25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WEBB presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth engaged in apprenticeship trades praying that the Commonwealth Government will take no action which will adversely affect or prejudice the future of apprentices and the apprenticeship system by any proposal involving dilutee trade training or the lowering of standards in the skilled trades.
Petition received and read.
Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr. Duthie, Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Birrell.
Petitions severally received.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. The Prime Minister, in his policy speech at the last election, promised that the Government, if re-elected, would establish a housing insurance corporation early in 1964. Why has this unequivocal promise been broken?
– To suggest that the promise has been broken is just idle political pointmaking. It may not occur to gentlemen who are long out of office and who have perhaps forgotten some of the difficulties of administration, that these schemes take some time to evolve. Work on this scheme has been going on. I have had many discussions about it with various people who know their business. I have discussed it with the financial institutions, the cooperative building societies and other bodies, particularly those who are concerned with lending money.
There is a team of people working on this problem specifically, discussing the matter, evolving fresh proposals and then trying them out. When this work is completed, as I hope it will be before the budget session, a bill will be brought in. I know there are some people who think that these problems are simple of solution, but my experience has been that magicians are much more common amongst scribes and members of political Oppositions than amongst practical men of affairs.
– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I mention that it has been reported that railway commissioners of three States have met with Commonwealth officials to determine future prospects regarding the standardization of the rail gauge between Sydney and Perth. I ask whether it is correct that this proposed rail link will by-pass Melbourne and, if so, whether full consideration has been given to the fact that Melbourne is now the economic centre of Australia-
– Order! I ask the honorable member not to make comment in his question.
– I ask the Minister whether consideration-
– Why stress the obvious?
– Order! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. Question time is a very difficult time. Most honorable members are anxious to obtain information and are willing to comply with the Standing Orders, and to obey the directions of the Chair. Those who do not will have to be dealt with. The honorable member for Balaclava will ask his question.
– I ask the Minister whether consideration has been given to the importance of Melbourne during these discussions.
– I do not wish to argue with the honorable member about his pride in the size of Melbourne, except to remind him gently that size is not necessarily any substitute for quality. This question of the standard gauge is a very simple one. We are in the process of standardizing the railway gauge between Perth and Brisbane, and the shortest route between Perth and Sydney happens to be from Perth to Port Pirie and then to Broken Hill and across to Sydney. This docs not preclude the possibility that at some stage Melbourne will be joined in the network. At what stage and at what time it will be joined I cannot say, but first things come first, and the present proposal is the most urgent part of the programme.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister noted that the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which is the major union concerned, has indicated its rejection of the proposed adult training scheme? Is the Minister aware that so far no union has approved the scheme, or appears likely to approve it. In these circumstances, will the department now give more serious consideration to the problem of assisting the unions in their efforts to make the apprenticeship system and the technical training system really work?
– I have not yet had any official communication from the Amalgamated Engineering Union or from the Australian Council of Trade Unions on this aspect. The procedure to be followed, as agreed with the unions, was that they would convene a committee meeting to consider the views of all unions and that then the A.C.T.U. would consult with me or the department. I have read two reasons why the A.E.U. says that it is opposed to the scheme, but I have not had any official communication from the union. One reason that I read is that the union does not believe there is a shortage of skilled workers. I cannot believe that a statement like that would be made, because in the electrical trade, as well as in the metal trades, nine and a half vacancies are registered for every person whom we have to fit into vacancies. That is the most concrete evidence of a shortage of skilled men.
The honorable gentleman referred also to the apprenticeship system. It is only recently that the Commonwealth Government came into this field. I am glad to say, and I hope that most honorable members will read the statement that I issued a couple of weeks ago, that we now have more vacancies for apprentices than we have apprentices to fit into those vacancies. This is quite novel. I believe that the Commonwealth Government can take great credit for establishing in the public mind and in businessmen’s minds the need to increase the number of vacancies for apprentices and the action that we have taken to fill them. 1 assure the honorable gentleman that in his own trade we are doing all that we can to see that the employers fully recognize the need to train an increasing number of apprentices for that important occupation.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Primary Industry by stating that a recent treatment for the prevalent sheep disease, balanitis, involves the implanting of hormones in pellet form, both as a treatment and as a preventive. Under Commonwealth Department of Health regulations the State Departments of Agriculture have prohibited the continuance of this treatment of sheep and the purchase and use of the drug testosterone except by prescription and under the supervision of veterinary practitioners. With personal knowledge of the results of this treatment, which is now quite common and quite simple, I ask the Minister: Will he confer with the Minister for Health, to see whether a more rational approach can be made to this problem and whether these quite unnecessary restrictions can be removed?
– I shall be happy to confer with the Minister for Health on this matter. We may be able to ease some of these restrictions, because the hormones that are used for the treatment of this disease have proved to be very successful and we want to get the best that we can from the use of this drug.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General, who will probably be aware that for some years past his department has printed in each State a booklet called a mail schedule, which has been of great assistance to business concerns, as it sets out details of post offices and mail closing times at those offices. As I understand that it is proposed to cease publication of these schedules in South Australia, Queensland and Western
Australia, will the Minister take action to ensure that this valuable publication continues to be available to the public?
– I am not aware of the matters referred to by the honorable member, but most certainly I shall have them investigated. If there is any suggestion of discontinuing the issue of the publication to which he refers I shall try to understand the whys and wherefores behind the suggestion. If I decide that it is in the public interest to maintain the publication, it will be done.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Recently there has been some comment regarding alleged delay in settling a claim for damages following the crash of a Sabre aircraft from Williamtown on the residence of Mrs. Tillitski in Newcastle. I ask the Minister whether reports have been finalized and whether he can give any information relating to the accident and the resultant claim.
– The Royal Australian Air Force has done everything possible to ensure that the claim is settled with the greatest expedition. I have had representations from the honorable member for Newcastle and I have kept him informed of the steps we have taken. Shortly after the accident Air Force officers from Williamtown visited Mrs. Tillitski and, as well as offering her temporary accommodation and clothing, they told her how she should go about preparing her claim. After two months, in which time we had not heard from her, we wrote again to her and suggested that she should make a claim as expeditiously as possible. A claim was finally received three and a half months after the date of the accident. It has been the subject of negotiations between my department, the Deputy Crown Solicitor and the solicitor for Mrs. Tillitski. We are now in a position to make to her an offer for the replacement of her house. Other portions of the claim are still the subject of negotiations, but I am hopeful that they will be settled. We have also made offers to two other people who suffered in the accident.
An investigation was undertaken by the R.A.A.F. previous to the accident, as on five previous occasions there were similar occurrences in which Sabres equipped with Sidewinders had got into spins which either were uncontrollable or took considerable time to correct. As the result of work by the research and development unit at Laverton, which undertook at least 300 spins, it has been demonstrated that there is nothing unusual about the Sabre aircraft provided that the ailerons are used in the correct manner during the spin. It has been recommended to pilots that the moment a Sabre enters a spin the pilot should take normal recovery action and use full in-spin aileron and he will convert the spin into a spiral dive. In this way the plane will leave the spin in a relatively short time. These instructions have been circulated to pilots and the pilots’ notes are being rewritten. The basic flying training unit has also been informed of the results of this research.
– I refer the Minister for the Army to the answer he gave yesterday to the honorable member for Port Adelaide in which the honorable gentleman stated that all Commonwealth departments grant leave with full pay to members of the Citizen Military Forces to attend training camps. Is the Minister aware that Trans-Australia Airlines does not follow this practice? Will the Minister arrange for T.A.A. and all Commonwealth statutory authorities to follow the lead given by Commonwealth and State departments and grant leave with pay to Citizen Military Forces personnel?
– When I answered the question of the honorable member for Port Adelaide yesterday I did not say that all Commonwealth departments followed this practice. I said that it was Commonwealth Government policy that they should, and in some cases there is a difference between the two. However, I shall be only too pleased to examine the situation referred to by the honorable member in relation to bodies that are not strictly Commonwealth Government departments but are related to the Commonwealth Government.
– I address a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Has there been any exchange of views between the Australian and United Kingdom Governments regarding the possibility of establishing reciprocity of benefits for exservicemen, at least on a limited scale? By way of very brief illustration of the hardship that occurs, may I cite to the honorable gentleman the case of a British exserviceman who served in the First World War, including the Gallipoli campaign, came to Australia between the wars and re-enlisted in the Australian forces but did not serve in a theatre of war. This gentleman is not eligible for a service pension.
– Some years ago, a previous Minister for Repatriation had discussions with the United Kingdom Government on the question of possible reciprocity in repatriation benefits. However, the general principle applying to repatriation is that each country looks after its own ex-service- men under its own repatriation system. That principle is, in fact applied by all countries that have repatriation systems. Another factor that arises is the big variation between systems. The United Kingdom’s system is quite different from the Australian one. So there is no common basis on which we can undertake further negotiations. The British ex-serviceman now living in Australia is at no disadvantage compared with the British ex-serviceman living in the United Kingdom. The Australian Repatriation Department acts as agent for the British Ministry of Pensions and pays benefits on an approved basis, under the same conditions as in the United Kingdom, to British ex-servicemen living in Australia.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. He undoubtedly will recall that, in answer to a question by me about the need for uniform censorship, he said that the present situation was confusing, dangerous and ludicrous. I now ask: Will the right honorable gentleman, in endeavouring to obtain the application of uniform censorship, seek to remove from the possibility of political or police control by either State or Federal authorities any proposed national censorship board? I ask also: What progress is being made towards the establishment of a uniform censorship code?
– As honorable members know, this matter is within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise. I will be very glad to pass on to him the suggestion made by the honorable member for Bendigo in relation to the constitution of any board that may be established.
– I address my question to the Minister for Social Services. I ask, first, whether the Department of Social Services will assist the Junior Chambers of Commerce in Queensland to launch their Employ the Handicapped Campaign. Secondly, will the Minister consider arranging, during that campaign, for an official opening of the new amenities hall at the Kingsholme rehabilitation centre at Taringa to enable representative citizens to inspect the centre, meet those who are being rehabilitated and see for themselves the splendid work that is being done in assisting physicially handicapped persons to pursue a normal way of life?
– I know and appreciate the great personal interest that the honorable member takes in the Kingsholme rehabilitation centre in Brisbane. I assure him that the Department of Social Services will co-operate with the Junior Chambers of Commerce in their campaign to employ physically handicapped persons. Campaigns of the kind have been held in other States, and all have been singularly successful. I assure the honorable member also that I shall consider his suggestion that there be an official opening of the new amenities hall at Kingsholme. This would provide an opportunity to invite representative citizens to see the great work that is being done at that centre. I am tolerably certain that my consideration of his proposal will be favorable.
– I ask the Minister for
Labour and National Service a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Darebin. I remind the Minister of his statement that there are more vacancies for apprentices than there are applicants, and I refer to a personal survey that I conducted of Newcastle high schools. My survey revealed that in 1963 over 70 boys who obtained their Intermediate certificates and unsuccessfully sought apprenticeships returned to school. This figure does not include those boys who unsuccessfully sought apprenticeships and accepted unskilled employment. Will the Minister take the necessary action to secure apprenticeships for these boys and boys in similar circumstances in schools in other cities before proceeding further with his antiunion adult training scheme?
– I had hoped that politics would bc kept out of what is a great national issue and something that must be done unless we are to put a brake on progress. The Australian Labour Party had better make up its mind quickly whether it is opposed to progress or whether it is prepared to assist the Government to achieve its purpose. The honorable gentleman asked me about school leavers in Newcastle. The astonishing fact is that he has not conveyed this information to me before. I test his sincerity on this subject by asking why he did not let me know about this and give me an opportunity to help these young people before they went back to school. I will send him a copy of the document that is issued by the department relating to the placement of school leavers in employment. It is a statement of fact. We have placed young school leavers in employment at a quicker rate and have done it more effectively than it has ever been done before in Australia’s history. The number of young school leavers now on our register is low.
I point out to the House that unemployment is falling quickly. This low level exists before the real demand for employment occurs from July to October or the second week in November. By the time those months are reached we will be desperately short of man-power. The Opposition would be acting in the interests of the country if it co-operated with the Government and helped us to get the skilled men we need. It would thus make some contribution to the improvement rather than to the destruction of efficiency in this country.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to a deputation of barley growers which was received by the Minister early last year and which submitted proposals for an all-Australian barley board. This resulted in the establishment of a steering committee. I ask: What authority was represented by this delegation? Did the delegation represent State organizations? Has the Minister received a separate submission from the Australian Primary Producers Union? If so, what was the outcome of this approach? Can the Minister give an assurance that all primary producer organizations interested in the barley industry will be given an opportunity to participate in the discussions that may take place before an all-Australian barley board is established?
– I have had representations from growers in the mainland States. Growers in Tasmania knew that a deputation was coming to see me about barley stabilization, but they did not send a representative. I think the deputation represented in the main, State organizations and the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. I have also had representations from the Australian Primary Producers Union separately on this matter. There has been evidence of a difference of opinion or difference of approach. The honorable member asked me whether other organizations may make representations. I think it is for the people in the industry to get together and make up their minds as to whether they want anything of this nature, and submit their proposal to the Government. At present there is a divided approach, and there is no firm proposal that has the full support of the industry.
– -I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. What basis did he have for his statement last night that the honorable member for Yarra was on a platform with Ralph Gibson, a well-known Communist, and spoke? If the Minister believes that he had a basis for making that statement, will he promptly use the resources available to his department to check the accuracy of it? If on so checking he finds there was no basis for his statement or if in fact he made the statement last night without having any definite basis for it, will he withdraw a statement, which is grossly prejudicial coming from a Minister charged with investigating and countering subversive activities among migrants and which has been denied by the two members of the House who were on the platform?
– The basis I had for making the statement was the basis that I explained in answer to a question earlier in the day or on the preceding day.
– You do not know–
– Order! The honorable member for Wills will remain silent.
– I warned you last night. You had plenty of time to check.
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will restrain himself.
– You had plenty of time–
– The basis for my statement was the “Tribune”, a Communist newspaper. This is the whole point. Last night when the incident occurred I was saying–
– Why did you not check?
– Order! I warn the honorable member for Reid.
– I had said two things. First I said that the honorable member for Yarra was there and, by way of interjection, he said, “Yes, I was there”. The second thing I said was that the honorable member had spoken at a meeting with Gibson.
– You said that he was on a platform with Gibson.
– Order! I ask honorable members not to interject.
– I said last night, in recounting what I had said at an earlier point of time, that the honorable member bad spoken on the same platform. The basis of my information is this Communist newspaper. Had the honorable member permitted me to go on instead of making his outburst I was about to say that if he contested the accuracy of the statement he had only to make the statement and then it could be shown as a matter of fact whether he did or did not.
– Did or did not what?
– We would then have before us a statement from the honorable member for Yarra that he did or did not.
– Did or did not what?
– Did or did not speak on the same platform as this man Gibson. If the honorable member for Yarra had been prepared to stand up and say, “ I did not speak on the same platform “, the next question would have arisen; and that would have been: Did he speak at the same meeting? If the honorable member for Yarra is prepared to go to the point of denying that he spoke from the same platform, the next question is: Did he speak at the same meeting? Last night the honorable member for Reid approached me and said: “ You must not say that the honorable member for Yarra spoke from the same platform. This is a terrible thing. What happened was this– “
– I did not say anything of the sort. He is a liar.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– It was an untruth.
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will withdraw the remark.
– I will withdraw it but the thing is why–
– Order! I name the honorable member for Reid.
Motion (by Sir Robert Menzies) put -
That the honorable member be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will recall that a few moments ago, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Balaclava, he very properly described the railway line from Sydney to Perth as part of the standardization programme. Is he aware that the track from Parkes to Broken Hill, which forms part of that link, was constructed as a light line and is incapable, in its present condition, of bearing heavy trans-continental traffic? Does he recall that the Government Members Rail Standardization Committee recommended that the up-grading of this line should be a proper charge against the standardization programme? Does he also-
– Order! The honorable member is making his question far too long.
– I am asking the Minister about the actions of the New South Wales Government following upon this-
– Order! The question is too long. The honorable member will direct his question to the Minister or resume his seat.
– I am asking the Minister whether the New South Wales G Government
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. In respect of the meeting some time ago about which there has been some discussion - the meeting which the honorable member for Yarra attended, the meeting which was held to discuss the troubles of Croatia, to put it briefly - will the Minister ascertain whether the meeting was a public meeting and whether all the people on the platform were members of the Australian Labour Party? If what the Minister has said about the honorable member for Yarra being on the same platform as a Communist is not true, will he withdraw the allegation? Will he ascertain also whether the Communist referred to, a Mr. Gibson, came to a public meeting in response to an advertisement and asked questions from the body of the hall, and did not address the meeting as was alleged?
– One thing is perfectly clear; that is, that the honorable member for Yarra was there. It is for the honorable member for Yarra to say whether or not he spoke, whether or not Gibson spoke, whether or not they were on the same platform and whether or not, as the Leader of the Opposition suggests, Gibson was on the floor of the room in which the meeting was held. The honorable member for Yarra is very concerned about this, as well he might be, but the fact is that the report was made on 1 1th March, the meeting was held on 6th March, and there has been no denial by the honorable member for Yarra at any time, even now, that he was there as I have stated.
Bill presented by Mr. Calwell, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to submit to the people at a referendum a proposal to alter two sections of the Constitution of the Commonwealth. It is proposed to remove from section 51, placitum (xxvi), the prohibition on the Commonwealth’s legislating for the people of the aboriginal race in any State. It is proposed to delete section 127 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, which provides -
In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.
Articulate and sophisticated aborigines have come to regard these sections as being discriminatory against them. It is therefore important to look at the origins of these sections of the Constitution and the history of their application, and also at the intentions of the founding fathers as revealed in the reports of debates of the convention at which attempts were made to draft a Commonwealth constitution. Section 51, placitum (xxvi), now reads -
The original form of this section in the draft bill of 1891, as considered during the convention debates of that year in Sydney and in Adelaide, read somewhat differently. Among the exclusive powers of the proposed federal parliament it was suggested that there should be a power to legislate for -
The affairs of the people of any race with respect to whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws not applicable to the general community; but so that this power shall not extend to authorise legislation with respect to the affairs of the aboriginal native race in Australia and the Maori race in New Zealand.
There was a representative from New Zealand at that convention. It was thought at the time that New Zealand might join the proposed federation.
The main interest of the convention of 1891 was not directed at the prohibition against the Commonwealth to legislate for aborigines, and, assuming that New Zealand would join the federation, at any prohibition against the Commonwealth’s passing legislation for Maoris. The main interest of the convention of 1891 was directed at the power of the Commonwealth to legislate for the people of any race. This was distinct from the immigration power. It was motivated by the desire to end the scandal of what was virtually a form of slavery - the abduction of Pacific islands natives to work on the Queensland sugar plantations. Sir Samuel Griffith was the moving spirit in the framing of the section. In Queensland politics he had fought the Queensland Government on the question of blackbirding which was politely referred to as the recruiting of labour in the Pacific islands. He was determined to use the proposed federal parliament as a means of coercing the Parliament of Queensland into ending a scandal, as he had never succeeded in persuading the Parliament of Queensland from within it.
He had developed widespread support for labour reasons, for imperial reasons and for international reasons. Working men disliked the depressing effect that the presence of Pacific islands labour had on labour conditions. The British Admiralty constantly remonstrated with the British Colonial Office, urging that pressure should be brought to bear on Queensland in the matter of recruitment of Pacific islands labour. The career of a naval officer in the late 19th century was largely connected with the suppression of slavery and the commander of the British Pacific Squadron regarded blackbirding as slavery as, indeed, it was. Moreover, when the labour recruiters abducted natives from German New Guinea, stirring up a hatred of white men that expressed itself in attacks on German planters, Bismarck sent a stinging protest to the British Foreign Secretary who, in turn, put pressure on the British Colonial Office to have the traffic stopped.
The references to aborigines and Maoris in the proposed section of the constitution were almost overlooked. The power to repatriate the Pacific islands peoples was a temptation to some to suggest the deportation of aborigines because at that time it was suggested that we might send all the aborigines in Australia to New Guinea. It was also a temptation to others to exercise general Draconic powers over coloured peoples. No convention delegates had expressed any such views but convention delegates were affected by foolish statements from outside the convention and felt the need for safeguards.
Sir George Grey, the New Zealand delegate, had had a noteworthy career in protecting the rights of Maoris in New Zealand, especially land rights. I think I made reference to this matter in a debate earlier this year when it was proposed that some Australians might buy land in New Zealand for about a farthing an acre. Sir George Gray had been Governor of South Australia and he knew Australian conditions. Without a doubt he wanted Maori affairs reserved for New Zealand. Some other delegates, such as Sir John Forrest, envisaged the Commonwealth pushing aborigines around, and he was opposed to the Commonwealth having any powers resting upon considerations of colour or race. As the section was primarily aimed at the scandal of Pacific islands labour recruitment, the references to aborigines and Maoris were entirely protective and designed to ensure that they were outside the scope of legislation designed to deal with the presence of an abducted alien group living in depressed labour conditions. The whole section began to be misinterpreted by successive Commonwealth governments after the establishment of federation and after it was adopted in its present form.
We have seen how, after nearly 50 years in which the section had been interpreted so as to deprive aborigines of age pensions and other more lately introduced social service benefits, the Commonwealth reversed its attitude and decided to grant those benefits. I think it was some time during the days of the Chifley Government that the first alterations were made; but it was a long time after federation before anything was done to give the aboriginal people the social service benefits that other Australians enjoy. To-day, we do regard the aboriginal as an Australian citizen, and any argument about his race is entirely irrelevant. We do not mention Scottish, Irish, Welsh, English or German descent in the Constitution, and aboriginal descent should not be singled out for comment, either. The words “ other than the aboriginal race in any State “ should, therefore, be deleted from the Constitution. These words are regarded by many aborigines as an insult, and, as they see the meaning of the words, they are entitled to their views. I am sorry that they have to feel the hurt that the words convey to them. These words have been interpreted so as to deprive aborigines of benefits, and these considerations, therefore, in the view of the Opposition, justify the proposal that the words should go from the Constitution.
I come now to the second matter contained in the bill. Section 127 of the Constitution reads today almost as it was proposed by Sir Samuel Griffith at the convention of 1891 in Sydney. His wording was -
In reckoning the number of the people of a Slate or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives of Australia shall not be counted.
At the 1897 convention in Adelaide, this proposal was again adopted, with the deletion of the words, “ of Australia “. This amended form is the present Section 127 of our fundamental document - our Constitution - which protects our rights and our liberties and also imposes obligations on us. Those obligations are borne by the aborigines, but the aborigines do not share the rights. We desire that they shall be given equal rights in all matters with all other Australian citizens, whether born here or naturalized here.
Dr. Cockburn of the South Australian delegation feared that the section would prevent aborigines on the South Australian electoral rolls from voting in Commonwealth elections once the Commonwealth was established, but he was assured that the existing rights of aborigines would be protected; in other words, that they would not be affected. At that time, aboriginal natives in South Australia were entitled to be enrolled. They lost that right subsequently, so far as the Commonwealth was concerned. A curious anomaly was allowed to exist. The Legislative Councils of New South Wales and Tasmania sought to insert the words, “ and aliens not naturalized “ in the section. This was rejected. An anomaly was not merely allowed to exist but indeed was emphasized, because whereas aliens are to-day counted when population is determined for the purpose of allocating parliamentary seats to the States, enfranchised aborigines are not counted.
The conventions of 1891 and 1897 were confronted with the fact that in no State was the enumeration of aborigines complete. The Queensland delegates simply provided to the conventions repetitions of an 1881 guess. They had no data, they had no basis for obtaining data; they just thought that they knew how many aborigines there were in Queensland, and that is what they told the convention. In South Australia, which then had the Territory we now call the Northern Territory as part of its State, the counting was spasmodic. Western Australia counted only aborigines in contact with Europeans, and there were many nomad aborigines, many myall aborigines in those days, who were never in contact with Europeans. I use the term “ Europeans “ as indicating the ethnic origin of the Australian people. They were really mostly Australians in Western Australia about that time. Under those circumstances, the aborigines were excluded from the census because a census was regarded as impossible. That was the only reason for excluding them. Today, a census is possible and the section can only be construed as meaning that aborigines do not count as people of the Commonwealth. This is completely unjustified and grossly unfair. It is intolerable, and must not continue. I emphasize that all aborigines have voting rights to-day, so the deletion of section 127 is obviously long over-due as it no longer serves a purpose and can only be read as an insult.
That is the case which I put to the House on behalf of the Opposition for the holding of a referendum to make amendments to sections 51 and 127 of the Constitution, but I have one or two other observations to make. Many petitions have been presented to this House over recent months and over the lifetime of the last Parliament. Indeed, quite a number of petitions dealing with both these matters were presented to this Parliament to-day, and they came from members on both sides of the House. The presentation of each petition has not been just a formality. I am sure every honorable member who has presented a petition on either question sincerely hopes that a referendum will be held to make the desired alterations to our Constitution.
Not only do we inside this country who have done nothing to effect alterations to the Constitution feel guilty and feel that we should apologize to the aborigines for the treatment they have received from the Commonwealth over 60 years in the deprivation of their rights, but we cannot divorce ourselves from the international scene to-day. While ever these sections of the Constitution remain, we are vulnerable in the United Nations Organization, for it will be said against us, and quite truly, that we are discriminating against the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, that we are discriminating against the old Australians, against the people who are descendants of those who came here from wherever they came. Anthropologists and scientists have never been able to tell us the origin of the aboriginal people. All we know is that they have been here for thousands of years. We took this country from them and they have been badly treated for many generations in all States of the Commonwealth. That is on our consciences, too.
Because of the social service benefits which the Commonwealth is now paying to aborigines, because of the treatment they are getting at the hands of the Commonwealth and State authorities, the aboriginal population is growing again. It was estimated the other day by the distinguished anthropologist, Dr. Stanner, that in two generations Australia will have 300,000 aborigines, which is about the number that occupied the country when Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay in 1770. That makes the problem all the more acute. The aborigines are not a dying race; they are not being absorbed, or assimilated, however you like to describe it, and there are many educated and sophisticated aborigines who want to see their race preserved intact, who do not want it absorbed by the majority of Australians. I think the case is very convincing and I hope the Government will take action.
If the Government does hold a referendum on this question, I hope that at the same time it will hold a referendum on the question of the Commonwealth legislative machinery, particularly those sections of the Constitution, of which section 24 is the principal one, which deal with the number of senators and members of the House of Representatives and the relationship between the Houses. 1 guarantee on behalf of the Opposition that we will support both referendums, and I think it is highly desirable that they should be held. If we do not do something about the matter it will not be very long before members of the Senate or House of Representatives are representing 55,000 or 60,000 electors, and that is not democratic.
I commend the bill to the House. I hope the Government will not block its passage, and I hope that in due course, perhaps at the time of the Senate election, we will have a referendum on the two sections of the Constitution that this bill covers and on those other sections to which I have made passing reference.
– Is there a seconder?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak to it.
– I suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to continue the second-reading debate on this bill forthwith.
– There being no objection, the debate will continue.
– The bill which is before the House introduces material on which there is much common ground, but the Government cannot accept the bill for reasons which I propose to point out to the House. I believe all parties and all honorable members in the House feel that there should be no discrimination against aboriginal natives of Australia. The Government’s policy has revealed an anxiety to do everything possible to assimilate the position of the aboriginal natives to the rest of the Australian community. 1 stress the word “ position “ here and repeat that the Government has been anxious to assimilate the position of the aboriginal natives to the position of other members of the community.
– Not a biological assimilation?
– Well, this may or may not happen. The essence is to have their position assimilated to the position of other members of the community.
– lt is not your policy to have biological assimilation but to have a status assimilation?
– That is right. Whether the other follows is for history to determine. An inter-departmental committee has for some time been examining the Commonwealth statute-book. That committee has had the task of seeing what provisions remain in Commonwealth statutes that might be thought to discriminate against aboriginal natives.
Now I come to the two parts of the bill. One relates to section 127 of the Constitution and the other relates to placitum (xxvi.) of section 51 . Section 1 27, 1 believe, is an anachronism which survives from the early days of federation. The framers of the Constitution put in section 127 for specific reasons which no longer exist. In introducing the bill the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) pointed out that at that time there was difficulty about census taking. I have no doubt that that is why section 127 found its way into the Constitution. However, that position does not apply to-day. At that time it was thought necessary to put the provision into the Constitution because of the difficulty of counting aboriginal natives. They were scattered, they were living in tribal conditions and they were nomadic. But those difficulties can now be overcome by modern methods.
I think it is important to point out that the aboriginal natives are not prejudiced by section 127. The Leader of the Opposition said that it is an affront to the aborigines that section 127 should be there, but I am quite sure that the honorable gentleman agrees with me that the fact that section 127 is in the Constitution is not in itself discrimination against aboriginal natives.
– But how does it appear in the eyes of other countries?
– I was going to come to this. Section 127 does not itself discriminate. The aboriginal is enfranchised in Commonwealth elections and he receives social service benefits and other benefits. As to how the people of other countries see section 127, I am sure that they would look at the essence of the matter and decide whether or not there was discrimination against the aboriginal natives. My view is that there is in fact no discrimination against them, nor ought there to be discrimination against them. It is important also to direct the attention of the House to the fact that although section 127 appears to the Leader of the Opposition to be the offending section in principle, it would be necessary to cast an eye over section 25 of the Constitution also, because the mere elimination of section 127 would still leave the provisions of section 25 in the Constitution. Amending section 25 would not, in itself, be something that a person would sit down and try to do in a moment. More reflection than that would be required. One cannot think of an amendment to section 127 as being a matter of great urgency. I readily concede that very strong arguments exist for the elimination of section 127, but another census is not to be taken for some years. Therefore, one could not regard this as a matter of immediate urgency, and it certainly is not a reason which would lead me to support this bill.
– It might affect the number of representatives that each State can send to the Parliament. It would affect the representation from Western Australia.
– I am bound to say that I have looked at that position closely. I come now to the second part of the proposal, which is contained in clause 2, which is that the words in placitum (xxvi.) “ other than the aboriginal race in any State “ should be removed. I can understand and sympathize with the reasons why the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that those words should be removed. I can see some arguments in favour of the removal of those words. Perhaps I could mention some arguments in favour of that course. The first is that there should be no reference in the Constitution to aboriginal natives as such. Also the Commonwealth has the power in the Territories so it may be asked why it should not have the power in the
States also. Another reason which can be proffered in favour of this course is the 1963 United Nations declaration against racial discrimination, which could be implemented as a matter of Commonwealth power. They are arguments in favour of the removal of those words. But when honorable members consider the contrary arguments they come to realize that the House could not accept this bill.
I think it is most important to understand the contrary arguments, which I do not think have been put as strongly as they should have been put in discussions on this matter. The contrary arguments are these: The words proposed to be removed are in themselves not a discrimination, but are a safeguard, because the Commonwealth under this placitum has power to make laws - special laws, discriminatory laws - against people of any race, “other than the aboriginal race in any State “. These words were put there as an essential safeguard for the aboriginal race so that special laws discriminating against a race could not be laws discriminating against the aboriginal race. The essential intention of those words from the outset was the provision of a safeguard; the words were not intended to be discriminatory.
So that to remove the words is to give the Commonwealth power to legislate throughout Australia for aborigines as a race. It is my view that this is contrary to Australian thinking, that there is no thinking in Australia which desires that the Commonwealth should have the power to legislate for the aboriginal race. I believe - and I think that the Australian people believe - that the aboriginal native should be assimilated in his status and that there should be no necessity for special laws for him. But by removing these words there is created a constitutional grant of power to the Commonwealth to make special laws for the aborigines, so that the purpose sought to be achieved would not be achieved by this means.
– The laws we make for those who live in the Northern Territory are better laws than the special laws anywhere.
– I accept the comment in the way it is offered. I am sure that my colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), will regard it as a compliment - or his predecessor will.
– And all his predecessors too.
– Yes. But if you take out these words the essential element of discrimination remains, whether for or against the aborigines.
– At the convention they said that if anybody is to control the aborigines it should be the States. Some have very clear discriminatory policies against aborigines.
– You may be speaking later and can then make that point. The discrimination would remain but in a different form if these words were merely plucked out. I think it is true that discrimination is discrimination whether it is as an advantage or as a disadvantage.
– We think it would be beneficial.
– Even beneficial discrimination is discrimination. We want to move to the stage where there is no special legislation, whether it is beneficial or disadvantageous. We do not want to turn back the clock, and by taking these words out of placitum (xxvi) there would be a turning back of the clock.
I now draw attention to the fact that there is no need for an amendment of placitum (xxvi) to provide social service benefits for aborigines, as they are in fact provided for them. If the placitum were amended, how would the power be used? If the power is used by the Commonwealth it is discrimination. I direct the House’s attention to the fact that placitum (xxvi) of section 51, which we are discussing, is not an exclusive power to the Commonwealth but is a concurrent power, which means that by removing these words you would vest the Commonwealth wilh power to legislate but you would not deprive the States of power to legislate.
– Only if you were to legislate.
– I am coming to that. You do not, by this bill, take away the power of the States. By taking out these words you would create a situation where there was a concurrent power of the Commonwealth with the States. If the Commonwealth legislated it would depend on whether it legislated to cover the field, or if the States legislated it would depend on whether there was an inconsistency. By section 109 of the Constitution the Commonwealth law would prevail, but in any event legislation by the Commonwealth would be discriminatory because it would apply to the aborigines as a race and in such a way that it did not apply to other people, lt would therefore constitute disdiscrimination against the aboriginal race where now there is none.
– Could not that be amended at a later stage?
– We are thinking about it at this point of time. I know that the honorable member is trying to help but that comment does not assist us. We have the situation that the Commonwealth is given the power; if it chooses to exercise the power it is discriminatory and if it chooses not to exercise it the States still have the power. This is a very important question: Should the Commonwealth be given the power, and what is the point unless it exercises the power? If it exercises the power, it means that the Commonwealth’s power will not only be discriminatory because it separates the aborigines as a race, but also by exercising the power the Commonwealth will make the legislation apply in the same way to all aborigines throughout the Commonwealth. It is not at all comprehensible to me that the Commonwealth could decide to exercise the power to legislate if it were given it and and then exercise that power differently in relation to Queensland and Victoria, or differently in relation to South Australia and the north-west of Western Australia.
– But you know that it would not do that.
– That is the point. It would not distinguish between those groups, which means that it would defy ingenuity to draw up a piece of legislation applying to all aboriginal natives, irrespective of whether they are in Victoria or in the northwest of Western Australia, because the problems of these widely-spread people are quite different. It would defy the wit of this Parliament to contrive a piece of legislation which would serve the interests of the aboriginal natives in the north-west of Western Australia and at the same time, by the same words and through the same provisions, equally serve the interests of the aborigines in Victoria.
– Could we not pass a law if the Constitution were altered to allow the aborigines to have separate representation in this Parliament, which they desire and which they probably would need as a growing non-assimilated force? This is what New Zealand has done for its Maori race.
– With great respect to the Leader of the Opposition, I think he departs from his essential premise when he makes that suggestion. His essential premise is that there should be no discrimination, but now he asks whether there ought not to be special representation for the aboriginal natives in this Parliament. If anything is calculated to show discrimination or to leave open to the peoples of the world the belief that our aboriginal natives are not treated equally with other residents of Australia it is to have them specially represented in this Parliament. I must say also, and again with respect to the honorable gentleman, that I have not noticed anywhere the slightest inclination to feel that the aboriginal natives ought specially to be represented in this House.
So that we come to the point that the States have power to legislate where special legislation is necessary. The Commonwealth Government legislates in respect of the aboriginal natives in the Commonwealth Territories. The problems are different and I am sure that my colleague, the Minister for Territories, will make this point. It is not for me to do so. One has to know only a little about it to realize that the problems of the Victorian aboriginal natives are vastly different from those of the aborigines in the Northern Territory or in north-west Western Australia. At present the Slates have the power. If this proposed change were accepted it would create a situation where the Commonwealth was vested with power which, if it chose to exercise it, would take away the power of the States. Of course, there would be no point in making the change unless the Commonwealth were to exercise the power. There would be no point in going through this procedure unless the Commonwealth were to exercise the power and 1 am sure that I could not contemplate a situation where that is desirable. 1 turn now to the second matter related to placitum (xxvi) and the elimination of certain words. I shall read them out to the House to remind honorable members of them and to support what I have said. One must go back to the beginning of section 51 to gain a proper understanding. The section reads -
If the words objected to were taken out, the placitum would read -
The people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws:
As I. pointed out earlier, such a provision would empower the Commonwealth to make special laws in relation to the aboriginal race. In other words, the constitutional safeguard would be eliminated.
– The Commonwealth can make special laws in relation to Chinese.
– That is so, and we want to retain that right.
– And the English.
– I would not regard the English as a special race in this context.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Constitutional Review Committee had dealt with this matter and had made a recommendation in relation to section 127 of the Constitution. In pointing out this difficulty in relation to placitum (xxvi.) of section 51 of the Constitution, I think it desirable to read paragraph 397 of the report presented by the Constitutional Review Committee in 1959. This paragraph, which appears at page 56 of the report, states -
When the Committee ceased its deliberations in 1958, it had given some consideration to the very important question as to whether the Commonwealth Parliament should have an express power to make laws with respect to aborigines, and representations from various quarters advocated the adoption of a recommendation to this effect. The Committee had, however, not completed its inquiries on all the issues involved and consequently no recommendation has been made.
So there is no recommendation from anybody, other than the recommendation made with due goodwill by the Leader of the Opposition. There is no recommendation on this matter from the Constitutional Review Committee, on which the honorable gentleman, as I recall, served with distinction.
– We made a recommendation on section 127 of the Constitution. It appears in the next paragraph of the report.
– I concede that with respect to section 127. However, the committee, after lengthy consideration and many submissions, was unable to come to a conclusion about placitum (xxvi.) of section 51, which the Leader of the Opposition, in his bill, proposes to amend.
We cannot accept this bill, first, because it would eliminate from that placitum the fundamental safeguard for the aboriginal race that is provided there. This bill would effect a transfer to the Commonwealth of power that the Commonwealth ought not to have. The Commonwealth ought not to have that power unless it intended to exercise it. But the Commonwealth would not seek to exercise a power in such a way that the exercising of it amounted to discrimination where now no discrimination exists. Secondly, the reality of the problem that arises must be considered. Legislation of the kind that is good for the aboriginal native in Victoria could not. in similar words and provisions, be equally good for the aboriginal native in the north-west of Western Australia, for example. For these reasons, we cannot accept clause 2 of the bill.
The third clause of the measure relates to section 127 of the Constitution. By way of repetition, let me say that 1 understand and sympathize very strongly with the reasons that have motivated the Leader of the Opposition in putting the proposal contained in this clause. But I point out that, despite section 127, there is in fact no discrimination against aboriginal natives. This section in itself does not discriminate. It gives offence, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) says, but it does not in itself discriminate. So there is no urgency about this matter, especially as the proposed change would require amendment of the Constitution.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the second time to-day, the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) has demonstrated quite conclusively that he does not know what he is talking about.
– Order! The honorable member should not refer to the Minister in such terms.
– Honorable members opposite, in answering the case made by the Opposition on the facts, ought to look into their own hearts. They have heard what has been said tc-day. Let us examine the case before us now. The Attorney-General said, a few moments ago, that discrimination against aborigines does not exist. He said that to insult a person is not to discriminate against him. But section 127 of the Constitution provides -
In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.
That is an insult to every person of aboriginal blood. Nobody with any conscience, any sense of justice or any sensitivity at all could see that provision in the Constitution as anything less than an insult to aborigines. I believe that the Attorney-General has great capacity, but for more than twenty minutes he indulged in legalistic quibbles that did great injustice to aborigines. I speak with a very close knowledge resulting from intense study of the situation. I have travelled the country and talked about these matters to people here, there and everywhere. I have raised this subject on numerous occasions in this House, as have other members of the Australian Labour Party. No matter what the Attorney-General may say, we on this side have a great deal of support in our demand for a change in the Constitution. That support comes from a great section of the Australian people. I hoped that this morning the AttorneyGeneral would take this opportunity so early in his career as a Minister to take one step at least towards removing these discriminatory provisions fi om the Constitution, knowing that he would have the wholehearted support of the Labour movement, and conscious as I am of the fact that he would have a good deal of support from a great body of opinion in the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party, too. The course that we propose must be adopted.
What is the present position? The Attorney-General says that if we remove from the Constitution the provisions in question we shall discriminate against the aborigines whereas, at present, we do not discriminate against them. Let me consider for a few moments, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the present position of Australian aborigines. No aboriginal in this country can be absolutely free in the sense in which every other Australian is free, and in the sense in which even the most recently arrived migrant is free, while some of the laws at present on the statute-books in Australia remain. Let us take the position in the Australian Capital Territory, where the Attorney-General himself is responsible. There is on the statute-book here a discriminatory law that could be amended almost by the stroke of a pen. The law to which I refer is the Aborigines Welfare Ordinance 1954 - Ordinance No. 8 of 1954. Section 7 (1 .) reads-
The Minister may, if he is of opinion that an aboriginal or a person apparently having an admixture of aboriginal blood -
The definition contained in the expression “ apparently having an admixture of aboriginal blood “ includes almost everybody who has any trace of aboriginal ancestry - (a)…….
Can that be done in respect of any individual in Australia other than an aboriginal? Of course it cannot. The due processes of the law do not apply to the aboriginal people in this Territory as they apply to other people. That provision is discriminatory. Yet it appears in a Commonwealth law though it could be removed without the slightest difficulty. The first point that I want to make is that, even in this Territory, discrimination exists. At Easter, there gathered in Canberra a conference of aboriginal people who came from all over Australia and who live under the cloak of laws different from those applied to any other person who visits this Territory. Nobody with any sense of Australianism or any sense of a true national spirit can support this kind of discrimination. That is the position that exists to-day.
This involves no legal quibble about whether alteration of the Constitution is difficult. We know that it is difficult to alter the Constitution and that the people of Australia have often rejected referendums. But not often have they faced one that they could approach with so clear a conscience as that with which they could tackle a referendum on the present issue. I am prepared to believe that, given the will, the Attorney-General could easily draft an amendment of the Australian Capital Territory law that would comply with the requirements of the situation. He could deal with the position that exists right here, where he is responsible, not in the Northwest of Western Australia, in Queensland or in Victoria. This is a law that must be changed. But the law is even worse in other places. 1 said earlier that no aboriginal person may be free while this body of law exists in Australia. No aboriginal person can feel as free and as absolutely equal to every other citizen as he should while this provision remains on the statute book. I will read section 127 again. It says -
In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted.
It has been my duty to go overseas on behalf of this Parliament in the recent past and I will do so again. The matter we are now debating is the basis of questions that are always raised overseas. No matter how we argue, no matter how many legal quibbles we raise, the fact that this provision remains in the Constitution of Australia besmirches our fair name and reputation with any one who cares to read it, and it is under close examination in all parts of the world.
I will overlook for the moment the question of whether this provision affects distribution and the number of members of this House. The simple fact is that we are dealing with people. I am not concerned with anything but people, and here we have 100,000 of them who live under a law that is different from the law that applies to every one else in Australia. As I said before, no aboriginal can be absolutely free. The last arrived migrant stepping off the ship is freer than the truest, bluest, if I may use that term, Australian aboriginal once he steps into Queensland. Let us examine for a moment the Queensland law. I understand that the Queensland Government is in the process of removing it. The definition of aborigines is quite extensive and I will not bore the House by reading the whole of it. It includes -
Any aboriginal native of the mainland of Australia or of any islands in the territorial jurisdiction of Australia;
So it does not matter that aborigines are free citizens in Victoria. They are free as Victorians while they are in Victoria, but the moment they step into Queensland this law applies to them. The law gives the Director of Native Affairs absolute, unqualified and unchallengeable power over every person of aboriginal blood who steps into Queensland. Let there be no doubt about it; that is positively the position. The Director of Native Affairs has absolute authority. Honorable members may go through the acts and the regulations; they are Draconian.
In Queensland, the Director of Native Affairs may remove an aboriginal to a reserve and the aboriginal has no appeal. The aboriginal cannot seek a writ of habeas corpus nor can he claim the rights set out in Magna Carta. The ancient and treasured traditional rights of every other citizen, whether born in Australia or only recently arrived here, do not apply to aboriginal persons. This is the position of all aborigines, whether they are my good friends who come here, Pastor Nicholls or Captain Reg Saunders. The moment they step into Queensland they are subject to this law. Whether the law is applied does not matter; it is still there and can be applied to them. Once an aboriginal person goes to a reserve, he may be required by the superintendent to work for up to 32 hours a week without remuneration.
The Attorney-General said that there is no discrimination. Of course there is discrimination. I have never at any time claimed that this law arose out of malice, that anybody was malicious or that the law was the result of racial prejudice. As the
Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Attorney-General himself said, this is the result of historical development. But the historical development from protection to suppression has been inevitable and gradual and must be removed. All we are asking here to-day is that, first, the discriminatory provision in the Constitution be removed by referendum. I would remind honorable members that this provision places the aboriginal people in an almost impossible position. It is not a question of whether they are conscious of it; a great many of them are.
I will bring to the attention of the House a schedule of the acts and laws that are applicable to the aboriginal people of Australia. It was prepared last year. I must apologize for being unable to provide a copy of it to all those who may want a copy. It is not precisely up-to-date, because radical amendments have been made in Western Australia in the last few months. Some seven laws apply to the aboriginal people. There is one in New South Wales, two in Queensland - one for the Queensland aborigines and one for the Torres Strait islanders - an ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory, various ordinances in the Northern Territory and laws in Western Australia and South Australia. That makes a total of seven. Then there is the welfare act in Victoria. Innumerable differences occur in the definition of aborigines in these laws. I have often said that if an aboriginal is to move with any sense of freedom around this country he needs a staff of three. He needs a lawyer to be able to interpret the laws and to say whether they apply to him. He needs a navigator to tell him whether he is in an area where a law applies and to say when he has crossed the dotted line. He needs an anthropologist to say whether he fits into a definition. This is the nonsense of complexity that we have imposed upon these people.
I speak in this House with a deep sense of appreciation of what is involved. I do not think at any time since I have been interested in this subject have I deliberately made political capital out of it. My party and I have not been necessarily conscious of doing so at any time we have raised any question relating to aborigines. I had not taken much cognizance of this subject until I entered the Parliament and had a chance to move around and see what is happening. This is a question that must be answered by this Parliament as a gathering of free Australians. Why are not the aboriginal people free and full Australians? In the Commonwealth electoral law, we say that they are. We say that they are in the Australian Capital Territory. We do not say that they are in the Northern Territory, but the various ordinances there should be rescinded.
I have no time for the difficulties raised by the Attorney-General. There can be no difficulties whatsoever, legalistic or otherwise, in the removal of these laws. Let us consider the suggestion that the removal of the words mentioned in section 51 will produce discrimination against the aboriginal people in such a way that they will suffer serious disadvantages. Every person in this country, including migrants who may just have stepped ashore, come under Commonwealth law except aborigines. How can we tolerate this situation? How can we explain it? How can we ease our conscience by legalistic arguments? The question of laws applicable to the aboriginal people involves our conscience and our status before the world at large. I would remind honorable members that the position in New Zealand, in Sweden with the Laplanders and in the United States is completely different. The whole body of the laws in those countries has been based upon a different concept. The aim in those countries has been to develop free citizens with absolute rights. For instance, this is the situation of American Indians -
American Indians to-day are participating citizens in our democracy, free to develop in any way they wish, either within their tribal organizations or as individuals living off their reserved lands as ordinary members of our communities.
That is not the situation of the Australian aborigines. We have a body of law that applies to an aboriginal person who moves from one State to another. The average Australian is a free-moving citizen. He can move from Victoria to Queensland without let or hindrance. I do not at the moment suggest that the Queensland law .is applied generally to visiting aboriginal people, but I have seen examples of social discrimination that have arisen out of it in the last two years. These relate to the vexed questions of drinking and going into hotels. Social and administrative discrimination can be removed only if there is no legal discrimination. Many results flow from this legal discrimination. First, there is social discrimination. I do not want to raise here the question of drink and all the issues that go with it. But if the question of drink is raised and prohibitive laws are passed about it, people are not willing to associate with any one who looks as if he might be an aboriginal because if they did they could be held to be breaking the law. Different standards are likely to apply to housing and there is discrimination in other social and administrative questions.
This is the point that we put to the House: It is the clear issue of the clarification of the Australian law to make all Australians equal before the Commonwealth’s bounty. This is the point I want to make to the Attorney-General and to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), who will follow me in this debate. Surely no one would doubt that the Commonwealth has much greater resources at its disposal with which to tackle any social problem than any State or any aggregation of States has. This is a question for the nation. It happens that there are few aboriginal people in Victoria. I think there are only 3,500 there. But there are thousands in Queensland and thousands in Western Australia. The Western Australian Government has not the resources it needs to tackle the problem. The duty to do this devolves upon the Victorian taxpayer and legislator just as much as it does on the Western Australian taxpayer and legislator. We must bring the Commonwealth’s resources to bear on this problem. This can be done only if the Commonwealth accepts more responsibility. I think we can deal with this problem in the way that we have dealt with repatriation. The Repatriation Act covers ex-service men and women from various wars in respect of housing, medical benefits, pensions, land settlement and education for their children. That is the kind of system that we would envisage being applied to the aborigines - a system that is not prohibitive or restrictive but which confers some benefits. The word “ discriminatory “ has been used in this debate. I suppose every piece of legislation which confers a benefit, whether it be child endowment or a subsidy on butter, is discriminatory if we give to the word the meaning given to it by the Attorney-General.
There are no difficulties associated with doing the things that I have urged. This is an urgent matter. It has been raised in this place year after year. There is a great body of conscience all over Australia demanding that something be done along the lines I have suggested. I have no doubt that the Attorney-General, despite my disagreement with him in the last 24 hours over various matters, has the ability, given the will, to draw up the necessary amendments. I think I can give a guarantee from this side of the House that the 50 per cent, of Australians who vote for the Labour Party will support those amendments and I would think also that the large number of people which supports the Liberal and Country Parties will do so also. If we can divorce ourselves from feeling that this is a matter from which some party political advantage may be gained and look at it instead as something which affects the nation’s honour and 100,000 people, I am sure that we can take an historic step. If we give the people an opportunity to express their views on this matter at a referendum, I am almost certain that the referendum will be carried; and we may at the same time engender in the people of Australia a new attitude towards Commonwealth constitutional reform. If we are looking for a piece of legislation with which to tackle this vexed question there is no better way to start than with this bill.
– The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) introduced a great deal of emotion into the debate. I do not think he contributed very much of a materia* nature. As Minister for Territories I am very interested in the matters that have been brought forward. Possibly the only point in the speech of the honorable member for Wills on which 1 can agree is his suggestion that we on this side of the House also are interested in the affairs of the aborigines. This is true, because during my predecessor’s term of office great advances were made in the areas where the aborigines are controlled by the Commonwealth. I think the Commonwealth has given a valuable lead to the States in this matter. Measures have been taken in all States to rectify practices that may be considered discriminatory.
First let me refer to clause 3 of the bill which reads -
The Constitution is altered by repealing section one hundred and twenty-seven.
I would agree with my colleague, the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), who said that that section as it exists to-day is something of an anachronism. In a sense it is a discrimination against the aboriginal from the point of view of his status. I think the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) indicated that by way of interjection. He said that an aboriginal could be Prime Minister of Australia but could not be counted in the census. If an aboriginal has the right to be Prime Minister of Australia it indicates a considerable advance in his status. I agree that there is merit in the claim that section 127 of the Constitution should be eliminated, but that would not affect the political status of the aboriginal. He now has a vote. He may accept office in the Commonwealth Parliament. The historical fact is that when the Constitution was framed it was no easy matter to take a census in which the aborigines were counted. Of course, conditions have changed. I have heard honorable members opposite say in this House - I think the honorable member for Wills has made the statement outside the House - that cattle and sheep are counted for the purposes of annual statistics but not aborigines. That is incorrect. Aborigines are counted, but they are not included in determining the size of the population.
As the Attorney-General has said, I think there is a good case for the elimination of section 127; but I am not sure that it would be a good idea to hold a referendum immediately on this issue. After all, referendums are very expensive propositions. It costs hundreds of thousands of pounds to hold a referendum. I do not know whether the community should be asked to bear such an expense simply to remove from the Constitution a section which does not affect the political status of aborigines.
Clause 2 of the bill states -
Section fifty-one of the Constitution is altered by omitting from paragraph (xxvi.) the words “, other than the aboriginal race in any State,”.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) gave the historical background to the inclusion of that section in the Constitution.
The historical situation has changed since the Constitution was framed. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out quite rightly that when the Constitution was framed the large numbers of aliens in the country were of very great concern to sections of the community. The honorable gentleman referred to the kanakas. I do not think he referred to the Chinese. The kanakas were brought into Australia in thousands during the latter part of last century to work on the sugar plantations of Queensland, but there was also a tremendous influx of Chinese to the goldfields in Queensland and, earlier in the century, to the goldfields in New South Wales and in Victoria. Those were matters of great concern to the community. When section 51 was framed these matters were uppermost in the minds of the people who framed the Constitution. The situation affected different States in different ways.
Sir Samuel Griffith, who was chairman of the committee which drafted the Constitution, was a Queenslander, and obviously this was a matter of great concern to him. The position of the aboriginal was a secondary consideration. The important matter to consider was this large population of aliens which in some communities, such as sugargrowing areas and the goldfields in certain States, represented a very large percentage of the overall population. If honorable members wish to pursue this aspect further I refer them to the excellent history of north Queensland titled “ A Thousand Miles Away “, which gives a very clear picture of the attitude in north Queensland in the latter part of last century. By removing the words “ other than the aboriginal race in any State “ from paragraph (xxvi.) of section 51 the Commonwealth would have power to legislate in affairs concerning aborigines in the various States. As the Attorney-General pointed out, there would be concurrent power in the sense that the State law would prevail unless legislation were enacted by the Federal Parliament. He gave reasons for and against changing section 51. 1 think he gave excellent reasons why it should not be changed. He is supported in that line of thought. For instance, the report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, presented in 1929, states, in relation to this section -
We do not recommend that section SI be amended so as to empower the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to aborigines.
We recognize that the effect of the treatment of aborigines on the reputation of Australia furnishes a powerful argument for a transference of control to the Commonwealth. But we think that on (he whole the States are better equipped for controlling aborigines than the Commonwealth. The Slates control the police and the lands, and they to a large extent control the conditions of industry. We think that a Commonwealth authority would be at a disadvantage in dealing with the aborigines, and that the States are better qualified to do so.
The Attorney-General also mentioned that the report of the Constitutional Review Commitee, made in 1959, showed that the committee had considered this matter. However, no recommendation was made, which indicated that the committee was not of the same opinion as the 1929 royal commission. There is great merit in that opinion.
The Attorney-General pointed out the differences and the many factors that exist in the various States. The States have control of education, health, lands and many other matters, and the methods of control vary from State to State. It would be virtually impossible for the Commonwealth to enact laws which would be fair to the aborigines in all the States, because the conditions of aborigines in the various States are so different. Tasmania has no aborigines; Victoria has only about 141; and Queensland and Western Australia are the States with the largest aboriginal populations.
I believe that we are progressing towards the removal of these points of discrimination. Quite recently a bill was introduced in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory for the elimination of all the discriminations against aborigines in that Territory, except the provisions in relation to aboriginal reserves. I do not think even honorable members opposite would suggest that we should remove those provisions. Also, as I mentioned before, the States are following the lead of the Commonwealth. There is no need for the removal of these words from section 5 1 .
I refer honorable members to a statement of policy approved at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Darwin on 1 1th and 12th July, 1963. This is very important. The Commonwealth and the States agreed on this statement of policy. I will read a section of it which I believe covers this matter. Under the heading “The Meaning of the Policy of Assimilation “, it states -
The policy of assimilation means that all Aborigines and part-Aborigines will attain the same manner of living as other Australians and live as members of a single Australian community enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibilities, observing the same customs and influenced by the same beliefs, hopes and loyalties as other Australians.
– Order! As it is now two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, this debate is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr. Hulme) agreed to -
That the time for the discussion of Notices he extended until 12.45 p.m.
– The statement of policy continues -
Any special measures taken for Aborigines ana Dart-Aborigines are regarded as temporary measures, not based on race, but intended to meet weir need for special care and assistance to protect them from any ill effects of sudden change and to assist them to make the transition from one stage to another in such a way as will bc favorable to their social, economic and political advancement.
The Commonwealth is doing everything possible to carry out that statement of policy. That is indicated in the bill that was introduced recently in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. I believe that there are grounds for the repeal of section 127; but I do not see the need for holding a special referendum. I certainly believe that the suggested alteration of section 51 is not acceptable. That belief was supported by the 1929 royal commission.
.- The Constitution of the Commonwealth has three ways of describing the people whom it unites in an “ indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the crown of the United Kingdom “. It describes them as subjects of the Queen, as people of a State and as people of the Commonwealth. The Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines, which was appointed by this House some years ago and of which both the present Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) and I were members, rested its case for the granting of Commonwealth voting rights to aborigines on the ground that they certainly were subjects of the Queen, that they certainly were people of a State and that they certainly were people of the Commonwealth.
That they were subjects of the Queen does not seem to have been disputed anywhere, unless we take the recently repealed legislation of the State of Western Australia as a case in point. In that State, aborigines applying for something that was called “ citizenship rights “ - they were exclusively Western Austraiian citizenship rights, whatever that means - were said to have conferred upon them the rights, privileges and immunities of a natural-born subject of the Queen. That was completely unintelligible legislation, as they were natural-born subjects of the Queen already. No representative of Western Australia could explain to the select committee why that State wanted to put aborigines through a process akin to naturalization. That is the only procedure that ever appeared to dispute that aborigines were subjects of the Queen.
There never was any dispute that aborigines were people of a State; and we members of the select committee, for the sake of our report, also said that they were people of the Commonwealth. But section 127 of the Constitution casts some doubt on that. It states -
In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives shall not be counted. 1 would say that the reasoning of the select committee was this refinement: Aborigines are people of the Commonwealth, but they are not numbered among the people of the Commonwealth; section 127 is a census provision.
When I was in India in 1954 a certain Australian Communist lady correctly quoted this section of the Constitution in many parts of India, and interpreted it as meaning that the Australian Constitution declared that aborigines were not people. If we go to an Asian or African country and start to explain this section of the Constitution by attempting to say that it is a census matter only, people will reply that it seems to say in black and white that in numbering the people of the Commonwealth aboriginal natives - the original inhabitants of the territory now occupied by the Commonwealth of Australia - shall not be counted. The section serves no useful purpose.
At the Constitution conventions, apart from the census question, the section was sustained by other outmoded arguments, such as one advanced by Mr. Walker in answering Dr. Cockburn, the leader of the South Australian delegation, who feared that it would take Australian aborigines off the South Australian roll. Mr. Walker said -
I would point out to Dr. Cockburn that one point in connexion with this matter is that when we come to divide the expenses of the Federal Government per capita, if he leaves out the aboriginals South Australia will have much less to pay, whilst if they are counted South Australia will have so much more to pay.
Quite clearly, that consideration which helped to persuade the framers of the Constitution at that time does not apply to-day. There is nothing to be said about section 127 except that it should be eliminated because any aborigine who reads it must construe it simply as a declaration that he is not one of the people of the Commonwealth. I cannot see that it serves any purpose. Its deletion would cause no controversy, so far as I can see, in any State. I cannot see any State government fighting hard against the counting of aborigines in a federal census. No State interest would be infringed if the section were abolished, but there are involved the very important consideration of the international standing of this country and the even more important consideration that some people of the aboriginal race construe the section as an insult.
As for the other section of the Constitution, let us consider the period when the Commonwealth Constitution was framed. Do not let us delude ourselves that in the late nineteenth century the process of the granting of self-government to the white community of Australia meant anything other for the status of the aborigine than a decline. He had a much better chance when the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London exercised great power than he did after the colonies were granted selfgovernment. The former Minister for Territories, the Honorable Paul Hasluck, has written a book, which I think was his thesis for his Master of Arts degree, called “ Black Australians”. He establishes the conflict on the whole question of the status of aborigines between the government in the United Kingdom and the colonial authorities which colonial authorities subsequently became the self-governing authorities of the colony of Western Australia in the 1890’s.
The Secretary of State for the Colonies remonstrated again and again with the Governor of Western Australia pointing out that aborigines were subjects of the Queen and must be given equality of treatment with white people.
When section 51, placitum (xxvi) was before the closing stages of the constitutional convention in 1898 there was discussion about this matter. Sir John Forrest spoke for Western Australia, which was moving towards the taking away of voting rights of aborigines which had been included originally in the constitution of Western Australia by the United Kingdom. Rights had been granted all British subjects. The constitutions granted to every State provided, in their original forms, for the voting rights of aborigines included as British subjects. The aborigines lost those voting rights only when the self-governing colonies by deliberate enactment took them away, as Western Australia did around 1903. Confronted with section 51, placitum (xxvi.) of the Constitution, which provides that the Commonwealth shall have the right to legislate for the people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws, Sir John Forrest said -
I cannot for the life of me see why we should desire to give the Federal Parliament the control of any person, whatever may be his nationality or his colour, who is living in a State. Surely the State can look after its own affairs. It may require to place a restriction on a certain class of people.
Years later, the Commonwealth Government began the move to lift restrictions on the voting rights of aborigines, the Western Australian Parliament followed. Yet Commonwealth authority was often conceived as “ inimical “, as a control, as a “power “.
It seems to me that two concepts have been played with throughout this debate. One is the concept of discrimination and the other is the concept of assimilation. I am not against discrimination. It depends on the nature of the discrimination. Almost all of our laws are discriminatory. We say to the man who has been wounded at the war, “ We discriminate for you under the Repatriation Act.” The Repatriation Act is discriminatory because it legislates for a special category of persons with a special category of needs. The legislation by which the Government says to a young person in a university or in an advanced technical school, with certain qualifications, “ We meet your special needs “, is discriminatory legislation.
In 1931 when Arthur Blakeley and Mr. Scullin granted certain large aboriginal reserves in the Northern Territory - the aborigines were in the tribal state and the Government did not want the aborigines interfered with at that stage - that was discrimination. I do not run away from the word “ discrimination “ simply because most people construe the word as meaning hostile discrimination. I claim that aborigines have special needs. I have the utmost respect for the former Minister for Territories and, from my experience with the present Minister on two select committees, I have the utmost respect for the present Minister for Territories. I respect their policies also but do not let us start deceiving ourselves that what is happening in the Northern Territory is some new revelation from heaven.
If you read the “ Medical Journal of Australia” you will find that at a point in the 1950’s in our glorious Northern Territory the incidence of leprosy among aborigines was the highest in the world - higher in this wealthy country than in the most backward nations of Africa. There is a high incidence of yaws, there is a high incidence of hookworm, and while our European community has an infant mortality rate of 22 for each 1,000 births, there are certain government settlements in the Northern Territory where, according to the latest information I have, there is a rate of 208 deaths among each 1,000 births.
– That is of infants.
– Infant mortality. A tremendous amount must be done. These features have not come into parliamentary reports. You can sometimes find these facts if you go to such publications as the “ Medical Journal of Australia “. You can sometimes find them if you study the research done by students of the Australian National University; you can see demographic figures if you read F. LancasterJones’s “ Demographic Survey of Aborigines in the Northern Territory”. But I am afraid there is a constant tendency to lull the Parliament as if we were old ladies who need to have smelling salts held to our nose so that we can believe that everything in the Northern Territory garden is becoming indubitably lovely.
The Constitution was framed at a decisive period. In the nineteenth century tribal peoples such as the Red Indians had been destroyed by liquor, gun-running, by drugs and by prostitution, and the protective concept of legislation was developed. However, this concept is being removed in the Northern Territory where some glorious new liberty is supposed to be descending upon the aborigines because a few fringe dwellers among them may legally drink - they are already illegally doing that - and because their women can offer themselves to white men without the white men being prosecuted or having to marry them. The removal of this kind of discrimination, once conceived as protection, does not mean that the fundamental needs of the people concerned are being met. We were approaching this transitional stage in 1901, but had not reached it, before the League of Nations stated the concept when it provided that mandatory powers had to guarantee to protect their mandated protected peoples from drink, drugs, gun-running and prostitution.
We have, therefore, in the Commonwealth Constitution, a very clear idea expressed that the States were to be allowed to continue their restrictions. Sir John Forrest implied that all race questions like the aboriginal question ought to be for the States. So it was enacted. It may be that we will never change the Constitution. One of your predecessors in office, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as Mr. Speaker, once defined a referendum to me as the process of an appeal from those who know or who ought to know to those who do not know and do not want to find out. Tt may be that the technicalities of a referendum are very difficult to argue before the general public, but whatever the difficulties one terrible fact remains: irrespective of who has control over aborigines only one government is answerable before the forum of international opinion - the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. In the forum of international opinion - the United Nations - no one will raise Western Australia’s policy or Queensland’s policy but the delegates of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia will have to answer for Australia’s attitude. The United Nations increasingly is looking into domestic questions. That is why we would like to have removed from the Constitution the prohibition against the Commonwealth’s legislating for aborigines outside the Territories because, irrespective of whether or not we have the power, we will answer before world opinion for whatever goes on in our aboriginal affairs.
– Order! The time allotted for precedence of General Business has expired. The honorable member for Fremantle will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. Resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under General Business for the next day of sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Mr. Snedden) agreed to - 71 at so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Yarra, on making an acceptable apology to Mr. Speaker, returning to the House. (The honorable member for Yarra having taken his place in the House) -
– Order! I think the condition was that there would be some form of apology.
– Mr. Speaker, I desire to apologize to you personally and in your office as Speaker.
– That is acceptable.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), in a question to me this morning, asked me if I would, using the resources available to me, check the accuracy of my statement that Ralph Gibson was on a platform with the honorable member for Yarra. I have made inquiries and find that the statement was not accurate. Ralph Gibson was not on the platform with the honorable member for Yarra.
– What about the position of the honorable member for Reid?
– That is a different matter.
– I ask for leave to make a statement, Mr. Speaker.
– Are you initiating a debate on this?
– Order! The honorable member has asked for leave to make a statement on the subject that has been disposed of.
– I think the AttorneyGeneral has made a statement which, by inference, was made by leave. You, Mr. Speaker, had already re-admitted the honorable member for Yarra before the AttorneyGeneral spoke. The Attorney-General asked for leave to move a motion. He obtained leave, moved his motion and it was carried. Then the honorable member for Yarra made an apology and you readmitted him.
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cannot make a statement on the same matter.
– I wish to comment on the statement of the Attorney-General.
– Mr. Speaker, will you ascertain whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition proposes to comment on these issues?
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is seeking leave to make a statement. I suggest to him that he outline to the House briefly the subject on which he wishes to make a statement.
– I seek leave of the House to make a statement on the statement that the Attorney-General has just made - the statement in which the Attorney-General withdrew a statement he had made about an honorable member.
– Order! Is leave granted?
– If I may just comment on this, I feel that the proper procedure is for the honorable gentleman to avail himself of the opportunity afforded by the motion for the adjournment of the House. There are other members on both sides of the House who would wish to discuss this matter. It is not disposed of by any means despite the action that has now been taken. If the honorable gentleman wishes to make a political discussion of it, then there are others who would participate.
– 1 do not seek the leave of the House to make a statement concerning the incidents out of which various speeches have been made on the adjournment, questions have been asked and other matters have resulted. I merely wish the leave of the House to make a statement on the fact that the Attorney-General, lightly, made a comment here on facts which he now admits were not accurate.
– Order! Is leave granted?
Government supporters. - No.
– You can speak on the adjournment debate.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask about the position of the honorable member for Reid.
– The position is that the honorable member for Reid has been suspended from the service of the House for failing to pay respect to the Chair and for disobeying the Chair. He is in a different position from that of the honorable member for Yarra.
– As the honorable member for Reid was suspended from the service of the House because of the same subjectmatter, if I may put it that way, will you afford him like opportunity to that which you afforded the honorable member for Yarra, to re-enter the House and make a suitable apology?
– This matter is one for the House to decide.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to move a motion to enable the honorable member for Reid, on making an acceptable apology to Mr. Speaker, to return to the House.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Mr. Snedden) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Reid, on making an acceptable apology to Mr. Speaker, returning to the House. (The honorable member for Reid having taken his place in the House) -
– I apologize to you personally, Mr. Speaker, and in your office as Speaker.
– Is that acceptable, Mr. Speaker?
– That is acceptable.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes amendments to certain provisions of the income tax law. These are provisions that permit deductions, in specified circumstances, for share capital subscribed to petroleum exploration companies, and to other companies whose principal business is mining o? prospecting for minerals other than gold, uranium or oil. The deductions are available if the company lodges with the Commissioner of Taxation a declaration that the capital received by it has been expended, or will be expended, in mining or prospecting. It is necessary for the commissioner to be satisfied that the company has spent, or intends to spend, the money in this way. The provisions that now authorize the deductions are due to terminate on 30th June, 1964. It is proposed to extend the period of their operation for a further three years to 30th June, 1967. Other amendments proposed by the bill follow a review by the Government of the general scope of the provisions.
One matter considered in the review is the sale of mining or prospecting rights to petroleum exploration companies and other mining or prospecting companies. Money spent by a company in buying these rights is not accepted as being expended in actual mining or prospecting. A person who sells these rights to a company in return for paid-up shares is not entitled to an income tax deduction for the value of the shares. On the other hand, if, instead, a person transfers the rights for cash with an obligation to subscribe for shares, a deduction may bc available.
This can happen although the person has done no more than hand back to the company the money it has paid to him.
In substance the effect of the two types of transaction I have described is the same. There is not, in either case, any real contribution to moneys available to the company for mining or prospecting purposes. In these circumstances, it is anomalous that a deduction should be available in one case and not in the other.
There is, however, another factor which, I may say, the Government has regarded as highly important in its review of this part of the law. When a sale of rights is arranged so that the seller can obtain a deduction for moneys he has handed back to the company, deductions otherwise available to members of the general public usually have to be reduced. The Government has concluded that these arrangements tend to detract from the incentive for the general public to subscribe capital to mining and prospecting companies.
It is proposed by the bill to amend the law so that a vendor of rights does not become entitled to a deduction through an arrangement to receive moneys from a company and return them to the company as share capital. This amendment will encourage companies to make declarations enabling members of the general public to obtain deductions for the full amount of capital subscribed by them. It is proposed that the amendment should also apply to the sale of technical information about mining or prospecting areas, and to the sale of shares in a company that owns rights or technical information.
Honorable members will recall that the provisions authorizing deductions for share capital subscribed to petroleum exploration companies were amended last year. One purpose of these amendments was to make it clear that the provisions do not apply to capital spent by a company to purchase mining or prospecting rights or technical information about mining or prospecting areas. This bill proposes a corresponding clarification of the provisions that apply to capital subscribed to other mining or prospecting companies.
A further amendment proposed by the bill affects an exemption from tax available to shareholders in a prospecting company. This exemption applies to dividends that the company pays out of income derived from the sale of certain rights to mine. This income is, 1 should mention, exempt from tax in the hands of the company itself. When these dividends were made exempt many years ago, the shareholders in a prospecting company were not entitled to deductions for capital subscribed to the company.
It has now been found that the two concessions together may confer a benefit on shareholders that was not intended when the deductions were introduced. This may happen when a company spends capital on mining or prospecting on rights that it then sells. When this occurs the shareholders may be entitled to tax-free dividends as well as to deductions for capital that has, in effect, been spent in producing the dividends. To prevent this double benefit the Government has considered it the best course to reduce the amount of exempt dividends by the amount of capital spent on mining or prospecting on the rights. The reduction will apply, of course, only when shareholders have been allowed deductions for the amount of the capital. The bill contains the necessary amendment to give effect to this decision of the Government.
The provisions of the bill are explained in more detail in a memorandum to be circulated to honorable members, and I do not propose to comment at any greater length at this stage. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: - Construction of a Regional Laboratory for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Shenton Park, Western Australia.
The proposal submitted to the committee involved the erection, at an estimated cost of £464,000, of a four-story reinforced concrete frame building with a single-story wing providing a library and entrance. The building will accommodate facilities and services for primary industrial research. The committee reported favorably on the proposal but recommended that air conditioning at present confined to special purpose rooms, should be extended to the whole of the building at an additional cost of £73,000. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning for the work can proceed in accordance with the committee’s recommendation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 12th May (vide page 1796), on motion by Mr. Bury -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill arises out of a statement made to the people of Australia during the last federal election campaign by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that he would do two things to assist those young people who are desirous of entering into a state of holy matrimony to purchase a home. The bill proposes to implement one of the promises made by the Prime Minister. I refer to his promise to provide for the payment of a subsidy of up to £250, on the basis of £1 subsidy for every £3 saved by the young couple, provided the money so saved is used for the purchase of a home. We are still waiting for the implementation of the Prime Minister’s second promise, which was that the Government would establish a mortgage insurance corporation which would issue insurance cover on mortgages for a high proportion of the value of the house and land. According to the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) there are some difficulties in the way of preparing the necessary legislation for that corporation and I feel sure, having regard to the rumours that are circulating around the corridors of this House with regard to the commencement of the coming winter recess, that it will be some considerable time before such legislation is introduced. The Minister has stated that there are difficulties associated with the drafting of the bill. As one who realizes that housing is one of the most pressing social problems confronting the nation, I hope that the difficulties are not insuperable because I hold the view that anything that can be done to assist people either to purchase a home or to pay a deposit on a home that they will ultimately own is very worth while. Indeed, anything at all that can bc done to assist in solving this most pressing problem is well worth considering.
With the increase which is taking place in Australia’s population, both by way of natural increase and as a result of the Government’s extensive immigration programme, housing is a very pressing problem indeed. We know from the statistics that are available that the housing situation is quite unsatisfactory. The last census revealed that at least 170,000 families - not individuals, but families comprising in most cases a mother, father and some children - are living in sheds, huts or shared houses. The shared houses would be the least undesirable of those three types of accommodation, but a shared house is still not a satisfactory place for a married couple to bring up their children. Honorable members will appreciate that th: need to improve the housing situation is most pressing.
When this homes savings proposal was put to the Australian electors last year a very brief statement was made, but it was not explained in any way. No amplification of the proposal was given. It was just one of those nice baits that are thrown out to the people. I suppose the electors could not help swallowing the bait, because it seemed that something for nothing would bc available to all people under 36 years of agc. It turned out that such was not the case. Whilst some sections of the community will gain some advantage from this proposal, young people and others in the community will not receive the service or assistance from the scheme that a government determined to attack the housing problem should be providing. Many things have beenleft out of the bill. For instance, much more could be done to solve this very pressing problem. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who led the debate on behalf of the Opposition on Tuesday night, made a brilliant and effective speech in the limited time available to him. To some degree he summed up the policy of the Australian Labour Party and offered criticisms of the imperfections in this bill. As you know, Mr. Speaker, I come from a very lovely city called Brisbane, in the north of Australia. The people who live in that city, including the constituency that I have the honour to represent, are faced with very pressing housing problems. My electorate includes an older part of the city. In that area many young people are ready to leave the parental nest and establish their own homes. They are seeking land and need assistance to purchase land and homes. Consequently, this bill is of great interest to them. As their representative, the bill has caused me some concern.
I have no doubt that when I return to my constituency at the end of the week I will receive many inquiries regarding the application of this measure and how people will be affected by it. I am afraid that quite a number of people will be disappointed. I might add, for the benefit of the limited audience that I have in the House at the moment, that I have not given up hope that I might qualify as an applicant under this bill. However, I find that although the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) has been very generous with the provisions of the bill, it would appear that I must search the age group of from 25 to 30 for a partner to enable me to obtain some benefit from his generosity. I am quite optimistic.
I regret very much that no provision has been made by the Government to attack the existing problem of slum clearance. This is something that could be done. This matter was referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday night. Over the years, many houses that were built prior to World War I. have been converted into shared houses or flats, and the standard of accommodation is not always satisfactory. In using that description I believe I am being charitable. The Commonwealth Statistician made that position very clear in his census report when he stated that 170,000 families in Australia are living in sub-standard conditions.
It is true that the bill proposes that the Government shall provide a subsidy of £1 for every £3 saved by a couple, provided that the money is deposited in a homes savings account. The purpose of the bill is quite clearly to encourage thrift by people who are perhaps contemplating the greatest step of their life - marriage. They deserve every encouragement. I feel that in practice the policy of the Australian Labour Party would have been much better. I am not crying over the fact that the Labour policy is not being imple mented, because I am a democrat and I accept the will of the people. Nevertheless, I believe that in due course the people will realize that the policy of the Australian Labour Party in the field of housing development would have been much more acceptable in the long run.
– And much more beneficial, too.
– Yes, it would have been much more beneficial, as the honorable member for Watson says. A great deal of analysis of the proposal before the House has appeared in the daily press throughout Australia. I have taken the trouble to read leading articles and letters that have been published on this subject. I have found that it is generally agreed that the £250 subsidy, which those fortunate enough to qualify will receive, will be absorbed in cost increases caused by inflation. The people will ultimately receive no benefit at all; they will have to meet added costs caused by the inflation which has developed under this Government. Since 1949, when this Government came into office, there has been an enormous increase in the cost of land and in the cost of home-building. No effort has been made by the Government to keep these costs in check.
There are two items which, to my way of thinking, contribute enormously to the increased cost of home construction. The first and basic one is the cost imposed on a block of land by the local authority for the development of that block. In many cities to-day the cost of developing the land is borne entirely by the person who purchases the land. Some few years ago it was the responsibility of the local authority to supply water reticulation, drainage, paved road surfaces and sewerage - all those amenities that go with the modern city - but the trend to-day is to insist on the subdivider paying the cost of those improvements. That means that the subdivider is merely the channel through which the money passes to the local authority. The person who ultimately purchases the land pays the cost of all the capital works. In my home city of Brisbane every block of land that is sub-divided now has placed upon it a surcharge of £200 for the cost of sewerage. The sub-divider must build water channelling and provide drainage for the estate. He must put down a paved bitumen roadway and dedicate to the municipality for parkland purposes a certain percentage of the area to be subdivided. These factors all add to the cost of the land and it has been estimated that every block of land that is sub-divided now in Brisbane has placed on it a loaded charge of £400.
It is idle to say that the sub-divider bears the charge. Because of the shortage of blocks of land close to the centres of cities land purchasers must pay the prices demanded by the sellers. The cost of land has thus forced up the price of housing. On the other hand the present system of building contracting has caused many subcontractors to enter the field of house construction. Instead of one contractor gaining a profit from the construction of a house, sometimes up to six contractors have to be paid not only for the costs of the materials used and wages for themselves and employees, but also a considerable amount of profit. The increased costs of housing construction should be concerning the Government. They are certainly worrying people who are trying to buy homes. The subsidy of £250 to be approved under this bill will go only part of the way towards meeting the increased costs caused by inflation. Land prices have risen by leaps and bounds in recent times. I wish to draw the attention of honorable members to prices in some of the suburban areas in Brisbane for blocks for home construction. I think it is fairly safe to say that a comparison of advertisements in the newspapers of capital cities shows that land in Brisbane is cheaper than in any other capital city with the possible exception of Perth.
I shall quote from an advertisement for the sale of a block of land of 16 perches in the suburb of Hawthorne, which is in my electorate. The block is about four miles from the General Post Office, is close to a river, has a northerly aspect and sewerage is available. The cost of the block is £1,500, which is quite a large sum to pay for a block of land on which to erect a single unit dwelling. The same situation applies in other suburbs. I have here another advertisement which is a credit to the advertising copywriters of the land agent concerned. It is headed “ Seeing Is Believing “ and states -
Lovely Salisbury home site, high and level, classic view of ranges, 60 miles distant, 55’ frontage, bit. rd., concrete kerb and channelling. Area of imaginative contemporary homes.
Although the advertisement docs not say so, sewerage is not available. The cost of this block of land, six miles from the Brisbane G.P.O., is £850. Young people contemplating marriage find the cost of land quite frightening. To be within reasonable distance of the heart of a city it is essential to pay inflated costs for land for home building. Quite recently an article was published in one of Australia’s leading journals which assessed the merits of the bill before us. The article states -
For the first time housing is being subsidized. Does that indicate failure or success? To the Federal Government, it is a means of helping young people - a method by which they are encouraged or induced to save the initial deposit, the basis for the purchase of their new home. But, on realistic examination of the whole problem, is it not an acknowledgment of the failure of the Government, business leaders, financiers, builders and real estate organizations to understand why an average Australian home-owner has to spend six times his annual salary on a house when his American counterpart has to spend only two and a half times his?
That is a challenge to the Government and to the Minister for Housing who has recently returned to the Ministry. If he proves big enough to meet the challenge or even to attempt to meet it, I for one will be most enthusiastic in wishing him well in tackling the problems to be solved. It is shocking to have to admit, in the words of the article, that an Australian home-owner has to spend six times his annual salary on a house when his American counterpart has to spend only two and a half times his salary.
Another aspect of the housing situation has disturbed me. Whilst supporters of the Government have claimed that the building rate in Australia is high, unfortunately in the Commonwealth Statistician’s returns published recently we find that the construction of private dwelling houses in Australia is not as high for the last quarter as it was for the previous quarter. However, there has been an increase in the construction of flats and this is a trend that has developed in Australia. Flats are built for rental by people with sufficient money to pay the quite large rentals which are charged. They are usually built in areas close to the heart of a city and take advantage of the municipal amenities that are available - sewerage, roads, transport, electric light, water and health services. It is disturbing to realize that the rate of construction of flats has now outstripped the construction rate of private family dwellings.
The State housing commissions are going further into the field of home construction. They are building more and more flats for people seeking rental accommodation. In my electoral division of Griffith, which covers the area of South Brisbane, the Queensland Housing Commission is involved in an extensive flat-building programme. By the time the next federal general election takes place - if this Parliament runs its full course - the commission will have erected about SOO flats for rental purposes in the division I represent. That represents accommodation for quite a large number of people. By and large, the Australian wants a home of his own. He does not want to be herded into a large block of flats, particularly if he lives in a northern climate like that of Brisbane, where, in the summer months, conditions are rather warm and a considerable amount of fresh air is needed for coolness. I am afraid that many flats of the type now being built are not conducive to coolness.
I would prefer this Government to aid the State housing authorities to construct more homes for the people rather than flats. Beyond doubt, there is a heavy demand by the people for homes. The latest returns show that the State housing authorities have applications from 75,000 people who need homes. In the main, these applications have come from people in the lower income bracket, who have no hope of obtaining a bank advance sufficiently large to enable them to build for themselves. As the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin), I think, pointed out, a considerable deposit is required by a bank or a life assurance office if the purchase or construction of a home is to be financed. The 75,000 applications that I have mentioned no doubt represent about 250,000 persons, at a conservative estimate, when one counts husbands, wives and children, Mr. Speaker. So honorable members can see the sorry housing situation that exists.
One of the real bugbears in buying a home is the heavy burden of interest charges. Interest rates have tended to rise throughout the term of office of the present Government. The policy of the Australian Labour Party announced by my leader on the eve of the last federal general election provided for the establishment of an authority to finance the purchase and construction of homes at an interest rate of 3$ per cent. That is the complete reverse of the policy that this Government is offering the people. We know that at present interest rates range between 5i and 6i per cent. The Reserve Bank of Australia has recently given the insurance offices and savings banks the green light to go ahead and increase the interest rates on loans obtained to finance the construction of new homes.
High interest charges impose a heavy burden on people buying homes. Indeed, the interest charge represents the greatest single factor in the cost of a home. Over a period of 30 years, at an interest rate rate of 5i per cent., the borrower pays £3,980 in interest on an advance of £4,000. If he is lucky enough to obtain a loan at 4i per cent, interest and takes it over the normal maximum period of 45 years, he will pay £5,360 in interest on a loan of £4,000. The trend to-day, particularly for bank loans for housing and for housing commission schemes, is towards a period of 45 years for repayment. Most men marry between the ages of 24 and 28. A man who marries at the age of 25 will not pay off his home until he reaches the grand old age of 70 if he takes a loan over the maximum term. Retirement will normally have taken place five years earlier if he is engaged in industry or employed in a public service. This strange situation is brought about by the enormous burden imposed by the inflation of land prices and by high interest charges obtained by lending authorities with the complete approval of the present Commonwealth Government.
I have pointed out some of the weaknesses in this Government’s housing policy, Mr. Speaker. I am not mean. Indeed, I am quite generous to some of my political opponents. I suggest that any measure that will help to solve the housing problem deserves the blessing of all. This bill contains imperfections. Many people will bc disillusioned and upset by it, because they thought that the Prime Minister would never let them down with such a thud. However, some people will benefit from this measure. They will be the lucky ones. As the bill will benefit some people, I offer no opposition to its passage.
.- Mr. Speaker, as is well known, the bill now before us is the Homes Savings Grant Bill 1964. As the name implies, the measure is concerned primarily with the encouragement of savings for the construction or purchase of homes. It will benefit many people. A quick examination will disclose that mainly people under 35 will benefit. I have a good deal of time for the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) and I respect his contributions in any debate. In all circumstances, he is a tolerant man and a tolerant opponent. I say to all and sundry that he is quite generous in his thinking. Until a short time ago, I had not realized that he was a bachelor and that, in certain circumstances, he would be able to participate in the benefits of this measure. The honorable member took exception to remarks made by the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin), who, by way of interjection the other evening, said that even persons like the honorable member for Griffith could obtain a home savings grant by marrying a teenager, it being necessary only to convince a teenager that, for three years, she should save £250 a year. The honorable member for Mitchell said that if the honorable member for Griffith could do this, he and his teenager could obtain from the Government a grant of £250 to set themselves up in a home.
The honorable member for Griffith seemed a little uncertain about what the Government will do concerning the proposed guarantee scheme. I assure him that the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) has been working on that aspect of the proposals submitted to the people in the Government’s policy speech last November, and will continue to work on it. In a short time - certainly before next Christmas - the Minister will present to this Parliament a measure that will extend further help to people who borrow money to buy or build homes. Honorable members on both the Government side and the Opposition side of the Parliament have had many opportunities to study home-finance schemes in operation throughout the world. In debates on housing in this chamber we have heard suggestions that the Government ought to adopt a scheme similar to the Federal Housing Administration scheme operating in the United States of America. But very few honorable members on either side of the Parliament have bothered to tell the Australian people that only 19 per cent, of people who buy homes in America participate in that scheme. We hope to do much better with the scheme that this Government proposes. Australians traditionally are home owners. I agree with the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Griffith, who does not like to see families with numbers of children living in units in large blocks of flats. We have wide open spaces and we believe that Australians should live in their own homes with adequate back yards in which children may play. As I have said in this place before, children ought to be able to play on green lawns, with their own dog or some other kind of pet, in the privacy of their own home. Privacy is essential to home life and the proper upbringing of a family.
This proposal was not, as the honorable member for Griffith has said, a bait to induce the people to vote for the Government at the election. This was a matter that Government supporters, particularly the Government Members Housing Committee, had discussed for a number of years. Certain proposals regarding housing were presented to the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), who was then the Minister responsible for housing. The proposals were considered by the Minister and by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and as recently as the last week of the last Parliament they were considered by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). These proposals, which were espoused not only by Government supporters but also by banks and building organizations, eventually led to the legislation that we now have before us.
This was not a bait to induce people to vote for the Government. It was an incentive to the young people of Australia and was intended to give them an opportunity to own a home in a much shorter time than they otherwise would have done. After all, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said during the election campaign that 50 per cent, of the people of Australia are under 30 years of age. Therefore, we as a government and honorable members opposite as an opposition should be helping these young people to help themselves.
We agree that the Government should encourage thrift, particularly in young people, because the inducements offered by the motor industry, the recording industry and the radio industry are so great that young people tend to forget that, although they earn a lot of money in their teenage years and young adulthood, they should be looking to the important matters that will be of benefit to them later. If I may say so in my own language, I think this is a gimmick to ensure that young people have the inducement to save for a home of their choice in the district of their choice when they are ready to marry and build or buy a home. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) said by way of interjection during an earlier speech that the proposals of the Australian Labour Party were much more beneficial to the people of Australia.
– Lower interest rates.
– Yes, he talks about interest rates because they are subsidized interest rates. I know the proposals that were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in his policy speech last year.
– I hope you studied them.
– I did. One was that an inquiry would be held into Australia’s housing needs. How does this help young people who are about to marry? They do not want inquiries. There are too many Indian chiefs and not enough Indians in this country to-day. The young people want workers and men like the Minister for Housing who will do something positive to help them to help themselves. That is what this bill does. I was very surprised at the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on Tuesday night. He was quite caustic about the proposals now produced by the Government and intimated that this grant could be regarded as an electoral bribe. He said -
If the Labour Party had produced during the election campaign a proposal such as the one now before us it would have been berated for offering an electoral bribe.
I really cannot understand what he had in mind. We all know that subsidies are paid to many industries and to many people in an effort to produce stable conditions and to induce people to undertake certain activities that are good for development and good for the nation. In the dairying industry, some £250,000 a week is given to certain people under certain conditions as a subsidy. A subsidy is also paid to people in our great wheat industry. I am not criticizing this at all. All I am saying is that the young people, too, should have some inducement offered to them to encourage them to do something about the biggest single purchase that they will make in a lifetime and that is a home.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also referred to the pressing needs of housing for the thousands for whom the bill makes no provision. On the one hand he alleged that we are bribing thousands of electors by offering this grant as a policy proposal and on the other hand he said that the bill makes no provision for thousands and thousands of people. I wish he would tell me the people we are bribing and the people we are not bribing. On the one hand he said that this proposal is tantamount to a bribe and on the other hand he said that so few people will benefit from the proposal that it does not matter. In fact, I do not think the Opposition has considered the legislation. I have not heard any member of the Opposition say very much about the clauses of the bill or about what the bill will do for the banking institutions and for the young people who will marry and avail themselves of this grant.
I believe that last November the electors assessed the policy speeches of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. They looked at the offerings, if I may use that word, and came to the conclusion that those from the Government were a good deal better and a good deal more stable than those from the Opposition. I refer honorable members to the Melbourne “Age” of 16th November, 1963- fourteen days before the election, which was held on 30th November. It contains the following report: -
The Federal Leader of the Labour Parly (Mr. Calwell) to-night-
I presume this refers to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition in Hobart- gave precise estimates of Labour’s election proposals.
Could we call these offerings? Labour envisaged an expenditure of an additional £100,000,000 on social services, £30,000,000 on education, £13,000,000 on housing and so on. The newspaper to which I have referred reported that the Leader of the Opposition admitted that the offerings of the Australian Labour Party would cost the country between £175,000,000 and £200,000,000. Are these offerings or bribes? I ask honorable members to decide for themselves; I have made up my mind. During the election campaign, the Treasurer said that the Leader of the Opposition had grossly under-estimated the cost of the proposals he submitted in the policy speech of the Australian Labour Party and that the figure should have been £336,000,000 instead of from £175,000,000 to £200,000,000. What does it matter? We talk about millions of pounds as if they are pennies. We talk about offerings as if they are bribes. We on this side of the House believe that we have introduced legislation following proposals made during the election campaign, that is good for the majority of the people and good for Australia’s development.
– This bill will not benefit the majority of the people.
– I have already pointed out that in his policy speech the Leader of the Opposition said that 50 per cent, of the people were under 30 years of age. I do not think you were in the House at that time.
– I have been here all the time you have been speaking.
– I am sorry. I remind you then that 50 per cent, of the people are under 30 years of age. If you wait for a little while I will tell you what the Commonwealth Statistician has said. In fact, I will tell you now. The Statistician has said that the growth of Australia is stupendous. Recently he gave figures of the number of people in certain age groups. I ask the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) to listen carefully to the figures. The Statistician said that right now we have 71 1,000 people between the ages of 30 and 34. Some of these, of course, would be married. But some of them, if they are not married, will benefit by this legislation. After all, this legislation is not intended to last for only twelve months. It will go on for a long time and certainly will be on the statute-book while this Government is in office. The Statistician also said that 678,000 people are aged between 25 and 29, and 738,000 between 20 and 24. Then we get the age groups that show the rise in population since the war. There are 937,000 people between the ages of fifteen and nineteen and these are the people that the Government wants to help. We want these young people to understand this legislation and to realize that it has something to offer them. If they marry and save £750 over a short period of three years they may obtain free from the Government £250. I am sure that the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) will tell the House when he takes part in the debate that the gift of £250 by the Commonwealth represents a saving of about £632 if we think in terms of a loan of £4,000 repaid over 35 years because the interest on £250 amounts to about £400 over that period.
According to the Commonwealth Statistician there are now in Australia 1,033,000 people between the ages of ten and fourteen years. Our population is growing fast. When those young people marry they will benefit from the legislation that we are passing now. They may not benefit this year or next year, but they certainly will benefit in the future if they have the will to save the necessary amount themselves. Those honorable members who were here at budget time last year will remember that the Government enabled the savings banks to divert more of their deposits towards housing. Formerly the savings banks were permitted to use only 30 per cent, of their deposits for housing loans but last year the Government permitted them to increase the amount to 35 per cent. If any honorable member cares to look at Treasury Information Bulletin No. 34, which was presented in January by the Treasurer he will see that the savings banks now hold deposits amounting to £2,160,000,000. By increasing from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent, the amount of those deposits that may be allocated to housing the Government enabled the savings banks to make available for housing in Australia an additional £108,000,000. Sometimes we in this House talk about millions of pounds as though they were pennies, but £108,000,000 is a lot of money to divert to the building of homes for the people.
I believe that Australians have the right to live in the home of their choice in the district of their choice. This is important. They have the right to be little capitalists. They want to own a home of their choice in the district of their choice. They do not want civil servants to tell them where they should live and how they should live. They want to determine these things for themselves. This is traditional for Australians. While 1 am on this side of the House it will remain traditional so far as 1 am concerned. I, like many other honorable members on this side of the House, do not agree with many of the things that the State housing commissions are doing. I do not agree with the building of multi-story flats. I do not agree with the erection of fences around those flats to stop the children from falling to the concrete below. I do not agree with the building of long concrete corridors. We want the people to live in homes that they have designed for themselves - in homes that they have purchased in districts in which they want to live. Last year there were 81,235 marriages in Australia. Almost all of those people would have qualified for the grant of £250 had this legislation been in force then. In three years’ time the full effect of the legislation will be felt. The number of marriages will increase just as the birth-rate has risen.
I have heard many honorable members opposite say that they do not know what this legislation will cost - that the Minister has not told them. Of course the Minister has not given that information because he does not have a crystal ball. He does not know how many people will marry next year, how many of them will be tinder 35 or how much money they have saved towards the deposit on a house. But he does know that about 30,000 families could benefit in the next twelve months as a result of this legislation. A quick calculation will tell any honorable member that this legislation could cost the country £7,500,000. This legislation will enable the people to live happily in their own homes. It will enable them to be little capitalists, growing up with their families and educating their children in the areas in which they want to educate them. The children of Australia have a wonderful heritage. In their formative years they should be living in urban areas such asI lived in. They should grow up near a river - on the banks of a stream where they can do the things they want to do. This is why I am pleased to see the completion of the lake in Canberra. The children in Canberra will now have not only trees and lovely gardens to enjoy in their formative years but also a lake.
– Have you ever been to Fitzroy?
– Th ere are some pleasant parks in Fitzroy if the honorable member for Scullin would take the opportunity to visit them. I know that his home is a respectable one. I wish he would do a good deal more than he is doing to induce the people who now live under poor conditions in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to get out under the trees and near a river. Instead the honorable member is trying to knock this legislation. I do not think honorable members opposite really want to knock this legislation because they realize that it is good for Australia, particularly for the young people who will be married in a short time. There have been four or five speeches from the Opposition and some from this side of the House that have contributed a good deal towards the welfare of the people of Australia. On Tuesday night the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) explained the bill in detail to those doubting Thomases on the other side. I am sure that they now understand that this legislation is good for Australia and for the people. There is no doubt in my mind that in 50 or 60 years’ time, when the Australian Labour Party comes over to this side of the chamber it will continue with this type of legislation so that the young people may buy the homes of their choice in the situations of their choice. I support the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 7th May (vide page 1641), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the bill is an inadequate contribution to science education and to education generally in Australia because it -
fails to provide for an inquiry into all aspects of education, at all levels, as requested on several occasions by States Premiers;
fails to meet the crisis in education by making an emergency grant of at least £10,000,000 to the States;
fails to assist parents of all children at all schools to bear the burden of education from primary to tertiary levels by instituting a system of Commonwealth scholarships for all students capable of receiving an education, such scholarships to be tenable at the schools of the parents’ choice;
fails to attack the problem of science education by ignoring the question of teacher training, and the need for the establishment of a national science foundation to co-ordinate scientific training, teaching and research; and
fails to recognize that all pupils are entitled to be educated to the fullest extent of their abilities on the principle of aid to the scholar without discrimination.”
This bill, and the speech of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) which introduced it, bear all the marks of its origins. Regarded as a contribution towards solving the educational problems of this nation, it is superficial, cynical and irrelevant, lt is not an honest attempt to deal with any of the problems of education in Australia. It is not based on any consideration of the needs of the community as a whole, or the needs of Australian students, or of their parents. When the full story behind this bill is written, nobody associated with it on the political level will emerge with credit, let alone honour. What is the principle behind this bill? What examination of the real needs of the Australian educational system is it based on? What is it designed to achieve? I suggest that nowhere in the Prime Minister’s speech, or in the ministerial statement of 5th March, are the questions which I have posed seriously asked or honestly answered.
The Prime Minister, in introducing his hotch-potch measure, spoke of what he called a new era opening for scientific education in Australia. Since he makes such large claims for his bill, surely the people are entitled to have some explanation of how he justifies his claim. It is not enough to assert, as the Prime Minister does, that “ the new grants are going to enable the States to undertake new and imaginative projects for raising the standards of the best students and preparing them for work at a tertiary level “, and leave it at that. What is the magical formula by which the Prime Minister hopes to perform this miracle? It certainly will not be done merely by the expenditure of additional money on such a small scale as this bill provides. Revolutions are not to be achieved on such cheap terms as are provided under this measure. New South Wales is to receive £1,854,400; Victoria £1,399,600; Queensland £717,400; South Australia £462,200; Western Australia £353,800; and Tasmania £165,500. Indeed, the section of the bill which provides money to the States for government schools can only be described as completely inadequate and as a smoke-screen.
One would imagine from the Prime Minister’s speech that the States are at present spending nothing on science education in their secondary schools. As if to recall the States to a’ sense of their duty, he says, ponderously and quite offensively, that the money provided under this bill shall be “ subject to the further condition that the items on which it is spent, and the source of the funds so spent, are clearly identifiable in the State Budget “. What does he intend to convey by that? As to the so-called “ items on which the money is spent “, does the Prime Minister suggest for one moment that any State government would not, with or without this bill, have to spend on science education at least the additional amount of money provided by the bill? As to the source of the money, what other source of money for education have the States, except the Commonwealth? Presumably, all that the Prime Minister means is that six times a year, the State Treasurers and the State Education Ministers must formally bow in the direction of Canberra in grateful obeisance for the paltry additional amounts provided under this bill.
If the Government were really interested in assisting the States with science education in their secondary schools, does anybody believe for one minute that it would go about it in this way? Would there not have to bc some inquiry as to the real needs of the States? Would there not be an investigation of the relationship between the needs of science and the needs of the other parts of the educational system? Would not some evidence be produced to show that this, rather than some other, method was indeed the best way of meeting the needs of the States out of available resources? But there has been no such inquiry, no such investigation, and no such evidence has been produced. The reason for this state of affairs is that this bill, despite its title, has nothing but the most tenuous and tendentious relevance to science education, and, especially, to science education as it affects the States.
This bill was not the product of any plan or of any thinking. It was begotten because the Government was desperate and needed to buy votes. This bill was conceived in chicanery, born in duplicity and nurtured on deceit. It is obviously the second part of this bill - that dealing with nongovernment schools - to which the Prime Minister attaches importance. He knows that that is the reason why we have this bill before us at all, and yet he tries to pass that aspect of the question off as if it were merely incidental. The title of this bill is States Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Bill. Yet it is only by something which seems suspiciously like a legal and constitutional fiction that the States come into the matter at all, in the section relating to non-government schools. Under this so-called States grants bill, the Commonwealth will be solely responsible for deciding the grants to non-government schools.
The States will not have to accept any responsibility for the grants. The advisory bodies to be set up will report to the Commonwealth only. The selection of schools will be made by the Commonwealth alone. Applications under the scheme will be made to one source only, and that source is the Commonwealth Minister in charge of education. The only explanation of the constitutional aspects of this bill vouchsafed by the Prime Minister is that the “ grants will be made under the powers conferred by section 96, and the States have agreed to be the channel whereby amounts will be paid to independent schools “. In other words, the States will act as a post office and pass on the cheques.
I do not stand here as an advocate for States rights, and I am certainly no advocate for our outmoded Constitution, but I do suggest that to call this a States grants bill is merely a cover up for its true purpose. The Prime Minister, above all men, has the duty to explain the constitutional position of this measure, for nobody has so often insisted, in this House and elsewhere, that the very sort of grant this bill now makes is, and must be, unconstitutional. In answer to a question on this matter from the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) on 30th August, 1960, the Prime Minister said -
The honorable member puts to me a question that is outside the jurisdiction of this Government.
Surely the Parliament has a right to know why the Prime Minister has changed his opinion. If he still believes that what he said in 1960 was right, he must either believe that his legislation will be successfully challenged, or hope that nobody will bother to challenge it. If he still believes he was right, he either wants a law that will never become effective, or wants a law that will be effective only because nobody takes the trouble to challenge it in the court and have it declared invalid. If the former is true, he is misleading the people; if the latter is correct, he is betraying the trust of this Parliament. But whatever he believes is correct - that presumes he still believes something - he should tell us now. I would be the last to suggest that this Parliament has no right to pass legislation which it believes may be subject to constitutional challenge; but, in such a case, it should know clearly what it is doing and why.
– Were you sure of your Banking Bill?
– We thought we were sure. If the Prime Minister thinks he is sure, he can go ahead. I repeat that I would be the last to suggest that this Parliament has no right to pass legislation which it believes may be subject to constitutional challenge. In any case, every bill that this Parliament passes can be challenged in the courts because, by virtue of the Constitution, the High Court of Australia itself is a super-legislature. It declares whether or not bills are valid.
– Don’t you want children to go to independent schools?
-Order! 1 ask honorable members not to interject.
– It is not I who may challenge the bill. I want to know why the Prime Minister has changed his mind on the constitutionality of such a measure. I want to know when he started to change bis mind. Of course, he will never tell us. We can only have our suspicions on that question. It is the Prime Minister’s responsibility to tell us why something which he believed to be illegal in 1960 is legal in 1964. Perhaps I should not use the word “ illegal “, but the word “ invalid “ or the words “ ultra vires the Constitution “.
This glossing over, by the Prime Minister, of matters vital to the bill and to public understanding of the issue involved is typical of his speech and of his whole approach to the legislation. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s evasiveness of every essential point is such that he has imparted an air of total unreality to this legislation. The Prime Minister and the general public seem to be talking about two different subjects. It is as if legislation could be carried in a sort of vacuum, without any relevance to the public debate about it.
This bill reverses two attitudes which the Menzies Government has maintained for the past fourteen years. One is that the Commonwealth has no responsibility for education except at the tertiary level, while the other is that aid to nongovernment schools is beyond the jurisdiction of this Parliament. The Prime Minister has reiterated these fundamental positions again and again, in this Parliament and at election times. The Labour Party, at successive elections and on many occasions in this chamber, has urged a greater measure of Commonwealth responsibility for education at all levels. And again and again we have met a blank wall of opposition from the Government. Yet the Prime Minister passes off his amazing reversal of attitude as if it were the most natural thing in the world and not worthy of comment and explanation.
But one question at least demands an answer: Why has this Government held up the progress of Australian education for so long by denying its responsibilities in the matter; responsibilities which it now admits; responsibilities which it has been forced to admit? Let the Prime Minister explain why he has for fourteen years denied the claim put forward by the Australian Labour Party that the Commonwealth has a responsibility for secondary and all other levels of education. Let him explain why he has now, by this bill, reversed his former attitude and admitted the validity of our claims.
Nor have we been vouchsafed any relevant information as to the Government’s motives or intentions in its proposal to include non-government schools in the grant. The Prime Minister has treated a very significant departure from established practice - a departure which he has hitherto maintained was impossible and unconstitutional - as if it were barely worthy of comment.
The Prime Minister admits that the implementation of this part of the legislation depends on the co-operation of the leaders of the various churches. Indeed, his whole system of advisory committees which will virtually administer the scheme rests on that co-operation. But the Prime Minister is very well aware that the Anglican synods in many dioceses throughout Australia, all the assemblies of the Presbyterian Church, the conferences of the Methodist Church and the Council of Churches itself, have all passed resolutions opposing the very sort of assistance which the authorities of these churches are now asked by the Government to administer. Whatever the reasons for the declared attitude of the various churches, it is a fact which cannot be ignored. But the Prime Minister does ignore it. In the ministerial statement of 5th March, and in his second-reading speech, he presents a picture of cut and dried agreement. Indeed, on 5lh March he wilfully misled the Parliament and the public about the degree of agreement which had been reached.
The Prime Minister has every right to seek the co-operation of all the Churches. But if that co-operation requires that the Churches must formally reverse previous policies and attitudes officially held by them, then it is his duty to explain why he believes they should do so. He has no right to adopt, as he has apparently adopted, a take it or leave it attitude towards the Churches and the leaders of the Churches.
The bill divides Australian secondary schools into two categories - government and non-government. And it makes a further subdivision of this second category into Catholic and what, in a curious exercise in theological terminology, the Prime Minister calls “ non-Catholic”, or what the draftsman of this bill calls, rather curtly, “ others “.
The Prime Minister has explained the formula by which the allocation is to be divided between the two groups, and he has outlined the machinery by which it will be administered. But he has not told us the principle on which the money is to be distributed among the various applicants. He told us that the division will “ be adapted to the needs of the schools for science buildings and equipment as the scheme develops”. But the Parliament should be given some definition of this word “ needs “. He said that “ the selection will be made having regard to the number of secondary school pupils at a school, the number of such students doing science courses, the teaching facilities already available and similar criteria. But the one criterion - the one test, to use a more common word - that he failed to mention is the standard of wealth of a particular school, and the size of the fees which the parents sending their children to a particular school are able to afford.
There are some very large schools whose existing science facilities may be quite inadequate but which, at the same time, are exceedingly wealthy schools, maintained almost exclusively as academies of privilege for the children of the wealthiest people in Australia. Nothing in the conditions laid down by the Government gives any guarantee that the money provided will be equitably or fairly distributed among the schools; or distributed according to their needs and not according to their influence. The House should have an assurance from the Government that the money made available under this legislation shall not be used to confer further privileges on the Australian plutocracy which, in its pathetic efforts to ape the English aristocracy, ends up merely as a vulgar, indigenous, snobocracy
But when the Prime Minister mentions the distribution of the money under the bill, all he says is that many schools will have to wait a long time before they get anything, and that some will get nothing. Did he mention anything about delay in implementing his promises when he made them at the time of the election? Of course not! Far from apologising for this delay, which is just another example of the way in which people have been led down the. garden path, he professes to find positive satisfaction in it. He even suggests it is. rather a good thing because the schools will have more time to plan, and the longer they have to wait the better for them; and of course for him and for every one else on his side.
– Live horse and eat grass!
– Live horse and eat grass is a homely old phrase, lt is a long way divorced from the criteria or the words in the bill. This is, of course, so much double-talk on the part of the Prime Minister.
The really important thing is that while the schools are waiting - and under the meagre allocation of the bill, many of the 500 applicant schools will obviously bewailing for years - the talent of our children is being wasted, and much of it will be permanently lost to the community. Thatis the great tragedy of the lack of proper provision by the Commonwealth Government for a high standard of education. While this is happening, the Government will use the existence of this legislation as a pretext for not taking real and positive action to prevent that wastage.
In equally cavalier fashion, the Prime Minister gives no justification whatsoever why it has been thought necessary to form two advisory groups. He gives no reason for the arbitrary division between Catholic and what he calls non-Catholic schools. Probably for the first time in the legislative history of this nation - and that covers State Parliaments as well as the Commonwealth Parliament - the Government intends to write into the statutes a division of this - kind without as much as a word of explanation.
At the very time when Christendom is being moved by a new ecumenical spirit, the Government proposes to set up a machinery which by its very form marks and defines the cleavage between the Catholics in communion with Rome, and what the Prime Minister calls “ the others “. If there are reasons why Catholic, Anglican, Protestant and Jew cannot sit on the same committee to discuss the allocation of money for education, then we should be told what they are. But the Prime Minister has no right to pass over decisions of this far-reaching nature with less explanation than the House would be given if it were discussing the establishment of the Honey Board.
Thus, every point of interest or significance in this measure has been given superficial treatment only by the Prime Minister. And the only justification for this can be that, for all the Government’s vaunting, this is a hastily prepared measure, based on sloppy thinking as it affects the real and fundamental issues and problems facing education in Australia.
– Are you going to vote for the bill or against it?
– I am going to hear your explanation, because you have done a double somersault on this issue too. But there is a real danger that this legislation will serve to obscure these central issues and problems. There is a real danger that this Government will use the controversy inherent in legislation of this nature as a convenient excuse for its failure to accept its full responsibilities for education. 1 repeat - this Government has very grave responsibilities to discharge in the field of education, and it has not done anything in respect of, any of them until quite recently. It did something in the field of tertiary education after we had established the Australian National University. It is doing something for Government schools under this legislation. This is the first time that it has done anything about nongovernment schools.
The central problem of education in Australia - and I now emphasize it with all the power at my command - is to give every Australian child, regardless of his religion, regardless of his parents’ means and regardless of any other differentiation consideration, full and equal opportunity to receive the best education which he or she is capable of undertaking. The key words in that proposition are “ every “ and “ equal “. The education proposals of the Government are not designed to achieve, or even to move towards, that objective.
In his speech, the Prime Minister couples this legislation with his other election promise of 10,000 secondary scholarships - which, of course, have not yet even materialized - as providing what he calls “ the way to a new era in education “. Five million pounds for science, and 10,000 non-existent scholarships! This is what the Prime Minister calls a revolution. Ten thousand - among 700.000 or more secondary school children! Is this the revolution in education that we need - that we must have for the maintenance of our standard of living, and, indeed, for our national survival? Of course not!
The Labour Party proposes a system under which the vast majority of secondary school children, irrespective of their school, would receive a scholarship ranging from £20 to £50 a year in value. This strikes at the very root of one of the major difficulties of education - the burden borne by parents. This is a burden which bears with particular weight upon the Catholic parents of Australia, because of their determination to maintain their separate and independent system of education. They are perfectly entitled to maintain it if they wish to do so. So are the parents of any other religious denomination if they set up the buildings, train the teachers and teach the pupils to the standards required by the States.
The controversy which has burned for 80 years, particularly the Prime Minister’s activities in the general election campaign, have tended to obscure the fundamental fact that the separate system can only be maintained as long as Catholic parents are willing and able to maintain it. Thus, whatever helps the parents to carry that burden, or whatever directly reduces their individual sacrifice, assists them in the maintenance of their independent system. That is what the Labour Party’s policy is designed to do, because it makes a direct contribution to the education of the child. We wish to endow the scholar without discrimination of any sort. This aid to Catholic parents would be given, not because they were Catholics, but because they were parents, and it would be given to all Australian parents alike, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of belief.
– But you object to giving it to all schools alike.
– 1 do not object to giving it to all schools, and if the Minister will listen more intently he will see that my argument is that scholarships should be given to all the children in all the schools of the Commonwealth if they can pass a satisfactory examination after which they should be eligible to take out their scholarships at the schools of their parents’ choice. That is our proposition.
Opposition policy on education can be summarized as - I have used the term before - “ aid for the scholar without discrimination “. This is the meaning of Labour’s revolution for education - the real revolution, not the phoney revolution of the Prime Minister. Is it not a wonderful thing to find the most conservative Prime Minister this country ever knew advocating revolution of any sort?
If we are to achieve that revolution, we need the fullest possible information upon which to build. This is why it is absolutely imperative to hold an inquiry into education at all levels, and embracing State and nonState schools alike. Such an inquiry has been repeatedly requested by the State Premiers and just as often rejected by this Government. Without such an inquiry, and the plan that would emerge from its report, Australia will continue to drag far behind the advanced nations of the world in education, with every certainty that injustices will be perpetuated and sectarian differences accentuated. A little while ago we trailed behind Turkey but were a little ahead of Egypt in the proportion of income spent on education. There has been a slight improvement lately. We are now getting up to date with Portugal.
It is because the Government lacks the necessary information that only an inquiry would provide that the Prime Minister has been unable to relate this legislation to the needs of education in general. And, as 1 have shown, he has been unable to relate it to the needs of science education in particular. The Prime Minister has excused his ignorance by calling this legislation “ experimental “. He should have described it as a shot in the dark.
Australia urgently needs a national science foundation to co-ordinate scientific education and research. I have paid a good deal of attention to the Prime Minister’s speech and I have found it very useful to extract certain portions of it. Let me mention one of those portions. The Prime Minister has spoken of the measure before us as “ making a tremendous contribution towards the training of scientists in an age of technology “. The Prime Minister is really wonderful in his use of superlatives and exaggerated language for describing even the most mundane performances of himself and his Government. But I remind the House that he has said nothing about science teaching and nothing about education in mathematics, the basis of science. This bill is not part of a plan for a scientific revolution, simply because there is no plan to which it can be related.
Pending the holding of the inquiry which we propose and the drawing up of a national plan for education, there are obviously urgent problems facing the States requiring immediate action. In order to assist the States we propose an emergency grant of £10,000,000.
The Prime Minister has suggested that the provision of science blocks is the most urgent need at this moment. This may or may not be so; he has certainly been unable to provide any evidence that it is so. But if the States believe it to be so, then obviously £10,000,000 is more consonant with their needs than the £3,500,000 provided under this bill.
On behalf of the Opposition I have outlined a comprehensive plan for a genuine attack on the problems of Australian education. An inquiry, emergency grants, a system of secondary school scholarships and a national science foundation are but some of the things that should and must be undertaken if justice is to be meted out to our children and if Australia is to take its rightful place in the vanguard of the educated, advanced nations of the world. We are lagging far behind the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Soviet Union in the percentage of our income which we spend on education.
We on this side of the House would welcome the seeming conversion of the Prime Minister to the view that the Commonwealth should take more and more responsibility in the field of education, if we believed it were based on a sincere and honest conviction. We waited to hear his explanation of why he had changed his repeatedly expressed view, and, of course. we waited in vain. But we do not believe that his conversion is genuine because we do not think he believes in his newly professed principles. And we do not think that the people of Australia will believe him, either, for. after all, opportunism is the most transparent of all political garments.
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak to it.
– I wish to refer first to the amendment moved by the Labour Party. The question we are debating is, “that the bill be now read a second time “. The Labour Party has moved that all the words after “ that “ be deleted. I think the House ought to be aware of the consequences of the success of the Labour Party’s motion. If this bill is not, in fact, read a second time, it fails. We have heard that the Labour Party will not oppose this measure. Why, then, has it moved this amendment which, if carried, will mean, in effect, that this bill will be discharged from this House without becoming law?
This is a most interesting proposition. If the Labour Party votes in favour of its amendment - I presume it has some hope or wish to carry it - and the amendment is carried, then the children in Australian schools will be deprived of the assistance proposed to be provided under this bill for science buildings. The issue is as simple as that. We have had a smoke screen of words from the Leader of the Opposition in an attempt to cover up the acute embarrassment of the Opposition. We are told that the Labour Party will not oppose this legislation, yet, in the same breath, the Leader of the Opposition moves an amendment which, if carried, will dispose of the Government’s proposals. Is this not attaching an extraordinary meaning to words?
When we look at the substance of the amendment proposed by the Opposition, we see that it is offering stone to the people who are asking for bread. First of all, it chastises the Government for having failed to provide an inquiry. I should have thought that it would be far more acceptable to the people of Australia to have some concrete evidence of this Government’s intention to help science teaching in schools by a cash programme.
– You could have had an inquiry six years ago.
– The honorable member suggests that we could have had an inquiry some time ago. That may or may not be so but surely he is not going to reject this proposal which provides cash for science buildings; yet, I say again, that that will be the effect of the amendment submitted by the Opposition. I ask honorable members opposite whether their amendment would have been in identical terms if the assistance proposed by the Commonwealth had been for government schools only. I ask that because, quite plainly, that this is the core of their objection to the measure, although they do not say so in their amendment. In fact, hardly anywhere in their arguments do they say so, although that is the truth of the matter. If the Government had been giving a straight-out grant of £5,000,000 to the State Government’s for education, we would have heard the normal performance of the Opposition. Honorable members opposite would simply have said, “It is not enough; there should be more “. That attitude is expected of an Opposition. On this occasion, however, the distortion of language and the gymnastics of honorable members opposite have reached an almost obscene level in their anxiety to hide their own embarrassment in this situation. The plain truth of the matter is that, under their own platform, this proposal is quite opposed to what they themselves want.
– You are making heavy weather of it.
– That may be so. I take it that the honorable member is opposed to this legislation and I imagine that if he votes he will vote to defeat it. I do not know whether it is making heavy weather of it to point that out to him. I presume he will vote in accordance with his party’s instructions, and I presume that he knows that the whole of the criticism which has been levelled at this measure by the Opposition is, in fact, criticism of a policy which was advocated by the State Labour Government in New South Wales and which the federal executive of the party forbade that Government to carry out because it ran counter to Labour’s policy.
– That is wrong.
– This is very interesting indeed. At times, this Government has been accused of stealing Labour’s policy yet when a State Government in New South Wales advocated an almost identical measure it was told to drop it, and did in fact drop it.
– You don’t know what you are talking about.
– The honorable member suggests that I do not know what I am talking about. He and other honorable members may interject if they wish, but this is a matter of record.
– It is a distorted view.
– It is a matter of record and history. Although newspapers are not always correct in their reports, honorable members would be interested to know of a report that appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ on 24th March.
– What did that cost them?
– It did not cost them anything. The report states that the Australian Labour Party federal secretary, Mr. F. E. Chamberlain, disclosed in a confidential communication to Western Australian members that after certain federal action had been taken the New South Wales Government agreed to withdraw its proposals based on the conference decision of the New South Wales branch.
– Is that authentic?
– I do not think it has been denied by Mr. Chamberlain. It is open to honorable members opposite to deny this report if they wish, but it is a view that is popularly held. The Labour Party’s sole objection to this measure is based on the fact that it includes independent schools.
– Don’t talk nonsense. All the other objections still apply.
– The honorable member for Barton suggests that the Labour amendment would still be effective and would still be in the same terms if independent schools were excluded from this bill. This suggestion is very interesting, because quite a large part of the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition was devoted to his objections, which I was sorry to hear him raise, because 1 thought this kind of thing was dying out in Australia, that independent schools could be a hot-bed of snobbery and an exclusive privilege of the wealthy classes. That is the old socialist cry which has been used to divide the community on the basis of class distinction instead of trying to draw the community together.
– We are attacking you, who divide it.
– The honorable member is suggesting that we are dividing the community into classes simply because we are providing funds for all schools. Is that a division? What honorable members opposite are saying is that some schools should be excluded and some people should be excluded from enjoying the benefits of this fund. The whole truth is that this measure is an attempt to achieve equal opportunities in education for all Australian children, regardless of their station in life, their religious creed or anything else. This is the whole basis of our legislation, and this is the ground on which Opposition members are trying to divide the community. We have been attacked by the Leader of the Opposition who has suggested that because in the machinery for the division of this money we will set up separate committees, this is an attempt to inject a note of sectarian or religious division into the community. This proposal is an attempt to achieve a fair division among all schools; it is an attempt to achieve equality - not an attempt to divide. Honorable members opposite should know this. I believe that this bill is completely consistent with a liberal philosophy in regard to education, whether you use the word “ liberal “ with a capital “ L “ or a small “ 1 “, and with the policies that the Government has followed in trying to provide education opportunities for all people and not only for limited sections of the community. I believe with all the strength of my conviction that it is basically sound to encourage people to be, in education, slightly independent of government and not to glorify a total dependence on government to provide all education. I believe that any other attitude is a slur on those who prefer, whether by reason of religious conviction or otherwise, to remain at least partially independent of governments and to exercise some degree of choice of the schools to which they send their children.
This old bogy about State assistance to non-government schools has a deep-rooted historical background, but I believe that the main reasons for it have long ago disappeared. It was based on acute religious differences in the community and, not only that, it was based on a lack of educational opportunities provided at the government level. The proud boast of the communities which rejected the principle of government assistance was that they would provide a free and secular education for all people. But surely this situation has changed radically. We have, throughout Australia, government schools which provide tremendously good educational opportunities. It is, in a sense, in the bringing up to an equality of opportunity in independent schools that the need lies.
Independent schools have urgent needs because people are committed to them by the strength of their own convictions that independent schools are, in some way, supplying something in regard to education which is not supplied by government schools. In other words, by policies that have been pursued, the State, removing the old lack of educational opportunity for many classes of people, has gone to the other extreme. The balance must be redressed in some way. I believe that it is worth while to have independent schools whose education is based on the Christian ethic. We are, by and large, a Christian community with, if you like, many different varieties of Christian faith. But the single greatest common bond that unites the whole of the Australian community is the Christian ethic. If this is not taught in the schools, and if encouragement is not given to people to send their children to such schools, I can see that the Australian community will lack a unifying force in the future. The development of such a force is something which must receive encouragement at the government level.
Having made those comments, I can only repeat that I am amazed that a party which professes to support equal educational opportunities for all should oppose this measure. For that is what the Opposition is doing. Let us make no bones about it; the Opposition is opposing this measure.
Yet all that the Government is proposing in this bill is that the facilities to be provided shall be provided for all schools throughout Australia where a need for science buildings can be established. The machinery has been set up to investigate the requirements of schools, and this machinery is the fairest that can be devised to see that the money is channelled to all the places that have a requirement for it. It is interesting to note that, so far as I am aware, the Labour Party has never opposed financial assistance to university colleges which are based on religious denominations.
It is interesting that all the mission schools in the Northern Territory and Papua and New Guinea are heavily subsidized by the Government, on the basis not of the pupils but of the schools. Every denominational school in those areas is anxious to obtain more Government funds. So far as I am aware there has never been from honorable members opposite a word of opposition to subsidizing those schools. Yet in this instance, because this legislation conflicts with the policy of the Australian Labour Party as decided by its federal executive, honorable members opposite are opposed to it. I imagine that they feel some sense of shame about their opposition because they have tried to dissemble by moving an amendment. Whom do they think to deceive? Do they really think that the people of Australia will say: “ The Labour Party did not try to reject this measure. It simply moved an amendment “.
Surely the people of Australia will be aware that acceptance of the Opposition’s amendment means rejection of this bill. I cannot make that too plain to honorable members opposite. It will be to their eternal shame if they try to force their amendment or to speak too loudly in support of it. It is a shabby political manoeuvre and well they know it.
– You are whipping a dead horse.
– The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory can glory in his own independence. He likes to be a little different from some members of his party. I feel that any one who listened to the A.L.P. caucus on this subject would have been far from convinced that it was a dead horse. I believe that there was a great deal of agitation. This shabby manoeuvre is all that came out of the A.L.P. caucus. I commend the bill to the House. I am sorry that the Labour Party has moved such a feeble kind of amendment to disguise its real attitude to this legislation.
.- We have listened to a rather disappointing speech from a Minister of the Crown. We have become a little accustomed to this kind of speech to-day. Let us examine for a moment the speech of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) and some of the inferences to be drawn from what he said. First, I should say that it was a little unfortunate that in this debate the Minister started a speech on education by using at the beginning of his speech what was very close to a mixed metaphor - a smokescreen of words. This proved to be a sample of his speech. He struggled throughout to make a case. One of the honorable gentleman’s points was his attack on the State system of education.
Another point was his guarantee - let us say - that there is to be what he chooses to call a fair division of funds in these matters in the future. Then he laid some particular claim to be a repository of the Christian ethic. Can any member of the Liberal Party make that claim? I presume it is the Minister’s claim. I also understand that he is the product of a non-State school, an independent school. I think it is Guildford Grammar School in Perth. I am the product of a State school. The Minister speaks of the products of his type of school as being the sole repositories of the Christian ethic, but honorable members on this side of the House represent the three-quarters of the population who have not been produced by those schools.
Honorable members opposite belong to a political party that stands for flogging and hanging, a party which believes in gerrymandering electorates. These are the men who come here and claim to speak as Christians. I do not know whether they are Christians. On the whole, in their personal dealings with me I have had nothing of which I complain.
– The Minister’s father was a bishop.
– That is so. and he ought to be better than he is. There should be no doubt in the minds of the people after to-day that the Minister for Shipping and Transport stands for one kind of thinking on education and we on this side of the House are standing up as the defenders and protectors of another kind of thinking and a different system of education. It is the system of education of three-quarters of the people of Australia and one which has been traditionally developed in this country. It is being challenged in speeches such as that which we have just heard.
On the whole it has been an odd day. This morning we heard the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) say that there was no chance of the Commonwealth interfering in order to assume responsibility on the aboriginal question. There was a long and devious explanation of why that could not be done. This afternoon we have heard one of his colleagues in the “Cabinet - the Minister for Shipping and Transport - telling us why this is the start of a new era in the field of Australian education. Is it correct to say that the aboriginal people have few votes and no wealth and that the people who are supporting and demanding the legislation before us have many votes and great wealth? That may well be the case because, as I shall describe later, there has been an odd inversion of the Government’s attitude on education.
This is the point that the Australian people have to consider: How dinkum is the Government’s new-found interest in Australian education, in State education and in the independent schools? The Minister chooses to rail at the Labour Party because of its policy on education. But what about the policy of his own people on the other side of the chamber? There has been a long history of instances in this Parliament where the needs of Australian education have been opposed from the other side. Time after time, year after year, estimates debate after estimates debate and urgency motion after urgency motion we have heard this opposition. The new-found interest of Government supporters is interesting indeed.
Let us study the history of Australian education, as it goes back a long way. The first citizens of this country were not considered to need education. About 20 or 30 years passed before a system of education was embarked upon. The church school corporation was established in the 1820”s and waged a continuing struggle to establish a dual system of education.
– Why do you hate church schools?
– I do not hate them. I will deal with that point later and I hope that I can explain it adequately even for the honorable member. Continuous efforts were made to develop a national schools system. I advise people to make a study of the difficulties that were encountered. It will be found that most of the people who were making the laws and most of the people concerned in these fields were the products of non-State schools. They were not interested in public education. It is pretty obvious that the Minister for Shipping and Transport is not interested in public education, either.
I could quote to the House examples of the difficulties of State education and compare them with the schools which the Minister is to endow. A continuing struggle was waged during the last century. Eventually, by the 1870’s, a proposition was evolved which was almost universally accepted; that is the States’ responsibility for schools and the role of - let us call them - the public schools. Yet in this chamber for the last few months members of the Liberal Party have found a new interest in State schools.
Let us examine the needs of education. Let us consider the history of education and the path upon which we are embarking. One of the points I wish to make is that there has been an inadequate consideration of what are the needs of education and of the States, the needs of technical education and of primary schools. On this side of the chamber we are convinced that the Government has engaged in a political manoeuvre in an effort to capitalize on a certain division in the community, for its own political protection. Government supporters have ignored many of the wishes of those concerned with Australian education. For instance, the Minister raised the point - I do not have his exact words, but it was something to this effect - that we have now reached the stage where there must be a fairer division of the funds for education. He thinks that the State system has enough. The Minister did not say that, but he implied it. He implied that the State schools were so magnificently equipped that they needed no more; that they do not need assistance. I ask honorable members to examine this implication. 1 represent one of the industrial areas of a capital city. In it there are two State technical schools and three State high schools. None of these schools is adequately equipped; none has adequate playing areas or field space. None has what I would describe as an adequate science laboratory. Let me take just one instance - the Brunswick Technical School, which is situated in the heart of an industrial area and has 700 or 800 day students. In addition, it trains 1,200 or more evening and part-time students. It is one of the fundamental elements in the Australian system of technical training. I challenge the claim by the Minister for Shipping and Transport that science laboratories in such schools are adequate and that science laboratories at the Geelong Grammar School, for example, are inadequate.
These are some of the issues that are before us to-day. This is the government of the rich - the government that will endow those who have the money. This is the government that will support those with political power and wealth. For year after year we in this place have been attempting to get a more thoroughgoing approach to the State systems of education. I can give honorable members many references in “ Hansard “ to the attempts that we have made. Honorable members can turn up the records and find the contradictions in the speeches made by Ministers and in the attitudes taken by all honorable members on the Government side of the Parliament when these matters have been put to the vote.
What are these other elements in the education system in Australia as spelt out by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell)? First of all, there are the wastage at the higher levels of the secondary school system and the lack of accommodation in the university system. This is the critical issue in Australian education: How we can keep our students at school and overcome the economic wastage that occurs. As the representative of a constituency like the Wills electorate, I know that this is one of the greatest issues that face families. Many have two or three children at senior secondary school stage and university stage at the same time. What do they face? Perhaps their children have to go through university without the assistance of a Commonwealth scholarship. Why has not the Commonwealth scholarship system been expanded? Would not that be the most appropriate way to attack the problem? Why has not the secondary scholarship scheme that was promised - we heard it bruited abroad all over Australia - been implemented? This touches the element of greatest difficulty in the community and particularly in families. The simple fact is that the cost of maintaining a student at a university in Australia is nearly £10 a week. Many families have two or three children at the university stage at the same time, and therefore will have to meet an outlay of perhaps £20 a week. What hope has the average Australian family of carrying such a burden? These are the issues before us: What has happened to the Commonwealth scholarship scheme? What has happened to the promised secondary scholarship scheme?
The main thought that we ought to keep in mind with respect to people who choose to send their children to non-State schools is the need to support the family in such a way as to allow it to exercise its freedom of choice without sacrificing its welfare. No amount of tinkering at the problem in the way that the Government now proposes can remedy the situation. Some 500,000 children attend about 2,000 non-government schools in Australia. Under the terms of this bill, the Government will endow perhaps 400 of them. Which 400 will they be? Will they be the small, struggling ones? No. They will be the ones that maintain a high standard of teaching in the matriculation and leaving grades. The pupils affected will be those aged sixteen, seventeen and eighteen years. One could describe them as being at the sub-university level. The requirements in this instance are beyond most people. These are the rare schools in the private school system. These 400 schools or thereabouts will get an average of about £3.000 each in the financial year 1964-65. We say that this proposal is not the answer to the problem. The answer is to be found first by subsidizing and supporting families to enable them to overcome the difficulties of wastage. The issue for the community is the wastage that occurs. That is where our first responsibility lies. The capital that the Minister for Shipping and Transport talks about will flow first to the wealthiest schools in the independent system in a way that will substantially fail to remove the disabilities from which they suffer.
The Minister himself mentioned the subsidy to Canberra schools in respect of interest. 1 believe that the Government ought to be challenged on this matter. That subsidy does not represent a capital grant and is not a departure from the tradition adopted in relation to schools in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and the Northern Territory. In those Territories, schools are being run by the missions because the Government has in the past neglected its plain and bounden duty. The Government is not subsidizing church schools as such in those Territories. The churches are doing a job that the Government should have undertaken long since. These are some of the issues that come before us this afternoon.
I want to mention again those elements in the State education systems that need support. At the same time, support can be given also to the independent schools. The Australian Labour Party believes in close co-operation between the State and the private systems of education by the provision of facilities that may be regarded as jointuser facilities, to use a term commonly used in the armed services. This is a simple matter. This division between the two systems of schools must be broken down. At present, not only is this division supported by the Government, but it is being multiplied by the establishment of two distinct advisory authorities for the independent school system.
Let me now turn to some of the things that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has said and stood for over the last fourteen years. First of all, I suppose that this measure is in direct line with his thinking. I challenge the Minister for Shipping and Transport and assert that his words were an attack on the elements of the State education systems. I do so, because, too often, public figures attack the State school systems, not for their deficiencies in accommodation and the like, which are the deficiencies of governments, but for the elements of instruction that are alleged to be lacking. I should like to remind the House of words used by the Prime Minister some years ago when he opened a church school. He is reported as having said that church schools aim, not at the production of clever pagans, but at the production of educated Christian gentlemen. What did he mean by that? I presume that he assumed, asserted or implied that every product of a non-church school was a clever little pagan. Some of them may not be clever. I say that the right honorable gentleman’s words were a direct insult to all the State school systems of Australia. Those words represent the thinking of many honorable members opposite. The Prime Minister, when he is in an appropriate atmosphere, takes every available opportunity to attack the State school systems, of which so many of us are products. I challenge the thinking behind the attitude that the ethic of the products of the private schools is higher than the ethic of the products of the State school systems.
Where do we go from there? I have described the thinking adopted by the Prime Minister throughout. We ask: What has he been doing about education? Let us say that this measure represents a change of heart to which I may well have contributed. On 6th May, 1958, when I had been in this Parliament only about eighteen months, I raised, the subject of education for discussion as a matter of public importance. I thought that perhaps one would get somewhere if one put a reasonable case to the Prime Minister. The matter that I proposed for discussion was stated in these terms -
The urgent need for the Commonwealth to take action to ensure that sufficient funds are available to each State of the Commonwealth to provide adequate public education facilities for its people.
The right honorable gentleman paid me a compliment by taking part in the ensuing debate. After speaking for several minutes, he referred to the Commonwealth’s contribution to education and said -
Though the Commonwealth finds some money, it ought to find more; and it can find more for the States without difficulty. I did not understand him to say - though it has been said by some others - that the Commonwealth ought to provide large additional sums for the States and earmark them for education. If he has that in his mind, I just want to warn him, in a friendly way -
We were friends at that time - from my own considerable experience of these matters, that the States will not thank him for it.
He went on at great length to explain the alleged constitutional difficulties that prevented the Commonwealth from doing anything. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) this afternoon quoted the right honorable gentleman’s answer to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) on the matter of non-State schools in which he denied that the Commonwealth had the constitutional power to do anything about the matter. So it has gone on year after year. On 3rd May, 1960, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) raised for discussion as a matter of public importance a subject that was stated as follows: -
The failure of the Government (a) to institute a national inquiry to ascertain to what extent Commonwealth assistance is required to provide adequately for primary, secondary and technical education in Australia, (b) to increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships and (c) to provide scholarships for students in secondary and technical education.
In the next year, the matter was raised by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). The following year, it was raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Even as late as last year, proposals that the Government do somethir-3 about education were opposed by honorable members opposite. To some extent, we are pleased to see the change of heart now. It is sudden but it gives support to the schools for some of their needs.
We make the point that the Prime Minister is entering the field in his usual haphazard way. What is the basis of all this? Why has the Government so continuously denied the need for an inquiry? Why is it that the sudden change of heart has followed this haphazard course? Education is one of Australia’s largest industries, if I may use the term. It costs some £200,000,000 a year of public money, employs some 60,000 to 80,000 teachers in the State and nonState schools and caters for some 2,000,000 children. Almost every family in Australia is in some way associated with education. We have 8,000 public schools and 2,000 non-public schools. The capital investment in schools over the last century has accounted for millions of pounds. Therefore, education is not a field in which haphazard largess should be dispersed to some people who have committees to administer it. The Commonwealth Government has a definite responsibility in the dispersal of the funds, but it does not accept any responsibility. The Government should establish a Commonwealth Ministry of Education. This is Labour’s policy and I think it is a fundamental element in Australia’s educational progress.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport asked why we oppose the bill. He has been here long enough, surely, to know that if we defeat the Government on this measure, which is such a vital part of the Government’s policy, it will resign. In the subsequent election, it will be absolutely defeated, of course, and another government will take office. Even if this Government is returned to power following a defeat in this House, it would be required to get on with the job again. As it never undertakes these matters with any great speed, that would not make much difference. It has already taken five or six months to reach this stage with its proposal.
There are other elements in this subject that I want to bring before the House. The Government has stepped into the field of education and placed its imprimatur quite firmly upon a dual system of education. As I pointed out earlier, it has not only given its sanction to a dual system of education; it has given Commonwealth financial support to it. What does this mean? The amount provided in this year will be some £1,300,000. What will it be next year? What will honorable members opposite do to meet the constant approaches that will be made to them by every non-State school in the community for more and more money? Will we reach the stage of parity, as the Minister implied we would? Will there be, shall we say, a £1 for £1 distribution of the money to be spent on education in this country? Will many of those already so richly endowed be further endowed? Will we go back to the divisions of the last century? It would not be a bad idea if some honorable members opposite studied the position in the last century.
In 1855, the report of the commissioners of education to the Legislative Council of New South Wales said this -
We take the opportunity of remarking, that all the recent Legislative measures on educational matters, appear to have no connexion with each other;
How history repeats itself whence it happens, that with all the requisite materials for forming a comprehensive system, the Colony possesses no system of education at all, in the proper sense of the word. Primary education is divided into two great sections, repugnant, if not hostile, to each other in spirit, and independent of each other in every respect. . . . There should be but one system, especially adapted to the wants of the country, and controlled and administered by one managing body.
The Australian Labour Party is quite firm about this. It has no quarrel with the independent system of education. It is part of our policy that the absolute right of this system to exist shall prevail. It is part of. our policy that the people who send their, children to these schools will receive the kind of support that we know from the. experiences we have had will most adequately meet their needs. But the Parliament is putting its feet upon the slippery slopes of compromise on this issue by accepting Commonwealth responsibility tor a dual system of education.
Let us examine for a moment what this might mean ultimately in terms of finance. Financial assistance cannot stop here. It will continue in the next year and the year after. This year the amount is £1,300,000. If there is to be a pro rata system, as the Minister implied in his speech, eventually the amount will be £50,000,000. All this extra finance must come from somewhere. I ask honorable members opposite to explain if they can, whence this money will come. Or does the Government intend gradually to whittle down the importance of the State education system? It is already inadequately housed and inadequately staffed and the school leaving age is still too low by international standards. I am afraid that that is the path upon which the Government has placed its feet.
We believe that the whole principle behind the bill and the system of distributing the funds need closer examination. A Commonwealth committee of inquiry is needed. If the Commonwealth intends to step into the field of education, it must do so through a Minister who is responsible to this Parliament and who is answerable for the way in which he spends the money. The Government must face its responsibilities to the families in our community. But our own schools have the first call upon public funds.
I remind honorable members opposite that no matter what they may claim for this legislation it will again endow those who are already richly endowed. 1 mentioned the schools in my electorate. I have obtained from the Library a list of the fees charged by some of the schools that will be endowed in this system that the Government has now adopted. These are the schools that the Minister apparently thinks need assistance. The annual fees of Cranbrook School in Sydney are £195. Carey Baptist Grammar School at Kew in Victoria has basic fees of £201 per annum. The Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Corio, has annual fees of £216 per annum. This is the Government of the rich. It will endow the rich and the families struggling to send their children to the non-State primary schools and battling at the secondary level will receive no adequate support.
The scholarship scheme, which was proudly presented to us, although inadequate in numbers, has failed to get off the ground. This is typical of the Government’s attitude to all the pressing and critical problems of the community. It takes a political point, sharpens it and gets all it can out of it. I hope the people of Australia will realize that this Government and its spokesmen on this issue, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who is now sitting at the table, are the opponents of the State school system. They challenge the very ethic on which the system is based. They claim for themselves a special priority in all these matters and I hope the people of Australia will take due cognizance of this.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Mackay) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time
The bill before the House seeks approval to create the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Before addressing myself to the details of the bill I thought it appropriate to give honorable members a brief resume of the events which have led to the Government’s decision to establish this institute.
In 1960 it was put to the Govern ment that unless some urgent action was taken to further aboriginal studies, the source material for many aspects of study in this field would disappear, to the great detriment of the work of scholars in the future. In the fields of music and linguistics the need was particularly urgent because a great deal of information was to be found only in the minds and memories of aborigines who were nearing the end of their life span. On their death whole languages would disappear and so, of course, would all possibility of studying such languages. The same situation applied, and still applies, to many ancient tribal ceremonies, many aboriginal legends, and much material of this sort which would be of world interest to, for example, anthropologists. As a result of these representations, the Government agreed to finance a conference of scholars who were active in aboriginal studies and related fields and to ask this conference to review the state of our knowledge of aboriginal studies and to advise on the gaps this survey revealed. The conference was asked also to define in general ways those areas of study which were in urgent need of research.
The conference, to which I will make a later reference, met in May, 1961, under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council. It furnished a report on its deliberations which the Government considered at that time. Following its examination of this report, and after consultations with the Australian National University, the Government established an Interim Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and asked this council to arrange a modest programme of urgent research work and to advise the Government on the structure, scope and functions of a permanent institute. This permanent institute is the subject of the bill before the House. The Interim Council has performed both the tasks given to it by the Government and I take this opportunity of recording the Government’s appreciation of the work of its members. They have given freely of their time and have expended a great deal of thought and energy in achieving the purposes for which the Interim Council was established. With the concurrence of honorable members. I incorporate in “ Hansard “, the names of the members of the Interim Council. They are as follows: -
Professor A. D. Trendall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University.
Executive Member -
Mr. F. D. McCarthy, Curator of Anthropology, The Australian Museum.
Professor J. A. Barnes, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Australian National University.
Professor A. A. Abbie, Elder Professor of Anatomy and Histology, University of Adelaide.
Mr. K. Beazley, M.P.
Professor R. M. Berndt, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Australia.
Professor J. Burke, Department of Fine Arts, University of Melbourne.
Dr. A. Capell, Reader in Oceanic Linguistics, University of Sydney.
Professor R. M. Crawford, Department of History, University of Melbourne.
Mr. A. F. Deer, General Manager, Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company Limited.
Emeritus Professor A. P. Elkin, Editor of “ Oceania “.
Professor F. J. Fenner, Department of Microbiology, John Curtin School of Medical Research.
*Mr. E. J. B. Foxcroft, Prime Minister’s Department.
Professor W. R. Geddes, Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney.
Professor G. Lawton, Department of Geography, University of Adelaide.
Professor D. W. McElwain, Department of Psychology, University of Queensland.
Mr. R. J. Randal], Commonwealth Department of the Treasury.
Dr. W. E. H. Stanner, Reader in Comparative Institutions, Department of Anthropology, Australian National University.
Dr. D. F. Thomson, Fellow in Anthropology, University of Melbourne.
Mr. W. C. Wentworth, M.P.
It is appropriate that the name of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) should be included because initially his drive and enthusiasm contributed largely to the establishment of the Interim Council.
Taking the urgent research programme first, the Interim Council has sponsored research in social anthropology, musicology, linguistics and archaeology. It has sponsored a number of conferences of experts in these fields and is building up source material of an archival character for use by scholars now and in the future. This work has been made possible by the ready co-operation which the Interim Council has received from universities, museums and other institutions in the field. Indeed, ils work has been done largely with, and through, these institutions.
Before examining the bill in some detail, I think it is important to clarify to the House the Government’s concept of the role of a permanent institute of aboriginal studies. The permanent institute will not be concerned with current problems as they affect the Australian aboriginal. Its work will be scientific and anthropological. This is made clear in the bill in the section dealing with the functions to be assigned to the institute, but I think it is important to stress the academic nature of the work of the institute. I should add that it is not the Government’s intention that the institute should become a super department of anthropology with a large research programme in its own right and conducted by its own professional staff. It is not intended that the new institute should rival existing institutions, or do work which properly and conveniently lies within the appropriate departments of universities and similar institutions. It will exist to complement the work of these institutions, to work through them, and to strengthen them by its activity.
The institute is in the nature of a learned body which is being given the opportunity tolook at the field from a national viewpoint with funds to stimulate a modest programme of research in conjunction with, and through, existing institutions. Its programme will be designed to ensure that important material now available is not lost forever. Collection is its prime role the study of materials at leisure is largely for the future and for other institutions. In saying this, I do not wish to imply that the institute will not arrange directly for urgent work to be done. Clearly, there will be some tasks which the institute considers important which for one reason or another cannot be undertaken by existing institutions. These cases should be comparatively rare and might be met by the institute engaging scholars in Australia and from abroad to collect source material and conduct the necessary research on specific topics.
It follows that the Government does not envisage the institute’s employing a research staff of any size and that the staff it engages will be devoted mainly to collecting and organizing material for the use of scholars. The work of documentation is proceeding and the institute should in time become a focal point for material necessary to further studies on the history and development of the Australian aboriginal. This work of collecting, processing and preservation is seen by the Government to be the core of the institute’s work.
Turning now to the bill, honorable members will see that the functions assigned the institute conform with these concepts. They emphasize that the institute will concentrate on the study of evanescent material and that this work will be done primarily by assisting universities, museums and other institutions already active in aboriginal studies. The affairs of the institute will be conducted by a council of 22 persons. Honorable members will see in clause 12 of the bill what the constitution of the council will be. Half of the council will be elected by members of the institute. Membership of the institute will be open to scholars who are active in this field. In the first instance the bill enables the Minister to invite scholars to accept membership. Not more than 100 persons may be so invited, and I wish to inform the House that it is the Government’s intention to ask the scholars who were invited to the conference in May, 1961, to accept foundation membership of the new institute. The bill further provides that the institute may make rules governing the election of additional members. It is the hope of the Government that with a widely based membership the institute’s work will proceed guided by the advice of the most competent people in Australia in this field of work.
The remainder of the bill is devoted mainly to machinery matters, but I would draw the attention of the House to clause 22 which deals with the appointment of a principal to head the institute staff. We see the principal as a scholar of distinction who will plan the research programmes of the institute and will, under the council, ensure that its programme meets urgent research needs. We would expect that in time the principal will have close and continuing relationship with the appropriate departments in the Australian universities and other institutions and I express the hope that the co-operation so far extended by these institutions will have fruitful results and that both the institute and these other institutions will be strengthened by this cooperation. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed (vide page 1943).
.- We have heard speeches on this bill from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). The outstanding impression gained from their speeches relates to the subject of State schools. The honorable member for Wills perhaps summed up the attitude of the Opposition succinctly when he said that because the Government had brought down legislation to provide that 25 per cent, of the money allocated for aid to schools should go to non-State schools, ignoring the fact that 75 per cent, of the amount would go to the assistance of State schools, it was proving itself to be the opponent of the State school system. That means only one thing, namely, that honorable members opposite are inveterately set against the private schools - the non-State schools or the independent schools - and that nothing short of the complete destruction of those schools will satisfy them.
As a product of the State school system, I find it very difficult-
– Tell us about the deputation that you led to the Premier of New South Wales.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney not to interject.
– Only one person can be heard at a time. As a product of the State school system, I find it very difficult to understand that philosophy, which looks out with this eye of jealousy. Only a small proportion of the money provided under this bill will become available to the independent schools.
I believe that at this time we must look at the back-drop against which this legislation is being brought forward. It comes before the House at a vitally important and significant time in the history of this country and of the world. From Siberia to central Africa there is a rising clamour for more and more of the kind of knowledge which is the foundation of our modern age. In a very real sense, science has become a weapon both of defence and of potential offence. It is unhappily true that any nation which ignors or falls behind in the race for scientific knowledge places its people in jeopardy. Let me begin my remarks this afternoon by quoting some figures on the relative rates of production of scientists in other countries and comparing them with our own rate. In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the production of scientists is at the rate of 332 per 1,000,000 of the population; in the United States of America the relevant figure is 281; in the United Kingdom it is 182; and in Australia it falls to 89. If any proof is needed of the challenge which faces our education system, those figures provide it.
How are we to meet this challenge which is of very much more significance than many of the arguments to which we have been treated this afternoon? This Government, on taking office, found that the most obvious factor in the crisis was in the realm of the universities. On 10th December, 1949, Robert Menzies was given the task of rebuilding an Australia which had almost ground to a halt. Within three short months he appointed a committee headed by Professor Mills to examine and report on the condition of our universities. The next year saw the introduction of a magnificent piece of pioneer legislation. I remind the Leader of the Opposition of the title of that legislation. It was the States Grants (Universities) Act. Grants made under that legislation increased from a little more than £1,000,000 at the beginning to £2,250,000 in 1956. Even then the challenge was not being met.
This Government with the appointment in December, 1956, of Sir Keith Murray, the chairman of the United Kingdom University Grants Committee, to head a fullscale inquiry into the problem. On 1 9th September, 1957, Sir Keith Murray’s committee reported to the nation - in general, the Australian universities are sadly lacking in adequate accommodation for practically all their important activities . . .
The committee went on to recommend that a permanent committee similar to Sir Keith Murray’s committee in the United Kingdom be established in Australia “ to safeguard government interests and yet leave the universities as free from interference as possible in a modern stage “. Everybody knows that the result of the Government’s speedy and complete adoption of those proposals was highly successful. On 7th May, 1959, an enabling act was passed and received the royal assent. It made available to the universities enormous amounts of money, including an emergency grant of £4,500,000 in the first triennium. As one who was charged with the financial as well as the academic administration of a university college at that time, I can vouch for the vital importance of that action. The whole nation hass applauded it. The Australian Universities Commission, by its succeeding years of activity and the support that this Government has given to it, has changed the face and future of the universities. The crisis that was met then is still being met and ultimately will be defeated.
Meanwhile, another problem has come into greater clarity. With the increased tempo in the universities, huge numbers of students were shown to be unable to meet the requirements, both academically and in other ways, of tertiary education. We all know that failure rates have been too high and that mutual recriminations have taken place between the universities on the one hand and the secondary schools on the other. The universities have tended to say to the secondary schools, “ You have not prepared these students properly “. The secondary schools have said to the universities, “You do not know how to teach them properly “.
Whatever the merits or demerits of those discussions may be, the fact remains that a further and immediate crisis exists in our secondary education system, especially in regard to the teaching of the sciences and mathematics. In the latter case, which has been mentioned this afternoon, whilst possibly it is the most urgent crisis of all, the remedy lies almost entirely in the provision of teachers. In the case of the teaching of the sciences, the problem is increased by the inadequacy of laboratory and other equipment that is needed by the schools.
A survey made in New South Wales recently revealed that only 4.15 per cent, of the science teachers currently engaged in the secondary schools in that State were science graduates. No more sobering statement on the defence of Australia or any other matter has been made in this chamber this year. Let me repeat it in another way. Not one in twenty of the teachers who are preparing the youth of New South Wales for a university career has so much as a bare pass in what is possibly the shortest and the easiest of all university degree courses - a plain bachelor of science degree course. If what I have tried to depict up until now means anything at all, I submit that I am not being an alarmist or being guilty of over-statement in saying that Australia’s very existence is being threatened at this moment by the problems of secondary education, especially in the field of science training.
At this stage it would be of value to note one or two facts which illustrate the changes that are taking place, first in the nature of the secondary schools themselves. We have two types of secondary schools - as is very obvious from this debate - government and non-government. About 75 per cent, of the scholars are in the former type and about 25 per cent, in the latter. The second point is that the bulge, or point of maximum density in school population, has moved steadily up through the school years. At one time it was in the first year;. then it was in the intermediate year; and now it is at the top end of the school scale. Fifty years ago there was a total of 210 candidates for the Leaving Certificate in New South Wales. Last year there were about 20,000 candidates.
In one large secondary school in 1912 4 per cent, of the scholars were in the top form; by 1938 the top form had swollen to 15 per cent, of the scholars; in 1958 the figure was 21 per cent.; and this year it is 24 per cent. With the additional year at secondary school being introduced shortly, almost half of the scholars will be in the top form. That in itself is a challenging thought. When we consider that the vast majority of those students are doing science subjects, we realize something of the magnitude of the crisis that is facing our secondary teaching institutions. 1 trust that I have said enough to prove conclusively that Australia as a nation must find a speedy solution to this problem of teaching secondary school science or drop further and further behind other nations.
Any reasonable person, faced with this situation, would ask one potent question: If the Commonwealth Government has shown itself to be successful in meeting the earlier and equally grave crisis at the level of tertiary education, is not that Government morally obliged to act again at the secondary level? With the future of the nation in question, surely this matter is on a par with any other matter of great national importance. Yet what has happened? At this time the nation faces two major threats, one internal and one external. The internal threat is in the form of the inroads of sheer materialism and lack of true values in the character of our people, and perhaps particularly in the character of our young people; the external threat, more obvious perhaps, is the threat of organized ideological materialism to our peace and security. In these days, when all Christian and religious values are under fire, and indeed appear to be hard-pressed for survival, there are people who would dare raise outmoded questions of sectarian and political jealousy.
For six months little was said across the nation about the proposals enunciated by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his policy speech, proposals which received - let us never forget this - the overwhelming mandate of the people of Australia. Independent schools almost without exception went ahead with preparations to implement the scheme. Virtually no one raised a voice against it until this last week or two when the Opposition, already poverty-stricken for constructive ideas in debate, stooped to an all-time low in tactics. Without regard for the nation’s safety and security the Opposition began to stir the pot of bigotry and reaction. At the expense of the people of Australia, massive telegrams containing a whole inquisition of questions were sent to leading churchmen across the nation by Opposition leaders. It is true, unfortunately, that it is much easier for people to hate than to love, much easier to criticise than to help and the Opposition was not unsuccessful in getting some support. We have yet to face the cost of that success in terms of Christian unity and goodwill.
However, as the question of sectarianism has been raised, and distasteful as the topic is to me, let me make one or two points. It is an unhappy fact that religion, education and politics have been interwoven for so long in a theme of partisan strife. Quite often the people who are most vehement in this are not truly religious people but rather those who are camp followers or who, for hereditary or other reasons, have continued a blind and unreasoning prejudice.
How different is the real picture inside the Christian church to-day. This is the generation of Pope John and his illustrious successor. This is the generation of the Ecumenical Councils and of the ecumenical movement in the World Council of Churches, that vast movement which bridges churches from the very orthodox east to the, at times, far from orthodox churches in the west. At this very moment there is greater goodwill and mutual acceptance among church leaders in Australia than ever before. Let me cite one example. This is the kind of thing I should like to hear from honorable members on both sides of the House. In one town in Victoria - let us name it; it is Ballarat - there are large secondary schools connected with both the Protestant and the Roman Catholic Churches. Three of these schools have united to plan a common science teaching block. The goodwill that has spread throughout that entire community and their enthusiasm for this project have to be seen to be believed. That is the kind of answer that this nation is waiting to hear, but in this vital and urgent field, which could give people of all faiths the opportunity to work out a triumphant answer in the spirit of the ecumenical movements, rather grimy hands have been stirring up trouble.
As some Opposition members have tried from time to time to place me in a certain category because I have the background of a Christian minister, let me make this point clear - I speak in this House at this moment not as a Christian Minister, although I am that, but as the elected representative of 40,000 Australian people. What I say and do here I do with a sense of deep responsibility to every one of them, especially to the young people. If I thought that I could not discharge this function without remaining true to my deepest principles I would not be here now. There is the cheap gibe which comes from the Opposition benches - we have heard it already and we will hear it again probably in a few minutes - “ You are turncoats; the Government has somersaulted “. Let me remind the Opposition that the ecumenical movement is a somersault, a change, a progression from bigotry. If any honorable member opposite is very interested in my background, when I was very young and very silly I was actually inclined to socialism.
There are those who claim that the Commonwealth Government has broken a longstanding principle in granting direct aid to church schools. Let us look at this argument fairly and squarely. What is the principle involved? As I have shown already, when a crisis threatened our universities and the church colleges, which, across Australia, form an integral part of their framework, these same universities and church colleges went with both hands ready to accept public money which ensured their survival and their continued growth. Without exception every one of the major churches accepted this money without a whisper of suspicion or disquiet. This is true also at other levels. In New South Wales, church colleges for generations have accepted funds from the State Government which have been diverted directly to their upkeep and continuing existence.
So what is the principle at stake at the secondary level of church education which is divorced from the principle involved at the tertiary and every other level? We have been reminded that the churches gladly receive State aid for education at the vital formative stage of the pre-school child and for the mission fields. This type of aid is received for the sick and the aged and, indeed, almost every stage of a man’s life except one - the field of secondary educa- tion. What is so singular about this field? Simply this, that the Roman Catholic Church controls about three-quarters of the schools in that sector. In short, the argument is based solely on what is felt to be a disproportionate advantage to one church. No matter of principle is involved.
I hope that all honorable members recall the ancient story from the Hebrew people about the two mothers who had a child on the same day. One of the babies died and both mothers claimed the living child. They took their dispute to King Solomon who tested them by proposing to cut the living child in two and to give one-half to each mother. The false parent agreed to this but the good and true mother said, “ No, better to give the child to the wrong mother than to harm it”. I appeal to every one concerned with this legislation to remember that story. Are there really many leaders in this country - I find it hard to believe that there are - who would say, “Destroy the whole thing; kill the future of 25 per cent, of our youth rather than let the other body receive some advantage”? We are talking about age-old bitternesses here, the kind of hatreds which honorable members opposite profess so much to abhor when they are imported from Yugoslavia but are prepared to countenance when they are derived from older feuds in western Europe.
In New South Wales some people have pointed out that the Education Act of 1880 sought to put an end to the growth of the denominational system in favour of the State system, granting certain rights to the Churches for religious instruction such as the en-try of the clergy during school hours and so on. As far as I am aware, the Roman Catholic Church was never a party to agreement in that action, and so can hardly be charged with having forsaken it. That legislation was typical of legislation right across Australia. Yet the situation to-day is that even the right of the clergy to enter schools is under bitter challenge.
Well set-up organizations, such as the Humanist Society, are pressing for the removal of the religious concept in education. These secularist educationists seek to prevent the continuation of the Churches’ right to teach in the State schools. We already know the success achieved in this respect by a challenge based on the United
States Constitution. That is the situation at present, but 25 per cent, of the nation’s parents, Catholic and Protestant alike, prefer the environment of a school which is wholly actuated by faith.
Watching the influences at work inside the State system - I make no apology for introducing this - one cannot disregard Communist influence in the New South Wales Teachers Federation. The time may well be at hand when many parents will be thankful for the opportunity which is still theirs to choose the school and the kind of instruction that their children shall receive. At this moment the Government Printer in New South Wales has installed enormous machinery designed for the massive production of text books. Is the day near when the official-line text books on history, for instance, will be the only ones used in the majority of our schools? As I understand it, education and the gaining of knowledge never come out of uniformity or a unilateral, single-line method of approach.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the honorable member to read all of his speech?
– Order! The honorable member is in order in referring to notes.
– I agree that some voices have been raised in query. One very distinguished one that has been raised is that of the aged Bishop of Armidale, who has long been an opponent of this Government. It is his right to raise his voice in this way. But we also must remember that the Bishop took no such stand against, and some will say that he tacitly approved of, the electoral proposals of the Australian Country Party in New South Wales two years ago, when that party advocated a form of State aid to church schools. On the other hand, the disgusting extremism of certain attacks on the Primate of Australia and the Prime Minister of Australia in certain journals can, interestingly enough, be traced to one small but fanatical source.
In conclusion, I once again appeal to the nation to judge these proposals on educational grounds and not on the basis of partisan religious or political platforms. The Government has in no way tried to buy into this difference between denominations.
No matter how you view the matter or feel about it, the Government has not attempted to enter into any kind of arbitration between opposing or competing schemes. It has simply, wisely and extremely fairly, tried to apportion this money that has been set aside, multilaterally over the entire spectrum of secondary education, according to the well-established principle of school population. To say that this is the beginning of State controls and that eventually the State is going to determine the policies of these schools, is to make a statement without a shred of evidence to support it. It is flying in the face of the evidence from other places where this system has been tried.
Some people may try to misrepresent me in regard to this matter. No doubt there will be an attempt to aver that I have set myself up here as the complete champion of every form of State aid to independent schools. In case some one tries so to misrepresent me, in spite of the earlier case that I made with reference to a crisis in a particular field, let me reiterate that I believe this action is being taken to fill a specific and urgent need which is common to all secondary schools. This is not in any way a blanket approval for financial support for all aspects of independent schooling. I hold to the principle that where the State provides adequate schooling which is free and secular, those parents who wish to give their children alternative forms of education must be prepared to pay. On the other hand, certain special conditions sometimes emerge, as they did in the case of the tertiary colleges and universities. In some cases these conditions are directly due to Government action. For instance, an additional burden may be imposed by increasing the number of years during which it will be mandatory for students to remain in those schools. There may be other ways in which additional burdens are imposed, such as in connexion with the establishment of a new syllabus for matriculation or for the gaining of the leaving certificate. When these special burdens are imposed on schools by a government I believe the government has a responsibility to assist all schools to meet the extra demands, in much the same way as a government meets the cost of converting machines so that they may be used when decimal currency is introduced.
This is not, then, a monumental matter of principle. It is not a case of a government’s buying into some sectarian or other issue. It is a plain, basic matter of justice. Those parents who do not choose to accept the offer of free State education are, nonetheless, people who pay taxes which, as has been pointed out by honorable members opposite, are greatly increased by the demands of education. In my view this Government has acted honestly and in a timely and enlightened manner to meet yet another educational crisis. I for one want to be numbered amongst the supporters of this scheme. In the light of the amendment that has been proposed, I wonder how many honorable members opposite are prepared to say just what they really think. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said this was a haphazard scheme, a shot in the dark. Let me say that it is not a shot in the dark. It is a shot in the arm.
– The speech we have just heard came from a gentleman who only last year is reputed to have lead a deputation to the Labour Premier of New South Wales and strongly protested, as did the other members of his delegation, against any granting of State aid by the New South Wales Government to denominational schools. He has virtually admitted that this is the view he held.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is utterly untrue. I have never led a delegation in my life.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The honorable member has just stated, in the concluding remarks of his speech, that he is virtually opposed to all forms of State aid except the form we are now discussing. It is surprising to me that a person who claims to be a man of God, and who boasts of having once been a Minister of religion, should become so bitter and show such a very small degree of Christian charity, and so little regard for the dictum of Our Lord, who said, “ Love thy neighbour as thyself “. The honorable member has evidently not for many years taken the necessary time off from the stock exchange, where I understand he is a gambler in oil shares, to examine his conscience.
– Order! I think the honorable member would be wise to restrain himself in making his remarks.
– Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to deal with some of the statements made by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay). He began by saying that science to-day is of vital importance to every country in the world. Of course it is. Every one must agree with that. But then the honorable member went on to ask the question: How are we to meet this challenge? That is a fair enough question. The answer that I give to such a question is that you certainly will not meet this challenge with the miserable piece of legislation we are now debating. By setting aside £5,000,000 for science laboratories and another £5,000,000 for buildings we are doing no more than merely tinkering with the problem. What this Government ought to do, if it is concerned with the need for us to catch up in the field of science, as the honorable member for Evans pretends, is to establish science laboratories in sufficient numbers and of sufficient size in every capital city and every large provincial town in Australia, so that students of both private and State schools could attend those laboratories and obtain their science education there. This is the way to deal with the problem.
Then the honorable member talked about the wonderful efforts of somebody called Robert Menzies in the field of university education. I agree that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has done an excellent job in that field. I do not take any credit away from him in this connexion. I applauded the Prime Minister for what he did at the time, but I made the observation then that I make now: It is no use having a lot of universities if you have not enough secondary schools to turn out the children to fill those universities. If this is the situation, you will leave your educational system in a top-heavy and ridiculous condition. However, this is the way the Prime Minister approaches the situation. Being a product of a university himself, he concentrates on universities. He seems to have a fixation about them and gives them all his attention, to the exclusion of the secondary schools which are so important if we are to operate a proper university system. The honorable member who has just spoken very rightly condemned sectarian jealousies, but I know of nobody who has indicated any greater form of sectarianism in the past than the very same gentleman. I agree, however, that there is greater goodwill now amongst the leaders of the Christian churches than there has been for many years, possibly for many centuries. This is a good thing because, if ever there was a time when Christian unity was urgently needed, now is surely that time. The honorable member is correct also when he suggests that this is due to the winds of change that are passing through the churches of the world, at the very apex of authority. It is certainly true that the late Pope John and the present Pope have both contributed in a tremendous way towards the new feeling of tolerance that exists between the various sections of the Christian religion and other religions.
The honorable member said that he did not speak as a Christian minister. It was quite obvious that he did not speak as a Christian minister. Anybody listening to him knew he was not even speaking as a Christian, because he could not resist the temptation to slander some person who could not defend himself here - to accuse somebody in the Teachers Federation of being a Communist. Any person who engages in McCarthyism cannot claim to be a Christian, much less a Christian minister. As a simple Presbyterian myself, I look at that gentleman opposite, and I wonder whether I have cause to be proud of my church. That the Presbyterian Church can find a place in its ranks for a person who can utter such statements as those which the honorable member uttered to-day appals me. The honorable member did say he was once a socialist. That does not surprise me because I believe that every true Christian would be a socialist. I would like to know when he stopped being a Christian because he seems to boast that he is now no longer a socialist.
I want now to say something about this bill. This measure does two things. It provides some assistance to State schools and some assistance to denominational schools, that is, in the main, to Catholic secondary schools. Some assistance does go to the schools of other denominations, but, in the main, it goes to Catholic schools. It would be idle for anybody in the Labour Party to pretend that there are not some differences of opinion between members of that party. There are, and I hope there always will be, for that is a healthy sign. But there is also a vast difference of opinion between honorable members on the Government side. I venture to state that if a secret ballot were held of members opposite there would be among them many more opponents of the bill that they are now going to vote for than there are on this side of the House.
It is true that there are some men in the Labour Party who conscientiously believe in State aid to denominational schools. They honestly believe that this is justified. They believe that it is wrong that parents of their denomination or of any denomination, should be forced, as they see it, to pay taxation twice. They see many other reasons for State aid to denominational schools. I respect their views. I admire them for having the courage of their convictions, and I admire them for having the courage to fight for the faith of their fathers. That is to their credit, not to their discredit. But the fact is that the Labour Party, of which I and they are members, has taken a decision on policy and all of us are bound to abide by it. I personally support the policy of the Labour Party without any qualms at all. The day may very well come when the policy of the Labour Part in this particular arena will change. Should that occur, I would then be in the position that the members to whom I have referred are in now; but I would willingly support the new policy.
At the moment, the policy of the Australian Labour Party is opposed to direct aid to denominational or other independent schools. We believe, moreover, that there is a large body of public opinion also that is opposed to State aid for such schools. I think that the attitude of some persons who support, or pretend that they support government aid to denominational schools is to be deplored, and I refer to the attitude of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) as indicated in a report published in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of an announcement that he made when he addressed a meeting of school children on 28th February, 1960. On that occasion he had the audacity to say by innuendo that any child who attended a State school was nothing but a clever pagan. I say that is a disgusting attitude for any person in public life to take. But I fear that it epitomizes the attitude that some people opposite have towards pupils attending State Schools.
On 29th November, 1958, the honorable member for Evans had this to say -
As a Church man, I try to be scrupulously fair to both the Liberal and the Labour viewpoint.
I did not see any evidence of scrupulous fairness to the Labour viewpoint this evening, nor have I seen it on any other occasion. This honorable member, who pretends to be scrupulously fair to the Labour Party, will take every opportunity he can to smear it and its members and to adopt a McCarthylike attitude towards it. He went on to say -
The Liberal Party has failed to put before the electors a concise and clear statement of its objectives.
I agree with that. The honorable member was right in 1958. What he said then was true, and it is true to-day. The only difference is that this honorable member who was then a man of God is now a politician with a Liberal ticket hanging on his back. This man who stated correctly in 1958 that the Liberal Party had failed to put before the electors a consice and clear statement of its objectives is now pretending that the Liberal Party is the very essence of sweet reasonableness, decency and everything else. That is all I want to say about the honorable member.
Let me say now that the proposal we are debating to-day is one which, whether we like it or not, is a step towards State aid in an uncontrolled form.
– Are you for or against it?
– I have told you two or three times that I am against it. Of course I am against it. And-
– But you switch.
– The only time I switch is when my party switches; I will be loyal to the party. Of course I am against the bill. It is a step towards State aid generally. That is why I am against it, and I shall give my reasons later on. The Labour Party does not oppose that part of the bill which proposes grants for science laboratories in State schools. We support that although we criticize the manner on the ground that perhaps it does not go far enough. This is what the Labour Party decided at the conference held in Perth-
Conference emphasizes the special need for broadly based technical education at all levels, especially in view of the changing composition of the work force, the growing problem of chronic unemployment among unskilled workers, and the advance of mechanization and automation.
We support that and we thought of it long before the Liberals thought of it, so it is nothing that they can claim to have originated. On the other hand, the policy of the Australian Labour Party as laid down at the conference and which we are all bound to obey even though it does not necessarily correspond with the private views of all members of the party, is unequivocally opposed to the expenditure of public moneys on private schools whether conducted by a religious body or otherwise. When it dealt with this particular subject, the Labour Party conference declared its policy in this way -
Citizens who do not choose to use the school facilities provided by the State, whether for conscientious or other reasons, shall have the absolute right to develop an independent system of schools of a recognized standard provided they do so at their own. cost.
I have heard spokesmen for the independent schools reply that a citizen’s right to develop an independent system of education is a natural right and is not something that depends upon decisions of political parties. This, of course, is perfectly true. I do not take issue with people who say that. It is a natural right. At the same time let me add that the natural rights of all citizens are not always recognized by political parties, and they are certainly not always recognized by all countries. This statement is just as true of Catholic countries as of non-Catholic countries, and as true of Christian as non-Christian countries. Therefore, it is refreshing to hear a party declaring itself to be in favour of natural rights, whether they are accepted by the people or not. It is good to hear a party declare that it favours the recognition of natural rights, and we, as a Labour Party, do exactly that.
It is not true that people in Australia have a completely free choice as far as church schools are concerned. It is a well known fact, which no member of the Catholic church will deny, that Catholic parents arc pressed by the church to send their children to church schools. The reason put forward is given in an official publication, from which I shall quote. 1 do not disagree with this reason, as I shall indicate in a moment. The publication refers to the aim being made to present persistently a view of things which is an exclusively Catholic view; in other words, it states - to inculcate whatever will foster, and to withdraw whatever might be injurious to, the faith of the child’s baptism.
That is perfectly right. A church that believes in its faith should take every possible step to see that nothing is done in any way to withdraw or to injure the faith that it propagates. I see nothing wrong with that. I merely state that those who want to propagate their own study by the establishment of their own schools ought to pay the cost of their own schools. I see nothing wrong with that either.
In the 1870’s in New South Wales about 55 per cent, of Catholic children were attending public schools. Shortly afterwards, as we all know, a bill was brought down which introduced secular education. It meant that Catholic schools were facing a real crisis, and so were the Anglican schools, because the Anglicans had their own church schools at the time. Both churches opposed the Government’s action. This opposition indicated a difference in the attitude of the various religions towards the question of church schools and of secular and religious education from that which applies to-day. An example of this is a pastoral letter which I shall cite from a Catholic publication entitled “Catholic Education in Australia “ by Brother Ronald Fogarty. At page 215 Brother Fogarty said that pastoral letters couched in terms like the following were issued to members of the Catholic church: -
In towns and districts where a Catholic school is in operation Catholic parents who send their children to public or other anti-Catholic schools cannot be admitted to the sacraments, nor will children attending these schools under such circumstances be confirmed.
The Anglican archbishop at that time indicated his hostility to State schools by issuing a statement to his flock saying -
That was issued by the first Anglican Archbishop of Sydney.
This question should not be determined on sectarian grounds. I have heard it said by some people that anybody who opposes State aid for church schools is a bigot. I hurl that accusation back in the teeth of those who make it. It is true that some people who oppose State aid are antiCatholic, and it is equally true that some who support State aid are anti-Protestant, so that makes it even. I am pleased to say that the sectarian approach to State aid is not so strong now as it was ten years ago. Public opinion appears to have changed considerably over the past few years. It is more tolerant to-day. I do not believe, however, that this is due to any greater support for the proposal; I believe that it is due to a lessening of opposition or, at any rate, to the fact that the opponents are not so articulate as they were years ago. However, in spite of this changed attitude towards State aid for church schools, there is still widespread opposition to the proposal.
Bishop Moyes, the senior Anglican bishop of New South Wales under Archbishop Gough, said on 10th May this year -
There is a principle of freedom for independent schools involved and I believe we must keep our freedom or lose our souls.
I should like now to refer to some other statements indicating opposition. The New South Wales Teachers Federation issued an instruction on 12th June, 1963, in which it said -
State aid for science teaching facilities in private schools would be a denial of the principles of the Public Instruction Act.
On the same day the Moderator of the Presbyterian church in New South Wales, the Reverend M. A. McAlpine said - I ask honorable members to pay heed to this - that the Presbyterian Church was opposed to any form of State aid to denominational schools. He said -
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales has from time to time expressed itself as opposed to State aid to denominational schools.
I refer next to a statement made by a spokesman for the Church of England Committee on State Aid, Dr. L. E. Lyons, who said -
State Treasurers should not elect to supply money for private groups, even if they are churches.
Churches which cannot pay for school science should not teach that subject.
State schools are owned by the people, administered by representatives of the people and are open to all.
They alone should be supported by taxes raised from the people.
Apologists for State aid often use the argument that because the cost of State education is met from taxation collected from taxpayers who send their children to independent schools, in common with those who send their children to the State schools, those who choose not to use the State schools provided should have the right to be reimbursed for their costs at the independent schools. I believe that this is a very weak argument and that the case for State aid must fall if it has to rest on such a proposition.
To talk about double taxation is all right until that argument is examined more closely. A bachelor and a spinster could claim that they are paying double taxation because their money is being used to provide schools for those who have children. What would the Government say if every spinster and every bachelor said, “ I want some of my money back because I have no children and I have discovered that my taxes are being used to provide schools for people with children “. Such a claim would be ridiculous. It has been stated also that if Catholic schools would suddenly close, the State schools would be in a state of chaos. Of course they would. There is nothing profound in a statement like that. Obviously they would be in a state of chaos until such time as they were able to provide new facilities to meet the upsurge of new pupils. Bui in my opinion there are much stronger reasons for State aid than any of these arguments. If I choose not to use the public transport system to travel to work, but prefer for some reason to travel in my own car, I have no right to say to the State, “ I am not using the public transport system; I want you to pay for my car”. If everybody suddenly decided to use the buses, then more buses would have to be bought, but the situation would not be overcome, surely, by providing a car for everybody who did not want to use the buses. In my view this is not a case at all, and falls to the ground.
I should like now to refer to a report of what was said by Mr. J. McCusker, who is an assistant secretary in the Education Arts and Sciences Section of the Prime Minister’s Department. No one will suggest that there is not some relationship between Government thinking and the views expressed by this gentleman, because normally public servants do not commit themselves to expressing views publicly until they have at least an oblique blessing from the Government. The report states -
Roman Catholics should drop emotionalism and appeals for “justice” from their campaigns for State aid for church schools, Mr. J. McCusker said . . . “ We don’t want to look as if we are just a lot of gripers and grizzlers,” he said.
He was addressing a public meeting called by the Newman Association of Catholic Graduates in the Australian National University.
The meeting was held on 7th August, 1963. Mr. McCusker went on to say that he disagreed with some arguments used by Catholics seeking State aid for their schools. The report states -
He regarded as a fallacy the argument that Catholic parents paid twice for the education of their children. Mr. McCusker said the State aid question had seldom been presented as a cold, hard factual case backed by professional research.
I agree with Mr. McCusker’s views as they were reported.
It is said that church schools are saving the Government a lot of money, but does anybody seriously suggest that the reason churches provide schools is to save government expenditure? Of course not. They have a much better reason for providing church schools, namely, to give people who belong to a church an opportunity of understanding the teachings of Christ and the Christian faith as that particular church sees it. Each church has a perfect right to do that, provided that it pays the cost. The churches have no right to call upon the State to pay the cost of teaching a particular religion. At the same time, I say that if a person believes strongly enough about his religion he will not worry about the cost. He will pay it willingly even if he has to make great sacrifices to do so. Incidentally, the sacrifices that now so heavily bear upon people who hold these views would not be nearly so great if they had a government prepared more equally to distribute the wealth of the community, rather than to allow the major part of it to be concentrated in a small number of hands with the great majority who have the heaviest burden to bear being those who get so little of the wealth.
The State cannot afford to support in every suburb Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregationalist and Baptist schools in addition to its own schools, and the schools of non-Christian groups which may be dissatisfied with State schools for other than religious reasons. Even political parties could set up their own independent schools and claim State grants. Any group of sufficient social identity could demand recognition. In Germany prior to World War II. Communists and Nazis did in fact, demand and receive government aid for their private schools which they used to indoctrinate children. Will anybody say that he is prepared to take this policy to its logical conclusion and provide State aid to the Communist school at Minto? If you wish to be logical and consistent that is what you will have to do. Let any Catholic put up his hand and say that he would willingly support the proposition that the revenue of the State should be used to support a Communist school to indoctrinate the minds of young children in the philosophy of communism. Once it is placed in this light people begin to see the fallacy of the proposition that you can use the power of the State to collect money with the one hand and dish it out to various groups with the other hand so that they may use it to impress their viewpoint upon the young and impressionable minds of children. If it is right for one group - and I say it is - to decide what kind of education their children should have, it is right for every group to have the same privilege. If it is right that the Government should pay the cost involved in those groups exercising the privilege, it is right that it should pay the cost of all groups exercising that privilege.
The Australian Labour Party’s answer to the real question of education is the establishment of a system of scholarships available to every secondary school child in Australia, irrespective of whether he belongs to the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist or Baptist faith, or belongs to no faith at all. Each child should be entitled to a scholarship and the number of scholarships available to secondary school children ought to be equal to the number of children who qualify for them. That is the only real way of tackling this problem. We are not without supporters in this theory. Mr. Askin, the leader of the Liberal Party in New South Wales, as recently as 30th October, 1963, was reported to have said that a Liberal Government in New South Wales would replace the present system of scholarships which were limited to children attending private schools with scholarships for all children so that the system would benefit all secondary school children in New South Wales irrespective of whether they attended public or private schools. Mr. Askin also said that the present scheme in New South Wales discriminated against parents of pupils attending State secondary schools. He said that parents whose children happened to attend State secondary schools seemingly were regarded by the Government as outsiders in the so-called new deal.
Had the Labour Party policy been adopted at the last election it would have given infinitely more to the people whose children are attending secondary schools, both church and non-church schools. The cost would have been infinitely greater. The Labour Party could have implemented a scheme under which the Commonwealth could have built science laboratories, and children attending any school could have had the advantage of a properly equipped science laboratory.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I claim that I have been seriously misrepresented and I would like to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has told the House and has told the nation over the air that I am the type of person who will stand here and make the kind of speech which I have just made, yet only a short time ago I led a delegation to, I think, the Premier of New South Wales which protested against State aid. This is typical of the kind of approach-
– Order! The honorable member will not be allowed to enter into debate.
– I have never in my life led a delegation of this nature or any related nature nor have I been a member of such a delegation, to a Premier or to any one else. I defy the honorable member for Hindmarsh to prove otherwise. He claimed also that I was a gambler in oil shares. Mr. Speaker. I am a director of an oil company. I hold shares in several Australian exploration companies. May I remind the House and the nation that ownership of any of our oil resources is possible only by this means, and I make no apology for that.
Mr. KEVIN CAIRNS (Lilley) [5.521.- Having listened to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), it is not my intention to enter into the ecumenical spirit with him and to argue with him in respect of some of the false and superficial analogies he has drawn. Most of them are refuted by people who write books for primary school children and most primary school children would know that his analogies are false. I was very interested to hear that the attitude of the honorable member for Hindmarsh has been constant over the years and that he is a man who has been true to his principles. As he said on a number of occasions, he has been a member of his party for a long period of time. Following membership of that party he had a certain attitude towards education as it applies to government and non-government schools. I presume that before 1953 his attitude was formed by the dictates of his party, whose policy was, shall we say, not to give assistance to students attending non-government schools. Between 1953 and 1957 he adopted the attitude that he would give assistance to pupils attending both government and non-government schools. Then in 1957, at the Brisbane federal conference of his party, it was decided to reverse the attitude which had been espoused for the previous four years. The party decided that it would ignore the plight of non-government schools in Australia. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, being a man of constant principles, decide that he would also change his attitude. We believe that he would never change except for a good reason. The good reason certainly had something to do with his pre-selection to contest the next election, at a time when the forces within his own party had changed.
There is a very vital difference between the attitude of the Government and the attitude of the Opposition on this bill. That difference concerns the way in which the educational systems in Australia are regarded. It is a fact of everybody’s experience that we have at least two systems of education in Australia. We have a government system and a non-government system. Both consist of groups of people who havebanded together to support certain lines of thought and education, and both are patriotic in their attitude to this country. The vital difference between the Government and the Opposition is that we on this side take the attitude that we should assist both systems of education. We think that that is fair enough. The gentlemen on the other side of the House, however, say: “ No. There are not two systems of education. We have individuals on the one hand and governments on the other, and there is nothing between. We shall introduce a system of bursaries and scholarships. These will be paid to individuals, because we ignore the existence of systems in education.”
This kind of thinking about the role of the State is something like the excessive individualism of the old liberalism that existed in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries - not the kind of liberalism that we have in the twentieth century. That old kind of liberalism faded half-way through the nineteenth century, when governments decided to recognize voluntary bodies of working men who had banded together to form trade unions. So the excessive individualism of the state was thrown overboard in the middle of the nineteenth century. I do not think that the honorable member for Hindmarsh realizes the philosophy that he has been espousing, Mr. Speaker. His thinking is back in thelate eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His excessive individualism has led him into errors. We could well ask him: Why has the Australia Labour Party recognized bodies of working men who have voluntarily banded together? Why has it recognized systems of trade unions in the community when it will recognize only individuals in education? I do not want to press those questions too far. I know that the minds of most men will have been exercised by the kind of philosophy that the honorable member has espoused to-day. Most people will quickly jump to conclusions about the honorable member’s reasons for espousing that philosophy.
This bill relates to scientific education in Australia. We may ask a fair question: Is a boost needed for science and technology in Australia? Is a boost needed for the training of technologists so that we may maintain Australia’s social and economic life? I think it is legitimate to point out that Australia is largely dependent on international trade. Over a number of years, we have been attempting to diversify our trade. One thing has become perfectly clear: We cannot diversify our trade unless we have enough scientists and technologists undertaking the research on which the diversification of our trade depends.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Sir ROBERT MENZIES (Kooyong- -
Prime Minister). - by leave - Honorable members will recall that last year, when announcing the Government’s programme of aid for universities during the 1964-66 triennium, I foreshadowed the establishment of an inquiry to advise the Government on the levels of academic salaries which could appropriately be adopted by the Commonwealth for the purpose of calculating recurrent grants for universities. Honorable members will realize this does not mean that we have fixed the salaries, but some basis for the salaries has to be achieved in order that the Australian Universities Commission may recommend to us what we ought to provide. We have now reached certain decisions about this inquiry. It will be conducted by Mr. Justice Eggleston of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island.
The Government will appoint two assessors whose function will be to assist the inquiry with expert advice and analysis based on a special knowledge of universities and government interests in the subject. I have written to the Chairman of the Vice-Chancellors Committee and to the President of the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations inviting them to submit jointly a panel of three names for the Government to consider when appointing the assessor with special knowledge of the universities interest. The other assessor will be a person with experience in government service.
The terms of reference of the inquiry are as follows: -
To advise the Government on the standard salary or range of salaries for a professor and the standard salary range for a reader or associate professor which the inquiry considers should be adopted as a measure of academic salaries to be used by the Australian Universities Commission for the purpose of recommending grants to be made to universities, including the Australian National University, for recurrent expenditure.
It is our intention that the inquiry should proceed in an atmosphere of informality and without being given a statutory basis. It will thus dispense with sworn evidence, verbatim records and public hearings. Actual procedure will be a matter for decision and announcement by Mr. Justice Eggleston. In due course, the inquiry will be communicating with interested parties to invite them to submit views in writing.
I would remind honorable members that the Commonwealth fully accepts that salaries paid in a State university are, and must remain, ultimately a matter for that university and its State Government. The basic purpose of the present inquiry is to provide guidance for the Commonwealth and, as already announced, its findings will be applied retrospectively to 1st January, 1964, in relation to recurrent grants offered by the Commonwealth to States for their universities. The Commonwealth will also adopt the findings as a basis for its recurrent grants to the Australian National University from the same date.
Debate resumed (vide page 1957).
.- Before the suspension of the sitting, I had argued that the thinking of the Opposition was more appropriate to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and that, although the honorable member for Hindmarsh, whose contribution to the debate for the Opposition was significant in its own way, proudly asserted that his attitude was constant, it had in fact changed three times in the past eleven years, lt changed in 1953, in 1957 and again at the time of the last election.
It has been argued that because Australia has such a large part of its activities in the international field it is without doubt a country with an open economy and we therefore depend on trade. That being so, it is very clear that the maintenance and the constant improvement of our living conditions depend upon our industry being advanced and competitive with the nations overseas. It is very clear from the experience of the great trading nations of the world that no country with an inadequate effort directed to scientific research and with an inadequate number of trained scientists and technologists can successfully engage in international trade to its own benefit. In the post-war world, Japan has without a doubt provided verification of this assertion. Japan has something like 2.2 or 2.3 per cent, of its gross national product engaged in research, and this has been reflected in the constantly rising living conditions and improvement in social conditions in the country.
We in Australia have a problem in that we must train more scientists and technologists not only to maintain our position but also constantly to improve it. In order to do this, we need scientists and technologists from the whole of the population. It is certainly unjust and unreal to say that all this increased effort must come from students who comprise 25 per cent, of the population. This is unjust to the 75 per cent, of the population, and it is certainly unjust to the 25 per cent. The narrow attitude of the Opposition would certainly be unjust to the whole of Australia. It is also perfectly clear, I would suggest, from our own experience that it is no use trying to export last year’s model developed by the processes of several years ago. Rather we should try this year to export next year’s model by the processes of to-day. We can only do this by applying the principles and the actualities of this bill to the whole of our school population, and the Opposition would not do this. I would suggest further that our attitude is based on Christian tolerance.
There is another way to view our attitude in this matter and this is appropriate in its own way to a private enterprise economy. We know that in many parts of the country governments undertake development activities in the construction of roads, railways and bridges, the provision of power supplies and so on. Private enterprise follows the initial government development in an area. The prior government activity has acted as a catalyst or as a substrate around which industry and investment have developed in the area. We see this in outlying suburbs in the big cities and in some country towns. The same process would apply to education. When a government shows an interest in education, and in government and non-government education, it provides a catalyst and an incentive which in their own way can attract private investment from parents of students. In this way, in the long run we will have a more efficient investment in education and a greater proportion of the gross national product will be spent in education. This is above all a social investment. I think it is clearly not a good thing for all policies in relation to education to be developed at the political level. If this happens education tends to become a political football. This has happened with the Wyndham report. It was kicked around for a long time and as a result many Australian children suffered. We need a diversity of education systems in this country, which is what we in fact have to-day. Where there is this diversity you will find it easier to bring about changes in the system.
This principle is illustrated in our universities. In company with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) I recently attended a graduation ceremony at the University of Queensland. Professor Sir Fred Schonell made a plea for greater investment in university education. He was grateful for what had already been done. He said that the Queensland Government, in co-operation with the Commonwealth Government, had made a magnificent effort in the field of university education; but he indicated that there was a great deal of private investment in universities in America. The encouragement of private investment in education is one way to achieve a more efficient growth in education in this country, not only at the university level but also at the secondary level. The measure that we are debating has been accepted wholeheartedly by the Australian people.
As is the case with many things, Queensland’s approach to education is quite unique. Contrary to what the honorable member for Hindmarsh may think, we do not have much trouble with education in Queensland. We do not have unnecessary divisions of society. That great friend of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, Mr. Tom Dougherty, has been impressed by the friendly nature of the Queensland people whenever he has been in our State. He has been impressed also by the complete lack of class division. What is Queensland’s attitude towards education? Has our attitude assisted in tearing away unnecessary class divisions? It has. Queensland’s attitude towards education has been to increase greatly investment in government school education. This has increased quite considerably since the present Government came to power.
Queensland also has a unique system of investment in non-government school education. In our State for every child attending a non-government high school the Government pays either £18 or £20 to the school. Suppose you had a nongovernment high school of 500 pupils. That school will receive between £9,000 and £10,000 each year from the Government. That is a most liberal and generous system. It has been extended this year by the Queensland Government. We take great pride in that system. I do not think there is a representative from Queensland on the Labour Party’s parliamentary executive, so the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) may be excused for his ignorance of the situation in Queensland. Although we excuse his ignorance, we cannot accept his suggestion that Queensland should be penalized. Recently a report made by the honorable gentleman was published in which he gave details of the amounts that he thought would go to non-government schools as a result of this legislation. We know that independent schools in Australia are to receive £1,334,000 under this bill. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that Queensland’s share of that sum would be £131,000. That was a manifest injustice to Queensland. The honorable gentleman would rob us of more than £62,000. If he would do that in 1964 what would he do in 1965? Under the bill Queensland will receive £193,200 instead of the £131,000 suggested by the Leader of the Opposition.
The Opposition’s attitude towards education has attracted the interests of many people. In the last election campaign the Labour Party promised that if elected to office it would establish a Commonwealth ministry of education and science. Apparently the idea was to centralize education in Australia. That is something to be feared. Let us look at the front bench of the Opposition and ask ourselves who would be Labour’s minister for education. It is important to consider this prospect. Having regard to who are the intellectuals on the Opposition side we must conclude that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) would be very much in the running for the education portfolio. What is his attitude to education in this country? What conditions would he place on the education of our children? In the winter of 1963 he wrote an article in which he outlined the conditions under which he would not grant assistance in Australia. He said -
The point where it could be expected to stop would be where what is done- meaning what is taught - is significantly inconsistent with socialism.
Lest the House think for a moment that the honorable member’s brand of socialism does not have values, later in the same article he said -
The values can be stated a priori.
In other words, this Commonwealth minister for education - this intellectual of the Opposition - would insist that the a priori values of socialism be taught. Surely this is something for the parents of Australia to fear. The honorable member would place blinkers on the minds of the children. In addition he would seek to establish the principle that socialist values are the only values worth supporting from the public purse. It is important that we should bring these matters into the open because they demonstrate clearly the Opposition’s attitude towards education.
The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is nothing more than a smoke-screen. I would like to pose two questions to the Leader of the Opposition.
If his party were in power would it repeal this legislation? Secondly, would the honorable gentleman repeal the legislation in the same way as he indicated on television in Brisbane that he would do away with the granting of interest-free loans to nongovernment schools in Canberra? On that basis I presume that he would not only rescind this bill, its principles and its actualities but also, perhaps more important, take away something which has been granted in Canberra for nearly a decade. If an alternative Prime Minister would renege on that type of arrangement, we can imagine what he would do when he had a Commonwealth minister for education of the type that I have mentioned.
It is a great honour to be able to support this bill. I suggest very respectfully that it has been introduced with a clear, Christian spirit of tolerance in respect of education in the Australian community. Its ingredients include the possibility of developing an even more efficient system of education than we have in Australia at present. I have very great pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- Before I address myself to the bill I want to take up a remark that was made by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) this afternoon. He referred to the New South Wales Teachers Federation as being Communist-dominated. As one who has been a member of that federation for some time, I say that I personally resent his remark, and I am sure that in so doing I speak for the 20,000 teachers in New South Wales who belong to the federation and who have a free choice in electing their executive officers. I am sure that he will have to account for this remark in the days ahead. If there is any part of the policy of the New South Wales Teachers Federation which he can brand as being Communistinspired, I challenge him to name it. I suppose there is some resentment against the federation among some members of the Government parties because it has prodded the Government probably more than any of the many other community organizations that have been prodding the Government for at least the last eight years to give Commonwealth assistance to meet the urgent needs of education in the Australian States.
This bill represents a complete somersault by the Government in more than one way. The honorable member for Lilley spoke about the Christian policy of the Government. Presumably, only a matter of days ago the Government had an antiChristian policy; and presumably the leader of the Liberal Party in New South Wales still retains an anti-Christian policy because in his 1961 policy speech he said -
We do not think it would be in the best interests of the community as a whole or indeed of the private schools to support direct aid to denominational schools.
That throws the ball back to the honorable member for Lilley. How does he reconcile his attitude and the challenges that he made to-night with the attitude of some of his State Liberal colleagues?
This bill deals with two quite important aspects of education. One of them has been accorded hardly any attention by honorable members generally, but particularly by members of the Government parties.
– Why will you vote against the bill?
– If you will be patient, you will hear what I have to say. Then you may make your judgment on where I stand and where the Labour Party stands in relation to this bill. As somebody said this afternoon, the chip is becoming a log. The first proposal is to give a total of £5,000,000 to Government and private schools for the purpose of promoting science teaching in secondary schools. The second proposal is to give £5,000,000 to the States for technical education. That money will go to State schools only. Apparently the technical education needs of the private schools do not warrant consideration.
Before I refer to the second proposal in detail, let me return to the first one. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had to admit in his second-reading speech that up to the closing date for applications for assistance in respect of science teaching for the financial year 1964-65, 410 completed questionnaires had been returned by independent schools. He said that after the closing date and before he made his secondreading speech, another 96 completed applications had been received. So, a total of 506 applications for aid has been received from schools and colleges over the length and breadth of Australia. We have to realize that the total amount of aid provided for science teaching facilities in independent schools under this bill is £1,334,000. That amount has to be whacked up among all the independent schools in Australia - Catholic, Protestant and non-denominational schools.
The Prime Minister misled many of the private schools into believing that they would receive immediate grants. I know that in my electorate private colleges were reckoning upon a per capita basis what they were likely to receive. Somebody put around an inspired whisper that they would receive capital grants on the basis of £7 for each child in a secondary school. Whether that rumour was put around by the Liberal Party or by its stooges I do not know. Then the Prime Minister came into the House and said -
I think we have seen enough already to indicate the substantial size of the programme in front of us, and the great need for improvement in the science facilities in many independent schools, which have been struggling around endeavouring to teach science, often under severe difficulties.
A little later in his speech he said -
Our State schools system and our private schools system already have waited many years. In 1945, the present Prime Minister, as the Leader of the Opposition of that day, put forward a proposal that something should be done for education at all levels and in all respects. But nearly twenty years later the best that he can come up with for private schools is a grant of £1,334,000. That amount has to be distributed over the whole private secondary school system. What will this achieve? Why one college alone in Sydney will spend £12,000,000 in the immediate future on extensions. I refer to the Sydney Technical College. That gives some perspective to what the Government is doing for private schools.
The honorable member for Higinbotham is anxious to know what the Labour Party would do for private schools. I will tell him. I am sure that the private schools, when they have second thoughts on this matter, will be sorry that they did not accept the proposals put forward by the
Labour Party. The Prime Minister has to resort to the plea that what he wants to do is not to give the mass of secondary school students the chance of a better science education but to cultivate a scientific elite among our young people. He talked of raising the standards of the best students and preparing them for work at tertiary level. A little later he said that that would tie in with the Commonwealth’s other proposal to grant 10,000 secondary school scholarships. This has been delayed until some time next year, although the promise was made last year. The Prime Minister said that the proposals in this bill, plus those scholarships will provide opportunities for the most talented young people. That point ought to be taken up. This is a matter of principle. This is one .matter on which the Labour Party clearly differs from the Prime Minister and those who support him.
The Prime Minister, in the first place, is assuming something which many educationists will not assume, namely that the most able students can be detected. Hardly one educationist of any substance in Australia to-day will predict the students who will be best suited for university education, in the final year of secondary education, let alone in the early stages of secondary education. Yet the Prime Minister is restricting the Government’s aid to the most promising or the most talented students. He proposes to whack up about £3,750,000 among all the State education systems in order to boost science education to the unprecedented heights about which he waxed so enthusiastic only a day or two ago. The Labour Party’s proposal was to give ample opportunity to all students who had the minimum qualifications for entry into secondary schools. As I shall indicate later, we proposed to give Commonwealth scholarships to all secondary students, and we had proposals relating to endowment which would have consolidated that support to the parents. The endowment would have been available whether the students were in State or private schools.
The thing that strikes one about the Government’s scheme is that it is a political gesture rather than a sincere attempt to help education in Australia. We know the circumstances in which it arose. There was no talk of this last year. Budget time approached and we made our usual appeals for Commonwealth assistance to meet the sorely taxed educational requirements of the States. We referred to what all the State Premiers had said and also to the resolution of what was perhaps the biggest conference of its kind ever held in Australia. On 25th May last year this conference in Victoria urged the Commonwealth Government to make certain emergency grants to the States and to set up an inquiry into this matter. We made all these things known to the Government and brought them before the Parliament for the umpteenth time, but you knocked them back even as recently as Budget time last year. But because at that time you had a majority of only one on the floor of the House, you knew that you could not stand still any longer. You had held up the educational progress of Australia for twelve or thirteen years and you knew that the public was not in the mood to put up with that any longer. The public had been educated to expect something better, so you came up with this thing out of the blue, with no preparation, no planning, no consultation. Why should the proposed assistance be £5,000,000 to meet the requirements of the whole of Australia? Was this the result of a purposeful, deliberate assessment? Were any particular objectives in mind? No, nothing of the kind. It was just an ad hoc, out of the blue grant of £5,000,000, and you decided to throw in another £5,000,000 for technical education. No assessment was made of requirements, and the proposed grant is unrelated to requirements. Can any honorable member on the Government side tell me what specific assessment was made that led to the selection of this amount?
Let us turn now to the field that has been talked about most in the debate so far - the field of science. As I have indicated already, the proposed grant will be grossly inadequate even for the comparatively few schools that will receive assistance. Even in his speech the Prime Minister indicated that certain criteria will be used to select the schools to be considered for assistance, and then out of that group there will be a further selection of schools to receive assistance this year. So there will be a selection from a selection. Comparatively few schools will get anything out of this. As I have said, the provision is completely inadequate to meet even its stated purpose.
I also challenge the fact that the grant will be made for a specific educational task - science - unrelated to the other needs of education. This might produce a lopsided development in education. No consideration has been given to, say, the teaching of mathematics, which is so intimately allied to the teaching of science. The bill makes no provision for science teachers Where will we get them? What is the use of installing costly apparatus, as one of our leading scientists commented only yesterday, if you have not previously planned to obtain the science teachers who will be required? Even the honorable member for Evans, who is a Government supporter, directed attention to the tremendous dearth of qualified science teachers in our secondary schools. I believe that only about 4 per cent, of science teachers in secondary schools are university graduates. There is a continual wastage. Teachers colleges provide scholarships for youngsters to do a science degree course, but the students are no sooner qualified than outside industry outbids the Government for their services and gobbles them up.
The Government has resisted every entreaty that we have made, and every entreaty that outside organizations of any significance have made, for the Government to make an assessment of the position, to prepare a plan of action and to provide emergency grants to keep things going. At least eight years ago we asked for an emergency grant to keep things moving until the Government could carry out a national survey of Australia’s educational requirements. If you had done that long ago, you could have predicted the sorry state that exists to-day in relation to science teachers. You could have predicted what would have been necessary to induce more youngsters into science faculties and diploma courses at technical colleges, and at least we would have had something. But now we are so far behind. A little later I shall refer to a statement by a distinguished gentleman who said that, bad as things are, he is sorry to have to say that they look like getting worse. I am directing my remarks now to the subject of science teachers. The bill contains no provision for obtaining science teachers, nor does it give any indication where they can be obtained, to use the limited facilities that will be provided.
I have resisted the notion of catering for a science elite in our secondary schools or universities. This is the age of science. Science is not just a vocational aptitude or a qualification. Science is part of the fabric of our every-day communication with each other. As some one said recently, if you do not have some knowledge of science you will not be able to understand what people are talking about. We live in a democracy in which we elect governments and in which governments are charged with great scientific endeavours but bow can a democracy cast a valid and informed vote if it has had no training in science? We like to think that people develop a generalized scientific aptitude and attitude to scientific thinking, not only in the specific field of science but also in life generally. But the Government is content to cater for a certain 6lite in secondary schooling.
The distinguished gentleman to whom I referred earlier is Professor W. N. Christiansen who, on 21st December, 1962, made a speech through the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the subject “ Scientific Education in Australia “. In part, he said - . . most of the new schools have some sort of facilities for teaching science. However, the laboratories are quite inadequate and their equipment is poor. It is in the provision of teachers, however, that we have completely fallen down on the job. During the past few years more and more of our school children have been taught by people who are inadequately trained. It is no longer unusual to find a large secondary school with one or no science graduate on its staff. In mathematics the position is just as bad if not worse….. Our trouble is that we are now in a mess but I can see only worse trouble in the future.
While all the other advanced countries have been talking the language of science and have realized the necessity for increased scientific training, we have stood still. The Government said, first, that the Commonwealth has not the constitutional power to move in this matter. Does not that ring in honorable members’ ears? Surely honorable members opposite remember the Prime Minister saying not so long ago, “ We have not the constitutional power “ and then, later, saying, “We might have the constitutional power, but we do not think it proper to proceed, because if we made an investigation into the question we would find ourselves involved in more expense than we can afford “. More expense! This is not expense; this is an investment in Australia’s development. This is what you have resisted.
One of the major problems confronting the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, according to its annual report, is that it has not sufficient laboratory accommodation. Going outside the schoolroom for a moment, only a few days ago - on 30th April - the Australian Academy of Science was mentioned in the Sydney “ Sun “ in this way -
The Academy of Science to-day criticized the Federal Government for its apparent lack of interest in research.
Yet we hear honorable members on the Government side telling us that we of the Labour Party are not interested in science. The Academy of Science has been making these complaints for five years. We have been kept going in this country with some sort of viability in respect of scientific endeavour by American help. But the Americans have told us within the last few weeks that they are going to have to withdraw some of the funds that they have been giving us for the aid of science, and at this stage it looks as though there will be a sort of vacuum, unless, after five years of prodding, the Academy of Science can be successful in persuading this Government to shoulder its proper responsibilities.
Technical education has been the poor relation in the field of education from its very inception. Why it should be I will never know. The tangible results obtainable through technical education should be completely obvious. Culturally, of course, it is valuable, but it is also so obviously necessary for the development and defence of Australia. Yet we find that £5,000,000 has been provided in this epoch-making bill to help the States - all the States - to improve their technical education systems. As I said earlier, in New South Wales it is proposed to spend £12,000,000 within a short time on one technical college alone, the Sydney Technical College. The Government’s provision is just an ad hoc, piecemeal handout, not related to any programme or any survey of what is needed, and not connected with any objective set-up. It was just a hand-out on election eve, £5,000,000 for technical education.
The Australian Education Council is composed of ministers of education in all States. It issued a report entitled “Some Needs of Australian Education”. In that report the council suggested that for buildings alone - and taking no account of the requirements for teachers, in which respect technical education is in a sorry plight - it will cost £30,000,000 over the next four years to bring the accommodation and equipment up to date. What is the response of this Government? A provision of £5,000,000 is what the Government makes, when £30,000,000 is the amount necessary to bring the accommodation and equipment up to scratch and modernize it. In this developing age of technology we can all imagine how obsolete technical equipment can become unless sufficient finance is forthcoming. Various of my colleagues in the Labour Party’s education committee have joined me in visiting technical colleges in all States, and everywhere we have been faced with the complaint that obsolete equipment has to be used. The people in charge of these colleges tell us how far behind they are with their equipment when compared with what is available in industry. How can they function effectively when they are in such a position?
The Government’s performance in respect of financial assistance for technical education is on all fours with what it has been doing with apprenticeships. Once again the Government refused to make a survey of industry and find out the need in respect of skilled technologists and tradesmen. In typical fashion, without having done any planning or conducted any survey, the Government has now decided to introduce some pressure cooker course to produce tradesmen overnight. These people, will, of course, be inadequately trained. It is no wonder that the trade union movement is resisting this move. Why did not the Government do something about this matter earlier? In 1962 the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) instituted an inquiry and made the amazing discovery that between 1956 and 1960 the work force of Australia had increased by 400,000, the number of wage and salary earners by 250,000 and the number of fifteen-year-olds - the age group in which we would find the ones normally taking up apprenticeships - had increased from 64,500 to 83,300. With such a large increase one would have imagined that there would have been at least a proportionate increase in the number of apprenticeships taken up or available. But the Minister, in a publication entitled “ Training for Skilled Occupations “, issued by the Department of Labour and National Service in February, 1962, admitted that the absolute level of intake of apprentices in 1960 was only slightly higher than in 1956. In 1956 the intake was 19,415, and in 1960, four years later, after all this population increase, the intake was only 19,485. The level was practically the same. Was that not a shocking admission to make? The Government allowed this situation to develop and did nothing to check it.
I have not sufficient time to talk about all the other needs in the fields of primary, secondary or technical education, or in teacher training. There is practically nothing in the bill in respect of these aspects of the education situation. There is not a thing about teacher training, which is absolutely essential. But let me tell the House what the Labour Party had to say about these matters. Its policy, as announced during the last election campaign, was quite clear. It was an ambitious policy, in complete contra-distinction to the kind of policy that this Government has pursued for years and still persists with to a substantial extent. The Labour Party said it would make Commonwealth secondary school scholarships available to every student meeting the minimum qualifications provided in respect to those scholarships. The scholarships would not have covered just the last two years, so benefiting only those who were able to stay on at school until then, but they would have covered the whole period of secondary schooling.
We proposed a means test but only a mild one. Only those people with incomes of £2,500 or more would have been subjected to a means test to decide whether they could have been granted the full allowance. The allowance was to have been £20 for the commencement of secondary schooling. I wonder how many mothers listening would appreciate £20 to start a child off in secondary schooling, with all the equipment, uniforms, sporting gear and so on that have to be provided. Of course we realize that £20 would not be enough, but at least it would have made a welcome contribution, and added to the extra child endowment payments that we proposed it would have been quite substantial. This would have been available to every student, irrespective of the school he or she attended.
Personally I cannot see any great merit in attaching importance to the school attended by a particular child. Many people get quite hot under the collar about State aid. The Labour Party quite frankly says that it will give scholarships and endowment allowances to parents of children, irrespective of what schools those children attend. What would we expect those parents to use the money for? They would use it to help cover the costs of schooling, of course. There is a good deal of sham and makebelieve about all these distinctions that we draw up. If there is any importance in them it is only of infinitely small degree. It is quite obvious in Australia to-day that, irrespective of the issue of private and public schools, we must detect and cultivate every bit of talent we can lay our hands on. Whether Australian children go to private or State schools, we cannot afford to leave them untrained. Australia needs to train her young people.
The Labour Party promised all-round increases in child endowment payments. It proposed to increase the payment for the first child from 5s. to 1 ls. and for the second child from 10s. to 19s. Neither first nor second children received any extra benefit from the Government. We promised to increase the payment for the third and subsequent children from 10s. to 22s. a week. What would this have meant for a family with one child eighteen years of age? The parents of that child would have got £50 in secondary school allowance from a Labour Government and another £15 extra in child endowment. In other words, the parents who had only one child would have received £65. A family with three children, the eldest being only twelve or thirteen years of age, would have received £89, £69 being additional endowment and £20 the school allowance for the eldest child, assuming that only one of the children attended a secondary school. This was the kind of help the Labour Party would have given, and I do not want to hear anything more about what the Labour Party would not have done for these people, irrespective of the schools the children attended. The Labour Party proposed also to set up a Commonwealth ministry of education and science. We intended to provide an emergency grant of £10,000,000 to the States to help overcome some of their immediate difficulties until such time as a survey could be carried out on every level of education in Australia. We proposed also to increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships to universities and to extend scholarships to other higher study institutions such as teachers’ colleges. We intended to double the number of scholarships from 5,000 to 10,000. We proposed to establish an inquiry into all aspects of education and to establish a national science advisory council along the lines of that which has been advocated by the Academy of Science. 1 think that if people look at the case that the Labour Party put up and measure it in terms of the dire need on all levels of education in Australia they must be convinced that the Labour Party really had at heart the idea of giving real impetus to education and science in Australia. Our great regret is that we have not had the opportunity to put our plans into practice.
.- - It has been most interesting to-night to hear the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) reproduced so ineffectively by the honorable member for Barton (Mr, Reynolds). Last November the electors of Australia heard Labour’s policy speech delivered somewhat more effectively and perhaps a little less dramatically; but I feel sure that the reception the electors gave to that speech was the same as we have given to the speech of the honorable member for Barton this evening. A policy speech which endeavours te encompass at the federal level every sphere of the likely future educational needs of the community is quite unrealistic.
The bill which we are considering to-night is a very sincere and determined effort on the part of this Government to solve some of the very real problems that have arisen in the educational sector of the community. Obviously there are some very real educational needs on the Opposition benches, and I feel sorry that it is not possible for some further adult educational facilities to be provided out of this grant to meet those needs, which here are more apparent than many people outside the chamber realize. The problem that this bill seeks to tackle is real indeed and to this extent, I appreciate the argument of the honorable member for Barton. The educational needs of the community at large are understood by each one of us on this side of the House. If we examine the statistics relating to the number of people in the community to-day as compared with the number of people in the community in the immediate post-war years, we see some of the reasons for these crying educational needs. Immediately after the war, not unnaturally, there was a considerable increase in the birth-rate. I have some figures which I think will be of interest to this House. First let us take the year before the war. In 1939, there were 122,891 births in Australia. In 1946, the year after the war, the figure was 176,000. That was under a Labour Government. In the enlightened era of the Liberal-Country Party regime, it increased to 190,000 in 1950, and to 237,081 in 1962. This, of course, is one of the reasons why there is a shortage of teachers in the community to-day. The fact that our educational needs are expanding and our birth-rate increasing necessarily means that the number of available students who went through school immediately after the war in the age groups that to-day are the teachers of the younger generation was inadequate so that to-day there are fewer teachers. Our present problems are the natural result.
These problems exist in every sphere. For instance, if we examine the statistics relating to enrolments in schools in Australia we see a similar trend. In 1948 there were only 731,000 children in our primary schools and 148,000 in our secondary schools, making a total of 879,000 students. By 1952, we had a total of 1,099.000 students. By 1962 there were 1.247,000 students in primary schools and 466,000 in secondary schools. So, by that year we had a total enrolment in governmental schools of 1,713,000 and this represented 75 per cent, of total enrolments in all schools. That is the basic problem that this Government is trying to help the schooling authorities in the States to solve. If we are going to continue to persist in our Western way of life, it is absolutely essential that we have the two alternative streams of education. If we are to have these two streams of education, we deem it essential that every child in our expanding community should have an equal opportunity to receive the same standard of education, and it would appear that the only way by which they can receive the same standard of education is not only for the Commonwealth to provide the assistance that it does by this bill to-night, but also, as the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) pointed out, for the States to appreciate their increasing responsibilities. Any aid that the Commonwealth Government gives towards education should be in addition to and not in substitution for the aid being provided by the State governments.
I am a great believer in our federal system of government. I believe that not only should the Commonwealth Government assume its responsibilities but the States also must bear their fair measure of responsibility. This bill is a token of the Commonwealth Government’s appreciation of the fact that there are excessive demands for additional science facilities and for additional technical training facilities in schools, and that there is a need beyond the capabilities of the State governments. The Commonwealth Government is giving this first measure of assistance in order to provide additional help for science teaching in secondary schools and for technical training. We are not claiming that this is sufficient. We are not in any measure suggesting that a still greater need does not exist in the community. If we continue to have a Liberal-Country Party Government - and I do not doubt for a moment that we shall if the policy speech that has been reiterated for Labour to-night is an example of the policies of which the Opposition is capable - then we will continue to find that the need for Commonwealth contributions towards the education of the next generation will be met. One of our basic problems is that whereas many people, including people holding senior and responsible positions, were not as children able to receive the educational services that are available to-day, and whereas, not very many years ago, very few children went beyond primary schooling, to-day we are in the very happy position that very few children leave school before they have concluded their secondary education. This is a trend that I applaud and that I think every thinking member of the community applauds.
I trust that it will not be long before we see a development of the trend, which is increasingly apparent, of every member of the Australian community aspiring to not only secondary educational qualifications but also tertiary qualifications. This is perhaps the most notable field in which the Commonwealth can contribute. The honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) has mentioned in this chamber to-night the contributions made by the Australian Universities Commission to tertiary education and to meeting our educational needs. What a great contribution that has been. There is no doubt that the Australian Universities Commission has made possible a considerable and continuing expansion in the facilities available to university students.
The continual increase in population to which I have referred places constant pressure on available educational facilities. In the bill we have a further development of the Australian Universities Commission theme, in the form of capital assistance for secondary educational institutions. I believe the most noticeable point about the assistance that the Government is providing is that it will enable us to meet increasing technological requirements. The requirements of the community in terms of education are no longer purely in the field of philosophy or in the humanities; they are increasingly for a greater degree of capital expenditure in order to provide the basic facilities for technical training to give children the education that they deserve. If we do not have the necessary science laboratories, or the buildings in which to house them, we cannot expect our children to develop into the scientists of tomorrow, nor can we expect, at the technical level, in the absence of workshops, technical training colleges and the facilities within our high schools, to be able to provide for not only theoretical learning but also the practical teaching of the manual arts. Without these facilities we cannot expect to have competent and efficient tradesmen in years to come. This bill will provide a notable contribution in that regard.
There are other aspects that honorable members in this part of the Chamber are concerned about. I refer to the needs of the agricultural community, and mention that the men and women in the outback have a growing need of increased boarding facilities for their children. The parent whose children are in the city knows that the children can walk down the road to catch a bus or electric train to go to school. School facilities are close at hand. In the country parents have to send their children 10, 15, 20, 30 or even hundreds of miles to the nearest school. Parents in the countrytry find that things are not so easy as they are for city people. Unfortunately, the New South Wales Labour Government has not faced up to its responsibilities in this regard. For example, insufficient hostel accommodation is provided for students. This is a very real problem. It is absolutely essential that children should be catered for at not only the primary level of education. In the field of primary education there are many public schools in the bush in New South Wales which provide excellent facilities. These children should be catered for also in terms of secondary education.
Increasingly the trend has been towards the establishment of high schools in the bigger centres. The man from the outback is faced with losing his children virtually at the stage at which the children are ready to begin secondary schooling. This presents a very real problem of which I hope the State Governments will have greater appreciation in future. Perhaps the State Governments will be prepared to establish some means to give a greater measure of assistance to these families or to provide hostel accommodation so that children from country areas will be able to go not only to independent schools and board, but also to attend high schools and live in hostels. The limited accommodation that is now available for country students is unfortunately quite inadequate. In my view, this is one of the major problems that people in the country have to face, but it is not the only problem.
I should like to mention also the need for greater availability of agricultural education. Agricultural high schools and colleges are essential for the proper training of the rural man of tomorrow. I believe that not only in New South Wales but in every State there should be an increasing awareness of the responsibility of Departments of Education in each of the State capitals to cater for this need. Additional agricultural colleges and additional agricultural high schools should be provided, because the training that the students receive at the secondary level and at the diplomate level is well and truly worth while. Such training will provide a greater degree of technical skill in the farming community of tomorrow and it will help to meet our growing national requirements.
Whilst there has been a great deal of debate as to whether or not the sectarian issue is a consideration in this bill, I believe it is essential that the individual should have freedom of choice. The individual parent should be able to select the school that his child will attend. As many honorable members will be aware, not only have educational requirements increased, but the period of education has also increased. The implementation of the Wyndham report in New South Wales has meant an additional year of secondary schooling for children. This additional year has required a tremendous increase in the basic availability of facilities for students not only in State schools but also in private schools. The contribution to be provided by the Commonwealth will help to meet this need. The additional year at school will mean, I hope, that in the first year of university education there will be some lowering of the failure rate. I hope that this additional year of secondary education will not mean a bit more marking time in the earlier stages of secondary education, but that the sixth year of training in secondary school will enable students to cover something of the first year curriculum of university courses.
If the sixth year at secondary school is to cover the first year of training at the university level, or part of it, it is even more essential that facilities should be available not only in State schools but also in independent schools to provide the essential training. One of the basic reasons for the contribution by the Commonwealth is to enable some of these facilities to be provided in all schools where they are needed. It is essential that not only State schools but also private schools should have these facilities. But at the same time I think it is quite right that a particular section of the community should be in a position to say “ It has been offered to us and we realize that sums of money have been made available for capital expenditure on schools. But we feel we should have the right to say ‘ No ‘. We do not want to be tied to the Commonwealth or to State educational authorities. We want to remain independent.”
Some of the arguments we have heard in this chamber to-night have shown a lack of appreciation of this point of view. It is absolutely essential that schools which receive this aid should still have their freedom to determine the trend of their educational syllabuses. It seems to me that this will ensue from the manner in which the legislation before us is to implement financial assistance. I was very pleased with the constitution of the advisory panels set up by the Commonwealth to determine the schools to which aid is to be provided. I believe that the independence of those schools receiving aid will be ensured because of the independence of the personnel on the advisory panels. This above all else is the answer to some of the critics of this measure. I believe that each and every independent school can be assured of the measure of independence which it is rightly determined to retain.
I am happy to support the measure in the knowledge that through it the Government i$ providing assistance for the education of the Australians of the future. At this stage we are not necessarily suggesting that the assistance is sufficiently large to provide adequate science facilities or adequate technical training facilities in every school or in every instance that it is required, but we are suggesting that through the advisory bodies that are being established it will be possible to select carefully the schools which most require assistance. In this bill we have a notable instance of the government once again providing assistance where the State’ Governments have not been prepared, for one reason or another, fully to meet their responsibilities and, as they claim, have not been able to provide sufficient funds for education.
It is pleasing that in the early life of this Parliament it has been possible for the Government so to assist in maintaining our two systems of education. I hope that this trend will continue into the future so that we will always have an independent system of schooling and a State system of schooling. I hope that we shall continue to have in this country an educational system which measures up, not only in quantity but also in quality, against any other in the western world and, indeed, in the whole wide world.
– The measure which is before the Federal Parliament at the present time is one by which the Commonwealth Government proposes to set up, in both State and private schools through the medium of the State Governments, science laboratories. The origin of this suggestion, which was taken up by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) as his policy during the recent general election campaign, was of course in the conference of the New South Wales Labour Party not long before the federal general election. It is a policy which was not accepted by the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party. A great deal of derision has been directed at the Labour Party on this question because in the Labour Party for thirteen years - from 1951 to 1964 - this has been a matter of open discussion and public debate. From 1951 to 1957 the federal platform of the Labour Party provided for assistance to all forms of education. This was interpreted by the federal executive - I personally moved the interpretation - and subsequently endorsed by the Adelaide Federal A.L.P. Conference, to mean aid for denominational schools.
In the Liberal Party there has been no controversy on this issue. Sir Thomas Playford was Premier of South Australia for 30 years without knowing that any substantial form of aid for denominational education was his policy. Mr. David Brand was Premier of Western Australia for seven years without knowing that any form of substantial aid for denominational education was his policy. Both gentlemen woke up in November 1963 to find that this was their policy on the personal decision of the Prime Minister. There are advantages in a party which has a personal dictatorship. There are disadvantages in a party which discusses its policy in the publicity of its conferences. But the Prime Minister has never affirmed that denominational aid as such is his policy. This has been interpreted for him as being his policy by the
Australian Democratic Labour Party, which has asserted that this legislation is a breakthrough in principle.
In his policy speech the Prime Minister confined himself to one statement, the meaning of which was lost on a great many electors but which was interpreted clearly by the Democratic Labour Party to those who would be most affected by it. The Prime Minister simply said that he would give science aid without discrimination; 99 electors out of 100 probably would not see the full meaning of the statement unless it were put to them in an explanation. In point of fact, Labour Party policy was to grant scholarships without discrimination, but we did not have the advantage of the Democratic Labour Party emphasizing to Catholics who would have been beneficiaries under that policy that the assistance would be given to them. This I do not resent. The Democratic Labour Party is perfectly entitled to pursue the policy it prefers, but when we are discussing this question in the Parliament it is necessary to speak in terms of fact. About 125,000 Catholic students would have received £20 a head a year, or £2,500,000 a year under the Labour Party proposal, but in the barrage of press publicity this was so represented that one Catholic archbishop said that the Labour Party had nothing to say and nothing to offer to the Catholic child who was a citizen. In truth, the scholarship system of the Labour Party was an offer to all children without discrimination, including Catholic children.
The real point about this legislation before us is that its principles originated in New South Wales. I believe that in the New South Wales State Labour conference it was regarded as a form of aid that nobody could interpret as having exclusively religious connotations. One cannot argue that it is subsidizing the doctrines of any particular denomination if you set up in denominational schools science laboratories. The motive of the New South Wales Labour Party was probably to find a noncontroversial way of assisting private schools of a religious character. In the idiotic phrase that is now used, I have been a faceless man on three or four occasions, as I have been one of the 36 delegates at a federal conference of the Labour Party. 1 have also been a member of the federal executive of the party. In point of fact, when I was on the federal executive and this matter was being discussed, there were three points of view that were honestly held and seriously debated. I regard as completely contemptible the way in which the Australian press represents the discussions on this subject in the Australian Labour Party in terms of personal or class hatreds or in terms of hatred of the Catholic Church. In none of the controversies on this matter when I have had to deal with it have personal, class or religious hatreds been a feature. Some have taken the stand that every child is an Australian citizen, whether Catholic or nonCatholic, whether well to do and able to go lo what are called the greater public schools or not, and that all ought lo be the concern of the educational authorities of the States and the Commonwealth when they make financial appropriations for education. Some have taken the view - which was equally sincerely held, and especially sincerely held by those who are rationalists and regard a religious education as a contradiction in terms - that it is not a function of a plural state composed of people, of many denominations and of none, to provide a religious education. Yet others have taken their stand on the rights of parents.
I want to consider this question of the rights of parents, because two sides of this controversy over the years have not held very steadily on course None of the heirarchy to-day would take this attitude, but there was a time when some of them campaigned against scriptural education in State schools on the ground that the schools should not be called on to pay taxes for the religious education of other people’s children. The moment that stand was taken, of course, a lot of other people said, “ We agree with that, and we shall not pay taxes to subsidize your schools “. In latter years some of the archbishops have consciously taken a position quite the opposite and some of them have constantly fought for the right of Protestant children to have scriptural education in the State schools. This is a later development but let us not forget that about 1913 in Melbourne and earlier in Adelaide the contrary view was taken. The bedevilment of this question began because a consistent stand on the rights of parents - of all parents - was not taken at that time.
Now we come to an important point concerning something that, I believe, was of importance in attracting the Catholic vote to the Government parties during the recent election. This was the assertion by the Australian Democratic Labour Party that the Government’s present proposal is a breakthrough in principle - meaning, apparently, that full denominational school aid will develop. The Prime Minister has never said that because, in principle, he is now assisting scientific education he proposes to extend the principle further. If there are people who are bigoted against the Catholic Church, by his not saying that he proposes to extend the principle further, he has no doubt retained their support. But, for him, the Democratic Labour Party has been constantly saying to the Catholic voter: “ This is a breakthrough in principle. Wait and you will get more.” That is something that no utterance of the Prim.? Minister has given the Democratic Labour Party the slightest authorization to make, but it has been effective politically because that party is trusted by very large numbers of the Catholic voters.
Another feature of the controversy has been the extraordinary performance of the Australia press. Sectarianism is something that is always used against the Australia Labour Party. I recall that when Scullin was Prime Minister there were whispering campaigns because he was a Catholic. But, when Lyons became a nonLabour Prime Minister, the whispering campaigns disappeared. He was not subjected to them. At the time of the crisis in Goulburn when the Catholic schools were closed because they felt not able to carry on in the face of certain State decisions, a quite different situation developed. At one stage, the press of New South Wales thought that Heffron would intervene to assist, and the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “, which now praises the Government’s policy, and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which may not praise it but at any rate has swallowed it, because it has gone back to supporting the Liberal Party of Australia, had a lot of hard things to say. The press believed that Heffron would make some step towards ex tending aid to denominational schools, and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, for instance, on 17th July, 1962 - this is not very ancient history - thundered in terms like these -
If Roman Catholics prefer to attest their faith in their own system by erecting scores of schools and colleges, rather than use the State facilities for instruction, they are not entitled to expect aid from public funds.
Some people in the Labour Party say that, and the same newspapers do not hesitate to suggest that those people take that view because they are bigots or anti-Catholic or left wing. Those newspapers, however, do not now say, “ We were bigots two years ago but we have now changed our views “. For the purpose of attacking the Labour Party, they now attack their own erstwhile views because those views are held by some members of the Labour Party. The role of the press in this respect is quite consistent. Everybody in this House knows that if a Labour government were now in office all the newspapers of the Commonwealth would be hammering hell out of it in a campaign aimed at the re-introduction of compulsory military training were the Minister for the Army in that Labour government ment a person who, like the present Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), had had on the notice-paper for two years in the last Parliament a motion demanding the reintroduction of compulsory military training, and who since becoming Minister for the Army has said nothing about the matter. A Labour Minister like that would be hammered by the press from one end of Australia to the other.
– And rightly so.
– And rightly so, as the honorable member says. A complete dead silence is in the selective reporting. I am not saying for one moment that this kind of selective reporting applies only to the issue of denominational aid. The Labour Party in its scholarship policy took its stand on the rights of parents. I am quite certain of this because in 1958 I was a member of the Education Committee of the Australian Labour Party which submitted the recommendation for the scholarship system that was adopted at the federal conference of the party. The members of that committee went to Western Australia and heard evidence from the Catholic Parents and Friends Association and from the Director of Catholic Education. We heard evidence of the struggle of parents who, for conscientious reasons, want their children educated in Catholic schools and want to sustain their children in those schools. The financial problem, as it was represented to us, imposed a colossal and crushing burden on the parents and on the schools. If a science laboratory is built at a private school, that may be a very good thing, but it does not represent financial assistance to the parent who is having a struggle.
I say frankly that our policy of providing scholarships was formulated in response to the representation by the Catholic Parents and Friends Association that the burden was on the parents. 1 am not suggesting that they are responsible for the form of the policy. Under the Labour Party’s proposal, a Catholic family with three children going to a private school would have received assistance amounting to £60 a year - a scholarship of £20 for each child at a secondary school. Whether or not this has been rejected by the people who would have been beneficiaries, I still adhere to the position that this would have been of greater assistance to struggling parents than the equipping of science laboratories will be, if the financial burden is the primary problem of the parent, as was represented to us by some of those who gave evidence to the Labour Parly Education Committee.
– And, in addition, increased endowment.
– That, of course, is a separate question. The Labour Party’s policy in total, I believe, would have given more effective assistance lo families than (he Government’s proposal will give, and that child endowment assistance would have carried over to education. The movement of Australian thinking will be, I believe, from a policy based on a concept of the rights of parents to a policy based on a concept that every Australian child is an Australian citizen. It will, however, be the decisions of the States that will be crucial and critical in this matter. As the Prime Minister has so often reminded us, in the last resort it is the States that legislate within their own territories for primary and secondary education.
The discussion on this matter in the Australian Labour Party over the years has been very intense. The Labour Parry is open to all sorts of people lo join. It is a very comprehensive movement. From various branches of it there have from time to time come contradictory motions which have been resolved in Federal Conferences. I do not believe for one moment that this would have been the policy of the Liberal Party had it not come as a suggestion from the Labour Party in New South Wales and been rejected by a federal conference. The Prime Minister, as a consummate opportunist - I make no complaint about this - picked it up as a policy which he had not discovered heretofor in fifteen years of office. 1 do not say that because he has been Prime Minister for a record term he is necessarily committed to a previous policy that he had. but we have sat in this House and heard refusal after refusal of requests for intervention by the Commonwealth in the field of secondary education. The last speaker, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Sinclair) did not have the advantage of being in the previous Parliaments to hear these refusals. But I am not quite sure whether in the long run, for the sake of attracting the support that grant of £1.300.000 to private schools gained, the States are not very lucky to have received from the Prime Minister the £8,600.000. They did not receive the grams when we asked for them to be given for any form of secondary education over the fifteen years that I have been here watching the Government from the Opposition benches, sometimes from the back bench and sometimes from the front bench.
Whatever I have seen of the controversies in the Labour Party on this matter - they have been inflammatorily represented in the D.L.P. press - I have seen consistently among many members of the Labour Party the deepest respect for the motives that underlie the existence of religious education not merely in the Catholic schools but also in other schools. Many parents want their children to be brought up with the conviction that Christ is God and to build a life and a character around that conviction. If some have thought that it is not the function of the neutral State to grant any form of assistance to such education, they have never deserved by their demeanour, as I have seen it. the violent, uncharitable and unchristian comment that has been directed at them over the years. I myself have not taken (his rationalist point of view. What I have moved from time to time is on the public records of the Labour Party. But 1 have never had occasion to feel anything but the utmost respect for those who did not agree with my position.
I am not sure whether this legislation will be a break-through in the sense put forward by the D.L.P. If the States decide to extend the total appropriation for education to cover all the children of the States, they would need immensely large grants from the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth would not get away with a grant as low as £1,300,000 a year. Fully to finance these schools would probably require a sum in the vicinity of £50,000,000 a year. Before very much is made of this legislation as a breakthrough in principle and before the Prime Minister sits back accepting the praise which comes from those who regard it as a breakthrough in principle, it would be interesting to hear whether he is prepared, if the States put it to him, to meet the education costs of all the children of the Australian Commonwealth.
I believe that this subject would have been discussed in a very different atmosphere over the years if it had not been for the sectarianism of 50, 60 and 70 years ago extending to the more recent times of twenty years ago. A new atmosphere has developed no doubt, before Pope John’s pontificate but accelerated by the approach Pope John made to non-Catholic Christians. That sectarianism, however, did produce an atmosphere which bedevilled the discussion of this matter in the past and led to the hardening and crystallization of attitudes of mutual hostility. But I did not at any time see those attitudes of mutual hostility in the Labour Party. The Labour Party is a comprehensive party. We have had many Catholics in it. Sometimes up to half the members of the party have been Catholics. We have had many of them in the Cabinet over many years. We have had them as State Premiers.
I was asked to comment on an article by Creighton Burns in “ Dissent “ in which it was declared that the Labour Party had not solved its sectarian problems as the Liberal Party had. I did not know there is a sectarian problem in the Liberal Party. The Liberal Ministry of 25 members has not a single Catholic in it, and there is thus no sectarian problem in the same way as Tasmania has no aboriginal problem. There cannot be.
– You ought to be ashamed of that remark. It is not worthy of you.
– Order! The honorable member should come back to the bill.
– Please, not for one moment do I make that as a gibe at the Government. I was drawing attention to a gibe that was made at us by Creighton Burns in “ Dissent “ as part of the harassment of the Labour Party saying that we had-
– We are not responsible for his comments.
– I am not saying that you are responsible for them; I comment that we are singled out for sectarian accusations and you are not. He made a comparison and I merely said that, while we are constantly accused of sectarianism, the whole evidence of the Labour Party shows that there is no sectarianism in it. We have been prepared to endorse not merely Catholic candidates and Protestant candidates but rationalist candidates.
– And Jewish candidates.
– I am not saying that dales. Yet we are told we are sectarian. Some of the rationalists have been sincerely opposed to this type of assistance for reasons that ought to be respected. I was not making a charge about Liberal problems of sectarianism; I was making (he statement that we are subjected to this kind of press comment notwithstanding the comprehensive nature of Labour but (he Liberal Party is not, though it gains from such attacks on us. The ordinary discussions of the Labour Party are presented to newspaper readers in terms of conflict and division. For instance, if a decision is carried by caucus on a division, it is referred to, as such a decision was referred to in this morning’s “ Daily Telegraph “, as a split in the Labour Party on the denominational aid question. Everything is a split. Discussion is a split.
The Labour Parry sincerely believes that the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during the last election would have been of more assistance to the parent who is struggling to pay the fees of a private school for conscientious reasons than would this proposal of science aid. But the proposal of science aid. which emanated originally from the Labour Party in New South Wales, will undoubtedly be of great assistance to the science education of many Australian children. That, of course, is to be welcomed. While the Labour Party persists, through the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, in affirming that what it would do and what it proposes is greater assistance for all parents, it is not motivated by a desire to deprive anybody of what the Government after all these fifteen years has finally and suddenly decided it is prepared to do.
I want to conclude therefore, by reaffirming some of the points that we have made. In all of the controversies that I have heard in the Labour Party I have never heard anything but respect for the motives underlying religious education. Let us not forget that certain denominations have never made any request for assistance. They will be benefited by the grants without ever having made a request. I have never heard any disrespectful term used about that state of affairs and my personal view is, as I stated earlier, that I do not believe a person could have a higher motive for his child than his desire that that child should be brought up with the conviction that Christ is God and that he should build a life and a character around that conviction.
This has been a matter of genuine discussion within the Labour Party. Until the Democratic Labour Party came into existence the matter was never represented in inflammatory terms. Nobody ever said to the Catholic Church or to the Catholic voter that there were bigoted elements in the Labour Party which were opposed to them. We accept the citizenship of all Australian children. We accept the right of all Australian parents to educate their children in a way which conforms to their conscience. The policy of scholarships which the Labour Party formulated was genuinely formulated to meet the needs of people whose children attended private schools as some of those people stated those needs and, in particular, as some stated them to a Labour Party education committee.
.- We on this side of the House have been disappointed at the tone of the debate, which developed at 3.22 p.m. to-day when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) rose to open the case for the Opposition on this bill. We would have thought that this was an opportunity for the National Parliament to debate a most delicate issue in a way in which sophisticated adult men might be expected to debate it.
– That lets you out.
– The speech of the Leader of the Opposition was as intemperate as any he has made here for some time. The quality of the interjections and of the interjectors during this debate has been similar to the quality of the interjection just made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). The Leader of the Opposition used words such as “ snobocracy “. His speech was full of inaccuracies. He spoke for about 30 minutes as leader of his party and gave no indication of his party’s real attitude to the bill. So at the 28-minute mark I felt impelled to interject and ask whether he proposed to vote for or against the principles of the bill. The honorable gentleman, addressing me, said, “ You have done a double somersault on this yourself.” For the record let me point out that in the debate on the Estimates on 3rd October, 1962 - about eighteen months ago - I spoke of my concern about education in Roman Catholic schools, after having described the failure rates at universities of children from Catholic schools. I expressed my concern because these are Australian children. I said -
I hope that if the time comes when the Commonwealth Government is impelled to intrude into the field of secondary and primary education this aspect of the problem will not bc overlooked.
That is the kind of somersault that I have done.
– That was very bold of you.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is hardly notorious for his courage in this place. His interjection ls typical of the tone of interjections we have had from honorable members opposite during the course of this debate. 1 am not beholden to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to judge whether what I do is bold. I make no comment on the statement that I made eighteen months ago. I merely re-state it for the record.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was the next speaker from the Opposition side. He set the tone for his speech in a moderate way. In the first two minutes he pointed his finger at Government supporters and said: “ You call yourselves Christians. Why, you are just a bunch of floggers and hangers.” That is the kind of moderate and responsible reply we have had from the Labour Party on this most delicate issue.
I turn now to the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). Almost without exception his speeches are events that we look forward to. Generally speaking, I respected and admired him for what he said. I think he painted with a rather heavy brush in defending the Labour Party and saying that there was no sectarianism in it; but that was his right. He accused the newspapers again of being unfair to the Labour Party on this issue. He accused the Democratic Labour Party. That is his right. But I was surprised to hear a man of the stature and intellectual integrity of the honorable member for Fremantle say towards the conclusion of his speech something like this - and 1 hope he will correct me if I misquote him: “ The Labour Party is accused of sectarianism, but it has solved its problem. However, look at the way in which the Liberal Party solves its problem. There are 25 members in the Ministry and there is not one Catholic among them.” The honorable member was big enough to realize the impact of what he had said. His remarks were an attempt to smear-
– Is this place not the House of Representatives?
– The honorable member was big enough to realize that his remark had that effect.
– Is not this place-
– Order! the honorable member for Reid will be silent.
– Well, honorable members opposite are not as representative as we are on this side.
– Order! The honorable member will remain silent.
– We on this side of the House deeply resent imputations such as that made by the honorable member for Fremantle. I have often wondered whether members of parliament or members of political parties have patron saints or some other heavenly protectors watching over them. If there are any such ethereal benefactors I suppose they may suffer and enjoy most of the human emotions, such as joy, pride, disappointment and sorrow, as they watch the relative performances of their earthly charges. But if this is so these mystical creatures who are elected to guide and care for the Government would be experiencing those finer emotions of pride and satisfaction as this debate proceeds this evening, because exemplified in the bill which this Government has framed and in the speakers who have supported it are four qualities which I imagine would please those supernatural beings who take pleasure in watching the more noble acts of man.
Let me deal with the four qualities in this bill. First the bill satisfies a basic human need - the need for education. Secondly, the bill has the quality of foresight. Thirdly, it is morally right. Fourthly, it has the quality of courage. I will deal with each of those qualities briefly.
As I have said, the bill satisfies a human want. I speak in general terms of the human need for education. Not a man in this chamber would disagree with Matthew Arnold, who once defined education as that which expands the soul, liberalizes the mind and dignifies the character. It is not inappropriate to mention that that definition could well be the motto or the creed of any man or group of men accepting the responsibility of ruling a nation or guiding a nation’s destiny - of dealing with the problems of the soul, mind and character of the people whom they govern. Early in his history man realized that he was not an infallible creature. As he committed fallible acts he could see that if his acts were allowed to develop unchecked into anarchy, chaos would soon result. So man, at an early stage in his history, gave up a piece of his freedom to be governed by his confreres or colleagues. In return for giving up that piece of freedom, man expects certain things. He expects those rulers, or parliamentarians as we call them to-day, to care for his welfare, both material and nonmaterial. I believe that too often parliamentarians or rulers care only about the material welfare of the society that they govern.
Our responsibility to the people whom we govern goes much deeper than that, because primarily we are responsible for creating in this nation an atmosphere or climate in which men can find security and happiness of soul, mind and character. If we do not create that atmosphere or climate, we fail miserably in our duty. I am reminded of Chesterton’s definition of happiness; namely, that it is “ not a station at which you arrive but a manner of travelling”. This state of happiness is not the welfare state which sometimes is conjured up by economists and other people and in which all that is provided is the material wants of the human being.
This bill pours £10,000,000 into the education fund’. That amount will be given to the States for distribution through them throughout the nation. In that sense, because of what I have said about education, this bill is satisfying a very basic human want. There are several definitions of education and many comments have been made about it. It is designed to give human beings that experience of self-realization which they all deserve. Many years ago the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made this comment -
There is no richer investment for a government to make than in the intellectual and social development of our future citizens.
How true that is. There is an unanswerable case that this bill, in every sense, without going into the controversial parts of it, is satisfying a basic human want.
The second quality is foresight, which is a characteristic of good government. In this connexion the bill does two things. First, it provides £5,000,000 per annum for science buildings and equipment in all schools, including non-government schools. Secondly, it provides £5,000,000 per annum’ for State technical education Again there is an unanswerable case that this bill is an act of foresight.
Reverting to what I said before about our responsibility as members of the Parliament to the people whom we govern, I say that in the material sense our responsibility is constantly to raise the standard of living of the people whom we govern. Man is born with a sublime discontent and a desire to better himself. He is a dynamic creature. He is not content to remain in his present environment or to enjoy into perpetuity a static standard of living or, as Priestley once put it, quality of living.
How is the standard of living determined? This has been the subject of a great deal of debate in economic writings over the years. If we forget about the economic textbooks for a moment, we can define “ standard of living “ quite simply. The standard of living in any country is determined by, and only by, the efficiency with which that country can develop and use its resources. If our children are to enjoy a constantly rising standard of living in the future, in the scientific age, they must now be given the scientific and technological training to enable them to know how to develop the resources of the country.
Of course, in scientific and technological training we must never overlook the defence aspect. In both peace-time and war-time the role of the scientist, the technologist and the artificer needs only to be mentioned to be appreciated. This is a matter in which we have to plan ahead. As Churchill once said, the prizes will not go to the countries with the largest populations; they will go to the countries with the best systems of education. I am sure that not one honorable member would disagree with that statement by Churchill.
The third quality of this legislation is that it is morally right. I refer now to the controversial aspect of the grant for science buildings and equipment - the part that will be paid to non-government schools. I will set aside, because other speakers have dealt with it, the question whether the two grants of £5,000,000 are sufficiently or completely inadequate. We could debate that for weeks and none of us would ever reach any conclusion on it. The point that has bothered me in the speeches that have been made to-day is that members of the Labour Party have said that their objection to the grant is that it is money given to the non-government schools for schools. They object to the fact that it is money for schools. There seems to be in their minds a concept that the money will be used to erect buildings of bricks and mortar. But I remind members of the Opposition - I hope that I am not being too trite in saying this - that Australian children will be occupying and using those buildings of bricks and mortor and the test tubes that this money will buy.
Many people who spend interminable hours in philosophical debate on the rights and wrongs of State aid sometimes forget that while they are arguing a large section of Australian children are receiving education which is inferior to what they should receive.
– We have been telling you that for years; but every time we have raised a matter of urgency in relation to education in this House you have spoken against it.
– I am saying that this section of Australian children seems to be forgotten by the Labour Party. 1 describe as hypocritical interjections such as the one just made by the honorable member for Bass, who said that time and time again the Labour Party had advocated increased expenditure on education. Of course it has. It is not difficult to do that when you are in opposition. In opposition, you probably see avenues in which twice the amount of the annual budget could be spent. For political purposes you trot those out. It is your duty to do that and you are entitled to do that. But we expect sincerity when you talk about more money being made available for education.
Not once in this House have I seen the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) or the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) stand up and shed one tear or voice one care about the 300,000 Catholic children in Australia who, as the honorable member for Wills knows because he was a school teacher and is now a member of the Parliament, are being educated under appalling conditions. I do not know whether he puts the Catholic schools in his electorate on his black list and never visits them. But I can tell him that I have visited all the Catholic schools in my electorate. As I am not a Catholic, that was rather a new experience for me.
– You are a two-timer.
Mr. CHIPP__ I can tell the honorable member for Wills and the honorable member for Hunter, who just made that contemptible remark, that in some schools in the electorate of Wills up to 70, 80 and 90 pupils comprising two classes are being taught by a junior teacher. But that does not concern the honorable member for Wills at all. He has never mentioned that. However, it does concern me because they are Australian children and Australian children are my concern. I make no apology for that. 1 hope 1 will be forgiven for speaking about primary schools.
Is it disputed by the Labour Party that additional money is needed for science facilities in secondary schools? Of course it is not. In fact, members of the Opposition go further and say that the Government is not providing enough money. They might be right. The fact that additional money is needed is not disputed. So we proceed to the next step in the argument. Let me give a hypothetical example. Suppose there are 400,000 Australian children who, in the next five years, could be assisted by the provision of science and laboratory facilities under this bill. As I understand it, the Labour Party is opposing this bill. I see that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) is shaking his head. I have before me a copy of an amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, which seeks to have all words in the motion after the word “ that “ omitted. If that is not direct opposition to the bill I should like to hear the honorable member for Fremantle give us, at his leisure, his definition of opposition. The Labour Party is opposing this bill.
In the hypothetical case that I have constructed, 400,300 children could benefit from these new science facilities in the next five years but to 300,000 of them who attend State schools the Labour Party would say: “ We give you these science facilities. Use them and obtain advanced scientific training “. But to the remaining 100,000 children, born as much dinky-di Australians as any person in this chamber, the Labour Party would say: “ We know you need help. We know there is a scarcity of scientific facilities in church schools but because, by accident of birth, you were born a Roman Catholic or because you arc unfortunate enough to have parents who are so mistaken as to want you to have Christian training in a church school along with your academic studies, we will deny you the chance to have the best education possible. We will penalize you for the mistakes of your parents “.
If that is a logical process of reasoning, and if the Labour Party has any regard for these Australian children, to be consistent it should go out and campaign for the children to leave their church schools and to attend the better equipped State schools. I would not expect the honorable member who is now interjecting to be consistent, because I do not think he knows what consistency means, but if members of the Labour Party are to be consistent in their arguments they should do as I have suggested.
I know that they can make this retort to my statement: “ Well, let the parents make the move and take the children from the Catholic and other church schools and send them to the State schools. The State schools are there”. But if honorable members opposite say that, they are overlooking one vital factor which shows how misplaced is their judgment of human nature. Parents are motivated by something stronger than economics, stronger even than a desire to give their children the best possible education. They are motivated by conscience to send their children to church schools.
– You are bringing sectarianism into it now.
– Whether you agree or not, that is the right that these parents have. They genuinely believe that their first duty to their children, even before giving them the best education possible, is to get them to value, appreciate and respect the love of God. Am I to be told by the Labour Party that this is wrong? Am I to be told that we should disabuse the parents’ minds of this fine ideal? I sincerely hope that we have not reached that level of reasoning in this country.
Let me now touch briefly on one of the arguments in this issue which has been debated back and forth to-day. No doubt all honorable members have received letters from various groups, some advocating aid for church schools and others advancing reasons why aid should not be given. As far as I am concerned, there is no black and white in this question. One group puts the very strong view that State aid can be divisive whilst another group replies with equal and sometimes better logic. So the argument goes back and forth but, there is no black area and there is no white area.
Irrespective of whether or not there is a complete answer to this question, parents are committed to sending their children to these church schools. If State aid for those schools is not provided and if honorable members opposite are correct when they say that State aid is wrong in principle, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have done something right, but I hope that at the same time they can satisfy their consciences if thousands of children, through no fault of their own, will receive an inferior education. This is the dilemma in which I, for one, find myself. I come down strongly on the side of the children.
Why is there this opposition to State aid? There is, of course, the lunatic fringe which always includes the bigots. All we can do is to feel terribly sorry for these unhappy people. Then there are those to whom I have just referred who, after a process of reasoning, say that they are opposed to State aid on any one of a number of grounds. I have the greatest respect for the views of these people, because they have reached them after consideration and after going through the logical processes. I do not accuse them of prejudice or bigotry. They are entitled to their view and I leave them to it. But why is the Labour Party opposing this bill?
There is a curious form of reasoning by members of the Labour Party which I cannot understand, but then I have not the kind of mind that it takes to be a member of the Labour Party. They say, “You cannot give this money to church schools but you can give it to the children attending church schools “. There is a difference in fact, but if there is a difference in principle I cannot see it. With all the respect that I can muster I ask whether they hold this view because of the corporate antipathy which the Labour Party as a party - I am not singling out any individual and saying that he as an individual hates anyone else - has for the Roman Catholic Church because of events in 1955 and subsequently. If there is this antipathy I can understand it, because members of the Labour Party could not agree amongst themselves and the split occurred, but surely to goodness they are sophisticated enough to realize that prejudices of that kind only colour judgements.
This bill has the quality of courage. No one will deny that this is a highly political question, as we have discovered to our sorrow to-day by the kind of debate that we have had. There are those in this House who oppose the principle of State aid and others outside who, although a minority, form a very powerful and vocal group. But this Government took the view on. this occasion, as it has on other occasions, that we are parliamentarians and, contrary to public belief, parliamentarians, whether from this side of the chamber or the other side, are here to make decisions, decisions which they believe in their hearts to be right for the people of this country. Even if those decisions are unpopular we cannot remain outside the fringe of controversy.
In conclusion, let me refer again to those ethereal benefactors to whom I referred at the opening of my speech whose unhappy task it is to look after members of Parliament. I believe that those who look after the Liberal and Country Party members of this Parliament are proud to-night that this Government has shown the qualities necessary to satisfy human wants, has shown foresight and has shown the courage to do what is normally right. I am sad to say that those mystical creatures who guide members of the Labour Party will spend a miserable night in their celestial beds after witnessing the Labour Party’s performance this evening.
.- This is the first time for a long while that I have heard the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) speak on education, although it is not, of course, the first time I have heard him speak on the subject. I am wondering what motive caused him to enter into this debate. I think I know what it is. I will not say what I believe it is, but I think I know why he is so vocal and vociferous tonight on this subject. In one part of his speech he referred to the superiority of the private schools over
State schools. We have heard this theme quite frequently from Government supporters and now we find the honorable member for Higinbotham joining the ranks of those who choose to insult State schools.
Such an attitude is quite incomprehensible to me. I went through a State high school before going to the university. My religious education was not neglected in any way because I happened to attend a State school rather than a private school conducted by a church. If parents want to send their children to a church school for specific religious education that is quite all right. For myself, I would not send any of my children to a church school. I believe that the task of teaching children religious tenets is primarily that of parents. No one else can take the place of parents in teaching children in the rudiments of religion. In State schools, primary and secondary, throughout my experience in the 1930’s we had excellent ministers of religion attending every week. The pupils were put into various classes and then listened to those ministers. I was tremendously assisted personally during those years by these ministers. I was in my teens, and boarding many hundreds of miles away from my own family. I appreciated the tremendous help and guidance that those men gave me during a critical time of my life. 1 would not have received any better education if I had gone to a church school.
It is quite reprehensible for any honorable member to make these distinctions between State and church schools, on the basis that we are going to get a pagan education at one school and a Christian education at another. This is scandalous and it represents an insult to every minister of religion who spends hundreds of hours a year teaching religion voluntarily in State schools. I did it for eight years, continuing solidly week after week to visit State primary and high schools and give instruction to hundreds and hundreds of children during my career as a Christian minister. I know the work involved and the research involved. I know how consistent the work is, when you have to instruct about seven classes a week besides doing all the other work that falls to the lot of a clergyman. Any one who deprecates that work in making comparisons with church schools is just a humbug. I have utter contempt for the kind of attitude I have seen displayed in this debate. I say good luck to the State primary and high schools. They provide the best education in this country or in any country.
All sorts of psychological difficulties are raised when children are sent to separate schools. They are separated from the rest of the community, as if they were too good to go to the good old public schools. This separation introduces all kinds of difficulties in the minds of the children themselves. The practice of sending children to private schools creates distinctions, and I say there is no room for such distinctions in a democratic country like ours.
Why are we debating this legislation tonight? That is the crucial question, and I want to analyse it. I will give the answer in one short sentence - pure, unadulterated politics on the part of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). That is why we are debating this bill to-night. Do not tell me or anybody else that the Prime Minister is animated by high principle in this matter. Do not tell me that there was anything noble about what he did in November when he announced this proposal in his policy speech. Do not tell me there was anything glorious in what he did or said or promised. It was a matter of sheer unadulterated politics, and I cannot stress that too strongly. If ever a man has played politics in this country in respect of all kinds of subjects it is the Prime Minister, and that is why he is still in office. He was on a vote-catching orgy in November. Let us face the facts. He had a majority of two in this place. How could he get back? He had to do something desperate to win sectional votes. He had to get every vote that was available, and so an 80-year-old traditional attitude to education was scrapped, jettisoned overnight, and the members of the Liberal Party woke up one morning and read in the newspapers that they were in favour of State aid.
Let us not be humbugs. Let us tell the truth about this. What Liberal Party branch in Australia discussed State aid before that time? None of them did. But the policymaker of the Liberal Party suddenly jammed this proposal into his policy speech, and so it is purely for political reasons that we are debating this bill to-night.
The cynicism evidenced in this legislation is shameful. The political bribery of it has never been surpassed in Australia’s history. The bill provides for aid to schools split up in the proportions of about 86 per cent to State schools and 14 per cent, to denominational schools. The Prime Minister grouped these two provisions in the one bill, knowing Labour’s traditional attitude to State aid. That attitude has been made clear. No one has tried to hide it. It has been set out in our documents and reports for years. We have been attacked for it. We have lost votes over it. But we have always believed in it and have not run away from it. The Prime Minister put the two provisions in the one bill knowing that if we rejected the bill as a whole we would be rejecting aid to the State schools. It was a very cunning and clever way of bringing this proposal before the House. The Prime Minister knew that the members of the Labour Party could vote quite freely in favour of 86 per cent, of the proposal and that we would find difficulty with the other 14 per cent.
The Liberal Party’s attitude to State aid is very interesting. Previously it has resolutely opposed State aid throughout Australia. It was interesting also to study the attitude of the Liberal Party during the State election campaign in Tasmania which culminated in the election a fortnight ago. The leader of the Liberal Party in Tasmania was asked by representatives of denominational schools in Tasmania what he was going to do about State aid, and he did not give any firm reply. He ignored the question, and throughout his election campaign the matter was not even mentioned. As I have said, the Prime Minister introduced the question of State aid into his policy speech overnight, and that is why we are now debating this bill.
What will the provision of £1,300,000 do for these schools? That was the amount promised to the denominational schools. The Prime Minister told us that approximately 550 applications had been made by private schools throughout Australia. If all of these applicants met the required conditions, the average amount to be received by these schools would be £2,363. I wonder what could really be done by way of providing science laboratories and technical training facilities at private schools with that small sum of money. Many schools will require between £5,000 and £6,000, not the mere £2,363 which will be the average amount distributed throughout Australia. This means, therefore, that not all of the 550 applicants will be successful. There will be a host of disappointed independent schools throughout Australia.
The bill proposes to grant £10,000,000 of which £3,700,000 shall be provided for science laboratories in State secondary schools and £5,000,000 for technical education facilities throughout Australia. During the election campaign the Australian Labour Party promised that it would make £10,000,000 available for education. What we proposed to do was make a special grant of £10,000,000 to the States to use as they thought fit in the field of education. We did not propose giving any specific direction as to where the money should go; all we proposed to do was insist that it be spent on education. It is for that reason that the Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment which says that -
The bill is an inadequate contribution to science education and to education generally in Australia because it -
fails to provide for an inquiry into all aspects of education, at all levels, as requested on several occasions by States Premiers;
fails to meet the crisis in education by making an emergency grant of at least £10 million to the States;
fails to assist parents-
I emphasize “ parents “ - of all children at all schools to bear the burden of education from primary to tertiary levels by instituting a system of Commonwealth scholarships for all students capable of receiving an education, such scholarships to be tenable at the schools of the parents’ choice; (4) fails to attack the problem of science education by ignoring the question of teacher training, and the need for the establishment of a national science foundation to co-ordinate scientific training, teaching and research; and
The essential difference between our plan and that of the Government is that we proposed to make a grant for scholarships and bursaries. Such assistance goes right down to the family level, irrespective of whether the child attends a private school or a public school. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and other honorable members have referred to the cost borne by parents in sending a child to a private school. One figure suggested was £201 a year and another, £216 a year. That is indeed a heavy cost, and our proposal to provide scholarship assistance would do much to overcome that problem. I think there is a great deal of merit in the principle of providing the assistance at the family level rather than at the level of capital buildings for schools.
Labour’s proposal was rejected by the people at the last election; but we will come again. We have been on this side of the House for a long time now, but I firmly believe that the people will ultimately change their political convictions and return a Labour government to office. Then our proposals will be put into effect. Of course, many of them have been filched already by the Prime Minister, without any acknowledgment that they were part of the Labour Party’s policy. Indeed, the fact that this Government has been putting our policies into effect is one reason why the people have been keeping it in office.
I should like now to quote from a letter dated 11th May, 1964, which I received from Mr. A. G. Bond, president of the Australian Council of School Organizations, with which are affiliated all the State school organizations of Australia. Mr. Bond said -
The Prime Minister, in speaking to the bill, has emphasized the need “ to raise the general level of education in a society which is becoming increasingly dependent upon the scientific use of resources “. No one could disagree with that view; and, in fact, two great National Education Conferences, one held in Sydney in 1961, and the other in Melbourne in 1963, clearly demonstrated that the Australian community was unanimously of the same view. But right up to the eve of the last Federal elections the Prime Minister rejected the representations from those conferences that the Commonwealth should, in the national interest, make a greater financial contribution to the Slates, for the very reason that the States were unable to afford to meet the increasing demands of the State education systems.
He went on to say that the bill establishes the principle of assistance not only to government schools but to private schools as well, and that the council acknowledges the right of every parent to send his child to a school of his own choosing. But he also suggests that this should be done at the parents’ own cost and not at the cost of the State. He added -
Education is a State instrumentality, as it should be and must remain.
I am inclined to disagree with that. For years, we on this side have been pressing for a greater injection of Commonwealth money into the educational system of Australia. We admit that the Commonwealth would probably need a little more say in the matter. We do not believe that education should become the entire responsibility of the Commonwealth, as the Post Office, for instance, is, but we do say that the Commonwealth should do much more to assist the States, financially, in the field of education. Mr. Bond went on to say -
Therefore, it is with great concern and protest that the parent organisations associated with State Schools witness the Commonwealth Government now introducing legislation to circumvent the long-established States’ attitude to State Aid to independent schools. It may not be necessary to search very far to find a reason why this principle has been violated . . .
That is the general attitude of that organization which represents all the parents’ organizations in Australia.
The associations of parents and friends in Tasmania sent a circular letter to all Tasmanian members of Parliament on 7th May, 1964, and I shall read parts of it to indicate their attiude to this question. They raised another point which was not mentioned by Mr. Bond. Amongst other things, they said -
A recent information circular received from the Minister for Education, the Hon. W. A. Neilson M.H.A.,–
By the way, Mr. Neilson topped the poll in the Franklin electorate and is again Minister for Education - shows that the basis of allocation to the States, by the Federal Authorities, of funds for Science, Technical facilities and Scholarships is to the disadvantage of Tasmania.
Distribution according to the total population, including adults, is not equitable and it is considered that allocation should be made in proportion to the school populations of the various Slates.
Tasmania has 22.763 per cent. of its population at school as compared with the six States average of 20.995 per cent. and that of 20.475 per cent. in New South Wales.
The present disbursement method deprives our State of £55,000 for Science and Technical purposes, as well as reducing the number of scholarships available to the children by 48 per year.
It is the birthright of every Tasmanian child to have an education at least equal to that available in the other States, but this cannot be achieved unless funds are fairly distributed.
That is the serious feature of the bill. As the letter pointed out with great emphasis, Tasmania will be greatly disadvantaged under this legislation. 1 join with organizations in my State in protesting that the method of allocation proposed is inequitable and unfair. The method of allocation that these organizations suggest should have been adopted is on the basis of the school populations of the various States rather than the total population, including adults. Adults are not attending school - at least not in the same sense as the people affected by this bill.
I come now to what is wrong with the bill. First, it does nothing to help our teacher training, which is far behind requirements. Secondly, there is no co-ordinated overall plan for the proposal. In fact, the Opposition would like an inquiry into the sub-university level of education. This bill is designed to help in one direction only, and because it is full of politics it loses much of its value. This measure is chockfull of politics. There is no overall plan in this proposal, nor has there been the statesmanlike approach that we might have expected from a Commonwealth government. This is a piecemeal and hastily prepared piece of legislation, the only purpose of which is to meet a promise made during thelast federal election campaign. The third respect in which this bill is lacking is that it does not provide for educational research.
Honorable members may agree that material assistance is helpful, and no doubt the assistance to be given through this bill will be of benefit in providing equipment and buildings, but we should know more about the curricula which are to be adopted throughout Australia. In the middle of the twentieth century we should know what method of teaching will be used and what will be the standards required of our children. Standards vary from State to State.
A degree which is recognized in Tasmania may not be recognized in Victoria, and vice versa. To my mind that is utterly stupid. We should know what range of subjects will have to be taught to provide a reasonable opportunity for a child. We should know what will be taught in science, a subject in which this bill is designed to help. Science is a very wide subject. We should know what will be taught as part of engineering or chemistry courses in the various States.
The Opposition believes that the Government should establish a Commonwealth education research institute similar to the bodies that have been established in many other countries. These institutes are operating with tremendous success in the fields that I have just mentioned. A research institute in Australia would enable us to get at the grass roots of the problem of education, to find out what should be taught, how it should be taught and what curricula should contain. The advantages of the Commonwealth undertaking this kind of research into education are threefold. First, it would avoid a wasteful duplication of research work; secondly, the findings of the Commonwealth institute could be channelled regularly to each State and to each private school, so that the findings could be adopted; thirdly, this kind of research would be more objective and disinterested than research carried out by the education authorities in each State.
When a State undertakes this kind of research the work done is only fragmentary. The research does not go beyond the State and the findings are probably of not much assistance to other States. It is introspective research which is very limited and almost valueless. A Commonwealth institute would have a disinterested and objective approach and would be able to provide tremendous help to the States. It would be able to look at the picture from above, rather than below. A State could not see the wood for the trees. This kind of approach to our educational problems is not provided for in the bill.
Although I admit that the bill will give assistance to many schools which probably need the money, the whole scheme is too fragmentary and too chock-full of politics to fill one with great enthusiasm. The motive behind the proposal is shabby, and anything with a shabby motive is not good in the long run. The Opposition intends to move an amendment during the secondreading stage. The Opposition has decided that if we do not carry the amendment we will not oppose the second or third readings. That states in clear language the attitude of the Opposition adopted by resolution at our party meeting. I abide by that resolution, because it was a majority decision.
I hope that the Government will examine within the next three years the principle upon which the money to be made available under this bill will be distributed. It is quite unfair to distribute the funds on the basis of the total population of each State rather than on the school population. I hope also that this legislation will be reviewed in twelve months’ time to see how it has worked out, and that applications for assistance will be treated justly. Although some schools will not receive assistance, I trust that where assistance is given it will be adequate to enable the schools to do what they really want to do. I hope also that the money provided for science and technical education to be used in buildings, equipment and the like will be spent where it is supposed to be spent. That aspect is very important.
We on this side of the House view the bill with mixed feelings. The Opposition has been consistent in its attitude towards the provision of aid to private schools, and our principles cannot be thrown aside in a moment. Any one who throws aside his principles is either very unsure of them or is a hypocrite or an opportunist. Despite all that we have heard from honorable members opposite, who have made accusations and attempted to smear our attitude, I ask the Government to respect our sincerity. Our attitude to this matter has been consistent throughout our whole history, whereas this bill represents a complete change of attitude by the Government.
The late President Kennedy did not, and said he would not, submit a bill such as this to the American Congress. This proposal is new and is different; it touches upon a field that we have not dealt with directly before. So I ask the Government to be tolerant in its attitude to us. Because the Opposition has had principles on this subject and honorable members opposite have not - at least, if they had, they have been silent about them, and there has been no reference to them in their literature - and just because honorable members opposite have been able to switch their views overnight following upon the Prime Minister’s announcement in his policy speech, Government supporters should not cease to be tolerant of our attitude.
.- I was rather disappointed to-night with the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) because I thought that he, as a man of the cloth professing to have Christian principles, would have given some support to the measure. I would not expect him to act against his party’s wishes and to vote against his party, but I think that the terms he used when he described this as a shabby piece of legislation and unadulterated politics were completely unwarranted. He suggested that we awoke one morning to find this proposal as part of our policy. We on this side of the House know full well, as is realized by most members of the Opposition, that as a federal government we have for ten or twelve years or more been assisting private schools in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. We have done this by guaranteeing the interest payments on their school buildings. It is nothing new for us lo assist private schools to take their rightful place in the Australian field of education.
I have been rather disappointed to-day at the tone of this debate. From time to time we have listened to a recital of Labour’s policy on education, to interjections and to reasons why the policy has been rejected and why it should have been accepted. What we have had, however, is a complete lack of unanimity on the Opposition side in presenting its case to the House. I think it was the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who said that there was no unanimity on the Government side on this measure; he said that we were divided. Let me say here and now that there is not one member on this side of the House who does not give this bill full support. I believe that every person on this side of the House wants to see the legislation approved as quickly as possible. The conflict of opinion arose with the attitude of the Opposition. I feel somewhat sorry for honorable members opposite. They have been divided many times over many years but on this occasion they are hopelessly divided.
– We are not puppets.
– The honorable member says that they are not puppets. 1 refer again to the fact that we were chided because it was said that we woke one morning to find we had this policy. If that is so 1 believe we were more fortunate than honorable members opposite when they were directed by the 36 faceless men not to support the establishment of the communications station in Western Australia, which is to be of great benefit to the Australian people.
I wish to refer to the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley)- I always look forward to a speech from the honorable member as it is tolerant, moderate and interesting. But I was rather disappointed to-night that he, unfortunately in a manner which is characteristic of so many members of the Opposition, seemed again to take out the bat against the Democratic Labour Party. Honorable members opposite take out this bat perhaps because of an inbred and unceasing dislike for the D.L.P. I do not know the reason, but again we find them’ referring to the D.L.P. and to the New South Wales Labour Party which is alleged to have given birth to the policy wc have adopted. I do not care where the policy originated. The fact is that the bill is before us now. Its provisions are for the benefit of the Australian people and they reflect the flexibility of the thinking of the Government. At the same time the bill shows the courage of this Government in putting the proposition to the people and asking for their support for the principle of State aid. To my knowledge this is the first occasion on which this has been done. We all know that it has had the overwhelming endorsement of the public. Undoubtedly after it comes into operation it will attract greater support as time passes.
The honorable member for Fremantle said that the bill will provide substantial benefit for a great number of Australians. If that is the case, why is he going to vote against it by default through the amendment of the Opposition?
– Because the amendment improves it.
– That may be correct or incorrect, according to your line of thought, but the honorable member seeks to deprive the children of this country by voting for the amendment while knowing full well that if we were to support the amendment the bill would be thrown out of the Parliament. The Opposition is using exactly the same device as it used on a previous occasion in respect of the communications station in Western Australia. On that occasion honorable members opposite used the parliamentary procedures to try to shelve the building of the base. Now they are using the same parliamentary procedures in an endeavour to shelve this bill. The honorable member says that the bill will provide great benefit to a great number of Australian children and then uses the parliamentary processes in an endeavour to negate the bill, with the full knowledge that if the proposed amendment were carried that would be the result?
– Why should not we support our own policy?
– We find a complete reversal on the Labour side again. I always admire in this Parliament a man who is willing to say what he thinks. I admired the honorable member for Hindmarsh this afternoon, and no doubt my admiration for his honesty was shared by many Opposition members. The honorable member left no doubt of where he stood. He said quite categorically that Labour’s policy was not to provide State aid for private schools and that was where he stood. He said that was where members of the Labour Party should stand. In other words, the Opposition’s proposed amendment is sheer political humbug. If honorable members opposite are opposed to State aid - which is the declared policy of the Australian Labour Party - why do not they say, “ We are opposed to this legislation and we will reject it by voting against it”? Surely this is the honest way to react to a situation of this nature.
I congratulate the honorable member for Hindmarsh for being man enough to tell the world exactly where he stands on this matter. However, this is 1964. This is not the latter half of the eighteenth century, a time of difficulties and prejudices which, fortunately for Australia, have gradually diminished. We have been relatively free of sectarianism and anti-Semitism, although from time to time attempts have been made to raise these unsavoury facets of life. It is unfortunate that the national Parliament is divided on a matter which is to be of benefit to all Australian children irrespective of colour or creed. Surely it is our duty when passing legislation in this House not to take into account the religions of the people who will be affected. We should set an example and not introduce personalities into debate, as has been done to-day by jibes and interjections. Some remarks directed at the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) were most vicious and undoubtedly were said in a nasty manner.
– You were praising the honorable member for Hindmarsh a minute ago.
– The honorable member for Hunter must cease interjecting.
– Of course I praised him, because he has done more than the honorable member for Hunter has done to-day. He has said exactly where he stands on this matter. I have not seen the name of the honorable member for Hunter on the list of speakers.
– You will see-
– I warn the honorable member for Hunter. I have already instructed him to cease interjecting.
– There is one point on which members of the Opposition and Government supporters agree. We have a real and urgent need for scientists and technologists. There is no doubt that we need to be as self-sufficient and as selfsupporting as we can, not only to meet our defence needs, but also to enable us to expand our trade, which depends greatly on scientific effort and on which, as a young and vigorous nation, we depend for our very existence. With the growing achievements of modern science and technology throughout the world, we as a nation must be prepared to spend more money to provide facilities for the training of our young men and women in technological and scientific fields.
There is no doubt that this effort will pay rich rewards to the individual and to Australia as a whole. The benefits cannot be measured in pounds, shillings and pence. They can be measured, partly, however, in the job opportunities that will be provided. At present, at considerable cost, because we lack our own scientists, we pay many thousands of pounds each year to import scientists from overseas for a short time and to obtain from them as much know-how as we can before they return to their own countries. We in Australia must become self-dependent. We can do that only by encouraging scientific and technological education in this country.
I hope that this bill be merely the forerunner of measures to provide even greater grants for purposes like these. I believe that at present the door is just ajar and that, within the next three or four years, with the increasing thirst of our young people for knowledge, education will be given a great impetus,’ particularly in the scientific and technological fields. As a result, this Government will probably be called on to increase the kind of aid provided for in this measure. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in his second-reading speech, said that the methods adopted by the Government will be flexible and pliable. One can imagine, as the scheme goes on, some imbalance between the States arising, particularly between the smaller and the larger ones. The grants at present proposed are for a period of twelve months only. I suggest that the Government consider allocating funds over periods of three years or five years to assist schools in planning ahead and using this kind of assistance to the best possible advantage.
Unfortunately, at a time when Australia is in dire need of more skilled people, the Opposition not only opposes the Government’s proposals for the training of more skilled workers but also puts obstacles in the way of our endeavours to encourage the con.truction and equipment of modern technical schools. I do not believe that the playing of politics in relation to measures such as this does any political party or the country a scrap of good. By measures such as this, we can make some contribution to posterity by ensuring that the greater number of technicians, scientists and skilled workers that we need will be available.
I turn now to another aspect of this bill. My own observations have revealed that church authorities are quite cognizant of the fact that decisions on education are among the major decisions that confront both the churches and the Australian nation to-day. The churches are as interested as this Government is in seeing that pupils at church schools have the benefit of the best possible equipment so that they may have as good an education as is practicable. Indeed, the churches have almost achieved unanimity in their acceptance of this aid. Those who would have us believe that the churches are divided on this issue, as the Prime Minister has said, ignore the facts and forget about the committees that have been appointed in almost every State under the direction of members of the hierarchies of the various denominations. We could not ask for greater co-operation from the churches than we are receiving. In a journal known as the “ Anglican “, we have read reports about the attitude of a particular archbishop, and the Opposition has tried to make political capital out of those reports. Opposition members forget to mention, however, that the reports were directly denied by the archbishop himself. Happenings such as these represent only small-scale diversionary tactics designed to make the Australian people believe that there is some real opposition to the measure whereas, in fact, there is none.
The only apparent opposition comes from a divided Opposition in this Parliament. This is rather unfortunate, since honorable members opposite claim to be the defenders of democracy and the workers about whom they talk so glibly in socialistic terms. Will not this measure afford great benefits to the children of ordinary working men - the people whom honorable members opposite claim to represent in this place? Ultimately, the benefits of this bill will extend to all, but the children of workers will receive the immediate and direct benefit. Would Opposition members deny to the average child any benefit that can be extended to him?
We admit frankly that the financial aid being given is not completely adequate. But this measure represents a breakthrough. As I said earlier, the door is ajar. I trust that in the years to come further assistance will be forthcoming and that Australia’s children ultimately will receive all the help to which they are entitled. I point out that no restrictions are imposed on this financial assistance in respect of payments to individuals. No payments will be made to individuals. This was mentioned by an Opposition speaker this afternoon. Grants will be paid to schools that want assistance, but they will not be compelled to accept it. They will have a choice. A school that wants assistance will be at liberty to apply for a grant. Similar freedom of choice is available to students. There will be no compulsion on them under this or any other measure that I am aware of. Nor is there in the mind of any honorable member on this side of the Parliament even the embryo of a thought of any kind of compulsion designed to affect attendances at either government schools or non-government schools. The parent is free to exercise his choice. He may decide for himself which school his children shall attend. He may send them to a denominational school or to a government school, according to his wish.
I support the bill. I was rather perturbed about the attitude of the Opposition to a bill that is of great moment to the nation. It will undoubtedly give a great deal of satisfaction not only to the parents of children attending non-denominational schools, which will within a period of time obtain better technical buildings and more modern and up-to-date scientific facilities, but also to denominational schools, which will no doubt appreciate the effort of the Government to assist them in the great job they are doing.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Barnes) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1963-64.
Without amendment -
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1963-64.
Motion (by Mr. Barnes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I will not detain the House for any longer than I can help, but I want to refer to a matter that is of very great importance to the people of South Australia and to the shareholders of a company known as Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited. This company is based on Adelaide and is controlled by directors who have become tangled up with a company known as Farren Price (International) Limited, which has recently been wound up on the application of the Commissioner of Taxation and of Farren Price himself. I am of the opinion that we in this Parliament should warn the shareholders of Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited and investors who are likely to put money into it to exercise a great deal of care. We have seen Latec and other companies go by the board and I am afraid that this will also happen to Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited for reasons which I will give in a moment.
Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited has not been observing the money-lenders law of South Australia. At this moment it is selling the assets of the Farren Price group of companies in order to liquidate a debt that it claims is owing to it. The debt is said to be about £7,000 plus interest, but the company absolutely refuses to supply to Farren Price, as it is required to do by law, particulars of the debt. This matter concerns the future of Mr. John Farren Price, an ex-serviceman who, with only his deferred pay, commenced business as a specialist and dealer in watches and by 1961 had built up the largest watch business in Australia through companies known as Time Corporation (Australia) Proprietary Limited, Farren Price (Sydney) Proprietary Limited and a number of wholly-owned subsidiaries of the latter company. Time Corporation (Australia) Proprietary Limited acted as importers and wholesalers and Farren Price (Sydney) Proprietary Limited and its subsidiaries acted as retailers. Because of bank restrictions, towards the end of 1961 these companies were compelled to borrow large sums of money from an Adelaide-based money-lending company, Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited, at very high rates of interest in order to finance business expansions. From January, 1962, the companies were under the control of the Adelaide finance company and certain of its directors and nominees to the exclusion of Farren Price and the directors of companies that were associated with him.
In July, 1962, Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited through certain of its directors procured the formation of another company called Farren Price (International) Limited, which bad a paid up capital of £2. The only shareholders in it were Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited, certain of its directors and shareholders and their respective families through private family companies. Farren Price (International) Limited was at all times during the period it traded, under the effective control of Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited and certain of its directors and shareholders. I will not, unfortunately, be able to tell the full story in the time allotted to me.
– Is Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited using its position to exploit the shareholders in the Farren Price company?
– That is so. Something of a very shady nature is going on with Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited and I think that the Parliament ought to be told what is likely to happen. The directors of this company have used their positions to finance the company known as Farren Price (International) Limited in such a way as to give them and some of their friends in Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited half of the shares in Farren Price (International) Limited and have used the funds of the finance company to bolster up and keep liquid the position of Farren Price (International) Limited.
As a result of an agreement entered into between the directors of Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited and John Farren Price himself, the directors were able to get him to act as guarantor in respect of a loan that the directors of the finance company then obtained from the company to finance Farren Price (International) Limited. Although Farren . Price owes only about £7,000, plus accrued interest, to Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited, the company has now taken possession not only of his yacht but also of his retail business which has ten shops scattered all over Australia. The finance company is selling at reduced prices the goods - mainly watches - of the Farren 1 Price retail stores. The money lenders legislation in South Australia requires the finance company to supply Farren Price with full particulars of the money that it claims is owing to it, but it has failed to do this within 30 days of being requested to do so.
I say that something is happening here that ought to be aired. It is estimated that these people have used £64,000 of the funds of Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited in order to bolster up their half share of the company known as Farren Price (International) Limited, which on the application of Farren Price and the Commissioner of Taxation has since wound up. The directors of Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited were prepared to use the shareholders’ money to bolster up their half share of the Farren Price company. The best that Beneficial Finance Corporation Limited could ever get would have been a onehalf share, whereas the directors, for practically no investment at all, have tried to gain half of an enormous business. They were able to put out of business Time Corporation, which they took over. Having got rid of Time Corporation and robbed the creditors of that company of £140,000, to say nothing of the money owing by that company to the Commissioner of Taxes, they proceeded to form this second company and to transfer all of the wholesale business - the turnover business of Time Corporation - to Farren Price International.
I believe that something should be done to warn the shareholders of this company about these strange happenings. There are five directors associated with Farren-Price International who have disguised their identities by using private family companies to cover the amount of money they have put into Farren-Price International. E. W. Palmer has used a company called K.P.I. Limited. R. Paley has used a company called Paley Investments. D. H. Pickering has used a company called Haley Investments. W. Harniman has used a company called Connell Vale Limited. Mr. C. P. Tilley has used a company called Lyntil Limited. Mr. F. Aitken invested £500 himself. This is a matter that should be investigated. Each of those men put no more than £500 into the company. Mr. Paley, in order to get his £500 used his position as a director of Beneficial Finance Company Limited to pay over to himself £500 which he had lent to Time Corporation, which already was a defunct company.
– Order! The honorable members time has expired.
.- I have no doubt the remarks 1 am about to make will be greeted by the Government wilh neither rapture nor approval, but 1 feel bound to make them in view of a quite remarkable decision made by the Government and announced yesterday. 1 declare that this is a remarkable decision for two reasons, lt is remarkable for the manner in which it was announced and it is remarkable for the basis on which it was founded. The decision to which I refer is the decision that is spelt out in the simple sentence -
The Minister for the Interior, Mr. Anthony, announced today that arrangements for (he fluoridation of Canberra’s water supply would proceed as planned.
I hold no malice at all towards my friend the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), but I am bound to say in frank and candid language to the Government and in particular to the Cabinet that they have behaved in this matter in a most shameful way. 1 remind the House thai on 16th of last month the House adjourned the debate on a private member’s motion relating to the fluoridation of Canberra’s water supply. I venture to say that it was only as a result of an assurance given by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that no effort was made, certainly on my part and 1 think on the part of others, to push the matter to a vote. I assumed that the assurance was given in good faith, lt certainly was accepted by me in good faith. Yet the announcement of of the Government’s decision was made not here in Parliament but out in the paddock, so to speak. The proper procedure, I submit with respect, that should have been followed was for the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) or the Minister responsible to have come into the chamber, moved for the discharge of the order of business, made the announcement and then perhaps given the House an opportunity to debate it. 1 do not believe it is proper for the Parliament to be treated as it has been treated in this matter. 1 know that some people take the view that the Executive can ride over Parliament and over the rights of private members as though it were sitting in a chariot. Well, 1 remind the Government that in another time long ago the waters returned and covered the chariot.
On this matter I say to the Government that the honorable and manly thing to have done - certainly the parliamentary thing to have done - would have been to tell this chamber of the Government’s decision. What is the basis of the decision? The basis of the decision is in this rapturous sentence -
It has been accepted throughout Australia that the responsibility for deciding this issue or putting it to a referendum in any community rested with the local authority concerned.
Am I seriously to accept the proposition that the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council is a local government authority? This would make a cat giggle. This is an authority that literally has not one executive power, lt cannot say where a gutter shall go, where a road shall go or where a tree shall be planted. Does the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who is at the table, grant that the Government finds something so obscene in my proposition that it venerates the recommendation of this authority, touching on a matter that has powerful and respectable philosophic considerations, and yet at the same time will not vest in that authority the right to say where a lap should go? This is quite fantastic, lt is an utter caricature of government. For the Minister for the Interior to make this announcement in this breezy way and say that the Government has reached its decision because this is the decision of the local authority is quite wrong. I repudiate it. I will not accept it.
I come to the next point - the matter of a referendum. The proposition has been put forward that the people of the Australian Capital Territory could be scared about this matter. Why is it that the Government in 1955 - at that time it was comprised of some of the people that now form the Government - allowed a referendum to be held in the Territory on the question of whether hours for the sale of liquor should be extended. What is wrong with the Government? ls it scared? Am I to understand that it will force enlightenment on the people? I venture to say to the Government that it is drying up in its being, certainly in its political cosmos, if it is now to be its considered view that people should not be given an opportunity to say what their point of view may be. The Government may think that it has washed its hands of this matter by turning around in this pitiful little way and saying that this is a local government matter and that there the matter rests.
The other aspect of this matter that I wish briefly to refer to involves a gentleman by the name of Professor Theorell. Reference was made by me to the professor somewhere some time ago. The Prime Minister somewhere rejoined by quoting something which showed that my remarks were in conflict with Professor Theorell. I would not consciously quote a decision or a view that had been over-ruled. I have with me the copy of a cable sent to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) by Professor Theorell. It is dated 13th May and reads -
Do not oppose or favour fluoridation outside Sweden. Agree with Swedish Medical Board that results of further scientific investigations necessary before taking final decision.
The Prime Minister said that the views of Professor Theorell had made a great impact on the mind of Parliament. I would hope that the right honorable gentleman would be prepared to consider this fresh evidence. I say to the Government with some feeling that I hope that nothing I have ever said could be interpreted as a complaint that I have been beaten on this issue. I have never yet complained when I have been beaten - I hope I never will - but if the Government thinks I am beaten on this issue it is wrong. I have not yet begun to fight on this issue. I say also to the Government and to the House that if they think this is a personal struggle they are making a tremendous mistake. I believe that this is a struggle by the people who hold firmly and unequivocally to the conviction that personal liberty and personal integrity should not be washed away idly or in this irresponsible way.
– It will be clear to the House that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) feels very strongly on the subject of fluoridation. I do not intend to detain the House at any length at this hour in order to canvass the merits of the argument on the desirability or otherwise of fluoridating the water supply of any community in Australia. However, some allegations have been made in language which I am sure the honorable gentleman, in a cooler moment, will regret. So I intend to put one or two facts on the record so that the charges that have been made against the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and other members of the Government can appear, at least to the fair-minded observer, in the true light
The honorable gentleman can hardly complain that he has been treated undemocratically, because it will be recalled that, with the concurrence of the Opposition, we altered the normal procedures of the House in order to give a special place to the motion proposed by him at a time when and in circumstances in which it otherwise would not have come before the House.
– In order to trick him.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro may recall that the Opposition, using its own procedures, prevented the motion of the honorable member for Moreton coming forward at the appropriate time after notice had been given. In order to provide an opportunity for the honorable gentleman to express what were known by us to be views which he held very earnestly and strongly and which, up to that point of time anyhow, had not appeared to command majority support, the procedures of the House were altered.
The honorable member talks about assurances. My recollection is that arising from the discussion - here I am at some little disadvantage because a good deal of the discussion which has taken place on this matter has taken place inside the Government party room - the Prime Minister, as I am sure my colleagues from both Government parties will confirm, indicated that the Cabinet would have another look at this matter and that the parties would be advised. I can recall - I give an assurance to the honorable gentleman on this point - that we ourselves were very mindful of the fact that no Government statement on any decision reached by us in Cabinet should be made until the Government parties had been advised of the outcome of the Cabinet consideration, and then a public announcement could be made. That was done. The honorable gentleman will be aware that that was done. Following the announcement to the Government parties of the outcome of the Cabinet’s consideration of the matter, the Minister for the Interior (Mr.
Anthony), acting in accordance with the responsibilities of his office, made a public declaration of the decision that the Government had reached.
I repeat that I do not propose to canvass the merits. All that I do now is put on record facts which should establish that the views of the honorable gentleman were given public expression in this place; that the views put forward were considered subsequently by the Cabinet; and that, when the Cabinet had taken its decision and notified it to the members of the Government parties, it was then announced publicly for all the world to know.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1 1.25 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Homes for the Aged. (Question No. 140.)
rns asked the Minister for
Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Grants may be made up to two-thirds of the capital cost, or twice the organization’s “ presently available “ funds, whichever is the less.
Under Section 5 of the Aged Persons Homes Act, the following organizations are eligible for assistance provided they are not carried on for the purposes of profit or gain to individual members and are not conducted or controlled by any Government bodyor persons appointed by such body: -
Only moneys which are the absolute property of the organization and completely free of any contingent or other legal liability can attract subsidy under the act. Borrowed moneys or moneys obtained from a governmental source may be used to help meet the capital cost of an approved project but cannot be subsidized.
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
When the unemployment and sickness benefits legislation first came into operation in 1945, it was the practice in most States for inquiry officers of the Department of Social Services to visit public hospitals regularly to supply patients with sickness benefit forms and to assist them to complete the forms. Over the years this practice ceased at varying times and for various reasons in the different States. Among the reasons were the increasing public awareness of the availability of sickness benefit, improved hospital almoner and welfare services, requests by hospital authorities that the service be undertaken by hospital staff, and the interruption to medical treatment and hospital routines sometimes caused by the visits of departmental inquiry officers. In Brisbane, regular visits by inquiry officers to public hospitals ceased in 1960 but, as in other States, visits are made on request where any problem arises concerning social services which cannot be adequately handled through the normal hospital services.
s asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
South Australia- July, 1961.
Western Australia - April, 1964.
New South Wales- May, 1964.
Metal tradesmen in the industry received margin increases in April, 1963, in New South Wales and South Australia and in July, 1963, in Western Australia. Various other classifications of steelworkers received their most recent margin increases as follows: -
In New South Wales and South Australia, November, 1960.
In Western Australia, September, 1962.
During 1963, Australia -
imported 277,670 tons of iron and steel valued at £25,468,000. Imports were mainly from the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, the United States of America and Sweden.
y asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What progress has been made in the consultations concerning accession to the United Nations Conventions (a) for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of Prostitution in Others (1950), (b) on the Political Rights of Women (1952), (c) on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958) and (d) on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961) since his replies to me on 7th November, 1962 (“ Hansard “, page 2196), and (e) on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance Obligations (1956) since his reply to me on 25th October, 1962 (“ Hansard “, page 2034).
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Copyright Convention. (Question No. 230.)
m asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice: -
What amendments must be made to Australian laws before Australia can accede to the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations done at the conference which Australia attended in Rome in October, 1961?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
There is at present no Commonwealth or State law which grants the protection to performers required by the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations. The protection required by the convention to be given to producers of phonograms is given in part by section 19 of the Copyright Act 1911. The protection required by the convention to be given to broadcasting organizations is given in part by section 121 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1924-1960. The Copyright Law Review Committee recommended the adoption by Australia of sections 12 and 14 of the United Kingdom Copyright Act 1956. Adoption of these provisions would satisfy the requirements of the convention in respect of the producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations. Consideration is at present being given to the recommendations of the Copyright Law Review Committee.
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Does Australia propose to accede to the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 7th November, 1962?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The matter is under examination.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
As at 6th April, 1964 -
k. - On 5th May, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked a question without notice, inquiring whether the Australian agreement with the Irish Government on the exchange of diplomatic representatives involved any alteration in the status of Irish citizens resident in Australia and I promised to furnish him with a more detailed answer. I am now able to give the following details: -
Irish citizens in Australia are given the same treatment as British citizens. That means that they do not require visas for entry into Australia and that, after arrival in this country, they may become Australian citizens by registration in the same way as British citizens. Even without registration, Irish citizens, like British subjects, are eligible for the same social security and related benefits as Australian citizens. They may join the Australian armed services and police and take the required oath of allegiance. This is admittedly an anomalous situation but it is not necessarily affected by the recent agreement on the acceptance of credentials of Heads of Missions accredited between Australia and the Republic of Ireland and the situation of Irish citizens in Australia.
n. - On 5th May, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) asked me a question without notice concerning negotiations between the Commonwealth and a Japanese shipping line to service the trade between Australia and South America. The following is the additional information I promised to supply to the honorable member: -
A service operated by a Swedish company (the Swedish Orient Line) to the West Coast of South America and the Caribbean area, commenced in January, 1962, and ceased in January, 1964. In 1960-61, the financial year prior to the com mencement of the service, Australian exports to this area were f A.2,635,000. In 1961-62 exports were £A.3,029,000, and in 1962-63, £A.4,740,00O. Exports for the first nine months of 1963-64 were £A.3,928,000. The arrangements which were negotiated with the Japanese company (Kawasaki Risen Kaisha Limited) provide for the operation of a service to virtually the same area as that to which the Swedish company operated previously. Six sailings will be provided during the period April, 1964, to April, 1965, on a regular twomonthly basis. All vessels are fitted to carry general and refrigerated cargo. The Commonwealth will provide financial assistance at the level of £25,000 per voyage over the six voyages, to offset the expected operating losses during this developmental stage.
Balance of Trade with the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
– On 22nd April, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) asked me a question without notice concerning Australia’s unfavorable balances with the United Kingdom and the United States of America? The following is the statistical reply I promised to supply to the honorable member: -
During the fourteen years, 1949-50 to 1962-63, inclusive, Australia’s payments for commodities and such items as freight and insurance, &c, exceeded income by £1,937 million in the case of the United Kingdom and £1,398 million with the United States of America.
The following table sets out the position in detail: -
AUSTRALIA: BALANCE OF PAYMENTS ON CURRENT ACCOUNT.
y asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Will he publish a booklet, similar to a publication recently issued by him concerning overseas participation in Australian industry, setting out the details of Japanese interests in Australian industry?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Department of Trade and Industry has in the past published booklets listing the names of manufacturing companies established in Australia which are subsidiaries of, or which have financial associations with, British and United States companies. lt is doubtful whether there would be a sufficient number of instances of Japanese investment in the manufacturing sector to warrant the publication of a separate booklet. Consideration is, however, being given to the possible publication of a booklet which would include the names of companies in Australia which have financial affiliations with companies in all countries other than Britain and the United States.
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Even assuming that by the term “child delinquency “ the honorable member means convictions of young people for offences it is not possible to assess with any degree of certainty the extent of child delinquency in Australia. There is a lack of uniformity in Australia in the age at which, for prosecution purposes, an offender ceases to be a juvenile and hence, at a vital point, figures are misleading. In addition, there is a lack of uniformity in the classification of offences, there are different reporting rates by the public and different procedures adopted in dealing with (hose offenders who are identified. As an example only some police forces publish statistics on the number of offenders warned by them instead of appearing before a court. Finally, no reliable estimates are available of the percentage of offences committed by juveniles in the number of uncleared crimes.
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Queensland Act was assented on 28 December, 1961.
The New South Wales Act was assented to on 27 December, 1961.
The Victorian Act was assented to on 19
The Tasmanian Act was assented to on 11 December, 1962.
The South Australian Act was assented to on 22 November, 1962.
The West Australian Act as originally passed was assented to on 22 January, 1962. This Act did not include some agreed amendments which were made to the second draft bill following its circulation. The Act was amended to include these amendments and the amending Act was assented to on 4 October, 1962.
The Australian Capital Territory Ordinance was made on 30 June, 1962.
The Northern Territory Ordinance was assented to on 3 June, 1963.
Amendments were made to the Companies Ordinance 1963 of the Northern Territory on 26 August, 1963 and 26 November, 1963, to meet a situation which was peculiar to the Northern Territory.
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What was the (a) date and (b) text of the information which the Government gave to the General Assembly of the United Nations at its eighteenth session, pursuant to the Assembly’s resolution at its seventeenth session on 6th November, 1962, regarding actions taken by member states separately or collectively, in dissuading the Government of South Africa from pursuing its policies of apartheid?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Australia voted against resolution No. 1761 (XVII.) adopted by the General Assembly on 6th November, 1962, to which the honorable member has referred. The Australian attitude to it was fully explained in speeches made by the Australian representative at the time and also in an answer of 28th November, 1962, to a Parliamentary question put on notice by the honorable member for Oxley. I consider that Australia’s attitude to the question, and in particular its condemnation of apartheid in South Africa, has been made very clear on many occasions. Resolutions of the General Assembly on such questions, as the honorable member will be aware, are recommendations only and have no binding force. In consequence, Australia (in common with the other fifteen members of the United Nations which also opposed the resolution) did not supply any written information pursuant to it.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640514_reps_25_hor42/>.