22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to. inform the House that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will be absent from Australia from 10th April to 28th April. During his absence I shall act as Prime Minister. I have to inform the House also that the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) will be absent from Australia from 14th April to 15th June, for the purpose of attending to various matters overseas within his administration. During his absence the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) will act as Minister for Health and will represent the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) in this chamber while Parliament is sitting.
– I address a question without notice to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) concerning the possible participation of the Government of the United Kingdom in what is known as a European free trade area. Is the Minister aware that a memorandum has been prepared by the United Kingdom Government in which it is said, amongst other things, that Her Majesty’s Government could not contemplate entering arrangements which would in principle make it impossible for the United Kingdom to treat imports from the Commonwealth at least as favorably as those from Europe? However, Her Majesty’s Government believed it was fully practicable for the United Kingdom and many countries which are members of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation to enter a free trade area; they would be free to keep their own separate and different tariffs on imports from outside the area. I ask the Minister in particular whether any consultations have taken place between Australia and the United Kingdom concerning the effects on Australia of United Kingdom participation in a European free trade area. Will the Minister seek clarification of the meaning of the declaration that the United Kingdom will treat Australian imports at least as favorably as those from Europe, bearing in mind that there can be a considerable difference if “ at least as favorably “ is taken to mean “ no more favorably “7 Finally, what are the likely effects on Australia’s trade directly with countries that will be members of what is generally known as the common market, which includes such countries, as France, Germany and Italy?
– Part of the honorable member’s question has been previously answered in this House by me. The Australian Government has been in consultation with the United Kingdom Government on what might arise from these proposals. Indeed, I had a number of discussions myself when I was in England a few months ago. At that stage - and I think it is probably still true - the proposals under which the United Kingdom might join a European common market area were sufficiently nebulous for it not to be possible to carry discussion to precision. We pointed out that in certain instances Australian interests could be impaired by the United Kingdom entering into such a marketing arrangement. The United Kingdom is not only aware of our interests but has declared its intention not to enter into arrangements which would impair our interests. That is a general declaration of policy which we take in good faith. But, as I said in the House the other day. in reply to a question, I think, by the honorable member for wishes; I thought there are also contractual obligations which limit the freedom of the United Kingdom Government with respect to the trade arrangement with Australia which I described last night.
– What commodities are affected by this agreement?
– The bulk, in number, of the Australian primary products.
– What are the principal ones?
– T will take the honorable member away for a private education if he wishes; I thought that he was here when I spoke last night. The provisions are for free entry for wool and wheat and practically every primary product. They also provide for preferential entry for butter, cheese and dried fruits. Of course, the honorable member for East Sydney, who is interjecting would not understand these things, but I would expect some members of his party to understand them. The United Kingdom has a clear knowledge of the interests of Australia and it has been willing to consult Australia on this matter. As 1 mentioned the other day, the core of such a European common market area would be the customs union of six countries known as the Messina Powers. There will be a meeting at Geneva this month of the representatives of the signatories of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and a senior officer of the Department of Trade will be present. At that meeting we will be careful to elicit all information that is procurable about what is intended under that agreement, already signed between six independent countries. Where that agreement impinges on the existing General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade arrangements, we will have a wider discussion to bring it clearly to the notice of all the countries which trade with these European powers and which are members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade a question with reference to the relaxation of import restrictions announced last week and particularly in relation to consumer goods. Has consideration been given to new businesses, that is, to those without a base year, to businesses extending activities to new areas, to those that had a very low quota related to a low level of imports in the base year or to those which have suffered severely because of some adverse circumstance such as fire; or is the relaxation to be applied by merely increasing by an overall percentage the values of licences already held in the business community?
– Under the higher level of licensing, there is an increase of 661 per cent, in the quota levels for the B category goods, which are mostly the type of goods which I think the honorable member has in mind. That, clearly, is a very substantial increase but, in addition to that, a not inconsiderable sum has been earmarked to enable the Department of Trade to deal with as many anomalous situations as can be met within the limits of the arithmetic set by the amount of money that can be reasonably earmarked for this purpose inside the total £75,000,000 relaxation. The Department of Trade is aware that some businesses have expanded rather dramatically since import licensing has occurred and that they are now in an anomalous position. Then there are other businesses which have not expanded to the same extent. I could name a number of other types of anomalies, so we will be dealing with those. But having said that, 1 want to make it quite clear that the department will not be in a position to cure every anomalous position that is brought to its notice, not due to any unwillingness, but because the department, from the funds explicitly set aside by the Cabinet for this particular purpose, understands that it will not have enough money to cure all anomalies, lt will be for the Department of Trade to exercise its best judgment within the limits of the funds available, having regard to the individual circumstances. Having said that, I say again thai, having to work in this matter with public servants in a rather arbitrary manner, 1 have no objection whatever to public criticism of what we are doing, because, if we cannot give a reasonable explanation, what we are doing must be wrong.
-Can the Minister for Defence Production inform the House whether a decision has been made with respect to the further production of aircraft in Australia? If it has been decided to continue the production of aircraft, is it the intention of the Government to utilize those facilities that have been established for the production of aircraft in recent years, particularly in the Finsbury district of my electorate, and will the many aircraft production workers who were recent, dismissed be re-employed in the not far distant future?
– I can understand the honorable member’s asking this question, and I sympathize with his very obvious interest in this subject. It was announced in the press this morning that the Government had decided upon the manufacture of a super-sonic fighter aircraft in Australia. That is a decision in principle, and the details have yet to be worked out. One of the important details to be worked out, of course, is where the work load will go consequent upon this very important decision, which indicates the Government’s confidence in the aircraft industry and its belief that it is essential to the efficiency of the Royal Australian Air Force and to the maintenance of Australia’s defences, fi I remember rightly, there are some thirteen or fourteen subsidiary establishments in Australia serving the aircraft production industry, as well as the three main companies that manufacture aircraft for us. In addition, there arc 400 or 500 subcontractors. When a great project like this is put in Lund, a quantity of work sooner or later must flow into some of the subsidiary establishments and to the subcontractors. I am unable to tell the honorable gentleman at present the degree to which establishments in his home city may be affected. Perhaps I shall be able to tell him more later. All T can say at present is that the Government is determined to maintain an efficient aircraft production industry in this country.
– I should like to direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen recent reports of a statement by a consultant to the New South Wales Egg Marketing Board that the board has left it a little late to find a replacement for the British market which has been lost as a result of the United Kingdom Government’s action in subsidizing local production? Has the Minister noted that the consultant said, The board is not licked yet provided it goes out and looks for business “? Does the Minister consider, from his own knowledge and study of overseas marketing, that a primary industry board such as the New South Wales Egg Marketing Board is sufficiently well equipped to develop new markets, and has the necessary know-how, and, if not, are other agencies available to undertake the very important negotiations that are necessary?
– I did read reports of the comments made by a technical adviser to the New South Wales Egg Marketing Board. If the honorable member does not mind, I shall not comment upon those remarks, because it is always my aim to maintain the most friendly relations with the various State boards, just as I do with the various Commonwealth boards. Nonetheless, f should like to inform the honorable gentleman that, as long as two years ago, a survey of marketing prospects in England and Western Europe was made, and some doubts were then expressed as to whether that market would be able to take all the eggs produced in Australia. In other words, difficulties were forecast at that time. The comment of the representative of the New South Wales Egg Marketing Board that extra effort must be made if New South Wales eggs were to be sold, was to the point. The chairman of the Australian Egg Board, and other representatives of the egg industry, will be proceeding overseas shortly. We are hopeful that they will be able to look for fresh markets and make some contribution towards the solution of this very difficult problem.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. May I first say, by way of explanation, that a Hobart firm which distributes 80 per cent, of the household doors sold in Tasmania has reported that its sales have fallen from 1,300 doors a month last year to 275 a month now, and that it has had to dismiss many men. In the light of this fact concerning a section of a very important industry, and in view of the facts that last week 75 men applied for six builders’ labourers jobs, and that this business house confirms completely our suggestion that lack of home credit and finance is strangling a thriving industry, will the Treasurer consult Commonwealth Bank officials in order to have additional credit for home-building released immediately in each State, thus relieving unemployment and giving a financial blood transfusion to Australia’s greatest industry?
– My reply to the propaganda question that has emanated from the honorable member is to draw his attention to the all-embracing question about housing and housing difficulties thai has been placed on the notice-paper by the honorable member for Yarra. I would be surprised if a reply to that question has not already reached the honorable member. However, I will look further at the question.
– I ask the
Minister for Primary Industry whether Japanese businessmen visiting Brisbane are seeking 30,000 tons of Australian meat, worth, on current values, about £6,000,000? (s it a fact, also, that the quantity being sought cannot be made available because of limitations contained in the fifteen-year meat agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom? If this is a fact, will the Minister consider making an approach to the United Kingdom for a variation in the agreement to enable Australian meat producers to take full advantage of markets said to exist in other countries?
– A deputation of Japanese interests will visit Australia next week and meet the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, in order to discuss the purchase of Australian meat. The quantity has not been mentioned, but I did read in a newspaper that a purchase of something like 30,000 tons, valued at £6,000,000, was contemplated. I am informed by the chairman of the board that he has no actual figures in front of him and therefore cannot make any comment. An approach has already been made to the United Kingdom Government to see whether there could be some extension of the free quota of meat, but up to the present that request has not been agreed to. The fifteen-year meat agreement has been of enormous importance to the Australian meat industry because, at a time when prices - for frozen beef especially - were falling on the international market, a subsidy was payable by the United Kingdom Government. That permitted a subsidy of 3d. per lb. in the case of boned meat, and 4d. per lb. in the case of boned-out meat, to be paid to Australian frozen beef producers. I would like to stress that the fifteen-year meat agreement is regarded as of great importance by the primary producers themselves.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether the Australian Dental Association has conferred with him regarding a plan to establish a dental benefits scheme in Australia. Will the Minister say whether such a scheme is practicable and whether the Commonwealth health benefits scheme could be extended to cover dental care?
– The Australian Dental Association has not conferred with me on the subject.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House what has resulted from the appointment of Mr. Gorman to take evidence about the revolt in Hungary from Hungarian refugees in Australia?
– Mr. Eugene Gorman, a distinguished man of law in Victoria, was appointed about two months ago at the request of the Government to investigate the views, opinions and evidence that Hungarian refugees in this country had to offer on the events in Hungary in October and November last, of which they had personal knowledge. Mr. Gorman carried out this task very effectively in the past six weeks. He interviewed large numbers of Hungarian refugees in all the main centres where they are concentrated, and he presented his report to me in the last week. I will take an early opportunity of tabling the report in the House and of telling the House briefly the principal contents of it. I believe it is a particularly interesting report and I think it will be of considerable value to the United Nations commission of five, of which Australia is a member, which was appointed to investigate the terrible events in Hungary towards the end of last year.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister in his capacity as Treasurer. Has the right honorable gentleman been advised that officers of the Bank of New South Wales are calling at private houses and asking householders to sign Commonwealth Savings Bank withdrawal forms on which have been written, or more usually typed, the words “ Transfer to the Bank of New South Wales Savings Bank balance of account with interest “? Does it happen all over Australia, as is happening all along the north coast of New South Wales, where nine out of every ten householders have Commonwealth Savings Bank accounts, that the Bank of New South Wales Savings Bank has sent relieving managers and accountants to solicit transfers at night at week-ends and on bank holidays? Has he heard of any other incidents such as the one in my own suburb, where the manager of the Bank of New South Wales entered the Commonwealth Savings Bank premises and importuned its customers and, when asked to leave, continued his touting on the footpath outside?
– Unfortunately - and I emphasize “ unfortunately “ - several reports along similar lines have been brought to my notice. When I first heard them, I could not believe them, but they are so widespread and so numerous that I take consolation only in the belief that these zealous officers of the Bank of New South Wales are doing something mat has not the approval of the management, the board or high executive officers of that long-established, reputable, worthwhile and deserving institution. I do not know what can be done, but it evidences in any language unfair competition, of which the banks have been so concerned in regard to banking legislation.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Army, refers to the courageous rescue attempts by Duntroon cadets of their comrades in the Lake George tragedy last year. The Minister will recall that, of the five cadets involved, two have quite rightly been honored with the George Medal as a decoration for the courage they displayed. I ask the Minister whether any recognition has been given or any tribute paid to the three cadets who actually initiated the rescue attempt which cost them their lives.
– The honorable member is referring to a tragic event - the worst, I think, in the history of the Royal Military College - which happened last year. What he says is perfectly true. Reference was made to the great bravery of the three cadets he mentioned - that is, Cadets Reilly, Pritchard and Noble - at the coroner’s inquiry -last year. I also made a public statement at the time, in which I stated my recognition of their great bravery. I also wrote to their parents, extending my sympathy and that of the Government, and informing them that we recognized the bravery of their sons. I take this opportunity again of recognizing publicly the bravery of these lads. Without thought of the safety of their own lives they took action lo rescue two of their mates who were in difficulties, and as a result they themselves, got into difficulties and the whole five of them were drowned. The only two survivors of those who went to the rescue were honoured in the way that the honorable member has said. Of course, special services were held at the college in recognition of the bravery of these cadets.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior, as Minister in charge of the Directorate of Civil Defence, whether the Government’s failure to enunciate any definite plans for civil defence is based on any opinion or advice of its defence advisors. If so, will he table in this House the report of those advisors? If not, will he, himself, make a progress report to the House on the civil defence organization?
– As the honorable gentleman and the House, 1 am sure, well know, the Government will base its civil defence plans on the appreciation of the Defence Committee. I think it would be quite an odd circumstance if that document were to be published in the House. However, I think that the question which the honorable member has in his mind will be answered in due course.
– Following on a reply by the Minister for Primary Industry to a question of mine yesterday, when he said that farmers need to do some re-thinking and planning to produce goods of quality, I now ask him whether his attention has been directed to comments made at the recent conference of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Primary Producers Union to the effect that butter sales in the United Kingdom are suffering from poor quality and inappropriate marketing and advertising arrangements. Can the Minister inform me whether official reports confirm these statements?
– I have, of course, received reports that the prices received for our butter sold in the United Kingdom have not been as high as the Government and the industry had hoped. There have also been some reports received by the Government from industry representatives that the quality is not as high as the Australian Dairy Produce Board would like it to be. The board, therefore, is itself taking action in order to ensure that butter of higher quality is marketed. It is also taking steps to ensure that Australian butter, instead of being used as a blend, is marketed under a particular trade name, or what is known as a pat name. I should like to assure the honorable member that the board has this matter under constant consideration, lt will send two of its senior representatives to the United Kingdom within the next month. I think that it is doing a great deal to ensure not only that the quality of our butter is improved, but also that satisfactory sales are made.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that many business houses and members of the community who use the airmail services extensively have been greatly inconvenienced by the delay of the Postal Department in issuing a 7d. stamp? In view of the fact that it is almost nine months since this Government increased postal charges, will he state whether it is intended to issue a 7d. stamp and, if so, when it will be available to the public?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is intended to issue a 7d. stamp. A stamp of a particular design is to be issued shortly. I made an announcement about it the other day. It is a stamp which will commemorate the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. I cannot say definitely when the issue will be completed, but I can assure the honorable member that it will not be long delayed.
– As a result of the recent statements made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Army concerning the future role of the Citizen Military Forces, [ have had a number of inquiries from personnel presently serving with those forces and also from persons who intended to enlist voluntarily. Can the Minister for the Army inform me now, or in the near future, of any incentive or plans that the Army has to encourage enlistment voluntarily in the Citizen Military Forces, and will he be good enough also to inform me of the plans for the proposed drill halls that were listed to be built in the near future? 1 cite as an example the proposed drill hall at Gosford. New South Wales.
– I know of the very great interest of the honorable member in the drill hall at Gosford, the need for which he has been pressing for so many years. Yes, every possible encouragement will be given in the new scheme to enlistment and service in the Citizen Military Forces. The details of the scheme are now being worked out in relation to that matter, and also in relation to what will be done with the existing drill halls. One can well imagine that, in the altered circumstances, there will be some changes. I am not in a position at this moment to say just what will be the final position regarding the drill hall at Gosford, but as soon as I am aware of that, the honorable member can be sure that I shall let him know, because I know of his great interest in it.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Defence Production, is in two parts. The first part deals with the acceleration of production of the new service rifle, and the second with the manufacture of ammunition for the weapon. In view of the statement that the new rifle will not come into production until 1959, will the Minister take appropriate steps to see that additional toolmakers are engaged for the tooling-up for production, so as to advance the date of the mass production of the weapon? If toolmakers are not available in Australia, will the Minister take action to provide accommodation, so that toolmakers may be recruited from the United Kingdom, and so that the Commonwealth Government will be able to play its part in the “ Bring out a Briton “ programme? Because of unemployment in the Lithgow district, and with the object of decentralizing a vital defence establishment, will the Minister consider favorably the Lithgow district as a suitable area for the erection of a factory for the manufacture of ammunition for the new service rifle?
– Dealing with the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question first. T can understand that, representing a” he does a district which depends a gow? ‘leal upon one defence factory, he is, very naturally, interested in the progress of the FN. rifle and the impact of its production upon the citizens whom he represents. It is not simply a matter of toolmakers in a project of this kind. That may be one factor, but there are many others as well. All I can say to the honorable gentleman is that we are pressing forward as fast as we can to get the FN. rifle in production. That, indeed. I think is evidenced by the decision which we took some little time ago, and which was announced, that we would not wait for final designs and would, with the co-operation of my colleague, the Minister for the Army, tool up for and manufacture a Mark I. of the rifle as soon as possible. I shall certainly take into consideration all of the aspects of the honorable gentleman’s question, and he may be assured that we shall do what we can to get into production as quickly as possible. As to ammunition, that is another matter altogether. Factors, which are beyond my memory at the moment, influence the siting of such a factory, but the claims of Lithgow most certainly will not be overlooked.
– Has the Minister for Trade received any progress reports from the Australian trade mission, organized by his department, which is at present in India? If so, do the reports indicate that the prospects for increased Australian exports are encouraging?
– I am able to inform the honorable member, who has constantly taken an interest in trade matters, that highly encouraging reports have been coming in from Mr. Hurley, the leader of the Australian trade mission to India. He reports enthusiastic reception of the mission in the various cities which it has visited so far, great interest on the part of Indian commercial circles in Australian goods, and, already, a considerable booking of orders.
– I address a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Would it be possible to draw up a list of the discoveries and inventions that can be credited to the organization? Is it the policy of the Government to recognize the efforts of the individual in such matters? In. view of the savings that have been effected as a result of some of these discoveries, particularly the Mansfield discovery, will the Minister give consideration to rewarding individuals by ex gratia monetary grants?
– I have personally given a great deal of thought to whether it would be possible, and would do more good than harm, to initiate some kind of an incentive system under which adequate financial rewards could be paid to individuals who made discoveries that brought money to the Commonwealth or financial advantage to the people of Australia. In the search for an incentive system, I have corresponded with people holding positions similar to mine in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada. I think it can be said that so far no country has found it possible to introduce an incentive system to do the thing that the honorable gentleman - quite rightly, if I may say so - seeks to have done. It would be easy enough to reward persons who, individually, made discoveries or initiated patents which brought financial gain to the Australian Government, but discoveries and patents of that type cover only a relatively small part of the total activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Equally adequate rewards would have to be paid to men who found cures or deterrents for, say. stock diseases, or who discovered methods of coping with noxious weeds, the financial results of which it would be impossible to gauge. There is also the fact, as 1 have discovered to my cost, that very few inventions, discoveries or successful pieces of research can be attributed to one individual. Usually teams from not one but two or more divisions of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization are concerned with the various aspects of the working out of a final result. I am afraid that I am back on my haunches, if I may put it in that way. I do not see any way that would be fair all round to do what the honorable gentleman seeks to have done, and which I myself would very much like to have done, if it were possible. I believe that any scheme that could be introduced - and you could mock up ascheme easily enough - would result in hardships and hard feelings by reason of people not being included who possibly might well expect to be included in some other award that is being made. I appreciate the honorable gentleman’s question, and ] wish we could find a way of doing what he suggests.
– As hog casings are used extensively in the manufacture of sausages, and have been in extremely short supply for some time, will the Minister for Trade, particularly in view of the recent relaxations of import restrictions, and my repeated representations on this matter, urgently consider relaxing import controls affecting this important commodity?
– I acknowledge that the honorable member, in common with other honorable members, has been active in making representations on this particular matter. I am at the present time studying what would be the most appropriate level of licensing for hog casings, having regard to the over-all limitations that are still inevitable in import licensing. I understand the necessity for this commodity, the need to import it, and the uses to which it is put. I believe that there is something more than just an embarrassing shortage to be considered in relation to this matter. I have a belief, from all the representations that have been put to me, accompanied by a good deal of evidence, that in a condition of shortage there are some importers who have exploited the situation to charge unconscionable prices. I want to make it clear that, irrespective of whether or not there could be a substantial over-all licensing, I propose to administer the licensing of this commodity in such a manner as would extend no sympathy whatever to any importer who can be revealed as exploiting the circumstances of his licensing situation.
– I direct a question without notice to the Acting Prime Minister, which I preface by saying that the Prime Minister advised me on 1st May last year that a former member of the Russian legation in Canberra, and that person’s wife, who have been granted asylum in this country, were at that time still engaged upon supplying information, allegedly of great value to this country, and that no decision had then been made as to how long this arrangement was to continue. Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether these two people are, or either of them is, still in the employ of the Commonwealth? If so, are they still engaged upon the same type of work and, if not, what is the nature of their present duties? Are they being paid a salary and, if so, how much? Are they still being maintained by the Commonwealth, including the provision of a residence and security guards? If so, will the Acting Prime Minister have prepared, and furnish, a statement showing the annual and total cost to the community to date of maintaining those two people, and showing the various headings of expenditure separately, such statement to include all moneys paid by way of grant, salaries, &c? Finally, will the Acting Prime Minister state whether these people are to be a permanent charge upon the Australian community, and, if not, when will the present arrangement terminate?
– In reply to the serial raised by the honorable member, if he places the questions on the noticepaper I will give them consideration; but it is very opportune to point out that the honorable member for East Sydney had to wait until the Prime Minister departed from Australia to ask a question that could have been placed on the notice-paper months ago.
– Has the Minister for Supply seen a report of a reply he gave to me last week in which he is said to have stated that over-supply of world markets was the reason why the Bell Bay aluminium plant had unsold stocks, and, arising out of that, did he see the statement of the Premier of Tasmania criticizing the giving of import licences for aluminium, and advocating the expansion of the Bell Bay plant? Has he also heard the suggestion that reports concerning big bauxite deposits in north Queensland might be the reason why the Commonwealth Government wanted to limit developments at Bell Bay?
– In answer to the honorable member for Braddon, who, as a good patriotic Tasmanian, has always shown a great interest in the aluminium industry, 1 want to say that I did see some report on the matter he has mentioned. I am a little reluctant to enter into a public controversy, especially with a partner government, about the aluminium industry. We in this Government have always tried to keep the industry out of both party politics and StateCommonwealth politics, and I could only wish that some other people had been equally anxious. But, sir, 1 saw the report referred to. I did not say that world oversupply had caused the surplus at Bell Bay.
-“ Beale “ Bay, is it not?
– For my sins it should be “ Beale “ Bay. I did not say over-supply had caused the surplus at Bell Bay. What I said was that some years ago there had been a serious shortage and that as a result consumers in Australia had bought up large stocks. This was quite prudent because Bell Bay was not at that time in full production, or even producing at all. That was followed by a change in the world situation and there was plenty of aluminium. By then, too, production had started at Bell Bay. In those circumstances it was not surprising that consumers should want to use up their stocks. There was also a difference of a few per cent, between our prices and overseas prices. All of those circumstances conspired together to put the Australian Aluminium Production Commission in the position of not being able to sell ils ingots. At one stage it had more than the whole of its working capital tied up in unsold ingots. E mentioned that matter only as an illustration of why we should use some businesslike caution in approaching the question of how and when we went in for the doubling of the size of the plant, which was the substance of the honorable member’s question. I notice also that the comment has been made that we should be using import licensing now to prevent the importation of aluminium. This Government has never used import licensing for that purpose. Import licensing is a currency matter, not a tariff matter, and we do not propose to use it as such. As to the size of the plant itself, if T may conclude this part of the answer, let me make it quite clear once and for all, because I am tired of answering questions about the matter, that we are not against an increase in the size of the plant.
– You are against the industry altogether.
– The honorable member for East Sydney, that paragon from Woolloomooloo, or wherever he comes from, says we are against the industry. My only comment on that is that this Government has made the industry a triumphantly successful industry, notwithstanding the fact that the beginnings of it were hopelessly botched by the Labour Government. Having said that, perhaps I can get back to my own answer. We are not against an increase of the plant but what we are determined about is that the matter should be approached in a prudent and businesslike way. First of all, who is going to pay for increasing the size of the plant?
– Now you are on the right track.
– I am on the right track. The Tasmanian Government wants the Commonwealth to pay for it, and I suppose a lot of other citizens of Australia also want big development projects in their part of the country. Secondly, where is the power to come from? I assure honorable members we had enough difficulty in getting continuous supplies of power to start the project, without running into the same sort of problem with another block of 40.000 horse-power unless we are quite sure power will be available. It is said that it will be available. The Premier of Tasmania says it will be available. But who is going to pay for that power? Will the Commonwealth pay for it? I think I have made my point. I conclude by saying that the Australian Aluminium Production Commission is examining the matter with great care and will make the right recommendations at the right time.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
National Library Inquiry Committee - Report of Inquiry together with Appendices.
Honorable members will remember that last year a committee was set up to inquire into the functions of the National Library and to advise whether any change in the present form of control was desirable. The committee has concluded its work and has presented its report to the Prime Minister. The report has not been printed but a limited number of copies will be made available to honorable members through the Clerk.
Ordered to be printed.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Public Service Act - Public Service Board - Thirty-second report on the Public Service for year 1955-1956.
I ask for leave to make a short statement. Leave granted.
– In presenting the thirty-second report of the Public Service Board covering the year ended 30th June, 1956, I have thought it desirable to make a statement which will, I hope, help to clear up some current misconceptions. The principal personnel authority for the Government is the Public Service Board which directly controls staffing and conditions of employment for all people engaged under the Public Service Act and which also has general power of approval on conditions of service for a number of statutory authorities. Overall Commonwealth employment at 30th June, 1956, was 209,648, of which 153,600 is directly under Public Service Board control. The board is an instrument of Parliament and makes its reports to Parliament. The report now presented is the thirty-second since the board was constituted under the existing Public Service Act in 1922.
It has, I regret to say, become a popular practice to criticize the Public Service, but those of us who are closely associated with its work know how far removed from reality much of the criticism is, and it is important, I think, Mr. Speaker, that we in this House should have an up-to-date picture of the Public Service. May I, as a first point, traverse the essential stability and traditions of a public service. It is common for critics to refer to the protections which Public Service employment provides. This is no accident and requires no apology. On the contrary, it is proper that the institution which must serve successive governments of different political views should be protected by a well-formulated code of conditions such as are provided under the Public Service Act and its regulations. It is proper, too, that the code should be in the hands of a trustee independent of the Government to ensure that the terms of the code are justly administered. That trustee is the Public Service Board, and I am sure that honorable members will agree with me when I say that the board has, over the years, carried out its onerous trusteeship in the most commendable manner. In exchange for its protected position, the Public Service itself accepts very real responsibility to the Government and the public - a responsibility which includes loyalty to the Crown, unbroken maintenance of the functions of the Public Service and, very importantly, loyalty to the government of the day in carrying out the policies of that government. I have had first-hand experience right through my political life of this non-partisan loyalty of the Public Service, as indeed have many members of both sides of this House who have served as Ministers of the Crown. I am sure that I speak for them as well as for myself in acknowledging it. I might perhaps be permitted to go further and quote what the Prime Minister said on one occasion -
Should this great tradition falter, the very fourdations of democracy will be shaken.
Not infrequently the Public Service is included in criticism directed against the diversity of government activity and the number of departments into which it is organized. Let there be no mistake on these important issues. Final responsibility for all policies rests with the Government and with Parliament. They and they alone, within their respective spheres, determine what shall be done. Officials of the Public Service may be called in to advise on certain aspects and consequences of policies, but they have no part in the final decision! which bring the policies into being. Such decisions rest solely with the Government and, where legislation or financial appropriations are involved, with Parliament. The creation of departments is a government responsibility and although, here again, the advice of senior officials is frequently sought, it is by government decision that departments are created or abolished, and legislative and other functions allocated to them.
Let me now pass to the charges frequently made that the Public Service is inefficient and over-staffed. In my experience of the working of the Public Service, I do not find these criticisms to be established in fact. I would not pretend, of course, that in such a vast organization there is no room for improvement. Of course, there is; but approach to efficiency requires much more than a precise performance of a routine function. In its highest form, efficiency in management requires awareness of changing thoughts and technique, and their absorption and adaptation to the requirements of the enterprise for which management is responsible. It is an inside job in the main, and particularly so as the largeness of scale of any enterprise increases. Possibly, the most striking feature of recent reports of the Public Service Board is the clarity with which the awareness of the need to change and adapt processes in a rapidly changing world has been expressed through such things as method review, including mechanical developments, training, close association with progressive bodies, such as the Institute oi Management, and the like. Many nf the major private enterprises in Australia have associated with the Public Service Board in these developments and have expressed their appreciation of the forward thinking of the Public Service in its approach to management problems.
Requests frequently reach the government for staffing and efficiency reviews from outside of the Public Service. As I have said, I think that this, in an enterprise as vast as the machinery of government, is an inside job, but it is worth examining just what a full-scale staffing and efficiency review by an outside body could mean. The Hoover Commission, which inquired into the organization of the machinery of government in the United States, is frequently referred to. There were two such inquiries and the reports are extremely Interesting and have been very carefully reviewed by the Public Service Board. It is necessary to say, however, that the inquiries were into the way in which the machinery of government was organized. They were not into the detail of staffing and work processes of the United States civil service. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that the first Hoover Commission, in spite of its limited terms of reference, took sixteen months to make its inquiries; that, outside of the members of the commission itself, it employed some 300 people organized into 24 task forces; and that its reports covered 2,500,000 words.
In the United Kingdom, over recent years, there have been a number of inquiries by committees set up to examine particular aspects of the civil service system, for example training, recruitment, and, during 1955-56, pay. Staffing and efficiency checks within the British civil service are covered Internally by the Establishment Division of the Treasury and the departments, and by Treasury and departmental organization and method reviews, as is done by the Public Service Board and the departments in the Commonwealth Public Service.
I feel that we have been provided with all the evidence which we need to convince us that the Public Service, through the board and the departments, is alive to its responsibilities and is generally efficient in carrying them out, but 1 think that we must ask ourselves whether the machinery under which the Public Service is required by legislation to operate is all that it should be and that it aids and does not hinder efficient administration. Inquiry by informed people on such matters can be of very real value and the Government hopes to be able to assemble such a committee to examine one most important section of Public Service machinery. 1 refer to its recruitment standards and processes.
Finally, let me deal with the over-all strength of the Public Service. The board’s report shows employment at 30th June, 1956, to be 153,600. When the Government took office at the end of 1949, it immediately set about reviewing Public Service staffing both from administrative and economic necessities. Early in 1951. a direction was issued that the strength of the Service, then 161,714, was to be reduced by 10,000. Functions were overhauled and some risks were taken in shortcutting procedures. As a result, the Public Service was reduced to 149,129 by 31st December, 1951. There has been some growth since then, but that is inevitable with expanding population and developmentAnalysis shows that the increases have been in those departments giving vital service to the public and where new policies require implementation. The increases which have occurred since the 1951 cuts were imposed have been substantially less, proportionately, both to population growth and to the increased business turnover of the departments.
Too frequently, Public Service critics tend to infer that there is such a thing as a businessman who exists outside of the Public Service and that the public servant himself knows nothing about business. 1 do not find that opinion shared by the people who have responsibility for the direction of big private enterprises and who know at first-hand the quality of the senior officials and effectiveness of the administration which they control. In fact, they are frequently so impressed that they attract officers of the Service into their businesses. There have been many examples of this in recent times and we have lost staff as a result. Others, fortunately. have stayed with the Public Service notwithstanding attractive offers which they have received from private enterprise.
When we can see from the reports of the Public Service Board that sections of administration such as the Taxation Branch and the Department of Social Services have been able to reduce staff in the face of dramatic increases in the volume of their business, and that the Post Office staff increase is very substantially less than the increase of its business turnover, we in this House have little cause, I suggest, to worry about the management aptitudes and attitudes of our Public Service. Few businesses could show better performance. I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by expressing my great regard for the integrity, steadfast purpose, efficiency and loyalty of the Commonwealth Public Service - a sentiment which I confidently feel will be shared by all honorable members of this House.
– This statement contains debatable matter. I should like to know whether the Minister has moved that the paper be printed. If lt is to be debated, I suggest that the Minister should do that.
– We are not asking for it.
– There is no motion before the Chair.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLcay).I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of senators and members to be members of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
Senators McCallum, Vincent and Wood have been appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Senators Nicholls and Ryan have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in that House.
Mr. Anderson and Mr. Howse have been appointed by the Prime Minister and Mr. Cope and Mr. J. R. Fraser have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in this House.
Debate resumed from 3rd April (vide page 494), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, this bill provides for the raising of a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The bill has been brought in by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) in his capacity as Treasurer of the Government, lt will authorize a further loan from the International Bank. Australia has previously obtained from the bank four loans, totalling 258,000,000 dollars. At a time when the Treasurer has just achieved a record term in office as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, it must give him considerable pleasure to be able to announce to the Parliament that he has been able to obtain a further loan from this very important overseas organization. As the Treasurer indicated, the moneys provided by this loan will be used for certain very important public purposes, such as programmes in forestry, agriculture, road and rail transport, and industry.
It is only from the International Bank that Australia has been able to obtain dollar loans, and it is most important that we should negotiate substantial dollar loans in order to enable us to purchase equipment that can be obtained only from dollar countries. In the past, the proceeds of these loans have been used to purchase equipment of the greatest value, such as heavy earthmoving machinery, diesel-electric locomotives, agricultural machinery to improve our agricultural production and the efficiency of our farms, and road-making machinery to enable us to undertake road works that would otherwise have been impossible. In this debate, the Opposition has shown that it is extremely unwilling for Australia to obtain moneys from overseas. Opposition members have from time to time chided the Government for its alleged failure to improve our roads and railways. Indeed, only yesterday, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) proposed the discussion of transport problems as a matter of urgent public importance. Yet, when the Government has the opportunity to obtain overseas funds for these purposes, the Opposition has not hesitated to oppose this measure.
The bill is a most useful one. Over the years, it has been the practice for Australia to obtain from overseas as much money as possible. Indeed, this country’s early development was greatly assisted by overseas loans. However, the practice of obtaining money from other countries ceased for some time, and it was not until 1950, shortly after the Menzies Government took office, that the practice of negotiating loans overseas was again resorted to. The first loan from the International Bank was obtained in that year. One may very well contrast the present state of affairs with that existing in 1949 under the Labour Government. To-day, we enjoy wonderful prosperity, and during the years that the present Government has been in office, we have made great progress generally. When Labour went out of office in 1949, we were suffering from acute shortages and were not getting ahead with the development of the country as satisfactorily as we should have been doing. The overseas loans negotiated by this Government have enabled us to obtain from dollar sources valuable equipment and machinery that we should otherwise not have been able to get. It has been said in this debate that the International Bank should serve the sole purpose of helping under-developed countries, and that Australia’s negotiation of dollar loans from the bank has in fact deprived under-developed countries of financial aid that they should be receiving.
– Who said that?
– It has been said in this debate, and it may be said again.
– The honorable member should bring himself up to date.
– If I brought myself up to date, I should have to say a lot of disagreeable things about the honorable member that I should not care to say.
– The honorable member need not think that the honorable member tor Yarra would worry about that.
– I do not think that he would worry. 1 was going to say that the International Bank does in fact make very substantial loans to under-developed countries, and has already lent to Asian and African countries a ta.al far greater than that lent to Australia, although Australia is the greatest individual borrower from the bank. We may say. in other terms, that Australia is the bank’s most favoured borrower. That indicates the bank’s confidence in this country, and the criticism that we have heard to the effect that we are trying to cadge loans from the International Bank can be regarded only as very cheap. The truth of the matter is that the bank is most happy to have Australia as a substantial borrower, and it has shown continued confidence in us by agreeing to make this further loan. The whole purpose of the International Bank is to promote vital development throughout the world, and especially in this part of it. The bank is aware .that inflation is world wide, and it does not like it, and if it is satisfied that a country is not taking the proper action to deal with inflation and to limit it a* much as possible within its own borders, it does not regard that country as suitable for the advancement of financial assistance. The fact that the bank has shown so much confidence in Australia as to make a further loan indicates that it regards as satisfactory the efforts taken by this Government to deal with inflation and considers that we have made good progress in tackling what is a world-wide problem.
I turn now to the economic benefits of these overseas loans. I propose to deal with this aspect of the matter first from the stand-point of the balance of payments, which presents a very serious problem foi Australia in view of the nature of its economy. The balance of payments problem is sometimes stated in simple terms an a question of whether exports exceed imports, or vice versa, but it is well known that that is an oversimplification of the problem and that various invisible items on both sides of the ledger must be taken into account. Invisible items that add to the cost of imports are expenses such as freight and insurance, which amount to more than £100,000,000 annually. On the other hand, there are invisible items on the export side of the ledger, particularly capital flowing into this country through private investment and public borrowing. The more money that we can obtain by public borrowing, the mee likely it is that the balance of payments will be favorable and that we shall avoid the difficulties that we have experienced during the last twelve months or so owing to the decline of our overseas balances. Therefore, from the stand-point of the balance of payments, it is of great importance that we obtain public borrowings from overseas.
Let me now deal with import restrictions. Our balance of payments trouble has forced us to impose severe import restrictions. This Government has heartily disliked such a policy, because it has some very grave disadvantages. Gu.ce restrictions have been imposed, it is difficult to get rid of them. They injure business, ultimately increase costs, and are, in fact, highly inflationary. We do not get so many goods into the country, the same amount of money chases fewer goods and, consequently, inflation races on.
The Government’s policy in the last two budgets and also in what has been called “ the little budget “ has been deflationary. On the one hand we have had import restrictions which are inflationary, and, on the other, the Government’s great and successful attempt to introduce a policy of deflation. With more money coming from overseas, the Government is helped in dealing with this problem of import controls. The problem is always to keep import restrictions at a reasonable level over a period of time. One of the great disadvantages of our type of economy is that sometimes heavy import restrictions have to be clamped on, and that very often one is tempted to take them off as soon as one thinks this can be done. This produces a considerable degree of instability, which does great damage. But now we have a far more favorable balance of payments. We know that this year we will get a splendid wool cheque. We know the amount of wool on the sheep’s back, and approximately what it will bring next year. We can, therefore, plan for a substantial period ahead. That should avoid the necessity to clamp restrictions on again shortly after they have been lifted. Now that we have eased restrictions we should be able to maintain them at their present level and plan for a substantial period ahead.
Such a policy is aided by the type of loan which we are getting through the International Bank; but if one looks at the economic situation somewhat more broadly than is required by a consideration of the balance of payments problem, one realizes that great efforts have been made in this country to bring about development. We have had a considerable development plan and, in addition, a huge immigration programme. More immigration means that more housing must be provided and more employment found. This means that there is a need for more plant and equipment.
We have endeavoured to build up a huge manufacturing industry and this, again, calls for more plant and equipment. In other words, as much new money as possible should be poured into this country. The object of the present Government has been to provide full employment and high working standards, while maintaining a high standard of social services in order to bring about the high state of prosperity which this type of policy involves. We must bring in considerable sums of money from overseas by way of public borrowing. We need have no fear for the future of this country. Those who say that in past times we have had difficulty in paying back om overseas loans simply have no confidence in the future of Australia.
– Some have never beer repaid.
– Over the years, this country has borrowed much money, and has paid much of it back. Honorable members opposite have told me to come out of the past, but sometimes it is well to get back into the past. My experience of the Labour part? is that it will never come out of the past In this matter one should not venture into the realm of fantasy, as did the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) when he described the Government as going around “ cadging “. I have used the word “ fantasy “. Perhaps “ moonshine “ would be a better word. I would like to see the honorable member come out of his moonshine and get into a bit of sunshine. In considering the future of our country, we should be men of courage. We should not be afraid to bargain in respect of the future of Australia, or be afraid that some day wc might not be able to repay our loans. This is one way in which we can advance th, prosperity and greatness of this country. The policy of overseas borrowing, which the Menzies Government has successfully undertaken, should be continued. An> criticism of what the Menzies Government has done in this matter should be directed to the fact that it has perhaps not obtained enough money from overseas. Some business men would certainly say that; but the Government has done a great deal to bring money here from dollar sources, and use it to good purpose. We may well hope that the money that has come from the bank in the past will prove to be merely a first instalment, and thai we shall see much more in the future.
.- I did not learn from the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) or from any of the speakers on the Government side last week, the answers to the two questions which the Opposition has raised again and again. For want of those answers the Opposition will not support this bill. We want to know, first, what we are going to buy with the money which we are borrowing and. secondly, how we are going to pay the money back. The Opposition would take no less enthusiastic a view than does the honorable member for Balaclava of the prosperity and greatness that this country - and all the countries of the world - can derive from international trade and borrowing. What worries us. however, is that the more dollars we borrow the less balanced will be our trade with the dollar area, and the more difficult will it become to pay back that particular debt.
The Opposition did not oppose, but in fact supported, the companion bill, the Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill, which was passed through this place last week, because it set out precisely why we were borrowing dollars. We were told precisely how the dollars were to be repaid. We are buying aircraft, and parts for those aircraft, in order that Australia’s international airline can successfully compete in the sterling and dollar areas. We were told how much the planes would cost, and were convinced that they were necessary. We were also convinced, by the dollar earnings that Qantas has previously made, that it will be able, by the use of these planes, to repay the loan. Still more will Qantas be able to repay the loan if it is given the reciprocal rights of travel on the mainland of the United States of America that we have always been prepared to give to United States aircraft here.
This bill does not tell us what we are going to spend the dollars on. We are given no inkling of how we are to repay this money, or the dollars owing under the four preceding bills. The honorable member for Balaclava said - and it was his only reference to it that I remember in his speech, to which I paid considerable attention - that this loan would be used for roads and railways. That is more than the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) said with any precision.
– It is for developmental matters generally.
– I quite appreciate that, but. as the right honorable gentleman will recall, the Treasurer said on 20th March last -
Although the goods to be procured have noi. as yet, been precisely determined, an allocation of the new 50.000,000 dollars loan among the four programmes has been tentatively agreed on with the International Bank.
The honorable member for Balaclava left the same imprecision and tentativeness as the Treasurer left three weeks ago. I think that if we are to use these dollars for roads - and I see that 12.800,000 dollars are to be spent for that purpose- and for railways -and I see 4,000.000 dollars are to be spent for that purpose - we should be told what particular road equipment or rail equipment is to be purchased. But we are not told. In respect of the previous loans from the world bank, we have been given that information.
In the 1950 bill, the Treasurer devoted some pages to show how the money would be spent in the various categories - tractors and other agricultural equipment, industrial crawler tractors and earth-moving equipment, locomotives and railway rolling-stock, mining machinery and equipment, and machinery for the development of productive capacity in major manufacturing industries in Australia. In each of those five categories, he set out in a paragraph an account of why it was necessary to have that equipment and why we would get it from the dollar area.
In the schedule to the 1952 bill, there ls set out, with some particularity, the precise projects that we had in mind. The names of the companies and the addresses of the various developmental projects are listed. In respect of the agricultural and land settlement programme, the actual sites of all the developmental projects are listed for each of the six States. In respect of the coal-mining programme, we are given the exact site and the expected increase in production in the various coal-fields in the four States there mentioned. In regard to the iron and steel programme, we are given the precise extensions of production which are contemplated with the equipment which is to be used in Port Kembla, Newcastle and Kwinana. In the electric power programme, we are told the exact kind of equipment and how many kilowatts it will produce at the power stations in all six States. In the railway programme, we are given a somewhat more generalized account of which railway commissioners will benefit from the equipment. In the non-ferrous metals and industrial minerals programme, we are given precisely the location of the project and the various minerals to be developed as a result of the loan. All of it is very precisely set out in close type covering four pages in the schedule to the 1952 bill.
In the 1954 bill, once again the schedule sets out the location, at least, of the agricultural programmes and the recipients of help under the railway and air transport programmes. In the 1955 bill, the schedule again mentions the precise location of the agricultural programmes and the amount and the beneficiaries under the railway and air transport programmes. Admittedly, the other programmes in the 1955 bill are referred to in general terms.
The current bill, however, is the first since 1952 in which we are not told the location, the nature of the development, the anticipated benefits to Australia and why it is sought to spend dollars on these developments. In 1950, the bill did not give those details, but the Treasurer supplied them in his speech. On this occasion, the bill does not give us the information in the schedule and the Treasurer has not given it in his second-reading speech. Can we, therefore, be blamed for refusing to support a bill when the Australian people and we, their representatives, have not been told why it is necessary to borrow the money and on what we will spend the money.
Let me cite some doubts which occur to me, because I seek to inquire into these -details, concerning the programmes hitherto. It appears to me that our developmental programmes have led us into a cul-de-sac in regard to dollar expenditure. Let me cite the railway programme. All our railways are carrying out an extensive programme of dieselization. We believe that in the acceleration of that programme lie the solvency of our railways and the reduction of costs in Australia to a very large extent. It seems, however, that the diesel locomotives being manufactured in Australia are manufactured on licence from companies in the United States. The two companies in the suburbs of Sydney which manufacture diesel locomotives - A. E. Goodwin Limited and the Clyde Engineering Company Proprietary Limited - are manufacturing locomotives on licence from America. It seems that while those locomotives are manufactured or at least assembled in Australia, it is necessary to import a great number of components and spares and to remit, of course, licence-fees for the plans which we use to manufacture them here.
It may be too late to do anything about il, but it appears to me unfortunate that, in order to modernize our railways, we have to incur a continuing and increasing dollar expenditure. The United States was not the first country to manufacture diesel locomotives; it was not the first country to mass produce diesel locomotives. I should have thought that it would have been perfectly open to us to secure licences to manufacture diesel locomotives from other countries with which our currency is convertible and with which our balance of trade is more favorable or at least on equal terms. It may be too late to do anything about that, but it is one question that arises if this is to be a continuing feature of the loan programmes. In five successive loans, we have borrowed money from the world bank to pay for the dieselization of our railways. Is it too late to do anything in Australia to ensure that future dieselization will result in a cessation or * diminution of our dollar expenditure?
I come now to the other matter that was referred to tentatively by the honorable member for Balaclava - road transport. 1 should have thought that roads would be one thing that Australia could make completely. Certain bulldozers and other piece* of heavy equipment may have to be imported, or may be imported more quickly than we can manufacture them, but I doubt whether that exception involves an expenditure of 12,800,000 dollars in this loan. I note that in the previous four loans we have borrowed 42.000.000 dollars from the world bank for road development We are proposing now to borrow another 12.800.000 dollars for that purpose. This appears to me to be a completely unconscionable amount to be borrowing for the development of our roads. There are other countries in the world than the United States of
America from which we could secure - if we have to get it overseas - this heavy roadmaking equipment. Again I ask: Can we not have some explanation as to why it is necessary to obtain this machinery from dollar sources? I should imagine that many of the Scandinavian countries, West Germany, France and the United Kingdom, are well able to produce heavy earth-moving equipment and the other road-making equipment which at present we import from the United States. Is it that those countries of Western Europe, with which we have a tolerable trade balance, are unable to produce those goods or are unable to deliver them? Why are we not told?
I pass now to a third subject, the development of various power-house programmes, ft would appear to me that in this instance above all the excuse that we have for borrowing dollars is the least valid. All the countries of Western Europe that I have mentioned - and in this case I would add Italy - have been engaged in electrical generation by thermal and hydro-electrical means for a very long time. Our secondbest customer, Japan, has been engaged for some decades in the production of electricity and of electrical equipment. I referred to Japan as our second-best customer because that country now buys more from us than France does. Japan is second among our customers only to the United Kingdom itself. Why can we not seek to obtain electrical equipment from that country? Is it that Japan does not produce electrical equipment that is as efficient as that produced in other industrialized countries, or is it that Japan cannot deliver such equipment? Once again, why are we not told?
I come now to the other question that prompts our refusal to support this bill on the information that has been given to us. it is this: How are we to pay back this money? Let me cite to the House the amounts of loans obtained under previous legislation, and the amounts of capital and interest that we are obliged to repay. In August, 1950, we borrowed 100,000,000 dollars. As from 1955, when the annual interest and principal combined reached the static amount for which we are obligated until 1975, when the loan will be finally repayable, we have to pay 7,356,000 dollars a vear. In July, 1952, we borrowed 50,000,000 dollars. We have to pay it back by 1972, and as from this year our interest and principal payments combined amount to 4,497,000 dollars a year. In March, 1954, we borrowed 54,000,000 dollars. We must pay that back by 1969, and our annual interest and principal payments combined, as from this year, amount to 5,778,000 dollars. In March, 1955, we borrowed 54,500,000 dollars. We have to pay that amount back by 1970, and as from next year we shall be obliged to make annual interest and principal repayments of 5,790,000 dollars. The loan of 50,000,000 dollars proposed under this bill must be repaid by 1972. and as from 1959 the annual interest and principal payments combined will amount to 5,200,000 dollars. Let me summarize the repayments that we shall have to make in this year, next year, and then from 1959 until 1969, both years inclusive. This year our annual interest and principal payments will amount to 17,63 1,000. dollars.
– Does that amount include exchange?
– Yes. Next year those interest and principal payments will amount to 23,421,000 dollars. From 1959 until 1969 our annual interest and principal payments under the five loans will amount to 28,621,000 dollars.
Honorable members will notice that between August, 1950, and December last, when this fifth loan was negotiated, we have raised five loans, amounting in all to 258,500,000 dollars. On that amount our annua] payments to the bank, as from 1 959, will be 28^621,000 dollars. If past performances are taken as a guide, by 1958 we will have entered into another loan of 50,000,000 dollars, and the amount of repayments will increase, of course, by another 5,000,000 or 6,000.000 dollars a year. If we continue at our present rate of borrowing, in another six years’ time we will be in the position of having to raise a loan every year in order to pay off the principal and interest that we are obliged to pay on our existing loans. We are reaching a position from which there is no return. We are now borrowing to pay off previous borrowings, and I refer to these loans alone, quite apart from other dollar payments that we have to make.
My colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has already referred to the amount of dollar payments that we have to make each year. I do not overlook the fact, of course, that the payments to be made as a result of this bill and cognate bills are made to a world bank, a bank from which governments borrow, and which, of course, is itself run by governments. But we make the borrowings from the bank, and we have always made the borrowings in dollars. Nearly all the other customers of the bank have made the borrowings in dollars. We and they make these borrowings in order to pay for the things that we buy from the United States of America, or to remit dividends to the United States. Therefore, it is useful to study our dollar balance of payments, and the obligations we already have to companies that are owned substantially by United States interests. I shall cite some of the figures that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports gave the House the other day, in order to show how embroiled we are becoming. The honorable member for Balaclava takes pride in the amount of borrowing that we are undertaking, but let us see the imbalance of the position. In 1948-49, the last complete year of office of the Labour government, the investment income actually remitted to the United States and Canada by companies operating in Australia was £A. 2, 600,000. In 1953-54, that amount had increased to £A. 13,300,000. The undistributed income, being the income that could have been remitted to the United States whenever the companies operating here so wished, increased from £A.2,000,000 in 1948-49 to £A. 17, 100,000 in 1953-54. Adding together the remitted income and the undistributed income, one sees that the total increase was from £A.4,600,000 to £A.30,400.000 in that period. I cite the figures from the “ Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics” for April of last year.
Other figures which touch on this position are given in another part of the same article from which I am quoting. The investment income payable overseas by companies operating in Australia rose, in the three years ended June, 1950, from 5 per cent, of the f.o.b. value of Australian exports to those countries, to 18.7 per cent, in 1953-54. That is the actual remitted amount, but if one added to it the undistributed profits, as one must in order to envisage the total payable income, the percentage of the f.o.b. value of Australian exports to the United States and Canada, represented by the income remitted or remittable to those countries, rose from an average of 10.8 for the three years ending June, 1950, to 42.6 in 1953-54. I have not the later figures. The last year I have quoted in each case has been 1953-54, but you can well see, sir, from the very rapid increase in the percentages I have quoted, that the percentage would now be greater still.
When one considers the advisability of entering into this further loan with the World Bank - this further annual commitment of dollars - one has to do so in the light of the private investments in Australia of people who take out dollars each year, or who are entitled to take out dollars each year. It is little consolation to take the attitude taken by the honorable member for Balaclava and say that the World Bank finds Australia a good place to invest money. That is taking the traditional banker’s view - that you lend money to people who are already well established and who will give you the best return on your money. But the World Bank is officially called, of course, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Australia did not need reconstruction when the bank was formed. The only countries which have received loans for reconstruction from the bank have been the countries of Europe. But as to development, Australia is now the largest borrower of all the customers of the bank, not because its needs for development are greatest, which should be the criterion under the bank’s charter, but because it apparently takes the attitude, enunciated by the honorable member for Balaclava, that you should see who are your best customers, who will give you the best return, and lend more to them. That is, you should accentuate the disequilibrium in the world by saying that to those that have, more shall be given by the World Bank, and that to those that have not, less shall be given by the World Bank. That is not carrying out the charter of the bank.
I have referred also to our other dollar expenditures: that is. expenditures which flow from the fact that many United States citizens and corporations have invested in Australia. In many ways we should be grateful for that investment, but I think it is not too late to say that it is a pity that the United States investors have not taken the attitude that British investors took last century, when sterling was in the position of the dollar in the middle of this twentieth century, that investors should buy from the countries and the corporations in which they invest. Whereas Britain invested in the United States and was largely responsible for the capital development of the United States, and whereas Britain invested in India and Pakistan and was largely responsible for the capital development of those countries, Britain traded with the United States, India and Pakistan and bought from them. But the United States, regrettably, does not buy from the countries in which it invests. In fact, it actively competes with them and forces the donation and sale of its primary products in competition with the sale of the primary products of the countries in which it invests. Those countries can only pay the profits that the United States corporations make if they sell their primary products in dollars, lt is becoming increasingly difficult for Australia, and all countries which depend for their export earnings on primary produce, to get the dollars to repay loans such as this, and to pay the dividends on the investments made by private United States citizens and corporations in this and other countries.
If we are to have, as the honorable member for Balaclava said, a great and prosperous country, we can only have it if every other country of the world is great and prosperous. Every country of the world will be great and prosperous according to the amount, very largely, of international trade and international investment; but there must be two-way trade. People who borrow from the world bank, or from other countries, must be able to earn the currency to repay the loans. Australia, and all other countries which are the recipients of these loans and of these investments, are finding it increasingly difficult to repay the loans and to pay the interest on the investments. This bank, from which we have obtained a fifth loan, should truly be a bank for development. Australia, a relatively well-developed country, has shown by the amount of its borrowings that it is receiving a degree of consideration from the bank which will not enable our neighbours and our other prospective cus- tomers to have the greatness and prosperity to which not only we but also they are entitled no less.
[4.22J. - 1 am encouraged to say something on this bill by reason of the speech of my honorable friend from Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), who has just resumed his seat, and 1 do so, sir, against the background, which I admit very freely, of having seen this bill for the first time precisely 3D minutes ago. Owing to other pre-occupations, unfortunately I had not time even to see this measure until 1 came into the House just before 4 o’clock. But 1 venture to believe that I have a certain familiarity with the developmental problems in Australia, not only in recent times, but also, and perhaps particularly, during the last ten years. I may be wrong, but I believe that 1 can answer, both in the broad and in detail, the questions that have been raised - I do not say in any way wrongly - by the honorable member for Werriwa.
Perhaps I may preface what I wish to say in this way: This is a loan from the World Bank for developmental purposes. The honorable member for Werriwa expressed some satisfaction with the stage of development that Australia had reached. I suppose that one could be satisfied on that score, but for myself. I am not at all satisfied. I think that if this country is to be anything approaching the country that I am sure all of us, on each side of the House, want it to be, it has to be developed vastly beyond the stage that it has reached to-day. We are a nation of fewer than 10,000,000 people. This is a country still in the developmental stage - I might almost say in the pioneering stage. No country with our population, trying to occupy a great continent, can develop its potential assets on the basis of the savings of its own people. That is a truism if you like, sir, but it is true all over the world. In other words, we are a capital-hungry country. If we were to attempt to develop this country on the basis of our own savings we should be going ahead at an appreciably slower rate than we are to-day. Consistent with the amount of loan money that we can get from overseas, on reasonable rates and conditions, so we can progressively speed up the development of this country.
As a broad remark and one that T think is not exaggerated, I believe that we can spend many hundreds of millions of dollars - hard currency - in this country each year for the next ten years, to our immense advantage. There is so much still to be done in Australia. New opportunities for profitable investment and profitable development present themselves every month of every year. One can say that with truth. The amount of developmental money going into both the public and the private sectors of the economy - I am afraid that I do not have the precise figures in my mind - is of the order of £1,500,000,000 a year. In each of the last five or six years, on the average, just about £100,030,00 J has come into Australia from overseas, into both the public and the private sectors of investment and development. That represents about 6 per cent, of the total sum being used each year for development in the public and private sectors. That is a very small percentage. As I said just now, we could use many, many times the 50,000,000 dollars with which the bill is concerned, to, I think, our great advantage. More money would enable us to speed up development and put this country further along the way to being what we all hope and believe it will be one day - one of the great homes of the English-speaking race.
I have made those remarks as a background to what I shall say, in rather more detail, in answer to my friend from Werriwa. He asked the Government two questions. What will the 50,000,000 dollars be spent on? How are we going to repay it? Those questions are answered, in effect - not in complete detail, of course - on pages 6 and 7 of the bill. Schedule 1 of the first schedule shows the amounts that will be hypothecated annually from 1959 to 1972, when the loan will be extinguished. The repayments will be made over a period of thirteen years, starting a couple of years from now, at the rate of something like 2,000,000 dollars a year. The honorable gentleman may ask: Where is that money to come from? It will come from our dollar budget. We get an allocation of dollars, which varies from year to year, from the Commonwealth dollar pool. We are, of course, drawers on the Commonwealth dollar pool.
– Speaking from recollection, the repayment on this loan will be about 5,500,000 dollars a year.
– According to schedule 1 of the first schedule to the bill, the development. payment will be about 1,400,000 dollars and the last payment will be about 2,500,000 dollars.
– The Minister will notice that those figures relate to principal, not to interest.
– I agree. Australia, on balance, is a drawer on the Commonwealth dollar pool. Generally speaking, we never have earned enough dollars to pay for our legitimate requirements from the dollar areas. That has not been for want of trying. The Department of Trade and its predecessor, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, have tried over the years, under successive governments, to find new avenues for Australian exports to the dollar areas We have opened up some new avenues. We are now selling, for instance, about 4,000,000 dollars’ worth of crayfish tails to America annually. That is a new item. However, generally speaking, we meet with considerable consumer resistance and producer competition when we try to sell to -the dollar areas to a greater extent. But there is no tragedy in that. I have not given up hope that in the course of time we shall be able to find new markets for Australian goods in North America.
At the same time, there are entries on the other side of the ledger that must be considered. We are importing petroleum products of dollar origin to the value of something like 70,000,000 or 80,000,000 dollars a year. We are also importing cotton and tobacco from North America. If we found oil in commercial quantities in this country - I pray that we shall find it - we could save up to 70,000,000 or 80,000.000 dollars a year on petroleum products alone. In addition, we could save tens of millions of dollars by increasing our production of cotton and tobacco. There are other ways in which we could reduce our dollar expenditure. From the point of view of the net balance, those reductions would be just as valuable as finding new dollar markets for our goods.
The addition of 2.000.000 or 3,000.000 dollars a year to our dollar budget does not upset me a great deal. When I say that, I am not looking at the matter from a party political viewpoint. From the viewpoint of common sense, this is a loan the servicing of which we can well afford. 1 hope that I have al least begun to satisfy the honorable gentleman of our ability to service the loan.
Then he asked - quite rightly, if 1 may say so - “ Why must we go to a hard currency country? Why must we go to the Uni.ed States for tractors and earth-moving equipment, when they are made by other countries? “ lt is quite true that tractors and earth-moving equipment are made in countries other than the United States, but those countries do not make the machines, most of them very large, that we need, particularly for some of our major public works jobs. We make tractors and earthmoving equipment, but we make only the smaller types, for which there is a reasonably big market here. The types of equipment that we want to buy with the money obtained from this loan, and that we have “bought with money raised from previous loans granted by the International Bank, are those very large pieces of equipment for which there is a big market in the United States. In this country, the demand may be for only ten or twelve units a year. The same is true of Great Britain, France, Italy and West Germany. There is not a sufficiently large market for these very large pieces of earth-moving and road-making equipment in any one of those countries to warrant their manufacture there.
I can assure the House that the sole reason for purchasing this developmental equipment from the United States is that we cannot get it from any other country. When we can get equipment from our Mother Country or from another soft currency country, we go there, because by doing so we avoid a drain on our dollar budget, which is possibly the greatest embarrassment that we have in our financial dealings with other nations. The Treasury will have to be satisfied that every item of equipment purchased with this 50.000,000 dollar loan is an item of equipment that cannot be bought from a soft currency country, which we could pay more easily than a dollar country.
The honorable gentleman has asked what we are going to spend this money on. I do not suppose there has been enough time since the loan contract was signed to put down in precise detail, as the honorable gentleman suggests should have been done, the things on which the money will be spent. When 1 was dealing departmentally with national development a few years ago, I could have jotted down on the back of an envelope at any time items of equipment from dollar areas on which £1.000,000.000 could have been spent with great advantage. 1 agree that 50.000,000 dollars is a lot of money but, viewed in the light of all the developmental projects that are crying out for the kind of equipment that we have in mind, it is relatively a fleabite. I wish that this loan were multiplied many times. A fair amount of detail is given in the first schedule to the bill. The schedule to the bill shows that in respect of the agriculture and forestry programme equipment to be imported will include tractors and spare parts. Again, these are not just any tractors, but are particularly large tractors that can be obtained only from the United States - not from Italy, France, Great Britain or West Germany. They are things that we have to get in America. The schedule lists a whole series of other goods available only in America, for instance, agricultural machinery and implements and spare parts therefor. Again, these are things of a very specialized nature that can be got nowhere else. They come only from the United States. The same can be said of other items in the list under the agriculture and forestry programme. The schedule also mentions as goods to be imported under the road transport programme tractors, spare parts, trucks and components therefor, road trains and transporters, earth-moving equipment and spare parts therefor, equipment for construction and maintenance of roads. Again, the same thing can be said of those. They are things that cannot be obtained from anywhere except the United States. Similarly, in respect of the railway programme, the imported equipment to be financed out of the proceeds of the loan includes components for diesel-electric locomotives and rail car assembly, control equipment and equipment for track maintenance. As the honorable gentleman said, very rightly we are making diesel-electric locomotives in this country, but there are components of these locomotives that we have to import from what is the mother country of diesel-electric locomotive manufacture - the United States. As the honorable gentleman said, again rightly, there are two principal manufacturers in the United States with very long experience in the manufacture of diesel-electric locomotives. There are, of course, such locomoives made in other countries, but those two companies in the United States, which I shall not name, have developed a tremendous expertise in the making of these things, and their export market is worldwide. They have achieved a name and a reputation without compare.
We could certainly get diesel-electric locomotives or their components from companies in other countries, but those companies would have had less experience than the two American companies. Speaking from memory, 1 think it is right to say that 20 per cent, of the components used in the manufacture of diesel-electric locomotives in this country come from the dollar area. They are what we might call “ dollar components “. They consist of things that we do not make here because we need only a dozen or two of them a year, and the production of such a small number would not support an industry to manufacture them. Such production would certainly not be economic. So I believe that we are well advised to get the component parts of the most proven diesel-electric locomotives from these two companies, which happen to be in the United States.
In the schedule to the bill there are listed, under the industrial development programme, certain activities for the full mechanization of which this loan is necessary. We need such mechanization very badly in order to increase industrial productivity. We on this side of the House talk very rightly about the need for increased productivity, by which we mean, of course, an increase of production per manhour. We do not mean by that merely encouraging and nagging men to work harder. It would bs irritating to do that to men who are probably working very hard already. What we mean is to put into the hands of these men and the companies that employ them the means and the equipment that will enable them to turn out more goods than they were able to turn out before. That involves still more mechanization of industrial plants. We have started that process. Companies themselves do what they can in that line, and a great deal is being done. But, again, it is only in the United States that a certain amount of the necessary equipment can be obtained. I believe this will be of immense advantage, not only to the people in charge of companies, but also to the workers generally in this country, to whom I think increased productivity offers more in the way of financial recompense than any other thing that can happen to them.
So I say that the schedules to the bill contain, in effect, the information that the honorable member for Werriwa is seeking. For myself, I do not think a loan of 50,000,000 dollars is a matter that should give us any great concern. We have to borrow overseas if we want our development to go ahead at a reasonably fast rate. If this figure could be multiplied a number of times I am sure we would reap more than corresponding advantages in the increased rate of expansion in Australia. We would be able to absorb more immigrants. Our productivity would be increased, our national wealth would be increased. Because we cannot live and expand on the proceeds of our own savings we have to borrow abroad. Otherwise we should relatively stick in the mud.
.- I do not think that anybody could seriously disagree with the specific tenor of the comments made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in regard to the necessity for borrowing overseas. The reason the Opposition opposes this bill is, first, to express its disapproval, in general terms, of the type of overseas borrowings we had prior to the war, and, secondly, because we think it is timely now to issue a warning that unrestricted and uncontrolled borrowing - and I stress the word “ uncontrolled “ - both in the public sector and the private sector overseas could have a most adverse effect on our economy.
It is generally said, and I am sure that every one will agree, that it is much more desirable that our borrowing programme overseas relates to the public sector rather than to the private sector of our economy. If it is necessary that we should have to purchase American technological skill, the Government should consider the desirability of purchasing it with money borrowed in the public sector rather than permitting it to be purchased, at much greater cost, through private investment by overseas borrowings in the private sector.
I want to compare the position in regard to Australia’s overseas borrowings with that in other countries and, for this purpose, I shall quote from what I consider to be an excellent essay on international finance in one of a series of publications of Princeton University, New Jersey, entitled “ Essays in International Finance “. The publication from which I quote is No. 27, published in December, 1956. A table contained in it shows that although in the pre-World War II. period from 1870 to 1940 - seven decades - Australia borrowed £stg. 800.000,000 of its total capital investment, compared with £stg.600.000,000 in the ten-year post-war period to the end of June, 1956. That means that the rate of borrowing in ten years in the post-war period was far in excess of the rate in the 70-year pre-war period. That, of course, is indicative of an expanding economy and of the great needs of our economy. The Minister said, if I interpreted him correctly, that our proportion of overseas borrowings amounted to 5 per cent, of our total capital raisings.
– For developmental expenditure.
– Figures in a table in the essay from which I quoted show that in Australia the total capital formation in the period since the war was £A. 8,500,000,000 and the capital inflow from overseas was £A.750,000,000. The external capital, as a percentage of the total, was 9 per cent. 1 appreciate that the Minister was speaking from an unprepared statement. In comparison with the New Zealand figure, which is as low as 5 per cent., our figure is not bad, and bears out the statements of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) and other honorable members.
– I was speaking of the last few years.
– I am speaking of the ten years of the post-war period. The figures bear out what the honorable member for Wentworth and other honorable members on the Government side have said, which is that, at the moment, we can bear this load. The Rhodesian percentage of external capital borrowings, in comparison with total capital raising, is as high as 45 per cent. I do not share the equanimity which members of the Government display in regard to the fact that we are a fair risk now, and that everything is lovely. Our economy is fundamentally no different from, indeed it is similar to, what it was in 1931. In other words, we are still dependent entirely for our income on the sale of our primary products overseas. We have seen how a fall in the prices of rice and rubber very adversely affected the economies of Malaya and Burma. The demand for international price fixing through United Nations agencies and so forth was created purely by the difficulties which the economies experienced due to a sudden fluctuation of the prices of primary products on the national market. The same applies to this country. We could be in difficulties, and therefore the cost of servicing our overseas capital commitments could become a very real embarrassment to us again until such time as we were able to take the necessary remedial steps. I shall outline what those steps should be later.
We then turn to the point which was stressed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who said that borrowings of this nature cannot be considered just on their face as separate isolated events. They must be taken into consideration with the over-all plan of our economy, and that means taking into consideration what is happening in the private sector of investments.
The Government has no direct control whatsoever over investment in the private sector of our economy. If it has some indirect control, it is very inadequate. If the Commonwealth had capital issues control it would be able to control that part of the economy and gear its overseas borrowings for public purposes accordingly. The Government doss control the overseas borrowings in the public sector. Therefore it is right that much of our borrowing should be done on that basis. We on this side of the House believe that the majority of our capital raisings should be internal. In that regard the Government should take steps to ensure that the raising of local capital is facilitated by the necessary financial and fiscal policies.
When we look at table 3 on page 13 of this report we find that in Aus- tralia in the pre-war period our total public capital inflow from overseas, was £600,000,000 sterling, and our private capital inflow, £200,000,000 sterling. In the post-war period the position has been reversed. The public amount raised overseas is £100,000,000 sterling and the private amount, £500,000,000 sterling.
If we turn to table 5 of this report we find the break-down of the sources of supply. The sources of supply of capital are most relevant because they can affect adversely our dollar exchange position. We find that of the total overseas capital raisings of £600,000,000 sterling in the post-war period, £350,000,000 sterling came from the United Kingdom, £100,000,000 sterling from the United States, £100,000,000 sterling from the world bank, and £50,000,000 from other sources. That means £350,000,000 sterling from the United Kingdom and £200,000,000 sterling from the dollar area. When we consider the extent of the borrowing in the private sector- £500,000,000 sterling - which is uncontrolled, we can see that the position could well be very dangerous at any time, depending on one thing only, and that is the international market prices for primary products. Compared with 1931, the difference is only one of degree. We are again dependent entirely upon our exports of primary products for the maintenance of the expansion programme that is necessary if we are to make any progress at all.
The inflow of American capital into the Australian economy has been largely in the fields of oil and General Motor-Holden’s Limited. There have been a few other fields, but the main field is oil. Apart from the profits which have been ploughed back into the industries concerned, if we are to meet the commitments, increasing year after year, of 10 per cent, 15 per cent, and 17 per cent., this loan, together with private investment, may well mean that at this stage it is desirable that we have no further borrowings, or that if there are to be further borrowings the Government should seek and obtain the necessary control over overseas investment in our private sector. Another step which the Government could take of course, would be to give much more encouragement to the raising of local -capital for financing works which are now being carried out by loans from overseas. However,I agree that that is a very small proportion.
Another way in which the Government could assist greatly would be by encouraging and facilitating exports of secondary and tertiary industries. Last year, the Government brought down export guarantee legislation which received support from both sides of the House. That measure was designed to facilitate exports of goods. But when one looks at the record that the Export-Import Bank of America has achieved through government assistance to private enterprises in the export of services - by that I mean the construction of railways, roads, bridges, and irrigation works in the developmental countries - and when we consider the services that could be provided by Australian man-power and technical know-how in the fast-developing industrial economies of our neighbours in the East, we realize that much greater assistance could be given by the Commonwealth Government of the type extended by the Export-Import Bank of America in the provision of this kind of service.
Lastly I believe that the resources of the International Bank should be placed more at the disposal of United Nations agencies such as Sunfed, that is, Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development - which undertake developmental schemes in backward countries. Funds such as we are now seeking should be available more for that type of thing and less for developing or further developing an already developed economy such as ours. I believe there are alternatives which the Government should seek rather than take support from admirable purposes such as the one I have mentioned - Sunfed.
I conclude by emphasizing that now is the time to take stock and ensure that we do not over-indulge in a form of finance which could lead us back to disaster again.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 33
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.1 to 8 p.m.
Presentation to the Governor-General.
– I desire to inform the House that, accompanied by honorable members, I waited today upon His Excellency the GovernorGeneral at Government House, and presented to him the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech on the opening of the second session of the Twenty-second Parliament, agreed to by the House on 28th March. His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply: -
Thank you for your Address-in-Reply which you have just presented to me.
It will afford me much pleasure to convey to Her Most Gracious Majesty The Queen the Message of Loyalty from the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, to which the Address gives expression.
-I have received fromthe Leader of the Opposition advice that he has appointed Mr. Coutts to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in the place of Mr. Cope, as advised earlier.
Debate resumed from 3rd April (vide page 452), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill, which was introduced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 3rd April, provides for the Commonwealth’s contribution towards the finances of the Australian universities. The amount to be provided by the Commonwealth in the next two years will meet about one-half of the total administrative costs of the universities in the various States. The remainder of the necessary funds is provided, of course, by direct contributions from the State governments and by fees and other charges paid by students. The Prime Minister said, in his secondreading speech, that the form of this measure was familiar to all honorable members, and, as he pointed out, it contains no new principle. Similar measures have been enacted annually since 1951. Prior to that year, the Commonwealth’s contribution to the financing of the Australian universities took the form of contributions through the post-war Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme under which payment for various courses and services were provided by the universities. In passing, we note that the provision of finance by means of grants in aid is an important principle in itself. It is one of the few ways in which the Commonwealth assists in financing the conduct of activities over which it has no direct constitutional power. In this measure, the Commonwealth is reinforcing a most useful and important precedent in providing finance in the form of grants in aid in a field in which it has no direct constitutional power.
Although this measure embodies no new principle, several of its features should be noted. For the first time, the Commonwealth is providing finance for the universities for a two-year period. Previously the Commonwealth has made provision for only one year at a time. This is an important advance, and the Government deserves credit for having initiated it. Secondly, we should note the amount of the financial assistance that the universities will receive. This will be £2,300,000 in each of the next two financial years. In the 1951 act, which was the first measure under which a grant of this kind was made, an amount of £1,103.000 was provided.
The increase from that sum to £2,300.000 a year in five years seems, on the face of it, to be significant, but I want to point out to the House that, in the intervening time, two things have occurred to make the increase less significant than it appears at first glance. First, costs and prices have increased. The index of prices in 1951 stood at 1906, whereas it is approximately 2800 to-day. Therefore, if the financial assistance given to the universities by the Commonwealth were to do no more than keep pace with the increase of prices, the Commonwealth would have to provide approximately £1,700,000 to-day. Allowing for this inflationary factor, the net increase of the Commonwealth’s financial assistance to the universities is no more than £600,000 a year. The second thing that has occurred is that the number of courses provided by the universities has increased greatly as a natural consequence of their greater enrolments of students and their growth and development. When these factors are taken into account, the increase from £1,103,000 a year to £2,300,000 a year is not as significant as it appears.
On this point, it is necessary to note that the amount to be contributed by the Commonwealth is clearly intended to be a minimum for the next two years. This also is something new. In previous years, the amount provided for the twelve months was absolute and unchanging. But on this occasion the Government has made it clear that the amount provided for is a minimum sum. The reason for this is :hat. in the last few months, a very important step has been taken in the development of the Australian universities. The Prime Minister stated, in his second-reading speech, that a special committee of inquiry has been appointed to investigate the future structure, organization and functions of the universities in Australia. As the right honorable gentleman pointed out, the committee is a very strong one. I agree with him in that. The committee is very capable and is well qualified to make this investigation. Last June, when a similar measure was before the Parliament, I suggested that the appointment of a committee such as this was a most necessary step, because, up to that stage, the development of the universities had been very much a piece-meal process from year to year. No long view had been possible. At that time suggestions were made for the establish? ment of a body such as the Universities Commission in the United Kingdom or of a committee of the kind that has now been appointed. I believe that in the appointment of this committee, for which credit is due to the Government, we have taken a progressive step in the development of the Australian universities.
As I have said, the grant is to be a minimum amount because the committee will inquire into the matters that I have mentioned, and it is expected that, in the next twelve months - certainly within the next two years - reports made by the committee may suggest an increased contribution by the Commonwealth. I hope that, if that is so, the Commonwealth will not hesitate to provide more money for the universities. I think that the terms of reference of the committee are certainly wide enough for it to do the job required of it. Broadly, as the Prime Minister indicated, they require it to investigate the future structure, organization and functions of the universities.
At the outset of the committee’s work, I want to emphasize that the Australian universities are starved of funds. Despite the increase in the provision of Commonwealth funds which I have- mentioned, the fact is that the provision of Commonwealth funds to the universities has fallen continuously since 1946-47. Under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme this finance amounted to some 80 per cent, or 85 per cent, of the total cost of the operation of universities in this country. The last figure that I have available is that for 1953-54. The Commonwealth provision, under legislation similar to this, then amounted to only 56 per cent, of the cost of operating the universities. The increased grants under this bdi will amount to little more than 50 per cent, of the total cost of operations this year..
This decline in the provision of funds by the Commonwealth is undesirable, lt has taken place as a consequence of the horse trading that goes on at the Premiers Conference, in this chamber, and in the State parliaments. In this Parliament the sole concern of those who support the position taken by the Government is to blame the States for inadequately financing our universities - and everything else for which they are partly responsible. On the other hand, the sole concern of those who defend the record of State governments is to blame the Commonwealth. The end result has been that the Commonwealth has been getting away with it.
In this field, as in most others, the Commonwealth contribution has been declining over the last four or five years. I am not so worried about the increased burdens that might be placed on the State governments as a consequence. I think, broadly speaking, that they are quite capable of carrying those burdens. What I am concerned about is the increased load that is being placed upon the students. While all this has been going on, and as a consequence of it, there has been an almost continuous increase in student fees. This is justified in the minds of many people, who say, “ Yes, but it does not matter because so many students now receive assistance “. It is true that the proportion of students who receive assistance has increased, but the higher fees place a considerable burden upon at least one-third of the students, and especially those who are doing courses part-time, and prevent many from reaching the university at all. They have little opportunity to receive assistance, which is almost exclusively the province of the full-time student who can be supported by parents. Therefore, the consequence of the decline in Commonwealth assistance to universities has, very largely, been the unloading of the higher cost of university education on to many of the students themselves and to prevent others becoming students at all.
Though the development of Australian universities over the last fifteen years has been vastly more rapid than in any other similar period in Australian history, compared with universities in a number of other countries we are still relatively badly off. In order to illustrate this I shall quote recent amounts spent upon students attending i.io hading British provincial universities, and compare them with expenditure in Australian State universities. I shall leave out of consideration altogether universities like Oxford and Cambridge, because I feel that it is no longer safe to mention the word “ Oxford “ in this Parliament. The figures are as follows: - Birmingham, £452 per student per annum; Bristol, £480; Leeds. £438; Manchester, £402; Nottingham, £325; Sheffield, £451; and Edinburgh, £343. The average for all those universities is £422 per student per annum. When we turn to the Australian situation, we find that we are very much below that standard. For the same year, the figures were: Sydney, £257 per student per annum; Melbourne, £259; Adelaide, £264; Queensland, £274; Western Australia, £355; and Tasmania, £456. The Australian average of £284 is considerably below the average of £422 for the British provincial universities.
That situation is further revealed in the direct experience of those who are in some way responsible, or feel themselves responsible, for creating a higher standard in this country. I want to quote now from a report submitted last year by the Federal Council of the University Staff Associations of Australia, in conjunction with the National Union of Australian University Students. University staff associations have developed in Australia in the course of the last six or seven years, and have become extremely important in the life and activities of Australian universities. The following appears in the report: -
The Federal Council of University Staff Associations of Australia and the National Union of Australian University Students are deeply concerned at the inadequacy of the financial resources available to Australian universities. University expansion, essential to the future well-being of Australia, is being severely restricted by financial considerations.
We recognize thai university finance is considered to be primarily a State not Commonwealth responsibility. Nevertheless, in recent years use Commonwealth Government has seen the necessity of making substantial university grants. We feel that many of the present difficulties of the university can be resolved only oy greater Commonwealth participation in university finance.
That conclusion shows agreement between staff and students that university finance is at present inadequate, and that the present position can be satisfactorily solved only by increased contributions from the Commonwealth. If we look at the position in detail, we find in every Australian university, with possibly the exception of the Australian National University, accumulating evidence that this is so. To illustrate, 1 want to quote again, this time from a special statement in relation to the University of Sydney. In 1954, that university prepared a detailed statement of its needs for the next decade. Department by department, the survey revealed appalling deficiencies. For instance, the psychology laboratory accommodation is described as being so far below standard that it is a disgrace that students should be expected tq work under such conditions. The professors of English reported that 1,000 students, with a staff of eight, was still most unsatisfactory, and that a true university education could not be given under such conditions. That kind of staffstudent ratio is common throughout Australian universities. It is the main problem for most faculties. The other problem, of course, is accommodation and facilities. The situation revealed in Sydney is generally the same as that throughout other universities in Australia.
That is the position at present. Another strong reason why the universities will require increased finance is that the number of students will increase remarkably during the next few years. This is alone the result of the demographic factor and of the remarkably rapid rate of births in the latter part of the war and in the immediate post-war years. It is not a result of a higher proportion of students going to universities. We hope and anticipate that the proportion will increase, but the increase of the number of students so far is simply a result of the change in the population factor. From 1954 to 1959. there will be an average increase of about 25 per cent, in the student population in universities compared with the five ‘years from 1949 to 1954. In the live years from 1959 to 1964, there will be a further average increase of 25 per cent, on the preceding five years. By 1964. the simple result of the population chances we anticipate will be an increase of more than 50 per cent, in the number of students in Australian universities.
For these reasons, the Commonwealth must face up to the fact that a call will be made upon it to increase grants fo universities in the next ten years and there will be no excuse if it does not answer thai call. This ignores altogether the need for further development inside the universities themselves. Developments will take place in all the arts faculties. Let us hope they occur in the arts faculties just as rapidly as they occur in the scientific and technical faculties. I say that because nowadays in the limes of a cold war and associated conditions, governments are much more willing to provide finance for scientific and technical faculties than for any other sections of universities. All honorable members are familiar with the argument that so many more scientists are turned out each year in the Soviet Union than in the United States, and that so many more in pronation to population are turned out in the United States than in this country. If the existence of the cold war encourages an increase in the number of scientists and techno.logists in Australia, that will be about the only good thing that has come from the cold war. If it has that result, then I think we can approve of that influence. lt seems to me that the need for increased finance, for the various reasons that I have mentioned, must at this stage be closely connected with the operation of the special committee of inquiry to which I referred some time ago. The committee is taking and will continue to take evidence in quite a number of places. The Government should seriously consider submitting to the inquiry without delay evidence that it would be prepared to back a national plan for the development of higher education to the extent of. say. at least £5.non 000 a year between 19S7 and 1960 - 1 think that is a conservative figure - and a< least £10.000 000 a year between I960 and 1965. Those figures must be compared with the average of £2.300.000 for the next two years provided by this legislation. We know very well that there is a heavy demand for finance for practically every kind of activity that is considered by this Parliament from the beginning to the end of a session. But 1 suggest that the figures I have given as approximately the requirements of an effective national plan for higher education - £5;000.000 for the next three years and £10.000.000 for the following five years - are not out of proportion to the priority and urgency of developments in this direction.
I suggest, further, that evidence should be submitted by or on behalf of the Commonwealth Government which would allow the inquiry to look ahead for the development not only of scientific and technical education in a manner which may be planned and anticipated, but also for the development at an equal rate of other faculties in universities. In my view, and 1 am sure that there is fairly general agreement about this, developments in these two main types of education should proceed in universities as closely together as possible. Something can be said in some places for the development of higher education separately, but it seems to me desirable to keep these two sections as closely together as possible. Some evidence should also be submitted to the committee on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, which would allow it to state some kind of plan for the decentralization of higher education into provincial centres as well as additional universities in the cities. Quite a number of provincial centres in Australia at the present time have sufficient population to supply students to a significant centre of higher education.
I suggest that this evidence should be submitted to the committee during the next few months by or on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, because definite evidence of this sort is necessary if the committee is to define a practical plan for the future. I feel that at the present time Australia has an opportunity for development which it has never had before. It would be a pity if this opportunity were not grasped. I suggest that one of the most necessary steps for the Commonwealth Government to take is to come as close as it can to this inquiry, and to give the inquiry definite undertakings for the future so that plans can be developed on the basis of what is really possible.
The Opposition supports the measure. We agree with the principle and have no great disagreement with what has been provided. We believe that more could have been provided and that the Commonwealth Government should give a definite undertaking to finance a practical plan for the future. But no indication has been given by or on behalf of the Goverment that it has considered giving such an undertaking. The position is a challenge to the Government, which should accept this opportunity and, before the debate on this bill ends, give an undertaking that it will consider some of the suggestions that I have made as a contribution towards a plan for the future development of university education in Australia.
– During my parliamentary career, extending over almost 40 years, I have been constantly heartened by the realization that there is at least one subject upon which honorable members of all parties can almost always meet on common ground. That subject is the education of the people of Australia. I listened with considerable interest and pleasure to the thoughtful address that has just been delivered by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) on the legislation now being considered by the House, which has for its purpose the granting of Commonwealth assistance to the State universities. As the previous speaker has stated, legislation of this nature has been gravely needed.’ Although, however, its provisions are more generous than those of previous legislation, I believe that the Government should show even greater liberality.
In approaching this subject I should like to emphasize a point that I have endeavoured to make previously in discussions in this House. Education is, in one sense, one and indivisible. In building a house or any other structure one takes care to ensure that the foundations are adequate and sound. If they are not, then the structure that is subsequently erected thereon will develop cracks, even through the edifice itself may not fall. In the provision of education we start with the nursery school and the kindergarten, and then we proceed to the primary school, which may be considered as the foundation. We pass then to the secondary stage, and later to the tertiary stage of the university or of the institutes of technology. If the system possesses a weakness at any one of those points, subsequent educational development will be hampered. If a sound primary education has not been provided, one cannot acquire a sound secondary education. If the secondary education has been neglected, or if it has been inadequate, the student will be hampered in his attempts to move into the higher ranges of education.
I have for a long time past advocated close co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, in order to ascertain how the Commonwealth, without trespassing on the ground of State control, may assist in giving Australia a completely balanced and well-developed system of education. I am not suggesting for one moment that education should be controlled by the Commonwealth. We have had quite enough of regimentation of education, which by its very nature, should have the greatest possible freedom for development, within certain broad principles. If we trespass upon that freedom, we will inevitably develop a system of education that will be undesirably cramped and stereotyped. It is for this reason that I am opposed to Commonwealth control of education. I firmly believe, however, that the Commonwealth should grant financial assistance to the States for the purposes of education, especially since the Commonwealth is the major controller of the national purse. If our education system is in any way lacking, the whole nation suffers.
I am very gratified by two aspects of this legislation. The first is that an amount of £4,600,000 will be made available for the next two years, although, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out, that is not necessarily the maximum amount that the Commonwealth will provide. However, while the committee appointed to investigate university education is considering the facts and preparing its report, the universities, and the States themselves, will know what interim financial assistance they will be granted, and will be able to budget accordingly. I am pleased to know that the Commonwealth does not consider this amount as a maximum amount, because I agree with the honorable member for Yarra - and I do not frequently agree with him - that greater financial assistance will be required, for many reasons, in the not far distant future. The first reason is that, primarily because of the war, there has been a lag in the provision of proper buildings and proper facilities for staff in the universities. A perusal of the figures showing the natural increase in population from 1951 to 1955, which is the last year for which I have been able to obtain statistics, will convince honorable members, I am sure, of the need to provide new and adequate buildings in our universities. In my own State of New South Wales, births have exceeded deaths by an average of more than 40,000 a year during those five years. It is apparent, therefore, that more than 40,000 extra young people every year have to be accommodated in our schools and universities. While that increase may be offset by a certain number of students leaving, it also indicates the nature of the problem. If we take a ratio of 40 children to a classroom, which is at least ten too many, it means that the State has to find something like £2,000,000 a year for classrooms to accommodate all these young students who are coming forward. Looking at the figures for my own State of New South Wales, I recall that in the last three years that I was in office there I had a record expenditure of more than £5,000,000 a year on education. Speaking from memory, my successor, who is in office at the present time, has to meet expenditure on education of more thai £30,000,000 a year. Even allowing for the growth of population and the reduction of the value of money, that imposes a considerable strain upon those who have to deal with State finance.
I have mentioned these figures because I want to bring this whole matter into perspective. If we are thinking of assisting university education, then we have to think also about what is going on in the stages below - the primary and secondary stages. Except that we now have much better school building standards, primary education has not altered such a great deal in recent years; but once we move into the next stage, secondary education, we come up against a diversity which was not found 25 or 30 years ago. The quantity of scientific equipment that is required for the preparation of students for various science faculties is a symptom of the chancing economics of our country. The development of our agricultural high schools - very costly, but very necessary - and all these other things, are merely symptoms of changing methods and of the work that is required to make this nation efficient and capable in a modern age. When we move up to the university level we find that students, in greater numbers than ever, are going into the extremely cosily science faculties. 1 agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) that whatever we do in the matter of technological education, the one thing that is essential is that those who take scientific courses should have at least an introduction to the humanities and to the broader thought that influences men not so much in how to make a living as in how to use the education that they acquire. The essential thing is not so much that men should know how to do things as what to do with their education, and that requires a broader training than merely to learn the purely scientific aspects in the narrow sense.
So, sir, this requires a costly change-over from the liberal faculties, as we call them, which are relatively inexpensive, to the increasingly costly courses in the various specialized branches of science. Take, for instance, the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in connexion with the land. Think back 30 years and consider how much emphasis was put on science, as applied to the land, 30 years ago. Then think of to-day and of the immense benefits that have come to Australia as a result of the application of scientific knowledge, and of the research that has taken place into the problems of the land. Think, for instance, of what the removal of the scourge of rabbits by myxomatosis has meant, of the removal of the scourge of the prickly pear by the cactoblastis insect, and so on. Now we have, within measurable reach, a means of removing perhaps one of the greatest scourges of the dry interior - the loss of our water storage by evaporation. These things have to be taken into account when people inquire into the cost of university education and what is to be done about expenditure in this respect.
I come now to one other factor which at present is materially increasing the cost of universities in this community. I refer to the influx of students from other countries, particularly from the countries of SouthEast Asia. They are coming here in increasing numbers, and I say with all the force and emphasis I can muster that Australia must strain every effort to provide these young people with the opportunity to learn all the modern techniques we can leach them. By so doing, we can help these communities, which have great cultures of the past, but which urgently need s knowledge of the techniques of a modern world, to overcome many of the problems of transition into what is rapidly becoming an atomic age. In support of that statement, let me refer to the Colombo plan, on which we are committed to expend, I think, between £32,000,000 and £33,000,000, whilst the United Slates is committed to expenditure of £2,000.000.000. 1 suggest, for iwo reasons, that it is essential that the quicker we can train the young people of these countries to a fuller scientific knowledge, the better it will be. The first reason is that 1 doubt whether the United States, with ils great wealth, can keep up expenditure at the rate at which it has engaged to spend; and secondly, it is, to a certain degree, always irritating to the self-esteem of people if they have to take gifts from somebody else.
The greatest gift that we can give, and the one that will be of the most value, is to train these young people to go back and teach their countrymen, and to help them to speed forward the good work on which they are engaged. We have said much and we have heard much about communism in this Parliament, but a constructive approach of this character, designed to remove the poverty forced upon these people by the circumstances of the past, will b> th, greatest ‘and most potent weapon that we, the free world, can give to those who wish to be of the free world. But this all costs money. It costs money to provide accommodation and staff, and consequently. I feel that it is of the greatest importance that, in considering this question of what should be the final allocation from the Commonwealth to the States, we should consider the fact that, when we accept students, we have to provide not only staff but also buildings, equipment, and all the things which go to make up an efficiently developed university.
The honorable member for Yarra referred to the necessity to decentralize university education. I think we had, in New South Wales, the first decentralized university college, which was established in the heart of the New England tableland. That university college has now become the University of New England. I must thank the Commonwealth Government for the assistance that it has given and for the increased assistance that it proposes to give under this formula.I agree that there is room in other States for decentralized university education. When we decentralize, we bring into force new factors of generosity and assistance by way of private benefaction that do not apply always to the centralized institution. We have found that to be so with the University of New England. When we set out to develop a new university, then, like a man who begins to develop a raw property, we have to start from scratch. It is necessary to cope with the increased enrolment of students, to make provision for the housing of the staff and to cater for the scientific faculties. It is essential to go on doing that. It is not easy to decide how fast it is possible to go and still cope with the requirements of the university.
I believe that the number of students, both internal and external, enrolling with the University of New England will be of the order of 1,100. When there are external students, staff has to be provided to work in conjunction with the professors in the faculties, extra equipment has to be obtained, papers must be sent out to the external students and their work must be corrected when it is returned. In addition, there is the task of running the summer schools and the winter schools for the external students when they come into residence. When there is an adult education scheme, staff for that work has to be found also.
I am referring to the University of New England only as an example. Recently, I visited the University of Tasmania and saw some of the difficulties that the Tasmanian Government and the university authorities are facing there. It must be almost impossible to do effective work under the conditions which exist in the University of Tasmania, especially in the science faculties. It is true that the State Government is doing its best for the university, but that best is not good enough to meet the requirements of the situation.
We all welcome this measure, which we look upon as a means to hold the position until such time as the full facts can be ascertained. I believe that all of the uni versities are preparing their cases in respect of staff, equipment and buildings, in the light of reasonably complete knowledge of the degree to which the number of university students will increase as time goes on. It has been said, quite rightly, that the. number of students being trained in the universities of Soviet Russia has shocked, not only the United States of America, but also Great Britain - both of which countries are ahead of us in numbers of university students. If I remember rightly, the number of students attending universities in the United States of America and Great Britain, taken together, is less than the number in Soviet Russia.
As I said recently, it is useless merely to fulminate against something we do not like. It is not enough to try to meet the present situation by means which, no doubt, had their uses at certain times. The essential thing for us is to try to beat the Russians in this field by constructive and progressive action. If we want to hold our own, we must realize that it is essential to have a constant and adequate flow of finance throughout our education system, particularly theuniversity system. If we want this countrytobe inthe forefront of progress we must ensure that no young Australian who has the ability to benefit from higher education will be denied the opportunity to receive it. No nation has so many young people of ability that it can afford to waste the services of some of them. Certainly we have not in Australia so many young people who have the aptitude and the ability to benefit from higher education that we can afford to deny that opportunity to any of them. I stress the necessity for developing our system of education on proper lines.
One controversial matter was raised the other night to which I shall refer now. A member of the Opposition, who, unfortunately, is not present now, raised the question of the right of people serving in universities to have an appeals board. As I listened to him. I came to the conclusion that he was sincere but quite uninformed about what happens in universities. As a member of the Council of the University of New England, perhaps I have had more to do with making rapid appointments to a university staff than have most other people. We had to appoint in haste the professorial and the lecturing staff of the university.
Those who know anything about university practice know that it is usual to advertise vacant positions throughout the world, and sometimes to appoint committees in other countries from which applications have been received. The members of such committees are trusted people of high standing in universities. They prepare reports on trie applicants. Speaking from memory, 1 believe that those reports are submitted first, to a committee of the Vice-Chancellors of Australia. Subsequently, they are dealt with by special selection committees, and finally they are submitted to the council of the university concerned, which then has to decide whether to appoint the applicant or, if for some reason that is necessary, to ask for further information.
Those who have any knowledge of university practice know that in a university there is a system of appeals. An appeal can be made to the Board of Studies, in some cases, from there to the ViceChancellor or the Registrar, and finally to the council. No application is rejected and no man is discharged from his post except after the most thorough and complete working of the machinery of what is essentially a self-governing community and a democratic institution. Universities are democratic institutions, and they are becoming more and more so. Anything that impinges upon their right to decide whether applications for appointment to their staffs should be accepted or rejected, in the light of the academic qualifications of the applicants, is something inimical to the welfare of universities. Eventually. I believe, the good sense of the community would reject it.
After all, the traditions of universities are based, not upon the experience of a human lifetime, but upon centuries of experiments to find out how such self-governing institutions should be run, how their standards can be maintained and. above all. how freedom to search for the truth and to expound the truth as one sees it can be preserved at all times. There may be some deviations, but. in the main, the purpose for which universities exist is to strive objectively to get facts. You cannot get them from any other institution that I know of. You cannot get them from Parliament. You cannot get them from government. Yo i cannot set them from a government department B’lt you can get them fro-n a university which is untrammelled. And if the truth hurts .it times, as sometimes it does, and if sometimes a person is stupid, that is just too bad; because, after all, a university is a democratic institution and it should be preserved.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I should like to take up where the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) left off on the subject of the university as a democratic institution. I think it will be agreed that traditionally in this country for more than 150 years, and in other countries for considerably longer, universities have acted, to a great degree, as the fertilizers of new thought and new ideas. Whatever might be said about certain circumstances at the moment, in one particular State, and about whether or not there ought to be an appeals board in connexion with staff appointments to a certain university, I suggest that, even without appeals boards, consideration ought to be given sometimes to the kind of methods used by the people who govern and control universities and the atmosphere that surrounds their decisions in appointing people to their staff, and in attempting to influence the opinions of those who come within the ambit of universities.
In Australia there are something like 32,000 students at universities, 25,000 of them males and 7,000 of them females. For the most part these students are aged about eighteen years; some are much above that age. But they are all people who either think for themselves or who at least ought to be beginning to think for themselves. Of course, a democracy has always got to take the risk that once it begins to fertilize the minds and develop the thinking capacity of its students it cannot always determine the direction of their thinking and there are always sections in the community which resent any intrusion of what they call “ new thought “ or “ dangerous ideas “. I suggest that there has crept into the atmosphere of Australian universities - and this applies not to one university only, but to a large number of our universities to-day - the idea that those who govern universities and who ultimately determine who shall be appointed to their staffs should guard against what are sometimes conveniently called “dangerous thoughts “ w’->ch. it is thought, may poison the minds of the young.
About twelve months ago a suggestion was made during a debate in this House that this kind of influence was creeping into Australian universities. I suggest that today, particularly in the fields of what are broadly described as the “ humanities “, any individual who begins to indicate that he has views that might be described, rather loosely, as belonging to the “ left “, has a great deal of difficulty in securing preferment and advancement in any Australian university. I submit that that is a dangerous thing indeed for the future of Australia. During the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House a few evenings ago my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) cited what, to my mind, is an appalling example of the political censorship which seems to be creeping into Australia in connexion with the appointment of people to positions in certain ordinary branches of the Public Service. He cited certain questions - and they were not denied by the responsible Minister - that had been asked of people who were applying for a particular research job in one of our government departments. These questions could indicate only a political slant on the part of the people who were making the appointments. I say again that, once you begin to apply political tests to appointments for the majority of jobs in the Public Service or the universities, you are intruding into our system of government and our academic life things that ought not to have a very prominent place.
In certain very restricted spheres, for instance atomic physics, the political views of a candidate for appointment might have to be taken into account in determining whether that person should be allowed to participate in certain research activities possibly connected with defence. But I submit that no sort of political test ought to apply in relation to the appointment of a physicist whose job will be, perhaps, merely to inquire into the structure of minerals or into other matters of no defence strategic importance. Nevertheless, there are some people who will say that if an individual has political views of a particular kind he is not safe to appoint. Generally, when you pet down to trying to have specified what the particularity is, you get a vague generality, which is sometimes expressed in the word “ left “. or the word “ right “ - and often “ left “ merely means critical of the government of the day.
– But a left is not right.
– But a “right” is not necessarily always right either, Mr. Speaker, as you would be the first to concede. 1 submit that the Minister for External Affairs at least can be put in the category of liberal with a small “ 1 “, and sometimes your colleagues have thought so. -At any rate, in this atmosphere about which we are talking at the moment, this question of academic freedom, which was raised by the honorable member for New England, cannot be summed up in the simple question, whether or not we ought to have an appeals board in a university. I suggest that, by and large, the methods that the responsible people have applied in respect of academic appointments in the past in this country, and other countries, have proved eminently satisfactory on the whole; nevertheless, there is a great responsibility upon those people to ask themselves, “ After all, whom are we appointing here? What is the field in which he is going to work, anyway, and is he not dealing with adult minds for the most part? “ To my mind, political prejudices ought to be far in the background so far as appointments are concerned.
– Doss that mean that the honorable ‘ member disagrees with the Queensland legislation?
– Well, if I were asked objectively, I would say, “ Yes, I do disagree with the Queensland legislation “. I use the word “ objectively “, and I hope that the discussion round about these matters will be objective. As I see it, there is no more right to .criticize the appointment of a university professor, appointed, as is the case for the most part in universities in Australia, by an academic body, than there is to query the appointment of a moderator of the Presbyterian Church, a president of a Methodist conference, or an archbishop of either the Anglican Communion or the Roman Catholic Communion. The universities have machinery for appointing people to certain positions of authority, and by and large, historically, it has proved satisfactory.. I repeat the warning that I gave earlier that, excepting the situation that has arisen in Queensland specifically at the moment, it’ has become increasingly difficult for people holding views which might be said to be sympathetic to this side of the Ho’ise to. get advancement in Australian universities to-day on their academic qualifications.
Certain tests are applied on appointments, sometimes subconsciously, which should not be applied. 1 merely indicate that to put the matter a little bit in its proper perspective.
To-day in Australia it cannot be said that university education is very expensive. Our annual revenue expenditure on Australian universities is something like £10,000,000, or round about £1 a head of the Australian community. When we measure that against an average level of taxation of all kinds in Australia of £118 a head - a figure that has been quoted in the daily papers - university education cannot be said to be an expensive luxury, particularly when one considers its great value to the community. Whilst I agree with the honorable member for New England that it is becoming more expensive, I doubt whether it can be said that in Australia to-day we are being extravagant in the provision of university facilities.
I take up also a point which the honorable member made and with which I agree. He said that no young Australian possessing the capacity - and 1 think this is a fair interpretation of his words - for university education should be denied the opportunity of getting it. I doubt whether it can be said in the Australian scheme of things today that every child with the capacity does receive the opportunity to develop the talents and capabilities which will enable him to develop as an individual and to contribute to the maximum in the service of the society of which he is a member. I would draw the attention of honorable members of this House to statistics of university finance in Australia. They are for the year ended December, 1955 - the latest figures available. They indicate that of a total university revenue in Australia of about £9,000,000, on ordinary revenue account, £1,247,000 was derived from lecture fees, matriculation examination fees, and payments for the conferment of degrees. If we exclude from that figure the Australian National University, which at the moment has a very large staff but scarcely any students at all and which collected only £849 in fees from its students; the University of Western Australia - a shining example to every other university in Australia - which virtually charges no fees at all and which collected only £1,507 in that category; and a new kind of university, the New South Wales University of Tech nology, which collected £105,000 in fees, we find that in what might be called the great universities in Australia - Sydney University, Melbourne University, and to a lesser degree the Queensland University and the Adelaide University - there is still an undue reliance upon the imposition of fees as a means of revenue.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) informed us that the average expenditure in Australia per university student was round about £300. He contrasted that figure with those of some of the older universities in Great Britain, including Birmingham and Manchester, where expenditure is about half as much again. When 1 was a student I think the fee per subject was about 7 guineas. It has now risen to something like 30 guineas. Consider the position of a student who has not been fortunate enough to gain a scholarship. Indeed, even if he has gained a scholarship, be it a Commonwealth grant, a private endowment, or a university college scholarship, his position may be most difficult. Often it is a question of whether parents are able to keep their child at school for the extra matriculation year and so narrow down the competitive scholarship field. There are many students in the category mentioned by the honorable member for New England - people who have the capacity but not the economic opportunity. Perhaps their parents cannot afford to keep them at school Iona enough to get into the scholarship field. They may get a job and want to do a part-time university course. The average student doing a part-time university course - and again I know a little bit about this - is lucky if he can manage more than three subjects a year. But even for three subjects, fees alone will run him into an expenditure of about £100 per annum. He will also have to spend anything, up to £30 or more on books. How can the average boy of eighteen or nineteen, starting on a wage of perhaps £6 or £7. and. having to pav his board if he is a country boy. as is often the case, hope to afford nearly £3 a week for university fees and the books as well as the other expenses that may be necessary?
I hope that the day is approaching in Australia when every other university will follow the example of the University of Western Australia and remove this barrier. the charging of fees for academic subjects. If that were done we would have gone a long way towards improving the road that the honorable member for New England suggests all boys and girls of capacity in the community should be able to tread - the open road to the university.
– If they have the capacity they are able to get a Commonwealth scholarship.
M-. CREAN. - I doubt that because of the total number of university students, which is approximately 32,000, only about one-half get assistance from the Government directly, from the university, or from other sources. I for one would not make the invidious distinction in my mind that the 16,000 who receive assistance necessarily constitute the most brilliant half of the student community. 7hey may, but I doubt whether it can be said that those students who did not obtain scholarships are any less brilliant than those who did. Perhaps it is because there are not enough grants of one kind or another. I submit that for the most part, people who do not get the grants are those who have had to be weeded out from the normal additional year, and that the additional matriculation year at school is an important year. It imposes a great burden on the parents and often the child has to suffer because there are other members of the family who are coming after him and he has to leave school early.
In my view, the opportunity is still denied to a great number of students who could avail themselves of it. In this country we want, not fewer graduates, but rather more graduates and whether they be in fields of science, medicine, engineering or in the broader field of humanities, is for them freely to choose for themselves. But 32,000 students enter the universities each year and the number of graduates is significantly less, being 10.000 a year out of a population of 10.000,000. That is not a very large part of our population. Again, I would not categorically say what ought to be the proportion of university graduates to the total population but if our standards of living are to rise and if we are to take full advantage of the fruits of technology we should increase the proportion of our community who are able to avail themselves of university education to the total population. So I repeat that the provision for university education in Australia is still insufficient.
Here, as everywhere else, one comes up against the great question, “ If more finance is required how can the States provide it out of the limited resources available to them? “ That is what might be called the 64-dollar question. If we are to improve our standards, the Commonwealth must give more than it does at the moment. Over the past five or six years, the grant from the Commonwealth has been increased but I doubt, when it is measured against the increase in the number of students and the decline in the value of money, whether the provision per head on the part of the Commonwealth is any greater in 1956 than it was in 1950. But, in any case, taking 1956 as a starting point, the provision for university education is still inadequate.
I submit that what has taken place in New South Wales, namely the setting up of a new institution, the University of Technology, must take place in other States. That means additional provision for buildings, new sites and new chairs to be endowed. At least, in the University of Technology has been done what the honorable member for New England suggested ought to be done. That university has not concentrated only on the technical field. Chairs have been endowed in the humanity fields! To my mind, an institution is not a university but is only a technical school if it neglects those important fields. Any intelligent being, if he is to grapple with the problems of society to-day, cannot be merely a specialist in his own particular field. He must have some knowledge, understanding and experience in the broader fields of knowledge. I think that that is recognized. Therefore, whilst we agree with this bill because it will increase the grant to universities, we still say that in terms of the demands of Australia in 1957, in terms both of an age of automation and an age of atomic possibilities for development for peaceful purposes which ought to be concentrated upon, we are making inadequate provision in 1957 for the fields that ought to be encouraged. It is. as always, the Commonwealth Government that ought to be facing up to the responsibility of additional financial support for these great institutions which can be still greater in the future.
.- In the first place I want to give something of trie background of Commonnwealth assistance to the universities over the last few years. Prior to 1951, the Commonwealth assisted the universities in two particular ways. One way was in relation to grants for research purposes and research workers. A second means of assistance was substantial payments to the universities through the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. At that time, 1951, it was found that the amounts paid under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme were diminishing, because the enrolments were diminishing. I think that honorable members will appreciate that this scheme was related to the opportunity afforded by the Government to ex-service men and women for training in such institutions as universities, teachers’ colleges, and theological colleges.
As an indication of the manner in which amounts available were decreasing because of the tapering off of enrolments, 1 mention that in 1950 the amount paid by the Commonwealth was £450,000 and that in 1951 it had fallen to £300,000. At the peak of this scheme, in 1948, no fewer than 20,000 students were being trained. In April, 1955, approximately 15,000 had completed their courses, including 9,000 who had taken their first degree at a university.
Because of the reduction in the number of trainees and the consequent decrease in funds available to the universities, in 1951 the Commonwealth made two new proposals. The first concerned the Commonwealth ‘ scholarship scheme. In 1956, approximately 10,000 students were enrolled in courses in universities and similar institutions under this scheme. The second type of assistance was the type set out in this bill. This type of assistance was intended to replace the amounts which had been paid under the grants proviso and under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. It was felt that this was necessary because at that particular time the universities of Australia were experiencing considerable deficits. The universities appealed to the Commonwealth Government, which appointed a committee in 1950. As a result of the deliberations of that committee and advice it gave to the Government, these amounts were made available, year by year. In 1951 the amount was £1,100,000. I here contradict the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns; who suggested that in this bill we are providing for two years’ finance and that that had not been done previously. In 1951 the legislation provided for taree years’ finance, lt provided a retrospective payment to 1950 and also payments for 1951 and 1952. The amount available in 1953 was £1,500,000, to cover that year and also 1954. The amount in 1955 was £1,700.000, and in 1956 it was £2,000.000.
As has been pointed out, this bill provides for each of the years 1957 and 1958 a sum of £2,300,000. Those amounts include grants to university colleges for purposes of teaching and for the purpose of meeting some of their administrative expenses. The 1 95 1 legislation provided for £25,000 per annum and in the present legislation the amount has been increased to £50,000 per annum.
I would point out that it was not intended, when the first of these measures was enacted in 1951, that the States should be relieved of their responsibilities in relation to education. Under the Australian Constitution, education is the responsibility of the States, and measures of this kind were introduced by the Commonwealth merely to assist the State universities. The principle underlying each of these measures, though not stated in each act in these exact words is -
Unfortunately, I have once more to disagree with the honorable member for Yarra, though my disagreement is perhaps technical and not the result of any great difference between us. The honorable member said that the amount of the Commonwealth’s contribution will be approximately equal to the total of State grants and the income from fees. In point of fact, the Commonwealth’s contribution will bc only’ one-quarter of the total income of the universities. I appreciate that no part of this grant will be available for capital works, and that expenditure on capital works and the provision qf equipment must be met from State grants and fees. Allowing for that, one can say that the Commonwealth grant will be equal to approximately one-half of the administrative costs of the universities. The legislation provides, further, that once the conditions of the basic grant have been met, every £3 of the excess of the total of State grants and fees over the qualifying amount shall attract a further £1 from the Commonwealth, up to a ceiling amount.
One of the problems of the universities that we have to face is expanding population with a consequent increase of enrolments. This Parliament must face up to the problem of the capital costs of the universities. I think it is well accepted to-day that university lectures are given largely in buildings that have been added to very little for many years. For these reasons, I commend the Government on the appointment of the special committee, which was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) some little time ago. under the chairmanship of Sir Keith Murray, who is chairman of the University Grants Committee in Great Britain. Another member of the committee will be Sir Charles Morris, who has occupied the post of ViceChancellor of the University of Leeds since 1948. The general terms of reference, which. I think, were mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra, have been made public. The committee is to inquire into such matters as -
I should like to point out to the House that, when the Prime Minister wrote to the chairman of the committee he gave a broader charter than is indicated by these four terms of reference. I propose to read an extract from the Prime Minister’s letter which I believe, will give honorable members a better understanding of the scope of the investigation that will be made by the committee. The Prime Minister wrote -
We would hope that the Committee would take a wide charter to investigate how best the Universities may serve Australia at a time of great social and economic development within the nation.
He set out the four terms of reference that I have just mentioned, and continued -
This list is not meant to he exhaustive and it does not setout to limit the inquiry to be undertaken by the Committee. . . Some of the specific topics which exist may include: Numbers which should be kept in mind in determining whether a new University ought to be established, machinery for ensuring that the creation of new Faculties and Chairs is done in such a way that existing resources are used adequately and needless duplication does not occur, and an analysis of the adequacy of the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme whereby some 3,000 new scholarships are available annually for students at tertiary institutions. These, of course, represent only a few of the large number of topics which could be listed, but I would prefer the Committee itself to retain a considerable measure of freedom in deciding which problems might be studied in detail to give the most useful typeof advice.
I believe that it would not be possible to give a wider charter than the Prime Minister has given to the committee.
I wish now to refer to another comment made by the honorable member for Yarra, who suggested that the Government should give to the committee an undertaking as to the amount of money that would be guaranteed by the Commonwealth to meet the cost of its recommendations. I consider that it would be rather presumptuous for the Government to give to the committee the broadest possible charter for its investigation, and to say, in effect, “ You are restricted in some way in relation to the amount of money available to meet the cost of your recommendations “. I am sure that every honorable member, on reflection will reject the suggestion made by the honorable member for Yarra.
I have mentioned the problems of expanding population and increasing enrolments. Some of the universities are already refusing enrolments in certain faculties and the numbers attending many lectures at some of the universities are too great for proper instruction. These excessive numbers prevent many students from continuing their courses by inhibiting their ability to pass the necessary examinations. If they fail in any year. Commonwealth scholarship assistance is no longer available to them, and it is impossible for them to meet the cost of fees. I disagree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) that a university course is not very costly.
– Put some punch into it!
– If the honorable member would do so when he addressed the House it would help. The fees for courses iri the major faculties at the University of Queensland are more than £3 a week. Allowing for living costs, including board and lodging, and expenditure on clothing, it is necessary for parents to meet an expense of approximately £6 to £8 a week to keep a student at the university in one of these faculties. If there are two, three, or four children in a family wanting to go lo the university, the costs are too great. 1 believe that, for this reason, many students are abandoning their courses at the end of the first, second, or third year, or at some other rime before completing them.
We in Australia should show concern particularly for those who are qualifying for entry into the technical faculties. I believe that this century will be known, in view of what has happened in the first half of it. for scientific discovery and technical development. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who is now at the table, in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, indicated only yesterday what one man had achieved in the field of research. His achievement can be multiplied thousands of times, and what one man may achieve in the field of research may. from the stand-point of a productive process, require the employment of hundreds of thousands in the years that follow. Unless Australia trains the requisite numbers of engineers, technicians and scientists, it will be impossible for us to make full use of the new methods evolved by research. Therefore, we must consider the problem very carefully, because, as the honorable member for Yarra pointed out. in this field, Australia and, for that matter. Great Britain, are falling behind other countries. It is not easy to obtain comparable statistics in this field, but in Great Britain there are 57 graduates per 1,000,000 of population. In the United States the figure is 136 per 1,000.000 of population, and in Russia 280 per 1.000.000 of population. The United States and Great Britain are doing something about it. The United States expects that by 1964 the figure will increase by 100 per cent, and Great Britain undertook, during the Prime Ministership of Sir Anthony Eden, the expenditure of £100.000.000 over a five-year period on technical education. The remarks of Sir
Anthony Eden in introducing the relevant legislation are very pertinent. He said -
Those with the best s stems of education will win. Science and technical skill give a dozen men the power to do as much as thousands did SO years ago. Our scientists are doing brilliant work. But if we are to make full use of what we are learning we shall need many more scientists, engineers and technicians. I am determined that this shortage shall be made good.
We in Australia should be concerned to provide in the years which lie immediately ahead, facilities for the training of more scientists, engineers and technicians.
I feel that some things can be done without the assistance of the Government. The statistics of school attendance are, to say the least, disturbing. At the age of twelve or thirteen years, school attendance is almost 100 per cent. That is, of course, because school attendance is compulsory for children under fourteen years of age. At the age of fourteen, the attendance drops to between 80 per cent, and 85 per cent. At the age of fifteen it drops to 41 per cent.; at sixteen to 19 per cent.; at seventeen to 7 per cent.; and at eighteen to only 3 per cent. Certainly, a number of children qualify for their leaving certificate at the age of seventeen, but the figures that I have given are a clear indication that an insufficient number of children are receiving higher education in our secondary schools and so are unable to receive university training. Parents have a responsibility in this regard. I know that there are high wages for youngsters of fifteen, sixteen and seventeen years of age. The lure of high wages causes many children to leave school before they would otherwise do so. Parents can do a great deal to help by accepting their responsibility to encourage children to stay longer at school and seek university education.
Industry can do much to assist. Some of the older universities such as those in Melbourne and Sydney, though not so fortunate as universities overseas, are at least in a better position than is. say. the Queensland University, which benefits from very little endowment. Industry can do much more to endow our universities and make it possible for them to carry out their proper functions. Industry could provide the necessary encouragement and reward for those with ability and capacity. Surely, from among the-v own employees. industries can pick out the young person who is capable of going on to higher education. They could make time available and even pay university fees. So, parents, industry, and the community as a whole each have a responsibility in this regard. That thought was mentioned by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) towards the close of his remarks. I might add that this responsibility should be to give children, wherever they come from, and whatever their financial circumstances, the opportunity to- develop their talents to the maximum.
In the few minutes which remain to me I want to refer to another matter which relates to this bill. We, as a Commonwealth, as I and other honorable members have indicated, have given financial assistance to the universities over the last few years, and especially since 1951. Recent events in Queensland suggest that the day may not be far distant when the Commonwealth Government will have to attach conditions to its grants to the States, even for university purposes. There can be no doubt that the appeal board which has been set up in Queensland in the last two or three weeks represents an interference with academic freedom. If the States allow themselves to be subjected to political pressures nothing but damage can result for the university. Many people who are qualified for a lectureship or professorship will not, because of this appeal board, submit their names. As some honorable members are aware, one member of the appeals board represents the university and one the appellant. Under the circumstances, these may he expected to cast offsetting votes. The third member, who is the chairman, is appointed by the Government, and is a senior public servant.
– The honorable member’s view is both biased and political.
– I suggest to the honorable member that if the appeal board, under the chairmanship of a senior public servant, does not give satisfaction to an appellant who has the ear of the Government or has some influence with the Government, next time the board sits there will be a different chairman and the chairman will continue to be changed until he gives satisfaction to the Government. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) may suggest that what f am saying is unreasonable. But the
Queensland legislation was brought down because some one who had applied for a position at the university had the ear of some one in the Government. If applications for employment are not received from people of outstanding merit in other State universities, or overseas, the standard of teaching at the Queensland University will suffer. This will, in turn, be reflected in the teaching profession. I realize the problem of finding teachers. Secondary school teachers should be encouraged to gain university degrees, and their training should be at the highest possible level. I think there is not at the university the best talent available to teach those who are seeking degrees, and who are to become the teachers of our children. That must surely have an ultimate effect upon the community as a whole. If honorable members wish to make a comparison, they will see that Victoria, which has no such appeals system will be a better State, from the point of view of education, than will Queensland, where this appeals system operates. We find in Queensland that this legislation is directed not only against the staff of the university, but also against the Senate of the university. The majority of members of the Senate are appointed directly by the Government. The minority of members are people who are actually elected.
When the legislation was being discussed in the Queensland Parliament, there were, of course, many speeches in opposition to it. However, one of the bright individuals on the Government side said, “ You may have all the arguments in the world against this legislation; we have the numbers “. That apparently is the attitude of the Queensland Government on this matter. A protest meeting was held on Monday night last at the Brisbane City Hall. It was attended by 2.600 people and 400 telegrams were received from people who were in sympathy with the protest against this type of legislation.
I return to the point where T started: If that is the type of action which is to be taken by a State government after receiving generous financial assistance from the Commonwealth, then the Commonwealth surely must do what it is entitled to do under the Constitution - place certain conditions on the grant before the universities actually receive it.
.- The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) spoke about the role of universities in the Australian economy. 1 think it is a very arid expression, but it is also a fair reflection of the position of universities in the Australian community. The honorable member for Petrie did not refer to the role of universities in Australian civilization. It would be very largely true to say that, prior to World War I., universities occupied a very much higher position in the Australian community than they do to-day. The honorable member for Petrie spoke about the need for good teachers at a university. There was a time when it was assumed that the primary job of a man on the staff of a university was to inspire students to teach themselves. It would be unfortunate if we ever regarded universities as teaching institutions in which lecturers pumped out certain doles of knowledge to be returned to them at examinations.
I am not completely “ au fait “ with the Queensland legislation, but it is interesting to note that the honorable member for Petrie, in claiming that there was political interference with the university because an appeals board was set up. asked for further political interference from the Commonwealth Parliament as a means of stopping it. He suggested that if a State government did not comply with our ideas of the way it should carry out what he said was a State function of education, then that State government should be punished by some action of the Federal Parliament. That is quite as dangerous as anything which he envisages as possibly arising out of the legislation of the State government.
– It is not a novel idea in relation to grants to the States.
– No. but this is a grant to a State for an educational purpose. There is another point about the speech of the honorable member that was utterly arid, and that is his suggestion that education is a State responsibility. The Commonwealth Government over the past twenty years has entered all sorts of fields. It could be argued that employment is a State responsibility, but from 1940 onwards, when the Commonwealth took over the direction of labour, a great department has been established with all the channels of information that the States do not possess. If the Commonwealth took from the community the power to run such things, it has the responsibility of running them. Equally, the Commonwealth Government has, rightly or wrongly, destroyed the taxing powers of the States. Therefore, every State government, if it wishes to assist education, must ask the Commonwealth Government for money. lt would be a great relief in this Federal Parliament if some of the Queensland members opposite stopped debating State issues every time they got up.
– Some of them cannot get into the State House.
– Order! The honorable member for Fremantle does not need any assistance from his colleague.
– The situation in Australian education generally is depressing for those of us who feel that the universities are not making a proper contribution to the community, and it is not just a question of money. There was a time when men like Murdoch and Shann in Western Australia, and men of equal status in other universities, meant more in the Australian community because of what they contributed to national thinking and national culture than seems to me to be the situation to-day. One notices this on every level of education. The New South Wales teachers’ journal, which comes to most members of Parliament, is an instance. - Month after month I make a special study of it to see whether contributors will ever condescend in any article to show the slightest interest in the children the teach. But month after month assertions appear about the salaries and conditions of teachers. I do not blame them for that; that is quite important. But we would be very depressed if any of the medical journals that come to us from time to time contained nothing but articles on what fees should be charged and never had a dissertation which would help doctors to improve their professional efficiency.
I feel that there is something wrong in the Australian structure of education which stems from the universities; there is a lack of what one might call an inspirational quality. After all. there are two traditions of universities. There is the English tradition - university colleges, in which students are taken out of the community life and pursue studies more or less as recluses from the community. That has great advantages. Then there is the continental European tradition of universities in which students have been in the thick of the political life of their countries. Every tyrant from Metternich to Hitler and, most recently, to Janos Kadar in Hungary have had to smash the universities and the university students because of the part that they have played in resistance to tyranny. It should not be forgotten that the most significant happening in European history recently, as is quite plain from the universities of Poland, East Germany and Hungary, is that the Communists have lost the youth whom they themselves have conditioned. I think in the long-run that that will be found to be one of the most significant occurrences in the world to-day. However, it is in line with the tradition of continental European universities that students should have been in the thick of the resistance to tyranny.
In Australia to-day we are facing a situation in which the Commonwealth Government makes grants to existing universities. The Commonwealth is, rightly, inquiring into the structure of Australian university education. What that expert committee will recommend I do not know; but I hope that it recommends an end to the system of making universities, which are already three or four times too big in their enrolments, still bigger. What is most urgently needed to-day in almost every State is another university. The University of Western Australia, I should say, has already reached an adequate limit in respect of the enrolment of students, lt is a depressing experience to see universities becoming great barracks in which there is no atmosphere of intimacy. One of the greatest problems of the university campus which is beginning to develop is how many more acres will be taken out of it for parking space. Our universities are too big, and we need more of them. In this Australian Capital Territory we need not a Canberra university college but a university of Canberra, distinct from the Australian National University, which ought to remain a postgraduate university. The University of Canberra that I envisage would be a university for southern New South Wales as well as the Australian Capital Territory. It is true that the New South Wales Government has set about the provision of extra institutions. A purist might argue that the title “ University of Technology “ is inapt, because the word “ university “ implies all studies, while “ technology “ implies purely technical subjects. 1 fail to see, therefore, how we can have a university of technology. However, the University of Technology in Sydney is a second university institution in the State of New South Wales, and, if one includes the University of New England, it becomes a third. In Victoria and New South Wales, and even in the other States, we need more universities, and it would be a very good thing if the Commonwealth Government, perhaps as a result of the forthcoming report of the committee of inquiry, should decide to establish them. 1 am afraid that the time has come when we need not expect a flow of private endowments to Australian universities. There are many reasons for this. In the United States of America there is a very considerable flow of private endowments that are made for the purposes of establishing universities. That is because there are many individual fortunes in that country of which men may dispose as they will. However, the characteristic Australian business is a joint stock company, and a businessman is not in a position to dispose of the profits of the company in a way that he, individually, would think fit. In the second place, taxation has destroyed the large private incomes. If we go through our universities and see the institutions that have been established in them as a result of private endowments, we find that those endowments have almost all come from fortunes made before 1914. I think of Sir Winthrop Hackett, who heavily endowed the University of Western Australia, and whose fortune was made before 1914. I am reminded also of Mr. T. E. Barr-Smith and his contributions to the University of Adelaide. Wherever one sees in any of our universities institutions that bear private names, it will be found that they date back to the period before the imposition of heavy income tax. which destroyed private fortunes.
Because of the disappearance of private endowments, and despite the political risks’ involved, the Commonwealth Government must take action to finance universities. I quite agree with the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) about the danger of political interference. I wish he wOUld carry through the logic of his thought, because’ there are dangers of political interference wherever universities are dependent upon annual grants. It would be a very good thing if the Commonwealth Government itself were to endow universities, by making straight-out, single and adequate grants, with instructions that the universities were to invest the money in securities or in industry in order to produce incomes for themselves. I have been on the council of the Australian National University since its inception and I pay a tribute to the thoroughly enlightened way in which all Commonwealth governments have met many of the demands of the university. But there has always been some feeling of political control, some idea that the Government must not be offended. That is absolutely inevitable when a university is dependent each year upon State and Commonwealth grants.
The universities of Australia have not a great deal to expect from fees. One thing is quite certain: We have a deteriorating standard of university building in this country. Before 1914 university buildings were commonly made of stone. By and large, the cost of stone as a building material to-day is prohibitive. However important the work that is being done inside the University of Technology in Sydney, architecturally its buildings are a disgrace. Temporary buildings that look like ex-Royal Australian Air Force huts are to be found round the University of Western Australia. They are suitably tucked away in the back, but nevertheless they are not comparable with the standard of the building that was originally erected. After all, a university building should have to last for a thousand years, the atomic age sparing us. At least some universities have lasted longer than that. I am reminded of the reply to the Bishop of Liverpool to the criticism that was made, in about 1938, of his £6,000,000 cathedral. He said, “This cathedral cost £6,000,000 and we expect it to last for one thousand years. A battleship costs £12,000,000, and we expect it to last for fifteen years “. That is the way in which we should think to-day when we decide to put up a university building.
With university buildings as well as other buildings throughout Australia, we find the horrible tendency to erect temporary buildings faced with fibro cement. Some such buildings have been temporary for 50 years and threaten to remain temporary for another 50 years. I hope that the Commonwealth will realize the wisdom of making single adequate grants, so that really suitable buildings may be erected. In 1946 1 was on the interim council of the Australian National University at the time of its inception, and it was estimated that a certain set of buildings would cost £380,000. A start was not made on those buildings immediately, and by the time they were finished inflation and increased building charges resulted in the cost of those buildings being just under £1,000,000. If there is a slackness in the building trade to-day, it would be a very good thing for the Commonwealth Government to make one heavy set of grants to meet the necessary capital costs either for the construction of new universities or for expanding existing ones where expansion is inevitable.
The Commonwealth also has certain interests of its own. The State universities, generally speaking, resisted the establishment of the Australian National University, because they feared that the Commonwealth would endow certain specific interests of its own, and that it would concentrate all those endowments in the national university. As the administrator of native countries, the Commonwealth has a keen interest in the science of anthropology. For this reason, it set up a chair of anthropology in the Australian National University. But if our interest in anthropology is wholly concentrated in making grants for that department, then clearly the work of good scholars and inspired directors of research in the State universities will be jeopardized. If the Commonwealth is to regard the Australian National University as a special institution that will carry out researches into subjects in which the Commonwealth is interested, it would be very wise of the Commonwealth Government to buttress the basic studies and the basic teaching that are being undertaken at State levels, and which will, in due course, affect the standard of scholarship at the Australian National University. The truth is that we, in this national institution of Parliament, have become interested in the universities mainly because of the war. As part of its man-power responsibilities, the Commonwealth had to make decisions to allow certain persons to continue vital studies that were important to its war effort. In this way, the whole structure of Commonwealth intervention in tertiary education began to take shape.
It is the voracious demand for technicians that we feel in our competitive race with the countries behind the iron curtain which absolutely underlies the statement of Sir Anthony Eden that was cited by the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme). The honorable member was very satisfied with Sir Anthony Eden’s statement. Objectively, it may lead to British intervention in speeding up the training of technicians; but it was a thoroughly inadequate statement on the part of the British Prime Minister from the point of view of what ought to be the approach of a government to universities, because universities basically are places which ought to produce a disposition of mind without which civilization perishes. That disposition of mind is for the honest, objective pursuit of truth, the honest study of reality.
Of course, in our universities we get many staff members who have what are basically propagandist motives. They are not honestly objective in their approach, and they use the freedoms of the institution to protect themselves in promulgating, whenever it suits them, ideologies which, as in the case of Lysenko, are against honest, objective research. It has been a characteristic of all the modern totalitarian ideologies that they interfere with the universities and distort scientific studies. Nazism did it, and communism did it in the clear case of Lysenko for many years, with actual execution of people who opposed him, until finally J. B. S. Haldane, a scientist who compromised his intellectual integrity for many years, could stand it no longer and left the British Communist party. But as well as that disposition of mind to pursue truth, the universities ought to produce a disposition of motive, a clear motive for advancing humanity. With that motive and that truth as the methodology, universities really begin to function in civilization as they ought to. and I hope that this Parliament will continue - or will commence, if it has not already done so - to think primarily of universities as instruments in the advance of civilization, and not merely as important cogs in the Australian economy.
– 1 am sure that all honorable members are very indebted to .he honorable member for Fremantle Beazley) for the thoughtful speech he nas just given us on the question of universities. 1 have followed with very great in.e.est most of the debate on this bill to-night. There are only one or two points about which 1 wish to speak, and they arise partly out of questions which are very much in the forefront of the public mind to-day. One of them is what I might call a hobbyhorse of mine, left over from the time when I was Minister for the Interior. It was a real hobby-horse, because although I tried to dig in the spurs, it never moved fro n the spot in which it was originally found by myself when I became a Minister. Therefore, the first thing that I want to say to-night is that I am sorry that no move, so far as I can gather, has yet been made to establish an undergraduate university in the capital city of Australia. Perhaps I should say that plenty of moves have been made, but no action has been taken.
I know that certain people will say that the matter has gone before this committee or that committee, or that this negoiation or that negotiation is going on. It should not be thought for one moment that I have any objection to the Australian National University. I think that it is, and will continue to be, of very great value to this community. But what I cannot undersand is why the National University, under the Prime Minister’s Department, seems to get all the money it wants, while the Canberra University College, under the Department of the Interior, never seems to get a go at all. That is wrong.
– Why the distinction between them?
– As a matter of fact, if they could work in harmony I think it would be a good thing for a lot of the professors who are now supposed to be engaged fully on research Particularly in the social sciences. It wo Id be a good thin? if they spent part of their time with the undergraduates and “-o combined teaching with their graduate work. What may arise out of that T fto not know, but the fact remains that the National University has gone ahead. I am “lad to see, and has had one building after another erected. Now, according to newspaper reports, it is about to have a building for the Academy of Science, which looks to me like a still-life picture of a flying saucer that has come to rest somewhere in the grounds of the National University. I suppose it will be a suitable hall in which modern men and maidens can imagine they rock and roll into inter-stellar space. I received a lot of criticism for the modern archit ecture of certain houses in Canberra, and I suppose that this building, if it is erected, also will receive its fair share of criticism.
Originally, the National University was meant to be a school for research int o medicine and into the physical sciences, but now it has developed into something very much bigger, and it has developed at the expense of the establishment of an undergraduate university in Canberra. Many people will ask, “ Why do you want to build an undergraduate university in a city of 35,000 people? “ I want to remind the Government, and anybody else who cares to listen, that this is one of the most important matters in the future efficiency of administration of the Public Service. I tried very hard to start the movement of the remainder of the departments, mainly from Melbourne, to Canberra. When the matter was mooted, I tried very hard to get decisions. I got one about every six months, and then the decisions were altered, as a result of which nothing was done. I do not know what decision has been made now. but I fancy that the Administration building, which I call a memorial to costplus, will be finished by the end of this year. Apparently two-thirds of it will lie vacant because no action has been taken in that direction. But that is not important or relevant to this particular bill.
– Defence is to come to Canberra.
– Not until 1959. I suppose that two years is not much to be out when the Estimates are concerned. The important fact is that when a suggestion was made to move one of my departments from Melbourne to Canberra, if I remember rightly there were three or four resignations amongst the best younger officers that the department had. and several others signified their intention to transfer to jobs which were vacant in private enterprise. That was not because of antipathy to Canberra, but because officers with a young family had to face the fact that, in the absence of an undergraduate university in Canberra, it was going to cost between £300 and £400 a year, even without further inflation, for each child that they wanted to send to university. That would be a very big financial item in any family’s budget. Therefore, if there is no undergraduate university here, these young and middle generation public servants who are asked to move to Canberra, and who have opportunities to move out into private enterprise, will not be coming here, and the efficiency of the federal Public Service will be very materially affected.
It has been suggested that a university should be built at Wagga, in New South Wales. I know that the New South Wales Government does not particularly want to start that university and would be very glad to see the Canberra University College started off as an undergraduate university. If it could be combined so far as some of the staff are concerned, with the National University so much the better. But, please, will the Government decide whether it approves or disapproves of the Canberra University College being developed, on a gradual but steady basis, to a proper undergraduate university? The money is available for the buildings as money is available for all the extra buildings that are being constructed or are proposed to be constructed for the Australian National University. The necessity is there. The institution could act as a university, not only for Canberra, but also for all the surrounding districts in New South Wales. For the reasons I have just given, it would be a great asset to the administration of the Federal Public Service. I hope that this problem will not be either thrown into the discard, allowed to remain locked up in a filing cabinet or, like a shuttlecock, hit by the Government on one side of the net to a committee on the other side of the net, and no decision made. It is very important to Canberra, it is very important to the Public Service, and it is very important to the surrounding districts in New South Wales. I do not suggest that we should start with a full-sized university. Probably we could start with five or six courses and gradually build as we went along. But I do ask the Government not to delay a decision any longer.
The second matter to which I want to refer is ihe Queensland legislation. Occasionally politics make strange bedfellows. 1 have a sneaking feeling of sympathy with the Premier of Queensland on this piece of legislation, although I do not know that I agree with it clause by clause and item by item. Quite frankly - 1 will mention a name here - I do not suppose that Professor C. P. Fitzgerald would want me to give lectures to his children, any more than, in return, I should want my children to be taught all the social sciences or philosophy by him. As the honorable member for Fremantle has said, this problem is not only very important, but also very difficult. The main thing is to put the teaching in our universities on as broad a basis as possible.
Every one in the House knows that certain parties or certain ideologies in the world to-day make a dead set at the education of the rising generation and try to obtain majorities in educational establishments so that they can appoint only people of their own way of thinking to certain positions in those establishments. That is just as bad as if a Liberal government were to appoint to positions in a university only people who were Liberal supporters. I trust that honorable members will look at this matter in that light and will try to realize that we have got to find some way, not of giving political directions to universities, but of establishing appeal boards or boards of examiners which will act along the lines suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle.
I was educated at Oxford, where I attended lectures given by T. H. Cole, Professor Barker - who was certainly a leftist in those days - and by others who would be called rightists. I always thought that the best part of the Oxford education was that they did not mind whether you called Cromwell a regicide or a national hero, so long as you produced facts to prove your case. In other words, you learned, you arrived at various conclusions and you set out your facts.
– I could prove that he was not a regicide.
– T gave that only as an example. A university exists to teach the rising generation to reason, not to drive this or that ideology down their throats. There is that danger, which has been pointed out by the honorable member for Fremantle, and I can understand the difficulties that face Queensland at present.
I am reminded of an incident that occurred at the opening of the Olympic Village,, when a wrong flag was put up. Probably most honorable members know about it. I found that a man who had said that he was a member of the journalistic profession from Peking had got into the flag room and had told the boy who was rolling up a flag that he was rolling up the wrong one. He told him which flag he ought to take. When the flag went up, we found that it was the wrong one. The Nationalist Chinese were in the village, but the others were not. We put up the flags of the various teams only when they came into the village, or when their officials look up residence there. So the flag was pulled down and another one was run up. About five minutes later, I was accosted by the person who had approached the boy. He was somewhat boisterous in his argument In fact, he was not very polite. That is expressing the matter with classical British understatement. 1 said, “ Look, if you want to talk to me, you had better make an appointment and then come along and see me”. He said, “This is a free country, and I am entitled to talk to you “. I replied, “ Yes, it is a free country; and 1 do not have to listen to you “.
That is the way they look at things. They believe that they are free to earbash any one, but they get very annoyed when the person who is being earbashed docs not want to listen to them. This sort of thing creates a very difficult problem, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Petrie on one side and by the honorable member for Fremantle on the other side. Although we do not want political interference with universities, we have got to watch to see that we shall not be outmanoeuvred by those who do not hesitate to take advantage of our customs or to take improper advantage of banners of freedom, whether university freedom, academic freedom or anything else. They make a parade of freedom in order to put themselves and their colleagues in full control of the various committees and organizations that they wish to dominate - and the trade unions know it. That is another side of the matter.
The next subject that I want to talk about is the necessity for establishing more medical schools. I know that the Federal Parliament should not say to the States, “ We will not give you money for universities unless you provide more facilities for the training of medical students “. That would be entirely wrong, but it is rather interesting to find that our system is becoming very much like the system in Canada, where, under the British North America Act, the Federal Government has all the powers and delegates some of them to the States. The reverse is supposed to be true in Australia, but, with the Federal Government having the power of the purse, and with uniform taxation, which has been in vogue since the war, when we give grants to the States, very often we put tags on them. 1 do not want to see bills of this nature take from the States their power to handle education, which would lead to the regimentation of education under the federal system; but I do stress the fact that there is a shortage of medical practitioners in this country. I hope that the committee which has been appointed by the Federal Government will be asked to inquire into something about which the British Medical Association does not seem to be able to make up its mind for more than two months at a time. If we ask any honorable member who represents a country electorate, we shall find that he will tell us that there is a grave shortage of medical practitioners in the country districts. It is not merely due to the fact that the salary is not high enough, as I heard one doctor say on a television programme recently. The shortage of medical practitioners cannot be overcome within the next six years, even if we started to take steps to overcome it to-morrow, because it takes six years to put a student through a medical course. I cannot help thinking, although I come from a medical family, that the British Medical Association is too much run by specialists who do not know how hard general practitioners have to work in order to cope with the calls made on them. I hope that somebody will ask the British Medical Association what its policy is now, because I do not know what it is. The association will not say what it is, because it thinks that that is advertising; but if the press asks the association, then the association will speak on the matter because that, apparently, is in accordance with the ethics and etiquette of the profession.
In respect of the medical profession we are facing a difficulty rather like that which we have been discussing in reference to academic freedom. I do not think it is a good thing for somebody outside the medical boards of the States, or such bodies as have the responsibility to determine who are, and who are not, qualified to engage in medical service, to be in a position to over-rule those authorities. Such persons might be merely amateurs or amateur enthusiasts. After all, in this matter we are dealing with a question of life and death in the community. On the other hand, I think we in this country have been altogether too tough in our treatment of doctors who come here with qualifications and degrees from overseas universities with which we have no reciprocal arrangement at present, irrespective of whether or not these degrees are of a high or low standard. There must be some way of overcoming that disability. 1 saw a report that 678 Hungarian doctors had fled from Hungary since the recent revolution. We are taking into this country 5,000 or 10.000 Hungarian refugees, yet we will not permit any one of the medical men among them to practise medicine here without his overcoming what must appear to him as great difficulties. When 1 say that “ we “ will not permit them to do so, I am, of course, referring to the States, which control medical practice in Australia. So it seems, on the score of common humanity alone, that both the British Medical Association and the State medical authorities, or the Federal and State Ministers for Health, must decide this question, which has been vexing the public for a very long time. Possibly, if the degrees held by a foreign doctor were of a very high standard, they could say, “ You do not have to go through a course again, but you will have to go under tutelage for two years in an Australian hospital in order that your capabilities might be fully ascertained “, or something of that kind.
I was shocked by the attitude of a doctor of high standing in this country when I heard him say, at a luncheon table - and I am giving nothing away here because I shall not mention names - “ Well, if I am on a committee that examines foreign doctors as to their qualifications to practice here, none of them will be passed “. I do not think that is fair to the new Australian medical men who are not allowed, or are unable to practice in their own countries.
That is not a proper state of mind in which to commence ascertaining whether the medical degree of a new Australian doctor is, or is not, of a sufficiently high standard to qualify him to practice in this country. I know that this is a difficult problem; but so are other problems, like those with which we are faced in the universities. Both the problems of the universities and the problems of the medical profession are problems whichI think it right and fitting for the committee appointed by the Government to investigate. That is why I have mentioned them to-night.
In relation to the first matter that I mentioned, I hope that there will be no further delay in allocating a site which will be sufficient for the future growth of the Canberra undergraduate university, and that the problems between the Australian National University and the undergraduate university, as between teaching staffs, will be resolved. Whether or not the two universities are to co-operate, I trust that the necessary money will be made available, not in one lump sum, but steadily, so that not only shall we have an undergraduate univer sity, but also the future efficiency of the Public Service will not be materially affected because we cannot make up our minds on this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 3rd April (vide page 453), on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3rd April (vide page 454), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure is designed to facilitate the administration of the collection of excise on beer. All I have to say about it is that members of the parly behind me have always believed in facilitating public adminisiration and making it simple and efficient. To that extent, and not being able to see in this particular measure any other purpose, we wholeheartedly support the bill. MayI say, however, that it is noteworthy that since this Government came to office we appear to have had more measures dealing with beer, wines and spirits than has been the case under other governments. In one particular instance the minister in charge of such a bill said the measure was designed to encourage the consumption of brandy. Whether the increased consumption of brandy is good for the community I am unable to say from personal or other experience. However, in the present instance it is quite clear that the bill is designed to simplify administration, reduce cost to the taxpayer, and assist the brewers of beer. To the extent that the measure will facilitate public administration and save money for the taxpayers, the Opposition is all for it. However, 1 think I should say that J hope that in future, when governments are contemplating legislation dealing with excise on beer, wines, spirits, or anything else they will give the Parliamentary Draftsman and the departmental officers concerned sufficient time to cogitate on the subject - matter of their recommendations to the Minister concerned. I hope they will do that to ensure that as far as is humanly possible the measure brought to the House is foolproof and does not necessitate wasting the time of this Parliament, the Government Printer, government officials, and so on. Under those circumstances. Mr. Speaker, and to save the time of this Parliament not only do I give this measure my blessing and the blessing of the Opposition, but also I apply the same point of view to the measure which I understand is to follow immediately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Shipping Freights - Postal Depot at Bradfield Park - Williamstown Immigration Hostel - Screening of Immigrants - Mr. Vladimir Petrov - Communism.
.- 1 wish to discuss the shipping freight rise.
Government supporters. - What, again!
– Yes. and I will continue to discuss this matter until this Government does something about it or the people see that the Government does something about it. There has been a 211 per cent, increase in overseas freights in the last two years. The last rise of 14 per cent, became effective on 3rd February. However, the papers these last few days report that the shipping companies have the nerve to start discussing a further 5 per cent, increase in overseas freights. The general idea seems to be that this is to cover the increased cost caused by the loss of the Suez Canal. The Opposition thoroughly deprecates any such move by the shipping companies, operating as they do the conference lines monopoly. We had this debate last week-
Order! ls the honorable member reviving a debate? If so, he is out of order.
– I am not reviving a debate.
– The honorable member has referred to it and is out of order.
– Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, you have not heard me yet.
– I have heard sufficient.
.- I desire to raise a matter of some importance to my constituents and of considerable importance in principle to all citizens in a democratic community. I refer to the proposal of the Postmaster-General’s Department to establish a dump and motor vehicle repair shop at Bradfield.
I may say that this depot is to serve a very extensive area that is generally known as the North Shore of Sydney, an area covering roughly the electorates of Bradfield, North Sydney, Warringah, Mackellar, Bennelong, and parts of Parramatta and Mitchell. Honorable members will see that this covers a fairly large area. It will be easily seen that the depot proposed to be established will be cluttered up with trucks, lead cable, telephone poles, and all sorts of equipment that would be necessary for a large area like that in carrying out the works of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Indeed, anybody who has passed a similar dump established at Gore Hill will know what an untidy and unsightly place such a dump is. 1 have said in another place that this would be a fraud on the people, and I use those words quite precisely, as honorable members will see if 1 refer to the history and the circumstances of this situation. This was a residential area, a very highclass residential urea, and it was being developed as such before the war. lt is elevated and overlooks the Lane Cove valley, where a national park is established. From every point of view it is one of the most desirable residential districts in Sydney, or, for that matter, in most of the cities of the world that I have visited. This naturally was a place much sought after by home-seekers, who made their gardens there and hoped to rear their families there. Indeed, it had all the amenities of a firstclass residential district. Since the war a number of ex-servicemen have settled there and built homes of the same standard as those built before the war.
When war broke out an emergency arose and the Royal Australian Air Force needed a recruit reception and embarkation depot. It was established in this area. There was no complaint from the local people. This was a national emergency and the local people were loyal and made no protest about it. When peace came there was another crisis, the housing crisis, and it was suggested that the huts which had been erected there and the Royal Australian Air Force camp should be used as temporary accommodation for people without homes. There were some protests, but it was realized by the people living in the district that for the time being this area could not revert to the type of residential district that had begun to grow up before the war and had continued after the war.
Now this new move has begun. The Postmaster-General’s Department entered into negotiations to establish this dump and motor vehicle repair depot in an industrial area, as of course it should be, at St. Leonards, an area far more satisfactory from the point of view of its location and because it is a zoned industrial area than Bradfield Park. Then the Department of the Interior came into the picture and it said. “ No, we have some land at Bradfield Park that is free. It would cost us a lot of money to buy industrial land at St. Leonards”. The land at Bradfield was acquired for a special purpose in a residential district, a purpose to which the people did not object at that time, but I repeat that it would be a fraud upon the people, having acquired land under those circumstances and for that purpose, to say now, “ Well, this is Commonwealth land and available, though it is a residential district, for an industrial purpose, because land in an industrial area so zoned, and a suitable area, is more expensive “.
I may say that at Bradfield Park, where the huts are and where the Housing Commission has at present an emergency housing centre, there is a tremendous number of children, as there is a large number of children in the homes surrounding the camp. In fact, it may be said that children proliferate in that area. At a recent protest meeting a question was raised and a representative from Bradfield Park pointed out that in one street alone there were 59 children. Therefore, 1 say that if a motor vehicle repair shop is established there, Postmaster-General vehicles from the whole of the north shore, from all these electorates I have mentioned, will be coming to the depot, leaving the depot, being repaired at the depot, being tested and taken out through the camp where all these children are, and being tested in the surrounding residential streets where there are all the children who have come from homes in a first-class residential district. With the same mathematical certainty that you can calculate the number of people who will be killed on the roads in the next twelve months in the State of New South Wales or elsewhere in Australia, you can say children will be killed in this area if this depot is established there. But there is alternative industrial land.
I have in my hand - and I will give it to the Postmaster-General - proof that land is available in the industrial area of St. Leonards, a situation which is equally suitable. The question, therefore, is very simple. It is whether the rights and privileges of ordinary people are to be ridden over roughshod by a government department. Legally, the position is that the King can do no wrong. That is to say, a government department can do exactly as it pleases. If a private citizen wanted to establish a road hauliers’ depot in a residential district, he could not do it. A private bus proprietor who wanted to have a bus depot adjoining his home in a residential district could not do it. But the Government is above the ordinary law. Legally, it can do these things. The question is whether, morally, it has any right to do them. So I appeal to the PostmasterGeneral to exercise his function as a representative of the people to tell the bureaucrats that, although the land they have selected may be cheaper, its use is contrary to the moral rights and privileges of ordinary people which ought to be respected.
I say. in conclusion, that I have had every courtesy from the Minister for the Interior and the Postmaster-General and I hope that they will exercise their functions as representatives of the people and tell the bureaucrats that this kind of thing cannot and ought not be done.
.- I heard the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) remark that somebody ought to “ tell the bureaucrats “. Let me say that that remark strikes a note, because in 1 949, when the Labour Government relinquished office, we had been accused of setting up a great bureaucracy. But we had not been long out of office when this Government, which had had much to say about bureaucracy, and the supporters of which are still talking about it, set up an organization, to wit, a company known as Commonwealth Hostels Limited with functions pertaining to the welfare of immigrants. This organization was called Commonwealth Hostels Limited in order to convey to the public of Australia that it was a private enterprise concern when, in fact, its capital was comprised entirely of Commonwealth moneys and assets, plus one £1 share held, I think, by the manager, and one £1 share held by some other individual. The Government created a great bureaucracy with the deliberate intention of handing a very difficult problem over to a company, thereby avoiding all the slurs that could be cast against, and difficulties that could bs created for a government department and, finally, for the Minister for Immigration himself.
The inevitable result of this action is that Commonwealth Hostels Limited is now firmly entrenched, and when a representative of the people in this Parliament lodges a complaint he does not receive a satisfactory reply. The complaint may have been made, not as a result of his own personal inspection, observations, deductions and conversations with immigrants, but as the result of the deductions, remarks and reports of responsible citizens whose integrity and public standing cannot be doubted, whatever may be the public standing of the member of Parliament who makes the complaint. I mention only two instances - the Ministers Fraternal of the City of Williamstown, Victoria, representing ministers of religion in that district; and the Williamstown City Council, which is not a Labour council.
When the complaints, observations and deductions of these people were brought to the attention of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) by their parliamentary representative, what happened? The parliamentary representative received a long screed from the Department of Immigration which told him certain facts, socalled, which the Minister informed him he had gleaned from departmental officers or from the officers of Commonwealth Hostels Limited. The letter ended by telling him that if he wanted to know more about the subject, he had better see the management of Commonwealth Hostels Limited. J. want information, and I want decisions to be made, not by Commonwealth Hostels Limited, but by the responsible Minister of this Government which taxes the people in order to obtain the money to enable it to deal with this allimportant problem of immigration. 1 aired this matter in this House as far back as October, 1956. I have sent telegrams to the Minister for Immigration. I have pointed out that three children and their parents are living in a room not exceeding 9 ft. 6 in. by 7 ft. 6in., with seven 7 ft. high walls in front and 9 ft. high walls in the rear, with the footpath on the level with their living quarters. Families of three and four have two rooms of this size. Medical authorities and municipal authorities have condemned these premises. But what am I told? I am told in a letter from the Minister which has been drafted, of course, either by officers of Commonwealth Hostels Limited or departmental officers, that if they make conditions too comfortable for the immigrants, there may be difficulty in getting them out. Is not that lovely I ff. - f2R]
All immigrants are entitled to the same treatment, whether they come from foreign countries or the United Kingdom. It has been stated that if conditions in these hostels are made too comfortable, there will be difficulty in getting the immigrants out of them. What a policy of hopelessness! ls it beyond the capacity of Commonwealth Hostels Limited or the Minister for Immigration to formulate a policy for getting rid of immigrants who do not wish to leave the hostels, without penalizing the others? No sensible person will assert that there are not individuals who desire to stay in the hostels forever. That is inevitable. But a policy that penalizes those who desire to get out but who cannot get out in order to get rid of those who do not desire to get out is most unchristian and inhuman. 1 repudiate it. 1 am horrified to think that this Government, which prides itself on its Christian treatment of immigrants, should allow this unchristian state of affairs. I am horrified that it should allow its bureaucrats to act in this way. I have never used the word “ bureaucrat “ in a derogatory sense, although Government supporters have done so.
As I have said, I have been told that if conditions in the hostels at Williamstown, Portland or Broadmeadows are improved this company will never get rid of these blighters. That is what the letter to me means. It represents a policy of insolvency and barrenness. I am horrified. I have asked, in a telegram addressed to the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is responsible for living conditions, that they personally inspect the Williamstown immigrant hostel. They have not done so, despite the representations of ministers of religion and of a responsible city council. Leave me out of the picture altogether, if you like, and say that I am a political advocate. But other representative citizens at least are entitled to be heard and to have their representations considered. The excuse given by the Minister for Immigration is that the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, or some other body that is represented at conventions here in Canberra where its representatives have a mighty fine time - and I do not discount the good work that these conventions do-
– Ah, hal
– The honorable member and his colleagues may laugh. They should be made to live in a few of these places with their wives and children. The excuse is that a body such as the one I have mentioned approves these living conditions. That is absolutely horrifying. In answer to a question that I asked about these hostels the other day, the Minister for Immigration said that the meals are as good as, or better than, those that are available at Parliament House. I know that the weekly cost for food only - I am not talking about administration - in the hostels in Victoria is reckoned at £1 ls. 6d. I have never complained about the food and the dietetic scale on which the meals in the hostels are based, but a stage has now been reached at which the inmates live on hash and the poorer cuts of meat and receive only a very limited number of eggs.
– But they still want to stay there.
– I know all about it; I have the documents. Does the Minister suggest that, for an expenditure of £1 ls. 6d. a head a week, the immigration hostels in Victoria can provide better meals than are provided in the parliamentary refreshment rooms, where it costs honorable members about a guinea a day for food?
I am not concerned with making party political capital out of this matter, but I am concerned about the attitude of the bodies that serve as a buffer for the Minister - Commonwealth Hostels Limited, the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, and others. The representatives of those organizations should have to spend a little time in these hostels themselves.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to make some comments on the matter mentioned a few minutes ago by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) - the proposed site for the construction of a line depot for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department at Bradfield Park. The honorable member discussed this problem with me during the week before last, and made representations that the depot should not be constructed on the proposed site.at Bradfield Park for the reasons that he has* stated to the House this evening. He made out a strong case for consideration of the various factors that he has mentioned, and, because at that time I had no knowledge of the matter, I agreed to have it examined to see whether the depot could be constructed on some other suitable site in order to avoid the difficulties that the honorable member has mentioned. I set the necessary inquiries in motion, Mi. Speaker, but as yet they have not been quite completed.
The Department of the Interior has been handling the matter because, as is well known, that department is responsible for dealing with properties used by Government departments, and, quite properly, it gives effect to the Government’s policy that, in cases such as this, any suitable government property that is available should be used in preference to the purchase of more land, thereby incurring expenditure that could have been avoided. On that basis, the Department of the Interior was considering using the Bradfield Park site instead of one at St. Leonards that had previously been considered by the Postmaster-General’s Department. A day or two ago, the honorable member for Bradfield, on hearing of these developments, interviewed the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who promptly stated that he was quite prepared to examine the matter further on the basis of the representations made by the honorable member. I understand that my ministerial colleague has promised the honorable member that he will inspect the site himself within the next two or three days.
I think it will be acknowledged that the attitude of the Department of the Interior was very proper, especially when it is understood that the alternative site at St. Leonards will probably cost about £70,000 to acquire, whereas the Bradfield Park property is already available to the Commonwealth at no cost. The matter has to be looked into, but I can assure the honorable member for Bradfield that it is not a case of the Crown considering that it can do no wrong and being ready to ride rough-shod over the rights of the people concerned. Their rights and feelings are being takes into account. The representations made by the honorable member are receiving, and will continue to receive, proper consideration. I can assure him that the Minister for the Interior desires to adjust the matter in accordance with the advice and information given to him.
I should like to say, Mr. Speaker, that my colleague would be here to deal with the matter himself if he had not been engaged in a very important discussion that he could not interrupt at the time that the honorable member for Bradfield addressed the House. But, as the Minister and I both are involved in the matter, and are co-operating in an effort to do the right and proper thing by the people concerned, I am here to outline the situation generally, and to give an undertaking that the matter is being investigated and that the objections raised by the honorable member for Bradfield will receive due consideration.
.- The Government consistently denies charges by Opposition members that, in the screening of immigrants, its officers exercise care to ensure that, if they can help it, no one who is likely to support the Australian Labour party politically on arrival in this country receives a permit to come to Australia.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– If the honorable member -will just remain quiet for a moment, I shall relate to him an instance in which this has occurred, and provide proof that this is the case.
A citizen of Malta wrote to me about the rejection of an application by himself and his sister to come to Australia. He was unable to ascertain why it had been rejected. Both had passed the medical tests; so that was not the reason. From their description, it would appear that these two people would be very good settlers in this country. The man is single, and is aged 36, and his sister is 38. Both have passed the required physical fitness test, and both have a good knowledge of the English language. They are unaware of any reason for the rejection of their application. I referred the matter to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who was formerly Minister for Immigration, and asked him why these two people had been rejected. On 23rd October last, the right honorable gentleman wrote to me as follows: - as a report received from the Chief Migration Officer in Rome reveals that Mr. and Miss-
I do not want to mention the names at this stage - are unable to comply with the normal requirements for immigration to Australia, I regret that I am unable to see my way to vary the decision of non-approval previously given.
In what way were these people unable to satisfy the requirements? As I have already mentioned, they had passed the medical tests, and it is quite obvious that they were also up to the required educational standard. I subsequently wrote to the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) and asked whether he would tell me the reason why the application by these two people had been rejected. On 19th November of last year, the Minister replied as follows: -
I have given this matter .careful consideration in the light of your representations but regret that I am unable to see my way to vary the previous decision.
As the information held by my Department of Immigration is of a confidential nature I regret that I am unable to inform you of the basis for the rejection of the application.
If it had been rejected for health reasons, there could have been no objection to stating that these people could not comply with the health requirements; and if they were not up to the specified educational standard, there would be no objection to saying so. Therefore, it is quite evident that the application was rejected on the ground that they would not meet the security requirements of the Australian authorities. But here is the strange thing about lt* Probably the Minister’s explanations would have satisfied a member of the Government, but I wrote to this gentleman in Malta, sending him the Minister’s replies, and asked him whether he or his sister had belonged to any organization, political or otherwise, and, if so, whether he would advise me of the objectives of these organizations so that I could judge whether the decision was a proper one for the Government to make. I have just received a reply and will quote a paragraph from it for the information of honorable members -
Most respectfully I submit the following. I am an electrician by trade, employed at H.M. dockyard and have to my credit years of honest service.
If he were a security risk he would not be working in the naval dockyard at Malta. What, then, is the reason for rejecting him? Obviously, it is that he was so foolish as to let the Government know that he was supporting the Labour party in Malta. He further states -
I never took part in local or foreign politics. My only ambition was always, and still is, to unite my family and live in Australia. My sister is a member of a religious organization “The Legion of Mary “. The aim of this society is only to promote spiritual love and moral care of Catholics. It is absolutely a non-political association. This is exactly all I can say about us.
He can say no more than that he is an electrician in a naval dockyard, and that his sister is interested in a religious organization. There is not one atom of evidence to support the rejection of his application. Indeed, if there were any reason such as health or education, the Government could have openly stated it. These people have been rejected because they are known to be supporters of the Maltese Labour party. It is quite interesting to know that we are able, to produce evidence to confirm what our delegates said at the Brisbane Labour conference, and what members of the Labour party have said elsewhere.
In the few moments that remain, I wish to refer to another matter. Frequently, I have had to endure in this House personal abuse by educated gentlemen opposite. I well recall that on one occasion when I was asking some very pertinent questions about some witnesses who were appearing before a royal commission, I was accused by honorable members who support the Government of trying to smear witnesses, and so destroy their value as witnesses. One of those witnesses was Mr. Vladimir Petrov. Honorable members will recollect that I said on one occasion when I was attacked and abused by members of the Government that he was a worthless individual, and a drunkard. They said that I was only putting that up for the purposes of party propaganda; but I have the satisfaction now of knowing that, on the admission of the Prime Minister himself, at Surfer’s Paradise on 27th November, 1956, Vladimir Petrov was arrested on a charge of drunkenness. He gave his name as John Olsen, failed to appear in court, and forfeited his bail.
Let me tell honorable members a little more about the circumstances of this incident. Not only was Vladimir Petrov arrested and charged with being drunk; not only did he forfeit his bail, but at the time of his arrest he was found wandering around the streets of Surfer’s Paradise without his trousers and with his lip bleeding where somebody had struck him. That is the type of individual whom, it was said, I was smearing. I would like to ask the Ministers now at the table one or two questions about this matter. First, I understand that Vladimir Petrov, since his defection from the Russian legation, and since he was given political asylum in this country, has been provided with a security guard. Where was the security guard when Petrov was wandering around Surfer’s Paradise? I might also ask whether it is not rather interesting that this happens to be one of the gentlemen whom the Australian people are charged with maintaining and keeping indefinitely. He is still on their pay-roll. They still provide him with a residence, and with security guards. Mrs. Petrov is provided with a clothing allowance, so- it is not a laughing matter for the Australian community.
I want to know whether the Government’ actually paid the bail on behalf of Petrov because, if a security guard is looking after Petrov, why did he not see that Petrov appeared in court and answered the charge so that evidence could be preferred against him? The only thing that I regret is that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is now on the way to pay a courtesy call upon his friend the Emperor of Japan, because if he were in his place I would ask hint for an apology for the -insults that he hurled at me when I mentioned matters of this kind previously. Let me tell the Government that before this incident is closed, and before we are finally silenced in this Parliament, we will tell it a great deal more. If ever there was a conspiracy in this country it was this particular incident, involving Vladimir Petrov. He was always a worthless individual. We have only to read the stories submitted to the press by his friend Bialoguski. He told us how they had had an Easter party, and how Mr. Petrov had come with an Egyptian fez on his head, and had been presented to some females who were present as a sheik travelling in Australia incognito.
– Who has his trousers now?
– I am not able to answer the question of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), but I will endeavour to ascertain the details at a later date. This is a most serious and important matter.
The Australian community, 1 repeat, is keeping this worthless individual and it is about time that the Government unloaded him.
– Order! The honorable member-
– He cannot be unloaded because he has too much on the Government.
– Order! The honorable member is entirely out of order in defying the Chair.
– Is that an “Ah” of anticipation or surprise? I mentioned one evening last week that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was showing himself in a rather novel role, and revealing the unusual characteristic of sensitivity. Again this evening he has displayed this rather surprising characteristic, which none of us knew that he possessed. He complained of great injustice heaped upon him in the past concerning the witnesses before the Petrov royal commission. He alleged at the time, and repeated again this evening, that Petrov was a worthless individual. To try to bolster up his case tonight he referred - to use a euphemistic phrase - to the odd domestic habits of Mr. Petrov. Then - and I do not know whether he spoke in envy or disgust - he mentioned the fact that Mr. Petrov had been caught wandering around Surfer’s Paradise without his trousers. He could have been going for a swim!
The simple truth of the matter is that the purpose of the exercise of the honorable member for East Sydney this evening was to endeavour to discredit still further the character of Vladimir Petrov and, as a consequence, bring the Petrov royal commission and its findings into disrepute, convincing the Australian people that, after all, the royal commission was, as one honorable gentleman sitting in the red corner some moments ago said, a “ conspiracy “. Let us face the facts:. What the honorable member for East Sydney has said this evening and what he has been saying in this Parliament even since the unfortunate day when more than 50 per cent, of the people of East Sydney were so bereft of responsibility as to vote for him, has been said in an attempt to build up in this country an atmosphere, a system, under which opposition to any form of communism will not and cannot be tolerated. That was the purpose of bis exercise this evening. I believe that when the full history of Petrov’s defection is written, it will show that we are indebted to Petrov, lt ill-becomes the honorable member for East Sydney now to try to ridicule him and to discredit him.
This evening, the honorable member for East Sydney has gone a step further in endeavouring to discourage any future defections from the Soviet Union. The Soviet empire of despotism has been built up in the main by sabotage, by subversion and by underground activity. The Western Powers, to win the cold war, depend in no small measure upon defections from the Soviet Union. But, of course, the honorable member for East Sydney does not want that. Moscow does not want it and the Soviet-soaked soul of the honorable member for East Sydney is in communion with the Kremlin on this occasion.
I say with a sense of responsibility to the honorable member for East Sydney that Moscow regards him as a refrigerator in the cold war. Whenever an effort is made to oppose communism, the honorable member endeavours feverishly to ice it up. He tries by his action to achieve a chilling effect upon sound, decent national sentiment. What did the commissioners who heard the evidence say about Mr. Petrov? This is interesting. They said -
Petrov’s reputation was attacked and the suggestion was made that we should not believe him because, it was said, he occasionally drank to excess and he and Bialoguski had been concerned in black-marketing duty-free liquor got on the Soviet Embassy frank.
The first allegation is irrevelant; it is absurd to suggest that a man who occasionally got drunk should not be believed.
That is not an unreasonable view to take. With respect, I submit that if we were to apply the argument put forward by the honorable member for East Sydney this evening, a lot of people who support the Labour party could not be believed. The commissioners also said -
We feel that in the final result we should find, and we do find, that the Petrovs are witnesses of truth.
We also found their accuracy to be of a high order, which is not surprising seeing that they had long training in a service which demanded accuracy.
Once again, the honorable member for East Sydney has, by inference, this evening attacked the three commissioners who presided over the Royal Commission on Espionage. I have said before in this Parliament, and I repeat it again this evening - it may be tedious and discomforting for some honorable gentlemen opposite, but I believe it has to be dinned into their minds - that the honorable member for East Sydney is out to shut up any person who stands against Communist activity. His tactics are quite simple. If he can silence them by smearing, he will do so. If he can halt them by hectoring, he will do so. If he can inhibit them by insult, he will do so. But at all costs, he must shut them up.
If the honorable member for East Sydney is so concerned with public morality and the proprieties of life, I suggest to him that he closely scrutinize the ranks of the Australian Labour party, because it is being heavily rumoured at this moment that a prominent member of the party has recently changed his name and that the same gentleman was at one time a member of the Communist party. If the honorable member for East Sydney is so concerned about these issues, let him clean up his own house, let him put his own house in order and let him wipe away the great mat of heavy red dust that hangs over the Australian Labour party to-day.
I shall mention now a matter that no doubt will interest the honorable member. I have in my hand a copy of “ Pravda “ of 3rd March. The leading article is devoted to - I give honorable gentlemen one guess - democratic socialism. I intend to run a competition. I intend to take translations from this leading article on democratic socialism, and to take statements by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), the honorable member for Hindmarsh, Mr. Clyde Cameron) and Dr. John Burton from “ The Light Glows Brighter “, and from his recent booklet, “ Labour In Transition “. I shall throw them in one after the other and then invite honorable gentlemen to decide from which source these excerpts come. I propose to give a prize for the first accurate entry that I receive.
I conclude by saying that the whole attitude of the honorable member for East Sydney since he came into this Parliament has simply been to try to silence by threats, intimidation, smearing, hectoring and all the rest of it, any one who stands against his miserable and contemptible political theories. Moreover, he will do anything at all to silence those people who are prepared to stand up against Moscow and who stand for those things in Australia that are good, sound, decent and, above all, honest.
.- Every time I hear in this House accusations, such as those made to-night by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), that members of the Australian Labour party are Communists or the stooges of communism, 1 shall rise in my place to repudiate the statements. Not merely do. I desire to repudiate the statements, but, if this Parliament is to be not a place in which economic, social and political issues are to be discussed but a place in which the reputations of men are to be smeared by members on the Government side, then I. too, can take my part in that occupation 1 charge the Government with consisting of men who have been irresponsible in the performance of their duties to the men and women of this community. The condition* of luxury that they and those who stand behind them enjoy are at the expense of the aged in this community and of the wage-earner whose quarterly basic wage adjustments have been taken away from him. The luxury in which supporters of the Government live is at the expense of those who in my electorate are unable to secure homes. The supporters of the Government are men who are well endowed with the goods of the world. There are. however, some who are not so well endowed. They belong to the working class but betray the principles of the working class so that, by association with the powersthatbe in this country, they are able to secure for themselves many of the desirable things in this community.
I have repudiated, as others on this side of the House have repudiated, the accusations that we support the Communist party or are stooges of the Communist party. The Labour party through the years has held aloft the torch of freedom. Because members of the Labour party in days gone by held aloft the torch of freedom and fought for the economic and social improvement of the people of this country, they were vilified and described as anarchists by the class that is represented by the Government here to-day. Members of the Australian Labour party were called anarchists when they sought to establish the Commonwealth Bank. They were said to be seeking to destroy the bonds of Empire when they established the Royal Australian Navy. They were described as the instigators of immorality when they introduced motherhood endowment, with benefit in respect of each baby.
Mr, Malcolm Fraser interjecting,
– Our friend laughs. He does not remember that motherhood endowment was ridiculed as a bangle bonus by the class to which he belongs, or that supporters of the present Government said in those days that the endowment was loosening the ties of marriage. Inevitably, that attitude is adopted towards people who stand against greed and avarice and on the side of economic justice in the community, and towards people who stand for equitable, decent conditions for age pensioners, for the provision of homes, for adequate and just taxation at the expense of the wealthy. Likewise, people who stand for the provision of farms throughout the country at the expense of the graziers, of whom our friend who just interjected is one, will, of course, be vilified. Such people will be vilified by the honorable member for Moreton and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). They will be vilified by all who sit on the benches opposite, but in that vilification we take the greatest pride.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.32 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - t to 4. (t is not the practice. However, as was the case under the previous Administration, approval for the payment of the wife’s fare only has been given in a very few instances for special reasons such as where an officer has been required previously to make frequent overseas visits. The numbers over the past five years and at all times have been very small. Details of cost are not readily available. The expense has been charged to relevant departmental votes.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 1 and 3. I have no information on these matters. The honorable member could, of course, have asked the newspaper concerned, but that, presumably, would have prevented questions 4 and S. 4 and 5. The photograph under reference did not pass by hand of any Commonwealth officer to the newspaper concerned.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The adequacy of the Commonwealth Employment Service facilities in the electoral divi- sion of Hughes has been under continuous review for some time. The principal district office serving this area is located at Kogarah, some 3 miles north of the northern boundary of the electorate. However, in view of the developments in the Sutherland shire, a branch of the Kogarah office was opened at Caringbah, in February, 1956, on a three-days-a-week basis. The demand for the services of this office increased to the extent that it was decided to open the office on a full-time basis in July, 1956. Full Commonwealth Employment Service facilities are available at the Caringbah office both to employers and to those seeking employment. The present premises have now become inadequate and negotiations are at present in course to obtain more suitable premises in the near vicinity. In addition to the office at Caringbah, limited services are at present available on one day each week at Sutherland, though the need for continuation of this office is now being examined.
y asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The following answers to the honorable member’s questions are based on information supplied by the Australian Wheat Board: -
m asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Estimated defence expenditure in 1956-57 represents the following per capita costs in the countries mentioned -
The ratios of defence expenditure to total federal taxation in Australia in 1938-39, 1948-49. 1955-56 and 1956-57 are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Terri tories the following question, upon notice: -
In view of the disastrous effects which flood water had on the farm settlement at Daly River, and as development of the area is hampered because access to the district by road is only possible for about seven months of the year, will he undertake to have an all-weather road to this centre constructed without further delay?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
During the recent wet season in the Northern Territory a number of roads suffered extensive flood damage. Funds have been provided to repair this damage and the necessary machinery is at present being assembled to commence work on these roads as soon as they have dried out sufficiently. The road to the Daly River farm settlement is amongst those to be repaired. The Administrator of the Northern Territory is fully aware of the need for all-weather roads to many areas in the Territory, including the Daly River. Construction of such roads is undertaken as resources become available, priority being given to the roads for which there is the greatest need.
n asked the Minister for Territories the following question, upon notice: -
In view of the benefits that will accrue to the economy of the Northern Territory by the development of uranium mining in the Alligator River area, will he give consideration to the construction of a road to that area which will enable the transport of uranium ore and materials for the greater part of the year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The construction of such a road is being examined in consultation with the Minister for National Development.
son asked the Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following reply:-
The deep well oil-drilling plant, previously owned by the Bureau of Mineral Resources of my department, was sold in March, 1954, to West Australian Petroleum Proprietary Limited for an amount of £375,000.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 April 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570410_reps_22_hor14/>.