30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave- Mr President, last Thursday Senator Scott asked whether it would be appropriate to place in the records of this chamber acknowledgment of the contribution made by the late Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery to the cause of free people. I am sure that all honourable senators will mourn the death of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery. He was a distinguished soldier and a most distinguished citizen of this century. The free world owes him a debt for his work not only in war but also in peace. Australians will remember him best as the man who led the Allied forces to victory in the North Africa campaign of the Second World War.
Australia will be represented at his funeral by senior representatives in London of the Australian defence forces. The party will be headed by Major-General Graham. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has asked the Returned Services League whether at the Government’s expense it would be happy to send either its President or Vice-President to the United Kingdom for the funeral. Our Ambassador in Stockholm, Mr Barnard, a former Deputy Prime Minister, as honourable senators will know, and one who served under Field Marshal Montgomery at El Alamein, has been asked to represent Australia at the funeral.
It is not the normal practice of the Senate to move a formal motion of condolence in circumstances such as this. Following Senator Scott’s question I have, as I promised, discussed his proposal with you, Mr President, and with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt). Both agree that there should not be a departure from the normal practice.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I should like briefly to associate myself with the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers). As he has said, it is not the normal practice for the Senate to engage in condolence motions in these circumstances. I felt it was desirable that some record of the services of Viscount Montgomery should be made in Hansard. It has always been my understanding that at times he was a very difficult man to get along with. Nevertheless, his contribution to the struggle against the forces of Nazism during the Second World War is something which I am sure all of us must recognise. No matter in whatsphereacontributionismade-whetheritis in the military sphere or in our own parliamentary sphere- I believe it is fitting that at least an acknowledgment should be made of it. I associate myself with the remarks of Senator Withers.
-I present the following petition from 55 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That whereas the natural environment of Fraser Island is so outstanding that it should be identified as part of the World Natural Heritage, and whereas the Island should be conserved for the enjoyment of this and future generations,
Your petitioners humbly pray that the members, in Parliament assembled, will take the most urgent steps to ensure:
. That the Australian Government uses its constitutional powers to prohibit the export of any mineral sands from Fraser Island, and
That the Australian Government uses its constitutional authority to assist the Queensland Government and any other properly constituted body to develop and conserve the recreational, educational and scientific potentials of the natural environment of Fraser Island for the long term benefit of the people of Australia.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 25 citizens of the Australian Capital Territory:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth:
That the failure of the Government to honour its 1975 election promise that the ‘existing Commissioner for Housing loans scheme would continue’ will cause widespread hardship among citizens of the Australian Capital Territory because:
1 ) It will cause financial difficulties for those who, in good faith, and believing the Government would keep its promise, have entered into contractual arrangements,
It will exacerbate the accommodation shortage in the Territory; and
It will exacerbate unemployment in the building and dependent industries.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should therefore impress upon the Government the need for:
Election promises to be adhered to, particularly where contractual arrangements and purchases have been made by private citizens as a result of such promises; and
The need for the continuance of Commissioner for Housing loans on the same basis as before the December 1975 election.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 43 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
There is a growing interest and concern in all sections of Australian society for the conservation of the environment, natural and man-made.
That there are also rapidly growing pressures by powerful forces tending towards the destruction of the Australian heritage.
That it is therefore urgent to appoint the Australian Heritage Commission, which was approved by both sides of this Parliament and to give the Commission sufficient independent staff, resources and funds.
That technical assistance grants and administrative support grants to community organisations are needed to partially redress the gross imbalance in technical expertise and resources suffered by community groups in pressing the community’s case against the exploiter.
That a proper balance between the Governments program of public austerity and the need for action in conservation would be a modest increase in the Budget allocations in these areas over that of 1 975-76.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Omega Station in Australia
– I present the following petition from 28 citizens of Tasmania:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
. That Omega is the only worldwide navigation system, whose continuous Very Low Frequency signals can be used by submarines to determine their position, while remaining completely submerged.
That in particular the missile-firing submarines of the U.S.A. can improve their destructive potential by using Omega signals.
That it represents a major escalation of the arms race, and directly involves Australia even further in nuclear war strategies.
That therefore an Omega station built in Australia would be a prime nuclear target.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Australian Government will reconsider its decision and reject any proposal to build an Omega station on Australian soil.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I ask for leave to table a letter addressed to me from a Miss Ballard about the lack of public transport services on weekends in the Belconnen area of the Australian Capital Territory.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I table the letter to which is attached the signatures of 186 citizens of the Australian Capital Territory and I ask for leave of the Senate to have the text of the letter incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The letter read as follows)-
Miss Kim Ballard, 3 Morris Street, Higgins, A.C.T.
Senators. Ryan, Parliament House, King George Terrace, Parkes, A.C.T. 2600
We would like to protest about public transport services at weekends in Belconnen.
It appears to us that there are various important reasons for the public, including children, to have buses at the weekend and as Belconnen is poorly catered for us kids.
This is what it means to us:
There is only one milk bar in Belconnen. This is at Jamison and it closes at lunch time on Saturday.
There is no picture theatre in Belconnen.
Sporting facilities are very limited in Belconnen- the only tennis courts are at Jamison- there are no football fields north of Ginninderra Drive- hockey is played at Southwell Park- baseball is at Dickson and Curtinsoftball is at Mawson- swimming is at Jamisonspecial sports like ice skating and roller skating and horse riding are at special places on the other side of Canberra.
There are not many shops in Belconnen and if we want something like clothes or presents etc. we have to go to Civic or Woden.
Even visiting friends is hard because they live in different suburbs. And it is very difficult to visit people in hospital.
It’s very hard on children not to have buses because we have to get our parents to drive us or we have to hitch-hike which can be dangerous.
No buses might not matter to adults but kids can’t drive.
Yours sincerely, K. BALLARD
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate take note of the Paper entitled Position Statement on Future Arrangements for the Stevedoring Industry, by R. M. Northrop, Q.C., dated February 1976.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Administrative Services. I wish to stress that there is nothing parochial about my question. The Minister is no doubt aware of 2 small vessels of the Royal Australian Navy which are to be disposed of and for which tenders are currently being called. Would the Minister agree that the preservation of such vessels is essential in the interests of our national heritage? Is he also aware of the very deep interest in maritime history amongst all sections of the Tasmanian community and of the existence of the Tasmanian Maritime Museum? Will the Minister give serious consideration to making one of these vessels available to the Tasmanian Maritime Museum to be appropriately preserved in Hobart?
-I am aware that at the moment my Department has two of these vessels up for tender. I am seeking advice as to whether or not they ought to be preserved. While I cannot promise the honourable senator anything, should I be advised that they ought to be preserved I will do all that I can to see whether one of them can be presented to the Tasmanian Maritime Museum to comply with the honourable senator’s request.
– Sell it to him.
-No, I would not sell it to him; I would rather give it as a present from me to him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Has the Minister seen a report in the Australian Financial Review of 25 March 1976 that Uniroyal Pty Ltd is considering moving its factory from South Australia to Victoria due to cost disadvantages in the transport of its products? Is it not a fact that industrial development in South Australia has depended on the efficiency of its work force, a wage cost advantage arising from cheaper living costs and industrial peace, to offset this freight cost disadvantage? Is it not also a fact that South Australia now suffers labour cost disadvantages to a worse degree than other States due to the impact of the Dunstan State Government’s unreal policies relating to workmen’s compensation as well as high charges for utilities, land and other taxes, including payroll tax? Will not these disadvantages restrict vigorous industrial growth in South Australia, inhibit investment in that State and thereby jeopardise the future of the State?
-I saw the reference to the possibility of Uniroyal Pty Ltd leaving South Australia. I tried to recall as I listened to the honourable senator’s comments the previous cost advantages of South Australia and the cost disadvantages which are now emerging in various areas. I will try to make the most useful comment I can to him on that matter. First of all, manufacturing is extremely important to South Australia as a State, particularly in certain areas of white goods and lighter manufacturing. These industries are quite critical to employment in that State. It will not have passed unnoticed that, for a start, 2 1 per cent of the employment in South Australia depends on the motor car industry. Therefore, the cost advantages that once upon a time drew people to South Australia, for the various reasons which have been mentioned by the honourable senator are very important. If in the overall context of running that State economy a series of cost disadvantages is set up it will be very difficult indeed for industry either to remain there or to be attracted there. I am quite sure that that would be a serious problem for South Australia. What I am trying to do in my work is as far as possible to get the best cost competitive situation around Australia. But to some extent these efforts are sometimes defeated by the actions of State governments which impose cost burdens well above the norm.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Is it a fact that the relay station which links Blackwater with the Australian Broadcasting Commission television station at Rockhampton could, as of Monday, relay television programs to Blackwater but, in fact, will not commence television transmission until 12 April? Could the Minister advise the Senate whether the residents of Blackwater are being deprived of television reception because they must await the arrival of the honourable member for Kennedy, Mr Katter, for the official opening ceremony of the station on 12 April? Finally, will the Minister take urgent steps to see that transmission commences as soon as possible and notify the Senate accordingly?
– I am not aware of the time plan for the television station referred to by Senator Colston. I am not aware of the circumstances that he alleges. I will certainly contact my colleague, the Minister for Post and Telecommunications in another place, and ensure that everything is done to obtain transmissions as soon as possible. I also will provide relevant information regarding the allegations.
– Is the Minister for Administrative Services aware of the statement made recently by the Minister for Transport that because of the economic situation and the Government’s cost cutting program he could not commit himself to the plan to build a new airport for Brisbane? Further, is the Minister for Administrative Services aware that the Minister for Transport said last month that he could not promise major works for Brisbane Airport before 1 982? I understand that the situation is vague but that it is almost certain that the next Budget will not produce very much in the direction of the Brisbane Airport. In these circumstances how does this affect the progress of the Department of Administrative Services in acquiring property involved in the upgrading of Brisbane Airport? What will happen to properties on which purchase has been finalised and in particular to those roads and bridges which are now the property of the Commonwealth Government? Will the Minister give consideration to allowing free usage, particularly to wharves on the Brisbane River, of those roads and bridges for businesses still operating in the area which claim they need the use of those facilities which were previously public roads and bridges?
-I must confess that I have not kept up with the statements of my colleague, the Minister for Transport in the other place, concerning Brisbane Airport. But I do know that my Department is at the moment paying out compensation for land acquired around Brisbane Airport, both land acquired voluntarily and compulsorily. As to the questions concerning roads and bridges and whether consideration can be given to providing free access to wharves, I will have to look at the files within the Department before I give an answer. I undertake to do that at the earliest possible date and to let the honourable senator have an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources and Minister for Overseas Trade. Does the Government take seriously the outrageous and hysterical utterances by the Deputy Prime Minister that Australia must exploit and sell its uranium to foreign interests or suffer the consequence of having it taken from it by force? Was the Deputy Prime Minister referring to Japan in this context? As Australia has both signed and ratified the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, is not our nation bound by the international obligations inherent in that treaty, which prohibits the sale of uranium to any nation which has not signed .and ratified the treaty.
-I represent the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for National Resources and Senator Cotton represents him in his capacity as Minister for Overseas Trade. The Government is a party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and it may be taken as read that the Government will comply with all its obligations under that treaty in any matters concerning the mining and sale of uranium. If the honourable senator likes to read inferences into what my distinguished colleague in the other place said, I cannot prevent him from doing so; but there is no doubt that what the Deputy Prime Minister said to the Australian Mining Industry Council on Monday night of this week does represent Government policy in this area. It was a speech which I support.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory. In view of the heavy flooding and damage to main road surfaces in the Northern Territory, is the Department of the Northern Territory actively repairing the main roads network? Has sufficient finance been made available to carry out necessary repairs and reconstruction? What plans has the Government for repairing secondary roads in the Northern Territory?
-The full assessment of the damage to main and secondary roads in the Northern Territory will not be possible until the roads and their surrounds have dried out. Only then can an estimate of the cost of repair and restoration be made. In the meantime, within the limits of the funds available essential work required to keep the roads traffickable is being performed. I can assure the honourable senator that, as soon as the size of the task and the level of funds required are known, the Minister for the Northern Territory will be discussing the matter with his ministerial colleagues with a view to having the roads restored as soon as possible.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Security, refers to the statements made by the Prime Minister in his speech to the Victorian Council of the Liberal Party at the weekend when he said ‘Some of Labor’s social welfare schemes will have to be cut because we cannot afford them’ and ‘cuts will be tough for the Government but not for the people’. When will a comprehensive statement be made on the Government’s social welfare plans, particularly for those areas in which it is intended to cut expenditure? Such a statement needs to be made in order to relieve the uncertainty of organisations and individuals working in the welfare field. Can the Minister clarify for the Senate the view expressed by the Prime Minister that financial cuts can be tough for the Government but not for the people involved?
– The Prime Minister did make a statement last weekend which referred to some of the matters that have been mentioned by the honourable senator. The Senate would be aware that at present the Income Security Review Committee, which is representative of several departments, is undertaking a review of all social welfare programs and all matters related to the security of Australians. Until we have a report from that Committee, we will not be announcing any changes to existing programs. It will be recognised that the Prime Minister and others in the Government have said at all times that essential welfare expenditure will be maintained. Any reference that has been made to the forthcoming Budget as a Budget that will be tough for the Government in terms of government spending but not tough for the Australian people in terms of the burden of taxation is something which will be welcomed at this stage by the Australian people. There is no uncertainty in the minds of Australians as to what the Prime Minister intends when he makes a statement of that type.
-I have heard of a statement by a certain Mr Gregory Clark who made certain allegations concerning the former Prime Minister encouraging the Indonesians to invade East Timor. Whether or not those allegations are correct is not for me to say. I have no direct knowledge of the matter. But I do not recall having heard the former Prime Minister making any denial of those allegations. He may have, but I do not recall having heard of it.
– You do not read the newspapers.
-I read some newspapers.
– You are too busy watching the ABC.
-Senator O’Byrne would be surprised what I read. The honourable senator asked whether the Indonesians were encouraged to invade East Timor. I do not know. The question whether the papers ought to be tabled raises certain matters as to what should remain confidential in respect of the documents of outgoing governments. As I recall it, the previous Labor Government did breach the normal rule that a succeeding government does not table documents or papers of its predecessors. But as I recall further, Mr Daly in the other place occasionally did so with great glee, even when the papers were only in draft form circulating between Ministers, just to try to score cheap political points, as he spent so much of his time in the Parliament doing. Whether these papers ought to be tabled is, I think, a matter for the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I will pass on the honourable senator’s request to them.
- Senator Georges may be in a position to answer the question.
-Well, Senator Georges may be in a better position to answer it; I do not know.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has the Premier of New South Wales, Sir Eric Willis, advised the Minister or the Prime Minister of his intention to announce this afternoon the withdrawal of the writs for the by-election in the State seat of Monaro and the holding of a State election in New South Wales on Saturday, 1 May 1976? If so, is this not a clear indication that the New South Wales Liberal Party realises the damage being done to it by the policies of the present Federal Liberal-National Country Party Government?
-I am not aware whether the Honourable Sir Eric Willis has advised the Prime Minister about the matters alleged by the honourable senator. As to the latter part of his question, might I say this: Since the election of 13 December last, when the Party to which the honourable senator belongs was annihilated in both chambers of this Parliament, there have been 2 elections.
– We gained 43 per cent of the votes.
-And we gained 57 per cent of the votes; the honourable senator is quite right. As I recall it, 2 elections have been held since that date. There was one in Victoria approximately 10 days ago. The same pattern occurred there. I note with a great deal of interest that the Victorian Labor Party, like the Federal Labor Party in Canberra, seems to have that manic desire to persist with a loser as its leader. As I understand it, Mr Hamer not only won but also won well. He won magnificently. As I further recall, in the Brisbane City Council elections last Saturday, in which for the first time the Liberal Party fielded candidates, there was a 12 per cent swing away from the Labor Party. I do not know why the honourable senator is so upset that Sir Eric Willis- if he has done as the honourable senator alleges- desires to bring on an election. One would have thought that if the honourable senator was dinkum he would have welcomed an election because on his premise a gentleman whose name I cannot recall but who leads his State Party may well become the next Premier of New South Wales.
– He could be an also-ran.
– That is what he would be if an election was held. Therefore I cannot understand why the honourable senator asked the question. If the members of the Labor Party are so full of fight towards us- they have not shown much of it because they have been so busy fighting amongst themselves in recent months- I would have thought that the honourable senator would welcome an election being called by Sir Eric Willis, and if he wants an election I will see whether we can accommodate him.
– My question relates to ethnic radio and is directed to 2 Ministers, one representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and the other representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Perhaps the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications will respond. I refer to today’s reports that ethnic radio is to continue until 30 September. I ask: As a member of the National Committee on Ethnic Radio why was this advice not transmitted to members of the National Committee? Why was the announcement in terms of the extension of the program released to the Press and not made to the Parliament? More particularly, will the management of ethnic radio until 30 September be under the auspices of a committee? Will it be under the auspices of the present Committee or will it be controlled by a Government department as I fear it was under the previous Administration?
– My understanding of the Government ‘s decision yesterday is simply that it has decided to extend the licence and government financing of ethnic radio until 30 September pending the Government’s finalisation of its program of reform for ethnic radio. Since this is purely a formal matter of extending the situation I am not aware why the Government may have sought to contact the National Committee. I am aware that Senator Davidson is a member of that Committee and has done valuable work upon it. I am equally aware that the Minister for Post and Telecommunications in another place has been in frequent contact with the Chairman of the Committee. I believe that the Committee has not met for some time and I believe also that the viewpoint of the members, including, I should think, Senator Davidson, has been expressed in what I think is called the Bayutti Report which is available to the Minister and to the Government. I am sure that the Minister would welcome as the Government would welcome the viewpoint on ethnic radio of the National Committee and of any honourable senator. Let me make it clear that it is the intention of the Government so to establish reforms that ethnic radio will be placed upon a thoroughly objective and stable basis for the future in Australia and one to which I think every member of this chamber would subscribe. As to the actual management between now and 30 September, lest I am not fully instructed, I will seek information from the Minister and let the honourable senator know.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to an article in today’s Australian headed Bribes Probe Pacts Signed’ wherein it is stated that the United States Department of Justice had on Monday signed agreements of mutual cooperation with Italy and the Netherlands in the investigations of alleged Lockheed Aircraft Corporation bribes. The article goes on to say that the signing of the 2 agreements 6 days after a precedent breaking pact with Japan were forerunners of similar agreements being negotiated with other countries. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of evidence given before a United States Senate committee by the chief executive officer of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation that some moneys were paid to Australians, is Australia one of the other countries entering into agreement with the United States Department of Justice to assist that Department in its investigations into alleged Lockheed bribes of public officials in trying to sell its planes abroad? If Australia is not to assist in these inquiries, what are the reasons for abstaining?
-I did not see the article to which the honourable senator refers. I understand that some inquiries are going on about bribery by officials of the Lockheed Corporation. As far as I am aware no approach has yet been made to Australia for a similar agreement. I imagine- I put it no higher than that- that if the United States desires the co-operation of Australia in this matter that co-operation certainly will be forthcoming. As the honourable senator asks for some definitive information, I shall seek it for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Does the annual report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for 1974-75 draw attention to serious cost increases which have affected the drug manufacturing operations of the Commission? Are these costs stated to include labour costs such as paid maternity leave, increases in superannuation and wages? If the Commission, which produces drugs for government, is complaining of cost increases, does this not make more credible the claims by the private pharmaceutical industry that it is in a cost squeeze? Does it not re-inforce industry fears that it cannot continue to service the pharmaceutical benefits scheme at present price levels?
– I have not had an opportunity to read the report to which the honourable senator refers. Some of the suppositions which he makes sound logical to me. I shall obtain the information for the honourable senator in more definition from the Minister for Health.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources aware that the latest net profit of Utah Development Co. topped the $100m mark and that it appears that its latest quarterly profit could exceed this mark despite the $6 coal levy. Because of Utah’s profit and its low Australian equity, would not any decision to lift the $6 coal levy be more in the realm of politics than economics?
-I do not know what sort of profit Utah Development Co. is making. I do not take an interest in the company’s affairs. It was one of the more lunatic economic decisions of the last Government to impose an export levy.
– Why have you not removed it then?
-Have patience, Senator Walsh. Of course, the honourable senator in his newly non-elected role as the non-shadow Minister for Agriculture is always jumping into situations. It was a decision of disaster to impose the coal levy at the time. We on this side of the House said so. Whether Utah is making that profit does not really cover the question as to the economic sense of imposing such a levy. As I recall, the Labor Government had to retreat from a large number of original proposals in its Budget because they would have been disastrous for a number of coalfields in New South Wales. Merely to single out a company which happens to be making a profit to justify a lunatic economic decision, I do not think says much for the honourable senator.
-The Minister for Industry and Commerce will be aware of the abolition of the aerated waters and fruit juice sales tax exemption scheme in 1973 by the previous Labor Government. He will also be aware that the previous Government made available an amount of $5m to be paid to those manufacturers who were disadvantaged by the abolition of the exemption, such payments to be made on the recommendation of the Special Committee on Apple and Pear Juice Concentrate on which there was appropriate departmental representation. My question is: Can the Minister advise when the payment of $138,000 recommended by the committee some time ago and due to be paid to the Ardmona Fruit Producers Ltd at Mooroopna in Victoria will be made? In due course will the Minister advise also how much of the sum of $5m remains unexpended and supply some detail as to the sums already expended from the fund?
-The honourable senator was good enough to ask that some information on this subject be obtained for him. As I listened to his question, I realised that the material I have here with which to answer him would involve a very long and detailed answer. I think it would be far better if I provided it to him in written form after question time; otherwise he and I would find ourselves incurring the displeasure of our colleagues.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education. He will be aware of plans that the Liberal Party has to distribute, in its own words, a ‘campaign manual and kit’ to school children throughout Australia? Does he agree that such action could lead to school children becoming the unwilling recipients of a vast proliferation of propaganda material, that school children should not be so badgered, and that such action could seriously impair their reaching an objective assessment of the various political groupings in Australia? Have the various education authorities been consulted?
-I regret to tell the honourable senator that I am not aware of such a proposal. If she is and if she has authoritative information on this matter, I will be grateful if she provides that information to me. I will consider the matter then.
-Has the Minister for Industry and Commerce agreed to meet a deputation from Whyalla led by the mayor, Mrs Ekblom, with respect to the future of the shipbuilding industry in that city? Has the Minister received a report from the officer of his Department who attended a public meeting on this important matter in Whyalla last week? If so, can he give any details?
– Yes, I have agreed to meet a deputation from Whyalla led by the mayor. Of course, I have been to Whyalla, as the honourable senator knows. I have met the mayor. She is a delightful lady, and I shall be more than pleased to see her and her colleagues. That presents no problems to me whatever. Members of the Senate who are interested in meeting this delightful lady may accompany me. The meeting probably will be next Wednesday. She will bring along a number of citizens. I have had some verbal reports of last week’s meeting. I shall get a general written statement about it all. I do not think it will add a great deal to my total knowledge and concern about the problem, but I am more than pleased to meet them all.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. First of all, I tell him, if I may, that on 24 March 1976 the Minister whom he represents in this place stated that 85 per cent local ownership was required in any uranium development, and in a Press release dated 31 March 1976 the Treasurer announced that 70 per cent local ownership would be required. Can the Minister indicate to the Parliament who in fact is the spokesman on the uranium industry and which of those 2 statements is correct?
-If the honourable senator contains his patience he will discover in the next day or two who is making statements on this subject and what percentage will be required.
-Mr President, I put a supplementary question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. I asked a question about 2 factual matters. The answer I am given is that if I wait a day or two I will find out something else altogether. This is like asking somebody whether one of his twins is a boy or a girl and being told ‘It does not matter. We will have triplets next week’; that is to say, there will be 3 statements on the subject matter. I again ask the Minister which of the 2 statements to which I referred is correct. They have both been made by Ministers.
-It is not for me to pass judgment on statements made by my colleagues.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to reports, which were widespread in the Australian Press earlier this month, of allegations made at a women’s conference in Brussels that Aboriginal women are being compulsorily sterilised in the Northern Territory. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether any inquiries have been made about these allegations? Can she confirm or deny the truth of the allegations?
– I am able to inform the Senate that investigations were carried out following the statements that were made with regard to the forced sterilisation of Aboriginal women. Investigations by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs demonstrate that this claim cannot be substantiated. I believe that similar allegations were made in 1973. This resulted in detailed investigations being made by the Northern Territory health authorities into sterilisation procedures involving Aboriginal women in Northern Territory hospitals between 1 January 1973 and 31 December 1973. In all cases, specific written consent forms had been completed and were held in the respective medical superintendents’ offices. The same situation in regard to female sterilisation applies today as it did then. Female sterilisation is performed by a competent and legally qualified gynaecologist on medical grounds only; the decision being made after full consultation in which it is ensured that the patient and husband are fully aware of the implications of the operation and with the written consent of both of them.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It is supplementary to a question asked earlier by Senator Davidson.
– You are a member of the Committee, are you not?
– That is so. I have a letter from the Chairman of the National Committee on Ethnic Radio, Mr Bayutti. It was given to me last week, and it implied that Senator Davidson or I should chair a meeting, presuming that the Minister condescended to talk to the Committee. I do not blame the Minister who, in this place, represents the Minister for Post and Telecommunications for this omission but I ask him to take it up with the Minister and to find out why the Minister has not met the National Committee. Secondly- I ask this question with some feeling- can we have an assurance about the future of the National Committee on Ethnic Radio? My colleague and former Minister Senator Douglas McClelland exhibited decency and fair play in making appointments to this Committee including the appointment of Senator Davidson. I ask the Minister: Will the Committee carry on, cr will I suffer the same fate as
Senator Button suffered at the hands of Mr MacKellar when he was dismissed from the Australian Population and Immigration Council?
– I am certainly unaware that the Minister for Post and Telecommunications has failed to make any arrangements for a meering. T will draw this information to his attention. I will let the Minister know that the National Committee on Ethnic Radio is seeking such a meeting. In response to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, let me say that any reforms that the Federal Government brings about in regard to the conduct of ethnic radio in the future will have balanced controls within them, unlike the unbalance that the Australian Labor Party brought to both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. We, in fact, will insist upon balance.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. By way of introduction, I refer to the policy of the Government parties in relation to the shipbuilding subsidy of 25 per cent on Australian built fishing vessels over 70 feet. I ask, in relation to the further part of that policy of considering the extension of that subsidy to vessels over 50 feet being referred to the Industries Assistance Commission: Has that happened? If so, can any estimate be made as to when a report may be received? If it has not yet happened, can the Minister indicate when it will happen?
-I am aware of the policy position. As I represent the Minister for Primary Industry and am not the Minister, I cannot be precise as to what stage the reference to the IAC has reached. The honourable senator will know that the whole matter of shipbuilding is under review. I shall get a specific answer to the honourable senator’s question.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware that the Minister for Transport has recommended to the Prime Minister that a project for the development of the Townsville port be abandoned? Is the Minister aware that the abandonment of the plan to expand the port will prevent large overseas ships from calling at Townsville to discharge and take on cargo and that this will further disadvantage north Queenslanders? Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether it is a fact that current and planned Federal Government cuts are higher for northern Australia on a per capita basis than they are for anywhere else in the country? Will the Minister undertake to review all expenditure cuts for isolated areas of Australia with a view to lessening the burden on people who already suffer from serious disabilities as a result of living in isolated areas?
-As I listened to that question it seemed to me that one would answer no to the first three parts of it. If the facts as mentioned by the honourable senator in the last part of his question are correct I shall certainly have the matter looked into through the appropriate Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. In view of the statement that the report on the reintroduction of cadet training would be available by about the end of February, and considering that it is now the end of March, can the Minister inform the chamber when the findings of that report and the following legislation are likely to be made known?
– They cannot make up their minds, that is their trouble. They are hoist with their own petard.
-Again Senator Georges jumps in without knowing what he is doing. In my briefing notes I am informed that the Minister for Defence regrets the delay in having this matter finalised. Honourable senators will recall that in January when he announced that he had asked the Department of Defence to draw up a plan for a new system of Service cadets, the Minister said that he would welcome suggestions from organisations. The Minister informs me that over 1000 letters with more than 100 submissions of substance have been received. The consideration of these letters and submissions has lengthened the time originally thought necessary for a report to be prepared and a recommendation made to the Minister. They are the reasons for the delay, and not the reason alleged by Senator Georges.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, relates to the Australian Legal Aid Office and the new level of disposable income above which a citizen will not be eligible for legal aid. I ask: Under the new guidelines will a dependent wife be eligible for legal aid in a matter involving advice about, or assistance with, legal proceedings against her husband?
– I must say that the details of eligibility in the legal aid scheme announced recently by the Attorney-General are not known to me. I shall convey the honourable senator’s question to the Attorney-General and ask him to expedite a reply.
– In addressing my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer I refer to a question on Public Service overtime which was asked by me on 2 March 1976 of the Minister representing the Treasurer. It reads as follows:
Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the practice which, I am informed, is common among some Public Service departments, including the Treasury, of unnecessarily using up overtime allocations in the present Budget period to ensure that similar allocations are made in future appropriations? If so, what is the Minister doing to cut down on this waste of taxpayers’ money? If not, will the Minister make a close inquiry into the matter?
The Minister then replied that if this was happening it was quite reprehensible. He undertook to take up the matter with the Treasurer. At the Minister’s request, I supplied him with information that I properly could disclose without harm to my informants. I received no reply and inquire now as to when my question will be answered.
-I said at the time that if the claims were true the action was reprehensible. It is still reprehensible if the claims are true. It is to be regretted that the reply to the question has not yet come to hand. I shall chase it up.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is the Minister aware that a challenge to the Senate election in Tasmania has been filed in the High Court? Does the Minister know when this claim was lodged? In view of the fact that if this challenge is upheld Tasmanian senators may not be properly seated in the Senate and that a new election would be necessary. I ask: Will the Attorney-General ask the Chief Justice of Australia to list this matter for hearing at the earliest possible moment? Also, will the Attorney-General ask the Chief Justice to have the application heard by the Full High Court in view of the practice of the present Chief Justice sitting alone, deciding matters referred to the High Court sitting as a Court of Disputed Returns?
– I am not sure of the date upon which the claim was made but I recall that notification of the claim being made was given to the Senate within the last three or four weeks. I think it is well known that the High Court is in charge of the ordering of its own business, and there would have to be some particular matter warranting early consideration for the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth to make an application to the High Court for an expedited hearing. I am not aware of the details of the claim which is made but I suspect that it is related to facts which were public knowledge and the subject of an unsuccessful court application in December 1975.
– No, entirely different.
– I may be wrong in that, but that is my apprehension. I am quite sure that we can rely upon the High Court to conduct its affairs in its own way. The question whether a Full High Court or a single judge is to hear these matters is determined by the Electoral Act itself. There are special provisions of that Act relating to the constitution and procedures of the Court of Disputed Returns. But if a judge sitting alone as a Court of Disputed Returns feels that the issues should properly be determined by a Full Court, there are procedures under the rules of court under which appropriate action can be taken. All these matters are matters to which the AttorneyGeneral would have regard and on which he would take such action as the issues raised would warrant.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. Following the Minister’s offer of amnesty for illegal migrants in Australia to come forward and apply for permanent residence in Australia, I ask the Minister whether the latest figure of some 6590 applicants can be regarded as not being a very good response. Is it not a fact that it is estimated that there are still 26 000 prohibited migrants- that is, visitors who had over-stayed at 31 December 1975- who have yet to apply? With the response not as satisfactory as hoped, due possibly to a misunderstanding by many of these people that they would be giving themselves up, and as many of them may fear coming into contact with authority such as the Public Service, in this case the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, I ask: Will the Minister give serious consideration to adopting another approach by suggesting that they get in touch with the Good Neighbour Council, with all of its resources, where persons could explain and offer guidance in the migrants’ mother tongues regarding the Minister’s offer of amnesty?
– As I understand it, some 6500 applications have been received. The latest figure that I saw of applications that had been approved was something like 1200. I understand that about 100 approvals are being processed each day. The suggestion with regard to further information being made available to migrants who wish to seek amnesty is one that can be followed up. I assure the Senate that the Good Neighbour Council has been particularly active in this area of work. Bulk supplies of applications have been provided to the Good Neighbour Council. I can assure the Senate that the Government will give migrants whatever assistance is necessary to ensure that as many as possible who wish to avail themselves of this amnesty provision do so and that approvals are given without delay.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. The Minister will no doubt be aware that substantial cuts have been made in the budget of the Northern Land Council which has been told to operate on a budget of $40,000 until 30 June 1976. This figure is $50,000 short of the original budget and $20,000 short of the figure negotiated and agreed upon when the Minister, Mr Viner, was in the Northern Territory during late February. Will the Minister advise whether the Northern Land Council will be given additional funds for the rest of this financial year or whether the substantial cuts indicate that the Minister does not support the work of the Council and agrees with the Majority Leader in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, Dr Letts, that it will be redundant when the Legislative Assembly takes over the implementation of the Land Rights Bill?
– I do not think that the assumption should be made that because there were expenditure cuts, the Government did not value the work that was being undertaken by the Land Council. I will obtain from the Minister any details that are implicitly sought in the question that has been asked. However, my understanding of the expenditure cuts that were made in that department was that they were cuts that did hot deprive the Aboriginal communities of services. I imagine that there was some basis for the cuts that were announced in the particular expenditure item that has been mentioned.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Education, by saying that I know the Minister is aware of concern that has been expressed in the Australian Capital Territory about the provision of remedial teaching staff, particularly for remedial reading, at schools in the Territory. On that basis, I ask: Can he say whether there has been any reduction of remedial teaching staff compared, for example, with levels under the previous Government in 1975? Is he able to give an assurance that the availability of remedial teachers as provided in 1975 will be maintained?
– I am aware of the expression of some concern on the matter of remedial teaching. Indeed, I have received some correspondence on it. I think that it would be as well, therefore, to state the facts as they exist. It has been and is the normal practice in the Australian Capital Territory for remedial teaching to be done in the great majority of schools by the existing staff of the schools by arrangement for a senior teacher to conduct that special teaching. In 1974 there was an arrangement in secondary schools whereby a secondary school could apply for a remedial teacher. But that teacher was not to be appointed outside the staff ceiling of the school. In 1975 under the Whitlam Government it was decided that once the staff ceilings were established, then all teaching including remedial teaching at schools inside those staff ceilings should be arranged by the schools themselves. I want to say emphatically with regard to secondary schools that we have undertaken to maintain the 1975 staff ceilings and that therefore the same arrangement is competent, namely, that within a secondary school it is possible for the school so to arrange for remedial teaching.
There was a habit of part-time remedial teachers attending at some primary schools. Here there is a technical explanation. In the past those teachers taught for half a day, that is 3 hours from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. But the practice in the past was for the teacher to arrive at 9 a.m. and to spend 30 minutes doing clerical work. In the economies that have been introduced in the Australian Capital Territory, that 316 hours has been reduced to 3 hours. The same number of teachers are still available but the teaching time of 3lA hours has been reduced to 3 hours. Nevertheless, it should be possible for remedial teaching to be done. I stress that these arrangements should be made within the schools themselves. In saying this, I do not in any way want to understate the importance of such teaching in the schools, the importance first of all of identifying the individual students in need of such teaching and the importance of delivering the quality of teaching.
– I direct a question either to the Minister for Social Security or to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, whoever has the responsibility for the matter. Have members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union employed at the Thomas Borthwick & Son Pty Ltd works at Portland in Victoria who decided to work the minimum tally as allowed for in their award been laid off by that company? Did some one hundred and twenty of these men apply for unemployment benefits? Has the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, instructed the Registrar of Social Security at Hamilton in Victoria that these men are not to receive the benefit? Did the chief industrial officer of Thomas Borthwick & Son Pty Ltd send a telegram to the Registrar seeking to influence the latter’s decision on the workers’ entitlement to benefit?
-Representing the Minister, as I do, and not being the Minister, I am not in a position to know whether the matters alleged are true or not. I undertake to convey the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, and I hope that he can provide the information as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I preface it by saying that the Minister no doubt is aware that there is much spare capacity on many of the telephone systems in Australia. Has the Minister considered allowing people who live in areas outside capital cities to make free telephone calls to Commonwealth departments located in capital cities, such as the Taxation Office, the Department of Social Security and the Department of Repatriation, so that those people can have the same access to and services from those departments as do people who live in the cities?
– The question seeks technical information as to spare capacity and considerations by the Department, both of which are outside my knowledge. I ask that the honourable senator put the question on the notice paper, and I will get an answer for him.
- Mr President, I have some additional information on a question asked by Senator Colston regarding a television translator to serve Blackwater. I am instructed that it has been completed and is on test for 2 weeks. This is the normal procedure before opening, which is scheduled for 12 April. It will be a matter of disappointment to the honourable senator that I am instructed that viewers are getting full service during the test period, unless there are some minor technical difficulties.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory. I refer to a report in yesterday’s Canberra Times that the Minister for the Capital Territory, Mr Staley, told the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly that his Government will not be bound by advice given by the Legislative Assembly. In view of the fact that the Liberal Party candidates in the last election campaigned on a platform of selfgovernment for the Australian Capital Territory and that the Liberal spokesman on Australian Capital Territory matters at that time, Mr Vic Garland, endorsed the local Liberal platform of self-government, can Mr Staley ‘s remarks of yesterday be interpreted as a complete aboutface by the Government on its much vaunted policy of self-government for the Australian Capital Territory?
– I had noted the comments of Mr Staley relating to self-government for the Australian Capital Territory, but I am unaware of the comments that were made by candidates at the last election. I find nothing inconsistent in what Mr Staley has said and the thrust and desire of the present coalition Government’s policy for substantial self-government for the Australian Capital Territory through the Legislative Assembly. That policy has been progressing, and I think the honourable senator would agree with me that the Assembly is now handling many matters leading towards self-government for the Australian Capital Territory.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I refer to today’s newspaper report of an interview with the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen, in which he is reported as having said:
One of my initiatives was the creation of the Defence Council. I find that body literally invaluable.
Among other things, he is also reported as having said:
I am at a loss to understand why our predecessors in office did not, as you say, take this one step.
Does the Minister not recall that in the concluding stages of the debate on the Defence Force Re-organisation Bill 1 975, in answer to questions raised by various honourable senators, I announced on behalf of the then Minister for Defence, Mr Morrison, that the Government proposed to reconstitute the Council of Defence with the following membership: The Minister for Defence, the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Chief of Defence Force Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of Air Staff. I also pointed out that regulations would be drafted. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he would be good enough to draw the attention of the Minister for Defence to this matter so that a statement which appears to be misleading may be corrected as this was, as I have said, a commitment by the then Government which preceded the adoption of the Bill.
-I recall that there was a very lengthy debate on the legislation relating to defence re-organisation. I remember that some arrangements were arrived at or some offers were made by the Government towards the end of that debate. What those were at the time now escapes my memory. But I will take up with my colleague in the other place the matters raised by the honourable senator.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, follows on the question that I asked him yesterday, ls it a fact that some $90m in Federal funds have already been committed to the Albury-Wodonga growth centre? Is the Minister able to confirm the laudatory observations made by Sir John Overall in his recent report on the centre? Paragraph 6 of that report states:
The area has national significance, it can provide a national Government secondary employment area and as well, could demonstrate world wide, a ‘pilot’ decentralisation scheme of great quality which would give credit to the Government and the Prime Minister. It should be promoted as a national endeavour with the Prime Minister’s personal backing.
Will the Minister discuss that proposal with the Prime Minister and ask him to be publicly associated with the report made by Sir John Overall?
– I think that the way in which Senator Gietzelt is giving publicity to Sir John Overall’s report is commendable. That report by Sir John Overall- I said this yesterdaywas commissioned by the AlburyWodonga Development Corporation with a view to assessing work which had been done in Albury-Wodonga and recommending ways in which for the future improvements might take place. I think that it is commendable that the Corporation was prepared to engage in that sort of introspective operation. Sir John Overall is a man with a very distinguished record and his work in connection with the growth of Canberra will be ever remembered.
I think I must repeat what I said yesterday- I am sure that it would be the view of the Prime Minister- that in the Government’s consideration of decentralised development the decisions that it makes with regard to Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst-Orange and the other areas which have been designated growth centres must reflect a balance between the needs and the possible achievements of these areas and all of the nonmetropolis part of Australia. Those considerations currently are receiving the attention of the Government. When we have concluded our examination, an announcement will be made.
I think that Sir John Overall’s report reveals that not all has been well with the development of Albury-Wodonga up to the present time. Part of the explanation for that state of affairs may be that this project was a political exercise engaged in by Mr Whitlam and the previous Government almost from the moment when they took office without the studies having been taken beforehand which might have meant greater application of funds with greater benefit than has occurred over the past 3 years. I accept that the report by Sir John Overall is of value. But it is one of many considerations to which the Government will be giving attention.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented by a newspaper article. In this morning’s issue of the Adelaide Advertiser, a newspaper that I understand Senator Withers reads with avid interest, a statement attributed to me in the course of explaining a question in this Senate yesterday is incorrectly reported. The article headed Talks on S.A. Firm’s Future refers to Philips Australia Ltd. Let me quote directly from the article the passage which misrepresents me. It reads:
Senator Jessop said that for the first time in twenty years the company was faced with having a staff of fewer than twenty and faced further cutbacks in six months.
The facts are that the company’s work force has dropped to below 1000 for the first time in 20 years, and if the company’s ferrite plant has to close in about 6 months time the force will be down to about 860 employees. This mistake has caused the company, employees and of course myself great inconvenience and concern and I seek a correction by the Advertiser and an explanation by it of the facts.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Public Libraries. Due to the limited number available at this time reference copies of this report have been placed in the Senate records office and the Parliamentary Library. Printed copies of the report will be available for normal distribution towards the end of April this year.
-I seek leave to propose a motion.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I seek leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave- In this statement I announce to the Parliament the Government’s proposals for the implementation of its election promise to introduce a restructured home savings grant scheme. I also announce, on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr Lynch), complementary changes in the home loan interest tax deduction scheme. A Liberal-Country Party Government introduced the present home savings grant scheme in 1 964 to help young married couples of Australia acquire their first home. In the same year, it brought forward legislation to establish the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation to encourage lenders to make housing loans on a higher proportion of the value of the home. Both schemes have been tremendously successful. By 30 June 1975, more than 350 000 young couples had obtained a home savings grant. The total amount of grants paid to that time was $167m. To 30 June 1975, the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation had insured 1 76 000 housing loans.
These twin initiatives of a Liberal-National CountryPartyGovernmenthavebeenofgreat assistance to the people of Australia in helping them obtain their own homes. They are initiatives of which this Government is proud. The Labor Party had legislated to abolish the home savings grant scheme completely and after 31 December 1976 persons building or purchasing homes would not be eligible for a grant. We shall legislate for the reintroduction of the home savings grant scheme, enlarged to provide benefits to a greater range of people than ever before and incorporating other improvements which experience has warranted gives the Government great satisfaction. Not only will this announcement fully implement an election commitment; it will also provide clear evidence of our determination to ensure that all Australians shall have a meaningful opportunity, if they choose to avail themselves of it, to own their own homes.
The new home savings grant scheme continues the basic approach of the earlier scheme but differs in many ways in its details. The basic principle of providing an incentive to save is retained- on the basis of a grant of $ 1 for every $3 saved in an acceptable form. Not only do we wish to assist people by way of a home savings grant to acquire their own homes; we also wish to encourage them to help themselves by providing institutions which are the chief sources of private housing finance with the increment of encouraged savings. The reintroduction of the home savings grant scheme at this time will give an incentive to save, and, the Government hopes, it will give some renewed confidence to the private housing sector.
Experience has demonstrated that the present scheme had some features which meant that deserving sections of the community did not benefit in the way that other sections of the community benefited. For example, one had to be resident in Australia for at least 3 years; to be married, or to be widowed or divorced with dependent children; to be under the age of 36; and so on. The new scheme removes those discriminations, and other disqualifying features; it incorporates major improvements and provides more generous benefits. We intend that some of these improvements will be applied to the present scheme with immediate effect.
In his election policy speech the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said: we shall introduce a new and improved home savings grant to assist first-home buyers to bridge the deposit gap. The new scheme will be available to people of any age, single persons, rural home buyers, and new settlers. Savings from 1 January 1 976 will be eligible. The grant will be $ 1 for $3 savings with the grant being a maximum of $2,000 for savings made over 3 years.
In accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise, the maximum grant will be increased from $750 to $2,000, on the basis of $1 for each $3 saved. To qualify for the maximum grant, applicants must have held savings in an acceptable form for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of home acquisition.
Savings from 1 January 1976 to be eligible
We will fulfil the Prime Minister’s promise. The details of our new home savings scheme were not able to be announced at an earlier date; but we intend that our election commitment shall be honoured. Provided savings are held in the requisite form at 31 May 1976 they shall be deemed to have been held from 1 January 1976 in an acceptable form for the purposes of qualifying for a grant. The election undertaking is not only being honoured, but people who have savings accumulated and placed in the appropriate forms by 3 1 May will also benefit. As a result of the Government’s decision that these savings held in acceptable forms on 3 1 May 1976 will be deemed to have been held on 1 January 1976, grants of up to $2,000 on the basis of 3 years savings will become payable in respect of homes acquired on or after 1 January 1979.I take this opportunity to urge everyone saving for a first home to ensure that their savings are held in one or more of the acceptable forms by 3 1 May if they wish to enjoy the benefits which the scheme provides.
Grants for savings over one or two years
A distinctive feature of the new scheme will be that grants will be available where the applicants have not saved in the acceptable forms for the full 3 years necessary for the maximum grant of $2,000. It arises from our undertaking to introduce a new and improved home savings grant. Grants of $1,333 on the basis of $1 for each $3 saved over a period of not less than 2 years preceding the date of home acquisition will be payable for acceptable savings of $4,000. Grants on this basis will be paid in respect of homes acquired on or after 1 January 1978. Moreover, grants of up to $667 on the basis of $ 1 for each $3 saved over a period of not less than one year preceding the date of home acquisition will be payable for acceptable savings of $2,000 and grants will be paid on this basis in respect of homes acquired on or after 1 January 1977.
Acceptable forms of saving
I wish to make it clear that all the forms of saving which are acceptable for the purpose of the present scheme will be acceptable for the new scheme. I emphasise this because there appear to be some misconceptions. Some people are under the impression that it is necessary to save in an account styled a home savings account. This is not correct. The following forms of saving are acceptable: Savings bank accounts; fixed deposits with trading banks, but not cheque account; shares in or deposits with registered building or co-operative housing societies; and payments on land on which the home is to be built, deposits paid on the acquisition of the home, or payments for the construction of the home. Under the present scheme, deposits with credit unions are acceptable savings only if held with certain credit unions which have been approved for this purpose under the Home Savings Grant Act. The Government has decided that deposits with all credit unions will be regarded as acceptable savings in respect of both the new scheme and the existing scheme. Savings with credit unions which are not approved under the existing scheme will count towards a grant only in respect of homes acquired after today.
Calculation of grant
It may assist if I explain in detail how the amount of the grant for the new scheme will be calculated. Under the present scheme, the grant is payable on a $1 for $3 basis in respect of savings held in an acceptable form at a date exactly 3 years before the date of home acquisition, plus the net increases in savings held in each of those 3 years and less any net decreases in any of those 3 years. To require people to save regularly in the acceptable forms, there is a maximum allowable increase in savings in any year of $900. If applicants save more than $900 in one year, the excess is applied to offset any decrease in a subsequent year’s savings. This basic method of calculating grants will be retained in the new scheme. However, the maximum permitted savings in each period which will qualify for a grant will be increased from $900 per year to an amount of $1,200 in each period of 6 months. This increase is appropriate because of the larger grant of $2,000 which is now payable.
By reducing the savings periods to 6 months, the Government considers that the principle of regular saving will be further encouraged.
Consequently, under the new scheme applicants will be required to provide certificates of savings which show their savings held in acceptable forms at 6-monthly intervals, ending on the date of home acquisition. Where the applicants have held savings in an approved form on a date 3 years before the date of home acquisition, then, provided that the initial date is not before 1 January 1976, the savings accepted for grant purposes will be the savings as at that initial date, plus the increase in each of the subsequent 6-month periods, up to a maximum of $1,200 in any one period. Where the applicants have not held savings in an acceptable form on a date 3 years before home acquisition, they may be able to demonstrate acceptable savings on a date 2 years before, provided that initial date is not before 1 January 1976. In this case, a grant of up to $1,333 will be paid on the basis of acceptable savings held at the initial date, plus the increase in savings in each of the 4 subsequent 6-month periods. Where the applicants can demonstrate savings in an acceptable form on a date only one year before their prescribed date, provided that initial date is not before 1 January 1976, the grant will be paid on the basis of savings held at that initial date, plus the increase in savings in each of the two 6-month periods before the prescribed date. In this case, the maximum grant payable would be $667.
Let give an example. Applicants who sign a contract to buy a house on 1 February next year will be able to produce certificates of savings as at 31 May and 1 August this year and as at 1 February next year. Their savings as at 3 1 May 1976 will be deemed to have been held as at 1 February 1976. The grant will be paid on the basis of their savings as at 3 1 May, plus the sum of the increases in their savings in the periods 3 1 May to 1 August 1976, and 1 August to 1 February 1977, to a maximum of $1,200 in each of those periods. A grant of up to $667 on the basis of $ 1 for each $3 saved will be paid on the total of their qualifying savings calculated in this way.
During 1977, the maximum grant payable will be $667, because applicants will be able to demonstrate acceptable savings under the new scheme for only one complete year. During 1 978, applicants will be eligible for grants of up to $667 or up to $1,333, depending on whether they can demonstrate acceptable savings during one or 2 complete years under the new scheme. From 1979 onwards, grants of up to $2,000 will be payable to applicants who can demonstrate acceptable savings of 3 complete years under the new scheme, with maximum grants of $667 or $1,333 for applicants who can demonstrate acceptable savings during only one or 2 complete years under the new scheme.
In his policy speech, the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said that the new scheme will be available to people of any age and to single persons. Under the present scheme, grants are not payable to single people, other than widowed or divorced people with dependents. Grants, moreover, are not payable to people aged 36 years or more. Under the new scheme the Government will pay grants to all persons acquiring their first homes, regardless of whether they are single or married, and regardless of age. This is in accordance with our election undertaking. Most single people, of course, do not seriously contemplate home acquisition until they have marriage in mind, but we do not wish to deny single people assistance to attain the benefits of security and stability that home ownership provides. We aim to help people obtain the security of their first home regardless of age.
The inclusion of single people in the new home savings grant scheme requires a re-casting of one of the principal features of the current scheme, that is, that grants are paid in respect of the acquisition of the applicants’ first matrimonial home. In the new scheme, eligibility will turn on whether this is the applicant’s first home owned in Australia.
Grants will not be paid where the applicant or his or her spouse has previously owned a home in Australia or received a grant, or where any person with an interest in the home in respect of which a grant is sought has previously owned a home or received a grant. Further, only one grant will be paid in respect of the acquisition of any one home. Thus, if 2 people, married or single, jointly acquire a home, only a single grant of no more than the maximum will be paid. The legislation will contain safeguards to ensure, as far as possible, that this entitlement is not abused.
In his policy speech, the Prime Minister said that the new scheme will be available to new settlers. Under the current scheme, grants are paid to people who are not Australian citizens only if they have lived in Australia for 3 years. This requirement of 3 years residence in Australia for those who are not Australian citizens will be removed in the new scheme.
Under the new scheme, applicants must be Australian citizens or have the right of permanent residence in Australia. This feature of the new scheme, coupled with the payment of grants after only one year of saving, is intended to benefit migrants by assisting them to attain home ownership as soon as possible after their arrival in Australia. It will remove what has been regarded by some as a discrimination against migrants under the present scheme. Providing they are permanent residents they will have the same benefits which are available to Australian citizens.
The Liberal-National Country Parties’ housing policy statement says that we shall adjust the statutory limit on the value of eligible dwellings regularly in accordance with home building costs. We shall go beyond that commitment. Under the new scheme there will be no value limit for dwellings in respect of which grants will be paid. Our experience has been that the value limit is the single most common cause for complaint by disappointed applicants.
The value limit involves the undesirable, and expensive, administrative procedure, of valuing the chattels included in the sale price to determine whether the net cost of the home does not exceed the limit. This particularly applies in the case of persons for whom the cost of home purchase narrowly exceeds the existing limit. Moreover it causes uncertainty among people building houses under rise and fall contracts as to whether the final cost of their house will exceed the limit.
If the Government were merely to increase the value limit under the new scheme, the difficulty would be in determining what the new level should be. The cost of land and the cost of building vary widely throughout Australia. Homes in the Australian Capital Territory may cost $10,000 more, or thereabouts, than homes in South Australia. To set a limit sufficiently high to cover the cost of most first homes in the Sydney metropolitan region, for example, would be to set a limit which would be relatively speaking, too high for the Hobart market. Yet it would probably be insufficient to cover the cost of erecting a modest house in some of the remote settlements in northern Australia. At the same time, it must be remembered that the scheme assists people to acquire their first home only, and few people would be in a position to acquire a relatively expensive home as their first home. In the light of the discrepancies throughout Australia and the ever-burdening cost of its administration the Government has therefore determined to abolish the value limit in the new scheme.
The Government is not in a position to increase the value limit under the present scheme. The Government is trying to achieve substantial reductions in its expenditure. To increase the value limit now would run counter to the thrust of our basic economic policies designed to control inflation.
At present, grants are paid only in respect of homes with a value not exceeding $22,500. That value limit was set in 1972, and it was then sufficiently high to enable some 41 000 grants to be paid in 1972-73. The failure of that limit to reflect current housing costs is shown by the fact that the total number of grants expected to be paid in 1975-76 is only 1 1 000. The reason is, of course, neglect of the home savings grant scheme by the Whitlam Government, which legislated to abolish it. The Whitlam Government demonstrated it did not believe in Government encouragement of home ownership. The LiberalNational Country Parties are wholeheartedly in support of it.
Changes in existing scheme
Although we are not able now to increase the value limit under the present scheme, there are a number of improvements we shall make to the present scheme, with immediate effect. I have already mentioned that we will provide for acceptability of savings with all credit unions. There are 3 other improvements which will also take effect in relation to all homes acquired after today- that is, where the contract for the purchase or construction of the home is signed after today, or, in the case of owner builders, where construction commences after today. We shall introduce legislation to give effect to these improvements as soon as possible.
Grants payable to purchasers of Commonwealth-financed homes
First, under the present scheme, grants are not payable to people who buy from the State or Commonwealth housing authorities homes that have been built with the assistance of Commonwealth finance on concessional terms. This was an anomaly, because other homes financed by the Commonwealth on concessional terms, for example, homes acquired with the help of a defence service homes or a Home Builders’ Account loan, were not excluded from the home savings grant scheme. The position was that people buying a home with the assistance of these low interest rate loans from the Commonwealth were eligible for a grant, but people buying a home they had been renting from a State housing commission, which was also funded with low interest finance from the Commonwealth, were not. We will remove these anomalies and grants will be paid in respect of all such homes acquired after today.
Rural home buyers
Secondly, people building homes on rural properties have been unable in the past to obtain a grant because they did not own the property. For example, a farmer’s son who built a home on his father’s property would not be eligible under the present scheme if he did not have secure tenure for that home. To become eligible for a grant, he has had to acquire separate title to the land on which his house stands. This is normally an expensive undertaking. The abolition of the requirement for security of tenure of homes constructed on rural properties will apply with respect to all homes acquired or contracted to be built after today.
Removal of time limit for lodgment of applications
Thirdly, under the present scheme, people must lodge their applications for a grant within 12 months of the date of home acquisition unless special circumstances prevailed. In some cases, people fail to lodge their applications within the prescribed time because of” ignorance of details of the scheme or for other reasons. The withholding of payment of a grant merely because people have failed to appreciate that they must lodge their application within 12 months or because they do not understand the scheme or thought that they were not eligible under the scheme can be a severe penalty. Therefore, the Government has decided that no-one should be denied a grant merely because of failure to lodge the application within the prescribed time and, accordingly, there will be no time limit imposed for the lodgment of grants in respect of homes acquired after today.
It is appropriate that I should acknowledge in statements of this character the splendid contribution that the banks, building societies and credit unions have made in the preparation of hundreds of thousands of savings certificates for the scheme and in the distribution to their customers of explanatory brochures and application forms. I look forward with complete confidence to their continued co-operation with the Government in assisting the people of Australia towards the major goal of home ownership.
At this point I recapitulate the main features of the new scheme. The Government will pay grants of up to $2,000 on the basis of $ 1 for each $3 saved, to all citizens or persons with the right of permanent residence, in respect of the acquisition of their first home and will pay grants on the basis of savings accumulated over a period as short as one year. The value limit will be removed. Disabilities operating against migrants, people on rural properties and people acquiring certain Commonwealth-financed homes will be removed. Grants will be payable under the new scheme from 1 January 1977 and there will be a period of grace to 31 May 1976 for people to ensure that their savings are placed in an acceptable form.
In his policy speech the Prime Minister said:
There are many reforms we want to introduce. Some can, and must, be introduced immediately. These reforms will not be a charge on revenue this year. Other essential reforms will be introduced as soon as possible- as and when the money is available. The speed with which we can introduce these reforms depends largely on the success of our efforts to rein in Labor’s mad extravagances.
Clearly, the final cost of the new home savings grant will be substantial, and has been carefully considered by the Government in the light of its other financial commitments, and the paramount need to minimise overall government expenditure. Current financial constraints preclude large new expenditure this financial year. The alterations we have been able to make to the present scheme will involve very little additional cost, will remove substantial inequities and can be met from the Budget estimate of funds required in 1975-76.
In 1976-77 the new scheme will operate for only 6 months, and it is estimated that the cost will be of the order of $ 15m. The full cost of the new scheme will not be experienced until 1979-80. By that time our efforts to stimulate the private sector will have been effective and our strategy will then enable the nation to accept the full cost of the new scheme.
In considering the form of the new home savings grant scheme the Government has also closely examined the arrangements for tax deductibility of interests on home loans. It is clear that we cannot afford both schemes. The Government has therefore decided to amend the home loan interest tax deduction scheme so as to direct the benefits of the scheme to those most in need and to reduce the cost of this scheme. No change will be made to the home loan interest tax deduction scheme in relation to the current income year. People submitting their income tax returns later this year may claim home loan interest paid in 1975-76 as a deduction against income, in accordance with the provisions of the scheme. However, home loan interest paid in 1976-77 and subsequent years may be claimed as a taxation deduction only by people who are making repayments in respect of their first home, and only during the first 5 years of those repayments.
These conditions are, of course, consistent with the philosophy of the home savings grant scheme, and complement that scheme. Through home savings grants we will assist the people of Australia to achieve home ownership, and we will continue to assist them, through the home loan interest tax deduction scheme, to meet the costs of home ownership through the first difficult years. The amendments proposed to the home loan interest tax deduction scheme recognise that, for most people, home loan repayments become less of a burden after a few years because of increases in money incomes.
Mr President, the Government’s intentions that I have just outlined represent a combination of measures designed to assist the people of Australia towards home ownership and to ease the burden of loan repayments for those with low to moderate incomes during the years in which debt servicing is most difficult. Let it not be said, however, that the Government is insensitive to the needs of people who rent homes, whether by choice or necessity. We recognise that there is a severe shortage of rental accommodation and we are examining ways to stimulate the flow of investment into private rental accommodation. We are also continuing the policy we have maintained for many years of supporting the States in the provision of low cost rental accommodation for people of modest incomes. This is indicative of our belief that housing generally is a matter of national concern.
The family home plays a uniquely central role in the social welfare of our people. Home ownership accentuates that role by providing absolute security of tenure and economic security and fosters a spirit of independence and self-reliance which is an essential characteristic of a sturdy, prosperous nation. As we have said in our policy statement, we believe it should be a major national objective to encourage all people who wish to do so to own their own home. We believe that these measures, when enacted, will contribute, in a real way, to the promotion of this objective.
Mr President, I present the following paper:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– The statement which Senator Greenwood has just read to the Senate is an important statement of the Government’s intentions regarding the provision of accommodation for Australians. It is a statement which requires not the adjournment of the debate but some comment from the Opposition. I think it has to be said that whilst Senator Greenwood has indicated clearly that some of the rough edges have been taken off the previous legislation, the proposals outlined in the statement fail badly to take into consideration the views that have been expressed in recent times both inside and outside the Parliament about the general problems of accommodation which face the people of this country. I think that if we could paraphrase the Minister’s statement it would perhaps be along these lines: Never has so much been done for those who do not need as much as others.
It strikes me that the statement, which expresses the endeavours and the intentions of the Government, fails badly to take into consideration the needs of accommodation as they now exist. Whilst I heard some accolades from Government senators to the statements made by the Minister, it seems to me that those honourable senators do not appreciate that it is not this type of assistance that is essential to the average Australian and essential for the necessary regeneration of the building industry. I put it to Government senators that this statement indicates that for people to qualify for a homes savings grant, which is proposed to be the subject of legislation, they will have to save over a 3-year period a sum varying from $26 per week to $40 per week. I thought it had been made abundantly clear in all quarters that if people have the capacity to save that sort of money they do not require the assistance of government as much as others do. It was made clear yesterday in the debate on the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill that people who have that capacity to save can have recourse to the initiatives and the resources in the private building sector. Therefore, whatever may be said about the encouragement and stimulation which this proposal will give to the building industry, only those people in the upper and middle income groups will profit from the proposed legislation.
After all, it will be 3 years before any impact is made in this area, although I concede that the Minister indicated that at the end of a 2-year period there are certain qualifications which will permit this legislation to apply to certain groups of people. If we are to rely upon public sector legislation such as that debated yesterday and if we are to rely upon these proposals to stimulate the private sector, there is no possibility that the necessary regeneration will take place in the building industry. We have a contradictory situation. The Minister stressed in his statement that there should now be an emphasis on saving, but in the last several weeks the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) have been suggesting that what is needed in Australia at this time is for the community to spend and not to save. It is part of the cornerstone of the Government’s economic policy to encourage people to spend. Some 350 000 people have participated in this scheme previously. The Minister’s statement does not deserve credence. At a time when the Government is saying as part of its economic recovery program that there ought to be spending in the private sector the Minister has said that there ought to be savings in the private sector. If there are savings they will not have any effect on the building industry.
The Minister’s statement seems to me to be a very poor substitute for the very progressive legislation which was passed by the Houses of Parliament last year when the Australian Housing Corporation was established. There is no doubt that the Minister’s proposals will contribute to a deadening within the building industry rather than to a stimulation, as did the LSBs- the Lynch Savings Bonds- which had the effect of draining off liquid funds from the building societies in the early part of this year. They created a crisis of funds, and this has caused some loss of confidence in the whole of the building industry. The statement ignored very considerably the land component in the whole problem of accommodation. The proposals which have been outlined suggest that the legislation will be concerned with accommodation and housing. In Sydney and Melbourne particularly land is the major problem in the area of accommodation.
The statement ignores the advice of people who have any amount of understanding of the problems of the building industry and the problems of accommodation. I refer to a paper published recently by the Australian Institute of Urban Studies which reported upon the proposed legislative program of the Government which was elected last year. I think it has to be said that the Government and this statement which the Minister has made today ignore the advice of those people who are particularly tuned in to the problems of the building industry, such as the Australian Institute of Urban Studies or the Housing Industry Congress. It seems to me that the scheme flies in the face of all the evidence available to us. The report to which I refer mentions that the inability of people to achieve home ownership may be due to the inability to save or to meet instalments at the required level, or both. It said:
On the assumption that it was unwillingness or inability to save, and therefore as an encouragement to save, iiic Menzies Government introduced the Homes Savings Grant scheme . . .
The report went on to say:
Despite its electoral popularity it is difficult to find things to say in favour of the homes savings grant, especially if it is given as a reward for saving. This is, quite firmly, a regressive measure, a grant from the poor to the rich, the only form of grant of this nature which could conceivably be of social benefit would be one which assisted into the homeownership class that hypothetical marginal group to which we have referred.
Senator Greenwood said in his statement that the Australian Labor Party is opposed to home ownership. In 1972 in the electoral campaign we pointed out the difficulties involved with the home savings grants. Even Senator Greenwood had to admit that there were many anomalies which, to his credit, have been removed from this proposal. The report went on to say:
Such a grant would take the form of identifying a group slightly below the average wage or salary level.
I put it to the Senate that the average person requiring accommodation cannot save between $26 and $40 a week. This amount would have to accumulate to get the maximum benefit of $2,000 over the 3-year period. A person would have to save $6,000 in order to qualify for a $2,000 grant. That ignores the fact that that group of people surely would be regarded as being able to stand on their own 2 feet if they could save that sort of money.
Public funds should not be expended in that area when it is the people earning under 135 per cent of average weekly earnings or about $200 a week and below who need to be encouraged into the home building industry. These proposals will do nothing immediately to regenerate and stimulate the building industry. It has been said by a great number of people that the future of the building industry is very bleak and stark, that public and private investment in the building industry is lagging and sagging, that unemployment in the building industry is particularly marked. About 1 8 500 people specifically in the building industry are out of work and half of them are in New South Wales. There is in the building industry a higher ratio of people out of work than there is in the rest of the community.
So I do not think it can be said in any way, shape or form that the proposals which have been enunciated in the Senate today will have any marked effect on the problems of accommodation and land and the building industry. We believe that the Government proposes to worsen the problem by either standing aside or abolishing the land commissions and the urban land councils which have been agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the States. The tight monetary position which this Government is now introducing and the policies which it is now enunciating will do nothing to reduce the burden and make home ownership available to an increasing number of people.
This is the time when the Australian Government in co-operation with the States ought to be pouring more money into acquiring land. It ought to be making more money available to the State housing authorities. It is the time when it ought to be taking initiatives to regenerate the building industry. But we find that this report, which contains no basis for means test application, presented to the Senate today by Senator Greenwood, while it may be associated with an election promise nevertheless does not in any way, shape or form make up for the leeway that exists in regard to accommodation in this country. We believe, of course, as happened in the past, that the great bulk of the funds which will be promoted in this area by the Commonwealth Government will finish up in the pockets of the private developers and speculators and, in fact, will add to the cost of houses rather than depreciate it. In those circumstances the statement is a very disappointing one. It is an illuminating one because it shows that this Government really has not learnt the lessons of the last four of five years. It has not tuned into the needs of the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne where the problems are the greatest. The actions of this Government will show, as they did in the past, that it has lost touch with the real basic needs of the Australian people.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Durack) agreed to:
That there be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources the following matter- Solar Energy.
Motion (by Senator Carrick)- by leaveagreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to make provision for the Establishment of an Australian Maritime College.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
A Maritime College Bill had been introduced to both Houses before Parliament was dissolved in November last. The Senate did not have the opportunity to debate the Bill but when it was debated in the other place it was welcomed by both sides of the House. The Bill which I am now introducing is essentially the same as its predecessor. The Bill provides for the establishment of the College at Launceston and makes formal provision for the detailed planning of its functions, governance and powers.
That there is a need for an updated form of maritime training cannot be doubted. Mr Summers, in his report on the training requirements for sea-going personnel, makes it quite clear that the training currently available is inadequate and that Australia is slipping behind countries with which we had previously maintained parity. As the Bill provides, the college will be concerned with the education and training of officers of merchant and fishing vessels and of people who are otherwise engaged in the shipping or fishing industry such as ratings and deckhands. Thus, while the college will offer courses at the advanced education level, it will also be involved with training at the technical college level.
Honourable senators will note that the Bill provides for the appointment of an Interim Council to make recommendations on the functions and powers of the college. In order to expedite the planning of the college, the Government has decided to appoint a planning committee which will become the Interim Council. I will appoint the members of this committee after due consultation with my colleagues the Minister for Primary Idustry (Mr Sinclair), and the Minister for Transport (Mr Nixon). When the Interim Council has made its recommendations, as set out in section 7 of the Bill, I shall place these before the Government so that a further Bill may be introduced describing in detail the functions, governance and powers of the college. I hope the present Bill will have a speedy passage through the Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grimes) adjourned.
-Mr President, I ask for leave to amend a notice of motion standing in my name. I have discussed the matter with Senator Douglas McClelland and Senator Primmer.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence for consideration and report on or before 1 September 1976 the following matter-Australia and the Indian Ocean Region.
Mr President, to support my motion, I briefly indicate that I have moved the amendment because I took note of the comments made the other night by my colleague, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, with which I agree, that references to Senate committees should be carried out with due expediency. In suggesting the date of 1 September, I am conscious of the previous report which was prepared in 1971 by a sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence which I chaired. That sub-committee heard evidence and prepared the report on the reference after 14 meetings. I believe that we should aim to repeat that performance and that it can be done.
I understand that the Opposition intends to move an amendment that this reference be sent to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. It is true that the previous reference on the subject was to the Joint Committee. However, as the proposer of that reference to the Joint Committee in 1970, may I say that had there been a Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, that reference would never have gone to the Joint Committee. I believe that it is a proper reference for the Senate Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee to undertake to update a report which was finally published in 1971 after many frustrations. As I mentioned earlier, the sub-committee completed the report very quickly. A period of five or six months went by before the Joint Committee considered it. I do not think that that is good enough. I believe that it is a proper reference covering an area of great importance and of great sensitivity. There is need for the Parliament from time to time to update its reports in areas such as this.
The importance of this reference is supported by the Institute of International Affairs which has as the item for discussion at its annual conference in August this year the Indian Ocean region. It is an area of rapid change. It might be argued that change is so rapid that a report is not worthwhile because by the time the report is prepared the situation will have changed. However, that is so with most reports, because situations are changing rapidly. We had almost completed the last report in 1970 when the Indo-Pakistan war broke out, bringing about significant changes in the Indian Ocean region. The Committee referred to the significant changes but did not follow them up. Committees must decide on cut-off times when they feel they have sufficient evidence to report and must make their judgments on that evidence.
We Government senators will not agree to this reference being referred to the Joint Committee. I believe that the Senate Standing Committee is best able to consider this reference. It has shown under 3 chairmen- I pay tribute to Senator Drury, who succeeded me, and to Senator Primmer- that it is capable of doing a job thoroughly and with great expedition. I believe that it will do this job which will be of value to the Parliament and Australia, and I trust that it will do it within the time I have suggested.
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
-By way of amendment to the motion moved by Senator Sim, I move:
Leave out the words ‘Senate Standing’ and insert the word Joint’.
The situation in which this Parliament finds itself in relation to foreign affairs and defence committees is somewhat ludicrous. It is ludicrous that 2 chambers of a parliament sitting virtually jointly, within a few yards of one another, should each require a committee to investigate matters pertaining to foreign affairs and defence. We in the Australian Labor Party believe that there is a need for some rationalisation of the committee system. Despite everything that it has going for it- we believe that it has a lot going for it- the committee system has tended to become the tail that is wagging the dog. I refer particularly to honourable senators. The workload of honourable senators sitting on committees has become something of a burden in recent years. That is one reason why we believe that there is a need for rationalisation and a need for this reference to go to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. As Senator Sim has pointed out, the previous report in relation to the Indian Ocean was brought down by a sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. I think it would be somewhat cheeky for this chamber to take over the role of that Committee by looking further into this question. For that reason I have moved this amendment.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 30 March on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Last evening when the debate was interrupted I was referring to aspects of this Bill as they relate to universities in South Australia, and the Flinders University in particular. I pointed out to the Senate that I had been fortunate to visit that institution not long ago and was very pleased that Professor Fraenkel, the Dean of Medicine, was able to spare time to show me over the complex and to explain some of his hopes for the future. Certainly, that institution is one of which South Australians can be proud and which demonstrates that South Australia, through that school of medicine, has taken a lead in Australia.
I also pointed out to the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) the importance of phase 4 of the building project on that campus to provide a 710-bed hospital. I impressed upon him the problems associated with the added cost of that project. I understand that phase 4 has been referred to the State Public Works Committee and therefor in principle has been approved by the State Government. The project will cost approximately $ 14m and will provide a hospital able to bed 710 patients. It will be a teaching hospital for medical and nursing personnel and will provide very important paramedical services as well. I am concerned that the building project has been frustrated by industrial disputes which to South Australia are unfortunate and regrettable. The employees working on the site chose to strike a few weeks ago thereby delaying the completion of phase 3. I noticed that Senator Gietzelt spoke in an earlier debate of unemployment in the building industry. I wonder sometimes when the people of Australia will wake up to the continual disruption that is caused by strikes, get down to a bit of work and co-operate with employers and governments to try to increase the prospects of this country and return Australia to a reasonable economic state as quickly as possible.
I also mentioned last night the importance of research grants provided under this Bill to that university and referred particularly to the amounts that have been granted from time to time to the Department of Physical Sciences in order to enable it to continue its important research work into solar energy and electrochemical conversion. I wrote to the Minister for National Resources (Mr Anthony) about this matter and requested that he provide $10,000 a year so that that university department would be able to employ a research assistant to co-ordinate the research projects that are being carried out at that institution. The professors and administrators of that department recognise that the Government is faced with difficult economic problems and, although they would like to go ahead with the ultimate proposal to establish an electro-chemical conversion department at a cost of $80,000 to $100,000, they recognise that at this time it is impossible. I felt that their request for $10,000 a year was quite fair. The Minister for National Resources in his letter replying to me said:
I agree with the thought implicit in your 9 February letter that there is a need for Australia to become more active in the energy research and development field and I am grateful to you for drawing to my attention the research facilities available in South Australia.
I mention other research facilities as well, including the Private Applied Industrial Research Pty Ltd. AMDEL has a facility in South Australia capable of energy research. The Weapons Research Establishment also has similar research facilities. In my opinion, none of these is fully developed or fully extended at present. In his letter, the Minister indicated his interest. He said:
The Commonwealth Government will have an important role to play in the research and development area, in respect of both policy formulation and, when circumstances permit, increased funding. The precise method of financing an expanded energy research and development effort would of course be a matter for the Government to consider at the time, but I have noted your suggestion in this regard.
I was urging the establishment as quickly as possible of a national research council in order to co-ordinate properly a program of development with respect to alternative energy resources. It seems to me that that project ought to be carried out as soon as possible. Such a body ought to be under the jurisdiction of one Ministry; whether it be the Minister for National Resources, the Minister for Education or the Minister for Science, I do not know. It seems to me to be quite stupid that we persist with 3 Ministers and their departments playing around with research and development work in Australia in these very important areas of concern. I hope that the Council will adopt as soon as possible the policy that it outlined during the last election campaign. That policy was that our objective would be to develop such a national research council.
The Bill refers to other States as well as South Australia. I must say that I have taken an interest in the University of New South Wales. I was there a few weeks ago. I had a look at the Sydney Eye Hospital. I also took the opportunity to examine the facilities available at the Department of Optometry at the University of New South Wales. I noticed that the facilities of the department are extremely cramped. This year it has a first year enrolment of 138 students. According to my assessment and as a result of the talks I had with the professorial staff there, I believe that the facilities available at present at that department of the University could cater completely for only half that number. The number of teaching staff and facilities needs to be increased in order to ensure that adequate provision is made for these students to enable them to achieve the standard of training necessary during their years of clinical activity.
As I understand it, the Australian Universities Commission has rejected a proposal that a new school of optometry be established at Murdoch University in Perth. One of the reasons given for that rejection was that the enrolment of undergraduates in this subject at the University of New South Wales was sufficient to service the optometrical manpower needs of Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. But the University of New South Wales has now announced that a quota will be imposed on the number of new students entering the optometry course in New South Wales in 1977. 1 hope that the Minister for Education will take note of this fact. If it is within his power to visit the University to substantiate what I have said, I trust that he will do so. As a result, perhaps the Australian Universities Commission will examine again the urgent need to establish a new school of optometry at a university in either South Australia or Western Australia to cater for the demands currently being experienced by the training facilities in Australia for that profession.
Let me conclude on this point: I have had a few inquiries concerning the Australian Universities Commission. It has been indicated to me that it is intended to merge the Australian Universities Commission and the Commission of
Advanced Education for the purposes of allocating funds to universities, colleges of advanced education and institutes of technology from a common pool. I do not know whence this story emanated. But that question has been posed to me on a number of occasions. I would appreciate it if the Minister for Education when he sums up in replying to this debate could furnish me with an answer on that question. I support the Bill.
– Together with my colleagues on this side of the Senate, I, too, support this legislation. With this legislation before us, we are given the opportunity to look at some aspects of university and post-secondary education in Australia. I wish to confine my remarks principally to university education. Taking a lead from the honourable senator who preceded me, I will be somewhat parochial too, and speak on one of the major institutions in my own State.
Before I do so, let me point out some of the increases which have occurred in Commonwealth expenditure on education throughout Australia. Most honourable senators would know of the increases. But let me refer to some of those increases from 1959-60 to 1973-74. I ask for leave of the Senate to incorporate in Hansard a table which shows Commonwealth grants to the States for education as a proportion of State government expenditure on education for 1959-60 to 1973-74.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
-I thank the Senate. An examination of that table reveals that in 1959-60 the current expenditure on education by the Commonwealth was $25m. In 1973-74 that expenditure had risen to $4 14m. It is important to look at that expenditure by the Commonwealth as a percentage of total expenditure on education by the States. Current expenditure on education by the Commonwealth as a percentage of State government expenditure on education increased from 10 per cent in 1959-60 to 29 per cent in 1973-74.
In the area of capital expenditure on education, the escalation of Commonwealth expenditure is even more apparent. In 1959-60 this expenditure was $12m. By 1973-74 it had increased to $230m. As a percentage of State government expenditure on education, capital expenditure by the Commonwealth in 1959-60 was 14 per cent and had risen to 53 per cent by 1973-74.
The fact that Commonwealth spending has increased so markedly quite naturally invites the question from a number of people in the community whether such expenditure is justified. Sometimes we see statements which suggest that we are not getting value for the amount of money that we are putting into this field. I do not agree with this sort of argument. I think it is somewhat fortunate that we have a number of commissions which provide much of the necessary information for those who seek such justification. I indicate this to bring back to mind the amount of money that is being spent by this Government on education throughout Australia.
At this stage I would like to mention some aspects of finance and other matters in relation to the University of Queensland. The University of Queensland, of course, is not the only university in Queensland. There are 2 others. I am speaking principally about the University of Queensland for 2 main reasons. The main reason is that it is the largest of the universities in Queensland and its recent enrolment seems to suggest that it might be the largest in terms of total number of students throughout Australia. The other reason why I am speaking about the University of Queensland is that I have a long association with it. I spent many years there as a student. I would like to give some of the background of that university.
The University of Queensland was founded in 1909 and teaching work commenced there in 191 1. At that time there were 3 faculties, namely arts, science and engineering, and the aggregate number of enrolments was far different from what it is today- it was 83 students, 3 of whom were external students. At the beginning of 1976 the number of faculties was thirteen. These were: Arts, agricultural science, engineering, commerce and economics, science, law, music, social work, dentistry, medicine, architecture, education and veterinary science. This gives an indication of the wide variety of teaching which is carried out at the University of Queensland. The aggregate number of students at the beginning of 1976 was slightly in excess of 1 8 000.
The whole of the university was originally accommodated in the former Government House building at the eastern end of George Street in Brisbane. In order to meet the expansion which was taking place it was necessary to obtain the use of other buildings on the George Street site and to acquire or erect buildings in other parts of Brisbane. The university activities are now carried out on a number of” sites, the principal one being at St Lucia. The university site at St Lucia was acquired through the generosity of the late Dr J. O. Mayne and the late Miss Mayne of Auchenflower, who provided the sum of £60,000 for the purchase of the property. Honourable senators will realise, of course, that the £60,000 had a very high purchasing power in those days. The site was handed over to the university on 19 June 1930. The total area of the site, including 19 acres added by the State Government in 1941, is 242 acres. It includes 7 sites of approximately 5 acres each for university colleges. The foundation stone of the main building on the St Lucia site was laid on 6 March 1937. Construction work commenced in 1937 but was suspended in 1942 owing to war conditions. I feel a certain amount of pride in that my father was one of the construction workers on the main building prior to his being drafted into the Civil Construction Corps.
I mentioned earlier that of the original students three were external students. I want to make some comments about external students at the University of Queensland. In fact the University of Queensland was the first university in Australia to provide courses which did not require students to attend regular classes on campus. For a short period at the end of the Second World War external enrolments rose to 42 per cent of total enrolments. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard another table which shows the number of students at the University of Queensland from 1950 to 1975 and which gives the numbers of external students as a proportion of the total enrolment.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– An examination of this table shows that since the mid-1950s the proportion of external students has fallen from 36 per cent to slightly less than 16 per cent in 1975 and 1976. Although external enrolments have fallen as a proportion of total enrolments, the number of such enrolments increased steadily until the 1960s when it became fairly constant at approximately 2600. Numbers rose again in 1970 and reached a peak of 3479 in 1974. This rise has been partly due to a decision of the university in 1970 to liberalise its rules for external enrolments of graduates at the university resident in the Brisbane metropolitan area and in other States.
In the last 2 years the external enrolments have dropped. It is not quite clear why they have dropped, but there seem to be 2 reasons why this might have been so. A number of external students enrolled at the University of Queensland come from the Northern Territory and it could have been that the Darwin cyclone resulted in a substantial drop in students enrolling in 1975 and 1976. There could perhaps be another reason. Unfortunately the University of Queensland recently has been forced to introduce quotas. This may have meant that some potential external students were unsure of their position in relation to quotas.
As a one-time external student I am mindful of the significance of allowing students to study externally. The first half of my undergraduate degree was pursued as an external student while I was a teacher in country areas. It would have been impossible for me at that stage to attend the university as an internal student or as a part-time student. Along with many of my teacher colleagues at that time I was able to obtain credit for a number of university subjects as an external student. I was perhaps somewhat fortunate in that I was able to take both external studies and internal studies as a part-time student. Some of my teacher colleagues have in fact completed all of their degree studies as external students. It is not only teachers who have been able to undertake external studies but also other public servants, bank clerks and so on, who have to undertake country service at certain times. I think it is because of this that a number of people have been given an opportunity in life that they would not normally have been given. For this reason I think the university of Queensland is to be applauded in that it has for a long time had external studies available to people who could not attend the campus itself.
Following the report of the Committee on Open Tertiary Education in Australia a good deal of optimism prevailed amongst the administration and staff associated with external studies at the University of Queensland. There was this optimism because it could be seen that perhaps external studies could be expanded and the total outlook of external studies could be made much wider and given a greater dimension. Due to the contraction of funds, however, much of this optimism unfortunately has dissipated.
In fact because of the reduction of numbers of students, due perhaps to those 2 circumstances that I have outlined, there has been a consequential reduction in staff in the external studies department. Because of restrictions on finance I have been informed that the external students are facing a problem in that it is possible to mail their notes out now only once a month rather than mail them out once a week. Those who have studied externally know that problems are created when one month’s notes come at the one time. I look forward to the time when finance is again available so that the external studies, not only at the University of Queensland but also at other universities, will be expanded.
The fact that this year has been set out as a year outside the triennium has created problems not only for the University of Queensland but also for other universities. I think that some of the problems which face the University of Queensland because this year is outside the triennium are unique. I think it would be of interest to honourable senators to quote from the 1975 report of the Vice-Chancellor of Queensland in which he outlines some of the problems which are now facing the University of Queensland. He stated: 1975 was the last year of a triennium, though 1 976 will not see the start of the next one. The national budget decisions taken in 1975 provided for the postponement of the start of the triennium until 1977, leaving 1976 as a standstill year. The decision of the Government was made on financial grounds, and on our present understanding- and there has been a change of government- we shall receive for 1976 specific grants for recurrent expenses, for equipment and research which will be supplemented for cost rises. On the capital side, the picture is dismal; while the Sixth Report of the Universities Commission recommended the largest building programme of all universities for the University of Queensland, we shall in fact have no building money for 1976.
In these respects 1 975 ended on a note of deep disappointment: it is a serious blow to University planning to suffer an interruption to the triennial programming which has allowed us, in company with our sister universities, to make significant progress over the last decade and a half. The delay in the building programme means that much needed facilities will not be available to us at the anticipated time. As a lawyer, I regret particularly the postponement of construction of a law building, which in company with buildings for psychology and education, was at an advanced planning stage when the axe fell. Recommendations are to be made for the triennium 1977-79 early in 1976 and it is of critical importance that the building programme is reinstated and, above all, that we return to the system of financing which has made it possible for the Australian universities to progress.
-What date is that?
-There is no date on it. It is the Vice-Chancellor’s report for 1975. The point I make is that it was necessary for the Government to put 1976 out of the triennium. This has created hardships. I look forward to the day when it is possible again to plan on a triennial basis for universities. I shall outline some of the hardships which have faced the University of Queensland because it will not receive any moneys this year for building. The sixth report of the Universities Commission stated that grants totalling $19,470,000 would be provided to the University of Queensland for the 1976-78 triennium. Included in this amount was the sum of $5.6m for an education, psychology and law building. When I quoted from the ViceChancellor’s report I stated that he had said that as a lawyer he was saddened that this building would not go ahead. He said that there was a need for sufficient buildings for law students. As an educational psychologist I am equally saddened that the buildings for education and psychology have not gone ahead.
In the $ 19.4m which was outlined the sum of $600,000 was provided for student services. The student services people work in very cramped conditions. The medical practitioners have very small consulting rooms. I think the nursing sisters work under considerable difficulties. They work under such cramped conditions that stretcher cases cannot be brought into them. I am hopeful that money will soon be made available for student services so that the medical services and the counselling services at the University of Queensland will have the new building which has been planned for them.
In the amount of $ 19.4m, $600,000 has been allocated for new buildings at the Union so that the Student’s Union can have facilities for clubs and societies. This building will not now go ahead. The Union will have to stay in cramped conditions. I mention these problems not simply because 1 976 had to be a year outside the triennium but because I think it is a year of tragedy for the University of Queensland. The administrators at the university were able to convince the Universities Commission of the need for $ 19.4m worth of buildings for the next 3 years. But because none of these buildings had such a high priority as did some of the other buildings at the other universities in Queensland- especially Griffith University- none of this money was made available and the university building program had to cease.
I make the point that I look forward to a return of the triennial system of funding. I cannot agree with a colleague in the House of Representatives who made a suggestion that because other areas of government do not work within a 3-year plan, universities should not do so either. I believe that other government areas could take note of the orderly and planned development which can proceed with a plan which comes from a time span of greater than one year. I support the legislation.
-These 5 Bills, namely the States Grants (Universities)
Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Amendment Bill, the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill, the States Grants (Advanced Education) Amendment Bill and the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Amendment Bill are part of a package deal covering further federal grants for 1976 in the post-secondary field of education. Of course, this includes universities, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges. I, with others, commend the Bills as a further instalment towards the essential funding of these various institutions. As the legislation is supported by both sides of the Senate I propose to make only a few brief comments. I make these comments because I think the time is opportune, when we have these 5 cognate Bills covering the whole field of post-secondary education, to look critically, if not in depth, at the whole scheme and to suggest a few guidelines for the future, if possible, before the next triennium.
I think that some of these matters can be adjusted when the program is looked at over the next 3 years. The first matter to which I refer briefly is the matter of students from Asian countries, particularly those countries to the near north. These students come to our universities and they have been doing so for some years now. This is an excellent idea as it assists less privileged people. Apart from this scheme in its initial stages such students would not have had the opportunity to reach the higher fields of education. But I think that now we should look at this matter in the future on the basis that we may well be reaching the time where institutions could be set up in their own countries. It is true that students have gone back to their own countries and other countries and have practised their various professions and skills after acquiring qualifications in Australia. But the long term aim- I think it would assist these people more if we had an ultimate aim- ought to be to set up the necessary institutions of advanced education in their own countries.
I put this on both financial and social grounds. Financially, our commitment would be the same. I envisage that the money which is spent herefigures are available on how much it costs to produce a graduate in various faculties at every university in Australia- would be spent in setting up colleges of advanced education or universities in other countries. More people in those countries could then be educated than are educated now. There is also a social factor. Whilst it is desirable that we intermingle with our near neighbours and the people in the Asian countries and see their viewpoint, there is considerable domestic upset when students from these countries have to leave their homes and come here for courses of three or four years, or whatever it may be. I suggest that this is an area at which the authorities responsible for designing the future of this scheme might look, if possible with a view perhaps to initiating some moves in the next triennium with a view to getting something mov- inginthe1980s,ifnotbefore.
The second matter at which I suggest we ought to look is the situation of people after graduation. Senator Button yesterday made a comment with which I agree. I might not put my comment as strongly as he did. He said:
One suspects, without knowing, that universities may already be training people in Australia for professions which will no longer exist in 5 or 10 years time.
My comment might not be as bold as that. I say that there should be a constant watch to determine whether in many fields of endeavour we are in fact training too many people who, when they graduate, cannot find a position in the commercial world. Perhaps this is the fault of the system; but, speaking as a lawyer who has practised in Victoria for some 30 years now, I have never known the legal profession in that State to be so overcrowded.
– That applies in New South Wales to school teachers.
– I accept the interjection. I was about to say that I think what is true of Victoria in the field of law is true of the whole of the Commonwealth.
– We want more boilermakers and fitters.
– Perhaps if more people underwent technical training we would get them. I do not know that there are many vacancies anyway. As Senator Mulvihill knows, there are many unemployed people in the community. I have mentioned the legal profession. The same applies to graduate engineers, graduate architects and graduates in various other fields.
– It applies to geologists.
– It applies to geologists. I thank Senator Baume. For many of these people coming off the production line through the universities there is no employment. I think the situation is of double concern when we remember that all of these people are now funded by government. I accept and endorse the principle of free university education. What I am saying is that we, as a Government and as a Parliament dealing with public funds, have a greater duty to see that we are moving in the right direction. If we turn out too many graduates, perhaps we are not moving in the right direction. This is another matter at which I suggest the authorities should look in the next triennium, if not before. Certainly, the individuals who will take up these courses will look at the situation. If I had a child about to embark on a law course in Victoria or, as I gather from interjections, in other States, I certainly would have grave doubts that it would be prudent to do so.
The report on population policy which we received yesterday from the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr MacKellar, also gives us food for thought in this regard. Honourable senators will be familiar with the report. I do not want to quote from it. With the net immigration loss last year mentioned in the report and with the population declining at the rate set out in the report, one wonders whether in the 1980s there will be enough students to go to university. These are all matters of grave concern to all of us. I stress again that because we are dealing with public funds we have a grave duty to see that they are not misused to a point where there are no students available to take up courses in certain professions and gain employment after they qualify.
– Some studies suggest that that is the position now.
– It is a matter for the authorities to look at. I feel that it is one of the things that can be looked at. Of course, on the other side of the coin we have a changing front in education. With the age of the computer, the technicalities of local government and the problems of town planning and the environment, there is need for new expertise and skill. There may be a case for introducing new faculties in some of these areas in either colleges of advanced education or universities. That is another field at which we might look with profit.
I share the concern expressed in the other place by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer) in a speech on these Bills. I think a similar concern was expressed by Senator Button as to the direction in which we are going in some of the colleges of advanced education. Perhaps there is a tendency to widen the area of these colleges at the expense of the original plan for which they were designed. There are a number of existing faculties. If we introduce new courses they should not be at the expense of existing courses. I think there are 2 considerations: Firstly, is there really a demand for the new faculty which is sought to be established in a college of advanced education? If that is satisfied, the second question is: Will the resources be spread too thinly if new disciplines are opened up in colleges of advanced education?
Finally, I refer to research. I think that research ought to be confined to universities for the reason which I trust I have made clear to the Senate- that simply not enough funds are available under the existing arrangements to allow for proper research to be carried out in colleges of advanced education. I support the comments of Senator Jessop about the need for research into fields such as solar and nuclear energy. I do suggest however that this is not the province of colleges of advanced education.
I endorse also the suggestion of Senator Jessop that a national research council be established. I think that is an excellent suggestion and one which bears close examination. At the moment, research into various fields of endeavour is spread, as Senator Jessop has said, throughout two or three departments. One of those is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I think it would be beneficial if we had a comprehensive body, such as a national research council, to co-ordinate all matters of research. This, of course, would include existing research being done by universities and other educational institutions. I suggest to the Minister that in the years which lie ahead he might examine the matters that I have raised. I commend the Bills to the Senate. I trust that some of these matters will be examined before the program for the next triennium is fixed.
– I rise to support the Bills. The Bills were, of course, legislation prepared by the Labor Government and mainly serve the purpose of implementing the Labor Government’s decision to index the added expenditure for educational purposes brought about as a result of inflation. I think the fact that the Labor Government was prepared to index inflation, so as to enable the recipients of education grants to have value for money, was a demonstration of the good faith of the Labor Government in respect of the funding of educational institutions. I mention that point because there has been a great deal of criticism and innuendo in respect of the Labor Government’s education program. It has been said that the Labor Government appeared to be pouring money into education but that in fact it was an accounting trick, and that because of inflation and so on the Labor Government really did not increase the funds available to education very much. I mention this rumour simply to knock it on the head.
I think anybody who has been involved in the grass roots of education at any level, including the tertiary levels with which we are concerned in these Bills, will be aware that there was indeed a vast increase of real funds available for educational purposes during the period of the Labor Government. I am very pleased to see that the present Government has decided te continue the procedure laid down by the Labor Government of indexing the cost of inflation to educational grants.
I noted in the second reading speech which was made when these Bills were introduced in the House of Representatives, however, that the Government expressed the intention to follow this procedure ‘till the end of 1976’. I hope we are not meant to infer from the statement ‘till the end of 1976’ that the Government will not continue to index inflation in educational funds beyond 1976. The question of providing increased funds for education in tertiary institutions has been, as I have said, criticised in the community. I think we should look at what has been going on in our tertiary institutions before we decide whether such funds were justified or not. I think that colleges of advanced education have been a successful innovation in the Australian tertiary education scene. In saying that, I mean that they have provided an alternative type of tertiary education from the traditional education offered in universities before the introduction of colleges of advanced education. They have offered an alternative which has proved extremely popular with Australian students.
We now have the situation in most colleges of advanced education where the demand for places is ever increasing, whereas we have the situation in some universities where the demand for places in some courses is decreasing. I do not want to imply any criticism of the traditional universities because of those figures, but I suggest that the great demand for places in colleges of advanced education, which are to a large extent vocationally orientated institutions, is significant. It signifies that students, mainly school leavers but also adult students returning to study, are anxious to obtain skills when the opportunity is presented to them. The question of how many skilled people a society needs has been raised in this debate. Some suggestions have been made, I think from the other side of the chamber, that we may be moving to a situation in which we are training more people than we can use in the economy.
– Those comments were made by senators on your side also.
– Perhaps they were. Thank you, Senator Martin. In either case I disagree with that suggestion. I think that it is not a question, for example, of having too many trained teachers in New South Wales. I hope that the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) will agree with me when I say that it is a question of there being too many overcrowded classrooms in New South Wales. We have too many children in need of specialised attention who are not getting that attention.
– Neville Wran will fix that shortly.
– Yes, I am aware of that, Senator Mulvihill but, in the meantime, I would like Senator Carrick to take the point that I am making. We could use all of those trained teachers in New South Wales and more if we were prepared to reduce class sizes, to provide a lot of specialist attention for children who need it and to train some of those teachers to teach migrant children who need very specialised attention in their first year or 2 years in Australian society, if they are to get on an equal footing with their Australian born peers.
Similarly, other professions were mentioned. I think an honourable senator mentioned the legal profession. I think that perhaps it also was mentioned on both sides of the chamber, Senator Martin. I do not think that we have too many trained legal people. We may have too many people trained in the law competing for plum jobs in private practice. However, if we were to extend and expand the Australian Legal Aid Office- the free legal aid service- by employing these trained people as salaried solicitors working for the community on a salary, which is a very economical way of employing them, then I think we would find that we did not have too many solicitors or barristers. A similar situation applies in the medical profession. We could use many more doctors in Australia. We could have many more health centres not only in places like Canberra- which I admit has actually less need for health centres than other places in which they do not exist- but also in inner city areas in our big cities and in rural areas. We could have specialised health centres in areas where there are specialised medical needs. We could employ a very large number of trained medical personnel in these places.
However, because the medical profession is extremely protectionist and has imposed artifically restrictive quotas, through its influence in the medical faculties in universities, we do not have enough doctors in this country. It is an absurd situation when we have students with very high passes- passes which easily would have got them into medical faculties or any other faculties in Australian universities 10 years agobeing refused the opportunity to train as doctors in our Australian medical faculties because of the artificially small quotas that have been imposed by a protectionist profession.
– It is a closed shop.
– It is a closed shop, as Senator Mulvihill says. I am extremely critical of the medical profession for not looking at the needs of the Australian community for medically trained persons, and for not using its influence in the councils of the universities in Australia to expand the quotas. We have no medical faculty at the Australian National University in the Australian Capital Territory, although there has been a long history of discussion and negotiation about establishing such a faculty. It seems to me that the main reason a medical faculty has not been established here is that the doctors do not want too many other doctors coming into their profession to compete and perhaps reduce the fees that they can expect to charge and get away with charging.
I should like to draw the attention of honourable senators to one factor which has emerged as a product of the social change which is taking place and which in fact might lead to the medical profession demanding larger quotas. That is the fact that this year at the University of Sydney, because of the artificially high academic standards required of entrants into the medical school, 50 per cent of those who so qualify with the required extremely high passes are girls. The increasing number of girls qualifying to enter the medical faculty at the University of Sydney has been a great source of distress to some of the more conservative elements in the profession who argue along the lines that it is a waste of time for the Government to invest money in training women as doctors because we all know what women do: They do not repay it the community -
– That is what they used to say about Florence Nightingale.
– That is right. It is said that women go off and do unproductive things like having children. I feel that the conservative elements in the medical profession are caught now in their own trap. They impose these artificially high academic standards in order to maintain an elite in the profession, but they find now that, because girls are getting more opportunities in schools and are performing as well as boys, the profession is stuck with a group of people that it never intended to have included in the elite. Perhaps that situation will lead the profession to reassess whether it needs to keep quotas so artificially high, thus inducing a quite inflated sense of self-importance in doctors in our community, and whether it needs to deprive the Australian public of the trained medical practitioners that it certainly could use.
Another area in which I think funding has never been adequate in the past and only looks like starting to be adequate now is the area of technical education. Similarly, I think it has been an elitist mentality in the administrators and policy makers in education in the past that has resulted in technical education being the poor relation. I have made some remarks about this earlier in this session of Parliament, but I again exhort the present Government to ignore completely the elitist situation of the past with regard to technical education and to invest as much money as possible in the area of technical education. In fact, I think that at this stage technical education should have the highest priority in education. I repeat my argument that the community needs skilled persons, and the kinds of skills that can be attained in good technical institutions are skills which are useful to the community and, of course, extremely useful to the person who possesses them.
I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that in the past women have been extremely severely disadvantaged in obtaining access to technical education. This has not been the result only of negligent government policy; it has been the result also of prejudice on the part of employers and also, I admit, on the part of trade unions. However, the time has come in our society when women are called upon for a number of reasons to support themselves and, as that time has come, it is incumbent upon a responsible government to ensure that technical education is available equally to women as it is to men in our society. Certainly that is not the case now. The TAFE in Australia report of 1975 contains recommendations regarding this matter. I hope that the Minister will take steps to implement those recommendations.
It has been mentioned in the debate today also that perhaps we would be in danger of pouring a lot of money into educational institutions that would no longer be required in the 1780s because demographic projections indicate that our population will not be increasing.
– I am sorry, yes, the 1980s. I was 200 years behind the times. I must have thought myself to be on the other side of the chamber for a moment. Excuse me. I argue very strongly that for the foreseeable future we shall have a need for educational institutions which offer training in useful skills. Even if educational institutions as they now exist can accommodate all the children coming from schools in the next 1 5 or 20 years there is still the very serious matter of those persons who at this time are adult and have virtually no education.
I have mentioned in this chamber before that the latest census figures available showed that 80 per cent of women in the work force had no skills. I did not mention at that time that the parallel figure for men was something like 60 per cent. These are very high proportions of our work force to be without skills. People in that position generally are people who have not had equality of opportunity in their school years and who, for various reasons, have had no opportunity to attain skills and therefore go into the lowest level of the work force. They are the most vulnerable to retrenchment in times of economic hardship, such as the present time, and they have no opportunity, particularly with the current reduction in opportunities, to acquire skills through the National Employment and Training scheme.
I hope that even if we could envisage the day when our present educational institutions would accommodate our school leavers, we could give thought to those people in our community- those adults, some of them maybe in their fifties but most of them are a little younger than that- who have no skills and who could benefit from an opportunity of recurrent education. These people could benefit from the opportunity to go back to school, to a technical institution, to a university or to a college of advanced education and obtain qualifications which would lead to their being at once more independent in their personal lives and more useful in the society. That certainly would be a way of giving those people some bolster against the effects of unemployment.
A significant report on the subject of recurrent education, called Learning To Be, was put out by a United Nations agency in 1974. No doubt it came to the attention of this chamber at the time of its release. I think that ever since that significant report was published all responsible educational authorities throughout the world have been giving very serious thought to the need for recurrent education, that is, the need for educational training systems which are open to adults to re-enter, at whatever stage of their adult lives, to obtain either skills that they never had the opportunity to obtain in their youth or skills that they need when their current skills become obsolete through technological change. So I exhort the Government not to consider education as an area which is shrinking in its demand on the public purse but to consider it rather as an area of public expenditure which inevitably will increase and which will increase in the interests of the community.
Talk of wastage, duplication and unnecessary expenditure only gets at the periphery of the maladministration of some areas of education in Australia. Of course we all admit that in some areas there has been inefficiency and duplication. But I do not think that those small areas of inefficiency and duplication should be seen as an excuse to reduce the level of funding of education which was established so creditably, I believe, under the Labor Government. In conclusion, I support the Bills. I hope that the allowance for indexation provided for in these Bills will not stop at the end of 1976 but will continue. I hope that the present Government will continue the high level of public expenditure on education that was established by the Whitlam Government.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
-At the outset of my remarks on the Bills dealing with education I would like to make a couple of comments on the speech made last night by Senator Button. I think that he made a tremendously valuable contribution to the debate. In that speech he said that perhaps it is time for a little speculation in the Senate on the role of education and specifically on the role of post-secondary education in Australia. The Senate should be grateful to Senator Button for his speech. It made a contribution to the education debate in Australia that is probably long overdue. It has been a matter of some concern to me since I have been a member of Parliament that we in the Parliament can pass Budgets which allot so much money to education without a proper debate here on what we are trying to achieve with the money involved.
Education has become something of a sacred cow in the Australian community. The Parliament has a responsibility to be looking at objectives and priorities. I do not think that that is a responsibility for commissions only; I do not think it is a responsibility only for governments or for cabinets. I think it is a responsibility of the Parliament. The education establishment as such has grown enormously in recent years and we ought to be looking at the justification for that. I am not suggesting that only a small amount of that development is justified but I am alarmed that we have gone as far as we have and simply accepted that any expenditure on education is good expenditure, that any sum larger than the sum for the previous year is therefore justified. This evening I intend to limit my comments mainly to the tertiary levels, involving universities and colleges of advanced education. There are, of course, many other issues, some of which have been touched on by other speakers. Universities and colleges of advanced education are the areas to which I would like to give some attention tonight in supporting these Bills.
In the debate this afternoon Senator Tehan made some comments relating to the education of overseas students. That is one subject on which I would like to make a couple of comments. With the abolition of fees at tertiary institutions in Australia anybody who is accepted by a university is automatically educated at least to some degree at the expense of the Australian taxpayers. The matter of the education of students from overseas at Australian universities has been commented on by different people over the years. I am anxious to point out to the Senate at this point that I do not want in any way to align myself with various bigots who have come forward over the years and suggested that we should not have Asians or Africans or whatever in our universities. Instead of talking about it vaguely, as people have talked from time to time, I think we ought to look at the actual effect and the actual alternatives to admitting overseas students to our universities just because our universities offer a training which is not available or not easily available at universities in their own countries. I suggest that Australian governments would do well to take a serious look at putting some of its resources towards the education of some of these students in their own countries. In certain areas of education- such as pure science or the arts- it hardly matters which country a student is in when he undertakes a tertiary education. There may be some differences in courses offering national literature, national history or something like that, but in the essentially ‘pure’ disciplines it does not matter much which country the student is in, but it does matter if he is studying a subject like agriculture, veterinary science or even education. It can matter also if he is studying a subject like medicine. We allow students into our universities at enormous cost to us to study courses which qualify them in a profession which may or may not be of some value to them when they go back to their own countries.
Let me expand on that a little. I might say by way of explanation that I am talking more about undergraduate courses than about post-graduate courses at the moment. At the University of Queensland we have probably the best school of tropical agriculture in the world. We bring students there from all the underdeveloped countries to undertake both undergraduate and post-graduate courses- specialist post-graduate diplomas and the normal post-graduate Masters degrees and degrees of Doctor of Philosophy. Tropical agriculture being a very specialised subject, there is some benefit in having our resources concentrated there and in offering students from Africa, Asia and South America the opportunity to go there and undertake training, particularly the post-graduate Diploma in Tropical Agronomy. It is a highly specialised area. However, I wonder at the wisdom of accepting that other areas of research and study are necessarily as transferable. I wonder at the wisdom of accepting that we should educate those students in our undergraduate courses. The students who come here to study come here usually in order to go back to their own country and become practitionersresearch workers employed by governments or research workers employed in the field. They go back and they make a very valuable contribution at that level but they make little ongoing contribution to education in that area in their own country. If they come here to do a Masters degree- more likely it will be the degree of Doctor of Philosophy- they have the opportunity to do that. The number of students from those sorts of countries who come to Australia to do these later courses is very small indeed. I suggest that the number is infinitesimal.
The post-graduate training which is carried out at Australian universities by these students again falls into a different category because normally these students are sponsored by their governments or by some private enterprise organisation in their country. They can go back and make a very high level contribution and they can make a contribution at institutes of learning in their own countries. However I feel that the other group, the much larger group, the undergraduate students, may be better trained in their own country. Countries like Australia could naturally make a large contribution, certainly initially, in terms of staffing. It has been possible in some countries to establish very substantial universities and faculties with the assistance of professors and lecturers who have come in initially from overseas countries. They have been able to establish schools of learning which have been significant throughout the world because they have been able to specialise in areas particular to that country but not necessarily particular to countries which have previously offered those courses. I mentioned, for example, veterinary science and I have mentioned agriculture. Technical training is probably another one. Throughout the countries of the world, particularly the underdeveloped countries which would be most concerned with that sort of training, there are particular problems which are in no way particular or even of any significance within Australian universities. Therefore the solutions to those problems do not occupy a significant role in the Australian tertiary educational system. We run the risk of training students in what are essentially courses designed for an Australian environment and of sending them back to their own countries- a different environment with very particular problems- without necessarily having given them the means to meet those problems. I am suggesting that we could well think about the possibility of sending specialists there who could build up, in conjunction with the host governments, institutes of learning which could train students in their own countries in those particular fields. I think that, as far as we and those countries are concerned, the money would be a lot better spent. That is the sort of view to which I alluded when I referred to overseas students. But that is only one issue.
I would like to give a few of my viewpoints in relation to universities and colleges of advanced education in the Australian context as they apply to the future of our country and to the education of our students today. It seems to me, as somebody who had been involved with education certainly for all my working life and obviously before that for all my life apart from my pre-school life, that tertiary institutions in Australia have had a certain number of difficulties imposed on them by the community. We long expected our universities to meet every problem of training that there was in the community. Before the colleges of advanced education were accepted as an important concept in education it was very common for an employer group to say, in relation to a particular industry: ‘We need specialists trained in a particular area and therefore the universities ought to provide such courses’. There were cases whereby universities introduced courses which were not and are not now fitted for a university climate. We ought to rationalise so far as we can just what we expect from a university and what we expect from a college of advanced education. We have made big progress in recent years in relation to colleges of advanced education, in what we ask from them and what we expect from them, but what we have not necessarily clarified is our thinking on what we should be expecting from each of these fields of tertiary education.
The universities are heavily involved in professional training and I think inevitably will be heavily involved in this training for a long time. I refer to areas of professional training such as medicine, dentistry and so on. They are areas which we may care to debate should never have been the province of universities and which really are more the area of a mixed technical and scientific training. However much we may care to debate that, I suggest that we will never change the fact that universities do and will continue to offer those courses. Nevertheless, we ought to be looking fairly carefully at other areas of university education and what we expect from them. This is important because in our debate and expectations we strongly influence the future raw material of the universities. I refer to future students, most of whom now are, and so far as we can see will be, very young and very easily influenced in their basic thinking by concepts and ideas which are put to them, no matter how loosely.
An idea has grown up that a university degree is the golden meal ticket, that a person with a university degree has the entree to the world and that from there on it is up to that person. University graduates have been led to believe that at the least they can expect a high income. I suggest that that is not a real expectation of any university training, excluding the specialist areas that I referred to earlier. Universities were originallylong ago- intended to be institutes of research and institutes of pure learning. Maybe we ought to look at whether that is a role we should think about for universities in the future. So long as we are sending our young people in their thousands to the universities, into fields of study which should be ones of pure research and pure learning, with the expectation that that will give them a golden meal ticket, then we are in for big educational and social problems. A lot of publicity has been given in recent years to the dissatisfaction of various students when they have been accepted into universities, particularly to undertake arts and humanities courses. They have been dissatisfied with the substance of the courses because they were not in line with their expectations. They have been dissatisfied with what they think the end result of the degree will be because that was not in line with their expectations. I suggest that this is less the fault of the universities than it is the fault of the community for ever letting this idea grow up. We should have made it clear that universities are not job training institutes, particularly in such areas as the humanities.
Of course, there is a risk for universities in pursuing this line of debate. It will mean a fair shift of resources if we are to shift community thinking and thereby the sons of things that influence young people to decide whether they go into universities or into colleges of advanced education. There will be a contingent shift of the government’s and the country’s resources. More people obviously will have to enrol in colleges, and universities may see themselves even shrinking in size. That will not suit the universities at all. So I do not think that we can look to many universities for much of a contribution to that debate. I suggest that there are others in the community to whom we should look. The first responsibility lies here with the Parliament, with the people who take that decision when they decide to debate and pass the Budget that is put to them each year. The responsibility lies here to initiate that debate and to bring forward the sort of thinking that should be brought to bear on it, whether or not it is original thinking or somebody else ‘s thinking. At least it must start.
I am afraid that we have built up a rigid educational ‘establishment’ in this country. I do not want my remarks to be misunderstood. I know that very many people involved in universities are very well motivated, particularly in their own areas, but the whole system as it has grown up has brought with it its own problems. I think that the Murray report presented many years ago was an excellent report. The working of the Australian Universities Commission has been excellent and has contributed a lot to the development of tertiary education. Nevertheless I think that long since we should have been examining our priorities and giving some indication to groups like that of what we thought the end results should be. We have discussions about annual budgeting versus triennial budgeting but I think that as well as that sort of debate we ought to be looking much further ahead. We ought not to be afraid to involve ourselves in the debate on education against the so-called experts.
Mr President, I have a general reluctance, you may even like to call it a prejudice, but I hope it is not, to put the matter of advice on education exclusively into the hands of educationists. I think that the outcome must be entirely predictable. If you ask an educationist what education in Australia needs, I think that you have about a 90 per cent chance that the educationist or the group of educationists will set up a committee and will say: ‘What you need is more educationists, that is, more people like us’. That might sound rather cynical and rather hard, but I suggest that if we examine the son of advice that has been given to governments of all political colours, let us say, over the last 10 to 20 years, that is essentially the advice given to us. Other valuable advice has been given with it, but there has been a reluctance with the growth of this ‘sacred cow’ notion of education for anybody to get up and challenge its experts regardless of whether the experts are involved in education administration, in educational psychology, or are headmasters, teachers or whatever. There has been this reluctance because there has been a general acceptance that education is a good thing, and because there has been a general acceptance that education potentially can be an enormously important social determining factor in the future, many of us have been overwhelmed by all those concepts and have felt that education obviously is a good thing generally. Thus we have said: ‘Let us go ahead with it. We cannot make too many mistakes.’
However, I suggest that many mistakes have been made. The cost of that approach has been people getting into areas of employment into which they were never intended to go, at high expense to themselves, their families and the public. They have found that when they became involved in these areas they did not want to be there. They felt sold out. The case of somebody who has a PhD. in chemistry and then sells life insurance and is much happier doing that is not all that unknown. Not a high percentage of students do this, but the percentage is significant. There has been a tremendous waste of resources. I suggest that this has happened at quite some personal cost not just in financial terms but in personal terms to the people who have undergone that experience.
We need to examine these matters, but our means of examination are not terribly welldeveloped. However, we need to examine first the attitudes of universities and colleges of advanced education. We will have great difficulty doing that. That will be a difficult debate to start, but I would like to think that what is said in the Parliament may cause ripples or have some effect on that outside education establishment, so that educationists might feel obliged to react, not in a knee-jerk way but in a reasoned way which will contribute something to the overall debate. I am well aware that there are many people within that education establishment who know the faults and who are not happy about them but who individually cannot take the lead. They cannot do it themselves. They need encouragement to involve themselves in the debate. It must be a proper debate. When talking about universities and colleges of advanced education, we have to look at student priorities; by that I mean undergraduate versus post-graduate priorities. A few years ago the universities were told that in putting in their submissions for money they really ought to think in terms of having a rninimum 16 per cent post-graduate component in their enrolments. I am not telling any secrets from the inside, but I can tell honourable senators that nothing was ever more designed to send academics into cartwheels of glee. I will take a minute to explain that the basic rationale of the Australian Universities Commission’s statistics on which it bases the figures of staff-student ratios and from which flow the general trend of fundingthe rationale of funding of a particular university- is heavily influenced by the number of undergraduates versus the number of postgraduates which any university and particularly departments in that university may have. There are tremendous advantages for departments and faculties in having a high post-graduate component. This attracts a larger amount of money for research, which is good for academics. They can then employ research assistants. They can then attract still more post-graduate students. They can publish a lot of research papers which they can then claim to have produced on their application forms for promotion from, for example senior lecturer to reader. This promotion is worth a considerable amount of money to them and more significantly is worth a considerable amount of money when they receive their superannuation. That is not as cynical as it may sound. That is part of the rationalisation.
Certainly, we need postgraduate students and maybe universities should be training a far higher component of postgraduate students; but, if they are, we have a responsibility to decide what happens to the residue of undergraduate students. What does happen to them? Do they just fall by the wayside because quotas on undergraduate courses have to be tightened, since it costs so much more to educate postgraduate students per year of course than it does to educate most undergraduate students? We have that heavy responsibility. We have the responsibility to be aware of the components in those factors, to make some examination of them and then to make some recommendation. Perhaps we cannot get into the sort of detail which would enable us to decide in favour of one area of research as against another or one faculty as against another; but we ought to be aware, and we have not been aware of the general factors operating them.
I was enormously disappointed by the contribution made to this debate by Senator Ryan this afternoon. I expected that she would bring to this debate a particular knowledge and expertise and a reasoned approach which would be of some value. Instead, we got shibboleths and some sort of political propaganda which added nothing to the debate. We have to be prepared to get away from that approach. So long as we have a partisan political approach at that level, and on Bills as innocuous as these, we will not make any progress. The responsibility here rests squarely with us, with members of the Government and Opposition Parties, to show that we are prepared to undertake a proper examination of the problems and not just to sling accusation, answer and counter-accusation at one another across the chamber. We will get into trouble when we embark on such an examination, because one of the first matters that will be raised is academic freedom. When one looks at what happens within university or college departments or faculties and seriously questions it and says to somebody: ‘I think you ought to be responsive to public opinion’, that person says: ‘If we are responsive to public opinion we will lose our academic freedom’. Goodness me; if ever there was a suggestion that a government or politicians should intrude into that area, that is when the debate would really reach top decibel level.
I would like to reach top decibel level on something that has come to my attention recently as a result of the practice of academic freedom. It is a matter of discrimination within a university which should be regarded as intolerable. I suggest that, if I as an individual were to go to the person responsible in this case and say: ‘I as a member of Parliament think that what you have done is intolerable’, he would turn around and say: ‘I am going to plead academic freedom’. The position simply is that in a university which has a quota on entry into the first year of a course and a further quota on entry into the second year of that course a very serious situation has arisen. A certain number of students is taken into the first year. Those students know that at the end of first year, depending upon their examination results, they may or may not get into the second year of that course. If they do not get into the second year they will have to turn to some other university course. That is about all there is to it.
Recently I was acquainted with a case involving a young woman who had received her results at the end of the first year of this course and subsequently was told that she would not be accepted into the second year. She therefore enrolled in another course and was doing that course this year when she discovered that there was a male student who had received inferior passes to hers in first year and had been accepted into the second year quota. She went to see the dean of the faculty, who had a quite significant say in who was accepted into the quotas, and asked why she was not accepted into second year when this other student had been. She was told: We are getting too many female graduates in this course and, therefore, we are limiting the number of girls we are allowing into second year’. How dare he! That is not an announced policy of that university, much less of that faculty and much less of that individual. I suggest that he would never dare to put that view in public. That is not his province. It is the province of the public to decide whether there are too many female graduates and then perhaps to come to some conclusion. But for that person to come to that conclusion and to play God with people’s lives, without ever telling people publicly what he was doing, is to my mind absolutely unforgivable. If we challenged it, academic freedom would be pleaded.
There was another case in relation to the same course. It involved a girl who had matriculated and who enrolled in another degree course. She had embarked on that other course when she decided that maybe she had made the wrong decision and should have been in the course to which I was just referring. She then had to make a decision whether to go on with the course in which she was enrolled that year and take the risk of possibly not doing very well and therefore being debarred from the university or to drop out and apply for the first year quota in their preferred course next year. She contacted the dean ‘s office and was given an appointment a couple of weeks hence. When she turned up for the appointment she found that she was not the only person who had an appointment. There was a young man there for the same purpose and they saw the dean together. I am told that they had the same matriculation results. They were there to find out what would be their chances of acceptance into the first year quota for this other course next year. The girl was told that she may be accepted; the boy was told that he would be accepted. I cannot get a statement in writing from that young girl because she is frightened of what will happen to her chances of getting into the quota next year if she reveals who she is. That is just not acceptable. The playing of that sort of game behind the facade of academic freedom is something that we should not tolerate. I suggest that it will be difficult to break this practice.
We have heard comments and received complaints in recent times about university lecturers foisting their personal or political opinions on students who then fear that if they do not mouth them, if they do not follow those opinions and if they dare to challenge them in lectures or tutorials they will be failed in examinations. I do not know whether that is true, but the fact is that the fear exists because there has been no objective measurement of these claims. I know of a whole degree course at a university which follows the philosophy of the professor who is in charge of the course. It is a philosophy in what is basically a professional area, which is not generally acceptable to the professionals in that area outside the university. All students who enter that course get only that philosophy. They get it for a compounded reason since the professor has such a large say in the appointment of all other academic staff and is looking for people who mirror his point of view to justify what he is saying which, in the outside world, would be strongly and justifiably under attack.
How do we meet that situation? I suggest that perhaps we should not send politicians to meddle with it; but, so long as we do not have proper debate established in this Parliament and so long as we think it is a problem for somebody else or it is too specialised for us, this practice will go on and on. With the sort of money that is involved in educational establishments these days, we have a responsibility to ask those questions and to let those who profit from that practice- a small percentage; nevertheless they are there- know that we care and will not stand for it.
In the time available to me it has been possible to touch on only a couple of points relating to tertiary education; but I suggest that they are the sorts of questions that have to be asked. They have not been asked in the time that I have been in the Parliament. I do not wish to denigrate other senators; but that has not been the tone of education debate so far. The Parliament may decide that that is not the tone of education debate that it wants; but I suggest very strongly that this Parliament is abrogating its responsibilities to the citizens of this country, the people who provide the wherewithal, if it is not prepared at least to think about asking these sorts of questions. (Quorum formed)
- Mr President, like my colleagues on this side of the Senate, I support the States Grants (Universities) Bill. It is rather fortunate, as far as I am concerned, that the Senate is debating cognately a number of Bills dealing with education as I wish to address myself particularly to the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Amendment Bill in that group of Bills. As I have mentioned before, following Quick and Garran, I see the role of a Territory senator as being the advocate or having the advocacy of peculiar and special interests. Certainly technical and further education is a particular interest of the Northern Territory, because we have so little of it. The situation in the Northern Territory in this respect is of specific concern, so I will address myself to the Bill dealing with technical and further education. Might I suggest that I look briefly at the present situation and the problems that we face now and then make some recommendations.
The background to the situation in the Northern Territory at present is that prior to 1972, as honourable senators will know, we had 2 systems of education operating within the Northern Territory. The technical and further education component for the Europeans, if I can use that word, was handled by South Australia, funded by the Commonwealth. This was mainly at the Darwin Adult Education Centre, which obviously was centred in Darwin. That was about the only centre in the Territory. At this stage, I wish to pay a tribute to the then principal of the Darwin Adult Education Centre, Mr Harold Garner, an educator and innovator of the first order, whose contribution to education in the Northern Territory has not been adequately recognised.
Mr Garner was responsible for developing technical and further education in the Northern Territory, that is, in the Darwin area. He had very inadequate buildings in which to operate. He had a very small staff. Yet, he was able with the facilities at his disposal to introduce excellent technical and further education on a limited basis. At that stage, the Darwin Adult Education Centre provided tertiary tutorials. These were from Queensland. Honourable senators will know that assistance was given to Queensland at that time to provide tutorial assistance and excellent correspondence courses for the people in the Territory. Many honourable senators will know also that, at that time, the External Studies Department arranged for its professor, in many cases, and certainly its senior lecturers, to visit the Northern Territory and assist those people who were studying externally.
The Adult Education Centre provided apprenticeship training and trade training and, that very important aspect for an area as isolated as Darwin is, the recreation and creative or leisure time activities. I am referring here to the hobbies courses, the drama courses, the yoga courses, the choirs and so on. As well as this- this is part of Mr Garner’s genius, I think- he managed to introduce also diploma courses and other courses called tor by both the Public Service and private enterprise. If a group said that it wanted to have a course running, he would arrange for this to be done. He also arranged for diplomas for those people who could study with institutes in other States. A good many of the accountants at present operating in the Northern Territory would have been trained at the Adult Education Centre.
The other side of the coin is the Aboriginal situation. This was handled basically by the Social Welfare Division of the Department of the Interior. Let me elaborate a little on what was offering prior to 1972. Most of the vocational or technical training was given in the form of onthejob training. This was where an Aboriginal or a group of Aboriginals would be attached to the carpenter or the mechanic or some other worker on the settlement or on the mission. The Aboriginal would get his training from this person. Many problems were associated with this sort of training. In many cases, the mechanic or the carpenter was far too busy to provide any training. He had too many jobs in front of him. There were too many cars or too many trucks broken down. So, he was too busy.
Not only this, but also he was not able even with the best of intentions to give the sort of education that was needed. He had not been trained as an instructor. He had been trained as a mechanic or as a carpenter. So, he was not able, as I say, with the best of intentions to do much for the Aboriginals in the area. He had a lack of material in front of him. He was not able to call on modular units or any sort of programmed learning which would enable him to teach the people mechanics or carpentry. Often there was no commitment on the part of the students. This is a point that we have discussed many times. I have no doubt that honourable senators have raised it here before. For some reason that we found very difficult to pinpoint, quite often the student was quite happy to become the toolbag carrier and was not particularly interested in learning to become a qualified person.
The vocational training courses that were offered prior to 1972 provided some excellent courses for nursing assistants and for teaching assistants, but they just about stopped there. I have mentioned already in my maiden speech some of the problems faced by the young people who undertook this type of training. They found difficulty in transferring the skills which they had learnt in town. There was once again the difficulty of motivation. They were not willing to travel or to move into the areas where the training was available.
There was another facility that was operating prior to 1972. That was operated by the Aboriginal Education Branch. That was known simply as Adult Education. It comes well within the definition of technical and further education. Various courses were offered to the people out on the missions and settlements including general education, literacy courses and leisure activities. But once again the problem arose that apart from the teachers the rest of the staff were not trained in the art of instruction. Obviously the teachers were limited in what they could do in the way of adult education. There was another complication. This was that at night both students and instructors were tired. As Senator Kilgariff will tell honourable senators, in the Centre it is very difficult to leave one’s fire on a cool winter’s night and move up to the school or to the shop to get some training. Central courses were offered, mainly in the area of leadership. The courses which were offered in leadership by this particular branch were most successful and filled a great need for the Aboriginal people at that time. That was the picture prior to 1 972.
With the amalgamation of the 2 departments in 1972, there were certain changes. The most significant one I suppose, was the setting up of the Darwin Community College. I wish to read from the Ordinance which outlines the functions of the Darwin Community College. It is in these terms:
The functions of the College are:
To conduct an institution for the provision of Darwin and other such parts of the Northern Territory as the College considers necessary or desirable of education and training of such kinds as the Council with the approval of the Minister determines or as the Minister requires;
To make assessments from time to time of the kinds, fields and levels of education and training that in its opinion should be provided by the College to meet the educational needs of the Northern Territory.
The College has power to do all things that are necessary or convenient to be done in or in connection with the performance of its functions.
So, the College was set up and virtually took over the duties of the Adult Education Centre, and expanded them.
Again, university tutorials through people from Queensland were arranged, as were diplomate and associated courses, and the College established courses of its own. For example, the Department of the Northern Territory indicated that it would like some welfare officers trained. It threw this matter to the Community College for it to organise a welfare officer course for the Department. So, this was arranged and organised and the College had graduates in the first and second years of the welfare officer course. The College also presented trade and apprenticeship courses. The trade course followed basic standards but provided one innovation in that an 18-weeks bricklaying course asked for by the Master Builders Association was available. The provision of such a course ran perhaps a little contrary to the normal apprenticeship course in bricklaying. The College had leisure and creative activities, the same course as the old Adult Education Centre provided. It produced short courses for any of the local groups or local departments on demand.
The Department of Education expanded its Aboriginal education centre. This is perhaps one of the significant features of the Northern Territory’s contribution. The Department appointed Aboriginal adult educators who were Europeans but who worked in the Aboriginal education field. They set the level for these people at grade 2 or band 2. Many honourable senators know the level of band 2. These educators were given Aboriginal teaching assistants to work with them. The job of the adult educator was to get out into the Aboriginal communities, whether they be missions or settlements, to identify the needs, to suggest to the groups some particular needs, and then to arrange courses for them. In addition to this, they were devising programs with the assistance of 3 band 3 officers who made up courses for every settlement and mission which required them, produced such learning materials as audio-visual aids and so on, and introduced something quite new to the Territory, the roving ‘tech’ instructor, who moved around the communities giving specific assistance. The program that started this movement off was an outboard motor maintenance course. It does not sound very important to honourable senators that Aboriginal people should have an outboard motor maintenance course. They should remember that the Aboriginal people who are having to use these units either for leisure or for their business, such as fishing, in many cases have no idea how to maintain them and would forget to put oil in the motor, check the plugs or do whatever else is required.
– Who identifies the need, the community?
-The community identified the need and the Education Department met the need.
– But they were from the community.
-That is right. I will come back to that later. I think the question relates to the important involvement of the community in any decision-making in education. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs, for its part, decided to move away seeing that other people were taking over certain responsibilities. The Department saw a new role for itself in the matter of setting policy and it saw other departments as having the job of carrying out whatever was needed. The Department of Labor set up a committee to investigate vocational training and technical education, not technical and further education but within the field.
I think it might be of interest to the Senate if I have a word about the Stephen Committee, as it was called, a committee which investigated technical training needed for Aboriginal people. On the committee was an assistant secretary from the Department of Labor, Miss Stephen, for whom the committee was named, a representative from the Department of Education and 2 representatives from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It is interesting that members of this group found as they moved around the communities that the old men were unhappy to see the young people go away. They gave many reasons for this. They said that they would lose control of the people and that they would not be able to bring pressure of the old laws upon the people. They said that the young people moving away would learn bad habits. They said that the girls if they left would get into trouble. But basically, underneath was the thought that they wanted the group or clan, whatever one wants to call it, to stay together and to learn skills which could then be used in the community and not outside of the community.
It is interesting that the young people in many cases accepted what had been said but in some cases- I think it was quite a significant groupsaid that they did not really care what the old fellows said and that they would like to go into town for training. I would like to raise an interesting point here. The group found- many of the rest of us have found also- that Aboriginal young people tend not to take a job but rather to work with a particular person. In other words a young man will not say that he wants to be a carpenter, a mechanic or something of the sort, but he will say. ‘I would like to work with that man’.
While this has advantages in the settlement it has many disadvantages when one thinks in terms of training because the young man will not train with someone else.
After looking at all the training that was available in the Territory, the Stephen report suggested on site training or near on site training- I have mentioned this already- where a person who lived at Yuendumu could train at Yuendumu or could train at Papunya as long as the training site was in his own area. Members of the Committee saw the young people being employed by the community, in garages, in the building trade and in whatever jobs that were there. They saw the trainers. I have already mentioned in this chamber that trainers would visit and give instruction on modular techniques. They saw the tradesman as reinforcing training in between visits of the trainer. Let me come back to Senator Baume ‘s point. The technical instructor who was on the community would give additional assistance in between the visits of the trainer. He would give some sort of theory training- although I do not like to use the word theory’- the book work that went with the trade training. I would like to come back and perhaps later talk about that.
Where are we at the moment? This is a point I would like to have a look at. The Darwin Community College cannot adequately meet the needs of the community. It cannot fill the role for which it has been established. There are a number of reasons for this. The College services only the main centres of Darwin, Alice Springs and Nhulunbuy, and a few courses are conducted in Katherine. With the number of staff available at present the College cannot offer the courses that are being called for. Again we come back to Senator Baume ‘s point. The community of Darwin set up the needs for the Darwin Community College. A council was established to say exactly what sort of technical and further education was needed in the Territory, and the Darwin Community College was the result. Right from the beginning it was realised that in many cases the classes might be small. Obviously if people wanted something specialised and we had somebody who could offer it, the classes could be down as low as one or two people. This was accepted because the College saw its role as meeting the needs of the Darwin community and not forcing the people to move away.
As a result of the present economy measures the teaching staff of the Northern Territory cannot upgrade their qualifications. I have mentioned this already. It is particularly unfortunate because the teachers need their qualifications to get their promotion and obviously the students need the advantage of better trained teachers. Many of the apprentices cannot get the sort of training they need and have to move interstate. One of the aspects of the apprenticeship training is that the sort of training that the Apprenticeship Board wants to offer cannot be provided by the College because the apprentices have to fit in either with block release or day release or whatever suits the staff position at the College at the time. There is no alternative available for those people for whom either the block release or the day release does not suit. The training cannot meet the demands of the community in that vital area of leisure and creative activity. I think I have already mentioned in this place that within one and a half to two hours of enrolments being commenced some of the courses were completely booked out and many people were queued up waiting to get in. They had to stop taking enrolments because there were not enough teachers for additional courses to be run. So we have a shortage of staff and a limited range of activities for people to undertake.
One case that comes to mind, a somewhat pathetic case- I know it is only one small case- is that of a woman in Alice Springs who had been waiting for years for the Alice Springs Community College- an annex of the Darwin Community College- to be opened. She wrote to me with much indignation to say that she had passed her first year dressmaking course and could not do her second year and she was very unhappy about it. The reason was quite simple. Only 2 people wanted to do the course and therefore it was uneconomical to run it. I am told by the Darwin Community College people that they need 20 per cent more money at present to be able to offer the courses that they offered last year. We have slipped back a little.
As I indicated earlier the Education Department has worked very well in the area of general education, literacy, social education and some supporting work for the trades that are being learnt. But I make the point again that this is all for Aborigines. Nothing is available for other people away from the main centres.
I would like to run through the main aspects. At the moment there is nothing much for people in remote areas. There is only a part of the program and not technical education in its narrow sense. Dr Anderson of the Educational Research Unit of the Australian National University has been commissioned by the Darwin Community College to investigate the needs of postcompulsory education in the Northern Territory. Dr Anderson had organised for his research workers to visit and discuss the problem with the people in the Northern Territory. His research workers have held meetings with the Darwin Community College Council, staff and students, talked to the Department involved, to the apprenticeship boards and to the employees and the employers. After some frank and open discussion the group is to produce a report which I think will be available in April or May and which will no doubt find its way here. The group conducted a very good seminar in Darwin towards the end of last year and called on the groups I have mentioned to come and present what they saw as the deficiencies in the system in the Northern Territory. The group was very fortunate to have Dr Chris Duke and Dr Elizabeth Summerlad. They were commissioned to look particularly at the Aboriginal situation. Those honourable senators who know the work of these 2 people, who are Canberra residents, will know that they have a very solid background in Aboriginal education. They were able to prepare a very effective draft report.
It is interesting that Dr Summerlad knows many of the young people personally, having been at Kormilda College for two or three years full time and on a visiting basis. The group has been out to settlements and missions and talked to the people concerned, to the young people and to the older people about the wishes they have for their children. Basically they are unhappy with the situation as they find it, but as I will indicate later on the group suggested that there be some sort of co-ordinating authority within the Territory. To complicate the issue, at the present time secondary schools in the Northern Territory do not cater for the non-academic student in relation to enrolment. I am not being critical of the high schools, but simply stating a fact. This is the way in which they have developed. It is most unfortunate because it means that there is no introduction to trade training. There is no preparation for technical training. Of course it also means that there are some pretty unhappy and disgruntled kids who are being thrust prematurely into the work force. Certainly they are not prepared for the work which lies in front of them.
– This is so throughout the Northern Territory for many of them.
-As Senator Kilgariff says, that situation exists throughout the Northern Territory. My colleague, Senator Button, had some interesting things to say about the philosophy of education. He looked into the future and spoke about developments which we might see in the years to come. Whatever one’s philosophy of education happens to be, surely any system must meet the needs of the student and, through him, the needs of the community. Whichever way we look at it, it is the community through the student or vice versa. That is why the Advisory Council on Education in the Northern Territory is so important. I trust that the Government will look at the possibility of seeing ACENT develop within the Territory.
I come back to what Senator Baume has said. This is important for the identification of needs within the community. It is the community which sets the needs of all students. Along with other honourable senators who have spoken I say that the needs of many students- I might even say the bulk of students- are not necessarily academic or geared towards a university course. More and more students are going on to various forms of higher education. This is a good thing. But the number would surely still be fewer than 50 per cent. At this point I make a plea to teachers, parents and the community generally to think about the possibility of trades. It is unfortunate that over the years we have built up a situation where many people within schools and many parents have said that the kid is no good at school and that he might as well be put into a trade. This is a most unfortunate attitude. We will have to work hard to eliminate it. As I tried to explain recently to apprenticeship people, trade means the building we are standing in, the clothes we are wearing, the car we drive and the technical equipment around us. Schools are not catering for people who have interests in these fields. Schools are not catering for the preapprenticeship student. They should do it and they must do it. I am not thinking here only of the number skills, reading and writing. I am thinking also of attitudes, such as attitudes to work, attitudes to life and attitudes to others.
I do not want to move into Senator Button’s field of philosophy, but surely education is the changing of attitude. If we do not change attitude then we have not educated.
I suggest that some sort of structure is necessary. I see three alternatives at which we might look, namely, a council of community colleges, a board of technical and further education or a technical and further education branch of the Department. The council of community colleges has been suggested by the principal of the Darwin Community College to the Anderson inquiry. The job of the council would be to allocate funds to colleges and to assume responsibility for overall planning. I suggest that although the council might co-ordinate what exists, there are many disadvantages because what exists is fairly limited. We would have a duplication of administrative services. The council would find difficulty in coping with the remote areas. It would be inclined, as the college has been since its inception- I think this is a problem which faces most colleges of this type- to be academically oriented. We have a grand plan with the Darwin Community College, but while the staff keeps vying for university positions, university conditions of pay and for prestige, we will not get what we want out of the college.
A board of technical and further education has been suggested. Obviously the board would be made up of representatives of the various government departments, the employers, members of the community and so on. Basically, it would be a co-ordinating or advisory body which would promote, encourage, develop and maintain but it would not run technical and further education. I see this as its major weakness. It would work through agencies which are not yet set up to do this work. Perhaps I have gone ahead of myself a little because I have said that the disadvantage with this group is that it would allocate the resources but it would not run the program. It would have all the problems faced by statutory bodies or commissions. The body I suggest is a technical and further education branch of the Education Department. If the Minister looks at the Education Department he will see that it is geared to setting up immediately a technical and further education branch within the Territory. This branch would simply be an extension of what is being offered. That is why I went to some pains to explain the work being done by the Aboriginal Adult Education Section. The people who are in that section at the moment have a certain expertise. They have the ability to get in and do the work. They have the experience to work with the Aboriginal communities. They would be able to develop a close liaison with the schools, which is necessary to give some meaning to the school program. After all, there must be job opportunities, as has been mentioned before, right from the trade group through to the university. There must be a job at the end of the work. There certainly would not be an advisory body but it could be easily set up. We could set up something like ACENT or something like the advisory bodies which the other States have.
I have tried to show that there are technical and further education needs in the Northern Territory, particularly in the remote areas. I have suggested 3 possible models to overcome this need and I have indicated that I favour the third. I am prepared to elaborate on my reasons if anyone is interested. I have suggested that at the present time secondary schools are not catering for the non-academic student. I make a plea to the Minister, as other honourable senators in the chamber have done today, to make technical and further education one of his priorities. In the short term, he might assist the Darwin Community College with staff and finance. In the longer term he could set up some sort of machinery to give that equality of education which is the aim of the present Government.
– in reply- The debate in the Senate and in the other place has related to 5 funding Bills, namely, the States Grants (Universities) Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Amendment Bill, the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill, the States Grants (Advanced Education) Amendment Bill and the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Amendment Bill. The Bills which provide funds for education in the post secondary and tertiary institutions have given an opportunity which has been availed of by honourable senators to approach education in the best of ways; that is, in a by-partisan way and in depth. I commend all honourable senators who have participated in the debate. It will not be competent for me in the very short time which is available tonight in replying to the debate on the second reading speech to deal with the many points which were raised but I say to honourable senators that I have taken note with interest of the points made. I shall certainly pursue them. I hope that in other education Bills which come forward we can have debates with similar depth and penetration. I make a number of points on matters which have been raised by honourable senators.
I think it has been said that Senator Button dealt basically with philosophy. He did what a number of honourable senators and honourable members have done. He queried whether the institutions as they now exist are too rigid, too introspective- if I may paraphrase- or too backward looking instead of looking towards tomorrow and adapting themselves to the challenges of tomorrow. For example, I noted that he talked of universities being entrenched institutions. He said that perhaps their attitudes tended to be outmoded. I think he referred to them as being powerful and coddled sections of the community. He felt that in some disciplines or in some attitudes there was a self perpetuating and entrenched situation. His contribution was valuable.
I think it is imperative for the future- not just because we are in a period of major economising- that we look towards the qualitative approach towards education rather than the quantitive. We should ask ourselves what we are getting in quality of output and what end result is happening to the students. We should ask whether they are getting fulfilment in the widest sense because the aim of education is surely human fulfilment. We should be testing this, and certainly in looking at it we should be testing whether the delivery of education, in whatever college or institution, is capable of adapting itself to a future which has been identified as one of rapidly changing technology and one with which the disciplines in the present universities and colleges may not be geared to cope. I therefore value the kinds of contributions in the philosophical sense made by Senator Button on the one hand and Senator Martin on the other, who pointed out that institutions, being human, tend to entrench themselves, to build aristocracies, to proliferate and to lose sight of the important fact that the goal is the student and not the institution and the lecturing staff. We must always remember that education does not exist for any purpose other than the individual fulfilment of the student in a total, whole-of-life fashion.
Senator Button talked of proliferation. In recent years the universities have tended to slow down in their growth and to consolidate. It is not true that the number of lecturers in relation to the number of students has grown rapidly in recent years. In fact, I think the ratio is 12 students to one lecturer at the moment and, if anything, that ratio is a little worse than it was previously. One of the things we must keep in mind is that the tendency to believe that a lower lecturer-student ratio will necessarily create better education has no foundation in any research evidence in the whole of the world.
– Hear, hear!
-I note that Senator Robertson, who has practised in education, acknowledges that. There is no substitute in the world for the 3 main ingredients of education. They are, in my view, the dedicated, skilled and articulate teacher; the responsive student with the hungry and inquiring mind; and the studyoriented home. The three together are the primary resources. The addition of physical resources does not necessarily add to education, although one would want to help in every way.
Senator Jessop raised a number of matters regarding the Flinders Medical Centre. I will deal with them very quickly. He asked that funds be provided for phase 4. This phase is essentially the completion of the hospital and, as I understand it, this is a matter of the South Australian Government. The Bill before the Senate provides $1.4m for teaching and research, $400,000 for equipment and $2.8m for buildings for the Flinders Medical Centre. It is the opinion of the Universities Commission that the latter amount will substantially complete the teaching facilities needed and will complete the contribution by the Commonwealth Government towards the cost of teaching facilities in the Medical Centre now planned. Senator Jessop also raised the question of energy research. Some work in energy research is now being undertaken in the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland as well as Flinders University. The Second Schedule to the Bill before the Senate provides a special research grant of $79,000 to Flinders University for 1 976. 1 mention this only in passing.
Senator Jessop also raised what he regarded as overcrowding in the faculty of optometry at the University of New South Wales. I am advised that the Universities Commission and the Commission on Advanced Education have considered the national need for additional optometrists. The Universities Commission concluded that there is an overall national shortage of optometrists. However, it considered that an expansion of existing centres could best fill the need. The existing schools are at the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne and the Queensland Institute of Technology. The expected intake at Perth was too low to establish a viable school. A very substantial increase in intake occurred at the University of New South Wales in 1975 and, if sustained, would considerably improve the supply of optometrists.
A number of speakers in this debate talked of the nature of universities and colleges and wondered how we would ensure that they kept their distinctive qualities or moved towards a quality of excellence. I find it one of my major challenges to work out techniques and ways in which postsecondary and tertiary education can move in their specialised and vital channels against a Parkinsonian desire to create empires, and not simply proliferate various faculties or disciplines or build great institutions but keep quality and preserve their distinctive characteristics. For example, how does one define a college? Does one define it as an institution that is concerned primarily with vocational training of students and therefore should be closer to industry than a university is? How does one define a university? Is it essentially for pure and applied research? Is it essentially for post graduate work? Where do they start and where do they finish? It is unfortunate that so many colleges feel that they should strive towards ultimately becoming universities, as though colleges in themselves were not sufficiently separate and distinctive to stand on their own feet and to establish their own grounds of quality without feeling inferior to universities. One of the great dangers is that there is a tendency for them to want to build and to do other things in order to become universities. It will be a bad day for Australia if we simply regard colleges as being inferior types of universities. They were never meant to be universities and we should try to strive against this tendency.
Equally, there has been a proliferation of colleges in Australia. There were moves under the previous Administration and there are moves currently to rationalise this situation and to see whether some merging can occur, as has occurred in Tasmania between universities and colleges of advanced education, in Ballarat between colleges, and in Geelong between 2 colleges in the formation of Deakin University. To me, it is utterly important that we should measure the institutions not by the numbers they have but by the quality of delivery of education that they can produce to the students. There is no need for a college to have an inferiority complex. If the quality of its student output meets the demands of industry and commerce, its reputation will be well and truly established. One of the problems that remained unsolved and still remain so is what, in the long range or the short range future, should be the mechanism for coordination within the tertiary and postsecondary levels.
A number of honourable senators referred to technical education and the fact that over the years it tended to suffer neglect in comparison with other education. I acknowledge to Senator Robertson, the last speaker on this matter, that this has been so and that it is major defect. I hope that this Parliament and this Government will move steadily to upgrade the amount of national resources that goes into technical and further education so that this vital part of our education can take its place fully alongside other types of education. I acknowledge the fact that to undertake technical education or to be trained in a trade is in no way inferior to being trained in a discipline or a profession. I acknowledge that it is the job of us all to undertake to educate people in that fact.
A number of honourable senators mentioned the fact that perhaps we should look at the question whether the objectives of what was originally the Colombo Plan- the objectives of permitting an influx of private students from abroad into our universities- are being realised. A number of honourable senators have identified the fact that originally the idea was that students from abroad should come to Australia, receive an education and then go home and give the benefit of that education to their own countries. It has been indicated in this debate, and it is true, that a growing number of private Asian students now come to Australia to get their education and then seek and obtain citizenship status in Australia. There is no doubt that they make admirable citizens for Australia, but the important question we must ask ourselves is whether we are doing a good or bad service to the countries from which they come. This is an important question which needs close examination.
Senator Ryan mentioned a number of matters regarding medical faculties. She suggested that there was a monopolistic control by the medical profession to keep the numbers in the medical faculties low. I draw Senator Ryan’s attention to the report on medical training published some time ago by Professor Karmel. As a result of that report a number of expansions have occurred in medical training. The large established universities- I refer to the Sydney University and the University of New South Wales in my own State- have increased substantially their intake of medical students and have reduced the period of training from 6 years to 5 years.
– They have very good students.
– ‘They have some very good students’, says Senator Baume, declaring a paternal interest. Of course, 2 new medical faculties have been set up in universities that come to my mind- the University of Newcastle and the James Cook University at Townsville. There has been a substantial move forward in that regard.
The full purport of Senator Robertson’s speech cannot be canvassed by me tonight. He pointed out, quite rightly, the immense problems which the Northern Territory presents for us, particularly in regard to Aboriginal education, but also in regard to other education. He raised the question not only of what we should communicate to Aborigines but also of how we should relate to them and how they should relate to us in their endeavour to get jobs in the future. Although I am eager to have a better understanding of this matter, I have barely touched upon the fringe of it. I hope that we will hear many more debates in this place on this subject. I will eagerly encourage any such debate. I am particularly grateful to all honourable senators who have participated in this debate. I thank the Senate for giving a speedy passage to these Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 25 March on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 25 March on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 25 March on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment of debate.
Consideration resumed from 25 March on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 25 March on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I take the opportunity to rise on the first reading of this Bill to speak briefly on matters that were raised in this chamber as a result of questions that were asked of the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, some days ago. As I was one of those asking questions I feel it necessary that certain matters be placed on record to correct an impression which was given at that time by the Minister. On 23 March Senator Carrick is recorded in Hansard of that date at page 658 as having said in reply to a question asked by Senator Baume:
One would hope that instead of using broadcasting as a political weapon under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, as the previous Government did, this Government will be able to bring all radio and television under -
At that stage Senator Carrick ‘s remarks were interrupted by a point of order. Again, on the same day, when replying to a question which I asked so that Senator Carrick might amplify his earlier answer, he said:
I said that under any reforms which a Federal Government of our philosophy would bring in, licences would be the subject of investigation and objective recommendation by a non-political body. I referred to the fact that some licences were issued under the Wireless Telegraphy Act by direct decision of the Minister concerned. Therefore, this was a direct decision which did not arise from recommendations. I understand that the licences were issued in the general public and ethnic areas, not in the commercial field.
On the same day, in reply to a question asked by Senator Bishop, Senator Carrick made this remark:
I think that Hansard will show that what I said was that the previous Government used its ministerial power under the Wireless Telegraphy Act to issue licences. I think that is a matter of fact, and I said that that was so. In so doing I did not reflect at all on any of those persons who received either ethnic or public radio licences. I was very specific in what I said. The previous Government indicated its intention, through the Minister himself, of seeking ways of taking the investigation out of the ministerial sphere and putting it into a non-political sphere. What I said was in parallel I think with what the honourable senator, when a Minister, said here. I was saying that we were looking towards a system of reform under which all licences- radio, television, public, commercial, ethnic and community- would have an orderly system of pre-judgment, public exposure and recommendation. I make it entirely clear that I was in no way reflecting upon those who got the licences but merely upon the system itself which used a ministerial control.
It is always easy, of course, to try to clarify statements which have already been made and which have already gone into the record. With great respect to the Minister, and perhaps giving him the benefit of the doubt, one could not have come to any conclusion other than that either he did not understand the significance of what he was saying or, alternatively, he was being extremely careless in his use of words. The suggestion that these licences were issued for political purposes must bc challenged, because it is critically important that a government be not seen to issue licences to an organisation when such issue might be of political benefit to that government. Subsequently, at my request, Senator Carrick did incorporate in Hansard the names of the persons and organisations to which these licences were issued. I was somewhat astonished to read them. For example, bearing in mind that some political overtones were contained in the allegations about the issuing of these licences, I point out that the first licence was issued to the Music Broadcasting Society of Victoria, the second to the Music Broadcasting Society of New South Wales. I am not sure what Mozart’s political motivation was, Mr President, but I somewhat doubt whether either of those 2 societies are doing anything which might have political overtones. The third licence was issued to the University of Adelaide, the fourth to the Ethnic Radio Experimental Committee, the fifth to the Chairman of the Sydney Ethnic Radio Experimental Committee, the sixth to the Chairman of the Melbourne Ethnic Radio Experimental Committee. Then a series of licences were issued to educational institutions. The first institution was the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education at Toowoomba, the second the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education in Victoria, the third the Mitchell College of Advanced Education in New South Wales, the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education in New South Wales, the University of Queensland Union in Brisbane, the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education in Hobart and Launceston, the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Institute of Technology, the Australian National University, the University of New England, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and the University of Newcastle.
In reading through the list of those various institutions I felt that it was incumbent upon me or upon any other member of the Opposition to ensure that these matters were made clear- that there was no political motivation involved. In fact, the licences issued to the Music Broadcasting Societies and also the Ethnic Radio Experimental Committees were issued to those organisations on an experimental basis by my colleague, Senator Douglas McClelland, as the
Minister responsible for these matters at that time.
– They are still experimental.
-I understand that that is correct and that they are still experimental. They were issued after Senator Douglas McClelland had had full discussions with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The licences issued to the Music Broadcasting Societies in both cases were issued on an experimental basis also in order to get frequency modulation broadcasting to air. The University of Adelaide had already been issued with a licence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act and this was merely an extension of that licence in order to increase the station’s transmitting power to a radius of 5 miles around Adelaide. The 2 licences issued to the Chairmen of the Ethnic Radio Experimental Committees by my colleague, Senator Bishop, who was then the Postmaster-General, were issued on the recommendation of Senator Douglas McClelland after a committee representing ethnic groups in Australia had been established. On that committee Senator Mulvihill represented the Labor Party and Senator Davidson represented the Liberal Party.
– That committee was not appointed initially though, Mr Leader.
-The fact is that these licences were issued subsequent to that committee’s hearings. I think this is the essence of the implication that was made in the remark which occasions me to answer these accusations. The licences issued to the Sydney and Melbourne Ethnic Radio Experimental Committees replaced those that had been issued previously to the Chairman of the Ethnic Radio Experimental Committee. All the other so-called licences referred to were merely offers which I acknowledge were contained in the Minister’s reply to me. In addition to those mentioned by Senator Carrick, a restricted commercial licence application wascalled for by Senator Douglas McClelland for the Campbelltown area. That licence application was heard by the Control Board early last year and a recommendation was subsequently made. Again a restricted commercial or public broadcasting application was called for in Melbourne and a number of applicants applied. The Control Board heard the applications in public about 12 months ago. I understand that that station is just about ready to go to air.
I believe that the importance of these comments is that, had the licences that were mentioned by Senator Carrick not been issued under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, today we would still be awaiting frequency modulation broadcasting not only of fine music but for public broadcasting too, and also ethnic broadcasting. After all the years in which our predecessors had opportunities to expand the broadcasting field in this country into these areas which would enable groups to become involved in areas of broadcasting which had been completely closed off to the Australian community over those years, it was an initiative taken by the Labor Government. It is a matter of regret that there should be any imputations or suggestions that the licences issued by the previous Government had a political motivation, and on behalf of the Opposition and the previous Labor Government I reject them.
– The Senate is engaged in debate on the first reading of the Wheat Export Charge Amendment Bill 1976. Apparently it is traditional in this House that the first reading of a money Bill enables honourable senators to raise certain issues which may not be relevant to such Bill. I promise that my intention at this point of time is only to endeavour to sort the wheat from the chaff. I want to raise 3 quite important issues tonight. The first relates to the rights, functions and duties of the House to protect the rights of ordinary citizens who seek redress from it. I refer to the position of Mr Norman Bray who sought redress from this House last year and sent a statutory declaration to all honourable senators setting out how he was dismissed from office in a particular union on the basis of false evidence. That statutory declaration was tabled in this House by Senator Greenwood on 16 July 1975.
– During the adjournment debate.
-That is correct, during the adjournment debate. He stated in the affidavit that he is a member of the Australian Labor Party. He stated clearly that he was elected by a court controlled ballot of the rank and file as full-time secretary of the Australian Leather and Allied Industries Branch of the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia. On 6 February 1975 he was confronted by the Federal Executive of the Miscellaneous Workers Union with a document signed by one Francis Anthony Shanahan. The charges that were laid against Norman Bray and supported by a statement signed by Frank Shanahan but not sworn by him indicated that in particular Mr Bray had participated with Shanahan and others in a meeting with one Brian Harradine, the secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council, concerning the issue of the election in which Mr Ray Gietzelt was involved at that time. In his affidavit which was presented to this House Mr Bray said:
I say and the fact is that I have never in my life met Brian Harradine so far as I am aware and I have certainly never attended any meeting at which Mr Harradine was present, whether at the address given by Shanahan or anywhere else, and the allegations made by Shanahan to the contrary are false.
After hearing read Shanahan ‘s statement the Federal Executive of the Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia voted to dismiss me from my offices and to suspend me from membership in the Union until 30 June 1975. The practical effect of the latter suspension was to deny me any possibility of obtaining employment in the industry in which I had worked before becoming a union officer.
That citizen sought redress from the Senate and that citizen has no permanent job now. He is blacklisted throughout the whole of this industry which is exclusively covered by the Miscellaneous Workers Union, whose federal secretary is one Mr Ray Gietzelt.
How was this set up and why? Why was this man railroaded by innuendo and false evidence? An inkling is contained in the other statutory declaration which was submitted on the same date by one Peter James Moxon. In it he said that the evidence that was brought forward by one Francis James Shanahan against Mr Bray was given at the instigation of Mr Barry Thomas Egan and on the basis of gain by Mr Shanahan. Moxon stated in his statutory declaration: . . from about mid 1973 . . . Egan began to ask me to be careful to avoid any open connection with him as he was dealing with Gietzelt and did not wish to antagonise him. . . Early in 1975 Egan told me that he had put Frank Shanahan on his payroll as an organiser in the Australian Workers Union -
That is the New South Wales registered organisation and has nothing to do with the federal association- of which Egan was secretary. He told me: ‘Shanahan and his wife get $300 a week between them. Shanahan got an AWU organiser’s salary, a house in Wagga and a car, and his wife will be paid as the AWU office girl in Wagga.
That is still the situation. Egan went on:
I look after those who stick with me. Now I have got to clear it with Ray Gietzelt so he knows it is not aimed at him.’
On a later occasion in January or early February 1975 Egan rang me and said: ‘I cleared Frank Shanahan ‘s appointment with Ray Gietzelt but Gietzelt has set a condition. He says I must get Frank Shanahan to make a statement about all the people who assisted in the campaign. Do you have any ideas on what it should say? We will have to concoct something for Frank to say to keep Gietzelt happy. ‘
The declaration goes on. Because my time is limited I will not read it all but honourable senators will find it in the Senate Hansard for 16 July 1975 on pages 2793 to 2798. This man, Norman Bray, sought redress from the Senate and thus far the Senate has failed him. Senator Greenwood was one of those senators who attempted to raise and who in fact did raise this matter in the Senate. This is what Mr Norman Bray indicated quite clearly in his affidavit:
I expressly disclaim any wish for any enquiry to be made by any person into the internal affairs of the Australian
LaborParty,theFederatedMiscellaneousWorkersunion of Australia or any other organisation grouping or event and ask only that the Senate or a senator or senators take such action as is necessary to ensure that the specific questions of fact referred to in this my affidavit are investigated and reported upon to the Senate for such action as the Senate may then see fit to take.
Previous to that, he had stated:
I respectfully request of the members of the Senate of the Australian Parliament and especially of those senators who are members of the Australian Labor Party the following relief-
He then set out a number of items on which he sought relief. Senator James McClelland was then the Minister for Labor and Immigration. He made these remarks to the Senate in replying briefly:
I have no knowledge of the allegations contained in the affidavits which he has tabled. If he will let me have a copy of them I will have the matter investigated immediately. If the allegations to which the honourable senator has adverted are true I acknowledge that this is a very serious matter, requiring prompt attention from the Government. I undertake to have the allegations raised and the affidavits investigated promptly and, if any action is called for, to take such action.
I do not know Mr Bray. I have never spoken to him and I have never met him, but from information supplied to me by members of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales he is a decent, ordinary citizen who sought redress from this Parliament and has not obtained it. Let me come to the second issue that I would like to raise. It is linked somewhat to the first issue only because the person who signed a document adducing false evidence against Mr Bray, who lost his job, was one of those persons who swore evidence against me before the Federal Executive of the ALP. That also was false evidence as I propose to prove in the next few minutes.
I wish now to turn to the evidence that was put forward against me at the Federal Executive meeting of the ALP. This evidence was described as perjured evidence by Mr Whitlam, the then Prime Minister, on 28 September 1975 to the State council of the New South Wales branch of the party. He said: ‘Harradine is the victim of perjured evidence’. What was that perjured evidence? More importantly, where was it deposed and what action should be taken about it? Evidence was given by Mr Shanahan that I attended several meetings but that in particular I attended a meeting in the R. A. King room on Tuesday, 30 March 1971. He was supported by 2 private inquiry agents hired by Mr Ray Gietzelt of the Miscellaneous Workers Union to spy on me. As indicated in a document entitled Socialist and Industrial Labour, apparently these private inquiry agents had been following me for some time. They came up with only one alleged incident. It was that I allegedly held a meeting on 30 March 1971 to campaign against Mr Ray Gietzelt and his election to the Miscellaneous Workers Union in the R. A. King room from 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. along with 7 other people. It was suggested by Mr Ray Gietzelt and some others on the Federal Executive of the ALP that I was in cahoots with people trying to knock off Mr Gietzelt and that that meeting took place at that time. This is what transpired at that time. Mr Shanahan, according to the affidavits that were presented to the Parliament on 16 July 1975, told Mr Moxon:
In return you must both make a statement that Harradine attended a meeting in Sydney with you, offered to supply money and did supply money for the campaign against Gietzelt. Ray says there will be no worries about any comeback against you because your statements would be used only at an ALP Federal Executive inquiry and unsworn statements would suffice.
I knew of that document because it was on the table at the Federal Executive meeting of the ALP. I was not going to have a situation in which unsworn evidence was to be laid against me. So I asked that those who would seek to place evidence before the meeting about me give sworn evidence. I said that I was prepared, because of my religious beliefs and because of my knowledge of the consequences at law, to swear that I was not at that meeting. I knew that I was at a meeting of a Youth Week sub-committee of the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I had not thrown out my old diary. When I returned from Malaysia I fossicked around my drawer. Lo and behold, I found my 1971 diary and on the appropriate date there was printed ‘ACTU sub-committee’. I ask any honourable senator to tell me where he was on 30 March 1 97 1 . He would not be able to tell me.
– In the Senate.
– The honourable senator was lucky. Most people would not be able to say where they were but at least I was sure where I was by looking at my diary. What happened? The people concerned swore that I was at that meeting. After consideration of that matter, the President of the ALP contacted the secretary and sought advice as to whether a meeting of the youth committee had taken place. The advice came back that there had been a meeting of the youth committee held in the same room, at the same time and between the same hours as it was alleged by these private inquiry agents, supported and hired by Mr Gietzelt and his cohorts to spy on me. This was the subcommittee meeting of the Executive of the ACTU and not the meeting that was alleged. Sure, there were 8 people present but not all those whom it was alleged were present by the private inquiry agents bought by Mr Geitzelt. That meeting was chaired by Mr H. J. Souter, the secretary of the ACTU. That raises a couple of issues. For example, is the alternative government of this country prepared to condone a situation where there is invasion of privacy and where members of that Party will hire private investigation agents to spy on their fellow members? Over the last eight or nine years there has been one member of that Party who has been denied equality of opportunity with all the others, and one of the first to deny him that equality was the former Attorney-General in the previous Government- and I am not referring to Mr Enderby. What is the situation at the moment? We have a man who did not lie and others who did lie. The minutes of the Federal Executive meeting held in Canberra show that these men were cross-examined by Mr Whitlam, and the cross-examination makes very interesting reading.
The third issue I want to raise in the short time available to me is this: Surely the current Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government must be aware that breaches of the law have been committed by a person who has been instrumental in railroading an innocent union official and by persons who have been instrumental in railroading me. In this debate I am not interested in myself; I am interested in the fact that a man who refused to lie is still without a permanent job while those who did lie have reaped their rewards in cash and kind. Let me say where Mr Shanahan is at present. Mr Shanahan is still employed by Mr Barry Thomas Egan. He is employed at the rate of $12,000 a year and his wife is employed as a clerk in the same office at $6,000 a year. Mr Barry Thomas Egan is employed at approximately $290 a week, with expenses of $30 a week, petrol allowance of $20 a week, and a rank and file car- a Volvoprovided. His wife is employed in the same office as an organiser, under her maiden name, receiving $208 a week, an allowance of $30 a week and a petrol allowance of $20 a week -
– You are a snooper yourself.
– No. I will answer -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake Brockman)- Order! I will allow only one speaker at a time.
– There is no snooping in this. I happen to be a Federal official of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association and Mr Egan is the Federal Secretary of that organisation. I, as a Federal councillor of that organisation, am entitled to know and do know what our Federal Secretary receives in jobs other than the job he is doing for us.
Now let me get down to the question of what this Government’s responsibility is. I would like to table the documents to which I have referred; that is, my statutory declaration, the statutory declaration of Mr Shanahan, the statutory declaration of Mr White, one of the private inquiry agents and the statutory declaration of Mr Syron, the other private inquiry agent. I seek leave to table them. Clearly, from the evidence in the minutes of the meeting of the Australian Council of Trade Unions sub-committee these people have perjured themselves. Where have they perjured themselves? They have perjured themselves in the Australian Capital Territory. We have seen Senator Rae say in his newspaper article that I had better put up or shut up. There are two types of people in this world in relation to me: Those who say that I have put up too much and those who say that I have put up with too much. On this occasion I am putting up. What is the Government going to do about this clear evidence of where these people have perjured themselves blue in this Territory? Furthermore, what of the Shanahan perjury, which is in the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Governmentagain a Liberal Government? Furthermore, it is clear from the investigation of these private investigation agents by the Federal Executive- investigation by Mr Whitlam- that one of three things happened. Either the private inquiry agents willingly perjured themselves and did it in full knowledge- Mr Whitlam in examining them got from them that they refreshed their memory from a Websters diary-
– Is that Senator Webster’s diary?
– No. This is the New South Wales firm of investigation agents. Alternatively, Websters Investigation Agency was responsible for the false evidence being supplied to these private inquiry agents. The private inquiry agents did say that they were given photographs of the people who were going into the room by the Miscellaneous Workers Union. The third alternative is that those photographs were of the wrong people; that they were of the people who actually went into that room, people whom the Miscellaneous Workers Union knew would go into that room because Mr Gietzelt would have received the notice of the meeting that was to be held in that room. Someone is going to have to say what happened. This investigation agency- Websters Investigation Agency- is registered under a New South Wales Act called the Commercial Agents and Private Inquiry Agents Act. With a clear indication that perjured evidence was given by one former employee of that agency, what is the New South Wales Government going to do about it? Let me say this: What a travestyof trade union principles it is to have secreted private inquiry agents in the hallowed halls of the Sydney Trades Hall, the birthplace of the trade union movement in Australia. Where did they look to find people going into the room? Mr Deputy President, I am not sure how long I have left.
Mr DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) You will be told when your time has expired.
– I will readjust a little from the transcript of the Federal Executive meeting. Let us see whether it matches up with trade union or Labor Party principles.
– What would you know about that?
– What would I know about trade union principles? Have you ever heard anybody criticise me one iota for deviating in any way from the principles of the trade union movement in my 18 years as a full time union official? No one has! Not one! (Opposition senators interjecting)-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order!
– All there was was political invective to muddy the industrial pool so as to attempt to wean away my support in the key trade union movement of Tasmania. That is what it was. (Opposition senators interjecting)-
– No one! There has been not one person who has put forward any criticism of my trade union record. I will say this, Mr Deputy President: Let us -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order ! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy President, Senator Harridine has been the subject of some harassment particularly in the last few minutes. To enable him properly to finish his speech, I move:
– I am opposing the motion.
– I oppose the motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Martin has moved: ‘That an extension of time of 5 minutes be granted to Senator Harradine’.
– I oppose the motion.
– So do I.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I call Senator Douglas McClelland.
-Mr Deputy President, it has been the long standing practice and custom of this Senate that on a Wednesday -
Government senators- Oh!
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDHonourable senators opposite say ‘Oh!’ But the simple fact of the matter is that in the 14 years or 15 years that I have been in this chamber, except on occasions when leaders of parties have asked for an extension of time, there has been an arrangement that honourable senators who speak when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast will be given only half an hour. What is the position if the honourable senator is granted an extension at this time? After Senator Harradine has spoken on a Bill of this natureSenator Harradine is regarded as being an Opposition senator for the purpose of calls from the chair- if an honourable senator opposite rises seeking the call that call will go to a person on the Government side. This would mean that after Senator Harradine has completed his remarks no one from the Opposition side would be able to speak during the period when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast this evening before 10.45. I believe that the motion moved by Senator Martin is unjust and unfair. It is not in accordance with the normal practice of the Senate. Therefore I oppose it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Standing order 407A provides that no senator can speak for more than one hour in any debate in the Senate, but that an extension of time may be moved. The standing order provides further
Because the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, honourable senators are restricted to 30 minutes speaking time in the debate. Senator Martin has moved: ‘That an extension of time of 5 minutes be granted to Senator Harradine’. That motion must be put forthwith without debate.
That the motion (Senator Martin’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! One at a time, thank you.
- Mr President, I think that you should say whether a debate should have been allowed on the motion of Senator Martin. It is my belief that if you had received advice, or if the Chairman of Committees had received advice, a debate should have been allowed on that motion.
– On the point of order I seek some information. I take it that Senator Harradine ‘s 5 minutes starts from the time you call him and not from the taking of the vote.
– Order! Senator Harradine has been given a 5 minute extension of time and that will naturally start from the time when he begins to speak.
- Mr President -
– Wait until Senator Harradine starts speaking before you take a point of order.
– They started it.
– No, I will take order.
– Order! Senator Douglas McClelland, I am calling for order and you will obey the direction of the Chair.
– They started it.
- Senator Douglas McClelland, come to order, please. There is no substance in the point of order raised by Senator Georges. I now call Senator Harradine.
– I raise these issues before the Senate hoping that all honourable senators will regard them as very serious indeed. There has been a pattern of perjury that has resulted in a man losing his job.
– What about 1 968 in Sydney?
– I beg your pardon. I am prepared -
– This is the pot calling the kettle black.
– Order ! Senator McAuliffe, Senator Harradine has the floor and he is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I am prepared at the end of this speech to table my statutory declaration and to table all of the statutory declarations that have been referred to tonight. The major reason that I have raised this matter tonight is that there is a man out of work. (Opposition senators interjecting)
– Order! Please be seated, Senator Harradine. Senator Brown, cease interjecting.
– I apologise.
– My reason for raising this matter tonight is to endeavour to see that the Senate which was requested by Mr Bray to provide redress almost 9 months ago takes action to see that redress is provided.
– I hoped that members of the Australian Labor Party would have supported that in the interests of trade union principles.
– Rubbish !
-I apologise, Mr President.
– I want to know whether the members of the Labor Party agree that the employment by Mr Gietzelt -
– Order! Senator Harradine, be seated.
– I apologise.
- Senator Brown, it is not good enough to say you apologise and then continue interjecting.
– Seriously, I do apologise.
– Then please cease interjecting. I call Senator Harradine.
– I want to know why honourable senators on the ALP side are prepared to condone the use of private investigation agents to develop perjured evidence against one of their own Party members. 1 say this: I have put up tonight. It is up to the Government now, which through one of its back benchers said ‘Put up or shut up’, to test this matter in the courts. I will stand by what comes out of the court so far as it affects me. Mr Bray is without a job because of the false evidence that was brought against him by the very man who perjured himself against me. I wish to seek from the Senate redress for that citizen. I believe that this House is not only a protector of the rights of the States but also is the protector of the rights of the individual citizen and has prided itself on being such.
– Pursuant to standing order 364, I move:
That the papers referred to by Senator Harradine during his speech be laid upon the table.
– We saw Senator Harradine coming out of his office this afternoon. You had it all organised.
– I was not in the office.
– Order! There has to be order. Order must be maintained in this Senate. It is of paramount importance that debate should flow freely and opportunity be given for expression to each honourable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-In 1968 Senator Harradine said that he would be refused the opportunity to take his seat upon the Executive of the Australian Labor Party because the friends of the communists would silence him.
– I raise a point of order. Senator Greenwood is carrying on with the same subject as Senator Harradine. I had no desire to shut Senator Harradine up. The matter can be replied to. His record will not stand up to investigation.
- Senator Cavanagh, what is your point of order?
– The point of order I am raising is that I am informed that during this discussion it has appeared that a Mr Egan is involved. Senator Harradine is involved in litigation with Mr Egan.
– Make your point of order please, Senator Cavanagh.
– I am making it. Mr Egan lost the first point. I am submitting -
– What is your point of order?
– There is an appeal to a higher court. As there are court proceedings over what we have just heard is it correct for the Senate to proceed to discuss something with the intention of influencing a court?
– I raise a point of order, I think quite objectively. I would like to know to which standing order the honourable senator is speaking.
– The honourable senator suggests the matter is sub judice.
– From my information the matter is sub judice. There is an attempt here to use the Senate for the purpose of having some effect on a case that has been lost in the lower courts.
– You are scared dingoes.
– On the point of order -
– Order! I call Senator Harradine on a point of order.
– I wish to speak -
- Mr President -
– Order! I have called Senator Harradine.
- Mr President -
– I am objecting to the words used by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. He said that I was a dingo. I distinctly heard the Leader of the Government look over at me and say ‘dingo’. I want him to retract that. I am a man whose war service has proved that I am not a dingo. I wonder whether his has. I would like the Minister to withdraw that word or to repeat it to me outside the chamber.
– I thought I was referring to a class, but if the honourable senator thinks that I was referring to him in a particular sense I withdraw the word.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. The action which is currently before the High Court in respect of Mr Barry Thomas Egan versus the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association has nothing whatever to do with the matters which were raised by me this evening.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the same point of order. I suggest that the matter is of some importance and you might well reserve it for consideration, having listened to what Senator Cavanagh has said. Senator Cavanagh has stated that actions involving Mr Egan are before the courts. These matters involve Mr Harradine. Mr Harradine now says that in his opinion he considers -
– He is a senator.
– Well, Senator Harradine says that in his opinion these matters do not involve the question of sub judice. The Senate has always considered sub judice to be of paramount importance. Mr President, as you well know previous presidents have decided that in such circumstances discussions should not obtain. In the circumstances, I suggest that you might adjourn the matter and carefully consider it. The only way anybody can determine the situation is to find out what these matters are and in what respect they involve the circumstances about which Senator Harradine is now arguing. It seems to me that the point of view which Senator Cavanagh has taken is potent and should be considered. Mr President, I put it to you, in arguing the matter, that you might well reserve your judgment and, in these circumstances, adjourn the debate until you have considered the matter.
- Mr President, I speak to the pointoforder.ThesubjudicerulewithinthePar- liament is a very vexed question, but as I understand it, it is a matter of fairly simple issues. The question is whether a matter discussed within the Parliament may influence a court in arriving at its decision. If there were a jury action one might well imagine that what is said in the Parliament under privilege could influence a body of citizenry from whom a jury of twelve would be drawn. I understand the matter is before the High Court. Whether it is before a single judge -
– Do you not think that they can be influenced just the same as an ordinary person?
– I doubt very much that any High Court judge -
– Are they so far removed from humanity?
– I doubt very much that most High Court judges would be influenced by anything said within the Parliament.
– What do you mean by that? Mr President, I raise a point of order.
– Order! Senator Withers is speaking to a point of order.
- Mr President, I ask the Minister to withdraw the remark about most High Court judges. He implies that some High Court judges would be influenced. I do not know about whom he is speaking. I interpret his remarks as a reflection against the High Court judges. It should be withdrawn, especially when that remark has been made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
- Mr President, I am prepared to withdraw that phrase. Senator Georges’ point only supports my point of order. Senator Georges has now supported my argument that none of the High Court judges would be influenced by what is said in the Parliament. Therefore Senator Georges is supporting my argument that in fact, there is no sub judice argument before the Senate. I respectfully suggest that we get on with the business of the Senate.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. It is fairly obvious, on the admission of Senator Harradine, that the
Senate has been misused tonight. I now raise a different point of order from the one raised by Senator Withers. It would be extemely discourteous to the High Court for us to debate the matter at length. It is obvious that Senator Greenwood will enter into a lengthy debate on the matter and so generate further debate from this side of the chamber.It would he highly discourteous to the High Court if we were to carry out such a debate in this place tonight. For that reason, if not for any other reason, I suggest that we should not continue with the debate.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. The only fact of which you and the Senate can take cognizance is that a case is pending before the High Court- Egan versus a certain union. You have the submission of Senator Harradine, who I understand is an officer of the union concerned, that that case does not raise any issue which is under discussion tonight. The word of the honourable Senator must be taken as it would be taken on every standard of honour. There is no reason for adjourning a parliamentary debate on that basis or simply because of a gratuitous suggestion that some case is pending which involves a man named Egan. The honourable senator who has addressed the chamber and who knows the issues in the case has stated to us that none of those issues raise any question which is under debate here tonight.
- Mr President, the point of order which is before you at the moment concerns a very delicate and important matter as far as the Senate is concerned; that is the matter of debating a sub judice subject. There is no shadow of doubt that the honourable senator has raised a matter which, in substance, is before the court. The precedent in the Senate has been for the President to intervene when a sub judice matter is raised, whether he immediately rules or whether he defers the matter and gives it his consideration. It has been the precedent in the Senate for the presiding officer to prevent debate on sub judice matters. Mr President, I admit to you that this would be the wisest course to take. Further consideration should be given at some other time, but not at the present time when the feelings of the Senate have been aroused and are heated.
- Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. In so doing I say- not lightly or frivolously- that I have a very high regard for the opinion of Senator Wright. I say that because he has had long experience in this Chamber. I expect that, as a consequence of that long experience, he would bring to bear some wise counsel in the course of the deliberations of the Senate. In the short period that I have been a member of the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee I have enjoyed the advice which he has tendered. I am sure that on reflection he will agree, being a man of law, and having advantages which I have not experienced in that he has been trained in a particular discipline of law, that if there is a possibility that a matter raised in this chamber could impinge on or have any influence on a matter which is within the jurisdiction of any court, particularly the High Court of Australia which in my view should be the final court of appeal, that matter should not proceed. I am sure that Senator Wright will agree on reflection that if any comments have been made this evening which reflect on a person’s conduct or personality then it is appropriate and in the best interests of this chamber, its standing, stature and prestige- also in the eyes of the membership of the chamber and of the community of Australia- to refrain from any further debate on the issue as it may well have an influence on the decision of a court of this nation.
I accept in part the statement by either Senator Greenwood or Senator Wright about a matter being the subject of a jury’s consideration. With respect I say this: It is true that a jury represents a person’s peers; but I have never been convinced that a judge, irrespective of the court in which he sits, is not still a person who is not immune from being influenced by what may be said within this chamber or any other place where the subject may be discussed. I do not say that in a critical way or as a reflection on the judiciary. It is a matter of fact -
– And common sense-
-It is a matter of fact, and common sense, as my colleague says, that judges are persons, just like you or I or any other person in the community. They can, in fact, be influenced unwittingly by what is said, particularly in a chamber such as this. For those reasons I suggest that, as stated by Senator Cavanagh and supported by Senator Bishop, it would be in the best interests of the prestige of this chamber to have the matter adjourned for discussion at a future date.
– On the point of order, Mr President, I suggest that the wooliness we have just heard from Senator O’Byrne and Senator Brown is indicative of the argument they are raising here tonight. There are 2 factors involved: Firstly, are there proceedings which impinge upon the subject of the debate tonight? There is no suggestion of that. There is no reason why honourable gentlemen opposite, if they like, cannot find out whether there is such an action and whether it is on the same question as is involved in this debate. They make vague assertions that because the same names are involved in a court case that case has something to do with this debate. The case does not necessarily have anything to do with this debate. Secondly, there has been no suggestion in what has been argued that judges will be influenced by what is said in tonight’s debate on this subject. It is a most high and wide proposition that that would be likely to be so. This debate has been continuing for some time and can continue -
– We were not told.
– The honourable senator says that he was not told. Since this first reading debate started, honourable senators opposite have had time to look at the matter; but they have done nothing about it. This is not a sub judice matter. Honourable senators opposite have been throwing around words tonight to try to stop a proper debate which is before the Senate, and the point of order should not be upheld.
– I now have documents from the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Clearly, the arguments on the point of order from the Australian Labor Party have shown abysmal industrial ignorance. I now have the document in relation to actions that have been taken by Mr Barry Thomas Egan in respect of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. By and large, those actions have been taken having regard to the matters contained in the celebrated case of Moore v. Doyle. Apart from that, action was taken on 1 November 1974 by way of an application for a rule nisi under section 141. That action was No. 161 of 1974. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter of the debate today.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order -
– Order! You will be called in a moment. Senator Harradine, you are speaking to the point of order. Please continue.
-What I am attempting to show is that the actions that are currently afoot or have been determined have nothing to do with the matters which are the subject of the debate tonight. All I am doing is citing the case numbers and the sections of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act under which those actions were taken. Any member of the Senate would know, by my just mentioning the section of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act under which the action has been taken, whether the matter had anything to do with the matter that is currently before us. On 21 February 1975 an action was taken in an application for an interim order under sub-section (2) of section 141. The 17 June matter was under sub-section (2) of section 141. The 12 September matter was an application for an interim order under the same sub-section.
- Mr President, again I raise a point of order. Senator Harradine is not addressing himself to the point of order, and that was the subject matter on which you gave him the call. In fact, he is continuing his substantive speech on this subject matter.
- Senator Harradine will continue on the point of order.
– I go on. On 3 October there was an application for a rule nin under section 141. On 10 October there was an application for an interim order under sub-section (2) of section 141. On 10 November an application for a rule nisi was made under sections 140 and 141. On 10 November again there was an application for directions under sections 171c and 17 lc On 26 November there was an application for interim orders under sub-section (2) of section 141. On 9 December there were applications for directions under sections 17 lc and 17 Id. All of this litigation is still subsisting, although one final and 5 interim sets of orders have been made. It has simply been adjourned pending the determination of certain questions of law by the High Court of Australia. Mr President, I respectfully submit that information to you. You would know, having heard the sections under which the applications have been made, that they have nothing whatsoever to do with the matters which are the subject of the debate this evening.
– I have difficulty in judging the matter because the facts are not well known to me. I think that the best course is to ask honourable senators to observe the wellestablished rule of honourable senators not referring to any matters in a way which, in their knowledge, might prejudice any judicial proceedings. On that basis I call on Senator Greenwood.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I ask you whether the time that was voted by the Senate has not expired.
– An extension was granted to Senator Harradine. I am calling Senator Greenwood now.
– Earlier I said that in 1968 it was said by Senator Harradine, when he was about to take his place on the Executive of the Australian Labor Party, that the friends of the communists would silence him. For 8 years he was silenced, because he never took his seat upon that Executive. We have seen tonight, after he revealed to the Senate facts which I suggest indicate a frame-up of enormous proportions, that there are people within the Australian Labor Party who still wish iO silence him. Senator Harradine was expelled from the Australian Labor Party for conduct which has not been revealed to the people of Australia. Yet when 3 members of the Australian Labor Party engaged in what I would have thought was the infamous conduct of seeking to raise a sum of approximately $500,000 from a well-known terrorist organisation overseas on conditions and terms which were not revealed, all that the Labor Party Executive was prepared to do was to say that there was the strongest condemnation.The standards of the Australian Labor Party are different in the case of a man who simply said: ‘You are not going to allow me free speech’, and in the case of people who are prepared, secretly and without revealing the facts to the president of their own organisation, to commit themselves and to put themselves in hock to the extent of half a million dollars to one of the world’s most infamous terrorist organisations. I heard what Senator Harradine said. I had never met him until he came into this place. He is a man who has proved by his persistence that he has standards and values and that he will fight for them.
– Back to your old form.
-Senator Brown ought to know that noise in this place will not silence me and that I will speak so long as I have got a voice to be heard. I advise the Australian Labor Party of that fact. Senator Harradine tonight revealed facts which I think warrant the closest investigation. He brought to our recollection affidavits which were tabled in this place - (Opposition senators interjecting)-
– Order! I repeat that it is absolutely essential that in this chamber there should be the ability to debate calmly. Certainly there should be the cut and thrust of debate, but each honourable senator should have the opportunity to speak and be heard. I will no longer countenance interjections. I call Senator Greenwood.
-Senator Harradine recalled to our attention 2 affidavits which I had tabled in this Senate on 16 July 1975. I had tabled them because I, along with other honourable senators, had received a letter from Mr Norman Bray in which he asked for assistance because of what was revealed in those affidavits. In tabling those affidavits, I said 2 things. I said:
The material discloses that a Mr Brian Harradine, who is well known throughout this country and, more particularly, in the Government Party, has been the subject of what is an alleged frame-up of enormous proportions. That is verified in the material which is contained in the affidavits.
I stated further:
My purpose is to seek the attention of the AttorneyGeneral . . . and of the Minister for Labor and Immigration … so that matters contained in these affidavits are investigated. It would be a shameful affair if, simply as the result of a frame-up, a union office bearer-
That was Mr Norman Bray, who swore one of the affidavits- were suspended from his office and therefore lost the rights which are conferred by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Act to have financial assistance to enable him to test in the courts the validity of his suspension. That is the allegation which he makes. It also ought to be a matter of public knowledge if prominent union officials in this country are engaged in activities which amount to concocting untrue evidence with which to ruin a person’s political fortunes in any political party
Having said that, I tabled the affidavits. Senator James McClelland, who in this place, represented the Attorney-General and who held the office of Minister for Labor and Immigration, said:
I have no knowledge of the allegations contained in affidavits which he-
He was referring to me- has tabled. If he will let me have a copy of them I will have the matter investigated immediately. If the allegations to which the honourable senator has advened are true I acknowledge that this is a very serious matter, requiring prompt attention from the Government. I undertake to have the allegations raised in the affidavits investigated promptly and, if any action is called for, to take such action.
That was what a prominent member of the Australian Labor Party said in this place on 16 July 1975. Has there been any investigation? Was the Labor Party in this place concerned to inquire?
– What did you do about it?
– I sought from the present Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) some information as to what the records of his Department disclosed about any investigation which was undertaken by Senator James McClelland. From Mr Street I have the information that such inquiries as have been able to be made so far have been unable to produce any knowledge of any investigation such as was foreshadowed by the former Minister. Mr Street said that he is pursuing the matter further. It would be very interesting if an inquiry were to be instituted to find out what officials of that Department would say as to whether any inquiry was instituted by Senator James McClelland. Is Mr Wilenski, who was then the head of the Department, a person who is prepared publicly to say whether there was any investigation? We know that in the precincts of this chamber tonight are Senator James McClelland and Senator Gietzelt because they both attended this chamber for the division. But neither of them has been prepared to be present here to listen to what Senator Harradine has said or to give any explanation which might throw some light on what is an affair of scandalous proportions, if one takes what is alleged as the basis upon which a judgment may be made.
The affidavits to which Senator Harradine has referred are affidavits which indicate that Mr Bray and Mr Moxon have knowledge of evidence given by Mr Shanahan at the instance of Mr Egan which is untrue evidence. That is the clear purport of the affidavits relating conversations which have been sworn by Mr Bray and by Mr Moxon. It is well known as a matter of public record that Mr Shanahan had been convicted by the Industrial Court of offences with regard to a union election. Yet, thereafter, Mr Egan is prepared to employ him as an officer of his union.
– I rise on a point of order. I refer to the statement which you, Mr President, made when you were considering whether the matter before the Senate was sub judice. You said that you did not have sufficient information concerning the litigation properly to judge whether the Senate was infringing. It seems to me that the tack that Senator Greenwood is engaged in at the present time is going very close to an area of doubt. I think that Senator Greenwood should come back to a more general debate on the subject rather than make wild accusations based on some affidavits which he has before him which may be -
– What presumption!
– It is presumption on his part, is it not, senator? Is it not presumption on his part to go on in such a way without our having full knowledge of the litigation that is before the High Court? I suggest, Mr President, that Senator Greenwood ought to be restrained.
– Earlier I requested all honourable senators not to prejudice in any way judicial proceedings which might be taking place. This ruling must be observed absolutely in this debate. Senator Greenwood’s time has expired.
– I rise under Standing Order 407a. As 2 1 minutes of Senator Greenwood’s 30 minutes was taken up on the taking of points of order, I move:
Senator Georges_ Mr President_
– Order! No debate can take place on the question. The question must be put.
– I raised the question before. There is some doubt here, surely.
– No. That is quite clear.
– What is the relevant standing order? May I have an explanation of that standing order?
– Yes. The question is that an extension of time of 2 1 minutes be granted to Senator Greenwood. No debate on the question can take place.
– I rise on a point of order.
-Order! I have a motion before the chair, Senator Cavanagh.
– I rise on a point of order. I wish to know whether the motion before you, Mr President, is in order. Standing Order 407A, which was read out, does not refer to what happens when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast. Standing Order 407A was amended on 22 March 1972 during my time on the Standing Orders Committee. Whilst this standing order stipulates that no senator shall speak for more than one hour in any debate in the Senate and that in certain circumstances he shall be granted an extension of time and be permitted to speak for one hour and a half, a proviso at the end of the first paragraph of that standing order states:
Provided that where a right of reply is allowed in any debate a Senator speaking in reply shall speak for not more than thirty minutes: Provided further that, when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, no Senator shall speak for more than thirty minutes in any debate, unless otherwise ordered.
– You are just trying to waste time, are you not?
– Just wait a minute. I draw to your attention, Mr President, that an extension of time may not be granted except ‘in moving the Second Reading of a Bill’, in which event a senator ‘ shall be at liberty to speak for one hour and a half. Standing Order 407A goes on to state:
Any Senator may move that the limit of one hour or of one hour and a half may be extended for thirty minutes;
Where we use the term ‘any Senator’, a condition is imposed upon the Senator who is seeking an extension of time. A senator does not have the facilities available to him for an extension of time during the broadcasting of the Senate as he does during an ordinary debate. The Standing Order contains the words ‘unless otherwise ordered’. There is a distinction between the 2 instructions contained in this Standing Order and I think it would be novel if we were to receive a ruling from you, Mr President, some clarification of the meaning of the words ‘unless otherwise ordered’ as distinct from someone moving.
– The practice of the Senate is that the words ‘unless otherwise ordered’ are taken to mean that the Senate can accede to an extension of time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I call Senator Greenwood.
-Mr Bray’s affidavit contains some very important allegations. He says that he was informed that a statement was made by Mr Shanahan which laid certain charges against Mr Norm Bray. He, Mr Norm Bray, was not then or later, despite his requests, given a copy of the statement which was made by Mr Shanahan making allegations against Mr Bray. But notwithstanding the fact that Mr Bray was never shown a copy of the document upon which the allegations were made he was dismissed from his office and suspended from membership in the union.
– I take a point of order, Mr President, on the basis that, as Senator Greenwood has stated previously to the Senate, the matter was referred by him to the Minister for Labor in the Labor Government, Senator James McClelland and Senator James McClelland ordered an inquiry to be undertaken. Senator Greenwood than stated that, on inquiring from Mr Street, the present Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, he was informed that that inquiry had not obtained but that the inquiry would now be pursued. I suggest that the matters to which Senator Greenwood is referring in respect of particular persons ought to be left to the inquiry. If the Government is conducting an inquiry the rights of the persons who are mentioned by Senator Greenwood are being prejudiced, because the matter is under consideration presently by a Minister of the Crown. I put it to you, Mr President, that my point of order ought to be upheld.
– The point of order is not upheld.
-Mr Bray indicates in his affidavit that he was dismissed from his office and suspended from membership in the union and that the practical effect of the suspension was to deny him any possibility of obtaining employment in the industry in which he had worked before becoming a union officer. He further states in his affidavit that his dismissal was confirmed by the federal council of his organisation in April 1975 and that that federal council likewise refused his request to be provided with a copy of the statement made to Mr Gietzelt by Mr Shanahan, although that statement had been read to the members of the federal council. Mr Bray concludes his affidavit by saying that, having been suspended from membership in the organisation, for that reason he is denied entitlement to financial assistance under section 140 and 141 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Those provisions of the Act were put into the legislation to give to members of organisations who were wrongfully dismissed the right to challenge the rules under which they were dismissed. By suspending Mr Bray from membership that right has been taken away from him. Where is there someone in the Australian Labor Party today who is prepared to stand up and say that that is a travesty of justice and a denial of the rights of ordinary union members? That is the sort of allegation that we asked to be investigated last year when we were in opposition. That was what we were told by the then Minister for Labour would be investigated, and that, for all that now appears, was never a matter of investigation.
But that is not all that is revealed by the documents which Senator Harradine has tabled tonight. I feel that what has happened to Mr Bray, who is a unionist who has been denied his livelihood and his rights of membership and office in his union for what appears to be a frame-up, is a travesty which ought to be investigated. The case of Senator Harradine himself looms far larger on the national scene as a matter warranting investigation, because the material which he has disclosed clearly cannot stand up consistently. He reveals in his statutory declaration -
Senator Georges- I again rise on a point of order, Mr President. Honourable senators opposite who are interjecting can speak for as long as they like, but let us see if we can follow the rules of the Senate. You made a ruling, Mr President, that if the matter transgresses on a matter before the High Court it ought not to be spoken of here. I have the feeling that Senator Greenwood at the present time is doing exactly that. I know the difficulty which you face, Mr President, because you do not know the substance of the High Court case. You have the word of Senator Harradine that what Senator Greenwood is saying at the present time is not relevant to the case before the High Court, but my understanding is that it is. Senator Greenwood ought not to be permitted to continue in this way. This debate arose through a foolish action on the part of the Government in seeking an extension of time contrary to the arrangements which we had made for the debate tonight. Seeking that extension of time was a breaking of those arrangements which will have all sorts of consequences today and tomorrow. But returning to the point of order, if I may so, Mr President, I do believe that Senator Greenwood is transgressing. Your difficulty is that you are not quite certain of the case which is before the High Court. Therefore it would be advisable if we adjourned this matter until we found out more details concerning the case.
- Senator Georges, I have given a ruling in this matter which carries now as before.
– I am interested in the constant effort that is being made to stop the facts from coming out. It is only when the facts which the Labor Party Executive has withheld are revealed that people who are interested can make a judgment. Tonight Senator Harradine tabled a number of statutory declarations and affidavits without reading them out. I have the tabled copies. I have read them and am amazed at their contents. Mr Harradine himself swore a statutory declaration on the first day of August 1 975 and I shall read from paragraph 4 of that statutory declaration. Mr Harradine states:
In answer to Mr R. Gietzelt, Shanahan stated he was a bit dissatisfied with the financial side of the campaign and he wasn’t getting the pamphlets that he was printing out. Shanahan alleges that after seeing me ‘things did start to happen’.
The same Gietzelt tabled at the ACTU Executive-
The Senate- Television Translator in
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– There are some members of this chamber who seek to destroy the Standing Orders of the Senate and to put it in a position in which numbers count and individuals have no rights. I think that the arrangements tonight by which Senator Harradine was permitted to speak, as Senator Douglas McClelland said -
- Mr President, I take a point of order. The honourable senator is out of order in referring to the proceedings of the day in an adjournment debate.
– That is so. You cannot continue in that way, Senator Cavanagh. The point of order taken by Senator Wright is a correct one.
-It is strange to hear that reference to the proceedings, but I will not mention today’s proceedings. It may be pertinent to mention that right throughout the debate there were presentin the chamber Mr Martyr, the honourable member for Swan, who was the secretary of the Democratic Labor Party in Western Australia in 14 years, and the other fanatical democrat, Mr Wentworth.
– The Patrick Partners are here too.
-Patrick Partners were here. So this was a well organised event. There has been some discussion among my colleagues here who recognise that in future all the dirt that the Liberals wart to throw at the Australian Labor Party- they think that that will achieve something- will be thrown by Senator Harradine. They believe that we will not reply to such allegations. The behaviour of Senator Greenwood whilst in Opposition caused him to be demoted from Attorney-General. He has taken heed of that and has been very restrained and very courteous since he has been the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. If he carries on in the way in which he has carried on tonight we will see him dismissed from the Ministry, and that will be of service to Australia. I knew Senator Harradine when he was an officer of the DLP in South Australia.
-In the DLP?
– In the DLP in South Australia. At that time Mr Mayne discovered that there were opportunities in Tasmania for someone with political ideals to organise the unions in Tasmania- the small unions whose officers held honorary positions or received some allowance. It was believed that the Tasmanian unions could be captured by any ideology, and the Federated Clerks Union stepped in and made the first move to see that it followed the true DLP line.
Senators Withers- How many quotas did you get?
– We will come to quotas directly and we will see how Senator Harradine was judged. Tonight he made accusations against someone who he claimed -
- Senator Cavanagh, you are continuing today’s debate. You must not do that.
- Mr President, I seek clarification of that statement. The debate that took place today was not really in the nature of a debate. It was the first reading of a money Bill.
The Bill we were debating was the Wheat Export Charge Amendment Bill. Senator Cavanagh is not referring to that Bill.
– The subject matter of that discussion is now being continued.
- Mr President, I should have thought that that was not a debate as such; it was a matter that one -
– The President has ruled on it.
– The President has ruled on it. May I seek your indulgence then, Mr President, and ask whether matters irrelevant to a Bill that are raised in the debate on the motion for the first reading of that Bill cannot be referred to in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House. My feeling is that we can continue in a similar vein for as long as we wish, within the Standing Orders, in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House because of the nature of the first reading of a money Bill. That is what we have been doing all afternoon.
– Relevancy is not the important matter at this time as to whether I should allow a certain line of discussion to continue; it is the continuation by devious or various means of that which has been debated this day. So, that being the situation, I believe that Senator Cavanagh must not so link his remarks to that which can be seen to be clearly aligned with that which has been discussed in the last hour or so.
-Being closely aligned, I cannot mention Senator Harradine because he brought up the whole subject.
– You must not refer to that subject, Senator Cavanagh.
– I realise that, so it makes it almost impossible, Mr President. I respect the Chair’s ruling, but, being of the belief that the ruling is wrong -
– I rise to a point of order, Mr President. The honourable senator cannot reflect on rulings of the Chair. I think he ought to withdraw that remark.
– I am not doing so, Mr President. I am not canvassing the ruling of the Chair. I have said that I respect all your rulings. If there is a standing order that prevents reply in the adjournment debate to an attack that has been made, to lies and perfidy that have taken place because of the using up of time, I think that there ought to be an alteration to that standing order. So, although I cannot continue my speech in this respect, I ask you, Mr President, to direct my attention to the particular standing order with a view to my making application to the Standing Orders Committee to have the standing order changed or to put into operation such a standing order as would permit me to do what I wish to do.
– I refer the honourable senator to standing order 419, which deals with the anticipation of debate.
-That refers to the anticipation of a debate which shall be raised.
– I call Senator Colston.
– Honourable senators op- posite should not think that we are going to sit ere and listen to them all night.
– He will not be long.
– That is right; I will not be long. I refer to a question that I asked this afternoon.
– Is the Minister present?
-I am saddened that the Minister to whom I directed the question is not present. I did notify him that I was going to speak on this matter.
– He has been too busy getting up into the gutter.
– Order! Senator McAuliffe, you must not reflect upon a member of this House.
– I withdraw the remark, Mr President.
-When I spoke this afternoon I was speaking out of a wish that the people of Blackwater would be able to enjoy television programs, as many people throughout Australia are able to do. My purpose in asking whether the people of Blackwater would be able to receive television programs from the Australian Broadcasting Commission was not politically motivated, although I have found out since I asked the question that there has been a lot of political activity about this matter. I would just like to mention the main aspect of how this whole subject has become politically motivated, although not necessarily in the Senate. Apparently there has been some discussion in the Press in the Rockhampton area about a translator for Blackwater. People have been saying that it will not be opened until the Premier arrives but Mr Katter was reported in this morning’s edition of the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin as saying:
The Premier has nothing to do with television in Blackwater. It is my responsibility.
That is the first that I have learnt of Mr Katter having a responsibility for television in Blackwater. There is one other aspect of the matter that I would like to mention.
– Which Katter are you referring to, by the way?
-I am referring to the elder Katter. The other aspect that I would like to mention is that, in the Minister’s reply to me this afternoon, he said:
It would be a matter of disappointment to the honourable senator that I am instructed that viewers are getting a full service during the test period.
It would not be a matter of disappointment to me because, as I said, I raised this matter for the Blackwater people. The answer I received this afternoon is as follows:
The translator has now been completed and is on test for 2 weeks. This is normal procedure before opening which is scheduled for 12 April.
It is stated later on:
Viewers are getting a full service during the test period unless there are some minor technical difficulties.
Following upon people hearing the debate broadcast on the radio, I received a telegram this afternoon which suggested that this was not correct. So I made further inquiries this evening. The information that I have been given is that perhaps the Minister was misinformed this afternoon. The information that was given to me is that about 4 days of good pictures were obtained from this new translator in Blackwater up until about 2 weeks ago. Then there were no pictures at all. But this evening there was a colour test pattern broadcast on this particular channel. The people I spoke to said that this was not a very good program. I raise the matter because there seems to have been some misunderstanding. As I said this afternoon, I would like the Minister to look into this matter to see whether the people of Blackwater can obtain programs from this translator as soon as possible. I ask the Minister whether he can investigate this further, if he has not been able to do so already, to see whether the people there can be given the same opportunities enjoyed by people in other parts of Australia.
– I will.
– This evening the Senate was debating the Wheat Export Charge Amendment Bill and the Wheat Products Export Adjustment Amendment Bill, both of which are money Bills. The first reading debates of these Bills had been adjourned from last week and were continued this evening. Senator Wriedt made a speech relating to the Wireless Telegraphy Act and the Broadcasting and Television Act. Then Senator Harradine, speaking on the motion for the first reading of the Bill, spoke at length about a case relating to a Mr Egan and the Shop Assistants and Warehouse Employee Federation. He mentioned statutory declarations that had been -
– Order! Senator Douglas McClelland, you are quite definitely continuing a discussion which took place this afternoon.
-Mr President, it may appear that I am taking that attitude. If you will bear with me, I will ask you to adopt a certain course of action in the very near future. Senator Harradine started citing and, indeed, tabled certain statutory declarations. This evening when Senator Cavanagh spoke in the adjournment debate, Senator Wright took a point of order on the basis that matters that had been referred to during the day could not be alluded to in the Senate adjournment debate.
– That is quite right.
-Mr President, the ruling which you gave earlier today is now fortified by the interjection of one of your predecessors, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. I understand that during the discussion, and in order to fortify your ruling, Mr President, the Clerk advised you to adopt as the basis of your ruling standing order 419, which reads:
No Senator shall digress from the subject-matter of any Question under discussion; nor anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the Notice Paper.
Provided that this Standing Order shall not prevent discussion on the Address-in-Reply of any matter; . . .
I assume that it has been ruled by you, Mr President, that because Senator Cavanagh was relating to a matter which had been raised on the first reading of the Wheat Export Charge Amendment Bill, or a money Bill, and which might continue in that frame tomorrow, Senator Cavanagh therefore was probably anticipating the discussion of a subject-matter which appears on the notice paper. I draw your attention to the fourth edition of the Australian Senate Practice by Mr J. R. Odgers. I refer in particular to what appears on pages 147 to 149 inclusive under the heading Adjournment of the Senate’. I wish to quote from the last paragraph of page 148 and from page 149. 1 crave your indulgence and the indulgence of the Senate because I intend asking you to give consideration to the matter and to give consideration to preparing a paper for presentation to the Senate on the ruling that you have just given. The publication to which I have referred reads:
On a motion for the adjournment of the Senate matters irrelevant thereto may be debated, and it is not necessary that matters raised be of a kind for which the Government has administrative responsibility. Up to 1903 the Senate functioned under temporary standing orders which did not permit debate on the final motion for adjournment. The early Draft Standing Orders also contained a provision that the motion for the adjournment of the Senate was not open to debate. This provision was omitted on 18 June 1903, on the ground that in the majority of British legislatures the rule is to permit a member on the motion for adjournment to debate matters requiring redress. But the Senate did not carry the matter any further, the position then being that, although the motion for adjournment could be debated, such debate was confined to the question whether the Senate do adjourn or not. On 7 October 1 903, the Senate passed a resolution:
This Senate is of opinion that members of the Senate should on motion ‘That the Senate do now adjourn’ be permitted to debate questions not relevant to the motion.
Following this resolution the practice of permitting debate on questions not relevant to the motion for adjournment was followed, but the practice was not formally embodied in a standing order until 6 December 1 90S, when the present S.O. 63 was adopted.
In the discussion of irrelevant matters which may be discussed on the motion ‘That the Senate do now adjourn’, mention that a Bill is coming from another place is not out of order.
That, I suggest, appears to be somewhat in conflict with standing order 419 upon which you relied. It then goes on:
The discussion of an irrelevant question on this motion does not debar the same question from being again discussed on notice of motion.
While on a motion to close the sitting a Senator is at liberty to speak on matters not relevant to the motion, he is not entitled, under cover of the motion, to refer to matters which are otherwise not in order. For example, a Senator would not be in order in alluding to some other debate- except to make an explanation or insofar as the proceeding may be relevant to the matter under discussion.
The subject matter of an Order of the Day cannot be discussed on the motion to adjourn the Senate as so doing would anticipate the discussion on the Order of the Day.
On a motion for adjournment a Senator cannot allude to a debate in Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
Debate on the motion for adjournment of the Senate cannot determine any issue, such discussion being merely to direct attention to certain matters.
Therefore, because there appears to me to be ambiguity or a conflict between that which is contained in standing order 419 and that which is set out at pages 148 and 149 of the fourth edition of the Australian Senate Practice in relation to what can or cannot be discussed on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I would suggest, Sir, that you might give consideration to preparing a paper for debate and discussion on the matter so that in turn the matter can be considered by the Senate or at least by the Standing Orders Committee of the Senate.
– You zeroed in on that. It is the responsibility of the Standing Orders Committee.
– All right; let it go to the Standing Orders Committee. There is certainly room for ambiguity and a broad interpretation in determining whether the provisions of standing order 419 or what is contained in the fourth edition of Odgers’ Australian Senate Practice ought to prevail.
Having said that, I wish now to mention an event that occurred during the course of this evening’s proceedings- an event which I regard as most unusual and an event which, in conformity with the display of arrogance of this Government, is ripping up the conventions that have existed in this place for some considerable time as to the manner in which the affairs of the Senate will be conducted between the Government and the Opposition.
– It is all very well for the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) to say ‘Oh’ as I speak; but he well knows that in the time that he has been in the Senate there has been a gentleman’s agreement that when we are on the air there shall not be an extension of time, except in the case of leaders of parties and people in charge of Bills.
– That is not true. Many an extension has been granted.
– Well, that has been my simple understanding of the matter. Senator Withers has said that that is not true and that it has happened on many occasions. It may have happened on some occasions last year when the present Government was in Opposition and was trying to railroad the proceedings of the then Government; but if Senator Withers and those who sit behind him want co-operation with respect to the way in which their legislation will be proceeded with during the course of this session - (Honourable senators interjecting)-
-That is all right for honourable senators opposite. Already the Opposition has been gagged in this session; whereas the gag had not been used for a long time in this Senate prior to that. I assure honourable senators opposite that, if a Minister does not move that an extension of time be granted and if the government back benchers support the Minister in taking that attitude, we will use every device open to us to show our dissatisfaction with the way in which the Government is trying to railroad us in this place.
– In response to Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s remarks, let me say that it is so that I called upon standing order 419, the provisions of which are backed by what is contained in Australian Senate Practice in its widest interpretation. I shall read to the Senate a paragraph from Australian Senate Practice in support of my earlier ruling. It states why the practice of the Senate does prevail in a situation such as this. The paragraph reads:
While on a motion to close the sitting a Senator is at liberty to speak on matters not relevant to the motion, he is not entitled, under cover of the motion, to refer to matters which are otherwise not in order. For example, a Senator would not be in order in alluding to some other debate- except to make an explanation or insofar as the proceeding may be relevant to the matter under discussion.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) (11.24)- I address myself to a matter which has caused me a great deal of concern for a long time. It relates to the fact that by some mandate that does not exist in the Parliament, or in the Senate, it was accepted permissively that the Prime Minister in a previous administration could appoint an individual senator as the Manager of Government Business in the Senate. The Senate has never acknowledged, except by interim practice, that there exists a person known as the Manager of Government Business in the Senate. No honourable senator sitting on this side of the chamber, on your right, Mr President, occupies a position claimed to be that of Manager of Government Business in the Senate. There is a Leader of the Government in the Senate but there is no Manager of Government Business in the Senate. The appointment by the previous Prime Minister of a person to such a position was almost a usurpation by decree. He decreed that he could appoint someone in this place to be the Manager of Government Business in the Senate.
I do not want to traverse the history of how this happened but I have never accepted that there is any position in this Senate occupied by an individual with the title of Manager of Government Business in the Senate. Having made that situation perfectly clear I do not accept, in any circumstances, that an individual sitting on your left is a manager of Opposition business. In this place we acknowledge a Leader of the Opposition. If Senator Douglas McClelland thinks that he occupies a special position in the Senate by the simple claim that he has a special position in the Opposition, it is time that he was disabused of that idea. He occupies no higher position in this place than any other honourable senator.
– He has not claimed it.
-By usage he claims to hold a position. By usage he is transferring a position which he had no right to occupy under the previous Government, and he has no right to put himself forward as a manager of Opposition business. I refuse to recognise nlm as such. He does not represent the Opposition. If Senator Douglas McClelland claims that he occupies a special position over and above any other honourable senator I shall take the first opportunity to put him back in his place.
– I will not be long but I think it is like the cheek of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack to tell the Opposition in this place what it should do and who it should select. He has no right to decide what we on this side do or whom we appoint. Senator Douglas McClelland has been designated by the Australian Labor Party to be the Leader of the Opposition Business in the Senate because we want him to. We have a a perfect right so to designate him.
– What about Senator Wriedt, for God ‘s sake?
-Senator Wriedt is the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Sir Magnus Cormack has no right to tell the Opposition what it should do. As a matter of fact tonight he has strained the responsibilities of the
Parliament. He has done this for many months. This is a matter of principle and I am not kidding. We on this side have a perfect right to arrange our spokesmen and to appoint the people we want to be our shadow Ministers. Such people have been popularly elected by our Party. Senator Douglas McClelland is a distinguished member of the Senate, as all honourable senators know. He was a Minister and he performed his duties well. He performs his duties for the Opposition very well and no honourable senator has a right describe his position as being redundant or unnecessary unless we of the Labor Party do so.
I reject completely the point of view put forward by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack tonight. It has been a bad night for the Senate. All honourable senators ought to realise that if we want to make the parliamentary system work we have to behave a bit better. Let us play politics but let us do so a bit more cleanly than we have done in the last few weeks.
– I rise simply to say, as gently as I can, that the Government has no intention of being threatened.
– Who is threatening whom?
-We were threatened a while ago. After the election on 13 December, I made a decision which I communicated to my colleagues, that whilst for the first time in, I think, some 10 or 1 1 years a government- I put it that way quite deliberately- in this place would have a majority of senators in its own right I would hope that I would not have to use those numbers.
– Why did you use them tonight?
-You be careful.
– You misused the numbers tonight.
-That is typical of what the Opposition is doing at the moment. If Senator Georges likes to jump in and out and yap like a terrier at my heels, he will have to be dealt with also.
– Oh, good! What does that mean? That is a threat.
– Who is threatening whom now?
- Mr President, I believe thai the Leader of the Government in the Senate is threatening me and I suggest that he ought not to threaten me. As he first used the word ‘threat’ I should retaliate. He has objected to some socalled threat on our side. But he clearly used a threat against me. I do not stand for that. I think he ought to withdraw it.
-Well, if Senator Georges thinks I have threatened him, I will withdraw it. What I am doing is promising; I am undertaking.
– We promise also.
-‘ O promise me’. The Senate is in its sixth week of sitting. To a very large extent there has been no interference with the ebb and flow of normal Senate practice. I have an interesting piece of statistical information. Since this Parliament commenced, as at the end of last week a total of 35 hours 56 minutes was available for the Address-in-Reply, adjournment debates, discussion of general business and first reading debates on Bills. When I compare that with the first period of the sittings in 1974 when only 11 hours 51 minutes was taken for that whole period, I do not think the Opposition can say that I have been ungenerous.
– A good horse never stumbles and a mug never tumbles.
– Here we have people talking about horses when they might be something else.
-Well, I suppose I have to listen to the braying of Senator McAuliffe. All I want to say is this: For the first time since 1 have been in the Senate- that is some 10 years- the Government has attempted to notify not only its own senators but also Opposition senators each Thursday of the program for the following week, including what Bills would be introduced and what Bills would be debated. This was done with some sort of sensible expectation, I suppose, on my part that if that program looked to be unfair to the Opposition it would let the Government know and we would attempt to accommodate the Opposition. That is different from the quite extraordinary situation that we had in the previous 3 years when the notice paper was changed almost hourly, sometimes admittedly at our request, but more often than not to accommodate the Government. I always thought that that was a lunatic method of attempting to run the business of a House of this Parliament.
With the co-operation of my ministerial colleagues and especially of the Government Whip, we were attempting to try to bring some sense and order into this place so that honourable senators when they went home each Thursday would know what Bills would be coming on for debate in the succeeding week and would be able to prepare their speeches accordingly. I thought that was a reasonably sensible way of running a parliament. Perhaps I am suffering my disappointments. I am fast coming to the conclusion that if I do not get that program achieved I will have either to use gags or guillotines or require the Senate to sit on Thursday nights or in recess weeks.
I am not going to be threatened by the Opposition as to how the Government’s program in this place will be met. I put that as gently as I may. I put the Opposition on notice now that there are some Bills which we want before the adjournment for a period of 2 weeks, as is normal, which will take place on Thursday of next week. If we do not get those Bills passed by 3 p.m. next Thursday, we will sit Thursday night.
– It does not worry us.
– That will not worry us. It is a matter for you. You want to go home to Western Australia.
– You are one of the worst offenders.
Senators WITHERS-This is one of the errors Opposition senators make, Mr President.
– We do not make errors. We would not even follow you out of curiosity.
– Order! Senator McAuliffe will cease interjecting. Senator Withers has the floor.
-I put it as gently as I can. We will sit the following week if necessary.
– You sit whenever you like, it will not worry me.
-I have heard those threats from Oppositions as long as I have been here. Opposition senators are attempting to entice me into a situation where I will start to discipline them and they think I might resile from it. I have no desire to do it. (Opposition senators interjecting.)
– Order! The interjections are excessive. I referred to them earlier. I do not want to refer to the matter again at this late hour.
-Mr President, I am saying this as gently as I can to Senator Douglas McClelland. Earlier tonight he said that if the Government did not do this or that it would get no co-operation and that it would not get this and it would not get that.
– That is right.
-I will not be threatened. If the Opposition wants to play it that way I will run this Parliament so that Opposition senators will weep and they will regret they ever made those threats.
– You are as solid as a blancmange.
-That is why you are in Opposition and that is why we are in Government.
- Senator McAuliffe, for the last time I warn you. I ask Senator Withers to continue.
-Therefore, Mr President, I just say that I will not be threatened. I think the debate has gone long enough and I now move:
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
– Prior to the motion being put for the adjournment of the Senate I was revealing, against some difficulties, facts which Opposition members did not want to have revealed. They have valiantly fought for years to conceal them. Senator Harradine tabled a statutory declaration. I was reading that statutory declaration. I take up from where I was interrupted. Senator Harradine, in paragraph 8 said:
The same Gietzelt tabled at the ACTU executive in Perth in May 1 975 material detailing the days on which opposition election material was issued for the MWU elections. The dates ranged from 25 January 1974 to 18 February 1974. Shannahan also alleges the said meeting took place either late January or early February 1974.
Then Senator Harradine declares:
I say, and the fact is that not only was I not present at such meeting but I was not in Sydney at all during the said period.
These are facts which are revealed absolutely to be verifiable by the documents which Senator Harradine has tabled.
– He was an ASIO agent. He was a fraud.
-While Senator Brown is interjecting vigorously to prevent the facts from coming out, the facts are incontrovertible. Paragraph 10 reads:
Mr Shannahan alleges that in 1971 he met with me and others- including one Mr Bob O’Connell whom Shannahan states he knew to be in the National Civic Council- in the old Trades Hall, Sydney.
Paragraph 1 1 states:
Shannahan states that at this meeting I mentioned ‘financial assistance from NCC or News Weekly’ for the campaign in the Miscellaneous Workers Union.
Paragraph 12 states:
Shannahan states that meeting took place on 30 March 1 97 1 between the hours of 2.30 and 4.30 p.m. on that day.
Then Senator Harradine declares:
I say and the fact is that I was not at such meeting.
I further say and the fact is that on that very day- 30 March 1971-I attended a meeting of an ACTU Committee which according to the official minutes commenced at 2.15 p.m. and concluded at 4. 1 5 p.m. on 30 March 1 97 1 .
The evidence for my statement is contained in the files of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in Melbourne.
One of the documents which Senator Harradine has tabled consists of the minutes of a Youth Week Committee meeting held in the R. A. King Room, Trades Hall, Sydney, New South Wales, on Tuesday, 30 March 1971, commencing at 2.15 p.m.
Remember, Mr President, that the allegation of Mr Shannahan was that at that particular time Senator Harradine was meeting National Civic Council people. The minutes of this ACTU subcommittee reveal that there were present in the R. A. King room Mr H. J. Souter in the Chair, Mr R. W. B. Harradine of the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council, Mr J. Grenville of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Mr P. Toplis of the New South Wales Trades and Labor Council, Mr L. Short of the Federated Ironworkers Association, and Mr F. Purse of the Building Workers Industrial Union. I wonder how Senator Brown will describe Mr Purse. There was also Mr J. Maynes of the Federated Clerks Union. An apology was received from Mr R. J. Hawke and from Mr J. Ducker. Also in attendance was Mr I. Eugene. That was the recorded attendance at a meeting in the R. A. King room on 30 March 1971, commencing at 2.15 p.m. according to the records of the ACTU.
What Senator Harradine has raised tonight which obviously warrants investigation by anybody who looks at the facts is that Mr Shannahan said that Senator Harradine and other people were conspiring together at that time at the Trades Hall. Mr Harradine has denied that. He also draws attention to 2 statutory declarations made by private inquiry agents. He wants to know how they came to make these statutory declarations. They say that at that time in that room they saw Mr Harradine and a host of people whom they declare to be National Civic Council activists. Who is right and who is wrong? Are the minutes of the committee meeting of the Australian Council of Trade Unions wrong? Or are these private inquiry agents making false declarations? Mr William Leycester White of 60 Lurline Street, Katoomba in the State of New South Wales solemnly and sincerely declares that he was employed by Webster Investigations Pty Ltd as a licensed private inquiry agent. He states:
On Tuesday 30th March, 1971, in the company of Roger Paul Syron, I entered the Trades Hall, Goulburn Street, Sydney and kept the R. A. King room under observation from 1.30 p.m.
From 2 p.m. to 2.40 p.m. 8 men entered the R. A. King Room. From photographs I identified the men as Mr Haynes, Mr Harradine, Mr Moxon, Mr Shanahan, Mr Grove, Mr Unsworth, Mr Bray and one other who I could not identify.
At 4.30 p.m. these men left the R. A. King Room. I then left the Trades Hall Building.
I ask honourable senators what is correct, the ACTU minutes or the statements contained in that declaration? Mr Syron in his statutory declaration states:
In 1971, I was a manager of Webster Investigations Pty Ltd. Mr Don Hancock engaged the company to carry out investigations on behalf of the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union.
Since when have the unions of this country employed private inquiry agents to spy upon members of the ACTU executive? That action is consistent with the past history of certain people who have held and who still hold influential positions in the Miscellaneous Workers Union. Mr Syron further states:
On Tuesday 30 March, 1971 I met Mr N. Hanacombe. Research Officer of the Union together with William Leycester White another Private Inquiry Agent at Mascot Airport. We met all flights arriving from Melbourne and left the Airport at 12.00 noon. At 1.30 p.m. White and I arrived at the Trades Hall, Goulburn Street, Sydney and kept the R. A. King Room under observation and between 2.00 p.m. and 2.40 p.m. Messrs Haynes, Harradine, Moxon, Shanahan, Bray, Grove, Unsworth and one other man who 1 was unable to identify entered the room. I was able to identify the persons from photographs given to me by Mr Don Hancock and Mr Hanacombe. At approximately 4.30 p.m. the meeting finished and we left the building. Mr Haynes caught a taxi in Sussex Street and we lost contact.
Mr Syron then goes on to talk about matters involving the following day. If that material does not disclose incorrect information coming either from statutory declarations sworn by private inquiry agents or from the records of the ACTU, then people are just not prepared to accept the plain evidence of statements which are revealed before them. As a result of that material the former Prime Minister and present Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, went to a Sydney Australian Labor Party meeting and said that Senator Harradine had been framed with perjured evidence. What does the Labor Party do? It accepts the evidence against Mr Harradine and expels him from the Labor Party. Where are people in the Labor Party who are prepared to come out and raise one solitary voice in favour of truth and justice in the defence of one man and do something to preserve the integrity of the Party? It is obvious from this material that there is a case for inquiry. Have people sworn false declarations? Has a man been railroaded out of the Australian Labor Party as Mr Whitlam obviously believes he has been? What about one of the persons who have been used merely as a tool in the course of this dreadful frameup? What of Mr Bray? I suppose he is an inconsequential unionist to the members of the Australian Labor Party, a man who is expendable, who can lose his job in the union, who can be suspended in denial of the rule of natural justice and who can be denied the opportunity of pursuing his employment because he cannot secure membership of his union and therefore cannot get a job.
Mr President, these facts ought to be revealed. They ought to be publicised. They ought to be made part of the continuing saga of the corruption of the Australian Labor Party. I for my part will urge that the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street) and the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) look at these matters with a view to pursuing them as a matter of public investigation. No matter whether the man is a disqualified member of the Australian Labor Party, whether he is a unionist whose union expels him, when people appeal, as Senator Harradine has said, for the protection of one of the Houses of Parliament they are entitled to get it.
– We knew that would happen. Hitler has risen again. Look at him here. You are prostituting democracy, Senator. You are a bastard from Western Australia. The lot of you know what you can do.
– Order! You will withdraw that remark Senator Mulvihill.
– I expect a fair go. I am not going to have him insulting me. It is as simple as that.
– Order! You will please take your seat, Senator Mulvihill.
– If you want to bring democracy down to the gutter you perform the way you are. If you want us to go out on the street, you should say so because that is what you are suggesting.
– Order! I am on my feet Senator Mulvihill. Will you please resume your seat? Will you withdraw that remark?
- Mr President, I respect you and I would not have used the word in respect of you. In deference to you I withdraw the word to you. I hope that you notice I am looking at you and nobody else.
- Mr President-
– The question is that the debate be now adjourned. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.
- Mr President, the motion was that the House do now adjourn.
– It was not. It was that the debate be now adjourned.
– The question is that the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no, I think the ayes have it.
– As there is no call for a division, I move:
And I move:
– The question is that the question be put. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no.
Opposition senators- No.
-Is a division required? Ring the bell. (The bells being rung)
– You are a bastard, Harradine, and I mean it.
– Order! Senator Brown, you will withdraw that.
– I will not, Mr President. I was not speaking to you, Sir.
– You will not use that language in this Senate.
– I was speaking to a person for whom I have had no regard for a long while.
– Order! What you have said is not allowable. You cannot use that word to a colleague, to a member of this Senate.
– He is not a colleague of mine.
– I must ask you to withdraw that remark.
Thursday!, April 1976
– I will not. I am sorry.
– Order! Honourable senators will please resume their seats. Senator Brown, will you withdraw a most unparliamentary word in respect of a member of this House?
- Mr President, I respect the Chair and I respect you, but I do not respect that individual. I am sorry; I cannot withdraw on that basis.
- Senator Brown, you give me no alternative. Will you withdraw? For the final time I ask: Will you withdraw?
- Mr President, may I speak on Senator Brown’s behalf?
– No, I am addressing Senator Brown. Senator Brown, will you withdraw? I have no desire to name you.
– I appreciate your request of me, Mr President. I regret that I cannot -
– Then I have no option but to name you, Senator Brown. I call off the division.
-. . . because I believe he is a bastard. He is a bastard. If he had the fibre of any sort of a man in him he would ask me outside. He would not have the guts to do it- of course you would not, you animal. Would you like it?
– Order! Senator Brown, I have no recourse but to name you.
- Mr President, I ask that Senator Brown be called upon to stand up in his place in accordance with standing order 440 and make any explanation or apology he may think fit.
– I will make an explanation. I did not realise I would have any opportunity to do that. Senator Harradine tonight retailed to the Senate information that he believed was advantageous to his case, on the one hand, and more particularly to the disadvantage of the Party to which I belong and to which he used to belong. I happen to remember Senator Harradine ‘s history, which goes back prior to the information he retailed to the Senate tonight. It goes back before 1968, and it was in 1968 in particular. I recall very vividly -
– This is not an explanation.
– I have been asked for an explanation of why I cannot withdraw. I did not expect that privilege. I recall that in 1968 I was sitting on the executive that heard Mr Harradine, as he was then, make a plea as to why he should sit on that executive. I recall very vividly- it is indelibly imprinted on my mind- that when he was asked whether he was in fact a member of the Executive of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in South Australia at one time his reply was: ‘I can’t remember’. He would either remember or not remember. That proves conclusively to me one thing. He is what I said. I have no retraction to make because I believe he is exactly that and, more so, he is a bloody liar.
- Mr President, I can understand that emotions are running fairly high here tonight. It is with regret, because I have an enormous amount of respect for Senator Brown, that I move:
- Mr President, I would like to speak on Senator Brown’s behalf.
– There can be no debate. The question is that the motion be agreed to.
– Is there no opportunity to speak?
– Order! There is no amendment, debate or adjournment of this matter.
That Senator Brown be suspended from the sitting of the Senate.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator WITHERS (Western Australia-
Leader of the Government in the Senate)- I move:
That the Senate do now adjourn. and I move:
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.23 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister represent ing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Mrs Rex Syddell, who were last reported in December as being at Tutuala, East Timor.
1 ) Does the Attorney-General agree with a prediction made in the Melbourne Age of 18 February 1976 by the President of the Law Institute of Victoria that, at the current rate of applications to the Family Law Court in Victoria, that State will have a backlog of over 18 000 cases at the end of 1976 if more judges are not appointed.
Does a similar state of affairs exist in other parts of Australia.
If there is a backlog, or if one is anticipated, why have more judges not been appointed to the Family Court.
Will the Attorney-General’s announcement of a reduction of $1.5 million in expenditure on the Family Law Court in this financial year increase the crisis apparently existing at present.
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It should also be kept in mind that the validity of the Family Law Act has been challenged in the High Court. It is not desirable that further appointments be made until the fate of the legislation is known. It is hoped that the High Court will deliver its judgment at an early date.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Will the Minister make enquiries through the Australian Embassy in Jakarta regarding the whereabouts of Mr and
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Mr and Mrs Syddell arrived in Australia on 20 March from Jakarta. They had been evacuated from East Timor to Jakarta on 5 March. On arrival in Jakarta they were met by the Australian Consul. Mr and Mrs Syddell were treated in Pelni Hospital in Jakarta for exhaustion. Mr Syddell was also given treatment for a heart condition.
In discussions in the Department of Foreign Affairs on 20 March, Mr and Mrs Syddell indicated that they would shortly be leaving for overseas, but that they expected to return to Australia in three to four weeks.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
Is Mr Harry Giese currently on the staff of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs; if so, what position does Mr Giese hold.
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question.
Yes. Mr Giese holds the position of Senior Assistant Secretary.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing iiic Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
-(a) 1971-72- $57.2 million; 1972-73-$74.6 million; 1973-74-$ 106.5 million; 1974-75-$ 175.3 million.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 March 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19760331_senate_30_s67/>.