agreement available to the Parliament?
– I think I made it abundantly clear when Senator Lacey asked me a question which inferentially dealt with the same matter that I -would be making a ministerial statement at the end of question time on behalf of the Prime Minister.
In the circumstances, I suggest that the question should stand down, lt will be competent for the honourable senator to raise it again on another occasion during question lime if he so wishes.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is the Minister aware that a leading New South Wales chemist can secure 1,000 injections of approved Hong Kong influenza vaccine from London by plane within days but is led to believe that to obtain from the Department of Customs and Excise an import licence to secure this vaccine would take up to 2 or 3 months? In view of the difficulties experienced by medical authorities in securing this valued life-saving vaccine, would the Minister give an assurance that applications to import approved Hong Kong influenza vaccine will receive urgent priority, subject, of course, to clearance by Australia’s health authorities, which I am advised is assured?
– I understand that the influenza vaccine to which the honourable senator refers is a prohibited import but is readily available upon obtaining permission from the Director-General of Health. Once that permission is obtained, the collectors of customs at the various entry ports of Australia will permit the importation of the vaccine.
– Did the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities recently meet the 100,000th United States serviceman to visit Australia on rest and recreation leave, and did that serviceman find the position rather different from the situation in America in that he was sent north to see the birds? Has the Minister taken any action to ascertain whether rest and recreation servicemen could visit Tasmania, where penguins and all sorts of other bird life may be seen by tourists?
– It gave me a great deal of pleasure last week to meet the sergeant of the American Army who was the J 00,000th American serviceman to visit this country from Vietnam. My recollection is that the very sagacious comment of the sergeant when he was told he was to meet politicians was that he would prefer to spend his time on dates wilh a few of the birds of Sydney. When 1 suggested that Tasmania would be a field of interest, not only was there insufficient time but the birds, in the sense referred to in Senator Marriott’s question, were not even mentioned.
– 1 direct a question to the Leader of the Government. In the light of the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and the New South Wales Premier on the prospects for an alternative site for the existing North Head quarantine station, is the Prime Minister contending that every other nation has its quarantine station on a harbour headland and is he implying that nations that do not have stations so placed have inferior quarantine facilities? Does the communication to the New South Wales Premier reject alternative sites offered for a quarantine station? Finally, will each New South Wales senator be supplied with copies of the letter sent lo the New South Wales Premier by the Prime Minister on this subject?
– Replying to the honourable senator’s specific questions, the answer to the first two is no. The answer to the third is that I am not aware of the existence of correspondence about alternative sites. As to the final request, let me say that it is not the practice to disclose the contents of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premiers of States on matters currently under discussion between them. I say finally that the disturbing effects of a serious disease outbreak on the life of a big city and even the surrounding country should need no elaboration. It is to maintain Australia’s vigilant precautions against the possibility of such an outbreak being introduced from overseas that the Government regards its quarantine responsibilities so seriously. It would need to have sound reasons for changing the site of the existing station at North Head, with all the efficient functions and facilities that are available there.
– Is the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities aware that Japanese recently discovered two new coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef? If this is a fact, why is it that a complete and thorough survey of the Barrier Reef is not made by either the Queensland Government or the national Government?
– I have no knowledge of the discovery by the Japanese of two coral reefs in the Barrier Reef. It will be within the honourable senator’s knowledge that the survey being undertaken jointly by Australian scientists and the Japanese at the present time is for the very purpose of discovering the extent of the coral of the Barrier Reef. As she will know, the research that should be undertaken following that survey is under consideration.
– My question is supplementary to the one just asked by Senator Buttfield. I ask the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities whether he is aware that in fact the Japanese have given the new reefs Japanese names and whether it is the intention of the Government to allow those names to stand or to rename the reefs with Australian names.
– As to the statement made by Senator Keeffe, 1 have no knowledge of the Japanese giving a name to any part of the coral reef. If they have done so, no doubt the matter will receive consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. In view of the technical and scientific advances made by the Aeronautical Research Laboratories, as displayed at the open day at Fisherman’s Bend and viewed by a number of members of Parliament yesterday, is the Minister satisfied that Australia is more than capable of establishing a successful aircraft industry, both from a technical and economic point of view?
– The open day at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories yesterday was a tremendous success. I am very grateful for the number of senators and members of the other place who visited the establishment. Open days will continue for 3 days this week. Australia does have great capacity and experienced scientists. The honourable senator has asked whether we have the economic and technical capacity to build aircraft. We do have the technical knowledge, to a certain degree, but if the honourable senator is talking in terms of a highly sophisticated aircraft, such as the Fill, it is questionable whether we would have the technical knowledge necessary to build such an aircraft because,’ from a technical point of view, the Fill will prove to be the most sophisticated, advanced and capable aircraft ever produced. As to the economic question, honourable senators will appreciate that it is not. economic to build aircraft in small numbers. .If we had a Service requirement of 30 or 40 aircraft only and no capacity to sell the. aircraft overseas it would not be anywhere near an economic proposition to build them, nor . would it be realistic to do so in view -.of the tooling up that would be required . to build them. This is the burden of the problem that we have at present. We could, .build an aircraft and we want to build an: aircraft for the Services, but before doing ‘so- we would certainly need to have :S0.me prospect of being able to sell.- the : aircraft to other nations. The cost of tooling up. .for and building a prototype, both -in terms of time and money, is so tremendous that it would be completely unreal to embark on such a programme unless there, were . prospects of getting, a reasonable number of orders for the aircraft. But to answer the direct question, yes. we do have great technical skill. We have in the industry scientists and others who are devoted people giving a lifetime of service to the industry.-. In the fullness of time, as we progress, they will become more and more . valuable to Australia.
– - Has the Minister representing the Attorney-General seen reports of the activities -of . one Lloyd George Evans who, apparently, has disappeared from Western Australia following his prosecution in Perth’ for an alleged offence under the Companies Act arising from his activities as proprietor of a share buying enterprise known as Perpetual Pool’s Promotions? Is the Minister aware that not only has Mr Evans vanished but so also has a sum of several hundred thousand dollars belonging to people whom he had induced to subscribe money to Perpetual Pools Promotions? As there -has been some speculation that Mr Evans is now overseas, and the possibility of his being in either the
United Kingdom or Hong Kong has been mentioned, will the Government consider approaching the Western Australian Government with a view to making use of Australian representatives in overseas countries in order to find out where this man is and where is the large sum of money belonging to those who entrusted their savings to him?
– Any allegation of an action which involves defrauding the public is a matter in which the Attorney-General has a general interest. But I fail to see how the Attorney-General would have a primary responsibility to prosecute for an offence arising out of a company fraud. However, 1 would like to add that I am quite sure that if the Western Australian AttorneyGeneral or the police of that State were to seek the services of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department or the Commonwealth Police every facility would be made available to trace an offender against whom such an offence was alleged. As we are speaking in public it should be made clear that neither the questioner, I am sure, nor myself is suggesting that there is any basis whatever for a charge to be laid against the person named. I have no knowledge of any facts which support such a suggestion.
– My question is directed to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. As an aid to developing the tourist industry in north Queensland and as a means for providing better facilities in the area, will the Minister use his good offices to influence an improvement in the inadequate facilities available at Mackay Airport?
– It is a happy coincidence that the honourable senator should ask that question because it enables me to say that 1 visited Mackay on Thursday of last week and I was very impressed by the happy, bright airport. The honourable senator is no doubt aware that the terminal has recently been enlarged and the runway is being extended. The honourable senator can take it from me that the advantage I had of meeting the Barrier Reef Promotional Council on Thursday afternoon will impress upon me the need to give any assistance I possibly can to improving the tourist facilities of high standing that already exist there.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing tha Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the Government’s agreement with the United States of America to undertake further activities at Woomera, will the Minister give consideration to building a road from Port Augusta to Woomera for the transportation of goods to that isolated town?
– The Government is, of course, very interested in Woomera. I thought the roads were very good.
– It is a rough track.
– -The honourable senator informs me that it is a rough track. I will take her request up with the Minister for Shipping and Transport to see what can be clone to improve the road.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I refer to answers given recently by the Minister on the use of CS gas in Vietnam and particularly to allegations made by Mr Danaher concerning the circumstances of the death of Corporal Bowtell in 1966. I ask: Has the Minister’s attention recently been drawn to a report in the independent Paris newspaper ‘Le Monde’ on 14th January 1966, which referred to the death of an Australian corporal from the effects of gas even though he was wearing a mask, and to the hospitalisation of six of his comrades? Will the Minister add to his previous statements by specifically informing the Senate whether on the occasion and in the circumstances in which the corporal died CS or any other gas was being used in the relevant foxhole?
– The honourable senator is really stretching it a little by going back to an article which appeared in some obscure French newspaper in 1966 to make a case. This is 1969, but to try to bolster his case the honourable senator goes right back to 1966 and refers to something that appeared in a French newspaper as justification for further pursuing the matter. No, I am not prepared to make any more statements. I said previously that the then Minister for the Army had dealt with the matter in a comprehensive statement. I would have thought that in all the circumstances, having regard to the distress which may be caused to the relatives of the corporal concerned, the matter should have rested there.
– J direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Are the Government’s actions in connection with self-determination of West Irian directed to placating Indonesia? Is Australia under this Government to become as subservient to Indonesia as it is to America in matters of foreign policy?
– The honourable senator makes a wide statement which has no foundation whatsoever in fact, lt is a bit of sheer nonsense that he puts in the form of a question. The position quite clearly in relation to the act of self-determination - if that is what he is referring to and trying to link in some way to the happy relationship we have with other countries - is that Australia is not a party to the 1962 agreement which provides for an act of free choice. The concern of the Australian Government has been that the agreement should be honourably carried out by the Indonesian Government and we are in fact satisfied that the Indonesian Government is honourably fulfilling the obligations laid upon it by the agreement. The wide inferences that the honourable senator draws in relation to that situation are the result of an extraordinary stretching of imagination.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he saw a newspaper report from Washington yesterday that Dr Frank McKeown of the United States Geological Survey, referring to underground nuclear explosions had stated: ‘as the shocks have become bigger, we have recognised that they do trigger seismic activity, that is, minor earthquakes, farther and farther out from the explosion’, and also that about a year ago an underground test of 1.2 megatons in Nevada caused a fracture in hard rock 4,000 feet from the explosion that gave rise to a fault almost 3 miles long? Will the Minister bring the results of this new research to the notice of any organisations carrying out feasibility studies connected with the use of underground nuclear explosions anywhere in Australia?
– I understand that any consideration of studies of what happens in this field in other parts of the world would be matters coming within the province of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or the Department of National Development. I am not aware of the statement to which the honourable senator refers but I will direct the question in the first instance to the Minister who has responsibility for the CSIRO.
– I direct j question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Did the Minister for Trade and Industry admit to the Canadian Minister of Industry. Trade and Commerce that the Australian Government had breached the spirit of the International Grains Arrangement in relation to minimum wheat prices? ls this admission in contradiction of the Prime Minister’s statement while in Canada that Australia had not broken the agreement but he would see whether Australia had done anything that would indirectly affect the price? What is the true position in relation to Australia’s observance of the International Grains Arrangement.
– Obviously the honourable senator is building his question around what he interprets Mr McEwen’s statement to be. In all the circumstances, I think that the question should be put on the notice paper.
– J direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Air a further question as he seems - if I may put it politely - to misunderstand me. I am not interested in what the regulations and rules concerning VIP aircraft are going to look like after they have been looked at. 1 now ask him specifically: Will he table the present rules and regulations or guidelines - whatever he likes to call them - that were in existence on 1st January 1969?
– 1 will convey the request to the Minister for Air.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he can inform the Parliament of the total amount of loan moneys made available to the Queensland Government for construction and maintenance of the Townsville-Mount lsa railway line. Can he tell us how much has been returned to the Commonwealth to date by way of principal and interest? ls the Minister aware that major reconstruction and maintenance work which should have been carried out many months ago was not commenced until the beginning of the wet season this year? Was this part of the work covered by additional Commonwealth loan money?
– Quite obviously, a question relating to the total amount of loan money made available to a government would have to be placed on the notice paper so that I might get the information from the Treasury.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, ls the Minister familiar with the biblical character Job? Does he attribute to me the same qualities of patience? 1.1: not, when may I expect an answer to my question about successful tenderers for oil leases on the Great Barrier Reef?
– I am familiar with the biblical character Job. I do not think the honourable senator has the same amount of patience. As to when he may expect a reply to his question on Great Barrier Reef oil leases, I will make inquiries from the Minister for National Development and obtain an answer as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. I refer to the answer he gave to Senator Georges about self-determination and the opportunity for the inhabitants of West Irian to exercise freedom of choice on the question of whether they wish to remain with Indonesia or to sever their ties with that country. I also refer to his answer that the Government was satisfied that Indonesia was honourably carrying out the arrangements. Will the Minister tell us what has been done by the Indonesian Government which satisfies the Australian Government? Will he tell us what has been done beyond the consultations, or Musjawarah, which are provided for in the agreement - that is, the consultations with the representative councils on procedures and appropriate methods to be followed for ascertaining the freely expressed will of the population? Will he tell us what has been done that satisfies the Australian Government that in fact there is to be a formulation of the questions in such a way as to permit the inhabitants to decide? What has been done to comply wilh that specific provision of the arrangement - which I have before me and which the Minister may see - which provides for eligibility of all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals, to participate in the act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice? There is in the agreement a reference also to those who departed and came back. Will the Minister tell us what there is that satisfies the Australian Government that those arrangements are being honourably carried out?
– The honourable senator has asked a very wide series of questions which should properly be passed on for the Minister of External Affairs to answer in detail and with particularity. However, in some of the questions he posed I think he departed from what I had said. As I recall it, I said finally that we are in fact satisfied that, the Indonesian Government is honourably fulfilling the obligations laid upon it by the agreement. The Leader of the Opposition has asked a series of questions based on whether the Indonesian Government has properly interpreted all the obligations laid upon it. I am not competent to answer such questions. I suggest that they are matters properly within the responsibility of the Minister for External Affairs and would require very close examination by him. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition place his question on the notice paper.
– I wish to ask a question which I think should be addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Can the Minister inform me where copies of Federal Hansard can be purchased in Adelaide? What became of the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications that shops should be established in each capital city for the purpose of making available Commonwealth publications?
– I am not certain myself which Department can best supply the information requested by the honourable senator, lt may well be that the information is available from the officers of the Parliament and the Presiding Officers, but 1 do not know. I will find out and let the honourable senator know.
(Question No. 958)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Will the Minister give urgent consideration to the many requests from North Queenslanders and others particularly interested in the Great Barrier Reef, that extensive Federal assistance be given to the Chair of Marine Science at Townsville University College?
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer:
Both the Minister for Education and Science and the Australian Universities Commission have received a number of representations and formal submission* about the study of marine science at Townsville. These are being carefully considered.
(Question No. 1102)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
In view of the fact that no insurance company will accept insurance risks against rain, flood, frost or hail, and that the fruit growers in the Robinvale, Mildura and Swan Hill areas have set up a fund of their own to deal with hail damage, will the Treasurer give favourable consideration to exempting this non-profit making fund from taxation?
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It has been held by the High Court that a mutual insurance association formed for the purpose of insuring its members against losses resulting from hail or rain damage to crops is liable to income tax on its profits. The possibility of amending the legislation to exempt associations of this kind from income tax has already been raised with the Government and the matter will be further considered when the relevant provisions of the law are under review.
– On 17th April 1969 Senator Fitzgerald asked me the following question without notice:
Can the Minister representing the Prime Minister advise what assistance, if any, the Australian Government has given to the starving people of Biafra by way of food or in any other way? Whilst we are all concerned at the rebuff by the leaders of the Biafran people to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, these people should not be forgotten and let starve. What role has been taken or will be taken by the Australian representative in the United Nations discussion, by voting or initiating discussion, to save these unfortunate people’?
I have been advised by the Department of External Affairs that the Australian Government has taken the most practical measures open to it to assist international efforts to relieve the human misery caused by the civil war in Nigeria. In response to a request made last year by the Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund, Australia made a gift of 3,000 tons of vitamin enriched flour worth $A2 17,000. The flour was sent in shipments beginning in September 1968, and has been distributed through Red Cross channels in the war-affected areas of Nigeria. In addition, the Minister for External Affairs on 27th March announced an Australian contribution of $US75,000 ($A67,400) to the International Committee of the Red Cross to support its relief operations in Nigeria. This contribution was made in response to a Red Cross appeal to governments to assist in meeting the costs of transporting foodstuffs and medicines to the regions of Nigeria, including especially the secessionist areas, where they are most urgently required. This assistance by the Australian Government is additional to the substantial contributions made privately by Australian citizens to the Red Cross and to other voluntary organisations involved in international relief activities in Nigeria.
The Australian Government continues to watch developments in Nigeria closely. There has been no discussion in the United Nations of the Nigerian civil war. However, efforts at mediation have been made by the British Government, by a number of African governments, by the SecretaryGeneral of the Commonwealth Secretariat and by the Organization of African Unity. None of these efforts has been successful in bringing about meaningful negotiations or a ceasefire, and no Australian initiative could make any useful addition to them. Responsibility for ending the civil war lies in the first instance with the two sides themselves; when they are ready to negotiate, a suitable framework is already available in the Organization of African Unity. The OAU has set up a Special Committee on Nigeria whose last meeting was in Monrovia. Australia has made clear both to the Federal and to the secessionist sides its concern at the heavy loss of life in the civil war, and the importance it attaches to an early ceasefire.
– On 17th April 1969 Senator Murphy asked me the following question without notice:
My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. 1 refer to a matter which was raised on 19th March this year by Senator Rae and which was referred to in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 5th April. That is the proposal that the United States of America build an Omega navigational system station in Australia. Was the proposal to erect such a station in New Zealand rejected by the New Zealand Government because of the danger to its people of having such a prime nuclear target in that country? Is the Government still considering the proposal to have the station built in Australia and, in particular, is it considering sites on the eastern coast of New South Wales? Will the Minister slate what stage the negotiations have reached? 1 have been advised by the Department of External Affairs that the United States is understood to have had informal discussions with New Zealand on an Omega station but that no formal proposal has yet been made to the New Zealand Government. In my reply to Senator Rae on 19th March 1 mentioned that it was anticipated that further informal talks would be held with the Americans about mid-April. A US technical team visited Canberra on 22nd April. It is anticipated that on the basis of these discussions and on similar discussions held in Wellington the previous week the United States authorities will decide whether to seek a site in Australia or in New Zealand and, consequently, with which country to negotiate for a bilateral agreement. It is not known at present when the United States will decide which country it proposes to approach formally on . the matter.
– On 18th March Senator Webster asked me. the following question:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories. ls it proposed that the Australian Government or Parliament will be represented at the South East Asian and Pacific Games to be held in Port Moresby later this year? Does the Government consider this event of significance in demonstrating the rapid development of the Territory? Will the Government consider inviting members ot this Parliament to represent it at the . Games?
In amplification of the answer 1 gave al the time the question was asked, the Minister for External Territories ‘ has provided the following information:
No specific parliamentary representation al ihi South Pacific Games has been arranged because the Games had been thought’ to be primarily a sporting occasion rather than a political one.
Undoubtedly the event will .produce beneficial results by advancing the formation of a national unity and national spirit and the Government agrees that everything possible should be. done to further these ends, lt is, however, for the local people responsible for organisation of the Games to take any initiatives in inviting ‘representation fi om outside the Territory.
No official invitation has been issued by the South Pacific Games Council ‘ seeking specific representation by members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
The Games Council was good enough to invite the Minister for External Territories to attend the Games but he could not accept the invitation because it is likely that the beginning of the Budget session and the opening of the Games will coincide.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Public Service Arbitration Bill 1969 Commonwealth Employees Compensation Bil! 1969
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1969 Officers Rights Declaration Bill 1969 Superannuation Bill 1969
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2) 1969
– by leave - The statement I am about to make was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in another place on 23rd April 1969 after the Senate had risen. When I use the first person personal pronoun it refers to the Prime Minister.
I have to inform the House that the Government has accepted proposals which were made by the United States Government for the establishment in Australia of a joint United States-Australian defence space communications facility. The facility will’ be located al Woomera. A site survey party from the United States is expected to visit Woomera soon. Construction should commence in September or October and the installation should be ready to operate by late 1970. The joint staff of Australian and United States personnel required to operate the station will be between 250 and 300. The construction of the station will be an important contribution to the defence of all free nations, lt is a further and most important tangible expression of that close co-operation between the United States and Australia in defence matters which is embodied in the ANZUS Treaty.
– by leave - I move:
I do not intend to deal with the merits of the matter at this stage but I should like to indicate that 1 think this is a very important statement, lt is a prime ministerial statement made in the Senate by the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson), and as such I think it should be the subject of an initiating motion by the Government. On the Senate notice paper a number of these important ministerial statements are listed under the heading General Business. With only 21 hours devoted to general business each Tuesday it will be impossible really to cope with these statements, even before the end of the sessional period. When these statements are made in the House of Representatives the usual procedure is for the Government to move that the House take note of them. Out of courtesy the Leader of the Government indicated to me that this would not be done in the Senate. I thank him for that. I realise that it has not been done on a number of occasions previously.
I do not want to enter into criticism but I would suggest that in future these ministerial statements be dealt with in such a way that they become Government business which would mean that we would be able to debate them in the ordinary time of the Senate. Having said that and without prejudice to anything that the Leader of the Government may wish to say, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
– If it is the wish of the Opposition to debate the statement 1 have presented in the name of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) 1 shall certainly give very real consideration lo facilitating such a debate. I recognise thai the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has not entered into any aspect of the substance of the statement at this point of time. We are now talking only about the mechanics and, so far as the mechanics are concerned, I shall be quite happy to discuss wilh the Leader of the Opposition the possibility of making time available for a debate on the statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Murphy moving a motion relating to the order of General Business lifter 8 p.m.
– I move:
This would mean that when general business comes on at 8 p.m. the debate on the lifting of the embargo on the export of merino rams would be resumed and dealt with before anything else is considered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 23 April (vide page 1012). on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I have no desire to traverse the comments I made on this Bill prior to the adjournment of the Senate last Wednesday afternoon, but I do want to add to my plea to the Commonwealth Department of Education, through Senator Wright, who represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) with respect to adequate publicity coverage of all the good facts to be known about scholarships, particularly the five types of scholarships that will continue to become available under this legislation. Last time I addressed the Senate on this matter I said that I did not feel that the normal publicity given to these matters and the informing of approved institutions through the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ was adequate. I described it as immensely inadequate in my belief, and I repeat that description now.
In this respect, I should like to say, as a member of the Legacy Club of Hobart and as a member of the Returned Services League that 1 feel that the Repatriation Department sets a very good example in letting those who may be entitled to take up scholarships know what is available to children of ex-servicemen or the children of deceased ex-servicemen and ex-service women. It seems to get the message around so that those who want to apply may do so. I believe that it is most important that all who may be eligible to apply for these scholarships should be informed in detail and in language that they can understand.
I discussed this question with university students over the weekend. The modern university notice board is crammed with numerous notices, many of which are of little import to many of the students with the result that they just pass the notice boards by. If these students felt that the boards contained information relating to Commonwealth scholarships, they would heed them. What is more important, they would read them. I even go so far as to get down to detail and say that at the right time, when scholarships are available, some form of coloured poster or notice should be displayed in the schools and universities. I speak with a little experience of this matter as Secretary of the AustralianAmerican Association in Tasmania. The Association runs the excellent American field service scholarships system. We find it very difficult to get through to the students in all the relevant schools in Tasmania the fact that these scholarships are available. We can write to headmasters and tell them all the details, but the information does not always get through lo the classes of the pupils who are interested.
We have had to take quite detailed steps to get through to the students and their parents the fact that these American field service scholarships are available. Each year now we are receiving an increasing number of applications. It appears that the more applicants we have the more students we can send to the United States. So I know that good publicity in respect of scholarships pays dividends, if we want to. award scholarships. Of course, we could take the attitude that as we have only a limited Dumber of scholarships and many possible applicants, we do not need a lot of publicity. But I know that that is not the attitude of this Government. This Government wants to know who is interested. It wants to give those who are interested a fair go at gaining the right to sit for or apply for scholarships.
I refer now to something which 1 do not think is out of place. It must affect the Department of Education and Science in some way. I do not think it is known widely enough how Commonwealth public servants, through this Government’s enlightened attitude towards them, can gain help in the payment of university fees, if not the full payment of all .university fees. This help is available to people who work, for the various departments of the Commonwealth Public Service and who want to improve their minds by entering upon tertiary education. I believe that in our universities there are many honours students who know that in some cases, under some conditions, some Commonwealth departments have scholarships . to take honours students to higher degrees. But it is very difficult for an honours student to find out what departments have these scholarships and who is eligible to apply - for them. 1 believe that many people are missing out on some of the finer points or forms of tertiary education, in which this Government is now playing such an important part.
The Bill grants a lot of authority for rule by regulation. 1 do not quibble at that in this Bill. On a first rending of it, this is rather amazing; but when one gives unbiased thought, consideration and study to those aspects that are to be governed by regulation or ministerial approval one finds that the proposal is necessary. In regard to the drawing up of regulations, all I do is make two brief pleas: Firstly, they should be. finely drawn and, secondly, they should be drawn in language intelligible to those most interested, namely, the academics of the future not of the present. 1 know that wherever we have regulations we will have people complaining because they just miss out. Let me bring back a Second World War example, lt is a fact that, if a person sailed up the middle of the Suez Canal, disembarked at El Qantara on the right hand side and went into Palestine and anywhere in Europe, he received the 1939-45 Star: but, if he disembarked on the left hand side of the canal and went into Egypt, he received the Africa Star. If he went on leave to Cairo or attended a school of instruction in Egypt he did not receive that award, but so long as he trod as a serving soldier on the left hank of the Canal he rated for an Africa Star. The point between getting something and nol getting it is always very fine, but I do noi think we will get really worthwhile complaints if the regulations arc clearly drawn. My final request to the Minister is in respect of clause 20 which stales:
The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after each thirty-first day of December, prepare a report. 1 quietly suggest to the Minister that it would be belter to keep to the financial year rather than the academic year and have the report to Parliament dated 30th lune. In this way there would bc every chance of the report being available for debate during the Budget session so that before the details were set for the next academic year’s scholarships, if Parliament wanted to criticise or improve on what had been done in the past it would have the Budget session in which to do so. Further. the Government would have that time in which to reform its ideas and amend what had been done in the past. If scholar ships were to be amended they could have the improvements incorporated in them that same year. But if the report were written up to 31 si December we would not receive it in Parliament until the February or March session, in which case a whole year would have been wasted, if the Government und/or Parliament wanted any improvement on these five wonderful forms of scholarship which are set out in the legislation. I make that suggestion to the Minister off the cuff. I believe that it is worthy of consideration.
I close my remarks on the Bill by saying as a member of the National Parliament that it is very nice lo know that at present there arc at least 56,000 Commonwealth scholarships in operation in this country, that there will be more scholarships this time next year, and that with the progressive policy of this Government and the support of ‘his Parliament - because they get nothing unless we agree - there will be more and belter scholarships in the future. With that optimistic feeling, I support the second reading of the Bill.
– I think that much of the discussion upon this Bill and much of the discussion on education in our country these days completely misses the point. There seems to be a suggestion that so long as we provide a lot of money, so long as we build a lot of new universities and a lot of new tertiary colleges, and so long as we provide more scholarships and arrange for everybody who wants to go to a university to do so without paying any fees, we can be sure thai our system of tertiary education will provide what the country needs and that it will be successful. In my view that completely misses the point. We could spend millions of dollars on education and millions of dollars on new universities, provide every student with maintenance during the course of his university studies, arrange for every student who wanted to do so to go to university, but our system of education could still be a colossal failure if what was taught was not designed to produce what a university should produce - an all-round intellect and an all-round citizen.
That point has been put in a provocative way by the English commentator. Malcolm Muggeridge, who has pointed out that the country with the greatest enthusiasm for education in the first part of this century was probably Germany. He pointed out that there was a great enthusiasm for university education in particular, and yet, as he says, we lived to see the most highly educated nation in Europe with the highest proportion of scientists and technicians elect Hitler to preside over its destinies. He looked further at the present situation and said:
He said that there is no doubt that we will go on raising the school age, multiplying and enlarging our universities, increasing public expenditure on education until juvenile delinquency, beats and drug addicts, and general intimations of illiteracy multiply so alarmingly that at last the whole process of education is called into question. The vital question of the quality of education, rather than the amount of it, was highlighted in a book by Colm Brogan which 1 read recently. In it he points out that there was a great enthusiasm for tertiary education in France and a great’ educational enthusiasm generally, but that under a system where, to a great degree, many of the teachers were associates or apostles of political movements, and also in many instances, were confirmed and militant atheists, the result of their highly formed education system was that they taught the young people of France to believe in nothing in particular, and the Germans conquered them in 10 days.
It is not a question of how many thousands of scholarships we are going to provide at a cost of how many millions of dollars; it is a question of whether we are getting value for what we are spending already and whether we will get value for what we are going to spend in the future. It would be idle to deny that there are large numbers of people in our community today who seriously question whether we are getting value for what we spend on our university students at present and who seriously question whether we will get value for the astronomical sums that some people would like us to spend on them in the future
In my view these people are forming these doubts on whether we should be spending these sums of money because of a small group of students.
Many people emphasise, and 1 agree with them, that the delinquents represent a very small minority, but what troubles me is that we appear to be producing in our universities this small militant group which is being allowed, by the apathy of students and staff who have right opinions, to dominate the show, to ruin the reputation of the universities and to destroy the. universities as instruments or places of learning where discussion is carried on in a tolerant way. I can understand - people throughout our community asking- whether we are getting value when it appears (hat we may be producing large numbers of lawyers, engineers and scientists who, whilst they have opinions of their own, are apparently, through apathy or timidity, unwilling to express them and are allowing the voice of the university in our community to be one almost of anarchy and violence. 1 think that the people of Australia are:entitled to expect the 98% of the students who do not believe in anarchy and violence to do something to control the 1% or 2% who apparently do. If our universities are unable to produce students who possess the degree of responsibility that 1 am calling for they are failing in their purpose and it is questionable whether we should be called upon to provide them with further financial support.
Why is it that our universities do not seem to be producing responsible students who ought to be able’ to control the anarchistic minority? I would say that the main reason is that we have tried to hurry too fast in the direction of university education and we have built the universities too big. I think it would be almost impossible to produce in. a university of 15,000 or 20,000 students that corporate spirit, that true spirit which should animate a place of learning. I had the privilege of attending a smaller university. I believe that it was possible in those days - 40 years ago or more - for students to be associated with the corporate life of the university in a way which is now not possible. Today the student feels that he is an insignificant cog in a huge institution which is churning out thousands of degrees. Except for a small minority, the students of today have lost that feeling of association, that corporate feeling that people who attended smaller universities in the old days had.
I believe that one of the faults with our university system today is that the number of students attending each university has been expanded to an unreasonable degree. Some people will say: ‘What else can we do? Wc have to cope with the huge numbers coming forward.’ My answer to that is that although a form of education is being given by these immense universities with thousands and thousands of students and a large number of scholarship holders, it is not university education in the best sense of the term. One of the results of the expansion of our university system is the immense shortage of qualified staff. The same thing happened with the expansion of our secondary school system. I am not suggesting that there are no people in our universities with the highest qualifications; I am saying that Australia is a small country and there has never been a very large reservoir of adequately trained people to take up serious work on the staffs our our universities. The attractions of higher salaries and better working conditions overseas have drained off many of our best qualified people. The result is that the staff situation in many of our universities today is entirely unsatisfactory. 1 have no doubt that there are members of the staffs of our universities who are most highly and adequately trained, but from speaking to people associated with our universities I believe that there is an immense tailing off in ability. Under those circumstances we find that even the students themselves complain of the inadequacy of the training they receive in certain courses. This inadequacy is to a large extent due to the fact that we did not have a sufficient reservoir of trained professional staff for the universities that we were building with such haste. I think it would be better if we hastened a little slower. We should first of all make sure that the human element is available for the staffs. When we are sure that the human element is available we will then be in a position to build our universities and to grant thousands of scholarships.
In that regard I refer to rather interesting comments by Dr Ainslie Meares, a well known Melbourne psychiatrist, in a recent newspaper article. He claimed that immature and unstable members of university staffs were partly to blame for the anti-social behaviour of students. He pointed out that universities make their appointments according to the academic records of the applicants and pay little attention to the personal effects the applicants have on the students. He said that one way to help achieve stability amongst students ‘ is for the universities to have as lecturers people with stable, well-integrated personalities with whom the students can identify themselves. Having said that in his view a good deal of the unsatisfactory conduct at present could be traced to the fact that some - and I emphasise the word ‘some’ - staff members in our universities are themselves unstable, Dr Meares went on to make the point that 1 have been making that to a large extent the psychiatric troubles among students could be blamed upon the extreme competitiveness of society and the rush to universities. Dr Meares said that being a university student today - and this is one of the truest things ever said - has become a kind of status symbol. He said that he saw a great number of students who were tense and upset and who gave vent to their feelings in stupid ways. Those are the views of a psychiatrist who looks after some of these students.
Another problem is the advent on the staffs of our universities- no doubt due to the fact that there is an insufficient pool of adequate men and women - of people who do not regard universities as places of learning and places of tolerant examination and discussion of the problems of the community. We now have in our universities people who regard them not so much as a home for learning but as a kind of political institution and a weapon to be used in the political controversies of the community. The result is that we are getting in some of our universities an intolerance and a partisanship which should be entirely foreign to the atmosphere of a true university. We have students who warn the authorities that unless they get their own way they propose to indulge in violence. These students demand complete freedom for themselves and object to censorship of their own statements and utterances. But, to take the Monash University as an example, we find that some students called for a sit-down strike the other day because they had been criticised by a member of the university staff, yet they demand freedom of speech for themselves. When one group of students disagreed with action which was taken recently by another group in regard to parking at the Monash University, those who claimed complete freedom of expression for themselves and who strongly objected to violence being used against them, used violence- against the students who disagreed with their point of view and who took action contrary to the action that they thought should be taken.
I feel that not only are the staffs at our universities entirely inadequate but also that their abilities tail off, although I emphasise that there are people on the staffs of our universities who compare favourably with their counterparts in any other part of the world. I say, furthermore, that it is highly questionable whether many of the students who go to our universities ought ever to have gone to a university in the first place. In a discussion in Melbourne recently by our leading university authorities the point was made that up to one-third of the students who enter a university fail to complete a degree and in one university in 1961 only half of the 200 students who constituted the lowest group of Commonwealth scholarship winners completed their degrees in- the minimum time. That is a remarkable statement. A scholarship winner is supposed to be qualified at least to enter a university. Only half of them could get through in the minimum time, and of the total number who go to universities one-third fail and never complete their courses. The Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in a comment on this said that if people without talent are going to universities there is a waste of expensive university facilities. These people could have talents which could well be developed in other directions and, as a result, the Australian Council for Educational Research is to go into the problem to find out whether there is a system by which we can ensure that the immense numbers of students now going to our universities who obviously ought not to undertake university training should be catered for in some other direction. They are going to try to find out how to determine who should go to a university and who should not.
Therefore, are we not putting the cart before the horse if we say: ‘Let us build more and more universities. Let us provide thousands and thousands, of scholarships. Let us provide maintenance for every student who wants to go to a university,’ when it is perfectly obvious that we have not yet determined what students ought to go to a university and what students ought not; when we have not yet determined the best ways in which to provide for those students who may be near that level but who obviously ought to be catered for in a different direction; and when our Australian universities are having the most intense difficulty in obtaining adequate staff. As I said, there is only a small pool of staff in our country. We are getting tremendous demands on scientifically and technically trained staff at universities, by the outside attractions of our pubic .companies. Just imagine the number of technically trained men who are now being, absorbed by the huge increase in the mining industry in this country, many of whom might have been available for university work but are attracted by the higher salaries and conditions outside. As we all know, there is a brain drain because many of our best staff members are being enticed abroad by higher salaries and better working conditions. When we have a lot of people at universities, one-third of whom are going to fail, it is obvious that they are. in the wrong place. Quite obviously they become discontented and dissatisfied .when they realise that they are in the wrong place. I emphasise once again that I think that the community generally is uneasy. It knows that there is something wrong. Before we start talking about spending millions on universities and on tertiary education, let us make sure that we have, the .staff. Let us make sure that we put .the students into the places where they ought to be. Then it is a good thing to spend the money, not to spend it in circumstances in which we do not know whether -we are getting value. .
I want to refer to something that worries all of us: The violence that goes on. We all know that it concerns only a small group and there are some remarkable features of this group. I. am told by students that while there are great complaints from these people about the state of the world a considerable number of the people who control and back these so-called radical organisations come from very wealthy homes. They will talk glibly about the wrongs of the community but they themselves belong to sections of the community that have never had it so good. 1 think that that applies to university students in general. When I went to university only forty scholarships were available in the whole of the State of Victoria. 1 know because 1 struggled and got one. There were not then the big maintenance allowances that students have now. In those days it was a struggle to get to a university but today the path has been made easy - some people think too easy. The student today is, financially and in the facilities that are made available, better off than students in this country have been in the whole of our history, and they are more discontented than students have ever been, if we accept what we read in the newspapers. I do not accept everything that appears there. I think that the bulk of the students are reasonably satisfied. The others are a small section, people who in many cases come from wealthy homes, some of whom have no intention of going to a university for any other reason than that they think it will give them an opportunity for the kind of activities that we read about. This small minority today is doing the damage.
There have been suggestions that they are all run by the Australian Communist Party. I would absolve the Communist Party to this extent: It believes in controlling its devotees. Some of the students, 1 believe, would be uncontrollable by anybody - the Communist Party included. It regards the activity of these students as an opportunity and it is trying to get control of their organisations, without a great deal of success, lt appears to me that in these minority organisations the major factor would be a kind of anarchy rather than a feeling of Communism. Even the Communists would have difficulty in controlling some of these people who appear to be actuated by strongly egotistical feelings, by a firm conviction that they have a superior intellectual ability to that of other people in the community. Some of them have had the cheek to suggest that because they are at a university they should enjoy a kind of superior status and should not be amenable to pol’ice action in the same manner as ordinary members of the community are. 1 was amused the other day to read a report that in one university they had approached the vice-chancellor and told him that they objected to police coming on to the campus. They said: ‘Could you inform us each time police come on the campus? Then the students could get together and keep an eye on them’. The vice-chancellor replied that be did not think it a good idea. A student asked: ‘Why not?’ and he was given three reasons: ‘First’, said the vicechancellor, ‘it would not be obvious to me which students I should ask to perform the vigilante act. Second, if the police were on the campus for improper purposes this should be taken up with the police commissioner. Third, I would hope that my students would have more interesting’ things to do.’. There appears to be this strange attitude but the people who are mainly concerned in the formation of this new type of student power - this student violence - appear to follow a regular technique. They meet and they decide to raise an issue. They then decide to call a general meeting of students to determine the issue.’ Then they carry a motion, which they are ‘careful’ to word in the form of an ultimatum, to the university or other authorities. When the ultimatum is rejected by the administration because of its extreme nature they resort to some form of direct action, a sit-in or a demonstration which breaks the law. Of course the final measure is to allege police brutality and to make the issue the wider one of students rights or academic freedom.
I have read the Press reports and have watched the telecasts of police action in dealing with these young men. I think it is time somebody spoke a word for the police officers. A police officer in our community today belongs to an organisation which is very much undermanned. He works in a difficult and exhausting job. He works very long hours. One day a demonstration is called and a well fed young student, physically strong by reason of the fact that the community gives him plenty of time to indulge in sport, decides to have a little bit of fun. He sits down and expects the policeman to pick him up - a heavy, well fed young student - and to place him in a patrol car. He expects the police to have cushions for him in the car. If any honourable senator were a policeman, working long and hard hours, and was called upon to pick up students taking part in a demonstration, students who were struggling hard in order to give him a run for his money, while in the background a student equipped -with a loud hailer was saying: Take their numbers and we will charge them wilh cruelty and with intimidation’-
– Where did this happen?
– It happened in Sydney on a day that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) visited that city, and the honourable senator knows it did. When this sort of thing happens the police are compelled to pick them up, take them away and put them in the patrol wagon. Can it be wondered that occasionally a policeman will drag them in. using the same amount of force that you would use if you were in the same situation.
– So you are admitting the brutality.
– I am not admitting brutality bin I have some regard for what police have to put up with today from young mcn and women who are being provided by this community with unmatched opportunities for education, who arc allowed opportunities which their fathers and mothers never had, bin whose altitude is that they owe no gratitude to the community and that they arc entitled to use violence to force their views on the community in general.
There arc thousands of ways in which you can express your opinion in freedom in this country, ls anyone going to suggest that students arc entitled to sit down and block the traffic .ways? Is anyone going to suggest that they are entitled to go into and obstruct public offices such as the AttorneyGeneral’s Department? Is anyone going to suggest that they are entitled to go into the courts? If honourable senators say the students are so entitled then they are inviting a sit-in in this Parliament. This will happen one day unless strong measures arc taken. Therefore I say: Let us stop all this guff about people in Australia being so lacking in opportunities to demonstrate their opinions that they have to resort to what some of these students are doing. We know that opportunities are not lacking. It is time that the staffs in our universities and the 98% of students who know better took action to control the anarchistic minority.
I want to devote some attention to these extremist coalitions which are trying to get student power, as they call it, in our universities. The most important of these at the moment is a national organisation which calls itself the Socialist Students Alliance. According to the information I got late last year - I hope it is correct - the following groups were affiliated with it: At Adelaide University, the Students for Democratic Action and the Labor Club; at Flinders University, the Labor Club; at Monash University, the Labor Club and the new left group: at the Australian National University, the Labor Club; at Sydney University, the Labor Club and Resistance; at Brisbane University, the Students for Democratic Action; and at Melbourne University, the Labor Club. Reports last year said that it was proposed by this organisation to create communication between groups at the various universities and to organise on a national basis. It was proposed by the Alliance to have a full time co-ordinator and a part time assistant and research officer who were probably to be based in Sydney. The Brisbane co-ordinator, I understand, was a Mr Thompson and the Sydney coordinator was a man named Percy. The students to whom I spoke on this matter informed mc that in their view some of the strongest elements in this group were the Maoist and Trotskyist elements.
– What does that mean?
– If the honourable senator does not know, his education has been very much neglected. The second group to go national in Australia recently is the Students for a Democratic Society. There are groups of this organisation in Sydney University, Melbourne University and Monash University and attempts have been made to set up groups in Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. The key people at the student level are Mike Jones of Sydney and Ian Mclvor of Melbourne. It is of some significance that the Communist Party which, as I have said. I absolved from control of these activities although it probably would like to do something about them, has issued a number of statements supporting these people, endeavouring to get on the bandwagon. As we all know, the Communist Party has arranged for some of these demonstrations, so-called student demonstrations, to be supported by trade union leaders and by leading functionaries of the Communist Party, some of whom were arrested during one of the recent big demonstrations.
We have to take notice of the fact that these organisations exist. We have to take notice of the fact that by operating on a national basis they propose to bring about a state of affairs in Australia in which violent demonstrations will become the thing; and that it will be sufficient merely to say that these demonstrations are conducted by students for the cry to be raised that academic freedom is involved and that therefore the police and Government can take no action, lt is time that strong action was taken. I was pleased to see strong statements issued, I think by the principle officer of the Australian National University. 1 was pleased to see a statement recently by the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University who, 1 think, had been somewhat conspicuous for not wishing to take strong action against students in the past, but who obviously is now convinced that it is time that a very firm statement was made.
If we are to deal with this kind of thing in the future then we have to call a spade a spade. A violent demonstration has to be called a violent attack; a violent breach of the law rather than a demonstration for human rights. As we all know, frequently we see reports and pictures of demonstrations but nobody mentions in the Press or on television what the demonstration is about. We hear all about people being dumped in patrol cars. We hear about violent charges and clashes and all the rest of it. Some of the students will tell you that they have to do these things so that people will realise what they are demonstrating about. However, on how many occasions do you find that there is no mention at all of what the demonstration is about? Therefore, let us call a spade a spade.
I think that those who are in charge in our universities have to develop some intestinal fortitude and not tolerate disorder in future. They have to tell the students that they do not belong to a privileged group who are not amenable to the law as others are and that they are citizens who are amenable to the same laws as everybody else. We have to call on the 98% of students who do not belong to these anarchistic minorities to take charge of their universities, to preserve the reputation of their universities which are being ruined by these people. We have to insist on standards’ of good taste. One of the troubles in our universities is the kind of staff member, who believes in nothing and demands complete freedom for himself. He does not believe in censorship. He tells young arid immature people that sex is all right, and that pornography is all right. He holds ‘that it is all right to make yourself a complete nuisance to the rest of the community. I think there are still certain standards in’ the community. I believe that the great bulk of staff members in our universities adheres to those standards, but when they believe that there has been a breach of those standards and of good taste, I would like them to have the courage to come out and say so, rather than to leave it to< a small minority to suggest that there ought to be no standards at all in our universities.
– They might think that you are wrong.
– I do not think they would think I am wrong. I think the trouble with many of them is the same as that with the majority of the students. They are apathetic and timid.1 ‘They are afraid to take a stand against the people who intimidate them by the way they go about things.
– Are you suggesting that 80% are frightened of 20%?
–! am saying that they are apathetic. The same problem arises in trade unionism, as Senator Cavanagh knows. In many trade unions today undesirables get control because the great bulk of the members of the unions are apathetic. How can you get men to go to a union meeting today? The problem is much the same with students. They are apathetic. Some of them are doing courses at night. They are working hard. They do not want to go to the meetings, and a minority has taken control. I wish to quote from a document sent to me by an eminent professor in one of our universities. On reading it I thought that it summed up the situation. He wrote:
The task has an anti and a pro aspect. Freedom of dissent, yes: illegality and violence, no. Politics in political clubs, yes: perversion of general student organisations into political agencies, no. Student newspapers as open critical forums, yes: as one-sided propaganda sheets, no. Reform of university government, with better student access, yes: demagogic disruption, no. Improvement of teaching, yes: breaking down the intellectual integrity of subjects by making topical ‘relevance’ the criterion, no. Academic freedom for both teacher and student, yes: prostitution of the role of teacher or student, no.
I support the Bill. I support any provision which will make it easier for young men and women who are qualified and have talent to go to a university, but I will not support a system that provides that we shall build universities and spend millions of dollars when we are not sure whether we will get value for the money. I repeat that the first task we must undertake is to find out whether we have the right people to staff our universities. We have to bring about a departure from the belief that everbody has to go to universities because it is a status symbol. This belief is held by people who say: ‘My son and daughter have to go to university because the son and daughter of the people up the road go to a university and I will be down graded if my children do not go.’ The system we work out should make it possible that within reason the people who attend universities are those who ought to be there and who ought to be provided for in respect of their educational requirements. We have failed to lay down the groundwork. We are building many universities and spending great sums of money. We ought first to be settling the human problem of how to ensure that the universities have adequate staff and that the students who ought to be at universities are there. We must make sure that the teaching is such that it will produce the kinds of men and women we want - all-round men and women with a strong sense of responsibility for their citizenship.
– I propose to discuss and to support the Scholarships Bill. It is very templing to be diverted into the general field of the philosophy of education and several rather remote aspects of the subject that were dis cussed by Senator Cohen, and to the aspect of the educational scene just now put forward by Senator McManus. I would very much like to follow him into that field, but 1 think it takes us rather wide of the Bill. I would very much like to discuss whether we are getting value for the money we spend on education. A very entertaining discussion could be held on the impact of the vested interests in education today, but we have before us a Bill which proposes, as the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) states, to provide a basis in legislation for the Government’s scholarship plan. Although the Minister uses the word ‘basis’, on my reading of the Bill another word came to my mind which, on second thoughts, would not be quite appropriate. At first I thought that the Bill is rather a skeleton, but that word implies a boney structure after death, and this is not the end but the beginning of a programme. So I will have to use another word, I will say that the Bill provides a framework.
It is very difficult to determine the final shape of this structure from the framework provided in the Bill, because it is a very skeletal framework, if I may return to that expression. We are told that the filling in of the structure - the completed form - will be evident only when we have a knowledge of the regulations by which the Act will function and that further, the finishing touches, as it were, to the structure will be completed by the exercise of ministerial discretion. So we are rather circumscribed in discussing this Bill if we are to stick to its provisions as they stand. The Bill sets out the intention of the Government in relation to five different types of scholarships, lt sets out very briefly the nature of the scholarships, lt abolishes the Commonwealth Scholarships Board, but does not tell us just what is to take its place. The sort of structure that will take the place of the Commonwealth Scholarships Board is left to our imagination.
There is not a great deal that can be said about the Bill as it stands, but I would like to make some observations about the manner in which people are selected for scholarships. During the currency of the old scheme it became very evident that the manner of selection of scholarship holders was not altogether satisfactory. 1 know that deciding who is and who is not worthy of a scholarship is a difficult operation. Certain standards have been laid down and the Scholarships Board has adopted various principles, but the system has not always operated satisfactorily. One case comes to my mind very clearly. It concerned a young lass who attended a country high school. Although she topped her school in the annual examinations she was deemed not to be a person to whom a scholarship should be awarded. I think the decision in this instance was due largely to the opinion of the headmaster of the school. As I was interested in the case I took note of the girl’s subsequent career. In the university examinations last year this girl, who at a country high school was not deemed to be of good enough materia] to be awarded a scholarship, was awarded not one but two exhibitions. This was a rather emphatic answer to the question whether or not she was worthy of being assisted by the granting of a scholarship.
The manner of selection of scholarship holders is a very important matter. Scholarships should be awarded to those to whom a scholarship could give the greatest advantage. From the Bill we learn nothing about the future basis for the selection of students to whom scholarships will be awarded.
– The Government awards scholarships to some and then takes back half the amount involved on the basis of the means test.
– I might follow this hare for a while. I can see no positive advantages in abolishing the means test unless we are able to say that the community has unlimited funds to provide scholarships under this Act. We should not say that we will provide scholarships for everybody regardless of whether or not the parents provided adequately for the earlier stages of their children’s education, the secondary education or the early technical training. We should not say that parents have no responsibility whatever and that the community must take all responsibility.
– That is not the way the means test applies. It applies to tertiary education, at which level they continue until they are adults. The means test does not apply to secondary education.
– I think the honourable senator will find that .it does. In any case there is a degree of means test inherent in the scholarship scheme. ,1 would like to see it retained because if it is not retained the whole idea of the Government providing scholarships to assist those who otherwise could not get the benefit qf university or higher education falls down. I believe that, if the scholarship scheme is to have any real’ effect, it must. help those people who need help. The funds available under the scheme should not be dissipated in helping those people who do not need help. 1 refer now to the ambit of ministerial discretion. 1 am not .top sure why, in respect of each of the . classes of scholarships, there should be -a requirement that a course should be .approved by the Minister. I. hope that in reply the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) will give the Senate his views on this aspect because ! see a potential danger if. a.. student applies for a postgraduate course- at a university. Obviously the course .would have to be approved -by the university. The Bill requires that the course be approved -by the Minister. Will the Minister be placed in the position of being simply a rubber stamp? Will approval be automatic where a proposed course is approved.:by a university or will the Minister .in certain, instances say that he will not approve? I do not know whether the Minister is required to give any reasons for not approving a course that has been approved by a. university as a postgraduate course, as a university course for a first degree or, for that matter, any other course. Why . is ministerial approval required for . a. course that is approved by the institution . at which the student is to study? 1 think a rather dangerous element could enter into this scheme. While I am sure a Minister of this Government would not exercise, this discretion in any improper way, I am not so sure that such a statement would be valid in respect of all Ministers at all: times. I cannot yet see the necessity for the approval by the Minister in any of these cases. I know that under the Bill the Minister ‘ has power to delegate his authority: I have no doubt that this will be one power that he will delegate to certain bodies. However, I would like some further elucidation of this aspect of the Bill.
I am very pleased to see the extent to which the Government is providing additional money for scholarships. I believe that, although scholarships have been criticised because they introduce an unhealthy degree of competition into the education system, they make it possible for people who could not otherwise go on to higher education to so do. I believe that they fulfil a very useful role. Until some better method of helping scholars who need help is found. 1 agree that this scheme is a good one. It i interesting to see to what extent the scheme is being used and to see the increase in the amount of money that has been made available over the years. In 1951, the first year for which figures are given, the expenditure was $632,194. The last figures show an annual expenditure of $24,541,299. the total expenditure over the period has been $127m. The appropriation for 1963-69 was $28,880,000. This brings to the fore the very proper query that Senator McManus raised of whether the community was getting value for the money it was spending. When we see the regulations by which the Scholarship Act will work and when we receive the annual reports which the Scholarship Act will require it wilt be our responsibility, as the Senate, to examine carefully the results that have been obtained and the value that we are getting for the funds expended.
I commend the Bill, support it and trust that it will be effective in furthering the education of the young people of this Commonwealth.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) [5.17j- Senator Cohen, on behalf of the Labor movement, has pointed out already that the Opposition does not oppose this Bill because, generally speaking, it is in line with the 1967 proposals we put forward in the Senate for the administrative arrangement of scholarships awarded by the Commonwealth. The Bill repeals the Education Act 1945-46 which incidentally was introduced by the Chifley Labor Government. The Bill before us also abolishes the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Commonwealth Scholarships Board and, as it were, in the field of scholarships really gives teeth for the first time to the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science. We of the Opposition regard the bill as being a very important Bill because it deals with the education of young Aus* tralians, in particular, and the educational scholarships to which they might become entitled.
Before I go on to discuss the educational problems of the younger generation of the Australian community, let me deal with one or two of the points made by Senator McManus who spoke earlier in this debate. As I understood him, Senator McManus said that it is the duty of the Government to work out a system which, within reason, shows who should be going to Australian universities. As I heard him, he said that the Government had failed in its responsibility in laying down a ground plan. He maintained that we have to settle the human problem; that we have to ensure that the universities have adequate staff; that the teaching is such that it will produce the kind of men and women we want for the educational pursuits of Australia. Indeed, I think his general plea was to this effect: Do not lel us spend the money until we know that we are getting value for it.
Let me say at the outset that I believe that Australia is getting value for the money that it is spending on education. I pose this question: Can we get better value for the money that we are spending on education today? The statements, submissions and suggestions that have been put forward by Senator McManus have been proposed time after time by the Labor movement in the Senate and in another place when we have moved urgency motions and when we have called for the establishment of a Senate select committee on education to survey the general needs, wants and requirements of education in Australia. But when these matters have been proposed not only those on the Government side but also those on the corner benches, the members of the Democratic Labor Party, have opposed them.
Now let me deal in short with one other aspect of Senator McManus* speech. He referred to the anarchy and violence of small minorities of students who 1’ead what he regards as a revolutionary trend in Australian universities. None of us, 1 am certain, supports violence of any kind be it from students who are engaged in demonstrations or be it from the police who are supposed to maintain law and order. But take the anti-conscription demonstrations.
The reason why university students in Australia today are so vociferous in their protestations against conscription and service in Vietnam is that every male student at a university has had to register for conscription for overseas service or, within the next J 2 months or 2 years, will have to register for conscription for overseas service. So you find in that section of the community collectively the section of the community most highly affected by conscription, lt is for that reason, 1 suggest, that you see university students taking the lead in the community demonstration against the policy of this Government in relation to the war in Vietnam and the likelihood or possibility, according to the ballot box - the lottery system - of their having to go, with their fellow Australians, to fight in a war in which they do not believe.
The kids of today, the kids in secondary school and those embarking on a university education are just not satisfied to accept the old days of the establishment. They are not prepared to accept as gospel the old shibboleths and the worn out cliches. In their search for knowledge they feel that they can contribute to a better way of life not only for themselves but also for mankind generally. I am sure most honourable senators in this place, like myself, have a great faith in the future of this country because of the ability, understanding and comprehension of the younger generation of Australians, including the anticonscription demonstrators. I have no doubt that Australia as a nation is getting value for the money that it is spending on education but the question I ask is this: Can we. as the people of a great country, receive better value for the money that we are spending?
As I have said, this is an important Bill because it deals with the education of a vital section of the Australian community. There are five types of scholarship which are the subject of this legislation. There are the post-graduate scholarships, the university scholarships, the advanced education scholarships, the technical scholarships and the secondary scholarships. I want to say something particularly about those which affect the younger sections of the community, namely, the secondary scholarships, the university scholarships and the technical scholarships. The Martin Committee in its report on the future of tertiary education in Australia recommended the extension of secondary school education by one year before students go to university. Then we had the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme in New South Wales. This extended secondary education by another year from 5th form to 6th form and, so far as the ordinary wage and salary earners are concerned, this extension has undoubtedly placed a great burden on their pockets in order to retain at school those of their children whom they feel at that stage of their lives have a chance of bettering themselves in an Australian university. As a result of this extension of the secondary school period from 5th form to 6th form, you now find, on going through the Positions Vacant columns of the large metropolitan dailies, particularly on a Wednesday and a Saturday morning, that what was once regarded as the minimum standard of education for the clerical occupations, namely the Leaving Certificate - I understand that the School Certificate, obtained in the 4lh form of New South Wales schools, is somewhat akin to the Leaving Certificate - is not sufficient, and that in a great number of cases the minimum standard of education required is now the Higher School Certificate. Undoubtedly this is why there are so many students continuing on after 4th form to 6th form in secondary high schools. They are doing it not only because a great number of them want admission to a university but also because they feel, after perusing the Positions Vacant columns, that the minimum standard of education required by private employers and others seeking recruits to their services is now no longer the 4th form of education as was originally intended by the Wyndham proposals, but the 6th form standard.
One of the great problems that children, on reaching the 4th form, and those who become eligible to make application for a secondary scholarship is that, because of the shortage of teachers in certain specialist subjects enormous difficulties are placed in the way of their obtaining a secondary scholarship. For example, I think 10,000 secondary scholarships were awarded last year, but, if one peruses the Commonwealth Year Book, one will see that there are at school about 100,000 children in the 16 years of age bracket. One would think that the great majority of these children would be in the 4th form. Therefore, only about 10% of those eligible to sit for secondary scholarships are able to obtain secondary scholarships. In those circumstances, competition for these scholarships is pretty severe indeed. If difficulties arise for some students because of a shortage of teachers in specialist subjects, then a great burden is placed on the shoulders of those students in having to qualify in competition for a secondary scholarship.
Let me give an illustration of my point. At a secondary school nearby where I live, there were a number of students undertaking studies in the Russian language. 1 think there were some 12 or 15 of them. Suddenly, for some reason unknown to me, the teacher resigned. She could well have gone abroad. The students in this particular subject then either had to transfer to another school where Russian was being taught or take up another subject to make up for the one they were dropping and also make up the time in the subject that they were now taking up for the first time. This sort of thing surely has to be taken into account somehow when considering the assessment of eligibility for secondary scholarships.
I was just looking at some figures compiled by the Research Section of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. I notice from those figures that last year there were some 75.231 applicants for Commonwealth secondary scholarships and some 9,995 scholarships were awarded. This is roughly in line with the figures t worked out earlier - 100,000 at school in the 16 years of age bracket and some 10,000 secondary scholarships being awarded. In those circumstances, the competition is obviously very severe indeed. If some unfortunate circumstance completely outside the control of the student should arise during the course or just prior to the student applying for a Commonwealth secondary scholarship, surely this sort of thing ought to be taken into consideration.
Then there are the Commonwealth university scholarships which, frankly, despite what Senator McManus has said, I do not think and the Australian Labor Party does not think are either sufficient or generous enough so far as the dependants of ordinary wage and salary earners are concerned.
– What scholarships were you referring to before you mentioned the Commonwealth university scholarships?
– The Commonwealth secondary scholarships - the scholarships catering for students in the last 2 years of their secondary schooling. J am now talking about Commonwealth university scholarships. I had said that neither I nor the Australian Labor Party thinks that the Commonwealth university scholarships are either sufficient or generous enough so far as the dependants of ordinary workers are concerned. The Commonwealth university scholarships have a means test. The Commonwealth secondary scholarships do not have a means test.
By way of illustration, let me compare the Commonwealth secondary scholarships with the teaching scholarships at a university as awarded by the Government of New South Wales. Generally speaking, I think it is fair to say that the teaching scholarships awarded by the New South Wales Government are worth more to the students than the Commonwealth university scholarships because, in addition to the payment of fees, the teaching scholarship grants a payment of, I think, $11 a week lo each student by way of a living allowance. Although they are bonded to work for the State Department of Education for, I think, a period of 2 years after the expiration of the scholarship, I. know that some students who have been offered both a Commonwealth scholarship and a New South Wales Government teaching scholarship have rejected the Commonwealth scholarship in favour of accepting the teaching scholarship because they had in mind the paying out of the bond, which I understand is of the order of $1,000, upon their graduation. They have worked it out that if they are at the university for a period of 3 years, receiving an allowance of $1 1 a week, this represents roughly $500 a year or $1,500 over the period of 3 years, so that by paying out the bond after they have graduated they have obtained their education plus an amount of some $500 over and above what the Commonwealth university scholarship would be worth to them. Therefore I suggest to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and his Department that much closer liaison has lo exist between the State governments and the Commonwealth on the awarding and value of scholarships.
Some 8,000 university scholarships are awarded annually, 6,000 of them being open entrance scholarships and 2,000 of them being what are known as later year awards. The latter are for students who have completed one or more years of a university course. 1 am most certainly of the opinion that the Commonwealth should award not only a greater number of initial university scholarships but also more later year awards. Senator McManus, in the course of his remarks, said that one-third of the total number of university admissions fail. That means that two-thirds of them succeed. II one realises that each year only 8,000 university admissions are on Commonwealth university scholarships, one must appreciate that there are other people who in their initial year have not been given the opportunity of a scholarship and who certainly should be entitled to a later year award.
Therefore, I make a plea to the Government on behalf, of these students. They are making great sacrifices themselves, and undoubtedly their parents are making substantia) sacrifices. In some cases the mother goes out lo work in order to ensure that her children are given a reasonable standard of education and a better chance of a better way of life than the parents had. I suggest that after the initial period of I year has been served the Government should see that people who did not qualify for a Commonwealth university scholarship in the first instance are given the opportunity to qualify for a later year award.
I come now to the question of technical college scholarships, of which there are some 2,500 annually. The holders of these scholarships receive the same benefits as Commonwealth secondary scholarship holders. Part ‘time technical college scholarship holders receive $100 and reimbursement of compulsory fees up to a maximum of $100. This is not enough. In addition, I suggest that the awards of technical college scholarships should be announced much earlier than they have been to date by the Commonwealth Office of Education. In 1968 the list was not published in the metropolitan dailies until a day or two before the 1968 school year started. Students who had missed out on university scholarships were uncertain whether they had qualified for technical college scholarships. They did not know whether they should go back to school, seek employment or await the announcement of the awarding of technical college scholarships before embarking on their course. I believe that these people are entitled to know much earlier than the lists have been published to date whether they have qualified for technical college scholarships, so that they may plan for their future.
This applies particularly to young girls living in country areas. In the great bulk of cases they have to drift to the cities in order to find a means of livelihood. These girls are uncertain whether they have qualified for technical college scholarships, whether they should enrol at a business college to obtain secretarial training or whether they should obtain some form of employment. 1 suggest that the Commonwealth Department give earnest consideration to seeing what can be done not only to award more and more valuable technical college scholarships but also to ensure that the awards are announced at a time that will enable the people concerned to know what their future is likely to be and to plan accordingly.
– ls the honourable senator suggesting that there is undue delaybetween the announcement of examination results and the awarding of scholarships?
– I am suggesting that the announcement of the awarding of these scholarships is left far too late for a girl to be able to say immediately whether she should go back to school in the hope of qualifying for a university scholarship by repealing sixth form, whether she should enrol for secretarial training or whether she should go to a technical college.
– In most cases the time of announcement of examination results is a matter for the State.
– I am suggesting that there should be greater liaison between the Commonwealth and the Stales in order to ensure that these announcements are made early enough. I do not care who makes the announcement, but if the Commonwealth is paying for the scholarship it should make sure that the announcement is made on a date that will enable the proposed scholarship holder or beneficiary to take proper advantage of the scholarship and to plan accordingly.
I can quote a specific case. I know a girl who came from the north coast of New
South Wales. She had made application for a university scholarship. She was not successful with that application, despite the fact that she obtained a substantial pass. She then decided to make application for employment with a banking institution. She caine down for an interview with the banking institution, which suggested that she defer acceptance of employment with it until such time as she knew whether she would obtain a technical college scholarship. When the announcement of the awarding of technical college scholarships was made, unfortunately she was unsuccessful again, and when she went back to the bank she found that the position for which she had applied had been filled.
– Would that have involved, a period of 2 months?
– 1 do not know the period involved. She then had difficulty in getting into the Newcastle Technical College for secretarial training because the number of places in that course had been taken up already. I am saying that this is one matter in the field of technical college scholarships which has to be looked at.
– The only point of my remark was that I thought it was a matter of unusual pressure being applied by various people in order to get the results out as soon as possible. : Senator . MCCLELLAND- I am hoping that the pressure is heeded by the powers that be who are responsible for the announcement of the awards, f have made the remarks 1 have made on Commonwealth secondary scholarships, university scholarships and technical college scholarships in what has been intended to be a constructive way, in contradistinction to the attitude that was adopted by Senator McManus this afternoon in his condemnation of a minority of university students, to use his term. As 1 have said, the Labor Party does not oppose the Bill. We of the Labor movement believe that education is certainly the acquisition of knowledge but also is, having acquired the knowledge, making practical use of it in the. interests of the student himself or herself and in the interests of Australia and Australians generally. With Senator Cohen and the rest of the Labor movement, I do not oppose the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. (General Business Taking Precedence of Government Business)
Debate resumed from 22 April (vide page 971), on motion by Senator Poyser:
Thai the Senate is of opinion that the embargo on the export of merinos should not. be removed at this time and that the embargo should remain in force until a majority of those persons affected shall decide by referendum nr other fair means in favour of removing or relaxing the embargo.
– Last week when the debate was’ adjourned 1 had begun to refer to the argument that had been used against the easing ‘ of the embargo on the export of merinos. One of the arguments put forward by; those’ who were against the easing of the embargo was the fear of over-production. It is nol unnatural that some people should have that thought. But as was mentioned last week, not only by me but also by other speakers, it must be agreed that we had already lost some of the best merino sheep from the Australian wool industry prior to 1930. The countries to which we exported the merinos had the opportunity to improve their flocks in the intervening period, just as Australia has done. We might ask ourselves why:their Mocks were not improved. 1 .think the main reason is that Australia has an environment for the production of merino wool which is unequalled in any other part of the world, that we have a peculiar environment and climatic conditions which are particularly favourable for the production of merino wool. Ours is a relatively dry climate and in every way we hold a distinct advantage over every other country, perhaps with the exception of, to a degree, South Africa, lt must be agreed that this is a very important reason why we have such good- merinos in most parts of Australia. 1 think it was Senator’ Prowse who referred to Tasmania which has at wonderful climate and fairly assured seasons. Tasmania produces some of our fine merino wool, but generally speaking it does not lend itself to a greater production of merino wool because it has not the suitable environment that we have in other parts of Australia. We must bear in mirid also that the skilled management of the merino stud breeders has played a very important part in bringing our merino flocks to the standards that we have today. The Opposition has suggested that, if we ease the embargo, perhaps some of the low cost countries will import our rams and be able to produce wool at a lower cost than we can achieve, but I doubt whether that is likely. If we think of South America, admittedly there are merinos in that country, but there has always been the trouble throughout a great proportion of South America that the sheep are affected with foot and mouth disease, blue tongue and other diseases which are particularly detrimental to the sheep industry.
Let us consider South Africa. Admittedly there is an opportunity to export some of our stud rams to South Africa, but again that country has a limitation on the amount of country suitable for the growing of merino wool. My personal opinion is that it would be to the advantage of Australia if the quality of wool in South Africa were improved. 1 do not think the export of rams to that country would greatly affect our production. Let us consider the wool industry in Russia. We have been told that in parts of Russia there are very good merinos, but in that country the high cost structure will always be a deterrent. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) made a visit to Russia last year and, on his return, he referred to the high cost structure of merino wool in Russia. At this stage of our history we have no fear of it competing in price with Australian wool. We might look next at the United States of America. There is a possibility of competition from the United States, but it would be only a possibility because, from what we read, it appears that at this stage America is more interested in producing a sheep that is suitable not only for the production of wool but also of meat. I think the Americans are more likely to look to the other breeds.
Another reason given by those who oppose the easing of the ban is that it could cause some shortage of merino rams for sale in Australia. I cannot accept that argument. We must remember that we sell in the vicinity of 200,000 rams annually. It must be remembered also that the maximum number of rams which it is proposed may be exported is 300 sold through the auction system and available to everybody. The vast majority of breeders in Australia want only flock rams; they will not be particularly interested in the higher priced rams. Others argue that it will increase the price of rams. Again, I do not think this is a valid argument. It must be related to the figures that I mentioned a few moments ago.
Let us consider the arguments for easing the embargo. I mentioned last week that the Australian Agricultural Council first submitted the proposal to ease the ban to the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which in turn referred it to the Australian Wool Board, which in turn referred it to the International Wool Secretariat and to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. A great deal of consideration was given to this question. One of the questions posed to the organisations which I have named was in these terms, and I quote from the Australian Wool Board’s White Paper on the Embargo on the Export of Merino Sheep:
If the embargo was lifted, would world supplies of apparel wool of 60s quality and above increase more rapidly than world demand, thereby depressing prices?
That was a very good question which was directed to those who were making the investigation. Whilst I did not intend to refer to the whole of the White Paper, I hope that honourable senators who are interested in the subject will examine this document which should have been available to everybody here. I shall refer only to what the International Wool Secretariat said on this question.
– Is it a secret document?
– It is not secret; it is available from the Department of Primary Industry. So far as I. know it would be available to every honourable senator.
– It was not distributed.
– It was not distributed to me. either. If the honourable senator is interested in the subject I am quite confident that he could get a copy of the document from the Department of Primary Industry or the Australian Wool Board, just as I did. I do not think that is a valid argument to bring into this place because what the honourable senator says is not correct. If he cares to investigate he will find that what I have said is correct, that the document is available to everybody who is interested.
– lt is now.
– And it was last week when I got it from the Australian Wool Board. I am sure that it will be available to the honourable senator. I got one also from the Department of Primary Industry. I cannot imagine that Department picking out any particular senator or member of the House of Representatives and giving the paper to him only.
– If it is a White Paper it should be made available to everybody without us having to ask for it.
– Thai is not done in other cases.
– Yes it is.
– If the honourable senator wished to speak on education and he went to the relevant, department he would be able to get the information he wanted, but it would not be distributed to him unless he was interested or had asked for it. I would ask honourable senators to consider this fairly, to slate the case as it is and not make insinuations of the kind that are now being made.
– Keep it a secret. Do not tell the mugs anything.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! Senator Bull has the call.
– Do nol tell the wool growers anything. Keep them under wraps.
– I do not think that Senator O’Byrne is doing his case any good. 1 will not be disturbed by what he says. I wish to quote three of the answers given by the International Wool Secretariat to the question I. read to the Senate a few moments ago. They were:
In my opinion that is a very good assessment of the position by the International Wool Secretariat, which, as I said the oilier night, is not only concerned with production and prices but also has available to it information regarding the consumption of textiles generally as well as wool.
– How is it seen by the Australian wool growers?
– This is a ‘matter for judgment. I am not one to stand up and dogmatical!’)’ say that one thing is right and another is wrong. 1 am using my own judgment. I am making my speech as I see the position. But I will say that honourable senators opposite who completely ignore the recommendations of the International Wool Secretariat are on bad ground. Those who have no knowledge of the true position could cause grave danger.
– I think that the honourable senator has insulted the public.
– That is for the honourable senator to decide. I do not believe that the partial lifting of the embargo will increase the overall production o.f wool. I do not think that it will have any effect. I have already given (he reasons for my view. But I believe that it could vastly improve the quality of apparel wool - which is tremendously important - and the consumption of quality wool at reasonable prices. I believe that the breaking of the price lie between wool and’ synthetics, which has been achieved as a result- of the splendid work of the IWS, is a favourable factor. I believe that this will help tremendously to keep the price of’ wool at a reasonable figure. I think we must give credit for the work which has been done by the IWS in this regard. I do not think it has happened in the Senate, but .some people have attacked the stud merino breeders in Austraia, lt has been said that they will be the main beneficiaries of a partial lifting of the embargo. But when one takes into consideration the figures I have quoted - a maximum of 300 rams from an availability of more than 200,000 - one can really understand that this is a very poor argument. The stud breeders support the easing of restrictions because they believe it will be in the interests of wool prices generally. Anyway, we should face the fact that the stud breeders, tike all other wool growers, are going through a most difficult period, ft should be remembered that at present Queensland, which has the largest proportion of merinos, is faced with a critical situation in regard to not only stud merinos but also merino flocks generally.
– The Government is piling the agony on them.
– 1 am encouraged by Senator O’Byrne’s interjections. I do noi think that he likes to hear the facts. I am giving the facts. I think 1 have had a little more experience in this industry than he has had. I am not at ali worried by his interjections. In fact. 1 am encouraged by them. 1 do not think that he likes to hear the truth. As 1 said earlier, the industry is working on a very high cost structure. The industry has difficulties in that it has to sell its product on the world market to the highest bidder. lt is also, unfortunately, faced with taxes that are not always related to income. I do nol usually attack the Opposition along these lines, but honourable senators opposite are always talking about a capital gains tax and so on. If they ever got into government - and 1 think it will be a long time before this happens - and imposed such a tax they would find that it would have (he effect of destroying the wool growing industry. The Opposition should keep this in mind. The industry is unfortunately faced with high probate duties, which have had the effect of breaking up the properties of many of the families who have helped to bring the merino stud industry to its present stage. On this aspect I should mention that the stud breeders and the merino people generally are not merely looking for increased markets for sheep and wool; they arc fighting for survival. 1 cannot understand why they would support the partial lifting of the embargo if it were not in the interests of the industry generally. If the partial lifting of the embargo proves to be beneficial to them we will all benefit, ls it not logical for them to support the easing of the restrictions when they believe that in the long term prices could be further depressed if they do not do something now?
The Opposition has suggested that a referendum be held on this subject. Such a move is perhaps desirable in some respects, but having been very closely involved in the previous referendum and knowing all the difficulties regarding determining who is eligible to vote and who should vote. I believe that the holding of a referendum among the wool growers on the partial lifting of the embargo would be quite impracticable.
– The wool growers will wake up. The Government pulled the wool over their eyes last time.
– Honourable senators opposite claim to know all abou) these things, but most of them have never been out of the city. The holding of such a referendum would be impracticable because of the difficulty in determining who should have a vote. Should the fat lamb breeder have a vote? I do not think he should. Should the Corriedale breeder have a vole? Should the other breeders have a vote? I do not think they should because they are not directly involved. These people can already export their Corriedales, Polwarths and breeds other than merinos if they wish. Therefore I do not think that they should have a vote in determining this issue. Let us have a look at the Australian Wool Industry Conference, upon which the Opposition has made some attack.
– Some of your colleagues said that they took no notice of it.
– That could be so. I will deal with this in a moment. 1 know some.thing of the battle that has gone on in the industry in an endeavour to bring wool growers’ organisations together. I actually chaired the meeting that considered the constitution when the AWIC was formed. I have heard a lot of airy-fairy talk about the AWIC and I defy anybody in the Opposition to authoritively tell me about it. There are probably not too many on this side who could do so, with the exception of
Senator Young who has been closely associated with it since its inception. The AWIC came into being after the Philp Committee’s report came before the industry and the Government in 1960 or 1962. The report recommended that a commission or board consisting of wool growing interests be formed in order to make better, more unified recommendations to the Government. Following that, the organisations got together and eventually formed the AWIC, which had only 3 or 4 main purposes. One was to elect the grower representatives to the Australian Wool Board after the Government had reconstituted that Board and to recommend three members apart from wool growers who had a knowledge of commerce and perhaps of the manufacturing side. This was an acknowledgement that the wool industry went much wider than the growing of wool. The AWIC made recommendations for the levy that was to be put on wool growers for the purpose of promotion and research and it also looked to the question of marketing. The Australian Wool Board had its own marketing committee which reported to the AWIC. f think it is fair to say that these were the reasons why the AWIC came into being. Because the merino embargo could be related to the work of wool promotion and particularly to research, this was a subject, I feel, upon which the AWIC was fully qualified to express an opinion. There has never been any suggestion that, the Conference should handle any industrial or economic questions affecting the industry and it has never done so. I want to make that quite clear to this Parliament, because that was not a reason why the AWIC came into being; It was to deal with the matters to which I have referred, as a result of the report brought in by the committee of inquiry of which Sir Roslyn Philp was chairman. Opposition senators and others have said that it is not entirely democratic but I ask: What organisation is truly democratic? I would remind not only Labor senators but also Liberal and Country Party senators that the policies of their Parties are resolved through their membership of their political organisations. A matter is brought up at the branch level within an organisation. It is possibly referred in some instances to the State organisation and the federal organisation and if it is agreed to it becomes party policy. Is that fair enough?
That is exactly the position with the AWIC. About 80?^ of the wool growers of Australia belong to one or other of the existing organisations. They attend at branch level if they are interested enough and they express an opinion about matters in which the wool industry is involved and finally they come to a policy. For anybody to say that this is not democratic, 1 think, is ridiculous.
– You are repeating yourself. You might as well give up.
– -That is all right. I am not worried about what members of the Opposition have to say because it shows their complete ignorance of the industry.
– You have repeated yourself.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I remind the Senate that moderation and good temper are the characteristics of debate. Senator Bull has the call.
– 1 am not a bit ruffled, Mr Deputy President, about what the Opposition says. This does not worry mc a bit. Honourable senators opposite arc showing their complete ignorance of the wool industry in general and of this particular aspect by the way in which they are going on at the present time.” About 75% or 80% of the growers belong to one of the organisations and they have had an opportunity to express an opinion wi:hin their organisations for or against the easing of the merino embargo. If they have not taken advantage of the opportunity, that is their fault. 1 do hot think that the AWIC or the Government can be blamed because some people have not attended those meetings.
– They claim they did not even know they were on.
– Meetings are advertised. I have been mixed up in this right from the grass roots. I know that every member of the organisation to which 1 belong gets notice of branch meetings.
– That does not inform them of the agenda.
– lt docs nol inform them of what is on every agenda, because that is impracticable. Let me remind the Senate again that the subject of the embargo was on the AWIC agenda for 12 months before it was considered by the Conference. I do not recall ever hearing during that time of mote than a little opposition in the Press or through organisations. It was only after the AWIC had submitted its views to those competent people to whom I have referred, and had come back and debated the matter and made a recommendation to the Government, that we heard of any opposition to this question. I think it has dealt with the matter in a pretty good democratic way. Bearing in mind that the industry has considered this matter through its affiliated branch and State organisations, I think that the Senate cannot dismiss the views of people and organisations who are more competent, I feel, to make a judgment on these issues than any of us sitting in the Senate. The matter was referred to them in the proper way. ] hope that the industry, having given the matter proper consideration in all its aspects, and having made a recommendation to the Government, the wishes not only of the Government but also of the vast majority of the AWIC as expressed through branch, State and federal organisations will now be carried out.
– I rise to support the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Poyser. At the outset I would like to take up the cudgels on his behalf and say that I deplore the views expressed by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) when opening the debate for the Government side, lt ill becomes a Minister, when speaking on any issue, to refer in a derogatory manner to the background of an honourable senator. I accord to Government supporters the right to speak on any matter that comes before this chamber and 1 believe that they should extend equal courtesy to members of the Opposition. It was extremely bad for the Minister to begin his remarks in this debate by referring to Senator Poyser’s background in industrial life.
Wc have heard some unusual utterances by Government supporters tonight. T believe they have become muddled in their thinking. This is such an important issue to Australia that the Government cannot afford to become muddled in its thinking. The Australian Wool Industry Conference has been referred to as the parliament of the wool industry. However, no Government supporter has yet indicated to us whether the members of the Conference are elected. My analysis and research of the situation indicates that members of the Conference are selected, which is an entirely different proposition.
I cannot help relating the activities of the Conference to those of the trade union movement because of the years I spent in the trade union movement. If the Government ever indicated that the trade union movement should be permitted to select its officers, there would be a hue and cry from its supporters. Yet we hear nothing at all about the fact that the members of the Conference are selected, although it is referred to as the parliament of the wool industry. Questions have been asked in this chamber on the attitude of the Government to matters affecting the wool industry. I want to refer to the Senate Hansard report of a question asked by Senator Wright about wool marketing. Of course, this was prior to the day that he became a Minister of the Crown. The question asked by Senator Wright was as follows:
I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask it because of a previous question he answered concerning the wool industry. I, suggest that it is to be anticipated that at any time within the next five years it will be appropriate to consult the wool growers of Australia on a marketing scheme. I remind the Minister of the contention that existed as to the franchise; that is, the eligibility of growers to vote in the previous poll. My question is: Will the Minister consider undertaking immediately a study to ascertain the appropriate franchise that should exist in the wool industry, as a typical primary producing industry, for the purpose of the conduct of a poll on marketing?
I will not read the entire reply by the Minister unless I am requested to do so by Government supporters. The appropriate section reads as follows:
The honourable senator would know that it lias been this Government’s policy over the years that any primary industry should make up its own mind as to whether or not it wanted a referendum on matters connected with the .industry, and that when it had made up its mind, as expressed by the views of the majority, the Government then would give the industry an opportunity to hold a referendum on the question. .
That is precisely what the Opposition is asking in relation to the lifting of the embargo on the export of merino rams. But what happened when representatives of the wool growers requested a meeting with the Australian Agricultural Council in order to express their point of view? I refer now to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of J 1th April 1968. This article is headed: ‘No hearing for backers of merino curbs’. The sub-title is: ‘Council was “too busy” !. The Australian Agricultural Council was too busy to hear their representations. This article stated:
Delegates from organisations resisting the lifting of the merino export embargo were unable lo get a hearing at a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in Sydney yesterday owing to ils preoccupation with the wheat marketing i.:u:
So the growers were unable to present their views. Yet honourable senators opposite have said that wool growers are members of a very democratic organisation. I repeat that it has yet to be said with finality that the Australian Wool Industry Conference is an elected organisation. It has been said by some people - and I believe it has also been said by honourable senators on the Government side - that one of the main problems facing wool growers is growing competition from synthetic fibres. They say that this is one of the principal reasons why we should lift the embargo on the export of merino rams. But again, what arc we to believe on this most important issue? 1 refer the Senate to the ‘Canberra Times’ of 28th lune J968 containing an article referring to a statement by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). The article states:
The Australian Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Anthony, forecast yesterday continued worldwide demand and assured markets for wool at profitable prices. lt is one commodity that can’t be and isn’t overproduced’ . . .
The Minister said this at a Press conference in Washington. We have been told that synthetic fibres will be a problem and yet in that article the Minister himself slated that our wool markets were assured for many years to come. That selfsame argument has been advanced by the Government in support of its action on this occasion, lt was also used in a memorandum for presentation to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture by representatives of the Graziers Federal Council of Australia in 1948. 1 have here a record of what happened in 1948. The graziers themselves were saying that the existing embargo on the export of merino sheep from Australia should be lifted, or words to that effect. One of the reasons they advanced was the very reason that is being advanced on this occasion One of the most important points is as follows:
That the available supply of fine merino wool is insufficient to meet the world demand, and consequently encouragement is given to the manufacture of substitute fibres with adverse effect to the interests of wool growers.
That view was expressed in 1948, but was not considered by any government to be sufficient reason to lift the embargo on the export of merino rams. 1 have no desire to refer to the confidential document attached to the memorandum from which I have quoted, but I ask members of the Government to read it. They will see that the self same arguments that they have advanced on this occasion were advanced in 1948. Now, 21 years later, the Minister has said that there is still a demand for wool and there is no indication that in the near future the demand will decrease.
I congratulate Senator Bull on his honesty in this matter. I believe that he adopted the right approach from the commencement of his speech in this debate. At page 968 of Hansard of 22nd April he is reported to have said:
I have listened to tonight’s debate with considerable interest because 1 have been interested in this issue for a considerable time. I admit - and 1 will admit this lo the Opposition - that the issue is a controversial one and not one on which one could say that a certain course is definitely right or definitely wrong.
– a wool grower himself - has said that there may be an element of doubt about the whole proposition. Yet if this legislation is passed, we will risk the future of an industry that has been of untold benefit to Australia for many years. How can the Government gamble with so precious a commodity as wool, which has done so much for Australia for many years? It has also been said that wool growers in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, South Africa and the United States of America would be interested in importing merino rams. I refer honourable senators to an article which appeared in the edition of Muster’ of 26th March 1969. It states:
Immediate inquiries for stud merino rams are expected following relaxation of the export ban on merino rams, announced by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr J. D. Anthony, in Canberra last week . . . prospective buyers from Uruguay, Brazil, Peru and Chile had expressed keen interest and had already indicated they would come to Australia to inspect and select merino rams if the embargo were eased.
We have been led to believe that only three countries were interested in importing merino rams. According to the article from which 1 have just quoted many other countries have their eyes on the legislation that is before the Senate tonight. I could refer to many other aspects of this matter. Senator McKellar, in justifying the case he put to the Senate, held up a sheaf of telegrams and said that they had been received from supporters of the Government’s action. But he did not hold up the telegrams that had been received criticising the Government in respect of this legislation. Today a telegram was received by the Committee for the Retention of Merino Rams Export Embargo from Mr Nalder, Minister for Agriculture in the Western Australian Government, which is composed of colleagues of the Commonwealth Government. Mr Nalder’s telegram reads:
WA Government opposition to lifting the merino rams ban conveyed in letter to Minister for Primary Industry
Minister for Agriculture
Surely that telegram is of equal importance to, if not of more importance than, the action of the Minister in waving in this chamber a sheaf of telegrams and saying that they were received from supporters of the Government’s action. I am not suggesting for one moment that the Minister was not sincere and honest in saying that he was holding telegrams expressing support for the decision of the Government, but an examination of Australian newspapers shows clearly that in the opinions of wool growers the move is not popular, lt has been admitted that to lift the embargo is a gamble. surely in those circumstances the people who depend on the industry for their livelihood should be given an opportunity to express an opinion. Government supporters have said: ‘How will you conduct a referendum?’ If that attitude is supported by the Government, it is a sorry day for Australia. It is true that Australians are not as good at keeping statistics as they should be. They suffer by comparison with other countries, but I would not believe that our statistical information is so poor that we could not discover the names and addresses of our wool growers for the purpose of conducting a referendum. I remind honour able senators opposite that that is exactly what the Minister said he would do in any matter affecting the interests of Australian wool growers. The evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the retention of the embargo, because, the little man down below-
– Who is he?
-He is the wool grower who has said quite outspokenly that he is opposed to the lifting of the embargo, notwithstanding the fact that the parliament of the woolgrowers, the members of which are selected and not elected, has said that it is agreeable to the lifting .of the ban. I commend the proposed amendment to the Senate because it is in the interests of Australia. I hope that it is carried overwhelmingly.
Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) ]8.59] - I believe that honourable senators on this side of the chamber have covered almost all the field of this debate and have justified the case for lifting the embargo on the export of merino rams’. The decision imposes limitations, in that only 300 rams are to be exported annually.
– How much wool do you grow?
– I remind Senator Keefe that we are referring to male sheep. Only 300 merino rams can be exported in any one year. Safeguards, include the provision that the sheep must be sold at advertised auction*.
– How would you know?
– The honourable senator will learn all about wool growing before I am finished. We also heard from Senator Prowse and Senator Bull, who put their views very well. They said that the request for the lifting of the ban came from the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Opposition speakers have said a lot about the AWIC being undemocratic, but it is made up of members of producer organisations - producer unions, one might say - in much the same way as the’ executive of the Australian Labor Party is made up of delegates from employees unions who attend the different State conferences and federal meetings.
– The ALP members are elected.
– If the honourable senator suggests that the AWIC is not a democratic organisation, then the ALP is not a democratic organisation. At least the AWIC does not have equal representation from each State; it does not have equal representation from Tasmania and from New South Wales, lt tries to maintain a ratio between the number of votes cast by delegates from a particular State and the number of sheep in that State. Senator Prowse explained that the genes of merino sheep are scattered all over the world. Originally we imported merino sheep. If the ban were on the exporting of kangaroos, which are indigenous to this country, there would be something in the Opposition’s motion. But in the first place we imported merinos. Various countries throughout the world have flocks of merino sheep.
Tonight I speak as a wool grower from western Queensland. We have particular problems in that area because we are trying lo grow good wool under tropical conditions. Normally Queensland runs 22 million sheep and 98% of them are merinos. One of the problems we face is the very erratic summer rainfall that results in low lambing percentages and a high cost of lambs both for the Hoek breeder and for the ram breeder. Consequently we have a great deal of difficulty in encouraging studs to operate in Queensland. The Queensland land laws have been designed to encourage stud breeding. A company can hold land in the good pastoral areas of Queensland - the sheep lands - provided it is prepared to conduct a stud. The company is given the equivalent of three living areas. This enables the company to conduct a stud on the equivalent of one living area and conduct ordinary flock breeding on the other two areas. As a result of the drought that Queensland has experienced over the last few years, he high costs involved in wool production and the relatively low prices received for woo), even the stud breeders are finding it very difficult to run their studs efficiently. Consequently a large proportion of Queensland’s rams come from New South Wales. This has resulted in the emergence in Queensland of what might be described as backyard studs. In these studs the wool growers are breeding their own rams. Because of the conditions - the uncertainly of rainfall, the insufficient areas and the lack of capital - it is quite obvious that in bad times such as we are experiencing at the moment these backyard studs fall by the wayside; they have to get rid of their stock. Consequently the growers cannot select rams of the quality that we would like this great industry of ours to use.
In Queensland there has been a great influx of the broader type of wool - wool from what is commonly known as the South Australian breed of sheep. There is a good reason for this, of course; it is that the growers are able to fill the bales with this particular type of wool. The margin of return between the fine wools and the medium and strong wools is so small these days that it is more profitable to. run the coarser wool sheep than it is to run the fine wool sheep. All sections of the wool industry have warned about- the deterioration in the Australian wool clip. Within the last few months the Australian Wool Board warned about this. The Japanese textile industry has said that over the years the Australian wool clip has deteriorated. This is quite correct. The Japanese have complained that the preparation of the clip, from the shearing shed down to the store, has been responsible, but the real cause is the type of wool being grown. I have some figures which will be interesting to anyone who knows anything about wool. For the benefit of the Opposition I will list the range of wools. There are the coarse wools, the medium wools, the medium fine wools and the extra fine or superfine wools. The wool that we refer to when we talk of the good Australian merino is the medium fine and above - that is, medium fine, fine and superfine. These represent the 64-60 counts and above.
Records of the break-up of the Australian wool clip go back only as far as 1940. 1 hoped they would go hack to 1930 or 1929 when the embargo was applied, but I am afraid they go back only lo 1940. In 1940 the type of wool about which I am speaking represented 61% of the Australian wool clip. By 1947-48 it had receded to 43%. It rose while the wool boom was on in 1949-50, but by 1951-52 it had receded to 45% of the Australian wool clip. By 1954-55 it had declined to 38.9%, in 1959-60 to 36.3%, in 1964-65 to 31.8%; today it represents 27% of the Australian wool clip. All the fuss is about the medium fine and superfine wool. In a period of 29 years its percentage of the clip has decreased from 61% to 27%. In another 20 years, if this trend continues, we will no longer have fine wool produced in this country.
– The Government will help by exporting rams.
– This decline has occurred while the export ban was in operation. This is what I am trying to explain. In 20 years we will not need to apply an embargo because we will not be producing any fine wool. I believe the future of the wool industry throughout the world is dependent upon the increased production of the top fine wools which make high quality fabrics and clothing, not on the production of carpel wools or wool used in the production of the lower cost fabrics. The synthetics can compete in those fields. No-one worries much about the quality there. We lead, the rest of the world in the production of fine wools. That is what all the fuss is about.
– The Government would export rams i.o South American countries.
– They can produce wool as well as we can. Only 27% of our own wool clip today is this medium and fine wool. We should realise that a few years ago we produced 13J% of the world’s needs in apparel fibre but that now we produce only 8i%. The quantity of the fine wools, of which Australia used to be so proud, thai we now produce represents such a small proportion of the world’s needs in apparel fibre that the textile industry is turning to other forms of fibre. This is only natural. If you cannot purchase enough of a commodity you buy something equivalent to it. I believe that we in Australia have to do everything possible to enable increased production of fine wool, and if lifting the embargo will encourage other nations to produce better wool we should not only relax the embargo but lift it completely because by doing so we will be giving our studs a much needed shot in the arm to aim for still belter stock. No mention has been made of the fact that the carryover of unsold rams every year has been of the order of 200.000.
– That is the true reason for lifting the embargo - you want to make a quick dollar.
– What do you mean? I am interested in the wool industry and if the wool industry can earn itself some overseas income by selling other than wool, that is, by producing sheep, let us be in it. The wool industry is in dire straits today, and instead of not producing fine wool in the future we will be flat out producing any kind of wool if the present trend continues. I do not suppose I will get much support from any side of the House when I say that I believe that if we ever have a subsidy on wool it should apply only to 60s and above to encourage wool growers to grow a better type of wool and to create a margin so that those of us who believe in the production of good wool and would like to do so can go ahead and do it. That is not what is happening in this country today.
What, are some of the arguments that have been used by the Opposition for not relaxing the embargo? One is the higher prices which will have to be paid for top breeding sheep. I have always thought that the law of supply and demand decided how many were available, what the quality was and what price you paid. At the present time some of our major breeders who have been breeding sheep for 100 years are going out of business. Some stud breeding properties are on the market now. Strathdare in western Queensland which over the years has been one of our main studs with 40,000 sheep went out of existence this year as a stud breeding organisation. We cannot afford to lose these studs. If you think that by maintaining the embargo you will maintain the standard and quality of our sheep you have another think coming. Do you think that people from overseas who want to buy rams will buy Hoek rams when it costs about $500 to take them to South Africa and $1,000 to take them to South American countries, plus the fact that they can buy only 300? Of course not. Overseas purchasers will buy the top stud rams if they can set their hands on them.
– In competition with the Australian buyer.
– That is right. We will have competition and then we will produce three times as many good quality rams. The suggestion that one of the top stud breeders will sell his best sheep is another fallacy. No breeder would ever se his best blood lines if he hoped to stay in business. That applies as much to merino sheep as to dairy cattle, beef cattle or race horses. It is not always the show champions that have the best blood lines. In fact it often occurs that the show champions and the best looking sheep are unsuitable to a stud master for the maintenance of his particular blood lines. The stud master is the only one who knows that, not the overseas buyer or even the local buyer. So you may rest assured that although the sheep on offer might appear to be the best sheep no stud master would ever offer sheep that he could not afford to lose from his stud.
Now we come to the aspect of competition from other countries which, by the use of cheap labour, can produce wool cheaper than we can. I think Senator Bull answered some of the questions raised on that aspect. Russia was mentioned as a prospective competitor. People who have been to Russia and who have seen the industry there agree that Russia has made rapid strides in recent years in both numbers and quality of sheep but at a terrific cost of production. I think that at present Russia produces about 2 lb of wool per head of population which is not very much on an annual basis, but she does not intend to go any further because of the cost of producing that wool. You must realise that Russia is in the Northern Hemisphere and that most of it is further from the equator than is Tasmania. For at least 6 months of the year, and for even longer periods in some areas, the sheep have to be housed and fed. In other words the Russians have what we might call a good old Queensland drought every year, and anyone who produces wool in Queensland under drought conditions knows the cost of producing 1 lb of wool. That is why I believe the estimate made by one person was that it costs §2 a lb to produce wool in Russia. The Russians cannot possibly produce wool at $2 a lb and sell it for 40c which is the average price in the world today, so obviously Russia is not interested in export.
As I have said, these are reasons why we should endeavour to improve the quality of the Australian wool clip. We should give every encouragement to those people who are producing fine wool to produce more, and to those who are not producing fine wool to commence doing so. I repeat the startling figures 1 cited earlier - in 1940 medium and fine wool represented 61% of the total production. Today it is down to 27%. Those percentages are staggering. They mean that the remaining 73% that we are producing is the same type of wool as is being produced all over the world, so there is no need to worry about protecting our own flocks or about lifting the embargo.
We have heard about the means of allowing the industry to make a decision. I think it was Senator Bull who mentioned that the proposal in relation to the embargo has been lying on the table of the Australian Wool Industry Conference for 12 months. It has been considered by woolgrower organisations all over Australia at different times. They came up with the decision to ask the Government to relax the ban and all of a sudden the panic started and everyone got the idea that their heritage was being thrown away or sold down the drain for 300 rams. Hysteria took over. We have seen panic on the part of those who are against the embargo but who, as Senator Bull has said, have not bothered to really weigh the situation.
If we hold a referendum who will have the say? Will it be the producers of Corriedales, Polwarths and the rest of them who can export who will have the say? Is the Corriedale breeder in Tasmania who produces 10 bales of wool to have the same vote as the merino breeder in western Queensland with 500 bales who breeds solely for wool production and not as a sideline as would be the case with the fat lamb breeder in a southern State? Are they to have equal votes? To have a referendum on this issue would be like setting up a kangaroo court. For instance, take the growers of the medium fine wools in South Australia. If any member of the Opposition, or any wool grower for that matter can tell the difference between some Polwarths and some merinos I would like to know who they are because the Polwarth is more or less a merino. It is three-quarters merino, but how many people would know whether they were seven-eighths or fifteen-sixteenths? How are people to know that in fact they are not full merinos being exported as Polwarths? That is how ridiculous the situation is. Again, are we going to allow 10,000 wool growers in Victoria who grow wool mainly as a sideline while producing sheep that they can export to have a vote? Are they going to have the same say as 3,000 wool growers in Queensland who have bigger flocks and who breed merinos solely for wool production? Are the 10,000 Victorians going to have 10,000 votes as opposed to the 3,000 votes of the Queenslanders in deciding whether merinos may be exported or not? Why, it would be like having a referendum of members of the Australian Labor Party to decide the Democratic Labor Party’s foreign policy.
– We will never have another ewe.
– That is all right. Your lamb marking days are over now that you are not so strong in the teeth. 1 believe that the embargo should be relaxed for a trial period. I think the members of the wool industry and members of the Opposition may get a few surprises at how few people overseas are really interested in purchasing Australian rams.
– They are interested.
– How are we to know if we do not have an experimental period for 12 months? I believe the Government is taking the right step in relaxing the embargo for a trial period, with a maximum of 300 rams to be sold for export under conditions laid down by the stud breeders association - at auction and under strict supervision, lt will certainly be far better to sell 300 rams that way than to sell them as Polwarths. as can be done at the present time.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) [9.I3J- 1 believe that the manner in which this particular question comes before the Parliamen leaves a good deal to be desired. Some weeks ago, when this matter was being discussed publicly, I read the following statement in a local newspaper: lt would be a delusion to believe (hat either House of Federal Parliament could disallow the Government’s decision to permit the restricted export of merino rams, according to the former member for Eden-Monaro, Mr Allan Fraser.
He said the essential fact was that the power of either House to disallow a regulation within 15 sitting days did not apply in this case. He added:
A vital national policy of 40 years’ standing would now be reversed by administrative action as soon as the preliminary machinery measures had been completed.
– That is the manner in which it was brought in.
– I was astounded when I read that statement. 1 made investigations and I found out that it is true, as Senator Prowse has said, that that is the manner in which it was brought in. I can only hope that if it ever happens again that it is suggested that we should reverse a vital national policy of 40 years’ standing it will be done in a way which commends itself more to the democratic processes than this does’.
I want to say bluntly that the Australian Democratic Labor Party will oppose the lifting of the ban. Although some people have suggested that legislation would be involved, we believe that legislation will not be involved. We believe that this is a very cavalier way indeed in which to bring a very important public issue before the notice of the people of this country.
I was surprised to find that this issue came along in the way that it did for another reason. I was one of those who had read statements in the newspapers of this country in recent .years suggesting that things were very promising - that they were very bright - for the wool industry. I had read statements by people associated with promotion that we could look forward to almost a paradise for wool. Only so late as 28th June 1968, in the Melbourne ‘Age’, I am told the following statement was made:
The Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Anthony, forecast a continued world wide demand on the free market for wool at profitable prices.
That is a most remarkable statement for a Minister who, some months later, makes a decision that things are looking so serious for the future of wool that we have to reverse a policy with regard to the export of rams which has existed here for 40 years.
– That is not the basis on which he is suggesting the lifting of the ban.
– No, but it seems to be a very remarkable contradiction, to say the least. I want to say that when this matter first came up we did not hear very much about it. The people who are associated with it, to use a poetic phrase, touched the harp very lightly with regard to it. It was not until the matter had been brought to light in another place that the members of my Party were approached by a delegation of wool growers from the EdenMonaro area who presented to us a very strong case as to why, in their view, the ban should not be lifted.
We were impressed, and we took steps to get information on the other side. I adopted the policy which I always adopt in these cases because I am not a wool grower. When matters on which I am not an expert are brought to my attention, I always try to get the opinion of people who do know something about these things. I prepared a case on this particular question. I included all the issues for and against, and I forwarded it to a number of people in my own State of Victoria who are associated with the wool industry, and for whose opinion I have a good deal of respect. They are people whom I have always found look at these issues from a pretty good and straightforward Australian outlook. The replies that I got from them were unanimously against the proposal to lift the ban. I repeat that, they were unanimously against the proposal to lift the ban.
Apparently information as to what was going on came to the ears of people who were on the side of lifting the ban because I was contacted by one of the supporters of the lifting of the ban. I explained to him what I had done and I said that if the proposal to lift the ban were well based it was a very strange thing that no attempt had been made to approach my Party and put the case from his side. He made this remarkable statement: ‘We did not approach you people because we thought it was all cut and dried’. 1 informed him I had been long enough in this world never to take controversial issues as cut and dried. We endeavoured to obtain further information and the information which I obtained - I can speak only for myself in this respect - from a great number of inquiries and some early research indicated that the overwhelming number of wool growers in my
State of Victoria were opposed to the lifting of the ban. That applied also to people in high places in that State. This proposal is being put forward by a Liberal government. But what was the opinion of the Minister for Agriculture in the Victorian Government, Mr Chandler, who is also a Liberal? He said:
The Victorian Government believes there are strong reasons for opposing the sale of merino rams to our overseas competitors.
Whatever may have been said to the contrary, competition from overseas buyers will tend to raise the prices, reduce the numbers and lower the standard of rams available to Australian wool growers in the short term at least.
Commercial wool growers will receive no advantage from raising the embargo unless wool prices actually improve as a result.
He went on to say that not only his Government, which is Liberal, but also the Western Australian Government, which is also Liberal, took that view. He said that both the Victorian and Western Australian Governments had lodged objections with the Federal Government and continued:
Effective controls will be difficult to implement and may eventually create more ill will overseas than the present blanket embargo does.
The statement by Mr Chandler was supported by a very strong statement by the Premier of the State. An argument that is often put forward is that a senator always looks at matters from an Australian point of view first. I endeavour to do that. But I also have regard to the views of the State I represent. Historically, the Senate was created to see that the views of the States were represented. I have come very firmly to the conclusion that the wool growers in my State are opposed to this proposal and that they are supported by the State Government. That was a very powerful factor in my making my personal decision to oppose this proposal - a decision that the rest of my Party has decided to support. Therefore, we will be voting for the amended motion put forward by Senator Poyser.
If the arguments in favour of lifting this ban are so overwhelming, why is it that the proposal has been rejected by what I find described as ‘Australia’s most powerful wool grower bodies’, namely, the Victorian Farmers Union, the Graziers Association of New South Wales and the
United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association? If the arguments are so overwhelming, why is it that those bodies, which I repeat are claimed to be the most powerful wool grower bodies in this country, have declared their opposition to the proposal?
Some people say: “We must take notice of the Australian Wool Industry Conference’. I naturally thought so; but I have received some most enlightening information on the setup of the Conference. I have been somewhat impressed by what I have been told of the way in which it works. 1 have been impressed by the fact that a similar decision, which it made in regard to the floor price plan, when it was submitted to the wool growers was reversed. So ils claim to represent wool grower opinion in this country would appear to be under a very considerable cloud.
The Conference has made decisions. But I suggest that on a highly controversial matter such as this, when the governments of two States take strong exception to the proposal, when three of the principal wool grower organisations make the strongest opposition lo it and when representatives of the rank and file of wool growers are snowballing in their protests against it, the appropriate action for the Government to take would be to defer consideration of the matter in order to enable the wool industry to sort itself out and to come forward with an opinion that could be accepted.
The amended motion suggests that the true opinion of the wool industry be ascertained by referendum. Some honourable senators opposite have said that they do not think that would be very satisfactory. I suppose that one reason why they do not want a referendum is that historically referendums appear to be won by those who suggest a vote for no. Only the year before last we had a very outstanding example of that, which 1 will always remember with great happiness. The amendment suggests very fairly that if the wool industry’s opinion cannot be ascertained by a referendum some other fair means should be used. We could have a properly constituted inquiry. We could refer the matter to the rank and file organisations of the wool industry. We could do a number of things.
Instead, the Government, having made a blunder by accepting this recommendation, very foolishly in my view is now deter.mined to go on and to try to bulldoze the decision through. It may think that because of the way in which this proposal has been brought forward - it has been brought forward by a most peculiar method - it may get away with it. But my opinion is that the Government would be very unwise to ignore the decision on which I believe the Senate will make tonight and which believe the Senate should make tonight because this condition of confusion and agitation in the wool industry has gone on for too long and should not be allowed to persist. In my view, the Government should defer this matter tonight. But, if the Government is determined that it will not defer it, 1 believe that we should vote and express the opinion of the Senate. I believe that the Government would be very unwise if it ignored that opinion.
All kinds of opinions have been put forward as to what would be the view of people who process wool; that is, looking at the matter from the manufacturing side. I took the trouble to ascertain the opinion of the head of the Department of Sheep and Wool at the Melbourne School of Textiles, which would be a very authoritative body because it has been sei up for the purpose of dealing with the question of textiles. I was informed that in his viewit would be very wrong to lift the ban. He gave a number of reasons. He pointed out that new land is constantly being opened up for pasture; that research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is paying dividends in the form of improved and additional pastures; that there is a pressing need to build up flocks in Victoria and New South Wales after the droughts there; and that for quite some time we will need all available rams, particularly the top quality ones, so that standards will not fall.
In the opinion of this authority, if 300 lop or near top rams are exported many important studs will decline in quality and this will soon affect flock owners. A number of other arguments were advanced to show that the dismal suggestions in regard to the prospects of wool if the proposed action is not taken are unfounded. Tt was pointed out that the cheap labour available in many sheep producing countries could bring wool prices below the cost of production in Australia and that this possibility could be increased greatly by the export of Australian merino rams. One school of thought suggests that countries other than Australia have merino genes as good as Australia, and therefore we will achieve nothing by refusing to export. But there are authorities who can be quoted to counter this argument. They include Dr H. B. Carter of the University of Textile Industry in Great Britain. These authorities believe that Australian merinos are unequalled anywhere in the world. Those are strong opinions. Strong opinions have also been put from the other side.
– Is that the only expert opinion the honourable senator has received?
-No. 1 said that there are expert opinions on the other side. I have never had an issue on which I have had as many expert opinions on both sides put to me as on this issue.
– The honourable senator did not quote the others.
– I do not think I interjected when Senator Prowse was speaking.
– That is true. I do not know whether the honourable senator was here.
– I have a high respect for the honourable senator. I forbore to give a reason that some poeple might give when baited with that interjection. I want to say in conclusion that obviously this is a matter on which a person like myself, who is not a wool grower, could find it very hard to arrive at an opinion. But I do not agree with the suggestions made by some people that because someone is not a wool grower he is not entitled to express an opinion or to talk on the subject. There is a very foolish attitude that I have seen adopted in the Senate sometimes by honourable senators who say, when talking on defence: ‘You did not go to the war so you should not talk on it’. There are now others who say: ‘You do not grow wool so you should not talk about merino rams’. This is a very foolish attitude if carried to its logical conclusion. If that were to be the rule, whenever any issue came up about 55 of the 60 senators should leave because they might know nothing personally about the question.
We are here to inform ourselves on issues that come before the Senate and that is what I have tried to do. Members of my Party have tried to do the same. Therefore I say that we will vote against the lifting of the ban because we do not believe that a clear and conclusive case has been put forward for lifting the ban. On the contrary, we are impressed with the very strong opposition, particularly among the rank and file and smaller wool growers who, in many ways, have most to lose. For that reason we believe that a decision should be made tonight. If a decision is taken tonight, we will vote in favour of the amendment.
– I have listened to this debate, both last Tuesday night and again tonight, with a great deal of interest and at the same time with quite a deal of concern. I say at the outset that I accept - I shall not use the word ‘appreciate’ - the attitude taken by the Opposition with regard to the lifting of the embargo, but 1 follow somewhat the same lines as were followed by Senator Bull in his opening remarks. I believe that this is one of those issues which cannot he defined with clear and precise lines of demarcation. But this makes it all the more necessary to delve deeply into the pros and cons of the issue so that we may arrive at a factual decision. This is why I say I can understand but cannot appreciate the attitude of the Opposition. Have honourable senators opposite bothered to delve deeply into the statements of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation? Have they bothered to go to the Australian Wool Board? Have they bothered to see some of the leaders of the Australian wool industry? Or have they contented themselves with merely seeing a lot of people who have been extremely vocal? I do not say this disrespectfully-
– How does the honourable senator say it?
– If Senator Georges will listen he may learn something. Some people have been extremely vocal on this subject, but have honourable senators opposite asked the one vital question, whether these vocal people are members of an organisation? To me this is an extremely vital question, lt is a subject on which 1 shall say more later. Senator Milliner tonight commented quite respectfully on Senator Bull’s introductory remarks, but although he referred to the introductory remarks he did not refer to his final comment. In fairness to Senator Bull I think it is only right that his final comments should be repeated for the record. Senator Bull said with regard to the pros and cons of this issue: . . I think we should try to study the issue, examine what has been done and contemplate the recommendations that are before this House and that are available to every honourable senator. Then we should come to a studied and proper judgment on the issue.
I think this completely alters the context of what was said earlier with regard to Senator Bull’s remarks. 1. say that not only in fairness but also out of respect for Senator Bull who has made possibly one of the greatest contributions that any wool grower has made to the wool industry. Senator Bull has not been content just to go along regularly to branch meetings; he has not been content to be a branch president; he has been willing to spend his time and his ability to become the Australian President of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, a position which would be an honour for any man who could achieve it. Because of thai achievement he received recognition from Her Majesty the Queen. Any man who achieves this distinction can feel justly proud. We can look to this kind of leader in industry and be confident that it has a good, sound future, not only because of what is happening now but also because of his background of study and practical experience. We have heard Senator Bull in this chamber tonight and we heard him also last Tuesday night. In my opinion he has expressed sound views and sound reasoning based on his own experience, not only as an individual grower but also as a leader in the Australian wool industry. This is a very important background against which to speak.
I regret that Senator Wilkinson is not in the chamber at present because T want to refer to some of his remarks. When he spoke I was terribly surprised for a start, then concerned, and by the time he finished
I was completely alarmed. He set out to speak in opposition to the lifting of the embargo, but he did not stop at that; he made many references to the Australian Wool industry Conference and its structure. But he went beyond the Australian Wool Industry Conference; having gone through that he dealt with the capacity and activities of the Conference and its responsibilities to the Australian Wool Board. From that he moved on to the International Wool Secretariat. But each time he referred back to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. He did this for a very important reason. Basically he spoke in condemnation of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. He did not imply but said as a statement of fact that he was not prepared to accept the Australian Wool Industry Conference as a responsible body representative of the Australian wool industry. In this respect I feel that Senator Wilkinson has been completely misled and has been very unjust.
Without being disrespectful to him I suggest that he was irresponsible in his references to the Conference. He said that the Government has acted on a recommendation from a body with a limited coverage of the industry. But prior to this, in response to an interjection from me, he said that he did not consider that other bodies were responsible to the majority of Australian growers. In this remark he was referring to the Australian Wool Industry Conference, the Australian Wool Board and the International Wool Secretariat. The only body to which he gave any credence was the CSIRO. His statement was one of condemnation of something which it has taken the Australian wool industry more than 40 years of striving to achieve. 1 shall always be proud that I have had the privilege to be a member of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I accepted my responsibilities as a member of the Conference along with the 55 other wool growers and the Chairman. All these members are responsible men. They come from all over Australia and represent the big grower and the small grower. They represent the broad, open saltbush plains pastoralist down to the grower in the high density carrying area, so not only does the Conference provide for geographical representation, it provides also for environmental representation and numerical representation. lt covers eery type of wool production within the Commonwealth of Australia, whether it is on a large or small scale.
– Are the members elected or selected?
– I shall deal with this aspect in a minute and perhaps when I have finished the ALP might consider adopting for the election of its officers the structure adopted by the AWIC.
– Keep to the point.
– If the honourable senator listens he may learn something. 1 shall go right back to the roots of the wool industry. Every wool grower has an opportunity to become a member of a wool growing organisation; in fact, he has a responsibility to do so. As Senator Bull pointed out tonight, once a wool grower has become a member of an organisation he is given notice when a branch meeting is to be held. He goes to the branch meeting voluntarily but with responsibility. There he is given information of what is likely to affect the wool industry or what is likely to be proposed. In fact, he can even go along with his own ideas and if they are good enough’ the branch meeting will adopt them. If he is good enough the branch meeting will elect him as its representative on the district council, which takes in quite a few branches. If he is keen to go on in the organisation and is put forward as a representative, he can be elected - and I said ‘elected’ not selected - to attend the State conference. Ultimately he may be nominated as a delegate to the Federal Conference and the Australian Wool Industry Conference. So if any honourable senator opposite will tell me that a wool grower who takes part in the Australian Wool Industry Conference is selected and not elected I would like to know where I have gone wrong.
Honourable senators opposite do not understand the true position. The Australian Wool Industry Conference, which starts from the branches out in the country, gives each and every wool grower an opportunity to study the facts. The White Paper has been criticised tonight because, we are told, nobody saw it. Every wool grower in the Commonwealth of Australia has had the opportunity to read it, if not this year then last year or the year before that. Any wool grower who was responsible enough to go to his branch meeting could have read it. As I have said, every wool grower has the opportunity at a branch meeting to put forward any suggestion he wants to put forward and if it is good enough it will go right through to the Federal’ conference and the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
I must say that I am extremely concerned with the fact that the Opposition has seen fit to denigrate the Australian Wool Industry Conference during this debate. The Australian Wool Industry Conference is something that the wool industry achieved after many years and it has an extremely important part to play in the future of the Australian wool industry. Unfortunately it is being denigrated by the Opposition in an endeavour to score a point on one particular aspect. Mention has also been made of the composition of the AWIC. All of the fifty-five woolgrowers who are members of the. AWIC are responsible men who have come up through the ranks from the branches. AH of them have the interests of the wool industry at heart. As far as I am concerned the Austraiian Wool Industry Conference is a very responsible body. The Opposition’s attitude on this occasion is surprising when one remembers that on the last occasion the Opposition saw fit to support the recommendations pf the AWIC with regard to marketing. Was this out of respect or was this politics?
– lt will be interesting to see whether the same men are against this recommendation.
– Yes. 1 should imagine that the same names will come up again. Often when changes are made there is opposition. People voluntarily stand for election to local councils,’ but when they are elected and ‘ decide at a council meeting to increase the rates do we turn around and say: Throw them out ? No, we do not. We pay the extra rates. The same thing applies here. The Government is criticised for increasing taxation, but do the people turn around and throw it out? No, they do not. What is the Opposition trying to do to the parliament of the wool industry at the present time? lt is trying to destroy something which has taken the industry an extremely long time to set up. I should imagine that many responsible growers in Australia will be extremely disappointed with the attitude which has been adopted by the Opposition. Why did these responsible men who comprise the Australian Wool Industry Conference recommend a partial lifting of the embargo? Senator Bull has mentioned that the decision was carried by 70% of those present, which works out at about 38 votes to .15. Why did these responsible men turn round and vote in favour of the partial lifting of the embargo?
– How many were breeders?
– They are all honest and responsible men. 1 challenge the honourable senator to walk outside and saythat they are not. I wish to go back to 1929 when this embargo was first introduced. I shall give the reasons why the Australian Wool Industry Conference has seen fit to recommend the partial lifting of this embargo and why the Government has seen fit to respect the decision of the AWIC. When the Australian Wool Board finally came around to making a decision on the lifting of the embargo - via the Australian Agricultural Council - the history of the embargo was discussed. The matter was then referred to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. But the AWIC did not make a decision off the cuff; it asked the Australian Wool Board to prepare a White Paper on the subject - the White Paper to which I have referred. When the White Paper was prepared and printed it was forwarded to the industry and those who were responsible enough to attend branch meetings were given a lengthy period to study the pros and cons of the lifting of the embargo. Finally, the matter came back to the Australian Wool Industry Conference which decided in favour of the partial lifting of the embargo. The suggestion has been that the proposal has been pushed on to the industry so quickly that the growers have not had an opportunity to consider it. This suggestion does not hold any water because every grower who is interested in the subject has had an opportunity to examine the White Paper.
Let us now examine the terms for the lifting of the embargo that the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the various wool organisations in Australia finally came up with. What are those terms? There has been a lot of panic tonight about what will happen to the price of merino rams if the embargo is lifted. This aspect was given very serious consideration by the responsible organisations concerned. So, we find that the first term is that export approvals be issued only for merino rams that have been sold at public auction sales nominated by the State member associations of the Australian Association of Stud Merino breeders. The second term is that the prohibition on the export of merino ewes and semen be continued. The third term is that a prohibition be placed on the export of fertilised merino ova. The fourth term is that not more than 300 merino rams be allowed to be exported in the first 12 months from the date on which the relaxation has been made effective. The fifth term is that the other four terms will be reviewed annually by the Australian Wool Industry Conference which will recommend to the Government any alterations considered desirable. I think that those terms spell out very clearly and concisely that the industry has given very serious consideration to the question of not allowing all of the top merino rams to go out of Australia and to the escalation of prices.
Let us look at some of the other reasons. I doubt very much whether the Opposition bothered to delve and see what some of these other very, very responsible people think. I shall not make reference to the Australian Wool Board because it is not recognised by the Opposition. Unfortunately, I cannot make reference to the Australian Wool Industry Conference or Sir Ewan Waterman, its Chairman, who has spent a lifetime in the wool industry, not just as a producer but also as an organiser and has, incidentally, as Chairman of the International Wool Secretariat, played a very prominent part in steering the prosperity of the Australian wool industry. I shall not make any reference to these, because these bodies and therefore these personalities are not recognised by the Opposition. I say that without any sarcasm. 1 say that because it is a fact.
I do want to make reference to the International Wool Secretariat and here I can refer to Mr W. J. Vines. I do not think there is one senator in this chamber who would say that Mr Vines has not played a very, very important part in the wool industry, not just of Australia but of the world. He is the architect of the wool mark.
He is the architect of the re-structuring of the International Wool Secretariat and today we see wool, via the wool mark and the re-structuring of the IWS. taking its place against the very keen and serious competition of synthetic fibres. Mr Vines is a man who accepts responsibility with a brilliance of application. He and the IWS have spoken in favour of the lifting of the embargo on merino rams.
– Withering on the vine.
– The honourable senator can joke about it if he likes, but this is a man who is very, very responsible, and is recognised by industry - not just the wool industry - throughout the world. The IWS. via Mr Vines, is recognised in the same way. When they make a statement I am prepared to accept that it is made after a lot of very serious consideration and is based on a lot of fact. They have come to a very logical and honest conclusion and I would accept it. They have spoken in favour of the lifting of the embargo. We come back to the late Sir Ian Clunies Ross. Senator Wilkinson said that the only organisation lo which he would pay any respect and listen with any consideration at all was the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Sir Ian Clunies Ross, who incidentally was also Chairman of the IWS and who later became the leader of the CSIRO made a statement which today the CSIRO still supports. He said:
The embargo was imposed because of one illfounded fear and would, ] am confident, have been lifted before this but for another fear no less ill founded. The first was that, by the export of Merino sheep, we should increase the volume of fine wool production outside Australia, so leading to increased and harmful competition with our own wool. The second fear is that, if the embargo were now lifted, prices of rams on the local market would rise appreciably.
As for the first of these fears, there is no evidence that the free export of Merino rams prior to 1929 - that is. for a good 50 years after the establishment of the Merino stud sheep industry - had been productive in any way of the consequences which the embargo was supposed to prevent. Probably were il not for the fact that substantial shipments of Merino sheep had been made to Soviet Russia, the ban would never have been imposed. As to the second fear, when free export was allowed, the volume of sales and the average price paid for Merino sheep were never such as lo have any impact on domestic ram prices, even though individual sales were from lime to time of considerable value to paricular Muds. How could the sale of a few hundred Merino rams, out of yearly replacement of 100.000, have any marked influence on price levels?
This was said by one of the greatest men we have ever known in primary industry and research in Australia. Two very significant things came out of that statement by one of the greats of Australia, a nian who knew his subject. Not only did he have faith in his country; he also had a love for his country and the industries for which he worked and he could never be accused of trying to sell these down the drain. He pointed out that wool still had a place to play in the world and there was no danger from lifting the ban because merino sheep were already in existence throughout the world. He pointed out, secondly, that there was no fear of escalation of prices because of lifting the embargo and allowing a certain number of rams to be sold. This is the sort of evidence that I wish some honourable senators opposite had bothered to find. Perhaps we would not then, be having this debate tonight, lt is evidence based upon the sound judgment of men who are and have been some of the greatest leaders that thi* country will ever see.
– It is personal opinion.
– lt is personal opinion based on sound judgment and great experience to which the honourable senator and I hope we can aspire, but as yet we are only trying. Let us go back prior to 1929, the year which Sir Ian Clunies Ross mentioned in his statement. Has there been any mention from the Opposition of what happened prior to 1929? Is there an awareness of that amongst honourable senators opposite? Prior lo 1929, 22,511 merino sheep - 1 emphasise that they were sheep, not rams - were exported to twenty-six countries throughout the world. This was after years and years of the establishment of the Australian merino. Many of these countries already had merinos, in any event, but these 22,511 sheep went out and so the blood lines of many of the studs of Australia went overseas. What has happened to them today? Why have not these countries built up a wool industry which drowns Australian fine quality merino wool?
– Why was the ban imposed?
– Let us go back to when we started our wool industry in Australia.
– He will not answer.
– If honourable senators stopped and listened instead of interjecting they might learn something. The Australian wool industry started when two sea captains by some stroke of fortune - call it what you like - were in South Africa and went to a dispersal sale of a merino stud and bought some of the stud sheep. They brought them to Australia. Even though quite a lot died, they sold many to Macarthur and it was on these that he based the beginnings of the Australian merino flock. Let us consider a little further the establishment of the Australian merino. The White Paper, which is based on fact, slates that the merinos imported initially into Australia originated in Spain and Saxony. Later, from 1860 onwards, Vermonts were imported from the Untied States. We worry about taking sheep to the United States. Sheep came from there initially to build up our merino flocks. Merino and merino type sheep - that is, Spanish, Germain Precos, Saxony, Rambouillet, Vermont, Stavropol and South African - are now freely available from Europe, South Africa, the United Stares of America. South America and Russia. The blood lines of the sheep that originally came to Australia and on which the Australian merino is based are still available for any country to use. Any country can base its merino stud flocks on them. Secondly, we already have exported about 22.500 merino sheep. Thirdly, this type of sheep is in Russia, the European countries and other places and therefore the merino blood lines are available.
I want to refer to one other very significant thing. I have mentioned the number of sheep which were exported. A brother involved in one of South Australia’s studs prior to 1929 - today it is one of the well known Australian studs and obtains top prices - went to South Africa and took with him part of that stud. He continued with it in South Africa and those Australian merino sheep have been available for world buyers because South Africa has not had any restrictions on the sale of merinos.
Those sheep have been available, along with the 22,500 sheep thai we sold prior to 1929. When people talk about letting out of Australia a type of sheep which is peculiar and special to this part of the world, this may be so; but vo far as the blood line is concerned, this is not so. I have tried to point out tonight that the blood lines on which our merino sheep industry is based are available to the outside world. Sufficient sheep have gone from Australia for other countries to base and develop their own merino flocks on them
– What sort of merino sheep?
– We have fine wools in Australia.
– They do not say that. They refer to wool from 58s to 80s.
– Th;tt is the point 1 am coming to now. I want to refer to two main aspects, the climatic environment and the type of feed on which our sheep graze. We can go to the inland pastoral areas of Australia and find sheep living on saltbush. That country produces wethers with up to 18 or 20 lb fleece weight per sheep. What do we find when we go to Tasmania? We find that Tasmania has entirely different climatic conditions, a different environment and a different type of feed. Tasmania produces sheep with about 9 lb fleece weight of superfine wool. In Australia we get this great variety of conditions and our sheep have been bred to suit particular conditions although they ;irc all merino sheep. But when we consider Russia, what do we sec happening there today?
– What merino sheep produce 18 lb fleece weight?
– There are wethers in Australia’s saltbush country, the inland areas, which produce 18 to 20 lb of wool. You can go lo Russia today and see the Stavropol merino which cuts in the vicinity of 18 lb fleece weight. These are merino sheep and the wool is around 60 to 64 quality. Of course, this wool is lower in yield because of the climatic conditions. In Russia it is necessary to shed the sheep. There are limitations on what other countries can do with merinos. That is why the merinos sold from Australia have not continued as Australian merinos. Sheep breeding is a peculiar industry. You can buy sheep in one district in Australia, move them 40, 50, 60 or 100 miles to another district, breed them and find that the next year or the year after you get smaller framed sheep. This happens because of climatic and other conditions. The Australian merino has been developed to adapt itself to our conditions. Merinos overseas have been developed to suit the local conditions there and hence there is a difference.
By letting our sheep go overseas we Wi help to increase wool production and quality overseas. Here is an opportunity for Australia to let out some of our rams under strict control. We could export 300 rams a year, if other countries required thai number. In all probability they will noi require that number. It has been said that improving the quality and increasing the production overseas is one of the great dangers of lifting this embargo. Last week Senator Sim referred to this point and said that the best wool had a scarcity value. Today that scarcity value has gone because there is an alternative to wool. When this embargo was introduced in 1929, whether we agree with it or not, the fact remains that wool was one of the main fibres throughout the world. But today, can we honestly stand in this chamber and say thai wool remains one of the main fibres of the world? It is still the number one quality fibre of the world but today there is an alternative. The world is now using more and more synthetics. Therefore the scarcity aspect of wool has fallen by the wayside because of the introduction of synthetics: but the quality aspect of wool is still with us.
This has been proved by the fact that the Woolmark is regarded as a symbol of quality throughout the world. Because of the Woolmark we have sold wool, ft is a symbol of quality and for wool to hold its place on the world textile market today it must be a quality product. Because of the alternatives offered by synthetic fibres it is up to us as Australians to assist the world textile industry and to try to improve the quality of wool throughout the world. In this respect again honourable senators opposite may comment and say that I am cockeyed for making such a statement. But let us look at a few of the facts of life in the wool industry. A statement has been made to the effect that relaxing the embargo would be likely to help ensure the future stability of the Australian wool industry by increasing world production of apparel wools and thus taking advantage of existing opportunities while restricting the scope of other fibres to exploit available markets. This is the very thing that 1 have been emphasising. Figures show that the world population is growing at the rate of 1.8% per annum. World wool production is growing at the rate of 0.7% per annum and world man-made fibre production is growing at the rate of 12.1%. This is very significant. Wool production is increasing at the rate of only 0.7% per annum - and this is all wool, not just textile wool - when the world production of synthetics is increasing by 1.2.1%.
Let us project our minds some 10 or 20 years ahead, or further if honourable senators opposite would like to. do so. If there is now this great divergence of production let us consider the position of the Australian wool industry 30 years or 40 years from now. We know what has happened with plastics. We find that people start by using an alternative and that it encroaches on the market. People continue to use the alternative. This could happen in the case of wool. Therefore it is necessary for us to make sure that the Australian wool industry recognises this problem and that it is prepared, after a lot of very sound consideration, to accept the responsible recommendations of men within the industry who are best fitted to make those recommendations, not merely men like myself who have been associated with the wool industry and are now in this place. I have no hesitation in saying that 1 am prepared to accept the sound recommendations that have been made by outstanding men who have proved themselves over the years in their judgment and wisdom and through past experience. I support wholeheartedly the action that the Government is taking and .1 oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– Senator Poyser has moved on behalf of the Opposition:
That the Senate is of opinion that the embargo on the export of merinos should not be removed al this lime.
We of the Opposition-
– Why do you not finish reading the motion?
– If the Minister wants me to finish it, I will.
– You have already altered it once.
– If the Minister wants me to take up more time of the Senate in reading the rest of the motion, 1 will do so for his benefit. Senator Poyser has moved on behalf of the Opposition:
Thai the Senate is of opinion that the embargo on the export of merinos should not be removed at this time.
He sought leave-
– Read what he said.
– If you cannot read it, I will read it for you. He sought leave to add to the motion the words: and that the embargo should remain in force until a majority of those persons affected shall decide by referendum or other fair means in favour of removing or relaxing the embargo.
The Labor movement avers that a decision should bc made on this matter tonight, lt has been fully debated tonight and last Tuesday night. We say that it is in the interests of our wool’ industry and of Australians generally to have the matter determined by the Senate this evening. Government supporters generally have told us that they think the embargo should be lifted without putting the matter to a referendum of growers. We say that they should tell to the wool growers on their properties the story that they have been telling us in this debate as to why the Government should take this action. Wool growers should hear the pros of the Government’s arguments as well as the arguments of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. They should hear the point of view put forward by the Opposition in this chamber. It is a point of view that has been put forward by a great number of wool growers and other people who are vitally interested in and connected with the wool industry. By democratic processes, the wishes of the wool growers, after hearing the two opposing points of view, should become the guideline for this Government.
We of the Opposition are speaking not only on behalf of a large section of wool growers who have taken the trouble to petition this Parliament, but also on behalf of tens of thousands of Australians who depend on the success of our wool industry for their livelihood. These people believe that
Australia’s birthright is being sold out by an administrative action of the Government. We speak not only for the large section of wool growers who have approached the Opposition and have petitioned this Parliament because they are dissatisfied with the decisions and recommendations of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and administrative decisions of the Government, but also on behalf of those people who are vitally connected with the industry. I refer, for example, to shearers and their families. They depend on the success of the wool industry for their livelihood. Only last week the Western District Branch of the Australian Workers Union at Molong carried a resolution urging the Labor Opposition to take the action it has taken in this House. We speak on behalf of wool classers, wool sorters and workers in the wool sheds. We speak for the thousands of towns people who depend so much on the prosperity and progress of the wool industry for their livelihood. Although they are not directly involved in the Government’s decision to lift the embargo on the export of merino rams, they will be vitally affected by the decision. Their case should be heeded by the Government which has taken this callous administrative action on the recommendation of a number of people involved in the industry.
Senator Poyser, in moving the motion on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, sought on three direct grounds an expression of opinion from the Senate on whether the embargo should be lifted at this time. The first ground is that it has not been established by the people who support the Government’s action that the lifting of the ban is in the best interests of Australia. The second ground is that the recommendation made to the Government by the Australian Wool Industry Conference does not represent the views of all Australian wool growers. His third ground is that the decision has been made without adequate consultation with the growers concerned. I have listened very carefully to all that has been said in this debate, both tonight and last Tuesday night, by honourable senators opposite. The three grounds put forward so ably by Senator Poyser have been completely supported by the evidence adduced in this debate.
We have been told that the ban has been in force since November 1929 - for 40 years. After receiving a recommendation from a section of the wool industry the Government has decided to lift the ban, apparently for no other reason than that recommendation. Senator McManus told us this evening that a survey he made has shown that the majority of wool growers in Victoria arc opposed to the Government’s action. He has told us that the Minister for Agriculture in the Victorian Government has gone on record as saying that he is opposed to the Government’s action in lifting the ban. 1 venture to suggest that if a referendum were taken now in New South Wales, the majority of the New South Wales wool growers would be opposed to this administrative action of the Government.
I say frankly that the plight of the ordinary Australian wool grower and the people who are dependent on the success of the wool industry for their livelihood has been completely overlooked by the Government. Wool growers in Australia have been through very difficult times in recent years. They have recently experienced a very severe drought. The price of wool on the world market has been dropping alarmingly. Leaders of the industry and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) have been crying out about the cost structure of the Australian economy and the evils of inflation which are having a vital effect on the cost structure of the wool industry. Wool growers are trying desperately to diversify their interests in order to overcome some of their difficulties. Wool growers are lacking financial liquidity. Recently the Australian Wool Industry Conference carried a resolution that the Commonwealth Development Bank be requested to come more to the aid of wool growers than it has done up to date. The only answer that the Government can give to the economic difficulties through which wool growers have been passing for a number of years - the drought, financial problems and administrative difficulties created as a result of decisions taken by this Government - appears to be the lifting of the embargo on the export of merino rams. That emrbargo has been in force for almost 40 years.
Last Tuesday night the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry said that in 9 cases out of 10 the wool growers have to rely on themselves. As a result of the manner in which this Government has dealt with the wool growers’ problems over a number of years one thing must certainly be obvious to the Australian wool growers now, that is that they cannot rely on this Government for any definite form of assistance. Is it any wonder that growers from a wide variety of places throughout New South Wales and other States have signed petition after petition to the Senate asking that the embargo be not removed? Growers everywhere have complained bitterly about the actions of this Government. I say quite frankly that if this Government does not hold a referendum of growers then most certainly it will feel the full weight of their criticism, in some of what are now Country Party strongholds, at the forthcoming federal election.
I deal now with the matter that is immediately before us. Senator Poyser has said that on such a vital matter as this the Government has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it is in the best interests of Australia to lift the embargo. Spokesman after spokesman for the Government virtually said that there is considerable doubt as to the wisdom of the proposition put forward by the Government. Senator Bull, as my colleague Senator Milliner said, went on record last Tuesday night- his speech appears at page 960 of Hansard - as having said that he appreciated that this matter was one of great controversy and that no-one could say definitely, rightly or wrongly, that the action taken was the correct one. I have a very great respect for Senator Bull as a prominent wool grower in the Riverina area of New South Wales. Surely as a result of his association with the wool industry and as a result of conversations he has had with fellow wool growers, he must have come to the conclusion that within the industry there is a great deal of controversy on this very subject and that growers, rightly or wrongly, cannot make up their minds as to what is the right thing to do in the interests of Australia. There being such a doubt within the industry, surely it is up to the Government to test the feeling of all growers. Until such action is taken and until a determination is arrived at by the majority of growers by way of popular decision and by way of democratic vote, then the
Government should not be taking the immediate action that it has embarked upon and which is now the subject of this debate.
Last December, shortly after the decision of the Australian Wool Industry Conference was arrived at, a number of wool growers spoke to me during a tour I made of New South Wales. On 18th December, at the request of a number of growers, 1 wrote to the Minister for Primary Industry. 1 pointed out that I had been approached by a number of growers who had expressed to me their great concern about this proposal. At that time I put it to the Minister that such a proposal could affect the future of the Australian wool industry, that it could affect the livelihood of a great number of Australians, that the future of an industry, in connection with which it has been said for years that Australia has ridden on the sheep’s back, could be affected, and that because the industry is going through n very difficult economic period at present be should heed the plea of these growers and hold a referendum and should not, as it were, take the gamble that he was taking at the request of a section of the industry at that stage. Indeed I told the Minister that I was informed that at the last meeting of the United Farmers and Wool Growers Association - that was the last meeting prior to December - strong opposition was voiced to any proposal that might be made for the lifting of the embargo and that it had been suggested that before any action along these lines is taken the Government should hold a referendum of all growers to see whether they support or disapprove of such a decision. The Minister cannot say that he had not received any views other than the views of the Australian Wool Industry Conference when the matter was put to Cabinet and when it became a matter of Government policy.
Shortly after 1 wrote the Minister replied, but the letter is undated. He referred to the recommendation of the Australian Wool Industry Conference decided at its meeting of 27th and 28th November and he set out the resolution of the Conference. The letter stated:
The recommendation of the Wool Industry Conference has been conveyed to me recently and as it is a policy matter, I shall submit the question lo Cabinet for consideration. In examining (he proposal the points raised in your letter will be taken into consideration by Cabinet along wilh the views expressed by other interested persons and organisations.
So I say that the Government was acting not only on the advice of the Australian Wool Industry Conference but that indeed it was acting against the advice of a number of growers connected with the industry who had a completely different point of view from that expressed by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Again, if the Government had no doubt about the decision and if it had no doubt that it was doing the right thing in the interests of the industry and in the interests of Australia, why did it make a provision that the decision should be reviewed annually? As I say, we have had petition after petition presented in this Senate. The other evening I noticed the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry closely studying one of the petitions.
– Some 16-year olds and 17-year olds signed that.
– There will be others coming. There are some coming from the area around Coonabarabran and Gilgandra.
– I defy the honourable senator to say that there is a petition coming from growers around Gilgandra.
– I am telling the Minister that tomorrow petitions will be received from residents from around Coonabarabran and, I think, from around Gilgandra. In any case Coonabarabran is not very far from Gilgandra. Petitions have come from people living around Molong, from people living in the south west and from people living in the southern portions of New South Wales. They will continue to come and if the Government does not agree to the holding of a referendum of growers those growers will show their condemnation of the Government at the next federal election. In the ‘Cooma Monaro Express’ of 28th April there was a report in these terms:
Monaro Shire Council has asked the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Anthony, to take urgent steps to prevent the lifting of the embargo on the export of merino rams and semen.
At its last meeting the Council adopted a suggestion from Cr Reg Wallace that it protest to the Minister.
The report went on to say:
Cr Wallace said he did not like the way she matter had been introduced.
It would seem that the less-vocal wool growers of the country have had this popped on them and it also appears that these wool growers, who grow the bulk of the Australian wool clip are not going to have a say in the matter.’
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate,I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin) .
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Now that we have the opportunity to have the matter put and determined by a vote of the Senate J will be very brief.I was suggesting at the time the motion was put for the adjourn ment of the Senate that the voice ofthe ordinary wool grower is being heard in this Parliament by the presentation of the large number of petitions that we have been receiving in recent days, coming as they do from a large cross section of the wool growing community in New South Wales as well as from other States of Australia. I was pointing to the following article in the ‘Cooma Monaro Express’ of 28th April last:
Monaro Shire Council has asked the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Anthony, to take urgent steps to prevent the lifting of the embargo onthe export of Merino rams and semen . . . Councillor Wallace said he did not like the way the matter hud been introduced.
It would seem that the less-vocal woolgrowers of the country have had this popped on them and it also appears that these woolgrowers who grow the bulk of the Australian wool clip are not going to have a say in the matter, Councillor Wallace said.
I note that the Monaro Shire Council sent atelegram to the Minister for Primary Industry requesting that the export embargo remain unchanged.
I am not here to criticise the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I suppose the organisation is entitled to make recommendationsto the Government. In the edition of ‘Country Life’ of 25th April, which was Anzac Day, the following report appears:
A meeting of 150 woolgrowers and other interested people at the Armidale Town Hall on April 16 unanimously passed a resolution requesting the retention of the ban on the exportof Merino rams.
A motion of no confidence in the AWIC and the AWGC was moved by Mr D. W. Wright, of Lomani, Tamworth, ‘in view of the misleading statement that woolgrowers were wholeheartedly behind the lifting of the ban’.
Those two resolutions were carried by a large meeting at Armidale, a very prominent and important wool growing area of New South Wales. As I have said, I am not here to criticise the Australian Wool Industry Conference because I suppose mat it, as a body, is entitled to make recommendations to the Government; but this Government bears the responsibility for making a decision without taking a poll or a referendum of wool growers. Whilst I have not had anything to say about the Australian Wool Industry Conference I notice that an organisation commonly referred to as the Basic Industries Group had this 10 say in a publication entitled Wool Report: Guidelines for a great future’ which was put out in October 1967:
The Basic Industries Group believes that the wool industry’s future will only be assured if: The Australian Wool Industry Conference is reconstituted so that its grower members are democratically elected by all wool growers (instead of the present system of appointment by opposing industry organisations), so that the elected grower chairman of the Conference is officially recognised as the leader of the industry and so that the Conference is provided with permanent headquarters in the form of a Woo! Centre in Canberra. 1 suggest that the small grower, the ordinary grower, the man who is vitally connected wilh this industry, has been sold down the drain by this Government for the benefit of the stud breeder. The decision has been, and is being, rammed down the throats of wool growers, those who have great faith in the potential of this industry. 1 suggest the case made out by the Opposition is irrefutable. On the Government’s own admissions, there is very serious doubt, and we appeal for support for the proposition that was moved so ably by my colleague, Senator Poyser.
– The question is:
That the motion be agreed to.
Those in favour say aye-
– Am 1 in order in speaking. Mr President? I merely want to make one or two observations. It was understood from the speakers list that Senator McClelland was to be followed by a Government speaker. I merely want to make one or two observations in the interests of the Senate.
– 1 have put the motion. The matter is now in the Senate’s hands. You will have to seek leave.
– Then I seek leave to speak. I do not propose to speak at great length.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank honourable senators. 1 do not propose to go at this late stage into the particular merits of the matter that is occupying the attention of the Senate, but I do think the Senate must raise its voice against the method by which this whole matter has been handled and against the procedures which are available to introduce a matter of such moment and to bypass parliamentary scrutiny in any effective sense. The regulations which prohibit the export of sheep are contained in a regulation made under the Customs Act 1915-1958. I refer to Statutory Rules 1’958, and in particular to rule 5. The second schedule to that rule relates to goods the export of which is prohibited unless the consent of the Minister is first obtained. That schedule does not contain any reference to sheep. It relates to such things as fortified wine which is less than 6 months old, goods shipped as ship’s stores, live pearl shell oysters, and other things. The schedule which contains the prohibition on the export of sheep is the next schedule which relates to goods, the export of which is prohibited unless the approval of the Department of Primary Industry is produced to the Collector. This includes meat, other than canned meat, sheep and many other things.
In other words, it is a general prohibition which is brought in by regulation and is able to be lifted in this particular case not by ministerial deletion but merely al the instance of the Department of Primary Industry, lt is a very serious matter when a regulation is introduced, the introduction of which is subject to the disallowance of the Parliament, but the whole import and purport of which can be bypassed merely by ministerial direction, and in this case merely by departmental direction.
The consequences of this type of thing have many times come before the purview of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. That Committee has advened particularly to the operation of ordinances and proclamations made under the Customs Act. In its Eighth Report, which was presented in 1952, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee included very great strictures relating to this matter. If my memory serves me correctly, some who were members of that Committee are still members of the Senate. When referring to Customs (Import Licensing) Regulations - we are dealing with export proclamations - the Committee said this in its report:
On the 6th March 1952, the Government decided upon import restriction controls, aimed at preserving Australia’s international solvency.
Following such decision, there appeared in the Commonwealth Gazette of the 7th March 1952. a Notice, signed by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan), in which he notified that, pursuant to the powers conferred upon him under regulation 15 of the Customs (Import Licensing) Regulations, he revoked all previous ministerial determinations published in Commonwealth Gazettes relating to the exception of goods from the application of the regulations; the Notice excepted from the application of the regulations certain goods enumerated in a schedule. No new regulation was necessary to implement these import restrictions. They stem from the withdrawal by the Minister of exceptions made under the 1939 regulations.
That is a complete parallel with the present situation. The Committee then had this to say:
No legal or administrative misuse by the Government (or by previous Governments) of the Import Licensing Regulations is suggested by the Committee. Rather is the Committee’s comment directed towards suggesting that it would be more in the Parliamentary tradition if an important question of Government policy, such as far-reaching import restrictions, were to have been given effect to by Parliamentary enactment or (if necessity so dictated) by the making of specific regulations, rather than that such a policy should be given expression by ministerial determination made under a war-time regulation. An important feature of the method adopted by the Government to give expression to its import restriction policy is that the method adopted - ministerial determination under regulation - afforded the Parliament no opportunity to deal with the Government’s import policy. Again, and this is a point which the Committee wishes to stress, a ministerial determination is not subject to Parliamentary review in that it may not be disallowed by cither House as may a proposed law or a regulation. The Committee is conscious of the fact that in the introduction of a policy, such as the recent import restriction controls, the Government may have been anxious, for administrative or other reason, to put the new arrangements into forceat once, and without warning. But the Committee feels that the introduction of a Bill, or the making of a specific regulation would not have precluded the making of special provision in such legislation to counteract any particular reaction in the commercial world which the Government may have sought to avoid in connexion with its import policy.
We find there a complete parallel with the present situation. There it was available to the Government merely by ministerial determination to take this extraordinarily serious and far reaching action and,if necessary, to bypass any effective control by the Parliament. This matter, and the concern of the Regulation and Ordinances Committee, did not conclude with that body of regulations or proclamations.
– You are going very wide from the motion.
– I am dealing with the method by which this has been done.
Surely I am entitled to do that withinthe forms of the House. This prohibition may initially have been imposed by proclamation, but obviously it was subsequently embodied in the regulation which 1 cited, under the Customs Act, and the authority, wherever it initially came from, now stems from a regulation made under a statute, a regulation which, when introduced, was subject to disallowance by this House. Admittedly, that regulation did open the door to the ministerial excision of things withinthe terms ofthe regulation.
– Do you think if the Regulations and Ordinances Committee hud been in operation in 1929 that regulation would not have been allowed?
– That may well be so. The Committee has done magnificent work. The concern of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee did not conclude with the report to which 1 have just referred. The same type of matter came before its notice again in 1957. In its Eleventh Report, the, Committee deals with No. 93 of the Statutory Rules of 1.956, these being the Customs (Import Licensing) Regulations made under the Customs Act 1901-1954. In that Report, the Committee says:
On the 3rd June 1952 the Committee presented its Eighth Report to the Senate drawing attention to the precarious legal basis for the actual validity of the regulations then being usedfor import licensing and said:
The present Committee records its agreement with the opinion expressed by the 1938 Committee that important matters of Government policy should be the subject of parliamentary enactment and recommends accordingly.’
Parliament thereupon enacted an amendment ofthe Customs Act in the following form on 19th November 1952 (No. 108 of 1952) . . .
It then dealt with prohibited imports. The Committee then went on to say:
On 14th December, 1956, almost exactly four years after the amending Act was passed, enabling the making of regulations, the regulations before the Committee were gazetted. The departmental explanatory note to the Committee on these Regulations was certainly not provoking.
Further on, it said:
But the Committee is concerned to prevent parliamentary authority being undermined by the making of regulations of the character above referred to by the Executive, and so exposing individual rights and liberties to Executive decision as distinct from parliamentary enactment without proper safeguards for the individual to invoke the process of judicial review.
Here the Committee is dealing not merely with deletion by ministerial proclamation but deletion by actual regulation, and the Committee felt that even the regulation trespassed beyond the appropriate powers which should be incorporated in regulations which should properly be left to parliamentary statute. Finally, in its Fifteenth Report, that published in 1959, the Committee again dealt with the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations (Statutory Rules 1958, No. 5), and had this to say in paragraph 16:
But the form of this regulation illustrates the exclusive and ultimate claim of bureaucracy. The individual right of the citizen to export is prohibited. But in respect of the exercise of the prohibition he is totally denied recourse to the Law Courts. His right is determined and finally decided by the administrators. But even the responsibility which devolves on an administrator is evaded - because the regulations rest the power not in an officer but in the bureau itself - the Department - with the result that the official who actually refuses or grants approval is not by law identified. Consequently, the citizen is wholly exluded from legal redress in the Law Courts and the administrator can hide behind the general cloak of ‘the Department’ if the citizen having a grievance wishes to complain.
The consequences are evident in the manner in which this matter came before the Parliament. This was a matter of very considerable consequence to Australia - not merely to the Australian wool industry but to the Australian economy, lt has been said, not with exaggeration, that the wool industry is our most important export industry and that Australia has ridden for years on the sheep’s back. We have heard cliches of that character. Perhaps, with the diversification of Australia’s industrial and commercial life, the proposition no longer has the validity it once had. But the wool industry is still a most important unit or component in the Australian economy. Therefore this matter is not merely the concern or interest of the wool industry or those concerned in it, important as that may be; it is the concern of the nation.
But what was really placed before the Parliament on this matter? We had a white paper presented by the Wool Board and put before the Wool Industry Conference. The term ‘white paper’, as I understand it, applies almost exclusively to a parliamentary document of an informative character which is presented, following an investigation, for the information of the parliament so that proper decision can be arrived at. If a white paper was to be presented, it should have been a governmental white paper and it should have embraced a conspectus of the whole range of consequences of the lifting of this export embargo, including the economic consequences. There should have been investigations involving the spinners, the weavers, the processors, the growers and every other unit of the industry, including the opinions of economists. We have not had that.
– What about the opinions of the people to whom the sheep in question belong? ‘
– I did not underestimate the significance of the lifting of the export embargo to those involved in the industry. But, as I have said, this matter goes beyond one of mere solicitude for those involved in it. It involves the stability of the Australian economy, for which this Parliament has a particular concern.
Because no white paper was presented and because apparently there has been no adequate examination of the whole subject, this matter comes before the Parliament which is in the same condition as the industry is- a condition of complete confusion. I have been here for many years, and I have never seen ari issue on which there was such a diversity of genuinely and honestly held opinions as I have witnessed in connection with this matter. The real difficulty is the absence of facts and authoritative evidence from which valid conclusions could be drawn and gathered. In my opinion, that is what has been denied to the Parliament. This position arises from the fact that, as the approval of the Parliament was not necessary and as the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) could act on his own, therefore there was no responsibility to inform the Parliament so that it could be persuaded to support the policy. The Parliament could be disregarded in the sense of giving it information because the concurrence of the Parliament in the executive sense was not necessary. This is the serious consequence of allowing subordinate people to exercise authority that should be vested in the Parliament. I make those observations at this stage because I believe that this is a matter of very great concern to this chamber and to the Parliament and one that should be constantly under the scrutiny and review of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
Let me make one or two observations in relation to the merits of the matter. In the only substantial case which has been presented and which reviews the situation - the white paper presented to the Wool Industry Conference - I have been unable to discover arguments which on their own merits fortify the prime argument that is presented in relation to this matter. I do not think the interests of the stud ram breeder are a matter of concern. I do not think that is in his contemplation at all.
– Then what does the honourable senator interpret the words in the motion ‘those persons affected’ to mean?
– I think the words those persons affected’ mean primarily the wool growers. I do not think there is any improper interest on the part of the stud ram breeder. I do not think he propounds this proposition in order to advance his own interests.
– Which wool growers should vote?
– I am not talking about voting. I am not discussing the referendum at the moment. I am discussing the merits of the matter. If we exclude any selfish interests of the stud ram breeder - I believe that in fairness they should be excluded - we come to the economics of the industry. This, of course, is a matter of concern to the Parliament and to the growers. I suppose that in competitive terms the Australian wool industry would be a high cost industry compared with that of other countries in which wool growers work on a lower labour cost level.
What does the future hold for the Australian wool industry? The case presented is that unless we can improve and expand the world supply of wool and reduce the gap between consumption and supply there may be a diminution, or finally a disappearance, of world interest in wool and a resort to synthetics and alternative types of fibre. That is the prime argument. First of all, that situation can come about only if the export of these rams is to have a significant effect upon the wool industry. That is the only thing that can finally bridge the gap. If we look at the case that is made for the possible export of merino rams to importing countries we find that this is part of the case in favour of the lifting of the ban, but it does not appear to support it at all. The white paper states:
Argentina and Uruguay: There are approximately 48 million sheep in Argentina and 22 million in Uruguay, where efforts are being made to increase wool production … As merino type sheep are freely available both within the country and from overseas, it seems improbable that there will be any very marked change in the breed composition of the national flocks or in the types of wool produced, although Argentina would be interested in purchasing Australian merinos.
– That surely proves-
– That surely proves that their flocks will grow whether we export rams to them or not. Therefore, why should we take the risk when it will have no significant effect-
– What risk?
– Any risk attached to it.
– What is the risk, though?
– Any risk that may be attached to it. I have said that there is complete confusion on this matter and that the Parliament is denied the information. Nobody knows the extent of the risk. Nobody knows the depth of the risk because the Parliament-
– Or whether there is a risk.
– Or whether there is a risk. The white paper continues:
South Africa: South Africa is reported to have approximately 28 million merinos; about 14 million are breeding ewes. South Africa has a thriving merino stud industry and it is possible that some South African stud masters might be interested in buying Australian sheep. The demand is likely to be restricted to comparatively few sheep that meet specific requirements, and by high transport costs.
Will this assist the South African industry to increase its production and bridge the gap? The white paper goes on to refer to New Zealand, the United States and the Soviet Union. Therefore, the suggestion that this is one method of expanding the world production of this type of wool and bridging the gap obviously is not borne out by the case presented by the Wool Board in support of the proposition.
I conclude with some reference to the economics of the wool industry. I was about to refer to this when Senator Sim, 1 think it was, interrupted me. The Australian wool industry is a comparatively high cost of production industry. Once we increase the world production of wool and we have to meet other countries on a world competition basis, the future of the wool industry will fall into the same category as that of the dairy industry and the wheal industry. The product will have to be subsidised. It is significant that already moves are being made for the subsidising of the wool industry. Ft has been in the Press in the last 24 hours. I have been interested in the Queensland sugar industry which finds itself in the same position. The alternative to the present system is to have an industry which is totally regulated on a world basis as to supply and demand. The Queensland sugar industry, a comparatively high cost industry although a very efficient one, is a participant in a world sugar price plan. It is because of this, plus price support in Australia, that the industry can exist in competition with low cost countries at world prices. That also will be the future of the wool industry.
– May I ask the honourable senator a question?
– I have already answered a lot of questions. I merely say that the case is certainly not supported on the merits and if. there is one thing that is required it is the decision of the Parliament. a decision which we will make shortly. Obviously that decision can only be persuasive on the Government; it cannot be directive, but I presume that the Government will observe the strongly ventured opinion of this chamber. If that decision is going to be reversed at any time it must be reversed on the facts and the merits and, in order to warrant a reversal, the facts and merits would have to be presented to this chamber and the Parliament in greater detail and with much more compulsion than we have seen in this case. With those remarks I raise my final protest at the method which has been pursued in the handling of this whole matter. I think the Senate should register its disapproval of the bypassing of parliamentary authority. I support the motion.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I will not detain the Senate very much longer. I know that there are certain activities which must be carried on after the Senate rises. As I will not have another opportunity this week to raise a question of great importance, I wish to take this opportunity to do so. The matter concerns the allocation made by the Government for Aboriginals as a result of the carrying of the referendum in 1966 and the setting up of a special department to deal with Aboriginal affairs.
No doubt, Government senators have seen over recent weeks a criticism of the amount that has been allocated and of the lack of expenditure. I wish to refer to a speech that was made recently in this city by Mrs Kath Walker, who is a well known human rights battler and who does a tremendous job for the Aboriginals of Australia. I will quote from the speech that she made. It is symbolic of the general attitude of the Government. Mrs Walker outlined that attitude in her speech, which was made at the Federal Conference of the Federal Council of the Australian Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. Mrs Walker said:
As 1 look around this hall today, I fail to see present, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, The Chairman of Aboriginal Affairs or the Director of Aboriginal Affairs.
Perhaps these worthy gentlemen feel they need no further education as far as Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are concerned and feel they have ail the answers, so can afford to stay away.
In Australia, we have a policy of ‘assimilation’ for the indigenous people. ‘Assimilation’, as we are led to believe, means equal rights and opportunities for Australian Aborigines in all fields of the Australian society.
As 1 see the ‘Assimilation’ policy of Australia, it is the biggest farce since Rafferty himself, put up bis own particular brand of rules.
Since the indigenous people of Australia have been given the vote, little has been said about the laws pertaining to these rights and the majority of Australian people arc ignorant of the true situation.
Regarding the granting of the vote, to indigenous people on settlements, it is optional in the Commonwealth, Northern Territory and Queensland. 1 refer now to a further statement that appeared in a British newspaper and which was attributed to an Australian journalist who is now working in London. Because of the lateness of the hour, I will nol quote the full reference. I. will quote the first two paragraphs, which I believe are relevant, and then I. propose to talk about the local situation. That will terminate my contribution. Referring to a small Aboriginal boy. John Pilger said:
He is like me. an Australian. He lies in the shifting red dirt, on a hessian bag. with the sun pointed at him like a blazing branch, and the flies stick to him.
An Australian, like me. A boy of perhaps 2 or 3, incarcerated in the little unspeakable prison between birth and death, to which children who are stillborn but living, that is starving, are sent; and with no-one caring, save the lame woman with the face of a totem, who sits beside him on the bag in the dirt.
That is the child’s grandmother. Quite recently, together with a party of other people, I visited the Palm Island settlement, which is off the coast of Queensland. The island segregates some 1,200 Aboriginals from Australia generally. On the island we found an amazing set of circumstances which can be paralleled in a dozen other places in Queensland and elsewhere around Australia. We found that of the 1,200 people in the settlement not one person of the Aboriginal race or of Aboriginal descent, and not one Torres Strait islander was receiving the basic wage. This is completely inconsistent with the grand terms expressed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) and by other members of the Government on many occasions. We found the conditions under which these people lived to be completely unacceptable to society as we know it.
Perhaps I should quote one instance to illustrate the point I am making. At the end of each of the dormitories or living areas there is a small gaol or cell. On the day that we inspected the island we found that two young girls had been confined to one such area. One was about 15 or 16 years of age. She had been placed there as punishment for an alleged immoral act. I do not know who carried out the judgment. In the tiny cell with this young girl was another child of about 12 or 13 years of age who had allegedly sworn al a teacher. If this sort of punishment can be meted out by one human being to another then the system itself is wrong. There is a moral responsibility as well as a legal responsibility on the Government to ensure thai the new body which has been set up, the office of Aboriginal Affairs, carries out its functions in the manner that everybody expected it to carry them out when the recent referendum was carried so that equal rights of some son are given to the Aboriginals of Australia.
There are many other things that I would like lo talk about at this stage, but I feel that the few salient points that I have raised so far should be disposed of first. I hope that I will have the opportunity on some future occasion to speak at more length. But I appeal to the Minister and the Government on behalf of the 200,000 or 300,000 Aboriginals in Australia to take positive action instead of just talking, as is happening at the moment. Before the Minister began to administer this portfolio he was a very great advocate of the uplifting of the living standards of the original Australians.
Since he has become the Minister and the new body has been set up there has been a lot of talk but very little action. I make this appeal on behalf of those people who have no way in which to speak for themselves.
[11.13] - I shall place the points the honourable senator has raised tonight before the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth). But I would like to point out that since the Office of Aboriginal Affairs was set up and the Minister was appointed to the portfolio he and his officers have unstintingly given their time and their best efforts to assisting the Aboriginals. These people are dedicated to their job. The honourable senator has raised specific instances. I shall place them before the Minister for his considered attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690429_senate_26_s41/>.