28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Honourable Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The PRESIDENT - I am sorry for the hiatus in the paternoster. One of the stipulations in King Edward VI’s ‘Book of Common Prayer’ was that the priest should read the prayers.
– (South AustraliaMinister for Works) - I give notice that tomorrow I intend to move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report:
Construction of a research laboratory at North Clayton (Monash), Victoria.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory. The Government has frozen private rents in the Ausralian Capital Territory recently. Yesterday in the Budget it announced rent increases of almost 50 per cent for government housing in the Northern Territory and foreshadowed rent rises for government houses in the Australian Capital Territory. Why are government rents rising while rental for privately owned houses must remain static? Is this another example of the Government’s double standards?
– The answer to the last part of the honourable senator’s question is no. The answer to the first part of the question is: I will refer it to the Minister for the Capital Territory whom I represent in this place.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact, as reported by the Attorney-General’s colleague Senator James McClelland, that the Government has taken a decision that if members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation appear before a Senate committee at the request of the Committee they will lose their jobs? Is this to be taken, if
true, as meaning that persons in the service of the Government or of a government instrumentality who attend before Senate committees will lose their jobs if they respond to a Senate committee’s request? If so, by what warrant or justification is conduct of this character engaged in by government - conduct which, if engaged in by private employers, would arouse the ire of the Labor Party?
– This is an important question touching on the powers of Senate committees and I do not think it should be answered in any hypothetical way. Certainly I do not think it should be answered in the context of oral questions in the Senate. If the Government were to make any announcement as to its attitude or as to consequences which would follow, that would be done in a formal manner. I do not think it fitting that I should even endeavour to enter upon a question of such high moment to members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, public servants, members of the Senate and the general public. I think it would be most undesirable to try to answer in some offhand manner here in the Senate something which ought to be dealt with, if it is to be dealt with at all, in the most formal and proper manner.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Yesterday the Minister answered a question relating to the Cheynes Beach Whaling Co. at Albany. Is the Minister yet in a position to say whether Cabinet has made a decision about the renewal of the licence for the Cheynes Beach Whaling Co? Is he aware of the serious shortage of meatmeal, whale solubles and other similar feed supplements which are so essential in the production of quality meat?
– I indicated yesterday that the Government supported the moratorium on whaling, but of course, we were concerned about our sole whaling base in Australia at Albany. It has not been suggested to me, nor has it been discussed, that the licence should be withdrawn. While the agreement of the International Whaling Commission stands, I personally would oppose withdrawing the licence and I do not anticipate that any such decision will be taken by the Government. As to the second part of the question, I appreciate the value of protein meals. We know that they are in very short supply around the world and there is not a great deal that can be done about it. So far as our whaling industry is concerned, I would not favour any discontinuation of that activity al the present time.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General in his capacity as the principal legal officer in this country. Can he inform the Senate the stage reached in the proposed establishment of a superior court of Australia? Is it possible for him to indicate at this stage when this very important development in Australia’s judicial system is to become a reality?
– Yes, it is. The proposal for a superior court was first made, I think, back in 1961 or 1962 by the then Federal Government. It was announced at a meeting of lawyers in Hobart as a Cabinet decision, and in accordance with the usual timetable of the former Government I think it took until 1968 before the legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives. Again in accordance with the former Government’s usual procedures, nothing seemed to happen about it until late last year when the then Minister in this chamber who was in charge of the matter indicated that the then Government had changed its mind and was not proceeding with the matter. I recall that it was stated in several quarters on the Opposition side that the proposal ought to be proceeded with. This Government has decided to proceed with it. It was announced as part of the election policy. The drafting of the legislation is in its final stages and I hope that it will be introduced into this chamber during the present sittings.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the ‘Prime Minister. Is the Minister aware of a statement recently made by the New Zeal’and Labor Prime Minister, Mr Kirk, that New Zealand forces would remain in Singapore? Does the Minister agree with Mr Kirk’s further assertion that the size of the forces was not important compared with the contribution that they would make to the political stability of the area? Are Australia’s strategic interests so different from those of New Zealand as to justify total withdrawal of all Australian forces from the Five Power Agreement?
– I think that this is probably a matter for the Minister for Foreign Affairs rather than for the Prime Minister. But in any event I suggest that the question be placed on notice so that the Prime Minister, whether in his capacity as Prime Minister or as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, may give a considered answer to the very important matter raised by the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. The Minister will remember that, on the occasions of earlier Budgets, manufacturers of excisable products endeavoured to avoid increases in duties by making abnormal clearances from bonds prior to the announcement of the Budget decisions. It has even been claimed that these savings were not passed on to the consumers but represented an excess profit to the manufacturers.
– Senator, you ‘are starting to give a lot of information.
– Has the Minister any information as to whether this practice was followed prior to last night’s Budget?
– I have come prepared for this question because it has been raised on every occasion when a Budget h’as been presented.
– A Dorothy Dixer.
– It is something that has been raised. It involves the very important question as to whether people are getting an advantage out of budgetary alterations. There is a practice, to which the honourable senator has referred, and I have asked the Department of Customs and Excise to keep a careful watch on it. The law in its present form does not prevent manufacturers and merchants from indulging in this practice, although I am giving consideration to proposing certain amendments. It is completely unacceptable if merchants make an excess profit at the expense of the consumers.
It is still too early to be specific as to the extent to which this practice has been indulged in on this occasion. A very preliminary examination suggests that there has not been any large clearance of petroleum products. However, it also appears that there have been abnormal clearances of potable spirits of at least 4 weeks’ demand and tobacco products of two to three weeks’ demand. There is always a significant quantity of duty paid goods in the pipeline between manufacturers’ bonds and retail outlets. Consequently, the retail price of those goods on which the excise has been incl, eased should not be affected for some time. To the extent that there were abnormal clearances of tobacco products and spirits, as I have indicated, there is no justification for any price increase for a considerable time. When the final information is available in a few days’ time I will make it available to the Senate.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The Government has already said that it will continue to honour existing financial guarantees to Papua New Guinea after independence. But does it also intend to assist the financial needs of Papua New Guinea after independence by providing guarantees for new Papua New Guinea government borrowings on the Australian or overseas markets?
– I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer in the other place.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry say how apple and pear growers have reacted to the Government’s proposal to set up an Australian Apple and Pear Corporation, which will replace the existing Australian Apple and Pear Board? When is it proposed that the Corporation might commence operations, hopefully for the betterment of the industry?
– It is the Government’s intention to repeal the Australian Apple and Pear Board Act and replace that Board with a body known as the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation. I put this proposal to the industry about 3 months ago and growers in all States have had adequate time to study it. Specifically, there was general acceptance of the proposal by the mainland States; there was considerable criticism from my own State of Tasmania, as Senator Poke probably knows. But in the last 3 weeks I have met the Federal body of the Apple and Pear Growers Association and I received an assurance from all delegates that they would co-operate fully with the Government to ensure the success of the Corporation. In answer to the last part of Senator Poke’s question, I believe that the setting up of the Corporation will be of advantage to the industry. The Corporation will be a stronger body; it will have wider powers; and it will, I hope, have people on it who can contribute a great deal of expertise in the export of these fruits.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Does the Government still intend to press for a vote on the issue of the export of merino rams from Australia? If so, does it intend to place the pros and cons of the issue before woolgrowers who are eligible to vote? If so, is the Government or the Minister preparing such a document and who are its authors?
– I think I answered all of these questions during the last session. Certainly the timetable for the proposed referendum has been extended beyond what I had hoped earlier in the year would be the position. The Government has had to depend on various industry bodies to supply the roll of eligible voters, and copies of this roll have now been circulated to the main post offices throughout Australia. Any grower who feels that his name should be on the roll may apply to have it put there. I shall get for the honourable senator the precise details for which he asks and give them to him in writing because they escape my mind at the moment.
– Mr President, I would like the Minister, if he would, to answer a supplementary question for me.
- Senator Young, you can ask whether you may direct a supplementary question to the Minister.
– May I ask a supplementary question?
– I will consider it and call you later.
– I think it is opportune that I should put down a ruling on the matter of questions. It has been raised before the
Standing Orders Committee of which I am Chairman and which I presided over in Melbourne 10 days ago. As a result of matters that arose in the Senate yesterday I have given consideration to all the matters raised first by Senator Greenwood, then by Senator Wright and now by Senator Young. 1 wish to put down this ruling so that honourable senators and Ministers will have a thorough understanding as to how questions will be conducted in the future.
The first thing which must be understood is that a Minister cannot be required to answer a question. But if he does, the Minister should confine himself to points contained in the question with such explanation only as will render the answer intelligible. In all cases an answer must be relevant to the question. Within reasonable limits I shall allow supplementary questions in order to elucidate an answer.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. Will the information centre opened by the Minister at the Australian Government Publishing Service Book Centre in Canberra last week duplicate or cut across the information section of the Department of the Capital Territory?
– In the first place I want to stress that the internal information service which we are setting up is purely an inquiry service. It is not a government publicity setup. It is an inquiry service for the purpose of handling inquiries from members of the public. It is designed to provide a first point of contact between the people and various government departments. Over the years the machinery of government has become so complex that quite often people are confused about which department he or she should go to for information or assistance. The Canadian Government embarked upon this course in 1970. I think it has now established about 5 information centres. Last year it had some 500,000 inquiries and it is estimated that this year that number has increased by about 20 per cent. The United States Government has established about 35 information centres throughout the United States.
The New South Wales Liberal Government has established a government information centre in Sydney for the purpose of handling information or inquiries which it receives from the people of New South Wales. Because no similar service has been provided by past Federal governments that information service has attempted to handle information or inquiries in connection with the affairs of the Australian Government. This is part and parcel of keeping the people as fully informed as is humanly possible. In other words this represents a desire on the part of the Government to open up a store of knowledge to the Australian people.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Minister agree with the statement made in Ottawa by the Prime Minister in which he seemed to excuse China for conducting nuclear tests but said that the French action was monstrous? Does the Minister believe that there are degrees of culpability in this matter? Is it not a case of sheer hypocrisy to accept trade delegations from one nuclear testing country and enter into trading agreements with it and at the same time to threaten to sever all relations with the other country? Is the Minister aware that the Mayor of Auckland refused to welcome the Chinese trade delegation officially because, as he publicly stated, he placed the Chinese in the same category as the French in regard to nuclear testing? Is it not a fact that whatever verbal protest the Government may have made to China it is entirely different from the positive hostile action taken ‘against France?
– The Australian Government, and for many years the Australian Labor Party when it was in Opposition expressed opposition to the conduct of nuclear testing, especially in the atmosphere. The Australian Government has protested against the conduct of such tests by both the French and the Chinese. It went to the International Court of Justice against the French because it considered that there was the basis of jurisdiction to do so. For technical reasons it has not been possible to take the same course in relation to the Chinese. The attitude of the Australian Government in opposing the conduct of such atmospheric nuclear tests has been consistent. I am not prepared to accept the honourable senator’s suggestion that either the Prime Minister in Ottawa or the Australian Government in any respect whatever has failed to indicate at all times objection to such atmospheric nuclear tests by any power.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Is the Minister aware that the New Zealand Transport Minister, Sir Basil Arthur, has announced that he will travel to Australia next month for urgent consultations with his Australian counterpart, the Honourable C. K. Jones, on a shipping dispute? Can the Minister advise when Sir Basil intends to visit Australia and for what reasons he requires these urgent discussions?
– As I understand the position, Sir Basil Arthur intends to visit Australia in the week commencing 10 September, one purpose of his visit being to have discussions with the Australian Minister for Transport. Sir Basil is the Minister for Transport in New Zealand, and on 17 August he introduced a Bill concerning the New Zealand State Shipping Line. His discussions in Australia, I think, will include consideration of arrangements for the transport of cargo between Australia and New Zealand.
– I have to announce to honourable senators that sitting in my gallery is a delegation of the Parliament of Mexico led by Senator Miguel Barberena. On behalf of honourable senators I extend to the members of this delegation a cordial welcome. I hope that they have found and will continue to find their stay in Australia pleasant. I take this opportunity of welcoming them to the Senate of the Parliament of Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. It refers to the information centres which have been discussed already. Will the information centres have the function of referral of inquiries to the appropriate government department or agency? Will there be any co-ordination attempted between the work of the information centres and the citizen advice bureaux which have been established with State and local government support?
– I am grateful to Senator Guilfoyle for enabling me to add to the answer I gave to Senator Milliner. The information centres which are being established within government bookshops in the various capital cities will refer to a government department or agency the particular inquiry that is made if the inquiry officer cannot himself give an answer immediately. For instance, should a person ask an inquiry officer how he or she should seek to obtain a pension and the answer to the question is simple, the inquiry officer will provide it immediately. However, should the constituent’s financial affairs complicate the question, it will be referred to the appropriate department. All the information centres will, we hope, be connected by telex to a central point in Canberra where the information may be produced within 2 to 5 minutes. Certainly we are prepared to co-operate with the citizen advice bureaux in any way to provide to the Australian people information about the Government and matters of concern to them.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it true that a number of visits by patients to their doctors in some provinces of Canada went up by about 3 times when the Canadian medical scheme was introduced? Can the Minister say whether the anticipated increase and the number of doctors’ consultations in Australia will be of this same order when our new scheme is introduced, with a consequent huge increase in the number of prescriptions given out and therefore a considerable increase in cost to the country?
– I think that this is a matter more for my colleague the Minister for Social Security than for the Minister for Health. Of course, the Minister for Social Security is a member in another place. I am unaware of the details sought by Senator Townley in his question. Therefore, I ask him to place the question on the notice paper and I will obtain a suitable reply.
– I direct a question to you, Mr President. Will you as President, in consultation with Party leaders in the Senate, prepare a statement for the guidance of honourable senators on the proprieties which should be observed by senators as members of Senate committees of inquiry? Will you in particular determine whether it is proper for senators outside such committees to hold Press conferences or issue Press statements reflecting partisan attitudes to the matters on which they are required to adjudicate or reflecting on witnesses who have appeared before them?
- Senator McManus, I will give you an undertaking that I shall at a time that is opportune bring down before the Senate a model set of standing orders as to how committees of the Senate should conduct themselves in the public gaze. To illustrate my strong intention in this context, I inform you that last week the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate met in Melbourne for 2 days to examine the problem of preparing a set of standing orders for the conduct of Senate committees. Recommendations will be brought to the Senate so that the Senate itself will determine finally how committees should conduct themselves.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the immediate and serious harm done to the citrus growing and processing industries in the Riverland area of South Australia and in other areas of Australia, and to the apple and pear industry, by the abolition, as from this morning, of the sales tax exemption in respect of aerated waters which incorporate 5 per cent or more of pure fruit juice? Is he aware that the exemption created and, indeed, assured demand for fruit juices by aerated water manufacturers throughout Australia and provided a vitally important outlet for fruit production? As cheaper synthetic materials will now replace genuine fruit juices, what action does this Government propose to take to meet the loss of markets and income by the fruit growers and their co-operative processing organisations?
– Tt is true, as indicated in the Budget, that the Government has decided to discontinue this exemption. I should say initially that although the amount which it has been costing the Federal Treasury is in the vicinity of S24m a year, only a very small percentage of that amount has been going directly to the growers - believed to be about 10 per cent. I question the suggestion in the honourable senator’s remarks that this will have a marked effect on the manufacturers and also on the growers. He asked me specifically what the Government intends to do. The Treasurer spelt out quite clearly in the Budget Speech last night that any problems which arose for the growers or the industry as a result of this decision would be looked at as favourably as has been the case with other restructuring problems in the fruit industry. I take this opportunity to remind the Senate that it is also proposed in the Budget that, under the reconstruction scheme, there will be an increase in assistance both to the apple and pear growers - the fresh fruit industry - and the canned fruit industry to which the honourable senator has referred. There will be an increase in expenditure from Sim last year to $4m this year. I suppose that in a simple mathematical way one could say that one cancels out the other.
– How much of that is grubbing grants?
– This is part of the restructuring process which was initiated by the previous Government. I think that it would be fair to say that the proper and purposeful expenditure of this money will be more to the benefit of the industry in the longterm than the simple exemption system which has applied in the past.
– My question, which has health-social security overtones, is directed to Senator .Douglas McClelland who represents the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Security. Has the Minister noted the remarks of Mr Cecil 0’Dea, a member of the board of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, in connection with the operations of the New South Wales Hospitals Contribution Fund? Can the Minister assure the Senate that, in view of the impending changes under the national health scheme, the directors of this Fund will not be allowed to ride roughshod over the wishes of the rank and file members of that Fund?
– I have noted the remarks of Mr 0’Dea I have had a discussion with my colleague, the Minister for Social Security, about the matter. I can assure Senator Mulvihill that everything possible within the power available to the Australian Government and to my colleague, the Minister for Social Security, will be done to ensure that the money of contributors is used for the benefit of contributors, lt is pleasing to note that at last there are people like Mr 0’Dea who have begun to point to consumer interest in the operations of these Funds. It is to be hoped that other consumers will take a larger part, especially in relation to such matters as Fund reserves. The future of Fund reserves is a key part of the policy of the Australian Government in structuring its new health scheme and, of course, is receiving the very careful and considered attention of my colleague, the Minister, who, I understand, will be making a detailed statement on the matter at some later stage.
– Was the Minister for the Media correctly reported in the ‘Australian’ of 8 August as promising that the Federal Government would pay the cost of action by Greater Union Theatres in Brisbane to fight a court case to overcome a ban on the screening of the film ‘Oh! Calcutta’? If so, what governmental precedents was he following? What are the reasons for using taxpayers money to fight a State government and to aid a powerful picture theatre combine to screen a film of somewhat doubtful decency?
– I saw the statement in the ‘Australian’ newspaper at the time. I assure the honourable senator that I knew nothing about it. I rang the general manager of the company concerned and spoke to him. He denied having made the statement. He subsequently wrote to the ‘Australian’ and his letter appeared in the edition of the paper 2 days after the report to which the honourable senator has referred.
– Did the Minister for Repatriation on behalf of the Minister for the Army recently receive a deputation from the Whyalla Town Commission regarding the road over Army land to Point Lowly in South Australia?
– Yes, I did receive a deputation which was led by Mr Laurie Wallis, the member for Grey in the other place. The road in question is a shorter route from Whyalla to Point Lowly, which is something of a recreation area. The Commission asked whether it was possible to upgrade the road. It is over Army land. It was not possible to get any Army or Air Force squadrons to do the work requested. The honourable senator may be interested to know that I have written to the Minister for Tourism, Mr Stewart and, as there is a lighthouse there, to Mr Charles Jones, who is the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation, to see whether we could assist in upgrading the road in a compromise plan which would be partly assisted by the Whyalla Town Commission.
– I wish to direct a question to the Attorney-General concerning the papers he tabled yesterday, which consisted of correspondence from the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to himself. I ask: Has he noticed that in them Mr Barbour said that he drafted and issued a telex message to ASIO staff, that a heading of one of the paragraphs in that message was the word ‘complaint’ and that that paragraph, although not complaining, was intended to convey in brief form the gist of Mr Barbour’s remarks to the Prime Minister? Did Mr Barbour say that he wanted the Prime Minister to be fully informed in particular as to the use of police in the AttorneyGeneral’s raid on and seizure of documents from ASIO? Did Mr Barbour say: ‘I was seriously disturbed about the future of the organisation and the implications for security in Australia’? Does the memorandum then refer to a leak of the telex message in terms of acknowledging that the telex message was leaked and that the telex message which was leaked is reported to have said that Mr Barbour regarded the raid as being unprecedented, extraordinary and gravely damaging to ASIO? Do those quotations not convey the irresistible implication that the part of the telex message which has been retailed by the newspapers is substantially in accordance with the paragraph of Mr Barbour’s message headed ‘complaint’. If so, is it not a question of what is the meaning of the words ‘complained of? Where is the truth? Would truth not be best served by the Attorney-General reconsidering his refusal yesterday to table the telex message? As the matter has now become the subject of public controversy, should not the whole facts be made known to the Parliament and the public?
– Last session many questions were asked by members of the Opposition in this House and in the other House on this subject and they were answered. One of the questions asked was directed to the matter of a complaint and it received an answer. Members of the Opposition have now found that the answers which have been given in both Houses are correct answers. However much they have gone outside this House and tried to make suggestions against the veracity of the Prime Minister they have found that their suggestions have fallen flat. I repeat that what has been put in the letter which has been tabled in this House is what Mr Barbour said. I do not propose to comment on it, interpret it or do any more about it than I have done. It is a letter which I had sent on to the Prime Minister. We have both tabled copies of it in both Houses of the Parliament. I repeat, in answer to the honourable senator’s question, what has been indicated by the Director-General of ASIO and what was stated by me yesterday, that is, that the most damaging thing which has been done to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been the leaking of an internal document of that Organisation. It is to the discredit of any member of the Opposition, whether in this House or the other, or any member of the Organisation, who has been a party to a breach of the rules and, as has been said by the Director-General of ASIO, to a breach of the Crimes Act.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media in his capacity as the Minister responsible for Government printing and publications. It arises from a question which was asked yesterday by an Opposition senator who suggested that there was something sinister in the fact that Hansard records of the committee inquiring into Croatian matters had not been available as quickly as one might have expected. Can the Minister explain what has caused the recent delays in providing printed daily Hansard reports of the proceedings of parliamentary committees? Is the Government doing anything to see whether these Hansard reports can be made available more quickly? If so, what is it doing?
– I hope that the Minister will not trespass on the President’s prerogative in his answer to this question.
– I will try not to trespass, but a question was asked of me in my capacity as the Minister responsible for the department concerned. I. seek your guidance, Mr President, as to whether I trespass at any time. All I wish to say is that it is true that a question was asked, I think by Senator Drake-Brockman, the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate, of Senator Murphy yesterday as to whether Senator Murphy or anyone else had done anything to stop the transcript of the particular Senate committee’s hearing of 17 July being published. As a result of that question being asked yesterday I made inquiries of my Department, and I am informed by my Department that the Government Printer has not undertaken to provide daily Hansards for all committees. As I understand the position, about 12 committees have been sitting recently to consider more than 20 references. I understand that, by arrangement with Mr President, it has been agreed that daily Hansards will be provided for, I think, the Joint Committee on Prices and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation.
I am informed also that copy of the proceedings of the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians has been delayed in arriving at the Government Printing Office, that delay being up to as much as 2 weeks. At present both reporting and printing facilities are strained to the limit. Obviously there are pressures on the Parliamentary Reporting Staff. Certainly there are great pressures on the printing side. This is a matter which my Department is keeping continually under review. The Government Printing Office has installed new photo typesetting equipment to try to cope with the demands of the Parliament. I can assure the honourable senator that neither Senator Murphy nor anyone else connected with the Parliament had anything to do with the delay in the publication of the transcript of the Committee’s hearings.
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, lt relates to the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement under which, until recently, building societies, whether they were permanent or terminating, or approved lending authorities received 30 per cent of the Commonwealth and State housing grant in each State. Is it a fact that this Agreement is now broken and that permanent building societies, which have proved to be far and away the most efficient and equitable form of building society, are to be discriminated against by being deprived of any of this grant while terminating societies are to be allocated a larger portion of the grant? Is the Minister aware that in South Australia and, I think, in Tasmania there are no terminating building societies? Does this mean that the private sector of home owners in these 2 States is to be discriminated against by comparison with similiar home owners in the richer and more favoured States and that none of the Commonwealth - State housing grant in South Australia or Tasmania is to be made available to home builders except that little which can be obtained from the State Bank of South Australia after funds have been allocated to buyers of the South Australian Housing Trust houses and certainly after lengthy waiting periods? If the Minister is unable to answer all the details of my question will he state whether he believes in such discrimination between people of equal income in different States?
– Obviously 1 cannot calculate all the details required to answer the question in the time available. This Government has pursued a policy of providing Commonwealth grants to areas of greatest need. There are 93,000 applicants for rental homes throughout the Commonwealth who must get some priority. That number of applicants, 93,000, has been created by emphasis being placed on home ownership to the neglect of those who could not afford to purchase a home. The result is that, under the present allocation, facilities have been made available for home ownership by means of increasing the amount available through banks for lending for home purchase. Other steps taken include the easing of the provisions of the War Service Homes Act - that happened during the last session of Parliament - and of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement under which 30 per cent of the money provided is for home purchase. The remaining money available under the Agreement, 70 per cent, must be earmarked for rental homes. That means that 30 per cent of the money is to be allocated to home ownership. There is no allocation for building societies, as was the case previously. Building societies will now arrange their own finance for housing. The honourable senator asked at the conclusion of her question whether there was preferential treatment. I can tell her that there is preferential treatment for the poorest element of the home seekers in Australian society.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer or the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Does the Minister consider that the wording used in the Budget fairly informed the Australian people and the Parliament of the increased burden by way of additional charges to be levied by Commonwealth Government instrumentalities? Did the Budget fairly indicate that within a period of months certain Post Office charges will rise by up to 300 per cent? Did the Budget fairly inform the daily newspapers of Australia, or the people who buy them, that the charge against them for Post Office facilities will rise by 100 per cent within 6 months? Will the Minister consider making a statement to the Senate setting out truthfully the limits of tax impost contained in the present Budget? Doss this Government consider that it has a double standard in requiring private businesses to face a Prices Justification Tribunal before increasing charges while it raises its own charges beyond all reason?
– I think this question should be handled by the Minister representing the Treasurer because it deals with Budget matters.
– This does relate to the Budget. A lot of matters relating to Post Office finances were raised. Later in the day the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral will be tabling a statement which was made last night by the Postmaster-General. I trust that that statement will assist the honourable senator in coping with his problems.
– My question, addressed to the Attorney-General, relates to an answer he gave yesterday in which he said that a senator had been involved in leaking the substance of a telex message sent by the DirectorGeneral of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Mr Barbour. Does the Attorney-General know who that senator is? I am not asking the Attorney-General to reveal his name. Also, is it within the knowledge of the Attorney-General that the senator concerned knows that his identity is known to the Attorney-General? Can anything be done, other than by the senator concerned, to clear the names of his 59 Senate colleagues of complicity in this quite reprehensible action?
– I think it is enough to say that it is very serious that a document, which has been classified in such a way that it should not be permitted to be outside the Organisation, has been, to use the vernacular, leaked outside and that there have been public suggestions that this document was certainly in the possession of a prominent member of this Parliament. It is clear that this matter has to be inquired into and it is being inquired into. A good number of statements have been made about the matter. In view of the serious nature of what has been done and the extremely serious nature of someone being a party to the commission of what the Director-General of Security has described as a breach of the Crimes Act, I think that it would be more appropriate for me not to add anything further in answer to the honourable senator’s question.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that some 34 fires and some deaths have occurred in Victoria this year as a result of the use of electric blankets? Will the Minister institute inquiries generally to determine whether these tragedies arose from faulty manufacture, false advertising or inflammable blankets and whether any Federal Government assistance has been available in the manufacturing of the appliances? What steps can the Government take to protect the interests of the consumer who buys the appliance believing it to be safe and sound in manufacture at all times?
– Off hand I do not think that there is anything that the Government can do at the present time except per haps under some law of the Territories. But it is clear that there ought to be protection of consumers so that goods which they receive are fit for the purpose, particularly where any unfitness may result in injury or death. It is the Government’s intention to introduce legislation for consumer protection. I think the kind of case the honourable senator refers to would be covered by that legislation, in that in respect of trading-
– They would still be open to civil action if the blanket were faulty, would they not?
– Yes. Presumably trading corporations selling these products would be required to ensure that their goods were fit for the purpose for which they were sold, and there would be appropriate remedies enforceable by the Government and also by the private citizen. Senator Little interjected to suggest that the citizen would have some cause of action under the new legislation. I think that would probably be correct under the law of the State in which the fire occurred. But this is not very appropriate in the case of, say, the death of young persons. No amount of damages could compensate for this, and often damages are inappropriate as a remedy or a penalty in such cases. No recovery of damages would make up for the human loss that has occurred. However, I hope that the Federal legislation contemplated will provide for the Government to take action which might bc able to reduce or eliminate such disasters.
– Honourable senators, before I call on a matter which will come before you in a moment there are 2 matters which I think it is proper that I should mention to you. I mentioned to Senator Douglas McClelland that I hoped he would not trespass on matters that lie within the province of the President but I am now prepared to make a statement which trespasses on some of his responsibilities. Yesterday I made an announcement to the Senate informing honourable senators that Hansard would be produced in a new format. As it has not been delivered it is proper that you should understand why it has not been delivered. I have made inquiries and I find as follows: Notwithstanding the announcement I made yesterday, I have to inform the Senate now that in spite of successful trial runs the Government Printer last night met unforeseen problems and difficulties with the new computerised printing process and is not able to say when Hansard will be produced today. The Printer regrets the protracted delay in the publication. I asked one of my staff to ring through to the people who produce the computer to ascertain the technical description of the problem, and his reply to my officer was that the regulations of the Postmaster-General’s Department prohibited him from replying over the telephone in appropriate terms.
The second matter I wish to mention to honourable senators is that earlier Senator Wheeldon asked a question in regard to Hansard’s production of a transcript for the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians following its hearings, I think, on 17 July. The answer to that is that in the first place the Committee, in an excess of zeal, ordered that a large number of documents which are properly exhibits should be incorporated in Hansard. They were of such a complicated nature that I had to use the authority vested in the President of the Senate to say that a great number of them could not be reproduced in Hansard. I take this opportunity to advise members of any Senate committees that Hansard is not geared to produce documents which, for example, in court actions are normally marked as exhibits and are referred to as such. Another matter relates to the resolution of the Senate which was that there be a daily Hansard of certain committees. My ruling on that is that there will be a Hansard of committee proceedings but at the present moment it is not possible, within the capacity of the Government Printer and of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, to produce a committee Hansard each day.
– That is a departure from our practice hitherto.
– I know. It is not within the capacity of the Government printing service or of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff to produce a Hansard on the day after each day on which a committee has met.
– Is their capacity getting less from day to day?
– When the printing really gets into gear and the glyphs are mastered maybe we will be able to solve the problem.
– Let us go back to Caxton.
– by leave - I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the days and times of meeting of the Senate from and including 11 September and for the remainder of the present period of sittings be as follows:
I am just giving notice. 1 suggest this for the consideration of honourable senators in order to have something on the record. This is not a deviation from my earlier statement that we should try to arrive at some harmony in the matter. This is to put something on the record which may be looked at as a specific proposal for the consideration of honourable senators.
Formal motion for Adjournment
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Rae, which reads as follows:
I give notice that pursuant to Standing Order 64 I propose to move this day that the Senate, at its rising adjourn until 10.59 a.m. on Thursday 23rd of August 1973 for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, viz.
The denial by the Government of the right of every Australian child to receive economic support for his educational needs from Government funds.
The failure of the Government to disclose to each school the index figure and the facts involved in the calculation of the index, by which non-government schools have been categorised.
The failure of the Government through its interim committee for the Australian Schools Commission to state the criteria used to alter the categories of certain small non-government schools and its failure to publish the list and details of those alterations.
The refusal of the Government to adhere to and acknowledge the promises made during 1972 by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley that Commonwealth grants to non-government schools would be maintained al a basic level of at least that applying in 1972.
22 August 1973.
– Is the motion supported? (More than the number of Senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
I refer to the fact that last year the present Government while in Opposition indicated that on becoming the government it would set up a schools commission to determine for Australian schools the standard of assistance and the direction which development should take. Its object was said to be to improve standards and opportunities in education. After the election the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) set up the Karmel Committee, as it has been known. Its full title is the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. Some of its terms of reference were fairly general and some were quite specific, but all of them related to the period 1974 and 1975. I draw attention to term of reference 3, which states:
The grants recommended by the Interim Committee will be:
for the period 1 January 1974 to 31 December 1975;
I emphasise paragraph (b):
So in the terms of reference was the very clear direction that grants were to be in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments.
The Opposition is eager to debate the full report of the Committee at the earliest opportunity given to it by the Government in its management of the business of this Senate. The Opposition will support some aspects of the report and it will criticise others. Certainly we do not - I emphasise ‘not’ - criticise the increased allocation of funds recommended by the Committee for the development of education in Australia. However, we regard the report as raising a very important matter of urgency which is made all the more important and more urgent as a result of the Government’s actions. We believe that every child in Australia has a basic right - a fundamental right - to be able to receive some assistance towards its education from the taxpayers’ funds or the community purse. We believe that every parent and every child in Australia has the right - it is contained in the Declaration of Human Rights - to be educated according to that religious system to which they adhere or in which they believe, if they so choose. We believe in the right of choice and in the right to receive some assistance from the public purse towards education.
As a result of the Government’s actions on this report I think it would be no overstatement to say that a wave of anger has been sweeping this country. There are demonstable absurdities and demonstrable injustices, and any person who supports the categorisation of grants to non-government schools in the way that this Government has is a person who supports demonstrable injustices. There may be some Australians who are not aware of the demonstrable injustices which result from this action by the Government but no doubt when they have heard the comments I shall make and those of my colleagues who will follow me they will be aware of some examples of those injustices.
One problem has been the tendency on the part of the Government and the Press to talk about rich schools and wealthy schools - the 105 rich or wealthy schools in Australia. Let me give some examples of the schools so categorised by the Labor Government. In Victoria is a small convent school where, I am told, a number of elderly nuns of the Order which runs the school retire but who occasionally give some assistance in teaching.
In the very ambiguous and very hastily compiled questionnaire sent out by the Karmel Committee these nuns were shown, faithfully, by the school as part-time teachers. And the net result is that this small convent school in a country town in Victoria has been placed in category A. All aid to that convent school is to be cut out.
There is the case of a relatively new college in Adelaide, South Australia. It is a college with 38 pupils that has adopted the new, progressive, modern approach to education. To an extent, it is an experimental school that is developing, I think in the interests of Australian education, some of the newer theories. The Cook Committee which has been set up by the South Australian Government to look into the needs of South Australian schools regards that school as being in the second most needy category of schools in South Australia. But what do we find as a result of the Government’s actions? That school has been placed in category A and will receive no aid whatsoever. It is a small school with 38 pupils. It is in a very early stage of development. Certainly, by no standards is it a rich or wealthy school.
I cite another case of a little school in Tasmania that has 105 pupils and which charges $50 a term for fees. We hear all this talk about rich schools with their huge amounts of income. Here is a little school which, as I say, has only 105 pupils and charges $50 a term fees. Buildings are being developed gradually and T am sure that the school will develop. But at this stage no one can regard it as being a wealthy school. But it has been placed in category A.
– There is no such thing as a wealthy school. They are all going broke.
– I do not have the slightest doubt that if this Government continues to treat schools in the way that it is treating them at this stage, Senator Little’s unfortunate prediction will be more likely to be true than was the case at the end of last year when the Government took office. In every State there are examples such as those I have mentioned of small, very needy schools with facilities such as those to which I have referred. There is a school where I understand the headmaster’s study is a caravan and the rest of the buildings and physical facilities are of a like kind. But it is in category A and will receive no assistance.
We know that there are a number of schools sited on very large areas of land. They have swimming pools and all of the most desirable facilities that one could imagine for sport, education and recreation. Some of those schools have been placed in categories in which they will receive increased aid over and above the amount that they would have received under the scheme that we introduced when we were in government last year. If this is justice according to the Australian Labor Party, then certainly it is not justice according to the thousands of people in Australia who are being adversely affected by this unfair discrimination.
This is a system which has been most unfair to small schools because they tend to have a relatively high pupil-teacher ratio. It is unfair to those schools that have suffered a decline as a result of the rural recession which has affected many regional schools in country towns. I refer to those schools which have been principally boarding schools, and which have suffered a serious decline in their pupil numbers. They have kept on staff in order to keep faith with the students who remain there so that they can provide the breadth of courses which is desirable for pupils. But many of those schools have been placed in category A because of the absurdity of an unreal formula which contains some facts, the details of which we do not know, being fed into a computer.
The Committee did give some information concerning the index. But the point that should be emphasised again and again is this: Although the factors were to some substantial extent released by the Committee, the facts which were applied and the final index figure have never been released. So no school in Australia which has been discriminated either for or against by the Government in respect of recommendations by the Committee knows where it stands. It does not know whether it was high or low in the category in which it was placed and does not know what it needs to do in order either to improve its position in a category or to appeal. It does not know how to plan for the future. This becomes impossible in those circumstances.
It is a matter of very real urgency for schools to be able to know these things so that they can plan ahead. The Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, is to be condemned for the sort of attitude that he adopted when he responded to a telegram sent by me requesting information. He replied to the effect that no school could need to know at this stage what was going to happen to it next year. He stated that this could not adversely affect its planning. Schools have to plan for some years ahead, not just for a few months, lt becomes imperative that the Government should release the information so that the schools may know whether they have the right of appeal, whether they have reasonable grounds for appeal, and how to plan for the next year and the following years so that they may be able to qualify for some of this assistance being handed out liberally to some - which we applaud - and, with great inequity, being taken away from others.
In compiling this index the Committee used what really boils down to a pupil-teacher ratio, lt has added in some other factors such as some administration expenses and use of materials. But basically, the most important thing, the thing which influences the position more than any other, is the pupil-teacher ratio. The Committee did not take into account the physical facilities available to the schools. It did not take into account the general wealth which a school may have - whether it has any investment, whether it owns any other land or buildings from which it derives income. It did not take into account the fees income or the endowment income of the school. Further, it did not take into account the debts of the school and, therefore, that proportion of its income which is required to service the cost of previous expansion. It did not take into account the overdraft that the school may have or the funds that it may have borrowed over recent years to enable it to continue. Many schools in Australia are in that position. But now, because of the way in which the index has discriminated against many of the schools which are in a struggling position, they are to lose all aid.
It appears that there may be some justification for some people in Australia believing that the Government has a deliberate intention to force some of the schools of Australia to close. If so, the Government stands condemned for this. If it is not the intention of the Government to do this, then it has a clear duty to prevent those schools from being forced to close. That is why the Opposition is taking the action that it has taken today to draw this matter to the attention of the Senate and the people of Australia by moving this urgency motion. A further matter to which I must refer is the effect that the categorisation will have on non-government schools in Australia. The effect that it will have, of necessity, must be to reduce standards. It is just nonsense for the Committee to talk about its desire being to raise standards while at the same time introducing a scheme which must have the effect of lowering ing standards.
Many schools will be forced to dismiss teachers so as to increase their pupil-teacher ratio in order to qualify for the aid necessary to enable them to continue. There is a law of diminishing returns as far as fee rises are concerned. There are many small communities in Australia in which there are just not enough people who can afford to pay the higher fees if schools fees are increased. As fees are increased, the school loses pupils. I can think of schools in which the number of pupils is about half the number it was 15 years ago simply because of this process of inflation which the Government is doing so much to encourage at the moment thus causing schools to have to increase fees.
There is another aspect which is, I believe, of very considerable importance to the integrity of government. That is the broken promises and the high handed attitudes both of the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, and the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley. Let me refer to just some of those. In May of last year Mr Whitlam made a statement at Festival Hall, Melbourne. That statement is well known; it has been quoted many times. It was a statement in which he said that aid would not be reduced and that the Labor Party would continue any forms of benefit in education which were pre-existing.
– I was there. Mr Whitlam pledged himself that no aid already existing would be withdrawn. That promise has been broken.
– Thank you, Senator McManus. There is a personal attestation to that promise. There are plenty of copies of the tape recording of the speech. Let me refer also to a statement made by the present Prime Minister on 20 June 1972 when as Leader of the Opposition he addressed the Catholic Luncheon Club of Melbourne. I emphasise that this was after we, then in Government, had announced on 1 1 May the increases which apply this year, the scheme which we introduced whereby every nongovernment school would receive from Federal sources 20 per cent of the average cost of the education of a child in a government school. It was expected by us that the States also would provide 20 per cent so that the nongovernment schools could plan ahead knowing that they were to receive 40 per cent of the average cost, a cost which, as it escalated, would be matched by an automatic escalation in the grant. That decision was announced on 11 May. It was after that announcement that the present Prime Minister made this promise:
The Australian Labor Party has never voted against any Bill proposing Commonwealth aid for education -
That was not true becuase there have been votes in this chamber in respect of which the Australian Labor Party has voted against such a Bill, but I pass that aside. The important part of his promise is the latter part of the sentence in which he said:
There was a clear undertaking, repeated again after the announcement of 11 May, and of course there was the prior statement to which I and Senator McManus have referred. On 13 December the Prime Minister again made a statement in a letter written to people concerned with non-government schools education. He said again that the benefits would be additional.
Let us look at what the Minister for Education, Mr Beasley, said in answer to a number of questions asked of him by the headmasters of 2 schools. He gave a written answer dated 24 November 1972. The first question was: ls it the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue per capita aid to independent schools for 1974 and following years?
I emphasise the words ‘1974 and following years’. The answer was:
The Government has broken that promise.
The next question was:
Can we have some specific guidelines indicating how money would be allocated according to needs?
The answer was:
It has been indicated that at least the 1972 level of $68 per secondary pupil and $50 per primary pupil would be maintained and that this would be graduated upwards especially for those schools whose fees over the last 5 years have averaged $300 a year or less.
For completeness, I quote the remainder of the answer:
It is however the intention ultimately to found the system on the findings of a schools commission. The guidelines mentioned are for the initial years. In 1973 the measures passed by the Commonwealth Parliament in August of this year would be in force.
The question to which 1 return is the first question, which was:
Is it the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue per capita aid to independent schools for 1974 and following years?
The answer was a clear ‘yes’. There are further questions and answers. I will quote part of an answer. It reads:
The figure $300 per year has usually been taken to refer to the average of fees for a day scholar over the last 5 years and schools whose average fee has been at that point or below it would receive extra grants.
I emphasise the word ‘extra’.
No headmaster, having received the letter from which I have quoted, could have suspected that a Labor government would do what this Labor Government has done, that is, take aid from a number of schools and from a number of pupils. What the Labor Party should remember is that it is not schools with which we are concerned, it is children. It is the education of children that matters. What the Labor Government is doing is to take aid vindictively in areas where it thinks it can make a point.
What was the response of the Minister for Education to the complaints of people that they could not find out information about categories? What was the response from Mr Beazley? Was it: ‘Oh, I am sorry. Yes, we who believe in open government will certainly make this information available to you’. No, it was not. The response was to complain that there was an organised campaign against him. Well, if he was a man of honour, if he was a man of principle, he would have resigned. He would never have allowed himself to be placed in this position of the clearest breach of a promise and the clearest breach of faith. If he was a man of principle, he would have resigned. He would not have adopted the secretive approach that he did adopt when on 13 April of this year he wrote a letter to the Karmel Committee changing its terms of reference without disclosing that fact to the Parliament and to the people. The terms of reference were changed secretly. That letter has been tabled in the House of Representatives at the instance of the former Minister for Education and Science, Mr Malcolm
Fraser, and it is now available to us. But for his action, that information would have remained a secret.
On behalf of a number of people, I put forward certain requests to Mr Beazley. AH he did in a telegram sent belatedly to me was to berate rae for misquoting Father Martin who was a member of the Karmel Committee. So, for the benefit of Mr Beazley and of other people, I quote from the transcript of a tape recording of what Father Martin said on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program ‘PM’ on 9 August 1973. The question was asked:
Mr Santamaria also said that the Protestant community would be feeling a deep sense of injustice. Do you think they are?
Father Martin replied:
Well, the people involved in those schools no doubt are, and, you know, I sympathise with them very much in this. I think they have been harshly treated by the Government. But to talk about sectarianism and so on is just nonsense.
That is what Father Martin had to say.
– The DOGS did not think so. The DOGS are having a good bite at this. They love it.
– 1 simply reassert that justice requires the recognition of the right of every child in Australia to a basic percentage of education expenditure from government funds. I reassert that justice requires publication of the information so far withheld relating to the facts used in obtaining the index figure for each school and the index figure result. One further reason I seek that information is that I have been informed - I do not know this - that some figures were not even worked out for some of the schools placed in categories. It would be interesting for those schools to know the true situation. Further, the Karmel Committee did not even observe that which it said in its report it would observe. It decided that, rather than adhere to a principle, it would vary it; and it did. It varied its assessment basis in relation to small schools and in some instances it took into account the size of a school.
The Karmel Committee states that it varied categories by placing some schools which would have been in category A or category B into category B or category C. In other words, schools which would have received no aid or reduced aid were given greater amounts of aid. But nobody knows which schools they are. How can we know which schools have received this favourable discrimination? How can any other small schools know whether perhaps they may not be entitled to similar discrimination in their favour? What were the criteria used to determine which schools would receive this special benefit and which schools would not? I have already quoted a number of examples of schools within category A which have small numbers. It is obvious that they have not obtained any advantage. It is very difficult for anyone to know what criteria have been adopted because there has been no discussion of them anywhere. They are being kept secret at this stage, notwithstanding the requests which have been made to the Minister for Education for that information to be made public. A series of secretive actions, a series of actions which are not in the interests of education, a series of actions which are unjust and discriminatory has been engaged in by the Government and it stands condemned for its actions.
– I have listened with great interest to the remarks of Senator Rae, who has initiated a discussion concerning education and the Government’s attitude towards the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. I have also listened with a great deal of interest to his criticism of my colleague in another place, the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley. I certainly do not agree with what Senator Rae has said about my colleague. One of the most outstanding men in the new Labor Cabinet is the Minister for Education. At the commencement of his remarks Senator Rae said that a wave of anger is sweeping this country about the way in which the Australian Government is approaching the educational situation. A lot of noise is being made about a very small number of schools but little is being said about the enormous benefit that will accrue to a very large number of schools - government and non-government - throughout the Australian community.
– It is giving the same to the non-government schools as it is giving to the government schools, is it?
- Senator Rae had a chance to speak without interruption and I dare say that Senator McManus will have the same opportunity later. Education is an important matter to the Australian
Government. As the Treasurer (Mr Crean) said last night, education is to be given top priority by the Government. The Government has set out on a policy of balancing out an educational scale which was in a state of tremendous imbalance at the time it came into office. The simple fact of the matter is that as a result of the adoption by the Government of the generality of the Karmel Committee’s report about 2,000 non-government schools will receive assistance. About 65 per cent of those non-government schools will receive even greater assistance under the scheme proposed by the Government than they would have received under the previous Government’s old scheme. It is all right for the Opposition to come here and be specific about one school in Victoria, one in South Australia and one in Tasmania and then say that 105 schools are to be deprived of assistance or are to receive no assistance, but it is forgetting about the 2,000 non-government schools, apart from all the government schools throughout Australia, which will receive assistance. It is also forgetting that 65 per cent of those schools are to receive even greater assistance under the Karmel Committee’s scheme than they would have received under the old scheme.
– That is not so.
– I am advised that it is so. That is the advice which has been given to me by the educational advisers who are sitting beside me. Let me repeat what the Treasurer had to say last night. He said:
For this Government, education is a top priority - it constitutes the fastest growing component of the Budget.
The Government will be providing $843m for education this financial year. That represents an increase of S404m or 92 per cent on that which was provided last year by the LiberalCountry Party Government. I say quite frankly and fairly that it is unjust of Senator Rae to stand in this chamber and criticise the Minister for Education for the manner in which he had handled his portfolio. When the Labor Government was elected to office on 2 December, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Banard) took office as a Government. Within 10 days of having been elected to office, even before a meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party took place to elect the rest of the Labor Ministry, they took action to establish the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission.
– Obviously they acted too hastily.
- Senator Marriott says that they acted too hastily. I disagree. As soon as a report was received by the Minister for Education from the Committee which was appointed a mere 10 days after the Australian Labor Party was elected to office because it regards education as a top priority it was, in pursuance of my Party’s policy of open government, tabled in the Australian Parliament for all and sundry to see. The report was distributed far and wide.
– I am sorry, but I must interject and say that only a few hundred copies were available and very few organisations were able to get a copy.
– I can assure the honourable senator, not in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Education but in my capacity as Minister for the Media, being ministerially responsible to the Parliament for the Australian Government Printing Office, that 13,000 copies of the report have been printed and another 3,000 copies have been requested. Only today I suggested to the Government Printer that another 5,000 copies should be printed. As soon as the report was presented to the Minister by the Committee it was tabled in both Houses of the Parliament. We are discussing the subject of education quite frankly and openly in public because we regard it as being of top priority.
Let mc refer to some of the matters which were alluded to by Senator Rae. Firstly, let me take his suggestion that there has been a denial by the Government of the right of every Australian child to receive economic support for its educational needs from government funds. My comment on that suggestion, which is the first point in the motion seeking the discussion of this matter of urgency, is that the Government believes that assistance to schools should be determined on the basis of needs and priorities in order to get a balancing out of the tremendous imbalance in the educational scale that occurred under the previous Government. The Interim Committee found that the category A schools lo which Senator Rae alluded were already employing recurrent resources at a level in excess of the target that the Committee determined for all schools by 1979. Despite what Senator Rae has said, the schools concerned have a right of appeal. The educational officers advising me have informed me that those schools have been told that they have a right of appeal.
– To whom?
– I understand it is to the Minister. It is for the Government to determine what its education policy will be. Appeals are already coming in. Schools in categories A and H are entitled to appeal against their classification if they believe that the data which they supplied was incorrect or if they can demonstrate a significant change in circumstances since 1972.
– A substantial change.
Albeit significant or substantial, Senator Rae is now admitting that they have a right of appeal. Appeals are being received from schools which believe that they have been given too high a category. They are being studied. The matter is being kept under review. When the legislation for the grants has been drafted, the Cabinet will consider the position and will make recommendations to the Parliamentary Labor Party. So much for Senator Rae’s allegation that there is a denial by the Government of the right of every Australian child to receive economic support for his educational needs. We have set out, as a government, to consider this matter on the basis of priority of needs in order to get some perspective of balance in this country’s educational structure.
Before I refer to the second paragraph of the matter of urgency, let me say that the schools have been categorised according to a completely objective test which applies equally to all schools. The information which was used was provided by the schools themselves. As I have said already, it is open to any school to appeal if it wishes to amend the information. The categories set out in the report apply only to grants for running costs. All schools, including those in category A, are eligible for building grants, grants for special projects and assistance with in-service training for their teachers.
– This has nothing to do with the matter.
– We have been criticised continually and accused of denying assistance–
– Answer the criticisms.
- Senator Wright will have his say later. Bearing in mind that only last night the Government announced an increase of$404m in expenditure on education, bringing it to a total of $843m for this financial year - an increase for this financial year of 92 per cent on what his niggardly Government did - I do not think Senator Wright has much to bellyache about.
Let me come to the second paragraph of Senator Rae’s matter of urgency. He suggested that there is a failure of the Government to disclose to each school the index figure and the facts involved in the calculation of the index. (Quorum formed.) The simple fact is that the Government has distributed to each non-systemic school, with the lists of categories, a statement by the Committee giving details of the method used to categorise each school.
– Have you got a copy of it?
This document, which is entitled ‘Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, General Recurrent Grants to NonSystemic Non-Government Schools’, was dated 1 August 1973 and was distributed to schools with a letter from the Minister for Education on 5 August 1973. The method used to categorise schools is explained in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of that statement. If Senator Wright wishes to look at the document, I have a copy. Anyway, he may have his say later. Let us come to paragraph 3 of the matter of urgency, which suggested that there has been a failure of the Government through its Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission to state the criteria used to alter the categories of certain small non-government schools. The Karmel Committee felt that it should give special consideration to certain small schools because of special problems associated with them.
– It is the ‘special problems’ that we are worried about.
Once again I remind Senator Rae that he had a chance to state his case quietly, and I seek the same opportunity. The Committee decided to exercise special consideration in the case of primary schools with 3 teachers or less and to move such schools from categories A and B to category C. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a list of the schools which have been removed from categories A and B due to size.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– As far as small secondary and small combined primary-secondary schools are concerned, the Committee gave special consideration to schools with an equivalent secondary enrolment of less than 200 pupils where the pupilteacher ratio at the secondary level was not more favourable than 10 to one. The Committee moved such schools from category A to category B.
Now I come to the fourth paragraph of Senator Rae’s matter of urgency. He suggested that there was a refusal of the Government to adhere to and acknowledge the promises made during 1972 by the Prime Minister and by the present Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, that Commonwealth grants to non-government schools would be maintained at a basic level of at least that applying in 1972. Let me read the Labor Party’s policy speech, as it related to education, for the last election. Mr Whitlam, as the Labor Leader prior to the election of a Labor Government said:
A Federal Labor Government will:
Continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973.
Remove the ceiling imposed by Commonwealth legislation on grants in 1974 and subsequent years.
Allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission which will include persons familiar with and representative of the Sta;e departments, the Catholic system and the teaching profession.
The terms of reference of the Interim Committee include that the grants recommended by the Interim Committee will be in addition to existing Commonwealth commitments. The Prime Minister, during the election campaign and in his policy speech, did not promise a basic grant equal to the grants of 1972. True it is that undertakings were given in May 1972 at a time when educational legislation was being debated and discussed in both parliaments, and the remarks he made at that time related to that legislation. He made it clear, as the then Leader of the Opposition, that the Labor Party was identified with that existing legislation. However the LiberalCountry Party Government introduced fresh legislation, the States Grants (Schools) Bill, towards the end of last year 1972. On behalf of the then Opposition, our colleague Senator Wheeldon moved, on 19 October 1972, an amendment to the motion for the second reading of that Bill in the Senate. He moved that at the end of the motion the following words be added: but the Senate, while not refusing a second reading to the Bill, is of the opinion that it should provide for the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools, and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities and that the application of this policy could not allow the continued acceptance of the provisions of the Bill and that therefore grants should not be made on the basis provided in the Bill in respect of any year after 1973.
That was the amendment moved by our colleague Senator Wheeldon in October last year when the then Government put up that legislation. Our attitude since becoming the Government has been completely consistent with the attitude we adopted in respect of that legislation and the attitude that was adopted, announced and enunciated by the Labor leader at the time of the last election when he made his policy speech on behalf of the Labor movement.
– And received a mandate for it.
– And received an overwhelming mandate from the Australian people, as my colleague Senator O’Byrne has said, to get on with .the job of bringing about a balance in the educational system throughout Australia.
In his reply to a questionnaire in Tasmania my colleague, the Minister for Education, identified himself with a basic grant of $50 for primary education and S68 for secondary education hut he made it clear that for 1973 grants of S62 and $104 would be continued. It is also clear that he warned that after this initial period the $50 and the $68 would be guidelines but the decision would be a matter for the Australian Schools Commission. It was made clear in debate in the House of Representatives on 30 May when the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission was tabled that the Minister for Education had advocated on a number of occasions a basic grant of $50 and $68. The Interim Committee made other recommendations. The implicit charge of indifference to non-government schools is rejected. In the last biennium of the McMahon Government every form of assistance to non-government schools amounted to $71. 5m. Under the Karmel proposal and other programs, in 1974 and 1975 it will amount to approximately $195m.
Every member of the Labor movement in this chamber is proud of the achievements undertaken to date by our colleague the Minister for Education. We are proud of the fact that as soon as a Labor Government was elected the Prime Minister took action immediately to correct the great imbalance that had occurred in our educational system as a result of the activities of the previous Government. We know that there is a lot of hard work ahead. It will take a long time before that great imbalance is corrected but at last we have started on the road towards giving every Australian child at least equality of opportunity so far as educational circumstances are concerned. We on this side of the chamber completely reject the charges made by the Opposition in its urgency motion.
– The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) who represents the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) said that the Labor Government is proud of its achievements. I believe that that is a genuine statement from a devoted socialist. The legislation which will be forthcoming as a result of the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission - the Karmel report - ‘has been described on a number of occasions as a piece of socialist legislation and reform. The Opposition moved its motion of urgency in the Senate today in the following terms:
One of the main points of issue so far as the Opposition is concerned is that during those months prior to the election education was of particular importance. Taking in good faith the promises made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and others, the people of Australia were convinced that great things would be done for education. It must be handed to the present Labor Government that it has increased greatly the expenditure on education. However, I give it no credit for the great escalation in costs, whatever the calculation may be, and the inflationary tendency which its socialist policies have brought about. In equivalent cash terms, apparently additional dollars are to be made available for education. There is one point I want to emphasise. The Prime Minister indicated in his policy speech, delivered in the Sydney Town Hall on 13 November 1972 and in Melbourne on 14 November 1972, that he would continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973. He said that he would remove the ceiling imposed by Commonwealth legislation on grants in 1974 and subsequent years, and that he would allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission, which would include persons familiar with and representative of the State departments, the Catholic system and the teaching profession.
I say that Mr Whitlam reneged on that promise. The Minister for the Media said that the Prime Minister carried out that promise. I ask the Minister to state whether the Prime
Minister has allocated or will allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools Commission. The Prime Minister has not done so. He has changed the report of the Schools Commission to suit the socialist policy of the Labor Party. The Prime Minister has reneged on a promise which he gave the Australian people and which was intended to gather in votes prior to a Federal election. There was also the statement in the speech which the Prime Minister made at Festival Hall in Melbourne, and we have heard that Senator McManus was present on that occasion. So we do not have to rely only on the words in the recording of Mr Whitlam’s speech on 2 May 1972 which, I remind the Senate, was a period approaching a Federal election. Knowing that this would encourage people to vote for the Labor Party, the Prime Minister stated:
We want to remove the inequalities in Autralian education, and these are the greatest in the nongovernment sector, and my Party believes that where the need is the greatest, there, this assistance should be given.
I underline the following statement made by the Prime Minister:
We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which there are already.
– He has increased them.
- Senator Cavanagh finds nothing to cry about in the fact that the leader of his Party gives a promise and then proceeds to break it. I believe that that is typical of the attitude of Ministers in the Labor Government. I refer to the speech of the Minister for the Media who has just resumed his seat. He proudly said he acknowledges that Mr Kim Beazley is one of the best men the Labor Party has. I also believe that. I have a very high regard for Mr Beazley. During 1972 Mr Beazley was asked what would be the continuing attitude of the Labor Party in relation to education, should it become the Government. In a letter he was asked the following question:
Is it the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue per capita aid to independent schools for 1974 and following years?
He was not a Minister then but he is a Minister now. When Mr Beazley answered that question surely he had some regard for his own reputation which apparently the Minister for the Media considers to be the best within the Labor Party. In a letter dated 24 November 1972, in reply to questions asked by Dr A. S. Holmes, the principal of Oakburn College in Launceston, Mr Beazley’s secretary stated:
Mr Beazley has answered your questions as follows and has asked me to sendthemto you.
That is, he said: ‘Yes, it is the intention of the Federal Labor Party to continue per capita aid to independent schools for 1974.’ Not only have the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education broken a promise to the Australian people, but they have continued to break it and are apparently proud to do so. I do not take pride in that. I am heartily disappointed. I am disappointed to the extent that I appeal to the Labor Party - a great Party which is in power at the present time - not to renege on the promises given to the Australian people but to revise its decision and do as it said it would do, that is, to follow the Karmel Committee’s report. That report advised the Common wealth Government to continue for a period the grants that had been assured to independent schools. Paragraph 5 of the Karmel Committee’s report states:
The Karmel Committee recommended that grants to these schools should be phased out over 2 years. About 140 non-government schools are affected. The saving involved has not yet been calculated.
Paragraph 6.50 on page 71 of the report states:
The Committee feels that the sudden termination of financial aid on 6 months’ notice could place some schools within Category A in temporary difficulties. Hence the gradual phasing out of assistance over 1974 and 1975 is recommended; this implies that in 1976 schools whose resource use falls in Category A should receive no general recurrent assistance.
Paragraph 14.6 on page 140 of the report states:
It follows that those schools which are presently nearer the standards will receive somewhat less help. It should be apparent that this approach to need implies that schools with fewer real resources have greater needs than those with more. This is the interpretation of need that has been adopted by the Committee.
The Minister for the Media read out the Labor Party’s policy in which a promise was made to the Australian people. It was:
A Federal Labor Government will:
Allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Schools’ Commission . . .
The Minister for the Media should stand up and say that his Party has reneged on its promise. It has lied to the Australian people. It did not follow Labor Party policy. Why did it do this? It did it purely for the purpose of attempting to implement some socialist ideology which shows it has a hate against those schools to which parents send their children in order to give them some greater educational benefit than they otherwise would have.
– At considerable expense to themselves.
– These parents suffer a considerable loss in sending their children to a private school. The Minister for the Media said that the Government’s proposal would not affect many schools. I hope that the Minister will refer to his advisers from the Department and change this statement. Under the present policy of the Labor Party, 54 per cent of schools will be getting less than they were assured by the gradual increase in grants which the previous Government promised would be given to schools over the ensuing years. I will repeat that because I see that the Minister for the Media is busily talking to the Minister for Works. Under the present policy of the Labor Party, 54 per cent of schools will be getting lessthan they were assured under the previous Government.
– Who said this?
– What a blight on the Government, and Senator Wheeldon wonders who said it.
– Who did say it?
– I said it, andI ask the Minister for the Media to test it. Of course, Senator Wheeldon laughs. He laughs at everything. He usually comes into the chamber in that state of mind. If a great Party, which has come into power, promised the people, through its policy, that it would continue this support and then denied it - if the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education gave to the Australian people promises relating to the continuation of this support and then denied them - what are the people able to believe of the Labor Party? I hope that the Labor Party will reverse its decision on this matter because it is not hitting at people who are rich, which is the proposition advanced by our great socialist and close friend of the communists, Senator Cavanagh.
My children go to private schools at which I think they obtain an excellent education. But there are instances where both parents are working and denying things to themselves while they attempt to send their children to private schools. I have a number of boys and some go to one school and some to another. The school which is most hard up, which has the greatest indebtedness and which therefore has the greatest need, is placed in Category A. I have a son who attends another school which is wealthier, is more stable, has a lengthier history and receives greater support. This stupid Committee has put that school into category B. It is very good that it is put into that category but the basis on which schools have been categorised is completely ridiculous.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– After listening to Senator Webster I must say that for once I feel some sympathy with the State Executive of the Liberal Party in Victoria in its desire to see that Senator Webster gains no higher position than No. 3 on its joint Senate ticket. The matter before the Senate is a motion moved by Senator Rae in which he condemns the actions of the Federal Government and, in particular, the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). I suppose the essential part of this rather long motion moved by Senator Rae is contained in paragraph 1 which refers to the denial by the Government of the right of every Australian child to receive economic support from government funds for his educational needs. If one says nothing else, 1 think one must say that one has to admire the audacity of a defunct, defeated Liberal Party which, on seeing the first Labor Budget for 23 years which gives unprecedented assistance to the education of Australian children, with an increase-
– It is inflationary.
- Senator Jessop says that it is inflationary. I think that is rather interesting because it shows the sheer confusion in the minds of members of the Liberal Party and its appendages on the Opposition benches. On the one hand they are saying that not enough money is being given to education, but when I point to the fact that the amount which is being given is unprecedently high, Senator Jessop says that that is inflationary. So presumably whatever we do is wrong. If we do not give money to education we are depriving the children of their education, and if we do give money that is inflationary. I think the public can see through the nonsensical reasoning which leads to these 2 mutually contradictory conclusions. 1 do not propose to waste my time dealing with the matters which Senator Jessop has raised. It is apparently a sign of a split between him .and Senator Rae - a new split which hitherto I did not know existed.
Let us have a look at the funds which are being made available to education in Australia. I should like to refer in particular to the words which were included in the Budget speech delivered last night in the other place by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and in this place by Senator Willesee. What does the Labor Government say about education? We say:
For this Government, education is a top priority - it constitutes the fastest growing component of the Budget.
If I may interpolate, this was said on the very day before the Opposition in this place has moved a motion which condemns the Government for not spending enough on education. The Budget speech continued:
We will provide S843m for education in 1973-74, an increase of S404m or 92 per cent on last year. There will be a further substantial rise in 1974-75 as the programs commencing in 1974 come fully into effect.
So we have provided for a 92 per cent increase in the budgetary expenditure on education in this country and the Opposition has the audacity to say that this Government is denying every Australian child the right to receive economic support for his educational needs from Government funds. We have increased by 92 per cent the money available for the education of young Australian children, and one can only admire the Goebbels technique of this motion. At a time when such a tremendous increase in expenditure on education is proposed by the Federal Labor Government the Liberal Party can only say that we are denying the rights of Australian children to an education. If we are denying the rights of Australian children to an education, what was the previous defeated Government doing? It offered only 8 per cent of the expenditure which we are offering to government schools in Australia.
What has been the history of the assistance provided to education in Australia? In a shameful effort to gain votes the previous
Government holusbolus gave per capita grants to schools, taking no account whatsoever of the financial resources of the parents whose children were receiving that assistance and taking no account whatsoever to the financial resources of the schools receiving that assistance. We believe that this was totally wrong. If I may be forgiven for injecting a note of class warfare into the proceedings of the Senate I, along, I believe, with the overwhelming majority of Australian people, believe that it is totally improper, totally unjust, something to be condemned and something to be deplored that when a wealthy Melbourne stockbroker wants to send his son to Geelong Grammar School he should receive precisely the same assistance as a widow at Paynes Find, Western Australia, who wants to send her child to a state high school.
The Australian Labor Party does not adopt that policy in relation to the education of Australian children. We believe that there ought to be equality of education but we have not removed grants to the non-government schools. We have far from removed grants to non-government schools. We are acting on the recommendations of a committee set up under the chairmanship of Professor Karmel. What was the principle under which Professor Karmels Committee worked? It believed that the general level of education in Australia was altogether too low, that if one looked at the basic resources of the government schools in Australia and took an average one could give to this average an index figure of 100. The modest but reasonable goal of our education program - it is not an inflationary goal - is to raise over the course of the next 6 years that basic level of 100 to a level of 140. In other words, we are seeking to improve by 40 per cent the facilities now available to the school children of Australia. We wish to do this for the government schools and for the non-government schools.
Senator Rae has said that there is some mystery about the index. The index was made public when the report of Professor Karmel’s committee was tabled in this Parliament some months ago.
What is revealed when one looks at the index and looks at the position of non-government schools in Australia? One finds that the rate which applies in the various nongovernment schools varies from a minimum of 40 - that is to say, 40 per cent of the average in the State schools - to 270 - that is, 1 70 per cent greater than the average level of facilities available in State schools. So the range extends from 40 to 270, which is a colossal range. We have said that as we desire to fix the level at a minimum of 140 we shall eliminate aid to those schools which operate at present on an index of more than 140 - that is, those schools which are classified A according to the index. There are about 140 schools which fall into that category. The Opposition apparently has seized upon this figure insofar as it has understood the index. I do not think Senator Webster understands it. I think Senator Rae understood it but set out deliberately to sow seeds of confusion.
There are 140 schools which fall into category A. Does that mean that we are reducing aid to schools in general or to nongovernment schools in particular? It does not. If one takes the government schools, for example - and this is the basis of Australian education, and I am not ashamed to say that the basic educational factor in Australia is the Government education system - one sees that for 1971-72 Commonwealth aid to government schools amounted to $40.5m which will be increased to $495m for the financial year 1974-75. Yet this is a government which is accused of not looking after the educational needs of Australia. There has been an increase in the annual grant to government schools by the Federal Government from $40.5m to $495m. That is more than a 12- fold increase compared to what was given by the last lapsed, defeated, defunct and deflated Government.
Let us look at the non-government schools. Are we reducing assistance to nongovernment schools? What was the aid given in 1971-72 by the previous, defeated Liberal Government? It was $7 1.5m. What is the aid proposed by the Labor Government for 1974- 75? It is $195m. Is this Opposition going to go to the people who conduct the private schools in Australia and say to them: ‘You will be better off with us than you are under the Labor Party. The Labor Party is so miserable that it gives you only $195m. We are so generous and so concerned that we will give you one-third of that amount. We will give you $7 1.5m.’ Is that the argument of honourable senators opposite? Is that what they are saying? Are they saying that we are undermining the non-government schools because we are giving almost 3 times as much to them?
The figures, which have been made completely clear in the Karmel report, show precisely what we are doing. We are endeavouring to raise the level of all children who are receiving education in Australia. Our education program is not a social services program. If some people think that the education which is provided by government schools or by Catholic schools is so inadequate that they want to send their children to Melbourne Grammer School or to Guildford Grammar School. That is entirely up to them. But if they send them to schools which stand at an index of 270 when compared with a base index of 140 they cannot expect to be paid for doing so. If they want to make a sacrifice then let it be a sacrifice. Let them say: ‘We want to make a sacrifice but we would like you to pay for the making of the sacrifice.’ This is the most extraordinary concept of sacrifice that I have ever heard. They say: ‘I will make the sacrifice as long as you pay for doing it.’ That is what we are being asked to do.
We are not trying to close down nongovernment schools; we have increased 3-fold the aid which is being given to them. But we are saying that those schools which at the present time have facilities in excess of those which we have fixed as a goal for all the other schools in Australia for a time 6 years from now will not continue to receive assistance until such time as the level has been raised. Then the whole matter will be reconsidered. No school is being permanently crossed off. There is to be an annual assessment of the relationship between schools and the index. Any schools which fall below the desirable index will, in turn, receive that aid.
This Government is concerned about education. That is one of the reasons why it was elected. The people of Australia repudiated the previous Government and the way in which it treated education. Education has been made the first priority of this Government. We have increased the aid to government schools 12-fold. We have increased 3- fold the aid to non-government schools. The Australian Labor Party is prepared to stand on its record. We are proud of our policy. We are proud of the way in which it has been implemented.
– The terms of this urgency matter arise from Labor Party policy which is ugly, divisive and grossly discriminatory and which is deliberately designed to be so. It is a policy which is born out of an uneasy compromise by a Labor Party Caucus which has for years been riven by a division including those who in a substantial number are opposed to any kind of State aid for independent schools at all. Let the people of Australia understand that for many years the Australian Labor Party’s policy was implacably against State aid. Today a narrow and very tentative majority inside the Caucus wants State aid. The minority has exacted its price. This policy is not only a confidence trick but also a breach of promise and a breach of principle.
The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), who spoke in the debate, talked on statements of policy. I draw the attention of the Senate and of the people of Australia to a statement made by the spokesman for education and now the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) not 5 months but 13 days before polling day. This was made in a national radio broadcast as a statement of Labor policy. This was a man whose words should have been taken and who should have been pledged to implement his words when in office. This is a test of his integrity. The report states:
Mr Beazley said a Labor government would maintain the existing level of grants to independent schools-
That is plain language -
It would make extra grants to schools which averaged fees less than $300 a year over the past 5 years, providing $75 above the $68 grant already made to each secondary school child.
I draw the attention of honourable senators to the next paragraph which is the statement of principle contained in paragraph 1 of our urgency proposal and which is a gross breach by the Minister. The report continues:
He said all children, whether at State or private schools, would be equally the concern of the Labor government.
In plain words that was a promise and an undertaking to the people of Australia that if a Labor government were elected the per capita grants, across the board, would be equally applied in perpetuity. No amount of dodging and weaving will alter that because 5 weeks before polling day in a similar statement Mr Beazley said:
No private school would get less under a Labor Government than the per capita grant it received now.
Those promises were stated in order to win votes. They were stated to the people of Australia as a representation of Mr Beazley’s integrity on which he is now judged. Those statements were accepted by the people of Australia and they have now been broken.
Not only is this policy a bad one and a breach of promise but the machinery itself is worth examining because it is similar to a lot of other machinery which is to be set up by the socialists. What do we have? We have the supreme example of a socialist Big Brother who says: ‘Canberra knows best. Canberra will set up a committee and Canberra will tell Australia what it should do. How will Canberra do this? It will do it by a questionnaire, coldly and inhumanly sent out to the 10,000 schools in Australia. They will be asked to fill in the questionnaire. We will not come and sec and will not come and examine. We do not have to, so good are we. We will put the information in a computer as we will do in relation to national health.’ Senator Wheeldon smiles because he supports this system.
– But his smile is permanent.
– Yes. His smile is both out of place and out of seat. Nevertheless we have Big Brother in action. Big Brother sits in Canberra and makes incredible mistakes. Big Brother, the socialist, knows best whether it in relation to education in independent schools, hospitals or anything else. Big Brother by questionnaire and computer will tell us what to do. Indeed, we have the example that Senator Rae gave. Big Brother will do what he has done in my State. I have received some 30 complaints from schools, most of them limited in their resources, which have been classified in Category A. A school in Ryde - Senator Douglas McClelland may be interested in this - is established on an old poultry farm. The headmaster receives only half of his salary, the students use the old poultry sheds, a double-decker bus is the recreation room and the students do the cleaning and maintenance. Yet it is placed in Category A. Why has it been placed in Category A? Because it conceived the idea that all of its funds should be put into human resources, and that it should have a good teacher-pupil ratio.
But let us look at this wonderful piece of nonsense. The Committee, by statements afterwards, has admitted that basically, as to 80 per cent, it has relied for its index on a teacher-pupil ratio. But in another part of the report, and in other published documents, the Committee says solemnly that the teacherpupil ratio has no necessary bearing on the quality and standard of education. So the Government says: ‘We are going to use this ratio, we will apply it, but take no notice of it because it bears no necessary relationship to the quality of education’. Big Brother in Canberra is deciding these things. This system, of course, is designed for a particular purpose. It is designed and geared to force lower standards in the independent schools and ultimately to abolish all or most of them. If one set out to design a system that would debase, make mediocre and force down, this would be the system one would devise.
Headmaster after headmaster has come to me in agony and said: ‘We will be forced to corrupt our principles. In order to be placed in a lower category we will be forced to sack our teachers; we will be forced to lower our standards so that we can get money from the Government.’ The test which this socialist Government makes on education is: ‘Go ahead, sack your teachers, increase the teacher-pupil ratio, debase your system. Or, if you like, spend your money on buildings and amenities and you will get by.’ In other words it is designed to do what almost half of the Labor Caucus and a growing body of influence wants done: To produce a device which will in the end destroy the independent schools. It is a system which in its application stops small schools from existing or going forward, schools which want to grow and which have space to do so. It stops them because they have a low teacher-pupil ratio in their initial stages. This is of no concern at all to the Government: Out they must go. This system not only prevents the small school from growing; it penalises schools which provide a wide range of subjects, because where there is a wide range of subjects there is a wide range of teachers and a low teacherpupil ratio. So what will we have? We will have the incredible example of socialist conformity forcing down the education system the whole time. What have we got? We have the incredible thing called the index of resource uses. A government which went to the people, pledged in the opening paragraph of its policy speech to open government, will not reveal to the people of Australia the nature of this index that has been used, and so no school is able to or will be able to understand the criteria by which it has been judged.
Let me make this clear. Until this Government came to office every independent school in Australia knew one thing clearly: It could predict the future with certainty in terms of principle and application. It knew how much money it would get and when it would get it. No school today can look to that certainty. AH must face a tentative future because from time to time, on principles unknown to them they shall be judged. Of course, as a result of pressure by parents and other schools, these schools will level down - and this, as I have said, is an entirely corrupt situation.
It is common practice for Labor Party members who speak on the subject to talk of wealthy schools. We are talking, as the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) did in happier and more high principled times, of all the students in Australia and their parents. I commend to the Government the income tax statistics. It should look at the analysis of the incomes of those parents who pay $300 or more a year to send their children to school. Are they wealthy? Have the Labor Party members sought to learn whether these people are the wealthy people they say they are? These are the people they are going to punish. In 1967-68, the latest year for which published figures are available, of the 124,046 people who claimed the maximum deduction, 59,168 or 47.7 per cent had gross incomes before deductions and before tax of less than $6,000 a year. So do not let us hear from the Government benches in future talk of wealthy schools. There are no wealthy schools, and basically on the taxation figures-
– Why do you not lift up the poor ones first?
– Let Senator Mulvihill get up and say that he is going to deny assistance to those 60,000 people approximately whom the Commissioner of Taxation says are on low incomes, that he, as a senator from my State, is going to oppose low income families, because that is what he is saying by way of interjection. All the people of my State should understand this. The honourable senator is saying: ‘Yes, the figures reveal that you are on low incomes, but because we are discriminatory and because we have this iniquitous principle shown in this index we are going to deny you’. So let nobody ever say that there are wealthy schools or wealthy parents.
– Why do you not ask Father Martin why he signed that report?
– If Senator Mulvihill wants to stand by all this discrimination in my State - and I hope that representatives of the 34 schools in my State are listening at this moment - -let him get on his feet and explain this little riddle. In this Budget the Government says: ‘We are going to save §2m, $3m or S4m - that is all - by using category A, because we must save it and because we do not believe that the wealthy should get the money. But, by the way, we will in this Budget spend tens of millions of dollars to send everybody to a university, a tertiary college or a technical college free of charge, be they the wealthiest people on earth or the poorest’. Let Senator Mulvihill say to the people of my State that he can unravel this principle. Let him say that he, like us, will abolish the means test on age pensions so that the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars extra will go to people on middle and higher incomes as extra pensions. I hope the people of Queensland are listening to Senator Milliner who is interjecting because he is standing on the side of those-
– What about wealthy old boys’ bequests?
– Can the Government say to the people of Australia: ‘This is the hoax that we have perpetrated on the people of Australia. We will spend tens of millions of dollars extra to send wealthy pupils to universities and to tertiary colleges, we will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to put people on higher incomes beyond the means test, but we will not spend $2m, $3m, $4m or S5m to help schools in category A? Since the Government’s only test is money and that is gone now, and since its only argument is that it is dealing with the wealthy and I shot that down with the income tax figures, it is left with only one reason for this action: It loathes and detests the independent schools system, rich and poor school alike. It seeks to divide them prior to destroying them. The sooner the people of Australia understand that this is the start of a squeeze and that next year 54 per cent of independent schools would have received more as a result of the policies of the previous Government than they will under the Labor Party Government, the better.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 p.m. to 8 p.m.
– The Senate is debating a matter of urgency proposed for discussion by Senator Rae, chiding the Government for denying the right of every Australian child to receive economic support for his education needs from Government funds. Specifically, this complaint relates to the Government’s decision to withdraw grants for recurrent expenses to schools which fall within the Karmel Committee’s category A. They are the richest, most lavishly endowed of our private schools.
– The honourable senator must be just completely without information.
– I take it that Senator Wright will favour us with his lucubrations a little later. If he will give me a chance, I will say my piece now. Senator Webster, who 1 sec in the Senate chamber, spoke or rather wept from the pocket as one affected by this decision. Senator Carrick, as is his wont, saw in this decision another proof that the Australian people elected a Bolshevik government last December. If the standard of debate on this motion is a fair sample of the level of criticism which the Government is likely to get in this present session, evidently we are in for a boringly easy time.
I would like to remind the Opposition of a few figures. In the biennial period 1971-72 all grants to non-government schools from the former coalition goverment led by Mr McMahon amounted to $71. 5m. Under the proposals of the Karmel Committee, the present Government will grant in the 1974-75 biennial period approximately SI 95m to non-government schools. In 1974-75 the Labor Government will grant approximately S495m to State schools. That represents a twofold increase over the performance of the previous Government. In the light of these figures, how breathtakingly fatuous it is that the Opposition in the Senate should choose the subject of education for its first attack on the Government during this session of the Parliament. I decline to enter the contest in windy rhetoric to which Senator Carrick attempted to reduce this debate before the suspension of the sitting. Instead I propose to make one simple elementary point.
– It will be simple if it comes from the honourable senator.
– This is why 1 want to make it simple: It is obvious that some members of the Opposition, after dinner, find it difficult to follow one simple elementary point. I ask those few of them who are in the Senate chamber to give me special attention so that they may be able to follow this one simple elementary point. In deciding that after 1973 there will be no further grants for recurrent, as against capital, expenses in schools in category A, the Government is not, as Senator Rae suggested, denying the right of every Australian child to receive economic support for his educational needs from Government funds. Those children will continue to receive support from the Government. Let me explain how this will happen. The latest statistics show that just under 10 per cent of all taxpayers claim §200 or more per child for education expenses. This amounts to a taxation concession each year of some SI 5m. The overwhelming majority of those taxpayers receiving the benefit would be parents of children attending category A schools.
– Jla! Ha!
- Senator Young laughs. He does not believe this.
– No, 1 do not.
Coombs task force recommended the abolition of this concession. But the Government did not accept this advice.
– Did it leak you a copy or have you seen one?
- Senator Rae talks about leaks. His Party has been the repository of leaks from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in recent months. His leader suggested that the Coombs task force report should be made public 2 weeks before he protested about its having been leaked. I would have thought that the word ‘leak’ is the last word that the Opposition would dare to mention. I think that members of the Opposition should put themselves under a self-denying ordinance not to mention the word ‘leak’, at least for the duration of this session. In any event, this concession of SI 5m to the parents of children attending mostly category A schools will continue.
The case which the Opposition attempts to make against us today is that we have dishonoured an election promise by discontinuing the current grants to the category A schools this year. If the Opposition wants to be pedantic it can say that we-have dishonoured the promise. Would members of the Opposition have preferred that we continue the recurrent grants paid by the previous Government amounting to $5m a year and only for the next 10 years, which would satisfy the promise, and abolish the taxation concession forever? Would they have preferred that? The taxation concession amounts to a SI 5m a year subsidy to the parents of children attending a category A school. If the Government had accepted the advice from the Coombs task force which would not have involved us in the breach of promise with which Senator Rae has charged us today the people for whom Senator Rae speaks would be out of pocket by $10m a year. Would they prefer to be placed in that position or to have us commit a breach of promise?
This is all I want to say on this subject. This is such a transparently fatuous motion that I think one would be dignifying it by speaking to it at any greater length. As one who, like Senator Webster, is personally affected adversely by this decision I applaud it as a wise and a fair one.
– I was present on 2 May last year at a crowded meeting in Melbourne’s Festival Hall. The present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) spoke at that meeting. In those days, he was the Leader of the Opposition. He enjoyed the tremendous applause which he received as obviously as he enjoys seeing guards of honour in foreign countries. The then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, said as an election pledge:
We will not repeal or reduce any, educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which are there already.
In other words, the present Prime Minister pledged his word that not one educational benefit being paid by the previous Government would be removed by his Government. The Prime Minister proposes to break his word and to leave 105 schools without the assistance that he promised them. I point out that the present Minister for Education OM, Beazley) was also electioneering. In the course of his electioneering, the present Minister for Education said that his policy was that the Commonwealth should have identity with the education of every child. He proposes now to prevent the Commonwealth having identity with the children in 105 schools. The present Minister for Education went further. He toured a number of areas in the course of the election campaign and, in search of votes, he published a document called ‘Priorities in Education’. At page 2 of that document he made this pledge, this election promise:
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant that it gets now.
I speak to the people of Australia: The Prime Minister made the promise that no school would be deprived of the aid that it received under the previous Government.
– You speak for only 4 per cent of the Australian people.
– The promise was made by the Minister for Education-
– Three per cent.
– I will repeat that promise because of the uproar of Labor senators who do not want it to be heard. The Minister for Education said:
Whispering campaigns to the contrary, no private school under Labor will in future get less than the per capita grant it gets now.
My appeal to Labor Party members is to honour the pledge that was given to the people by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education.
– You need to appeal to the electors, not to the Australian Labor Party. That is your biggest problem.
– My friend from the rural areas of South Australia is trying to prevent the people of Australia hearing the truth. He knows that it is the truth. It is little credit to Senator McLaren that he is prepared to try to drown with his shouts the evidence that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education promised that no school under Labor would receive less than it received in per capita payments from the previous Government. He is a supporter of a Government which has dishonoured its pledges. What has happened? Who are the people today who are applauding what the Government has done?
– The majority.
– The majority?
– We do not expect any applause from the DLP.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Senator McLaren, the corner where you sit is becoming known as the hallelujah chorus.
– Senator McManus is being provocative.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I will not permit this constant barrage of interruptions. The speaker is entitled to be heard.
– Mr Deputy President, 1 rise to take a point of order. The reason why interjections have come from this corner is that Senator McManus is accusing the Government of being dishonest and the Government has not been dishonest.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr Deputy President, Senator McLaren objects. He said that I have accused the Government of being dishonest. I have not done that. I have proved that the Government was dishonest. I have quoted the evidence. It does little credit to Senator McLaren, who would himself claim to be a man of honour, that he is prepared to defend dishonesty and to defend the breaking of a pledge freely given by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education when they were chasing votes in order for their Party to become the Government. Who is applauding this action? Senator McLaren says that the majority of the people of Australia are applauding it. This decision today is being applauded by the DOGS. That organisation contains worthy representatives of the people who are doing this kind of thing. It is being applauded by the haters of any aid to private schools. The effort made by the Government, or by the left wing section of it, is to use this breaking of pledges - this iniquitous proposal - to drive a wedge on the basis of religion into the people who have their children at private schools.
– You have been talking to Santamaria.
– I am surprised that Senator McLaren should mention Mr Santamaria. Senator McLaren will be embarrassing the Ministers in his Government who were once members of Mr Santamaria’s organisation. He will be embarrassing the many members of his own Party who were once members of Mr Santamaria’s organisation and who did not have the intestinal fortitude to stay with Mr Santamaria. Senator McLaren, you ought to keep quiet. I could name the Ministers and members of your Party who were active members of Mr Santamaria’s organisation but, not being like your organisation which is anxious to encourage pimping and informing, I will not name them.
– All you do is cast aspersions. You will not name anyone.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator McLaren, you will cease interjecting.
– I rise to take a point of order. Mr Deputy President, I know your undoubted ability to keep order in the Senate, but I believe that Senator McManus is departing from the subject matter of the debate before the Senate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The point of order has no substance. The Senate will come to order. Senator McManus will be heard in silence.
– What is being done by the Government is a tremendous boost to sectarianism in this country. It is an endeavour to drive a wedge into the parents of children who attend private schools. There is a special attack upon those schools associated with religious organisations and a specific attack on Jewish schools. I admire the extent to which the Jewish people have been prepared to contribute their resources to their schools. But because they desire to teach their children the language of their faith, Hebrew, it is essential that in many instances their classes should be small. Because of their small classes, Jewish schools have been singled put particularly in the Karmel report for a denial of the aid which they deserve in order to train their children.
I do not wish to be completely on the attack. I want to put forward a positive proposal. I say to the Government that the honourable thing for it to do would be to say that it will retain, as it promised in order to get elected, the basic per capita grants which it insisted it would not deny any school if Labor became the Government. As far as the additional money is concerned, the Government can claim that it has a mandate for the needs provisions in relation to it. If the Government did that, it would be able to say that it had not broken its word, the word that it pledged to be elected as a government.
All the talk is that the Government will help the children of the poor and not the children of the rich. Let me mention a question that was asked of Mr Whitlam at the meeting at Festival Hall in Melbourne. It was pointed out that all the elitist schools with the magnificent amenities are not private schools. In Victoria, schools like Melbourne Boys High School, MacRobertson Girls High School and the University High School would have ail the amenities and picked staffs, and would be the equal as far as quality of teaching is concerned of any private school. What is the situation with respect to 2 parents on the same income? One parent sends his boy to Melbourne Boys High School. This Government says that he is entitled to have practically everything required for his education paid by the State. Another parent sends his boy to a private school at which he will get only equal facilities - in many cases the facilities would be not as good at the smaller schools - to those at a public school. He gets nothing from the Government. That is supposed to be justice.
Mr Whitlam’s attention was drawn in my presence to the example of a man who sends his child to Melbourne Boys High School and another man in receipt of the same income who sends his child to Melbourne Grammer School. The quality of the teaching, buildings and amenities are the same. Mr Whitlam was asked why one parent should have everything paid for and the other should get nothing. His answer was a classic. He said: ‘I cannot answer that question’. Compared with the money that is being lavished in other directions, the amount involved in the making of per capita grants to the schools which are to be denied them is small. It would not require a great deal of expenditure by the Government for it to keep its word. I appeal to the Government to give to the schools that are at present in receipt of per capita grants at least the present per capita grants and to implement its policy in relation to the extra money. In that way it could at least claim that it has been honest.
Does anyone imagine that the number of schools which are to be denied is not going to grow? Does anyone imagine that as time goes on the number of schools which will be eliminated on the ground that they qualify for nothing is not going to grow? By the expenditure of a small amount of money the Government could keep its word and be honest. Look at what it is spending in another direction. It is going in for free tertiary education. The Government is not prepared to spend a very small sum of money in order to keep its word to the private schools but is prepared to spend huge, even astronomical sums in the field of tertiary education without any regard to the fact that many of the children who will be going to those universities will be the children of wealthy parents who could well afford to pay for their education. Where is the needs provision there? The student at a university who is not too well off and the student at the same university whose father is wealthy and who can provide him with a motor car and everything he wants are going to be treated alike by the Government. There is to be no needs provision there. Why is the needs provision to be concentrated on the private schools? I will tell honourable senators why. The left wing of the Government wants to drive a wedge into the parents of children who attend private schools. It wants to create a sectarian bitterness which, in its belief, will enable it to do away with private schools altogether. Let me quote briefly the example of one school which is to be denied aid and which has been referred to as an extremely wealthy school - Scotch College, Melbourne. The Principal had this to say to me:
I have made the point repeatedly, both to Mr Beazley and in statements, that the school may be regarded as having excellent resources but nevertheless carrying with it a considerable burden in helping parents. The endowments of this school provide $21,500 approximately to help people who cannot meet the fees. The total cost of competitive scholarships, concessions in respect of ministers’ children and teachers’ children, concessions for younger brothers, and concessions for those in need of assistance, some of them needing complete remission of fees, amounts to just under $200,000. The balance therefore has to be found from the fees paid by those parents who are paying the full fees.
Scotch College is a private school which is regarded by the Government as being a wealthy school which does not need assistance. It is providing help to the extent of $200,000 to the needy children who attend it. Despite that, the Government has said that it will wipe that school from receiving any Government assistance whatsoever.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I am prompted to take part in this debate not ‘because I feel there is a case to answer - I think the Opposition’s efforts in this respect have been pretty futile - but because I believe that the education policy of the Government will result in one of the most dramatic and exciting changes in the education system in the history of this Parliament. I believe that the members of the Opposition have performed like a team of lightweights.
They are preliminary boys up against the policy and administration of possibly the best Minister for Education in Mr Kim Beazley ever to sit in the Australian Parliament. There can be no dou’bt about that.
As I have to go through the motions, I think I should make a brief reference to the history of the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission - the Karmel Committee. It was on 12 December 1972 that the Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, established the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission and requested it to investigate the position of government and non-government schools throughout Australia, both at the primary and secondary levels, to bring in recommendations regarding the immediate needs of these schools, to establish some sort of priority with respect to those needs and also to recommend measures whereby those needs could be met. The Committee, under the chairmanship of Professor Peter Karmel, met and brought down a unanimous report which was tabled in the Parliament on 20 May 1973. When it was published for each and every person to see it received all round acclaim for the manner in which the members of the Committee had discharged their obligation to determine the needs of the school systems throughout Australia. Cabinet considered the report and on 12 June 1973 accepted it with one exception. The Committee recommended that the grants for recurrent resources of schools in category A should be phased out over a 2-year period during 1974 and 1975. The Cabinet did not accept that recommendation. It decided that the phasing out should be after 1973. Cabinet based its decision on a reason that was given by the Committee itself. The Committee’s opinion was that Government aid could not be justified in the maintaining or raising of standards beyond those which publicly supported schools can hope to achieve by the end of a decade. I do not think anyone can be annoyed with or opposed to the soundness of that reasoning.
Let us examine the complaints that have been made by members of the Opposition during the course of the discussion of this matter of urgency that was initiated by Senator Rae. I think this debate was initiated for no other reason than to try to advertise the fact that Senator Rae is the shadow Minister for Education. Senator Rae said that there is to be a denial by the Government of the right of every Australian child to receive economic support for its educational needs from Government funds. What rot! He could not possibly be serious about that. For the benefit of the record and as the Opposition has graciously given the Government an opportunity to get its message over to the people of Australia per medium of the broadcasting of this debate, allow me to make a brief comparison between what the McMahon Government did in the field of education and what the Labor Government is doing. Honourable senators opposite will know as well as I do that during a 2-year period between 1971 and 1973 the McMahon Government allocated $40. 5m to government schools. For a similar 2-year period the Labor Government has allocated $495m, which is 12 times or $450m more than was provided by the previous government. Let us turn our attention to the subject of aid to non-government schools. The McMahon or Tory Government in a 2-year period between 1971 and 1973 gave $71.5m to non-government schools. The Labor Government, which is supposed to have an inbred bitter hatred towards non-government schools and which is supposed to be wanting to bring about their abolition and to reduce them to a mere nothing in order to allow the government system to take over, is to give $121m more over a 2-year period than a government which posed as the champion of the non-government schools. Surely to God those simple arithmetical figures prove that there is no comparison between what the Opposition did when it was in government and what the Labor Party is doing now that it is occupying the treasury bench.
I believe that the Australian public is well aware that Labor’s policy is a creative and a responsible one and one which will increase expenditure on those in need. Surely to God no one in this chamber will parade under any misapprehension that he did not know that the Labor Party’s education policy, if it became the Government, would be based on need. Why has there been all the hypocritical showmanship that we have seen tonight from Senator McManus who accused us of not sticking to our pledges? Everything that he has learned in politics he ‘has learned in the Labor Party. He knows that whatever Labor has promised Labor will do.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) - Order! There are too many interjections. I know that there has been a lot of crossfire in the Senate during this debate. I think that it has gone far enough. I propose to ensure that each speaker will be heard m silence, as he should be heard in this chamber. I ask honourable senators to respect my wishes.
– ‘The second paragraph in the matter of urgency which Senator Rae is trying to propound in the Senate is as follows:
The failure of the Government to disclose to each school the index figure and the facts involved in the calculation of the index, by which non-government schools have been categorised.
There is no secret index. Senator Rae knows that as well as 1 do. He is trying to mislead the electorate and to draw a red herring across the path. There is no support for a weak defence against our policy. Categories A to H, which are the categories under which all schools come, were prepared by the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission in the most objective way possible - on data supplied by the schools themselves. There was no secret about the manner in which the index system would be arrived at. It is dealt with completely and fully in chapters 5 and 6 of the Karmel report Explanatory notes appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’ and the ‘Age’ newspapers. Furthermore, statements went out to the various schools. The method that would be adopted by the Committee in arriving at the index system was self explanatory. Surely there is no secret about that. It has been published for everyone to see. The schools know as well as Senator ‘Rae and I know that they received all the information that was necessary for them to fill in their applications.
There is another provision. If schools submitted incorrect data to the Commission or if there has been an significant change in the circumstances of schools since 1972, they can apply to the Commission for a review. The plain and simple fact is that Senator Rae and his colleagues in the Opposition have ignored the difference between recurrent grants and capital grants. Mention was made of St Joseph’s Christian Brothers College at Nudgee. It has magnificent grounds. Its buildings are the equal of any school buildings in Australia. From a real estate point of view it would be worth millions. It is not in category A because its recurrent resources are such that when the number of pupils in a class is divided into its recurrent resources the result keeps it below category A. The fees for a day student at Nudgee College are S240 a year. On the other hand, at the Geelong Grammar School, which is the alma mater of the former Minister for Education, Mr Malcolm Fraser, the fees for a day school student are SI, 200 a year.
– You are wrong there. He did not go to Geelong Grammar.
– He went to one equally as good. It is in category A because its recurrent resources are entirely different. The listing of a school in a category is not determined by whether the building looks nice or has aesthetic beauty or by the spacious grounds. Surely everybody knows that.
The third paragraph of the matter of urgency raised by Senator Rae states:
The failure of the Government through its Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission to state the criteria used to alter the categories of certain small non-government schools and its failure to publish the list and details of those alterations.
Again, what roti The Government has been as open as a book on this matter. The Karmel Committee analysed Australian schools and established a base unit of 100 for an average state school’s recurrent resources. This was measured against the index for nongovernment schools. The listings varied from 40, which schools were put in category H, to 270 in some instances, which schools, naturally enough, had to go in category A. The plain truth of the matter is this: Although this Government will spend $2,000m on education in the next 6 years, the schools which are in category A today will still be ahead of the 140 points which is regarded as the level to which the whole school system in Australia should be lifted. After $2,000m is spent on education in the next 6 years these schools which Senator Wright and Senator McManus are defending will still be ahead of the 140 points which is regarded as the mean for the recurrent resources for the school system in Australia.
The fourth and final paragraph of the matter of urgency states:
The refusal of the Government to adhere to and acknowledge the promises made during 1972 by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, that Commonwealth grants to nongovernment schools would be maintained at a basic level of at least that applying in 1972.
Of course anyone can be quoted out of context. One can take passages of a speech and use them. Apparently Senator McManus has spent most of his political life in Melbourne’s Festival Hall because any time that he wants to attack a statement-
– He was there attending Labor Party meetings.
– Yes, at Labor Party meetings, wanting education. Let us see what the present Minister promised in relation to the education system. This is in Hansard of 26 September 1972, page 1936. The present Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, when speaking on the States Grants (Schools) Bill said:
We take the attitude that in the coming school year of 1973 this Bill must therefore be allowed to proceed. But we give a fair warning that if we are in power, while there will be an expenditure on nongovernment schools of no less than the sum total that will be appropriated in this Bill, the appropriation will be reapportioned - it will be reapportioned on the basis of need.
That is the promise that Labor made in the Parliament of this country on 27 September 1972. We have heard claims about discrimination against non-government schools. Would the Opposition be enlightened to know that over 80 per cent of pupils of nongovernment schools will be better off under the new scheme of grants than they were previously? 1 have not heard anyone opposite admit that. Despite what has been claimed by the Opposition, the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission has not used pupil-teacher ratios to assess the needs of schools for additional grants. The matter has been looked at on an overall level of resources being used in schools. The Committee has not sought to impose any fixed pattern of expenditure, whether it be on teachers, equipment or ancillary staff. They are the plain facts.
– It is a pity that you do not know what you are talking about.
– I do not know what I am talking about? You have had your opportunity, and you have not said anything. We hear so much about discrimination, socialist objectives and similar matters. Let us hear the views of some of the Opposition’s confederates and bedfellows - the Conservatives in Great Britain. The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher was in this country recently.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired. 1 call Senator Davidson. Before he commences his remarks, I wish to say something. I intimated earlier that I proposed to ensure that speakers in the debate would be heard in silence so that the listening public of Australia could hear the arguments for and against this issue. Before Senator Davidson commences I point out that if I have to interrupt this interferes with and depletes the time allotted to a speaker. 1 do not wish to do this to honourable senators on either side, but I will do it if I have to.
– The Senate is debating a matter of urgency, and I think that I should stress again that it is a matter of urgency and of great importance not only to the Parliament but to the country. It is urgent because it draws attention to a Government decision which can only be described as discriminatory, divisive and destructive. It reveals the socialist doctrine for what it is, namely, a dragging down instead of a building up, and anything that is a dragging down instead of a building up is, in my view, both dishonest and deceitful. It relates to a decision which has been discussed by the Senate this afternoon and this evening which can only be described as a travesty of justice. Anything that is a travesty of justice is, in my view, a matter of urgency. This is an urgency motion which the Senate may well spend its time discussing. It should also draw the attention of the people of Australia to its derogatory condition. This matter is urgent because the subject relates to one of the principal ingredients of Australian life. Because it is one of the principal ingredients of Australian life it is part of the existence and life of every one of us. If there is any factor in it that tends to destroy the character and quality of those things then we should regard it, as do we of the Opposition, as a matter of urgency.
Education is more than a program of schools or of teacher training, lt is more than a matter of technical development or of institutions and programs. Indeed, it is much more than a quoting of figures ad infinitum, as we have had, in so-called arguments put forward by Government speakers this afternoon and this evening. Government speakers have not dealt adequately with the situation. The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), who in this place represents the
Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), gave us a speech in which he quoted chapter and verse from last night’s Budget Speech instead of answering the questions put forward by Senator Rae. I remind you, Mi Deputy President, that no less a person than the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts could only muster up arguments on this subject for 7 minutes, no more than that. There was nothing in what he said. He did not display any degree of intelligence. He made no positive comment. He did not answer even one vestige of the argument put forward by Senator Rae. Let me put this very firmly on the record: If that is the best that the Chairman of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts can do on the subject of education, which is of vital importance to the country and to the Senate, then the Government has admitted its own inadequacy in this situation.
The basis of education is to provide within our total activity in society systems and opportunities whereby people can obtain the knowledge, skills and cultures which they require. Education also can provide for them systems which are most useful and from which they will get personal and long-lasting satisfaction and effectiveness. I make this point because the cornerstone of such a program of education is the provision of freedom of choice and flexibility of movement. This freedom of choice and flexibility of movement should be provided for parents, for children and for all persons seeking to be educated. And, lest we forget someone whom nobody has mentioned this afternoon or this evening, it should be provided for teachers who may wish to teach in a particular field. Something also should be said about the freedom of a school. A lot has been said today about schools. Why do we not recognise that if a community body wants to establish an educational organisation or a school to provide a type and style of education that meets the country’s standards, and which can attract a sufficient number of students, it should be free to do so? That community body should be free also to raise and improve its standards. It should be free to live and grow with a minimum of hindrance. Having said all that, if a community body is allowed to do all that then it is entitled to equality in sharing government or public funds. This is one of the reasons why Senator Rae, supported by his Opposition colleagues, raised this matter of urgency today. I shall read into the record some of the points in the notice relating to the matter of urgency. They are as follows:
We press the urgency of these key words because in the Government’s program for education there is a denial, a failure and a refusal. The Government has denied the right of children in Australia to receive economic support. This is true because it has been long acknowledged and established by communities in States and by governments that for some years there has been a growing involvement of public funds in the total education program. Let us say, and say again, that there is no argument about this situation now but the Australian people and the Senate need to be reminded that the principal opponents in the early days of State aid for schools were the members of the Labor Party who are so vigorously attempting to defend their situation tonight. The principle of State aid to independent schools was firmly established by the previous Government. It ensured equal justice for all children irrespective of the school which they attended or of the financial situation of their parents. The present Government has undertaken to support this principle. I do not mind if other people have said this before me today but 1 want to read into the record again the words of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Honourable senators on the Government side may laugh about Festival Hall but on 2 May the Prime Minister said this:
We will not repeal-
– Tell us what he said in his policy speech.
– If the Prime Minister says a thing he sticks by it. If he denies it at any other time, that is your problem. He said:
We will not repeal or reduce any educational benefit which is already being paid. We will confirm any which there are already . . .
You could not get anything clearer or more definite than that. You could not get anything more precise, more definite, more positive or more encouraging than that if you were looking for it. What about the Minister for Education? 1 have a very great regard for the Minister, Mr Beazley.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) - .Just a moment, Senator Davidson, while I repeat what I said before. Senator McAuliffe, you have been interjecting continually. You had the opportunity to express your point of view and Senator Davidson will have the opportunity to express his point of view without interference. I attempted to afford you that opportunity and I propose to do the same for Senator Davidson.
– There was reference earlier this evening to the comments of the Minister for Educaton in this Parliament. Those comments are set out in Hansard. He may say one thing here and be so recorded in Hansard but let me remind the Senate what he said a few months ago in a radio broadcast in Melbourne. Mr Beazley said in a Labor Party broadcast that a Labor Government would maintain the existing level of grants to independent schools. He said this in a Labor Party broadcast and you could not doubt his word in such circumstances. I certainly would not doubt it. In that Labor Party broadcast he said that all children, whether at State or private schools, would be equally the concern of a Labor Government. He said that State or private schools would be equally the concern of the Labor Government. He said that the Schools Commission which Labor proposed to establish would remove all controversy on this matter. By his actions he has promoted an even greater amount of controversy. He said that the Commission’s report would be made public and if the Government did not accept its recommendations it would be answerable to Parliament, lt is answerable to Parliament all right. The Government has produced a situation in which we are deeply concerned that the word of the
Prime Minister and the word of the Minister for Education cannot be given any credibility. I will refer to something else which the Minister for Education said. It is reported in an article in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’. It has not been denied - certainly not in the debate tonight. The article states:
No private school would get less under a Labor Government than the per capita grant it received now, Mr K. E. Beazley said last night.
Where is the credibility of the Minister, of the Prime Minister and of the Labor Government when these statements which have already been repeated have not been denied by anybody on the Government side tonight? Today parents of children at schools all over the country are angry at what I would call the blatant injustice of this withdrawal of aid. The best that can be said about it is that it is breaking a promise. It has caused great confusion in the education world. Education leaders are looking in vain for guidance. Any Minister who so betrays a large section of the electorate surely places his own reputation in doubt. Any government which proceeds to deny the right of every child in this country to some economic support in its education cannot be relied upon not only now but in the future when it makes any decision or announcement concerning this matter or indeed any other matter.
Let the country note that the denial has followed the actions of what I will call the anti-independent schools lobby in the Government, and let the Government deny that there is an anti-independent schools lobby within its ranks. This lobby has overridden the Prime Minister and the pre-election promises of the Government. It has overridden the Minister for Education. In my view this calls in doubt every assurance that the Minister gives as to the future of independent schools under Labor. Let the independent schools of this country take note of that because the Minister’s statements and the Government’s statements call in doubt the treatment which these schools will receive under Labor in the future. So this denial to provide funds for every child by withdrawing aid from some schools is having a crippling effect on the Australian community and, in particular, on the education system. They may be my views. I should like to put to honourable senators the views of the Australian Parents’ Council which is not an insignificant body. At a conference in Hobart only a few days ago the Council stated:
This Conference condemns the denial of the fundamental right of every child to a basic share of public money by the withdrawal of the existing contribution to recurrent expenditure.
I repeat to the Senate a resolution which was carried by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney which has a great range of interests and which has a wide range of educational responsibility. It carried this resolution:
Grave concern that the basis of calculating the categories has resulted in great anomolies, with small struggling schools in the same category as large wellestablished schools.
We point out that the withdrawal of per capita grants in whole or part will have serious effects on smaller and developing schools and will cause grave hardship to many parents.
Senator Rae has raised a matter of urgency which refers to a number of matters. I turn to one of those matters which refers to the failure of the Government to disclose to each school the index figure and the factors involved in the calculation of the index by which non-government schools have been categorised. I have not been persuaded at all today by the arguments advanced by the Government concerning this matter of an index. To me this failure to disclose an index figure is the most remarkable failure of the Government in this sphere. Suddenly, in early August, schools all over Australia find themselves in categories and there is no explanation which indicates why they are in certain categories. There is no criterion, index or pattern of decision. Surely if a school or organisation is being allocated Government funds or is being denied Government funds it is equally entitled to an explanation or a set of reasons.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT <Senator Brown) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– For very many reasons which, I think will be obvious to most honourable senators who have taken any interest in this debate, this must be one of the most curious debates that we have heard in this chamber for a long while. The case that has been put up by the Opposition is manifestly lacking in substance and many of the details which have been submitted are similar lacking in substance and do not accord with the facts as they are pretty well known to the Australian community. It must sound strange to those people who are listening to the debate tonight, with the words of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) still ringing in their ears as to the amount which has been voted for education by this Government, to hear the very first matter of urgency which is raised by the Opposition in this chamber relates to a subject that one would have expected to be the last matter that the Opposition, with its record in the field of education, would ever have raised on the floor of a responsible Parliament of this country. Let us look at the Opposition’s record. But before I do so, let me pass a comment about the curious remarks made by Senator Davidson concerning the involvement of a number of members of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts who, I believe I heard him say, failed in their responsibilities somewhere along the line.
– I did not use the word failed’.
– All right. I will withdraw the word ‘failed’. You drew attention to some shortcomings.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
Order! Senator Devitt, will you address the Chair?
– Senator Davidson drew attention to what he regarded as some shortcomings somewhere along the line. I leave it on that basis and proceed to the comment that I was about to make concerning the curious nature of the remarks made by Senator Davidson. I want honourable senators to recall that within the very last fortnight, when the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts was convened to meet in Brisbane, 3 Labor members of the Committee attended and not one member of the Opposition attended to assist that Committee in its deliberations. What was the subject matter with which the Committee was dealing?
– Who were the members of the Committee?
– Senator Davidson was one, and during the course of his speech tonight he gave no explanation for this shortcoming. Senator Carrick and Senator Hannan were the other members. Up to the present time I have heard no explanation of this extraordinary dereliction of duty on their part.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I draw your attention to the question of relevance. I think that we have got a long way from the subject matter of urgency.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I am afraid that that happened before I occupied the Chair. But I propose to ensure that attention is given to the subject matter of the debate. Will you please do that, Senator Devitt?
– Yes, I will be delighted to do so. The second point I want to refer to concerns a matter which Senator Rae raised himself by way of interjection across the chamber. He taunted the Government with the comment that we had not taken the full time allotted to us. What a curious situation it is when someone who leads in the debate, who has half an hour within which to introduce the subject matter of the debate, fails to take his full time. Let him have a look at the record. Senator Rae should not taunt us on this side of the chamber when he has a serious shortcoming himself. One would have thought that if he, at heart, had a serious interest in this important subject he would have at least taken the full time available to him to open up the question in the Senate, but he failed to do so. So we find this curious situation.
Let us look for a moment at the terms ti the matter of urgency before the Senate. Firstly it refers to the denial by the Government of the right of every Australian child to receive economic support for his educational needs from Government funds. What a ridiculous, stupid and idiotic thing to say 24 hours after the Government had increased its vote for education by 92 per cent, making the greatest subvention for eduction in the history of Australia. This increase was made not on the basis of a grant of £5m which Senator Rae’s Party made available when it was in Government and was looking for votes - when it bought votes with £5m in order to win an election - but on the basis of a deeply considered and deeply studied analysis of the education system of this country by a very responsible committee. Since this report was published certainly a number of people have approached me and said: ‘There are some shortcomings in this thing and we appear to be disadvantaged’.
– Of course, and this sort of thing happens. But the situation is that the great majority of the people who have had an opportunity to study this report comment upon it in favourable terms. I suggest that a number of honourable senators opposite have not read the report; otherwise they would have made much more objective comments about it. But having read the report I would say that as a philosophical document it is one of the finest reports that I have ever read. This ought to be compulsory reading in every home in the country because it puts into effect and lays out for everybody to see the philosophy of this Party to which I give my allegiance and with which on this occasion I am so delighted to be associated. Here for the first time we have a document designed not to be vote-catching, not to be a gimmicky thing that sets out to win some votes and some cheap political advantage but a document based on the needs of a great country frying to fulfill the educational requirements of every child in the Australian community. It is a document designed to give to everyone, irrespective of the means or the income of his family, an equal opportunity to the educational facilities which are available.
In a very sensible and very sound and reasonable way Senator McAuliffe pointed out to the Senate the basis upon which the Karmel committee commenced its operations. It started off with a base level of 100 and it made an assessment of the needs of various schools related to that base figure. Some of them fell far below it. Would it be right and would it be the proper thing for us to say, since we have the responsibility for the expenditure of the funds of this country, that that situation will be allowed to prevail? Must we sit here and deny to so many thousands of Australian children an equal right to the availability of educational facilities in this land? Ought we not to be engaged upon an exercise designed to raise the level of all sections of the education system in this country in order to give every child an equal opportunity?
One should not instance cases, I suppose, but recently a most disturbing case was brought to my knowledge. It involved a family of highly intelligent young people. The father of the family was gravely ill. He had z terminal illness and he subsequently died. Three highly intelligent members of that family might have been denied the opportunity to fulfil their intellectual capacity. Thank God, as a consequence of the Karmel report and the actions of the Government of which I am so happy to be a member, the opportunity will be provided for the members of that family to be educated, to go to university and to follow the course that they want to take in life. They are highly intelligent people. Countless thousands of Australians who have had the intellectual capacity must have been placed in this situation in the past because the income earner in the family has not brought in sufficient money to allow his children to be educated to the highest level possible according to their capacity. In the past how many families have gone without many things because some member of the family has had the ability to take higher education? They have gone without so many things so that that member of the family could have the opportunity that the others were denied. So the whole substance of the motion before the Senate is just a lot of humbug.
At the outset Senator McManus gave notice of an urgency motion which he intended to move. The basis of that motion was something that happened during the course of an overseas visit by the Prime Minister. For some quaint reason which has not been explained that motion was withdrawn in favour of the motion moved by Senator Rae. Obviously what has happened is that the Opposition parties have got together and said: ‘Now look, we have to get stuck into these fellows somehow. They are doing too well. They are honouring their election promises in the areas of education, social services and all these other matters’. So there was some collusion about this. The Opposition parties got together and said: ‘Look, how can we best bruise them, because they are going too well? The newspapers today have not had any condemnation of the Budget’. Of course, there is no point of condemnation in the Budget.
Some honourable senators who have spoken here today talked about a vicious Budget, but we do not see that word used in the newspapers today. Pretty well every organ of dissemination of news in this country today has been quite eulogistic. Knowing the political complexion of the Press of the land one would have expected the Labor Government particularly to be lambasted if there were any shortcomings in relation to the provisions of the Budget. This has not happened at all. So the Opposition parties got together and said: We have got to do something about this. What is the best thing on which we can attack the Government?’ This just shows how totally lacking the Opposition parties are in political nous because they come in where angels fear to tread. If there is anything for which the Labor Party can be commended in relation to its performance up to this present time it is in the field of education. We have said for years and years: ‘Give us the opportunity to do something for all the people in this country - not the silvertails, not the privileged few at the top of the list but for every man, woman and child in the Australian community’.
The first and basic thing that one would do - it is in the interests of the country to do it too - is to provide education to the highest level possible within the intellectual capacity of every child in the Australian community. If we do nothing other than that in the course of our period in government we will have well and truly justified our existence in this land. I think that probably at least 95 per cent of the people of Australia would put their hand up for the Labor Party today on the basis of what we have done for the education system of this country.
– You are kidding.
– No, I am not kidding; I am fair dinkum. That is the position. We have the situation whereby immediately this Party came to office it commissioned a most responsible body of men to go into the depths of the education system and to root out the bad features of it. Goodness gracious me, it was riddled with bad features - features based upon that initial concept of buying votes. In the first place the previous government started by buying the votes with £5m, and so far as I am concerned in every succeeding Budget the education vote has been pitched to the securing of votes. The Labor Party has broken away from that practice, and the very fact that there is a condemnation from honourable senators on my right of the performance of the Government in this field indicates clearly that they believe that the Labor Party has not done so for a political purpose at all. In fact, we have stuck our necks out. So we ought to stick our necks out when it involves giving to every child in the Australian community an equal opportunity for education.
The humbug of it all, of course, is that the Government has not taken away assistance to all forms of education in the Australian community. The Karmel committee has based its judgment upon the utilisation of resources.
The Minister has clearly and openly stated - I have passed this on to everybody who has inquired from me - that if anybody feels that he has been disadvantaged or that there is some aspect of this matter which he has failed to report to the Karmel committee, he should do the sensible thing and invite the Committee to consider a further submission from him, and the Minister has said that this is what the Committee will do.
One would gain the impression from what we have been hearing tonight that the present proposal is the end of it all; that the whole education system from here on is cast in a solid block; that it is an immovable thing; that there will be no departure from it whatsoever. What a lot of rot. This argument indicates clearly once again, of course, that those who have been putting up this rubbish have not read the report. I would have expected that anybody dealing objectively with this report and analysing it in a good, sound objective manner on the basis of a judgment of what is best for this country rather than on paltry, pitiful political considerations would also have done something in the way of commending the report. But one would think that the Karmel committee consisted of a bunch of the greatest villains on earth because it brought down a report of this kind, when in fact it has done some very serious work and I highly commend it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Following in the wake of the expanding opportunities that the previous Government gave to education, this Government is emphasising the increase in general appropriations. But we are not debating that whole field tonight. The matter of urgency that has arisen concerns a particular matter in which there is a discriminatory activity of the Labor Party, designed to introduce a sectarian criterion so as to deprive a substantial section of the pupils attending non-government schools of their right to a proper share of Government appropriations for education. Out of the 8,700 schools in Australia about 2,000 are nongovernment schools. The Karmel Committee has found that all except 800 of those 2,000 schools can be covered by the blessed word systemic’ and therefore are not subject to a discriminatory index. That means that those 800 schools are assessed on an individual basis by the Karmel Committee. It has chosen to create a series of categories numbered A to H. So the first 2 or 3 categories involved are to be denied completely all Government aid or are to have their aid reduced. It is implied that the rest will receive an increase. Those schools which will be denied or deprived of aid or will have their aid reduced represent 54 per cent of the pupils at non-government schools. This accounts for about 150,000 scholars. As my colleague Senator Carrick in a most compelling speech pointed out this afternoon from the statistics of the Commissioner of Taxation, 46 per cent of the parents who send their children to non government schools receive less than $6,000 a year income.
– That is gross.
– Yes, gross. It is a matter of humiliation that we stand here with the few remaining members of the Government who are giving the debate their attention and that they are unashamed of the discrimination and dishonesty which we are displaying to the public. As Sentaor McManus cogently reminded us, during the election campaign those who are now the Prime Minister and Ministers of this Government assured the public that it need fear no reduction in any per capita grants which were then available to pupils at non-government schools. That was a political undertaking which has been overridden, since the Government has come to power, by the screw of the left wing as a miserable compromise.
When the commission was given to the Karmel Committee the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) still intended to honour his promise. In his instructions to the Committee he said:
The grants recommended by the Interim Committee will be:
In addition to existing Commonwealth commitments.
When he received the Committee report recommending a total denial of Government support to 105 schools out of 2,000 non government schools it is no tribute to his manhood or his integrity that he did not send the report back to the Committee to observe his instructions. Then we find the Committee moving on in that devious way which excites no admiration even on the part of the most unlearned but still less on the part of those who claim to have had the advantage of education. The Committee finds the term ‘systemic’ by which to exclude the majority of Catholic schools from its discrimination. The political motivation of that needs intense scrutiny. It is a great tribute to the Australian community that sectarianism has been so subdued since the purposeful campaign of the Menzies era of 15 or 20 years and that solidarity has been established between all religions. They now despise the attempt, covered by the blessed word ‘systemic’, to give one sectarian class of schools an increase or an advantage in an endeavour to divide those schools from the remainder of the nongovernment schools. It is a shameful exercise in the great appropriations that have been mentioned in the Budget Speech that Government members can be so miserable and pusillanimous as to persist in this dishonest discrimination over$2m or$3m.
It is the right of every school pupil in Australia to attend a state school or a state high school as I did. As a refugee from a bushfire I was grateful to be able to do so. But I am the parent of 6 children who have gone to non-government schools. They have attended the Quaker school, the Friends’ School, in Hobart which has been denied a penny of continuing support when it is still teaching pupils in buildings which were erected a century ago and has an overdraft or a mortgage of$200,000. Its pupils are supported by the average working man and woman. By their efforts they have been able to build up their school. By this mulish report they are to be denied any continuance of per capita grants next year. Other schools have been enumerated by correspondence to the Press, this shows that it is a complete fallacy to say that these people are seeding out the rich from the poor.
It is said that these people who have been excluded have an appeal. In what sense is this so? There is no appellant tribunal. There is no person other than the Karmel Committee or the Minister to whom to appeal. They say that they formulated an index on criteria which represented resources in the schools. Can anybody find any appeal to reason when I quote the Committee’s definition of the formula. It states:
The measuremment of the quantity of recurrent resources used in a school or schools system involves weighting the quantities of the various resources used within the schools by fixed salary and price weights, to form an index of quantum. The nature of the data available for analysis has led to the formulation of a simple though not necessarily easy to construct index. The recurrent resources used within a school have been taken to comprise the services of teachers, administrators, and support staff . . . consumables, equipment, and, in the case of schools forming part of a system, resources such as itinerants, specialist teachers, guidance and counselling personnel and curriculum advisers, provided at system level for use by individual schools.
That quotation is an affront to the reasoning of anyone who can read or write. That index has never been clarified; it is obscured in the bureaucracy, a characteristic so cogently referred to by Senator Carrick as the index of Canberra performance which leans on the misguided minority which twists the arm of the Labor Government. The principle by which this motion is supported is that every pupil in Australia is entitled to a proper share of government appropriations. On the principles we laid down last year, if he wishes to attend a state school, he is entitled to 100 per cent; if he wishes to attend a non-government school he is entitled to 40 per cent. On every criterion our case on this motion has been made out to show that by an obscure, illconceived and contrived index in the bureaucracy the Government has sought to divide the nongovernment schools and destroy them. So that the Senate shall have an opportunity to record its opinion on the question, I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the Senate at its rising adjourn to Thursday, 23 August 1973 at 10.59 a.m.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in affirmative.
– For the information of honourable senators,I present the statistical returns from each of the 6 States showing the voting within each subdivision in relation to the general elections tor the House of Representatives, 1972, and the statistical returns from Queensland showing the voting within each sub-division in relation to the Senate election, 1972.
– For the information of honourable senators, I table the first report of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commision. When releasing the report to the public on 3 August, I stated that because of the importance of the subject matter of the Commission, it had been decided to make this first report public immediately and before the Government had considered it. At that time, copies were sent to all honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives. Now, this first opportunity is taken to lay the report before the Parliament.
– On behalf of the Postmaster-General, pursuant to section 96M of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-71 I present a statement on Post Office prospects and capital program 1973-74. I also present schedules of the proposed adjustments of charges for postal and telephone services and facilities, together with a statement by the Postmaster-General relating to proposed postal and telecommunication charges.
Motion (by Senator Cotton) - by leave - proposed:
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Ordered that the debate be adjourned and that Senator Cotton have leave to continue the debate.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a summary of discussions held at the meeting of Ministers responsible for recreation at Canberra on Thursday 7 June 1973.
– I seek leave to make a statement relating to the report which has been tabled by the Special Minister of State, Senator Willesee.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– On behalf of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant)I want to make a statement on the report tabled by Senator Willesee this evening on the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission. The Minister states:
I am now pleased to inform honourable senators that the Government has now considered the recommendations made in the report. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has been authorised to convene meetings of the two proposed Aboriginal Land Councils in the Northern Territory as soon as possible. The Government is to proceed immediately with the preparation of draft legislation for the incorporation of Aboriginal communities and groups without waiting for the Commission’s final report which is not expected to be available until the first half of next year. To assist each of the land councils the AttorneyGeneral has been authorised to retain senior and junior counsel and firms of solicitors or arrange for the Councils to employ individual solicitors. The cost of this is to be met by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) proposed:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) adjourned.
– by leave - 1 would like to report briefly on the recent overseas visit to Mexico of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) - the first by an Australian Prime Minister - to the United States and to represent Australia at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Ottawa. The text I shall read is identical with that given to the House of Representatives. Therefore, honourable senators will understand that the pronoun’I’ refers to the Prime Minister himself.
I believe the visit was timely and useful to Australia both in establishing new and significant contacts overseas at the Head of Government level and in developing the more diversified and independent foreign policy for Australia to which the Government is committed.
In combining a visit to Mexico and a visit to Washington with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in OttawaI was able to restore a more appropriate balance to our approach to Central and North America. Washington is not the sole capital in that vast hemisphere.
In Mexico - which is a leader of opinion in Central and South America - my delegation arid I received an enthusiastic and warm reception, especially from President Echeverria and Foreign Minister Rabasa. I believe the visit has opened a window onto Central and South America; that in future we shall have more frequent and meaningful contacts with Mexico and, indeed, with other Latin American countries.
I found considerable common ground between our two countries as middle powers on opposite sides of the Pacific. Like Australia, Mexico has had problems of overdependence on foreign countries and inadequate returns from the exploitation of its natural resources. The Mexican Government is also strongly opposed to the poisoining of the Pacific environment by nuclear weapons testing and has taken the lead in ensuring that there will be no such tests in Latin America.
I found that we were in general agreement also on that complex subject, the Law of the Sea, and our respective representatives will be co-operating closely in future to ensure that coastal states receive a fair share of the wealth of the oceans and of the sea bed.
I believe that the Mexicans are well disposed to Australia and our present policies and that they are eager to see the relationship between our two countries further enhanced.
President Echeverria accepted my invitation to him to visit Australia, probably some time next year. In the meatime we are pleased to welcome a group of Mexican members of Parliament and probably, next month, the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Manuel Aguirre.
It is the firm intention of the Government that the increasing momentum of our relations with Mexico in particular and Latin America in general shall not be lost. I left President Echeverria in no doubt that we looked forward to having him here, not only because of the great personal charm of which he and Senora Echeverria dispose, but also because such a visit will put the seal, as it were, on the Government’s policy of fostering closer links with our neighbours across the Pacific.
I shall not take up the time of the House with further details of my visit to Mexico asI propose to table the Joint Communique issued after my visit.
In Washington I had substantive and straightforward discussions with President Nixon, Vice-President Agnew, Secretary of State Rogers, Dr Kissinger and numbers of other prominent Americans, including members of the Congress and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. All showed very considerable interest in recent developments in Australia.
My discussions in Washington covered the situation in the Asian and Pacific region, including relationships between the Great Powers, our relations with the United States, ANZUS, SEATO, the situation in Indo-China, nuclear testing, Korea, regional co-operation in Asia, the special importance of Japan and Indonesia to us, and other matters of mutual interest.
I told United States leaders that we continue to give strong support to ANZUS which we see as embodying some of the most important permanent and natural elements in the relationship between the three Pacific partners. On the American side also, the value of ANZUS is not questioned.
I also told the Secretary of State that ANZUS alone of our Treaties in this area seemed entirely satisfactory and that any Australian Government would strongly support it.
I explained our reservations about SEATO and found that many of them were shared by the United States. I made it clear that some aspects of the Manila Treaty as distinct from the Organisation itself, were of continuing value, especially to Thailand, and that Australia did not intend to withdraw from SEATO.
I can assure the House that, following my talks in Washington, I believe those basic matters on which we agree are much more numerous, important and lasting than those few issues on which our views might differ. That is certainly the view of the American Administration.
I believe, in fact, that the AustralianAmerican relationship will be seen to rest now on firmer foundations than it did in the past. We have brought it to a new maturity.
I believe, too, that the American Administration now fully accepts that Australia is not a small and relatively insignificant country as it was once called there but a middle power of growing influence in the South East Asian and South Pacific regions.
I believe that America respects and welcomes the less compliant and more independent, though equally friendly approach, which the Australian Government now adopts towards the United States. In the United States I also paid a brief visit to New York where I visited the United Nations headquarters and addressed a very well attended gathering of the Australian-American Associa’tion.
The texts of this speech and my address to the National Press Club in Washington arc of course available to any member who might wish to have them.
I turn now to the meeting of twenty-three Commonwealth Heads of Government and representatives of the other nine Commonwealth Heads of Government which took place in Ottawa from 2 August to 19 August.
This was, in the opinion of the more experienced Heads of Government present, the most successful Commonwealth Meeting yet held at this level. It was successful because participants focused their attention on the main practical issues in international affairs facing us today. The Conference was attended for the most part by men with modern ideas. They represented every geographic region. Above all it was a meeting of equals sharing a common concern for co-operative effort and frank consultation.
The scope and achievements of the Conference are outlined in its final Communique which I also table for the House’s information. The document largely speaks for itself.
The meeting was remarkable, not as some have suggested for differences of opinion, but for the wide identity of interest in the approach of so many members to the realities of contemporary international life. We started with the basic proposition that we of the Commonwealth are now all medium or smaller powers and that we all experienced in some way or other a vulnerability to changes brought about by the nature of the relationships between the major powers. From this position we developed an appreciation of the opportunities for members of the Commonwealth and the benefits to be realised through closer commonwealth consultation and cooperation. In this respect my pre-election statement of faith in the Commonwealth and its importance for Australia has been vindicated.
I would like to place on record the value of the wide-ranging discussions to all present and to draw attention to the practical and functional co-operation at the Conference.
Moreover, I believe I established or consolidated a number of very useful personal contacts with a number of Heads of Governments especially from the Caribbean countries, Africa, and countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius and, of course, Canada itself. These contacts demonstrate that the Commonwealth is, as I believed even before I went to Ottawa, a valuable forum through which Australia can develop its more diversified approach to our foreign affairs.
The need to codify acceptable behaviour by multinational corporations has been widely recognised and is the subject of detailed study by the United Nations. Problems created by a brain drain’ in developing countries have been the subject of international negotiation and study for a number of years. Similarly our concern with the threat from atmospheric nuclear tests is shared universally even if it is not transmitted in every case into effective action. In this respect I regret that a very small minority of members could not support the original declaration submitted by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, to which we lent our support, in the context of our present efforts to prevent further such tests.
In Ottawa I was able to indicate to Commonwealth leaders that Australia will give more active support to Commonwealth cooperative ventures. We already are a contributor to its major channel for multi-lateral assistance, the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation and to the Commonwealth Foundation. I announced in Ottawa that Australia will also support the new Commonwealth Youth Program to the extent of $60,000 per annum for the next three years and that we will participate in the further study of proposals for a Commonwealth Development and Export Bank andi an institute for the applied study of government.
I believe the contacts I made in Ottawa will lead to the development of more meaningful relationships with a number of countries in the Caribbean and around the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in Africa.
I should report to the House that one consequence of my visit to Mexico, Washington and Ottawa will be the widening of Australian representation in the Caribbean and in South America.
Following the discussions which I had, I propose to take steps to accredit the Australian High Commissioner in Canada to the five Caribbean Commonwealth countries, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana and the ‘Bahamas, pending the establishment of a separate High Commission in the Caribbean, the head of which will then be accredited to all five countries. At the same time I have under active review the Cuban request to establish a Trade or Consular Office in Australia. I am also consulting Guatemala and Panama with a view to accrediting non-resident Ambassadors to these countries.
I table the Communique issued at the conclusion of my visit to Mexico and the Joint Communique adopted in Ottawa by the Meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments. I move:
– I desire to speak to the motion. The statement which has just been read by Senator Willesee on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is unworthy of the Prime Minister and is less than the Australian people and this Parliament deserve. We have received a travelogue. We have received a statement which sets out nothing more than the places which the Prime Minister visited and the generalities of what he intended to achieve and what he discussed. We - this Parliament - have been given less information that the journalists who accompanied the Prime Minister on this trip. I believe that this demonstrates the veritable contempt with which the Government is treating the Parliament of this nation.
The statement revealed nothing new. It did not say what achievements Mr Whitlam had made. Most significantly, it was silent about those issues which captured public attention whilst Mr Whitlam was away. Why is it, when day after day the newspapers were full of stories of the confrontations and the controversies which the Prime Minister of this nation engaged in with Mr Heath of Great Britain and Mr Lee of Singapore, the Prime Minister has not deemed it appropriate to inform the Parliament of one word of what those differences were about or why he created the impression in this country that he was at loggerheads with the heads of nations with which we have long maintained close, friendly and reliable associations? It is an Australian tragedy, and one which I hope will not have a long run on the international stage, that the undoubtedly talented Prime Minister of this country should allow his personality, his pride and his arrogance to dominate what should be his concern for Australia’s national interests.
It is the lot of few men to be given sufficient self-reliance to be able to be selfsufficient unto themselves and not to welcome and cherish the friendships of their colleagues and the common man. The present Prime Minister is obviously a person who is selfsufficient unto himself. There can be no other explanation of the way in which, in whatever country he goes to, he seems to find himself at loggerheads with his host or with the prominent person whom he has gone to see. The Prime Minister is more than a talented individual; he is the Prime Minister of this nation and, as such, must represent the Australian people. There is something more than Mr Whitlam’s idiosyncrasies which must be satisfied by this strutting across the international stage. He must have regard to what is in the nation’s best interests.
Before Mr Whitlam went away there was no doubt that most Australians would have said that Australia’s most reliable friends - the countries in which we had the greatest trust - we’re Great Britain and the United States of America. In the South East Asian region I think most Australians would have looked to Singapore as being a flourishing, progressive and self-reliant country with which we have been proud to have close and amiable relations over the years. Is there an Australian today who doubts that as a result of what has happened whilst the Prime Minister has been away our relationship with each of those countries is less friendly, less solid and less reliable than before he went away? What I feel is the omission in this statement is the unwillingness of the Prime Minister even to explain to the Parliament the basic reason for the differences which were so widely publicised.
I believe that there is basis in what I originally said, that is, that it is to treat this Parliament with contempt not to give it any explanation as to why these difficulties arose. It is not sufficient to give to the Parliament a travelogue which is less informative than the information which he passes on to newspaper reporters so that they can inform us in the daily newspapers. It is part of the standard of the Government that the Prime Minister of this nation regards his performances at Press conferences, until he decided not to hold them, his performances on television and his performances in any place but the Parliament of the nation as being in his judgment more important than his performances in the forum which the people have established for him and to which the Prime Minister should be prepared to report.
Having read this statement, I am amazed at what it does not say. We have been told that the Prime Minister went to Mexico and that he was warmly received there. It is not surprising that he would be received in an hospitable nation. He would not have gone to Mexico if the President of Mexico was not prepared to receive him. We know, because we were told in the way that the Prime Minister passes on information to this nation, that the reason why he was going to Mexico was to enlist the support of the Mexican Government for the now notorious Australian attitude of condemnation of the French nuclear tests. But there has not been a word in condemnation of the Chinese nuclear tests. If the Prime Minister had assessed the position in Mexico better than he did he would have realised that there were long standing ties between the French and the Mexicans, which would have made it very difficult for the Mexican Government to adopt the partisan selective attitude which the Prime Minister of Australia has beguiled the Australian nation into accepting as being the appropriate attitude for this nation to adopt. Of course, the Prime Minister was not able to achieve in Mexico that which he set out to achieve, namely, a condemnation not of the French and the Chinese but simply of the French alone for their nuclear testing. We of the Opposition regard it as being acceptable and consonant with what ought to be our obligation that the Mexican Government adopted the attitude that atmospheric testing is completely wrong wherever it occurs, that it should not occur and that action ought to be taken and pressures ought to be developed to prevent it from occurring. That attitude is consistent because it is not partisan. Never let it be forgotten that the pattern of action which the Australian Government is adopting is one which concentrates solely upon the French and ignores what the Chinese have been doing.
– You know that is untrue.
– I appreciate the comment which Senator Willesee has made. I know that he would point to the fact that protests have been made against the Chinese, but they have been protests of a different character, of less significance and without anything of the emphasis or activity attaching to the protests which have been made against the French. The protests made by the Government against the Chinese have been on a different key - a completely lower key - to the protests made against the French. It is obvious that the reason why protests were made against the Chinese nuclear testing was because pressure was being brought to bear by the Opposition upon the Australian Government because of its being totally selective in the way in which it was approaching this issue. I have noted - this has been the constant pattern over recent months - that the Australian Government has been either encouraging or tolerating the unilateral unlawful action that has been taken by unions in this country to prohibit the movement of French mails, French goods and communications between France and Australia.
– That is a positive disgrace.
– I acknowledge what Senator Wright says - that this is not a matter about which the Government is prepared to take any action. At the same time that this was being done, we welcomed into this country representatives of the Chinese Government and entered into trade treaties with them.
– What is wrong with that?
– That is an inconsistent attitude if, as Senator Willesee would have the people of Australia believe, the Government’s attitude to nuclear testing is the same irrespective of whether it is carried out by France or China. This Government is a government of patent double standards. It adopts a particular attitude to those countries which it favours and a totally different attitude to the countries which it does not favour. What has not been revealed, what has been kept secret, what is in defiance of all these bold protestations of open government and avoidance of excessive secrecy in government affairs is this: What are the countries which this Government favours and what are the reasons why this Government favours particular countries over other countries? We have to learn the answer to that as best we can - ‘by looking at their conduct. We are delighted that the Prime Minister was received hospitably in Mexico by a hospitable people. But I say that the Prime Minister’s trip to Mexico was an unmitigated disaster for him because he failed to achieve what he told the people of Australia, before he went there, through the newspaper correspondents to whom he has access was the purpose of his visit. We welcome any relationships which will establish friendship and which we believe the visit of the Prime Minister to Mexico will augment. But never let it be forgotten that his purpose in going there was a purpose which was not achieved.
Then the Prime Minister went to the United States. What is he able to say to us about the visit which he made to the United States? His statement is a remarkably self serving but totally inadequate document. Apparently when he went to the United States he had substantive and straightforward discussions with President. Nixon, VicePresident Agnew, Secretary of State Rogers, Dr Kissinger and numbers of other prominent Americans including members of the Congress and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. With all respect, Mr Whitlam used to go overseas every year as the Leader of the Opposition, and he would spend approximately 2 months away. The type of contacts which he made with leading personalities of foreign governments when he was Leader of the Opposition would appear to be no different from the sort of contacts which he has made as Prime Minister. What was the result of these discussions? It appears that all that Mr Whitlam can say of the discussions with these dignitaries is that all showed considerable interest in recent developments in Australia. I say that what is in contempt of this Parliament is the fact that we are not told in the Parliament what he is prepared to tell an English television commentator who has come here and who will make a lot of money from interviewing the Prime Minister. We were told more on the David Frost show about what took place between President Nixon and the Prime Minister of this country than the Prime Minister is prepared to tell this Parliament. At least we know from the David Frost show that the Prime Minister did not discuss with President Nixon the accusations and the condemnations which the Prime
Minister of this country made of President Nixon in January of this year.
It would have been interesting to know, in the report of the Prime Minister to the Parliament, what had been said to President Nixon. For all the criticism which the Government now makes - it makes a lot of criticisms of the ineptitudes and the inadequaciese of the present Prime Minister’s predecessors - when Mr Holt went to Washington.when Mr Gorton went to Washington and when Mr McMahon went to Washington they were able to state positively on their return the assurances which they had received from the American President of the continued reliance which we could place on the United States, of the continued reliance upon us which the United States was happy to have and of the friendship which was constantly maintained. But the Prime Minister is not able to say that. This, I believe, is a significant omission from his report. We know that the Prime Minister publicly condemned the President of the United States in comments which have been made in the time that the Prime Minister has been in office. We know that he has allowed, without remonstrances, his Ministers to use from time to time the most blackguardly terms about the President of the United States. It is no wonder that the Prime Minister should think that he ought to go to Washington to see whether he could repair the damage which has been done.
What happened after the Prime Minister had been to Washington? While holidaying in Honolulu on the way back he returned again to the fray and not only attacked President Nixon but said a few condemnatory words about the present President’s 3 immediate predecessors. This is the language of a Prime Minister whose tongue runs away with him. We all admire the ability which he has with words and the competence with which he can command himself but what we do not appreciate is the fact that he does this in the name of Australia and that the Australian national interest suffers because of the way he demeans himself when he speaks to people overseas.
The Prime Minister left Washington and went to Ottawa. What are we told about Ottawa? He had discussions and he met with a number of people. He said in such a derogatory way that most of them had modern ideas. He did not say the people who did not have modern ideas. Maybe he did not have to name them. It is obvious from what he has told the Press and from what he has told television commentators that the people who did not have modern ideas were Mr Lee and Mr Heath.
– Because they disagreed with him.
– I accept Senator Sim’s interjection. Apparently if you do not agree with the Prime Minister you are a lesser individual and you have to suffer the carping criticism of his tongue. What did Australia achieve as a result of the Prime Minister’s grandstanding in Ottawa? I believe that as the months of the years pass we will find highly unfortunate consequences for Australia because when our Prime Minister goes to these overseas conferences he is not able to conduct himself in a way that will enable Australia’s best interest to be served.
It is an absolutely ridiculous and unsupportable assertion to say that Great Britain is endeavouring in some way to dominate the Commonwealth through multinational corporations. No one seeks to establish that proposition. What Mr Whitlam must really be saying is that because the British Government in some way controls or has influence over a number of multinational corporations which are English based corporations it is able to control or is trying to dominate the other Commonwealth countries. Not only is it a reflection upon the independence of the heads of the Commonwealth countries with whom he is associating but it is a slur upon- the Prime Minister and the Government of Great Britain, because there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that the control or domination to which he has referred is in existence.
We have the many criticisms which have been made of Mr Lee Kuan Yew who is the Prime Minister of what must surely be regarded as one of the most progressive countries that the world has seen in the last 20 years. There is not an Australian who has been through Singapore who does not have admiration of the way in which a small country has developed and has brought prosperity to its people and which shows the ability to continue that prosperity and growing affluent standards for all its people as has the nation of Singapore. This is the prosperous and successful nation of South East Asia which the Prime Minister of Australia wants to criticise. What did he say of Mr Lee? He talked of Mr Lee as having a thoroughly selfish attitude. He accused Singapore of doing absolutely nothing to help its neighbours and was met by the rejoinder from the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore that Singapore can hold its own with Australia or any other nation in the assistance which it is giving in the South East Asian region. Why does our Prime Minister have to be so gratuitously offensive-
– And ignorant.
– And ignorant, about what Singapore is doing? Does anyone believe that that is really helping Australia’s position? Can anyone believe that that is developing the sort of bonds that we want to see between Australia and the countries of South East Asia? If this is the sort of conduct which our Prime Minister engages in with the Prime Minister of Singapore, what prospect must the Prime Minister of Malaysia, or the President of Indonesia, or the President of the Philippines, or the President of South Vietnam, or any of the Heads of Government of other South East Asian countries have as to what their future will be if they happen to run foul of something which Mr Whitlarn regards as vital to his interests? We know that the Prime Minister has not been cautious in the condemnatory words he has used about Thailand on several occasions already in the last 6 months.
The contrast between Mr Whitlam and the governments which he has succeeded is that his predecessors’ governments were successful in their endeavours to build up and maintain close, friendly and reliable relationships with each of these countries in the area. This bilateral relationship of maintaining a knowledge of the countries with which we have associations, of understanding their problems and of endeavouring to meet certain policies which they may be pursuing, which may happen to run counter to certain policies to which Australia has given adherence, but in the result understanding what each is doing, was the culmination of 20 years of hard work by the governments led by Sir Robert Menzies, Mr Holt, Mr Gorton and Mr McMahon. It is a tragedy for Australia, and sickening when you think of it, that all this hard work over the years has been cast aside by the arrogance of a man who believes that his command of words is more important than the maintenance of close and friendly relations with these countries.
The final comment is the throw-away line which quite deliberately Mr Whitlam ascribed Mr Lee Kuan Yew on the same David Frost television performance when he made Australia’s affairs, from our security organisation to our international relationships, a matter of vaudeville because he said - think of the import of the accusation - that Mr Lee, the Prime Minister of Singapore, becomes more and more like Cromwell. To anyone with Mr Whitlam’s knowledge of history can there be a more dastardly accusation than to liken Mr Lee to a man who is proscribed in our history as the great regicide and the man who was responsible for massacres throughout the British Isles? This is the sort of conduct we have from Mr Whitlam, and there is not a word in the course of this report to Parliament about why he adopts this attitude.
Let us consider what he had to say about Mr Heath. Mr Heath, he said, has a consistently and forthrightly negative attitude, a statement which is made on the basis that it applies generally to Mr Heath. Of course, Mr Heath is a conservative Prime Minsiter of England, a Prime Minister elected by the people of England just as Mr Whitlam has been elected in Australia. Mr Heath should be entitled to respect from the Heads of Government in every country because he is the elected Prime Minister. But apparently that is something which Mr Whitlam cannot bring himself to give to Mr Heath. In this same vaudeville television performance Mr Whitlam said that he was referring to Mr Heath in those terms only in regard to the French nuclear tests. What was Mr Heath’s basic attitude? I imagine that it was the same attitude as was found by the Prime Minister when he went to Mexico, and as he finds when he goes to many countries, namely, that if you are objecting to atmospheric nuclear testing - that is a sound and proper basis for all persons thinking of the future of mankind in this world to have as the ground of their objection - you do not single out one country and ignore another in the type of objection you are making. If that makes Mr Heath a consistently and forthrightly negative man, because he says that you should adopt that general attitude, then I am sure that Mr Heath will find many colleagues among responsible people throughout the world. I think, as I said when I started, that it is a disaster for Mr Whitlam to have conducted himself as he did overseas. It is a disaster for Australia because he has not advanced our interests; he has demeaned them and we now are in a position worse than we were in before he went overseas. That, I believe, is the judgement of any person who looks objectively at what Mr Whitlam has said and done while he has been away.
In addition to that, there is something which ought to concern this Parliament and especially this Senate even more than the general denigration of Australia which must flow from the conduct in which Mr Whitlam engaged, and that is the way in which he treats the affairs of this nation. I leave aside the fact that he parades himself as a truthful Prime Minister, thereby implying that every Prime Minister before him has not been truthful. I leave aside his statements as to his own abilities in so many fields because we, on the Opposition side, recognise that he is an able man. What we think is tragic is that he will not use his abilities with some humility and some deference for the nation’s interests as distinct from his own self-importance. What he has done in the short statement he has given to the Parliament - it was nothing more than a travelogue - is to indicate his contempt for the Parliament, his contempt for the Opposition and thereby his contempt for the Australian people. Let us take note of the statement but let us take note of it for what it is - a document unworthy of the Prime Minister. The Australian people and the Australian nation deserve better.
– If there is one thing of which the people of Australia are proud so far as the new Government is concerned it is that it has shown Australia in a new stance throughout the world. The people of other countries were accustomed to regarding Australia as a sycophant and a follower of others. At the United Nations we were the ones to be found supporting the attitudes of South Africa and opposing the viewpoint of the progressive nations. All that has been swept aside. Mr Whitlam, in his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs, has shown energy and enthusiasm. He has shown insight into the true interests of Australia. He has travelled the world and has spoken out in the forums of the world. He has spoken to the leaders of the nations. What he has achieved is something of which all Australians can be proud. He has shown that Australia, for the first time for 23 years is once again an equal; that it is not subordinate to other countries. Australia now is not carrying on at the United Nations waiting to see which way the United States of America or the United Kingdom is voting before it casts its vote. Australia has not only voted as we thought fit but our representative has spoken as we thought fit. This has happened under the rule of a Minister for Foreign Affairs who has swept away the failed foreign policy which brought Australia into discredit. If there was anything that the Australian people were ashamed of it was the subservience of the previous Australian Government to other countries. I went to the United Nations conference on human rights in 1968 and I found - it was not only my experience; we asked other representatives - that other nations regarded Australia in all the international conventions as a joke. They regarded us as next to South Africa, as a country that was not prepared to stand up and speak its mind. It is Mr Whitlam who has restored dignity to Australia in the field of foreign affairs. We can now hold up our heads as Australians, as equals.
We have heard tonight the espousal by Senator Greenwood of the virtues of the foreign policy of the previous Government. That was the Government that wanted to go all the way with LBJ, something with Waltzing Matilda. This was something that even sickened the Americans, that someone could be so subservient. This was the Government and the policy that led us into Vietnam. The Americans recognised that Vietnam was their tremendous error that brought American down to its knees. We were led in by our own Government to follow that absurd and tragic policy. This was the Government that pursued right up to the very end the policy of refusal to recognise even the existence of 900 million Chinese and their government; instead, it persisted in recognising as the lawful government of those 900 million people the Government of Chiang Kai-shek on the Island of Formosa - the Taiwanese Government.
Honourable senators opposite talk about promoting relationships with the people of Asia. They would not even recognise the existence of the main Government which represented a significant portion of the people on this earth. How absurd, how foolish and how stupid a policy it was. Now that they are in Opposition they do not dare to persist with that policy. They now toddle across to China and say all is very well, and they apparently recognise the error of their ways and their failed foreign policy. It was Mr Whitlam who with energy and efficiency changed the reputation of Australia throughout the world. Australia now is represented by its great ambassador at large. He has been able to go overseas and talk to the world leaders. It is conceded that his stature in foreign affairs was such that he had already met the leaders of the world even when he was Leader of the Opposition.
Everywhere Mr Whitlam has taken a stance of forthrightness, of not truckling to others. He has had to do it in a definite way to show that Australia is no longer a country that can be taken for granted and has no opinions of its own. He has shown that it is prepared to disagree with those to whom it had previously truckled. Compaints are made that Mr Whitlam should not have spoken forthrightly, that he should have gone along as others did. Do honourable senators think that Australians would really want any Minister for Foreign Affairs or any Prime Minister to take the same attitude and behave in the same sycophantic way as his predecessors had done? Australians would not tolerate it, and one of the reasons why the previous Government was thrown out was because of the posture it had taken in foreign affairs.
The Prime Minister’s report deals with matters in some reasonable detail because after all these matters have to be read here in this chamber. A reasonably lengthy speech was made by Senator Willesee, the Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He set out in that speech where Mr Whitlam had gone and what he had done. That was supplemented by the documents which have been tabled here. They show what was done and what was the agreed final communique at the main conference which Mr Whitlam attended overseas, that is, the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Ottawa. That communique shows that significant advances in a great number of areas were made at that meeting and it contains a statement on nuclear weapon tests. That is one of the areas, where a strong statement was made by that Commonwealth meeting. Mr Whitlam has attended not only that meeting but meetings in the Pacific which were held earlier this year. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, under his guidance, was represented at the World Health Organisation and elsewhere, and one knows that Australia has taken one of the strongest stances in the world against the conduct of nuclear testing by any country.
– What about China?
– In regard to China, the Australian Labor Party and Mr Whitlam have over the years made the strongest statements against the conduct of such tests by any nation, including the Chinese. Honourable senators may recall the statement which was made towards the end of last year when the previous Government was in office. Senator Wright made the same kind of wrong statements that have been made here tonight about the Labor Party not protesting against the Chinese nuclear tests. He said: ‘Members of the Labor Party condemn nuclear tests in general terms and they condemn what the French are doing in specific terms, but they never specifically condemned the Chinese tests*. Then I brought to his notice what had been said over the years by me, by Mr Whitlam and by others, and at the end of the day he got up in this chamber and put into the record the statements which repudiated what he had said. I concede that he was gracious and decent enough to concede that he was in error and that we had repeatedly dealt with the Chinese nuclear tests and had specifically done so. Mr Whitlam has been most outspoken regarding not only the French tests but also the Chinese tests.
In the other matters dealt with, including trends in the Commonwealth, consultation and co-operation, areas of trade, areas of monetary issues, development assistance, private foreign investment, international transport, food shortages, the approach to southern Africa, co-operation in functional matters between members of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth youth program and the foundation of the Commonwealth, Australia was there led by Mr Whitlam playing a significant part in this great conference of the countries of the Commonwealth. Everywhere he went he spread goodwill. One has details of his trip to Mexico. This very night we had here a delegation from Mexico. It was apparent that the Mexican people have the greatest feelings of warmth and friendship towards the Australian people, and this has been enhanced by the visit of Mr Whitlam to Mexico. It is interesting to note that the President of Mexico has accepted an invitation by Mr Whitlam to visit Australia probably some time next year.
Why is it that these attacks are being made on a man who has done his utmost to rectify the errors that had been made over 2 decades and which in the last decade had brought Australia into discredit and disgrace and had made the Australian people ashamed of their foreign policy? Now the Australian people are proud of what is being done on their behalf in foreign affairs. We have all this nit picking about a few controversies, a few words being said here and there. The reality Of the situation is that strong bonds are being forged between Australia and other countries. These bonds arc built on the basis of reality and straightforward speaking and there is none of the cant, hypocrisy and nonsense that occurred previously when there was not any reality or substance to our relationships with other countries. Now other countries know that Australia will speak its mind, that it will stand by its word in foreign affairs and that it is prepared to assist small countries. Australia is now respected all over the world as a nation that will stand on its own feet and as having a Minister for Foreign Affairs who understands foreign affairs and is prepared to speak his mind. The Senate and the Parliament of the country are indebted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and also to his colleague, Senator Willesee, who assists him, for the significant contribution which has been made by them in such a short time in completely transforming, uplifting and enhancing the foreign relations of Australia and once again making us proud of the place we hold in the world.
– If only the newly found and as yet unsuspected admiration of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) for his Leader the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) were reciprocated! The supreme arrogance, the overweening conceit of the Prime Minister and his utter and devastating contempt for the people of Australia are contained in this statement presented to the Senate tonight. It is a statement of contempt for the people of Australia. It contains nothing; it says nothing. It is superficiality itself. It is a shame. Indeed, the Prime Minister should be ashamed of himself. There can be no reciprocation of the new-found admiration because surely the selfinfatuation of the Prime Minister, which shines through all his statements, his egocentric preoccupation and his narcissism must constitute the greatest love affair in the history of this world. It shines throughout the whole of his speeches.
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy President. There is a limit which ought not to be exceeded in the reflections cast upon a member of another House. When those reflections are made in this chamber in the sense of being related to policy it is customary for them to be overlooked. But the words which the honourable senator hag used in the last minute amount to an attack in personal terms upon the Prime Minister. I ask you to rule, Mr Deputy President, that in accordance with standing order 418 the honourable senator should refrain from using those words.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I have given consideration to the point raised by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and I find that there is substance in it. There is a limit to the manner in which the Prime Minister in the other place may be alluded to under the Standing Orders. I hope that Senator Carrick will not persist in that type of description.
– I abide by your ruling, Mr Deputy President. Am I not entitled in this chamber to refer to those defects of character which, in a leader seeking to represent this country on the international scene, can be and are devastating to our foreign policy.
– Mr Deputy President, with respect, I think it is important to preserve the comity between the Houses.
– You are just wasting time, are you not?
– No, I am not. Senator Carrick has gone further and aggravated the situation by speaking of defects of character. This, if anything, is making the situation worse by being personal and it should not be permitted.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I certainly agree with Senator Murphy that the comity between the Houses should be preserved, but this should not be a pretext to prevent honest, fair and legitimate statements, albeit statements by way of criticism, being made. The Prime Minister of this country has used the House of Representatives as a place in which to call members of this chamber liars and to specify this with untruths and unsubstantiated allegations, but no one on the Government side seeks to stop him doing so. Let there be some recognition of that being the conduct in which members of Senator Murphy’s Government engage in the House of Representatives when attacking Opposition senators. But having said that, because the balance ought to be made correct, may I say that nothing which Senator Carrick has said tonight ought to warrant a stricture, because what he has been saying is simply that if a man takes pride in himself and in his achievements and goes out of his way to give expression to those things, that, in the context of his representation of a nation overseas, may constitute a defect of character. If that is not the fair comment which a member of Parliament is entitled to engage in, what is the use of free speech in this chamber.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I maintain that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is in order in drawing attention to standing order 418 which states:
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
I trust that Senator Carrick will observe that Standing Order.
– My Deputy President, I will be pleased to observe the Standing Order. I refer to what the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ said on Wednesday, 15 August about Mr Whitlam’s style, to which I have been referring. The newspaper said:
It is against that style, which has been recognised and criticised strongly in every medium in Australia and, indeed, the world over, that I refer to the Prime Minister of Australia and against no other. There was talk of blunders. At the outset of the Prime Minister’s journey abroad perhaps an even greater blunder than the one to which he adverted was in fact made by him. At least an authoritative body which the Attorney himself would judge to be supreme in these matters said so. I refer to the International Court of Justice at The Hague and its great, strong and powerful censure of the Prime Minister of Australia.
I now mention for the benefit of the Senate what I think was the second greatest blunder of recent months. That is the leak. Indeed, today in this chamber Senator James McClelland got to his feet and without a smile said that we should not talk of leaks. Surely the greatest and most reprehensible leak in political history occurred in the premature leaking of a decision of the International Court of Justice. As a result of the leak the Court said: We do not accept the explanation- *
– Mr Deputy President, I rise to order. The honourable senator is making a very serious and unfounded accusation against the Prime Minister when he accuses him in that way of some leak in relation to the International Court of Justice. I submit that he ought not to do so. If he has proper regard for his country he will not persist in making such an accusation.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I have not yet heard the whole of the statement. I shall make a judgement on whether it is parliamentary when I have heard it.
– With your permission, Mr Deputy President, I read the statement of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which is a very proper body. The report states:
The Government had said it regretted any embarrassment which might have been caused to the Court. However, the Court said that it considered any publication concerning a future decision of the Court, domestic or international, is incompatible with the fundamental principles governing the good administration of justice. The Court therefore remains seriously concerned with the matter.’
I think I am right in saying that all the Press reported that the Prime Minister released the report of the judgment of the Court, and I stand by that statement.
– Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. It is not proper for the honourable senator to make such a suggestion. He has reflected upon the Prime Minister. The word which he used was ‘leak’. He has read a statement from the International Court of Justice which simply referred to any statement about a future judgment. That is an entirely different proposition to what the honourable senator suggested was a leak, as he calls it. That has an entirely different significance to a speculation or a statement about what might be done by a court. To infer, as the honourable senator has, in some sinister way by using the word leak’ is an extremely grave reflection upon the Prime Minister. It is a completely unwarranted reflection upon the Court and members of the Court. I ask the honourable senator for the sake of his own country not to allow such a statement to be made. I suggest to him that he should withdraw that statement about a leak. I submit that if he will not withdraw he should not be permitted to persist and should be ordered to withdraw.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. It may be that truth is a reflection, Mr Deputy President. Even if truth be a reflection, under the Standing Orders you would still require that the truth be withdrawn. But Senator Murphy, as the AttorneyGeneral of this country, would know the facts. I am sure that a statement of the character made by the International Court of Justice about the Australian Government would be a statement which would excite his closest attention. Unless reporting around this country is completely inaccurate the Prime Minister in a speech to the Law Institute of Victoria - I forget the date but, as I recall it, it was during the week in which 22 June appeared - stated that he understood that the International Court of Justice was about to issue an injunction. He said that he thought that it would be issued within the next 48 hours and he went so far as to say that the numbers in the giving of the judgment would be 8 to 6. In those circumstances I submit that Senator Murphy by raising his point of order is intruding into the time and coherency of language and delivery of Senator Carrick and, with respect, that it is a spurious point of order.
– Mr Deputy President
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Senator Carrick, do you wish to speak to the point of order.
– Only to this extent: If the word ‘leak’ is regarded by you as offensive I withdraw it. I remain with the remainder of my statement but 1 draw your attention to the fact that the Australian Press published the fact and the International Court of Justice reported upon what it called the premature statement by the Prime Minister on the judgment of the Court. I rely on the International Court for my basis and I suggest that it is factual.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I suggest that the words just used by you, that is ‘premature release’, are more appropriate than the word ‘leak’ which has been objected to. I suggest that you return to the subject of the paper which has been presented and that you confine yourself more broadly to that subject.
– Mr Deputy President, with your concurrence I will do that thoroughly. I draw your attention to the fact that throughout that paper there is reference to the French nuclear tests, that the Court of Justice had reached a decision and to the attitude of the Australian people. I know nothing that is more relevant to this paper than the matter to which I adverted. I now continue. We are all well aware of the diversionary tactics of the Attorney-General. The simple tact is that the Australian Prime Minister in his recent journey abroad, the facts of which he does not intend to convey to the Australian people, failed at every level of his alleged endeavour. He failed as did his predecessor as Foreign Minister, the late Dr Evatt, except to create bad will throughout the world. He has created an abrasive and aggressive attitude by Australia to other nations, particularly to those of similar attitudes and to those who have been our friends.
I remind the Senate, since we are describing the success or otherwise of this Gulliver’s travels, that the Prime Minister of Australia went to America with 2 main intentions expressed publicly. In the first place he went to get Mexico to agree to condemn the French nulcear tests and he failed. He went to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in Ottawa to get the Conference specifically to condemn French nuclear tests, and he failed. He trailed a kite in Mexico, which he quickly pulled in from the wind, on the preposterous proposal of having a minerals resources policy. He tried to get the nations of this world to impose monopolistically against other nations the very sanctions which he inveighs against in the multinationalist corporations. He says that what is diabolical in multi-national corporations is right in the country which Gough Whitlam rules. Of course, no one would go along with him. He failed utterly in this in Mexico. This is the success story!
He went to America. The rest is silence. What a wonderful situation it is that the man and the Government who inveigh against America and its people the whole time should have unctuously started his speech to the National Press Club in Washington with these words:
It is an honour for me to be asked to address representatives of the world’s greatest and most free Press in the capital of the world’s greatest and most free democracy.
Like Hamlet, the rest is silence. How can he or his Government align those honeyed words with his sustained attacks not only on the present Nixon Administration - that is not good enough because he could lecture on it day by day - but also on the late Lyndon Johnson and his Administration and on the late J. F. Kennedy and his Administration. He did not quite get back to Abraham Lincoln because there is a Ben Chifley relationship there. He nearly did so but he was pulled up in time. This is the man who is supposed to have established good relations with America. But a day or so before he left Australia, under strict instructions from his Federal Conference in Surfer’s Paradise he called Australia out of the SEATO naval exercise. This is supposed to be co-operation. Despite the honeyed words about our support for SEATO, we, who were to be the key nation in the exercise and to provide the key warships for the exercise, with only the briefest notice pulled out of the exercise without offering an explanation. This was done because the faceless men had spoken. The same thing occurred, of course, with the Five Power Arrangements.
And so he went around the world. No amount of talk by the Attorney-General can disguise this situation. The Attorney-General more than any other man withheld from this Parliament, until we dragged them out of him, fact after valuable fact on nuclear and atomic tests. He would not give them to the people of Australia, though they were entitled to know those facts in order to judge these issues. The simple fact is that if this Government were, like the Opposition, sincere in believing that atomic testing is damaging to humanity wherever it occurs, it would realise quite clearly that tens of millions - nay, hundreds of millions - of Chinese near Lop Nor in the Sinkiang Province and the Chinese and Russians around them are in numbers far more greatly subjected to danger to their lives than those said to be affected by the Mururoa Atoll tests. But we do not worry about them. We do not worry that a dirty bomb was exploded in the most dangerous way, that the fallout from it can be the most dangerous of the lot. All we do is write a letter of protest. We do not impose any bans, we do not seek censure from the world, because we have decided that China shall have special recognition from us. But France which has been our valued friend in peace and war is to be attacked, because we attack only our friends. That is the way we proceed in all these things.
What have we done? What do we find? We find, according to the Press reports - and they are not denied - that Mr Whitlam has decided to interest himself actively in the existing sovereignty of not one but a dozen nations. Let us look at this as a day’s work. None of it, I think, has been mentioned. It was reported that Mr Whitlam pledged Australia’s support for international moves to change the governments of white minority regimes in Africa. He said the Government would support every international endeavour to bring down the Government of Rhodesia, oust South Africa from south-west Africa which it illegally occupied - that is a decision of his - and change the policy of the minority Government in South Africa and give freedom to Portugal’s colonies. Mr Whitlam described Mr Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore as a hawk who is very free with his advice.
This is not bad for one day’s work and not a sentence about it is in this statement. Even Cabinet solidarity is strained, as is indicated by the rather tentative shake of the head of the Attorney-General who I commend for having turned the other cheek. But on we went to a massive lecture addressed to Mr Heath, the British Prime Minister. And why is he guilty? I tonight have been accused of being personal. Has anyone listened to the honeyed words of personal insult and invective poured out by the Prime Minister of Australia against the elected Prime Minister of Britain? Does the Attorney-General get up and say: ‘They are not parliamentary; they would not do, chaps’? It is all right when the Labor Government is attacking a non-socialist Prime Minister, and it is all right when it is not under attack. I put to the Senate that compared with the words that Mr Whitlam used against Mr Heath, I was talking here tonight with the voice of angels and the tinkling of cymbals.
What are we going to do next? We are going to attack multi-national corporations. We are now going to call Britain a foreign country, even though 80 per cent of us regard her as our Mother Country. Britain is now a foreign country. The Britain, to whom we pleaded and to whom we will continue to plead for help and know-how in war and peace and for money and capital to develop our Hamersleys and Western Australia, is to be attacked with the incredible statement that the multi-national corporations from Britain are a form of colonial imperialism. Has anyone ever heard such arrant nonsense? Yet I standing here am rebuked for having used strong words. Does the Attorney-General believe the words used by his leader - or is he his leader? - against Mr Heath and the multinational corporations? Of course he does not. They were the essence of extravagance. This was Narcissus listening to his own voice and looking at his own reflection.
Now we move to Singapore. And what have we there? We have Mr Whitlam making a broadside attack on Mr Lee Kuan Yew, a great Asian and a very great statesman. I remind the Senate that Mr Whitlam said that Singapore and Mr Lee Kuan Yew were selfish and self-interested and had failed to play their part in the Asian region. No man and no government was taken apart more thoroughly than was Mr Whitlam and his Government when a spokesman for Mr Lee Kuan Yew in statement after statement and with fact after fact showed that on performance inside South East Asia Singapore was second to none, and certainly not second to Australia. Yet here we go with our gratuitous insults around the world. We did the same in Indonesia. We lectured Indonesia and we were insensitive to the difficulty of Chinese communism in Indonesia. Mr Whitlam went to New Guinea on his pre vious jaunt. There was one holiday on every jaunt; 3 holidays so far in 8 months. The bill must be astronomic. But nothing is too good for the Prime Minister of Australia and for his entourage. The Prime Minister went to New Guinea and told the people that whether they liked it or not they would have freedom thrust upon them, forcing them into aggression. If provocation causes violence, the onus is upon the Whitlam Government.
So he moved around the world. What have we got? We have had a journey through Mexico with failure, through America with failure and through Ottawa with total failure. The main thread running out of this is that there is no criticism at all of those he met who are dictators or semi-dictators and are running a police state. They are our friends; they are our colleagues who are to be embraced. But every criticism that one can mouth is made of Britain, America and France. The test of diplomacy is not the sound of noise or the acid tones or clever phases; the test of diplomacy is whether, having undertaken diplomacy, we as a nation have a more enduring friendship and more assurance of peace and goodwill around the world in which we live. It is demonstrably true that no government in history, except perhaps the previous Labor Government, has done more to create disaster by its foreign policy than has this Government in its short life.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! It being 11 o’clock, in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Secondary Industry, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice:
Did the Commonwealth Police Force, on 16 March 1973,take charge of the switchboard at the Australian Security Intelligence Organization’s Headquarters in Melbourne; if so, who authorised this action and for what purpose?
Senator MURPHY- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 206)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLAND- The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Service are published monthly by the Department of Labour. Figures recently released by the Department of Labour for April 1973 showed that since March 1973 the total number of persons registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service declined by 3,682 to 80.903. (5 and 6) To be eligible to receive unemployment benefit a person must be capable of undertaking and willing to undertake suitable employment. A claimant will generally be regarded as having refused or failed without good and sufficient reason to accept an offer of employment if he is unwilling to accept and perform work offered to him in his usual occupation or of an equivalent kind and in such an event his entitlement to unemployment benefit is withdrawn. Work of an equivalent kind is work of atype or nature in which the person usually engages and in which the person’s experience, qualifications and training would be used. The decision as to a person’s eligibility for unemployment benefit rests with my Department.
It should be pointed out to the Honourable, Senator that it woud be a very wrong conclusion to assume that people in receipt of unemployment benefits for a given period or longer are in his terms ‘loafers’. They may well be people with family responsibilities who for a number of valid reasons have limited labour mobility. Residents of certain rural areas would certainly fit into this category. Again, there may be people with personal or social problems which interfere with their capacity to fit into the work force.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT- The Minister for Minerals and Energy has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY - The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Council for the Arts outlining proposals for the establishment of a statutory authority to administer Government assistance to the arts. This report has been made public to allow the widest consultation before the introduction of legislation to establish the Council as a statutory authority.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
What cost has been incurred in respect of the inquiry into Lake Pedder
Senator CAVANAGH- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
No sitting fees bad been paid as at that date.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The attention of the honourable senator is invited to what I said in reply to questions asked of me in the House of ‘Representatives on 22 May by the honourable members for Bradfield and Gwydir (Hansard, pages 2362-4), and also to what I said in a joint press statement issued by the Minister for Housing and myself on 22 May following a meeting we had that day with representatives of the Permanent Building Societies Association Limited of New South Wales. I made clear that I have every confidence in the financial stability of the permanent building societies, and added that there was no justification whatever for drawing any contrary implications from any of the remarks I or other Government spokesmen have made in recent times about the activities of the building societies.
With regard to part (3) of the question, my attention has been drawn to the fact mentioned by the honourable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLAND- The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister repre senting the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Northern Development, upon notice:
Were any Commonwealth public servants in the Department of Northern Development asked to prepare material for the following answer to the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party for the recent Victorian State elections; if so, who made the request and why were Commonwealth public servants utilised for this purpose.
Senator WRIEDT - The Minister for Northern Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No. However, in early May the Federal Member for Melbourne asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, for some notes on the main agricultural and industrial activities in the Shepparton area of Victoria. These were supplied.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY - The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
-BROCKMAN asked the
Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 342)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE - The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 5 June 1973 Senator Carrick asked me the following question, without notice:
How does the Government reconcile its proposal to place a means test on state aid to independent schools with its 2 concurrent proposals to abolish all university fees for rich and poor alike and also to remove the means test for age pension for rich and poor alike? Since the proposals regarding university fees and age pensions are significantly costly to the public revenue and the saving to revenue by the means test on state aid comparatively small, is not such a means test wholly discriminatory and totally unjustifiable in terms of revenue saving or social justice?
The Minister for Education has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has not placed a means test on aid to independent schools. It believes the State has an obligation to provide a universal, free, compulsory system of education open to all citizens. It respects the wish of parents to exercise a choice as to the school to which they will send their children and it accepts that the non-government schools have a vital continuing role to play. The Government’s policy is to bring about reasonable standards in all schools through programs of assistance which reflect expert assessment of relative needs and priorities.
The Australian Government is not conducting government or non-government schools in the States. It is granting $480 million to assist State schools, with special grants according to need. It is similarly making grants amounting to $193 million to nongovernment schools in the States, according to need. No education authority in Australia except the Government of New South Wales weights its grants to non-government schools according to a parental means test.
I reject the argument that social justice demands that the Australian Government should make contributions at a uniform rate towards the running costs of all non-government schools in a situation in which the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission has found that ‘if all non-systemtic non-government schools are pooled recurrent resource use ranges through a scale of 40 to 270 against an average of :100 for the combined six State government systems in 1972 and a target of 135 to .140 for 1979’ (paragraph 6.46 Interim Committee Report).
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY - The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 22 May 1973, Senator McLaren asked the following question, without notice:
Is it a fact that in August last year the then Minister for the Interior, Mr Hunt, who is a member of the Australian Country Party, initiated discussions with the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association which resulted in an invitation being extended to all margarine companies to submit proposals for the establishment of a margarine factory in the Australian Capital Territory? If the answer is in the affirmative, can the Minister inform the Senate which companies submitted proposals and which one of them was successful?
The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
At the request of the Margarine Manufacturers’ Association the then Minister for the Interior met representatives of the Association on 31 August 1972. The question of a margarine factory in the A.C.T. came up during their discussions. Provincial Traders Pty Ltd, and Vegetable Oils Pty Ltd, subsequently expressed interest. Marrickville Holdings Ltd, followed up an earlier interest by ascertaining that I had no objection to their securing and equipping premises to set up production.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will Commonwealth Public Servants who contribute to the proposed Commonwealth superannuation scheme be exempt from contributions to the Australian Government’s proposed national superannuation scheme.
Senator WILLESSEE - The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Government has commissioned a Committee of Enquiry to examine and reporton national superannuation schemes and to recommend a national superannuation scheme suitable for Australia. In accordance with its terms of reference, the Committee will also include in its examination an investigation of, amongst other things, the treatment of entitlements under existing superannuation schemes.
– On 9 May, Senator Jessop asked a question concerning the export of Australian opals. The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the question:
Upon the introduction on 23 February 1973 of export controls over minerals in raw or semiprocessed form, the export of gemstones, including opals, became subject to approval in accordance with the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations.
The representatives of the Department of Minerals and Energy in each of the capital cities have been authorised to issue, on request, Restricted Goods Permits under the Regulations until 31 October 1973 for the export of gemstones in consignments of sales of value exceeding $250. Restricted Goods Permits are not required for the export of gemstones on consignments or sales not exceeding $250.
The Minister is aware that a large volume of opals is exported to Asian countries.
The Government has not made any decision to ban the export of rough opal. The export control over this and other minerals will be administered according to the policy objectives of the Government, which include balanced development of resources so that production for export should be consistent with the best interests of Australia. In this connection, the viewpoints of the Honourable Senator and ofother interested persons will, of course, be taken into account.
– On 23 May 1973, Senator Hannan addressed the following question without notice to the Minister representing the Treasurer:
Is the Minister aware that shareholders in Australian banks with British domiciles at present are adversely affected as to approximately 30 per cent of their dividends by current British legislation aimed at inflation. Will the Minister investigate this position and, if whatI say is so, will he take appropriate action to speed up the renegotiation of the long standing double taxation agreement between Australia and Great Britain?
The Acting Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government is aware of the recent changes which have been made in the British system of taxing companies and their shareholders. Australian officials are examining the technical aspects of these changes and their implications not only for Australian shareholders receiving dividends from United Kingdom companies but in other directions also. As part of this examination, Australian officials have had talks with their British counterparts on technical aspects of the new British system, and will report to the Government on its significance.
– On 23 May 1973, Senator Wright asked the following question, without notice:
What is the date of the Ordinance which regulates the production of margarine in the Australian Capital Territory? Was any amendment made to the Ordinance before the issue of a licence to Marrickville Margarine Pty Ltd? Where applications called for from other companies If not, were other companies considered?
The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There is no legislation restricting or regulating the production of margarine in the Australian Capital Territory. As a licence is not required the question of applications did not arise.
– On 23 May 1973, Senator Devitt asked me a question without notice concerning a special tax concession for Tasmania. The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I appreciate the honourable senator’s concern at what he sees as the economic and financial disability facing Tasmania. It is, of course, in recognition of that financial disability that the Australian Government regularly provides to Tasmania special grants, on the basis of recommendations made after extensive investigation and inquiry by the Grants Commission. As to the income tax concession the honourable senator has asked me to consider for the whole of Tasmania, as a supplement to the existing income tax zone allowance, I point out the possible implications for that suggestion arising out of Section 51 (ii) of the Constitution.
– On 30 May, Senator Rae asked the following question without notice:
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Science: What progress has been made in creating and appointing members to the Council of Science and when is it likely that the Council will be in operation.
The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Minister for Science expects to announce the membership and terms of reference of the Science Council during the Budget Session of Parliament.
Over fifty professional bodies in all fields of science in Australia have been invited to give their views on the scope, mode of operation and membership of the Council. Most of these bodies have now replied. All replies have expressed support for the general idea of the Council, and the majority have indicated agreement with the form of the Council as envisaged by the Minister for Science. Many useful suggestions have been received and the Minister is very appreciative of the spirit, co-operation and interest shown, which will contribute significantly to the success of the Council.
It is envisaged that the Science Council will advise on the development of science in Australia including its organisation, the allocation of resources and manpower, as well as the impact of science on the community and the integration of science policy with general government policy. The Council will have about a dozen members with broad representation from the scientific and technological community as well as several social scientists and will be supported by an independent secretariat.
The Minister for Science will be glad to keep the Senate informed of developments.
– On 1 June, Senator Greenwood asked me a question as Minister representing the Prime Minister concerning the role and functions of the Governor-General and any approach to the British Government on that subject (Hansard, page 2227). The Prime Minister has now supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question.
The Governor-General is the viceroy of the Queen of Australia (Constitution, sections 2, 61 and 68). Consequently, his prerogatives are not the concern of the British Government.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
– On 5 June 1973, Senator Marriott asked that a statement be prepared setting out the names of professors and/ or staff members of Australian universities who are under appointment to fulltime temporary positions either as ministerial advisers or to Government commissions and committees, and indicating if their positions at the relevant universities are filled during their Government appointments. The Senator also asked that it be indicated which ones are on sabbatical or any other type of leave during their appointments.
The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The names of professors and/or staff members of Australian universities who are under appointment to such fulltime temporary positions are as follows:
Mr D. Bensusan Butt
Mr A. Boxer
Mr H. G. Brennan
Dr J. S. Deeble
Mr G. W. Ford
Professor R. Parsons
Mr N. Podder
Associate Professor H. F. Pollard
Dr R. B. Scotton.
The Government does not maintain records of whether the university positions of all the above persons are filled during their Government appointments. Nor is the Government in a position to indicate which of the above persons are on sabbatical or any other type of leave during their appointments.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
At 31 May 1973: full-time, 253,665; part time, 5,318; total, 258,983.
Increase: full-time, 6,789; part-time, 413; total, 7,202.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Did the Minister state, while in New Delhi, as reported in the press that ‘Never again are we going to be put in the position of finding ourselves siding with Britain, France, Portugal, South Africa and the U.S. while all of our neighbours are on the other side,’; if so, what were the occasions and what were the isues on which Australia sided with Britain, France, Portugal, South Africa and the United States of America and Australia’s neighbours were on the other side in voting in the United Nations.
Senator WILLESEE- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
During his recent visit to India the Prime Minister made a statement to the general effect that, in the past, Australia had in the United Nations paid excessive regard to the voting intentions of the United Kingdom and the United States and had found itself frequently in a different voting position from that of its neighbours.
The Prime Minister has made it clear that, in the future, while not disregarding the voting intentions of the United Kingdom and the United States, Australia would ascertain the views of countries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans such as Canada, Japan, Indonesia, India and some of the African countries.
In the United Nations in the last twenty years or so, there have been many occasions when Australia sided with the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, South Africa and the United States while Australia’s neighbours were on another side. The following table shows the recent voting on some of these issues in the United Nations, by way of illustrating the Prime Minister’s statement. Further information on voting in the United Nations is available in the records of the Organisation, copies of which are held in the Parliamentary Library.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The Minister for Civil Aviation has providedthe following answer to the honourable senators question:
The College is residential and there are at present 106 students in residence including 35 trade apprentices and three trainees undertaking studies at the University of Papua New Guinea. Sixty-eight residents undertaking their studies at the College are training as Airways Operations Officers, Radio Technicians and Airport Fire Staff.
In addition, two indigenous clerical/administrative officers are at present undergoing training at the Australian School of Pacific Administration in Sydney; two recently completed such training, and a further two recently completed a period of attachment with the Department’s Central Office. These six officers are expected to fill clerical positions up to Clerk, Class 5 level in the near future.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Senator BISHOP- The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Senator CAVANAGH- The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Prime ““Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 17 May 1973 Senator Wright asked me as Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, without notice, whether certain State governments had proceeded to appeals to the QueeninCouncil on the subject of the territorial sea, whetherthat appeal was to the Judicial Committee ofthe Privy Council or to the QueeninCouncil, and whether the Commonwealth had decided its attitude to those appeals.
The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable Senator’s question:
Queensland and Tasmania have petitioned the Queen to refer questions concerning the territorial sea and seabed to the Privy Council pursuant to section 4 of the Judicial Committee Act 1933 (Imp.). These petitions have the support of the other Australian Stales. The view of the Australian Government is that the Queen should be advised, in the exercise of her discretion, not to refer these questions to the Privy Council. The Prime Minister made this clear on 31 May in his second reading speech on the Privy Council Appeals Abolition Bill 1973 and the Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Bill 1973, in another place.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY- The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) The Government’s policy on both matters has been stated publicly on many occasions. On 9 January 1973, I informed the Premiers of my intention to introduce the Seas and Submerged Lands legislation. On 1 May I made a statement in the House of Representatives (Hansard, pages 1488-1491) in which I foreshadowed the introduction of legislation concerning the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council. I discussed this matter with the Premiers on 29 June at the Premiers’ Conference. I last wrote to the Premiers on 23 July.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730822_senate_28_s57/>.