26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr HAYDEN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that this House take any action necessary to assist a campaign for a lasting and peaceful settlement in Vietnam.
Petition received and read. - Mr HAYDEN presented a petition from certain ‘ electors . . of the Commonwealth’ praying , that the Government press for (!) complete cessation of the bombing ofNorth Vietnam and (2) discussion amongst all parties to the conflict, including the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.
Dr J. F. CAIRNS presented a petition from certain residents of Australia praying that this House take suitable action to bring our sons home now before another boy is killed in Vietnam and to bring this senseless war to an end.
Petition received and read.
Similiar petitions were presented by Mr Uren, Mr Clyde Cameron and Mr Bryant.
Petitions severally received.
Mr HAYDEN presented a petition from certain residents of Australia praying that this House take suitable action to bring our sons home now before another boy is killed in Vietnam and to bring this senseless war to an end.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer the honourable gentleman to the Fill purchase documents which he has studied in the last few days. Does the contract between the United States Government and the contractor, General Dynamics Corporation, include contractual terms binding on the Australian Government? If so, will the Minister make these provisions available to the House? Is the original memorandum of understanding between the late Mr Townley and Mr McNamara a binding contractual agreement? Does the technical arrangement for the purchase of the aircraft contain binding contractual terms? Finally, have any of these documents been made available to the Public Accounts Committee?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows the answer : to his question. 1 refer him to the statement made by the Prime Minister.
– 1 ask the Minister for Defence whether it is a fact that many military aircraft in their teething stages have been subject to numerous crashes and that one type of aircraft had the best part of 100 crashes -with little political notice? Is it a fact that, -comparatively, the Fill aircraft has bad many fewer crashes? ls it a fact also that there is no comparable machine to replace this aircraft and that it is a magnificent weapons system which will make Australia’s defence much more secure?
– It is generally understood that perhaps the first 10,000 hours of flying of any new aircraft, particularly a military type, will be the most productive of these unfortunate mishaps. From the FI 00 series on - 1 think over nine aircraft in all - the number of crashes in the first 10,000 hours of flying has been as high as seventeen in one case and as low as seven in the case of the Fill, in both the FI IIA and the FU IB configurations. It is interesting to note, if the honourable gentleman requires the figures, that in fact the number of crashes in the first 10,000 hours of flying is the same for the Fill series as for the now very successful F4.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. He has made a statement envisaging that in the near future colour television will be introduced in Australia. Before this is done, will be consider providing television services to the distant country areas of New South Wales?
– As I have told the House previously, the Australian- Broadcasting Control Board is constantly making inquiries and investigations into the best means of extending television to the areas of Australia that do not yet have this service. 1 point out that the proposals that are in hand, together with the installations that have already been made, will cover 96% of the Australian population. We are dealing therefore with a very small percentage of the people - 4% - and they are scattered in comparatively small communities. Providing a television service to these areas is a very expensive operation, but the matter is under investigation.
– I ask the Attorney-General- a question. Very briefly, this may be said to be a hypothetical question, but! the answer could well affect Australia’s future.’ In view of the fact that in a speech during the weekend the Attorney-General was reported as saying that, distasteful as it was, the Government felt that it had to uphold the decisions of the Security Council on Rhodesia, would he advise the Government to follow this principle if the Security Council, on a submission from some nation, decided that Australia’s immigration policy was a threat to the peace of the world? If the United Nations can take action on an internal matter as between Britain and Rhodesia, and Australia supports the decision, is there any reason why it cannot-
– Order! As the honourable member said at the beginning, this is truly a hypothetical question. I ask him to conclude his question in other terms.
– All I want to know is: Does the same principle apply if Australia’s immigration policy is called into question by the United Nations as a threat to the peace of the world.
– The question is hypothetical, involves questions of policy and asks for legal opinions. On these several grounds and in the circumstances I do not think I should answer it during question time.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has his attention been drawn to the forthright statement of the Minister for National Development some days ago that foreign interests operating in Australia and owning and controlling many industries in Australia are not permitting Australian citizens to share in the equity pf their holdings and are not employing Australian citizens in the management of their industries? If so, will he draw the attention of American companies particularly to the policy of the United States department - Dean Rusk told me . this - which is that all American companies should enable local people in the countries where, they operate to buy shares in the companies and be employed in their management? If the .Prime Minister does not get a favour-1 able result from General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd, the Japanese interests and others in mining, oil and motor car manufacture, will he introduce legislation making it obligatory for all these companies to surrender 51% of their holdings to Australian citizens, as happens in respect of citizens of other countries-
-Order! The . right honourable gentleman’s question is too long and he is giving information. He should ask his question.
- Sir, you are right. Will the Prime Minister introduce legislation to compel these companies to sell 51% of their shares to Australian citizens and will he oblige the companies to take interminable bonds-
-Order! The right honourable gentleman’s question is far too long and involves some matters of policy. The Chair has already been lenient. I ask the right honourable gentleman to finish his question.
– I will, and this is the important point: Will the Prime Minister compel these companies to sell their holdings to Austraiian citizens for interminable bonds at a nominal rate of interest no higher than the cost of issuance and service - probably about 2%?
– I certainly noticed the speech made by the Minister for National Development to which the right honourable gentleman has referred. It follows the lines of a speech which I made on 29th May 1968 to probably one of the largest gatherings of the American companies to which the right honourable gentleman has referred.It was to the Australian-American Association in New York. I was asked to draw attention to this matter. I think our arrangements with them have been mutually satisfactory, but while we want capital in Australia and while we have for the reasons I have given a joint responsibility and requirement that that capital should be invested, we also, as an Australian nation, want that capital to be provided in a way that gives Australians a share in the production of that capital investment. To spell it out more clearly, if debenture capital is to be raised for growth we would like it to be raised abroad rather than in the Australian market but we would prefer joint partnership enterprises in which joint risks are taken and joint rewards, when success is achieved, come to both countries. In other words, the opportunity is for equity participation in the growth of our own nation. On 29th May I made that attitude known to the American companies concerned, which was one of the facets of the question asked me, and the statement made by the Minister for National Development follows virtually those lines. The remainder of the right honourable gentleman’s question deals with possible future policy and I do not propose to answer it at question time.
– Can the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry say in which States and by whom urea is being manufactured in Australia? What is the retail cost and what is the amount of subsidy paid on local urea? Is the same subsidy paid on Australian manufactured urea as is paid on imported urea? What is the landed cost of urea in each State?
– At this stage only two Australian firms are engaged in the manufacture of urea. One is at Botany in New South Wales and a new plant is about to come into production in Brisbane. Local urea is sold in all States except Western Australia. The list price in Queensland, the predominant area of use, is $79.20 a ton after subsidy. Subsidy is available from the Federal Government at the rate of $80 per ton of nitrogen. I am told that this is calculated at the equivalent of $36.80 a ton of urea. The selling price in Western Australia, which, as I have explained, uses all imported urea, is about $68.40 a ton after subsidy.
May I add to the reply thatI gave earlier that, to the extent to which a subsidy is available on urea imported from overseas, it is available only where the demand for urea is in excess of the supply manufactured locally.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral received an application on behalf of the man under sentence of death in the Northern Territory for aid to appeal to the Privy Council? Is this a matter in which the Attorney-General will have to secure the approval of the Treasury? How long will it be before he can give a decision in what will probably be the last appeal to the Privy Council under Territory or Federal laws?
-I will answer the last part of the question first. Although there is a cutoff point in the Act which abolishes appeals to the Privy Council, it operates only in regard to matters originated in any court after the proclaimed date. There will therefore be a phasing out period. If this man appeals to the Privy Council, his appeal will not necessarily be the last. There could be other appeals in cases that are currently before some lower court in the Commonwealth. To deal with the substance of the question, I have not seen any application for aid. The last communication I had was from senior counsel some time ago, when he informed me that a petition was being prepared. Should such an application be received, it would be considered.Inthe absence of any application, I cannot say how long it would take . to deal with the matter. If the Government did consider granting legal aid, naturally the Treasury would have to be consulted.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. In his capacity as a River Murray commissioner did he recently, with other commissioners, authorise the distribution of a paper entitled
Statement on Proposals for Further Stor- age on the River Murray’ which included a map of the River Murray that was prepared 8 years ago in 1960? Were the sites of the Chowilla and Dartmouth dams overprinted on this map? Was the map not updated in any other way, in particular so as to include an indication of the actual dependence on the River Murray of the Adelaide industrial complex for -water for domestic and industrial uses? Is it not a fact that Adelaide’s present dependence on the River Murray in i normal year is for 30,000 acre feet of water, and in a year such as last year 70,000 acre feet? Is it not a fact that it is estimated that the dependence of the Adelaide industrial com*plex on water from., the River Murray will in the next ,12. years rise to 105,000 acre feet or 55% of its essential needs?
– The honourable member’s question is far too -long and it involves some technical details.- I suggest that he consider placing it on the notice paper.
– That is the conclusion of my question, Mr Speaker.
– As the President of the River Murray Commission, I did on behalf of ‘ the four commissioners authorise the publication recently of a pamphlet explaining that we had temporarily suspended work on the Chowilla Dam pending further investigations into other sites. The map that was put into the pamphlet to enable people to follow the various sites was over-printed with the two possible dam sites, but it was not upgraded to show the dependence of Adelaide on the River Murray for water. I recognise that Adelaide has a very considerable dependence on the River Murray. For this reason the River Murray Commission realises the dependence not only df Adelaide but also of all the irrigators in the area on water from the River Murray. The Commission is now carrying out investigations into whether the sum that would be needed to complete the Chowilla Dam could, if expended elsewhere, produce a greater yield of water than if it were expended at Chowilla. We are well on the way to completing these studies, and I expect to have a report by the end of the year. In the meantime, it does appear to me from all the reports of the technical committee of the River
Murray Commission that if the money were spent on an upriver storage it could produce a greater increase of flow in the River Murray and therefore a greater water supply for Adelaide.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he can say when he will be able to place the dairy farm reconstruction scheme, with all its details, before the Parliament. Or has the Government decided to postpone the whole idea’ indefinitely in view qf butter and cheese surpluses piling up overseas and lower re?’ turns to dairymen, with the inevitability of increased production in Australia through increased efficiency when the small uneconomic dairy farmers have voluntarily left the industry under the terms of the plan, having handed over to the larger, economically efficient dairymen?
– 1 have answered questions in this House previously on this sub- .ject. I have stated that some difficulties have been experienced in coming to an agree- . ment with the States for the management of the proposed scheme. The Government has been looking at proposals (hat might be acceptable to the States, and various adjustments have been made to our original proposal. The States will be informed by the Prime Minister of these alterations and we will be anxious to hear from the States whether our proposal is acceptable to them or not. 1 certainly hope that it will be accepted, and I also hope that I will have an opportunity of bringing it before the Parliament during the present sessional period.
– I would like to correct an answer which I gave to a question asked yesterday by the honourable member for Braddon. The honourable member asked about cheese exported from Australia to the United Kingdom. I said that I thought there was a. quota arrangement under which 15,000 tons of Australian cheese would go on to the United Kingdom market. That answer was not quite correct. The position is that on the initiative of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, the New Zealand Dairy Board and the United Kingdom Milk
Marketing Board an approach was made to the United Kingdom Government to have a quota system introduced covering imports of cheese into the United Kingdom, along similar lines to the quota system covering imports of butter. The purpose was to bring about some orderly marketing in a situation of over-supply. The United Kingdom Government declined the compulsory quota idea but suggested instead a system of voluntary restraints by all countries exporting cheese to the United Kingdom. Under this proposal the amount suggested for Australia was 13,500 tons. This compares with approximately 8,800 tons which we had exported in the previous year, 1967- 68. However, the proposal has not been accepted by all exporters of cheese to the United Kingdom.
– I wish to ask the Minister for the Army a question. Is it a fact that the Army base at Townsville was established as a task force training area and holding area? Is it a fact that as yet a task force has not occupied the area and has not trained in the area? Is it also a fact that there is as yet no brigadier for the task force? Secondly I ask: Were permanent barracks built at Puckapunyal for the infantry training centre? If so, has the unit ever occupied these - barracks or is it intended that it should, occupy them? If not, where in Australia is it intended that the unit be stationed?
– 1 shall deal first with the second part of the honourable member’s question which related to the establishment of a permanent infantry training centre. Some years ago it was intended to establish at Puckapunyal a permanent infantry training centre and plans were set in motion for this development. However, with the buildup in the national service scheme and the Vietnam commitment it -was found that the facilities and accommodation which were provided did not meet the requirements of what was then intended to be a permanent infantry training centre. As a consequence of this the centre then established at Puckapunyal has been used for siting and locating the Army’s service corps. It has proved particularly satisfactory for that purpose. The question of a permanent location for an infantry training centre is still under consideration, and when a decision is made the honourable member will certainly be advised. In the meantime the centre is operating at Ingleburn. 1 suggest .that the questions, relating to the Lavarack barracks complex at Townsville be put on notice. The details will be provided later. .
– Is the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry aware of the concern expressed by both the Greater Wollongong Chamber of Manufactures and the South Coast Labour Council at the purchase and installation by the State Electricity Commission of New South Wales of 11 miles of Japanese copper power cable at Port Kembla to the detriment of Australian industry and employment in that area, which is Australia’s main centre of copper fabrication? Will the Minister institute immediate inquiries into the circumstances in which this cable was imported into Australia and the marginal price differential used as justification for its purchase?
– 1 am not aware of ihe circumstances to which the honourable gentleman has referred. However, it is true that generally speaking copper prices have risen substantially in recent times largely due to the circumstance to which my colleague, the Minister for National Development, referred a few days ago- namely, a strike in. the United States of America. The circumstances of this purchase may well be related to the result of the change in world prices for copper. I shall be. happy to examine the question and - to write to the honourable member informing him of further details.
– I address a’ question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I refer to the proposed development of the <area immediately south of the new Melbourne airport at Tullamarine for the purpose of building 2,100 homes, plus shops, schools and parklands. The Minister knows that I am firmly opposed to this project because of the noise factor. Is he in favour of this development? Secondly, are- negotiations in progress between the developers and the Federal and Victorian State governments with a view to using this land for purposes other than housing?
– The Commonwealth acquired 5,308 acres of land at Tullamarine for i he development of a new airport for Melbourne. Although this is a large area of land - it is certainly much larger than most other airports in Australia - its development was still dependent upon the zoning of adjoining land that had been acquired to give a reasonable buffer against the noise problem in future development. It was the Commonwealth’s understanding at the time that that area was zoned for rural purposes. My understanding is that the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works agreed with that zoning and, in fact, indicated that it .was so zoned. My belief is that later a developer approached the Victorian Minister for Local Government, and, on appeal, was allowed to go ahead, with plans for the development of a residential area adjoining the aerodrome at the point referred to by the honourable member. The Government and my Department are clearly opposed to the further rezoning of the area. We believe it should still be zoned for rural purposes to provide the buffer which was intended in the first instance, because the area concerned is close to where it is proposed at some future time - in another 10 or 12 years - to develop a new runway. The problem to which the honourable member has drawn attention could arise. The matter is now the subject of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Victoria. When some further information is available I will provide it to the honourable member.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. What happy coincidence of events led him to discover Australia only 200 years after Captain Cook? Have the activities of the Rhodesian and Formosan wings of his Party so concerned him that he felt it necessary to rally his Party with an appeal to a new-found nationalism? Would he please, on this occasion at least, translate his fine sentiments into action by taking effective measures to reverse the trend towards foreign control of our assets which has developed under 20 years of Liberal mismanagement?
– I am bound to say that I expect to be blamed for quite a number of things from time to time at question time, but it never crossed my mind that I would be blamed for not discovering Australia before Captain Cook. I have no apologies to offer for that. As to the other part of the question, on the recent tour on which we were engaged - and I imagine this is in the honourable member’s mind - it was very pleasant to see the number of developments which were entirely Australian owned,, such as the Western Mining Corporation Ltd development, and the number of other developments which were either 50% or 60% Australian owned, though there were some where one would have liked to have seen more Australian . ownership - much more.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. As wheat growers and businessmen in western Victoria are experiencing great financial difficulties as a result of the recent drought, can the Minister advise me when the final payment from No. 29 pool will be made by the Australian Wheat Board? Is it a fact that payments are being withheld pending a ruling from the Attorney-General’s Department to the Government on the question of an amount of $400,000 premium for for: ward exchange cover against the United Kingdom’s decision to devalue sterling? Finally, will the Minister take steps to resolve this isue as promptly as possible?
– Under our wheat stabilisation and marketing legislation the Australian Wheat Board is required to make recommendations to me for approval of any payments out of the fund for wheat delivered to each pool. So far I have not received any recommendations concerning the final payment from No. 29 pool. But as soon as I receive advice from the Wheat Board I will deal with it, in my customary manner, as promptly as I possibly can. But I understand that some discussion is going on at the present time. The Board feels that it is entitled to further payments of compensation, as a result of devaluation, for a notional amount of forward exchange cover. It is a legal question, which I believe is being considered, as to whether the Board should be compensated or not. I hope that it is resolved quickly so I can get notification from the Board to enable me to deal with this question.
– 1 desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. Do ex-service personnel become eligible for war service homes grants when they have spent 30 consecutive days in a war zone? Are personnel of the Royal Australian Air Force who are stationed in Malaya for 2-year periods often sent to Vietnam for one or more periods of 21 consecutive days, and thus are ineligible for war service homes grants? Will the Minister consider making such RAAF personnel eligible for such grants?
– The regulations governing this matter have been drawn up after very considerable study and care, and I do not carry them all in my head. But 1 will see that the information concerning precise eligibility for war service homes grants of personnel serving in this area is supplied to the honourable member.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Is he now in a position to inform the House of what decision the Government has taken in relation to a memorial for our late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt?
– Yes, J can inform the House on this matter. The Government has taken a decision that because of the tragic and unusual circumstances surrounding the death of the late Prime Minister and, more particularly, because of the fact that he has no known grave, a memorial should be erected to his memory. We have examined a number of proposals that have been put forward. Some of them were local in character and others sought to emphasise some particular facet of his private life, but we took the view that his contribution was as a member of the national Parliament as a national leader, that his life was in politics and that there should therefore be erected in the national capital a memorial to his memory. The memorial in principle will take the shape of a memorial fountain towards :he centre of Canberra.
The details of this fountain are under discussion between the National Capital Development Commission and other authorities.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. 1 ask: Has his attention been drawn to the reported proceedings of a certain court case in New South Wales in which allegations of perjury, conspiracy and other illegal, unscrupulous and dishonest practices have been brought to the light of day? In particular, I refer to an allegation of conspiracy to obtain a divorce. Has he or his departmental advisers investigated these allegations? If so, does he intend to take any action against the parties concerned?
– From reading the Press I have noticed from time to time reports of a case to which I think the honourable member is referring. Of course, this case is at present being investigated by a most competent authority, Mr Justice Street of the New South Wales Supreme Court. I have no intention of duplicating his work. Let us await the outcome of that case and his decision upon it.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report by Mr Justice Beattie on apprenticeship? If so, has he noted the reference in that report to the need for Commonwealth co-operation in many areas in order that his recommendations can be made effective? What attitude is the Government likely to take in this important matter?
– I am aware of the report by Mr Justice Beattie, lt is a very thorough report of several volumes and covers many facets of apprenticeship. The New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry very kindly supplied me with a summary of the report. The report, which is, in the first instance, a report to the New South Wales Government raises many issues. However, I am sure that it will be studied by employers, trade unions and other interested parties, such as technical training bodies, throughout Australia. lt is the first work of this magnitude that has been undertaken on the subject for a long time. I expect that the report will come up for discussion at the Apprenticeship Advisory Council, which is chaired by the permanent head of my department, in October. Clearly it involves a great deal of study and thought at this stage. When the propositions are put to the Government and it has had an opportunity of examining them the Government will be able to form its policy on apprenticeship.
– I wish to ask the Minister for the Interior a question. The honourable gentleman will no doubt have heard the question which my colleague the honourable member for Lang asked the Attorney-General concerning evidence given in a protracted case before Mr Justice Street in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. He will also remember that about 1 month ago I asked him whether he had noted the evidence given in that case concerning apparent breaches of the Commonwealth Electoral Act during the campaign by Liberal Party and Country Party candidates in the division of Eden-Monaro at the last House of Representatives election. The Minister will remember that he told me he would look into the matter and advise me of his findings. I ask him now, in view of further evidence which was given in the same case by persons who would appear to have broken the law, whether he is able to give me an answer to the former question and, if so, whether he can amplify it in the light of the further evidence.
– As is my usual practice, when the information I have been seeking comes to hand. I will furnish it to the Leader of the Opposition. I will take into account what he has said today, and if I can add anything further to what information is already being prepared, I will do so.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that quotas are to be applied on meat imports into the United States of America? By how much will such quotas reduce our exports of beef to the United States? Is it expected that any reduction will be permanent or that it will be only short term?
– In 1964 legislation was passed through the American Congress enabling the Administration to impose quota restrictions on meat imports into that country. That legislation provided for a formula under which quotas would be applied if imports reached a certain level. This level is known as the trigger level. Apparently, at the moment, imports of meat into the United States, if they continue at the present rate, will reach this level and will trigger the imposition of quotas on meat coming from supplying countries. This, of course, would not be in our interests or in the interests of other supplying countries. At the moment discussions are being held between the Australian and New Zealand meat boards and authorities in other supplying countries so that we might restrain the supply of meat to the American market for the balance of this . year and make sure that quotas are not applied. The Australian Meat Board will have further discussions tomorrow and I hope that it will be able to advise the industry as soon as possible as to the procedure if quotas on our imports are applied for the balance of this year. As to the long term effect, I would like to say that each year the American Government solicits information as to what supplies of meat will reach the United States market. Should the trigger level be reached quotas would be applied. What happens will depend upon the supply of meat that is available to the United States market next year and the trigger level which the Congress adopts.
Discussion of Matter of Public Importance
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) proposing that a matter of definite public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The evasive answers and inadequate information given to the House by the Minister for Defence concerning the Fill aircraft.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places.)
– I raise this matter so that honourable members may discuss the evasive answers and inadequate information given to the House by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) concerning the Fill aircraft. The Opposition is gravely dissatisfied with both the quality and the quantity of information given to it by the Minister. For this reason we have repeatedly urged the Government to table the documents relating to the purchase of the aircraft. I would like to deal this afternoon with three broad areas of criticism related to the aircraft. The first concerns the purchase contract and the documents relevant to the purchase. There are some very peculiar features of the purchase that should be brought to light. In view of the completely unsatisfactory approach of the Minister, who has refrained from giving the House full information on the terms of purchase, we have had no alternative but to press for the tabling of the papers in another place. The House has been given no information at all of the contractual arrangements with the United States Government. We do not know even whether there is a firm and binding contract or whether there has been a sequence of government to government agreements dependent only on the goodwill of the two parties concerned. There has been a complete failure to document adequately successive price rises. 1 would like to refer to evidence given before the United States Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee of Government Operations. The Committee investigated the TFX contract in Washington in November 1963. I have on 21st March and 2nd May referred the Minister for Defence to this evidence and asked him to explain features of it that I regard as extremely unsatisfactory. My colleague, the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Senator Murphy), has also referred extensively to this hearing and made similar criticisms of its unsatisfactory features. This hearing emphasises the unseemly haste with which the initial agreement with the United States to purchase the aeroplane was made.
I quote from pages 2524 and 2525 of the transcript of the hearing, at which Senator Mundt questioned Mr Roswell L. Gilpatric, who was then Deputy Secretary of Defence, about the purchase. Senator Mundt asked Mr Gilpatric if the cost to Australia would be SI 25m. Mr Gilpatric replied:
Well, that is the estimated cost. Senator, because at this stage it is not possible for either party, either the Australian Government or the United States Government, to contract with reference to a fixed amount
Mr Gilpatric went on to say that the United States Air Force had given an estimated unit cost of SUS5.2m on a programme basis which would include spare parts, engines, associated ground equipment and some training. That is to say, in the initial agreement the unit cost of each aircraft included support facilities and some training. In the subsequent 5 years, the initial unit cost, which included these additional items; has been transformed into a unit cost of $A5.97m, described as the fly away cost of the aircraft. This does not include spare parts, engines, associated equipment and training which the Minister said on 2nd May in this House was $US120m additional to r*>e cost of the twenty-four aircraft. Somewhere along the line this remarkable and very costly transformation occurred. The Minister should explain this and should produce for the House the documents associated with it. I refer again to page 525 of the transcript, where Senator Mundt asked Mr Gilpatric:
Just what kind of contract do you have with Australia? Are they going to buy ‘planes willy nilly? If your figures are off $2m and the cost is $74m a piece, are they going to buy them for $10m? Have they any top limit or do they simply say: ‘We will have two dozen ‘planes at whatever price they are’?
In a very significant reply Mr Gilpatric said:
That is the way the agreement reads. It is a government-to-government agreement and T do not know how you would enforce such an agreement other than by the goodwill and comity of the two countries involved, but that is the agreement.
In other words, the Deputy Secretary of Defence regarded Australia’s agreement to buy the Fill as unenforceable except by goodwill. What he has said is that Australia agreed to buy 24 of the aircraft, but it was not an enforceable contract. There is a plain implication in those words that the initial agreement could have been varied or even broken by Australia. Somehow this agreement which, according to a very senior United States official, was unenforceable except by the goodwill of the two countries involved, has become an iron clad contract with no safeguards for Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made this clear earlier this week when, in a television interview, he said that there was no way out of the contract. Again, there has been an extraordinary transformation of the original purchase terms as stated by the United States Deputy Secretary pf Defence. The Opposition wants tabled all papers relating to the purchase of the aircraft so that the evolutionary processes which produced these remarkable changes in the purchase terms may be assessed and evaluated.
The second area of the Opposition’s criticism relates to the testing of the Fill which is under way at the moment. The Minister for Defence has repeatedly sneered at the claims of laymen to make criticisms in these matters. It is impossible to glean any satisfaction or even sense out of the Minister’s reported comments on the testing of the Fill. In this House last week the Minister went to some length in dealing with the subject of fatigue testing. He described it as an imprecise science and as an area in which aeronautical scientists admit their deficiencies. This may be so, but there still must be very grave concern about the fact that vital structural testing of the FI 1 1 should reveal major deficiencies some months after the initial flight of the aircraft. I understand that a new type of steel known as high tensile 2 steel was used in the section of the Fill which failed under fatigue testing. It seems extraordinary that, with a type of steel which had not been used before, extensive fatigue testing of the part bad been delayed until after the aircraft has flown. Why was this part not subjected to fatigue and structural tests at least 2 years ago? It is beyond my comprehension how the crucial part of the Fill structure should have been subjected to these very thorough fatigue testings until the aircraft had been in the air for several months.
I would like to refer honourable members to the Dassault Mirage G., which is a variable swing-wing aircraft and which has, I understand, welded steel’ rod across the fuselage, comparable to the Fill. In the Mirage this part was made of a type of steel which had been extensively used in the
United States and France. Despite this experience of the properties of the steel, it was subjected to fatigue testing more than 2 years before the aircraft was flown in 1967. According to the April 1968 edition of the technical journal ‘Aircraft Engineering’ it was subjected to 2,500 simulated flights before the steel was classed as satisfactory for the aircraft in flight. If this amount of fatigue testing was given to a part made of a steel widely used and known to be reliable, why was fatigue testing delayed on the Fill part, which is made of a completely new type of steel? I emphasise that this part is comparable to that of the Fill which failed under fatigue testing. The Minister should explain to the House why this fatigue testing was delayed and why technical officers of the Department of Defence and the Department of Air did not insist on much earlier testing, in view of the anticipated dates of delivery to Australia. There seems to have been a complete failure to insist on maximum testing standards before delivery of the aircraft to Australia.
The third area of criticism is the employment of the Fill within Australia’s defence structure. All we have heard from the Minister is that the Fill will be used as a jet trainer and ‘just flown around’. I quote from the Minister’s own statement. In this House last week, in answer to the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), the Minister said that the Royal Australian Air Force needed a strike reconnaissance capacity to complement its entire force. He said that the aircraft would be brought to Australia and would be integrated into the training pattern here. This is all we have heard from the Minister on the employment of the Fill, apart from an unworthy imputation that the Opposition wanted a war, so that the aircraft could be employed. Clearly, all the Minister has in mind for the Fill is that it is to be used as a jet trainer and also for prestige flying around Australia. He has made no attempt to answer the valid criticism of the future employment of the aircraft.
Clearly, there is a strong body of expert opinion which favours the commitment of the Fill to Vietnam. This was made clear by Group Captain Dallywater of the RAAF when he said the Fill might be used in
Vietnam but that a final decision would be left to the Minister. It is now the Minister’s duty to clarify the Government’s attitude towards employment of the Fill and whether it is to be committed to a front line role in Vietnam. If the Fill is not to be used in association with American support facilities, it is difficult to envisage a viable role for it The Minister has constantly referred to the aircraft as a strike reconnaissance aircraft. He omits to mention that the plane will not be a strike reconnaissance aircraft for at least a year and until substantial modifications have been made to six of the aircraft. The estimated cost of conversion has soared from $8m given initially by a former Minister for Air to $34m given by the present Minister for Air (Mr Freeth) in this House in May. It is misleading of the Minister to refer to the reconnaissance capability of the FI 1 1 until a firm decision is announced on the cost of and the timetable for conversion. With the future of the Fill at the moment extremely clouded and further delays in delivery possible, it could well be some years before the Fill has any reconnaissance capability.
The Minister has been equally vague on the strike capacity of the aircraft. It is completely anomalous to spend an immense amount of money on this weapons system and arm it with obsolete conventional weapons. It seems that the Government has no firm intentions in mind for procuring the sorts of armaments that are commensurate with the vast sophistication of the Fill. The Minister also described the Fi ll as a deterrent. It is inconceivable that a single weapons system armed with conventional weapons could be an effective deterrent. This is an extremely outmoded pattern of military thought. It is also inconceivable that the Government should have any intention of using the Fill as a nuclear bomber in view of the Prime Minister’s emphasis, in his speech on the Budget, on curtailment of defence spending. In the House yesterday the Minister for Air went to great lengths to state that the FI 1 1 could be used operationally from a number of fields. He mentioned Townsville, Learmonth, Darwin and Tindal. The Minister doubtless is theoretically correct in this statement. However, he neglected to mention that only one airfield, Amberley, will be equipped with the personnel and facilities to support and maintain the Fill with any degree of adequacy.
The Minister for Defence estimates that expenditure on support facilities will be $120m. If the aircraft is to be deployed operationally from the airfields listed by the Minister for Air, obviously substantial extra expenditure will be necessary. For sustained operational use, support facilities comparable to those at Amberley would have to be provided at these airfields. Alternatively, massive expenditure on transport aircraft would be necessary to provide any sort of effective support at these airfields. The transport facilities of the RAAF are already immensely over-taxed by the war in Vietnam and would be completely inadequate to provide this sort of support potential. Even if the Fill could be operated and supported from these airfields, its range would be limited to 1,500 miles, which would not give adequate protection for Australia.
– The Opposition has charged me with having given evasive answers and insufficient evidence. Having listened to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) this afternoon, I am forced to the conclusion that the problem is not so much that I have not given adequate information but that the information which has been given is above the comprehension of my colleague opposite. Indeed, he admits about as much. As far as evasive answers are concerned, I and the previous Minister for Defence, and the present and past Ministers for Air, have sought to put before the Opposition information that has been available to the Government. This information has constantly been rejected by the Opposition on the basis that it is not conclusive and that we have not a fixed price for the aircraft. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had taken a little bit of notice of the statement which I made to this House as late as May last, he would have seen that the answers to some of the questions which he has raised this afternoon appear therein. We put down the precise reasons why the cost cannot be given. The conditions of the contract outlined in that speech require that the cost of the aircraft be fixed at the time of delivery of our twenty-fourth aircraft. That event will take place not far in the future but nevertheless in the future. How is it proposed that before this date we should be able to obtain a precise figure of the cost?
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned the reconnaissance capacity of the Fill. He knows very well what is proposed. It has all been detailed in precise terms in speeches made to this House on a number of occasions. He knows very well that research and development is going on. He knows that a final price cannot be established until that research and development has been concluded. There may very well be variations during production. So what the honourable gentleman really admits is that he knows nothing about the procedure of research, development and production and the costs which might attach thereto.
I would now like to deal with the last matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - the employment of this aircraft. The honourable member took for his purposes a statement made by one of our five RAAF representatives in America but made in regard to a field which does not belong to him. Group Captain Dallywater is a technical man’. The Group Captain said that the Fill might be used in Vietnam, meaning that it could be used in Vietnam, but that it was for the Government to decide. Of course it is for the Government to decide. As I have pointed out, the Government has made its decision about the disposition of its military forces in Vietnam. Our forces fit completely into the pattern of responsibility given to us by the United States or agreed upon with the United States. The role of our Air Force is being adequately fulfilled by our Canberra bombers, which honourable gentlemen opposite were saying were obsolete some 6 years ago. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition wanted to know what use we intend to make of the Fill, because I had said we were going to fly it around. Of course we are going to fly it around. But the great function of the Fill is to complement the capacity of the Royal Australian Air Force. It is only 6 years since the Opposition was complaining bitterly that Australia had no strike reconnaissance force of any significance, the Canberra bomber at that time being obsolete. Back in October 1963 it was no less a person than the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) who said: to have 100 fighters-
Referring to the Mirage - and no supersonic bombers is stupidity itself.
What has happened to the honourable gentleman that he now finds we do not need bombers which he himself said only 5 years ago we wanted? The Leader of the Opposition went on to say, in support of his contention that a Labor Government would be vastly better than the present Government:
The Labor Party believes the Canberra should be replaced immediately.
Of course we set out to replace it adequately as soon as possible. The honourable member went on:
That is a Labor Government - would acquire a small number of replacements, possibly the Vigilante or the Phantom, to fill the bill until some other suitable plane is available.
Here is a situation in which the Leader of the Opposition admits that we must have a strike reconnaissance aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force, we now have it and the honourable member wants to get rid of it. If a gentleman who, I think, proposes to be our Minister for Defence if ever his Party is elected to govern, cannot see a need for strike reconnaissance capacity in the Royal Australian Air Force, in one of the most troubled areas in the world, during the prospective lifetime of this aircraft, then God forbid that his Party should ever be elected to govern or that he should ever carry the responsibility of being our Minister for Defence.
But of course the honourable gentleman is not put out. He went to America. He flew in the aircraft and, as I understand it, thoroughly enjoyed the flight. Afterwards he said: ‘It is a magnificent aircraft but too expensive’. How much is too much when the future security of this country is at stake? The honourable gentleman said: ‘For the outlay of between $250m and $300m Australia could have purchased at least eighty F4 Phantoms which have proved themselves in Vietnam’. Vietnam is not the only place to which the Australian Government will have to give attention in the future. But let me take the honourable member’s proposals at face value. We go back to the time in 1963 when we evaluated a number of aircraft. We looked at an aircraft which I think was called the AF5C, which could possibly have been a suitable aircraft. It was short in range, short in bomb load, short in almost everything that we wanted, and it was going to cost $200m. On the proposals of the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, if a Labor Government had been hi office at the time it would have spent about $200m buying a plane which was then well on the way to obsolescence, and it would have looked forward to replacing it about now when a suitable new plane is becoming available. Does anybody suppose that the Labor Party has a formula under which it could buy Fill aircraft more cheaply than this Government is buying them? The proposition that the Labor Party would ask us to accept if it were in Government is utterly crazy, and its condemnation of our proposal! is completely off the mark.
– Britain cancelled its contract.
– Britain cancelled its contract for reasons which had nothing to do with the aircraft itself. If the honourable member likes to read the proceedings of the House of Commons he will find that Denis Healey, the Minister for Defence, was most concerned that the United Kingdom should be denied strike reconnaissance capacity. It was purely an economic measure taken by a bankrupt Labor Government in the United Kingdom, which found itself forced to cancel its order for Fill aircraft.
– That is not right. They had an arrangement-
– Never mind about it not being right; Britain cancelled the programme. It spent some $200m on it and still it had no aircraft. That is the position in which the United Kingdom found itself under a Labor Government On the figures I have given the House it is quite plain that Australia would not do very much better under a Labor Government.
I leave that matter and come back to the first question, that of contracts and documents. I cannot understand why the initiative in pressing the Government to table documents of Ais kind did not come from this House. There is a great conflict going on today between the Senate members of the Labor Party and the House of Representatives members of that Party, and undoubtedly the purpose of the exercise this afternoon is to try to recover for the Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy some of the thunder which tends to be stolen by their counterparts in the Senate. But leaving all that aside, the fact is that there are contract documents which have the force of law. Arrangements have been entered into with the United States Government which are in the form of firm undertakings as between governments and which ought to be honoured, as any responsible government would want to honour its undertakings to another government. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said during the last few days that we are willing to table as much of the documentation surrounding the purchase of the Fill and modifications which have been made to it as can be tabled within the necessary limits of security. There are two grades of papers to be dealt with. One clearly covers those papers which have to do with military security, dealing with the specifications of the aircraft, its performance and so on, and with weapons systems, of which a considerable number are involved. The Government would not propose to table those documents. We are not inclined to disclose to allcomers militarily secure information of that kind.
There are, in addition, proper arrangements made between governments which must be held to be secure as between those governments, and there are documents which deal with arrangements of this kind made between the United States Government and the Australian Government If we are to be pressed by this House to disclose matters which may well have a most serious effect on arrangements which the United States Government may have, for instance, with third party governments, then I suggest the United States will quickly lose confidence in its ability to do any further business on a secure and confidential basis with this nation. Anybody who seriously looks at the defence situation of this country over the immediate and indeed the longterm future will understand pretty well that we are going to face that future hopefully alongside the United States. I am certainly not going to be one who takes or advocates any steps which will destroy the confidence of the
United States Government in our ability to keep secure information entrusted by it to our care. I do suggest that if this matter is allowed to proceed to this point, then this House of Representatives, which is the heart and core of government in this country, might also be persuaded to have something to say about this matter.
We have looked at all the matters which the honourable gentleman has put up. I have looked at the evidence given by Mr Kilpatrick before a Congressional committee of inquiry. I am not sure of the status of Senator Mundt in that committee. 1 do know that this evidence was given in 1963 and that vast changes have taken place in the situation since then which have been documented, which have been carefully followed, which have been negotiated, until today we have as near as we can possibly get in a developmental project of this kind to a fixed price of $5.95m for a fly-away aircraft.
The honourable member complains that we cannot operate this aircraft at any forward position away from its home base at Amberley. If the honourable gentleman would only do me the honour and do himself the benefit of reading of what was in the defence statement a few months ago he would understand that part of the $120m to which he refers as being the cost of support equipment has been spent for the precise purpose of enabling us to operate this aircraft away from its home base. The honourable gentleman complains that we do not give him information, but he does not bother to read it when he gets it, or if he does read it he rejects it, because it is only in this way that he could possibly make statements denigrating a fine aircraft on which we will depend heavily for our defence.
Why does the Labor Party want to destroy this great contribution to our defence which the Leader of the Opposition said a few years ago was absolutely essential? Why does the Labor Party in this House try to destroy the confidence of the United States in this nation? Why this contribution towards breaking up an alliance on which the future of Australia may well depend? In all these matters the Opposition must understand that we are not dealing with people of no consequence. Wc are dealing with the United States Air Force. We are dealing with the General Dynamics Corporation, one of the biggest industrial complexes in the world. We are dealing with these two organisations backed completely by the United States Government in which we have confidence. Whatever happens to our Fill aircraft, in production, in testing, in acceptance, in costing, is of equal concern to the Government of the United States. Is it suggested that the United States Government, wanting to buy some hundreds of these aircraft, would be careless about the quality of the work, or would be careless about testing, or would be careless about due economies simply because we might be loaded up with a little extra cost? The fact is we are covered at every stage of the game by the responsible administration of the United States Government through its agencies. I have had no reason to doubt the effectiveness of the United States administration in these matters. When the time comes that we are able to present to this House and to another place extracts of the records that are clear of security classification under the two headings that I have mentioned, then I think there might be a decent appreciation that this is a fine contract. It is open ended to the extent that it must be open ended when one is dealing with a developmental project of this kind. The end product, nevertheless, will be to the tremendous credit of this Government and will be a tremendous contribution to the safety and security of this continent.
What kind of bird can fly in any weather, hang in the sky or surge to supersonic speed, soar across any ocean, climb into thin air or skim the ground with unerring calm, stop on a dime and carry on its back a crew of humans in shirt-sleeve comfort?
This is a quotation from the publication Nation’s Business’ of March 1968 which was distributed by General Dynamics (Australia) Pty Ltd. It is from an article headed Our Most Fantastic Flying Machine*. In this same hand-out Major Kenneth Blank is quoted as having said:
We need a bird like this in Vietnam. . . . It gives us an all-weather, day or night aircraft; it can fly when nothing eke can get up.
The United States of America put six of these aeroplanes into commission into Vietnam, and three of them crashed. The Opposition’s argument is with the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), in particular, who time and time again has quoted hand-outs from General Dynamics to try to convince the House and the nation that the deal that Australia entered into in 1963 to purchase twenty-four Fill aircraft is reasonable, legitimate and satisfactory from Australia’s point of view. The Opposition wants to know whether these twenty-four planes that we have ordered will be capable of doing under battle conditions the things that General Dynamics, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth) claim they will be able to do.
Since 1963 we have been trying to get answers in respect of performance, price and date of delivery of these twenty-four planes. None of us claims that this might not be a fantastic flying machine with inbuilt devices never before used in any aeroplane. Australia entered into a contract; or did it? 1 query whether we actually entered into a contract in 1963 to purchase these planes. I question whether the late Athol Townley knew exactly the terms and conditions under which these aircraft were to be priced and their performance. The first announcement made in Australia that we intended to replace the Canberra bomber with the Fill was made in October 1963 by Sir Robert Menzies. During that announcement he said:
Mr Townley’s mission has been most remarkably successful, so successful that 1 propose to advise the United Kingdom Government that we propose to go ahead with the arrangement he has negotiated.
Sir Robert was always very careful with the words he used. He referred to the arrangement; he made no mention of a contract. In that announcement Sir Robert promised very substantial savings, delivery of the planes from 1967 onwards and a guarantee that the Fill could fly to any place on earth within 24 hours. Sir Robert Menzies made those promises in 1963. The Minister for Defence is making them now in September 1968. The big omission in the speech of Sir Robert Menzies in 1963, and also in his policy speech for the 1963 election, was that there was no indication of the final cost of the twenty-four planes. In his policy speech he said that we were buying them under the most favourable terms of cost and delivery.
After repeated questions in this House and in the other place by members of the Opposition we finally got an admission that the twenty-four planes with ground equipment and handling equipment were going to cost $125m. In 1967 the House was told by the Minister for Defence that $125m was never the price for these aircraft. He said that they would be likely to cost from S500m to $600m. We were given assurances that the Fill was not an aeroplane but a weapons system. Sue of these planes have been used in Vietnam, and three have crashed. How good an aeroplane it is or how good a weapons system it is I do not know, but it cannot be very satisfactory at its present stage of development. In 1967 we were told that the price of the planes, including ground handling equipment and other associated features would be $237m. The Minister for Defence said that there was more to come. The only firm price that the Parliament has been given is that the planes, in fly away condition, will cost $5.95m each. But in 1963 the United States Secretary for Defence told Congress that the Fill aircraft would cost about $3m each. The United States Navy’s illfated F111B aircraft were estimated to cost $8m each. I doubt very much that our FI 1 ls will cost much less than that, because we have requested modifications which will add to the basic price of $5.95m.
My suspicion is that the figures given by the Minister for Defence in May 1967 and also today relate to the basic price and that increased hidden costs will be included in the price of equipment, radar and so forth. I suspect that the Government has entered into an agreement whereby those prices will be loaded with hidden costs so that the fly away cost of the aircraft can remain at $5.95m. It seems to be forgotten - the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) mentioned this a short while ago - that Britain cancelled its order for fifty Fills because of the spiralling cost of the aircraft. There are a number of other matters that I could mention but time will preclude me from doing so. The Opposition distrusts the Government in respect of this contract or agreement with the United States Government because in May we were told that the aircraft would be delivered in September; in June we were told that they would be delivered in October; in August we were told that they would be delivered in September; and in September, after the Minister had been told that they had revealed a defect in fatigue tests-
– That is a lie. I have dealt with this.
– Order! I suggest to the Minister for Defence that he should withdraw that remark.
– 1 adopt your suggestion, Mr Deputy Speaker, and withdraw, but there was extreme provocation.
– On 2nd May 1967 the Minister said that the aircraft would be flying in Australian skies in September of this year. In a speech that he made at Fort Worth recently, and after he knew that the fatigue tests bad shown a fault in the plane, he said:
At the end of the month these fine aircraft will begin to fly westward. . . .
In answer to a question by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this House recently, he said:
We do not propose to accept any further aircraft until the position ls much clearer.
The Minister does not know when he is to take delivery of these aircraft. He does not know how much each aircraft will cost and neither do the Australian people. We might be buying a good aeroplane. We might be buying a plane that perhaps some day will be used. But I noticed that when the Minister was talking about the defence of Australia he was very careful not to mention against whom these planes will be used. He never mentioned any country. In 1963, when these aircraft were purchased, we were frightened of Indonesia. Are we now frightened of New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Singapore or Malaya? Against whom will we use these aircraft? Only a few moments ago the Minister for Defence said: ‘We will use these aircraft for the protection of Australia.’ I want to know when they are to be used and when they are to be delivered.
– Order) The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is quite obvious that the Opposition is not concerned in this debate with Australia’s national interests. It is concerned with taking what it imagines to be political points. Either that, or it has a total failure to understand the normal procedures between governments, such as between the Australian Government and the United States Government, and the kind of procedures that are adopted when a government, such as the United. States Government, buys an aircraft off the drawing boards from a responsible and leading manufacturer in the United States.
The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) said that he did not believe what we told him about spares and modifications. Let me repeat for the honourable gentleman - and I do not know how many more times this has to be repeated - that the final cost of the Fill will not be known with precision until the 24th aircraft is delivered to the Australian Government and an estimate is made of the total production running costs of the United States Government with General Dynamics Corporation. This information has been conveyed to the House. Over and above that, we have some guarantees. We have a firm guarantee that the flyaway cost to the Australian Government will be $5.95m per aircraft, subject to modifications to the aircraft done at our request and subject to other modifications found necessary, which may cost over $100,000 per aircraft, if any occur and if we require them. This is a normal arrangement, such as the United States Government itself would have with a major contractor.
Is this a matter of discredit to this Government, because we follow the United States procedure and because we cannot get a firm price in a situation in which we are getting an early model of an aircraft? If we had waited 10 years before we ordered the Fill, and if we had waited another 5 years or more before it was delivered, possibly we could have had a precise price. The onus is on the Opposition to reveal its hand in this matter. What would it have done in 1963? That is the operational question.
– It was not our decision.
– The honourable gentleman did not have to make a decision. Maybe he was lucky. The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has now suggested what the Opposition would have done. He has suggested that the Opposition would have bought Phantoms or Vigilantes, because he said: ‘You have to have a bomber. An Air Force without a bomber is stupidity. You have to have an immediate replacement for the Canberra. We would have ordered Phantoms or Vigilantes which we would have kept in service until 1968 or thereabouts and we would have replaced them with the TFX or with some similar bomber’. At this time, with all the benefit of hindsight, what other suitable bomber is looming on the horizon for the Opposition to order, if it wanted a bombing aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force?
We have heard a great deal asked about what we will use the Fill for. I ask the honourable member for Lang: What are we going to use any soldier in the Army for or what are we going to use any ship in the Navy for? Does he want us to name precisely every potential enemy that may loom on the horizon within the next 15 years, which is at least the life of the Fill aircraft? The Opposition discloses quite clearly the weaknesses in its case here. It has been given, but has failed to understand, the information which it accused the Minister of withholding from it. I am glad to see that the Leader of the Opposition has come into the House. I understand that he is to follow me today.
– I have been here throughout the debate.
– Yes, I know. Originally the Leader of the Opposition was down to speak ahead of me, but he has chosen to follow me. Yesterday I accused him of saying in Perth, when he should have known otherwise, that the RAAF had not been consulted when the Fill was ordered. The honourable gentleman said: ‘Hear, hear’, implying that this was the correct interpretation of what he had said. After I had laid it on the line in the House yesterday, he went outside this chamber and he said it was true that the RAAF evaluation team under Sir Valston Hancock had investigated and reported on a bomber replacement in the first half of 1963. There are elements of interest in that statement, but I will come back to them shortly. At the end of a long statement he then said:
I repeat: The deal was closed for electoral purposes, with which the RAAF had nothing to do.
This is rather interesting. The honourable gentleman slithers from under because he says ‘I repeat’ as though he was, in fact, repeating what he had said in Western Australia the other day. In fact, he has made a totally different accusation. He admits that the RAAF were consulted, and it is up to him to say now whether a government of his Party would have disregarded the technical advice of the RAAF. The honourable gentleman then went on to say, in support of his argument that this was an electoral decision, as if honourable members opposite are not trying to make all the political mileage out of this that they can:
Meaning the time table he laid down, and repeating some of the dates I gave the House yesterday - with the Government’s long and careful evaluation of the report on the Mirage lighter.
Again the honourable gentleman slithers about the truth. What were the relevant dates in regard to the Mirage fighter? An evaluation team of six - not eight - from the RAAF went overseas. It reported to the Government in September 1960, and in December 1960 the Government announced its decision to buy the Mirage fighter. A total of 4 months, in all, elapsed from the receipt of the report to the announcement of the decision. What was the relevant time in relation to the Fill? The report was received in August 1963 and the announcement that the Government would buy the Fill aircraft was made on 24th October. The Leader of the Opposition asks us to contrast a period of 3 months as against 4 months between the time of receiving the report of the RAAF evaluation team and the announcement of the. Government’s decision - a difference of 1 month. Is this a gentleman of credibility? Really! I am glad that the honourable gentleman is following me in this debate because he may wish to make some further explanation of this.
The final point that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition dealt with was the question of fatigue tests. Quite obviously, if he understood fatigue tests he would know that they are better carried out when an aircraft starts flying because you can put what are called G meters on the aircraft and you can measure the actual stresses and strains to which each part of the aircraft is subjected. In fact, fatigue tests are carried out throughout the operating life of every aircraft. Fatigue tests normally extend over many years. Sometimes when a test failure occurs operational aircraft are taken out of service until preventive measures are taken. Whether or not flight restrictions are applied - and I mean restrictions that do not take the aircraft out of operation - depends on the length of time the aircraft has been in service, its flight history, the nature of the fatigue failure and other relevant factors.
If the Leader of the Opposition cares to go back over the history of aircraft, both civil and military, he will find in some cases that many years after the aircraft has been in operation a fatigue test, which has been continuing, shows a flaw and the aircraft is taken out of operation for modifications. It is only possible to have an effective fatigue test after the aircraft has been built and the actual strains and stresses of flight are measured and evaluated. The honourable gentleman-
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– If there were ever any doubts about the degree of responsibility that the Gorton Government accepts for the way the Menzies Government closed the FI 1 1 deal then those doubts have been dispelled by the performances of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and the Minister for Air (Mr. Freeth), both today and yesterday. The Minister for Air is, at question time, the most somnolent member of the Ministry. He was sleeping again today. After lunchtime yesterday he was preternaturally stimulated. He is a man who has been kept in the outer Ministry for 10 years and who has seen seven of its members get ahead of him into Cabinet. But yesterday, in the most florid form, he took me to task for quoting from the ‘Australian’ of last Friday an article by Mr Stanley Brogden, who is not excelled by any aviation correspondent in this country. The article states:
The politicians had got a price from Washington without realising this was not a project price. The politicians had not asked the RAAF, which could have told them the project price would be far greater.
Although the Minister for Air did not expressly say so this afternoon, he has again implied that the Royal Australian Air Force recommended the Fill. It did nothing of the sort. It evaluated a whole range of existing and projected aircraft. In fact, it was months after that evaluation that the purchase the Fill.
Again the Minister gives the impression that the Fill can carry out operational exercises from Learmonth, Darwin, Tindal, Townsville or any strip that has an 8,000 feet runway. I was at Learmonth in May of last year; my deputy and I were at Darwin and Tindal in May of this year and I was at Townsville in July of this year. I do not know when the Minister was last at any of those places. I do not know whether the Prime Minister has visited any of them except Darwin, which he visited in his saga of discovery a fortnight ago. He will be visiting Learmonth for the first time next Friday. So, if there is to be any dropping of names in these matters, let it be known that I have made it my business, as indeed it is my duty, to investigate the equipment of the various RAAF stations around this country. I assert that none of these places can, or could within quite a considerable time, without quite considerable expenditure, take the Fill in any of the variety of operations it is said to be able to perform.
The Minister can quote from a document at question time but when he is asked to table that document under the Standing Orders he pleads that it is confidential. Of course, I cannot break the confidences of Royal Australian Air Force officers that I have been given either. I wish to quote from newspaper articles on the Fill aircraft. These are articles that our enemies, or rivals, whoever they may be, can read just as readily as we can. But before doing so let me recall to honourable members the history of the purchase of this aircraft 5 years ago. It is relevant now because there is speculation that there may be a defence plan for the next 3 years upon which another election will be fought. Let us examine what happened just prior to the 1963 election. The RAAF evaluation team came back in the first half of 1963. The Government did nothing until 10th October, when it announced that the Minister for Defence would fly to Washington for discussions on the subject of a new bomber. The election was announced on the15th.
On the 21st October the Government cabled the Minister to close the deal. On the 22nd it was announced to the Press that the United States would make B47 bombers available to Australia as a stopgap if we bought the F111. The B47s came to Australia during the 1963 campaign and never returned. On the 23rd the Prime Minister announced that the Government had decided to buy the F111 aircraft. The Minister for Defence did not report back to Cabinet before closing the deal. He closed the deal in Washington at the direction of the Cabinet in Canberra. There was no further evaluation of the real capacity or cost of the F111 as a result of what the Minister had learned in Washington. There was no opportunity for Cabinet consideration of the contract offered. Neither the RAAF, the Treasury, the Department of Defence nor the Attorney-General’s Department examined the contract before it was signed. None of those arrangements was consulted before it was signed.
The Cabinet is taking much more time to consider whether it will disclose the contract than it ever took to decide to conclude to contract. The Prime Minister, in his most cavalier fashion, said that it was not his business. After all, $266m is a mere bagatelle. But some time over the week-end it was decided to contact some of the departments in the United States about it. In fact, we still do not know what the Government will do about tabling this contract. This contract has not been kept secret to the newspapers and it has not been kept secret to the United States Congress. It is being kept only from the Australian Parliament.
Let me recall to the House what former Prime Minister Menzies said about this aircraft. On 23rd October 1963, he said that it could fly anywhere on earth in 24 hours. On 28th October he said:
All I can say is that if any honourable members on either side of this House had put before me a proposition arising from mass production techniques in the United States so immeasurably favourable to the taxpayers in terms of pounds, shillings and pence,I could not have rejected it.
During his policy speech in November 1963 he said:
We will receive the aircraft in 1967.
I quote Dr Tom Miller’s ‘Australia’s Defence’ as a correct summary of the proceedings and the Government’s attitude. He said:
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the B47 came to Australia purely to impress the electorate. The whole issue must give rise to the most uneasy speculation upon the extent to which defence decisions are grounded on the needs of national security and how much they are a response to the requirements of party politics.
I must pass on to the Minister for Defence. Where it has been possible in this Parliament to ascertain the honourable gentleman’s capacity and veracity we know him to be deficient in those qualities. In April 1966, during a debate in this House, he said that the code of military law would be brought up to date. He said that the Government had been exercising its attention on this matter and that it was making most extraordinary efforts at that very moment to bring the military code right up to date. That was in April 1966. It still has not been brought up to date. It is within Parliament’s power to supervise and scrutinise. Can it have any more faith in what the Minister for Defence says on something which the Government has not yet revealed?
Lest it be thought that whatI have to say is betraying the country’s interests, let me read an article from the ‘Financial Review’ of Friday, 6th September1968, under the heading ‘Mr Fairhall’s defence double-talk’.It reads as follows:
It is not General Dynamics Corporation whose capabilities are doubled by many Australians: it is the Defence Department’s.
In his panegyric on the F111C, Mr Fairhall said that it had ‘a weapons system of tremendous power and precision’.
But the Defence Department has not yet announced any orders for modern weapons systems designed specifically for operation with a platform as superior as the F111.
The Defence Department has been remarkably discreet about its capacity to support the F111C in forward areas, although it is full of pride about the enormous inventory of spare parts being built up at Amberley.
Would the F111s on active service have to be flown back to Amberley for maintenance, or would a substantial proportion of the RAAF’s transport capacity be devoted to keeping the logistics pipeline open?
What practical use is a modern strike aircraft unsupported by any reconnaissance capability? There is some leeway on the reconnaissance version’, is a typical piece of Fairhallese which seems to be translatable as ‘we haven’t yet got around to scheduling conversion of some aircraft to reconnaissance versions’.
No modern weapons, no flexibility in deployment, no reconnaissance. Mr Fairhall can hardly be serious in suggesting that our Fills would be a ‘deterrent’ to any nation of moderate literacy.
Of course, acquisition of these essential elements in the overall F111C system has no doubt been postponed for cost reasons.
But how does this square with one of Mr Fairhall’s franker statements at Fort Worth-
Not just in a motel room before the opening, but at the handing over ceremony -
The high and rising cost of defence equipment’, he said, ‘must be accepted in an area where second best in not nearly good enough*.
Australia” is getting the worst of both worldsfirst rate costs coupled with second rate effectiveness.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition’s time has expired.
– One of the most extraordinary things about this debate is that it was supposed to be an attack upon the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) claiming that he gave evasive answers and did not provide information to the House. I have listened to the debate and I have heard no specific accusations that he has given any evasive answers. I have heard no specific suggestions that he has given inadequate information. Instead of that we have heard a high, wide and handsome debate in which the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) disagrees publicly with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who says that the contract has been signed, while the honourable member for Lang says that it has not, and in which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) disagrees publicly with the Leader of the Opposition, because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition told us: ‘It is impossible to imagine the role of the Fill. If it is not used in Vietnam, it is hard to imagine a viable role for it. It is inconceivable that a single weapons system with conventional weapons could be a deterrent.’ That is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in the debate in this House today. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition, when this matter was under discussion in 1963, said in this House:
We lack an effective reconnaissance strike force which could reach out and attack the enemy’s air strength. . . . The _ establishment of such a non-nuclear strike force is also an alternative to us acquiring nuclear weapons. … A modern air force is of paramount importance to a country like Australia. . .
And this is the reason why he suggested we should get an air force of this kind -
It enables us to anticipate and repel an invading force by sea or an attacking force in the air, on the sea or under the sea.
There is a clear statement that we should have a strike bomber force of this kind. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition was talking of some different kind of aircraft, one might think. But when one reads one finds that he was not. He was talking about this particular aircraft because he said: ‘We would buy some Phantoms as a stop gap, but we would buy the TSR2 or an equivalent aircraft as soon as they become available in 4 or 5 years time’. There, at that time, was a clear indication of the role needed for these types of aircraft and an indication that this type of aircraft would fulfil that role. Yet, we have the Deputy Leader of the Opposition today getting up and saying that there was no need for an aircraft of this kind and it had no possible role to fulfil.
If anything has come out of the attack by the Opposition on the Minister for Defence on this matter it is that the statements made in support of the Opposition’s case are the evasive statements, the incorrect statements, the misleading statements, and not any statement made by the Minister for Defence. I need to substantiate a statement of that kind. I have before me, in order to substantiate it, something put out by the Leader of the Opposition last night and words used by the Leader of the Opposition in this debate today. He was seeking to suggest that there was some great rush - an unusual rush - in the decision to purchase these aircraft, which he himself had said were an urgent requirement at the time, one day before the announcement to purchase the aircraft was made. He says that the RAAF sent an evaluation team overseas in the first half of 1963 and it returned and reported in the first half of 1963 - those are the words he used - and the Government did nothing until October. Yet the truth of the matter is that the evaluation team, which at one stage he suggested had never gone at all, until the Minister for Air was able to cope with him yesterday-
– I never suggested that.
– All right. We will argue about that later.
– Where have I said it?
- Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 am asked by the Leader of the Opposition where he said it. He was quoted yesterday - and he did not deny it - as saying: “There was a general election pending and the Government rushed into this, ordering this aircraft without consulting the RAAF*. If that does not mean there was not an evaluation team sent-
– I quoted what I said.
– That is my answer to the question of where he said it. But the truth of the matter is that in fact an evaluation team was sent abroad in June 1963. I will agree that is in the first half of 1963. We cannot cavil too much about that. But it did not return and report to the Government until August 1963, and not even the most urgent requirement of the Leader of the Opposition to make a case can put August in the first half of 1963. Nor can it be regarded as anything unusual that it took from August, from that evaluation, till October for the Government to examine the evaluation and choose the aircraft which was recommended - although the Leader of the Opposition has claimed it was not - by that evaluation team. The Minister for Defence, in his statement to this House on 2nd May 1968, made this quite clear. He said:
In June 1963 a RAAF mission was sent overseas. In August 1963 the mission reported a detailed evaluation of five aircraft-
In passing, Mr Deputy Speaker, this information was available to the Leader of the Opposition when he gave quite contrary and untruthful information - including the British TSR2 and the TFX . . . and concluded that of all the aircraft evaluated, it was clear that the TFX should meet the Air Staff requirement in almost every respect and, if considered in isolation, should be the logical choice of aircraft with which to replace the Canberra.
There were other matters of cost involved. But to meet the Air Staff requirements the RAAF did recommend this aircraft, and it is not to the point at all to pretend anything else.
Then we have suggestions that insufficient information has been given to this House in the course of the years in which this aircraft has been being bought. There is here a folder of answers to questions which I do not believe the Leader of the Opposition, however he might try, could claim were misleading or evasive answers. But as late as, again, 2nd May 1968 the Minister for Defence, in his comprehensive statement on defence, devoted approximately onethird of his statement to giving information on this matter. It was information which showed that the arrangements entered into for purchasing this aircraft had only a tentative cost, an estimated cost, if that needed to be shown. Surely anybody of commonsense must know that when you are seeking to buy an aircraft on the drawing board so that you will have the most modern aircraft available when it is delivered to you, you cannot foresee every eventuality and you must be prepared for escalations of cost. Though one would have thought that that was obvious, it was spelt out in the statement made by the Minister for Defence to this House, as was the ceiling cost and as was the announcement that we had the same arrangement in this regard as the United Kingdom had.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not intend to read out more of this information that is available. I merely wish to say that in the course of giving information to this House on the contract signed for these aircraft, I do nol believe that the Minister for Defence has given any evasive answers and 1 have not heard a claim from the Opposition alleging any specific evasive answer. I do not believe that he has given inadequate information and, except for complaints about particular documents, I have not heard that claim either.
– Order! The Prime Minister’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– 1 claim that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has misrepresented me. I made no statement yesterday in the House on the Fill. I said ‘Hear, hear’ to a quotation by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) from a newspaper report of an interview that I gave in Perth. 1 was asked about the pending motion to table the contract papers, with particular reference to the costs of the FILL The honourable member for Perth correctly quoted this passage, which correctly reported me:
Mr Whitlam claimed yesterday that the crisis over the Fill resulted from over-hasty action by the Menzies Government in 1963.
There was a general election pending, and they rushed into ordering this aircraft without consulting the RAAF,’ he said.
This afternoon I quoted the opinion which I endorsed and quoted at the interview. It was Stanley Brogden’s statement, as follows:
The price was actually for the aircraft, I understand. The politicians had got a price from Washington without realising this was not a project price. The politicians had not asked the RAAF, which could have told them the project price would be far greater.
I gave an interview last Saturday quoting an article of last Friday.
– I hope I have the opportunity to express regret, if regret is required, and explain the reasons why it was that I felt that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in fact was straying a little from the path of complete accuracy. He is quite correct. Yesterday the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) quoted him as having made this statement:
There was a general election pending, and they-
That is the Government: rushed into ordering this aircraft without consulting the RAAF.
The Leader of the Opposition has not denied making that statement; he still has not denied it and I therefore take it that that is true. All 1 was seeking to do was to indicate that that in fact was not true because an evaluation team had been sent, and 1 must express that perhaps I was misled even further-
– I am seeking to give my regrets.
-I think the Prime Minister has explained the situation.
– Just one more point.
-The only point that the Prime Minister can take is a point that he has been misrepresented. 1 take it that he has not claimed that he has been misrepresented. He has given reasons why he made a statement which the Leader of the Opposition claimed was a misrepresentation. I think the Prime Minister has explained the situation within the limits allowed by Standing Orders.
– Is it permissible for me to claim that I have been misrepresented, because the Leader of the Opposition said I misrepresented him?
-I would think the Prime Minister also made that point in his explanation.
-The discussion of the matter of definite public “importance is concluded.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Aci I9I3-1%6, 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: Provision of engineering services to Neighbourhood Unit No 3, Casuarina District, Darwin.
The proposal involves the construction of roads and drainage, water supply, sewerage and electricity supply to the Moil SubDivision in the Casuarina area of Darwin. The estimated cost is $2,250,000.
In reporting favourably on the proposal, the Committee considered it imperative that an early decision be made by the Government about the provision of additional sewage disposal facilities in Darwin. A proposal for a new sewerage scheme has been prepared for consideration by the Government, and this will ensure that sewerage facilities will be available by the lime they are required to serve the housing development at Moil. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– In view of the remarks just made by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly), I would like to say a few words about the engineering services in Neighbourhood Unit No. 3 of the Casuarina District, Darwin. During my speech in the Budget debate some days ago 1 pointed out that the Government had been carrying out very extensive works, including kerbing, guttering and sewerage, in and around Darwin. I am very glad to see that it is continuing with its developmental programmes. During the Budget debate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said that the Government was not spending any money in the cities, especially on sewerage works. It is very gratifying to know that the work mentioned by the Minister for the Navy is going forward.
– I would like to make one observation in connection with this report, if I may. I believe it will be of value to the House. The report contains a reference by the Public Works Committee to the cost factors associated with the development of this sub-division. I direct the attention of honourable members to the figure of $3,263, which is the cost to develop each unit of this subdivision. On many occasions during discussions in this House, and in a variety of other places, the cost of housing, especially the cost of land, is mentioned. I do not know that I have ever heard anyone give any detailed statistical information that shows the various elements in the cost of land.
I think it is fair to say that on many occasions honourable members on the other side of the House make derogatory remarks about the cost of land to young people today. The emphasis is on young people, but the cost of land affects anyone who wants to acquire a home. To my mind many of these statements are quite irrational. But here the Public Works Committee has to an extent pinpointed one factor associated with the cost of development of property in a place such as Darwin, where in fact the land costs nothing. The cost of the land in this case is nil, yet it costs $3,263 to develop each block. It is worth bearing in mind when discussing housing costs that people are not necessarily being exploited when we see blocks of land priced at $5,000 and $6,000. We can see in this case that the services supplied to a block of land cost $3,263. This is a point that we might note for future reference.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 466), on motion by Mr Hulme:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not intend to oppose this Bill, but I want to offer one or two observations and criticisms if I may. Basically, under this Bill alterations are being made to certain Post Office charges but on the strictly postal side as opposed to the telecommunications side. No change is proposed on the genera] letter rate but the rates applying to parcel post, private boxes and bags, the clearing of private posting receptacles, registered post, what is described as bulk pre-sorted mail and householder mail - a comparatively new service - are to be increased.
As honourable members know, the Post Office accounts have this year been presented in a somewhat different form from that adopted in other years. They are now presented in what is called a single line in the Budget and for the first time we have had issued a White Paper on the Post Office entitled ‘Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1968-69’. This document was published at or about the time of the delivery of the Budget and shows how the postal side of the operations of the Post Office, as distinct from the telecommunications side, are expected to fare this year under the new charges compared with last year. We see that last year earnings from postal activities amounted to $138m and expenses to Si 58m, giving a net loss of $20m. Projected earnings this year are $154m with expenses of $172m, which will mean a loss of SI 8m, but this loss would have been greater if the proposed increases had not been applied.’
I do not want to enter this afternoon into a discussion of the matter that has been debated on other occasions, namely the charging of interest on the capital of tha Post Office, except to point out that an undertaking such as the Post Office, ia respect of both its telecommunications operations and its postal operations, does not in my view do very badly when out of the total earnings of about $500m almost $100m goes to the payment of interest. This shows that the Post Office is a reasonably economic undertaking. 1 for one have always expressed great admiration for the efficiency of the Post Office. It is a tremendous concern - a very significant concern - and one that plays a social role as well as other roles in the progress of the community.
The document outlining the adjustments to postal charges as from 1st October this year, circulated at the time of the introduction of this Bill, states that the Post Office has adopted a business attitude to the provision and pricing of its wide range of mail services. It is about this business attitude and the interpretation of it that I would like to say something. In particular I propose to refer to bulk pre-sorted mail. In introducing the Bill on 22nd August last the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) said:
The introduction of this service last October has created a substantial volume of new business for the Post Office, numbering at least ten million items annually, which would not have eventuated otherwise.
Here I’ would join issue with the honourable gentleman. The ‘Financial and Statistical Bulletin 1967’, which is a very interesting document produced annually by the Post Office - this is the latest edition available to me - shows that in the year ended June 1967 the Post Office handled 2,346 million items. So, 10 million items represent a pretty insignificant part of the total activities of the Post Office. The 2,346 million items handled last year represent an increase of more than 100 million in the number of items handled in the previous year. I would like to know how the Post Office has determined that 10 million extra items were taken to the Post Office under the bulk pre-sorted mail service. It seems to me that the bulk pre-sorted mail service and, to some extent, the householder service also, ere providing businesses with significant discounts on mail that would have to go to the Post Office in any event. These discounts are going to people who are, in my opinion, well able to pay the full tariff for the service. I know that there is some argument as to how tariffs should be set for the operations of public utilities, but I have heard it suggested as a policy for the pricing of the operations of public utilities that the price for the service should be what the traffic will bear. This policy seems to have been set aside in providing these discounts.
I was rather intrigued by this arrangement whereby firms which post more than 100,000 letters a year may obtain a discount. I was under the impression that the mail had to be posted in a single posting, but apparently the provision is for a series of postings over the course of a year. Whereas you and I would have to pay. Se postage on each letter that we posted, concerns such as life assurance companies, which annually send bonus certificates to hundreds of thousands of policy holders, are able to enjoy a postage rate as low as about 3c a letter. Under the householder mail service you can send through the Post Office for 2c a missile weighing 4 oz. How this can be regarded as an economic service in view of the fact that a charge of Se is made for a letter weighing 1 oz or less is a little beyond me.
It seems to rae that in many respects the Post Office is being used as a kind of advertising agency to facilitate the sale of books, gramophone records, periodicals and so on. Some weeks when I go home after 3 or 4 days in Canberra my letter box contains a pack of stuff asking me whether I will subscribe to the ‘Reader’s Digest’, whether I will become a special concession subscriber to the journals of Time-Life International or to ‘Newsweek’, whether 1 am interested in joining the World Book Club and receiving the best literature in my home at convenient terms, or whether I want to buy a recording of the light classics. The Post Office is facilitating the advertising of this kind of junk. Whatever are the effects upon the economics of the Post Office, occasionally there should be a look at the economics of the mailers. In many respects it now pays large firms to come to special arrangements with the Post Office for sorting their own mail. A letter that would cost you or me 5c to send can be sent for as little as 3c by those who make use of the pre-sorted mail service. Certainly there is some labour saving on the part of the Post Office. I have had some discussion with members of the Postal Workers Union; they have pointed out to me that the Post Office will lose about $6,000 by allowing certain mail to be posted at concessional rates. It would cost the Post Office an additional sum of approximately $1,200 a year if it had to sort all mail. The difference of $4,800 will go to the firm concerned. I suggest that most concerns would be perfectly happy to pay the full rate of 5c. An outside service is growing up where mail is presorted and is dispatched to the Post Office in large lots to be posted at concessional rates. It pays the firms concerned to do this but revenue for the Post Office is being lost. I do not regard this household service or bulk pre-sorted mail service as necessarily a service to the public. I think it is being abused to the detriment of the public. It is time it was looked at in that light.
The Minister also said that some time ago certain firms were posting mail to Australia from Holland, presumably in a bulk parcel of hundreds or thousands of items, because it was cheaper to post it in Holland than in Australia. I understand that under the terms of the postal code the PostmasterGeneral had the power to stop that if he wanted to. Now he says that because of this pre-sorted mail arrangement a lot of this business is now being transacted with the Post Office in Australia. The Minister has sought to justify the bulk pre-sorted mail system on the rather narrow basis that it has provided for the posting of an additional 10 million items annually, but this number must be viewed against a total posting of 2,400 million items annually. It is concerns such as Heron books, Time-Life International and Reader’s Digest that are the principal beneficiaries under this arrangement. I am told that over a period of a year a concern like the Reader’s Digest organisation can save thousands of dollars. I submit that the saving of thousands of dollars by Reader’s Digest is to the detriment of the finances of the Post Office. The Post Office is then forced to increase charges for other services. One of the ironies of this Bill is that, whilst in general terms it increases the cost of individual transactions, it reduces the cost of posting bulk items. It is even cheaper now to send targe parcels. The postage on large parcels is to be reduced whereas the postage on small parcels is to be increased.
The Post Office should serve all sections of the community. I suggest that at the moment same bright person in the Post
Office seems to be leaning over backwards to improve the services that are being given to certain business undertakings to be detriment of the services given to individuals. We have all heard the suggestion that the present two deliveries of mail a day are to be reduced to one delivery. I would like to hear that proposal argued on its merits. The Post Office is losing revenue by offering concessional rates for’ large bulk postings. It seems to me that this matter should be considered carefully before anything is done to reduce the service to the householder, particularly in the country areas. This is a rather disturbing aspect of proposed changes in the Post Office. Articles posted under the householder mail service are delivered to every household in an area; they do not have to be addressed individually to, say, the honourable Allan Hulme. The articles are simply addressed The Householder*. Until now any householder printed matter weighing up to 2 oz has cost 3c. An article weighing 2 oz. is a fairly heavy item to go through the Post Office. The average weight of ordinary letters would from i oz to 1 oz and would cost 5c to post. Previously householder mail weighing up to 2 oz went at 40% of the letter rate. For the next 2 oz the cost was 60% of the letter rate; that would mean another 2c for the additional 2 oz, making a total of 5c. Under the new arrangement one can send articles weighing about 4 oz to every household in the metropolitan area for a cost of 2c each. It seems to me that the postman is being turned into a kind of delivery agent for all sorts of advertising material. That is not the function of the Post Office. I find it difficult to see why the rest of the Bill, for the most part, should be increasing charges while the charges for the householder mail service will be reduced. I repeat that a person will be able to send 4 oz of householder mail for as little as 2c whereas the ordinary person sending a small neat letter will have to pay 5c.
I for one find it difficult to reconcile the economics of this matter. Perhaps towards the conclusion of the debate the Minister may care to enlighten us. The excuse given by the Minister in his second reading speech is that this mail is virtually filler traffic which adds little to costs. It seems to me that in some respects the Minister has been a little ambivalent in his approach to these charges. He seemed to be suggesting, first, that more work was being done with less labour, and then he had a bit of a dip at the suggestion that perhaps there is surplus labour and that it is better for it to be employed delivering these household circulars during the time that it would not otherwise be occupied. It seems to me that there are two strands of thought in his argument which have not been altogether reconciled. 1 am not satisfied that this so-called householder service is a boon to the community or that it will represent a gain so the Post Office. If a postman who normally delivers to perhaps a thousand households has to take a thousand items each weighing 4 oz in addition to the other material, then he is certainly becoming a beast of burden instead of a mailman or a deliverer of important articles.
This kind of approach seems to be encouraging the development outside the postal service of agencies which apparently find it remunerative to do all the processing of this kind of special1 mail. I have no doubt they charge a fee for their services which, of course, does not have to be known to the Post Office and certainly is not known to us, but 1 feel sure that from the point of view of the Post Office the saving effected by the bulk postage system as against the cost of individual processing would be fairly small. Already there are one or two agencies in existence which provide this kind of service. There is one in Sydney called Office Aids Pty Ltd. As these agencies can obtain discounts as high as 25% or 30%, which can mean a saving of thousands of dollars on very large numbers of items, it pays them to establish themselves. With the money that the Post Office otherwise would have got it may have had to employ more mail sorters, but I cannot see any virtue in having fewer mail sorters in the Post Office and having at the same time what are for all practical purposes mail sorters employed by such organisations as Office Aids Pty Ltd. I would rather see this work done by the postal officials and a proper charge made for the business than these new agencies being established outside.
Having offered these criticisms I may now say that the Opposition has no objection to the other increases provided for in the Bill. As I have said, they are justified on the ground that they are in what is largely the manual side of the Post Office activities, the handling of parcels, the handling of bulk articles and so on, in which the labour component is high, costs have risen and charges have not been increased in recent times. We do not believe it unreasonable to charge a proper price for a service but we certainly regard it as unreasonable that for some services the charge should be reduced because certain concerns using those services are in the fortunate position of having large volumes of business to ‘ transact. This business would, in my view, have to go to the Post Office in any case. I am not impressed by the sort of small justification that this service has brought to the Post Office an extra 10 million items annually. This would represent about two day’s work for the Post Office. 1 am sure that some people who would not have used the Post Office previously are now using it because of the cheapness of the service that is provided. But it seems to me that the very bulk of the business that they are doing means a less effective service in normal branches of Post Office activity.
I do not believe it is the function of the Post Office to be an agent for the dissemination of advertising by business concerns and others who want to reach the public at large in the cheapest possible way. I think it is a retrograde step that the charge for the householder service should be reduced while charges for other services are being increased. I think that a service that the Post Office would have normally given is now being provided* at a much cheaper rate than it should be. 1 also think that work that the Post Office ought not to do at all is now being brought into the Post Office by reason of the abnormally low delivery rate.
– -I rise to support the remarks of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). In his second reading speech the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) said that the purpose of this Bill was to amend the Act in order to adjust certain postal charges. He said:
The Bill provides for lower rates to apply to bulk pre-sorted mail in the form of letters, other articles and registered books. Under this service, the customer must comply with a number of conditions which result in substantial economies in the mail handling and conveyance costs of the Post Office. In return for complying wilh these conditions, the customer benefits by receiving a proportion of these economies through lower postage rates. The share of the economies retained by the Post Office assists in off-setting the losses incurred on uneconomic services.
It will be remembered that in 1967 the Act was amended, one of the amendments providing for the introduction of discounts ranging from 5% to 25% for large users of the mail services. A discount of 5% was provided if the number of articles involved was between 2,501 and 25,000; between 25,001 and 100,000 the discount rate was 10%, and for more than 100,000 articles the rate was from 15% to 25%. These rates applied to letters, letter cards and post cards, newspapers and periodicals if registered, and books if registered. Then there was a fourth group in which were included other articles which were not parcels. Reduced rates were also to apply to articles addressed to ‘The Householder’, lt will be remembered that this discount system was introduced at a time when the postal services had incurred a loss of $25m for the 1966-67 financial year. The PostmasterGeneral used this loss as an excuse for a general’ increase in postal charges of 25%. The postal rate of 4c for an ordinary letter was increased to 5c. In other words large users, that is big business interests, were given discounts ranging from 5% to 25% while the average person using the postal services had to meet charges which were increased by 25%. The Government argued that the discounts were designed to attract new business to the Post Office. This was a thimble and pea trick for the general public. The small user was soaked to subsidise postal charges to big business. In addition the jobs of postal’ workers were threatened to some extent.
The postal unions have supplied an analysis of a number of actual lodgments of discount mailing in July 1968. The analysis comprises estimates of charges for each lodgment under four different headings - pre- 1 967 rates; post- 1*967 rates without discount; post- 1967 rates with discount; and the proposed 1968 rates contained in this Bill. One example relates to the lodgment by Readers Digest Association Pty Ltd of 832,000 letters between 8th and 29th July 1968. The unions point out that at the pre-1967 rate of 4c the charge would have been $33,280; at the post-1967 rate of 5c it would have been $41,600; and at the post-1967 rate with the 25% discount it would have been $31,200. With the rates proposed in the Bill the return would be reduced further. The unions claim that had this quantity of mail been lodged and sorted by mail officers under normal conditions the estimated labour cost would have been $1,148 but that the discount given to Readers Digest for the work of pre-sorting the mail was greater than the labour cost had the work been performed by the PMG. I understand that the actual difference between the discount rate and the labour cost was about $9,252.
Another example relates to the lodgment by the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd of 602,000 letters between 27th May and 23rd July 1968. The pre-1967 rate would have returned $24,080; the post- 1967 rate, $30,100; and the post-1967 rate with the 25% discount, $22,575. Of course the return on that quantity would be reduced further by applying the rates proposed in the Bill. The unions emphasise that had the work of pre-sorting been done by the Post Office employees instead of by the company the Department would have saved money. The unions have supplied other examples which make it quite clear that the large mail users are obtaining big discounts on bulk postings and will obtain even larger concessions under the provisions of this Bill.
In his second reading speech the Postmaster-General claimed that the introduction of the discount service in October last had created a substantial volume of new business numbering at least 10 million items annually. The unions have pointed out that this represents about 0.5% of the total national mail handlings and represents 2.5 days work in the Sydney mail exchange or, if spread over the whole Commonwealth, about 1.8 days work. Prom the examples given, the 10 million items will have to be increased vastly to make the discount scheme a paying proposition.
In the White Paper on Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1 968-69, presented to Parliament in August 1968, the Postmaster-General, referring to the hulk presorted mail service, said:
This service has also brought to Australia mailings previously lodged in overseas countries for Australian addresses.
This statement does not disclose all the facts. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred to this and pointed out that Australia is a signatory to a number of agreements under the provisions of the Universal Postal Convention. The International Agreement on the Carriage and Delivery of Mail under the provisions of that Convention states: lt is therefore of the greatest significance to the stability of the international post that all mail actually originating in any country should be paid for at the postage rates and any postage stamps or other pre-payment means of the country of origin. For this reason the Universal Postal Convention gives all of its member countries the option not to accept as inward mail any items which senders resident in its own territory have caused to be posted in another country, for the purpose of profiting from the lower postal charges, and also to decline to handle any such items posted in large quantities whether for lower postal rates or not. This power applies without discrimination both to mail made up in the country of residence and then carried abroad for posting or to mail actually made up abroad.
In other words the Postmaster-General could have used his powers under the Post and Telegraph Rates Act to bring into use the Universal Postal Convention. This mail would then have had to be posted in Australia. The unions have referred to the situation with registered newspapers and periodicals. They say that in October 1967 the bulk posting rates for newspapers and periodicals was increased by 25% but at the same time the Post Office laid down certain conditions which would operate from 1st October 1968. The Post Office stated:
From 1st October 1968 individually wrapped copies of registered newspapers and periodicals posted at the bulk rate must be pre-sorted by the customer into a number of separations as determined by the Post Office after consultation with the customer.
The new rates and conditions laid down by this amendment to the Act bear particularly heavily on the small society, church or union with monthly or quarterly postings below the 100,000 mark, as in many cases a very small discount of 5% or no discount at all applies. Whether or not the discount is 5% they still have the job of pre-sorting their papers or magazines before posting them. A number of small periodicals have been detrimentally affected, so I have been informed, and no doubt the full impact will not be felt until after October 1968. I have been told that certain periodicals and publications have had their registrations as periodicals cancelled because the proprietors cannot afford the presorting and the 5% discount does not tempt them to continue.
The postal rates for the householder service were reduced by the 1967 amendment and it is proposed to reduce them still further by this Bill. Before the 1967 amendment the discount for this service was 30% . The 1967 amendment gave a discount of 40% for this service on articles up to 2 oz in weight and 60% on articles over 2 oz in weight. The Bill provides for a charge of 2c for each 4 oz. Before the 1967 amende ment, if a firm posted 100,000 letters each of i oz, it would have cost the firm $2,800. After the 1967 amendment it would have cost $2,400, and after the 1968 amendment it will cost $2,000. The rest of the community is paying for this concession which is given to big business which use this household service.
As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports rightly pointed out, it is unfair to think that postal charges were increased by 25% for the ordinary small letter user whereas the big concerns which use the household mail service or the other services to which I have referred were able to get these concessions. Our attention was also drawn to the question of registered books, and I quote this so that the Minister may have an opportunity of checking it and of replying to it if he so desires. The unions say:
This is yet another category of postal articles which has been brought within the discount mail service. A comparison of rates shows once again the substantial savings that will flow to large users of the mail services.
Pre- 1967 the rates were 4c for the first 8 oz and 4c for each additional 8 oz; with the 1967 amendment they were 5c for the first 6 oz and 4c for each additional 6 oz; and with the proposed 1968 amendment they will be 4c for the first 8 oz and 4c for each additional 8 oz. Of course, the discount rate was introduced in 1967.
To further compare the effect of the 1967 and the proposed 1968 legislation the unions set out the total postal charges for three consignments of books which they mention. They take 30,000 books each weighing 7 oz, 30,000 books each weighing 11 oz, and 30,000 books each weighing 14 oz. The 30,000 books each weighing 7 oz, pre- 1967, under the bulk system, would have cost $1,200; without discount in 1967 they would have cost $2,700; with discount in 1967 they would have cost $2,430; and in 1968, with the discount, the cost will be SI, 800. In the second category, that is 30,000 books each weighing 1 1 oz, pre-1967 the cost would have been $2,400; in 1967 without discount it would have been $2,700: in 1967 with discount it would have been $2,430; and in 1967, with discount, it will be $1,800. With the other example of 30,000 books each weighing 14 oz, pre-1967 the cost would have been $2,400; in 1967 without discount it would have been $3,900; in 1967 with discount it would have been $3,510; and in 1968, with discount, it will be $2,550.
Parcels are another category which the unions mentioned. 1 do not want to go into this matter because the honourable member for Melbourne Ports drew attention to how the discount is greater on heavier parcels. For instance* under the 1968 legislation the postage will be increased on 2 lb and 3 lb parcels, lt will be the same for a 7 lb parcel. But for a 11 lb parcel it will be reduced from 75c to 60c, for a 16 lb parcel it will be reduced from $1 to 70c, and for a 22 lb parcel it will be reduced from $1.25 to 80c. So honourable members can get some idea of how the big user of the service will benefit as a result of this legislation.
It is clear from what has been said by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and by myself that the public and the small users have suffered as a result of the 1967 legislation and they will suffer as a result of the legislation which is before us today. There has been a 25% increase in charges on first class mail matter. At the same time the large user has paid less as a result of the 1967 legislation and he will pay still less as a result of this legislation. I refer to second class parcels and to the household service where heavy discounts are allowed to large users. There has been a substantial increase in charges for registered periodicals and newspapers, but this hits only the small society - the club, the union or the country magazines. Those with postings of over 100,000 receive the large discount which, of course, would not apply to the smaller users. Even those who have postings below 100,000 and who get the small 5% discount are faced with the expense of presorting their papers or magazines. The same comment applies to registered books.
The postal charges have been substantially increased and only large users will get any significant reduction in total charges.
It is worth noting that the increases in registered book charges have been particularly severe because of a change in the weight gradation as well as an increase in the rate. These increases range from 50% to 250%, so I am informed, and they apply according to weight variation. An important point to note also is that the discount rate to large users greatly exceeds the labour cost to the Department, if it does its own sorting. I think that the main reason for introducing this rate was to reduce labor costs. If it is proved that it does not do that, there must be something wrong with the discount system. The assertion by the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) that the introduction of the discount scheme has attracted substantial new business is not borne out by fact and has been disproved, so I have been informed, by lodgements at the Sydney Mail Exchange. The PostmasterGeneral claimed an increase of 10 million articles, which is so small that it would not offset the rebates to large users. Furthermore, any new business, as referred to by the Postmaster-General, would have been brought to the Post Office by the exercise of his power under the Universal Postal Convention to which I have already referred.
It is clear that all is not well with the Post Office. It is clear that the Opposition was justified when it moved an amendment last year which suggested that: a Joint Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the desirability and practicability of removing the Australian Post Office from the administrative influence of the Public Service Board and of establishing a public corporation to control the business of the Post Office.
The Bit! which the Postmaster-General introduced last year relating to the finances of the Post Office did not go far enough. It merely played about with a difficult and intricate problem. While all this dithering is going on in Post Office reorganisation, other countries have grasped the nettle and are really tackling the problems of postal and communication services. Britain and Sweden have placed their Post Offices under a public corporation, as have Japan and Indonesia. Germany is considering forming its Post Office into a public corporation. 1 am not suggesting that we should take that step, but I am suggesting that some inquiries should be made into the feasibility of turning the Post Office into a public corporation. What could be better than a joint select committee to inquire into this matter and report to this Parliament, after which the Parliament would make its own determinations in regard to the committee’s recommendations? Then we could determine whether we believed that the establishment of a corporation was the best method of handling the Post Office.
Mr O’Grady, who retired a little more than 2 years ago from the position of Director of Posts and Telegraphs, believes that the Post Office should be a public corporation. Whether he is right or wrong has to be determined. But since his retirement he has been able to come out into the open and to make public statements that he could not make as head of a department of the Government. He is now in a position to criticise the existing organisation of the Post Office, and he has done just that. In regard to the Post Office becoming a public corporation, Mr O’Grady said, and I quote from the ‘Australian’ of 30th October 1967:
I think a public corporation would have a different approach to the public if it were given truly wide financial powers, lt could arrange its business in a different way. At the present time, a purely government department must adhere to the budgetary system of Parliament. In effect, you must nol anticipate parliamentary approval for years ahead.
Later on he said:
This lack of knowledge of the future has always plagued the engineer in the Post Office in Australia … the Post Office has always been debarred from long term planning.
He went on to say:
A statutory corporation, given proper financial powers, would be able to make long term arrangements with banks or other suppliers of funds and it could so arrange its affairs that it could commit itself to very high capital cost projects which would not come into use until 5 years ahead and would still have sufficient funds for breadandbutter items.
He then went on to point out how a public corporation may be empowered to raise money through the Commonwealth loan fund system in much the same way as the Victorian State Electricity Commission does - with aproval to go to the market separately - and to borrow from banks. 1 think that the Postmaster-General has been too conservative. He has continued to place shackles on the Post Office. These schackles have been criticised by people like Mr O’Grady. The only thing the PostmasterGeneral did of any note was to establish a fund into which any profits are now paid instead of being paid into consolidated revenue. But the Post Office has no power to borrow. The Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs must therefore continue to go, cap in hand, to the Treasurer for funds. As an institution, the Post Office continues to be hamstrung.
Some years ago the British Government established a Post Office trust fund similar to the one established by the Australian Post Office but after a while it went further, as I think this Government will have to do, and gave its Post Office power to raise loans. However, the British experience did not solve the problem. Therefore, a public corporation was established. Surely Australia can learn from the British experience. The British experience was responsible for the establishment of the public corporation. I repeat that I am not necessarily supporting the setting up of a corporation. All I am saying is that some investigation should be carried out by a select committee.
During the debate on the controversial increased postal charges in May 1967 and later debate on the same matter, I drew attention to a document relating to the reorganisation of the Post Office in Britain which was presented to the House of Commons. I do not propose to quote from that document now, but 1 do draw attention to what was said on that occasion. To a large extent the staff problems in the Post Office can be attributed to the setting up of the Post Office within the amibit of the Public Service. There is no doubt that if some other arrangement were made there would be better staff relations. The Post Office has a staff of nearly 100,000 and yet its administration has no power to deal with the wage claims of employees. Unions must first place their claims before the Public Service Board and if they are unsuccessful they can put their claims to the Public Service Arbitrator and, in the last resort, to the Arbitration Commission. During this tortuous route the Department of Labour and National Service has its say. So, delay is pyramided on top of delay. Is it any wonder that there is grave discontent in the
Post Office and that every postal union is complaining. In regard to this aspect Mr O’Grady said:
I have found myself completely humiliated when union deputations called on me. No matter what my views, I was required to keep a poker face and not let them think by nod or wink that I was sympathetic to their case.
Mr O’Grady had to wait until he retired before he could make this statement. No doubt the present Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs feels just as humiliated. Mr O’Grady also said:
It would seem that if the Post Office is to be made into a truly business undertaking, the number of outside bodies having a say in such important matters ought to be reduced to a minimum.
I believe the Post Office should have only two bodies concerned - the Post Office managers themselves and the full court. There should be no other intermediary because this at best results in prolonged delays and at worst causes unnecessary friction between employees and management.
What is contained in the recent legislation to ease that friction? Mr O’Grady also said that if the Post Office is to be put on the basis of being a true business undertaking in reality and not just in name, divorcement from the Public Service Board is quite essential. He made this statement in September 1967. The Opposition said the same thing in May 1967, as the records will show. The Opposition believes that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department should be divorced from the Public Service Board and that it should be a separate department possibly controlled by a public corporation. But at least the House should have an opportunity of deciding that after an investigation has been made. We believe that if that were done industrial relations would be improved and the Post Office would be much more stable than it is at present. That is why the Opposition is requesting a complete investigation by a select committee calling evidence from all interested parties and then reporting to the Parliament. The Parliament could then make up its mind after studying the report of such a committee.
Like the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), I do not oppose this Bill. I realise that finance is needed for the Post Office to carry on. But at the same time, the Opposition criticises the way the small user of Post Office facilities has been penalised in the interests of the large user.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hulme) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 17 September (vide page 1 1 23).
Department of External Territories
Proposed expenditure. $90,510,000.
– lt may put the proposed expenditure for the Department of External Territories into perspective and in relation to Australian resources if we note that it is about the same as the cost of the Sydney Opera House or the cost of eight Fill aircraft, lt has been my privilege in recent weeks to see the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea discussing its Budget over a period of 3 or 4 days. As I had seen the House of Assembly in Port Moresby during the previous year - a different and earlier House of Assembly - it was possible for me to make some comparisons and contrasts. There is no question but that the present House of Assembly has a great deal more confidence in itself. There is in its membership a concentration of a great deal more ability. One other striking and immediately observable characteristic is that the House appears to have switched from debating in English to debating in pidgin. There are tactical political reasons for this. A great deal of the debate in the House of Assembly is now directed at the Highlands representatives. It was very clear to me that what might be called the Opposition and what might be called the Government, and the official members, were bidding in the House of Assembly for the support of the Highlands group. There are some dangers in this to which I wish to refer. Before I do I would like to make one observation about the inadequacy of the House of Assembly building. The House of Assembly is a very special House of Parliament. It is not merely engaged in the ordinary processes of legislation; the House of Assembly is an educational instrument - an instrument of political education. It is an educational instrument for the members of the Parliament and for the people of Papua and New Guinea. At present it is crippled by the lack of a library and by the lack of easy legislative reference facilities for members. These deficiencies relate to the congestion of the building. The House of Assembly building was designed to house the Administrator and a small advisory legislative council sitting in council with the Administrator in earlier days. Because the members of the House of Assembly have no ready access to information errors of fact are made in speeches and there seem to me to be grounds for criticising the administration within the House of Assembly for its reaction to this situation.
There is far too intolerable an air of superiority in refuting errors - squashing the critical member. I do not mind the ministerial members or the official members making corrections. I am not sentimental about this. But the House of Assembly is crippled because it is deprived of information. I do not like the manner in which some Administrative spokesmen stand up in the House and correct these with a great air of pained resignation and selfsatisfaction. If the Parliament of PapuaNew Guinea is to be an educational instrument in politics and affairs for the people of Papua and New Guinea and its members, access to information is vital to its effective functioning.
There is a second feature of Assembly debates which disturbed me. In fact, I spoke to an official member about it. I speak of it now with a sense of real warning because of what has happened in Nigeria. Critics of the Administration ask for certain reforms - education, health, roads and so on. One line of answer comes back from the Administration on this sort of request. It says that the Australian Government has to provide the money and it implies that, therefore, these matters should not be raised. If that is to be regarded as an answer, we may as well close the House of Assembly tomorrow. Members of Parliament in Papua and New Guinea are being trained, in effect, to state what they consider to be the needs of their people. They may be wrong in what they say but the answer surely should not be merely that their country depends on Australian financial grants, and that they really have no right to articulate a need because they are making a claim on the Australian Treasury.
Requests by private members are unavoidable and desirable if they are to articulate the needs of their people. The money may not be available and their statements may be unreasonable. But I believe that the Administration needs to show a good deal more care in answering statements than for ever to be emphasising their dependence on Australian grants.
The Administration can slide by imperceptible degrees into the practice of playing one part of the country off against another. This tendency can be seen, for example, when an educated native from the coastal areas makes certain demands. Immediately, there is an Administration ploy directed at the Highland members by the Administration spokesmen. They suggest that if these requests are granted, the undeveloped Highlands will not be able to have the money the Highlands need for schools, hospitals, roads and communications. I do not dispute that this might be true. But I also see the temptation to play on this, to bid for the Highland vote to back the Administration, and get a majority for the Administration in these doubtful circumstances. The British did this sort of thing in Nigeria. The northern Emirs could bring to the side of the British Administration a completely orderly, controlled group of people, just as the northern Emirs of today can produce a Federal Army prepared to set out to destroy the Ibo people. In the classic colonial period the favouritism of Lugard and others towards the North meant that, as long as the British underwrote the powers of the Emirs, the North was a stable area for the British colonial authority and could be played off against more critical and dissatisfied Ibo and Goruba natives eslewhere Britain abandoned its claim to Nigeria and abandoned the ideology of colonialism. But Britain’s policy of playing the North off against the rest of Nigeria for many years produced the whirlwind being reaped now.
It may be quite legitimate to say that the needs of the people of the undeveloped Highlands of Papua and New Guinea are very great and that the needs of others elsewhere are of lesser priority. But let us not, for Heaven’s sake, allow the Administration, insofar as it can be influenced from Canberra, to play divide and rule and seek to use Highland conservatism and Highland needs as means to carry the Administration’s points.
I honestly feel, as a result of what I saw of the proceedings of the House of Assembly, that this is happening, and 1 hope that the Administration will resist this tendency very strongly in future. No one can ignore the fact that the Highlands are in very great need. Manus Island has a 100% availability of primary school education. So has Bougainville. 1 believe that New Britain has about 80%. The Highlands, on the other hand, have only 15% of children of school age receiving primary education. An administration conscientiously doing its duty must direct a very large proportion of the resources of the country to the Highlands. The Administration’s answers to these criticisms may in many cases be quite legitimate. But the tendency is for the motive of divide and rule to emerge. I believe it is a dangerous motive.
Confusion in the House of Assembly is being caused by what I believe is a double standard on arbitration. The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) last night made critical comments about Public Service salaries in Papua and New Guinea. I do not want to hark back to the question of the cut in the salaries of indigenous public servants. But I do want to say that one after another of the Administration’s spokesmen rose in the House of Assembly and denounced the Bill that was presented by Percy Chatterton, the member for the Moresby open electorate, saying that it was an attack on the principle of arbitration. In effect, they said: ‘We believe in arbitration; you do not’. The one thing the Administration is not entitled to say is that it believes in arbitration, because it does not. The cut in salary rates was not made by arbitration. It was made by executive decree. The administration of Papua and New Guinea chose to alter the salary standards without recourse to arbitration. I do not iintend to argue the merits or demerits of that decision. I am not arguing whether an independent Papua and New Guinea could ever have afforded the salary standards. I realise there are arguments for what was done and have made clear I do not accept them. But there is no possibility of the Administration asserting justly that it made the salar)’ changes by arbitration, because it did not.
Administration professions to believe in arbitration are hollow - a double standard which is causing confusion the whole time. The salary rates were cut by executive decree flouting every principle of arbitration, and then the indigenous public servants were told to go to arbitration before Mr Matthews, the Public Service Arbitrator, to try to get something back. The moral authority of the Administration on the question of arbitration was destroyed. The Administration cannot morally claim the right to cut wage rates by decree and then claim it stands for arbitration. This in my opinion is causing moral confusion in the House of Assembly. A deep cynicism on the part of certain members is produced when they see the Administration having it both ways - an instantaneous cut in salary rates by executive decree, followed by lectures to indigenous public servants to respect arbitration, to enter into what appear to be interminable arbitration proceedings, lasting 18 months to see whether they can get something back.
The Administration has another tendency that needs to be watched, lt needs to put better economic arguments in the House of Assembly than it does. It is not good enough, in answer to every request for increased wages, whether plantation worker’s wages or civil service salaries, to say: This will cause inflation’. That is a piece of twaddle. It is not true to say that every increase of wages at every stage of history will be a cause of inflation, and the Administration should not try to blind the natives with science. If productivity is rising and the wage level is not rising as well, all that results is a rising level of profits in the hands of the planters and investors in other forms of business. Very often this means a movement of capital out of the country as dividends are transmitted abroad. The answer to a man who is making a claim about wages is to face whether his claim is justified. It is false to argue that there is some automatic inbuilt inflation that follows every increase in wages. The answer being given in the House of Assembly to requests for increased wages is not good enough.
I have some information which suggests that the wages paid by Australian planters in Papua and New Guinea are much less than those paid by French planters in New Caledonia. The French planters must compete in the same world markets as PapuanNew Guinean exporters when they try to sell their copra and other tropical products. I am not trying to usurp the responsibilities of arbitrators or others who deal with these matters. I merely say that we should not automatically accept smug and self satisfied concepts here about everything that is happening in the Territory and have the idea in the back of our heads that somehow what is happening there is better than anything that is happening anywhere else in the Pacific. We must remember that people now move about from country to country and are able to make comparisons.
The programme announced by the Minister, which requires an average expenditure by the Administration of $200m a year for the next 5 years - this, of course, is not an average Australian grant of$200m a year - is excellent. It is very good to see that there is a 5-year plan. The Administration will know where it stands and forward planning is an excellent educational instrument demonstrating national management. The new House of Assembly will be able to evaluate a programme of economic development determining action for 4 or 5 years ahead. I am genuinely concerned about the success of the political experiment in Papua and New Guinea. I think some people in the expatriate community do not have a genuine interest in the rapid development of native political and economic skills and technical abilities and there may even be some people in the Administration who are not sufficiently concerned with advancement. For instance, during a debate in the House of Assembly one of the executive members lectured the natives and said a proposal they were advancing meant they were trying to overthrow the rule of law and were violating the fundamental principle of our Constitution, which, he said erroniously, is the separation of the Executive and the legislative powers. After he had promulgated his theory on the separation of power from the native members, despite the fact that he was an executive member, one of the native members interjected justifiably and said:’What are you then doing sitting in the chamber?’ Of course it is not true to say that in the Westminster system the Executive is separate from the legislature. The Minister, who is here now, is part of the Executive.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to8 p.m.
– Pursuant to the provisions of section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act I present copies of the reports, with maps showing the boundaries of each proposed division, by the Distribution Commissioners for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, together with copies of the suggestions, comments or objections lodged with the respective Commissioners, and move:
That the reports and maps be printed.
Tomorrow I intend to propose motions for the approval of the redistribution of each State into electoral divisions as proposed by the Distribution Commissioners in their reports.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– For the information of honourable members I present a copy of a statement by F. L. Ley, a Distribution Commissioner for the State of New South Wales, showing his reasons for dissent from the proposals by the Distribution Commissioners relating to the divisions of Lyne and New England. I also present a copy of a statement by I. F. Weise, a Distribution Commissioner for the State of Queensland, showing his reason for dissent from the proposals by the Distribution Commissioners relating to the division of Capricornia, Darling Downs, Dawson, Fisher, Kennedy, Maranoa and Wide Bay. I move:
That the statements be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Department of External Territories
– I am very pleased to see so many honourable members present to listen to this debate in view of the matters which interest them at this time. On 6th April 1968 a United Nations Visiting Mission completed a 6 weeks tour of the trust Territory of New Guinea and a short visit, at the invitation of the Australian Government, to Papua. Previous missions have visited the Territory of New Guinea at 3-year intervals. Following those visits there have often been repercussions overseas. I hope that on this occasion there will not be so much criticism of what is happening in the Territory. The Mission travelled wherever it wished to travel and visited many people. The visit this year coincided with the election for the second House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea. Arrangements were made for the Mission to observe elections taking place at areas on the coast and in the highlands. Many of the places visited were remote and accessible only by small aircraft or boat.
I have been examining the reports of this visit, and I believe that they give a balanced account of the situation in the Territory. As the Mission moved from place to place it heard a great many points of view. I have balanced these points of view against my own assessment of what I saw when I made a brief trip to the Territory in July. The United Nations Mission was subjected to many suggestions, such as the provision of money for roads, schools and teachers. There were many demands for more economic development. One member of the House of Assembly told the Mission that 4,000 children in the Wabag area were unable to get an education. There were requests for more services on every hand. In a developing country it would be strange indeed if there were not requests for additional assistance. Demands were made for more Australian money, but one member of the Mission was kind enough to point out that the people must remember that this money comes out of the pockets of Australian taxpayers.
This year Australia will contribute $87m to the Territory. This is quite a large amount, particularly when we remember that the Australian people do not have every facility that they desire themselves, that we still need money for such facilities as streets and roads in some areas, and that some of the outer suburbs of our cities still require facilities such as sewerage.
One matter which was not pressed was that of self government. I was very pleased to note this. According to reports received there is no doubt that the people of the Territory will not listen to the minorities who are pressing for self government. In district after district, settlement after settlement, it was made clear that there was no popular move for independence. I am convinced that progress towards self government must come in carefully planned phases. One man from the Western Highlands stated directly to the United Nations Mission: ‘My son will think about independence but I will not - not me’. This man was standing for the recent election held in the Territory. This seemed to me to be very clear thinking on his part; candidate after candidate presented this view. This is certainly in line with other suggestions made to me when I was in the Territory.
One must not be too dogmatic after a brief visit to the Territory but there is one matter on which I formed a very definite view. The Territory must not be saddled with complex and sophisticated laws, difficult arbitration awards and involved and expensive legal procedures. The rights, privileges and obligations of these people must be clear and simple. A great deal of attention must be given to these factors by the Administration.
May I mention tourism for a moment? It is proposed to encourage the flow of tourists to the Territory. This will help with the problem of foreign exchange and will be very good for the economy. But while I was at Mount Hagen I was informed by some Americans that there had been some delay in their receiving permits to visit the area. They had enjoyed a very rewarding visit to the Territory, particularly to the Highlands area, but they would not have patiently waited in Australia for a permit had they not been urged strongly by friends in America to visit this area. From what they said I am sure that if tourists are to be encouraged to go to the area procedures in Australia will have to be streamlined to obviate delays in the obtaining of permits. The area has many attractions. The Highlands are particularly colourful.
Apart from the Budget provision of $87m for the Administration of the Territory we also have our military commitment there. While I was in the Territory I had the opportunity to visit some of the military establishments. The Papua-New Guinea Command consists of the Headquarters Unit situated at Murray Barracks, No. 1 Pacific Islands Regiment situated at Taurama Barracks, No. 2 Pacific Islands Regiment situated at Wewak and the PapuaNew Guinea Training Depot at Goldie River Barracks. It is probable that another battalion will be raised and based at Igam Barracks at Lae. I had a look at most of those barracks and they are quite amazing. At Port Moresby you have Murray Barracks. Near Port Moresby you have the Goldie River Barracks and the Taurama Barracks. At Wewak you have another military establishment and at Lae you have the Igam Barracks. The establishments that have been built in recent years are very solid buildings and will last for years to come. They have cost a lot of money. Most of the barracks are similar in- appearance. They consist of, inter alia, officers messes, sergeants messes, other ranks messes, sports pavilions, classrooms, gymnasiums, squash courts, assembly halls and canteens. Chapels have been built at all barracks with the exception, I think, of Port Moresby. Swimming pools, fire stations, guard houses, administrative blocks, hospitals, workshops, Q stores, parade grounds, ovals, water and sewerage schemes and homes for officers, sergeants and other ranks have been provided. Practically everything needed by the regiment has been provided for. The personnel at the barracks are very appreciative of the facilities. The buildings contrast sharply with the earlier establishments - huts with thatched roofs - and are a credit to the Australian Government.
The native population of Papua and New Guinea faces many problems. Of course, there are great opportunities for both the native population and the Europeans. The natives are torn between their traditional way of life and the ways of Western civilisation. Anybody who has been to the Territory cannot fail to regret that so many members of the native population have drifted into the big cities - into Port Moresby for example. They have cut themselves off from their local people and have gone to the cities. When they arrive there they cannot find work. Having left their home communities to go to the big cities they feel that they cannot return to their own people. It seems to be a matter of loss of face. I regret that in Port Moresby there appears to be a good deal of unemployment and a certain amount of crime. Wherever dark skinned and white skinned people live together there will always be great problems. I believe that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) and his Department are tackling a vast job with great courage, determination and a great deal of wisdom.
– Australia has been charged with a tremendous responsibility in bringing the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to the point where it can make its own decision as to its future. We have been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the people of the Territory are adequately equipped successfully to handle their own affairs. This is no mean task. It is costing the Australian taxpayer quite a large amount of money to fulfil this task. This year the appropriation for the Territory exceeds $87m. But this is a task that is tremendously worth while. I believe that Australia has set a pattern for the development of primitive people that has not been equalled and certainly not surpassed anywhere in the world. It is no mean task to bring a primitive people up to our form of sophisticated civilisation in a comparatively short time. It has taken Western civilisations many hundreds of years to traverse the road leading to their present standard.
There are problems in Papua and New Guinea but it is surprising how few really big problems have been encountered. This in itself is a tremendous tribute to the Administration’s understanding and patience in handling the job. Practically all of New Guinea is under law, order and control. Having regard to the nature of the country, this achievement has been no mean task. Those of us who know something about New Guinea know the problems of communication and transport that have had to be overcome. It is a wonderful experience to see some of our young patrol officers at work. Some of them look as if they have not long left school. They go out into the highlands, gaining the confidence and respect of the primitive people who are not long out of savagery. These patrol officers have gained the respect of the native people and are able to control them. This is a tribute to the Administration and to the training of our patrol officers but it is a tribute also to the Australian personality that is able to get through to these people in a way that no European has been able to do.
We have gone a long way towards attaining our first objective, which was to bring law, order and administration to the whole of the Territory. Now we are well on the way towards achieving our second objective of educating the people so that they may move along the road to nationhood, capable of handling their new-found freedoms and privileges and everything else that goes with modern civilisation. All over New Guinea primary schools have been built, many by the Government and many by missions and other institutions. This has been a big job. There is still a demand for more schools. Running through the report of the last United Nations Mission to the Territory was the demand for more schools.
Rather strikingly you will find running through that report the question: ‘Do you think New Guinea is ready for selfgovernment?’ The answer given has been: No*. Almost without exception the people of New Guinea, when asked whether they are yet ready for self-government, have said: ‘Not yet. Perhaps our children will be’. High schools have been built in many places. I have had the pleasure of visiting high schools miles out of developed cities. I remember one in particular about 25 miles inland from Rabaul where a high standard of education has been attained and where the young people have been encouraged to accept the responsibility of their own local government institutions and health organisations. They are accepting this responsibility. I also visited a teachers training college at Goroka. I do not think you will find any college in Australia with better buildings, equipment, staffing or spirit than at Goroka.
There is still a tremendous need to develop industry to give New Guinea a viable economy, lt is not of much use educating the children to an advanced high school standard and then expecting them to go back and hoe sweet corn in the village. They do not want to do that. There are not enough white collar jobs. We have to concentrate increasingly on this side of our educational programme. We have to develop first of all better methods in agriculture because as the economy moves along from the subsistence stage to one of trading and selling extra produce, we must have education to apply better methods, to grow different kinds of crops, and to develop the farms so that these people may earn more money to buy the things they will want to buy as they become more sophisticated in their outlook. We have to watch, as we do in our own country, that not too much emphasis is placed on the academic training of young people and not enough on the skills. We have to try to get through to the indigenous people that there is a dignity in work. I recall visiting a long term confinement camp - I do not know whether you would call it a gaol - at Port Moresby. The police commandant there has done a tremendous job in training the people in manual skills. He told us that recently he brought a group of his own police officers down to Queensland for the specific purpose of showing them that white men do manual work. He said he had told them over and over again that they did. He had tried to get it through to them, but it was not until he brought them down here and they saw white men working in factories, in shearing sheds and sweating in the heat of Queensland and the Northern Territory that they really accepted the fact that the white man works in his own country and that there is dignity in work. I think that is a very important part of their education.
Agriculture is only a start along the road to development. We have to concentrate on such things as forestry, which opens up the opportunity for processing, and the employment of people in a wage earning capacity. I saw a tobacco factory at Madang th:u «ai almost completely staffed by indigenous workers. Indigenous technicians were operating the machines very successfully and with a great deal of pride. Mining opens up an opportunity to earn higher wages. Fisheries and many other activities must be developed because, if New Guinea is to have a viable economy, we must provide a reasonable standard of living and a reasonable earning capacity for more of the people. This will create a need for greater skills. As the country develops people will want better housing. One oan see this happening in many places in New Guinea; the people are demanding better housing and household goods. Naturally, they want transport, roads and aerodromes. All these things create employment and make the country more able to stand on its own feet, which is our eventual objective.
Tourism has an unlimited potential. Today there are quite a number of first class hotels and motels throughout New Guinea. I suppose the hotel at Lae would have a standard as high as any hotel in Australia. A very interesting experiment was conducted in the hotel at Lae. I believe it is the first hotel in New Guinea to employ indigenous girls in the dining room. They were first class, efficient and able; they knew their job. In many ways they performed a much better service than do the boys who serve in practically all the other hotels. There must also be an improvement in health.
– What about their wages?
– We hear a lot of talk about wages. The economy has to be viable and the community has to have the capacity to pay higher wages. As the standard of living rises wages will rise. But you cannot lift wages first. A tremendous amount of work needs to be done in the field of health. We visited a number of hospitals and child welfare centres. These give employment, an opportunity for training and a better standard of living for many of the girls. Of course, there have been errors but I am quite certain that anybody who goes up there with an unbiased mind and an unbiased outlook will agree that the successes for outweight any errors that may have been made.
As I said in my opening remarks, to bring a primitive people along the road to sophisticated civilisation is a tremendous responsibility. It is an exciting experience. A new nation is being born under our guidance in New Guinea. No people will have a greater influence on the future of this new nation than the people of Australia. Whether this new nation, when it decides its own future, is happy and prosperous will very largely depend on what we have done in establishing it. It will depend upon the sympathy and understanding we have shown towards these people and the guidance we have given. Most of all it will depend on the example set by our people who are serving in New Guinea. I am confident from what I have seen of the Administration - I have been in New Guinea on a number of occasions - that it is setting an excellent example. I congratulate the Minister on doing a tremendous job, despite a lot of criticism by uninformed people. Generally one finds that the most critical are the least informed. I congratulate the Administration on a job well done. I believe there will be a still greater challenge in the next few years. These will be the difficult years when the country will move forward to the point of self determination. I believe that in the next few years we will be required to show greater tolerance, and greater understanding and to set a more definite example. I again congratulate the Minister and the Administration on what I believe all fair minded people will agree has been an outstanding performance in New Guinea.
– Like other honourable members I am honoured in having the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) at the table. I thought that the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) made a fairly good contribution to the debate. Most of his remarks were about New Guinea. I was absent from the chamber when he rose to speak, but at the end of his remarks he spoke of Australia’s territories having an unlimited potential for tourism. I could not agree more. I will tell honourable members of a place under the Minister’s control that is forgotten to some extent. I refer to the little island of Norfolk.
– lt is not forgotten.
– I said to some extent. The honourable member understands English, does he not?
– I would know more about it than you.
– The honourable member made a faux pas and corrected it; so there is no need to get offensive about it. The little island of Norfolk is 700 miles from Sydney. I have not got this year’s annual report, but I think it would reveal an increase in tourism on Norfolk Island. I can assure the Minister, if he has never had the experience of using some of the recreation facilities over there, that the island has a greater fishing potential than any other part of the world. I was present in a boat when a constituent of mine from Cessnock caught seven fish on six hooks. He caught nothing weighing under 3 lb. That is absolutly true.
– 1 will get you on the hook.
– I will be unlucky if the honourable member gets me on the hook. To be serious, Norfolk Island has no harbour. There are only two places around the island where boats can be launched. The boats are dropped into the water, as the Minister well knows, and are taken out of the water each night. The Minister knows that a harbour could be developed at Bell Bay at very little cost to this Government.
If figures were taken out as to social service payments made by this Government to Norfolk Island residents I think we would find that the amount paid per head is much less than the amount paid per head on the mainland. Norfolk Island has a population of only 900 and the proportion receiving age and widows’ pensions, and sickness and unemployment benefits, would be less than the proportion throughout the Australian population. Of course the residents of Norfolk Island do not pay taxes and there may be room for argument that they should not get as much from this Government as the people on the mainland do. But it would be interesting to know what the Government pays out in social services to Norfolk Islanders who are out of work from time to time. The residents depend mainly for employment on the Administration in its programme of road improvement or maintenance and improvement of the wharves. But I believe that unemployment could be completely abolished. This is certainly so of male employment, and I believe that women could be trained to take jobs. I do not think we would be downgrading the women of Norfolk Island by encouraging them to catch some of the fish that are freely available and with which they could supply the guest houses which are catering for the increasing numbers of tourists visiting the island. Many tourists find it disappointing that although fish are so plentiful in the surrounding waters they cannot get many meals of the beautiful fresh fish that should be available to them. The reason for the shortage of fish, of course, is that there are no facilities for launching boats.
When I was there some 2 years ago I was told that after the United States authorities had built an airstrip on the island during the Second World War it was their wish to sink a couple of Liberty ships at the conclusion of the war in order to provide a false harbour around the entrance to Bail Bay. This would have enabled fishermen more easily to exploit the great fishing potential in the surrounding waters. I would like to see the Minister for External Territories who administers the affairs of Norfolk Island, give serious consideration to this proposition. I believe that if a Labor government had been in office it would have carried out this work and that it would also have built a modern government hotel. Some of the people who go to Norfolk Island and conduct businesses there do so for the express purpose of enriching themselves,, and they do not give proper consideration to tourists or provide them with a proper service. I think the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope), who once visited Norfolk Island, would agree with me on this.
– It has the ideal climate of the Pacific.
– As the honourable member says, Norfolk Island has the ideal climate. I believe the temperature does not exceed 80 degrees in summer nor fall below 60 degrees in winter.
– But they are touching the tourists.
– I’ll say they are. Some of them are enriching themselves and then leaving. It was astounding to learn from a question asked in this House the other day the number of Australian companies which have been registered in Norfolk Island during the last 4 or 5 years to avoid paying certain company taxes. I think the honourable member who raised the matter in the Parliament said that 5 or 6 years ago there were seven companies registered in Norfolk Island and now there are about seventeen. The people who register these companies are the backbone of the Liberal Party and support the Tory government. These are the big business people.
– Who asked the question?
– I think it may have been the honourable member himself.
– No, but it was from this side of the House.
– The honourable member says it was somebody on his side, but I suggest it was a red hot Tory from the
Government side who has probably been robbed by one of these companies and sought to expose it. Big business is the backbone of Tory governments. Honourable members on this side know very well how the big business interests contribute so readily to the election funds of the Tories.
– Have you been to Norfolk Island?
– Do you mix with the locals?
– I mix with everyone. I am not selective in my company. I do not discriminate. In fact I respect all people and bow down to none. There is another matter that I think it is time the Minister did something about. I refer to the improvement of the airport at Norfolk Island. It is still a grass airstrip not capable of being used by passenger aircraft of later vintage than the DC4 type, lt takes 3± hours to fly to Norfolk Island, while with more modern aircraft one can fly in much shorter time to New Zealand, which is 200 or 300 miles further away.
I was in the Library this evening reading a book titled ‘World Petroleum’. I understand that the Norfolk Island authorities are about to restrict the number of permanent residents on the island. They think they have enough there now. There is also a problem with fresh water, especially when there is a dry season. The book I just mentioned recommended the installation by certain countries where water is scarce of desalination plants, some of which are large enough to desalinate 1,500,000 gallons of water each day.
I have referred to three matters that J think are important. There is the improvement of the airstrip and there is the development of Ball Bay as a port. These projects would reduce the amount that the Government has to pay out in unemployment benefits. The third matter is the exploitation of the fishing grounds around the island. This would make the place even more attractive to tourists, particularly Australians who like fishing. The other matter I mentioned was the desirability of a desalination plant. I do not ask for all these to be done at one time, but I think the Government should have some plan for these projects to be carried out.
– How would you allocate priorities?
– I would put the Bell Bay harbour first, the airstrip second and the desalination plant third.
– What about the government hotel?
– That would go in between. I think the desalination plant would be necessary to meet the needs of a very modern hotel. The rainfall, from memory, is about 25 inches a year. They have no dams or water storages, so far as I know. However, the honourable member for the Northern Territory may be able to correct me on this.
– -They have underground tanks, the same as the people on Lord Howe Island.
– But there is not the same population.
– They have a bigger tourist turnover.
– 1 did not know that. However, I have made my submissions and I know that the Minister will give thought to them and so show consideration to the people of Norfolk Island. I congratulate the Government on maintaining the historic buildings on the island - the old gaols, for instance. Norfolk Island had a tragic history as a penal settlement lasting from, I think, 1812 to 1836. We are familiar with the history of some of the harsh governors who sent prisoners to Norfolk Island. This was a blot on our history. I do not believe in the soft treatment of prisoners - of professional crooks, at any rate - but some people were sent to Norfolk Island for minor crimes. It is to the Government’s credit that it has made some financial grants to the Administration of Norfolk Island to enable these historic buildings to be maintained. I hope that the Government will continue to make financial assistance available and that the Minister will give consideration to the four matters I have raised.
– 1 propose to speak briefly on the subject of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. When last I spoke of the Territory in this House, during the debate on the Address in Reply on 26th March 1968, 1 dealt with two main topics: First, the coming of independence and, secondly, the provision of adequate funds for the University of Papua and New Guinea, the latter following protests which had been made public by the Acting ViceChancellor, Professor K. S. Inglis. As to the latter question, I believe there have been further developments since, and that following protracted discussions arrangements are now in train to place this whole matter on a better footing, in relation to both the funds to be made available and the principle that the provision should be such as to allow the university to plan ahead, at least for a period of 2 or 3 years, rather than be compelled to live from hand to mouth on a system of annual budgeting. 1 am unaware of the details and would be loath to say anything which might prejudice a satisfactory outcome of the discussions that I believe are proceeding. Let me express the sincere hope that a satisfactory modus vivendi will be found. In the confident expectation that this will be so I tender my congratulations - perhaps prematurely, but I hope not - to the Minister, the Administrator and departmental officers concerned and, not least, to the council and staff of the University, who are, I believe, making a gallant effort to do what is best in this extremely difficult period of early growth of what will become, we all hope, a great university whose sons will be amongst the leaders of Papua and New Guinea.
I turn now to another question, to which I adverted in an earlier speech which I made last year - on the 30th August 1967 to be exact. I refer to the local officers’ salaries case. 1 made a plea on that occasion for the Government to enact legislation to allow the local officers to apply to an appropriate tribunal for leave to appeal against the decision of the Arbitrator fixing the local officers’ salaries at a level not merely below, but a very long way below, the level of salaries paid to expatriate officers. My plea went unheeded or, at any rate, unsatisfied. So be it. Since then, quite recently, Mr Percy Chatterton, a respected member of the House of Assembly and well known Territory identity, has introduced a private member’s Bill in the House of Assembly for the same purpose. He paid me the compliment of quoting in his speech portion of my earlier speech on this subject.
I, in turn, compliment him on his initiative in taking up this matter, even though the Bill was doomed to failure, for we now know from Press reports that it was defeated by some S3 votes to 24 after what was described as a long and, at times, angry debate. It is notable that despite its efforts the Administration, according to Press reports, failed to gain the votes of a ministerial member and four assistant ministerial members whom it normally expects to support the official line in the House of Assembly. This circumstance alone is significant, and is sufficient to give us pause if we are inclined to leap too readily to the conclusion that the Administration has been proved correct by the vote in the House of Assembly. I hope, if I may say so just as sincerely as the Minister, that there will be peace on this issue; but T still doubt whether justice has been done, or has been seen to be done, for reasons which 1 elaborated previously and which I will not now repeat. I fear that the verdict of history - this is important enough to bc the stuff of history - will favour those who begged for the right to apply for leave to appeal, rather than those who refused it. But, let us see: Time will tell.
Having said that much let me return, finally, to a happier subject - the facts and figures relating to the Territory as given by the Minister in his Budget speech on 22nd August, and his subsequent announcement of the 5-year programme made in this House on 10th September. The Minister may be assured that I would always prefer to be congratulating him on the successes achieved by him, his Department, the Administratior and the Public Service of the Territory rather than to be criticising what I may believe to be their occasional failures in perception or performance. But if my speeches on this subject contained nothing but praise they would be of no value to him, to the Territory, or the Parliament.
I am very glad on this occasion, as indeed all of us must be. to hear from the Minister such good news from so many sectors of life in the Territory - its constitutional development, its economic progress, the great strides in education and so forth. The Minister told us, amongst other things:
Difficulties can arise if political progress moves ahead of economic progress.
The answer is not in restricting political development but rather in accelerating the pace of economic development.
I congratulate the Minister, if I may do so, on the confident, forward-looking note he struck in that passage. In retrospect it seems to have foreshadowed the treat he had in store for us, which he delivered in the further statement made some 3 weeks later when he announced the 5-year programme. In the latter, the Minister gave us a broad outline of what appears to be an imaginative and practicable programme for the accelerated economic development of the Territory over the next 5 years, involving increased Commonwealth assistance provided the House of Assembly indicates that it is prepared to increase the Territory’s self reliance by raising the level of Territory revenue and loan receipts as much as practicable over the period of the programme. The Minister said in passing:
The basic aim is to develop the Territory for self determination and to ensure that when this stage has been reached the Territory will, to the greatest extent feasible, be able to stand on its own feet economically.
Self-determination’ is the Minister’s word, be it noted; not ‘independence’. Again, the Minister said:
Nor does the Government’s attitude towards the revised development programme mean that there is any change in the Government’s policy on constitutional development in the Territory.
Yet, for all that, I am not alone in thinking that the very adoption of this programme appears to reflect a growing realisation that independence may not be far away, and that time needs to be seized by the forelock if the Territory is to be ready for it. However that may be, the programme, if successful, will to that extent render the prospect of independence more real, more feasible and more imminent. This at least cannot be gainsaid, nor, I imagine, would the Minister wish to gainsay it. It is also very gratifying to learn, from an article by the Minister which recently appeared in the Canberra Times’, of the increasing contribution being made by international agencies, particularly the various agencies of the United Nations. These international agencies have special skills to contribute,
All in all we begin to see, if through a glass darkly, the shape of a new nation which will arise in the beautiful island to our north, and glimpse the spirit which now seems more and more to inspire our Government and the Australian people to respond to the great and precious challenge which confronts us to lead and to help these people - so different from us and yet, in their human condition, so much akin - along the path to nationhood. Yet, on the other hand, it would be absurd to attempt to minimise the difficulties and dangers which still lie ahead, some of which were anatomised, for example, in a recent issue of the ‘Current Affairs Bulletin’, volume 41, No. 11 of 22nd April 1968. Even if independence is and must be the ultimate goal, as I believe, for reasons which I gave in my earlier speech this year, there is much to be said for the Minister’s view that we should endeavour, as far as possible, to approach that goal not at breakneck speed but at a deliberate pace’, in the hope that an independent Papua and New Guinea will be spared some of the growing pains, or worse, which have been the fate of nations which rushed headlong to an independence for which they were not prepared, either politically or economically. But finally, to all who are involved in this great enterprise of bringing a new nation into being, we say: God speed your endeavours. We shall certainly be watching and hoping for your continued success.
– I also should like to contribute a few remarks regarding Norfolk Island. In 1956 I was privileged to be a member of a delegation from this Parliament which visited Norfolk Island to celebrate the centenary of the landing of the descendants of the ‘Bounty* mutineers. I was very much impressed with the tourist potential of the island. We appreciate the fact that tourism has become a vast industry in many countries, particularly those in South East Asia; such as Japan and Kong Kong. It is one of the main industries in those countries. I believe that the income from tourism in Australia at the present time is approximately $60m a year and, except for the money spent on advertising overseas, it is all clear profit to our overseas credit balances. But tourists going from Australia overseas spend approximately $1 20m a year. In other words, as regards tourism we are on the debit side by approximately $60m.
I believe that if Norfolk Island had a protected harbour it could be one of the main tourist centres in the world today. As we know, many people overseas, particularly those in the millionaire class from America, go on tours around the world each year. But they would not get out of a big ship into a lighter to go in over a reef to reach Norfolk Island, and that is the only access they would have. If the island had a protected harbour big ships would certainly call there, and this would be to the benefit of the island and also to the Australian economy. I believe it is essential that we must build out tourist industry. We have the Great Barrier Reef and other tourist attractions. There are some beautiful parts of Australia. But we must remember that we have Norfolk Island which has great historical value. For example, as we all know, it was a penal colony. There is an old gaol on the island which is going to ruin. There is a museum there, which contains exhibits of the old penal days, which is of great interest to people. The descendants of the ‘Bounty’ mutineers are very hospitable people. I am sure that they would make tourists welcome, particularly if it meant that they were able to improve their own standard of living.
I believe that we should look at Norfolk Island as being part of the tourist industry which will attract people from overseas and which will build our overseas credit balance. As I said before, with the exception of money spent on advertising overseas, practically all moneys earned from tourism are clear profit. I believe that we must regard Norfolk Island as being part of our tourist industry, but as I said before, we cannot expect people who visit the island to get out of a big ship into a lighter in the open sea and go in over the reef. They just will not do it. If a ship could call in to a protected harbour, people would certainly regard Norfolk Island as the ideal place to spend their holidays.
– The Americans intended to build a harbour there.
– As the honourable member for Hunter has mentioned, the Americans intended to build a harbour there for the protection of ships. Unfortunately for us - or fortunately for the world at the time - the war ended before their plans could be brought ‘ to fruition, i ‘ a harbour had been built I am sure that Norfolk Island would have attracted many tourists from overseas, particularly those in the millionaire class in the United States.
– For a few minutes I wish to direct some remarks to the situation in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I commence by congratulating the Government on increasing the amount of the grant to Papua and New Guinea this year. I think that indicates that this Government has confidence in the Territory and in its future progress and stability. The Government is making a very real contribution to the Territory’s advance towards nationhood. When we look at the area in its entirety we realise the complex problems involved. The people speak several hundred different languages, the terrain is very difficult and there are many problems concerning communications. But great progress has been made, and probably one of the greatest contributions to unity, to understanding and eventually to the aim of nationhood is education. I refer not only to education at university levels but also to education at the primary, secondary and technical levels, such as the mechanical and agricultural fields. In this respect, probably one of the most pressing needs in the Territory is teachers. This need is even greater than the need for buildings or finance.
This afternoon the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), in one of his usual informed and informative speeches, referred to the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea. He said that he believed there was a limitation on the right of some of the indigenous people to express differing opinions. I agree that this is so, but from a knowledge of the conditions in the Territory, I am hopeful that this problem may be diminishing. It no doubt exists. I hope that it will diminish, and perhaps the advancement of the people will bring this about. There are many challenges, if not difficulties, in the advancement of the Territory. The honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) has referred to the question of salaries and wages. This is a very difficult problem. But we should not forget that when we fix rates to meet conditions which exist in the coastal area, that rate will apply to a greater or lesser degree to the whole of the Territory, although conditions are very different in other areas. It is a very complex problem. I believe it is very difficult to make a sweeping statement and to say that a rate should apply to a set of conditions in a certain area without looking at the Territory in its entirety.
Advancement has been made in the Territory, and I was very interested to read in the report of the proceedings of the House of Assembly recently exactly what has been done in the way of advancement. Attention is being given to the provision of better housing and to the utilisation of local skills and materials. That is proof that the Administration is conscious of the fact that it has to place more responsibility in the hands of the people. Probably the most basic step in bringing the indigenous people of New Guinea to a state of self government is to get their co-operation in local government. I think I am correct in saying that at least 80% of the people of the Territory today are under local government. It is at this level that the people first benefit from the opportunity to manage their own affairs. Of course, tied up with housing is the question of the health of the people. This matter is receiving greater attention. The Administration can take very real credit for the advancement that has been made in ground communications. The difficulties that are encountered in some of these very steep - almost precipitous - areas call for great engineering skills and considerable utilisation of skilled labour.
The honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) mentioned the Goroka Teachers College. I think it is worthy of very special mention. I saw it about 15 months ago. I was most impressed with the College, with the facilities provided and with the outlook of those who were teaching the young indigenous people. I think it will help to overcome the difficulty that exists in spreading education to remote areas. I refer now to the continuance of agricultural expansion. I was very interested to hear a young agricultural scientist say that he had a lot to learn about soil erosion and so on from the almost stone-age people in the area who first came into contact with Europeans only about 30 years ago. Recently 1 read in a newspaper that the member for Wabag had told the Chimbu people that they would not be supplied with any more cattle for breeding purposes until they learned that they were not to eat the female of the species. They were killing the cows as well as the steers at their sing-sings. He said that until they corrected this habit he would not allow them to be supplied with any more cattle.
The main role in the development of Papua and New Guinea and the advancement of its people will be played by the individual citizens of the Territory, whether European or indigenous, and not by government. This is to a large extent how the required skill, initiative and the management necessary for improved conditions will be obtained. But capital also is needed and capital will only follow the establishment of a stable government that will create confidence. I believe that the Government is following a wise path. 1 was pleased to hear the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) say in this House recently - 1 think it may have been in answer to a question - that the Government had a plan that it was following. The $200m development programme is worthy of commendation. The Minister also said that the Government would not be panicked into something that would interfere with the development of the Territory.
I congratulate the Minister on his understanding of the problems of Papua and New Guinea and his earnest endeavours to see that its people are advanced in a proper and reasonable way. I would also like to pay a tribute to what is being done by the Territory Administration and its officers. It has been my experience that, with very rare exceptions, the people at all levels in the Administration are dedicated to their jobs and have a real understanding of, an interest in, and a respect for the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea.
– I would like to thank honourable members for their contribution to and interest in this debate on the estimates for the Department of External Territories. I will not reply in detail to each honourable member as I believe that in most cases the points raised have been answered by other honourable members. Honourable members have shown a great interest in and a great concern for the development of Papua and New Guinea. But I would like to refer to one remark that was made by the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) last night. The honourable member referred to Press reports that the Administrator had said that wages must be kept low. That was not said. Generally speaking, the Administrator’s speech was faithfully reported, but I notice that this was not so in a couple of sections of the Press. What the Administrator said was that the Government must not allow salaries and wages to outstrip productivity, which is a different matter altogether.
Some honourable members mentioned the necessity to promote industry in Papua and New Guinea. I support this contention. 1 wish to refer to some remarks on this subject that I made in April of last year when I was in the Territory. I said:
Development of secondary industry is also essential, particularly because of the contribution it can make towards closing the import gap and because of its capacity to provide job opportunities for the growing work force.
Secondary industry, in a developing country, needs an economic climate of opportunity if it is to become established and to expand quickly. It is a proper task of Government to establish these conditions for industrial growth. This means that we must shape our policies on taxation, land acquisition for industrial purposes, on tariffs and so on to stimulate the establishment and expansion of industries. For instance, a reshaping of tariff policy and die development of more effective tariff machinery is important for the growth of secondary industry.
That is of great concern. The development of secondary industry is very important because of the job opportunities it provides. We have learned that a primary producing country cannot have a growing population with a growing standard of living. The Government has many problems ahead of it in this direction. Although the Territory has a population of only a little over 2 million, some consumer industries are developing considerably. But here again many of these industries will require some degree of protection.
I wish to thank the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Armstrong) for mentioning the local government councils. Unfortunately this side of Papuan and New Guinean activity does not receive enough publicity. Local government councils cover 83% of the Territory’s people. These councils are a tremendous success. They levy their own taxes, work out their own budgets and spend their money locally in a very responsible manner. I believe that these councils are great training grounds for future self-government. They are really democracy at the grass roots.
– They are the places where the ablest members of the House of Assembly come from, too.
– Yes. This supports my view that they are a training ground for future responsibility in the Territory. Honourable members have commented that the Government has to look at the overall development of the Territory. I believe that the Government has to be concerned about people in remote areas just as much as it is concerned about the people in the more quickly advancing areas, such as Port Moresby, Rabaul and Lae. People in the remote areas have not had the advantages of a cash income, schooling and so on, but they have as much right to advancement as anybody else. I believe that economic development will achieve this. I believe that the Government should make available the benefits of schools, roads and so on to the people right throughout the Territory and not just to elite groups.
The programme that the Government has announced for the next 5 years will by no means bring a golden age to the people of the Territory. It will mean considerable sacrifice, increased taxation and so on to provide the funds so necessary to develop the Territory. But this, of course, is a planned operation. It is a continuation of our attitudes over the last 5 years. This has not been stressed before. It is not some brand new scheme. It is a process of continuing political and economic development. The operation has been in progress for 5 years and we are building up the tempo as we go along.
I would like to thank the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope) for their contribution on Norfolk Island. As they say, somehow Norfolk Island is left out of discussions. I agree with them that it is a magnificent resort to visit. I know a lot of members of this House who have visited this most beautiful island. It is becoming a very great tourist attraction. I would like to comment on the criticisms about accommodation. I do not know when the honourable members who were critical of accommodation where last there, but a tremendous improvement has taken place. I think there are about 600 beds available in various hotels, motels and the like, and the standards are such that the accommodation offered suits the pockets of all classes of people. I support the statements about the quality of the fishing. I wish I could go more often to this island because it is a magnificent fishing ground. The honourable member for Hunter and the honourable member for Watson mentioned that tourist operations were hampered because the island did not have a harbour. Norfolk Island is a volcanic island with very steep approaches, and cliffs practically right around the island. We have investigated the possibility of establishing a harbour in this area but this is a very expensive operation; the cost would be around the $lm mark. Even if this money could be found it is rather doubtful whether we could build a satisfactory all weather harbour. However, an operation about to take place at Ball Bay will provide some sort of harbour opportunities. But these would not necessarily be of the permanent nature required for a community such as that at Norfolk Island.
The honourable member for Hunter mentioned that the islanders were not anxious to attract permanent residents. This is very true. The islanders are very concerned to maintain the attractions and beauty of their island. Obviously, if we are to have a much larger population there, we will destroy the very attractions that bring people to the island. The islanders desire to maintain their way of life and the beauty of their island. I believe it is up to this Government to satisfy them in this regard.
I do not think I have anything further to add. Again, I would like to thank honourable members for their contributions. I believe we can look forward to great advancement in the external territories.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Education and Science
Proposed expenditure, $96,529,000.
– I would like to intervene at this stage because I have some information which I had hoped to make available earlier and which could be useful in the consideration of the estimates now before the Committee. Honourable, members will recall that in introducing the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill on 27th March 1968, I provided details of individual government schools in the States assisted with laboratories and independent schools granted assistance in the period from the inception of the scheme on 1st July 1964 to 30th June 1968, within the total amount of $42,291,200 available during that period.
Under the 1968 Act a further $37,721,400 is available over the 3-year period from 1st July 1968 to 30th June 1971. The annual amount of $12,573,800 is divided between government and independent schools as shown in the following table, which with the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard.
As the States use the money available to them for science facilities and apparatus in accordance with generally agreed programmes and provide information about schools actually assisted as planning progresses, I am not yet in a position to provide information about individual government schools selected by the States for new laboratories in the extension of the scheme additional to that contained in the lists which I circulated on 27th March 1968.
For independent schools, a total of $16,008,000 is available from 1st July 1968 to 30th June 1971, at the rate of $3,336,000 each financial year. This total amount of $16,008,000 is currently being allocated to individual schools either in accordance with recommendations of State advisory committees or to meet commitments for the balance of the reasonable cost of science buildings already assisted and to make grants to schools which, before 1st September 1967, have built science laboratories to approved plans but for which they had not received any assistance. In the 2 months from 1st July 1968 to 31st August 1968 I wrote to 508 individual schools allocating about $1 Ira of the $16m available, and in the same period authorised payments totalling $1.85m of the $5,336,000 available in the current financial year. Details of the allocations already made to individual schools in each of the 3 financial years 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71 are given in the lists which I have circulated. I expect that most of the schools still to be informed of allocations in the current triennium will be advised within the next month.
In introducing the present legislation I stated that by June 1971 substantial inroads will be made into the backlog of needs for science facilities in both government and independent schools, but that more would remain to be done. To assist each State Department of Education and independent schools in their forward planning it may be worth stating that it is the Government’s intention at an appropriate time towards the end of the present triennium to introduce legislation proposing a further extension of the scheme beyond 30th June 1971. It is our intention in the extension of the scheme to revise the basis of the allocation of grants among States and among groups of government schools, Roman Catholic independent schools, and independent schools other than Roman Catholic, so that the grants available will be in relation to outstanding needs, which we expect to vary considerably at that time. In addition to completing the present programme we will also seek to continue to make grants towards new needs that will arise from time to time.
Mr Chairman, I would also like to say to the Committee that Cabinet is sitting and 1 will be involved in certain of its discussions. However, I will certainly have notes taken of any comments made while I am not in the chamber. I understand that the consideration of these estimates is likely to continue tomorrow and if 1 am not here later tonight J will certainly seek to answer at an appropriate time any points which may be made and which may require an answer.
– It is a moment of history, in a sense, when the Minister responsible for Commonwealth activities in education has to go to a Cabinet meeting. When I arrived in this place some 13 years ago with a number of others with backgrounds similar to mine, we commenced - T suppose it would be presumptuous to say ‘initiated’ - in debates on the Estimates and such like occasions, a continuous campaign to have the Commonwealth involved in education. We were treated in a rather scoffing way by the high command of the time. I can remember some of the remarks of the Prime Minister of the day, the Rt Hon. Robert Gordon Menzies, about our rather presumptuous and perhaps ill informed attitude to education. He said: ‘It is all right for you to come in here and talk of education; you have been teaching and cannot think of anything else to talk about. But don’t you know that it is all a matter for the States?’ Now we have reached the stage at which the vote of more than $96m for education and science is one of the largest allocations in the Budget and the Minister in charge of education has a Cabinet meeting to attend. If only we had arrived at this point 10 or 12 years ago, it may well be that we would have produced some sort of national plan for education.
I think my principal complaint about activities in education concerns the hit or miss approach, which is perfunctory in some areas, dilatory in others and politically expedient in some. But I have no doubt that once the Commonwealth has placed its foot inside the door it will, as happens in so many other activities, become all pervading. In the long term, no matter how dilatory it may be, it will be to the advantage of Australian education, and I hope the House will pay continuing attention to. the questions on education that come before it.
I think it was in 1945 that the first of the Acts dealing with education was introduced. These Acts launched the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, or parts of it, and the Austraiian National University, and established some general attitudes on education. But the Commonwealth was largely involved in education long before the present portfolio was created. There have always been large Commonwealth educational activities from the Australian National University down to the Lady Gowrie pre-school establishments, the repatriation soldier’s education scheme, some of the in-service training schemes such as we find in the Post Office, and the Services training colleges such as the naval, military and air academies. But the Commonwealth has still to tackle the problems of education in a wholehearted way. I am not sure yet, because I do not think all the evidence has been placed before us, whether the Commonwealth is starting to integrate all its educational and cultural activities. I should think that most of its cultural activities ought to be under the command of this Minister in the long term and I should think that the quicker this is done the better. In a way the Commonwealth has been a reluctant bridegroom in the field of education, but it is gratifying that the Minister ls at least exalted enough, apparently, to have some say in the way the Commonwealth develops its activities.
Australian education needs a planned approach. It needs a Robbins report or some similar investigation. Just recently I received from Tasmania the report of a committee that had been set up to examine education in that State. Australian education needs an inquiry of this sort. It will be the Commonwealth that will have to supply the general staff for Australian education. It is true that all State services are under-staffed. The statistics show that a very small proportion of the amounts allocated for education in State budgets is spent on the administration of the education system. In some ways this is estimable, but it means that the people running the system have no time to spare for thinking and for the philosophy of education. There has been an improvement in the last few years in the opportunities that the leaders in education in the States have to meet with one another; but I am sure that sufficient opportunties of this type still are not being given to the Directors-General, the inspectors, the people who set the salaries and all the others to commune more liberally than they have in the past.
Australian education is a conservative system. I suppose all education is conservative. It is the way we hand on our. mores, mystiques, legends, myths, beliefs and culture, to the next generation. So it will be a self-repeating mechanism. Australian education on the whole is probably as conservative as any other system of education is. However, there are some adventurous spirits in the Australian education system. In a way the approach in New South Wales, with its Wyndham scheme, is adventurous compared with the approach in most Australian States, but we have to tackle the problems of some new areas of education. Recently new aspirations have emerged in education. This does not mean that all the people necessarily want their children to be university graduates, but they all want their children to have a better educational background than they had. This is particularly evidenced in areas such as the electorate that I represent. It is one of the Melbourne industrial areas. Here the statistics show the dramatic change, for instance, in the number of people presenting for matriculation examinations. This is a challenge for the university authorities, the authorities controlling the colleges of advanced education and so on.
Society itself is changing. We have a different system of values now. We live in a more mechanical society - a society that uses a good deal more automatic machinery than did the society in which people of my generation were raised. We live in a society in which we can expect working hours to be reduced. At least, I hope they will be. And we live in a new international environment. We have not really accepted the challenge of this new international environment. I belive that it calls for a completely new approach to Asian, languages. Here and there around Australia Asian languages are being taught in various schools. There is a substantial school of Indonesian studies at the Australian National University here in Canberra. But in most areas of Australia it is difficult to find teachers of these languages and it is difficult to set up a system that will permit Indonesian, for instance, to be taught in Australian schools generally. I would like to see some completely new and adventurous approach to this problem. Language teaching in Australian schools in the past has been very poor. Many of us have spent a good deal of time trying to learn French. French would be useful if we could learn to speak it properly. I suppose the environment is not exactly hostile - it is not favourable either - to the learning of foreign languages. I should think that the average Australian student today would see much more point in learning Indonesian than in learning French. But of course the international environment is not confined only to languages.
In a wealthy community such as ours the Commonwealth must take up the challenge that is presented by the meagre school environment. Many Australian schools are lacking in equipment to the point of being extremely mediocre. The school grounds are poor and poverty stricken. They are confined and asphalted in the metropolitan areas and in country areas they are frequently dreary wastes. Yet this is in a community that has a substantial public investment in, say, swimming pools and football grounds in the locality of the schools. Much of this attitude stems from the failure to get the whole community involved in the schools. This attitude is slowly changing in Victoria and presumably in other States. But it is sad that so much capital investment in school equipment, school grounds and school buildings is left idle once the school closes. Because the community is not involved, these great capital assets in the school are not developed as part of the social environment.
The Commonwealth has unlimited opportunities to expand its interest in education, but I believe it will have to do more than adopt merely a hit or miss approach. That may be unkind in view of the way the way the Department is now operating, but I would like to see a more consistent approach to the way in which we in this Parliament are kept informed of the activities of the Department. We should be told what problems it will tackle next and what suggestions it would like to receive. I believe that we must get the whole community involved in education, but 1 realise that this is a difficult proposition. Last year I convened a meeting in my electorate of the parents of school children. I was astonished at the number of people who turned up one Thursday afternoon. I think 250 people came to the meeting. We expected 40 or 50. But it was also difficult to find out what they were thinking and what they wanted. Parents must be more closely involved in education somewhere along the line and parents must do some of the thinking. The customer must supply some of the ideas; we cannot leave education completely to the professionals. This is part of the challenge that Australian education offers.
One of the problems that the Commonwealth cannot ignore - it is directly a Commonwealth responsibility - is the problem caused in the State systems by the influx of migrants, particularly those from Italy. As I mentioned earlier, I represent the suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg. They are both areas with considerable political perception, as is obvious. Very large numbers of Italians and Greeks, but particularly Italians, reside in this area. The Bureau of Census and Statistics has supplied me with the figures. Some 16,000 Italians and some 6,000 Greeks reside in Brunswick and Coburg. When we look at the problem that this creates for the schools, we find that a large part of the school population is of Italian origin. For instance, in the Brunswick South Primary School the percentage of new Australian children in grade IA is 78; in 1C it is 81; in 2B it is only 56; in 5B it is 84 and in 3A it is 83. The position in the Brunswick Primary School is much the same. In grade 3D it is 90%. This is representative of the whole structure of the school and shows the tremendous problems that schools must meet when they have an influx of new Australian children.
Many of these children are not very literate even in their own language. I will give an example. One child had come from Greece. He had been, in effect, a Greek shepherd boy, but he came here to Australia. He is a well set up lad, aged 13 or 14 years, and he was taken to the local technical school. He was put in a class of children in the same age group. But with his background he would have been reasonable helpless in a Greek environment, because he had been attending school only for a couple of days a week here and there, now and then, and in fact was almost illiterate in his own language. Facilities have not been provided to enable the State authorities to handle such cases. We have to do something special about migrant children. Recently, while in Toronto, I had a word with the Canadian education authorities who sent people here to recruit Australian teachers. One of the facts of which we might take serious note was that the Canadian authorities were overwhelmed with applications from Australian teachers, particularly in Victoria. This is indicative of a great deal of uneasiness among teachers.
The education authorities in Toronto have had similar problems as has Melbourne in relation to Italians. However, they seem to have tackled the problem in a completely different way. 1 was told that they had 188 specially trained teachers to teach Italian children. The children were put into special schools and classes as soon as they arrived in that country. This is not isolation or apartheid or anything else. To fit these children into a new environment is a tremendous task. The children are only part of the problem. The parents have to be considered also. The father goes to work, of course, and he rapidly becomes integrated. One of the reasons why Italian men become so quickly integrated in the community is that they are able and willing to join the trade union movement. But the mothers who have to remain at home are in quite a different situation. The mother is isolated from the community because she speaks no English. She rapidly becomes more isolated from her family because, as her children start to learn English, they begin to ignore their Italian background. Therefore the mother loses the line of communication with them. It is not easy for these people. They are not out-going so far as society is concerned. I believe that we have a duty to them in the education field. I do not think the Commonwealth Government can ignore its duties in this respect because, after all, it has sponsored the migration scheme. Tn next year’s Estimates I would like to see more money provided for this aspect of education.
There are a few other points I would like to make to the Government because of its new role as the Father Christmas of Australian primary, secondary and tertiary education. As I think I mentioned earlier, the Commonwealth Government has to be the general staff of Australian education because only the Commonwealth can produce the necessary finance and other skills that are necessary to launch a substantial educational research programme. I think that in Canberra the Commonwealth Government has the opportunity to establish new principles. Australian education is conservative. In State schools the authorities are likely to avoid controversial matters.
I believe our education system is likely to become examination ridden. For instance, in the Canberra community it ought to be possible to abolish external examinations for admission to the Australian National University. This is a highly integrated community and highly professional staff is available. Canberra has nearly all the skills necessary to develop a new approach to entrance to universities, to the advanced college of education and to the other types of education provided in this city. In Canberra no constitutional challenges face the education authorities. Here we do not have to crawl to any Premier about our rights to do this or that. I only hope that the new found interest in education on the part of the Commonwealth Government does not stop at appointing a Minister for Education and Science, a Department of Education and Science and a substantial national investment every year but that some sort of outgoing approach will be adopted towards the whole philosophy and structure of the Australian educational system.
– I always like listening to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). He thinks such a lot about Brunswick and Coburg and about the industrial area he represents that it makes me wonder why he does not live in that electorate. Why does he choose to live in Greensborough which is in the electorate of the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman)? Undoubtedly it is because the honourable member for Deakin is a progressive member. The honourable member for Wills always manages to say something disparaging about somebody. Tonight he chose the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and suggested that he was at present attending a Cabinet meeting.
– I said I was grateful for the fact that he was attending a Cabinet meeting.
– No doubt the Minister is attending the Cabinet meeting in order to put forward further progressive ideas involving his portfolio. I disagree with the view of the honourable member for Wills that with respect to education the Commonwealth Government is a reluctant bridegroom. I want to devote a little time to emphasising the progress made within the Department to meet the growing demands in all fields of education. The accent on better education is becoming more evident each year and the Commonwealth Government, in consultation with the State governments and advisory councils associated with independent schools, has taken an increasing interest in this matter.
The Commonwealth has recognised the need to maintain a policy of co-operation with interested bodies about increased Commonwealth assistance to various levels of education. Any attempt to exert a unilateral influence in this field would result in resentment on the part of the State governments and would not be in the best interests of the advance of Australian education. 1 believe a great impact has been made by the science laboratories grants provided by the Commonwealth. In the short space of 4 years since the inception of the scheme $42.3m has been provided for the construction and equipping of science laboratories in secondary schools. Of that sum, $29m was specifically granted for government schools. The result of this is that the States were able to select 383 high schools to receive this grant, and all of them can now boast about having modern science laboratories. This scheme of assistance for science laboratories in government and independent schools has been extended for a further 3 years at a cost of $12.6m a year. Similar aid for technical colleges for science purposes has been granted at a cost of $10m a year for a similar 3-year period.
Apart from these benefits, additional apparatus has been supplied to all State schools equipped to teach science. Additional science teaching apparatus has also been supplied to 508 independent schools at a cost of $13.3m. From July this year the Commonwealth has allocated a further sum of $2 1.7m to assist science teaching in government schools and $16m for independent schools. These sums are for the next triennium. This will substantially help to meet the science teaching requirements of these schools. The scheme has had a great impact in recent years and, in my electorate, gratitude has been expressed by school teachers at the fact that they now have more up to date equipment, which is essential for the effective instruction of their students.
The number of Commonwealth scholarships has been steadily increased to provide added opportunities for students. This year the Commonwealth Government has increased the number of university scholarships by 1,500 to 7,500 a year. The number of scholarships at colleges of advanced education has been increased by 500 to about 1,500 a year. These scholarships will become available at the beginning of 1969. In addition, a direct contribution has been made to assist in the development of preschool education. The Government has allocated $2. 5m for pre-school teachers colleges throughout Australia in order to increase their capacity. This is an entirely new field of activity for the Commonwealth; this step clearly establishes that this Government recognises the importance of pre-school teaching. No doubt this step is the foundation for further recognition !in the future. Apart from this, a new policy has been established for the provision of libraries in government and non-government schools. For this purpose, $27m has been allocated for a 3-year period.
Total expenditure on education by the Commonwealth this year is $2l0.5m, representing an increase of 19% on that of last year. This has been the result of careful consideration b.y the Commonwealth, in close co-operation with the State governments and other bodies interested in education. The progress in education since the establishment of the Department of Education and Science cannot be over-stressed. The Government spent $67. 5m on education in 1963-64 and the figure for this year, as I indicated, is $2 10.5m, representing an increase of 211% in 5 years. During the last 10 years the State governments have increased their collective contribution from $286m to just over $700m. This illustrates that the Commonwealth is aware of the importance of education as part of the overall welfare of Australia. Education is one of the most important aspects that confront this Government. In a world of highly developed technology, where trades and professions have reached a highly sophisticated level, education must be given a very high priority. I claim that the Government has recognised this need in the current Estimates. However, I would like to direct the Minister’s attention to two or three aspects that I feel should be given further consideration.
The Minister has repeatedly stated that the Commonwealth’s interest in education must have the support of the States and that it is his wish that such co-operation should continue. He has indicated that he is ready and willing, to consider any worthy approaches made to him by State Ministers. He has attended their regular meetings and his officers have acted in close liaison with their State counterparts. 1 believe that a seminar on educational planning is now being held in Canberra, attended by leading educationists from all over the country. I am sure that the departmental officers attending the seminar will obtain valuable information about future educational planning. The co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth has improved Commonwealth and State relations and must continue to do so. It has resulted in a continual exchange of ideas associated with the various problems faced by the States and the organisations concerned with education in the States. The Minister has also expressed his wish and that of his Department that dialogue between the States and all those concerned with education in Australia should be maintained. This dialogue should be two way, and I feel that the Government should be in a position to submit suggestions to the States for their consideration at the Tegular meetings of State Ministers.
This Government should seriously consider making additional grants to the States in order to provide for the establishment of language laboratories. These would be of great value to Australian students. Particular encouragement should be given to the study of Asian languages, which are becoming of increasing significance to Australia and are a major factor in international matters affecting trade, politics, etc. An investment in this type of project would bear fruit in the long term. I am sure that the South Australian Minister for Education would welcome such assistance, as I noticed in a recent Press report that language classes are to be commenced in South Australia, teaching French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Russian and Malay on Saturday mornings. This scheme is designed primarily to give secondary school children the opportunity to study modern languages. I believe that adults also are showing an interest in the courses and will be allowed to join the classes. It could well be that this scheme will grow considerably. The Commonwealth should give serious thought to helping such projects.
Another important aspect of education is the need for teachers to be given the opportunity of undertaking refresher courses at regular intervals. This is a field in which the Commonwealth could assist with finance so that the efficiency of teaching staff may be maintained. Only today I read in the Canberra Times’ that a survey in Victoria shows that teachers have low qualifications. The article reads:
A survey published today by the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association revealed that the percentage of university graduates in State secondary schools had fallen to 39 per cent of all staff employed.
Postgraduate courses of the kind I have suggested could help to improve the situation. There is no doubt that after a few years of teaching, such post-graduate courses would be of great value and would have a revitalising effect on the enthusiasm of teachers, resulting inevitably in increased efficiency.
Consideration should be given to providing scholarships to enable teachers to study overseas for limited periods. Such a scheme would afford teachers an opportunity to study at first hand the teaching methods of other countries. This in itself would undoubtedly help further to develop our teaching methods. These opportunities could be provided by means of scholarships or perhaps by the establishment of a teacher exchange scheme between countries of similar educational standards. Tonight we heard the Minister foreshadow even further plans to help the States with grants to independent schools for science laboratories and so on.
On Monday last I visited the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s wool textile research laboratory at Geelong. The visit was organised by the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) and the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King). With other members of the Government members wool committee I inspected this very progressive laboratory. I was thoroughly impressed with the efficiency of Dr Lipson, Chief of the Division of Textile Industry, and his staff. We were shown experiments being conducted in technology concerned with the spray dying of wool. We were interested to see also methods of continuous dying of wool. These experiments will have a great influence in the future on the sale of wool fabrics. The processes have not been perfected but they are almost at the stage of being commercial propositions. I noticed also experiments being conducted in shrink proofing of wool fabrics. When perfected this process will enable woollen garments to be washed in a washing machine and should increase the sale of woollen fabrics. Experiments are being conducted to prevent yellowing of wool exposed to sunlight. Success in this venture will be a progressive step for the wool industry.
All too often experiments such as these are carried out only at a laboratory level, but at Geelong it is obvious that the experiments are being carried out at the laboratory level and at a commercial level. I was interested also in the jet scouring process that has been developed. This process is quicker, cheaper and less damaging to the wool, and it, too, is being carried out at a commercial level. All credit is due to the CSIRO for the very progressive laboratory that it has established at Geelong. I am confident that the Government is aware of the need for further development in the field of education. I am sure that in the future we will see even greater progress in the Department of Education and Science. I have pleasure in supporting the estimates.
– There is a dearth of emphasis in this country today, particularly in the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science, on the things that are of concern to our young people. They have the right to learn about the world in ways which are denied to them in their school courses. An interesting report in the ‘Australian’ of 16th August this year reads:
The secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science, Sir Hugh Ennor, said last night there was a lack of emphasis on the social sciences in Australia’s secondary education.
This is only one of the things lacking in our education programmes. The report continues:
Each year, schools sent more than 200,000 pupils into a society preoccupied with international affairs, social problems, automation and other issues. Sir Hugh said: ‘We have done so for many years without making a serious effort to provide these people with the knowledge and background to make the contribution which is not only their responsibility but also, and perhaps more importantly, their right.
In the past 25 years there has been a very remarkable change in the attitude of the younger generation. They were determined to take up a stance different or independent from their elders. They were critical and cynical about longaccepted beliefs . . .
The Government seems to be frightened of this development. It seems to think that there is some evil in this new attitude of the younger generation to change things - to be impatient. The report continues:
The question was not whether governments should provide the type and quality of education which would enable the young of tomorrow to cope with the massive problems which inevitably faced them.
It was how this could be done and how quickly.
Sir Hugh said:
Our children must have the opportunity of understanding the society of which they are members.
They should leave school with some knowledge and some understanding of political and economic problems and processes at both the national and international levels - the character of social institutions and the way these work.
They must be aware of the need for change and … the forces within society about which they, as citizens, will have to form opinions.
The article continues:
Sir Hugh said Australian attitudes had had to change rapidly on social life, international relations, immigration, development of natural resources, industrial relations, education and many other issues.
He said: ‘If we are to understand the people to our north in the way we understand the peoples of Europe we must have some idea of their history, religion, philosophy, culture and geography.’
I am glad that the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) emphasised the need for teaching Asian languages, lt is scandalous that in Queensland no Asian language except Japanese is available in any public educational institution. There is a need for an overhaul of the basic concepts which make up our educational authorities. An editorial in the ‘Australian’ on 5th’ September this year comments:
The distortions of the learning process caused by a heavy orientation towards examinations has long been recognised by the more enlightened educators throughout the world . . .
Its real basis seems to be that’ as a community we do not trust the professional abilities and responsibilities of teachers. There must be that supposed ‘proof of attainment in their students. Yet if teachers are not aware of the progress a student has made and cannot be allowed to judge whether he or she is ready for the next stage of learning this must be the worst possible indictment of the whole system.
The most promising developments are in Victoria where the so-called Class A high schools not only set and mark their own examinations … but are also allowed to design their own curriculums . . . They have the choice of . . . end-of-year examinations for relying on the assessment of teachers. The same type of approach operates in sections of the Victorian technical education system . . .
The editorial states that tests are being made in Canberra, Western Australia and Tasmania this year of new selection techniques for universities. It continues:
An examination will still be involved, but it has been designed by the Australian Council for Educational Research along the lines used for Commonwealth secondary scholarship selection and will not have a prescribed syllabus.
This type of selection should be investigated at the Federal level, in conjunction with State authorities, with a view to doing away with the cramming and torture to which we subject young minds. Instead of encouraging our young people, instead of drawing them out, as the word ‘education’ means, we are force-feeding them and are giving priority to the successful crammers, not to the able. There have been criticisms of governments, particularly of the Federal Government, from all sorts of educational authorities in relation to technical education. The first annual conference of the Technical Teachers Association of Victoria unanimously carried this resolution:
I would point out that this is not the policy of the Australian Labor Party. Our policy is exactly as put forward in part (1) of that resolution - that is, that a full statement should be obtained from all schools, that an annual investigation should be made into the needs of all types of schools, and that we should not increase funds to any class of school in a higgledy-piggledy, hotch-potch and piecemeal manner without this full investigation of the needs and financial status of state and non-state schools. The Queensland Teachers Union sent an open letter to the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on behalf of its 10,000 members, recording its bitter disappointment at the rebuff education in that State has once again received at the hands of the Federal Government. The letter reads:
The 1968-69 Federal Budget, described widely as a ‘stay-put’ Budget, is more a ‘lag-behind’ Budget as far as the ailing Queensland education system is concerned.
What extras has the budget promised in the way of education? $27m over 3 years for libraries in schools, $2.5m for pre-school education, and an extra 2,500 Commonwealth tertiary scholarships. What a laughable effort, compared with the mammoth sums being poured into defence.
Education is the basis of our defence. The letter continues:
Many Queensland State schools use actual class- ‘ rooms as libraries;
Queensland’s expenditure on pre-school education is the lowest in Australia;
Queensland has only one pre-school teacher training centre, and this accommodates only 180 students. . . our per-capita spending on education in general is still by far the lowest in Australia, our teachers work under the most degrading conditions, equipment is virtually non-existent in many schools and school buildings, on the whole, are the most antiquated and dilapidated in the country.
I can confirm this in my own electorate. The buildings being pulled down and replaced by banks are palaces compared with the schools in the same townships. The letter further continues: . . in the last financial year, grants to all States were increased by 2.91% on 1961 figures, while Queensland grants increased only by 2.78%. . . while Queensland export revenue per head in 1966 was the highest in Australia, our tax reimbursements were the lowest. the amount the State has spent on subsidising schools since 1961 has dropped by some 22%.
Another letter, from the Queensland Teachers Union to the State Treasurer and the State Minister for Education, sets out in a lot more detail the terrible plight of the Queensland Education Department. A letter from the Teachers College, Sydney, to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and others on 20th August 1968 reads:
We, the undersigned members of the staff of this college wish to draw your attention to our serious concern about the present state of teacher education within Australia. . . . . . Commonwealth Governments have consistently declined to announce . . . direct financial support foi teacher education . . . they have not acted … to plan and promote systems of high quality teacher education, which would lead to teaching becoming a wholly graduate profession - surely a correct and practicable goal … in this, the second half of the twentieth century.
One result of this outlook is seen in their plans, both for the inclusion of a College of Education within the Canberra College of Advanced Education and for the proposed organisation of that College. Mere is an opportunity to create an ideal prototype. . . . But apparently what is planned is an institution providing 3-year diploma courses mainly for infants, primary and junior secondary teachers. Such planning implies that to teach in an infant or a primary school requires a less specialised preparation than to teach in a secondary school. . . . Junior secondary teachers, inferior substitutes for graduate teachers, were introduced as a temporary measure in a time of acute graduate shortage. They should have disappeared long since, but still continue in existence.
I have before me also a booklet issued by the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations and titled ‘Report on Research in Universities’. It contains a list of recommendations to the Commonwealth Government. The first recommendation is for the appointment of a Science Advisory Council, at least one member of which should be an economist and another member a social scientist concerned with the social implications of technological change. The second recommendation is that the Commonwealth Government establish the Australian Research Grants Committee on a permanent basis. The recommendations continue:
We are short of research workers and this is the minimum we can offer them. The fourth recommendation is:
That the total number of Government-funded post-doctoral fellowships . . . should be increased to bring the ratio of post-doctoral to predoctoral research workers in universities to about 1 to 5.
Then the recommendations go on:
Other recommendations then follow. What do we hear about recomendations such as these in this Parliament? What is done about them? The general attitude to education seems to be that it is something we can prune, that it is not urgent, that it is not necessary just now, that there are more pressing needs and that we can drop matters concerned with education until a later time. This is the attitude of the ostrich with its head in the sand. This is the very way in which we will become a poor nation and will then have to keep pruning. If we are going to spend our money on consumer goods, practical immediate needs, we will never build the great nation that our Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and others in the Cabinet are so fond of telling us we will become. You cannot build a great nation on second class brains.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said that when he came into this Parliament education was a Cinderella, that it was regarded as a State matter. He pointed out that now we have the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) as a member of the Cabinet. We know that the honourable member for Wills came to this Parliament not very long after the Labor Government had gone out of office. In the intervening years we have seen, as my friend and colleague the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) has pointed out, great advances made by the LiberalCountry Party Government in education.
At the time of federation the various States retained education as a State function because they were anxious to hand over only the minimum of powers to the Commonwealth. In the post-war years it became apparent that education could not be left wholly to the States and that the Commonwealth must give some assistance in this field. No doubt history will record as one of the most memorable of the Menzies Government’s many achievements its assistance to education, and in particular the great leap forward that was made in the expansion of universities during this period. When the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was Minister for Education and Science we saw the introduction of the highly successful scheme under which the Commonwealth Government provided $80m in unmatched grants for school science blocks. This was part of the Commonwealth programme directed towards improving the quality of Australian education for all pupils irrespective of whether they attend government or non-government schools.
The Government has made provision in this year’s Budget to extend its assistance in education in four major ways, for school libraries, for pre-school teachers’ colleges, for curriculum development and for an expansion of Commonwealth tertiary scholarships. In May this year during Australian Library Week the Australian Library Week Council published a book titled School Libraries - A Report to the Nation’. In a preface to this book Dulcie Stretton, who is Chairman of the Australian Library Week Council, stated:
Id choosing school libraries as the aTea for its first year’s activities, my Council has correctly identified the area of greatest immediate need.
She went on to say:
School library provision at primary and secondary level in Australia lags far behind that of other developed countries.
In a foreword to the same publication Ernest Roe, Professor of Education at the University of Papua-New Guinea, said:
The moves toward a better education will slow and stop if school libraries stay as irrelevant as they are, and financed as inadequately as they are.
This book sets out very clearly the need for good and efficient libraries in schools, and states that the most significant and effective aid to the greatest number of students would be the extension and improvement of school library services and resources. This report is a clear vindication of the grant of $27m which the Government has announced in its Budget for the development of school libraries in Government and independent secondary schools throughout Australia. It is hardly necessary to state, Sir, that the school library is playing an increasingly important role in the educational process in schools today. The concern of the library is with the whole of education, and with the potential of every student. In providing children with the tools and materials of research the library makes of every pupil an explorer in his own right.
I believe that the importance of the school library cannot be over-emphasised. But the fact remains that school libraries have been unsatisfactory in the past and this must naturally have interfered with teaching and the learning processes of pupils. Under present arrangements in most States there is little, if any, expenditure on books for school libraries unless parents take the initiative, and although the purchase of school library books from parents’ funds usually attracts a State subsidy, it has in practice been impossible to provide adequate libraries from the pockets of parents.
Under the proposals in this year’s Budget the Commonwealth Government has accepted a responsibility for the provision of libraries. But the policy of the Government is not to act in isolation. Education is a co-operative venture and new projects by the Government are undertaken only in consultation with the various organisations concerned. The Minister has intimated that he will appoint a committee to advise him on the conditions and standards necessary for the effective development of the Commonwealth programme, and I commend him on this approach. As with the science blocks scheme, State Departments of Education will determine priorities and allocations for Government schools. A committee will service Roman Catholic schools and another committee will function for other independent or church schools.
But the Commonwealth programme outlined in this year’s Budget does not stop with the provision of libraries. It will also encourage colleges of advanced education to conduct suitable courses of training for school librarians and win, in addition, make available advanced education scholarships for those wishing to take these courses.
An important feature of the library programme is that, as with the science blocks scheme, the independent and church schools will share in the programme with Government schools. I realise that the Australian Labor Party is still squabbling about whether or not it would obtain any political mileage by supporting aid to independent schools. There are also many people, some of them unfortunately biassed on religious grounds, who still oppose assistance to independent and church schools. The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) gave the case of these people some emphasis in his speech, while at the same time denying that the Labor Party endorsed their policy. The Government believes that assistance to independent schools is based on sound principles. It is also sound economics from the point of view of the taxpayer.
I have a friend of the Roman Catholic faith who lives in my electorate. He has eleven children, all good young Australians. All these children save one are being educated in both the primary and secondary school system operated by the Roman Catholic church. Imagine what this one man has saved the Government and the taxpayer by educating his children in an independent school. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, his youngest child has been unable to enrol in the local Catholic school because the school, through lack of funds, cannot accommodate any more pupils. Consequently this child is attending the local State school. On figures given by the Victorian Minister for Education, the cost of educating this child in a State school will be over $200 per annum while he remains in a primary school and $350 per annum when he becomes a secondary school pupil. Two other children in the family are, at the same time, attending the local Catholic school, and these children will cost the taxpayer only $10 each per annum in the State Government per capita grant. So here we have from the one family children attending a Roman Catholic school and costing the taxpayer $10 a year and another child attending a State school and costing the taxpayer $200 a year. The total saving to the Government by this family educating children in independent schools would be in the vicinity of $2,000 a child over its school life - a total of $22,000 for the whole family. Imagine the cost to the taxpayers if all or even half of the 595,000 pupils throughout Australia at present attending independent schools were to be forced to attend government schools.
If the non-State school system should collapse through lack of finance and all children were to attend State schools the State would be confronted with an almost impossible building programme to provide accommodation for the children’ now attending independent schools. In addition, there would be a need for a greatly increased annual budget to provide for the operation of the enlarged number of schools. All of this additional expenditure would, at best, maintain only present standards, whereas it is the aim of this Government to improve the standards of education throughout the Commonwealth. With the science block scheme, the library scheme, the scheme for training pre-school teachers, together with the grants for teacher training colleges and secondary school scholarships, the Commonwealth has now covered most areas of indirect educational aid. However, if the dual system of education is to be kept in operation, new forms of assistance to independent schools will need to be worked out in the future. In my maiden speech in this House about 18 months ago I outlined the difficulties facing independent and church schools and suggested that Federal grants to nongovernment schools on the basis of the number of pupils or the number of teachers must come if we are to prevent the eventual collapse of the dual system of education in Australia. Since that time, most State governments have given some assistance on this basis - in Victoria it is $10 per pupil per year - but what the State governments can do is limited by their lack of available finance. I would like to see the Commonwealth match these State grants.
As I have instanced with the case of my constituent, there is an enforced drift of non-government pupils to government schools and this drift is placing a greater strain on the Slate school system. The Government, over the past few years, has done much to improve the quality of education in Australia in both government and non-government schools. The Budget this year has provided a $27m school libraries programme; a $2.5m programme for training pre-school teachers; and additional postgraduate, university and advanced education awards costing $1m initially and extending to $4.8m when in full operation. In addition, $150,000 a year over 5 years will be available for curriculum development, and new measures of assistance are being provided for independent schools in the Australian Capital Territroy and the Northern Territory. These measures will do much to improve education in Australia, but if we are to save the independent system of education from crumbling away more will require to be done in the future.
With rising costs, the day to day running expenses of independent schools are getting out of hand. The ability of parents, most of them ordinary working people, to pay higher fees is strained in many cases almost to breaking point. The claim of Opposition members that people who send their children to independent schools are wealthy and can afford to pay, shows just how little they really know. The Liberal Party does not believe in nationalisation. It does not believe in nationalisation of banks, it does not believe in nationalised airlines and it does not believe in nationalised education. We believe that people in Australia should be free to send their children to whichever school they wish, provided it conforms to laid down standards, and we believe that they, as taxpayers, should not have to bear the whole burden of the education of their children without some assistance from the Government.
It is sound economics from the Government’s point of view to give some assistance to the independent system rather than to have to meet the total cost of educating these children if the independent system should break down. Based on costs which, as I stated earlier, were given by the Victorian Minister for Education, if the 595,000 children at present attending independent schools throughout Australia were to be forced to attend State schools, the added cost to the Government in day to day expenses alone would bc something like $l80m per year. This would place a very heavy burden on the Australian taxpayer. I commend the Minister for the measures brought forward in this year’s Budget and express the hope that the Government will, as soon as finance permits, institute a scheme of per capita grants which will prevent the deterioration or collapse of the dual system of education which has worked so well in the past.
– We have just listened to a very interesting speech by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). I congratulate him on the ease with which he quotes, as authoritative, statements on behalf of the Opposition. I suggest that if at any time he wishes to speak on behalf of the Opposition he should come over here and do so. If, on the other hand, he professes to speak on behalf of the Opposition it would be courteous of him to say that he is putting his own interpretations on what he thinks the Opposition’s policies are, because those interpretations obviously are guided for political purposes.
– The Opposition speaks with many voices.
– Yes, and the Government does too. This is not unusual. There are many members of this Parliament and my own belief is that every member of this Parliament is here to represent certain interests, namely, the interests of the electors who sent him here. If any member of the Government believes that he has a responsibility to make stereotyped speeches on lines that are predetermined by either the leaders or the planners of his party, then that member is not fit to be representing anyone.
– What about the newspapers?
– I know of honourable members who read quotations from newspapers in order to emphasise their arguments. This is not an unusual practice and there is nothing wrong with it provided the member agrees with the sentiments in the quotation and does not use quotations with which he disagrees.
– I do not get that.
– The fact that the honourable member does not get it proves the need for more Government involvement. Whether or not the Commonwealth is sufficiently involved in the field of education is not a matter of State rights or State responsibilities. The Commonwealth Government by its election promises for the 1963 Federal election, clearly entered the field of general education. Prior to that it had been actively in the field of tertiary education but at the 1963 election it entered the general education field, lt reversed the previously stated, policy of the Government on non-involvement in order to avoid overstepping what the then Prime Minister said were State rights. Once the Commonwealth entered this field it had not only to accept responsibility for those things it proposed but also to accept its share of the responsibility for the weaknesses and defects in the general education structure of the country. To date, the Commonwealth’s direct involvement in education is, for practical purposes, almost limited to the two schemes concerning the provision of science blocks and libraries. Both of these schemes were the direct result of the election promises. The science blocks scheme was introduced in the 1963 general election campaign, when the Government felt that it needed something extra in order to push it over the hill to victory. The library scheme appeared in the Senate election campaign last year. Again the Government had certain difficulties which it wished to overcome.
– The library scheme was announced in the Budget.
– lt was announced at the time of the Senate election last year, and if the honourable member for Deakin reads the Budget speech be will see that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said that. It would be a good idea if he read it. He would be able to judge whether the education system has advanced as far at that. I should like to quote very briefly one sentence which appeared in a report to the Victorian Parliament in 1900. It had come from a report of the Education Commissioners in Great Britain which was presented in 1884, but the words are still very full of meaning. The report states:
National greatness cannot be built on the labour of half developed ill laught children.
In Australia at any time this century a child of wealthy parents could without difficulty acquire the maximum level of education which it was able to absorb. This fact is indisputable. But 1 believe that the statement I have just quoted should provide the main criteria for a national education policy. Clearly it is the States’ responsibility to administer the education system. 1 believe that the Commonwealth’s responsibility is to ensure that every child has the opportunity to obtain that level of education which it has a capacity to absorb, and no less.
Both of the men who have occupied the position of Minister for Education and Science have had education which would fit into the former proposition which 1 put, that is those who at any time this century could have obtained an education. Through no fault of their own, they lack experience in the State education system. They lack personal experience of having their children battle their way through school. So it would be more difficult for them than for honourable members in other circumstances to understand the problems. There are approximately 3 million persons in Australia in the age group from which our students are drawn. Of the parents of those children, approximately 1 million would have had no secondary education whatsoever and approximately 300,000 would have failed to complete their secondary education. Because of the lack of cultural background and the lack of parental education these children start their schooling with an extreme disadvantage - a disadvantage which they cannot overcome without great assistance or great ability. Great ability will always prevail provided it is coupled with the necessary drive and ambition which fortunately a lot of people possess.
But lack of parental assistance in the education system is one of the reasons why it is possible for all students at one of our great public schools, who sat for a Commonwealth scholarship, to obtain that scholarship, whereas in rural Catholic schools, in rural State schools and in State schools in the inner metropolitan areas of our major cities, a percentage of students is unable to obtain Commonwealth scholarships because of the nature of the examination. I am not criticising the basis of the examinations or anything like that, but I am criticising the fact that these children have not been elevated in their cultural levels to the extent that they are capable of passing these examinations. Most of the children in need of Commonwealth scholarships quite often are least prepared to obtain them.
A lot of our schools are antiquated in design and are no longer suitable for the teaching of subjects in circumstances which education authorities and educators would deem desirable. A lot of schools, both in the older and inner areas, now lack the playing and recreation areas which they should have had if the planning of the State authorities had been better and more long sighted. We have the situation in inner Melbourne where 400 to SOO children are lumped together into a school which has about sufficient playing area to enable the students to stand up. Also, ancient buildings will continue to be used for education indefinitely, because no-one has the necessary finance to replace them. This is an area into which I believe this Government could well enter with a great deal of reward for those persons seeking an education. This Government could provide assistance for the re-establishment of the older schools in the metropolitan areas and also for the equipping of new schools. On almost every occasion a new high school in Victoria commences in temporary premises. The parents have the responsibility to provide all of the equipment for most of the educational facilities which are now needed in order to provide an adequate education.
The first group of children who go into a school start their education at a distinct advantage, and because it takes a number of years for the necessary equipment to be accumulated in a school it is quite possible that these children could carry this disadvantage with them right through their schooling. It is a disadvantage which even for a short period hinders the education of a child in such a way that it can never catch up.
I will refer to one school which recently opened in my electorate, and no doubt this has happened in other electorates. I refer to the provision of a simple thing such as a telephone. The school was completed in August of one year, but the installation of a telephone was delayed until the next year because it was necessary for the parents to lay a line across the school yard. The Public Works Department did not do the job because it was the responsibility of the parents’ committee, but there was no parents’ committee until the school actually started to operate. This is a simple matter. It is something which the Commonwealth could do if it so desired. The fact was that this primary school opened without a telephone because, under the policies of the State Government, it was necessary for the parents to dig the hole and put down the galvanised pipes through which to run the wires. I think that this is wrong, and it is something that could well be considered.
The cost of keeping a child at school is an economic burden which most parents, or a lot of parents in the low income groups cannot possibly meet. The book costs of a first form child in a high school today run to approximately SI 4 a year, and in fifth form this amount is doubled to about $33, depending on the subjects. Composite fees and so on add another §20 to $25 to the cost of education whilst recreation, excursions, lunches and so on may add anything up to another $100. If the parents are in the lower income group it is extremely difficult to keep a child at school. To keep more than one child at school is practically impossible. The usual result is that if parents have a boy and a girl going to school the girl stops going to school. It may be that the child who stops going to school has a great deal of ability.
I believe that a great deal more should be done to ensure that those children who have the capacity for education but who, unfortunately, do not have parents who are economically capable of keeping them at school are assisted by the Government. I feel that there are many things that could be done by the Government. In the short time available to me I will mention one or two of them. I feel that the Treasurer should bring down legislation to remove sales tax from school requisites. I believe that some assistance with text books should be given to the children of people on low incomes, especially those in receipt of invalid pensions, sickness benefits and so on. I also feel that the student allowance that is paid by the Government should be increased to a more realistic figure. In some cases the changeover from child endowment to the student allowance actually costs parents money. In conclusion, I wish to quote from the report that I referred to earlier that was presented to the Victorian Parliament in 1900. The report reads:
If the diffusion of prosperity and comfort among the masses of our population be a fact, it cannot be essential to deprive our children of the opportunity for Culture and Improvement.
Perhaps the words can be altered today but the facts cannot. Without equal opportunity, no matter-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Government and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on the progress that has been made in education over recent years.
– They had to be driven to it.
– The honourable member says that the Government had to be driven to it. Actually, this Government has led the way and the Opposition has very reluctantly followed. The Government led the way in aid to independent schools. One honourable member referred earlier to a reluctant bridegroom. There could be nothing more reluctant than the way the Opposition has followed many of the excellent moves that have been made by the Government in the field of education. I believe that there is a great and growing need for improved education in the community.
Despite what has been done in this field, the Government cannot afford to rest on its laurels. The aim of an education policy should be to develop to the full the skills that each student possesses so that succeeding generations can face life as fully equipped as possible.
I think that it was the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who said that the Government’s efforts have been limited almost to science blocks and libraries and that these efforts had been made only because elections were pending. That shows how biased he is because in addition to the Government’s efforts in that direction, in addition to all the work that it has carried out in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, its payments to the States include assistance in respect of universities, colleges of advanced education, technical training facilities, teacher training colleges, pre-school teacher colleges, research, Commonwealth scholarships, post graduate scholarships at universities, advanced education scholarships, the soldiers’ children education scheme and so on. This certainly shows up the biased nature of the criticism that has been levelled at the Government by honourable members opposite. Of course we have come to expect that. Criticism is a good thing if it is constructive, but criticism along those lines does not do much good at all; it is too far away from the actual facts to be worthwhile.
The Commonwealth is entering into the field of education to an ever increasing degree. It has shown its willingness to take a practical interest in education. It has shown its willingness to accept the responsibilities that I feel it should be accepting. There is probably no way in which this could be more clearly demonstrated than by taking a look at direct Commonwealth expenditure on education over recent times. This expenditure has increased from $176,588,000 in 1967-68 to $210,575,000 this financial year. That is a considerable increase. But probably more impressive is the increase that has occurred since 1963-64. The Commonwealth’s expenditure then was $67,648,000. It is now three times that figure. That is certainly a fine record of achievement by the Government in the field of education. It is true, of course, that the States have contributed very generously, too. The greater part of government expenditure on education is carried by the
States. But if receipts from business undertakings are excluded, the States spend onethird of their revenue on education whilst Commonwealth grants provide more than half of these revenues so that directly as well as indirectly the Commonwealth is making a large contribution towards the cost of education in Australia. The Commonwealth will continue to do this. It will continue to co-operate with the States and other education authorities to develop and improve the facilities and opportunities in education for Australian children.
I would like to touch on the excellent work that has been done in the field of scholarships. Commonwealth scholarships have been reviewed and it has been decided to increase the number of open entrance university scholarships by no less than 1,500, to 7,500. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to advance their education into higher fields. If it had not been for these scholarships many students would not have been able to continue their education. The number of scholarships to colleges of advanced education has been increased by no less than 500 to 1,500, which is an increase of 50% on last year. The number of post graduate awards will be increased from 500 to 650. All these new scholarships will become available from the beginning of the 1969 academic year. I feel that the Commonwealth has a very fine record in this regard.
Time does not permit me to elaborate on the Commonwealth’s many fine achievements in the field of education, but I wish to touch briefly on science laboratories. Science laboratories and technical training programmes, which are now in their fifth year, have proved very successful. The Government is fulfilling the assurance it gave to establish a separate programme for libraries in government and nongovernment. secondary schools throughout Australia. For approved capital projects under this new programme it is proposed that a sum of $27m be made available to the States over a 3-year period.
– It is not enough.
– It may not be enough, but it is a lot more than many other governments have given in the past and it is a lot more than the Opposition would be inclined to give. It is to the credit of the Government that it has adopted this new project. I refer now to the independent schools. I wish to pay a tribute to the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) for the way in which he spoke on this subject. It is true that unless assistance is given to independent schools the dual system of education will disappear. This dual system has proved very valuable and there is greater recognition of its worth. In fact, even the Opposition has recognised the need for the system and is willing to follow the lead that the Government has set with its education policy.
But the honourable member for Deakin; taking the Victorian figures, said that the saving in cost to the Victorian people was the difference between $10 and $200. This is a tremendous saving. It is certainly worth while for all the governments of this country to try to maintain these schools if only from an economic point of view. But there is another angle than has not been mentioned - the number of teachers that are provided by these schools. Teachers are one of the great needs today. It has been pointed out that we have to have a greater number of teachers than we have. Even if the classrooms were crowded at times, it would be much better if we had greater room for our children in schools. But it is even more important that we have a sufficient number of classified teachers to teach these children. Independent schools are not only providing accommodation and the means by which these children are being educated, but also are providing the teachers to educate them. From these schools many teachers enter the State education system. So there is a great need for assistance to independent schools if we are to see these schools maintained in our overall education system. I pay a tribute to what independent schools have done. I believe that they have been working under tremendous difficulties in recent years. Anyone who has taken the trouble to read the newspapers will see cases where parents of these children have met to consider these problems. This is a clear demonstration of the desperate position into which these schools are falling. I believe the Government will have to take some notice of this or face up to the fact that there will be a collapse of independent schools, particularly primary schools. I think this would be a very backward step in the education system of this country. 1 believe it is a good idea to have alternative opportunities.
When looking at the matter of aid to independent schools, I would like to mention those organisations which, by the provision of hostels, have contributed to children receiving an education. Not long ago I made a very earnest appeal to the Minister for Education and Science, who is at the table, to give assistance to the Anglican community at Charleville to help them to maintain the hostel that they provided there so splendidly. They asked for no assistance during the time of ordinary prosperity in the district and did a wonderful job for the children in that area by providing hostel accommodation. This has saved many people the cost, which they could not have afforded, of sending their children away to boarding school. I hope that even yet something may be done by the State Government which, of course, has the primary responsibility, probably with some assistance from the Federal Government. The Country Women’s Association also provides hostels. Might 1 say, too, that many of the independent primary schools provided accommodation for these children who had come in from outlying areas to attend school. They have done a wonderful job over the years and they certainly deserve some per capita payment now to enable them to carry on in this field and to continue the work that they have done so splendidly in the past.
Time is getting away from me. But I want to touch for a moment on the need for veterinary schools and veterinarians in Australia. There is a very serious shortage of veterinarians throughout Australia. 1 would say that in no State is the need greater than in Queensland. The Veterinary School staff at the University of Queensland is doing a wonderful job with the inadequate facilities at hand. Some years ago a close study was made of the position and a three-stage plan was developed to bring the Queensland Veterinary School right up to date. Stage I was completed in 1961. It was expected that on completion of stage ] 110 students would be the complement of the school. In fact, by then about double that number had to be catered for. It was confidently expected that stage 2 would be ready 3 years later, in 1964. It is now 7 years later and stage 2 is not yet finished. Stage 2 was designed to handle something like 230 students at the university. But hat is the position now? There are now 420 veterinary students at the university. One can well imagine the handicap under which the tutorial staff is working. Last year the university was able to produce 59 graduates. We owe the staff a very sincere vols of appreciation for what it has done under the circumstances. The intake of new students for 1968 was 129. It could easily have been more had facilities been adequate for them. This is a very important matter because in this primary producing country it is necessary to have sufficient veterinary officers to cope with the problems that arise in beef production and meat production generally. The more highly concentrated that work becomes, the greater is the need for these skilled men, because a greater incidence of disease seems to follow. So I hope that some measure will be taken to assist the Veterinary School in Queensland to proceed faster with its programme. 1 would like to conclude by drawing attention to the difficulties that country children have to overcome. Dr R. D. Goodman, Assistant Director of External Studies at the University of Queensland, was reported in the ‘Courier-Mail’ of 2nd September as having expressed these views:
The stage at which a child left school was geared to the occupation and income of his parents.
The country student was impoverished as to the rights of education.
Not as many country people as should be were going to the University. This was untapped wealth.
This is true. I hope that consideration will be given to this. The provision of suitable roads so that school buses can take children to school is important, and I hope that the proportion of Commonwealth Aid Roads funds allocated to rural roads will not be cut below 40%. I trust that the education opportunities of country children will be given due consideration when funds are allocated under the Commonwealth Aid Roads scheme.
– I would like to devote my time particularly to the matter of wildlife conservation, which is covered under the estimates for the Wildlife Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organisation. In August of last year and again in February of this year, an Australian publication entitled the Bird Observer’ published a supplement on the subject, ‘The Effect of Pesticide? on our Wildlife’. The first article in the supplement began by referring to a book written by Rachel Carson and entitled ‘Silent Spring’, which apparently turned out to be a best seller and which dealt with the dangers of synthetic pesticides. According to the article, the publication of the book in 1962 caused a public sensation and provoked a furious controversy in the United States of America as well as in other parts of the world. Because public reaction was so strong, President Kennedy asked for a special report from his Scientific Advisory Committee. The article goes on to say that after a thorough investigation, the Committee brought in a shock verdict in May 1963. It found that many of Miss Carson’s basic allegations were justified and it recommended an intensive long term study by government scientists of the effects of pesticides on human and animal health.
In her book Rachel Carson made a charge that the unrestricted use of toxic pesticides in the United States alone had wiped out whole wild life communities. She stated that sprays and insecticides were used in most cases to destroy a certain pest but with no thought of the side effects, long term or otherwise, or the reaction that would follow the breaking of the ecological chains apparent in all things belonging to nature. His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, when addressing the World Wildlife Fund Dinner said: ‘I strongly recommend Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” if you want to see what is going on. Miners use canaries to warn them of deadly gases. It might not be a bad idea if we took the same warning from the dead birds in our countryside.’ This problem is not confined to the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It applies also to Australia. A little later I will tell the Committee something of the dead birds in Australia’s countryside. The supplement to the ‘Bird Observer’ refers to many instances of this.
Professor H. J. Frith of the Division of Wildlife Research of the CSIRO has stated:
There seems to be no doubt that the indiscriminate use of pesticides in Australia is potentially a really major hazard to the conservation of this country’s unique fauna.
He wrote an article for the ‘Australian Journal of Science’ in December 1965 and in it pointed out that each 2 years the fauna authorities of each State and the Commonwealth meet to discuss mutual problems and that at each meeting concern is expressed at the growing evidence from overseas that the widespread and often apparently indiscriminate use of pesticides can have drastic effects on wildlife population.
The authors of the article on the effects of pesticides on our wildlife, to which I have referred, provided an abundance of evidence to show that every species of land bird in Australia is a potential victim on contact with toxic chemicals that have been used. At the time the article was printed in August 1967 twenty-five pesticides had been tested and classified in Victoria as being toxic to bird life and wildlife generally. The authors stated that Australia uses proportionately more pesticides than does any other country and that in 1965 more than $16m worth of pesticides were dispersed in Australia. They referred to the fact that hundreds of fish, including Murray Cod up to 12 lb and trout up to 2J lb were being killed in the Ovens River in Victoria earlier this year as a result of the spraying of tobacco crops with DDT and that thousands of barramundi were killed in the Ord River at Kununurra because of the spraying of cotton crops with DDT. They referred to the killing of wallabies, magpies, butcher birds, magpie-larks and kookaburras as a result of the use of the pesticide 1080 in the Wyberba National Park.
A prominent biochemist of the State University of New York described DDT as being more than a pesticide. He said: A pesticide just kills pests, an insecticide kills insects, but DDT is a biocide’. He added: ‘Spraying ft over a forest or a marsh in the name of mosquito control is almost like dropping an atom bomb on New York City to eliminate its criminals’. It was distressing to read the reports of bird watchers from many parts of Australia who watched birds dying in agony and in convulsions because of the effects of pesticides. I would like to read one quotation from an article written by a lady who developed a garden in a beach area near Melbourne, where she grew a number of trees and shrubs as a haven for our bird life. She had this to say on the effect of pesticides on birds:
Firstly the bird’s vision is affected, and it looks blankly at its surroundings, weaves its head around as it tries to focus and has trouble obtaining food. Balance becomes affected, and it totters and tumbles and has difficulty perching. Trying to fly, and to land, it crashes into things, and falls to the ground; staggering up, only to crash again, and becoming progressively weaker. Finally, severe convulsions begin, during which the bird screams pitifully and it hangs upside down, and then crashes to the ground, where it goes into a rigor, head and tail arched rigidly back. This is followed by collapse, when the bird lies still for some minutes, before attempting to stagger into the air again. Convulsions recur with increasing frequency, until after prolonged and cruel suffering, the bird finally dies. Death may come within hours, or may take several days, depending on the severity of the weather, on the size of the bird, and possibly on the amount or type or pesticide.
I believe that it is time that Australians woke up to themselves and did something to protect our heritage of unique bird and animal life.
I recently had an opportunity to visit Kruger National Park in South Africa. This is an area of about 8,000 square miles which has been set aside as a game reserve and national park. It was first opened to the public just 40 years ago. The park abounds with a great variety of animals and birds, including lions, elephants, giraffes, zebra and ostriches. They all roam the park freely. Visitors are not permitted to take firearms or pets into the park and they are not allowed to leave their cars. When I tell honourable members that more than a quarter of a million people visited Kruger National Park in 1965 they will realise just how popular it is. A small charge is made for admission and accommodation is available within the park. However, I understand that reservations have to be made about a year ahead.
I have mentioned Kruger Park because 1 believe that we ought to be establishing more national parks in Australia to protect our native fauna and to provide pleasure for our own citizens as well as for overseas visitors. While we are busy killing our kangaroos many African countries have given complete protection to leopards. This appears to me to be somewhat of a reflection on our own unrealistic approach to the problem of the conservation of wildlife.
Again, while some countries are busy setting aside further areas as national parks before it is too late, we in Australia are not displaying the same degree of energy. On the contrary, my attention has recently been drawn to the proposal to flood Lake Pedder National Park in Tasmania for the development of a hydro-electric project. I realise that we cannot halt progress. It is certainly not my wish to do so, but I wonder whether every other possible site was examined and evaluated before it was decided to use Lake Pedder. 1 am not a Tasmanian, although I lived there for a very brief period early in my life and I cannot claim to be familiar with Lake Pedder. But from what I have read, it is worthy of conservation and it is worth while for the people of Tasmania to pui up a fight for its retention as a national park. Lake Pedder has been described as the gateway to Australia’s last great non-arid wilderness. It has a 2-mile pink quartzite beach which is claimed to be the best example of its kind in Australia and possibly in the world, lt lies in a great valley carved by glaciers and it is inhabited by a wide variety of wildlife. It abounds with Australian flora, much of which is unique to Tasmania. I hope that the Tasmanian Government will have second thoughts before deciding to sacrifice this beautiful and unique area in the name of progress. / feel sure that an alternative site for hydro-electric extensions can be found.
Finally I want to refer to a suggestion that was made recently by a visitor to this country. The suggestion was that we develop the grey kangaroo as a game animal. 1 have always regarded gun sport as something in which the quarry has a chance. But to me there is no sport in shooting an animal that will stop and look at the shooter and will freeze under a spotlight. When so-called sportsmen are equipped with high powered rifles with telescopic sights, shooting kangaroos is slaughter, not sport. I hope Australians will give the suggestion of the overseas visitor the treatment it deserves and promptly reject it. I hope the Government will give every encouragement to the Division of Wildlife Research of CSIRO in its research into the effects of pesticides on Australian wildlife and in its efforts to conserve for posterity some of our wonderful heritage in both flora and fauna.
– 1 want to say a few words about the youth of Australia, especially while the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is here. Notwithstanding that education is a State function, the Federal Government has given a major stimulus - it should be given credit for this - to education particularly in the universities and private schools. The private schools would not be getting the deal that they are. although 1 do not think they are getting enough, had it not been for the action taken by this Government in providing science blocks and now in providing for other matters in the estimates that are before us. 1 will not detain the Committee by detailing the new provisions. Let us look broadly at education. What is the aim of a better education? Is it to have a more enlightened community so that we may excel in economic growth and be more prosperous, have more material things or more time for sport and leisure to contribute to our personal enjoyment? Is it to have more time to delve more deeply into scientific discovery? ls it to enable us to prolong our lives by a higher standard of health? Or is it to enable us to obliterate fear and want from the world?
All of these things are very good in themselves but they do not mean anything if we do not build better citizens with a full appreciation of the moral virtues that bring human happiness. There is a great need for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States - I see that something is being done in this regard - to achieve a degree of uniformity in fundamentals at least, so that children in the various States will approach education in a similar way. The States lay down the standards for education and in the main train the teachers who educate our children. There is room in this continent for both public and private schools. I would deplore the day when the private, or independent school as it is called, went out of existence. Such a situation would destroy the inalienable right of a parent to choose the school which his or her child should attend.
Generally speaking we have produced a very fine type of young Australian. We have produced many brilliant scientists and professional men in this country under our present education system. Unfortunately quite a number of these men have now gone overseas because of lack of opportunity in Australia. But among a minority of young people - I stress that it is a minority - there has been a drift in recent times which to me in very disturbing. This is due in part to the affluent society in which we live. Everywhere you see the effect of affluence - too much money in the hands of the young people. It cannot be denied that all over the world there is an upsurge of youth. In many ways this is very good. I do not blame the young people for everything: They should be encouraged freely to express themselves in every way. In so doing they espouse new thoughts and ideas. At times their arguments are logical and contribute significantly to our development. They should have the right to protest if necessary. But there is an unhealthy drift towards violence, lawlessness and disdain for law and order in the community. We have the unfortunate evidence of pack rapes committed by young people. In thousands of instances they ridicule religion and moral laws and virtues that we have been taught to believe in other generations. Very often, I am sorry to say, students are encouraged by teachers to revolt against the accepted order. You, Mr Chairman, will be aware of this trend better than I, because you come in contact with it quite a bit.
One of the freedoms that we enjoy is the mass media, and this contributes largely in my opinion to some of the unfortunate happenings that occur and to some of the attitudes taken by young people all over the world.
As proof of the things I have been saying I want to refer to a recent world symposium held in Mexico. The report of the symposium is published in ‘The Rotarian’ of August 1968. I propose to read some extracts from the report of the symposium, which are, in my opinion, of tremendous importance. The moderator of the panel was a newspaper editor named Dr Canham. A number of the people taking part in the symposium were high police officials from all over the world. Dr Canham asked:
Is it true that the world now seems to be experiencing a general worldwide eruption of lawlessness that is unprecedented in history?
Mr Lawrence, a Canadian police chief, replied:
The short answer is obviously yes. . . . Of course the world has never been free of crime.
The very presence of crime has served to prod man toward development of a society less apt to produce criminals. In spite of this, there are in 1968 pertinent indications that crime is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world. . . . I would judge from Federal Bureau of Investigation figures, and from my observations for the International Police Chiefs, that we have seen about a 40 per cent increase in major crimes in the world in the past half dozen years. And this far outstrips the world population growth.
Dr Canham said:
That’s an appalling fact. And also, Chief Lawrence, we are told that the crime problem is really a youth problem. Now do your figures and your experience confirm this?
Mr Lawrence said:
Yes, practically all criminal statistics indicate a vast increase in youthful involvement. At this time 49 per cent, or half of those arrested for serious crime, and I underline serious, are under 18 years of age.
Turning to Mr Lindroth, a deputy director of state police in Sweden, Dr Canham said:
Mr Lindroth, I believe that in Sweden you have carried forward some studies of this problem.
Mr Lindroth said:
We have indeed. . . . We have found that usually the die is cast on the side of criminality before the age of 14.
Dr Canham said:
The die is cast on the side of criminality before the age of 14. . . . ls this the way it is in Germany, Dr Littmann?
Dr Littmann, a president of police in Germany, said:
We have a similar problem. We find in the statistics of the Federal Republic that the number of offenders in the 18 to 21 year group has declined from 9.9 per cent to 9.3 per cent. In the age group 14 to 18 we see a certain rise, not very high. But in the age group under 14 years, the situation is rather unfavourable. Here the percentage of male perpetrators has grown from 4.1 per cent to 5.7 per cent. For females under 14 the increase is from 0.5 to 0.8. At least in our country it is a boy problem … a young boy problem.
I think the same can be said of almost every country. In my opinion this is an appalling state of affairs. I suggest to the Minister that something should be done in co-operation with the States to see that greater emphasis is placed on the various standards of teaching to bring to every child a proper appreciation of moral values and the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. I am afraid that this is not done to the extent that it should be done. I know that this is done in teaching, but not to the extent that it should be done. I know that the teachers deal with this in a perfunctory way, but it should be arbitrarily laid down in all schools, whether primary schools or at the tertiary stage. It is necessary to bring this into the training of the teachers. It must be emphasised in the training of teachers or it will not be conveyed to the children. I seriously suggest that this would improve the position of education in Australia and in every other country.
I know this is perhaps not the prime reason for delinquency. The prime reason lies in the home. But we have to remember that the parents of the future will be those who are being educated now. Therefore there is a great need for very much emphasis to be placed on this very simple matter of teaching the child the difference between right and wrong. 1 do not think this is being done in schools. I know it is said that if you do not give complete intellectual freedom in the universities you are a fuddy-duddy. The people who advocate intellectual freedom may suggest that I am trying to brainwash children with what I am saying. Intellectual freedom is a good thing in the broad term; but in my opinion many of these people set out to brainwash students and young children with their own ideas and so bring about the confusion we find developing in the world. Attention to this sort of thing is more important than anything else in the field of education. If we cannot build character into our nation we are failing. I put it right up to the Minister that he should collaborate with all State Education Ministers to see that something is done to improve the standards of children’s minds. It is only through this collaboration and the adoption of a proper spirit in the home that we will get a better world and will get proper benefit from our expenditure on education.
– The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), with bis usual wisdom, has indicated the broad features which are required in an education system. In doing so he has emphasised the overall effect of the education system upon the development of a child’s personality, the personality being judged in the wider sense. He referred in passing to adequate investment as being only part of the requirement of an education system. One could not help but agree with his analysis of that problem. In the few minutes available to me I will refer to the investment in education and to one or two of the suggestions made in the Minister’s statement. I would like to refer to three aspects of the Minister’s statement. Before I do so, the value of investment wisely pursued in the field of education, without referring in any way to technical journals, is worth recording. There would probably bc no better known work than ‘The American Challenge’ by Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber. He referred to the reason why the United States had been able to invest in Europe in a technological sense and to the reason why the United States and not the European Economic Community, was the third world power in Europe. Referring to the Denison report on the effects of investment in education on technological and economic growth, he said at page 51:
In the early part of this century, expansion was basically a question of numbers: According to Denison more than half of economic development in the period 1909-1929 was due to the expansion of the labour force and the growth of invested capital. After the depression this was no longer true. Between 1929 and 1957 these quantitative factors (labour and capital) were responsible for only a third of the increase in gross national product. Today the most important factors in economic expansion are education and technological innovation.
It is in respect of those matters that I would like to say a few words. In the first place, I refer to the Minister’s statement concerning the grants for libraries. He said:
Projects on which construction commenced on or after 14th August 1968, will be eligible for consideration provided they meet the standards to be laid down. 1 ask the Minister why in relation to library grants he adopted a different principle to that which was adopted in regard to science laboratory grants. One will recollect that with the science laboratory grants the day after the election at which the grants were promised was judged to be the day from which the grants would be available. In fact buildings that were commenced or planned the day after the election in 1963. at which science laboratory grants were promised, were judged to be adequate for obtaining a grant. The promise with respect to libraries was made 10 months ago in November 1967. If the grants had been made available from the day on which the Minister made his statement, schools which had intended to invest in libraries would have postponed that investment and schools which did not postpone their investment and in fact did invest in the interim will be disadvantaged.
What we will get will be a bunching of investment in libraries; investment of this nature would not be satisfactory. A school which built a library between the day on which the promise of the library grant was made and 14th August 1968, in other words a school which built a library at any time in 1968 up until a fortnight or so ago, would be disadvantaged. The principle is different to that which was adopted in the earlier case, and I do not think it gives rise to the proper phasing of investment which we would desire. 1 know a school which has done this with the greatest of goodwill and which will be penalised. I ask that the Minister reconsider the date from which he will make the grants available.
One other aspect of the Minister’s statement is worth examining. In fairness, one should say that these grants are most valuable and most useful, but I have serious doubts whether they have been applied to the area which is socially and economically the most useful or which in a technical investment sense will give the best return for education. I refer to the investment in kindergarten teachers colleges to double the number of kindergarten teachers. An amount, is to be given by way of capital grants. One is immediately moved to ask: Why out of the whole range of education choose kindergarten teachers? Why enter a completely new field which has a remarkably narrow effect upon children at the kindergarten and the pre-school level? Will the investment even help those children in this field which need the greatest assistance? I refer to an excellent work on pre-school education - the Minister would know of it - entitled ‘Current Trends in Pre-school Education’, which appears in the ‘Quarterly Review of Education of June 1968’. It is perfectly clear from that work that investment in pre-school education is designed to help especially not the privileged children but the underprivileged children. This theme is repeated throughout the review. It states, at page 15:
In general these studies indicated that nursery schooling led to improvements in IQ in children from deprived backgrounds with low IQs, but not in children from normal or privileged backgrounds with average and above average IQs.
So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Will doubling the number of pre-school or kindergarten teachers in fact effectively approach this problem? A reference to the report shows that 8% of children in Australian schools attend preschools. Even if the investment in children accompanies the investment in teachers - and pre-school is an area in which there has to be a notable private contribution - it is doubtful that even doubling the proportion of children available for education in this field will help the children with whom we are concerned. So I would say that it is unlikely that the disadvantaged children, or those with the greatest need, will in fact be assisted by our choosing pre-school education, or by investing in pre-school education in the way in which the Minister has decided we should. In fact I do not think that this will give rise to equality of opportunity as between the various children involved.
There is a third point to which the Minister referred. Towards the end of his statement he said:
I emphasise that the new measures about which I have spoken represent the highest priority among various proposals in education which the Government has considered recently.
I know the Minister’s concern. I know that the Labor Party has had no concern for education except to try to make some sordid politics out of it. Education is one of those unique fields in which we know that investment according to the principle of need also happens to be the principle which is the most useful in an economic sense. In other words if we equalise the returns from investment in the various parts of education we have the most useful structure of investment.
What is the most disadvantaged sector of Australian education? Without choosing sectors which are not already included, without going to new ones, I would say without any equivocation that it is the nongovernment primary school sector. In fact the problems of the non-government primary school sector flow on to create burdens in the public and Government primary school sector. I should have thought that the Government would have directed its attention to this field. It should have done this for a number of reasons. Let me refer to the excellent publication ‘Schools’ distributed by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. It is a publication that has been improved yearly from 1960 or 1961. It is immediately obvious that in the nongovernment primary schools we have more over-sized classes and more under-paid teachers than in any other sector of education, and we have at present as a charge upon the government public school system 52,000 children in Australia who, with a wise expenditure of resources, could have been accommodated in the non-government primary school sector. One would have thought that to save such a burden on the public sector an effort would have been made to look at this area of need. On my calculations for 1967 between 9,000 and 10,000 children who would have desired to have attended grade 1 in a nongovernment primary school, and who would have desired to attend that sector with a reasonable sacrifice, were sent to a government school and will become a burden on the State for 10 years. Each child turned away amounts to a burden, depending on the period for which he attends school, of something approaching $2,000 in today’s terras, and that is understating the burden a great deal. I would have thought that this was a sector to which the Minister and the Government would have directed attention One would think that ways could have beet found, by way of reasonable grants, to do something in this field. State governments are not doing anything in this field and, oi course, the worst State governments have been Labor State governments.
– These are the facts of life and the honourable member for 10 years from 1955 supported a policy of doing nothing and taking away what little has been given to non-Government schools. No State government assists with more than 5% to 10% of the burden in this field. There has been a tradition of assisting in the secondary field, and one would have thought that the Government would look at ways of overcoming the bad investment policies in the field of primary education and would have done something to help. Having said that by way of criticism. I congratulate the Minister for the remainder of his statement. I emphasise that even though some criticism has been directed at the Government one knows that had the alternative government been in power and had responsibility nothing would have been done because the philosophy which it espoused for so many years, and which its Leader espoused until 1965, was one of hurting those people who, in fact, had some desire to help themselves in the education field. I suggest that the Minister look at some of these problems and at the principle he espoused in the last part of his statement, which was to examine the areas for greatest priority of needs. It may need a different emphasis to that which has been given it up to the moment.
-The estimates before the Committee this evening dealing with the Department of Education and Science reveal that $96.5m will be made available in this financial year. This is $11m more than for the previous year. This indicates the considerable advance on previous Commonwealth contributions for education by direct means and not indirectly through the States. However, as we know, education is an extremely important aspect of our development, but education within four walls is not the only education on which we rely today in developing Australia. There are other fields in which we spend considerable sums, notably the scientific field, and it is on that score thatI wish to say a few words this evening.
On 18th August 1964, when I was speaking during the debate on the Appropriation Bill, I made some points about the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation because I was somewhat concerned about the imbalance of spending in certain areas of the CSIRO. I doubt very much whether the position has altered since then. At that time I said:
I point out also that the big Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation institutes that we see in the eastern States are not to be found in Western Australia. In fact, less than 5 per cent of the CSIRO scientific staff employed in agriculture outside the Northern Territory and the Kimberleys is employed in Western Australia as compared with 54 per cent within the borders of New South Wales.
I was dealing with one particular facet of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and I shall deal with the same facet tonight. To carry on from that point, I refer to the funds which are made available to the CSIRO from industry committees and other sources. Details of the allocations approved under this heading for1968-69 show that these funds total $10,409,900. They are made available from the Wool Research Trust Fund, the Meat Research Trust Account, the Wheat Research Trust Account, the Dairy Produce Research Trust Account, the Tobacco Industry Trust Account and other sources. These funds represent quite a large sum of money. The Wool Research Trust Fund this year will provide approximately$6.7m. When I was speaking on the previous occasion I was concerned -and I still am -at the fact that in this big country of ours, although the CSIRO is a national organisation, much of the research which can be done, and which in fact is being done in certain fields, is carried out in the eastern States and is transferred quite successfully to other parts of the continent. But this does not happen in all fields. When we talk of Australia we are talking of a tremendous area, but research which is carried out in some areas is not always applicable to other areas.
The annual report of the CSIRO for 1968-69 shows where the headquarters of the divisions are established. We find that they are in Melbourne, Griffith, Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. If we draw a line delimiting one-third of the Commonwealth, that is down the eastern third, we find that there are no headquarters situated in the remaining two-thirds of the Commonwealth. Although some work is being carried out by the CSIRO in the west and in the Northern Territory, we do not find that a great amount of it is being carried out in this area which comprises the remaining two-thirds of this great continent. Because of the tremendous development that is taking place on the western side of Australia and in the centre and north of Australia,I think it is time that we shifted our ground a little and established headquarters of the divisions of the CSIRO in other parts of Australia. For instance, it is expected thatI million bales of wool will be produced in Western Australia this year worth $130 per bale. There is a wool tax of 2%. The growers in Western Australia will pay approximately $2.6m. Last year, as I understand the situation, the Australian Wool Board contributed $31,000 to the State Department of Agriculture,$52,000 to universities, $221,000 to the CSIRO Division of Plants, etc., and $11,000 for postgraduate scholarships, making a total of about$316,000. But the amount of $2. 6m which will be paid by growers in Western Australia will be eight times the amount contributed by the Wool Board in the various categories I have mentioned, which total $316,000.
Sheep fertility in Western Australia is the problem of the day. From all the investigations whichI and a lot of my colleagues in the west have been able to make, I feel that a great deal more work has to be done before this problem can be solved. I believe that it is too big for the State Department of Agriculture which has done and is continuing to do quite a lot of work in this field. The CSIRO could interest itself in this problem. Recently quite a lot of money has been made available by the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia to set up a new research venture to look into this problem. I feel that the CSIRO should make an effort to solve the sheep fertility problem and other problems that exist in Western Australia. Because these problems may be solved in the eastern States that does not necessarily mean that they have been solved in the west. This has been proved over the years by scientific findings and developments that have occurred in Western Australia.
I do not in any way wish to take away any of the honour and praise that is due to the CSIRO for the tremendous amount of work it has done on behalf of Australia generally. I should hate to think that we were trying to develop this country without an organisation such as the CSIRO. ButI do believe, and I hope that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) will take note of this particular point, that a great amount of the funds that have been made available in the particular fields that I have mentioned tonight by primary producers in Western Australia should be returned to them in some way.
If any industry is in need of help today it is the wool industry. At the present time the only way it can make ends meet is to make every sheep a winner. This industry is not receiving the amount of money that it should be receiving from overseas for its product, which I believe is still good. Although there has been some improvement recently, the wool industry needs scientific help to solve some of the problems it is facing in Australia today. In my opinion land in Australia is too valuable to have on it sheep that are not returning the full amount they should be returning. This also applies to other livestock. Very often it is only by the combination of science and the practical application of scientific methods that these problems can be sorted out. The people in the west are willing to assist science in any way they can to find a solution to the problems they are facing. They have had these problems not for just a few years but for many years. So far science has not come up with the answers.
I noticed a reference in the CSIRO report to the fact that some consideration had been given to the arid lands of Australia. I am very pleased that this has happened. A tremendous amount of damage has been done over the years to those areas. It is time that somebody took hold of the problem and saved these large areas of Australia before something tragic happens. I hope that the CSlRO’s efforts in this direction will be followed by a big effort by primary producers to overcome the tremendous problem which has been caused by overstocking and other methods.
– It may well be asked, andI am sure it will be, why one should rise at this hour of the night to deliver a brainchild that must be buried in the pages of Hansard. But I am encouraged by the thought that Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ states:
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
The honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) referred to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I have in front of me an official handout entitled ‘CSIRO Annual Report - Some Research Highlights . I shall read all the highlights. They are whiter wool, spray printing of wool fabrics, wool testing, vacuum pressing of wool, jet scouring, novel insecticides, a new instrument for simultaneous analysis, a new instrument for sizing ore particles, hot ground in mines, new fertiliser for north, controlling insects in wheat, tick resistance in cattle, pastures for the Wallum areas, glazed concrete and treated proteins for sheep and cattle.
Before I resume my seat I hope to demonstrate that the direction of research should be towards science based industries rather than the old industries, which more and more are not able to sell their products abroad. The honourable member, of course, will not agree with this, because he believes that all wealth comes from the soil. When I heard him the other night there rose in my mind a picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco at Milan. I thought to myself: ‘There is the fellow who dug out the ochres from the soil; the fellow who grew the plants from which the vegetable dyes came; and the poultry farmer who produced the eggs from which came the white that was used for the tempera. Honour has never been done to those people.’ Everyone thought that everything was done by Leonardo da Vinci; that it was from his vision and his skill that the picture came. We have never properly honoured the poultry farmer, the fellow who dug the soil and the one who grew the plants for the dyes. All these helped to make that famous picture, ‘From the Soil’.
The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), with whom I generally agree, said something tonight which I could not follow. He attacked the Government’s policy of providing a very small sum of money for the training of teachers in nursery schools. I believe that the children who go to nursery schools are usually the children of women who have to earn their living because there is no other breadwinner. These are the children who are the most under-privileged in this community. There is no better way of spending a very small sum of money than in the training of teachers for these schools and thereby giving a far better opportunity to these children. I am sorry to disagree, with my friend. On the other hand he referred to views on education and technological development stated in a book by Servan-Schreiber, and here I am with him 100%. Indeed, this was the very thing I proposed to make the subject of my few minutes address tonight. The Government is to be congratulated on a number of other matters. I only wish I had the time to do this. I wish to say that the Minister for Education and Science is, in my view, one of the most promising young Ministers we have. I do not have time to commend him on the many initiatives he has taken. I only wish I had.
What should be the grand object of policy in the field of education so far as the Commonwealth Parliament is concerned, so far as the nation is concerned? I suggest that the grand object should be technological development - I shall give my reasons for this - and the orientation of some part of our education towards the area in which we live, Asia. But we must turn our back on some old attitudes. Our old role in the past has been to be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water to supply food and raw materials for Britain and to provide a market for British manufactured goods. That was the old role. There are those who contend that we should be a sort of Boeotia of the South Pacific. They contend that we are a nation of shepherds, herdsmen and ploughmen where the highest skill is an unerring eye for the hindquarters of a Hereford bull or the mammary apparatus of a Friesian cow. This, of course, is an exaggeration. But one must use a poster art in this place to be understood.
It is a small exaggeration, .as the primary industries, of course because they have to be carried on. But it is time we directed our attention to another field of industry altogether - to the scientists, the engineers and business managers. 1 shall give my reasons for this later. I refer to a very remarkable document reported in full by the London ‘Economist’ in its issue for 16th to 22nd March of this year. There was a meeting in Paris of the Science Ministers of the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The Organisation comprises all the advanced industrial nations of the world - Europe, North America and Japan, but of course not Australia. The Ministers met to study in depth the reasons for the technological gap between the United States and the rest of the world. What was the secret of America’s success? This,’ of course, is a lesson for us. They rejected all the glib answers, such as that this gap existed because the United States had giant companies, a huge home market or a vast army of scientists and engineers. They admitted that: . some of the most successful sciencebased American companies are very small . . . frequently founded by a group of scientists or two confident friends cutting loose from their university laboratories and striking out for the commercial shore - successfully.
Si/.e of business is not a prerequisite for innovation.
They found that Europe, especially Britain, was just as well endowed with scientists and engineers as was the United States. They said:
The striking difference between the United States and the rest of the world is that wore people are better educated on their side of the Atlantic than on the European. Americans stay at school longer and the proportion of the American working population that has had some sort of higher education is several times greater than in Europe and Japan. This produces a management and a labour force that is more receptive to new ideas and quicker to grasp their possibilities. What Americans say repeatedly is that what is wrong’ ‘with the rest of the world is not a technological gap but . a management gap, because the American manager is not, in the main, scientifically educated.
They summed up as follows: - The arguments all lead back to the same starting point, that , technological innovation requires a certain state of mind and the Americans have it because they employ better educated managers. This explains why the Japanese who also have a high proportion of graduates in their working population, have been the fastest innovators outside the United States.
They went on to say:
The technological gap is not merely a Western preoccupation. The Soviet Union is seriously worried about it and has come to much the same conclusion, namely, that the barrier to innovation is not at the scientific, but at the management, level.
American industry has taken over the great industries of Europe, not because of scientific knowledge and not because of American capital - indeed, it uses European capital - but because of the vision and capacity for innovation of American management.
Here are lessons for Australia. We need scientists and research workers, of course, because we arc not over-endowed as the Americans and the British, for instance, are. But, when a survey was made of 112 companies in Australia within the last 12 months by a Dr Whitton, Australia was found to lag far behind all the developed countries. Australia uses on research and industry 0.15% of the gross national products as against. 2’.2% in the United States of America, 1.5% in the United Kingdom and 1% in Sweden. I should mention by the way that Sweden is a country with a population of some 8 million people - smaller than ours. Yet it is able to compete all around the world with industrial giants such as those in the United States, Britain, France and Germany. Little Sweden, with its 8 million people, has no vast natural resources such as this lucky country has; but it does this through the skills of its people, through innovation and through managerial capacities. The Swedish people provide their own fighter aircraft for their defence, they build a car - the Volvo - that is sold all round the world, and they make all sorts of engineering products that sell in competition with the products of the industrial giants. 1 repeat it is a small country of 8 million people. There is no point in saying that we are too small to do anything like that. That argument will not wash. We do not do it because we do not have the skills, and we do not have the skills because our educational system does not provide the people to do these things. If you analyse why Sweden has succeeded, you find the:e arc three main reasons. The first is intensive research which enables the country to maximise its use of technological development. The second is energetic and careful planning and the third is better educational opportunities. I do not have the time, in the few minutes available to me, to go into these matters in detail. But what I have said is borne out by distinguished people in this country. I ‘can only quote their names. I have not time to quote what they say. Sir Samuel Jones, of Standard Telephones and Cables made this kind of statement the other day. Dr H. C. Coombes, whom we all know and Mr B. B. Callaghan, Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, are two others. All of these people have been saying within the last month or two much the same kind of thing that I have been saying tonight. In a feature article in the ‘Financial Review’ of 9th April 1968, is to be found a table of the number of graduates in business management in this country.
On a comparable basis to the United States and other developed countries we need about 420. We are producing from the management schools, particularly the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne, . about onequarter of that number. If you look at our situation in the world today, we are for the
These things, of course, will go on, but there should be a re-orientation towards technology. We are finding that the traditional products cannot be sold in the markets of the world. We are finding that the world is glutted with wheat at the present time. We are finding that it is glutted with sugar, and we are finding that wool is meeting competition from synthetics. We are also finding that our dairy industry cannot sell its butter because butter is being dumped all around the world by the European Common Market. So, if we are going to win exchange overseas, we have to turn not only to the export of other products but to the manufacture in our own country of those things which we cannot afford to import because we cannot sell products to obtain exchange. This means concentration on technology.
Here are our mineral resources and we are permitting ourselves to be a mere quarry where, quite plainly, we should be training innovators who can process those raw materials so that we do not remain a quarry. Investment in people should be the whole orientation of our national development. This is the job of the Minister for Education and Science in this place. I do not doubt that this should be the great objective of education, nationally regarded.
– There is very little that I can find to disagree with in the speech of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). He said that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation should devote more attention to those industries which are able to sell their products abroad. I must differ from him a little on this one. I think our Country Party friends will agree with me that although they are having difficulty in selling their products abroad if we
The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) said that we should concentrate on developing morals at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education. On the face of it this seems to be a worthy aim, but one does not train people in morals by giving them lessons in ethics or morals. The way to train people in character building is by their participating in a moral way in social activities. One gives them an example. To try to teach morals and ethics in a vacuum is a defeatist, pointless and sterile activity. Young people of today want to know why a thing is right or wrong. They do not want to have it laid down in an arbitrary fashion. I would agree with the honourable member for Lilley that we should devote our investment in education to the area of greatest need. One of these areas is the area of private primary education. I would agree also with the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) that another area of great need is the pre-school area, particularly for the working mother who is the. breadwinner of the family. But these two areas do not comprise the whole story. Science laboratories and libraries do not comprise the whole story.
Honourable members opposite have done less than justice to the Australian Labor Party’s policy, which is for a complete survey of all education needs so that assistance may be given to all areas of need and not just to three or four. It is all very well for honourable members opposite to say that Labor governments do not do these things and would not do these things. If one looks at the sorry record of governments of all political colours over the years one will see that none of them shows up very well in comparison with more advanced nations, such as Sweden, which was mentioned by the honourable member for Bradfield. Honourable members opposite have described developments in education under this Government as excellent, praiseworthy and progressive. I agree that on the whole they have been good moves, but to call them excellent is self-delusion and wishful thinking, having regard to progress in other countries. We are getting further behind other countries in education. It is all very well to say that we are spending 25% more on this and 50% more on that. The fact remains that we are becoming’ more and more dependent on know-how and training from other countries. Not only are we quarrying our minerals but we are also mining our agricultural land, as is reported by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. There is a danger that in a few years we will destroy what has taken millions of years to build up, and we will never be able to restore it. The CSIRO has reported that to the Parliament Also, Volume 1 No. 1 of the ‘National Development Quarterly’ contains an article headed ‘Scientists’ warning: Native grass lands are in danger of becoming desert’. It quotes examples in the Middle East, where lands were first used for grazing about 5,000 years ago and were reduced to their present degenerative condition at least 2,000 years ago. This created deserts all over the world. It is creating them here in Australia.
It is not just a case of neglect of this type of investment in techniques and brains. The point is that, unless we reverse this trend rapidly and at a far greater rate than we are reversing it at present, we will get further behind at a greater rate. It is all very well to talk of the great increase in trained people. A speaker from the Country Party benches has told us that there is an Australia-wide shortage of veterinary science graduates. One can say that there is an Australia-wide shortage of just about every kind of graduate. I ask honourable members to tell me just one profession in this country in which the graduates cannot be employed in well paid positions. I do not know of any such profession. There is an increasing shortage of trained people. The shortage will continue to increase as long as we increase our facilities only at the rate of increase in the population and in technical know-how. We have to accelerate beyond that rate. That is shown by the fact that more than half of the scientists who have ever lived are living today.
Australia has not met this explosion, this acceleration. There is nothing realistic in the percentage of our national product that we are diverting to this most urgent, necessary and deficient area of investment. Moreover, ft is not just a question of the economic return; it is a question of the human return. We are making our citizens second rate citizens because we are handing over the initiative, the planning and the management to foreign interests and foreign capital. That is the main issue on which Government policy stands condemned for its shortsightedness by speakers not only on this side of the chamber but also on the other side.
Thursday, 19 September 1968
– I do not propose to detain the Committee for any great length of time tonight. I do not even intend to reply at any length to the vapourings of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). He, like many other people - perhaps ‘parasites’ would be a better term - who have lived on the farmers or on the sheep’s back for many years, suffers from perpetual indigestion. Perhaps he cannot digest some of the Friesian milk and that gives him his painful and . sour appearance and his sour note that we know so well.
But let me get down to more serious matters. 1 wish to bring two matters to the attention of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The first is the need for an extension of agricultural colleges. Here is a field in which the Federal Government must accept some responsibility and come to the aid of the States in order to extend and also to develop agricultural colleges. At the moment, according to the report of the Vernon Committee, and also according to the experience of most of us, most of the agricultural scientists or diploma tes in agriculture who are being turned out by our agricultural colleges are going into government departments. Very few of them are going back into industry.
Today agriculture is at the cross roads. We are continually coming up against a cost squeeze that is demanding all the skills that we can bring to bear on the management of properties and the application of all the latest scientific developments and knowledge. There has not been an opportunity to train sufficient of our new farmers in management. Only a very small proportion of those who become owners or managers of rural properties are able to receive any proper training in management. It is tremendously important that the nation should continually’ lift its production and export income, which still is provided mainly by the rural industries, as will be the case for many years to come. I think there is a tremendous need for more agricultural colleges. In this respect the Federal Government could do a good deal more than it has done.
Another ‘ item which ‘ I bring to the Minister’s, notice concerns a matter that I have been promoting for quite a long while. I refer to the establishment of shearing schools. A trial shearing school . has been established at Cootamundra, lt has gone a long way along the road to providing expert shearers, but the Federal Government has to provide financial assistance to this school.. The wool industry is Australia’s greatest export industry, yet nobody has thought it sufficiently important to train shearers. They learn in the best way they can. The loss to the. nation through bad shearing and second cuts is about $20m a year. Shearing is a skilled occupation. Surely the shearer is entitled to a certificate or diploma, or whatever one likes to call it, if he becomes skilled and competent at shearing. He is a very important man in the rural industries and, indeed, in our economic set-up. He deserves a better social standing in the community. The present trend is towards contract teams, and this attracts to the industry a much better type of shearer. There’ is still a very great need to train the shearer and to teach him the proper way to handle and shear the sheep so that as he shears he does not destroy the fleece which has taken so long to grow.
In promoting the shearing school I have the support of all rural industries, lt is a rather unusual accomplishment to get the support of all the rural industries. The United Graziers’ Association, the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council and the Australian Primary Producers Union are all on side. I have letters of support from all these organisations. I also have a letter from the State Director of Technical Education and the State Minister for Education stating emphatically that they are prepared to staff and run a trial school at Cootamundra. The land is available. The Graziers Association has promised to build a four plant shed. The sheep have been promised. All this is contingent on the Federal Government giving assistance by paying a living away from home allowance to the students. Vast sums have been spent on technical education, in building science blocks and in providing equipment and facilities. This is an excellent thing. Here is an industry asking for $12,000 or $14,000 a year to run a trial school: which possibly would be the forerunner of many such schools throughout the Commonwealth. I think the provision of such a sum could be incorporated as part of the Commonwealth assistance to technical colleges.
Quite apart from any other considerations, there is a field ; here for training men who have perhaps no academic qualifications. Some of our i trial ‘ schools, run in a voluntary capacity, have- taken young fellows from about the bottom of the class, with no academic ability,’ and have produced something better “than average. Some of these boys were taught to shear. Within a matter of a few weeks they were quite good shearers and were,, earning good money. It was astounding to see the effect on their self respect: In other words these boys were made into citizens. They were able to marry, build a home, .rear children and make a place for. themselves in the community. I appeal to the Minister to give serious consideration to the two matters I have mentioned. The first is the great need for more technical training in farm management. The second concerns support for the very worthwhile enterprise. the shearing school, which has been supported by the wool industry.
– I would like to enter a defence concerning some statements I made earlier about pre-school education. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and the honourable member for Mitchell Mr Irwin) judged, apparently, that I dis- approved of the expenditure on pre-school education as such. That of course was not the case. I criticised this expenditure on two counts. Firstly, I doubt that pre-school education is the area most in need in Australia, and believe that there are existing areas that need expenditure more. Secondly, I consider that the investment in pre-school education is not in fact a type of investment designed to help that area most. The argument is simply this: There is some evidence that those children who benefit most from this type of education are the under-privileged children of families relatively under-privileged. Therefore, if this investment were to have an effect it had to be in the area of the pre-school child population. There is evidence, from one’s own experience of the location of preschools that they aire more correlated with the well to do areas in communities than with the less well to do areas. This may be our experience. No evidence has been produced that pre-schools are associated more with poorer areas than with well to do areas. There has been no objective evidence that I have been able to assess. I wish to quote various passages from the report to which I referred earlier. I refer to the Quarterly Review of Australian Education’ in which appears an article entitled ‘Current Trends in Pre-Sehool Education’. The passages I shall quote, I think, are very appropriate. The article states:
Pre-schooling in Australia thus retains much of its traditional philanthropic character. Only through the considerable financial sacrifices made by kindergarten teachers and the large contribution of parents and other citizens could the preschool operate on its present basis.
My experience is that in most underprivilged areas of many communities financial sacrifices cannot possibly be made by families with children in this category. At page 25 of the same publication, we read:
The child from a working class background is usually handicapped by a poor and unstimulating home environment, so therefore does not have the same opportunities for achieving a high level of education as the child from the more privileged classes.
I advert to one short reference on page 27, which reads:
In conclusion, the importance of experience in the early years is now being increasingly recognised, and this has led to a new interest in preschool education, particularly as a means of compensatory education for disadvantaged children. The need and desirability of providing more extensive pre-school facilities for all children is becoming more widely accepted.
It is precisely because this type of expenditure does not seem to be directed towards providing pre-schol education for a significantly high number of children in this field that I have my doubts. I am sure that the honourable member for Mitchell and the honourable member for Bradfield appreciate that they may have misinterpreted, however kindly and generously, my earlier remarks.
– At this hour I will not delay the Committee for very long. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), when he quoted from Gray’s ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, should have finished the verse, because it continues:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
I certainly think it would be stretching one’s imagination to think that thatsentiment recorded with the honourable member’s personality in the mood he wasin tonight. He said that primary industries were struggling. I would like to express my appreciation of how much science has done to expand production in these industries and bring about a state of affairs where production from primary industry has doubled, though the number of people engaged is only about 75% of what it was. Seventy-five per cent of our export income still comes from primary production, and almost all of this stays in Australia. The honourable member said that we should produce more manufactured products for. export. Having in mind our cost structure we must realise that this is a matter of very great difficulty. Primary production remains a large export earner notwithstanding spiralling costs over which the primary producer has no control. I do not want to introduce something foreign to this debate whenI say that I am not one who sees a great bogy in a reasonable tariff structure policy.
The honourable member mentioned many of the achievements of the CSIRO. They are all worthy of commenting upon at some length, but I particularly wanted to mention the achievement at the CSIRO station at Griffith with regard to the production of cotton. It will be said immediately that the cotton industry is one which enjoys a high bounty, but what I want to say is that great success has been achieved at the Griffith station by crossing varieties, principally Russian varieties with American varieties, to produce a cotton that matures much more rapidly than any variety known at present. Methods are being used which are particularly applicable to the temperate climate at Griffith and to the irrigation conditions, in which cotton is sown under what is called a broadcast system. It is not really a broadcast system as we would normally term it because it is sown by an ordinary combine machine. It is allowed to stub or ratoon. The plant remains and matures much more rapidly each year. So far the results have been very encouraging. The quality of cotton produced has not been very high, but it does fulfil a requirement in our spinning cotton which may save us. the money required to import a considerable amount. In my opinion this is one of Ihe more important achievements of the CSIRO and I would like to pay a tribute to that great scientist, Alister Low, the man in charge of this experiment, a Scot who has had a lot of experience in various parts of the world, particularly in the Sudan, growing cotton, ft appears at this stage that this will make a very real contribution to our economy.
The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) mentioned the need for scientists. Of course we need scientists, and we need technologists. But we need to have scientific knowledge disseminated in a way in which it will be understood by the practical man so that he may put it to use. Science as science is not much of an advantage. Recently a comment was made to me by one of Australia’s most eminent veterinary surgeons who is now lecturing in our universities. When a mutual friend of ours graduated he said to me that this young man would be 10 years ahead of the standard at which he himself was on his own graduation. I asked him whether the course had improved to that extent since the time when he graduated. He said: ‘No.
I was an urban dweller with no practical knowledge. Here is a young man who was brought up in the environment in which he will practice, and that puts him so far ahead of my standard when I qualified’. This is an illustration of the fact that scientific knowledge is of use only when it is of some advantage to the practical man in his everyday life. But let it not be said that I am not all for science and for technical knowledge. We must expand our scientific and technical knowledge to the greatest possible extent. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) mentioned management courses. Here again my earlier remarks apply: All the theory in the world that may be learned at Harvard or Columbia is of no use unless the individual can apply it practically and in a way to expand the knowledge and ability of others to produce. I will utilise some other opportunity to remark on other matters that may be more applicable to national development.
– I hope that the Committee will not. mind, even at this late hour, if I take some moments to answer one or two points that have been made by various honourable members during this debate. The points that the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) made about the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and conservation certainly will be borne well and truly in mind. I have been having some discussions with the Organisation on the question of conservation to assess whether it would be appropriate for the Organisation to do more than it is doing now. 1 cannot say any more about this at this particular moment, but it is something that is under discussion. As one who took some part in helping to persuade the Commonwealth a fair while ago to ban the export of birds from Australia, the honourable member can understand that he certainly has my sympathy.
The points made by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) will be referred to the executive as will be the remarks of the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) concerning the percentage of funds that are being spent in Western Australia. I note the point that the honourable member makes. These decisions are not always easy because the
Organisation gets a research establishment in a particular area and it is sometimes a good deal easier and cheaper to expand that establishment if the work can be done appropriately there than to establish a new one. But I will ask for a report on the particular matters and problems that the honourable member mentioned to see what is the view of the executive.
The honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) mentioned the problems of agricultural colleges. We have two programmes in which Commonwealth assistance is available, but it must be on the initiative of the States. For the agricultural colleges at a secondary level the States get between them a total of $10m a year under technical training grants which can be spent for capital facilities if the Commonwealth approves of it. The spending of these grants is on the initiative of the States and by decision of the States. If the college is on the level of an advanced college of education -at a tertiary level -again the initiative comes from the State. It puts its proposals to the Commonwealth and there is the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education, of which Doctor Wark is Chairman, which advises the Commonwealth on a programme of development for advanced colleges, which include agricultural colleges at the tertiary level. The Commonwealth does make a very considerable contribution in these fields, but the initiative in both areas must come from the States, and the Commonwealth, under agreed programmes, responds to it.
The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) made one or two points which I think are not entirely accurate. He said that there was an analogy between the introduction of the science laboratories programme and the library programme that had not been followed through properly. He implied that the library scheme should have been backdated about 6 months. The science laboratories programme was announced as firm election policy, and it became policy once the election was over. The library programme was mentioned at the same time as the pre-school programme was mentioned, in the late Prime Minister’s last Senate election policy speech in 1967. I shouldlike to read his words because it was not a proposal of policy. It indicated an area that was being examined and which could lead to the formation of policy. There is a substantial difference. The late Prime Minister said:
I know my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, would like to help children of preschool age who are put at a disadvantage because of a bad home environment
A little later he continues, though in the same paragraph, that he feels also:
It invites us ‘now to look at’. That is not a promise of action. It is an indication that the Commonwealth is going to examine that particular field.
-The distinction is very hard to appreciate.
-I do not think that it is a distinction that is very hard to appreciate because a great number of schoolmasters wrote to me and said: When is the decision going to be made? Are you going to do something or are you not going to do something?’ We made a decision. The decision was announced at the time of the Budget. As soon as it was announced, the same kind of provision applied as applied to the science block grants.
The honourable member for Lilley also mentioned the question of pre-schools.I would like to make only one point, which is that this avenue was supported not lightly, not without very considerable investigations over all the States and not without discussions with the people who are involved in this particular part of education. It is worth noting that in the examination, dividing as best one can the various cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth into the richer areas and the poorer areas, one will find that a majority of the older pre-school centres come from the poorer areas, on the kind of admittedly rough classification that we were able to undertake; and if one looks at pre-schools that have been built within the last 5 years it will be found that the proportion which come from the more needy areas varies from 62% in one capital city to54% in another to 75% in two of the others. But it indicates that there has been quite considerable building and construction of pre-schools in the not so well off areas. On the investigation, which was Commonwealth wide, the most clearly expressed need to us was for an increase in the number of trained kindergarten teachers -because it was expressed that the shortage of teachers in this field was the one thing which was preventing the spread of preschools throughout wider areas. That was why the Commonwealth acted in this particular field. - -
Earlier in the debate the honourable members for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and Wills (Mr Bryant) referred to the problems of university selection, and I think they mentioned - although this was at a time when I was not actually present in the House - that there should, be some investigation into new methods of selection for universities. Investigation and experiment are already under way, with Commonwealth support, through an examination set by the Australian Council .:< for Educational Research. The experiment involves the Australian National University and the Universities of Western Australia and Tasmania. We will not get. any quick results from this experiment because it involves giving students who have done the matriculation this other examination ‘ and then following the progress of the students through the universities to see which provides the greater predictive value in giving an indication of future performance.
The honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) and the honourable member for Lilley, in particular, referred to the need to support and to give even greater support to independent schools. , I think that the Government, by what it has done in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory, through per capita grants which were increased quite substantially in this Budget and through capital repayments for building .purposes, has recognised the importance of independent schools and has also shown its determination to assist them. For example, the increased per capita grants will raise payments to all independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory from $105,000 last year to about $240,000 this year. I hope that it will be of some assistance to them in this particular area.
A number of honourable members including the honourable member for Wills, the honourable member for Grey (Mr
Jessop) and the honourable member for Capricornia, mentioned the need to have greater teaching of Asian languages in schools and a greater study of Asian history. Here, I think, I owe the honourable member for Capricornia an apology because he has had a question on the notice paper for a very long period. I had been hoping to be able to tell him something more definitive, and this is why the answer to the question has been delayed. But some time ago an approach was made to the States, in which it was suggested that a meeting should be held between the State Ministers concerned and myself to examine this problem and discuss the possibilities of future action. It has not yet been possible to arrange this meeting. I had hoped that things would have moved quicker and that it would have been possible to give some indication of where it might lead. But it is a matter about which we are concerned. We recognise its importance, and some action has been taken.
The education of immigrants was mentioned. This has been actively examined by my Department and the Department of Immigration. In addition, the recruitment of teachers and the alleged drain of teachers to positions in Canada were mentioned by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I think that this position has been over-stated. The matter has received a great deal of publicity. This has been mainly because of the recruiting methods adopted by one or two Canadian recruiting teams who have come to Australia and have really publicised their efforts. Because of publicly expressed concern in a number of quarters, I wrote to each State Minister for Education some time ago to try to find out the importance and significance of the alleged drain of teachers to Canada. I will not name the States, but in one State during the 12 months from 1st August 1966 to 31st July 1967, of 204 teachers who indicated that they were resigning to go overseas, 16 said they were going to Canada. In the following 12 months, of 162 resigning to go overseas 26 indicated they were going to Canada. In another State in roughly the 12 month period up to the present time 48 teachers indicated that they were resigning, 14 of whom said that they were going to take up teaching appointments overseas.
– Why were they going to Canada?
– A lot of teachers go to Canada because they want additional experience. A lot of them come back to Australia after having 1 or 2 years overseas experience and can make a greater contribution towards education in the State concerned. In one of the larger States 75 of 653 teachers who resigned to go overseas indicated that they were going to Canada. But the numbers who resigned saying that they were going to take up positions in Canada are not sufficient to warrant the public criticism and comments that have been made and do not warrant the degree of concern that some people have expressed. Although the figures I have obtained are not either complete or precise, I think I can say with certainty that for every teacher who leaves Australia to go overseas at least two professionally qualified teachers come to Australia within the same period. So, overall, Australia attracts more teachers than it loses. In fact, it attracts substantially more. We could expect this to obtain because of our significant immigration programme. A number of the States conduct their own recruiting campaigns for teachers in some overseas countries.
The only other matter to which I wish to refer is the oft repeated request for a national inquiry into education in Australia. This was mentioned by the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and by other honourable members opposite. In fact, the Opposition has moved many urgency motions on this particular topic. Since it was first mooted and since it has been repeated in, I think, almost identical terms over a period of years, there have been great changes in the educational scene in Australia. This has been especially so since my predecessor in this office had charge of Commonwealth activities in education and particularly so since the establishment of the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science. Those who have continued to repeat the call for a national inquiry do, I believe, ignore and neglect these significant changes. And the changes are many. There has been the great expansion of the universities as a result of the stimulus provided by the Government. There have been new programmes involving colleges of advanced education, which will broaden the opportunities for tertiary education for a larger number of people. There have been the expansion of the number of existing scholarship schemes, the introduction of scholarships for secondary students and scholarships for technical students and for those going to the advanced colleges and increases in post-graduate scholarships. All these things have happened in quite recent times. There has been the introduction of the science laboratories programme, the technical training grants to the States and now the new libraries programme. By the end of the next 3 years, taking these three programmes together, the Commonwealth will have spent S177m. This is a significant contribution in these areas of education. There have been other new initiatives which have already been mentioned in this debate, such as the programme for capital development of pre-schools and assistance to establish a better curriculum for junior and secondary science at the request of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
It needs to be remembered that when people speak of a national inquiry into primary and secondary education, they are talking of an area which is largely a State field, although the Commonwealth by its actions in recent times has indicated an interest and a concern in it. This has been evidenced by the very considerable help that the Commonwealth has provided in a number of areas. But there never has been, and there is not now, unanimous State support which would be essential for such an inquiry. Since the establishment of a separate Department of Education and Science, the relationship with the States has, I believe, been much better and on a more continuous basis than was possible when it was only an office of another department. And out of this relationship these new programmes have developed. The S24m programme for the construction of teacher training- facilities which will provide 5.000 new teacher trainee places throughout Australia is one such programme arising directly as a result of the States making known to the Commonwealth that this was one of their urgent needs. The library programme again is something’ which has been discussed with the States and of- which they have expressed approval. :
The Minister for Education and Science attends meetings of State Ministers for Education and there is constant communication with them. Officers of the different State departments and the Commonwealth Department are in constant communication. So we are aware of State needs and problems, and when the States believe it necessary they have their own inquiries into particular areas of activity’ and of need. At this moment and for the last few days there has been a seminar involving many of the most significant people concerned with education in Australia. It has been organised by the Commonwealth and the six State departments under a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation programme to examine the future of education in Australia. While this is not something which at all times is a public seminar because of the nature of inquiry and the personnel involved, it will be of immense value to the future planning of education in Australia. The Department has established an open door policy. The States, the teachers federations, Union of Australian University Students and parents and citizens committees, where it is appropriatefor example, from the Australian Capital Territory - know that they can put their views to the Commonwealth or to me at any time they wish to do so. The Commonwealth has shown that it is concerned not only with the quantity but also with the quality of education in Australia. The science scheme, the library scheme which is being introduced, and the technical training grants to the States are three particular projects which are devoted to the quality of teaching rather than to quantity. But it is worth noting in pure quantitative terms what has been done in recent times. In 10 years the States have increased their expen diture from $286m to more than $700m a year. In 6 years the total spending on education per head of population has risen from $50 to $80. The Commonwealth expenditure in 5 years has risen from about $67m to $2 10m, an increase of over 200%. We can see the effects of this in terms of those staying at school and those being educated. In 1957 only 22% of the 15 to 18 years age group stayed at school or were at school. In 1967, 38% of this age group were at school. I would expect this trend to continue into the future placing greater demands on those responsible for providing education facilities throughout Australia. Ten years ago there were only 100,000 secondary students over the compulsory age. Now there are 300.000 students over the compulsory age in secondary schools throughout Australia. Ten years ago we produced from all tertiary sources about 100 graduates for every 100,000 of population. Today it is estimated that we produce about 200 graduates from all tertiary sources for each 100,000 of population. This shows an increasing performance in terms of quantity. I believe that this will be projected into the future and will do a great deal to meet some of the requirements that honourable members have mentioned in this debate. It highlights the importance of education in forming the character and strength of the nation. Having said that, I recognise that ever greater demands will be made on those responsible for these matters in the future and I am sure that these demands will be met.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
House adjourned al 12.42 a.ni. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable members questions is as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The following answers arc now supplied:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked theMinister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The honourable member is referred to the records of the Security Council’s debates contained in documents S/PV1331-1340 from8th December to16th December 1966.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Does the Australian Government regard the official records of Security Council debates as being accurate?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The verbatim record of debates is subject to checking by the speakers and could also be challenged by any member of the Council who questioned its accuracy, so.it is assumed that it is accepted as accurate by those whose statements are reported. ‘
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Was the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations in1947 Colonel Hodgson?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. Colonel Hodgson, however, represented Australia in the Security Council and in the General Assembly on a number of occasions during 1947.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Has the Government considered the report of the meetings of all chiefs and headmen of Rhodesia at Domboshawa on 26th October 1964?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This report has’ been considered and taken into account during the formulation of Government policy on Rhodesian questions.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Has the Government examined the report of the Advisory Commission appointed by the British Government in 1960 under the chairmanship of Lord Monckton of Brenchley to review the Constitution of Rhodesia and Nyasaland?
– The answer to the honourable rnember’s question is as follows:
This report has been considered and taken into account during the formulation of Government policy on Rhodesian questions.
asked the Ministerfor External Affairs, upon notice:
Is any reason held by the Australian Government to doubt the conclusion reached by the Monckton Commission in its report that the status of Chiefs in Rhodesia was being lowered mainly by the activities of those who are using intimidation as a weapon? ‘’
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There is no reason to believe that the statement (‘But in the eyes of their people their status is being lowered mainly by the. activities of those who are using intimidation as a weapon’) in the report of the Monckton Commission was not valid at the time the report was made, viz. 1960.
asked the Minister for External Affairs,upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Is he aware of any determination made by the Security Council that the situation in the Sudan is:
Has the Australian Government concluded that the situation in the Sudan is:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Nigeria (Question No.. 691)
asked the Minister for External
Affairs, upon notice:
Is he able to say if fighting has been going on inside Nigeria since 1966?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There has been serious fighting in Nigeria since July 1967. A number of internal upheavals occurred earlier, beginning with the murder of the Prime Minister of the Federation and a number of others in January 1966. There was another violent change on 29th July 1966, and in October 1966 there were extensive riots in. the Northern Region where large numbers ofIbos were killed. No accurate estimates of the number of deaths are available.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
What information has he concerning the supply of arms to (a) Nigeria and (b) Biafra?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is’ as follows:
Both sides in the Nigerian fighting are obtaining supplies of arms from a variety of sources, including Britain and the Soviet Union, but on this matter the Australian Government does not possess complete information.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Is he able to say whether His Holiness, The Pope, has found it necessaryto smuggle aid to people starving to death in Biafra?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Some weeks ago the Vatican indicated that it had arranged for a number of flights of relief supplies which had been carried out without the prior authorisation of either the Nigerian or the secessionist authorities. On 11th September the Vatican further made known “that aircraft under charter to it were parachuting relief supplies to civilian refugee camps in Biafra.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Does he reject the claim that Chinese Communist instructors are training Tanzanian troops in Tanzania?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Government understands that, under present arrangements, the Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces are receiving military training in Tanzania from instructors provided variously by the Soviet Union, Communist China and Canada.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Can he say whether Tanzania exerts any influence over Zanzibar? If so, what is its nature?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: “
Articles of Union were signed between Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964, to form. Tanzania. The internal government of Zanzibar has remained autonomous.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:-
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Can he say if the Security Council in 1966 determined that the situation between Kenya and Somalia was:
Did the Australian Government in 1966 conclude that the situation between Kenya and Somalia was:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for. External Affairs, upon notice:
Is he able to say whether the political leaders in Malawi, Lesotho and Botswana have asked the British Government, to lift sanctions against Rhodesia?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
To the best of my knowledge’ none of the three states referred to has asked that sanctions in respect of Rhodesia be lifted but both Malawi and Botswana have reported to the United Nations Secretary-General that to comply fully with the Security Council Resolution No. 253 would cause them great economic hardship.
asked the Minister Tor External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
-;- The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Road Transport (Question No. 601)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 September 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680918_reps_26_hor60/>.