30th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2 30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 32 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
Subscribe to the view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission belongs to the people and not to the government of the day whatever political party.
Eschew all members, direct or indirect, of diminishing the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Reject all proposals for the introduction of advertising into ABC programs.
Develop methods for publicly funding the Commission which will prevent the granting or withholding of funds being used as a method of diminishing its independence.
Ensure that any general enquiries into broadcasting in Australia which may seem desirable from time to time shall be conducted publicly and that strong representation of the public shall be included within the body conducting the enquiry.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following pet ition from 227 citizens of Victoria:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizens respectfully showeth:
Australia’s extensive road system is a national asset wasting because of inadequate funding.
Commonwealth Government funding of roads has fallen over the last six years from 2.9 per cent of all Commonwealth outlays to 2.3 per cent.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members of the Senate assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government should totally finance national highways and half the cost of constructing and maintaining all other public roads.
That since current road funding arrangements have seen a deterioration in road assets, this backlog in construction and maintenance needs to be reduced by the Commonwealth Government undertaking to make a larger financial contribution.
Petition received and read.
– On behalf of Senator Mulvihill I present the following petition from 36 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the delays between announcements of each quarterly movement in the Consumer Price Index and their application as a percentage increase in age and invalid pensions is excessive, unnecessary, discriminatory and a cause of economic distress to pensioners.
That proposals to amend the Consumer Price Index by eliminating particular items from the Index could adversely affect the value of future increases in age and invalid pensions and thus be a cause of additional economic hardship to pensioners.
The foregoing facts impel your petitioners to ask the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to-
. Require each quarterly percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index to be applied to age and invalid and similar pensions as from the pension pay day nearest following the date of announcement of the CPI movement.
Give an open assurance to all aged and invalid pensioners that any revision of the items comprising the Consumer Price Index will in no way result in reductions in the value of any future entitlements to pensioners.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth do humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government:
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Douglas McClelland. Petition received.
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned concerned citizensrespectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, should ensure:
That the Commonwealth Government’s long-term policy should be to provide 50 per cent of all funding for Australia ‘s roads.
That at a minimum the Commonwealth Government adopts the recommendations by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations for the allocation of $5,903m of Commonwealth, State and Local Government funds to roads over the five years ending 1980-81, of which the Commonwealth share would be 41 per cent as recommended by the Bureau of Roads. by Senator Walsh and Senator Maunsell.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Australian Government employees strenuously oppose the provisions of the Commonwealth Employment (Redeployment and Retirement) Bill first introduced in the House of Representatives on 8 December 1976. The basis for opposition includes the following reasons:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should reject passage of any legislation to extend powers of compulsory retirement of Australian Government employees unless and until any variation has been agreed with staff representatives.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Ryan.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to make provision for and in relation to the establishment of a Territory Education Commission.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act 1972.
-I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the Senate is of the opinion that the Government should take urgent action on matters arising out of the 1977 report by the Community Relations Office relating to discrimination against Aborigines and Islanders in northern Queensland.
– I address a question to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. I remind the Minister that in answer to a question from Senator Colston on 17 March he said that the States would get an increasing amount of untied revenue. Has the Government been advised by the Treasury that net payasyouearn receipts will increase by between 12 per cent and 15 per cent in 1977-78? Does this not mean that the States’ share of net personal income tax will now be less than the amount they would have received under the previous formula of the Whitlam Government? Will it now be necessary for the States to invoke the guarantee arrangements to ensure that their general revenue grants do not fall below the amount which would have been provided under the Whitlam formula?
-I am not aware of the projected formulae for the pay-as-you-earn intake for the coming financial year, 1977-78, and the whole text of Senator Wriedt ‘s premise is based on that estimate. I am not aware that the estimate has been made. It is very difficult to make estimates even of the tax take for the current year, 1976-77. It is a fact that as the current year- that is 1976-77- moves to a close, approximately $90m more than the Whitlam formula would have yielded will be available to the States. I am not aware whether figures are available at this moment for a projection into the coming financial year. I shall direct the attention of the Treasurer to the question.
-Mr President, may I follow up that question and perhaps ask it in different form? As Senator Carrick does not consider it possible for those projections to be made at this stage- notwithstanding the fact that every year in the Budget Papers a projection has to be made for the ensuing 12 months- I ask him an alternative question. If the pay-as-you-earn collections under the normal income tax arrangements mean a reduction in the general revenue grants under this Government’s formula, which will then reduce the payments to the States below the guaranteed arrangements, does the Minister not agree that the States will then need to invoke those guarantee arrangements?
-If Senator Wriedt is asking me whether there exists a guarantee, he knows as well as I do that the answer to that question is yes. This Government has made it clear that under no circumstances in the, I think, 4 years ahead, will the revenue from tax sharing to the States fall below the amount which would have been yielded by the previous Whitlam Government’s formula. That, of course, is a statement of Government policy many times articulated in the Senate. As to any hypothesis whether that is likely to occur, I am unable to say. I have undertaken to refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: What is the value of the cargo in the containers at present being held up by a dispute on the Brisbane waterfront? What is the nsk of spoilage of the meat being held up? How does the Minister think such a dispute will affect the hoped-for recovery in the beef cattle industry?
-I have a deal of material on this subject. As far as I know, $lm worth of beef is held up. I think the holdup is a disastrous proposition and that without any doubt it will do harm to the industry.
– What is the cause of the dispute?
-I have some facts about the matter which might help the Senate and some of the people who are making noises might take a part in helping us to solve the problem. Cattle prices on the Brisbane market have registered severe falls over the last 2 weeks. I think one can attribute that to the container dispute because over the same period cattle prices in other capital cities have gone up. Cattle yardings in Brisbane are also down. The survey by Queensland Meat Exporters last Thursday indicated that most export works had only 2 to 7 days cold storage left. This period has been extended by the repacking of cold stores with most large works likely to be out of cold storage by the end of this week. Pace Line has 52 containers of chilled meat held up. The company is attempting to hold the temperatures with C02 snow. The Transport Workers Union will not allow the company into the container park in order to hook up the containers to mechanical refrigeration. No alternative cold storage is available so quite a lot of beef is at risk.
If the dispute is not settled fairly soon I think there will be quite serious consequences for meat work operations, cattle prices in Queensland and our reputation as a supplier of beef for overseas markets. Apparently there is a problem with the Transport Workers Union. Tomorrow there is to be a compulsory conference before Commisioner Mansini. It is thought that TWU may not attend. I think that would be a very great pity. The TWU has now banned the movement of containers from Brisbane to interstate ports to prevent the export of containers normally shipped through Brisbane. As I have gone through my material and attempted to answer the honourable senator’s question, it has struck me that this is a catalogue of both stupidity and disaster.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. He is aware, of course, as it has already been announced by the Government, that expenditure in this coming financial year will show no real growth. Has the Government been required to revise the projected rate of inflation in expenditure this financial year? That is the first question I ask him to answer. Did the Government make an error in the rate of inflation which it projected for this financial year? For what rate of inflation did the Government allow in the preparation of the forward estimates? Has the Government revised the projected rate of inflation for 1977-78? If so, what is the current estimate?
-The Leader of the Opposition paid me a great compliment when he called me the Treasurer. I am not the Treasurer; I only represent him in this chamber. The questions asked by the honourable senator will need to go on notice. I cannot take out of my head the precise inflation calculation in the Budget, nor do I know what figure is currently being used if there has been any change in the estimate. It is usual for Treasury to look at receipts and expenditure continuously to determine whether they are being exceeded by ambitious departments and whether revenue is higher or lower than had been expected. These processes are continually monitored and are continually subject to adjustment. The result emerges normally at about the end of June or the middle of July. The honourable senator will be aware that every month there is a statement of Government financial transactions which contrasts the rate of expenditure for the year to date with the expenditure for the same period in the previous year and the revenue receipts for the two periods. It sets out how the deficit has been financed and the outstanding local debt of the Commonwealth. That statement ought to be out, and normally we would see it, some time next week. That will give the precise information on expenditure trends. From that the Leader of the Opposition can calculate some of the figures he wants but he will have to go to the Treasurer himself for full answers to his questions.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. I refer to the activities of the Australian delegates to the Common Fund Negotiating Conference which is currently being held in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, known as UNCTAD. I remind the Minister that I have an unanswered question on notice No. 398 asking the Government to make a firm commitment in respect of the implementation of the agreement from the 1976 Conference. I ask: Have the present negotiations, as reported, reached a crisis stage with the threat that a number of developing countries will walk out of the Conference? Has Australia refused to take any positive stand in the negotiations, thereby incurring the criticism of a number of our neighbouring countries, particularly the Philippines, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea? Does the Government intend to give our delegates further instructions to take a more positive attitude in the interests of achieving a more just trading position for the developing nations?
– I remember the question on notice relating to the UNCTAD meeting in, I think, Nairobi and the meeting which is now taking place on an official to official level. It is not a ministerial or political meeting but, of course, one will arise from it. I am not fully up-to-date with the state of the official interchange at this meeting. I have had a fair bit to do in my time with meetings of this character and they tend to be processes of what I call knock for knock negotiating because everybody always wants more than there is available for him and wants to give up less than the others want for themselves. The general situation is that the negotiating pool begins on the basis that what is available is ISO per cent of the total, which is never the situation.
These negotiations go on for quite a while. We should not be alarmed or disturbed if we read in the Press from time to time that someone is taking a tough or hard line. We expect the negotiators representing Australia to put the Australian view and to protect the Australian interest. If that is what they are doing, it is what they should be doing. In the end there has to be a nation to nation relationship established, an international relationship, and that is what we seek. We seek to look after the Australian position in the context of international order and international trade. There is a tendency in a number of places to believe that Australia is an unlimited market for the manufactured goods of every other country. Nothing could be further from the truth.
-I direct my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is he aware that a play entitled The Last Wave is currently being filmed by Ayer Productions and that major Commonwealth funding has been made available for the production? Is the Minister also aware that certain sections of the play make derogatory references to the activities of the Aboriginal Legal Service? I have a copy of the script of the play here for scrutiny by the Minister if he requires it.
– Are you pro-censorship?
– Will the Minister take appropriate steps to ensure that where damaging references are made to a very valuable service like the Aboriginal Legal Service, those references are deleted from the film or play? My colleague Senator Grimes interjected to ask whether I was pro-censorship. I am opposed to censorship but I think this case needs to be looked at.
-I do not know of the play and I would be pleased if the honourable senator would give me a copy of the script. I think that whilst many of us believe in some forms of censorship, we would not wish to see the arts harnessed to any sort of censorship. If we are to start telling playwrights and authors what they can write and musicians what they can compose, this country will be in a sorry mess. I know that very few people in politics like to be lampooned by cartoonists, abused by editorial writers or even ignored by the Press gallery. But this is something that we put up with. I do not believe that any section of the community ought to be immune from what is normally known as artistic licence. It is a very difficult line to walk. If honourable senators examine the course of history I think they will find that when people attempted to impose artistic values, eventually the end result was that totalitarian attitudes were imposed upon the arts. It is all right for Senator Georges to shake his head -
– You waffle on.
-I thought that the honourable senator would enjoy this. I would be very wary about attempting to impose government or bureaucratic standards upon the arts. I think that this was one of the great quarrels that we had with the previous Government when we were in Opposition. It wished to take a monolithic view of the arts and to have a monolithic artistic taste. The honourable senator has raised a matter which he believes ought to be looked at. If he supplies me with a copy of the script I shall undertake that the Prime Minister and his advisers will look at it and supply an answer to the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Bureau of Agricultural Economics yet completed its investigation into the dairy manufacturers as referred to in chapter 2 of the Industries Assistance Commission report on the dairying industry? If it is not complete, when can its completion be expected? If it is complete, when will the results be released? If the Minister does not have the information, could he find out the position?
– There is a simple answer to the question. I do not know but I shall find out.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, refers to the Press reports and statements about an inquiry into trade union training which will be fairly comprehensive, Is it a fact that a committee of inquiry will include a representative from employer organisations, that one or two persons have already been appointed to the committee and that the inquiry will consider merging the Trade Union Training Authority with a management training system? Was the trade union movement consulted about the proposal? What justification is there for this move in view of the fact that when the legislation to establish the Trade Union Training Authority was before both Houses of the Parliament it was not opposed by any of the parties in the Parliament?
-I can confirm that the Government is proposing an inquiry into the future development of trade union training. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations whom I represent will be making a statement as to the terms of reference and the membership of the inquiry shortly; I cannot say exactly when but it will be in a short time. It will answer most of the questions that Senator Bishop has raised. I shall mention to the Minister also the honourable senator’s inquiry about whether there has been consultation with the trade union movement. No doubt he will deal with that question as well.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Science. By way of preface I refer to a Press report this morning indicating that InterScan now has the backing of the United States and also of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Can the Minister give some indication as to when InterScan will be adopted as a universal technique in aircraft landing systems? Can he give some indication of its earning capacity to the Australian nation?
-The honourable senator raises an important matter that has gained prominence in the newspapers in the last day or so. InterScan is the name that has been adopted for the Australian microwave landing system. This system was conceived at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Division of Radio Physics. It has been developed jointly by CSIRO and the Department of Transport during the past 5 years.
– It is purely Australian research, is it?
-Australia was working on this microwave landing system long before any other nation. Two other nations have suggested that they have been working for some time on a similar system and, indeed, have come in behind Australia. But the question raised by the honourable senator relates to the possible earning capacity of this landing system. The Senate will be interested to know that the All Weather Operations Panel of the International Civil Aviation Organisation has concluded a lengthy technical assessment of the various systems proposed for international adoption. The Panel has recommended by a six vote to one vote that the time reference scanning beam format which InterScan uses and which the United States adopted in its proposal to the International Civil Aviation Organisation be used for the new standard international approach and landing guidance system for aircraft.
The honourable senator’s question raises a matter of great interest and considerable detail. The potential earning capacity of this system is not known at the moment. It will be some time before there will be further development of this scheme. Indeed, it has yet to be put before a vote by 138 countries for it to be adopted, probably this year, by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Honourable senators will know that in the past year the Federal Government gave encouragement to private industry to alert it to the possibility of this system being adopted. The Federal Government had confidence that private industry could gain benefit and, indeed, I hope that this will be so. Some of the electronic industries in Australia are working at the present time on the refinement and development of
InterScan hardware. We all hope that that will be very successful.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Science and relates also to
InterScan. I ask: Can the Minister tell us whether, if InterScan is introduced it will render obsolete the ILS, NDB, VLR and DME systems?
– I apologise, Mr President, that my answers always appear to be too short. I realise that the Leader of the Opposition is not getting sufficient information and I shall attempt to see that that does not occur in future. Certainly, with regard to the initials he used, the Leader of the Opposition can be assured that the type of landing system that is presently in vogue in Australia and, indeed, throughout the world will be by-passed by InterScan. As the honourable senator probably knows, the facility we have at the present time, allows a single straight pathway for aircraft being brought in to land. The InterScan system provides dozens of pathways from 50 kilometres out and, indeed, will be of great benefit. I shall look at the honourable senator’s question to see whether he has all those initials correct. If he has, I will see if I can answer the question more precisely.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. An article in the Sydney Sun dated 28 March of this year alleges that government departments are currently engaged in investigating apparent fraud involving mainly migrants in the receiving of pension cheques. The report states that those involved buy false medical documents and then acquire an invalid pension and further, that many of them have returned to their home countries, where they continue to receive pension cheques, and are a part of the 1843 people in overseas countries who are in receipt of invalid pensions. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether these allegations are correct and, if so, what is being done to rectify the situation? Further, will she give a country by country breakdown of the total number of pensions remitted overseas?
– I recollect that about 2 weeks ago I answered a question from Senator Donald Cameron on this matter. I told him that investigations would be made into the allegations contained in the newspaper article. As I understand it, those investigations are still proceeding and I have had no conclusive report on them. I am able to say that as at 30 June 1976 under reciprocal arrangements we were paying 1843 invalid pensions and approximately 10 000 pensions of all kinds to persons who are now residing overseas and who are paid under reciprocal agreements. As I was asked for a country by country breakdown, it may be appropriate if I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a single sheet which gives all that information by various countries as well as the pensions concerned.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
– My question is directed to you, Mr President, and arises from the statement you made last Thursday, which can be found on page 502 of Hansard, concerning articles published last week in the Melbourne Age. I ask: Do you believe that the document was stolen from Senator Sim’s office? Was it imputed or was it your intention to impute in your statement that Mr Walker of the Age stole the document? If so, what evidence supports that imputation? If not, can it be made clear that Mr Walker is exonerated? Finally, does your statement imply that the media should be prevented from publishing or commenting upon confidential documents which have been leaked or purloined, or at least that the media if it publishes such documents should be expelled from Parliament House?
– I made it very clear last week that I made no accusations or allegations and that the matter is now for the Senate to decide.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and refer to the practice in the Commonwealth Public Service of advertising and inviting applications to fill vacancies in the Public Service. Can the Minister state whether all such advertisements are genuine or do some advertisements merely comply with the law that all vacancies must be publicly advertised, even though on some occasions such vacancies are already filled? If the latter proposition is true, will the Minister take steps to stop the practice, which may be considered to be both unfair and frustrating to applicants, especially young people who generally apply for such positions?
-A11 advertisements inviting applications for Commonwealth Public Service appointment refer to a competition for actual vacancies. There is a legal requirement for vacancies open to people outside the Service to be notified in the Gazette, although there is no legal requirement for associated Press advertising. Nevertheless, to assure the widest possible field in circumstances where a suitable serving officer may not be available, the Board expects departments to advertise such vacancies in the public media. This is in keeping with the principle of open competitive recruitment. Where there is a competition between oncers and outsiders there can be no guarantee hat an applicant from outside the Service will be selected. However, the majority of vacances occur at feeder levels, where virtually all openings are filled by recruitment of new staff.
– I ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce: Is it a fact tha the Australian Confederation of Apparel Manifacturers has appealed to major Sydney retail firms, including Grace Bros Pty Ltd, voluntarily to reduce their imports of apparel to assist local manufacturing industry and unemployment? Did ACAM tell the Minister that it was concerned at the attitude of some retailers who believed tariff protection and devaluation should be of sufficient help to local firms? In the circumstances, can the Minister indicate what action the Government proposes to take to protect industry and employment, and to counter the uncooperative attitude of major retailers?
-This is a proposition in general that the Government should move in on the retailers and tell them what to buy and how to sell. That is not what we do in government I do not think the Labor Government ever tried to do it. It would be unwise to try to do it.
– Why do you not try to do it?
-Please keep quiet and stop shouting all the time. I am trying to help you. It is very difficult for me to help you in your state of ignorance. The difficult position is quite clear. It is perfectly true that retailers like to have a certain quantity of imports. Some of them are higher importers than others depending on the sort of business they run. Some of them have different styles of business and some of them are more dependent on Australian manufacturing than others. In meetings between retailers and the Industry Advisory Council, which comprises representatives of retailers, importers, consumers, unionists, and manufacturers connected with the textile and clothing industry, all of these matters have been discussed. It is understood quite clearly by us all that the problem is that there are a lot of unemployed in the industry due to actions of the previous Government, from which we are still trying to recover.
It is equally clear that the retailers we have talked to at the Industry Advisory Council meetings prefer to buy Australian goods because they have a shorter delivery line, less capital tied up and more certainty in supply. But the public of Australia demands imported goods to quite a large extent and this, of course, is part of the problem of a retailer trying to balance his market with the goods people want to buy. ACAM comprises a good group of people. I have worked very closely with them and I have helped them in discussions with retailers. That is the sort of action I try to take in this area. It may even help Senator Gietzelt if he were to talk to some of the unions involved in the industry which have been working with me to try to solve these problems.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral relates to the statement made at the Australian Capital Territory Law and Justice Symposium last weekend by the Australian Capital Territory Police Commissioner to the effect that there has been delay in introducing new Territory legislation to ensure the proper enforcement of criminal laws. Is the Commissioner correct in his assertions that it is impossible to get convictions for use of marihuana because of a faulty definition of cannabis in the Australian Capital Territory? Is he correct that in Canberra a conviction for drunken driving can be obtained only if the blood alcohol content is double the legal limit? Does the Crown in the Australian Capital Territory enjoy no automatic right of appeal from a Court of Petty Sessions, as the Commissioner claims? If these claims are correct, can the Minister indicate what may be delaying action to correct and overcome any severe weaknesses in the law as it applies in Canberra? Can he indicate when corrective action might be expected?
-Attention has been drawn to the report referred to by Senator Baume in his question. He raised 3 different matters and I have some information from the Attorney-General in regard to each of them. Firstly, with regard to the Commissioner’s statement concerning prosecutions for offences involving marihuana, amendments were in fact made to the Public Health (Prohibited Drugs) Ordinance in 1975 which cured the defects in the law referred to by the Commissioner, as far as we can ascertain from the report. The amendments were made in Ordinance No. 37 of 1975 and were notified in October 1975. They removed doubts that had been expressed by Australian Capital Territory magistrates in a number of prosecutions whether cannabis was a prohibited drug within the meaning of the ordinance as it then stood. As far as the Attorney-General is aware, the amendments satisfactorily dealt with the problem. Since October 1975 there have been a number of successful prosecutions in this area.
As to the reference to the difficulty of obtaining prosecutions for breathalyser offences where a blood alcohol concentration is concerned, it is a fact that the police have decided not to proceed in cases where the blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.165 per cent, which is, of course, double the permissible limit of 0.08 per cent. This followed a series of A.C.T. Supreme Court decisions concerning the accuracy of procedures used in the A.C.T. and the effectiveness of the breathalyser provisions of the Motor Traffic Ordinance.
The problems have been the subject of careful and detailed study by the Law Reform Commission. I understand that legislation to remedy the defects in this area, based upon the Law Reform Commission’s report, is shortly to be referred to the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly by the Minister for the Capital Territory. It is a fact that the Crown in the A.C.T. does not at present have a right of appeal from a decision of a court of petty sessions dismissing an information. When the Court of Petty Sessions Ordinance was amended in 1972 the Crown was given a right to appeal to the Supreme Court by way of order to review from a dismissal of an information. However, this right was removed and the Ordinance was amended in 1974. Consideration is being given to further amendment of the Ordinance so as to give the Crown a right of appeal which would not be in breach of the double jeopardy rule. The proposals for the amendment are at an advanced stage.
– I address my question to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs. I remind the Minister that in response to a question I asked him last Thursday he indicated that it was his understanding that the Federal Government could unilaterally bring down legislation to introduce a State income tax. I ask: Was that understanding based on legal opinion in the possession of the Government? If so, why was this opinion not provided to the joint working party of Commonwealth and State Treasury officials which was examining methods of establishing State income taxes? If it was not based on a legal opinion in the possession of the Government, what is the basis for the Minister’s understanding? Or, perhaps, is his understanding incorrect?
-Of course if Senator Wriedt had either heard or read the series of answers that I gave he would know that I made it clear that there was a series of opinions on the question of whether the Commonwealth could act. It is a complex matter and not one that lends itself to simplistic views. There is a body of opinion that says that the Commonwealth can act unilaterally. I pointed out, against that background, that the Commonwealth will go to the Premiers Conference backed with legal opinions. I am not aware that the working parties which met had legal opinions before them. My recollection is that the working parties put forward various approaches that could be made, some that could be made unilaterally and some that desirably would require co-operation.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. I assure Senator Carrick that I did read his answers. Let me quote specifically an answer he gave to Senator Colston. At page 482 of Hansard he is reported to have said:
I merely say to the honourable senator that it is my understanding that the Commonwealth could act unilaterally . . .
In reply to a subsequent question from me he said:
I ask the Minister: What is the basis for his understanding? Was it a legal opinion supplied to the Government? If not, was the Minister incorrect in his answer to Senator Colston?
– The question of whether or not one is incorrect will depend in the end upon the approach of the Government at the Premiers Conference and the legal advice that is given at the Premiers Conference. If Senator Wriedt were not so selective and read the whole of my answers he would note that I pointed out that the Commonwealth would go to the Conference and make clearly known a viewpoint which would be backed by legal opinion from the Attorney-General’s Department. The purport of my answers to questions was to say that a series of views had been canvassed in the past. I did not say that the view which I indicated as being one that was capable of unilateral action was an authoritative legal view. I merely indicated that it was a respectable view and one that might, in fact, be capable of being supported.
-I ask the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Federal Affairs whether he is aware that the Queensland Premier yesterday declared strong opposition to the second stage of the new federalism policy providing for State income taxes, saying:
Queensland does not want to go into State income tax at any stage’. How many other States are similarly opposed to the policy? Is it now likely that the entire Liberal new federalism policy will founder?
-1 have not read or heard any such statement from the Queensland Premier. Accepting Senator Colston’s assertion that the Premier made such a statement, that would in no way alter the validity and the future viability of the federalism policy.
– How can you say that without a legal opinion? That is the very point.
-Senator Wriedt ‘s comments should be recorded for posterity. Stage I of the federalism policy is, in fact, operating at the moment. I repeat that it was accepted by every Premier, Labor and Liberal, at the 3 Premiers Conferences which dealt with this matter. It was a policy asked for by Mr Dunstan, the South Australian Premier. Do I need a legal opinion to direct myself to whether the whole federalism policy is foundering? Perhaps Senator Wriedt did not hear the whole of Senator Colston’s question.
As to the second part of the question, whether a State government decides in the future to avail itself of any form of taxation, direct or indirect, available to it will be a matter for that State government, as it is today. State governments today, together with local government, command more than one-half of the whole of public expenditure in Australia. They are the major tax gatherers and tax spenders in Australia today with a huge armoury of taxes available to them. Whether they impose those taxes is up to them. Whether they reduce taxes as they did in their last budgets and restrict themselves on spending in other areas is a decision for them. There is nothing clever in the idea that is being peddled that because a tax is made available to the States and they do not elect at a particular time to use it, the system will fall down.
I remind the honourable senator that every State government has requested that the armoury of taxes available to it should be widened so that it can reform and rationalise taxes as it desires in the future. All that will be happening is that that armoury will be widened. It has been widened very substantially by High Court judgments recently. The States themselves today have a competence to levy taxation of a very wide nature. It is an illusion to suggest that the States are severely delimited in this area. I repeat that if one State government or 6 State governments decide not to levy income tax now or in the future that is their decision. Whether they decide to cut taxes, raise taxes or use indirect taxes or charges is their decision. The Commonwealth will simply make available to them what they have all asked for in the past, that is a wider armoury of taxation.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Science, relates to the proposed establishment of the Antarctic Division at Kingston near Hobart. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the stage that the design has reached and whether he has considered having a section of the establishment specifically designed to cater for tourism for the mutual interest of science and the public.
-The honourable senator has raised a matter which he has raised with me previously on a number of occasions. I wish to acknowledge that Senator Wright was the first member of either this House or the House of Representatives who raised with me, on my assuming the role of Minister for Science, the importance of having the headquarters of the Antarctic Division in Hobart. Other honourable senators might take note of that fact. Senator Wright deserves that credit. The honourable senator now asks a question about the design of the headquarters. As he knows, the annual report of the Department last year mentioned that the general plan and design for the site at Kingston was about to be presented to the Public Works Committee. The decision having been made that the headquarters would be at Kingston, I have viewed the plan rather hurriedly and have discussed the matter with the Director of the Antarctic Division. He is satisfied that the general plan will satisfactorily accommodate the Division. That plan includes accommodation for some other facets of the Department of Science. This aspect the matter is to be evaluated by the Minister for Administrative Services and undoubtedly that will be done.
The honourable senator raises a very important matter as to whether some tourist facility could be built into the Antarctic Division headquarters. I think that that is an excellent suggestion. Indeed, the proposition had been put to me that some type of museum might well be incorporated in the building so that it would be a public attraction. I shall take up the honourable senator’s suggestion immediately and see whether we can provide some space for tourist purposes.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Government considered, or will it consider, the decision of the Senate last night in respect of the subsidy to apple and pear growers? If and when it does consider the matter will it report to the Senate on its decision in respect of the Senate’s request?
-I think that is a fair enough question. I shall take it to Cabinet and bring back an answer, if there is one.
-Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of rumours circulating in the community concerning the possibility of an alteration to the taxation law to provide for taxation of 100 per cent rather than the present 5 per cent of accumulated long service leave payments drawn by retiring employees as part of a retirement allowance? Is he further aware that many employees deliberately have not taken long service leave during their working lives in order to supplement their superannuation capital at retirement? Does the Minister agree that such a change would be inequitable since such a scheme would result in these payments suffering tax at the highest marginal rate of 65 per cent, in most cases, whereas had such a person received his long service leave in the normal course the payments would suffer tax at only his normal rate of taxation?
-This question takes my memory back to my early time in the Senate when Senator Wright, Senator Webster, the late Senator Tom Bull and I spent a very long weekend looking at the taxation Act. One of the particular areas examined was superannuation entitlement and taxation on it.
– That is a very interesting piece of information.
-I thought the honourable senator would like to know. Some of you young people here have to smarten up a bit and find out what happened to the older people. If I remember correctly, this provision came into the Act in 1915. The figure used is 5 per cent. I have heard nothing about any change in the situation. I have not read it anywhere; it has not been referred to me. I think that if that suggestion is floating around the community we should find out whether there is any truth in it. I shall try to do that.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen reports of a recent statement by President Carter to the effect that his Administration may take steps to prevent the export of manufactured products from the United States to the Republic of South Africa, if those manufactured products are used in racially segregated facilities? In view of the Government ‘s professed distaste for apartheid and support for the American alliance, will it consider taking the same sorts of steps as are envisaged in this regard by the President of the United States of America?
-I shall pass on that suggestion to my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I refer to the shorter working week commenced by Telecom Australia employees on 27 March. I understand that shift workers will commence their shorter week approximately a week later. Is the Minister aware of a circular letter which has been distributed to all union members in South Australia and which states in part that Telecom is being acquainted with the names of union members in order that the benefit is not applied to nonunionists? Is the Minister also aware that some people have a conscientous objection to joining a union for valid reasons and that many of these people pay an amount equivalent to the union fee to a charity? I cite as an example a person I know who pays this money to the South Australian Institute for the Blind on an annual basis. Is it not a fact that the former Minister for Labor and Immigration, Mr Clyde Cameron, approved this practice in principle? Will the Minister ask his colleague in another place to examine this position with a view to approving this alternative to union membership in order to prevent this blatant discrimination against some members of Telecom?
– This question from Senator Jessop follows upon a question asked of me yesterday. As a result of that question I have sought some background information. Prior to giving it, I point out that I am not aware of the circular letter and would be grateful if it could be made available. Therefore I am not aware that names are to be indicated of those who are unionists and those who are not. I am aware that there are people in the community who, for various reasons of conscience, feel that they cannot belong to organisations. I think Government members will uphold the general principle that a person in conscience should have provision for the true and proper expression of that conscience.
– Like you did for national servicemen.
-I think the interjection was: Like we did for national servicemen. Exactly. They were in fact allowed in conscience to opt out of conscripted service and to undertake some years of compulsory service in the militia. In other words, they were not relieved of their principle of service but were given an alternative in conscience. I fully appreciate that. Since the natives are running hot this afternoon I inform the Senate that the recent consent award of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission extended the 36% hour week to an additional 2 1 000 unionists in the line staff, the supply and transport staff, the food services staff and others employed by Telecom Australia. This followed from an award 12 months ago to technicians employed by Telecom. In return for reduced working hours the unions have negotiated a document and costed productivity package with Telecom within the guidelines set out by the Public Service Board last year, including existing service standards and output to be maintained; no significant increase in overtime; no increase in staff numbers; no significant increase in costs.
The increase in productivity will follow the agreements reached on work changes in a variety of situations. In many cases the changes are expected to permit management to make more effective use of probable technological changes. Some examples of the work changes negotiated in recent agreements are: Improved methods and practices in conduit laying; more effective use of cable jointing machines; spread of hours allowing early starts and late finishes when working on freeways or difficult transport situations; improved rostering arrangements. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission can deal only with registered organisations; hence the consent award applies only to members of the respective unions. It is Telecom policy that the reduced working hours will apply to all employees who agree formally to the work arrangements. Telecom policy has been that application to non-unionists had to be delayed for some time until the protracted negotiations with the unions had been finalised and agreed to by the Commission. There are some Telecom employees, mainly telephonists, in respect of whom negotiations still are proceeding. The question is an important one and I will refer it directly to my colleague.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and concerns the Commonwealth’s annual expenditure in the technical and further education area. The Minister will recall that last week we had a difference of opinion concerning the annual appropriations which appear in the Budget Papers and calendar year expenditure to which he had referred earlier. Can he supply the Senate with the total of Commonwealth grants for technical and further education for the calendar years 1972 to 1976 inclusive?
– I cannot immediately supply the Senate with details of expenditure in respect of the Technical and Further Education Commission for the calendar years 1972 to 1976 inclusive. However, I can direct the attention of Senator Wriedt to page 1660 of the Senate Hansard of 4 November last year and to subsequent pages on which the expenditure is set out. I can tell him, for example, that in the calendar year 1976 expenditure was $65m, as a result of one of the last decisions of the Whitlam Government, while for the calendar year 1970 it was $70m. For the years from 1972 I will get the figures and let the honourable senator have them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security and I refer to difficulties which have been experienced on some occasions by organisations in the Australian Capital Territory with respect to assistance provided through the Minister’s Department. Can the Minister say whether consideration has been or is being given to having Australian Capital Territory welfare programs administered in Canberra rather than through the Department’s New South Wales office? Will it be possible in future for separate and specific Budget allocations to be made for Australian Capital Territory programs? If the Minister feels it necessary and considers it appropriate will she seek the views of the Australian Capital Territory Social Welfare Consultative Committee on these matters urgently with a view to possible reforms in the 1977-78 Budget?
– It is a fact that Australian Capital Territory welfare programs are primarily dealt with through my Department in New South Wales. At a recent meeting with the Australian Capital Territory Consultative Committee, which I formed, this matter was raised. It should be understood that the Department is administered by the Director-General through his State directors. The Director-General was present at that meeting and I am sure that he took note of the matters that were raised by members of the Committee. I believe that he will subject them to examination, in particular the matters raised in regard to whether there should be a separate Australian Capital Territory allocation of funds for, say, a 3-year program for handicapped or aged persons. I will ask the Director-General to give me a report on his response to the matters that were raised with me by the Consultative Committee.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware that the Health Insurance Commission reported that the average cost of processing assigned benefits by way of bulk billing was 34c per claim compared with 44c for each cash claim and $1.14 for each ‘pay doctor cheque’ claim? Is the Minister also aware that the average delay in service and payment of claims is 89.2 days for claimant cheque claims, 57.7 days for cash claims and only 28.8 days for assigned benefit or bulk billing claims? Do not these statistics suggest that the cost of processing medical benefit claims and the delay in payment of claims would increase greatly if bulk billing facilities for medical services were abolished?
– I have no information that would substantiate the figures that have been given by the honourable senator in his question. Perhaps he has a release from the Health Insurance Commission which provides that information. However, I am unable to respond to the suggestions that have been made with regard to bulk billing and the costs applied to that in contrast with other forms of payment. I shall refer the matter to the Minister for Health to seek his response on these matters.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Construction. In view of the above normal rains in the Northern Territory in the last 4 weeks- I might add, the highest March rainfall on record -and the subsequent widespread flooding and cutting of highways and rural roads in the Northern Territory, has the Government sufficient equipment, finance and manpower to cope with this emergency? If equipment, finance and manpower are insufficient, what action is being taken to bring about a general rehabilitation of the roads including both the Barkly and Stuart Highways and other secondary roads, rural and urban, servicing small centres, settlements, cattle stations, etc.?
– I thank the honourable senator for his question. The Minister for Construction has kept me informed about the situation with the roads in the Northern Territory following the recent heavy rains. I am able to inform the honourable senator that the Stuart, Barkly and Victoria highways are open to traffic but have received considerable damage due to the abnormal rains. The repair work on the Barkly Highway is in progress with funds already available and an additional $500,000 required to complete the work is expected to be available within the next fortnight. There are sufficient resources of manpower and equipment within the Department of Construction and private contractors within the Territory are capable of carrying out the work. I understand that the Stuart Highway received damage assessed at approximately $150,000 and that sufficient funds are available to repair the damage to that highway and sufficient resources are available to carry out that work.
The Victoria Highway has just recently been opened to traffic and temporary repairs have been made already to the damaged section. But engineers of the Department of Construction are still carrying out an assessment of the full extent of the damage to the highway. I understand all other major roads in the rural road system are open to traffic. Some minor roads still could be closed and access to them is not even possible at this stage to make an assessment of the extent of the damage. The Department of Construction has sufficient resources available to it from within its organisation, and certainly private contractors are available to enable all the work to be carried out as soon as the weather conditions permit.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Security in her capacity as Minister holding that portfolio and also as the Minister representing the Minister for Health. If bulk billing facilities for pathology and medical services are abolished by the Government, will many pensioners and other low income earners be forced to pay for those services in cash and then seek reimbursement from Medibank or their private health funds at a later date? Is the Minister not concerned that such an imposition could discourage many persons with low disposable incomes from seeking medical treatment, particular/y if they have one or more members of the family chronically ill? Does she consider that such a decision by the Government is in accord with tire recommendations of the third main report 6f the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty which strongly pointed out that one of the problems associated with low income families with chronic illness was the necessity to have cash ready to obtain health care?
– I have been asked a hypothetical question with regard to bulk billing facilities related to pathology services. I am unable to respond to that hypothetical question. In relation to the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty I agree that stress was laid on the necessity for health services to be available to those people who require them. I think we all accept that in this country a universal health cover is a desirable feature. I think that that should be sustained.
-On 24 March Senator McLaren asked me a question about car services in Canberra. No doubt he will recall asking the question last Thursday. I have the following answer The matter raised by the honourable senator relates to a decision that has been made by the Government to establish a Central Transport Authority. The Authority will, among other things, co-ordinate the operation of Commonwealth passenger car services throughout Australia. It will be controlled by the Transport and Storage Division of my Department, which already is responsible for these services in the States. The decision follows a review which pointed to the need for the rationalisation and co-ordination of existing passenger car fleets under one control. This will facilitate standard costing and charging procedures, standardisation of vehicle types and overall management.
Discussions for the transfer of the Australian Capital Territory car with driver fleet have commenced with officers of the Department of the Capital Territory. A tentative date for transfer is 1 July 1977. Preliminary planning will be developed over the next 2 or 3 weeks. Car transport arising from territorial-municipal type functions will not be included in this transfer. As soon as some of the more basic issues have been considered there will be consultation with employees who will be affected by the transfer and with their representatives. All the present staff and drivers will be retained. There will be no changes in the rates of pay or award conditions as a result of the move outlined.
– I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter from Senator Wriedt: 30 March 1977
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64, 1 give notice that today 1 shall move that, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:
The growing concern at the Government’s retreat from its responsibilities in education. ‘
Is the motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places-
– I move:
The Opposition launches this urgency motion because we believe that there is a real concern in the Australian community about what is happening to education. I dare say every Australian remembers the condition of federal support to the States for education in the years prior to 1973. We all recall that for those 23 years of Liberal-Country Party government between 1949 and 1972 there was a deliberate policy by the Government of the day, that is, the successive Liberal and Country Party governments, that there was no need for a Federal government to involve itself in education to any great degree. A whole mass of figures can be quoted to prove that government policy was as outlined in 1968 by the then Minister for Science and Education, Mr Malcolm Fraser, when he said that he could see no reason for the federal government of the day involving itself further in education than it was doing at that time. It is interesting to realise that in the most recent of the Schools Commission reports we have a substantiation by the Commission of that very statement. We find the following on page 1 5 of the Schools Commission report for 1976 to 1978, at paragraph 3.10:
As a result of the approach to need adopted by the Australian Government in 1973 -
That was the Labor Government- important national initiatives in education were directed to the problems of disadvantaged schools and special education and for teacher development andinnovations. These initiatives, barely begun, have revealed the dimensions of needs, the absence of quick solutions and the persistence and effort required to bring about progress. The teachers and school communities whose imagination and energies have been fired by programs which give them opportunities to tackle real problems after many frustrating years of lack of resources -
This is not Labor Party propaganda, by the way, it is the report of the Schools Commission- will only be able to continue to the point where results will begin to show if their efforts continue to be underwritten by the Australian Government.
That statement contains the essence, the kernel, of this urgency motion. It is clear to every educationist in Australia that this Government has no intention of maintaining the level of support for the education system which was established by the Labor Government. That statement to which I have just referred related specifically to schools, but as another preliminary comment I should like to quote from the current report of the Technical and Further Education Commission for 1977-1979. At page 39 the report states:
Considered in terms of the absolute size of its student population, TAFE -
That is, the Technical and Further Education Commission- is by far the largest of the three major sectors of formal postschool education in Australia. Approximately half a million persons currently undertake some form of technical and further education during the course of a teaching year- or about twice the combined total of students in universities and colleges of advanced education.
This Government, although it alleges that it is giving preference to the technical sector of education over universities and colleges of advanced education, is in fact going nowhere near maintaining the commitment which was entered into in 1973 by the Labor Government. The report of the Commission goes on to say in clause 3. 19:
Given the limits of the total State funds available for TAFE, this compelling requirement for continuing substantial growth in the level of recurrent expenditure has resulted in most States in a very meagre contribution from State resources towards remedying the backlog in the provision of capital facilities in TAFE. As a consequence, even greater demands have been placed on the physical resources of many existing buildings which are outmoded and deficient by any reasonable standard of modern educational provision. The capital expenditure assistance provided by the Commonwealth under its program of technical training grants, and more recently under the States Grants (Technical and Further Education) Act 1974, has represented in most States the greater pan of all capital expenditure on technical and further education since 1964-65. At best, this assistance has helped to avoid situations nearing collapse; but the fact remains that in most States the shortage of capital facilities in TAFE has reached critical proportions.
It is evident, and it is becoming increasingly apparent, that because of the approach this Government is now taking its commitment not only in the technical area but throughout the whole of education in Australia is going to be at best frozen or at worst reduced. The reports from which I have quoted are current reports which have been brought down within the last 2 years. I could, of course, go on and quote more of them but it is quite obvious that even though the Labor Government, with its massive increase in the commitment to education, was able only to lift education expenditure to a respectable threshold of commitment in this country. That is not going to be the case under the present Government. As a Labor Government, we set out to reverse substantially the problems in education. We increased the commitment in our first year in office. Whereas the previous Federal Government was prepared to put in $440m to help the States in education, in the final year of the Labor Government that amount had been increased to approximately $2 billion. In doing that we increased the percentage of Commonwealth outlays on education from 4.3 per cent in 1972-73 to 8.7 per cent in 1975-76.
Expenditure, of course, is not the whole story. In a mere 3 years the Labor Government chalked up some quite remarkable achievements in this area of education. We commissioned a whole series of far reaching and major reports on all aspects of education. We established the Schools Commission, the Technical and Further Education Comission and, of course, the Universities Commission. We instituted a wide range of programs on migrant education, Aboriginal education, rural education, disadvantaged schools, innovation projects and so on. We also raised the morale of teachers and educationists throughout Australia because we gave them hope that at last a government was prepared to commit the resources of this country sufficient to at least enable us to provide educational facilities for all children of Australian parents, whether in the Government or non-government sector.
If the Government believes that there is not a lack of concern in the community, I believe it is appropriate that I should read to the Senate extracts from some of the communications that I have received. I will not refer to them all because there are hundreds of letters. I will refer to some of the selected cases of which I have received advice from all over the Commonwealth about the concern that is felt within the education system. I have, for example, a letter from the Preston Area Committee in Melbourne which writes on behalf of 18 disadvantaged schools in the Northcote area of the Preston region. The Chairman, Mr W. Maxwell, in his letter states:
The purpose of the letter is to inform you of the enormous improvements to education that have been made in our area since the inception of the disadvantaged schools program in 1973.
That was brought about by the Labor Government.
Further, it is to plead a case for the retention and extension of that program.
The Schools Commission program has enabled the disadvantaged schools in our area to undertake teaching programs which emphasise the development of basic skills such as literacy and numeracy. It has also enabled these schools to employ teacher aids. It has stimulated community involvement in education where previously almost none existed. Also, it has resulted in a great improvement of teacher morale in these schools, which is expressed in a greatly reduced teacher turnover. In many cases this turnover has changed from 40 per cent per annum down to less than 10 per cent per annum. All of these factors have provided a cohesive force in the schools, which was not previously there. These positive effects are most apparent even though the program is in its infancy and some teething problems have been experienced.
He goes on to say:
Evaluation of the programs both from within and from independent bodies is now under way. All the people concerned with the program are most grateful for what the Schools Commission has enabled them to do, however, we are all fearful -
Mark these words- we are all fearful that the Federal funding instead of being increased may remain static or may even be reduced. Any reduction in the funds or in fact the alteration of the role of the Schools Commission would have disastrous effects on already severely handicapped communities.
That letter comes from an area in Melbourne where obviously that need for support for the disadvantaged schools is most apparent. I have also a letter dated 25 October from Mr R. H. Dowd from Coogee and he writes as President of the Randwick North High School Parents and Citizens’ Association. He states: . . a motion was passed at our last meeting that an explanation be sought from you -
I must indicate here that he was writing to Mr R. J. Birney, a member of the House of Representatives and the letter has been sent on to me. It continues: why Commonwealth Government funds to the State have been reduced to such an extent that our School grant has been reduced from $16,000 in years 1974 and 1975 to approx. $7,000 in 1976. The School is in bad financial shape, the Headmaster … is trying to put off creditors until next year. We have over 800 pupils at this school and the parents of these children are very upset by the fact that they are facing a plea from the P. and C. or the headmaster for more money to meet expenses and also an increase in school fees next year.
I have also a letter from the Chairman of the Burwood Heights High School Council in Melbourne, a copy of which I understand was sent to the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick). Mr Wicking, the Chairman writes:
The School Council of Burwood Heights High School views with alarm the cutback in staff at this school. This cutback has resulted in chosen subjects in arts and crafts not being offered in higher forms. We are most concerned that no remedial teachers are available at the school. The remedial needs of the school were set at 3 teachers for 1976 and equipment, programs and rooms were set aside for this. This year the need is greater, remedial programs remain uncompleted despite last year’s progress. . . The Council urges that further consideration be given to the employment of extra teacher staff, especially remedial teachers.
That of course flows from the fact that the State Government- I do not condemn the State Government for it- is being compelled, like all State governments, to rein in its spending on education for reasons which I will go into later. I refer now to a letter from Glenorchy Teachers Association in Hobart to the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The President, Mr Stephenson, has this to say:
I write on behalf of teachers belonging to this Association to urge you and your Government to increase the level of Federal financial assistance to Government schools throughout Australia. This is a matter of the most vital concern to the future of all Australians. It would be unthinkable that having gained so much in the last few years through Federal assistance education should be allowed to slip back from its present justifiably pre-eminent position in Federal Government priorities. All Australians are counting on you Sir, and your Government to clearly demonstrate that your concern for the education future of Australia is as great or greater than that of the last Government.
Those few examples from the State school system are indicative of the concern that exists within it. The concern is well-founded. Many statements including statements by the Prime Minister, have been made about severe cuts in government expenditure lately, and the questions asked in the Parliament give these people very real cause for concern. Only yesterday the Minister for Social Security (Senator Guilfoyle) was questioned by Senator Grimes as to whether she would give a commitment that spending in the social security area would not suffer under the Government’s cuts to programs. The Minister of course said: ‘I am not going to give that commitment before the Budget is drawn up’. The real reason is that she cannot give that commitment. I suggest that the Minister for Education who is at the table also would not be able to give that commitment. If the quotation in the Press is correct the Prime Minister makes the position very clear. He is quoted as saying:
We have continued to exercise restraint in spending. This year the Treasurer has indicated that the closest examination will again be made in every area of Government spending. This detailed process has already started. It will be an exhaustive examination.
I bet it will. I will deal with the real motives behind this in more detail later. This is the reason why so many people throughout Australia show great concern not only for the area of education but also for a whole lot of other areas. I ask the Senate to consider the submission of the National Catholic Education Commission to the Schools Commission for the 1977-79 triennium. Here we find again the same fear of what is in store not only for the State education system but also for the Catholic education system. The Catholic Education Commission states:
The NCEC is greatly disturbed by the fact that the 2 per cent factor has forced the Schools Commission to abandon any improvement in assistance to level 6 primary children. These children number just on 300 000, or 88 per cent of the primary enrolment in non-government schools. They have already been judged by the Schools Commission to be those most in need. lt goes on to say:
The introduction of the concept of a ‘rolling triennium’ with a guaranteed minimum growth rate on each previous year of 2 per cent in real terms gives more security in planning expenditures, recurrent and capital than single year determinations.
This security will not eventuate unless the Government legislation provides an assurance of the level of future funding. It is essential that the States’ Grants Act is framed in such a way to ensure that both recurrent and capital funds will be made available in 1978 and 1979 at least at the level proposed in the Report. Unless such a provision is included in the legislation, doubts may arise regarding the practicability of the rolling triennium.
They cannot get that commitment. They will not get it because the Minister himself cannot give it. He would know better than I and probably the rest of us that no matter how much he might try in submissions to Cabinet to obtain increases in certain areas, such as technical education or even private schools, the fact is that government policy will not permit those increases because it is not part of the overall government strategy. It is for that reason that teachers themselves are also greatly concerned and alarmed at what is happening. An example of that concern is a telegram I received on 1 5 March this year from Mr Taylor, General Secretary of the New South Wales Teachers Federation. He said:
The unemployed teachers of N.S.W. and Victoria are concerned about their job prospects during 1977. We understand unless Federal funds made available to States shortly our employment prospects look dim.
I received a similar telegram from Mr Rootsey the President of the Victorian Teachers Union. He said:
Teachers concerned that Cabinet may not honour commitment to 2 per cent real growth in education funding. Request firm commitment to real growth.
These are examples of the reason why the Opposition has taken this step in moving this urgency motion. We know, as teachers all know, that the commitment by this Government to education is one that it does not intend to keep. It is evident that this Government which has now been in office for almost 1 8 months- that is nearly half the time of Labor’s period in office- has not achieved one-tenth or one-fiftieth of what the Labor Government achieved in the area of education. It has commissioned one inquiry into education which will take about 2 years to produce any results. That is not a particularly bright record for the Government. Again, I quote from a report of the Technical and Further Education Commission. It states: the Commission has concluded that it would be irresponsible to plan on the basis of an increase of any less than 85 000 additional enrolments over the triennium for which further capital facilities will need to be specifically provided.
A triennial program based on the growth rates for Commonwealth grants of 5 per cent for 1978 and 1979 proposed in the present guidelines would fail to take account of increased enrolments during the triennium. The Commission reaches this conclusion after making full allowance for the maintenance of State effort in TAFE.
The pattern is quite clear. This Government is not committed to maintain education at the level at which the Labor Government maintained it. That is evident from the Queen’s Speech during her visit to the Parliament. The Speech illustrates the difficulty in which education now finds itself in this country. It said:
The prosperity of the Australian people depends on the strength of its productive private sector, on its manufacturing, mining and rural industries.
It depends on those things but it does not depend on education. It does not depend on looking after the young people of the country to ensure that they are trained and educated to a sufficient standard.
– You have to produce the money to pay for education.
– Exactly. If the honourable senator had been listening more closely he would know that that is the very point I was making earlier. The Government no longer has that level of commitment. When the Labor Government was in office it found additional money because it believed it necessary to put that money into the government and nongovernment sectors. Of course, it placed strains on the Labor Government. Naturally it did. We accept that. The point I wish to make is that this Government, on the basis of the Queen’s
Speech, has shown that it does not even see education as a priority in the building of this nation. The Speech went on to state:
My Government is providing incentives and encouragement to the private sector, and is reducing its own relative demands on national resources so that private industry may have room to grow, provide employment and increase the well-being of all Australians.
We have no argument about support for the private sector. Naturally we also wish to see that grow. But the education system is not a priority for the Government, nor is it part of the private sector. Either way, education will miss out. All the Government’s initiatives are really directed at bolstering other sections which it considers productive. They do not include the education system.
As my time is running out I now come to the essential point of the Government’s involvement in the whole education exercise. We cannot divorce what it is doing in education from its new federalism policy. It should be pointed out again and again that education and the new federalism policy are handled by one Minister, the Minister for Education, Senator Carrick. On the one hand he continues to tell us that the Government will maintain its commitments to education but, on the other hand, he tells us how the Government will contract its spending and how the Government, including the Prime Minister, is encouraging the States to contract their spending. If such is the case, how can education receive the share of resources it so badly needs? We cannot have it both ways. We cannot expand education if we contract both Federal and State spending. On 17 March in answer to a question to which I referred earlier today the Minister for Education made it quite clear where the Government’s intentions lie. He said:
Therefore, there will be co-operative efforts in that regard -
That is between the States and the Commonwealth- as to whether the States should increase their responsibilities, I point out that as they get an increasing amount of untied revenue- recurrent funds- and as their ability to raise and expand revenue widens, of course, it is competent upon the States, if they so desire, to expand their commitment to education. We would willingly encourage that action.
If we examine those words we can see quite clearly what they mean. He said:
It is competent upon the States, if they so desire, to expand their commitment to education.
In other words, if the States want better education services they will pay for them themselves. They will introduce State income taxes if it is constitutionally possible to do so. If it is not constitutionally possible to do so the new federalism will collapse. Let us assume that it is possible. The States will then be compelled to levy taxes separate to Federal income tax and to appropriate more moneys out of their own resources into the education field. In a letter to the State Premiers- I have the one to the New South Wales Premier, dated 21 February 1977- the Prime Minister asked the States whether they would be prepared to discuss the whole question of the so-called rationalisation of education. He said:
We are interested in exploring jointly with States possible avenues for rationalisation and better coordination … We certainly do not envisage any immediate changes to the present arrangements. Neither is there any attempt by the Commonwealth to retreat from its present position in which education is regarded as an area of substantial commitment, nor to reduce its overall financial contribution.
I do not know why the Prime Minister should even bring the word ‘retreat’ into his letter. Presumably it was a matter of conscience on his part. So it was appropriate that today we should talk about the retreat of the Commonwealth from education. He went on to say:
The Commonwealth has been considering the possibility of more even funding arrangements across all sectors whilst recognising the traditional role of the States.
What a load of gobbledegook that is. I repeat:
The Commonwealth has been considering the possibility of more even funding arrangements . . .
One could read a number of things into that statement but it is quite clear that the Prime Minister knows what he is talking about because he is saying to the States: ‘We want to talk to you and to tell you that you will tailor your education spending, your road expenditure and your expenditure in a whole lot of other areas, into our new federalism policy. If you want to do all these things you will do them off your own bat. We will gradually opt out and you will gradually take over’. For the Minister to say at question time today that it is a matter of individual decision by the States is sheer nonsense. He knows full well that we could not have a situation in this country where one State proceeds along the lines of a special income tax- or maybe two or three States do that- whilst the others refuse to do so. We would have utter chaos in this country in a very short time.
As my time has almost expired I will close on the note on which I began. This Government began by making promises that education would be dealt with in a manner that would maintain the needs of the education systems in Australia. For the first 12 months the Government probably was able to convince some of the people anyway that it was sincere in that statement but now the effect of the reductions in education spending are beginning to be felt. Right across this nation there are thousands of educationalists and teachers and hundreds of thousands of parents who realise that they were not given the true story from the beginning. As the effects of the new federalism start to take hold in this country so the task of the States and of parents and of teachers all across Australia will become increasingly more difficult as they try to maintain the education standards set by the Labor Government.
– The Labor Party, through its spokesman, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Wriedt) has been endeavouring, by way of this urgency motion, to suggest and to establish that there has been some retreat by the Commonwealth Government from its responsibilities to education. In fact, in Senator Wriedt ‘s speech, which lasted for 30 minutes, not one indication of fact showing retreat or reduction was brought forward. I give the simple lie to his final statement that there have been reductions in education by this Government. The only reduction in education by a federal government in the 1970s was brought about by the Whitlam Government of which the honourable senator was a senior Minister.
This debate takes place against a simple background and that is that in the period of the Fraser Government there has been a period of progress and expansion in education which has been offsetting the very turbulent situation of the legacy it received. Against that background I now set out to show the Whitlam Government’s record and our up to date record. I remind the Senate and the people of Australia of this fact: Once every year, for a very short period indeed, Senator Wriedt and the Labor Party come out of hibernation in the field of education because they hear of a thing called Education Day. Members of the Labor Party are aware that next week, on Wednesday, 6 April, good people throughout Australia are going to show their desire for the quantity and quality of education to be improved. So the Labor Party has to be in it. Last year its members made a lot of noise and uttered a lot of untrue statements and a lot of false scares and apprehensions around the place and all of them were proven wrong. They will be proven wrong again. Just as happened last year, come the end of Education Day, back will go Senator Wriedt and other members of the Labor
Party into apathy and hibernation for the rest of the year.
It is against that background that we are asked to test performance. I will state the performance of the Labor Party. In the last Budget of the Labor Party, in August 1975, it produced for the calendar year 1976 a massive, record and unique cutback in education totalling $105m for the 4 education commissions. No other government in the past, dreamt of cutting back education in this way. Let us look at the sorry record of that reduction. That Government reduced funds for the Universities Commission by $21m, for colleges of advanced education by $32m, for technical and further education by $9m and for schools by $43m. Incredibly it confirmed a decision to cut back school building capital by $85m.
That is the record of this Labor Party which comes before the people of Australia today and says that there is a fear that the present Government might be retreating from education. The retreat by the Labor Party in August 1975 was a retreat in the order of $ 105m and for that there is no parallel in parliamentary history. But it went further than that. It set aside triennial funding because it had achieved a record inflation rate running to 1 8 per cent. It put triennial funding aside. It froze student allowances even though those allowances were set at the June 1 974 cost of living index. Now its spokesmen have the gall to get up and talk about a retreat by any other political party from education. There was a cut of $ 105m right across the board in education, a virtual wiping out of the capital building programs of the schools, an abandonment of triennial funding, a freezing of student funds, and an achievement of record inflation running at 1 8 per cent as well as a unique achievement, which only the Labor Government could accomplish, of record juvenile unemployment. In 1972 the Labor Government inherited a situation in which for 2 decades beforehand juveniles in Australia, it could be proudly claimed, could get a job and a job of their choice. We inherited from the Labor Party a year ago an absolute wreckage of the capacity to employ juveniles. This is the test of what we are asked to consider as a retreat.
That is the background of the Labor Party and its record. Now it is engaging in alarums and excursions. Everyone should remember its track record last year. Day after day, day after day the Labor Party was peddling some new scare that there were going to be cuts, just as Senator Wriedt said here today, with not a tittle of reason, that there had been cuts in federal education spending. Did he name one? Could he name one? The obvious answer is no. The world knows that in this year, 1977, we reversed the Labor Party policy of cut, cut, cut and freeze. We reversed it and gave a 2 per cent real money growth to universities, a 5 per cent real money growth to colleges of advanced education, a 7.5 per cent increase to technical and further education and a 2 per cent increase to schools. We also projected a rolling triennium for forward planning in principle.
Against this background of massive achievement and prospective achievement by us and the progress made, we measure the retreat, the cuts, the running away, the unemployment and inflation created by the Labor Party. Recollection of the wreckage ought to make members of the Labor Party mumble in a corner and go back into hibernation. That is the picture. This debate was brought on today for the benefit of Education Day. Let us look at what, in fact, has happened. As against that background the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate mumbled a few things about some minor achievements. He said that we did not give education a true priority. I remind the Senate that the Fraser Government has given to education the highest priority of any government program. I ask Senator Wriedt to read the terms of reference of the Williams Committee of Inquiry into Education and Training. If Senator Wriedt feels that we have not spelt out the true resources, the true goals and how high we put education, I remind him that in setting up the most comprehensive inquiry ever into education in the history of Australia we have invited that Committee to undertake 2 goals.
The honourable senator sneers that the inquiry will take 2 years. Is speed the measurement or is thoroughness? In the end, what are we seeking? Are we seeking quality or some quick trick? We have asked the Williams Committee to look into the years and decades ahead. It has been asked to set out what ought to be those goals of education which would permit the optimum human fulfilment. We have asked also how can we through education help people to fulfil themselves and to burgeon in life; how can we through equality of opportunity, through the helping hand, do so; how can we in this journey help by education to create career orientation and career and occupational development. Against this background comes the sneer of the Labor Party, the Party which made it impossible for the young school leavers and the young college leavers to get a job at all, much less the job of their choice. This is the Party which now peddles fear; the Party which, in fact, wrecked itself.
The chaos today compared with the track record of previous Liberal governments for 2 decades is well worth noting. It is well to remember, against these fears and gloom peddling, that for 2 decades before the Whitlam Government we could proudly say that this country sustained full employment; had the lowest inflation, averaging 2.5 per cent, of any country; had the highest home ownership with a fellow and his wife on the average weekly wage able to buy a home on one wage; had every young person leaving school or college able to get a job, and a job of his choice.
Honourable senators will remember that Senator Wriedt claimed that nothing happened in the period 1949 to 1972. He conveniently forgot that those were the years of the creation of the Australian Universities Commission which was surely the greatest breakthrough in Federal educational concepts in Australian history. He conveniently forgot that those were also the years of the creation of the Commission on Advanced Education which saw a great expansion of colleges with teachers colleges being changed into colleges of advanced education. This happened under the then Education Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser. Those years saw the development of massive help in indirect aid to nongovernment schools and then there was a move into direct aid. Of course it was logical that the Technical and Further Education Commission and the Schools Commission should follow. But all these things were conveniently forgotten against the background which Senator Wriedt mentioned. Now we are asked to accept that there has been a retreat. How can Senator Wriedt pick up the letter from the Prime Minister to the Premiers, read a passage of it and interpret that as a retreat? I ask the Senate and the community to decide what we mean when we state:
We certainly do not envisage any immediate changes to the present arrangements. Neither is there any attempt by the Commonwealth to retreat from its present position in which education is regarded as an area of substantial commitment, nor to reduce its overall financial contribution.
Here is a positive statement of commitment. It shows the high priority commitment of education in the Federal Government sense. It is a commitment, that the Federal Government will not reduce its overall financial contributions in this sphere, taking into account the copartnership between the Commonwealth and the States. Out of that Senator Wriedt seems to read some support for his argument that there will be a retreat. This is a commitment to the States that the Commonwealth will accept its present responsibility in education in the future, as it has in the past. I say to honourable senators:
Make no mistake about that. That letter was written for that purpose. But we are supposed to have retreated.
I remind honourable senators of the statement I made in the Senate on 4 November last when I brought in the education program for this year. I was able to say that, unlike the cuts and reductions in the past by the Whitlam Government, we were able to claim that universities would be able to maintain their intake of students and in fact have a 2 per cent increase in total student population this year. I was able to say that there was provision for an increase of approximately 10 per cent in student intake in colleges of advanced education in 1977 compared with 1976.I said that in 1977 there would be a total increase in enrolments of about 5 per cent while enrolments in teacher education courses in 1977 would be contained. I repeat, there would be a 2 per cent increase in the number of students on university campuses; a 10 per cent increase in intake at colleges of advanced education. That is a retreat by the Federal Government from its commitment in education?
Compare that situation with the cut of $ 105m, the abandonment of the triennium, the freezing of funds, the 18 per cent inflation and the 100 000-odd unemployed which were all the creation and the work of Senator Wriedt and his then Government. The honourable senator is proud of it. He has heard of E day, because someone has written him a letter, and he comes to the Senate with this motion. An interesting point which the honourable senator puts to me as an argument which he supports relates to the funding of 2 per cent, and that what the Government has done in relation to catholic education will result in the abandonment of any improvement in level 6 assistance. I invite Senator Wriedt to read the speech I made on 4 November. He could not have done that because if he did he must know that the Government amended the Schools Commission report to increase level 6 spending. We increased it with a 2 per cent commitment.
I invite him also to recall that his Government refused repeatedly the requests of the catholic authorities to make a percentage link between the levels of funding of non-government schools and the cost of running a government school. I repeat, his Government refused those requests consistently. Last year, my Government made that link. As a result of that, there will be an automatic increase in the levels as the costs of government schools increase. Senator Wriedt puts forward, having his support, the statement that there can be no improvement in level 6. He is the purported spokesman on education for the Labor Party. He comes here and peddles this downright misrepresentation that cuts were made by us. He did not say what cuts. He made the statement that there would be no improvements but one by one the dollies fall over. There was an increase in the number of students at universities and a 1 0 per cent increase in the number at colleges of advanced education, even though the cuts made by the Whitlam Government resulted in a net decrease in the number of students in tertiary institutions. The August 1975 Budget resulted in some thousands of net cuts but that was not mentioned at all. Retreat? How can there be a retreat when we are going forward with a 10 per cent increase in the intake at colleges and a 2 per cent increase in the number of students at universities? Need I remark on what has happened, however belatedly, in technical colleges?
So I come to the claim that there have been no new initiatives. What about the new initiatives in the schools field? What about our new initiatives in the funding of children living in institutions? What about the new program for disadvantaged country areas? What about the new boarding school concepts? What about forward funding for planning for non-government school buildings and the guarantees of loans? These are things which the previous Government did not do. Do these initiatives show a retreat? At a time of recession, a recession which was created by the Whitlam Government, education has been solidly expanded. In each of the areas I have referred to a very great advance has been made.
Senator Wriedt put forward as his argument that federalism will do damage. The people of Australia should know that as a result of federalism every State Government ended its last financial year in a comfortable position, most of them with surpluses in their revenue accounts and many of them with large surpluses in their capital accounts. Tasmania had a $4m surplus in its recurrent account and a surplus of over $ 16m in its capital account. All States have budgeted this year comfortably for balanced or surplus budgets and almost all, if not all, have cut taxes. So all the States which are supposed to be squeezed by us, under pressure from us and not able to do things, have had the luxury of being able to decide on their own whether they will cut taxes and forego that revenue or spend that revenue.
When Senator Wriedt talks about New South Wales and Victoria having unemployed teachers
I remind him of the promise of the Labor Premier, Mr Wran, on which he based his election victory, that a State Labor Government would reemploy 3000 unemployed teachers. Why has that promise not been fully kept? The Premier did not claim then that wicked federalism would not allow the State Government to fund the teachers. With great confidence and with the knowledge of what he had he said: ‘We will reemploy them’. He did not say: ‘I will do it if the wicked Federal Government will let me’. I also remind Senator Wriedt of a very simple thing. We are talking of this year and about unemployed teachers in various States. If the States had been dealt with this year under the tax reimbursement formula of the Whitlam Government they would be approximately $90m the poorer in respect of recurrent grants because of it.
This is the so derided federalism that Senator Wriedt seeks to destroy because of the innate hatred of the Labor Party of State and local governments, because it cannot abide other governments. That happens to be true. Mr Whitlam is on record as saying that the aim of his Party and himself is to destroy State governments, to amalgamate local government bodies and to abolish the Senate and have one House, the House of Representatives, all powerful. The reason for Senator Wriedt ‘s insensate hatred of federalism is that he knows that every step we take to diffuse powers, to strengthen the State governments and local government, will make it more difficult for a doctrinaire socialist government of the future, God forbid, to bring about its policies of destruction and amalgamation. That is the message. It is all documented unlike the unsupported claims which Senator Wriedt made.
This new federalism has given the States in recurrent grants this year at least $90m more than the Whitlam formula would have given them. Is that bad? Does Senator Wriedt say that that should not happen? Is he advocating that the States should have got $90m less? That is the message that is coming through.
– How much in loan funds did you give them?
-I think Senator Wriedt is going to talk about capital funds. What about the $8 5m in capital funds which Senator Wriedt ‘s Government cut from the appropriation for schools in the August 1975 Budget? Its action bounces; it is called a contra-coup. What does he want? Does he say that the States should not have got the $90m? When we say that we will give to the States more flexibility, more money and more ability to spend, and since it is a basic rule of thumb that about 40 per cent of recurrent funds given to the States goes to education, are we wrong in then suggesting that there should be a similar percentage increase in education funds? Is the message of E-Day that the Labor Party is saying that State funds for education should be frozen and that even if the States get more money they should not make a comparative percentage increase in education funding? What is Senator Wriedt ‘s argument? Is he saying that we should or that we should not urge the States to spend more of their extra funds on education? Like Hamlet, the rest is silence; good night, sweet prince. That is what the Labor Caucus is saying.
Let me draw together what this debate is about. It is an urgency motion conceived basically to try to prove to the people that in the short capsule of time that has elapsed this year they ought to respond to Education Day. I commend the people of Australia for their efforts on Education Day and thereafter, and I want to say to a Party which suggests that the Commonwealth has retreated from its responsibilities, physician cure thyself. The Party which moved this motion-the Wriedt-Whitlam Labor Party or perhaps it is the Bowen or Hayden Labor Party; one cannot tell these days- that disintegrated Party of today, has a track record of retreat. It cut $ 105 m in expenditure in one calendar year.
– That is not true and you know it. Get the Treasury figures instead of taking figures out of your own head.
– I am accused of not speaking the truth. The tables from which I quote were produced at departmental and Budget level and are recorded in Hansard. They show clearly a $105m cut, an abandonment of triennial funding, a freezing of the student allowances, an 1 8 per cent inflation rate and a unique record of juvenile unemployment by the Party which says to the parents, to the teachers and to the community: ‘Do not trust those fellows in government; trust us’. That Party left Australia in ruins in 1975.
Against that record we have in fact made no cuts at all in federal education expenditure. Those who claim here or elsewhere that we have made cuts in federal education expenditure are deliberately misrepresenting the situation. We have expanded education in every field. We have introduced a massive and exciting inquiry into education and training. I will be privileged tomorrow to introduce into the Senate a Bill to set up a tertiary education commission, one of the great advances and great reforms prospectively in education. Yet it is said that this is the Government that is doing nothing, this is the Government that is retreating. Only last night the Senate debated the National Aboriginal Education Committee, another exciting concept, a concept of 19 people from those fully tribalised down to the people from the urban areas to be set up from Torres Strait through Arnhem Land to Broome with a fully tribalised and ritually initiated leader, Stephen Albert, leading it and being my adviser. These are the kinds of moves that are supposed to represent retreats.
My goodness; in the period that this Government has been privileged to assist in the development of education in Australia, the progress measured both in terms of quality and quantity has far surpassed the progress in the past. The Labor Government measured everything in terms of quantity until its sacred decisions of August 1975 about which it must not talk. The simple fact is that in terms of the quantity of funds provided in every direction, in the quality of delivery and in an understanding of the goals of education, an understanding that we ought to get back to the basics of education, to make sure that we look at the basic skills- numeracy and literacy as well as innovation- this Government is setting a lead. It is a lead that is recognised throughout Australia.
It was necessary for my Government in the last few months to set up a pilot study into remedial training for the juvenile unemployed. In other words, it is a casualty clearing station for the Whitlam Government debris. In 1972 there were no juveniles unemployed. At the end of 1975 and thereafter we have had between 1 10 000 and 150 000 unemployed juveniles. The sad fact at this moment is that the great bulk of those people- the products of the Whitlam era- are asserted to be sufficiently lacking in basic skills - not in potentials but in basic skills- to be incapable of undertaking craft or apprenticeship training. Yet honourable senators who supported the former Government tell us that this Government is retreating in the area education. I would bow my head in shame if I had to claim that 150 000 young people who ought to be trained sufficiently to take up jobs and to have the opportunities to take those jobs were left as debris on the socialist beaches of the Australian Labor Party or as the doctrinaire wreckage of the Australian Labor Party.
This is the basis upon which members of the ALP suggest that the Senate should discuss as a matter of urgency the retreat of the Federal
Government from its responsibilities in education. The Federal Government has made massive and exciting progress in education in the 16 months it has been in office. It will continue to do so. I urge honourable senators and the community at large to reject the substance of this matter of urgency, to treat it with the thorough contempt it deserves.
– I, like most honourable senators, felt that Senator Carrick, the Minister for Education, instead of acting like a Minister, was acting more like a side show barker at the Sydney show trying to get people to come into the tent to see the fat lady. That is the way I saw his contribution. I want to bring honourable senators back to the substance of the matter of urgency and to inject realism rather than rhetoric into the debate. Senator Carrick referred to the role or the progress of the Whitlam Labor Government in the field of education. The fact of the matter is this: If honourable senators analyse Treasury documents, they will find that university expenditure zoomed up from $33 lm to $569m during the period of the Labor Government. Expenditure on colleges of advanced education accelerated from $ 1 92m to $405m. Expenditure on technical colleges increased from $41m to $ 101m. It is not my desire to bedazzle the Senate with figures. However, the figures I have cited are authentic Treasury figures. They show also that in 1973-74 the total education vote was about $858m but that it increased to $ 1,67 lm in 1974-75. In 1975-76, that expenditure increased still further to more than $ 1,908m.
Let me depart from that ambit of educational expenditure. If we are talking about party politics, surely the Minister for Education will not dismiss the criticism of the Schools Commission and its comment about the lack of funds for education as a comment which is coming from some half baked Marxian source, as he often does. The fact of the matter is that that is a true picture of education expenditure. I, like Senator Carrick, am fairly mobile. It was my pleasure, even after the Australian Labor Party had been removed from government, to be on the platform at various school openings in places as far apart as Gunnedah and Five Dock. At Gunnedah, in a country area, I attended the opening of a catholic college. In Five Dock, I attended the opening of a state school. Both areas had their own particular problems but thanks to the Whitlam Government vast progress was achieved. To say that things did not improve during the 3 years of the Labor Government is a gross exaggeration.
I entered this debate to deal with another facet of education. I refer to adult migrant services. I do so because Senator Carrick referred to what he called the legacy of unemployed youth. He should be big enough to admit that it would not matter what government was in power. With technological changes there was a responsibility to gear education for people in relation to different job opportunities. It is accepted that even people presently aged 25 years will probably have 2 complete changes of occupation by the time they reach 55 years of age. I heard Senator Tehan earlier say something about money. We all should know that extra expenditure is involved when we advocate the introduction of additional technical education or training and adult migrant training. But I make this point about the additional expenditure: The sooner these people return to the work force, the sooner they become taxpayers. If members of the trade union movement resist changes in the number of manual operatives in industry- possibly they have every right to do this- honourable senators opposite would call them modern day Luddites, and there is no question about it. But what is the alternative when the trade union movement does not adopt that stance? Perhaps honourable senators read recently in the Sydney Press articles about the difficult nauseating jobs that women have to perform in industry. I refer particularly to Ingham’s Enterprises Pty Ltd- the chicken establishment. Women pluck the chickens and generally work in difficult conditions. No doubt, in due course further mechanisation will be introduced and women will not be needed in the industry. They will have to find other work. We should forget about the argument of who hit whom. The fact is that with technological advances an added imposition has been placed upon our education facilities to provide the wherewithal to enable people to be adapted to different work. Our large, recently arrived migrant population has taken the brunt of the attack in this field. I repeat that trade unions have argued about safety measures and have had every reason to do so. On the other hand, at times they have argued about redundancy and sought severance pay for the people involved. But those people are still left without a job.
At the present time, the adult migrant education system in New South Wales which is funded by the Federal Government has a budget of about $2,800,000. Salaries absorb about 84 per cent of that budget, 1 1 per cent is absorbed in other miscellaneous charges, the expenditure for home tutors absorbs about 1.53 per cent and that leaves a residue of about $12,000. As one who was involved in heavy manual work, I suppose it is true that it could be welcomed on the one hand. But society has an obligation to provide that work. I notice that when these big industries indulge in automation the savings are never reflected in reduced prices. In the sugar industry, today there is only a very meagre work force on the Mackay waterfront to do work that at one time used to be done by 400 waterside workers. So it is no use giving me that drivel. I could use a much stronger word, but in deference to you Mr Deputy President, I shall not do so.
There is an obligation on the education system to introduce crash programs to equip people for the work force. I emphasise that. It cannot be done too much. The real heroes of industry in some migrant families are the women who do slushy work as domestics in motels and other places. A story is told about a Polish immigrant woman living in the city of Chicago in the 1 930s. Her son was wrongly accused of committing a crime in Chicago. For 5 years she scrubbed floors to get enough money for a lawyer to clear his name. A man who became a fine SolicitorGeneral of the United States, Homer Cummings, opened the case and her son was exonerated.
That kind of thing still happens today. In families in Sydney and Melbourne there are women who are doing unpleasant work because it needs no linguistic skills. Some migrant children who came to Australia at the age of 9 or 10 years have never caught up with their mathematics. I have had some of them who wanted to become apprentices come to my office. There is a premium on openings for apprentices and if the mathematics of applicants are not outstanding they are not accepted. We should have remedial classes for young people in this position as well as language classes for immigrant women. The New South Wales adult education program for migrants has not been geared to meet an accelerated intake. Last night and on previous occasions senators on both sides of this chamber have accepted the need for us to accept refugees from overseas on a humanitarian basis. Many of these people physically cannot do heavy duty work. Many of them lack an ability to speak basic English. Therefore they are limited in work opportunities. I am not criticising Senator Carrick directly and saying he is skimping his budget. He is a victim of the infamous Treasurer, Mr Lynch, who has never done a worthwhile day’s work in his life. If he had worked in a foundry or something -
– Like Mr Whitlam?
– Yes, I had 15 of the best years of my life in the railways. I was not sitting on my arse in the Senate. I want the honourable senator to get that into his head.
– What about Mr Whitlam?
-I am making the point very clear that there are too many of these people who talked about production have never done any worthwhile work, including the Treasurer. He is always sneering at the manual worker. As far as my Leader, Mr Whitlam is concerned, he earned his spurs as a rising young lawyer. He does not need to apologise for that. But I do object to people like the Treasurer- business consultants who get their ideas from one firm and then go to another firm as a consultant. Honourable senators can draw their own conclusions from that. If they question the validity of my remarks they should speak to Mr Lindsay who preceded Mr Lynch in his federal constituency. He will tell them the sort of lurk man the Treasurer was.
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Order! You must not make disparaging remarks about another member of Parliament, Senator Mulvihill.
– If people interject on me they will get their interjection back with interest.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order Senator! You will not do that while I am in the chair.
– I am not going to say any more about that; I shall return to the subject. I want to get back to the whole concept of adult education. The fact of the matter is that the $2,800,000 that has been expended in New South Wales is not geared to a tighter employment situation. I have said before and I say again Australia, like every other country, is suffering from world wide inflation plus having a government which espouses technical changes and automation. A country with those features must provide everybody who is displaced with some special training. A course in advanced English is essential in adult migrant training. Even if many jobs are only manual jobs, an understanding of the English language is essential. Without that people could become industrial hazards by breaching safety procedures.
The main reason I participated in this debate was to point out that we are not doing enough in this field. In the face of market fluctuation, inflation and automotive changes this is an area in which governments should be geared to increase their expenditure. Obviously, the sooner these people can be provided with crash programs the sooner they can take different employment. This would apply particularly to members of the female work force; undoubtedly it would apply to those in the printing industry. A big percentage of employees in the semi-skilled area are female operatives. According to the trades journals fewer and fewer people are going to be required in this area. It may be, of course, that some people can be and probably will be trained for other clerical callings, but a similar situation is approaching there. When one looks at the Australian Financial Review and sees the articles concerning new business operations one sees that the whole idea is to get rid of manual processes.
On the other hand, there is criticism when the trade union movement suggests a shorter working week. Even today I heard criticism about the telecommunications employees working a 363/4-hour week. We can have it one way or the other: Either we will have to have massive increases in the money spent in unemployment benefits or the people who want to start a new job will have to be allowed to do so and not be denied the job for the reasons I have given to the Senate this afternoon. If there is a 3-month or 6-month lag in providing adult migrant English classes job opportunities will pass these people by. There is no doubt but that in the present circumstances where work is a bit tough to find malice comes into the situation. I give Senator Lajovic credit for his vigilance in some areas of migrant exploitation. But it worries me that women after working for 9 years and 9 months in a job are suddenly told that they are redundant on the assembly line. It must have been a very unobservant foreman who suddenly discovered that these women did not measure up to what was required of them. This is the human drama of the matter. This is where some employers are becoming unduly harsh. They know that after 10 years service some long service lump sum payment is required.
I want to wind up where I started. I think the figures I gave were conclusive in indicating the injections of money into the education system by the Whitlam Government. But I take the matter further. I emphasise to Senator Carrick that the outside factors that have developed and influenced the market and the work force demand that all these schemes that were brought in by the Whitlam Government be intensified and not curtailed. If one goes to the ethnic organisations today one finds that in many cases as teenage sons are finding it difficult to get an apprenticeship or a worthwhile job, it is the mother- in many cases the widowed mother- who is carrying the brunt of the work. In other cases the daughters, who came here at 10 or 12 years of age, are facing these difficulties. An expanded adult migrant education system would be the solution to so many of these problems. I simply say this to Senator Carrick: If the Schools Commission criticises the present situation and if the ethnic groups criticise it the situation is compounded by the effect of deflationary policy and the restriction of expenditure.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I think it is a matter of supreme irony that on the very day on which the extremely capable and efficient Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) gives notice of the introduction of one of the most important Bills on education which will come before the Parliament, designed to set up a tertiary education commission, we should be faced with an urgency motion couched in these terms. If I may borrow the words used by Senator Mulvihill, who has just preceded me, I think even Senator Mulvihill will agree that this initiative by the Minister shows more realism than rhetoric. I think when we are looking at an urgency motion of this nature- indeed, when we are looking at any urgency motion which criticises the performance of the Government- the primary and natural thing to do is to look at the Government’s record. The Minister has in very clear and concise terms set out for the record and for the people of Australia what the Government has done in the education field in the 18 months it has been in office.
The first thing we ought to talk about is expenditure on education, and the record ought to be set straight. There has been no drop in expenditure on education by this Government since it assumed office. On the contrary, as the Minister stated, there has been an increase. In that connection, we ought to look at the background of the economy of the country when we came into power in December 1975. After 3 years of economic mismanagement there were great difficulties facing the nation, and I want to refer briefly to the savings which the Government effected by its introduction of the contributory Medibank scheme, the health service scheme. As I stated in Hansard on 23 September 1976 at page 933, there was an estimated saving of $2,080m. The point I make in citing that figure in this debate is that that saving meant that in areas such as education and social welfare the Government was able to keep up the commitments of the previous Government, and indeed, in some areas- in the area of education- there was increased expenditure.
We also have to look, when considering this question, at the position and the role and the responsibilities of the States, and this is consistent with out policy of co-operative federalism, which is misunderstood by the Opposition and so often criticised by it. There is a tendency in Australia today to blame the Federal Government for all the ills that confront the nation. In an area such as this, where the States are primarily responsible for the conduct of the education system, it is as well to look at the situation of the States. In this connection, I also want to say something about E-Day. As the Minister has said, the anniversary of E-Day is next week. Along with other senators and members of the other place, I saw a great number of people on E-Day. I think it has been said, and probably rightly, that it was the greatest invasion of a group of lobbyists, if I can use that term without being derogatory in any fashion, in the history of the Parliament. I was pleased to see a number of people on that day and, as a direct result of their visit to Canberra from Victoria, I visited a number of schools in Victoria, in company with members of the House of Representatives where appropriate, and looked at the system. I saw schools in the north of the State, and later in the year, at the invitation of the Victorian Teachers Union, I spent 4 or 5 days in the Gippsland area looking at remote schools and colleges of advanced education, and other institutions across the whole range of the education field. I think it is fair to say that that exercise forced home to me, at all events, the role played by the States in this field. It is not the function of the Commonwealth Government in the area of education to go to a particular State school in any State of the Commonwealth and say in relation to spending money on school improvements: ‘We will give you the money directly to do that.’ From my personal observations on that tour, the thing struck me most was the need for repairs to school buildings and that sort of thing, which is a problem for the States.
I emphasise that point because during this debate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) introduced the letter of 21 February written by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to the Premiers, and this was also referred to by the Minister. I remind the Senate that we are talking about an allegation that this
Government has retreated from its responsibilities in education. Nothing could be further from the truth, and we have the authority of the Prime Minister on that. I join issue with Senator Wriedt that there is any equivocation in this statement by the Prime Minister. I have a high regard for Senator Wriedt ‘s intelligence but he seemed to have some difficulty in understanding the meaning of the words, and I want to repeat them. This is a very practical illustration of the concern of the Government in the area of education and of its desire to co-operate with State governments in that field. I stress this point because I think it is important when considering the question of education. I will not repeat the earlier words of the paragraph, which the Minister has already quoted but the particular sentence to which I wish to draw attention states:
Neither is there any attempt by the Commonwealth to retreat from its present position in which education is regarded as an area of substantial commitment, nor to reduce its overall financial contribution.
I do not think there is any doubt about that. The word ‘retreat’ has been used today in the motion and, perhaps fortuitously, the Prime Minister saw fit to use the same term. I emphasise to the people of Australia the importance of that word. There is no evidence at all of any retreat by this Government from its concern for the responsibilities it has in education, and that is illustrated in the Prime Minister’s letter to the Premiers.
The third matter to which I want to refer briefly relates to triennial funding as opposed to the stop-go policy of the Labor Government. Its 1975 Budget was a disaster for education and I again direct the attention of the Senate and the people of Australia to the figures quoted by the Minister, which are very important in this debate. In 1975 Labor found that it could not keep going on triennial funding and savage cuts of $105m were made across the board in respect of the 4 commissions. The Labor Government then returned to the old system of annual funding. I want to contrast that situation with the present one, which is very vividly illustrated in the statement made by the Minister to the Senate on 4 November 1976, to which the Minister has already referred. To the people of Australia who are listening to this debate I point out that that statement commences at page 1655 of Hansard of that date. I do not have time to quote all the passages, but I do wish to refer to 3 points in relation to non-government schools, a matter which was introduced in this debate by Senator Wriedt and referred to by Senator Carrick. The first passage states:
The Government has accepted the Schools Commission recommendation that the level of grants for non-government schools be linked automatically in future years to per pupil expenditure levels in government schools.
That is a significant advance. The Minister has already adverted to it but I wanted to mention it again in passing because it is so important. At page 1659 the Minister stated:
The Government has decided to introduce a scheme to enable non-government schools to plan and commence capital projects which have been approved for assistance under the Capital Grants Program for 1978 and 1979. This move will contribute significantly to the economic and orderly forward planning of building projects.
That is the advantage of the triennium system. People in the education field who are involved with schools are able to plan ahead with certainty, knowing that the commitments will be honoured. The third matter which is referred to in this passage is as follows:
An associated recommendation of the Schools Commission which the Government is adopting is that related to guarantees on loans raised by non-government schools to finance construction of approved building projects.
That is a significant advance forward which allows the Government, through legislation that will be introduced, to guarantee the loans. Of course, it will allow the schools to proceed with approved building projects where they might not otherwise have been able to do so. I want to spend the few minutes left to me in this debate dealing with some of the arguments put up by Senator Wriedt. He devoted a great part of his speech to a litany of Labor achievements. He was living in the past. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that Senator Mulvihill also devoted some time in his speech to the achievements of the Labor Government. I think that what the Minister has said in relation to the 1975 Budget is a complete answer to those suggestions. That, of course, is past history. Whatever good the Labor Government did in its first 2 years in office- I concede it took some initiatives which were worth whilewas completely destroyed by the overspending which occurred not only in education but in other fields as well. I do not know which one of the several Treasurers who occupied that important position in the Labor Government had to make the decision- I think it was Mr Hayden who presented the Budget in 1975- but there had to be drastic cuts across the board from which stemmed the disabilities that the education system is suffering from at present.
Senator Wriedt referred to various letters but I remind honourable senators that the education lobby is very active. We all get letters from all sorts of people. It is healthy that in a democracy this happens. In fact, the large number of letters that come from those involved in the educational field do keep the Government up the mark, if I might put it at way. In the short time that I have been able to devote to this subject, I hope I have stressed that the Government’s record is there for all to see. The people of Australia will judge the Government in this field as they will in other fields. It is a proud record- a record of which the Government is proud and a record of which I am proud. The Minister indicated that the Williams Committee of Inquiry- a most important inquiry- has been set up. It has been rightly said that the inquiry will take 2 years. The fact that it will take 2 years was criticised by Senator Wriedt. The Committee will look at the whole field of education and it will look too at the goals of education. It is a wide and comprehensive inquiry and I am certain that when its report is presented the Government will act on its findings. I oppose the motion. The Government is happy and proud to stand on its record in this very important field of government endeavour.
– I rise to support my Leader’s motion about the growing concern at the Government’s retreat from its responsibilities to education. I will direct my comments to education in the Northern Territory with some emphasis on Aboriginal education, not only because that is a particular interest of mine but also because it is the direct responsibility of the Federal Government. The disadvantage in doing this, of course, is that it means that I cannot comment on what the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) has said and what Senator Tehan has said. However I confine my remarks to the area of the Northern Territory. The Minister cannot, as he so often tries to do, avoid his responsibility in this area. He cannot say that this is a statutory body or that this is a State responsibility or that this is an authority matter. This is his own Department. The Northern Territory Department of Education is the Northern Territory division of the Minister’s own Department. I will refer later to comments made by the Northern Territory Teachers Federation and the Northern Territory Council of the Government Schools Organisation Parents and Teachers- COGSO. The comments made by Mr McGuinness in the National Times of 15 March has already been referred to. He said that governments have ultimately to be judged on what they do, not what they promise. Perhaps, for the Minister’s benefit we had better extend that to say that governments have ultimately to be judged on what they do, not what they say they do or not what they promise to do. So the debate today is about not only the sins of omission, as the Minister might put it, but also the sins of commission. After all, the situation that exists in the Territory- as it does all over Australia at the present time- is a result of Government decisions taken not only in education but also in other areas and the effect, of course, that they have on the education program.
I should like to look first at vocational training, both European and Aboriginal. In the European area, despite what the Minister says, this is the first time in the Territory that apprentices have not been able to find a job. They have not been able to find an employer who is prepared to take them and this, as I have indicated earlier, is a direct result of government cutbacks in the building and other industries. Like the multiplier effect about which I have spoken previously, this has a number of effects. One of the effects has been that there are no opportunities for young apprentices. I mention also that for those apprentices who have managed to find someone to look after them the shortage of staff at the Darwin Community College makes it difficult to provide courses for them. Later I will read part of a letter from the staff at the Darwin Community College to indicate the problems that they are facing by the shortage of staff due to the cutbacks in finance and the freeze on staff positions. The people in the Northern Territory have to send their apprentices interstate.
I should like to examine quickly the Aboriginal situation because this is perhaps the most glaring example of the Government’s inefficiency. It is a retreat from its responsibility. I want to look at 2 aspects. For a school to be effective the child must see it as having some purpose. He must see that at the end of the time that he is going to spend at school he will have employment or he will have employment opportunities. He must see that he is not just going along to that school on the settlement just for its own sake. All children see this, but for the Aboriginal child it is more important. I should like to elaborate on that point but time will not allow. I turn quickly to the second aspect of vocational training. As written in Omar Khayyam, as the Minister would appreciate, there has been much talk about it but very little action. Interdepartmental committees have been set up. We have had the Duke and Sumerland report that I have already mentioned. Many reports on investigations which have been held have been written, but no action has been taken. This is the important point. There has been a retreat away from some plan or some program. The blame must be shared between the departments- it is partly the fault of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, it is party the fault of the Department of Employment and Industrial
Relations and it is partly the fault of the Department of Education. It is total Government policy which is to blame. The Government has retreated from its responsibilities to the young Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory. There is a history of procrastination over many years-the 23 years to which the Minister referred and certainly there was procrastination during the years that the Labor Government was in office. I make no bones about that. But we are looking at what this Government is doing at this time. We do not want to be referring back to the Labor Government or to the 23 years prior to that unless it is a build-up. There has been no real achievement by the Government in this area. I turn now to repairs and maintenance to school buildings. Last week the Minister referred to a Northern Territory Teachers Federation Press release. I remind the Minister of the opening 2 paragraphs of the Press release. It states:
A serious repair and maintenance problem exists in the Northern Territory Aboriginal schools.
The perennial backlog has been exacerbated by a Federal Government decision to limit funds on minor new works in Aboriginal communities for the remainder of the financial year.
There will be no cuts but funds will be limited for the rest of this financial year. The Press release refers later to the fact that a number of schools have been designed for air-conditioning and that has not been supplied. It comments:
The conditions that teachers and students work under in these schools would not be tolerated in white schools in Australia.
Is that a retreat from the equality statement that was made by Her Majesty the Queen and that which was made in the earlier speech by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser)? The Minister has mentioned the Elcho Island situation, claiming that there is some improvement. I remind the Minister that the school was taken over while his Government was in office. The Northern Territory Teachers Federation recognised the Minister’s action- I am referring to one of its documents- in these words:
The Minister for Education, Senator Carrick announced in the Senate on Tuesday IS February the restoration of $1.2m to projects at the Elcho Island school.
Later the document gave some background to this situation. It stated:
In November, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Mr Viner announced that there would be $6.5m for Education and Health, capital works in the N.T. . . . Sl.lm was set aside for new toilets, a domestic science and manual arts wing and a library. Maintenance of teacher houses was allocated $110,000.
In January, the Minister for Education secretly withdrew the money. Its withdrawal did not come to light until the crisis blew up. The reason given for withdrawal was that the money could not be spend this financial year.
Not having the great faith that some others have in the Minister the authors finished their submission by saying:
The crisis is not over. The money has still to be spent.
Plenty of examples come from what the Minister referred to as E-Day last year. It was interesting that the Minister commended the people who came forward on E-Day to state their case. I remind him that the feeling was not reciprocated. I did not hear a great deal of commendation for government action in education.
Let us look then towards new buildings in the Northern Territory. An amount of $ 18.6m was allocated this year for all minor new works in the Northern Territory. Out of that amount $7.7m will be expended. This again is not a cut. It cannot be called a cut. It is called a deferral- a handier device. It is a device that one uses to say: We can tell people that we will spend this money but actually for these reasons and those reasons we cannot spend it’. I could go through and give a number of examples of buildings, not only school buildings but also teachers’ residences, where the same situation applies.
Let us look at the staffing record that we have been invited to examine. We have been asked to look at the record of this Government in the last 16 months. In the bilingual section, which was one of the greatest breakthroughs by the Labor Administration in its time of office, the positions of Principal Education Advisor and 3 senior education officers are all empty. In other words virtually all positions for advisory staff for this vital part of the program are empty. Many schools, particularly rural schools, are understaffed. Some have no staff at all. The turnover is excessively high. In areas of high turnover there is not a great deal of efficiency in teaching programs. The reasons for the turnover are quite clear- conditions of employment, living conditions and no incentive to the people to go into the bush. If honourable senators go back to Labor times they will not find the same problems, despite what has been said. In the schools area we have a staffing record which does not bear talking about. Let me refer now to the Darwin Community College which I mentioned earlier. I will read briefly from a letter written on behalf of the Staff Association Committee. It reads:
On behalf of the Staff Association of the Darwin Community College, I write to request your sympathetic consideration of the problems caused to this institution and to the people of the Territory, by the imposition of recent staff cuts -
The letter was written in May 1 976- and the consequent likelihood of inadequate staff numbers in 1977 and later years. You will be aware that this institution was created to serve the post secondary educational needs of the Northern Territory.
Later in the letter this comment is made:
The future of the College seems now to be under serious threat.
And to explain what would happen with a shortage of staff in 1977 these remarks are made:
College departments have assessed the consequences of an inadequate increase in 1977. These include cancellation of existing courses, the indefinite postponement of second and third stages of courses at present in their first year and a total inability to meet new course needs, besides affecting severely the academic standing of the College and its ability to gain national accreditation for its courses and to attract staff of high calibre.
A number of these things have occurred as was suggested they would because of a shortage of staff. Let us move now to the out-station movement- the homeland centre movementthat the Minister mentioned previously. The Minister supports that concept. He has given me a statement which says he has not changed his policy. But again we have a shortage of visiting teachers. We have a shortage of Aboriginal teachers. We have a shortage of vehicles to get people around to the centres. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, know the problems faced by the parents of isolated children from the work of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts. We know very clearly the comments made by those parents last year when they talked about the inadequacy of government support for students in the isolated areas. I have a note here which suggests that the School of the Air which operates out of Katherine cannot operate because a car is not available for the person involved. The same situation exists in Alice Springs.
Let us look now at the guidance and special services staff. Out of 1 1 counsellor positions in Aboriginal schools only three are filled. Out of 1 1 school liaison positions four are filled. In the European schools the staffing is better but there is inadequate support for the people who are working. Out of the 16 educators, band two in the adult education area- a most important area- eleven have been appointed. This is good, but let us look at the people who have to work with the educators, the Aboriginal Adult Education assistants. Out of the sixteen who can be appointed three have been appointed. The reason for this, quite clearly, is a freeze on positions. It is a deferral or a cut if you like. This means that the 1 1 European staff educators who have been appointed are rendered almost ineffective because it is the job of the Aboriginal assistants to identify the needs and to assist the teacher to prepare for them. I have already mentioned the European situation at the Community College. We might ask what has happened to the Katherine rural college which was to be built this year. That has also been deferred. It is not good enough to say that we are trying. There must be some reason why suddenly in the 16 months since the Government took office these positions have not been filled. Even if there were no reasons the simple fact is that the positions are not filled, the work is not being done and the conditions have slipped back alarmingly in the last 12 months.
I mentioned the associated services at some of the colleges. The students at Yirara College, to use one example have no dental service because of inadequate staff a the dental clinic. There is not adequate staff at Yirara College to take students for emergency treatment. It is quite clear that this is a retreating from responsibility. I have mentioned already the problem of the rehabilitation of juveniles. We will have a great many problems in the future because we have no rehabilitation. The need for support of the Aboriginal children in community schools has been recognised. It basically has been withdrawn. No research is being done as there was 3 years ago. A need exists for special curricula. No work is being done in this area. There is a need for inservice training. Little work is being done in this area. A cut- there is no other word for it- of $217,000 has been made in the independent schools in the Territory which Senator Tehan mentioned. I am not attacking the Department of Education. The people there are doing their job. I am not attacking the teachers. Many who are dedicated and who are trying to do the job have inadequate resources. The cut of half a million dollars for plant and equipment in 1976-77 rendered it difficult for them to do their work.
It is quite clear that the situation is the result of positive government action- across the board cuts, positive action to defer building programs, positive action to cut public works programsdecisions based on political philosophy rather than need. Clearly the Government has what I would call a crossed finger philosophy. It takes decisions and hopes that things will go right. It takes decisions and hopes that officers will carry on and make the thing work and that somehow it will get through. Despite the Minister’s bluster, his acknowledged sleight of hand with statisticswe had a delightful performance of this today- and all his attempts to blame Labor for the situation, he cannot disguise the fact that the Government has retreated from its responsibility to education in the Northern Territory, an area where, without doubt, it has full responsibility. I support fully the proposition moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– What an extraordinary debate this has turned into. The Opposition has moved an urgency motion relating to an alleged retreat by the Commonwealth Government on its responsibilities in education. It would have been interesting to hear some sort of development of the Opposition’s ideas of what constituted a retreat in education under this Government. Instead of that I suggest that Senator Wriedt, when moving the motion, resembled Lord Nelson when he deliberately chose to put his telescope to his blind eye. Nelson did not see anything through the telescope. Senator Wriedt remembered some selected facts and presented them in a vague sort of way.
Senator Mulvihill reminded me of Alice Through the Looking Glass. We heard a fascinating miscellany of little anecdotes and heart tugging personal situations, not one of which proved anything. I concluded, after he had nearly finished talking, that he was referring to migrant education. We all know that Senator Mulvihill has many worthwhile things to contribute on the subject of migrants in Australia but by trying to squash the worthwhile comments that he had to make on migrant education into a false framework he did not do himself justice. Senator Robertson took us for a wander through the dreamtime. Senator Robertson had some comments to make about Aboriginal teaching aides. He reminded me of somebody who hangs over some sort of psychological or mythical ‘time wall’ looking back at 1975, 1974 and 1973 and refusing to see what is happening in 1977 and into the future. Senator Robertson made some allegations about difficulties with Aboriginal teaching aides, and completely overlooked the fact that much of the backlog in the Aboriginal school areas in the Northern Territory arises from the failure of the Whitlam Government to take notice of recommendations of its own interdepartmental committee which it set up in 1973. There are many areas in which the Whitlam Government was negligent. Information was offered to the Labor Government and it did not take it up. Elcho Island is one case in point. That is one area where early action was recommended to the Whitlam Government and the Whitlam Government neglected to look at its own recommendations.
Let us return to the substance of the allegation that this Government has in some way retreated from its obligations. At least Senator Robertson tried to deal with the word ‘retreat’ and give it some significance and substance in relation to some of the things he said. At least he used the word in accordance with its literal meaning although the facts he presented did not prove his point. In what way could one say that the Government has retreated from its responsibilities in education? I think that there are probably 2 obvious areas of education to look at and on which to make a decision.
One could allege, if one wanted to prove a case, that perhaps the Government had retreated in the area of funding. I suggest that Senator Carrick and Senator Tehan, in presenting the facts in the area of funding, have made it quite clear that real growth in allocations of funds has taken place and is taking place under this Government. Promises have been made by the Fraser Government that real growth will continue to take place. The time at which there was a retreat in funding was under the Whitlam Government. The figures are clear. They have been stated over and over again. Nevertheless, Opposition spokesmen keep on saying that somehow or other there has been some reduction in funding. It is interesting to see where that phrase ‘reduction in funding’ turns up. One sees it repeated in certain journals, newspapers and pamphlets. One sees it repeated in a context which delineates, frankly, the political allegiance of those who use it. Senator Wriedt at one stage chose to quote as some sort of an authority the New South Wales Teachers Journal. The Journal devoted a great deal of its space in the most recent issue I have seen to talking about the cuts that the Fraser Government has introduced in government spending on education. Such publications assert this and go on and on just saying it, apparently in the expectation that people will believe it. Who knows, maybe if they are lucky they will actually talk us into doing it at some time in the future. That is not the present fact. Reiteration will not make it fact.
The Fraser Government has been committed to a real growth in funds. It re-introduced triennial funding. If ever there was a policy which dislocated, defied and retreated from all reality in the area of education funding it was the Whitlam Government’s decision in 1975 to abandon the triennium and transfer education funding to a 12 month basis. That was the major retreat. The triennial system of funding had been a well established one, in the university and college areas at least, for many years. It was introduced for a good reason. It worked. That is the reason it was introduced. That is the good reason for which it was retained. In spite of all the evidence that the triennium was necessary for proper funding, certainly in the tertiary area, the Whitlam Government abandoned it. It gave the post-secondary education area a jerk and a shock from which it is only just recovering in terms of the way in which it can plan.
In terms of funding, for the States to enable them to meet their responsibilities, this Government has pursued policies which are very definite and real. In this context there has been quite a deal of reference to the letter of the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to the State Premiers. A great part of the letter has to do with future arrangements with the states of possible future funding arrangements. I wish to make some brief comments on a couple of sections of the letter. Since the letter has figured so much in this debate I should like to have it incorporated in Hansard for the benefit of those who are interested in knowing the total text. I seek leave to that end.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
Prime Minister Canberra
My dear Premier,
You will be aware that, against the background of the Government’s Federalism Policy, Commonwealth/State financial and administrative arrangements in a number of areas have been under examination. In this context my Government has given preliminary consideration to possible ways of improving the existing arrangements for support for schools, technical and further education, colleges of advanced education and universities. You will no doubt agree that high priority must continue to be given to governmental support for education, and that we should jointly be doing what we can to improve the efficiency and co-ordination of our efforts to get the best value possible from our outlays.
From our own preliminary consideration, we have come to the view that there may well be significant room for improving the existing separate co-operative arrangements applying to the various sectors of education. One step we have taken in this context is the recently announced decision to replace three education Commissions with one Commission to cover the whole post-secondary area, which will enable the Commonwealth Government to receive better coordinated advice on the three separate components in the post-secondary area.
We are interested in exploring jointly with States possible avenues for rationalisation and better co-ordination, in particular in administration and finance, across the whole education function but we fully appreciate the complexities that any such exercise entails. We certainly do not envisage any immediate changes to the present arrangements. Neither is there any attempt by the Commonwealth to retreat from its present position in which education is regarded as an area of substantial commitment, nor to reduce its overall financial contribution.
Commonwealth funding in education ranges at present from full support for universities and colleges of advanced education to varying levels of complementary support for the schools and TAFE sectors. Co-ordinating and advisory machinery for governments also varies from sector to sector. The Commonwealth has been considering the possibility of more even funding arrangements across all sectors whilst recognizing the traditional role of the States. We consider it is possible that a new overall system might be devised which would be acceptable to all governments and could significantly improve co-ordination between governments and rationalisation in the provision of education. We see a continuing place for the Education Commissions consistent with both Commonwealth and State responsibilities.
We have now reached the stage where, if you are agreeable, we would wish to explore the matter with the States.
I am writing to you, therefore, to seek your agreement to discussion without commitment at this stage being initiated by my Minister for Education, Senator Carrick, with his State colleagues. I am writing to the other Premiers in similar terms, and would be grateful for your early advice.
The Hon. N. Wran, Q.C., M.L.A., Premier of New South Wales, SYDNEY N.S.W. 2000
-In this letter the Prime Minister made a couple of very important comments about directions and priorities. In the first paragraph he stated some general intentions of the Fraser Government towards education. He said: my Government has given preliminary consideration to possible ways of improving the existing arrangements for support for schools, technical and further education, colleges of advanced education and universities. You will no doubt agree that high priority must continue to be given to governmental support for education.
If the Prime Minister had any thought of retreating in the area of education would he be making a statement of policy as clear and as unequivocal as that? Would he say that high priority must continue to be given to governmental support for education, if the Commonwealth Government was giving it a lower priority? The Prime Minister is not a fool. He knows that if he puts those words into a letter to the State Premiers they are words he will have to live up to. They are, in effect, a promise to the Premiers of the intention of the Government. He would not have put them in a letter in February 1977 with any intention of embarking shortly afterwards on some sort of retreat.
The Prime Minister went on to say:
We are interested in exploring jointly with States possible avenues for rationalisation and better co-ordination, in particular in administration and finance, across the whole education function but we fully appreciate the complexities that any such exercise entails. We certainly do not envisage any immediate changes to the present arrangements. Neither is there any attempt by the Commonwealth to retreat from its present position in which education is regarded as an area of substantial commitment, nor to reduce its overall financial contribution.
Senator Wriedt queried those words and said that they did not mean anything. I should have thought that they were clear. There is no attempt by the Government to retreat from its present position in which education is regarded as an area of substantial commitment nor to reduce its overall financial contribution. I should have thought that that statement would be as clear as anyone would need as a statement of intent from a Prime Minister on a specific area of policy.
The Prime Minister went on to say:
We see a continuing place for the Education Commissions consistent with both Commonwealth and State responsibilities.
The Prime Minister used the word ‘retreat’ in a manner meant to negate any concept that the policies that were being pursued were a retreat. The facts bear out his statement. There has not been a retreat in funding. In fact, the States and the various areas of education spending are very much better off.
Perhaps we ought to look at direction. Has there been any retreat in terms of policies and philosophies? Senator Robertson said an extraordinary thing at one stage during his speech. He said that he did not wish to look at previous governments’ policies. Senator Robertson might not have wished to do so but he made a couple of comments on the subject along the way. His Leader, Senator Wriedt, certainly wished to do so. Senator Wriedt said that comparatively nothing or very little of any significance happened in education until 1972. I should like to consider that comment in a moment if I have time. He also made another extraordinary comment. He said that this Government had not achieved onetenth he then corrected himself and said onefiftieth of what the Labor Government achieved. There has been no attempt by any of the Labor speakers to bring forward any reasonable basis of comparison between what the Labor Government achieved in education and what the Fraser Government is achieving. Senator Wriedt ‘s statement, unsubstantiated and made baldly, was the basis of his assertions in relation to the retreat. Those assertions were not proven. Since proof was not brought forward to substantiate any fraction of that extraordinary statement I suggest that it ought to be rejected.
The Government has announced policies for a Eost-secondary education commission. They h ave been defined. It is an attempt to co-ordinate and rationalise education in the post-secondary area. In my experience, the Government statement on policy has been welcomed by spokesmen in all the post-secondary areas of education.
The possibility for some son of devolution of responsibility also lies in that policy. That is something at which we must look. Over and over again, tertiary educators have said to me that they thought it was a good idea when it was first suggested that the Commonwealth Government should take over all funding. Now they realise that there are some pitfalls and that they have handed themselves over to central planning which has operated in such a way that it has been extremely difficult for them to make what, in some cases, amount to only day to day housekeeping decisions. By attempting to rationalise across those areas the confusion between the commissions can be removed and we will have a more effective utilisation of resources.
The Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) stated clearly during his speech that this debate really is an exercise in politics. It shows no real concern for education because there has been no worthwhile attempt to analyse education direction and policies and needs in Australia. It has been at times, at the worst, a slanging match and at other times a series of assertions from Opposition senators on isolated cases from which they did not even attempt to prove any general sort of rule, much less would they have been able to had they made the attempt. Senator Mulvihill gave heart warming little anecdotes about personal experiences. I would just like to say something very briefly in that context about Senator Wriedt ‘s comment that nothing had happened in education prior to 1972.I was at school prior to 1972.I was at school during the 1950s when the Menzies Government was involved in the post secondary area, the tertiary area, but when the States were totally controlling primary and secondary education funding. I was unfortunate enough to attend school in a State which had a Labor Government and which had had a Labor Government effectively for about twenty or thirty years. Yes, Senator McAuliffe, I went to school that far back. In my home town of Brisbane there were 3 Government high schools but frankly it was easier to get a child through university with Commonwealth Government support then than it was to get a child through high school so that that child could go to university, because of the parlous state of the schools under a State Labor Government. The only real alternative for people who cared about the education of their children was to send them to private schools which were comparatively very much more expensive in those days than they are today. Just occasionally we ought to look over our shoulder and remind ourselves as to just which party has the best track record pre- 1 972 or post- 1972 in the area of education and remind people of it. We ought to suggest to them that on that basis they might draw some conclusions about credibility.
My time has nearly expired. I would like to leave the Senate with this thought. It is worthwhile to have debates on education in Australia in this chamber and on previous occasions we have had some very interesting ones which have shown a bipartisan spirit. There is no value at all -for the purpose of good education of young or older Australians- in this sort of political exercise which is geared to a day next week when there will be some demonstrations on the subject of education. The demonstrators are welcome to express their concern, to bring forward their information and their particular expertise. It is unfortunate that this year we will not be in Canberra to hear them. Last year we were here and we had that opportunity. Nevertheless they bring forward information and a point of view which is important. The information and the point of view expressed so spuriously during this debate is irrelevant and unimportant. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
– For the information of honourable senators I present part 2 of the final report of the National Superannuation Committee of Inquiry. I seek leave to make a statement relating to that report.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Soon after assuming office as Minister for Social Security I discussed with the National Superannuation Committee its progress to that time and the general approach which it intended to take. The Chairman, Professor Hancock, suggested that it would be appropriate to present the Committee’s recommendations in 2 stages. The first would deal with the question of national superannuation, the second with the implications which its introduction might have for occupational superannuation. It would also examine the possible need to modify schemes of superannuation. I agreed that this would be an appropriate course for the Committee to adopt. Last year I tabled in the Senate part one of the Committee’s final report- see Hansard, pages 2203-6-and today I present part two, entitled Occupational Superannuation in Australia.
When I presented the first part of the report last June, I said that a copy had been referred to the Income Security Review for advice. Naturally that body could not provide a final assessment of the national superannuation recommendation until it had been able to study the second part of the Committee’s report. That study is now being undertaken. I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 35A (2) of the Prices Justification Act 1973, I present the report of the Prices Justification Tribunal in respect of the 6-months ended 31 December 1976. Due to the limited numbers of the report available at this time, I have arranged for reference copies of the report to be placed in the Parliamentary Library and with the Senate Records Office. Normal distribution of the report will be made as soon as copies are available.
-For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table the official report of the Australian Parliamentary Delegation to the United States of America from 26 June to 16 July 1976. I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-In June and July 1976 a delegation from the Australian Parliament visited the United States of America. It was lead by the Honourable J. E. McLeay, and included Senator Fred Chaney, Mr John Hyde, M.P., Mr Ralph Jacobi, M.P., and myself. The visit was a useful and interesting experience for all of us. Although many of our parliamentary colleagues have been to the United States independently, ours was the first delegation to visit the United States since 1972. A visit to the United States is always a fascinating experience but it was particularly fitting that we were there on 4 July 1976, the two hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States. We followed a demanding schedule that took us to 6 States and the District of Columbia in a little less that 3 weeks. Given the limits on time and the size of the country, our itinerary gave us the maximum possible exposure to America’s many wonders, both natural and man-made.
This report touches on a number of issues which are of current concern to the Parliament. In particular it records our observations of the United States approach to Federal/State relationships and urban redevelopment in those areas which we visited. In Kentucky we met officers of the Council of State Governments which has its headquarters at Lexington. This is a very active group drawing together representatives of the States around matters of mutual concern including legislation, policies and programs of the United States Federal Government and Congress, as effecting State and local governments. Our report summarises our activities and we hope it will be of interest to the Parliament and useful as a guide to future delegations which may visit the United States.
I would like to express my appreciation of the efforts of all who were involved in organising our visit. I am sure that Senator Chaney will do likewise. Of the 7 cities that we visited, Australia was represented in only 3, and we relied to a considerable extent on the goodwill and hospitality of State Governments, private organisations and the many individuals who extended the hand of friendship to us. The Australian Ambassador in Washington, the Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York and our Consuls General in Chicago and New York also gave freely of their time and their staff went to great lengths to provide every assistance to us. The Legislative Research Service provided us with a very comprehensive background brief. We are most grateful to them all.
I commend the report to the Senate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Sitting suspended from 5.51 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed fom 29 March, on motion by Senator Withers:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Defence Amendment Bill (No. 2) which is before us is merely a formal Bill which the Opposition does not oppose. The second reading speech which was delivered by the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) indicates that the purpose of the Bill is to remove the requirement under section 80b of the Defence Act 1903 for collectors of Service decorations to obtain permits for that purpose. The existing requirement was seen by the Government as an unnecessary restriction on collectors who had taken a great interest in Australia’s military heritage and had done much to preserve our military relics. It is not necessary for me to read from the second reading speech because the Minister has already done that. With those few words, I commend the Bill and support its swift passage.
– in reply- I thank Senator Georges and the Opposition for their support of the Defence Amendment Bill (No. 2) and for its speedy passage through the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29 March, on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition will not be opposing the Asian Development Bank (Additional Subscription) Bill which deals with the Australian Government’s approval for an appropriation to the Asian Development Bank of approximately $34.6m. Similar Bills come before the Parliament fairly frequently. This Bill reflects the involvement of the Australian Government in the work of the Asian Development Bank. I think we are all aware of just how much has been done by the Asian Development Bank over the years. It was formed for the purpose of assisting many of the developing countries and enabling them to expand their economic activity and provide credit. Undoubtedly the Bank, in conjunction with other similar organisations, has been of great benefit to many of those countries. The number of countries which the ADB has assisted over the years has increased. There has been increasing involvement by the Saudi Arabian Government with the Asian Development Bank and that, of course, is a very healthy sign.
Most of the capital which has been provided over the years has come from what we generally describe as the developed nations where capital is available in larger quantities. I believe it is a feature of note that as a result of the tremendous shift of the world’s capital resources into Middle East areas following the increase in oil prices in the early 1970s, those countries are also prepared to assist in the work of the Bank. The Bank lends over a very wide range of economic activity in the regions it covers. For example, 35 per cent of its appropriation in 1 975 went into the agriculture and agro-industry sector; 28 per cent went into public utilities; 19 per cent went into manufacturing industry which includes development banks of those countries; and 12 per cent went into transport and communications. I notice that unfortunately approximately only 2 per cent went into the area of education. Despite that, these approvals for these areas of development have been of significant advantage in those countries.
The Bank lends under the ordinary loan system and, predominantly, those loans have gone into countries such as Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan and the Philippines. The Bank also has a distribution under a special loan fund and most of those funds have gone into countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The impact of increases in oil and resources prices over the last few years has created tremendous difficulties for the developing countries but it does seem that these have now been largely absorbed into their economies despite the fact that the strains which were occasioned by those increases have left those countries with internal debt problems. Obviously those are still a very great burden to them. While we have this Bill before us it could also be said that the present Australian Government is obviously decreasing its general involvement in the area of overseas aid. We all know that some years ago the United Nations General Assembly sought a commitment from the developed countries to increase to one per cent the proportion of their gross domestic product going into overseas aid programs.
All Australian Governments, at least on the face of it, have subscribed to the attaining of a .7 per cent target in this area. Unfortunately, in the last year especially, that percentage has begun to decline. It is now less than one-half per cent. I know that any government in a very tight economic situation has occasion to restrict spending in all areas but it is a great tragedy that this Government has seen fit to prune the moneys which we, as a nation, are making available to the developing world. Even though it may seem a cliche to talk about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, it is a fact that most of the developing countries are, relatively, getting poorer when compared with countries like our own. In political terms, I do not know the answer. I do not know that any of us know the answer. We all know that domestically it is not a popular political issue to be talking about more assistance in the overseas aid area. I can recall the last survey on this matter, conducted four of five years ago, which showed overwhelmingly that the great majority of Australians do not accept increased allocation of funds to developing nations. I do not think that this is a reflection of selfishness on the part of the Australian community so much as a reflection of its ignorance of the seriousness of the problem facing these other people. It is said frequently that charity begins at home. I believe that charity begins where there is the greatest need for it and we have sufficient wealth in our country to satisfy the problems of Australia, assuming we do not set our goals too high; but so many other nations comprising probably one-third of the human race have little prospects other than poverty and almost hopelessness.
It may well be that we as politicians will have to be bigger than we are and sink party political differences in this area to adopt a common policy. If there is to be a political backlash to a government in this country which increases the amount of aid to developing countries, it is understandable that that government will think twice before it brings down that criticism on its own head. However, that is no reason or justification for running away from the problem and if there is one area in respect of which political parties ought to sink their differences it is this area. It would seem not unreasonable that the major parties ought to set themselves a goal along the lines of the policy agreed to by the United Nations. We simply should implement that policy. I suppose that Treasurers and prospective Treasurers would find that argument very hard to accept but if there is any way of implementing the agreements that have been reached at United Nations level this would seem to me to be it.
The fact is that we are not doing enough. The previous Labor Administration did increase its allocation and would have liked to have done more. It is a great tragedy that the percentage of our revenue being given in aid is declining, and if it is a matter of political parties not being sufficiently courageous to take unpopular steps, the only way we can increase the amount is by a common national approach by the major political parties. That might hold out some hope for the future. With those few remarks I indicate that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill.
– I am very pleased to have the opportunity of following Senator Wriedt in a debate of this nature because I recall, as he may, that when he was a Minister in the previous Government I spoke in the debate on the Asian Development Bank legislation which he introduced. I want to echo some of the sentiments he has expressed concerning the general desire for an agreement and consensus on this very important matter of our regional co-operation between developed and developing countries. When the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton) introduced this Bill in the Senate last night he pointed out that its purpose was to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to take up an increase of $US346m in capital subscriptions. He detailed the Bank’s lending activities and put them into a couple of areas, one of which he described as ordinary operations which were financed on the basis of the Bank’s capital resources either directly or through borrowings in the world ‘s capital markets.
The Minister pointed out that there were special operations which involved loans made on highly concessional terms to the Asian Development Bank’s poorest and least developed member countries. It is important to lay some emphasis on this reference to the highly concessional terms to these least developed member countries of the Asian Development Bank. Until now Australia has made substantial commitments to the concessional funds of the Bank and the Minister outlined the number of shares to which each member country was entitled to subscribe under the capital increase. The Minister asked for support because he believed it to be in Australia ‘s interest to continue this policy of support for the Asian Development Bank. I, along with others, give that support because I believe that the Asian Development Bank is an effective and efficient vehicle for regional co-operation and development.
This is not the first legislation related to the Asian Development Bank which has come into the Senate chamber. I recall speaking in the debate when the Asian Development Bank was first set up in 1966, over 10 years ago, under an Act which authorised Australia’s initial share subscription of some $US85m, of which $US42m was paid in. Then we had additional legislation in 1970 authorising the contribution of $US10m to special funds for concessional lending. There was further legislation in 1972 authorising additional share subscriptions as part of a 150 per cent increase in the Bank ‘s capital stock. In 1974 the Asian Development Fund Act was passed which superseded the multipurpose special fund and contributions to that fund were then established on a more organised basis. The Asian Development Fund Act 1976 authorised an additional contribution and further legislation in 1976 related to the special fund contribution. Now we have this legislation before the Senate tonight and we give it our support.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) said earlier in his remarks, the Asian Development Bank (Additional Subscription) Bill not only seeks to authorise some additional funding process but also is related very much to the relationship between developed and underdeveloped countries and to the responsibility of developed countries to those countries which are in some need. Furthermore, I would say that this is not only an economic and financial measure but also one which has very strong overtones of a social consciousness because it involves government funding of an international financial institution for the development of countries and also reminds the citizens of the developed countries of their particular obligation to our region of the world.
Earlier this year the Government sounded a note of encouragement to the developed countries in the Asian area, which could be described as the region in which Australia is located, to pay particular attention to the developing countries. As I recall the statement at the time, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock) indicated that countries such as Australia and Japan have a responsibility to other countries in the Asian area. The Government called on both Australia and Japan as well as other developed countries in the area to give attention to lending momentum to the prosperity of and co-operation between the peoples of Asia. The Australian Government already had indicated its desire to see an improved standard of living in our neighbouring countries. However, it is a recognised fact that constraints, whether political or economic, have a tendency to influence our idealistic expression. So I suppose that we do this kind of work in an atmosphere which is a mixture of aid policy on the one hand and trade policy on the other, some of it prompted by an altruistic concern and some by economic protectionism and self-interest. In saying that, I do not imply any criticism because we have to understand that in all of these considerations there is an element of human nature. It is true we are anxious that our section of the world shall be as prosperous as it can be, that its economics and its social element shall be stable and that its political element shall be satisfactory. However, we are also concerned about the standards of living, the security and the well-being of our people.
The matter of tariffs in relation to our economic association with the countries served by the Asian Development Bank, the subject of the Bill now before the Senate, is probably as important as any consideration in our aid relations with the countries in our area. For example, earlier this year a considerable number of tariff concessions were granted. Well over 100 commodities produced by the developing countries in the Asian area received some tarin” concession from the Australian Government. The Australian overseas student aid program is also influenced by what is called the education aid dollar. Probably the value of the money spent is greatest when it is directed towards the support of cheap relevant courses in the students’ home regions. But whilst the Government may endorse the emphasis on training foreign students in Australia, it may do this not because it is more efficient to do so but because the cultural and political benefits to Australia sometimes seem more attractive and more beneficial.
It is important when we look at a measure of this kind relating to the furthering of the work of the Asian Development Bank that we understand it involves more than just economics between countries and an institution based in a country in the Asian area. It is also bound up with the whole development of the work force, the prices of commodities and the economic features relating to the production of goods within the Asian area, including the sales by those countries and the purchases of other countries. It seems to me from my reading that the labour force within the Asian area is likely to increase very considerably by the end of the century. It has been stated by one authority that the work force in the Asian area probably will double by the end of the century. If this is so, the developed countries must take account of the great expansion of labour intensive manufacturing industries in these countries where that expansion of the labour force is likely to take place. This means that the gap between the Australian and the Asian labour costs may grow wider than it is at present. It is possible that Australian secondary industry may very well come under competitive challenge from certain countries within Asia.
It also means that while Australia may very worthily make a contribution to the Asian Development Bank, it may very well be that the fundamental problem facing Australia over the next decade may not be unemployment, serious though it may be; it may not even be inflation, serious as it may be. The fundamental problem may be the policies that we are evolving towards our manufacturing sector in response to what I call these outside developments to which I have referred. If we have enthusiasm for an institution such as the Asian Development Bank, it may very well be that we ought to give some thought to restructuring certain sectors of our manufacturing industry, to concentrate more on exports and less on import replacement industries which can survive only behind very high tariff walls. I do not make any suggestions along those lines. I do not provide the answers to the very many questions of this kind. I merely take the opportunity to mention these kinds of things in relation to the measure in which the Australian economic situation is very much involved. We are contributing a considerable amount of money, as we have done over the last 10 years, to the institution known as the Asian Development Bank.
When the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) last year was speaking of what I think he called the world situation, he called for, as I remember his words, a greater trade access for the primary products of the developing countries. These are a very important sector of international operations when it comes to economics. These products should also be taken into consideration by the governments of all the countries involved in relation to this interdependence which exists between the various countries of the Asian area. As honourable senators know, I am an enthusiast for aid programs. I give constant attention to thinking about what are appropriate and suitable methods of aid programs for developing countries. It may very well be that the kind of aid about which we talk a great deal these days is the least effective way to assist developing countries. The matters of trade, tariffs and resource access are also very important and should be taken into account. I think that these are all parts of the element that Mr Peacock refers to when he talks about the momentum for regional prosperity.
Therefore, whilst this Asian Development Bank (Additional Subscription) Bill may be a machinery measure allowing for additional funds and for additional involvement by the Australian Government and by the Australian economic institutions, it is important to point out that we have not yet reached a stage of resolution of the serious economic, personal and social problems in relation to co-operation in our area. We may call it international aid. We may call it developmental co-operation. But at all times the
Government must remember that there exists all around this prosperous and affluent Australian community a whole range of nations with a tremendous population and that the opportunities which are available to us are not available to them. I believe that the operation of the Asian Development Bank is one way in which opportunities can be presented to institutions and to people in the Asian area. I endorse this further development of the Asian Development Bank. I hope that the Bill receives enthusiastic support.
-The Senate is discussing the Asian Development Bank (Additional Subscription) Bill which has recently come before us. As my colleague the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Wriedt, has said, the Opposition lends its support to the measure. The Bill is a very important one. It is designed to assist those who are not as well off as are we in Australia or, at least, the great bulk of us who live in Australia. The Asian Development Bank has been designed to help develop those countries which are in the developing stage. It is also designed to help those people who live in the developing countries and who are really suffering the great problems of poverty, ignorance, hunger, malnutrition, disease and all those things that go with not being as privileged as Australians. Because we of the Labor movement try to understand the problems of these people and try as much as we can to assist them to overcome their problems, we have pleasure in supporting this legislation.
Most members of Parliament have been to some of the countries that will be assisted by this measure. It appears to me that in many of these countries there are always 2 classes of citizens. They are the rich and the poor. Within those categories, there appear to me from my observations, having visited those countries, to be the extreme rich, the very rich and the rich on the one hand and, unfortunately, on the other hand the poor, the very poor and the extreme poor. The purpose of legislation of this nature virtually is to help bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. I hope that by the passage of this legislation in some small degree we are contributing to a bridging of what is a very vast gap.
I always like going to these countries to see what a lot of people call the ‘other world’. But having been to them, I must say that on my return I always count my blessings that I am an Australian and that I was born in Australia. As Senator Davidson said, the population of these developing countries is increasing rapidly. I think he suggested that by the end of this century the population in the area that is the subject of the measure before the chamber will have practically doubled. That indeed is going to throw enormous burdens on the local enconomies and on society generally. If one reads the most recent annual report of the Asian Development Bank and sees that the deficit on an annual basis is of the order of some $12 billion to $13 billion, one realises that the amount involved in this legislation is somewhat of a drop in the ocean.
The purpose of the Bill is to enable Australia to take up an increase of $346. lm in capital subscription to the Asian Development Bank. As my colleague, Senator Wriedt, has said, the Opposition does not oppose the legislation. When we were in government from 1972 to 1975 we were great supporters of institutions of this nature. The further proposal embodied in the legislation is that 10 per cent of that amount, namely, $34.6m, be paid into the fund over a period of some 4 years and that the remainder of the amount, about $30 lm, be in the form of funds that are available on call. Having mentioned those sums of $346. lm and $34.6m that are to be paid into the funds over a period of 4 years, as I said earlier, when one realises that the Bank is running at a deficit of the order of $ 12 billion to $13 billion a year and bearing in mind the problems of the people that we are trying to assist most, the amount that is the subject of this legislation is a mere drop in the bucket.
The Bill also authorises the Treasurer (Mr Lynch) to make agreements with the Bank to purchase 2869 paid-in shares and 25 818 callable shares as Australia’s capital subscription, the total number of shares to be subscribed being 28 687. I note that of the regional members of the Asian Development Bank Australia is the third largest subscriber after Japan and India. Of the regional members and the non-regional members-the non-regional members including the United States- Australia is the fourth largest subscriber after the United States, Japan and India. Therefore, whilst we as a nation appear to be a good performer in this area so far as subscription to Asian development is concerned, which represents a part of our nation’s philosophy to assist in the development of less fortunate nations and less fortunate people, the fact is that the proportion of our gross domestic product which is allocated to investments of this nature in overseas aid has declined from 0.55 per cent to 0.49 per cent this financial year.
That is something to be regretted, particularly, as I said, bearing in mind that the Asian Development Bank is operating on a deficit basis of some $12 billion to $13 billion a year. Whilst there is a huge difference between the incomes of people in those countries and those of the developed world, surely we as a nation must be doing whatever we can and all that we possibly can to assist those most in need. Only recently I, and I suppose most members of this Parliament received a letter from Mr Len Reid, a former member of the House of Representatives, referring to the problems of those who are more in need than we are. I commend that letter to the sympathetic reading of honourable senators.
The Asian Development Bank has its headquarters in Manila. It was established in 1966. Its aims and objectives are to lend funds to developing nations to promote investment and to provide technical assistance to developing member countries with a view generally to fostering economic growth in and co-operation between the Asian and Pacific regions. Whilst there is always a tendency on our part to appear to be directing our minds and thoughts to the nations immediately to the north of us, I invite the attention of honourable senators to the fact that the purpose of the Bank is generally to assist economic growth in and co-operation between the Asian and Pacific areas. To the east of Australia are many hundreds of thousands of people who are in need of assistance as much as the millions of people who reside to the north of Australia. I notice that a number of Pacific countries already are in receipt of loans from the Bank- Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Gilbert Islands, to name merely a few.
That brings me to an answer that I received from the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) to a question I placed on notice on 9 March relating to the problems of the Banaban community in the Pacific Ocean- the people who had been members of the Ocean Island community, who had shifted from Ocean Island because of the constant taking of phosphate rock from that island, and who have now gone to the Banaban Islands in the Fijian group. We all know that the Banabans took an action in the British High Court against the British Phosphate Commission for a loss of benefits as a direct result of the mining of phosphate on Ocean Island.
I was interested to learn that the legal costs incurred by the Commissioners representing the 3 partner governments- that is, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia- on the action against the Commissioners have been charged against accumulated revenue earned from activities not directly associated with the phosphate operations on Ocean Island. These costs as at 30 June 1 976 totalled $ 1 ,093,620 and costs incurred since then amount to approximately $50,000. That is quite a substantial amount in anyone’s terms. Litigation involving these people in the British High Court to date has cost some $lm, yet we find that in the judgment handed down on the replanting cases against the British Phosphate Commissioners it was left to the parties involved in the litigation to attempt to reach agreement on the quantum of damages which were not to be ‘ minimal ‘ or ‘ very large ‘.
I assure you, Mr President, I am not raising this matter for political reasons. I am merely saying that it is rather sad that Sim has to be involved in legal expenses in a High Court action in the United Kingdom when, if there had been some rapport between the various governments and the people involved, that $lm could have been put to the immediate benefit of the people who claim to have been offended by the actions of the British Phosphate Commission over the years. I hope that the Asian Development Bank might be able to look at the problems of the Banaban community and assist them, provide finance to enable them to return to their former homeland, and contribute to their well-being. I mention the Pacific islands particularly because I had the honour in 1975, just prior to the dismissal of the Labor Government, to lead the Australian delegation to the Pacific Conference held in Nauru. Having met at first hand representatives from the Pacific countries, from the Gilbert and Ellice islands, from Tuvalu, from Guam and from the New Hebrides, I came to the conclusion that much more could be done than had been done up to that stage to assist those countries to reach a standard of living which one could reasonably call human and decent.
In the last available quarterly review published by the Asian Development Bank it is interesting to note the difference in the spending involved in the period between 1968 and 30 September 1976 and that for the year 1975. In the period from 1968 to 30 September 1976, 18.6 per cent of the total amount of $3,009m- in round figures- was devoted to transport and communications. In 1975 that figure had been reduced to 12.35 per cent. Expenditure on public utilities between 1968 and September 1976 amounted to 34.26 per cent whereas the figure for 1975 was 28.76 per cent. Expenditure on agriculture and agro-industry in the period 1968 to 30 September 1 976 was 23.96 per cent, but in the year 1975 expenditure on agriculture and agro-industry was 37.23 per cent. I think that is indicative of the problems which confront the Bank when making loans available. As Senator Davidson quite rightly said, the population in these areas is growing at a very substantial rate, and it is interesting to note that the amount spent on education so far as the Bank was concerned was a mere 2.2 per cent. The prime object, of course, is to find food for these people to enable them to continue to exist. The problems that they face are vast and anything we can do to assist them- I suggest that what we are doing here is the minimum we can do- should be done.
In the annual report of the Asian Development Bank this passage appears:
The strains placed on the Bank’s DMCs during 1973 -
The DMCs, of course, are the developing member countries- have been unprecedented and will persist. If these countries are to achieve and sustain a perceptible increase in per capita income, they will need a much larger inflow of external resources in the coming years. The Bank’s region is the poorest of the world’s developing regions.
I emphasise that.
Yet, on a population basis, it receives a smaller inflow of external resources than any other developing region. This imbalance needs to be redressed, especially to help those countries most seriously affected by the recent economic crises.
When those matters are borne in mind, the least we can do is to lend our support to a measure of this nature. In conclusion, I wish to point out some of the matters highlighted in the 1975 report of the Asian Development Bank:
Much of the lending in 1975 was directed to sectors where the need for accelerated development was most urgent -
This is one of the points that I made earlier- 37 per cent to agriculture and agricultural-related activities and 29 per cent to public utilities, mainly for exploitation of indigenous power resources. . . .
New avenues for borrowing were opened up- in Europe and in the Middle East.
It might be interesting, from a parochial angle, to note that in April 1974 the Bank made a bond issue in Kuwait:
Eight borrowings totalling $322. 8m were made, more than the total of borrowings in previous years.
In the field of technical assistance, emphasis was placed on institution-building and the training of local staff.
Increased attention was given, both in loans and technical assistance, to the social aspects of development, to benefit both the urban and rural poor.
Greatly expanded co-operation with other donors resulted in co-financing of three large fertilizer projects with total costs of $598m, of which the Bank’s share was $1 10m.
Because of the importance of the need to assist those sections of humanity which most need assisting, because this Bank functions in the area which might commonly be referred to as the poorer section of the world, the Opposition has great pleasure in supporting the measure and deeply regrets the fact that, because of economic circumstances apparently existing in this country, the amount involved cannot be greater than that which is the subject of this legislation.
– I rise to support my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland. The Bill we are debating is the Asian Development Bank (Additional Subscription) Bill 1977 and its purpose is to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to take up an increase of $US346.1m net capital subscription to the Asian Development Bank, of which $US34.6m is to be paid in and the remainder is to be on call. Of course the Labor Party supports the proposition, and supports it strongly on the basis of an increasing concern. I read this morning an article headed ‘Aid staff to be cut- to act on cuts’. This is an odd headline, but upon looking into the article itself concern should be expressed by members of the Senate not only for the staff of the Asian Development Assistance Bureau but also at the fact that it is necessary, because of economic circumstances, to reduce the amount of aid being made available to underdeveloped countries. Nevertheless, criticism is limited to that concern. We trust that the economic situation will improve so that the Government can give a higher priority to aid to underdeveloped countries.
In this place from time to time we prepare speeches in support of or in opposition to various Bills or various statements. I prepared some figures when the foreign affairs statement was being debated in this place but the time allotted for the debate elapsed and I did not have the opportunity to put down some figures which are very pertinent to the debate here tonight in support of the Asian Development Bank. I should like to recall a statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Peacock, which went as follows:
The development of a more efficient and equitable world economic order is dependent upon trade and financial relationships. The continuing balance of payments problems of many developing countries has had a serious effect on their rate of development.
No one can argue with that statement. It is absolutely fundamental and very much correct. The information that I want to read into the record is facts which are related to the underdevelopment of the countries which this Bill is endeavouring to assist. The facts are devastating. The overall picture, according to a report published by the United Nations at the beginning of 1970, is that there are today more sick, more undernourished and more uneducated children in the world than there were 10 years ago. So, in fact we are going backwards. In developing countries 100 children are born every half minute. More than half the world’s population over 10 years of age has never been to school. In the mid-1960s, according to the report, the proportion of children of school age enrolled in primary schools was 53 per cent in Brazil, 55 per cent in Zambia, 40 per cent in India, 26 per cent in Pakistan and 34 per cent in Burma. Of every 100 children entering primary school in developing countries only 30 children finished their course.
The statistics of the United Nations for the mid-1960s reveal also that out of a total world population of about 3100 million, about 1450 million people are without facilities for medical care. Five hundred million people suffer from the eye disease trachoma; 150 million people each year are victims of bilharzia which is caused by a parasite in the blood, and each year about 250 million people suffer from the skin disease filariasis. On average, an Indian has a daily intake of 1900 calories; a Kenyan, 2240 calories; a Peruvian, 2300 calories compared with 3 1 80 in the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom the average protein intake is 88 grams per person per day. In Peru, it is 55.4 grams and in India it is 47 grams. One can go on to read paragraph after paragraph in these reports which indicate how depressed conditions are in the underdeveloped countries. It is a sad commentary that as the years progress the position in the underdeveloped countries is becoming worse. For that reason the legislation which we are supporting tonight is of vital importance in order to lift the standards of those countries because their problems and their economic instability may spread and engulf us all. That is a matter of self- interest, of course. We should be forgetting our own position and endeavouring to consider the position of the under-developed countries.
There are other means of assisting the underdeveloped countries which are being considered. I do not intend tonight to go into these but I would ask the Government to consider its attitude towards the Common Fund proposals because in this scheme there may be some greater advantage to under-developed countries than in the present rather narrow methods which are associated with the Asian Development Bank. Further than that, I have little to say except that there is a growing widespread concern. Fortunately, within our community a variety of organisations are growing in strength and are being added to by other organisations which seek to assist the under-developed countries. It is not only a financial exercise; it is a human exercise which we should be more vigorously supporting. This Bill is one means of support. We expect that the Government will introduce other means of support.
– in reply- I thank the Senate for its acceptance of this measure and for the support of both the members of the Government and the members of the Opposition. It is well known to us all that this measure has been welcomed by both sides of the chamber, irrespective of which Party was in government at the time of its introduction. The Asian Development Bank has had my warm support from the day it first became an institution. Some of the comments that have been made this evening have been very interesting and, if I may say so, illuminating and have demonstrated what one would hope one would see in one’s own countrymen, that is, an attitude of the more fortunate wishing to help those who are less fortunate. Equally, I think it is fair to observe that some of the old rules of understanding need to be looked at once again.
The traditional view of what is called an LDC- a lesser developed country, a country that was established within certain rules some years ago- is in need of revision. Some lesser developed countries are no longer lesser developed countries, and there are some that used not to be lesser developed countries that may now come within that category. It is not good enough to take static positions in time. What was a lesser developed country 20 years ago may not still be in that position. Work on revision of lesser developed countries in reality is taking place. I think it should take place because those who have moved from lesser developed country status with the help of their neighbours, friends and allies to a higher economic status, are probably due to take their part in contributing to the general relief of international trade and aid on the basis that they once took out and they should now begin to put in. It has been stated- I think it is a proper observation- that what we are looking for in this world is trade, not aid but it tends to be an emotional phrase that sometimes has little basis in reality. The day of the economic rationalist is not yet upon us in international terms. We get it within our own country but it is not yet with us in international terms because world trade still is very much a matter of what might be called the enlightened self-interest of each nation engaged in the process of discussing its position in world trade. What it seeks to do is to maximise its own position and we ought not to have any delusions about that. That is what it seeks to do. It seeks to operate within the international rules of give and take. Those rules themselves need revision from time to time and they are in the process of being revised.
The old arrangements such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are no longer as useful as they once were. Many aspects of this situation do need updating and changing. None of these situations is static. People tend to regard these positions as static in lime. They are not and they cannot be because trade itself, the flow of economic development and the flow of movement between countries is not of itself static. Institutional frameworks need updating more frequently than has been done in the past. This is where I think the Asian Development Bank is an immensely valuable institution. What it really does is take the capital fund from various countries of surplus and put it into a pool to make it available to help those countries of deficiency. That is a much more realistic position to work to. In the end money substantially is a kind of index of a position of goods surplus and labour surplus that can be used for a transfer process. It is much easier to handle a method of adjustment this way than to make lesser developed country arrangements, GATT arrangements or international trade arrangements that sometimes are back in time and do not relate to today’s reality in the world of trade.
The Asian Development Bank as a transfer process from the better off to the less well off is a much more reliable, useful and up to date method of handling the problem. It is freely able to be updated much more frequently. Those countries which in due course pass into balance of payments surplus and economic plenty out of a state of assistance can, in their own time, become higher subscribers to the Bank than perhaps they used to be.
One other thing can be looked at in this process. In the other place Mr Crean, a former Treasurer, made some useful comments on this general question that is now before the Senate. It is not really a debate. It is a discussion. We are all in agreement on the worth of the institution and the need to support it. 1 think the point he made needs making here to rectify a state of misunderstanding about the latest annual report of the Bank; that is, the report of June 1975. It referred to a deficit on an annual basis of $ 12 billion, not for the Bank but for the DMCs- the developing member countries. What we are talking about is not the institution itself but the combination of deficiencies of the DMCs that need to draw help from the Bank. That is really the basic thing that
I think we ought to clear in our minds. The institution is perfectly safe. It is perfectly sound. It is well capitalised. It has immense amounts of money callable in reserve. It can get access to world capital markets. The Bank is in no way in a state of deficiency but the countries that need help from the Bank of themselves in a combination are in a state of balance of payments deficiency.
I have some later figures which might I think be useful to my colleagues to show that the situation is improving and not running away. The overall balance of payments situation of the developing member countries which need help from the Bank is still adverse when looking at the pre- 1974 period. The position improved greatly in 1976. The average trade deficit of the 18 DMCs is $4.9 billion for 1976 compared with $12.7 billion for 1975. That of itself, if no other argument were to suffice, would be one of the great cases for Australia being active, enterprising and a high participant in the activities of the Bank. I have always regarded that as one of the things which this country does admirably. I would like to see us continue to do so. I am with Senator Georges; as we can afford to do things we should try to do more. It is an area where we can do very useful work.
It ought also to be noted that in the latter 6 months this country has taken a much stronger position in the whole of the air-trade program with the countries of the Pacific that are closest to us. I have had some satisfaction myself in being involved in that. We have helped those countries which are really our close neighbours as well as those which are in the geographical region. In the situation that we talk about I think we as a people in many ways- we can say it with some modesty- are considered to be of fair nobility of mind internationally. We tend to be subscribers to international organisations. We wish to take our part in international agreements. We tend to honour our word and obligation and not to abdicate from them. This is not necessarily true of everybody else.
In the world of international trade Australia has a reputation for keeping its word and its obligations. I think we can be fairly said to be an outward looking nation but that is not true of everybody else. The world of international trade and the world of aid is much circumscribed by the need to be more outward looking in the European continent than we have seen in the last 10 to 15 years. This great block of trade, this great block of finance and this great block of aid is very inward looking. I think that is one of the places that we might look to in the future for perhaps some expanded help to the countries that are less fortunate; that is, in effect, the old and wealthy world. We are in fact part of the new and emerging world. We live close to the people who are much less fortunate than we are, but many people are much better off than we are.
A natural transfer process takes place when we help with aggregations of capital and resource to develop countries that are less well developed. One would expect the flow of funds to move, as Senator Douglas McClelland observed, towards capital for infrastructure. At a point one would expect that to move towards agricultural development and to increased production of primary products. In due course one would expect that to move forward into industrial development. This is a logical, structural, economic development from a state of under-development to a state of self-sufficiency in economic terms. I think Australia has played its part in that. The Bank has played its part in that. We have played our part in the Bank. We ought not to forget, in the process of observing all these things that institutions are all very well and they do a tremendous job, the Australians who person by person, family by family, go out and do things in under-developed countries as individuals. These people have brought this country great credit and great understanding. We owe a debt to them all. Those people have given up part of their life and part of their time and maybe have undergone difficulties and disabilities to help people less fortunate than themselves. In the process of thinking about a nation’s contribution towards institutions for help, do not let us forget the individual Australians who have done their own part in their own time. We owe them a substantial debt of thanks for the reputation they have built for us in many countries in our region.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– In discussing the Bill in Committee I would like to put a couple of matters to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Cotton). One of them relates to the dispersion of the funds of the Asian Development Bank. I am looking at the moment at a copy of the Far Eastern Review of March of this year. It refers to a visit by a 7-man delegation from the Asian Development Bank to a number of countries including Vietnam. The visit of the delegation to Vietnam was important. It was the first visit of representatives of the Asian Development Bank since- as the Far Eastern Review calls it- the Communist takeover of the south in April 1975. This publication indicates that the Asian Development Bank had 9 projects under way when Saigon fell in 1975. That involved some loan commitments totalling $US40m. All but $US4m of this amount was loaned on concessional terms from the Bank’s special fund. The Minister and the Committee may recall that during my remarks in the second reading debate I referred to the concessional terms which were available from the Asian Development Bank. I turn now to that part of the Far Eastern Review which states:
But only US$5m had been handed over at the time the Thieu regime began to collapse. Last year, the new Vietnamese administration renewed its membership of the ADB . . .
I wonder whether the Minister can give some further information on concessional term funds that are used in this country, Indo-China and in the South East Asian area because of the amount of funds that are involved in the Bank as a whole and also because of the Australian involvement in it. That is the first question I put to the Minister.
Next I refer to the administration of the Asian Development Bank and look at it from an Australian point of view. We are, I believe, the fourth largest contributor to the Asian Development Bank. After Japan the next 2 largest contributors are the United States and India. Of course the United States is rather out of our area but obviously as everybody knows it has commitments and involvements in our area. India is in a very special position. In the administration of the Asian Development Bank in which Australia has a particular, operative and important role, is there any possibility that an Australian representative may occupy the position of President of the Bank? The original President of the Bank was Japanese. I understand that since the Bank’s establishment there have been 2 other Japanese Presidents. Can the Minister say what is the possibility of an Australian President of the Bank in the near future? Not only is Australia in a position to contribute money but it is also in a very special position to contribute expertise in management. We have made a contribution in terms of finance. Geographically, we are in the area served. We are the largest western style nation in the area. I am not seeking the position of President in terms of influence or power but purely as an opportunity to make a contribution. People within the Australian community are in a position to occupy this very important position as
President of the Asian Development Bank. The final point about the wisdom of having a President from Australia is that this would give the Australian community not only an additional interest in the Bank but also a realisation of what is involved with regard to the Australian economy. I should be grateful if the Minister could make some comment on the 2 matters to which I have referred, that is the Vietnamese position and the possibility of Australian leadership at presidential level.
– The problem of funding requirements to South Vietnam arises because that country no longer exists. I understand that the operation of the Asian Development Bank began at the time of the independence of South Vietnam. Of course, there has been a reunification in the Indo-China peninsula and the structure of funding has to be considered in the light of a different national scene. North Vietnam and South Vietnam are now one country rather than 2 separate hostile factions. That is the sort of thing that has happened in Asia through the years. We can cast our minds back further to the ancient states of Amman, Tonking and Cochin-China. The Asian Development Bank has to be prepared to be mobile in the situation of a national identity and to recognise finally the government of a country in a realistic sense. I understand that the capital program is under negotiation in the light of what is the national sovereignty as against a requirement and, as all true bankers would accept, the ability of that country to service the capital debt against the needs of the country which is asking for the money from the capital funds subscribed by so many people, not least by the people of the region itself.
Senator Davidson has a great interest in this matter which I acknowledge and welcome. He observed that it would be very nice for an Australian to be able to occupy one day the position of President of the Bank. That has not yet occurred. I am not a member of the Bank Board. I have never had that privilege. I should like to have it. The overall capital structure of the Bank is in 2 sections: The regional section which in this measure gives a total of $259,071, to be subscribed in shares, and the non-regional section which gives $155,713. Senator Davidson correctly stated the relativity of the people involved. Some people outside the region are larger supporters of capital than are some people inside the region. When one considers the capital structure one sees that the United States is entitled to make a higher claim against Japan for the presidency of the Bank than Australia is. Australian experience mainly has been that if we continue to be good, well behaved and useful neighbours in international institutions and if we play our part helpfully and with restraint, in due course the chance to lead will come about. I cannot guarantee that Australia will lead the Asian Development Bank. No one can do so. It has a diverse membership. I should imagine that the chances of leadership involve an estimation of the nation itself, its contribution and whether the qualities of the person who represents the nation are such that he would be acknowledged as a nominal leader. That is a matter for the future. But there are examples of Australia having succeeded internationally in achieving positions of leadership higher than one would expect in proportion to the size of our country and our contribution. It is possible, but by no means certain, that an Australian will occupy the position of President of the Asian Development Bank. If I may say so with a note of almost supreme modesty, the Department of Industry and Commerce has succeeded in having one of its officers elected for the first time in history as chairman of the World Council of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on Industry. That is an Australian first. Perhaps there is hope yet for the Asian Development Bank.
– I do not doubt that what the Minister has suggested would be an aim, but it is not an important one. I suppose that for an Australian to become President of the Asian Development Bank is something to aim for but I think that we should rest on our record of participation rather than on the number of positions we can achieve on the Board itself. I spoke during the second reading debate and mentioned in passing the Common Fund. I realise that at present a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is being held. We are represented at that conference. Seventy-seven countries of the Third World submitted a short resolution calling for the following decision:
To establish a Common Fund which shall serve as the main instrument for obtaining the objectives of the Integrated Programme for Commodities and function as the central source of finance.
Can the Minister explain whether we are to support the Common Fund? Have we a policy in regard to the Common Fund? Will our participation in the Asian Development Bank lead to some initiative which will support the Common Fund? Is the Common Fund which is suggested by the 77 under-developed countries a worthwhile achievement or initiative?
– I thank the honourable senator for raising this matter because it is an interesting one. It was mentioned today at question time. Fortunately, the adviser who was with me had some papers on this matter. If he had not had that information I should have sought to learn more about it tomorrow. This information may help Senator Georges. We have undertaken as a nation in the area of discussion to which he refers to consider the Common Fund proposal without any commitment. Dr Battacharya and Mr Rallason seek a commitment before examination of the proposal. I do not think that governments will do that. The Australian Government is open minded. It is considering the proposal but we will not commit ourselves on behalf of the Australian people without seeing what is the basis of the proposal and examining it in some depth. As we understand the matter, the Common Fund proposal at present takes many forms ranging from a very ambitious and expensive scheme for a large new fund operated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development secretariat, to be paid for largely by the developed countries, to much more modest possibilities such as a scheme for pooling the resources of a number of individual commodity agreements after such agreements have been set up. The UNCTAD proposal is on the table at the Geneva Conference at the moment. We are not unfamiliar with the proposition that sometimes comes from international agencies to generate development programs and establishments which sometimes have very worthwhile objectives but need to be examined in the context of whether they are really what they seem to be or whether they have some empire building connotations. That is not offensive. It is just that a government needs to look carefully at proposals involving its country and its people. At the moment we are not committed to any of the proposals which have not yet had their viability proven, although they are being examined. In common with most developed countries we are undertaking an examination process to see whether the proposed scheme provides the advantages that it is stated it will provide. It is quite normal internationally for countries to take up positions against each other and, for opening gambits, to criticise one another. I have always hoped that Australia will attend international conferences purposely and helpfully and take whatever comes in the way of criticism on the basis that people can say what they like as they can in the Parliament. The Australian Government should examine the facts and realities and come to a conclusion of what is in its best interests and how it can best serve the purposes of the country. It has been stated that failure to reach agreement will lead to great bitterness in the under-developed countries. That has yet to be factually proven. I think it is stated, and probably stated quite fairly, that there is some element of tactics involved in some of these remarks. I think that we, as Australians, want to be part of a pragmatical, useful and workable scheme. That is what we seek. It has never served the purpose of anybody very well to embark on a grandiose scheme which then fell on its face after the first two or three years with the result that a lot of unpaid people were left behind it.
The statement we are looking at does note some change in the position of the United States of America following President Carter’s election and this needs to be examined by an Australian delegation for the Australian Government. We are doing our best to understand the problem and are examining it in depth. We do not approach the matter with any ill-will. We approach it purely in this sense: What is the proposal, what is desired, can its benefits be proven and how can we best make our contribution? That is where we sit at the present time. I cannot give more information than that although I am prepared, as I am normally prepared, to seek information and provide it to my honourable colleagues if that is what they would like.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
– I draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in my Gallery of a highly esteemed former member of this place, John Marriott. We tender to him our warmest welcome and express our pleasure at seeing him here.
Debate resumed from 29 March, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– Last night I was discussing this ministerial statement on the National Aboriginal Education Committee but the debate was interrupted when the motion for the adjournment of the Senate was proposed. At that time I was referring to the provision of schools. In my closing remarks last night I said:
This is an immense problem and it will require time and a considerable amount of money. But we do not have a huge barrel out of which funds can be taken in large amounts overnight.
In making that remark I was referring not so much to the Government as to Australia as a nation. I meant that before us we had a barrel containing funds and those funds must be spread across the nation. We have demands for defence, welfare, the Aboriginal people, national roads and so on. It would be very detrimental if we mortgaged our future by borrowing too many barrels of money from our neighbour in a particular year. We all agree that in respect of Aboriginal education we have very many problems and it is going to take quite a long time to overcome them. Last week I asked a question of Senator Carrick, the Minister for Education, in which I described the condition of Aboriginal schools and the repairs and maintenance required. I wish briefly to read part of his answer. He said:
I must in all honesty say that the condition of Aboriginal schools leaves much to be desired. A great deal of work is to be done. All I can do is undertake, with the best will in the world, to see whether we can overtake the difficulties. There are problems in relation to repairs and maintenance which are necessary at the moment. The honourable senator will recall the matter concerning Elcho Island which was raised recently. We have managed to get a new building program launched there for, I think, Sim. In honesty, the situation is not a good or attractive one. It is one which worries me considerably.
Those are the words of a very honest man. I suggest that it is up to the Government, the Opposition and the people of the Australian nation to realise the situation that we are in but we need time to correct it.
– But you started off by rolling out the barrel.
– We hear a lot from the shadow Minister, Senator Keeffe. He wants to be the Minister but as I have said before I have my doubts about whether he will make it. That brings me back to my point about this nit-picking attack on the Aboriginal education scheme. That nit-picking is something I deplore. I deplore it because I believe these attacks are made at the expense of the Aboriginal people. I suggest that rather than getting on the bandwaggon of the Aboriginal people, making complaints and using them, it is time we all joined together as a team to overcome the problems in front of us.
Once again I want to talk about the Northern Territory scene. I refer the Senate to an answer given to me early last year- I think it was in about April 1976- relating to Aboriginal education. It was indicated that in the Northern Territory there are 20 settlements, very many of them in isolated areas. There are 7 government schools on missions and there are 6 mission schools. These schools are spread across an area of well over half a million square miles. I want to refer to what has happened since 1970-71 in the area of direct Commonwealth expenditure on Aboriginal education. The source of this information is the Department of Education and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Over those years governments were formed by the Liberal and Country parties, the Labor Party and the Liberal and National Country parties. Over those years there was a tremendous increase in expenditure on Aboriginal education. I seek leave, Mr Deputy President, to have this paper incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Is leave granted.
– What is in it? We now have new rules about incorporations and I would like to know the contents of the paper.
-It is a document that has been circulated. It relates to direct Commonwealth expenditure on education from 1968-69 to 1976-77. It deals with Department of Aboriginal Affairs grants to States, grants in aid, Aboriginal study grants, Aboriginal secondary education grants, Aboriginal overseas study grants and direct expenditure on Aboriginal schooling in the Northern Territory. During that period, as I said before, there was a Liberal-National Country Party Government, a Labor Party Government and so on.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I suggest, Senator Kilgariff, that you show the paper to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Minister in charge of the Bill later on unless leave is now granted for the incorporation?
– I would like to see the document before it is incorporated. I spoke against changing the Standing Orders in this respect when we were discussing that issue recently. I said then that we should continue with the old system which had stood many trials and tribulations over a long period of years but the majority wanted the new rule.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is the honourable senator objecting to the incorporation?
– I do object. If we are going to stick to the new rule the material has to be shown before it is incorporated. In the circumstances I refuse leave.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Leave is not granted.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I note that the time for which I can speak is running out. Senator Keeffe has cost me a few minutes. I have noticed on many occasions that there has been no objection to the incorporation of material which he has sought to have incorporated. Still, all I can do is to refer people who are interested in the matter to this paper which indicates that over the years there have been substantial increases in national expenditure on Aboriginal education.
– I take a point of order. With great respect I suggest that if the honourable senator passes the document across to the Opposition we can overcome this problem in 2 seconds flat.
– I thank the honourable senator for the offer.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Senator Kilgariff, I suggest that you again try to have the document incorporated towards the end of your speech.
– Yes, I shall. As I have said before, I think it is time that this nit-picking in regard to Aboriginal education should cease. Over the last few weeks many questions have been asked and many comments have been made regarding the lack of finance for Aborigianl education, maintenance and so on in the Northern Territory. In a series of questions over the last two or three weeks we have asked Senator Carrick, the Minister for Education, about a departmental report which was made in 1973. It has not been my wish that it should be tabled in the Senate, but if there is to be continued criticism of the lack of maintenance to these schools in the Northern Territory, as if this happened only in the last year, then I suggest to the Minister for Education that this departmental report be tabled in the Senate so that the rest of the Senate and the Australian people generally can judge for themselves who is at fault. I was a member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in this period and I am fairly aware of the contents of that report. I suggest that in the report, which was made by departmental officers in 1973, the work which was required on the schools in that year is clearly indicated. It is my understanding that the report was unacceptable. The work was not carried out.
So now, in 1 977, 1 suggest that we are in a situation of jeopardy. The work which should have been done over the years has not been carried out.
Do not let us cry over spilt milk. It is of no use looking at the past. Let us look to the future and do something about it. In doing something about the future, I suggest that we look at the type of school which has been built in various parts of Australia. Having in mind that finance is limited as far as the nation is concerned, we have to get away from the expensive monoliths which are being designed by architects with grandiose ideas. The monuments are far too costly and not worth the money. Let us have schools which will spread throughout the community, having in mind the amount of money which is available to us. Recently I was in the Northern Territory with the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Public Works. I was most interested in the thoughts which came forward from officers of the Department of Construction when they were discussing the standard buildings for schools on a modular grid with standard prefabricated components. I suggest that in the outback this is the type of school which we need. This is the type of school which can possibly be put up much more economically. As it is a prefabricated school, it can be built quickly in any place and, in years to come if it were needed to be removed and sent elsewhere, then that could be done. I suggest to the Government that this is a very easy means of economising for the future.
My next point relates to the provision of teachers in the education scheme, particularly for Aboriginal people. This is a difficult matter. Senator Robertson made some remarks today regarding the matter. He said that teachers were disappointed because of employment and living conditions and that they would not go into the bush. He drew a certain assumption from that. I draw another assumption. The assumption I make is that we have a large number of Aboriginal children in the outback who need to be educated, but conditions are such that teachers who come from the southern States find the living conditions very strange. If there is to be some development in the Aboriginal education scheme, we must train many more Aboriginal teachers. I say this for very many reasons. At present we have several Aboriginal teaching aides. They are trained in Batchelor as are the Aboriginal teachers. We have Aboriginal teachers in their own right teaching in the schools. This scheme must be developed not only because they know the children they teach and because they live in the environment in which they have to teach, but also because they bring to the children the Aboriginal culture and they give to the Aboriginal children understanding and confidence. At the same time, we have dedicated teachers from the education scheme.
As I said last night, many of these teachers have been in the Territory and in the outback of Australia for very many years. But there is a fault within the education system, that is, that we have many young teachers offering their services in the Northern Territory with many going to Aboriginal schools, but in their training facilities, in becoming a teacher, as far as I know there is no curriculum or training in teaching Aboriginal children. So they go into a strange environment. The Aboriginal children are strange to them. In those situations I suggest that we do not get the best out of the system. A lot of these teachers are dedicated but I also suggest that some teachers who come into the system are young and immature. Because of this I do not think they are well suited to teaching Aboriginal children.
When moving around the Territory one can see the problems which arise from this situation. I think there would be absolutely no argument. If Aboriginal education is to be developed and is to be successful we should have an enlarged training scheme for Aboriginal teachers and for teaching aides so that gradually, over the years, they will take the place of the European teacher. The European teacher will always have a place there but I think there must be more encouragement. Of course, we have the provision which allows Aboriginal children to retain their culture. This is most important. If this is not carried out we will have a group of Aboriginal children growing up with no knowledge of their background, their history or their culture. I think this would be most unfortunate. So I suggest that for the future these things be carried out.
I shall spend a few minutes discussing the problems of educating Aboriginal children today. I do not think the educating of Aboriginal children will be completely successful until many other problems are overcome. First of all, we should look at the health of Aboriginal children and Aboriginal people generally. On many settlements the children are well cared for and healthy but there are many areas where the children are living in conditions which are completely different from the way of life they followed as nomads. They then did not have the problems of health which they experience today because they were always on the move. But now in the crowded settlements, with tribes crowded together, the environment is quite foreign to their past. Through the increase in population, as everyone must admit, there are health problems. Another problem which makes Aboriginal education very difficult concerns the phase which is developing now- one which I encouraged- involving the fragmentation of large settlements, with which I and many other people have never agreed, with the people moving to outstations.
– It is not fragmentation.
– These families and clans are gradually breaking away from the settlements and going to live once again in family or clan groups on what are called outstations.
– And you do not approve of it?
– The honourable senator should open his ears because I said at the beginning that it was a principle with which I agreed. However, whilst I agree with the principle, this move is bringing about problems in education and I do not have to spell out the reasons. The fact is that when there is this fragmentation of families and clans who go into the bush with their children, there are problems associated with bringing health and education to them. It would be a problem in any country, whether European or Aboriginal, where this fragmentation occurred. The result is that we now see teachers going out under the trees and spending a number of hours a week with the Aboriginal people. I would say that this is taking only one small bite of the apple. The complete answer- and I believe it is a complete answer, as I have indicated before- is an increase in the number of Aboriginal teachers and teaching aides.
The other problem is immense and it is one that will prevent the education of Aboriginal people completely or to our satisfaction. I refer to the consumption of liquor by Aboriginal people. I have no doubt that there are many honourable senators who have been in the outback in the Territory and who, having seen the problems which exist because of liquor, fully realise that despite what Senator Carrick has in mind, despite his enthusiasm and good intentions, he will not be able to achieve what he wishes to achieve until we overcome this problem, and it will not be easy. Aboriginal children are taken away from school by parents who are going elsewhere to drink. The Aboriginal people move out from the settlements when they are on the liquor and in these settlements there is neglect of children. Last year in answer to a question on notice regarding the enrolment of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory in each pre-school, primary school and secondary school on settlements and missions in the Northern Territory, the Minister indicated that in April last year there were 5316 children enrolled. There would be many more now. I also asked what was the attendance at these schools and an attendance figure of 4068 was given. I suggest in view of the way that I asked my question that I was given the wrong answer. The attendance figure given suggests that if a child attended school on one day in a year his attendance would be registered. In the schools on some of the settlements 100 per cent attendance is indicated. That is not my understanding of the situation. I have been to an Aboriginal school in the outback of Australia where the attendance was down to 23 per cent or 25 per cent at one time because on the river there was a store which had liquor and it drew the Aboriginal people to it. The children were taken too. I have seen, on the other hand, as the result of the dedication of teachers, attendance at the schools around 90 per cent.
There are tremendous problems. There are very interesting aspects of Aboriginal children going to school. Last year when I was in Arnhem Land I asked an Aboriginal man whether his 4 sons were going to school. He said that they were not. 1 asked what they were doing and he replied that he was taking 3 of his sons out into the bush where he was going to teach them the way he lived. Then he added, and this is interesting, that he had one son who was going to school to learn about the white man’s ways. So this one child on the mission will be the go-between for this man and the rest of his sons who will be brought up to the nomadic way of life according to the old culture. There are many problems ahead in ensuring that as many Aboriginal children as possible are educated.
There is one group of people which I deplore and I referred to them last night. They are what I call the activists who wish to take over the role of speaking for the Aboriginal people. They often are people with political aims. These people, and they are numerous in Australia today, are not good for the Aboriginal people. Before I close my remarks I would like to speak about what I call the forgotten group among the Aboriginal people. They are the part Aboriginal people. In all my years in the Territory I have grown up with many such people. Many are grown men now living in extreme difficulty. They are forgotten people because there is much more concentration these days on the education of Aboriginal people on missions and settlements with insufficient thought given to these part coloured children who are living under extreme difficulty. They are going to primary and high schools but the type of education that is being offered to them, academic-type education, is not for them and because of this they feel that they are not wanted and start imagining that the teachers are against them. They get a chip on their shoulder. I am suggesting that the curriculum is wrong and that these children, who are very intelligent, would be much better off if they were trained to use their hands rather than trained for some academic future which is not for them. If something is not done for these children there will be many social problems ahead for us and I can see these problems occurring already in very many areas.
I support the new National Aboriginal Education Committee. I believe that it is a milestone because for as far back as I can remember this is the first time that we have had a completely Aboriginal committee to advise the Minister for Education and the Government. It will bring much to government because not only is it an all Aboriginal committee and many of its members have been teaching aides and have had a certain amount of experience, but also on this Committee there will be Aboriginal people from the tribes of Australia, the traditional people. When I started my speech last night I said that the traditional people, the tribal people, had been waiting too long to have their voice heard. Too many people have endeavoured to speak for them. I believe that this is their first opportunity to come forward and say what they want. They will do this. They will assist not only their own Aboriginal people, but also Government. I would think that they will save government many millions of dollars in the future. Mr Stephen Albert is the full-time chairman of the National Aboriginal Education Committee. As I have said before, he is a tribal member of the Bardi people from Western Australia and is a person who can guide his Committee. I congratulate him on his appointment. I believe also that the Government is to be congratulated on the move it has made. I look forward to following the future -
– It was done by a Labor Government, you know.
– There goes Senator Keeffe who sits opposite nitpicking again. All he can do is bring petty politics into a situation. I have said before that I think this matter is above politics. I think that he should get off the bandwagon of the Aboriginal people. Instead of nitpicking, he should get his head down. Instead of always criticising he should come forward with some ideas. He should engage in some teamwork. All I can say is that if we have this type of criticism and acting in the Senate, little will be gained. Before I conclude my remarks, I seek leave to have the document to which I referred, incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DrakeBrockman) Senator Kilgariff asked earlier whether he could incorporate a document in
Hansard. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked whether he could have a look at it. I now ask the Senate whether it will grant leave to have the document incorporated in Hansard. There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
– I thank the Senate.
- Mr Deputy President, I had hoped to move straight into a discussion on the National Aboriginal Education Committee because I thought that was what the debate was all about tonight. But I must take a few minutes of the Senate ‘s time to make one or two comments, not in a nitpicking way but about what Senator Kilgariff said when he was discussing the situation. An awful lot of nonsense has been spoken about the SEBAC report- the Survey into Educational Buildings in Aboriginal Communities. Quite clearly this task was undertaken. It was the first time this task had ever been undertaken to see what was required in the way of Aboriginal buildings. It grew out of a dream of the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs about a desire for equality. After visiting the schools in the Northern Territory, he said: ‘We want schools for the Aboriginal children of the same standard as those enjoyed by European children’. I do not think that anyone would criticise this proposition. I remind Senator Kilgariff that the survey was undertaken after 23 years of the previous administration. The buildings that were there at that stage must be assessed to be the result of that administration.
It is fair to say that the survey showed a shocking situation existed in regard to educational buildings in the Northern Territory. It is a situation which improved slightly but not as much as many of us would have liked to see. There is no doubt that the survey came out with a program which was completely beyond any government to implement in a short time. Certainly, it could not have been implemented in a short period of 3 years- two 18-month bursts that were given to the Australian Labor Party in government. Work was commenced and work was stopped for the very reason that work has stopped at the present time if we listen to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Viner) of the present Governmentbecause of the economic situation. It is as simple as that.
– Was not the whole report scrubbed?
-The report was introduced and certain priorities were set. There is no doubt about it. The work was commenced, as the honourable senator knows. Without going into material that we presented this afternoon, I think that the debate showed up the situation in the Territory at present. It showed up the situation in Aboriginal education. It showed up, certainly in the points I tried to put forward in a constructive way, the ineffectiveness of the Government to meet the needs of the Territory. I agree with Senator Kilgariff that we should train Aboriginal teachers. In fact, as he well knows, I was intimately involved with that very work while I was with the Education Department. There is no doubt that we need more Aboriginal teachers. But we also need more assistance for European teachers. I am glad to see that Senator Kilgariff is suggesting to his Government that it should give more money for this, that it should provide money to train European teachers to move out into the settlements. Although we all agree that Aboriginal teachers should be used, there is no doubt that there will be an interim period before a sufficient number of Aboriginal teachers will be available to go out to teach.
I agree with the proposition that we should retain or do what we can to encourage the retention of the Aboriginal culture. Again, like a number of other things, this was an activity of the Labor Government. I think it could be said that this was a Labor initiative because much was done in the 3 years of the Labor Government. Out of this very concept came the bilingual program and many other initiatives. It is unfortunate that the present Government has seen fit to cut funds to allow adult Aborigines to do this very thing. It is not much good honourable senators opposite saying this should be done unless the Government is prepared to finance it. As the Minister and Senator Kilgariff know, funds have been cut in this area. There is not enough money to do the work with the young people. There are problems in the outstations. I mentioned this fact this afternoon. I made reference to the fact that we need more staff. We need more resources and we need support. Again I mentioned this afternoon that fund cutting had meant that there was not a sufficient number of cars to enable people to move out into these areas. The freezing of positions has meant that there are not enough Aboriginal people to work in some of these places. Certainly, we agree with the proposition, but we want to see things done. As we mentioned this afternoon, it is action that counts, not words.
I was rather interested in the comment with which Senator Kilgariff finished his speech. He talked about the man in Arnhem Land with 4 sons, three of whom were to be trained in nomadic or bush ways and one of whom was to stay at school. I shall have a few comments to make a little later about this. I am not sure whether this is the sort of decision we ought to encourage. After all, how much decision making do we in the European communities leave with the parents? How much decision making do we allow the parents to make for the child? I am convinced- I will make mention of this when I speak about the National Aboriginal Education Committee- that we should leave a range of alternatives for young people and that we should not limit their choices. It should be the goal for any government in the education system not to limit choices but to provide a range of alternatives.
I move to join with my colleagues and honourable senators opposite in welcoming the establishment of the National Aboriginal Education Committee. As Senator Keeffe has commented, it was a Labor initiative and on that ground perhaps we on this side of the Senate particularly welcome it. Like many other honourable senators I know the chairman and a good many of the members. I look forward to the contribution which I know they have to make and I look forward to their making this contribution. May I publicly congratulate Mr Stephen Albert, as I ave done privately, on his appointment as chairman and commend the Government on its selection of Mr Albert for this position. He is a Western Australian which puts him in front by one mark. He went to the Northern Territory to live; that puts him in front by another mark. So he is not too bad. I think that we will see some good work from Mr Stephen Albert. I know that the people in the Northern Territory will be particularly pleased to see Mr Kevin Rogers and Mr Don Lane as members of the Committee and also Ms Valadian and Mr Phil Stewart as members with expertise in a special area. I hope it is not long before honourable senators on this side of the chamber will have an opportunity to meet the Committee members and have discussion with them. I think it is pretty important that we who are as interested as others in Aboriginal education should have an opportunity to meet with the people, perhaps put our points of view and talk with them.
I wish to refer to the terms of reference of the Committee. I have made a precis of them under 5 headings which are as follows: one- provide informed Aboriginal views on the educational needs of the Aboriginal people and appropriate methods of meeting these needs; two- assist to monitor existing programs; three- assist in developing programs and policies; four- undertake and promote investigations, studies and projects on which to base views; and five- contribute policy initiatives which will serve to redress the education imbalance which Aboriginal people experience. I would like to commend the Government on the breadth of these terms of reference. The Committee is certainly starting out with a good framework within which to work. Since this is a particular interest of mine, I seek the indulgence of the Senate to make a few comments on some of those areas. It is a field in which I have had some experience. I have certainly been involved in the Territory for some time. I speak with that background of experience and not from an Australia-wide experience.
The first term of reference, or ‘task’ as I call it, is to present Aboriginal views. As far as I am concerned, this was the key phrase of the terms of reference. It is a particularly sound principle especially in any system which is community oriented to go to the people and ask them what they want. The understanding is that the people- the clients- will know what they want. So, in obtaining the views of Aboriginal people, we will be getting firstly, the views of the Committee themselves. They come from a wide background. They are people from all over Australiapeople from a wide area of interests. They have expertise in special areas and they will know their own area. If they do not know their own area certainly they will be able to go back and talk to the people there. So we shall have that background of Aboriginal views. We shall have the views of the Aboriginal people in the field. To me, this is vital. In fact, I think the success of the Committee will depend on how well they identify the needs of the people out in the field. If they can identify community needs, manage to express them out to the group and convert these into policy- one might almost say philosophy’- to hand to the Government then this will be the test of how well they have worked. I am convinced that the group selected will do this job well. They will hand to the Minister and to the Government a sound set of ideas on which to base government action.
The third group of views will be those of Aboriginal people of all ages- not only of adults but of young people as well. I mentioned this briefly in my introduction. I am committed to the view that young people are entitled to a choice. They are entitled to a range of alternatives- of at least two. If I had to comment on the situation presented by Senator Kilgariff I would say of the parent who said: ‘I am teaching these three the ways of the bush and nothing else,’ that one could perhaps feel a little critical of that attitude. What if the young people later on do not want to stay in the bush? What if they want to move somewhere else? They will not have that choice open to them. I am sure that when the Committee look at this they will hear from a lot of young people- as I have heard and no doubt others have heard- that they do not necessarily want to follow what their parents have chosen for them. There is an opportunity there to follow the old ways and, perhaps, to have a look at the new ways and make a choice later.
At this stage, I want to make a plea for some recognition of the fact that Europeans have a contribution to make. I have no doubt that there has been a reaction in the community in some places that Europeans have nothing to contribute. I feel that they have a lot to contribute. I think they have a lot to give to the Minister and a lot to give to the community. They have a lot to hand out generally. I make a plea to those 3 groups- to the Committee, to the Minister and to the community- to recognise that these people have a contribution to make. As recently as the 7-12 March issue of the National Times the author of an article in that paper was highly critical. In an article headed ‘Aborigines now have land rights but no schools’ Mr John Edwards wrote:
The point is that those white advisers and administrators who, like Dr Coombs, insist that the preservation of tribal society is both possible and desirable, and who for that reason accord a low priority to European education and housing, are not speaking for the Aboriginal people but for a philosophy of simplicity and traditionalism which they themselves find attractive.
This may well be so. I give that as just one example of the attitude indicated in some newspapers. I am not suggesting for a moment that we should return to the ‘Balander knows best’ philosophy. I am simply making a plea that the contribution which they have to make is allowed to be made. In the Northern Territory, and no doubt in other parts of Australia, some of these people I am referring to speak the language of the people of their area. In fact, in many cases they have recorded the language- they have provided an authography and have taught it to the people so they can read their own language. Many of them have spent many years working in the field studying the Aboriginal culture. The people to whom I refer do not press a particular point of view but they have something to offer. They want to help. I am suggesting that we ought not to reject what they have to offer. Probably the contribution they have to make will be best made in the methods area that is referred to in the terms of reference. I shall come back to that a little later.
I take the liberty of mentioning a few names. Some have been mentioned already but I shall mention a few from the Northern Territory. I shall limit myself to those. In the area of preschooling I mention the name of the late Joyce
Gilbert, who was a pioneer in that area. The work which she started was carried on by one of her close colleagues, Beryl Edmonds, a woman from a mission who not only spoke the language fluently but also had a deep understanding of the culture of the people in that area. In the language teaching area I mention Beulah Lowe, from the same mission, who again was the first to record the language in that area and did fantastic work in developing authography for the area. Bill McGrath was one of the authors of the original reports on which the bilingual program was based.
Tony Metcalf was another Western Australian who went to the Northern Territory and made a contribution in both areas. Of course, the Summer Institute of Linguistics has done tremendous work in the field. In curriculum development Dr Don Williams, who was at Galliwinku for many years as head and then moved to work with the Curriculum Development Department, is now in Canberra at the Canberra College of Advanced Education. Dr John Grant, who did his work in the manual arts skills, has worked also in curriculum development and is now working down here. So one might go on to mention Dr Maria Brandl, who is working on social structure with teachers, medical personnel and so on. I make the plea that we take what these people have to offer and use it. The bilingual program we have mentioned already grew out of this sort of cooperation.
Another phrase that is mentioned is the ‘educational needs of Aboriginal people’. This will be looked at by the Committee. I am pleased to see the Minister has built in the concept of a total program and is asking the Committee to look at all age groups. I mentioned this afternoon the great area of need in the vocational training area. This is an express need, not one that has just been pointed out by Europeans. I mentioned before in this place that I was fortunate to study with the group that produced the Stephen report 2 or 3 years ago. From discussions within that group it was quite clear that people throughout the Territory were looking for vocational training. It is vital that we have vocational training and that we have employment opportunities so that young people do not ask the question: ‘Education for what?’ when we encourage them to go to school. The Minister recognises this situation and I am sure the Committee will see the need and make recommendations. Until now there has been a lot of talk but no action. Let us see that some action comes out of this. I stress that this is not a European view but simply the reporting back of an expressed view.
Another area in which there has been an expressed view by Aboriginal people to date- I am sure the Committee will see this- is in the area of adult education. I think steps have been taken in the right direction in this matter. All we need to do is to ensure that sufficient funds and staff are made available so that when the needs are identified through Aboriginal assistance and through the Committee something can be done about meeting those needs. I move to the Aboriginal and European school situation and the Aboriginal and European communities. This is a special area and one which does not apply only to the Northern Territory, although it is particularly relevant to that area. Special assistance needs to be given in this area and I hope the Committee will address itself to the particular problems faced by these young people at school and by the men and women living in the community to see what assistance can be given to allow them to make an adaption to the community.
One of the other points listed in the tasks is to undertake and promote investigations and to provide informed views on appropriate methods. This, perhaps, is another area in which Europeans who have worked in the Territory for some years can assist. They have the professional expertise and a pool of talent that can be drawn upon. Perhaps they can answer the question of how’, not ‘what’, so that when the Committee comes up with a proposition of what it wants done it can go to the group and say: ‘This is what we want done. Can you help us do it?’ I remind the Minister of the saying: ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley’. Nothing will happen unless support is given. The quantum of support given by the Minister and his Government will be the test of the Government’s commitment. The Aboriginal people will know then just how dinkum the Government is by the kind of assistance it gives to the Committee and then by the amount of support it gives to the recommendations of the Committee. We have mentioned already that actions are the measure, not plans.
What type of support will be looked for? I suggest that initially support staff- good support staff- will be required. It is very pleasing to see that built into the Minister’s statement was the comment that the Committee will be serviced by the Department. One trusts that the service and the support provided will be appropriate and sufficient and that the group will be allowed to travel and given whatever support it needs. Later on we are going to need staff and incentives for staff to travel and to work in the field. We are going to need staff training and that has already been referred to. We will also need facilities appropriate to the individual location and the type provided will vary from one place to another. We also need- and this is most important- support from all departments for whatever program is brought forward. It is most pleasing to see that the Committee will have responsibility to report back to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and to the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. Again, the quantum of recognition and the quantum of support given by those departments will be a test of the overall government commitment.
The Committee is going to need money. Senator Bonner made the point in his speech that it is not the amount of money which is important but how it is spent. That is not too bad as a general principle but if there is very little money it does not matter how it is spent because it cannot achieve a great deal. There must surely be an absolute minimum below which one cannot go. That principle is true only to a degree and I hope that the Government will see the need to provide sufficient finance. The Committee will need understanding and sympathy when it is working. I do not think there is any doubt that mistakes will be made by the Committee and by the people working in the field but I trust that the Government will continue to support the Committee and will overlook its mistakes or give’ some assistance and not provide too many restrictions.
We have heard from the other side of the chamber many comments about the need for control, the need for restrictions, the need for restraint. Let us not be too harsh on the bookkeeping aspects of what the Committee is going to do. I trust that the Government will service the Committee, heed its recommendations and do something about them. I hope that it will build the recommendations into its overall policy. As I have tried to suggest, this Committee will impinge on many areas apart from the area of education. I hope that the Government will build on the foundations which have been made by Labor and erect a structure which will be a monument not only to government but to Parliament. I am convinced that Australia has an opportunity to lead the world in this vital and humanitarian field and I join with the Minister when he states:
I hope these initiatives will foster education programs and activities which will assist Aboriginal people to live satisfying lives, sharing in and contributing to the total Australian society.
– I wish to speak briefly on this subject and to make a couple of observations. At the outset, I should like to say that it was refreshing to hear Senator Robertson speak in a non-partisan way, as he did for the greater part of his speech. It is always more interesting to listen to Senator Robertson when he is non-partisan than when he is political, not because I object to his politics but because he is always on much sounder ground when he talks about education than when he talks about politics. He has made a worthwhile contribution and I would not want to repeat many of the things he said. I would just like to pose a couple of points in relation to the National Aboriginal Education Committee. We have had at least one quite interesting debate in this Senate previously on the subject of Aboriginal education and I think we can find a great deal of common ground.
There is a great deal of common concern throughout the community by those who care about education, those who are concerned about the plight of Aborigines in our society, and those who have a particular interest in Aboriginal education. However, there are a couple of things which need to be thought about fairly critically. Obviously the Committee will have a particular responsibility for advising the Government on policies in the area of Aboriginal education. Nevertheless, while acknowledging that the Committee has been appointed and welcoming the wisdom of the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) and the Government in the appointment of the Committee, I do not think that that is the end of the Parliament’s responsibility. We have a responsibility to be aware of what is happening in the area and what the problems are, and to give our own point of view which can be considered by the community at large and the Committee in particular.
It seems to me that the first question, particularly in relation to education of Aborigines, is: Education for what? There is one sad point which our experience so far in Aboriginal education highlights. Education by itself is not of great value to an individual. If you take an individual and give him an education, no matter how well it be supported by teaching aids, by magnificent buildings, and by the most highly skilled teachers to be found, and do not give that person any objective in his education or anything on which he can subsequently use the skills he has learned, then you have not done very much at all for him. That is a large part of the story of Aboriginal education in Australia. There has been a very willing and sympathetic concern, particularly for young Aborigine people and, growing with that, we have an awareness that adult Aborigines who wish to receive education ought to be able to receive it. We have taken these young people and given them facilities which ought to have led to a good education, given the great restrictions of cultural difficulties, on the part of both teacher and student. But by and large, the Aborigines have not had much to go to, notably in the Northern Territory but also in the sparsely populated areas of Queensland and Western Australia.
The young people who have learned to read and write, have learned the basic skills, have learned some English language skill- already having their own natural language skill- have not been able to use those things. All the evidence indicates that when these young people leave school and do not have a job to go to, do not have any means to express themselves with the skills we have gone to such great trouble to teach them, they very quickly lose those skills. In other words, the skills are not relevant to the way of life to which they go. One can look at the skills or one can look at the way of life and I think I can say that there is a general consensus that an attempt is being made through the education system to make available to Aborigines those skills that are necessary for survival in the Australian society at large, if that is what they choose. They do have a choice either to go into the Australian society at large or to continue along in their traditional way of life.
This raises the whole general problem of education at the moment and points up its relevance. It is very nice to say in a flowery way- and this has happened at times in the Senate- how marvellous education is for its own value and what it has to do with developing the individual. Education does have those factors, but if it does not have some larger purpose which gives a very particular relevance to it then those attributes of understanding oneself and developing oneself do not go very far in the real world. That is sad but true and I think we come to the conclusion that we must look to giving some people a skill which they can employ as a basis. Obviously one of the large problems of Aboriginal education in Australia has nothing to do with the education portfolio; it has to do with providing jobs in the areas in which Aborigines tend to live in Australia. I had intended to say something about conflicts of culture but I think that point has been quite adequately covered by the speakers who have preceded me.
– On this side of the chamber.
-I could reiterate it, Senator Keeffe, I could even say it better than you did but I do not think there is much to be gained by prolonging the debate on that point. It is a point about which members of this Committee will be very forcefully aware, I am sure, when they come to considering these matters. One question which must be asked over and over again in relation to experiments in education in all areas of Australiaand again a good example is Aboriginal education- is: According to what guidelines? At the moment in the area of Aboriginal education, and I mean the total area-State as well as Commonwealththe attitudes range from virtually total neglect through authoritarianism and elitism to almost total anarchy. We have yet to settle which of those approaches towards education is of some value to the Aboriginal people. I think we ought to look very quickly to this Committee for some comment on that subject. The members of the Committee are people who have risen in life- most, if not all of them, with a great deal of sacrifice on their part. The fact that they have risen as far as they have is a great tribute to their ability and to their perseverance because all of them started with a great disability in our society. We ought to look to them for some guidance, firstly, for opinions on which of the many philosophies which obtain in Aboriginal education these days is the most relevant. We ought to look to them to produce facts to support their opinions. It seems to me that at the moment in Australia a wide variety of methods are being used. We now have extensive experience in a number of those methods and we now have a body of information which corresponds with those different methods. It ought to be possible now to start to draw some conclusions about which of those philosophies is the most appropriate in a given situation.
As Senator Robertson said, the most important questions we must ask are: What do the Aborigines want? What are their opinions? What do they expect? Certainly, the white Australian, if I may use that term although it is a little offensive, has a role to play because we do have some expertise, some skills and some experience which we ought to make available to the Aborigines if they want it. Ultimately, the people on this Committee will play a critical role in advising those who are in power, those who have the means of directing funds, governments and so on in Australia on what the Aborigines want from education, both in the short term and in the long term. Of course, the most significant question is: What is the motivation which is most appropriate?
I conclude by commenting briefly on the membership of the Committee. I have been interested in the composition of this Committee because I have had some contact with Aborigines who are interested in furthering the Aboriginal cause in Australia, particularly in Queensland but in some other States as well. In his statement, the Minister for Education (Senator Carrick) said that the Government was pleased that such a large number of applications had been made for membership of the Committee. He said that it was gratifying that so many well qualified people had shown an interest in it. He indicated that about half the Committee will be appointed for a 2-year term and the remainder for a one-year term. I am familiar with some of the names on the membership list. I am familiar also with some of the names that did not get on the list. I hope that through this Committee we will not have any elite emerge. I hope that we will not have any rigid power group emerge.
The people who are on the Committee deserve to be there but they all ought to recognise that there are others in the community who also have something to offer. I trust that the Committee will try to reach out to those people, to reach their opinions, their knowledge, their expertise, and to channel it back into the deliberations of the Committee. I hope that in the future perhaps the Government will see fit to introduce some of those people who are not currently on the Committee into its formal deliberations as members of it for the time being. I certainly hope that if that is the Government’s decision, any of those members of the Committee who may be appointed for a short term and not reappointed, or those appointed for a long term and ultimately not reappointed, would not see this as any offence to their dignity or their worth but rather would see it as something for the great good of the Australian Aboriginal population.
– in reply- I thank honourable senators on both sides of the chamber for their useful and thoughtful contribution to the debate on the statement which I made on the establishment of the National Aboriginal Education Committee. It is highly gratifying that on what is an important and, I think, an exciting project there should be bypartisanship. I believe it would help the Aboriginal cause in Australia if we could find more and more points for common agreement and not in any way to restrict dialogue. The sad fact is that in 189 years of European contact with the indigenes of this country we have reached precious little common ground, firstly, in our general understanding of the Aboriginal people but, more importantly, on the rules that we ought to have evolved so that we can walk alongside these people and preserve for them their dignity, their cultures and the enrichment that they can give to us in that understanding. To me, the perplexity is the great unknowns that have continued for almost 2 centuries. One would have felt that more practical knowledge would have emerged during that time. This points to the importance of the Committee. What we are seeking to do is to look through the eyes and the minds and the cultures of the Aboriginal people themselves, and to pose through them the problems that have produced semi-failure when approached through European eyes.
It is fair to say that in our attempts to deliver education to the Aboriginal people of Australia over now a very lengthy period we have achieved only a limited measure of success. I would think that none of us would be so foolhardy as to say that we know what ought to be the nature of education for the Aborigines. I think that is true and I think that it is wise. I do not find any difficulty in acknowledging that the Labor Party held this view and supports the formation of this Committee, as does the Government. I find nothing except gratification in that. Having been a Minister now for some 16 months and having made extensive visits to Aboriginal settlements and outstations, I have reached the conclusion that an attempt to apply western orthodoxy to the solution of Aboriginal problems can lead, and has led, to disastrous conclusions. If we use our value judgments in our JudeoChristian culture to look into the very complex cultures of the Aborigines, we must have a fair reason for being wrong- a fair reason indeed. How can I, against an orthodox western background, lay down the rules for the selection of suitable Aboriginal teaching aides and suitable Aboriginal teacher trainees. During most of next week once again I will be in the Territory visiting Arnhem Land. I will be looking at the problems of the teacher training college, say at Batchelor, and the type of people who will be undertaking 2-year and 3-year training courses. This in itself is an exciting prospect. I will be talking about the increase in Aboriginal teaching aides, how we select them and- a most important point- what kind of in-service training we shall give them to upgrade them.
How do we, in western orthodoxy, apply the situation? It is fundamentally necessary for us to ask these questions. What is our duty? Our duty in an educational sense is perhaps more profound for the Aborigines than it is for others in
Australia because when we approach the Aboriginal student we approach not only a problem of education but a problem of health, pastoral care, and welfare. There is no real point of contact between the Aboriginal outlook and the European outlook. For example, it is quite clear that there is not a study ethic; a study orientation in Aboriginal homes in far flung areas. We need to approach this matter more skilfully. We must understand that what we have been doing over the decades- indeed the centuries- however unwittingly, has been to produce a serious loss of dignity, a loss of significance and a loss of ability to cope in a race of people who, over the millennia, showed a miraculous ability to cope, remarkable dignity and very rich cultures. We have taken away from them their inner strength of the past and have replaced it virtually with nothing except some kind of dependency structure. Although we talked of the desirability to move them towards self management, it is fair to say that rarely did we know what we meant or rarely did we seek to give them that training which would equip them to cope with self management.
All of us have tended to use cliches. I speak in no partisan way at all. When we look at Aboriginal education we look at a wide range of problems. We look at the great cities of Australia, the outback towns, and settlements in the Territories where a multi-tribal situation has occurred and has created an uneasy truce, a clash of culture. This can occur through a variety of reasons. It can be because of land rights. It can be that water holes have filled up after decades of the dry. It may be because the elders seek to take the younger people back to their tribal land. A move is now taking place to the out-stations and beyond.
We pose ourselves enormous problems. We have to ask ourselves in the first place: What is the duty of education? That in itself would be profoundly difficult to answer. One hopes that the Committee can help us with the answer. Certainly education ought to assist and not to destroy. Certainly it must look to the finest sensitivity of a minority living in an overpowering culture. Certainly it ought to do nothing to force a directionalism. Certainly it ought to look towards freedom of choice in movement of Aborigines back towards their traditions, forward into our western culture or to a fairly continuous movement between the two. Whatever education does in this regard we have to understand in these generations immediately with us people uniquely will be demanding our sympathy. Those of us who tend to regret very much the difficulties that alcohol has created and so on should remind ourselves that it is largely because of the demoralisation of races of people whose purpose of living had been largely destroyed, whose dignity had been threatened, that these people are seeking escape in drink, gambling, petrol sniffing and in the general opting out.
Our job in life is to look to see what kind of trauma we have created and how we can remove or lessen this trauma, how we can help to bring back dignity, significance and a sense of culture of the past. We have to remember that wherever we are the western culture is there. We cannot turn back the clock totally. We cannot say that those on the out-stations or in the reserves are living in their traditions. They will be moving amongst us. We have brought to these people some of the bad aspects of western civilisation. We have given them the great ill effects of respiratory disease. We have taught them bad dietary habits. We now see middle aged diabetes and a variety of other things. We have introduced the infestations of scabies, lice and so on to a people who were naturally clean and dignified. We have a massive job to do.
We have to ask ourselves: How do we move? Where do we take education? Do we take it beyond the settlements? Do we take it to the outstations? If so, how? Do we provide Aboriginal teachers and aides so that we do not cross the cultures brutally? How do we do these things? The fair answer is that with the best of goodwill on earth- I include both sides of politics in thisnone of us has reached really practical and successful conclusions. Let me demonstrate by using a western orthodoxy. Right at this moment some 150 000 people in Australia claim to be Aborigines. If that is so, as the definition provides, they are classed as Aborigines. Of that number something like 13 700 are high school students receiving ABSEG- the Aboriginal Students Secondary Education Grant. One can say that if almost 10 per cent of those students are in a high school and their families are receiving payment as an incentive to keep them there a great opportunity exists to deliver education of a practical nature to those students. We must be therefore orienting those people in the future.
The simple fact is that we can demonstrate by numbers. But if we are asked what happens after those students leave school all of us in good faith would have to say that measured in our terms there is a massive degree of failure. It may not be failure. Who are we to judge? We simply do not know. We must consider this matter against that background and the fact that in Australia in 1 977 thousands of millions of dollars is spent in higher education.
I have been privileged to go to places like Snake Bay, Melville Island, Oenpelli, Maningrida and other places in Arnhem Land where people are still living predominantly in their old cultures. They have been beset by the problems that Europeans have taught them, struggling to find out what can be preserved as the best of their cultures, finding the need to equip themselves to ours. I join with the Senate in welcoming the foundation of this Committee. I remind the Senate that it is a uniquely talented Committee. It covers a wide range of people, as honourable senators have said, stretching from the ritual tribal people of Arnhem Land and the Torres Strait down into the towns. It covers a wide range of talent. Therefore, it is uniquely capable of helping.
I remind the Senate that the Chairman, Stephen Albert, is now a member of my staff. He is equipped now with the embryo of a secretariat to start this work. I will welcome the contact of honourable senators with the Committee. In due course I will be happy to make available facilities for honourable senators to meet and talk with these good people. The references, as has been indicated, that we have given to this Committee are wide. I am grateful for the comments which were made which indicated that we should not expect too much too soon. I acknowledge the suggestion that we should not simply rely on a wholly Aboriginal approach. I accept that there ought to be a European interface.
I acknowledge that within the Senate there is a range of honourable senators who have had profound experience with the Aborigines. What I would like basically to feel for the future in education, if nothing else is, that we put aside cliches and the thrust and parry of the conflict of politics and see whether we can have a bipartisan attempt at looking at education and putting our minds and our hearts together. We are dealing with people who are our fellow Australians and to whom in conscience we owe a debt. That is generally acknowledged. I say again that in dealing with education in the schools that we meet the children not simply for the delivery of education. We have a profound responsibility in terms of health and welfare. A bad attendance record can be understandable for a variety of reasons. It may be because of the conditions which pertain in the home in the early morning. It may be the conditions of an attitude of mind. If we ask the children why they do not go to school and they say, ‘We do not go because we do not believe that school is for us, we do not believe it is informing us’, who are we to judge? In the months and years ahead the movement of the Aboriginal population from the settlements to the outstations and so on will place an enormous logistic strain, if nothing else, upon the education system. There was always a tendency for Aboriginals to come in in the wet season and to go out in the dry season. That was understandable. There is now a tendency for what appear to be more enduring movements to the traditional lands. Perhaps we can understand that. Whether education in the Western sense should follow the movement of Aborigines outwards, whether it should be undertaken in a bilingual way or whether teachers should be European or Aboriginal are matters which are part of the adventure of this debate. I thank all honourable senators. I simply say that in this, above everything else, my door is open at any time if honourable senators from either side of the chamber would like to take part in meeting these people to discuss this matter or to put forward any honourable suggestions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a first time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The speech read as follows-
This Bill is directed to meeting 2 problems that have arisen in Australia and elsewhere in recent years. Thus, the first objective of the Bill is to prohibit persons preparing for or engaging in incursions into foreign countries. The second is to prohibit the recruiting in Australia of persons to serve in armed forces in a foreign country.
As to the first- prohibition of foreign incursionstwice in recent years persons from Australia have carried out incursions overseas. The Government takes the view that circumstances in overseas countries and Australia make possible the repetition of these activities. The Government takes the view that it should do what it can by legislative means to discourage them. While under existing law- provided information is obtained early enough- some limited action can be taken to prevent these activities achieving their ultimate objective, past events have shown that existing law is not adequate. In all the circumstances, including the need to preserve international relations, there is a need for legislation to deal specifically with the problem, including preparations in Australia for these activities.
To this end, clause 6 will prohibit incursions into foreign countries for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities. This clause will apply to Australian citizens, persons ordinarily resident in Australia and persons who at any time during the period of one year immediately preceding the commission of the offence were present in Australia for a purpose connected with the offence. In regard to the last category of persons I mention that persons meeting this description participated in previous incursion episodes. Such persons would have sufficient connection with Australia in respect of the prohibited activity to warrant the application to them of this provision of the Australian criminal law. The clause refers to hostile activities against governments and this, of course, was the nature of the incursions launched from Australia on the two previous occasions. To remove the reference to activities against governments would mean in effect that the Bill would seek to regulate a very broad variety of military activities by Australians overseas. The Government, for reasons that I shall give in detail in dealing with the second purpose of the BUI, does not think that this is an appropriate course.
Clause 7 prohibits preparations for incursions into foreign countries. In relation to acts done in Australia, the clause applies to all persons; in the case of acts done outside Australia, the clause applies to the same persons as clause 6. Clause 8 prohibits the recruiting of persons to join organisations engaged in hostile activities against foreign governments.
The seriousness with which the Australian Government regards these matters is reflected in the heavy penalties provided for breaches of these provisions. Thus, the penalty for a breach of clause 6 will be 14 years’ imprisonment. The penalty for making preparations for these acts of terrorism will be 10 years. It should be noted that the consent of the Attorney-General will be required for any prosecution for a breach of the Act. As a further indication of the seriousness with which the Government views activities of this nature, I mention that the Government contemplates the making of a proclamation under section 27 of the Crimes Act prohibiting unauthorised military style training and drilling in the use of firearms.
As to the second main purpose- prohibition of recruiting-many countries including Australia have been concerned by the recruiting of, or attempts to recruit persons in their territory for service as mercenaries in foreign forces. A United Kingdom statute, the Foreign Enlistment Act, in force since 1870 and applicable to the British dominions, dealt with enlistment by British subjects in foreign forces but in terms inappropriate in today’s circumstances. The United Kingdom Government established a Committee of Privy Counsellors under the chairmanship of Lord Diplock to examine the problem. The Committee recommended the abolition of the offence of enlisting while abroad as a mercenary and of leaving the United Kingdom in order to do so. The reasons given by the Committee for this view were:
First, for reasons we have given, we do not think it practicable or just to try to define an offence of enlisting as a mercenary in such a way that guilt would depend upon proof by the prosecution of a particular motive as actuating the accused to do so. Secondly, a penal prohibition sought to be imposed by the State upon what an individual does abroad involves a restriction on the liberty of the individual which we think can only be justified on compelling grounds of public interest. Thirdly, the practical difficulties of proving such an offence would mean that there could be very few successful prosecutions; and the chances of convicting the accused would depend not so much on his actual guilt as on his exceptional bad luck in there being available to the prosecution in his case sufficient evidence to convict him on his trial in this country.
The United Kingdom Committee, however, recommended new legislation to prohibit recruitment of persons to take up service as mercenaries abroad including prohibition of offers of employment as a mercenary, publishing information as to how or where to apply for such employment or to reach the place where it is available, or making any payment or taking part in any arrangement to enable or assist a person to do so. The law in the United States prohibits recruitment of any persons as mercenaries within the United States but does not prohibit a citizen or other person in the United States leaving the country to enlist in a foreign military service.
Independently of the United Kingdom inquiry, the Australian Government had conducted its own examination which produced the same broad conclusion as the Diplock Committee, namely, that it was not appropriate to attempt to prohibit enlistment outside Australia or to regulate overseas military activities of Australiansexcept incursion activities dealt with under clause 6- but it was desirable to control recruitment within Australia of mercenaries for service in foreign forces. To implement this conclusion, clause 9 of the Bill will make it an offence for a person to recruit, advertise in respect of recruiting, facilitate or promote recruitment, of another person to serve in or with an armed force in a foreign country, whether government, insurgent or otherwise.
In order to meet circumstances where it is in the interests of the defence or international relations of Australia to permit the recruitment in Australia of persons to serve in particular armed forces, the Minister will be authorised to exempt recruitment for such forces. However, the legislation will not prevent an Australian from going overseas and enlisting in armed forces in another country. The Government recognises that occasions will arise where persons will wish to enlist and serve in the armed forces of another country because of a deeply held personal belief. To prohibit this generally would be an infringement of individual freedom. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The speech read as follows-
In 1959 Cabinet decided that the then AttorneyGeneral should explore with the New South Wales authorities a proposal for the Commonwealth and the State to co-operate in the erection of a court building. It was ultimately decided to erect such a building on adjoining pieces of land owned respectively by the Commonwealth and the State. The land has frontages to Macquarie, King and Phillip Streets, Sydney.
In accordance with the arrangements made the then Commonwealth Department of Works, acting on behalf of both governments, entered into contracts for the erection of a building and became responsible for the contract supervision and for the management of the construction. It was intended that Commonwealth courts would occupy part of the building and that other parts of the building would be occupied by the New South Wales Supreme Court. It was originally envisaged that the general management of the building would be conducted by a committee comprising representatives of the Commonwealth and State. However, it became apparent that a number of difficulties would arise if the Commonwealth and State lands remained in separate ownership. The building had not been constructed so that those parts standing on the separate lands could be used independently and, in order to protect the separate interests of both the State and the Commonwealth a great number of complicated conveyancing and other arrangements would have had to be made. For this and other reasons it was thought that the better course would be to form a corporation in which all the land would be vested and which would also manage the building. Accordingly a company, Law Courts Ltd, was formed and incorporated under the Companies Act 1961, of the State of New South Wales. The arrangements between the Commonwealth and the State are that both the Commonwealth and State owned lands should be transferred to the company and that the company should not be subject to Commonwealth or State taxation.
Sub-section 53(1) of the Lands Acquisition Act 1955 gives the Minister for Administrative Services authority to dispose of land vested in the Commonwealth which is no longer required by the Commonwealth or is not required for immediate use by the Commonwealth. As the Commonwealth owned land is obviously still required by the Commonwealth for immediate use, it is the view of the Attorney-General that in the present circumstances, the Minister has no power under that sub-section to authorise the transfer of the Commonwealth owned land to the company. Provision for the disposal of the land is therefore made in this Bill- clause 4- and, in accordance with the arrangements made with the State, clause 5 exempts the company from taxation under any law of the Commonwealth or of a Territory. If at any time the building is no longer required for its present purposes, provision has been made in the memorandum and articles of the company for the two parcels of land to revert to the previous owners when the company is wound up. The State is enacting legislation which provides for the tranfer of the State owned land to the company and for the exemption of the company from liability to pay any rates, taxes or duties under any law of the State.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17 March, on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– The Senate may recall that when this statement was put down I welcomed it as a step towards the achievement of what is very much required in this country- a commission to regulate the securities industry. At the time it was not possible to read the statement. For that reason, it was not possible to give any firm approval of what was intended. Having read that statement. I see that the basic elements of a scheme are proposed. That scheme appears to be as follows:
The statement goes on to indicate what else the proposal includes. I believe that the statement needs to be debated in the Senate at some length. The Senate has had 2 rather lengthy inquiries into the securities industry. One commenced in 1970. It led to the Rae report. I think we all are very much aware of the recommendations of the Rae report based on investigations which we all agree were thorough. They disclosed massive distortions in the securities industry in Australia which led to massive frauds on the part of a variety of people. This resulted in the small investors being seriously disadvantaged. The Rae report made certain recommendations. I do not believe that those recommendations are the recommendations which this statement proposes. For that reason I believe that we ought to have this discussionif I can put it that way- on this statement. In particular I should like to hear the comments of Senator Rae. There is no doubt that as
Chairman of Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange for many years he became, I am prepared to say, the most informed person in this country on matters that troubled the securities industry. Those of use who served with him on the Committee also gained sufficient experience.
I should like to hear from Senator Rae and Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. I should like to hear from Senator Durack, and I do not doubt that he will respond to the debate. I should like to hear from Senator Wright who was a member of the second committee that was set up to investigate the legislation which the Labor Government brought down. It did not conclude its deliberations because of the dismissal of the Labor Government and the double dissolution which followed. Nevertheless, in the period of its operation it amassed a considerable amount of evidence. If I recall correctly, the members of that committee were Senator Wright, the late Senator Greenwood, Senator Durack, former Senator Drury, Senator Walsh and myself. The point I want to make is that the Rae Committee’s report and its recommendations ought to be considered carefully alongside the proposals outlined in this statement. To my mind they do not match at all. In my view the recommmendations of the Rae Committee would lead to effective supervision of the securities industry. There are certain weaknesses of the proposal in the statement now before us which the Rae Committee recommendations outlined. Also, I believe that in submissions given in evidence to the Senate Select Committee which investigated the Corporations and Securities Industry Bill 1975 there are answers to the problem.
It would be unwise for the Government to bring down legislation based on this statement without going over both the reports I mentioned and looking at the substantial submissions which the industry put before those committees. There were some substantial and well prepared submissions and the conclusions in them were not the conclusions that have been arrived at by the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott). I do not wish to say anything other than that.
It is not for me to go back and outline the many abuses which the Rae Committee revealed. They are now part of history. They are part of history because we have delayed for so long in enacting legislation in this place based on those investigations. In this statement it is said that now, after such a period of time, we can soberly assess the legislation that is required. That is an excuse for the delay that has taken place. I am not saying that there has been delay by this Government alone. During the term of the previous Government delay was unavoidable. It seems regrettable to me that the investigation carried out by the Rae Committee which started in 1970 should not produce the necessary legislation 7 years later. After all, we are not debating legislation at the present time; we are merely debating a statement.
I notice that the statement says that the Attorneys-General of the various States will meet again on 6 May. It may be another year or another 2 years before those gentlemen come to some agreement. Also there are some very grave problems posed as to whether the proposed Ministerial Council will be able to set up a commission which will work with the corporate affairs commissions in the various States to supervise the industry properly. Again I say that we ought to speed to the point of passing legislation in this place that will bring the securities industry under the necessary supervision. Companies and corporations are still failing. The weaknesses that the Rae Committee exposed in the securities industry are appearing again. The watchdog and supervisory role which that Committee imposed upon the industry in an indirect way during the years of its investigation is gone.
At present there is no committee looking into the collapse of some very substantial companies in this country. To my mind it seems urgent that we have the necessary legislation. If we are not to have it then perhaps we ought to be referring to one of our standing committees from time to time some of the failures taking place in the securities industry, thus bringing the industry under some indirect supervision by this chamber until the legislation which is so necessary is enacted. I do not think that that is a very good idea but it seems to me that the securities industry cannot continue to be unsupervised. With those remarks, Mr President, I say again that I trust that this statement will lead to a debate in the Senate which may give us some further enlightenment on how the Government ought to proceed to establish the necessary commission.
– I personally would like to thank Senator Georges very much for his remarks in relation to this important matter which obviously inclined towards the adoption of a bipartisan approach it to. Like Senator Georges, I very strongly support a national approach to the problem of controlling the securities industry. However, we must have regard for the fact that the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs (Mr Howard) has considerable constraints upon him, as we all appreciate, because of the various company laws that emanate from the various States in this Commonwealth. We find it extremely difficult to tear into the subject and obtain overnight solutions to situations, that involve deep rooted constitutional positions and, as Senator Georges would well appreciate, political stands that have been entrenched since the creation of Federation.
I pay tribute to the Minister for having reached the stage of making this statement. I commend him for his timeliness, bearing in mind recent events in regard to Patrick Partners and other companies which have failed. It appears to me that his remarks in this statement are properly directed. There are 3 definite problem areas in regard to controlling the securities and companies areas in the Commonwealth sense. Firstly, the States control company legislation and this means that we must have very close cooperation with the States. A matter flowing directly from that is the need to obtain uniformity in legislation in the various States and here comes the direct conflict between State and Federal interests. This is something that has been extremely difficult to solve but I believe that the Minister has found a successful formula.
It is evident from statements by the various State Attorneys-General that they also agree with the approach of the Minister in this regard. The chief conclusion is that a Ministerial Council, having as members the various State Ministers and the Federal Minister, should in the end be the deciding body in respect of the establishment of uniform legislation. There is a provision that if there is a 6-month delay in the enactment of mirror legislation in the various States the Ministerial Council’s views will override those of the States. I find that to be an extremely valuable compromise between the interests of the States and the Commonwealth and it is in the interests of national control of this particularly important industry.
I want to look very quickly at the whole question of the securities markets and to refer to the question of investor confidence, which Senator Georges mentioned particularly. The abuses evidenced by the mining boom and its excesses in the latter part of the 1960s and early 1970s obviously have done great damage to the ability of the Australian capital markets to raise finance for the extension of Australian industry. We have to face the fact that a certain frenzy existed in those days. Today we have a situation in which we can approach the matter more confidently.
-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.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
What was the total staff establishment of each Commonwealth Employment Office in Queensland in each month since November 1972.
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The staffing establishment of each office of the Commonwealth Employment Service is reviewed annually and records of monthly staffing levels are not maintained. Details relating to each office in Queensland as a result of these annual reviews for the years 1972 to 1976 are set out in the accompanying attachment.
Additional staffing establishment is also made available to all regions as required to provide for workload increases and seasonal workload peaks occurring in individual offices between annual reviews, but records of these temporary allocations of staff are not available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
What action is the Department of Health taking to ensure that typhoid is not introduced into Australia.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Typhoid can be introduced into Australia by persons incubating the disease, by carriers who may transmit the disease without exhibiting detectable signs or symptoms or through contaminated foodstuffs or water. As the disease has a relatively long incubation period (approximately 2 weeks) the disease may emerge some time after arrival of the infected person or importation of contaminated material.
The disease occurs occasionally in Australia. Its spread has been prevented on each of these occasions by prompt CommonwealthState measures to trace, test and treat, where appropriate, all contacts, isolate any carriers and to identify any other sources of the infection. General standards of Australian sanitation and hygiene also operate against the spread of the disease in this country.
Food taken on board by aircraft at overseas ports prior to arrival in Australia is a potential source of infection. Australia has taken the lead in the past in proposing international standards of aircraft food hygiene to minimise the possibility of disease introduction from this source and, following recent food-borne diseases associated with aircraft arriving in Australia, has again raised this matter with the World Health Organisation. A number of preventive measures have been proposed to each airline with aircraft entering Australia. Whilst most airline companies have well developed hygiene programs and employ specialist hygiene officers, recent events have emphasised the need for continuing vigilance, the maintenance of the highest standards of food and water quality and the introduction of uniform standards designed to ensure good hygiene practice in all aspects of airline meal preparation.
The quarantine requirement for all canned meat is that these products must have been heated throughout to 100 degrees Centigrade during the canning process before entry into Australia is permitted. The typhoid organism cannot survive this temperature.
Typhoid infection on ships is often recognised before the ship berths in Australia. Such cases are isolated on arrival and treated until clear of infection.
Typhoid immunisation is available for Australians travelling overseas to countries where typhoid fever is endemic. Immunisation affords substantial protection against the disease and tends to reduce the risk of its introduction when these travellers return to Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 9 March 1977:
Has electronic surveillance equipment been found in the Canberra offices of the Department of Defence. If so, (a) what are the details, and (b) what action, if any, has the Minister taken as a result of the discovery of the equipment.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 8 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Since the inception of the Incomes Equalisation Deposit scheme
how many farmers have availed themselves of the scheme;
what sums of money have been deposited under the scheme; and
what sums of money have been withdrawn.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
By 28 February 1977 the total value of deposits in cash had reached $3 1 . 4m in addition to which there had been drought bond conversions of $ 1 . 6m.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 15 March 1977:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Evans Deakin subsequently withdrew. Whyalla Shipyard stated that it had no interest in the project and Newcastle State Dockyard requested consideration for the construction phase only. The Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard tender was not accepted because their proposal was not based on an existing proven design. Australian shipbuilders will be considered for the construction phase of the project.
Helicopters: Sub-standard Parts (Question No. 251)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 15 March 1977:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 15 March 1977:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
However it is true that there has been a decline in the number of staff employed at Papunya school itself. Following severe vandalism to the teachers’ houses during the 1975-76 Christmas vacation, there was a reduction of staff from that employed in 1 975, seven teachers commencing the 1976 school year. The highest enrolment at the school last year was 193 in February, with an attendance of 133. However this last number dropped considerably during the year and the average daily attendance for 1976 was 64. In the meanwhile, acts of vandalism, theft, etc to teachers’ residences continued and three teachers requested and were given transfers.
There are currently four teachers employed at Papunya school, this establishment being based on 1976 enrolments. So far this year, about 120 children have attended school each day, and my Depanment is looking to providing more teachers on the assumption that this level of attendance will continue.
During 1976 sections of the community made some attempts to decentralise, and I should stress that the majority of outstations about Papunya are new. My Department is currently assessing their educational needs with a view to meeting them during this school year. A number of the outstations have requested the services of visiting teachers and these requests are now being considered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 15 March 1977:
What is the estimated work force in each employment district in Australia at the present time.
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The most recent labour force estimates disaggregated to the level of Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) district employment office areas are available from the results of the 1971 Census of Population and Housing. Because of subsequent population movements, these are now considerably out of date.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) provides estimates of the labour force from its quarterly population survey. As this survey is based on a relatively small sample, the estimates are normally only disaggregated to individual State levels and, at best, would not be reliable beyond metropolitan/non-metropolitan estimates within a State.
The next labour force estimates for individual CES district employment office areas will come from the results of the 1976 Census of Population and Housing. On present expectations, these are not likely to be available before late 1 978.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is not possible to estimate with any precision the likely number or value of successful applications for withdrawal of deposists on the grounds of serious financial difficulties. Up to 18 March 1977, however, the numbers of applications for withdrawal of deposits received and approved by the Commissioner of Taxation were as follows:
No application had been refused up to 18 March 1977. At that date 64 applications were still being considered or awaiting consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 16 March 1977:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 16 March 1977:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
This practice is adopted by most airlines throughout the world to offset the effect of those passengers- variously estimated at between three and four per cent of all passengerswho do not present themselves for carriage, the socalled ‘no show’ problem. By following this booking practice, the airlines make the best use of capacity available, and, at the same time, ensure that passengers may travel on the flights they prefer.
The airlines are mindful of the possible inconvenience to passengers which can arise from this system of booking, and make every effort to ensure that errors and misjudgments are kept to a minimum. As a result, very few cases actually arise where passengers are off-loaded because of overbooking. While the incidence of such off-loadings is not recorded on a regular basis, TAA has determined from its passenger records that, over a three week period in November /December 1976, four overbookings had occurred in 189,502 passenger journeys-a rate of 0.002 per cent. Ansett Airlines of Australia, similarly has found that, over a three week period in June, 1976, passengers off-loaded from its flights as a result of overbooking represented 0.07 per cent of passengers carried. 1 understand, however, that in Ansett ‘s case, the rate may be distorted by the inclusion of offloadings due to other causes.
Where consumers are reasonably led to believe . . . that they have confirmed bookings and are subsequently refused seats on the flight, such conduct by the airline could constitute misleading or deceptive conduct in contravention of the Trade Practices Act ‘.
The domestic airlines make every possible endeavour to keep within the Trade Practices Commission’s guidelines and, I understand that there are direct communications between the Commission and the airline in this context.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 17 March 1977:
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is true, however, that some of the occupational categories in which professional persons register have a legal requirement that the practitioner possess a specific qualification, e.g. medical practitioners. It also happens that in many other fields, for example engineering and accounting, employers customarily require applicants to possess relevant formal qualifications even though they may not be legally obliged to do so.
If the above is borne in mind, together with the caution that the statistics collected by the Professional Employment Offices, neither differentiate between graduates from Australian and overseas tertiary institutions, nor indicate the year of graduation of the persons registering, then the following table which indicates all the persons registered with the Professional Employment Offices of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations as at the end of 1976 in the occupations indicated may be of some limited assistance to the honourable senator.
Australian Savings Bonds
-On 9 March 1977 (Hansard, page 20) Senator Harradine asked me, as Minister representing the Treasurer, a question without notice concerning an article in the National Times of 7 March on Australian Savings Bonds.
The Treasurer has advised that he is not informed of any reason to doubt the substance of the article referred to by Senator Harradine. Australian Savings Bonds are a secure investment designed particularly for smaller investors and household savers. The maximum individual holding of $100,000 (including holdings of Special Bonds) was framed with this in mind (as was the limit of $50,000 which applied to Special Bonds). Companies, as separate legal entities, including those which are subsidiaries of other companies, are entitled to hold up to $100,000 of Australian Savings Bonds Special Bonds, all series combined.
Although there are individual holdings of the maximum amount, the average subscription to Australian Savings Bonds Series 1 was $6,250. The average subscription to later series of Savings Bonds was lower than this and in the case of the present Series 7 it is around $2,500. The authorities monitor holdings closely to ensure that the maximum limit of $100,000 on individual holdings of Australian Savings Bonds and Special Bonds combined is observed.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 March 1977, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1977/19770330_senate_30_s72/>.