26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr SCHOLES presented a petition showing that whereas (a) the Commonwealth Parliament has a clear mandate to act for the advancement of the Aboriginal people and (b) Aboriginals require a sound economic basis to rise from their present position of poverty, and (c) the granting of special land rights would provide such a basis, and (d) common justice and international standards require recognition of traditional ownership rights of indigenous people, the petitioners pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for-
Petition received and read.
– Is the Treasurer aware that Mr Thomas Ireland and Mr Bernard Schoninger, two American multimillionaires, are in Melbourne at the present time and that they hope to run 30 to 40 shopping centres in Australia with from 2 to 20 shops in each centre? As Australia has a double taxation agreement with the United States of America, which will mean that the profits derived from these ventures will be subject to Australian taxation in some cases of 50% less than that which would be paid if the ventures were owned by Australians, will the right honourable gentleman take action to see that the double taxation agreement is amended?
– 1 was not aware that these gentlemen had come to Australia and were attempting to establish retail stores in Victoria and perhaps in other parts of Australia. As to the substance of the honourable member’s question, these ventures would pay company income taxation on their net profits in exactly the same way as every other corporation. I think it would be extremely difficult to do what the honourable gentleman suggests because, if I followed the text of his question, as yet the corporations have not been established, we do not know whether there will be any Australian participation in them and we do not know on what basis they are intended to operate. At least I will direct his question to the Commissioner of Taxation and will see whether I can obtain any information from him that might be helpful to the honourable gentleman in an attempt to clarify his thinking.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has his attention been drawn to a story in the newspapers of a young Czech migrant housewife, Mrs Filomena Stolinova who, before coming to Australia recently, worked as a boilermaker/ welder and a crane driver and who is now looking for a similar job in Australia? Can the Minister say whether this young lady’s trade qualifications have been recognised and whether she has been able to obtain employment in what is traditionally recognised in Australia as a purely male preserve?
– I did see this report and naturally it excited my interest. Therefore I followed the matter through. The young lady to whom the honourable member referred did seek employment through my Department and she particularly wanted to work with her husband who is also a boilermaker. She applied to a local trades committee for recognition of her qualifications and was asked to undergo a trade test. I am told that the young lady proved in her test to be a first-class boilermaker/ welder. There are all too few people with these qualifications in Australia. As a matter of fact, one person with these qualifications who is quite well known escaped to this House some time ago.
Having established her qualifications we did obtain employment for the young lady and her husband at a Brookvale steel works where I imagine they are now both happily engaged. This arrangement was made in a very short time after these people arrived here. But this does point up how silly some of these ancient notions are as to what is women’s work and what is man’s work. Over a wide range of fields in Australia it is customary to deny opportunities to many women who in fact would add very considerably to the skill and capacity of our work force.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Has he received complaints from the Australian motor industry protesting about the adverse effect of the Government’s Plan A which is jeopardising the jobs of thousands of workers in the industry? Will the Minister take immediate action, either by directing a new tariff inquiry or by introducing legislation in this Parliament, to ensure full protection to a vital developing Australian industry and the job security of workers engaged in it.
– The Department of Trade and Industry has been in close consultation with certain sectors of the motor car manufacturing industry in Australia that have problems. This relates, I think, exclusively to the small car area and discussions are proceeding. The honourable member may be assured that there will be appropriate protection of the Australian motor car Industry in the future as there has been in the past. Without the appropriate protection that this Government has accorded the motor car manufacturing industry, this industry could not have grown to a production exceeding 400,000 vehicles a year or could not be the second largest provider of employment in Australia as in fact it is today.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Has his attention been drawn to the answer given by the Minister for the Army on 22nd October which indicated that at that time 740 Citizen Military Forces personnel were in the process of being discharged for failure to render efficient service? As these members have avoided the possibility of being required to serve the 2-year term of national service on the clear understanding that they would render efficient part-time service in the CMF, what action is being taken to prevent what appears to be a misuse of the alternative provisions in the National Service Act?
– I imagine that many of those who were discharged from the Citizen Military Forces for not being efficient would not have been those who, when they were required to register for national service, elected to take the option under the National Service Act to join the CMF instead. Those who were discharged would presumably include everyone in the CMF, of which these people form only a part. When someone has chosen to use the option to join the CMF and has failed to render effective service the normal procedure is that he is called up for national service. I am not aware of the number of people affected by this practice, but 1 will try to obtain the figures for the honourable member quickly and let him know.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that some traditional wheal growers fear that the price they are receiving for their wheat and will receive in the future is being depressed by the entry into the industry of large scale farming enterprises? Does the Minister contemplate taking any action that would alter this situation?
– J have seen reports that growers are concerned about this trend. There is evidence of an increase in large scale farming groups. I think this is inevitable and we must accept it. The number of farms in the 500 acre and over group increased between 1960 and 1966 from 5,900 to 10,800. These farms account for about a quarter of all wheat farms over 100 acres in Australia and naturally would produce a very much higher percentage of the wheat crop. There is no evidence to suggest that the increase in large scale farming has reduced the returns to wheat growers; nor is it easy to show that if the production had not been so great growers would have received a much higher price for their wheat than they are receiving now.
It is obvious that there has been an upswing in the output of the industry, and the industry is well aware of the dangers for it if this trend continues and we have difficult marketing circumstances. It is clear from the statistics, however, that the upsurge in production has come from farmers in the old established as well as the more recently developed areas and from small as well as large area farms. I have, along with the leaders of the industry, pointed out the dangers of undue expansion of production and I have pointed out that under the Constitution the Commonwealth Government can do little to control production. The right to take such action lies in the hands of the State governments. This is a problem for the growers in conjunction with the State governments. They must face up to the problem and resolve it themselves if production continues to expand.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. He has answered some questions and made some statements on the difficulties that many recent migrants, including some highly skilled migrants from Czechoslovakia, are having in adjusting themselves to life and practices in Australia because they are not familiar enough with our language. I ask the Minister whether he has accepted the offer which the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University made last week in these terms:
If the authorities ask us to organise a course for highly skilled Czechoslovak immigrants, Monash will give all possible help.
The Minister probably knows that Monash has ample language laboratory facilities for teaching English or any other language. I ask him whether he is using these laboratories, or laboratories in other universities, particularly during the months of the summer vacation when they will not otherwise be used. I ask him furthermore whether he will consider helping these migrants, many of whom are on special benefits, with the payment of fees to the universities where they can learn the language.
– I received a letter from, if my recollection is right, the Vice- Chancellor of the Monash University pointing out to me that that university had the facilities for teaching English to migrants and that they would be available during January, suggesting that perhaps we could come together for the benefit of these people. I responded to the invitation by sending a senior officer of my Department to talk to representatives of the university. That officer will in turn be talking to the officers of the Department administered by my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, to see just how these facilities could be used. There is no doubt whatever that the facilities are first class. The problem is that the language course requires full time attendance. We may have difficulty in finding enough people to attend the courses full time, because the great majority of these Czechoslovakian migrants already have jobs and attendance at such a course would be an intrusion upon their working day. We are looking at the problem now. As soon as we are able to carry the matter forward 1 will let the honourable gentleman know. 1 may say that I would like to take advantage of the offer, but I cannot do so to the disadvantage of the people whom it is designed to help.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Following a recent visit to Australia by the Deputy Director of the Austrian National Tourist Office, during the course of which he said that Europeans know very little about Australia as a venue for tourists and urged that Europeans be given more information concerning Australia’s tourist potential, I ask the Minister whether he will take steps through appropriate channels to ensure that maximum benefits flow to Australia in respect of tourists from Europe.
– I can assure the honourable member that this Government is highly conscious of the desirability of stimulating the flow of overseas tourists to Australia. I would respect very much the opinion of an Austrian Minister. Of the overseas exchange earned by Austria more is earned from tourism than from any other source, if my memory serves me rightly. 1 might remind the honourable member that we have quite recently established the Australian Tourist Commission. The Government appointed Senator Wright as Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry in handling the Government’s policies in relation to tourism and that Commission. The Government has furnished the Commission with an annual1 budget of $1,750,000 for its activities, and that is supplemented quite substantially by funds provided by and expended on behalf of private institutions which operate airlines, shipping lines, hotels and so on.
It is a fact that the Commission concentrates principally on the markets which have proved to be most lucrative. I refer to North America, New Zealand and Britain. But the Commission, I understand, is increasingly turning its attention to Europe. In the future it may well be expected that there will be a greater emphasis on the promotion of Australia’s tourist attractions in countries like Germany, Italy. France and Switzerland. It is part of the Government’s policy to bring to this country people who can stimulate the interest of intending tourists in Australia and tell them where they should travel. Travel agents and writers are being brought to Australia to see the opportunities and attractions of this country so that, when they return to their tourism activities in their homeland, they can talk at first hand about the advantages of coming to this country.
– Does the Prime Minister recall that in his statement on defence delivered on 2nd May the Minister for Defence said that Amberley would be the home and operational base for the Fill aircraft? Does the Prime Minister recall that in the House on 17th September the Minister for Air said that Amberley would be the main base for the FI 1 1, which also could be used in operational exercises from a number of strips including Darwin, Tindal, Learmonth and Townsville? If those statements were correct, when was it decided that Amberley would be only a training centre and that Darwin would be the main operational base for the Fill, as revealed by the Prime Minister in his speech in the House on Tuesday night?
– I think perhaps the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is subject to a little confusion in this matter. There is, of course, at Amberley a main training base where crews are taught how to fly these aircraft and where the greatest safety precautions are therefore needed in those circumstances. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would know as well as anybody that, that being so, that training base could be used of course as an operational base, but he should also know that Darwin, for example, which has a runway comparable to the runway proposed for Amberley, is an operational base likely to be closer to the north coast of Australia - indeed closer to the north coast of Australia, much closer to the north coast of Australia, a matter which appeared to escape the attention of the Leader of the Opposition when he was making his speech in this House.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a report that the Federal Government is holding up a deal involving the export from Tasmania of wood chips and that this delay could result in a large quantity of wood chips being burned as waste, ls the Government holding up any export contracts for wood chips in Tasmania? Will the Minister outline the purpose of the Government’s export controls over wood chips?
– I did see the report to which the honourable gentleman has referred. As I had no recollection of having refused an export licence to a Tasmanian firm I made some inquiries within my Department. I ascertained that a Tasmanian firm - its name was something like Tasman Wood Chips - had had informal discussions with the Department and had been informed of the general terms on which export licences are granted. The Federal Government recently imposed restrictions on the export of wood chips without the prior approval of the Department of National Development. This was done because the Commonwealth regards forestry as a basic resource of Australia. We believe that when forest products are sold a fair and reasonable price should be obtained for them irrespective of where they are sold. We believe also that where applicable there should be some future commitment to processing. We do not believe that we should continue indefinitely to export wood chips without having some regard to future processing commitments. If a company is unable to meet what we regard as fair and reasonable standards as to selling price I think it is right that the company should not be allowed to export. However, 1 stress that any case is looked at on its merits. In the case referred to by the honourable member 1 have not received an application from the company.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. I briefly preface my question by stating that the shipbuilding and ship repair industry in the port of Sydney is almost at a standstill due to lack of orders. The work force in the industry has decreased by more than 1,000 men in the last 12 months due to this situation. Will the Minister look into the matter with a view to ensuring that the port of Sydney receives a fair deal in the allocation of work in this industry, which I believe to be vital in Australia’s future defence policies?
– The only subsidised shipbuilding yard in the port of Sydney is, of course, at Cockatoo Island. As I understand it. (hat dockyard is occupied almost exclusively on Navy construction programmes and. to the best of my knowledge, there is an adequacy of work to keep the yard reasonably employed. If there is unused capacity at Cockatoo Island which could be used for building or repairing mercantile vessels, such work would be done in conjunction with whatever the naval programme might be. The repair work undertaken there is quite extensive, and I know that the Cockatoo Island facilities are utilised by many vessels which come into the port of Sydney. It does appear that, in respect of various trades about the Australian coast and other trades outside Australia in which companies such as Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd are becoming increasingly involved, there is the prospect of substantial opportunities for vessels to be built in the future. The Cockatoo Island dockyard and other shipyards around Sydney are all entitled to tender, subject to their capacity to build and their entitlement to receive a subsidy.
The Tariff Board shortly will be looking at the maintenance of the shipbuilding subsidy after it terminates at the end of next year. It will be open to any shipbuilding yard, or to other interested parties operating in the port of Sydney, to submit rep- resentations to the Tariff Board if they think they are entitled to receive a subsidy. Tn general the future of the shipbuilding industry appears to be reasonably bright, particularly as new methods of ship handling and new types of vessels are leading to the replacement of existing vessels. This should ensure a continuation of activity within the shipyards of the order that has been present over the last 2 years.
– I refer the Treasurer to a statement made last night by the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr J. G. Phillips, that foreign exchange markets had closed in London and western Europe. In view of the generally expected devaluation of the French franc and the close relationship of this currency with sterling, can the Minister assure the House that in the event of either or both of these currencies being forced to devalue, the Australian commodity boards will not experience losses similar to those which they incurred during the last devaluation of sterling? Further, can the Treasurer advise to what extent he will be made aware of the deliberations which will emanate from the meeting of the finance ministers of the Group of Ten who are meeting in Bonn today to discuss the currency crisis?
– I think it would be wrong for me to answer a question that was based upon the somewhat doubtful assumption that there might be or probably would be a devaluation of either the French franc or sterling. I certainly would not have included sterling in the question asked by the honourable member. I think I should point out that assumptions that are made about devaluation of currencies in most cases inevitably turn out to be wrong. It is a matter of great concern to us all that there has been a run on the French franc and that the balance of trade figures for the United Kingdom last month turned out to be more unfavourable than was estimated even a few days or weeks before the October figures were released.
The honourable gentleman is right in saying that many of the foreign exchanges, particularly the important ones, have been closed today. We took steps very late last night or early this morning to make certain that there could be no dealings on the foreign exchanges that had been closed. We also took action through the Reserve Bank to ensure that only spot transactions should be carried out at the moment in currencies other than sterling and that finance would not be made available to permit forward transactions to take place.
As to the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question, regarding the protection of Australian assets or reserves overseas, I think he will know - I do not want to say a great deal about this, but I say it in a restrained way and think it is important - that we have over the years been adjusting our balances, our London and other foreign holdings, in order to ensure that these holdings are related to our debts overseas and to the trading pattern that Australia has to follow. So we are constantly watching to see the way in which these assets should be held.
I think the honourable gentleman will know, too, that under the terms of the Basle agreement there is a minimum amount of our overseas reserves that we must hold in sterling. 1 have already made known to the House the amount that has to be held. Also as to the last part of the question I am constantly receiving cables on this subject from our representative in London and from our Washington representative on the International Monetary Fund. We are not in close contact with the Group of Ten because we are not a member of that Group, and what we find out from it has to come from London and Washington sources. Nonetheless, we are kept reasonably well informed and our own officials are working to the limit of their capacity to keep the information flowing through to us as quickly as possible.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. What precautions have been taken to avert the adverse effect on Australian repayments of current borrowings in the event of any revaluation upwards of the Deutsche mark in relation to the Australian dollar? What were Australia’s losses from the last devaluation of sterling?
– The first part of the honourable gentleman’s question should be looked at in two ways. There are the losses that we suffered on our short term balances and there are the gains that we made on our long term securities. If my memory holds good - and it is 6 weeks or so since J looked at the figures - we lost on the one hand about $113m and we gained on the other about $104m. So the loss in total was not very great. Despite the loss on short term balances, our overall loss was only $5m, $6m or $7m - certainly less than Si Om - all these sums being expressed in Australian dollars. In terms of our balance of payments for last year, the result was extraordinarily good. The honourable gentleman, who interests himself particularly in financial and trade matters - with what result, I do not know - will, if he looks at the latest figures for our balance of payments, see that there was a loss of only Sim over the whole of the first 4 months of the current financial year. Again, we ought to be proud to call1 ourselves Australians having regard to this record.
– Sell a little more of the farm.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will cease interjecting.
– 1 have been trying to find out what the honourable member meant, but even the most active of minds in the House cannot tell1 me. So I am sorry; 1 cannot answer his interjection. I return to the first part of the question asked by the honourable member for Cunningham. If he looks at the way in which the recent Deutsche mark loan was distributed he will find that a great deal of it is still deposited in Deutsche marks although some is in other currencies. By and large, when we negotiate an interest rate such as is applicable to this loan and arrange for such a distribution of the proceeds, we must conclude that the transaction has been very well organised and, I think, organised for the benefit of this country.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Can he say when a start may be made on the provision of television services at Mount Isa and subsequently at Cloncurry and other centres between Charters Towers and Mount Isa, and when other remote areas of inland Queensland may expect to receive this amenity?
– As originally planned, the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission’s television station to serve Mount lsa was to have been brought into operation at the beginning of 1971. It was to have served Ml lsa only. The honourable member will appreciate that the topography of that particular area makes it very difficult for signals to go over the mountain ranges to cover the area of Cloncurry. Since the original decision was made, partly for television but principally for telephone purposes, it has been decided to install a broad band system between Townsville and Mt lsa. This means that instead of having a local ABC television operation in Mt lsa we will be able to relay the Brisbane programmes to Mt Isa, and probably later to radiate similar programmes in areas between Charters Towers and Mt lsa. This will mean a slight delay in relation to Mt lsa, but there should be television transmission in the Mt Isa area by mid-1971.
– J preface my question which is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, by reminding him that the Department of Social Services intends to establish retraining centres at which widows who wish to re-enter the work, force can be retrained in their old labour skills. 1 also remind the Minister that on several occasions the present Treasurer, when he was the Minister for Labour and National Service, made speeches about the need to encourage married women to reenter the work force because of the problems which will arise in the 1970s in obtaining sufficient people for the work force. Will the Minister consider having his Department, in conjunction with the relevant Slate departments, set up retraining centres at which married women who wish to rejoin the work force may renew the skills which they previously held when they were members of the work force so that their return to industry will be easier for them and will be more beneficial to the economy?
– My Department and 1 certainly use every endeavour to encourage and to assist those who wish to participate in this activity. I would like to see this activity extended, but it is not for my
Department within its normal functions to set up and run such centres. In most cases this is a matter for the State authorities, and in certain cases for the Minister for Social Services. My Department does its best to co-operate in every way possible, particularly in finding suitable work for those who go through such establishments. I am certainly prepared to look at any proposition which falls within my compass. I am pleased to know that the honourable member is so willing to support this kind of activity to which frequently there has been some resistance.
– My question is directed to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. 1 refer to an advertisement calling for two liaison officers for the Office of Aboriginal Affairs which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’ on 16th November. Will the Minister inform me whether consideration will be given to appointing Aboriginals to these positions?
– This advertisement appeared not only in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ but also. 1 understand, in newspapers throughout Australia. The advertisement was for two senior responsible positions of liaison officer in the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. One of these officers will have the primary duty of contacting Aboriginal representative panels which it is hoped to establish and encourage, perhaps in conjunction with the excellent work which is being done in certain States, so that we may get a better idea of Aboriginal views, motivation and objectives. The other officer will be concerned primarily with the economic advancement of Aboriginals and the capital assistance which will be given in terms of a Bill now before the House.
T hope that Aboriginals will be appointed to both these positions, but I cannot give an absolute guarantee until the applications are received and we know who has applied. Obviously it would be better if qualified Aboriginals occupied these positions, and I will be both surprised and disappointed if Aboriginals are not appointed to them.
I am glad to be able to say, in passing, that we have appointed already one Aboriginal lady to our clerical staff in the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. We hope to appoint in the near future two more Aboriginal ladies, lt will be our objective - a real objective, not a phoney objective - to keep Aboriginals participating as far as possible in the advancement of their own people, taking authority themselves and initiating the policies which should be directed to the advancement of Aboriginal people.
– 1 ask the Prime Minister a question which concerns the proposal in the Governor-General’s Speech last March that the Government, in collaboration with the Stales, would introduce a dairying industry reconstruction scheme. Yesterday the Minister for Primary Industry said that the Prime Minister had written to the Premiers at the end of September and that two of them had replied. I now ask: Why did it take the right honourable gentleman so long - over 6 months - to write to the Premiers, and which Premiers have replied?
– The Minister for Primary Industry will answer the question.
– In answer to a question yesterday I said that negotiations had proceeded over quite a considerable time and that officers of my Department, in conjunction with officers of the State departments of agriculture, have been trying to resolve the differences between the various State land laws and the types of administration that operate within those States in order to overcome some of the problems confronting small dairy farms, lt was not until we reached the stage where there was a degree of uniformity between the laws that operated in the States that we were able to put a proposal to the State governments. On 30th September, after Cabinet had looked at the suggestions put forward, the Prime Minister wrote to the States, and two States have replied - Western Australia and Tasmania.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science seen reports of a statement ascribed to the Leader of the Opposition indicating that he favours the expenditure of a further $10m of public moneys to provide completely free univer sities in Australia? Do student fees presently provide a very significant part of the recurrent expenses in universities? In the light of the urgent and pressing needs in other spheres of education, including primary and secondary education, what kind of priorities could attach to such an idea, and how responsible is such a suggestion at the present time?
– I think that there is approximately $1Om collected in fees that are not paid by the Commonwealth - as Commonwealth scholarships to students - or by State governments or by semi-government authorities which may have to be-
– I take the point of order, Sir, that a more precise answer would be available if an answer were supplied to a question on university fees and costs which I have had on the notice paper-
– Mr Speaker-
-The Leader of the Opposition is now taking a point of order in relation to the question that has been asked.
– On 29th August I placed question No. 595 on the notice paper. I asked the Minister for Education and Science the very questions which would enable an accurate answer to be given to the question now asked by the honourable member for Evans.
– Question No. 595 is a long question. There are many facets in it.
– Then I will direct your attention, Sir, to the specific parts. In part (19) I asked what income and what percentage of its income did each university receive, amongst other things, from fees, and in part (20) I asked what amount and what percentage of fees, received by each university in the last year for which information is available was paid by the Commonwealth.
-Order! I would think that the reasons put forward by the Leader of the Opposition on this occasion are valid ones and that they do relate to the question
– Mr Speaker, might I be allowed to draw your attention to, and ask you to consider, the fact that the question put on the notice paper by the Leader of the Opposition does not cover all the matters that could be replied to by the Minister for Education and Science. It does not, for example, refer to the fees that are paid by State governments, by other instrumentalities or by people in firms and others who pay fees for students. So there is quite an area outside the range.
– I did not quite finish my explanation. I wish to say that paragraphs 18 and 19 of the question on the notice paper seem to be within the ambit of the question that was asked by the honourable member for Evans. But there are other attitudes and facets of the question that do not come within the two paragraphs. I suggest that the Minister would be in order in answering those questions which do not appear on the notice paper.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think I mentioned, but I will not repeat in deference to your ruling, Sir, the proportion of university recurrent expenditure which is collected from fees outside the ambit of the Commonwealth or State governments or departments of one kind or another. I think it is quite wrong for the Leader of the Opposition to suggest that by the payment of a further $10m universities will be made free. The fact is that over the last 10 or 11 years about $ 1,300m has been spent by Commonwealth and State governments in supporting the capital expansion and recurrent programmes of universities.
Furthermore, the proposition that he put is one that is much too simple. Even if all fees were paid, there are still very real problems facing some people. For reasons of geography or because of the courses they wish to pursue some people must of necessity live away from home and therefore have additional expenses. The suggestion that fees that are now collected should be paid also ignores the fact that fees are a part of the recurrent grants which are provided by a State. Therefore if fees are abolished we would need a reorganisation of Commonwealth-State proportions in relation to university expenditure.
At the time of the last Budget the Government quite clearly made decisions which concerned educational priorities. I will give just one example. I refer to the libraries programme which will cost $9m a year. This was given a much higher priority than the kind of suggestion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition which was not considered by the Government and which was not considered by my Department as a matter of priority.
– On a point of order: The honourable member for Evans was supposed to ask a question without notice. It is quite obviously a question on notice. The Minister is reading a reply.
– There is no point of order. The honourable member well knows that a Minister may answer a question in any manner he thinks fit, provided the answer is relevant to the question.
– This is not. On that point of order: The Minister is now speaking on matters that were not raised in the question and which do not arise from it.
-I believe that the Minister is still dealing with facets of education that can be related to the question which has been asked.
– There is only one other point that I would like to make and which I. think the honourable member together with those who sit behind him might do well to consider. Whilst Australia does not question and would not question for a moment the right of free education to the end of secondary schooling, I think the question of free education at tertiary and university level is quite a different matter. The bulk of taxes that supports universities comes from the general level of taxpayers, the bulk of whom do not and will not in the foreseeable future be going to universities. This means that we would be taxing the bulk of the population, who are not in the high income groups, to give special education to those who, as a result of that education, should be among the highest income earning groups in the community. The justice of entirely free education for them - an education that would be supported by the bulk of people who would not have these advantages - is something that would need a good deal of consideration.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Yesterday at question time I asked the Attorney-General a question. I commenced by asking him whether he was aware that all1 the major newspapers of Australia used a syndicated service called AAP in the Press gallery. I understand now that my information was incorrect and that the newspaper services that do not use this syndicate are the Melbourne ‘Sun’, the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’, the ‘Courier-Mail’, the Tasmanian Press Service, the Melbourne Herald’, the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’ Service and the ‘Mirror’ - Adelaide ‘News’ Service. Subject to investigation I withdraw any implication that was contained in my question.
– Pursuant to the provisions of section 23a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, I present a copy of the report with maps relating to the fresh distribution of Queensland into electoral divisions, showing the boundaries of each proposed division, by the Distribution Commissioners for Queensland. At the next day of sitting 1 intend to propose a motion for the approval of the fresh distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions as proposed by the Distribution Commissioners in their further report.
Ordered to be printed.
– As Chairman I present the One-Hundred-and-Second Report of the Public Accounts Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable members will recall that on 7th November, I presented to the Parliament the OneHundredth Report of the Public Accounts Committee which related to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for 1967-68. In my statement to the House at that time I referred to the combined in quiries that your Committee has conducted in recent years into expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This OneHundredandSecond Report relates to evidence taken in that inquiry in respect of the expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the financial year 1967-68.
During its inquiry into expenditure results, your Committee noted that in a number of cases where departments had experienced shortfalls in expenditure, funds had been obtained in both the original and Additional Estimates but no attempt had been made by the departments concerned to explain the reasons for ; the additional appropriation. In this regard, your Committee would make it clear that when departments evidently require further funds late in the financial year and then experience a shortfall in expenditure, the circumstances of estimating and expenditure on the items concerned must attract close scrutiny. Accordingly, we would expect departments when submitting evidence to the Public Accounts Committee to tender, a clear indication of the expenditure position relative to the items under their administrative control at the stage when the Additional Estimates were formulated, and of the need for the additional funds, as well as the itemised reasons that gave rise to, the overall shortfall in expenditure. Your Committee would also invite attention to instances where departmental explanations relating to shortfalls in expenditure were lacking in detail and witnesses were not adequately briefed on matters of fact. In this regard wc would commend to the departments concerned. Public Service Board Circular No. 66/411, issued on 18th January 1966. which bears directly on this matter. .
As the One-Hundred-and-Second Report shows, there are cases where shortfalls in expenditure have arisen from circumstances beyond the control of departments. Your Committee accepts the explanations of the departments in such cases. The report also shows cases, however, where estimates have been based on unjustified assumptions or have been formulated wilh considerable uncertainty as to the likely actual expenditure. In some cases shortfalls in expenditure have arisen from delays that occurred in the placing of orders and from Administrative laxity and weaknesses in departmental procedures as well as from errors that occurred but had not been detected promptly. Your Committee will continue to criticise these weaknesses in estimating and administrative practices whenever they occur.
I commend the report to honourable members.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:
Hospital complex, stage 1, Gove, Northern Territory.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Government business taking precedence over general business today.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr McMahon. and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) informed the House yesterday, when introducing the Parliamentary Allowances Bill, the purpose of this Bill is to amend certain provisions of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act relating to the Ministerial Retiring Allowances Fund, consequent upon the proposals to increase the salaries payable to Ministers and certain other office holders in the Parliament. In contrast to the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund, in which the contributions of members and the basic pensions payable have, since 1964, been expressed as percentages of the member’s parliamentary salary, the Ministerial Retiring Allowances Fund provides for a fixed contribution of $37 per month for a Minister and fixed amounts of pension ranging from $18 per week to $42 per week.
Because rates of contributions and pensions are fixed in amount, any increase in the salary of Ministers has the effect of reducing the proportions that contributions and pension bear to salary. This is undoubtedly a serious defect in the ministerial scheme and, accordingly, provision is made in the Bill for the scheme to be placed on a percentage of salary basis comparable with the parliamentary retiring allowances scheme. Contributions by Ministers will in future be 1H% of the basic salary of a Minister while pension will range from 21% to 50% of that salary depending upon the length of service as an office holder. While the new basis raises the maximum level of pension benefit by $1,560 or 71% from $2,190 to $3,750 a year contributions by Ministers will rise by $418.50 a year or 94% from $444 to $862.50 a year.
The increases in pension rates will not apply to persons already in receipt of pensions from the ministerial fund, nor W1 the increases in the rates of parliamentary retiring allowances fund pensions that will automatically flow from the increase in members’ salaries apply to existing parliamentary fund pensions. A former office holder who already has sufficient service to qualify for a ministerial pension but is not entitled to receive that pension until he ceases to serve in the Parliament will receive a pension calculated on the basis of the basic ministerial salary at the time he ceased to be an office holder.
The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives each receive salaries at the basic ministerial level but hitherto no provision has been made for them to join the ministerial fund. The Bill provides for them to become members on the same basis as Ministers. The existing ministerial scheme provides for three office holders - the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate - to contribute at proportionately lower rates and for their service as office holders to count on a proportionate basis only.
The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives has the same entitlements as a Minister. In the case of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who contributes at one-quarter of the Minister’s rate, he would need to serve as Deputy Leader for 32 years instead of 8 years before he would qualify for the minimum level of pension. While this Bill does not vary that principle it is one of a number of questions relating to the ministerial and parliamentary schemes which are currently under consideration and which it is expected will be dealt with in legislation to be brought down in the autumn session next year.
May I thank those who have helped me in the preparation of this Bill. 1 assure the House that it was a very difficult task, but I think it was done with complete efficiency. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 20 November (vide page 3076), on motion by Mr Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Australian Labor Party does not oppose the Bill’s. Inevitably there is argument whenever parliamentary salaries or pensions are adjusted. There is argument about the interval between adjustments and about the method of adjustment. I think therefore that we should make it plain that parliamentarians differ from most employees in that their incomes are adjusted at longer interval’s than are those of almost any other employees. The longer the interval the larger the increase.
I know that there will be controversy - it always happens with regard to the Commonwealth Parliament - about the amount of the adjustment. There will be controversy about the salaries of members and about the increase in those salaries of 35% or more since the last adjustment 4 years ago. There will be controversy about all the other adjustments - electorate allowances, official allowances, ministerial salaries and so on, all to be increased by 25%. It is therefore relevant, I believe, to ask how many employees in Australia have had no increase in their salaries or allowances for more than 4 years. How many in that period of time will have had smaller increases than those which will be provided under these Bills? How many employees have to contribute a greater percentage of their incomes to superannuation funds? How many employees are in a field of employment more precarious and strenuous than that covered by the legislation? Many members of my Party have openly expressed the view and I have heard none who have opposed the view that the basic salary of members should be linked to that for the lowest level’ of the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. My Party takes the view that pensions ought lo be adjusted when salaries are adjusted; that the pension which a man or woman receives should not bc linked to the salary he or she received at the time of retirement: that if the salary in the occupation he or she pursued rises during retirement, the pension should rise proportionately.
– Could we call it superannuation instead of pension?
– 1 accept the term superannuation. I had used the term already; it is a contributory scheme. When one takes into account the income tax which has to be paid and the amount of superannuation contributions, I should think that no person covered by these Bills will receive, net. as much as 50% of the amounts provided by way of additional salaries and allowances. Our attitude towards superannuation, in this case - here 1 hope I will be permitted to use the term pension because I used it in the same context last week when speaking on the Judges’ Pensions Bill - is that the amounts paid in retirement should be adjusted when the salaries are adjusted for the occupation which the person in retirement formerly pursued. I stated this principle on that Bill; I reiterate it now. It is a view which I have committed in writing to the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and which I communicated orally to the former Prime Minister. I believe it was urged the last time that the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act was before the House. I welcome the assurance given by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) that there will be legislation in the autumn to deal with the superannuation position. I hope that it will cover, not only the absurdly anomalous situation of the Deputy Leader of my Party in this House and of the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Party in the Senate, but also the position of all honourable members.
There is a remaining matter upon which my Party’s attitude should be known, that is. the electoral allowance paid to senators. This, in our view, should be increased to make it the same as that paid to members of this House who represent city electorates. This view also has been conveyed to the Prime Minister, lt involves a small sum, but it is one of those irritations that should no longer be preserved. I know that all allowances were increased by 25%. 1 had hoped that this particular differential would be eliminated. I have stated my Party’s attitude, ft has been expressed on previous occasions. I express it on this occasion and I have made it known to the Government. For these reasons we will support these Bills here and in the other place. In the other place we will request that the senator’s electoral allowance should be increased as f have suggested. We support the Bills, but we believe that in regard to superannuation they are very far from being lavish. As regards salaries, they are appropriate in terms of both relativity and responsibility. It is not easy to ascertain the amounts paid to employees in the private sector. These are usually adjusted in private. Even where there are awards, as there are for a great number of skilled occupations, sums are paid above the award amount. In the public sector, however, it is possible to ascertain the remuneration and the superannuation. These matters are usually determined by public processes and by arbitration.
The salary of all members of the Public Service, except those in the First Division, is determined by arbitration. It is for this reason that my Party has come to the view that the sal’aries of members of Parliament should be linked to the salary of the lowest level of the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. Thus indirectly the salary of members of Parliament would be adjusted by arbitration. In fact, every member of the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service will receive a higher salary, if the Parliamentary Allowances Bill1 goes through, than will be paid to any member under that Bill. A great number of people employed by Commonwealth authorities and in the Services whose incomes arc comparable will be paid more than any member under the Parliamentary Allowances Bill. 1 think it would be true to say also that all such persons will receive higher superannuation benefits than will be paid to members of the Parliament.
– And they pay less for them.
– That is true. Members of the Public Service, in the Second Division and above, wil’l not only pay less for their superannuation but will receive more. I have made this comparison. Everybody knows, from the point of view of remuneration and superannuation, what people in the Second Division receive and how their entitlement comes about.
As we all know, parliamentary life is becoming less attractive. A man or a woman with experience and qualifications obviously can receive a higher income outside Parliament than in it, can receive it for a longer period, and can see more of his or her family in the process. 1 am not asserting that there will not be persons seeking parliamentary office. I hope there always will be. I am not asserting that persons who enjoy it will1 cease to enjoy it or will readily abdicate it. Nevertheless we are dealing with Bills concerning remuneration and superannuation and it is a legitimate comment to make that persons with experience and qualifications can, in the material sense and in the family sense, do very much better outside Parliament than inside Parliament.
I have mentioned persons in the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. Some 21 years ago one such person was recruited lo my Party. For the next election another such person, as is already known, has been recruited to my Party. In each case the gentleman would make less in Parliament than he would be making in the Second Division of the Public Service. These are very highly qualified persons. The Parliament will be better for their qualifications. There are very few occupations that a man can continue to pursue in Parliament. Perhaps this would apply to some lawyers, some accountants and perhaps a doctor; but this Parliament would be better equipped if it were able lo attract people from engineering and scientific fields. Except for the present Governor-General, there have been very few from these fields to come info the Parliament.
The people are entitled to have this Parliament better staffed. It is absurd to think that anybody who can contribute to this Parliament wilt improve himself materially by entering it. This Parliament has great responsibilities. It will have greater responsibilities. My Party supports these Bills because it believes that they provide, in respect of responsibility and relativity, more appropriate conditions for members of Parliament than are granted to them at present and than have been granted to them for some time past. The conditions are comparable lo those awarded to persons in the public sector. My Party believes that there may be better means of adjusting the remuneration and the superannuation than these Bill;: employ. Some undertakings have been given. We welcome those undertakings and support the Bills.
– I rise to make very briefly one simple point, but first of all 1 think I should clear away any misapprehension as to what I have to say and the reason why I have to say it. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has just mentioned, and as others have argued, it is I believe in the interests of this country that it should have the best Parliament possible, because it is from the Parliament, under our system, that Ministers are drawn and we cannot afford at the present time to have second rate Ministers. Indeed we cannot afford to have a second rate parliament either. But the two go together under our system. Under the American system, of course, the President can choose his Ministers from the whole range of people in the community. In our case they must be chosen from the Parliament. Sir, I accept this. And furthermore, 1 think it highly probable that the increase proposed will help to maintain a high standard of Ministers, for it will provide an inducement to people who ought to be in the Parliament to come here.
The Leader of the Opposition has referred to certain classes of people who are not represented here now, largely, perhaps, because they cannot afford to be here. They have their families to educate and keep, and they cannot do this on a parliamentarian’s salary. I am not questioning any of this. I believe it is true. But now, having removed, I hope, any misapprehension that I think this increase is unwarranted, I turn to the simple point I want to make.
Since the last adjustment of parliamentary salaries 4 years ago the cost of living has increased by 15% according to the official figures. Then we may look at the rise in the incomes of people who might be thought to be comparable. I have not had time in the space of 24 hours to go into this matter in detail. I have taken only one class of persons because I have not had time to do more. T have taken Second Division officers in the Public Service. On 8th July 1965, less than a year after parliamentary salaries were last fixed, the salary of the lowest grade officer in the Second Division - there are six grades in all- was £4,245, or $8,490. At the present time, as a result of an increase on 23rd December 1966, the salary of an officer of that grade is $9,500. That is precisely the same salary as is now fixed in this legislation as the base salary for a member of Parliament. The salary of the Second Division officer increased between 1965 and 1968 by 12%. The increase in parliamentary salaries between 1964 and 1968 is 35.7%. This is the figure given to me by the Parliamentary Library Research Service. We find that the increase in parliamentary salaries, after the passage of this legislation, will be 35.7%, while the cost of living has gone up by 15% and the salary of the most comparable officer in the Public Service has gone up by about 12%.
I am not arguing that the increase for members of Parliament is unjustified. For the general reasons that I have stated, and that the Leader of the Opposition has stated, in general terms I think the increase is valid. I say ‘in general terms’ and I repeat in general terms’. But now I come to the point I want to make. Since we are making a change, and I believe a proper change, in the status of members of the national Parliament, I believe there is a case not only for justice to be done but also for justice to be seen to be done. This is most important in courts of law and it is important here also.
Some years ago there was a thoroughgoing investigation and a report by what was called the Richardson committee. 1 think that committee had three members. It made its report and the report lay on the table of the House for a long time. 1 do not remember how long but it seemed a very long time. It was perhaps a month or more. During that time the Press, from one end of the country to the other, held up members to hatred, ridicule and contempt. The Press did not bother to read the report or the reasons given by the committee, but simply attacked, and attacked, in leading articles. The newspapers opened their columns to every member of the public who cared to think of a more opprobrious epithet to apply to members of Parliament than the last letter writer had found. This provoked a natural reaction among members of Parliament, who have been inclined to think along these lines: If the Press and the people do not like to be fair when we are fair, why should we bother with them?’ This was only human nature. The Press brought about this reaction through its own intemperance, unjustness and unfairness. It did this to itself and to the public. We are not answerable for the morals of the Press - God help us if we were - but we are answerable for our own moral approach to a question of this kind. Let it be higher than the approach of the Press.
This increase manifests a change in the status of members of Parliament and, I believe, a justifiable change. It is not a mere cost of living adjustment and not a mere adjustment in conformity with changes in comparable salaries in the community. For this reason I believe there should have been a report by a commission appointed to investigate the matter. I would like to have seen the appointment of a judge of the High Court, a man who is not only a lawyer, but who is a man of capacious mind, a man of wide experience, a man familiar with the history and the position of Parliament in our democratic institutions. He could took at the whole of the responsibilities that members must accept, the demands made on them and the talents and training that they bring to their task. He could look at all these things afresh and make his report to the Parliament.
I know, of course, that in the long run the Parliament must accept its own responsibility and that only the Parliament can legislate in this matter, but it can take advice and it can take the kind of advice I am speaking of. If it did so, not only would justice be done - and 1 think pretty much in conformity with what is now proposed - but it also would be seen to be done. There would be no need for the kind of thing that happened after the Richardson committee made its report. If the Press chooses to be unfair and unjust, as it was at that time, there is no need for. members to put up with that kind of thing. But there should be a report and when that report is tabled it should be acted upon promptly. There is no need for members to be held up, as they were, to hatred, ridicule and contempt by a lot of people who are infinitely less worthy than the members . of Parliament whom they abused. I have spent a lifetime among members of Parliament and I can say that they are people who, in their sense of duty to their constituents and their country, stand far above the critics who saw fit to write letters to the Press after the Richardson committee made its report.
I am not objecting to this increase. 1 think perhaps it is right. BuM believe the Government should .have set up a committee of inquiry of the. kind I suggest. Perhaps it could have appointed a judge of the High Court who could have gone into the whole matter. He. could have reported to the Parliament and the Parliament could then have acted promptly upon his report. This is the way the matter should have been dealt with. But the Government chose not to consult its own . Parties. This matter was never brought into. the party rooms. I knew nothing about it until 1 began to hear whispers in the corridors last night. I heard them for the first time at about dinner time and I could not believe them. Later the rumours in the corridors became so persistent and frequent that I had to believe them and 1 found that they were correct. But the Government did not consult even its own supporters. I would have much preferred to say something on these lines in the comparative privacy of the party room, but 1 had no opportunity to do so. Therefore, if this was to be said, it had to be said here; and so I say it. I believe that the procedure adopted is not the best way of convincing the people that we are being just, even if we are being just, as I believe we are.
– Everybody has been attended to under these Bills that are now before us, and previous Bills dealing with parliamentary salaries and allowances, except three forgotten men in the two Houses of this Parliament, and I just want to make a brief plea on their behalf this afternoon. I refer to the three Deputy Whips, two in this House and one in the Senate. These three men are the Deputy Government Whip, my colleague the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), and Senator Poke of Tasmania. The office of Deputy Whip on the Opposition side has been in existence for only about 4 or 5 years. I was the first to raise the appointment of a Deputy Whip in our Party, and my suggestion was agreed to. Ever since a Deputy Whip has been elected to help me. The Deputy Whip on the Government side does a very good job in assisting his Whip with the business of this Parliament. The omission of an allowance for Deputy Whips is very unjust. Some of the proposed changes are very generous indeed, but the Deputy Whips have not even received a scrape off the plate. This omission is most unfair; I think it is wrong. The Opposition has previously put to the Government that an allowance should be paid lo the Deputy Whips, but this has not been granted.
I have not had sufficient time to check on whether or not Deputy Whips in Parliaments all over the world are paid an allowance. In all walks of life most persons classified as deputies are recognised as such and they are given a financial status. Such people deserve a financial status. The Whips are placed in a very invidious position when they have to be away from this place either through sickness at their home or through their own sickness. A fortnight ago when my mother died I was absent from this
House for 3 days spread over 2 weeks and my deputy was required to carry out the work which I would have had to do if I had been here. I was being paid for work which was being done by my deputy. Is there any justice in that? I. believe that the Deputy Whips should be recognised by being granted a special allowance. If they are not, then why have Deputy Whips? Why fool around with them? Why worry them? Why should we give them this work at all? Everyone except the Deputy Whips is paid for the job which he does in this place.
The Federal Parliament has been in existence for the past 68 years but Deputy Whips are still not paid an allowance. When honourable members accept their increases under this Bill let them remember that the Deputy Whips are working without payment for the extra work they do. The Deputy Whips also act as tellers whenever there is a division. They have to be present for all divisions. These men are the unpaid servants of this Parliament. I enter a firm and sincere protest at the way in which they are being treated under this Bill.
– The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) brought forward a subject which I intended to raise. I now have to support him. I regret that he brought the matter up before .1 had the opportunity to do so, because I wanted the pleasure of bringing this subject up myself. I disagree with what he said when he referred to the three forgotten men. There are two Deputy Whips in this House. As far as I know there is no Deputy Whip on the Government side in the Senate. I believe that the appointment of a Deputy Whip by the Opposition in the Senate is just because of a little fancy. The Deputy Whip there does not help in the count when there is a division. It does not matter whether we talk about two Deputy Whips in this House or four Deputy Whips; the principle is the same. If some allowance is to be paid to the Deputy Whips, then no doubt the Australian Country Party will appoint one, which would make the allowance appear to be a bit of a grab.
An important point made by the honourable member for Wilmot was that the Whips in this House - more particularly the Government Whip, who receives more than the Opposition Whip because he has more responsibility and heavier duties - have the task oi keeping the House running smoothly. They have to look after the list of speakers and help to make the count in divisions. If somebody is appointed to do a job in this House there should be some recognition of his services. A Whip is tied to the House, but other honourable members may go away and work in their rooms. An extra burden is placed on a Whip. Those of us who have argued with a Whip on many occasions realise what a burden it must be to him. 1 very heartily support the proposal that there should be an allowance for the Deputy Whips. I believe that the Government should take this opportunity to have a very close look at this proposal and that it should amend this Bill when it goes to the other place.
Another matter 1 want to bring forward is the payment to the chief Government Whip. The chief Government Whip receives an allowance which J think is pretty miserable. He is required to do a tremendous amount of liaison work between Ministers and back-benchers. He has to try and keep the peace somehow and in doing so he is literally tied to the Whip’s office - more so than is the Opposition Whip. The chief Government Whip is expected to be able to step in and take control should anything go wrong. The responsibility is his. He does not have much of an opportunity to do other work. I believe that in addition to paying an allowance to the Deputy Whips we should pay a higher allowance to the chief Government Whip.
– Who are you referring to?
– I am referring to the chief Government Whip.
– 1 thought you said the Deputy Whips.
– 1 have already dealt with them. I suggest that in the summary of proposed changes in salaries and allowances that has been furnished to us provision should be made at the end of the section headed ‘Other office bearers’ for the payment of a higher allowance to the Government Whip and an allowance to the Deputy Whips. I leave this suggestion with the Government in the hope that it will consider it worth while to amend the Bill in the other place.
Another suggestion I wish to put forward with greater emphasis, because I think it is even more important, is that an allowance of some sort should be paid to the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. In the summary of proposed changes in parliamentary salaries and allowances reference is made to ‘Leader of Third Party (subject to existing conditions)’. An allowance is made for a whip in a small party, provided that it has ten members. This is fair enough. After all, it would be somewhat of a luxury if an allowance were provided for a whip who had only three people with whom to deal. The Government, in looking at this question of the provision of allowances for positions in other parties, has given a special allowance to the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, to the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and to the Leader of the third party, presumably in this House. 1 presume that the Leader of the Australian Country Party, in addition to his ministerial salary and allowances, also receives salary and allowance as Leader of the third party. A salary of $2,500 is proposed for this position, which is quite a considerable sum. In addition, the holder of this position will receive $750 as a special allowance. We all realise that the leader of every party in this Parliament must have a lot of things placed on his shoulders which are important to the whole parliamentary system. The Democratic Labor Party is able to secure a very substantial vote from the Australian people. In the other place it represents the thinking of a very large group of people in the community. These people are entitled to have their views put forward. It is essential that the Leader of the DLP should travel from State to State. He would be involved in quite a considerable amount of expenditure in attending to the needs of the people whom he represents.
I very strongly urge that immediate steps be taken to correct this anomaly. The Government, in addition to providing a salary and special allowance to the leader of the third party, who as a Minister is already in receipt of a quite considerable emolument, should immediately take steps to provide an allowance for the Leader of the DLP. f am not quite sure how the Government could word the amendment. Perhaps it could include the leader of the ‘fourth party’. Surely the whole implication of the fact that a special allowance and additional salary are provided for the leader of a comparatively small party in this Parliament must mean that the people who have framed these salaries over the years have thought that the leader of a minority party or a corner party or whatever name you would like to place on it, should be given monetary recognition because of the fact that in this Parliament he represents a lot of people.
– I rise to support the Bill. I also rise to put my thoughts on record, because some time ago I suggested to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) that parliamentary salaries should be linked to the salaries paid to Second Division officers of the Public Service. My thoughts have been along those lines for many years. It has not been just recently that I have come to the conclusion that something like this should be done. 1 raised this mailer, some 14 years ago I think it was. before I was a member of this Parliament. I raised it in the open in Victoria and 1 incurred the wrath and ridicule of many people when my photograph was published in connection with the news report. But this has been my opinion for a very long time. I also said at that time - and 1 have thought along the same lines ever since - that social service pensions should be linked to the basic wage. I hope that if the Government intends to use the salaries paid to officers in the Second Division of the Public Service as the yardstick in fixing parliamentary salaries, it will say so, so that it becomes a guide and so that when this question is raised again it will not be necessary for so many nasty words to be said.
I have had a great feeling for members of Parliament - even before 1 thought that 1 would become a member of Parliament. At the lime when I appeared before a commission and gave my thoughts on what members of Parliament should receive 1 was receiving three times as much as a member of Parliament then received. When I entered this Parliament my former salary was a little more than double the salary of a member of Parliament. Some people might say that it was far loo high, but I am just saying what my salary was. I think that if we want to get the best people - and I do not include myself - into this House, a good offer must be made to them. 1 think that people forget readily that it is members of Parliament who make the laws of the country and that the country can only be as good as the laws that are produced. I remember speaking to the late Mr Chifley on these matters. 1 had a lot to do with him between 1946 and 1948, although a lot of people are not aware of that fact. I thought then that he was very much underpaid for a man of his ability and position. For a period of 2 years I was dealing with him and a couple of other Ministers in the government of the day concerning fishing legislation. The representations which I put to the late Mr Chifley then are to be included in legislation which is to be introduced into this Parliament next week. So it has taken many years to bring about what we were putting up then.
My feelings at that lime were that members of Parliament were grossly underpaid. If it can be made clear that parliamentary salaries will be linked to salaries of officers in the Second Division of the Public Service, or that those salaries will be used as a guide for parliamentary salaries, I think a step forward will have been made. I ask the House to remember that when conciliation commissioners were first appointed the Parliament said that they should receive a salary commensurate with that of a member of Parliament. That was given as the guide to what their salaries should be. 1 understand that the new salaries for conciliation commissioners are 511,000.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) suggested that a commission should look into these matters. 1 think thai there is a lot of merit in that suggestion, but we must remember that such a commission has just finished sitting in Victoria and that it arrived at the conclusion that Victorian State members of Parliament should receive an increase of $2,150 per year. So there is not a great deal of difference. 1 think that if a commission had been appointed to look into the affairs of the Federal Parliament probably a greater increase in salary would have been granted. I just want to make myself clear, because this is a matter on which I made myself clear many years ago, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) will recall. 1 do not want to say any more than that.
– I have a certain reluctance to speak on this Bill, yet there is something which prompts me to say that to allow it to pass without a rippl’e would be the easy way out; but 1 am not sure that it would be the courageous way out. I support the Bill, yet I am aware that it will be used by some people as a vehicle to attack the Parliament or members of the Parliament. When we return to our electorates various people will write to us and point out the inadequacies perhaps in their pensions, and things like that. But 1 believe I should say that primarily I agree with the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) that I, as a member of Parliament for the time being possibly, object strongly to having the responsibility of assessing my own worth or my own salary. Yet, whom would one pick to make the decision in this case? 1 know it was the opinion of our former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, that the Parliament should not be dependent in this matter on any other section or person. But I feel that the move has been made in the right direction in respect of the inference, anyway, that the basic salary is to be linked with that of a Second Division public servant.
However, I would prefer the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to have said test night: This we are doing, but when the matter next arises for consideration this will be the machinery of raising the salaries of members of Parliament’. I have no knowledge as to how we assess the value of a member of Parliament in pounds, shillings and pence, but I do know the effect of being a member of Parliament with respect to one’s standing with one’s bank manager. I can only say - and this is not a bl’eat or a complaint - that I can never see, or my bank manager can never see, why he and his bank should be responsible for allowing me to stay on as a member of this House. But the thing that really worries me, and I agree with the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) in this, is the problem of attracting people to stand for Parliament.
Before I got into Parliament I used to endeavour to find the right type of person to stand for election to this Parliament. I would go to, say, a successful businessman with a young family who was getting near a top executive position in a successful company. The man was honest and had ability. I would say to him: ‘Look, you are the sort of man who should stand for a seat’. He would reply: ‘I have three children. I am putting them through their schooling and I hope to put them through university. 1 have an assured future. Why should I give it up in exchange for the possibility of a 3-year success in Parliament at the end of which, through no fault of my own I am thrown out and 1 have to start again?’ The kind of person standing for pre-selection concerns me, and I think it should concern the people of this country. Possibly the public is not aware of it. But I am concerned with the low number of candidates for pre-selection. I am concerned also in many cases at the low quality of those who are offering. 1 ask myself: Why is this? Is it that people would have to give up so much that they do not consider a parliamentary seat worth while? Is it that they consider that some sections of the Press and television seem to indulge in their favourite sport of lowering the status of Parliament and the member of Parliament whenever they can?
I am not saying that we are without fault. I am not saying that there are not better people who could perhaps be better members of Parliament. But until we can get these people to stand we have to use what we have. Even if I should lose my seat, 1 would still support the view that whoever replaced me should be given a salary on which he could live - a salary which allowed him to be independent of pressures which can be put on a member of Parliament to lobby for certain interests and to put forward certain lines. 1 think this is something that everyone in this House should consider at this particular time.
The other matter that concerns me is that the most knowledgeable art of some gentlemen of the Press, it seems, is to write on parliamentary salaries. When they write the inference always seems to be that a member of Parliament receives the same salary as Ministers are paid. Another inference is that wherever we go in Australia we not only can travel free on aircraft but also are given a living allowance per day and live like kings.
One of the facts I have seen in this Parliament in recent years when parliamentary salaries have got out of proportion in relation to costs outside is that a member of Parliament who has no private income and is not in a profession in which he may or may not be able lo apply himself, is no longer or is less willing to go to Darwin or Gove, for example, to inspect what is happening there, lt is all very well to say that he is given the air fare, but when he gets to his destination he still has to pay for his keep and pay his way. At home he has still a family and a house to maintain. He has other responsibilities. 1 think it is the people of Australia, in fact, who perhaps are not being serviced as they should because the member - the backbencher - who should be going to distant places and checking up on what the Government is doing in them and the decisions that it is making, says: ‘1 cannot afford to go. Therefore 1 will stay home and look after my own parish’. If we are to have as members of Parliament only people who are concerned solely with kissing babies and going to flower shows, which now seem to be the main purpose of being a member of Parliament, I think that the country and the Parliament itself will be the losers.
The other day a person asked me whether I was likely lo go to Dampier. I said that there was a day when making this trip would have been one of my responsibilities because I and Victoria have as much say in and responsibility about what happens in Western Australia. South Australia, Victoria and Queensland as anyone else. If a member cannot make such an inspection because his economic situation does not allow him to do so, he has to believe what is told him by the Executive or by the civil servants. If this is the case, I do not think a member is doing his duty.
The other thing I would like to say concerns the gentlemen of the Press and what they write in regard to salaries. If they think that being a member of Parliament is a position of great privilege and honour it seems extraordinary to me that more of them do not offer themselves. It is the easiest thing in the world to sit in on a radio programme at five minutes past six every night and tell everyone else what he or she ought to be doing when you have never made a decision in your life and have never had to put your hand up to show where you stood. Believe me, if 1 get tossed I will certainly apply for such a job because I think it would be a soda.
Therefore. I think we should realise that members of Parliament, although they are allowed to fly free in aircraft, do not always do so because they want to. Who wants to fly in aircraft anyway when all one wants to do is to stay home with one’s family? By the time 1 have flown to Canberra on Tuesday and back to Melbourne on Friday, and gone to meetings in Sydney or somewhere else, 1 have had- aircraft. Every time I bounce like a ping pong ball in an aircraft coming into Canberra, particularly as I have during the last 3 or 4 weeks when the wind has been blowing so :strongly, believe me I can find a very secure job under better conditions outside.
I will end by saying that however inferior members of Parliament are, we are endeavouring to do our best for the people of Australia. But unless a reasonable salary is offered to members the electors will not get the good average bloke who is capable of adding something to this House to represent them. If we are inadequate, let us endeavour to get better. 1 have no objection whatever to resigning or being beaten as long as it is by someone who is better.
I have had 8i years of this life and I can assure honourable members that it is not what the Press cooks up. lt is a lot of long nights and long travel, lt is a lot of putting up wilh various opinions which imply that doing things in this House is just a matter of raising one’s hand. Before 1 came into this House I had many opinions about how easy the life was and what members of Parliament ought to do. But after 8i years I can see the difficulties and can understand them. I support the Bills. I object to the fact that I must now make the decision, although nobody referred to me when the decision was first made. In the future I would prefer to have the salaries of members linked to some standard so that I and other honourable members will not be embarrassed by the manner in which salaries are increased.
– May I say that I fully agree with these Bills. I dare say that that statement will not surprise anyone who hears me. I welcome the increases, which I believe are overdue. I shall not elaborate on my reasons. I have expressed them publicly many a time and oft - many people would say ad nauseam. Some of the reasons that I have given have been echoed, for example, by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and by my good friend, the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). So there is no need for me to elaborate upon them further here. May I say in passing that I also agree with what has been said on the subject of better allowances for the Whips and Deputy Whips. I sit beside them on the Government side and 1. am well aware of the extent of their responsibilities. It is high time that something was done for the Deputy Whips. I hope the suggestion will be taken up and an amendment will be made when one of the Bills is introduced in another place.
I rose to my feel especially to say that I agree with my good friend, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), on one matter and I disagree with him on another. I heartily agree with what he has said on the subject of a tribunal. I hope that, despite the unfortunate history of events at the time of the Richardson report, perhaps in 3 years time the Government will again favourably consider the establishment of a tribunal, for I feel that in this way, as the honourable member for Bradfield said, not only will justice be done but justice will appear to be done. I hope - in fact I believe - that there is a new maturity in the Australian community and in the Australian Press and news media on this matter and that such a committee and ils proceedings will get a very much belter Press and a very much better reception than the Richardson Committee did. However, I dissociate myself from the more extreme statements of the honourable member for Bradfield on the subject of Press criticism and the role of the Press. There is a good deal in what he says and he personally has suffered over the years, as so many others have, from unjust, unfair and inaccurate statements by the Press on the subject of Parliament, parliamentarians and their salaries. His present feeling is, therefore, very understandable.
But I want to say in all sincerity - I am sure most honourable members will agree with me - that in our relationship with members of the Press gallery we have learned to respect some very dedicated people. For the most part they do a magnificent job in a highly responsible post.
There are a few exceptions and they are to be greatly regretted. I think particularly of the way in which one or two people have treated this very subject in an almost obsessional way, as though they wished at every opportunity to score off Parliament and parliamentarians. Nonetheless, for all that, I want to stress what I believe is the invaluable role of the Press and the news media in reporting the proceedings of the Parliament and, of course, in dealing with the affairs of the nation.. I wonder where we would be without the Press, how many searching and intelligent questions we would ask at question time and how much poorer our debates would be were it not for what we read in the Press day after day.
– Order! I draw the attention of the honourable member to the fact that the question of the Press does hot really come into a discussion of the Bills. If the honourable member wants to make a passing reference to the Press, he is perfectly entitled to do so. However, the Bills deal with the matters specified in their titles.
– I assure you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that 1 shall not abuse the privilege. But let me just say in concluding, if I may, that I hope there will be a new and better relationship between the Press and the Parliament in the future. I do not think this is merely the wish being father of the thought. I believe there are good signs of this new development. Neither the Press nor the Parliament can really profit in the long run at the expense of the other. Just as we in the Parliament must encourage the functioning of a free Press, so the Press too will learn that it will serve its function best not in minimising the Parliament
-I hope the honourable member will take note of my remarks.
– If I may, I will just finish this sentence. I hope the Press too will see that its function is best served by encouraging respect for the Parliament and parliamentarians.
I conclude by expressing the hope that in 3 years time we may see a tribunal, and a tribunal whose proceedings will be well received, well publicised and well understood by the Press and, through it, by the public in Australia.
– 1 shall speak only briefly. I support the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John), who attaches great importance to the role of the parliamentarian. I think he also believes that the job of a parliamentarian, if it is done properly, is a full time job. In fact it is more than a full time job. I think that the public expect the parliamentarians to treat this as a full time job. My remarks will be addressed to the subject of the allowances paid to members with city electorates and those with rural electorates. When the next review is made, some consideration should be given to a breakdown of the allowances. For instance, a country electorate, by definition, can include an area that is almost wholly in Sydney or Melbourne. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has a country electorate according to the definition and rightly so.
– It contains a quarter of a million residents.
– Yes, but nevertheless it is a country electorate. The same situation can arise in Melbourne. I understand that Lalor is a country electorate. I do not object to electorates being classified in this way under the definition. But how can these electorates be compared with such electorates as Kennedy, the Northern Territory, Kalgoorlie, Leichhardt, Herbert or Dawson? Real problems arise in making such a comparison. I am certain that there should be at least three scales - a city electorate, an outer city electorate and a rural electorate. I can mention the circumstances that arise in my electorate of Dawson. To drive from Mackay, the biggest town in the electorate, to the second biggest town and back involves a round trip of 780 miles. To fly from one town to the other requires 4 days. It is necessary to spend two nights in Brisbane or in Biloela. This takes money. It is a matter of degree. No doubt many people will say that we are overpaid, but since I became a parliamentarian I have found how little I have left after I have paid all my expenses. I keep details of my expenses so that I can submit them to the Commissioner of Taxation, and I have no doubt that other honourable members do this. I am quite willing to submit the details I have kept to anyone in the Parliament or to the Press. The details are completely authentic and they show that my expenses in the electorate are almost double the amount 1 receive. If my expenses are double my allowance, I have no doubt that plenty of other members from remote and far flung areas have expenses double the allowance they receive.
– What about the honourable member for Kennedy?
– I mentioned the honourable member for Kennedy and the honourable members for the Northern Territory, Kalgoorlie and Leichhardt. They are all in the same boat. That was the main point I wanted to make. With respect to the electoral allowances, there should be some widening of the base by defining at least three or four categories of electorates. It is quite unfair and unrealistic at the present time to pay a member representing an electorate in, say the northern part of Australia an allowance at the same rate as is paid to a member representing an inner city or an outer city electorate.
– On the instructions of the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) I have to be short, snappy and crisp. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) spoke of the method of determining parliamentary salaries and allowances. It would not matter much what method was used. Any method would still create confusion among, and provoke odium from, certain sections of the Press and other quarters. I do not agree wilh the idea that if higher salaries were paid to parliamentarians better material would be attracted into the Parliament. In my opinion we are a race apart. We are attracted to Parliament. Salaries do not play an important part in attracting people to serve in the Parliament. In the 67 years since federation only 600 individuals have been members of the House of Representatives.
The honourable member for Bradfield said that higher salaries would attract to the Parliament people in higher positions in private enterprise and in government service. I assure him that that would not be the case, because people in high executive positions outside the Parliament could not come here and tolerate the methods by which parliamentary business is conducted. A complete overhaul of the conduct of the Parliament’s affairs is needed. It must be remembered that people who came from very humble jobs have made the greatest statesmen. That applies to Australians as well as to the United Kingdom and the United States of America. So, in attracting people to this Parliament, we can put aside the question of salaries. The first thing that we have to do is to make a complete overhaul of the system of government. Let me give one illustration of the need for improvement. When a new member takes his place in the Parliament, other members take an interest in him. but there is no proper induction of the newcomber. There is no school to take him through the Standing Orders or the Constitution. Twelve new members came into the Parliament at the time I became a member. There should have been a committee of induction to show us immediately where we could get certain information. This is not done.
The Leader of the House comes to me; so I understand that my time is almost up. I am sorry that I am restricted in this way, because 1 have something worthwhile to say. I want to get in one point quickly. We all respect and admire the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). I went to the Acting Clerk of the House earlier in pursuit of my wish to move amendments designed to put the Attorney-General on the same level of salary and allowances as senior Ministers. We all know his dedication to duty and what he is doing to catch up with the backlog of legislation. I did not inform the Attorney-General of my intention because I know that he would have refused to allow me to mention his position.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 20 November (vide page 3076) on motion by Mr Gorton:
That the Bill bc now read a second time
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
Consideration resumed (vide page 3108) on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from .12.48 to 2.1.5 p.m.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. This morning, when speaking in the debate on the Parliamentary Allowances Bill, inadvertently I made an unfortunate mistake through not having read the Bill sufficiently carefully. I implied that the leader of the third party received a salary and an allowance in addition to his ministerial salary and allowance. The 1964 legislation specifically provides that the separate allowance for the leader of a third party shall not be paid where that person holds ministerial rank. I apologise to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) for having inadvertently given wrong information to the House.
by leave - The Government has given careful consideration to the position of members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund who, at later stages of their Public Service careers, become entitled to take up additional units of superannuation pension but, because the fortnightly contributions involved are then so high, find it difficult or impossible to do so. Major Public Service employee organisations have raised this matter with the Government as have members of both Houses of the Parliament. The problem arises from the nature of the Commonwealth superannuation scheme itself. Being a benefit purchase scheme it requires the full employee’s share of the cost of additional entitlements taken up to be met by the officer over the remainder of his career, however short that may be. Thus while additional units of entitlement attracted by increases in salary are relatively inexpensive in terms of increased fortnightly contributions when an officer is still young, they become increasingly costly as the officer nears retirement.
Not infrequently the cost of taking up additional unit entitlements at later ages more than exceeds - sometimes by a wide margin - the increase in salary that gives rise to the entitlement. Officers in the lower levels of Commonwealth employment are affected just as much as those in the higher grades. In fact, because of the tapering of superannuation entitlements above a salary of $6,630 a year, about which I will have something more to say later, the effect can be even more pronounced at the lower levels. On the other hand, however, the effect of increased instalment deductions for taxation consequent on salary increases bears more heavily at the higher salary levels.
Honourable members will be aware that under the scheme the Commonwealth contributes to the Fund concurrently with the payment of benefits rather than at the time that the officer contributes. The standard amount of the Commonwealth’s contribution for each unit of pension payable to a retired officer is S65 a year or $1.25 a week. The Commonwealth is required under the
Superannuation Act to make this contribution in respect of the whole of the unit entitlement to which the officer has contributed. Thus, when an officer finds it necessary to forgo additional pension entitlement because of the cost of contributing for that entitlement the Commonwealth at present makes a saving at his expense. The officer in respect of whom this saving is made is usually one who has spent his working life in the service of the Commonwealth.
Against this background the Government has concluded that some relief ought to be provided for the assistance of officers who are faced with hardship in taking up additional pension entitlements accruing to them in the later stages of their Public Service careers. What the Government proposes to do is to make it possible within defined limits for officers to take up additional unit entitlements on a non-contributory basis. These units will, however, carry a lower rate of pension. This rate will be $1.25 a week, or five-sevenths of the value of the pension attaching to a contributory unit - $1.75 per week - the five-sevenths representing the Commonwealth’s share of each contributory unit of superannuation pension payment.
Eligibility to take up additional unit entitlements on a non-contributory basis at any time will be subject to each of two conditions. The first is that the officer must at that time have taken up on a contributory basis at least 50 per cent of his full unit entitlement. This will ensure that the officer has already made a reasonable minimum contribution towards providing for a postretirement pension. It will also operate to avoid certain anomalous situations that could otherwise arise. The second is that, subject to satisfaction of the first condition, eligibility for non-contributory units will be restricted to units which, if taken up as contributory units, would cause the officer’s total fortnightly rate of contribution at the time they were taken up to exceed 1% of his gross fortnightly salary for superannuation purposes.
Each of the two conditions will apply each time an officer receives an additional unit entitlement. If necessary an officer having previously qualified and elected to take some units on a non-contributory basis will have to take up on a contributory basis some further units to which he becomes entitled before becoming eligible for additional non-contributory units. For the purpose of the two conditions reserve units, which do not carry entitlement to pension unless and until converted to active units, will not count, although an officer already holding reserve units who is still able to meet the conditions of eligibility will not be disqualified from taking up units on a non-contributory basis. lt is also proposed that eligibility for non-contributory units will not at any time extend to any part of the unit entitlement applying to a member at the time when he first joined or joins the Fund. In respect of additional unit entitlements accruing to him subsequent to his joining the Fund the ordinary Rules relating to eligibility for non-contributory units will apply.
Contributors to the Superannuation Fund for pension benefits have the option of contributing for units of pension on the basis of retirement at either age 60 or 65. Contributing on an age 65 basis does not preclude an officer from retiring voluntarily on pension at any time after he attains age 60. If he exercises that right he has the choice of either making an appropriate lump sum payment on retirement to preserve the full pension value of his age 65 units or of taking an actuarially reduced pension in respect of those units. All noncontributory units will be on an age 65 basis but will, of course, be available to both age 60 and age 65 contributors.
In the event of voluntary retirement before age 65 an officer with noncontributory units will have the option of accepting a reduced pension value or, alternatively, of making a lump sum payment sufficient to preserve the full non-contributory pension value of $1.25 a week. Should service continue beyond 65 the noncontributory units held by an officer will carry on his retirement the same pension entitlement - $1.25 a week - as would have applied had retirement taken place at age 65. In all cases the widow’s benefit attaching to a male officer’s non-contributory units will be five-eighths or one-half of the pension payable to the officer in respect of those units according to whether the widow’s benefit in respect of the officer’s contributory units is five-eighths or one-half.
Because in the past many officers have found themselves obliged to decline to take up some of the unit entitlements accruing to them by reason of their inability to afford the contributions involved, provision will be made to enable previously neglected units to be taken up on a non-contributory basis subject to the eligibility conditions I have outlined being met at the time the officer seeks to take up the previously neglected units as non-contributory units. As the Fund itself is not involved, the right to convert neglected units to non-contributory units will not be subject to a requirement of a medical examination.
It is also proposed that during a period of 6 months after the date of operation of the legislation officers will have the right to convert existing contributory units to noncontributory units within the limits set by observance of the eligibility conditions as at the date the legislation comes into force. In accordance with the provisions of the Superannuation Act relating to refunds of contributions, refunds in respect of such conversions of contributory units to noncontributory units will be the amount actually contributed by the officer for the units involved and will not include interest. There will be no provision for conversion of non-contributory units to contributory units or, except to the extent that I have already mentioned, for the conversion of contributory units to non-contributory units.
Earlier I made passing reference to the provision in the superannuation scheme for the tapering of unit entitlements above a salary of S6.630. At present the unit entitlement of an officer with a salary of up to this figure provides, if fully taken up, a pension equal to approximately 70% of salary. Above that salary, however, there is a tapering of unit entitlements which results in a maximum pension of approximately 50% of salary for officers at the highest level.
Concurrently with its consideration of the question of non-contributory units the Government has examined this matter and has decided that liberalisation of the tapering provision is desirable. Accordingly, it is proposed to halve the degree of tapering in respect of salaries above $6,630 so that maximum pension entitlement, if all available units are fully taken up on a contributory basis, will be approximately 60% of salary rather than 50% of salary at the highest level. Officers who will be eligible for and avail themselves of non-contributory units will, of course, reduce their pension entitlements below the maximum levels that would otherwise apply.
The change in the tapering provision, and possibly also some of the other changes in the Commonwealth superannuation scheme to which I have referred, could have implications in relation to some of the existing provisions of the defence forces retirement benefits scheme. This aspect is under study and the conclusions reached will be announced in due course. Legislation will be necessary to give effect to the decisions 1 have outlined and 1 expect this to be introduced in the autumn session of 1969. It is proposed that the new provisions will take effect from the date of operation of the legislation. I present the following paper:
Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme -
Ministerial Statement, 21 November
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– by leave - 1 advised the House on 25th August 1966 on the position then reached with the various recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government publications and noted in particular that the main group of recommendations relating to the establishment of a Government publishing office was being carefully studied before being placed before the Government. I can now inform the House that the Government has accepted these recommendations.
A publishing office, to be called the Australian Government Publishing Service, will be established to be the sole publisher of all departmental publications and to arrange for their printing and distribution. Departments will be able, within funds availability, to determine what publications will be produced and the present Inter-departmental Publications Committee will be abolished as soon as the necessary machinery has been established. The publishing office will advise on style and format, but departments will have the final say. The publishing office will also determine sale price and numbers of publications to be printed for sale to the public.
The main difficulty associated with the proposal was to determine the most appropriate organisational arrangements to give full effect to the Committee’s general aims and objectives. I believe that our decision, which is in essence for both the printing and publishing functions to have their own direct management but for both functions then to come under a controller who will have authority for both, will provide an acceptable solution. In addition to the functions of publishing and printing the controller will be made responsible for the related common service functions of advertising and central procurement. In making this decision the Government wishes to emphasise the service function which will be undertaken by the new organisation.
The Joint Select Committee also recommended that the Printing Committees of both Houses be amalgamated and given some additional responsibilities for the review of Government publications after publication. T propose to seek the concurrence of the Presiding Officers of both Houses to this proposal.
In making this statement I would like to pay tribute, on behalf of the Government, to the valuable work which was undertaken by the Joint Select Committee, under the chairmanship of the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr G. D. Erwin). I would also advise the House of the retirement on 19th November of the Government Printer, Mr Albert Arthur. Mr Arthur, as I think all honourable members will know, has given unstinted service to the Parliament and the Government and has justly earned our respect and affection. I think I speak for all honourable members in saying how sorry I am that be has reached the point of retirement and in wishing him well for the future.
I present the following paper:
Government Publications - Ministerial Statement, 21 November 1968. and move:
Thai the House take note of the paper.
– I move:
In so doing may I have the indulgence of the House to comment on Mr Arthur’s retirement and on the work of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications? I support what the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has said. There has been a notable improvement in Australian Government publications over the last 3 years. The style has been more impressive, more legible and more admirable and i think the Committee, of which the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) was Chairman and the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) was ViceChairman, and which was very well manned, conducted a very good inquiry into publishing in Australia in general - not only in the public sector but in the private sector. Its recommendations have helped both the public and the private sectors.
In Mr Arthur and his officers the Commonwealth has been very fortunate to have men of great educational and management qualifications. Her Majesty’s stationery office in Australia has been well anticipated and equipped. The machinery and the men are fine, and Mr Arthur may go into retirement knowing that the publications to which he has appended his name in recent years have been the harbingers of a great improvement in Australian printing and publishing. I support the Treasurer’s remarks to Mr Arthur and his remarks about our colleagues on the Joint Committee.
– by leave - I thank the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) for his complimentary remarks. I and all the other members of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications are very pleased at and thankful for the Government’s acceptance of the Committee’s recommendations. There has been a tremendous improvement in the last 2 years because already several of the recommendations have been put into effect. The proposal for a central organisation, as set out in the paper presented by the Treasurer this afternoon represents a sort of final effort. I know that out of all these moves must come improvements for the various departments. They will get much better service. They will have available to them in the Government Printing Office the typographical service which has been built up over a period. I assure you, Mr Speaker, that benefits will flow from this central organisation not only to the departments which will use its services directly but also to the whole of the people of Australia, teachers, students, farmers and others. Everybody will reap some benefit from the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee recommended the adoption of two new systems - the English system of book shops and the American system of mail orders. Because of the distribution of our population we thought that both these systems should be brought into operation. I know that they will bo well received. I thank the officers of the Treasury and of the Public Service Board for their assistance. I also express my thanks to the members of the Committee for the excellent work they did.
– by leave - As Chairman of the Printing Committee of the House of Representatives I would like to make some comments, on behalf of my colleagues on both sides of the House, in support of what the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) has said. I would like to compliment the honourable member on the work done by the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications. Also, on behalf of the Printing Committee I would like to pay a special tribute to Mr Arthur, the retiring Commonwealth Government Printer, who has over a lifetime rendered splendid service to the Commonwealth of Australia. My colleagues on both sides would like me to place on record our belief that Australia is very much better off for the service rendered over such a long period by the retiring Government Printer.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent General Business being considered until 3.55 p.m.
-I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker, and I assure the Leader of the Opposition that 1 raise it in no captious fashion. I understand that a Bill identical in character with this one is currently before the Senate. 1 submit that standing order 215 and section 57 of the Constitution both postulate that identical legislation should not be considered by both Houses simultaneously. Standing order 215 reads:
On the presentation of a bill by a member, or on the receipt from the Senate of a bill for the concurrence of the House . . .
I know this is unusual but I think you should give a ruling, Mr Speaker, on the question of whether or not it is proper for the House of Representatives to consider a Bill when a Bill identical in character is before the Senate.
-I am afraid I cannot uphold the point of order raised by the honourable member for Moreton. If there is an identical Bill before the Senate, I am not aware of it. In any event, such a Bill has not yet been disposed of in that place and therefore a debate on the Bill now to be presented may proceed in this House.
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
L2.4J] - I move:
During the winter recess the parliamentary leaders of my Party in this Parliament and in all the State parliaments agreed that we would take action in our respective parliaments to initiate the reform which, within Commonwealth power, is embodied in the Bill which J have presented. The Premier of Tasmania initiated a debate on this subject at the last conference of the Premiers. I refer to the conference which was attended by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), not the one last month which was attended by the Premiers alone. The Premiers referred the subject to the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. I am not, however, prejudicing, anticipating or embarrassing the recommendations of the Committee of Attorneys-General.
Very clearly, many matters which are involved with the age of majority or adulthood fall primarily within State powers. The whole range of the laws of property and contract and succession is within Stale jurisdiction. The Bill which J have introduced does not purport to touch any of those matters, even where they would fall within Federal! power such as in the Territories or the Services. The Bill deals solely with matters which are within this Parliament’s power. The first head is marriage. Under the Constitution this is entrusted to this Parliament. The Commonwealth Parliament has passed laws covering the whole of that field. State parliaments can no longer pass laws on the subject of marriage. Accordingly it is appropriate to propose a Bill on this subject in this Parliament. It will not prejudice the deliberations of the Committee of Attorneys-General.
Then there is the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Clearly, electoral legislation is within the province of the States as well as that of the Commonwealth. There have been many occasions over the years when qualifications for enrolment have differed as between the Commonwealth and the States. In fact in some of the State parliaments the qualification for enrolment differs as between the two Houses. In any case we should not wait until we can have simultaneous legislation on electoral enrolment. I believe the Commonwealth Electoral Office maintains the electoral rolls in every State, as well as the rolls for elections to both Houses of this Parliament, lt is appropriate, therefore, that this Parliament, which has the primary responsibility for electoral matters, should deal with this legislation.
Action has been taken in the State parliaments. The Tasmanian Government, which is a Labor administration, is committed to the principle of majority at 18 years of age. In the South Australian House of Representatives on 7th August the Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Dunstan, read the Age of Majority Reduction Bill. The Bill was defeated on 13th of this month. In the Victorian Legislative Council on 17th September the Leader of the Labor Party, the Hon. J. W. Galbally, introduced the Constitution Act Amendment (Qualification of Electors) Bill. That Bill was defeated on 9th October. In
Western Australia, on 18th September, Mr Tonkin, the Leader of the Labor Party, introduced the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. In Queensland on 26th September Mr Tucker, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, gave notice of a similar Bill. Action is also being taken by the leaders of the Labor Party in New South Wales. When this Parliament met for the Budget session, notice of Bills on the subject was given in both the other place and here. Accordingly the Bill which the House will be debating this afternoon is part of a pattern which the Labor Party has initiated in each of the State parliaments as well as in this Parliament.
Majority at 21 years of age has no validity other than an historical one. lt flows from the theory that a man was not fully capable of bearing arms until he was 21. If one goes to the cathedrals erected in Britain and throughout western Europe from mediaeval times one can well understand from the effigies and sarcophagi that formerly men took longer to develop and when developed were smaller than they are now. In these graphic sculptured terms we can see that in the course of five centuries mankind has been physically transformed. And in cold figures as well as in cold stone the statistics demonstrate quite clearly that over the last 100 years men and women have been maturing at a younger age.
By any standards men and women are as mature at 18 years now as they were at 21 only a generation ago. They are more mature intellectually, physically, socially and economically. They stay at school longer. They go on to tertiary and technical education in much greater numbers. They are physically bigger, stronger and healthier. They conduct themselves with greater aplomb. Their consumption in all respects is greater. They make their presence felt and their ideas known much more readily. They appear in the mass media and respond to them. They attend the theatre and perform there. They practise a knowledge of the performing and plastic arts at a much younger age than men and women did a generation ago.
There are many legal criteria for the steps we propose. Young people can drink. They can drive. They can, and sometimes must, bear arms. They qualify for the payment of taxes and they have to pay them much younger and in much greater numbers than was previously the case. The number of people under 21 who were income earners in Australia at the time of the 1966 census was 819,475. One would assume that almost any income earner would pay tax. The number of people at the lime of the census who were 18 years of age was 204,500, which was 1.73% of our population. The number of people who were 19 years of age at that time was 209,400, or 1.77% of our population. The number of people who were 20 at that time was 226,300, or 1.91% of our population. Accordingly the proportion of our population who would be affected by rights given by this Bill - the right to vote at Commonwealth elections and the right to marry at 18 years of age without parental consent - would be 5.41%, or 630,200 persons. The Bill affects the rights of a very considerable number of young Australians.
The first part of the Bill deals with a person’s right to marry without consent at 18 years. I asked the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) whether he was able to say in what country persons under the age of 21 years may marry without the consent of their parents, their guardian, or a prescribed authority. On 10th October he supplied an answer which was culled from a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations entitled ‘Parental Rights and Duties, Including Guardianship’, which was prepared at the request of the Commission on the Status of Women and which was published earlier this year.
– Will the Leader of the Opposition repeat that reference?
– The reply was given on 1 0th October this year and it appears at page 1 902 of Hansard. The numbers of persons who have married at the relevant ages in recent years are as follows: Between 1 963 and 1967 the number of men who married at 18 years of age rose from 1,544 to 2,359, and the number of women from 6,951 to 8,543; the number of men who married at 19 years rose from 3,081 to 4,990, and the number of women from 9,446 to 12,384; the number of men who married at 20 years of age rose from 4,675 to 7.444, and the number of women from 9,781 to 14,958.
– A lot of this would be related to the increased birth rate immediately after the war.
– This is partly so, but the number of people marrying in their late teens has shown a greater proportional increase than the number of people in their late teens in the population as a whole. I think it is quite clear that many of these people were born not just after the war but in later years. I think it is statistically true to say that an increasing percentage of men and women of 18, 19 f.nd 20 years of age are now marrying. At the moment they have to get parental consent, a guardian’s consent or the consent of a court. There is nothing unusual about people marrying at these ages. They are able to afford to get married. They are able in every respect - psychologically, sexually, socially and economically - to marry younger than was formerly the case. We can very clearly see the increase in this trend in the course of 5 years. On 8 October 1968 I asked the Attorney-General the following question: ]. How many (a) male and (b) female minors of (i) 18 years of age, (ii) 19 years and (iii) 20 years have applied to magistrates for consent to marry in each year since the relevant provisions of the Marriage Act came into operation.
I would think that this matter comes within his ministerial responsibility. I have not yet received an answer. I would be surprised if the figures did not establish that the proportion of persons of these years marrying was not increasing and if in fact it were not established that consent was being given with increasing readiness.
The other part of the Bill deals with the voting age. Here I rely on an answer which the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) gave me on 24th September 1968. It appears that all countries of Eastern Europe and most of the countries of Latin America give the vote to men and women at 18 years of age. In Asia, the vote is given at 18 years of age in Israel, with which we would find many elements of social identity, and also in Japan, with which we are becoming increasingly familiar, the vote is given at 20 years of age. In other areas in our immediate regeion. in Indonesia, Korea and Vietnam, the vote is given at 18 years of age. Above all, however, President Johnson has asked Congress to give the vote in American federal elections at 18 years of age, and the British Government announced in the Queen’s Speech a month ago that the vote in Britain would be given at 18 years of age.
In America already votes are given in State elections, at 18 years of age in Georgia and Kentucky, at 19 years of age in Alaska and at 20 years of age in Hawaii. In Canada votes are given in Provincial elections at 18 years of age in Quebec and Saskatchewan and at 19 years of age in Alberta, British Columbia and Newfoundland, lt is instructive to point out that in the United States and in Canada it is possible for persons to vote in state or Provincial elections at an earlier age than they can yet vote in federal elections. Nevertheless we can expect that there will be votes at 18 years of age in federal elections in the United States and in national elections in Britain.
My Party advocates the vote at 18 years of age. I believe that an increasing number of bodies in the Liberal Party have advocated the vote at 18 years of age. One of the reasons why the vote should be given at 18 years of age is the increasing desire by young people to participate in political affairs and to express political views. We are most familiar with it as an aspect of student power, but, nevertheless, young people of 18, 19 and 20 years who are not at universities are also undoubtedly interested in political matters. This is partly a result of television and partly a result of the greater mobility of our present society. Psephologists, psychologists and political scientists assert, as a result of their investigations, that people are as mature, articulate and informed in their political views now at 18 years of age as they are at 21 years of age. As far as can be determined, they are as informed at 18 years of age now as they used to be, a generation ago, at 2 1 years of age.
I know there can always be arguments for saying that it is not appropriate or it is not proper to give women the vote, to give Negroes the vote or to give Aborginals the vote. All these arguments have been used in the past. In very recent times they have been used in our country in regard to Aboriginals. It is not so very long ago that they were used in our country in regard to women. Nobody would say that there is any validity in those arguments at the present time.
Sooner or later, quite clearly 18-year-olds will have the vote. Young people in the countries with which we compare ourselves most often in the political and democratic terms - Britain and the United States - will have the vote at 18 years of age. I submit, therefore, that we in Australia should not hesitate to introduce the vote at 18 years of age. I believe that there is one very real reason why the vote should be given at a younger age than it is at the present time. The great problem areas in Australia, geographically and socially, are those areas in which there is the largest percentage of people of these ages - 18, 19 and 20 years.
The expanding parts of Australia, the outer suburbs of the great cities, the new developmental areas, are the areas in which young people are living or working. In my own electorate, for instance, largely because of the age distributions and partly because there are people who are not yet naturalised, 43% of the residents are enrolled. One will find electorates in many other parts of Australia in which 66% of residents are enrolled. If one looks at the position, as one was able to do in the documents which the distribution commissioners produced and which were tabled in the Parliament, one finds that in the outer suburbs and in some of the newer areas such as Wollonggong. Whyalla and Mount lsa the percentage of people in their late teens is much greater than in other areas. I believe that if people were given the vote at 18 years of age one would not only remove a great number of the causes of discontent symbolised by student power but one would also remove a great number of the causes of discontent which one finds in the developing areas of the capital cities and of the provincial areas - the developmental areas. lt is in these areas that it is difficult to get a large range of employment, accommodation and recreation, and these matters affect people in the 18, 19 and 20 years age group - the people who want to train themselves for life and who want to get married and settle down in these areas. 1 believe it is very clear that we would remove the causes of discontent in this country, to a more marked extent than in any other way, if we were to give the vote to people who are involved in this respect - if we were to involve them in the political, democratic process.
J have not gone into the range of arguments and I have not quoted the range of statistics which are available to honourable members, particularly in the report of the Committee on the Age of Majority, which was presented to the British Parliament in July last year by the Lord High Chancellor. lt is known as the Latey Committee’s report. The arguments for giving the vote at 18 years of age are convincingly presented in the report. The arguments against are effectively discounted in the report. I believe I have quoted the particular features in Australia which show that people are marrying younger. 1 have referred to the fact that people are settling down at an earlier age. 1 commend the Bill to the House as putting Australia in the forefront socially and politically as it used to be and at least ensuring that in Australia we will keep pace with the advances now being made in the great English speaking democracies.
– ls the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.
-Is it the wish of the House to continue the second reading debate forthwith? There being no objection, the debate will proceed.
3.6J - Both of the matters raised in this Bill are serious and important ones. They concern the question of reduction of the voting age and the question of reducing the age at which marriage may take place without consent. But as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) knows, this whole question is under consideration by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and the governments. While it would not be right to say that the Government was opposed to the ideas underlying the Bill because it is considering them and has not yet arrived at a decision on them, the Government does oppose the passing of the Bill in this form and at this time. Indeed, it is rather a curious procedure for the Leader of the Opposition to introduce one Bill dealing with these two matters in this
House when this very week on Tuesday two Bills in a slightly different form were introduced by the Leader of the Opposition in another place and are still pending in that place.
– But no Minister spoke on them there.
– The honourable member has had his say. He must know that all these Bills cannot be passed or they would cut each other’s throats - the Bills I mean. This is electioneering by abortive Bills. The idea of electioneering by presenting abortive Bills is becoming more common. 1 suggest that this is not the right use of the forms of the House to bring matters of public importance before it.
Firstly f wish to deal very briefly with the question of reducing the voting age and to make some observations on it. This is a matter which, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, is under discussion in other countries. It is under discussion particularly in the United Kingdom where we have the benefit of the Latey report on the Committee of the Age of Majority and of a debate in the House of Commons. This matter is also under discussion in the United States of America and in other countries. We have various precedents where different forms have been adopted for dealing with the question of age of majority or voting. I suggest that this is a matter that requires very careful consideration and is not one to be used as a political football.
It is said that the young people of today are maturing earlier and it is suggested that statistics prove this. It depends on what one means by ‘maturing’. If one is referring to maturing physically earlier, I think it is difficult to say with confidence that this is so. At one period in English history the age of 15 was regarded as the age of majority. At that time, of course, the expectation of life was a good deal shorter than it is now so this age was well into a person’s life.
But it would be wrong to say that people of that age at that time - and they were ruder times - were not physically mature as early as people are today. But there is a suggestion that men and women matured early in those days. Of course, there is a difference between individuals. On the other hand, it is true to say, I believe, that the young people of today are more literate, better educated and more interested in public affairs. Whether they have attained more wisdom may be a question. But certainly they are better informed than were their predecessors of the same age in earlier times. I think this has been contributed to not only by the educational systems that have been introduced where everyone now has the opportunity for secondary education, but the impact of television and radio has had its contribution to make on their interest in public affairs. So there is a trend that would suggest that this matter needs consideration.
But how far this justifies across the board treating of everyone on this basis not only for voting but for the age of majority generally is a question that raises rather complex issues. This matter was placed on the agenda for the last Premiers Conference and was dealt with rather briefly. The upshot of this discussion was that it should be referred to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The Attorneys-General met on 31st October and 1st November this year in Perth and discussed this matter. They were conscious of the fact that while the question of age of majority in contracts and so on would be a matter within their general administration, the age of voting was not within the administration of any one of them. Therefore it was necessary for them to refer ultimately to the Premiers any conclusions at which they arrived with such advice as they could give or recommendations they could make.
The Standing Committee dealt with the question of reducing the voting age. It was decided by the Commonwealth and all State Attorneys-General that it was undesirable that there should be movement either by the Commonwealth on its own or by any one State on its own but that it was in the highest degree advisable that there should be uniformity of movement in this field. There are various reasons for this, some of them practical including the difficulties of rolls and so on. The question arises of whether the same rolls or different rolls should be kept. Also, in some States rolls are taken as the basis for jury service and so on. There was also the question of section 41 of the Constitution which states:
No adult person who has or acquires the right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
That is in negative terms and therefore does not prevent the Commonwealth Parliament positively acting itself. But look at this matter first from the point of view of the State position. The question at the outset is whether ‘adult person’ is a person who would be regarded as an adult at 1901 when the Constitution was passed or whether it would be what we may call a current meaning of adult if the States and the Commonwealth reduced the age of majority now.
But leaving that on one side, it was apparent that difficulties would arise at once if we had one or more of the States but not all of them reducing the age of majority for voting. Likewise, although not under section 41, we get problems in the States arising if the Commonwealth acts independently. Without going into the reasons in any great detail, it was on that general basis and for other reasons that it was thought this was a matter on which there should be uniformity and that the Commonwealth, as is now suggested, should not act on its own.
The Standing Committee dealt also with the wider question of the age of majority generally. While one could not say that the views were uniform on this - there were differences of view among the AttorneysGeneral as one gets among AttorneysGeneral on any general question - it was considered that there was an inevitable link between the age of majority on the one hand and the age of voting on the other; that they were not necessarily interdependent but could be dealt with separately; but it was probably inadvisable to do so and certainly inadvisable to do so unless we looked at all the consequences of reducing the age of majority. Some of these consequences were discussed in a good deal of detail - perhaps more detail than I can give now. As honourable members well know, the whole subject of the age of majority has been referred to the Law Reform Commission in New South Wales. The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice Manning, attended a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys and we had the opportunity to discuss with him the progress he has made, his research into the position in other places and the time that may elapse before his report is ready. He intimated that we might expect a report by March 1969.
As I have said, we consider that the age of voting, the age of marriage and the general age of majority are linked and need close consideration. One question that arises is whether infants should be able to contract. In some places the age at which this is allowed has been lowered to 20 years, but if a person is below that age the consent of a magistrate must be obtained. This may be thought to be too restrictive. Another question relates to interest under wills and settlements. The rule in Saunders v. Vautier is that under the age of 21 years a man cannot call for the distribution of property to which he is entitled under a will or settlement. If this is made 18 years, does it mean that a child at school can call for an inheritance from his grandfather? Perhaps he should be able to do so.
– That does not arise under this Bill.
– But we say these aspects are linked together. That is the view of tha Attorneys and we wish to view these matters in the general perspective. We must also consider the way in which rights are given. The question of jury service arises. In New South Wales the jury rolls are compiled from the electoral rolls. If a person of 18 years is placed on the electoral roll, is he then liable for jury service? Is someone studying for the higher school certificate at a secondary school to be liable for jury service? Perhaps he should be. Perhaps he should take his full responsibilities and rights in the community. But it is a matter that needs to be considered. Then we have the question of the adult wage. Is the adult wage to be paid by industries and governments to juniors at 18 years?
These are the consequential matters that will flow from a change of the age. Maybe people at 18 years should have these rights and responsibilities, but these matters must be considered. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the age at which people may obtain liquor varies from State to State. It is 18 years now in some States. The age for juvenile offenders, who are entitled to have their cases heard in a closed court, needs to be considered. Ail these matters must be considered in proper perspective. This does not mean that we should never act in the matter. It does not mean that we should decide against a reduction of the age. But these are complex matters and one must give a proper consideration and not a superficial consideration to them. As I have said, they are already being considered. Therefore I suggest that this is not the right time and this is not the right form in which to amend the law on this topic.
Perhaps 1 should say a word about reducing the age of marriage. First may I say that a question remains on the notice paper regarding the consent of magistrates to marriages. The Leader of the Opposition referred to this question. One of the reasons why it has not been answered is that the Commonwealth does not keep statistics on the operations of State magistrates. 1 have written to the States seeking to obtain the statistics from them. With the exception of two States which have not yet replied, the Stales have indicated that they are not able to give me the figures without enormous difficulty. We have the statistics for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, the areas for which we are responsible. We have considered giving these separately to the Leader of the Opposition, but it is not thought that they give the full picture, and if we can we should get the other statistics. That is how the answer stands.
The present position as regards the age of marriage is, of course, that the age for women is 16 years and the age for men is 18 years. It is not suggested by the Leader of the Opposition that these ages should be lowered. He suggests that some of the restraints on marriage should be removed. There is the question of parental consent and, if that be not accorded, the question of seeking the consent of a magistrate. This again is a very serious matter and we should consider how far these restraints should be removed. lt is not suggested that they are operating harshly at present. They are workable provisions. It is simply that some people arc mature enough and others arc not so mature. There is a judgment to be made here. Marriage being a serious subject, it may be said that age is not the only guide. But experience has shown that the age of 21 years is a workable age for determining maturity at present. I have read, as the
Leader of the Opposition has said, that originally 21 years was fixed as the age at which a man could bear arms as a knight and that historically this age had no real relationship to the sorts of responsibilities that people have to assume now. But these historical anachronisms do not survive unless they serve a purpose, and where they do serve a purpose they survive by their own efficient operation. The time may have come to review the age, but I suggest that much more consideration is needed than is possible when this is treated as a simple matter of amendment of the law without conducting many more inquiries.
I put those matters in answer to the Leader of the Opposition. As 1 have said, the Government is considering this subject, has not made a decision, but opposes the passing of the Bill in this form at present.
Mr CROSS (Brisbane) [3.22J - I know that honourable members on the Government side wish to speak on the Bill and I will not detain the House for long. We on this side have a great respect for the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). We have always regarded his opinions as being wellbalanced and well-considered. Bui i think he did a little less than justice to his own contribution and the contributions of honourable members who will follow me, as well as to the contribution of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who preceded us all, when he described the Bill as an abortive Bill. Although the Bill may not pass through this House, the Government having said that it is opposed to the Bill, anything that stimulates a proper discussion in this Parliament and produces the wellconsidered speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition and the Attorney-General is anything but abortive.
The second point made by the Attorney to which I should direct some attention is the suggestion that this is a political manoeuvre, that we were electioneering by introducing political Bills. 1 think it is a fact that the election is some time off. We are not quite sure when it will be held and we do not think the Government knows at this time. But the Australian Labor Party docs not see these matters in political terms. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned the fight, supported by the Labor Party and by some honourable members on the Government side, to give voting rights to
Aboriginals. All through the time that this subject was being brought before the Parliament by the introduction of Bills, by questions, by speeches during the adjournment debate, by raising it as a matter of definite public importance and the like, it was said that the Labor Party had some political advantage in mind. Aboriginals have had voting rights for several years now and a careful study shows that no one political party has gained all the advantage from the Aboriginals having been given the right to vote. By and large I would think that the Labor Party has probably been more disadvantaged than the Australian Country Party has by giving this right to Aboriginals. But whatever the long term political consequences of giving a vote to the Aboriginal people of this country may be, the Labor Party has welcomed that step as a step forward in extending democracy within the Commonwealth of Australia.
We believe it is very proper for us to place this Bill before the Parliament at this time. We do not in any way minimise the difficulties, but we suggest that all aspects of the age of majority be dealt with as soon as possible. We note with great interest the Attorney-General’s statement on the progress that has been made by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. I have already mentioned that this Bill is an extension of democracy in Australia. This is a matter in which we have not led the world, hi so many fields Australia, in the latter years of the 19th century, and the earlier years of this century, too, led the world in social reform and the extension of democracy to the masses by the adoption of an adult franchise and by according the vote to women. In so many fields Australia has now lost the initiative.
I would like to put my own personal point of view. I am 39 years of age and all my life I have been closely associated with young people in youth organisations and, since my late teens, with young people at the University of Queensland. I do not think that anyone can deny that young people at the age of 18 years today have a better education and a greater degree of maturity than young people of the same age had prior to World War II. Those young people who were several years older than I was during World War II went through the maturing experience of service in the forces. Since World War II we have had full or near full employment in Australia. The legislation of the Labor governments in the immediate post-war years resulted in greatly improved housing, health and education. These trends have continued since that time. Any person of my age who meets young Australians in their late teens can not but be impressed by their much greater maturity compared with the maturity of my contemporaries and myself when we were the same age. 1 decry the tendency in the Australian community to belittle and attack young people. 1 do not suggest, however, that so far any honourable member on the Government side has done this today. Many adults and older people are disturbed by the protest movement in the universities and elsewhere. In Queensland there has been an active fight for civil liberties centred on the young people at the University of Queensland. Demonstrations and protest marches sometimes provide the only means by which young people can register their feelings or their disapproval of the actions of governments. They are the inevitable results of the lack of opportunity for people below the age of 21 years to exercise the franchise and to participate fully in the political life of the community.
Some honourable members may be frightened at the addition to the voting community of some 800,000 electors between the ages of 18 and 21 years. Argument can be undertaken as to which parties would be advantaged by this step. The Labor Party is not concerned with the party political results of this legislation. It is founded on what is a matter of principle to us. We fought for many years in this Parliament, as I mentioned earlier, to extend the franchise to the Aboriginal1 people of Australia. That was not a matter of party political advantage. As I have mentioned also, we do not feel that this has advantaged the Labor Party in many places, but we are not complaining.
The maturity and knowhow to which I have referred, which are so important in relation to elections, are important also with respect to marriage. We now allow 1 8-year- olds to marry with parental consent. In 1967, 43.14% of brides and almost 15% of bridegrooms were minors. This lowering of the marriage age has been discussed at the Premiers Conference and by the Attorneys-General. For a number of years, it has been the policy of the Australian Labor Party to lower the age at which minors may marry without parental consent.
Lowering of the voting age is under way in Britain, lt has been urged by President Lyndon Johnson, with whom the Government goes all the way in other fields. Fifteen countries have already towered the voting agc to 18 years. The United Kingdom Government has received a very comprehensive report from the Committee on the Age of Majority. This report stated:
We hare concluded on every ground that it is not wise te demand parental consent to marriage beyond the age of 18.
The Australian Labor Party is asking that this Parliament follow the lead of the Wilson Labour Government in the United Kingdom in this respect. This measure gives the Parliament and the Government such an opportunity. I ask the Government not to be frightened by the idealism and the enthusiasm of young people but to do all1 it can to finalise matters at present before the Attorneys-General and to carry out the purpose of this legislation which has been introduced by the Leader of the Opposition.
– It is true, as my honourable friend, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen), has said, that this Bill has come into the House in somewhat curious circumstances. I take the view, however, that we should not allow those circumstances to deflect us from considering this measure on its merits. I have deliberately, during the course of this debate, done something which in the main went out of fashion in the latter part of the 19th century, i have sat here and allowed my mind to be influenced by the arguments employed on both sides.
Usually, one must admit, one votes on strict party lines. The question raised by this Bill seems to me to be one of high principle which would best be resolved by a free vote. If there is to be a Whip vote, I am bound to say that, considering that this is a matter of high principle, 1 must vole according to the way that my personal conviction lies. Having listened attentively to the arguments, and giving the matter the best consideration that I can, I say that I would vote in favour of the Bill for several reasons. My honourable friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), will probably be rather surprised at what I am saying, because he tends to regard me, perhaps as a rather conservative person. But 1 am not always so.
Putting on one side the example of close and harmonious co-operation between the Leader of the Opposition and his opposite number in the Senate, and putting on one side the rather unusual circumstances in which this Bill has been introduced, I support it because I believe that one of the great needs in political life today is to give the youth of our nation a sense of participation in community activities, with particular emphasis on political activities. I use the term ‘youth’ loosely. By it I mean people of the age of 18 years and under the age of 21 years. The young people of today, as is testified to by bodies such as the Young Liberals movement within my own Party, are much more interested in political matters than young people were when I was young. If we look at the world abroad and take stock of the things that have happened, particularly in France, Italy, Germany and now in Great Britain, during the last year or so, our assessment of those disorders and disturbances to which I have referred might run along this line: They occur basically because young people are, in substantial measure - I am talking now of the academic world - denied a sense or feeling of participation in the solution of their own problems.
We as a community impose quite severe responsibilities of various types on people of the age of 18 years and more. I believe that in principle, if we impose those responsibilities, we should give young people the opportunity of taking part in the delineation of those responsibilities. That means giving them a vote. I am, as always, impressed by anything that the AttorneyGeneral says on this or any other topic. He referred to section 41 of the Constitution. It ill becomes me to attempt a firm legal interpretation when one knows that if one does that one ventures into fairly difficult territory. In constitutional matters - I am speaking now of section 41 - the modern tendency, which I think is hallowed by authority, is to regard a written constitution as a living, organic document which is allowed, as it were, to some extent - albeit a limited extent - to grow with the times. Referring particularly to the use of the word ‘adult’ in section 41 of the Constitution I would venture very tentatively to suggest that it would be difficult today to deny to the word ‘adult’ appearing in section 41 a construction which would include 18 year old people. After all, we allow them to drink, we allow them to drive. We make them do various things in the nature of duties that are consistent only with the concept that they are adult. If one adopts that interpretation of section 41 as a possible view - it is sufficient for my purpose to regard it only as a possible view - there is a strong argument for the Commonwealth leading in this field and leading now by giving the vote to 18 year old people.
If we do not do this we may soon find, because of political realities and the provisions of section 41, giving it the construction I venture to suggest, that there is a disparity of voting rights as between the various Slates, because there is after all one Labor government in power in Australia - in Tasmania. This is a position which we could ill afford to tolerate. As I see it we could not tolerate a position in which there were disparate voting rights as between various States. I know that other honourable members wish to participate in the debate so I will not go over the ground covered so well by honourable members on both sides of the House. I content myself with saying that 1 support in principle what the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) have said. J know that the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) wishes to speak. 1 have expressed my view and have indicated how I propose to vote.
– I am grateful to Government supporters who were listed to speak in this debate and who either took less than their allotted time or, as the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) did, withdrew from the debate so as to allow me to speak on a matter in respect of which they know that over the past few months 1 have spent a considerable amount of time and have done a fair amount of research. I am most grateful to them for what they have done. Nevertheless the time allowed to me is still too short to develop fully the arguments that I had hoped to place before the House today.
In my opinion this Bill deserves support. If it has any fault it is that it does not go far enough. The whole question of the age of maturity and the position of minors in Australia today should be changed and, as the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) said, the Commonwealth should be taking a lead in the matter. The honourable member for Moreton and I had a lengthy discussion prior to the resumption of the sittings this afternoon on the whole question of the law relating to torts and contracts in which minors are involved. I am indebted to him for his refining of my viewpoints of the law in relation to this matter. That discussion confirmed the opinion I held that we should be making amendments in this field.
May I first say something about a matter referred to by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). He cast some doubts on the concept of persons maturing earlier today. We all have a great deal of respect for the Minister but in this regard I think he may have been a little astray. The whole gamut of evidence in relation to this subject - statistical, medical, psychological and scientific - is at variance with the viewpoint advanced by the Attorney-General. Take for example the report of the British Committee on the Age of Majority and the evidence put before that Committee by the British Medical Association. The Association fixed the age of puberty in girls at 13 years and in boys at 15 years. The general conclusion of the Association was:
Certainly from the physical aspect and most probably from the psychological aspect the adolescent of today matures earlier than in previous generations.
A number of papers are available to honourable members in the Parliamentary Library going into this matter in some depth. I propose to quote from one paper, written by Michael Schofield in collaboration with certain other people. Dealing with physical maturity the paper reads:
It is now well known that children mature at an earlier age than in the past.
If I touch on matters of some delicacy I hope that the House will understand. In dealing with this aspect of physical maturity it is necessary that these matters be discussed. Mr Schofield states that the age of menstruation has been getting earlier, according to authorities on the world today, by some 4 months per decade in Western Europe over the period 1830 to 1960. The paper states:
It follows therefore that a girl today may expect to menstruate on average some 10 months earlier than did her mother. Boys now complete their growth on average at about 17 years of age; this compares with 23 years of age at the turn of the century.
So obviously the viewpoint put by the Attorney-General must be qualified by the sparse amount of material that I have been able to put before the House today. The Australian figures of the number of persons under 21 years of age are most revealing. 1 think the Leader of the Opposition said that 5.4% of the total population is at present aged between 18 and 20 years. As at 30th June this year 52.6% of the total population was under 30 years of age. It is estimated that by 1976 persons under 30 years of age will comprise 54.7% of the total population, without taking into account projected migration figures. But to ignore migration figures would be unrealistic. We must pay regard to the estimated migration intake. When we do we see that in 1976 persons under 30 years of age will represent 64.1% of the population. This is a sizable proportion of young people.
As the Leader of the Opposition has said, in the United Kingdom legislation is being introduced to reduce the voting age. In the United States President Johnson has requested Congress to examine this matter. I quote one small portion of President Johnson’s request to Congress. He hopes to close the generation gap by granting:
Those words could apply with equal force within Australia. The Liberal Party has as its base and its fundamental philosophy the concept that persons within society have certain inalienable rights but also have corresponding duties to execute. If you require of your young persons, particularly those aged between 18 and 20 years, the same duties in some instances as you require of persons aged 21 years and older it is only fair that they should be given the rights that attach to those people in the mature age group. What the honourable member for Parkes touched on is quite correct. The whole question of education today is different. The whole educational process is different. To walk into a school room today and to see the manner in which children are being taught is to see a quite revolutionary approach to education. The whole approach is to develop in groups of people who are going from secondary to tertiary education, or into business or other activities, a more analytical, a more probing, approach to life and a disregard for concepts that are put to them unless they have analysed them thoroughly. If we are to bring up generations of children with this sort of educational system and are to expect them as a result of this process to analyse more thoroughly than did those in previous decades what is happening about them, then we must also give them the right to participate in the decisions of the society which they are examining and analysing closely. This is one of the more basic reasons why I support the argument.
There are many others and I regret that I will not have time to go into them in great detail, but perhaps the House will allow me to run through them very briefly. Australians are, of course, following the world trend in acknowledging that youth today is different from its counterpart of the last generatiton. Certainly youth is unrecognisable in comparison with the medieval predecessors from which came the mystical and mythical age of 21 years. Of course, 21 years was the minimum age set down when a youth could become a knight - when he could bear armour. lt was the age when he was considered strong enough to bear armour. That was the only basic reason. It was continued when inheritance became important, so that youth would not squander all of his inheritance at too early an age. There is, of course, evidence that Roman historians relate that the barbarians regarded 15 years as the age of majority, as young people were then considered able to work. In the 18th and 19th centuries, when property was a major consideration, the owners of property were anxious that their successors would not squander the property, and 21 years was considered to be a good age for majority.
Young people earn more today, as I think the Leader of the Opposition said, and therefore contribute more to the nation’s wealth. They also contribute more in taxes. The number of 18 to 21 year olds in the work force is increasing, and I have given present figures and projected figures to show this. As the honourable member for Parkes has said, they have a right to participate in the decisions that can affect their livelihood. This economic responsibility should be met by equal political responsibility. In Australia 18 to 20 year olds are more literate and belter educated than in any previous generation. That is a facet that one could trace through and talk about at far greater length. More and more such people are receiving higherand more skilled education. Their economic freedom makes them more independent than their parents. They have more inquiring minds and they think more for themselves. They have more freedom and conform less. They have a wider experience of life. They can marry, raise children and divorce. They can drive cars and kill, or be killed. All of these aspects have to be taken into consideration, and I only wish that time was not running against me and preventing me from developing each of these points at greater length.
I know - rhis applies particularly to those on this side of the House who have suffered at the hands of certain demonstrators and as a result of activities worse than demonstrations, in some instances striking at our families and ourselves, in which young people are involved - that we are perhaps more inclined to place emphasis on this aspect of youths’ activities today. But we cannot regard demonstrations, delinquency and civil disobedience or, indeed, immorality or non-conformity as threats. They are signs that young people need more involvement and participation in society. If decisions are not being made in the way they think they ought to be made, the situation is aggravated for them because they have no say in that decision. If they are given the vote, which is one aspect of the Bill, the decision itself may vary. It may not, but at least the opportunity is there to participate, and a greater part of the population will have been considered in its formulation. This surely is the aim of democracy.
One could quote further from the United Kingdom report, and in the few remaining minutes available to me I should like to do so.I have mentioned the question of demon strations and rebellious young people. Let me quote the following segment of the Latey report:
It is easy for those not closely in touch with young people to get an entirely wrong idea of what they are like. The very word ‘teenager’ conjures up horror images of pop fans screaming at air ports, gangs roaming the streets and longhaired rebels being rude to their headmasters; and some of the older generation react tothem with an automatic shudder.
We think this, is the result of two things. First. the Press. ‘Dog bites man’ is not news. ‘Man bites dog’ is. Five-hundred thugs vandalise a seaside town and the public gets front page headlines on it: scores of thousands lead normal, decent lives and little is written about it - if only for the simple reason that, when it is. nobody takes any notice.
We found this impression cropping up again and again in the evidence. One quotation will perhaps suffice to stand for the rest:
I look to the contemporary scene for signs of increased responsibility among the young and ] see the hooliganism of ‘mods’ and ‘rockers’, the hysterical behaviour of pop fans, the growing number of unmarried mothers and the higher proportion of pregnant brides under 21. the increase of drug taking, purple hearts and pep-pills, and the increase of venereal disease among the young, and I do not feel that this suggests any grounds for assuming that ‘they mature so much earlier nowadays’.
It is a point of view. And those who hold it are, like this witness, inclined consistently to he against any lowering in the age of majority. They say, as she does, that hire purchase and mortgage agreements are ‘a rock on which many adults come to grief. Youthful optimism at the mercy of high pressure salesmanship can only end in disaster.’ She regards very young marriages as peculiarly likely to turn into a brake on a young man’s career and an end to a young girl’s dream.
The Committee discussed the reasons why people put these propositions forward. I cited this quotation because I am as aware of the arguments that are put forward almost immediately when one raises the question of majority. The Latey Committee, in recommending 1 8 years as the age of majority, took these sorts of views into consideration.
I wish that we were covering a wider field than we are covering today. As I said, the whole question of torts and contracts, which was in the mind of the honourable member for Moreton, is a matter that we could have extended. However, I think that the Leader of the Opposition has, in this instance, done the House a service by bringing this matter forward. It covers, as he pointed out, the question of the voting age and the question of the right to marry. The right to marry is. in itself, a separate section of the report of the Latey Committee. It is most revealing. Senator Jacob Javits, who is a well known United States senator, wrote a very compelling argument in a well known American magazine on the whole question of reducing the age of majority and, in particular, of reducing the voting age.
– Was it ‘Playboy’?
– Yes, it was in ‘Playboy’, which is a magazine I do not normally read. However, 1 was grateful to the honourable member for lending it to me. Senator Javits said:
To me the most compelling reason for lowering the voting age is that American politics needs the transfusion that younger voting could give it. Almost without exception, today’s 18 to 20 year olds - those of college age - are better educated and more highly motivated toward political action than were their fathers and grandfathers.
I do not know that we could necessarily agree about higher motives, but that was the senator’s viewpoint. He went on to say:
It is essential to our country that their idealism and activism find a genuine release within our established political framework. Unless young people know that they are involved, idealism tends to turn to cynicism.
Perhaps I may return to a matter that the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) brought up by way of interjection. I thought it was the honourable member who gave me the magazine containing that article but I find it was not, and accordingly 1 apologise to the honourable member.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of General Business has expired. The honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under General Business for the next day of sitting.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
The main purpose of the Bill, which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced would be introduced this session, is to enable the fullest possible protection to be given to the living sedentary resources of the continental shelves of Australia and the external Territories. In particular, passage of the Bill will enable the introduction of measures to conserve the living resources of the Great Barrier Reef beyond territorial limits. I shall return to that aspect later, but first I shall make some general observations with respect to the scope of the Bill.
As 1 have already indicated, the Bill deals with certain resources of the continental shelf. According to the 1958 international Convention on the Continental Shelf, which came into force in 1964 and to which Australia and some thirty-six other countries are party, the continental shelf of a coastal country comprises the seabed and subsoil of the seabed adjacent to that country but beyond its territorial limits, to where the depth of the sea above is 200 metres, and even beyond that limit to where the depth of the. sea above admits of the exploitation of the natural resources. This definition is now accepted as a matter of international law, and since it is proposed that the legislation now under consideration should apply to foreigners as well as to Australians, the definition has been adopted for the purpose of the Bill.
Honourable members will doubtless be aware that Australia’s continental shelf covers a vast area. I shall not attempt to define the area in detail but, by way of illustration, I shall merely say that it includes the portions of the Great Barrier Reef beyond territorial limits that are submerged at high tide as well as the submerged lands beyond territorial limits between the Reef and the mainland. It also includes the submerged lands beyond territorial limits in the Gulf of Carpentaria and in Bass Strait, as well as large areas of Western Australia and in the Great Australian Bight. The continental shelves of the external Territories also cover a wide area.
International law leaves no room for doubt that a coastal country has exclusive sovereign rights over its continental shelf for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources. This is clearly recognised in the 1958 Convention. It will therefore be quite in accordance with international law for Australia to apply the legislation under consideration to foreigners as well as to Australians and the Government intends to use to the full the powers that are available to it under international law to ensure that the legislation is complied with and that any offences under it are dealt with in accordance with Australian law. The Convention defines ‘natural resources’ as consisting of ‘the mineral and other non-living resources of the seabed and subsoil together with living organisms belonging to sedentary species, that is to say, organisms which at the harvestable stage either are immobile on or under the seabed or unable to move except in constant physical contact with the seabed or subsoil’.
Honourable members will have noted that the Bill is concerned with living sedentary resources of the continental shelf. Legislation of a different nature is required to deal with non-living continental shelf resources. Already, as honourable members will recall, legislation to deal with the petroleum resources of the continental shelf off Australia and the Territories is on the statute book. The Government is considering the preparation of appropriate legislation to deal with other non-living resources. With the passage of the Bill now under consideration, and the legislation in relation to the non-living continental shelf resources other than petroleum, Australia will be in a position to exercise full legal control over all of its continental shelf resources, both living and non-living, covered by the Convention.
I turn now to a brief explanation of the living resources, the taking of which would be subject to control if the present Bill passes into law. Clause 7 of the Bill envisages that the Governor-General should be empowered to declare certain resources to be sedentary organisms and it is contemplated that further measures to control the taking of those sedentary organisms should be taken by the administrative action that I shall describe later. Before making a declaration with respect to a particular organism, the Governor-General would have to be satisfied that the organism was, for the purposes of the 1958 Convention, a part of the living natural resources of the Australian continental shelf. I shall not attempt to provide an exhaustive list of the resources which belong to sedentary species within the meaning of the Convention. There can be no doubt that pearl shell, trochus, clams, abalone, live coral, sea plants and beche-de-mer organisms that are found in large quantities on many parts of Australia’s continental shelf, and in particular on the Great Barrier Reef, are organisms that are within the Convention definition.
Before I deal with the provisions of the Bill in detail, I shall say a few words about its general pattern. I have already mentioned that it is contemplated that the Governor-General should be empowered to declare certain organisms to be sedentary organisms. It is proposed in clause 11 that by ministerial action areas of the continental shelves of Australia and the external Territories may be declared to be controlled areas for the protection of specified organisms. Clause 12 authorises the Minister to issue notices to prohibit or regulate the taking, for both commercial and noncommercial purposes, of any of the specified organisms from the controlled areas. For example closed seasons, minimum sizes, methods of taking sedentary organisms and the quantities that may be taken can be regulated. However, Clause 1 3 would enable certain activities to be permitted under licence. In accordance with the Government’s recognition of the developing independence of certain external territories, the Bill proposes in Clause 6 that the Minister for Primary Industry should have the responsibility for administration of the legislation in relation to the Australian continental shelf. The Minister for External Territories would have the responsibility in relation to the continental shelf of the external territories.
The Government proposes to give urgent attention to the preparation of proclamations and notices with a view to ensuring that the taking of living resources from Australia’s continental shelf and the continental shelves of the territories - and more particularly from the Great Barrier Reef - are regulated in an appropriate manner. One of its main concerns will be to ensure that the living resources of the Reef are adequately protected. Perhaps I might say here that the Government has appreciated the interest shown especially in relation to the preservation of the resources of the
Great Barrier Reef by the Queensland Government, scientific bodies and private individuals. I assure all concerned that the submissions that have been made to the Government are being carefully examined with a view to the introduction of appropriate controls. 1 turn now to other provisions of the Bill. In clause 3 it is proposed that the three Pearl Fisheries Acts be repealed. These Acts, according to their terms, apply only with respect to the taking of pearl shell, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snails. Other living sedentary resources of the continental shelf such as clams and live coral are outside their scope. Those Acts were enacted some 5 years or more before the Convention on the Continential Shelf was drawn up. There can be no doubt that in international law, Australia has exclusive sovereign rights over a wider range of continental shelf resources than the four organisms mentioned in the earlier Acts. Rather than attempt to bring earlier legislation up to date merely by extending the list of organisms to which it applies, the Government has considered it preferable to repeal the earlier legislation and start afresh. This will enable certain other aspects of the legislation to be brought more into line with the 1958 Convention.
Under clause 14 officers would have extensive powers similar to those provided under the Fisheries Act to enable them to carry out effectively their duties under the legislation. Clause 15 enumerates certain offences such as unlicensed fishing, the unlicensed use of a boat, and the unlicensed employment of divers, and provides that a defence to a charge under this clause is that the act referred to in the charge was not done for commercial purposes. Provision has been made so that foreign vessels that are not engaged in fishing may pass through waters overlying the continential* shelves. Clauses 16 and 17 enumerate offences relating to regulatory measures in force under the legislation and to obstruction of officers. Provisions relating lo penalties, jurisdiction and evidence are set out in clauses 18, 19 and 20. Clause 23 provides for permits to be issued for the taking of sedentary organisms for scientific purposes.
The Government has on a number of occasions made it quite clear that it is most concerned over reports that foreign fisher men have wantonly destroyed valuable living resources of the Reef. The measure now before the House will, as I have sought to explain, provide the means for Australia to control the taking by both foreigners and Australians of the live sedentary species of the Reef beyond territorial limits. However, it is but one step amongst several that are required to provide ful’l legal protection to the resources of the Reef. The laws of Queensland apply with respect to the living resources on the portions of the Reef that are within territorial limits and there is need for the Commonwealth and State laws to be complementary, and this has been taken up with the Queensland authorities.
Legislation will be required to deal with the non-living resources of the Reef. As 1 have explained, this is now receiving close attention. Effective patrolling of the Reef will be required. The present arrangements for patrolling the 12-mile declared fishing zone are being reviewed and a comprehensive study of the requirements created by this new legislation is now being undertaken by the various departments concerned. Negotiations will be undertaken with each State in respect of sedentary resources of the areas of continental shelf outside its territorial limits to. maintain the complementary nature of the Commonwealth and State fisheries legislation.
Finally, I wish to make it clear that the Government would not wish this legislation to be regarded as precluding it at some later time from making a claim to the waters inside the Great Barrier Reef, or in other areas, as Australian internal waters. As has been made clear to honourable members in other connections, the Government has this matter under close examination. It has sought legal advice on Australia’s rights in this regard, not only from its own advisers but from several authorities distinguished in the field of international law. Several difficult issues are involved and the matter is still under examination by the Government. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill, which is complementary to the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill just introduced, is to remove from the definition of ‘fish’ in the Fisheries Act the sedentary organisms which will now be covered by the new legislation. The opportunity has been taken with the introduction of this Bill to correct the definition of ‘Minister’ in the Fisheries Act to recognise the new title of the Minister for External Territories. The Fisheries Bill 1968, giving effect to this amendment and introduced on 20th March, has been discharged from the notice paper.
Honourable members will appreciate that the Fisheries Act applies to foreign fishermen only within the 12-mile declared fishing zone and if the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill is enacted it will apply to foreign fishermen over the whole of the continental shelf, a large portion of which is outside the declared fishing zone. It is therefore in Australia’s interests to have all the organisms which can be proclaimed as sedentary species under the new legislation brought within the control of the new legislation instead of the Fisheries Act. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– I rise to a point of order. Will the Minister give the House a definition of ‘territorial waters’ and ‘the high seas’? I would like to find this out before this Bill is debated, because if these definitions are not included 1 feel that the whole Bill will go astray.
-The matter will be covered during the second reading debate.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
– by leave - I present the following report:
Inter-Parliamentary Union - 56th Conference Held at Lima, September 1968 - Kcport of Australian Delegation.
Ordered thai the report be printed.
– I move:
It is a great pleasure indeed for me to present this report to the Parliament. As leader of the delegation I would like initially to thank my colleague Senator Cant, who was the deputy leader of the delegation, Senator Davidson, and the honourable members for Batman (Mr Benson), Indi (Mr Holten), Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) and Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), who formed the delegation. In addition I express thanks on behalf of the delegation to Mr Odgers, Clerk of the Senate, who acted as secretary-treasurer of the Australian national group, and also Mr Sadlier, of the Department of External Affairs, who acted as counsellor and did a very effective job in advising and counselling the delegation. The delegation joins me in expressing its appreciation to the various officers and ambassadors of the Department of External Affairs in the countries we visited; they were of very great assistance to us. In particular I mention the Australian Charge d’Affaires in Lima, Mr L. J. Martin, who with his wife assisted the delegation greatly, made our job very much easier whilst we were in Lima, and made our stay there much more pleasant. I would also tike to express our appreciation to the trade commissioners from the Department of Trade and Industry for the assistance they gave to the delegation. Finally, our appreciation is due once again to the reference service of the Parliamentary Library for the assistance it gave us in the preparation of the brief.
I believe that the report which I have tabled should be considered in conjunction with the report of the Council meeting held in Dakar in April and the earlier reports of previous Australian delegations, because the issues that had been raised in the past came to either a critical point or full discussion in Dakar or Lima. The report of the Council meeting in Dakar was circulated earlier in the year to members of both Houses of the Parliament. I believe that the Australian delegation in Lima was a successful one and that both the conference and the Council meeting which was held in conjunction with it this year possibly were the most critical that the Inter-Parliamentary Union has held in its history of some 70 or 80 years. Issues such as the Middle East crisis were debated fully and bitterly. The invasion of Czechoslovakia by Russia and the Warsaw Pact nations was very bitterly debated. At the end of the conference Russia and the Warsaw Pact nations which were involved in and represented at the Inter-Parliamentary Union walked out of the conference because of the condemnation of their actions.
The other major issue that was raised in the Dakar Council meeting was the question of the statutes of the Union in controlling the membership, and particularly the universality of membership. This was the issue which the Secretary-General of the IPU stated brought the Union to the cross roads of its existence. The United States of America, Russia, West Germany and others indicated during the debates in the two major meetings that they would review their membership, depending upon the outcome of the debate. I am very honoured indeed to report to the House that the Australian delegation produced the solution to this crisis which faced the InterParliamentary Union. At the Dakar meeting I moved, on behalf of the Australian delegation, a resolution which was ultimately adopted and which has given breathing space to the Inter-Parliamentary Union to re-examine its status and rules concerning membership. After the Lima conference I was very honoured indeed to be appointed to the committee which is to examine the status of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The other members of the committee come from the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Sweden and Peru.
In addition, members of the Australian delegation moved various amendments of importance on questions such as aid to developing nations. My colleague Senator Cant moved such an amendment which was adopted. Other amendments concerned trade. In the various debates delegates from this Parliament suggested amendments on questions such as culture and science. The Australian delegation also played an important part, both in the Dakar and Lima conferences, in preventing the Soviet Union from using the Inter-Parliamentary Union to condemn the Greek regime. But I think that the most important issue to this country was the question of the readmission of South Vietnam as a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. A resolution by the executive of the Inter-
Parliamentary Union recommending the readmission of South Vietnam as a member of the Union - by 6 votes to 3 - resulted in a long and often bitter debate.
The executive had examined the elections, the Parliament and the Government in South Vietnam in relation to the rules of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The Council eventually ratified the recommendation of the executive to readmit South Vietnam. think that the consequences of this decision are real and important to Australia. It was the first time that an international body, and an international parliamentary body, had recognised the 1966 and 1967 elections in South Vietnam. It recognised them in a way which resulted in South Vietnam being readmitted to the Union. I think that this was of importance. As will be seen in the report, the vote in the Council was 77 votes for the readmission of South Vietnam, 27 votes against and there were 11 abstentions. I think it is important to note that each of the countries bordering on the Pacific voted in favour of South Vietnam’s readmission. As I have said, I think that this was one of the major matters to come up during the conferences.
Each member of the Australian delegation spoke on one occasion or more, and 1 would like to express my appreciation to them for the assistance they gave me. I believe that this delegation was a success and a credit to this country. Finally, I should like to place on record our congratulations to Mr Odgers, the Clerk of the Senate, who was elected to the executive of the Secretary-General’s Association - a body which meets in parallel with the Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1 believe that Mr Odgers’ election to the executive of this very important body is a credit to him and it shows how highly he is regarded by his colleagues in other countries. I have much pleasure in tabling the report and in expressing my appreciation to my colleagues who elected me to lead this delegation earlier this year.
– I want to joint with the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell). I had the privilege of attending the conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and I think I learned a lot from it. I do not know whether a great deal was attained, but we met under very trying circumstances. When we arrived at the conference the rape of Czechoslovakia had taken place and one can imagine the quite strong feeling that prevailed, especially from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Warsaw Pact countries. It was a good thing for people from what 1 call truly democratic countries to see how other countries work. If honourable members could imagine the people assembled in this Parliament House carrying out their normal business with soldiers parading around the galleries with tommy guns they would get an idea of the feeling at the conference. I am not criticising (he host country, Peru, but 1 feel that that is what took place. Of course, to our way of thinking that is not the way in which democracy works. We do not come in here, look up and sec a fellow walking along :he galleries with a tommy gun. Just after we left Peru there was a minor revolution and a coup took place.
During the conference J think that most countries made clear to the USSR just what the feeling was regarding the action which Russia took over Czechoslovakia. The debate got very heated. Every member of the Australian delegation, irrespective of his Party affiliations made clear his views of the action taken by Russia. We did not know what was happening in Australia. But we were very pleased when we came back to Australia to learn that this House had been unanimous in its condemnation of Russia. Without knowing that in full, we expressed ourselves quite forcibly and fully in Lima. The debate became so tense that towards the end of the conference the Russian delegation walked out. Whether the Russians will come back to the IPU, I do not know. I think IPU conferences are necessary. I believe that they offer a chance of getting the democratic countries together so that they can all put their points of view. I hope the conferences will continue.
I again join with the honourable member for Robertson in expressing my appreciation of the treatment that I received from the acting Ambassador for Australia in Peru, Mr Martin. Also, I would like to express my appreciation of the help and assistance that I received from the Clerk of the Senate, Mr Odgers, and also Mr David Sadlier of the Department of External Affairs. I hope that when other honourable members go away in future their time will not be as trying as the time we had and that there will be no more actions such as were carried out in Czechoslovakia. 1 also hope that the Czechoslovakians will be present at the next conference. We did all in our power by sending cables to try to get their representative to this conference.
– J want to say a few words about the InterParliamentary Union Conference at Lima at which I was privileged to be a member of the Australian delegation. This is the first IPU Conference that I have attended and I would like to say at the outset that the Australian Parliament can rest assured that the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell), as leader of the delegation, devoted himself most conscientiously to the task of leading the delegation, representing Australia in various committees and a teo in the inevitable lobbying that appears to happen at these international conferences. He argued the Australian point of view with logic, determination and enthusiasm. He could not have devoted himself more conscientiously to the task of leading the delegation. 1 am sure that other members of the delegation support me in those comments. 1 would also like to pay a genuine tribute, as other honourable members have done, to Mr Odgers, the Clerk of the Senate, who was the secretary of our delegation. He was of immense assistance, was always on the job and really left nothing to be desired. His experience as a member of other delegations was invaluable to our delegation. Mr David Sadlier of the Department of External Affairs was also a tower of strength to all of us with his tireless work for the delegation. I would also like to mention Miss Patricia Bell, who was the stenographer-secretary to the delegation. She was energetic in her approach and was always ready to help any member of the delegation, particularly in the last-minute alteration of speeches which seem to be inevitably associated with these conferences. The tributes I have paid are sincere and are deserved.
I would like to say something about one other person in my few words. I refer to Mr Lou Martin, the Australian Trade Commissioner who was also the Australian acting ambassador. As other speakers have said, his attention to us both from an official point of view and an unofficial point of view was outstanding. Mention should be made of the reception that was given in the name of the Australian delegation on a Saturday evening at Mr Martin’s home. This function was an outstanding success. Without deluding ourselves at all I think that everyone who attended genuinely felt at home and formed a good impression of Australia. A lot of favourable comment was passed to every member of the delegation during the ensuing week about the type of reception that was provided by the Australian delegation and, of course, by Mr Martin and his wife, who did such an outstanding job at this reception.
During the time we were at the Conference it was my privilege to be on the committee which discussed the stability of prices of primary products as they were related to providing aid to developing countries. Generally speaking, we tried to persuade the larger industrial nations that the pricing of primary products around the world was chaotic and that we must make every effort to obtain an international agreement on the matter. Anyone who has been on a delegation knows that it is very difficult to change the face of the world in a speech. I think that, due to a misunderstanding, my speech lasted 5 minutes. One does not certainly expect that overnight he can change the face of the world or the attitude of the great industrial powers to obtaining cheap food. Undoubtedly, these conferences can have some effect but it is not immediately apparent. Nevertheless, we tried to put the case both for the underdeveloped countries and for Australia as strongly and as logically as we could to the assembled delegates from all the other nations.
One point that 1 stressed particularly was that Australia itself was recognised as a developing country under a special agreement that was reached with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and that therefore we were most interested in the stability of prices of primary products. We were particularly interested also because of our great dependence on our primary products for our export earnings. What effect these discussions will have remains to be seen. It is my opinion, and 1 expressed it at the conference, that we have to deal through the recognised international authorities such as GATT. through committees such as the special dairy sub-committee which is within GATT, and with various other organisations such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. I conclude by saying that I feel privileged at having represented Australia even in what I regard as a relatively minor capacity. I, like other members of the delegation, listened with tolerance and understanding to speakers from other nations around the world when they spoke about their problems. I, like other members of the delegation, put Australia’s point of view and explained the problems that confront Australia. 1 hope that from this we will derive some advantage in the future. I felt privileged to be able to represent the Parliament of Australia at the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference at Lima.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is the first step in putting into effect the proposal, outlined by me in the House last year, to set up a new Federal court, to be called the Commonwealth Superior Court. Complementary legislation for the amendment of a number of Acts will be also necessary and will be introduced at a later time. The project is not new. Since 1961, a very considerable amount of work has been done, first by Sir Garfield Barwick as Attorney-General, then by the present Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) when he was AttorneyGeneral, and more recently by myself, on proposals for the establishment of a new court to relieve and forestall the pressures of the existing arrangements for the exercise of the Federal jurisdiction. I pay tribute here to the foundation work done by my predecessors on this project.
The Court established by the Bill will be comparable in status and jurisdiction to the supreme courts of the States and will, broadly speaking, exercise original jurisdiction - that is. jurisdiction other than that exercised on appeal from a court of law - in all Federal matters, except matrimonial causes, trials on indictment and matters in which jurisdiction is expressly confined by some other legislation either to the High Court or to courts below the level of superior courts. The new Court will also have a limited appellate jurisdiction, which will include some appeals from its own judges, appeals from Territory Supreme Courts, and appeals from State courts below the Supreme Court level exercising Federal jurisdiction. It will absorb the present Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Federal Court of Bankruptcy, and the judges of those courts will be appointed to the new Court.
I should like to assure honourable members that every care will be taken to see that the loss of identity of the present Commonwealth Industrial Court will not in any way detract from the efficiency with which Commonwealth Industrial jurisdiction is handled. In the view of the Government the present Commonwealth Industrial Court has been successful in its field and the Government firmly intends that this success will be continued within the framework of the new Court.
To ensure this, there will be two Divisions of the new Court - an Industrial Division and a General Division. Each judge will be appointed a judge of the Court. However, the commission of appointment of a judge other than the Chief Judge may allocate him to sit in one only of the Divisions. The Chief Judge will be able to sit in both Divisions. It is intended that the present Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court will be appointed the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Superior Court. It is intended that the present judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Federal Court of Bankruptcy will be appointed as judges of the Court and that the present resident judges of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will also be given commissions as judges of the Court. Allocations to the appropriate Divisions will be made in the commissions issued.
The Bill provides that the Chief Judge, with the consent of the judge concerned, may arrange for a judge on a special occasion to sit in a Division to which he has not been allocated. It also provides that when the Court sits as a Full Court in the Industrial Division, it must, subject to the qualification I have just mentioned, comprise Industrial Division judges only. The Chief Judge is counted as an Industrial Division judge for this purpose. When the Full Court sits in the General Division, it must comprise at least three judges, at least two of whom must be General Division judges. For this purpose, the Chief Judge and any judge allotted to a particular Division is counted as a General Division J udge. AH present jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Industrial Court in Conciliation and Arbitration Act matters, including all its appellate jurisdiction under that Act, and the present jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Industrial Court in Stevedoring Industry Act matters will be exercised in the Industrial Division. AH other jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Superior Court will be exercised in the General Division.
For many years now the need has been felt for a superior Federal court on which jurisdiction in Federal matters, paticularly new statutory jurisdiction, could be conferred, without imposing on the High Court additional burdens that would interfere with the latter’s function as the ultimate court of appeal in Australia. Since its establishment in 1956, the Commonwealth Industrial Court has been used as the repository of such new jurisdiction whenever possible, notwithstanding the apparent incongruity of conferring on an industrial court jurisdiction in matters not industrial. This need for a suitable court will be met by the establishment of the Commonwealth Superior Court.
In my statement to the House last year, I explained in some detail how the growth of Federal litigation had resulted in the High Court having to spend more time on original jurisdiction in non-constitutional matters than could have been in the contemplation of the framers of the Constitution in setting it up as the principal expounder of the Constitution and as a general appellate court of the highest order for both Federal and non-Federal matters. I repeat here part of what I said on that occasion.
The Constitution made provision for the establishment of the High Court of Australia. It was intended by the framers of the Constitution that the High Court should have the ultimate responsibility within Australia for deciding constitutional questions, that it should act as a general court of appeal from State courts and such Federal courts as might be created by the Parliament, and that it should exercise a limited original jurisdiction. It was, therefore, contemplated that the High Court would interpret the Constitution and that it would ensure harmony and consistency as between the Courts of all parts of the Commonwealth in decisions arising under statute and at common law. The role of the High Court in expounding the Constitution and in acting as a general appellate court has a special importance far outweighing that of the original jurisdiction which it exercises in non-constitutional matters.
The Constitution made provision for the High Court’s original jurisdiction by conferring original jurisdiction on that Court in certain matters and by empowering Parliament to invest the Court with jurisdiction in certain other matters. At the same time the Constitution provided two different means by which Federal jurisdiction might otherwise be exercised. Firstly, it enabled Parliament to create Federal courts, other than the High Court. Secondly, it enabled Parliament to invest State courts with Federal jurisdiction. The latter expedient offered a convenient alternative to the separate system of Federal courts adopted in the United States, whose Constitution had served as a model for the Commonwealth. While Australia had a vast territory, just as did the United States of America, it had also, unlike the United States, within that territory a small and scattered population. This problem was aggravated by the difficulty and expense of travel and communication. Although the variety of legal problems that could be expected to arise in such circumstances was not likely to be substantially less than in the United States, the volume of litigation could not be expected initially to be great enough to require the establishment of a system of Federal courts to serve the people in all parts of the Commonwealth.
As long as the volume of Federal litigation remained relatively small, the investiture of State courts with Federal jurisdiction was, therefore, a simple device which had the merit of economy and of expedition. Not the least contribution to the success of this scheme was the stature and quality of the Supreme Courts of the various States. These courts were and are the repositories of the common law in Australia and being of the highest integrity they have always enjoyed the confidence of the people of the various States. With the growth in the population of the Commonwealth there has been a corresponding growth in the volume of litigation, both State and Federal. Thus, since 1913, when the number of High Court judges was raised to its present figure of seven, the number of State Supreme Court judges has risen from thirty-one to over seventy. Most of this growth appears to have occurred since 1945, when the number of State Supreme Court judges was thirtyseven.
The growth in Federal litigation has been such as to impose an increasing burden on the High Court. The result of that growth has been that, unless the number of High Court judges is increased, there is a serious risk that the volume of work in the original jurisdiction of the High Court will inhibit the Court’s capacity to fulfil its principal role as an arbiter of constitutional questions and as the nation’s ultimate appellate court. Because of the provisions of the Constitution requiring all judges to have, in effect, life tenure, the Commonwealth, unlike the States, cannot relieve its judges on a temporary basis by the appointment of acting judges to deal with arrears or accumulations of business as they occur from time to time.
At the same time the complexity of government has grown considerably and the activities of the Commonwealth Government and of its agencies have correspondingly become greater and more intricate than they were at the inception of the Commonwealth or than could have been anticipated at that time. Yet there has been no corresponding growth in the judicial organs of the Commonwealth to keep pace with these developments. Apart from the creation of two Federal courts of limited specialised jurisdiction, namely the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Federal Bankruptcy Court, the High Court in its original jurisdiction and the various State courts exercising Federal jurisdiction have dealt with all matters arising under the Constitution and Federal statutes. As these trends continue, there will be an increasing amount of Federal litigation which will overtax the existing arrangements so that they will work much less satisfactorily than they have in the past. At the present time, particularly in the less populous States, the provision of an entire system of Federal courts would be uneconomic. Nevertheless, the time has come when, with the expansion in population and in litigation, the Commonwealth should make a beginning and provide the necessary framework to deal with those developments.
The need for another Federal superior court in which original proceedings could be taken in place of the High Court is emphasised by the legislation, passed by Parliament this year, limiting appeals to the Privy Council and strengthening the High Court’s position as the ultimate court of appeal in Australia. It is for these reasons that the Bill confers on the Commonwealth Superior Court original jurisdiction in all matters in which the High Court has original jurisdiction under the Constitution, except in suits between the Commonwealth and a State, and between States, and in proceedings in which it is sought to exercise supervisory powers over other superior courts or judges of such courts. It also confers on it jurisdiction in all matters in which, under the Constitution, jurisdiction may be conferred on the High Court. The first category of jurisdiction will enable the Commonwealth Superior Court to hear matters arising under any treaty, affecting consuls or other representatives of other countries, in which the Commonwealth or a person suing or being sued on behalf of the Commonwealth is a party, which are between residents of different States or between a State and a resident of another State, or in which a writ of mandamus or prohibition or an injunction is sought against an officer of the Commonwealth. The second category will enable the Commonwealth Superior Court to hear matters arising under the Constitution or involving its interpretation, or arising under any laws made by the Parliament, matters of Admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and matters relating to the same subject matter claimed under the laws of different States.
Another advantage of the new court will be its Australia wide jurisdiction. One must bear in mind that if a proceeding is instituted in a State supreme court, it must be completed in that State. If the proceeding is instituted in the High Court or, under this Bill, in the Commonwealth Superior Court, it may be transferred from the registry of the Court in one State to the registry of that Court in another State, if this is necessary or convenient. Its process and judgments will be enforceable directly in any part of Australia, without the need to use the more cumbersome registration and enforcement procedures that have to be resorted to when it is sought to enforce outside the State the process or judgments of a State court that had exercised Federal jurisdiction.
The Bill creates the Commonwealth Superior Court as a superior court of record consisting of a Chief Judge and such judges as are appointed under the Bill. As I have said, the Chief Judge and judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court will be appointed to the new Court, as will also the Judge of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy and the resident judges of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory supreme courts. The latter will, of course, also retain their Territory supreme court appointments, as will the other Federal judges who at present hold appointments as additional judges of Territory supreme courts. As the number of judges of the Commonwealth Superior Court is not fixed by the Bill, new judges can be appointed as and when required. In accordance with the requirements of the Constitution, the judges will be appointed for life.
The original jurisdiction conferred by the Bill will normally be exercised by a single judge. It will be possible, however, for more judges than one to constitute the Court for the hearing of a matter in original jurisdiction - a position that obtains also in the High Court at present. There is also power to order a hearing before a judge and jury, if this is necessary in the interests of justice. It is significant, however, that there are no known cases in which the High Court, which has a similar power, has ordered jury trial in a civil matter. This leads me to the reasons for excluding from the Commonwealth Superior Court’s jurisdiction two important areas of Federal matters. The possibility of there being need from time to time for trial of indictable offences under Commonwealth law in country towns would have complicated considerably the arrangements for the new Court had such offences come within its jurisdiction. I did not think that the Bill should confer any general jurisdiction in criminal matters, and the Court at this stage is not given criminal jurisdiction.
In the second area, namely matrimonial causes, the volume of litigation is such that giving the Commonwealth Superior Court jurisdiction in these causes could at times result in overtaxing the resources of the Court, which at present is visualised as a comparatively small court, yet able to deal expeditiously at any time with matters in its jurisdiction whether they bc in the industrial, bankruptcy, taxation, industrial properly or some other field of the Court’s jurisdiction.
Honourable members will notice that the proposals in the Bill are in several respects more extensive than the proposals disclosed by me last year. In particular, the Commonwealth Superior Court will have jurisdiction generally in all matters arising under Commonwealth Acts and regulations except those that specify only courts other than the Commonwealth Superior Court as having jurisdiction, and the appellate jurisdiction of the Court will be somewhat more extensive than 1 indicated last year. These changes are the result of further work and thought on the proposal. In the appellate field, the Commonwealth Superior Court will now be the general court of appeal from Territory supreme courts, other than the Supreme Court of Papua and New Guinea, which already ha.s its own Full Court. It will also hear some appeals from its own judges and appeals from lower State courts, below supreme court level, exercising Federal jurisdiction. The latter jurisdiction will in several cases be exclusive of the jurisdiction of the High Court and the State supreme courts to hear such appeals. In relation to the High Court, it is intended that this jurisdiction will generally operate as a filter, so that the High Court will deal with cases coming from lower courts exercising Federal jurisdiction at a stage where it also has the benefit of the consideration and judgment of a superior court on the mailer.
It is not intended that the Bill be debated in this session. This will give honourable members time to consider its provisions, and will give a similar opportunity to members of the legal profession and to other interested persons. Any views and representations made to me during the recess will be welcome and will be carefully considered.
I commend the Bill to the consideration of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bowen, and read a first lime.
T4.48] - I move:
The main amendments sought to be effected by this Bill are two-fold. The first is to provide for a court of not less than three judges to deal with matters arising under the proposed Legal Practitioners Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. The second is to enlarge the rule making power of the judge to deal with certain matters arising under the Companies Ordinance of the Territory. There is in an advanced stage of preparation a Legal Practitioners Ordinance for the Territory. This Ordinance will provide, amongst other things, for the admission of practitioners to practise in the Territory and also for the suspension and cancellation of the right of practitioners to practise.
The present position under section 8(1.) of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act is that the jurisdiction of the Court must always be exercised by one judge. The relationship between legal practitioners and the judiciary is such that it has generally been thought undesirable that in matters relating to the admission, suspension, striking off, and disciplining of practitioners the Court should be constituted by a single judge. The amendment proposed by clause 6 will provide that in these matters the Court’s jurisdiction is to be exercised by not less than three judges”. There arc consequential provisions in regard to matters such as which judge is to preside and how the Court’s decision is to b:* reached when there is a difference of opinion between the judges.
Decisions of State Supreme Courts in matters of the kind I have mentioned are subject to a right of appeal to the High Court. As many of the persons admitted to practise under the proposed ordinance will also have State qualifications to practise, which such decisions would be likely to affect, it is desirable that any such decision should be subject to a right of appeal to the High Court. This is provided for in clause 12.
A further amendment that is partly consequential upon the Legal Practitioners Ordinance is to the qualifications for appointment as the judge of the Territory, that is, the resident judge, as distinct from the ‘additional judges’. The qualifications at present prescribed by section 7 (I.) for appointment as the judge are that the person concerned must be, or have been a practising barrister or solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State of not less than five years’ standing. Clause 4 extends these qualifications so as to include a person who is or has been -
I turn now to the amendments to deal with matters arising under the Companies Ordinance of the Territory. The present rulemaking power in section 28 of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act is confined to matters regulating the practice and procedure of the Court. A consequence of this is that the rules of court relating to the winding-up of companies can apply only to windings-up that are the subject of court proceedings. Voluntary windings-up must be dealt with by separate provisions in regulations made under the Companies Ordinance. It is desirable that the need for this distinction should be removed and that all windings-up should be governed by the Rules of Court. It is proposed, therefore, that, in the case of rules to deal with matters arising under the Companies Ordinance only, the present limitation confining the power to matters regulating the practice and procedure of the Court should not continue to apply. Clause 9 widens the rulemaking power in section 28 of the Act so as to extend it to matters or things that are required or permitted to be prescribed by regulations under the Companies Ordinance. This amendment will bring the Territory law into line with the present position in New South Wales.
Proposed sub-section (5.) of section 28 provides that in the event of an inconsistency between the rules of court and the Regulations, the Rules are to prevail. The rules will, however, continue to be subject to the present power of disallowance in section (4) of section 28. Under section 35 of the Act, the registrar of the court can be assigned by rules of court duties ‘in respect of proceedings pending in the Supreme Court’, lt is desirable that the rules should be able to assign to the registrar powers and duties in respect of matters arising under the Companies Ordinance, as amended from time to time, irrespective of whether those matters are the subject of proceedings pending in the court. This is achieved by the new paragraph (b) of subsection (1.) of section 28.
It is desirable that a judge should be able to delegate to the registrar the court’s powers to deal with matters arising in the course of the winding-up of a company, being matters which, while they involve the exercise of Territory judicial power, do not from a practical point of view need to be dealt with by a judge. The proposed new section 35a accordingly enables the judge, when making an order for winding-up a company, to direct all the proceedings for the winding-up to be dealt with by the registrar. The amendment provides that in dealing with such matters the registrar is to have all of the powers of the court, subject to appeal to the court. The amendment also enables the registrar to refer to the court any matter which he thinks proper to be determined by the court. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Connor) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 14 November (vide page 2876), on motion by Mr Wentworth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
There being no objection, the course suggested by the Minister will be adopted.
– The States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill provides for the making of a grant of financial assistance to the States for the welfare and advancement of the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Bill is designed to assist in the establishment and development of business enterprises by the Aboriginal people. I move:
In the view of the Opposition the Bills are timely so far as their objectives and motives are concerned but it is a pity that expression was not given to these sentiments many years ago.
I propose to deal firstly with the apportioning of finance as between the States. As the Minister for Social Services and Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) said in his second reading speech and in the statement which he made to the Parliament in August, these allocations of finance are based as near as possible on populations or estimated populations of Aboriginals in the various States. I am not sure how these allocations were determined because on my calculations the allocation to Queensland should be far different from that mentioned in this legislation. I base my calculations on the latest figures available to me. Perhaps the Minister will be able to explain the discrepancy between my figures and his. My figures ure the latest that I can obtain and I assume they are the figures on which the Minister made his calculations.
One of the reasons for the discrepancy may be the interpretation of the definition of ‘Aboriginal7. The definition of an Aboriginal seems to be confined to people of the Aboriginal race of Australia. There can be no question about full blood Aboriginals but there may be room for argument about part Aboriginals. The official figures that I have show that Victoria has no full blood Aboriginals and 3,500 part Aboriginals. New South Wales has 130 full blood Aboriginals and 23,000 part Aboriginals. The ratio of Aboriginals in New South Wales compared with Aboriginals in Victoria is about six to one. The financial allocations to New South Wales under this legislation compared with allocations to Victoria is in a ratio of about three to one. Queensland has about 12,000 full blood Aboriginals and 29,700 part Aboriginals, as well as about 8,000 Torres Strait Islanders. I am not certain whether the 8,000 Torres Strait Islanders are covered by the provisions of the Bill. In the opinion of the Opposition, they should be covered. If we included the 8,000 we would get a total of almost 50,000 people, which would mean an allocation of about $1.7m instead of $l.45in. However, it could easily be that the Torres Strait Islanders are not included. Here again, this is a matter of definition. 1 hope the Minister will explain it later.
The reason why I suggest that Torres Strait islanders should bc covered by the Bill is the same as for saying that the significant pockets of people with part Pacific island blood in them in the tropical areas of coastal Queensland should be covered. These people came to Australia at the turn of the century. They played an admirable part in the development and settlement of tropical Queensland, particularly in the sugar industry and later in other industries such as the beef industry. These people have problems which, although perhaps they are not as acute as the problems of Aboriginals in some areas, are more acute than the problems of many part Aboriginals in some parts of Victoria and New South Wales. Here again, it is a problem of definition. There should be no discrimination against these people, many of whom live in the sugar areas of Queensland. In the last few months several have spoken to me and have asked: ‘Arc we going to get assistance under this scheme?” Some of these people have part Aboriginal blood in them. They are part Pacific islander and part Aboriginal, but it would be difficult to determine in what proportion, lt would seem to me that if they have some Aboriginal blood in them, they are entitled to assistance under the Bill, but if they arc still virtually full blood Pacific islanders they would not be entitled to assistance. Although we have not proposed any amendment on this aspect, we ask the Minister to give serious consideration to the future inclusion of such people in the benefits of this legislation, particularly in the business venture scheme. 1 do not suggest that the 3,500 part Aboriginals in Victoria do not have problems, but I could take the Minister to many areas in central and northern Queensland where part Pacific islanders and part Aboriginals have far more acute problems than many of the part Aboriginals living in Victoria who are enjoying better or potentially better environmental conditions.
One aspect that worries me is that most of these part Pacific islanders and some of the part Aboriginals are employed in our seasonal industries in which there is a high degree of unemployment which is increasing because of automation and the reduction in sugar production. As the Minister knows, long protracted periods of unemployment are not good for these people. They have nothing to do and they roam the streets. While they are working they are making a wonderful contribution to the industry in which they are employed, but if they are not working they soon get into trouble. They are shunted down to the banks of creeks where they live in humpies and bark huts. This leads to degradation and it affects their children.
I am concerned about the propriety of making allocations based purely on a pro rata basis. 1 should like the Minister to explain the situation to me because I cannot see that this is fair. I exclude the Northern Territory from my remarks, since the Northern Territory is not covered by the provisions of the Bill. My remarks are related to areas outside the Northern Territory. I refer particularly to the Kimberleys, Cape York Peninsula and Gulf of Carpentaria areas where the majority of full bloods live. The cost of ventures there - whether they be associated with education, health, housing or some business - can be double or even more than double the cost of constructional activities or servicing facilities in the southern parts of Australia. If the Minister wants to improve educational facilities in, say, the Jacky Jacky area near the Jardine River surely the costs will be tremendously different from the costs of a similar facility in southern Australia. Again, we have not proposed an amendment on this aspect. I believe that if the Minister can see the justification for an alteration he will do something about it.
We thought of proposing that an additional allocation be given to Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, which would mean that Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania would get a little less; but we were confronted with the problem that we did not know where the money would be spent. If it were to be spent in the areas that I mentioned, obviously a school or other building there would cost a lot more than a similar building elsewhere. If the expenditure is to be mainly in the capital cities the difference in costs will not be significant. Again, it is mainly because of lack of detail that I have not proposed an amendment. I think that the Minister can see the point I am driving at. Not only are building costs higher but so too are the costs of administration, transportation and supervision in the remoter areas than in the southern States. I do not know why $25,000 is to be allocated to Tasmania because my figures indicate that there are very few Aboriginals - in fact, fewer than ten - in Tasmania. However, these figures may be wrong.
The proposal for the establishment and development of business enterprises by Aboriginals is a wonderful concept, but I am puzzled by the definition of business enterprises. In clause 3 of the Aboriginal Enterprise (Assistance) Bill ‘business enterprise’ is defined as including an enterprise relating to primary production. I assume that this includes practically everything.
– You are quite right.
– It seems a funny way to define something, but perhaps this is a legal definition. People who wanted to establish some activity connected with the tourist industry, saddling, driving trucks, contract mustering, bore sinking and so forth and work not necessarily associated with primary production would be eligible for assistance. I thought that other enterprises were included, but the wording of the definition gives the impression that the emphasis is on primary industry.
Then I come to the next point, which we have treated seriously and in respect of which we have moved an amendment. The Opposition believes that the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill should be treated in the same way as other Bills providing for financial assistance to the States, and that a schedule should be attached to the Bill setting out all relevant terms and conditions. That is the principal reason why the Opposition has moved its amendment. Clause 4 of the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill says in sub-clause (2.):
Payment of an amount to the State of Queensland under this section is subject to the following conditions: -
that, in accordance with terms and conditions agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the State before that amount is paid, the State will repay that amount to the Commonwealth and will pay interest to the Commonwealth on so much of that amount as has not been repaid.
In itself that is fair enough, but what does it mean? What are the terms and conditions?
– That one refers only to business enterprises.
– I am referring only to the business venture at Jardine River, not to any other matter. What are the terms and conditions? I think some discussion could take place, for example, on the rate of interest on money for business ventures that are exclusively for the benefit of Aboriginals. What period will be allowed for repayment? Will there be a holiday period during repayments? Will the Aboriginals have to pay taxes if they earn sufficient income? Will the project come under special provisions such as those which apply to ventures in New Guinea covered by Commonwealth legislation, and also to undertakings in other parts of the world, under which a pioneer tax free period is allowed, during which, while the project is getting on its feet, no tax at all is paid by the people directly concerned with it? I think this is an admirable type of provision for all developmental projects in remote areas.
These are the kinds of conditions that the Opposition would like to know about. We would like information particularly about the provisions for repayment and the rates of interest. It is possible that the Minister wants each project to be flexible, and I for one find no argument with this. In ventures of this kind one must be flexible. If the Parliament were to lay down stringent provisions relating to repayment, rates of interest and so forth we could find ourselves tied up in red tape, and the projects themselves would face serious problems. But where the Commonwealth makes a financial grant to a State, this seems to me a different matter from the Commonwealth guaranteeing or lending money to corporate groups or individuals for particular business ventures. Therefore, I repeat, the Opposition has moved this amendment because it seeks more information about terms and conditions. I have already mentioned some of the matters in respect of which we would like the Minister to give us more information concerning terms and conditions as they apply to business ventures. We are not concerned here, of course, with the general allocation as between the States.
One other matter which concerns us is the level of State expenditure. The Minister said, either in his second reading speech or in the statement he delivered in this House early in the sessional period, that he had agreed to certain minimum levels of expenditure by the States themselves. In other words, the Commonwealth funds would not be in substitution for amounts that would otherwise be spent by the States, but would be in addition to the agreed minimum spending by the States. But nowhere are there any details of what these minimum expenditures are to be. It appears to me that this is something we should know. For example, if New South Wales is to get $775,000 from the Commonwealth, how much of its own money is New South Wales to spend? If Queensland is to get $1,450,000, how much of its own money is Queensland to spend? I assume that as the Commonwealth Auditor-General will have the right to make examinations and work in co-operation with the State Auditors-General, he will keep a pretty close watch in these things to see that the States are carrying out their side of the bargain and are not just accepting a onesided handout from the Commonwealth. That is another matter on which we would like information, because we think it is important.
With respect to the business venture itself on the Jardine River, I compliment the Minister on choosing this place. I know that it is an area highly thought of by the Lands Department in Queensland. The former Chief Commissioner of Lands. Mr Muir, has many times expressed the view that this area is one of the choicest in the higher rainfall areas of Cape York and one of the most suitable for the introduction of irrigation to permit closer settlement of Aboriginals. I have been there twice and 1 agree entirely with what the Minister has said about the remarkable flow of the Jardine River, the area of land which can be irrigated and the quality of the alluvial soil and the soil generally in areas close to the river. But I want to make this point: Irrespective of the natural resources. the success of the project will depend on how it is managed.
It is not good enough to provide financial assistance to an enthusiastic group of Aboriginals in the area. There will be problems relating to soil, problems relating to parasites and pests, problems associated with the correct application of fertilisers, as well as marketing problems if the Aboriginals intend to go beyond supplying their own needs and branch out into other markets. 1 have little doubt that all this has been taken care of and that the Minister would have been very careful to make proper arrangements about these matters. If the Commonwealth has decided to make these funds available it will no doubt have made sure that the project is properly supervised, that the correct technical, economic and commercial information is given to the Aboriginals and that the project in its infancy is carefully watched over. There is one point I would like to make: I hope the Aboriginals will play a major part in the construction of the works for this irrigation project. Here is an excellent opportunity for them to learn some of the basic methods used in water conservation schemes, lt is on a small scale, admittedly, but what they learn on a small scale could be applied to other projects in other parts of north Queensland and northern Australia.
The Minister has explained that primary production is not the only sort of venture envisaged. I was going to deal at some length with other kinds of projects in which I think the Aboriginals can make a contribution, particularly small manufacturing, processing or construction works. But as the Minister has now told us that this matter has been taken care of and that projects of this kind come within the ambit of the legislation, there is no point in dwelling on the matter.
They are the main points with which I wish to deal. I have endeavoured to deal with the main problems as the Opposition sees them, particularly with respect to the remote areas of the Kimberleys in Western Australia, the Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria where under this Bill which excludes the Northern Territory the vast majority of full bloods reside. I have dealt with the problems associated with persons of non-Aboriginal origin such as the Pacific islanders and the South Sea islanders who came to Queensland to work in the sugar cane fields and who are excluded from the benefit of financial assistance. I have dealt also with the problem associated with the allocation of funds and with business ventures. The Opposition welcomes the Bill. As I said before, it is a pity that legislation of this type was not introduced into the Parliament many years ago. I am sure that if it had been it would have been a success.
– I second the amendment, and reserve my right to speak later.
– The two Bills we are discussing are designed to implement the Government’s policy with regard to Aboriginal welfare as stated in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of this Parliament earlier this year and by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on Aboriginal welfare held at Parliament House in Melbourne on 12th July. The Prime Minister said:
We propose to apply ourselves constructively to the task of Aboriginal advancement wilh special emphasis upon making our Aboriginal citizens independent.
This policy was set out by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) also when he introduced the Budget on 13th August. On that occasion the Treasurer said:
As citizens, our Aboriginal people have a right to share in the educational and other community and welfare services provided by the various publicauthorities. This year special provision will be made for Aboriginal people in the fields of health, education, housing and productive enterprise. For these purposes, we are seeking an appropriation of $10m to be set aside in an Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account. Of the $10m to be paid to the Trust Account, $5m will be used for assistance to Aboriginals in the fields of housing, education and health. The other $5m will constitute a fund for assisting enterprises carried on by Aboriginal citizens alone or in association with other Australians. . . .
These two Bills seek to give effect to this stated policy.
The first of these Bills provides for an amount of $3,650,000 to be made available to the States as non-repayable grants for housing, education and health. It is divided between the States according to their Aboriginal population. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said that the allocation will depend on the definition of ‘Aboriginal’, and he wanted to know what an Aboriginal was. As I understand the position, the Minister explained that for the purposes of this legislation an Aboriginal is any person who claims to be an Aboriginal and is accepted as such by the society in which he moves. I believe that the Aboriginal population of Austrafia was agreed upon on that basis at the conference between Commonwealth and State Ministers. The figures which the honourable member for Dawson quoted have probably been altered slightly. I noted that he said there are 3,000 or 3,500 Aboriginals in the State of Victoria. I think that the figures agreed on were 5,000 for that State and about 25,000 for New South Wales. The total number came to just over 141,000, which included full bloods and mixed bloods in all States. 1 believe that they were reasonably sure of the number of full bloods in the Northern Territory, but they were a little indefinite about how many mixed bloods there were. The figures for the Territory could be between 5,000 and 15,000. The total of 141,000 did not include any mixed bloods in the Northern Territory. The honourable member for Dawson stated that his figures showed that there were only a few Aboriginals in Tasmania. I believe the agreed figure for Tasmania is 300, and that it is 100 for the Australian Capital Territory.
On this basis the sum of $3,650,000 is to be divided between the States in the following way: Queensland, $1,450,000; Western Australia, $825,000; New South Wales, $775,000; South Australia, $350,000; Victoria, $225,000; and Tasmania, $25,000. In addition a sum of Sim is being held for expenditure in the Northern Territory. This means that there will be $350,000 in reserve. Of the $3,650,000 to be provided as non-repayable grants to the States, $2,300,000 is to be expended on housing, $850,000 on education, and $500,000 on health. This information might answer a question raised by the honourable member for Dawson. I hope that the Minister will give further clarification of this point.
I understand that the States are obliged to spend the whole of these funds for the advancement of Aboriginals living in the States and are obliged also to maintain the present level of expenditure on Aboriginal welfare, which is known and differs quite considerably from State to State because each State not only has different numbers of Aboriginals but has them at different stages of advancement. The main point is that this Commonwealth money is to be additional to and not a substitute for any money previously spent by the States. The funds to be used on housing are to be paid into a revolving fund into which States must pay any moneys which are repaid by Aboriginals who desire to purchase homes and any rent paid by those who prefer to rent a house rather than purchase it.
I have checked in my own State of Victoria and have found that Aboriginals will be permitted or entitled to select their own homes in places of their own choosing. They will not be told where they have to live; the locations of their homes will be for them to decide. I have been assured that the repayment terms will be somewhat similar to those provided by the Victorian Housing Commission, which provides terms over 25 to 30 years. A major requirement for the granting of a loan for the purchase of a home is that the person seeking the loan must be in steady employment and have the ability to make the repayments. I understand that the Victorian Government will not be particularly concerned about the amount of deposit, if any, as long as the applicant is in regular employment. For those Aboriginals who prefer to rent a home rather than purchase it, the rent will vary from $2 to $5 per week according to the amount of their income.
With regard to education, the Minister stated that as from the beginning of the next academic year, through the cooperation of the States - he stressed that it is not the Commonwealth’s intention to ride roughshod over the legislation of any State - every Aboriginal child who can qualify will have an opportunity to advance his or her education at either a primary or secondary school, a college of advanced education or a university. The Minister said that in some cases this will involve a special system of scholarships. He said that in some cases it may mean the setting up of special schools or the provision of special hostel accommodation so that every child will have an opportunity of attending any school for which he or she qualifies. 1 am not entirely happy about this term ‘special schools’. I would like the Minister to clear up the meaning of that term. One of the criticisms which I have heard in the past concerning Aboriginal education is that there are very many of these so-called special schools established in each State. I believe that there are even a couple of them in Victoria. Many Aboriginal children receive education at these schools. The criticism that I read pointed out that children of migrants, even those from southern Europe with a knowledge of English which is less than that of Aboriginal children - and I say this because many Aboriginal children have the opportunity of mixing, to some extent, with other Australians - are put into classes at normal schools, whereas Aboriginal children go to special schools.
I am aware that the Government is endeavouring to find out why Aboriginal children appear to be able to compete on a fairly equal basis with children of other races up to the age of 11 or 12 years and that from then on they begin to lose interest or they show little inclination to go further.
There may be reasons for this. Some of the reasons may lie with their parents or with the atmosphere at home, but there is a possibility that many children may realise or believe that they are receiving an inferior type of education by being put in special schools, and they may feel frustrated and therefore lose interest. It is a fact that comparatively few Aboriginal children go on to secondary schools, and fewer still are interested in tertiary education.
If we expect Aboriginals to compete in life with other Australians it is imperative that they be given the same opportunities. This is what I believe the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) and the Government want. The Government is conscious that in many instances there may be language difficulties due to different Aboriginal languages and dialects. 1 believe that it is formulating a plan to train teachers in Aboriginal languages. I also understand that as far as possible it intends to employ Aboriginal women for this purpose in order to help Aboriginal children both at the primary school level and at the pre-school or kindergarten level.
It is important to bear in mind - and this was another matter raised by the honourable member for Dawson - the question concerning the payment of money by the Commonwealth to the States. This money should not be spent on administration. It should be used in direct expenditure on housing, education and health. 1 have received an assurance from the authorities in Victoria that none of this money will be used in Victoria in expenditure on administration or salaries. It will be used as direct expenditure on building schools and homes. In the field of health, of course, we have to provide nurses and other skilled people. I do not regard this as administration. It will be direct expenditure on housing, education and health. I understand that there has already been a meeting of the Commonwealth and State ministers for health on the question of Aboriginal health. In Victoria it is envisaged that in addition to providing health services and staff the money will be spent on the purchase of equipment.
It is pleasing to note that the Aboriginal population is steadily increasing. I believe it is increasing at a greater rate than is the rest of our population. I think it is increasing at double the rate of the rest of our population. It may be of interest to note that at the present time it is estimated that 60% of the Aboriginal population are under the age of 20 years and 20% are under the age of 5 years. I hope that there will be consultation with the Aboriginals themselves regarding expenditure in the fields of housing, education or health. 1 realise that it may not be easy to do this, because in the past it has been difficult to find an Aboriginal who is accepted universally as a spokesman or a leader for the Aboriginal people. But because we have had difficulty in finding such a person in the past should not mean that we should not try to overcome this particular difficulty. I hope that the Minister will try to find some such person or persons so that Aboriginals may have direct participation in these discussions.
The Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Bill, which was also referred to by the honourable member for Dawson, provides for $5m to be paid into a permanent revolving fund for the establishment and encouragement of Aboriginal enterprises, whether they be individually owned or cooperatively owned. Clause 5 specifically refers to this. It is important to note that grants will not be made to applicants merely because they request them. The merit of the proposition is to be taken into consideration. One of the requirements is that if it is a new business it must have reasonable prospects of success, and if it is an existing business it should be capable of being continued successfully.
The Minister has stated that he will set up an advisory committee to help make decisions regarding the granting of loans to applicants. I do not know wheher he has stated who the personnel of this committee will be, but I hope that the Aboriginal people will have direct representation, by one of their own people, on the committee. The Minister also stated that the States will be consulted before any particular project is approved. I do not quarrel with this because, as I have said, the Commonwealth legislation is not intended to ride roughshod over the Stales; the Commonwealth intends to co-operate with the States. I believe that if the States advise against assistance being given to an applicant who has asked for help, the applicant should be permitted to make an appeal direct to the advisory committee; and that not only will be able to appeal in writing but, where possible, he will actually be interviewed.
The Minister has stated that Aboriginals, either as individuals or as groups, are not precluded from making application to the fund. This is very good, because I believe it is important that we should create and maintain an atmosphere of faith and confidence among the Aboriginal population in the genuineness of the scheme. I believe that it is fundamental to the maintenance of the trust and faith of the Aboriginal people for them always to have direct access to this advisory committee. It is my opinion that the greatest single reason for the failure of our previous policies for Aboriginal welfare - and I do believe that in general these policies have failed, although we might claim some successes - has been misunderstanding and therefore mistrust. The Minister has said that in the past we have pursued, in the main, two policies, firstly, the policy of assimilation and, secondly, the policy of protection by segregation which has been pervaded by the philosophy of the ‘handout’. The Minister has said that the first policy has failed because it took no account of Aboriginal background and the second has failed because it left no scope for Aboriginal aspirations.
I am aware that there are some well meaning people who believe that they can solve our Aboriginal problem; they are naive enough to believe that there is only one problem instead of many problems. The problems of the Aboriginals who live in Victoria are vastly different from the problems of those who live in the Northern Territory, and the problems of the latter are different from those of Aboriginals who live in South Australia or in Western Australia. Even within the same State the problems of Aboriginals who live in, say, Melbourne are vastly different from those of Aboriginals who live at Lake Tyers or somewhere else. I think that the problems of Aboriginals on cattle stations in the Northern Territory are different from those of Aboriginals who live on missions. These well meaning people to whom I have referred believe that if we take an Aboriginal child away from its parents, put it into a good home, give it a good education, all will be well and we have solved our problem. I believe that no person who claims to bc a Christian could advocate this policy. In my opinion this is not the way to solve the problem. Besides being unchristian, it is over-simplifying a very complex problem. The Prime Minister referred to the general concept of Aboriginal dignity which we all seek to foster.
The Minister has said that the Government is endeavouring to substitute self-help and self-reliance for the ‘handout’ and its policy is to involve Aboriginal people themselves in decisions about their own future and to present them with alternatives which they can exercise as they see fit. The Minister himself does not claim to have the answers to all the problems, but he has said that he is making a genuine effort to understand them. I believe that if this new policy is to succeed where previous policies have failed, a lot of patience, understanding and tolerance is required of the Australian people for many years to come. I think that as taxpayers we may have to be prepared at times to see money wasted or squandered by Aboriginals or Aboriginal enterprises, but I believe this is preferable to us refraining from granting assistance to one enterprise which could possibly succeed if it had been given the opportunity. If we are genuine about our desire for a new approach to Aboriginal welfare, let it be a completely new approach and if, in the interests of a completely developed and integrated Australian nation it is sometimes necessary to take a chance, then let us take one. I wholeheartedly support the Bill.
– The Labor Party welcomes this legislation. Of course, an amendment was moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) on behalf of the Labor Party to clarify some aspects of the money advanced to the Queensland Government for the project at Bamaga. I would like to refer for a few moments to some of the matters that were raised by the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) who has Just resumed his seat. He said that an Aboriginal would be, in the eyes of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) any person who regarded himself as an Aboriginal. While that would be a very satisfactory definition if it applied in the State of Victoria or other southern
States, Queensland has a substantial number - about 8,000 - of Torres Strait islanders who do not regard themselves as Aboriginals. Indeed, they are highly indignant if they are thought to be Aboriginals. They are Aboriginal natives of the Commonwealth of Australia in the same sense as the other Aboriginal natives of the mainland States. I think it is important that the Minister clarify that the assistance of this legislation will extend to these people who are members of an Aboriginal race of the Commonwealth but who do not-
– It will so extend.
– The Minister says that it will. The other point involves those people resident in the Torres Strait Islands and on the mainland of Australia who are the descendants of the South Sea islanders who originally came here under the labour trade in the last century. Most of these people were repatriated to the New Hebrides and elsewhere in 1904 - in the early days of this century. At the time the Pacific Islands Labourers Act was given effect, the number of Kanakas or South Sea islanders who had been in Australia for a substantial period of time and who had broken their ties with their original home islands elected to be shifted to the Torres Straits. There is a group of some hundreds of islanders up there who are not Aboriginal natives of Australia in the sense that we have been previously speaking of. Also, they are not Torres Strait islanders but they are living in the same circumstances as Torres Strait islanders. I think that these people should also be able to benefit under this scheme.
The present Queensland legislation, the Aboriginal and islanders legislation, enables the Queensland Government to assist those people as it does indeed enable the Queensland Government to assist the other descendants of Pacific islanders living near Rockhampton and Bundaberg and elsewhere on the Queensland coast.
One of the things I welcome about this legislation is the fact that it is not a complicated piece of legislation. It obviously leaves a great deal of flexibility for what, after all, if it is to succeed, must be an extremely flexible arrangement. If this project is to succeed, it is obvious that a very real degree of partnership must be achieved between the Commonwealth and the States.
I hope that this legislation is by way of interim legislation and that great care will be exercised to survey the effectiveness of the legislation and the problems that arise from time to time, so that this legislation may be improved on. I am sure that anything that is the first step in a project will be found to have deficiencies that we may not realise or that there may be areas that we may not have taken into account at this point of time.
I would like to agree with my colleague the honourable member for Dawson in expressing pleasure at the fact that a certain amount of the money made available from the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill will be made available to the project on the Jardine River. It has been properly said that there are very good soils in the area. Also, there is quite a large community living in good health. There are good millable timbers not very far from Bamaga and the other settlements almost at the tip of Cape York. Their problem over a long period of time has been water. The State department in Queensland has acquired a fairly large area of pastoral land and as I am a person somewhat interested in history my imagination is excited by the idea of a prosperous community being set up right at the northern-most point of Australia.
It is interesting to note that in the earliest days of Queensland the idea of a settlement at Somerset was developed by Sir George Ferguson-Bowen who was the first Governor of Queensland. It is very interesting, if one turns to look at the history of the State, to read of the enterprise shown by these people in setting about developing what was then the colony. They thought that Somerset would become the Singapore of Australia as indeed other people in the earlier days thought that Port Essington would also become the Singapore of Australia. But this is an area in which there have been a lot of problems among the Aboriginal people. These problems have been principally ones of employment. The Queensland department has endeavoured to set up a number of enterprises for Aboriginal people. I believe that the pastoral industry has a great potential not only because of the local market but also because it is extremely close to New Guinea where there is a substantial market for beef. To this point in time a great deal of employment that has been provided involves the making of shell necklaces, curios and the like. But this is not the type of employment that we ought to be offering Aboriginals and islanders. I point out that there are islanders at Bamaga. I believe that this type of employment is not extremely remunerative. It is not the sort of employment that we should offer these people if we intend to give them an effective choice of assimilating into the community or remaining in their own settlements at a satisfactory standard of living.
I also support the honourable member for Henty in what he said about the transfer of management and control of such enterprises as may be set up to the Aboriginals and islanders themselves. Of course, this is the sort of thing that will, under this legislation, be left very much to the Queensland department. It will involve the question of training. I was interested in the comment made by the honourable member on cooperatives. I believe that the field for cooperatives is great if they are properly capitalised and if the people who are conducting them are properly trained. This is something that has not always happened in the past. We did have a successful cooperative in the north at an Anglican mission on the Lockhart River. But when the price of trochus shell fell with the onset of plastic buttons and the like, what was a highly successful co-operative just collapsed over night. These are the problems that face industries in the far north of Australia. They could be problems that would be faced under this legislation.
I would like to reiterate that it may be that not all of these enterprises are successful. This is not peculiar to enterprises run by Aboriginals in the north of Australia. We should be prepared to show and allow the State Departments to show, some measure of enterprise and to experiment in these fields to encourage the Aboriginals and the islanders to develop their own enterprises. I think that both these Bills are a useful step forward. I know that $2,300,000 is being provided for housing. I am told that Queensland has already decided to spend $800,000 on housing in the towns of northern Queensland. The fringe dwellers are the forgotten people among the Aboriginal people of Australia. By and large those Aboriginals who have lived on government settlements or in government communities as they are referred to now, or on missions have at least had minimum standards of health and food. While their education has not in the past always been as good as it might be, in recent times there has been an improvement in the standard of schools in these settlements. The provision of money for housing will be of benefit to many communities in Queensland and throughout the north of Australia. I hope that proper and suitable housing will be provided and some housing of a transitional kind will be available for Aboriginals who are partly tribalised. If adequate housing is provided, Aboriginals will be able to take their proper place in the Australian community.
I hope that the Minister will keep in mind the value of providing revenue assistance of the type that was provided in the tuberculosis scheme. Lack of finance has prevented many activities from being fully developed in Queensland. One field in which assistance would be of considerable benefit is kindergarten training. Queensland does not have a system of Government assisted pre-school education. Legislation that has already been passed through the House will enable a kindergarten teacher training college to be established in Queensland. But Aboriginals would derive considerable benefit from a proper system of pre-school education. I do not know whether the Queensland Government will be able to undertake such a scheme with the assistance that is now being given, but if it cannot I hope that the Minister will keep this need in mind and give sympathetic consideration to meeting it at some later time when assistance given under this legislation is being reviewed.
I am happy to note that assistance will be given for projects undertaken by individual Aboriginals and groups of Aboriginals. Unfortunately we often find that projects in the north of Queensland that receive assistance from various people and advancement organisations have more emotionalism than substance attached to them. For instance, an area of land at Mona Mona that was previously a Seventh Day Adventist mission was resumed some time ago for the construction of the Flaggy Creek dam and the Aboriginals were shifted to other places in the area. A lease has now become available for 5 years and a group of Aboriginals, because of their ties with the area, have taken it. They are now looking at what they can do with the land. The emotionalism that is evident in many of these places should not be allowed to determine the projects that will be undertaken. I believe that the area I have mentioned could be used for the agistment of cattle. There is a meat works near Cairns at Queerah. The long term possibilities have not been examined in respect of many places in which people have put their money and their enthusiasm. I realise that a good deal of responsibility will rest with the State governments, to whom these funds are being entrusted, but I would hope they would do their work more carefully than this work has been done in the past.
Aboriginal reserves contain large areas of land, but a more comprehensive investigation of the potential of the land than we have had in the past is needed to determine the use to which the land can be put. I know that in isolated instances such investigations have been undertaken. Nevertheless, while we may be critical of many things that have happened in the past I think we will agree that since the referendum that led to voting rights being given to Aboriginals a new era has opened for them. This Bill will mean another step forward for the Aboriginal people of Australia. The Australian Labor Party welcomes the legislation and will show a great deal of goodwill towards it. We will watch carefully to see how it works so that, when similar legislation comes before the Parliament at some subsequent time, we will be able to make constructive suggestions to further the cause in which honourable members on both sides of the House believe.
Debate (on motion by Mr Calder) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 7 November (vide page 2601), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bil) be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this measure, but it has comments to offer and a number of inquiries to address to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). We consider that the Bill, as it stands, is a step towards full Australian nationhood. The question of the right of appeal to the Privy Council from decisions of the national court of Australia, the High Court, is one which has rankled in the minds of numerous Australians for many years. We have felt, with due respect to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, that it was an indirect reflection on the ability of the Australian judiciary to have the Privy Council as the final court of appeal.
The pattern was first set in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, when the right of interpretation of the Constitution itself and the limitation of appeals in respect of constitutional decisions were laid down. At the same time there was an empirical approach, an entirely new approach, to the question of the exercise of Federal judicial powers. Firstly, certain exclusive powers were vested in the High Court of Australia. The right was given to this Parliament to confer other powers. Then there were the vesting powers under which Federal jurisdiction could be delegated to the State supreme courts, which at that time were the most readily available means of dealing with major matters. Although to a large extent our Constitution has been modelled on that of the United States of America for very obvious reasons we did not follow the pattern of the United States judicial machinery by providing a distinct set of Federal courts. Many pf the problems that this Bill seeks to solve have their origin in the approach of those days. We believe that, although the vesting of Federal powers in the State courts was the only possible approach originally, this Bill should now go even further than it does.
Certain of our comments will be reserved until the debate on the Commonwealth Superior Court Bill is resumed. I do not want it to be thought by the AttorneyGeneral that any of my comment tonight is intended to anticipate that debate. But we on this side feel that the limitation of the right of appeal from a State supreme court in the exercise of Federal jurisdiction is correct. There are certain other hypothetical rights of appeal, and every conceivable loophole has been blocked. We are quite happy with that part of the measure. But we feel that, despite the projected establishment of the Superior Court many imperfections still exist in the administration of Federal law by State courts.
On quite a number of occasions the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has addressed questions to the present AttorneyGeneral and to his predecessors with respect to the terms of reference of the special committee which has been set up ‘to consider the provisions of the Judiciary Act other than Part II and to recommend such alterations to the provisions of the Act other than Part II as may be thought desirable and in particular such alterations as may be consistent with the proposed legislation to establish the Commonwealth Superior Court’. Much more has to be done apart from establishing the Commonwealth Superior Court. I want to quote from a learned article published in the ‘Australian Law Journal’ in February 1963. It was written by Messrs Byers and Toose, who are Queen’s Counsel of the New South Wales Bar. After referring to the sparse population and the large area of Australia, to the extent to which, for very obvious reasons of inadequate finance and lack of knowledge, there would be need for the exercise of Federal jurisdiction, and to communications, the learned counsel said:
It is obvious that powers are conferred on a Federal legislature to enable it to legislate on particular matters which the founding fathers thought should be uniform throughout the whole federation. However, through investiture of State courts with Federal jurisdiction a uniform statute may soon cease to be uniform.
They went on to quote the example of the different interpretations which can be given by the various State supreme courts in respect of the words ‘practice and procedure’ which appear in section 11 of the Commonwealth Matrimonial Causes Act. They cited a particular case in which an error by a judge in one of the States was corrected by the High Court. It has been said that the ultimate decision in a case can depend upon the State in which that case is tried. This is no reflection on the competence or impartiality of the judiciary of each of the States. This situation comes about because of the variations in the judicial procedures and evidence Acts of the respective States and also in the competence of witnesses. In a hairline case the decision can veer either way. Again, there is a general resentment by the States because of the remarkable growth of Federal work in State courts. I wish to quote again from the article to which I previously referred. It says this:
Investiture of the State Court with Federal subject matter involves a Federal Minister losing control of the administration of the Act concerned. He places the administration of the Act under some Minister-
A Minister of a State- who very frequently has a different conception of priorities in which the Federal measure may rank very low. It is natural for a State Minister to be primarily interested in the advancement of State interests and for him not to see any pressing need for expenditure for courts and the like where his measures appear to be dealt with satisfactorily. This complex of factors is accentuated by the fact that the States rely for the major proportion of their revenue upon Commonwealth grant.
Messrs Byers and Toose list some seventyfour major Federal statutes which have vested State courts with Federal jurisdiciton. Other problems are involved. The article also states:
A Stale Court invested with Federal jurisdiction can only function within its own territorial limits and only practitioners admitted to practise in that Slate can appear before it.
We feel there is need for the evolvement of a uniform code relating to matters such as procedure, competence of witnesses and the other matters to which I have referred. The Commonwealth Superior Court Bill and the associated legislation that will still be required will ease the burden on the State courts. But there are numerous courts of inferior jurisdiction - magistrates courts, district courts, county courts and even courts of quarter sessions - which do not necessarily lack competence but in respect of which it is an imposition on the State if such courts are asked to bypass matters that are considered to be of prime importance to the State in order to deal with Federal offences and Federal matters generally. I do not think there is any other comment I wish to make at this stage. I would like to hear the Attorney-General reply on the matters I have raised.
– in reply - The only matter I wish to mention is the uniformity of procedural laws and evidentiary laws.
– And competence of witnesses.
– Yes, competence of witnesses. At the moment section 79 of the Judiciary Act applies. This causes to come into operation the relevant laws of the State where the court happens to be sitting. There are some difficulties about this situation. We are having a look at it. This is one of the matters that have been referred to the committee inquiring into the Judiciary Act. I hope to have the benefit of the committee’s advice on this matter. In the meantime, as far as evidence is concerned we are preparing a new Evidence Ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory. Although this does not take into account all the modern notions of partly abolishing the hearsay rule and so on, which have been advocated in England recently, we are looking to a further advance with a possibility of a Commonwealth Evidence Act which would be used in this Commonwealth superior court so that in evidentiary matters there would be uniformity throughout Australia. I will certainly take note of what the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has said in considering this whole matter, both as to evidence and other matters.
– There was the matter of matrimonial causes and the very severe burdens created in the State jurisdiction, ls there any intention of transferring that back to a superior court?
– Matrimonial causes is a very lage jurisdiction. If it were transferred to the new court it would probably mean doubling the size of the court. I have had some discussions with the States. Although they have raised certain matters as to the expense of maintaining this jurisdiction, so far no State has shown a disposition to have matrimonial causes removed from State administration. Although I would not discount the possibility that at some future date this might be a head of jurisdiction in the new court after it has been operating for some time, there is no immediate intention of transferring it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 13 November (vide page 2774), on motion by Mr Barnes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition has examined this legislation carefully and will support it because it gives to officers transferred to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for short terms and without proper security a guarantee with respect to such things as /superannuation rights. I have been assured by the Department of External Territories that an officer transferred to the Territory - for example, a legal officer - who finds that he is unable to continue in employment in the Territory in view of a changed situation there will be given every opportunity to secure employment in Australia with the Commonwealth or a State. The Commonwealth has given its word of honour to these men that it will do everything in its power to see that they are suitably placed upon their return to Australia. We agree with this. It is only proper. It is good to know that the Commonwealth has recognised the need to give this kind of guarantee. Those who become entitled upon retirement to a pension will be similarly guaranteed their pension entitlements by the Government. We cannot see anything wrong with this provision and we support it wholeheartedly. 1 do not know how strict you propose to be. Mr Speaker, in controlling the debate on this Bill. I do not know how rigidly you will confine honourable members to the long title of the Bill, which is a very limited one. I presume that I will not be able to deal with plantation workers, much to my ill content. I will not be able to deal with discrimination in respect of workers compensation between natives on low wages and white men on high wages. So I content myself with making just those passing references.
I am intrigued by some features of the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea, to which I think I will be entitled to refer in this debate. I cannot quite work out why a Native Assistant Director of Health is to receive a salary ranging from $5,675 to $6,075 whereas a white man occupying the position will receive an additional amount ranging from $6,212 down to $5,182. It may seem odd that the additional amount paid to the white man decreases as he progresses in the job, but this is probably due to the fact that as he progresses his base salary increases. Perhaps the same result is obtained whether you decrease the additional salary as the basic salary is increased or you increase the additional salary while the basic salary remains unaltered. I might have accepted that this situation was due to something beyond my comprehension and that a person of greater intellect than mine would be able to understand what was happening were it not for my discovery that a white artisan receives an additional amount of $1,782 increasing to $1,858 compared with what is paid to an indigenous artisan.
I do not know what is meant by the overseas allowance. To pay a white assistant director of health $6,212 more than is paid to an Indigenous person holding the office seems to me to be a cunning ploy on the part of the Government to establish different wage rates for coloured men and white men. If this is the case it is not good. I am told than an indigenous inspector of schools is to receive a salary of $3,365 increasing to $4,175 but an expatriate inspector of schools will receive an additional $3,987 ranging down to $3,877. I would like the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) to explain these things to the Parliament. I would like him to justify these differences in rates of pay. I would like him to tell us how they come about if they are not, as I suspect, a means whereby Europeans and non-Europeans can be made to do the same sort of work but be paid at different rates. I made inquiries about the rates of pay for an indigenous operator of a bulldozer or a grader and I was told the same story: A European who operates a bulldozer will receive almost twice as much as is paid to an indigenous operator of a bulldozer. This was true also in the case of a truck driver. I cannot understand why this differentiation is made, and perhaps the Minister will be obliging enough later to tell us all about it.
I do not intend to keep the House very long, because this is a non-contentious matter. But I want to draw attention to a rather significant statement made by the Honourable C. E. Barnes MP on the Territory Public Service arbitration because it virtually represents the crux of the situation. After saying that the Government’s mind was not closed, he said:
However, the Administration employed by far the largest number of people in Papua and New Guinea and changes in Public Service arbitration were an important matter for all people in the Territory.
What he was saying was that the Government’s friends in the Territory who employ people would be vitally affected if the Government were to give wage justice to the indigenes there. The Minister would not want to embarrass his friends Burns Philp and Co. Ltd and Walter Carpenter. Walter Carpenter is closely associated with the Minister on the personal level. I do not think there is any other connection between them. The Minister is particularly friendly with the big shots in the companies and he has made it clear that he is not going to embarrass them by fixing rates of pay for artisans - I believe this term includes carpenters and the like - and much less for unskilled men. This would embarrass the companies in respect of their plantation workers.
Many years ago, in 1960, I went to New Guinea. I was appalled to discover that men working on the plantations owned by some of the Minister’s friends were receiving the princely sum of 25s a month. They were provided with two lap laps a year and as much sweet potato as they could eat. They were also given a little bit of taro. They received medical attention and they had the benefit of being allowed to go home to their wives once every 2 years. I can imagine what would happen if the Minister had to stay away from his wife for 2 years. What a frustrated man he would become. But these natives had to accept that condition because it was part of their contract. It would be a good idea if the Government looked at the rate of pay given to the people who are cutting the grass around Government House at Port Moresby. They are now getting the wonderful sum of $6.50 a week. I admit that that is much higher than the old rate of 6s a day.
-Order! I think that the honourable member is getting a little away from the subject matter of the Bill.
– I knew that you would stop me, Mr Speaker, but may 1 finish what I was saying?
– Provided it is within the context of the Bill.
– I wonder why wages cannot be bumped up a little so that instead of the men getting 9s a week if they are employed by the timber companies, factories and plantations they get more. That is about all I can say, Mr Speaker, since you have said that I must keep within the confines of the Bill. I indicate formally that the Opposition supports the Bil] and will agree to it without any amendments.
– I am sure that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) will be able to defend himself in respect of his relationships with people in New Guinea. It is a shame that when the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) recalled his 1960 visit to New Guinea we did not have in the House the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) who shared that visit with him. However, I will not comment further on this. The Bill we are considering today cannot, I believe, be discussed in isolation because it is in line with the general programme of policies that this Government has been following for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This continuing policy has been a sound policy in directing the Territory towards independence. I believe it will not be too tong before we give the people political independence; at least I hope it will not be too long. I hope that eventually they will achieve economic independence as well. We are making great progress, and I am pleased to see the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) in the House and to recall that on 17th September he agreed with our policy when he said: . . Australia is doing, not just fractionally, but quite substantially, better than most other countries have done in similar circumstances. 1 heartily agree with him. It would be futile of me to stand here and say that we are proceeding in a perfect manner and that we have the answer to all the problems that are facing Papua and New Guinea. Naturally we could not be expected to be doing this, but it should be stressed, and repeatedly stressed, that the Australian Government, and governments that have gone before in the last 20 years, have approached the problems of Papua and New Guinea with a steady sincerity.
As mentioned, there is no doubting that certain aspects have not proceeded as quickly as they might have done. For example, the encouragement of foreign investment in the Territory has been a little lethargic and 1 repeat the claim that I made before - thai there has been a disappointing lack of official incentives for encouraging private industry to go to Papua and New Guinea instead of to such places as Singapore and Malaysia. But our general achievement has been good, not the least of which was the announcement of a 5-year plan for the Territory a couple of months ago. As I mentioned in the debate in September 1968. more than any other decision this 5-year plan has given body to the spirit of development which has been sponsored with ever-increasing enthusiasm in recent years. I am glad to see that the Bill before us now is part of the 5-year plan as outlined in September. In that plan the Minister for External Territories announced that there would be a requirement for 4,500 additional expatriates in the 5-year period ending 1972-73.
In his second reading speech the Minister reminded us that the only permanent officers appointed lo the Public Service in New Guinea since 1963 have been local officers. This was a great move in having the Administration increasingly manned by Papuan and New Guinean officers, a principle which 1 hope all Australian governments of the future will continue to support. But it did bring with it a tremendous amount of uncertainty among the expatriate officers without whom the future of the Territory just cannot proceed. This uncertainty was bringing with it not only a concern for the long term but rather a growing lack of confidence among the expatriates that their immediate future was under challenge if no provisions were made to grant a degree of security to serving permanent overseas officers of the Territory Public Service and the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary. 1 believe that the Bill will go a long way lo re-establishing confidence and encouraging a continuity of service in the Territory by these expatriates. Importantly, I believe it will achieve this without causing a disturbance to the career possibilities of locally recruited officers. Quite clearly the target of 4,500 extra expatriates would have had no chance of being achieved at all had this legislation not been introduced and implemented. The matter of arbitration, or the alleged lack of it as mentioned by the honourable member for Hindmarsh, is not covered by this Bill, though I would regard the legislation as going part of the way to overcoming some of the industrial unrest that was developing and a long way to untangling the tangled salary structures that have caused confusion in the Territory in recent years. The right of appeal following arbitration decisions remains a rightful area of discontent, and I support the efforts of Mr Percy Chatterton, the member for the Moresby open electorate in the House of Assembly, to establish the right of local officers to apply to an appropriate tribunal for leave to appeal against the decision of the Arbitrator. However, as this subject is not included in the Bill. I do not intend to discuss the pros and cons of whether arbitration in its full sense exists in the Territory today. I am interested to learn that the Government has arranged for a small group of experts to report on the efficacy of the Papua and New Guinea Public Service Arbitration Ordinance.
We will all be reassured that the Minister has recently declared that his mind is not closed to possible changes in the appropriate Ordinance. I look forward to the findings of this expert committee and ask the Minister to circulate ils report to members of this House al the same time as it is circulated to members of the House of Assembly. We in this Government have absolutely nothing lo be ashamed of in our industrial policies in the Territory. However, we must admit that there are areas where we have to examine critically the direction in which our policies are taking us.
It is a forward step to appoint a Public Service Board in the Territory and I would stress that its membership should not be restricted to expatriates. Here we have a great opportunity to include Papuans and New Guineans in positions of authority and responsibility. There are many, not necessarily serving members of the Territory Public Service, who have the capacity and the ability to carry out the onerous duties of a Public Service Board commissioner. We shall have missed a golden opportunity if we do not make such an appointment. I am certain that the Administrator, Mr Hay, would be most anxious to make such a senior appointment from among Papuans and New Guineans known to him, especially as he has indicated in so many practical ways his own dedication to promoting local citizens both professionally and socially. Papuan and New Guinean magistrates have carried out their duties in a highly commendable way and I have no doubt that one of their number, for example, would be particularly well suited to undertaking the task of a Public Service Board commissioner.
Provision of alternate government employment for expatriates, with, presumably, no loss of superannuation or employment rights, is a most welcome announcement for all these expatriate officers, especially the younger men who have gone to the Territory on short term contracts, and many of whom have indicated to me that until recently they had not been interested in renewing their contracts. I should like the Minister to indicate whether such expatriate staff can regard employment with the Commonwealth Public Service or the Territory Public Service as being completely transferable without loss of benefits or seniority as they apply to either permanent or temporary employees.
Mr Speaker, I am convinced that this Bill will give confidence and reassurance to expatriate officers serving in the Territory. Whether the legislation, and the assurances which I know will be forthcoming from the Minister, will attract the necessary number of highly specialised professionals, particularly in the agricultural field, to service in the Territory remains to be seen, and in this regard I believe that benefits from the Commonwealth and Territory Public
Services will have to be completely interchangeable for these specialists particularly. May 1 repeat my conviction that the future of the Territory continues to lie in the progress of the villages and not in encouraging a rapid urbanisation of the population in the centres of Port Moresby, Lae, Madang and Rabaul. It is vital that we should establish guide lines for industrial development so that the rapidly increasing number of educated indigenous people may be effectively employed and achieve a higher standard of living. It is equally vital that at this stage of the country’s progress guide lines should also be set for industrial conditions so that the undoubted progress of the country may be achieved in dignity and honour for all the people in the Territory, whether they live in the villages or the towns, in the highlands or on the coastal plains. The Bill before the House does lie within these guide lines and will go far towards ensuring a noble and enlightened future for the Territory and territorians. I support the Bill and congratulate the Minister on bringing it to the House.
– It is important that we turn our attention pretty continuously to the question of Papua and New Guinea. It is unfortunate that there are very few methods of systematic scrutiny over Papua and New Guinea and the Territories in general and the way in which we conduct their affairs. It is true that there has been a good deal of unrest in the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea amongst both the people who were born there and those who were not. It is unhappily true that as yet we have not even found a satisfactory generic term for either of those groups, and thus we have permitted the creation of tangled confusion. If this Bill is a step in the direction of disentangling this confusion and giving security to people who have placed their faith in government employment and have given dedicated service to Papua and New Guinea, then I commend it, though it is sad that we did not do something like this in a more emphatic way long ago.
My colleague, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie), said that a few weeks ago I had passed the remark that Australia had done not just fractionally better but quite substantially better than anybody else in handling a situation such as the one that exists in Papua and New
Guinea. This is true, but it is not much to write home about, is it? The world’s history is full of the tragedies of countries trying to handle such situations, lt is a blessing that there has been as yet no tragedy in Papua and New Guinea. It may well be that the reason for this has been that, because of the diversity of peoples in the Territory, there is little local political controversy in the community or in its social activity. I can only hope that we are staving off the possibility of any such trouble by steps such as the one we are taking tonight.
The history of colonialism is tragic indeed. When we say that we have done belter than the Spaniards did in America, the French in Africa and South East Asia, the Dutch in Indonesia, the British in Burma and Africa, the Belgians in the Congo, or the Portuguese in Africa, we are not saying much. But at least we can say that at this time we are setting a few standards for the rest of the world to observe. We have taken steps to let people develop or evolve towards independence. I suppose there is no other country that would have given Nauru its independence. It is astonishing to me that this Government, which is so regressive and conservative in its approach to other matters, such as our foreign policy with respect to the United States, is not so bad in its relationships with ils own dependent Territories. This is not to say it is too hot, either. However, in a world of sorrow and tragedy given to the mishandling of such situations, we have indeed done better than most.
I just remind the House of the situation in which the Dutch left Indonesia. I remember that before the war most people spoke of the Dutch as being ideal colonial authorities. But when they left Indonesia they left it helpless. I remember seeing figures which showed that of the 15,000 top public servants in Indonesia only 200 were Indonesians. So the country was left completely helpless when the Dutch left. We must ensure, by legislation such as this and by whatever other steps we can take - by giving security to Australians in the Territory, by letting them be assimilated or integrated into the community there in such a way that they are completely acceptable - that what happened in Indonesia does not happen in Papua and New Guinea. Papua and New Guinea represents Australia’s greatest challenge, its greatest opportunity to show the world that people can act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood and friendliness despite differences of race and cultural development.
This legislation is one of the steps towards trying to give Papua and New Guinea a solid - I suppose ‘viable’ is tha really appropriate word - society, but we still have a very long way to go. The population of Papua and New Guinea is close to 2 million. What does this mean? What does the country need in the way of professional and other skilled people to administer it? I suppose by Australian standards it would need something more than 2,000 doctors. How many local doctors are there in Papua and New Guinea? How many Australian doctors are serving there, and how many other doctors? To provide standards of education equivalent to those in Australia, where we are not notably over-supplied with teaching staff, perhaps 20,000 teachers are required. How many teachers are there in Papua and New Guinea with the qualities and qualifications to teach to the standard necessary in this modern world? There is, relatively, only a handful, and this legislation, I hope, will give some security to those teachers who place their faith in service in Papua and New Guinea. It is only sad that this development has been so long in coming. It is sad that so many Australian teachers - and, heaven knows, we are short enough of teachers in this country - have been unable to serve in Papua and New Guinea because of our failure to see what is necessary. A teacher in the Australian service spends a lifetime in the service, starting at about the age of 19 or 20 years and serving through until he is 65. Fortyfive years of service can be the average span of teaching service. During that period the person is in touch with the flow of professional ideas inside his own service.
In a career service people are able to move steadily through towards the top. The problem associated with professional people who go to Papua and New Guinea is that once they move out of the Australian system there is very little opportunity to return. Professionally they are removed from the main stream of educational thought throughout the world, and in the career sense they are practically crippled. If this Bill will do something to overcome those deficiencies, then I will be only too pleased to support it. I am not too sure that we are tackling the problem in the wholehearted way that is necessary. We have to recruit many of these people from State services. They are not in our keeping. It is difficult for us to negotiate with the State systems to recruit 1,000 to 2,000 teachers or to put them into teachers colleges. I am certain that there has not been a sufficiently emphatic approach to that. On the other hand, we have to accept a greater responsibility for expenditure in Papua and New Guinea, and for an approach to this problem.
I read with great regret a report of the World Bank which suggested that there was a slowing down of certain areas of educational development. I know that this did happen. I only wish that it had not occurred. It would be sad indeed if this started to cripple the development of Papua and New Guinea. It is terribly important that the educational system is recognised as the key to the future of those islands. Based on the Australian average, they will need about 10,000 postal officers. How many scientists, veterinary surgeons and such people will they need? What we have to realise when we speak about Papua and New Guinea is that we are talking of a community which has a population like that of Queensland. Papua and New Guinea is very close to our door. In the future we cannot afford to have an affluent society here and an underdeveloped one there. In the long term and in the purely materialistic or opportunistic terms of our own selfish interests, every penny we put into Papua and New Guinea can well be repaid in future security, provided that this is done in a sound and democratic way. As I said, this is Australia’s greatest challenge.
My friend the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) said that he is pleased with the programme the Government is developing and the policy of the Government. I think that the policy of the Government is pragmatic, hesitant, conservative and cautious over large fields of social and political development. I think that it is fair to say that the industrial development impact has been nil and there will be no future for the Territory unless we accept this kind of challenge. The honourable member mentioned the question of independence. As I said earlier, I think that, generally speaking, Australia’s attitude to its Territories has been commendable and much in advance of that of many other countries. What is meant by independence? Independence will only flow from a secure society in which the people themselves have a sense of self reliance, being able to rely on their own internal resources for their scientists, doctors, lawyers, teachers and all the professional men in the administrative services.
Independence is only partly political. It is important for us to realise that there is no formula for independence. The Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly will develop this independence as it goes along. It will evolve this independence. We cannot sit down and say: ‘Right, you will be independent as from the 26th January 1970, as a special gesture by Australia’. We cannot do that. Independence cannot be measured in terminology associated with legislation or anything else. We are facing the tremendous problem of how a democracy such as the Australian society is, or claims to be, or struggles towards on occasions, may handle a colony. As I remarked earlier, no other country has done it successfully yet. Some of the former British colonies or dominions have gone forward to reasonably successful nationhood. I think this is the case with Singapore; it is the developing case with Malaysia; it is the case with Ceylon; and it is largely the case with India, despite its tremendous social and other problems. Generally speaking such cases are too few. The tragedy of Africa is before our eyes, and this is something which we ought to study continuously.
What has puzzled me ever since I have taken an interest in the Territory after my election to this place is why we have been unable to find a satisfactory solution to this question of employment of Australian public servants in Papua and New Guinea. It seems to me that the reasonable thing is for them to remain members of the Australian Public Service in the full sense. Why can these people not be seconded as is done in the defence Services? Members of the Services serve in Britain, Malaysia, Canada and in the United States but they remain members of our Services. They eventually come back to our Services as though they have never been away. Why could we not have had some formula such as that? Instead we have some gimmick or mystique that it must be completely separate and it must not look as though we are dominating the Territory. It must not look - period. It does not matter much what it looks like; it is what it is that really matters. The important thing is that any person serving in Papua and New Guinea should have the same reasonable degree of security as would apply if he served within Australia, and that he should have an attitude of fundamental equality towards the people there.
Why could we not, lend them, as we occasionally do with the Colombo Plan? Or why could we not act in the same way as we do towards State public servants? Under the Commonwealth Constitution, State public servants entering the Commonwealth service have their rights such as superannuation, long service leave and sick leave preserved. It is unfortunate that Commonwealth public servants who go to the States do not automatically take their rights with them unless there is special provision by the State authorities. Why could we not, do this for the few thousand public servants in Papua and New Guinea who are involved? I am afraid that this is another step along the haphazard approach that Australia has adopted to Papua and New Guinea.
I am pleased to see that Australia is now establishing some scientific principles. I suppose you can call them scientific, from the way in which we handle our own public services. It is not that the Australian public servants are notably happy with the way in which they are employed; but the Public Service boards throughout Australia, both Commonwealth and State, on the whole handle their matters fairly effectively. It is interesting to note that most of them make a bad job of handling specialised services. In Victoria 20 years ago it was necessary to establish a police tribunal and a teachers tribunal. I have always failed to understand why the New South Wales Government did not establish a New South Wales teachers tribunal. Specialised services need specialised authorities to handle them.
At this stage in Papua and New Guinea all the specialised services are very small. I hope that we are taking every opportunity to train the people who will administer these services in the Territory in the future. Whatever steps we take, we must do our best to remove what one might call the inequality multiplier. There are two fields of inequality in Papua and New Guinea. There is the inequality of sex; women are paid at a different rate to the men. There is the inequality of race; Papuans and New Guineans are paid differently from Australians. There are fairly sound reasons for this, but in the relationships between races it is difficult to make sound reasons do other than cause emotional conflict. There is a tremendous problem here. How are we to give Papuans and New Guineans the opportunity to have the same standard of living as their neighbours next door who happened to be born in Australia? It is true that the economics of the island will not support the kind of wage scales which we have in Australia. One of our difficulties is that we happen to have one of the world’s highest standards of living. Therefore we have as our underdeveloped neighbours people of a low standard of living. It is true that the Papua and New Guinea public servant who shops in Port Moresby has to pay the same amount for a pound of butter, for a transistor radio, for a bus fare or for a motor car or house as does his Australian born neighbour. Someone will have to turn his wit and skill and intellect to these problems.
As far as this Parliament is concerned, Australia’s greatest difficulty is keeping watch and ward over the Territory. I believe that there ought to be more facilities for members of this place to demonstrate an interest in the Territory by being able to go there. At the present moment honourable members are entitled to visit Papua and New Guinea once in every parliamentary term. In my own case, I am reluctant to use that concession unless I can spend perhaps 3 weeks in Papua and New Guinea, and 3 weeks is difficult to find in the schedule of an ordinary Federal member. Therefore I suggest that the Minister would be doing good service for the people of Papua and New Guinea if we were able to travel to Papua and New Guinea in the same way as we can travel to the farthest end of Australia. In fact, I do not know whether travelling to Papua and New Guinea would be much more expensive.
I have just received a few items from the Parliamentary Library. The headlines in these items are instructive indeed. One says that the administrator of Papua and New New Guinea has warned the Papuans and New Guineans that they need more productivity. He pleads for a wage freeze. Wage freezes are notably unpopular events. No matter how devoted the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea is, he has very little chance of getting that proposal accepted by the people. In September of this year the missionaries pleaded for an inquiry into Papua and New Guinea pay rates. Another plea has been made to peg wages.
Another headline states: ‘Beaten New Guinea politician is victim of Canberra pay policy’. The article points out that although he filled a role basically equal to that filled by his Australian born neighbours he is receiving substantially less income and enjoys a much lower standard of living. If this legislation is a step towards bringing some kind of equality to Papua and New Guinea, if it is some kind of disentanglement of the confusion that has been confounded in recent years by the stumbling steps for which I think the Minister for External Territories is largely responsible, and if we are going some of the way towards giving Australian born public servants in Papua and New Guinea full security of the type which they have come to expect inside the Australian service, then the legislation is worthy of our support. But I hope that we will create a better system in this House to keep the operations in Papua and New Guinea and the Department of External Territories generally under closer scrutiny - or perhaps it would be kinder to say not so much to keep them under scrutiny but at least to give them an opportunity to receive continuing advice.
– in reply - I am glad that the Bill has the support of honourable members. It is important to the expatriate section of the Public Service of Papua and New Guinea. There are a few comments I would like to make on the remarks that have been made by honourable members. There is one factor which it appears the Opposition does not understand. There seems to be great concern regarding the disparity in wage and salary scales in Papua and New Guinea. I have pointed out previously that our objective is to advance the people of Papua and New Guinea to the stage of economic viability and political independence, when they chose to adopt this course. Of course, if we are to tie them to the sort of economic scales that we enjoy in Australia - and I am glad to say that the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) accepts this fact - we will be postponing this day for many years. We would not be giving them a chance at all.
One of the reasons for the disparity in the wage and salary scales in Papua and New Guinea is the fact that these people need the skills from overseas which are necessary to advance them in their ambitions for independence or home rule or whatever they choose to have. Therefore, we have to provide incentives in order to attract overseas officers to Papua and New Guinea. I might point out that expatriate and local public servants in Papua and New Guinea are on the same salary scale as the corresponding indigenous public servants, but we pay an allowance to overseas officers in order to attract them from Australia to the quite remote communities of Papua and New Guinea. I do not often find myself in agreement with the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), but I am in agreement with him when he says that there should be an increase in wages in Papua and New Guinea. I could not agree with him more, but it depends on one certain condition - that the country can afford to pay increased wages. This is the situation. It is rather like the fellow on a low wage who saves for years to buy an expensive motor car, but when he buys it he finds that he cannot afford to buy the petrol to run it. This is the sort of situation we would have in Papua and New Guinea if we were to increase wages beyond the capacity to pay.
The honourable member for Wills likened the operations in Papua and New Guinea to those of the Spaniards somewhere and those of the Portugese somewhere else. This is all very well. Admittedly, when one endeavours to make a point I suppose one must go to extremes. I should like to refer to the point he made regarding Indonesia. He said that when the Dutch walked out of Indonesia there were only 200
Indonesian public servants. There is a different position in Papua and New Guinea today. There are 12,000 local public servants in Papua and New Guinea and 6,000 expatriate public servants. In addition, there are 1,500 local trainee officers. The Public Service in Papua and New Guinea is no longer recruiting base grade clerks from Australia.
– What about doctors?
– There are 150 doctors in Papua and New Guinea. The Territory has its own medical school from which doctors are graduating, and I do not think that it will have to recruit doctors from Australia. This comes as a surprise to the honourable member for Wills. That is why I think he has a very good argument when he suggests that he should go to Papua and New Guinea more often and see what is happening there. He also said that because of the disparity in wage and salary scales, the people in Papua and New Guinea are unable to buy transistors, butter and so on because they have to purchase them at the same price as is paid by Australians who receive higher salaries. But what he forgets is that 90% of the indigenous people in Papua and New Guinea live in grass huts and they would not think of buying butter.
I would not countenance building up an elite in Papua and New Guinea at the expense of the other people. This would be completely unfair. These people are not vocal. They do not travel around Australia and make their position clear. This is the sort of problem we have to face in Papua and New Guinea. The position in Papua and New Guinea is different from that in the countries once under the colonial powers to which the honourable member for Wills referred. I do not look upon Australia as being a colonial power. We have promised the people of Papua and New Guinea independence or self government whenever they want it. This is a completely different situation. I think we are making progress. The honourable member for Wills also suggested that independence for Papua and New Guinea might be a few years off. His own leader (Mr Whitlam) said that Papua and New Guinea should have independence by 1970, so we are progressing in this direction.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh referred to the arbitration system in the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea and to the fact that a single arbitrator decides questions in Papua and New Guinea and that there is no appeal from his decisions. This conforms with many arbitration systems in Australia. I have a list of them here. The Commonwealth coal industry has a single arbitrator system without any right of appeal. The flight crew officers, and the State Public Services in Western Australia and South Australia have a similar arbitration system. In these instances the people concerned believe that is the correct procedure. But I am not going to say that this is the only approach we could make. I believe that justice has to appear to be done. If I think that this system is all right, that alone is not good enough. If the people in the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea feel that this arbitration system is unfair and that they should have a different system I am prepared to have a look at the matter. I have not a closed mind on this question. But justice is not only one way. Justice is not only a matter of increasing salaries. We have to give justice to the people who have to find the means to pay these sorts of things. This is the other side, but the honourable member for Hindmarsh makes the choice without looking. He seems to think that this is some sort of cargo cult. The honourable member has been up to the Territory too often and has accepted the cargo cult. He seems to think that we can get these things out of the air. In any event, I am glad to support the passing of this Bill.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have. The Minister for Territories, during the course of his remarks said that I had compared our programme in Papua and New Guinea with that of the Spaniards in America. I said nothing of the sort. I said that Australia had done not only fractionally better but substantially better than any other colonial power had done but in fact when we compared our record with the tragic records - and I listed those of the Spaniards, the
British, the Germans and the French - we did not have much to beat. My view of the English language is a completely different interpretation of what the Minister said. The Minister also remarked that I had said apparently independence was quite a few years off. I did not say anything of the sort. I said that independence was a question of evolution and that it should proceed according to its own steps rather than to any accepted formula. I hope I have clarified the English language for the honourable gentleman.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Barnes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 November (vide page 2599), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Freeth), when he introduced this Bill the other evening, stated that its purpose is to enable Australia to accept amendments to the article of agreement of the International Monetary Fund and to participate in the proposed Special Drawing Rights scheme, which is colloquially described as the SDR scheme. In many respects this is a most important measure and sometimes I am sorry that debates of this kind come on at this stage of night when everything else has been disposed of. I believe this is most unfortunate because I suppose one of the greatest problems in the world at the moment is the promotion of satisfactory arrangements for international transactions. This relates to the importing of goods from various countries and, in turn, to the exporting of a country’s own goods and services. Overall the balance between imports and exports is significant for any country because this involves questions of balance of payments, capital inflow and so on. It seems to me that this is what is involved in the measure that is before us.
I would now like to outline briefly the purposes of the International Monetary Fund. I rely for this short description or a supplement to ‘Barclays Bank Review’ issued as far back as February 1963. The supplement is entitled: ‘What Exactly is the IMF and the Liquidity Shortage?’ The supplement states:
The International Monetary Fund, which was created immediately after the Second World War, has as its prime function the provision of shortterm financial aid to member countries which are in balance of payment difficulties. It normally does this by providing such countries with foreign currencies in which they are short, in exchange for deposits of the members’ own currencies. In addition, the IMF seeks to establish and maintain stable exchange rates between member countries and to avoid competitive depreciation of currencies; it aims at making every currency fully convertible; the Fund also tries to eliminate restrictions on foreign exchange transactions which hamper the growth of world trade; and it advises on financial policy and assists in the training of government and central bank staffs.
These were the aspirations of the IMF which was set up as a result of discussions that took place in the post-war period or even before the conclusion of the war, because I think that the Bretton Woods Agreement went back as far as 1944. But if the aim of the IMF was to establish and maintain stable exchange rates between member countries, it seems that we are falling far short of these objectives. Today’s copy of the ‘Australian Financial Review’ states:
Group of 10 meets on Europe’s money crisis.
One of the incredible things that is happening at the moment between members of that part of the world which likes to describe itself as the western world or the free world is that they seem to be at peace as far as armaments are concerned but in a state of perpetual warfare as far as the advantages of their currencies are concerned. What could be more or less noble or more ignoble than the struggles that are going on at the moment between the franc, the deutsche mark and the dollar.
I am afraid that at this time of night and at this stage of the sittings of the House it is difficult for me to explore all the ramifications of this very significant question. However, in the issue of the National and Grindlays Review’ of April 1968 - National and Grindlays are one of the merchant banks in the United Kingdom - there is an article by William Clarke who is the Director of that bank also. He is a former editor and now consultant to ‘The Banker’ which is a very influential British banking magazine. The article is entitled: Background to the Gold Crisis’, lt delineates some of the problems that really face the western world and I suppose the world as a whole. The article, which was written in April 1968, states:
The gold crisis tore a gaping hole in the world’s monetary system, which has been patched up for the moment, lt has also brought to the surface all the fundamental questions that have been tossed around for years during the interminable debate on international monetary reform. They demand an answer. The trouble is that there is no sign of a consensus of opinion emerging.
If there is no consensus there, there is not likely to be a consensus here this evening. The article goes on:
Is gold a barbarous relic that should and can be rooted out of civilised international affairs, or is it the one sure foundation of the monetary edifice? Should its price be doubled, or halved? Was the Washington meeting which set up the two-tier gold system a defeat or a. step forward or in some sense both? How long can it last? Should America and Britain be blamed for precipitating the crisis by .their failure to bring their payments into balance? Or should blame attach just to Britain, and the United States be portrayed as the selfless defender of freedom nobly enduring the malice of Continental Europe for the sake of the common good? Or does the fault lie with the system rather than with any particular country? How much does it matter anyway - is this really another 1931 or just a minor crisis?
That is the sort of welter of conflict of interest and argumentation that has been going on.
It is interesting to examine precisely what the special drawing rights aim to do. In the ‘Bank of England Review’ - I think it is the June 1968 issue - there is quite an interesting article. I commend it to honourable members. It was written by a Mr Thompson-McCausland, who is on the staff of the Bank of England and it is entitled The Place of Special Drawing Rights in the International Monetary System’. In this article he implies that the sort of action we are taking here now really only allows for sufficient countries, of which Australia is one, to ratify the beginning of this scheme and it is extremely unlikely that the scheme will begin to emerge in practical form until some time towards the middle of 1969 at the earliest. What we are seeking here is sanction for Australia to participate in the scheme. After all Australia is a member of the International Monetary Fund and has been since its foundation.
The aim of the special drawing rights is to introduce what is described as a special facility. Access to international credit through this special facility will depend on the contributions to the Fund by its various members. The biggest contributor to the Fund is the United States of America, which has about 20% of the voting right. The next largest is the group called the European Common Market, which has about 15% of the voting right. The other countries have a percentage that varies according to their contribution. I think from memory that Australia’s participation is about 2.4% or one-fortieth of the total funds of the International Monetary Fund.
– How many delegates do we have?
– Australia is represented on the Fund but it also represents other countries, including South Africa, if my memory is right. I am sure that honourable members appreciate the difficulties that arise in international trade. If the transactions are completed within a country, no argument arises as to the currency that will be used. There may be other arguments. As the bankruptcy courts show, not everyone who engages in a venture always has the financial capacity to fulfil his obligation. However, if he becomes a bankrupt his fortune or lack of it is measured in the currency of the country in which he lives. But some difficulty arises in international transactions. Except on black markets, Australian pounds are not much good in New Delhi or Paris and French francs are not much good in the United States of America or Iceland. Various means must be evolved to satisfy transactions between nations.
One of the ways of developing a better world or international economic welfare is by the promotion of international trade, and I do not think anyone would boggle about that as an aspiration. Nevertheless transactions between nations have caused arguments ever since international trade assumed such proportions in the 20th century. It is true that there was international trade prior to the 20th century, but until 1931 at least it was certainly done very much differently from the way it has been done since then. We had a period of what was called the gold standard. As long as a country was able to procure gold somehow, it did not need to worry about the way that the transactions took place. Then in the 1930s, following the event known rather cataclysmically in the history books as ‘The Great Depression’, we moved onto what was called the gold exchange standard. More latterly we have gone on to convertible currencies, trade blocs and so on.
I rely for the most recent figure as to the world’s international reserves upon an article that appeared in the ‘Australia and New Zealand Bank Review’ - I think it is the issue of March 1968. The article is headed ‘International Trade and Liquidity’ and states:
Since about 1964, the world stock of international currency reserves has remained practically unchanged except for the results of some special operations. The stock now stands at about $US70,00Om.
The way in which this figure is made up is then given. All these items are expressed in terms of United States dollars. The Australian dollar is some 10% more valuable than the United States dollar, so $US70,00Om is about $A63,0O0m. The article shows that the international currency reserves were made up in the following way:
The miscellaneous currencies are principally the franc, the Deutsche mark and the Swiss gold franc. The important point is that since about 1964 the world’s stock of international currency reserves has remained practically unchanged. Of course, this is the great dilemma that faces us as a trading world. Unless somehow we can get something that is acceptable everywhere, does the level of world trade have to depend upon the availability of what are called reserves?
We can see from the figures I have given that four-sevenths of the total reserves consist of gold. As we all know, a fairly limited amount of gold is produced each year and latterly most of the new gold produced each year has not gone into the monetary field at all but has gone into what is called the industrial or domestic market as distinct from the monetary market. Therefore the stock of gold is fairly stable from year to year. The other acceptable media in the past have been the dollar and the pound sterling. It is here that the great question of national prestige arises. In recent times, President de Gaulle of France has tried to shift the balance from favoured currencies such as the dollar and the sterling back to gold. He seemed to be relatively successful a year or two ago, but he is now in some difficulty with his own currency.
As I said at the beginning of this speech, it is catastrophic to talk in Parliament here about defending ourselves against depredations, which sometimes are not very clearly defined, in the name of something we call a free world or a Western economy as distinct from some other ill defined blocs which may be named according to how we feel for the moment. At present a kind of internecine warfare is going on over currencies such as the United States dollar, the pound sterling, the French franc and the Swiss franc. These currencies are all contending with each other, and often the contending takes the form of speculation.
– It is not a plot. It is speculation.
– It is speculation. I suggest that it is a serious thing that the volume of trade transactions in the world should be at the mercy of this kind of speculation. Honourable members on this side of the House, at least, regard the introduction of the special drawing rights as a move in the right direction. I will briefly explain what they are. It seems to me that everybody ought to be interested in this matter, and I commend to those who are interested that rather handy report by Mr Thompson.McCausland in the ‘Bank of England Review’. I have indicated what the purpose of the International Monetary Fund is. It is a kind of reservoir, if one likes to describe it in that way, to permit short term transactions by nations which are caught up in balance of payment difficulties. The purpose is to tide them over the short term situation. If a country has balance of payments difficulties, basically it is buying more than it is selling. Of course, most business people prefer selling to buying. In fact, they buy only in order to sell. This is just as true in world finance.
The population of the world is rising, as we all know, and it is now about 3,000m. It is expected to be 6,000m by the end of this century, and it is increasing by roughly 2% per annum. One of the tragedies of the world at the moment is the disparity between the living standards of different countries that exists. We have just heard something about the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. About 30,000 Europeans live in the Territory, and the total native population is something like 2m people. The per capita standard of living of the native people is probably about one-fortieth of that of Australians. Our per capita living standard is about $1,800 per head per annum. So the subsistence level in Papua and New Guinea is about $50 per annum per head. That is the level that is found in something like one-third or one-half of the world at the moment. We find a similar standard in India, South East Asia, Africa and parts of Latin America.
If the standards of those regions are to rise and to be maintained at a higher level, the volume of world trade must increase by at least 2% a year. I suggest that it should be increased by 3%, 4% or even 5% per annum. Financial reserves are somehow supposed to be a kind of indirect barometer of the volume of trade that is transacted. Therefore, reserves ought to increase by 2%, 3% or 4% per annum at least. On the figures that I have, international reserves are estimated to be $70,000 billion. So, ideally, the volume of reserves should be increased by something like $ 1,000m to $2,000m per annum.
Anybody who has studied the history of internal banking will know that it has had a rather interesting evolution. Initially, gold was the acceptable medium. Later, certificates for gold became acceptable, and ultimately paper money was accepted as the basis for transactions within a country. Even that sort of transition is marked by certain political and social difficulties within a country. It took a long time for most Western countries to accept the need for central banks directly manipulated by the government of the country in the interests of the people so that the banking system would not be at the mercy of the dictates of those who happened to own what were called private banks. I suggest that we have arrived at a healthy compromise, as my friend, the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), would know. We have arrived at a healthy compromise in our internal banking system by accepting simultaneously a private banking system regulated fairly significantly by central bank or reserve bank control, and a publicly owned banking system.
Under the new arrangement a special drawing right may be exercised in international banking the same as it is in internal banking. The special drawing right creates credit, to use a term so beloved of financial reformers, at an international level. I suppose one might cavil about the new special drawing rights and say that they just create more credit. This raises the very important question: Who controls the credit that has been created? As I have said, the idea is that drawing rights totalling $US1,000m to $US2,000m a year shall be created for 5 years and shared among the subscribers to the International Monetary Fund in proportion to their original contributions. The effect of this will be that the greatest advantage will go to those who have contributed most to the Fund.
The Minister assisting the Treasurer gave us an illustration of what happens. He instanced an initial allocation of $US5,000m in special drawing rights. Australia would have the right to draw 2.4% of that sum, or approximately one-fortieth - US 120m over 5 years. A quick calculation shows that we would be able to draw $24m in each of the 5 years This we could immediately convert into any other currency. Or any other currency with similar facilities could avail itself of Australian currency. At least the primary effect is to take some of the pressure and prestige away from the franc and the dollar. It is rather curious in such a realistic world that psychological factors play such an important part in monetary affairs. Whatever else may be said about General de Gaulle it seems that his move with respect to the franc was for reasons of prestige or psychology rather than economic reality. Nevertheless, his vengeance has rebounded on his own head. At least this agreement, the subject of the Bill now before us, should enable a freer flow of trade between all parts of the world. For that reason the legislation is welcome. Whether the system will ever be extended so far that ultimately the special drawing rights exceed the world’s gold, dollar or sterling reserves remains to be seen.
At least advances made under this agreement will be without cost to any nation. This situation is in contrast with situations arising from loans by other international agencies that have been set up in recent times, such as the International Development Association and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In many cases money loaned by those agencies to developing countries carried interest rates of about 7%. I doubt whether in the long run the problems of poverty in the underdeveloped countries will ever be solved if those countries are given financial assistance at an interest rate that might almost be described as usurious - 5%, 6%, 7% and higher.
If, as in the case now under discussion, a facility can be created without cost to the country enjoying the benefits of that facility surely it is time this costless facility was extended to those parts of the world which most need assistance. One is sometimes chided for being unrealistic about these matters but if the expenditure in the world devoted to armaments were directed towards social reconstruction we would be going a long way towards solving one of the greatest problems confronting the world today. The world’s international reserves are of the order of $70,000m but annual expenditure on armaments amounts to $ 140,000m a year. Ostensibly countries arm themselves to defend themselves against the potential ravages of countries less fortunate than they. It is a pity that all this expenditure could not be channelled towards solving some of the world’s social problems. Only recently in speaking about the decade of development U Thant said that the decade part was nearly over but that the development part had hardly started.
We talk about devoting 1% of our gross national product towards aiding other countries. A few days ago I came across an article which was prepared to argue whether we intended to devote 1% of our gross national product or 1% of our gross national product at factor cost. But we do not spend 1% of our gross national pro duct on this purpose, even taking the lower figure. I am sure that Australia’s problems in respect of the sale of our sugar, wheat and basic metals, about which I was talking earlier this evening to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), would be minimised if those countries which most need to deal with us had a greater facility to pay for our goods. This is one reason why we offer our support to this measure.
Our participation in this scheme will cost us nothing at this stage because the scheme has not yet begun. Even when the scheme is operating it will not cost Australia anything because by the stroke of the pen you are able to create this special drawing right of $ 1,000m or $2,000m if 85% of the members of the International Monetary Fund are agreeable. I hope that at some other time we will give greater consideration to the importance of this matter.
A few nights ago the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) spoke about the gold mining industry. He represents an area of Australia which produces almost all of Australia’s mined gold. Production is a little less than 1 million ounces a year, yet this earns us in exchange about $30m. So to that extent the production is significant, but it is fairly futile to suggest that the balance of payments, the volume of world trade or the development or nondevelopment of countries should be dependent on finding gold in one part of the world or another. I hope that some day, as Lord Keynes said, gold will be regarded as a barbarous relic but I remember also the statement that unfortunately we still live in barbarous times. We will make our times less barbarous and more civilised only by adopting to international monetary transactions the attitude which I have advocated.
I welcome the opportunity to outline on behalf of the Opposition some of the great problems that exist in the world today. I hope that on another occasion we will have before us a measure setting out how Australia is to use the special drawing rights referred to in this Bill. I would rather see Australia a lender of resources than an absorber of them. If Australia is to play its proper role in the part of the world in which we find ourselves it will be not only by trading with other countries in this part of the world but also by aiding them. Such aid must be given not in a paternal way but in a spirit of co-operation with those who are geographically our neighbours.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has given us a characteristically interesting dissertation on the International Monetary Fund and the proposed changes to the articles of the Fund. It is well to recall, on an occasion such as this, the idealism and the circumstances which motivated Australia to join the Fund in 1947. It was hoped at that time, looking at the trade influences and the tragic competitive devaluations of the 1930s, that all these types of arrangements would be avoided and avoidable in the future through the operations of this Fund. To illustrate the kind of idealism which motivated the technical experts at Bretton Woods, one should refer to a report of a joint statement by the experts in 1944 on the establishment of the International Monetary Fund. It said:
It is the consensus of these technical experts that the solution lies in a permanent institution for consultation and co-operation on international monetary, finance, and economic problems.
So the International Monetary Fund was proposed.
In 1947 the Australian Government took the decision to join that Fund, but before the Government took that decision there occurred a most interesting event concerning Cabinet responsibility. I refer to it only in passing. Two members of the Cabinet at the time, the late Mr Edward Ward, who was then member for East Sydney, and Mr John Dedman, both published papers taking opposing views and making known their views on the Fund. Mr Dedman quite wisely suggested that Australia should join the Fund, and he published a most interesting and erudite little paper. The former member for East Sydney published his views before the Cabinet decision was made known. He subscribed to the old principles of economic nationalism - the insularism of the 1930s. Happily those views did not prevail. The Prime Minister at the time, the late Mr Chifley, introduced into this House the Bill whereby Australia joined the Fund. To amplify the hopes which animated these gentlemen I refer to Mr Chifley’s second reading speech. He said:
These institutions form part of the general structure for peace, security and welfare in the post-war world.
The question we have to ask is: Have they, in fact, fulfilled these promises? He went on further to observe:
The broad object of this machinery is to promote throughout the world expanded production, employment, trade and higher standards of living all round.
It was with these ideals and hopes that Australia decided to join the Fund; but before Australia did join the Fund there had to be one hedging factor which was important at the time and which was important in the economics of the 1940s, having the experience of the 1930s and earlier years. That factor was the extent to which the aim of achieving full employment in one country would act as a bar to that country gaining support from the Fund. The Prime Minister said:
The United Kingdom Government sought and obtained from the Fund a ruling that ‘steps necessary to protect a member country from chronic or persistent unemployment arising from pressure upon its balance of payments are among the measures necessary to correct a fundamental disequilibrium.’ As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated, this ‘removes any doubts which may be lingering in men’s minds regarding the interpretation of the phrase ‘fundamental disequilibrium in relation to employment’.’
The Leader of the Opposition at that time, Mr Menzies, supported the proposal that Australia should join the International Monetary Fund.
A question we have to ask is: Why have we come to a critical point in the history of this body? We have come to a critical point in the history of this body for one simple reason I would suggest - that the world reserves of foreign exchange which have to underpin the growth in trade necessary to fulfil the ideals referred to are not available. The world reserves of dollars, sterling and gold have been expanding at quite a slow rate in recent years. It is easily demonstrable that while world trade, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports rightly pointed out, has been growing at between 7% and 8% a year the growth of world reserves necessary to support that growth in trade has been growing at the rate of a little over 2% a year. The Minister, in a different way, adverted to this problem in his speech.
Having been beset with this growing problem in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, pressures were put upon the Fund to alter the nature of drawing rights upon that body. It is interesting to recall that the setting up of the special drawing rights represents, rather late in the day, a great victory for the late Lord Keynes of the British Treasury. It is well known that there were two plans when the Fund was first drawn up. The first plan was that of Lord Keynes to make of the Fund basically a world central banking institution. That is overstating it, but it was for an institution of that nature. The Americans were rather more interested in a clearing house type of arrangement, and the clearing house type of arrangement won the day. They are the circumstances in which the member countries of the International Monetary Fund have operated in respect of the Fund ever since.
How have the present arrangements of the Fund operated to cure the problems to which reference is being made tonight? I would suggest that they have failed to solve the problems for three reasons. There has been an excessive devotion to regionalism, a loss of control over international liquidity and a failure to deal with the scarce Deutsche mark problems, in the consideration of the Fund’s activities, and that regionalism strangely is clearly illustrated today in the Basle group, the Group of Ten and the Paris group. There are very interesting intertwin-ing directorates in these bodies. It was never intended that this should be the type of institutional arrangement that would consider the basic problems of international liquidity. I think that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports would agree with me in that proposition.
But as one has a look at the problems of regionalism, has the Fund helped to assist the world’s less developed and underdeveloped countries? If we refer to the International Financial Statistics’ of September 1968 it is clearly demonstrable that the drawings on the Fund for balance of payments assistance of various types have been confined to certain countries which have not been most in need of assistance. At page 8 of that publication, we find the principal Fund data and the net drawings to date. Under this heading there are six groups of countries which are set out. They are industrial countries, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, other countries, other developed areas, and the less developed areas. What we are interested in is the influence of the Fund’s operations upon the development of the underdeveloped and less developed areas.
The tragedy of the situation appears to be that during the 1960s a smaller and smaller proportion of the Fund’s net drawings has been going to the two groups of countries which appear last in the list. From 1961 to 1965, 59% of the total drawings of the Fund was devoted to the countries most in need. One recalls that in 1965 there was a significant increase in quotas. How has this increase in quotas been applied? We find that in 1966 only 35% of the Fund’s drawings were devoted to the countries most in need. In 1967 the proportion was 40% and in 1968 it was 37%. Over the 3-year period only 37%, on the average, of the Fund’s net drawings was devoted to the countries most in need, compared with 59% in the period from 1961 to 1965. So the interest of the Fund in the areas of the world most in need of assistance has been declining, and one must feel some concern about this.
It might be said that the development 2 or 3 years ago of the compensatory drawing facilities under the International Monetary Fund rules for primary exporting countries in certain circumstances, for instance in an effort to support their own currencies, has helped to alleviate the problem of lack of assistance to those countries most in need. Unfortunately this does not appear to have been the case. While $200m or so has been used to support these less developed countries under that compensatory drawing facility operation, the amount appears rather small when one talks in terms of net drawings of the order of $4,000m and $5,000m. These are quite insignificant amounts. Consequently we are still left with the question: Has the Fund operated in the way in which it was desired and hoped that it would operate? Clearly it has not done so - certainly in respect of the regions of the world that most need assistance.
We are then faced with another problem. Since the Fund was to be a clearing house, or since the Fund was to retain par values for currencies, prevent competitive devaluations, look after world liquidity problems and in general bring stability to the world of international monetary relations, we ask: Are the principal decisions concerning these areas of activity within the area of interest of the Fund at the present time? One is reluctantly driven to the conclusion that in fact they are not. In the early 1960s came the emergence of the General Arrangements to Borrow, known as GAB. There was a need during that period to support some of the major world currencies, including the major European currencies, and in the intervening period such a need has arisen on several occasions. We are not concerned with the currencies that needed support but we are concerned with two aspects of this problem. The first is that a great deal of support was needed on occasions for sterling, and we know that the Fund could not support sterling and dollars at the one time. But we do know that the arrangements are made basically outside the operations of the Fund. The arrangements are made through the Ten, or through the Basle group - through the various groups that exist.
The interesting feature of this is that the Bank for International Settlements, established in the 1930s, came into its own and has acted as a mediator to secure these arrangements, but the International Monetary Fund is not the body primarily responsible for making these major decisions in the field in which one would have hoped and expected it would have had the authority to make these arrangements. One can, of course, blame France for some of these things, as one can blame France for so many other things in the field of finance. The International Monetary Fund has been deprived of its management of international liquidity.
There is a lesson for Australia in this, I suggest. It concerns the allocation of these new special drawing rights. I would like to put a question to the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth), who assists the Treasurer, and I know that with his usual sagacity he will be delighted to give me a reply. With respect to these new special drawing rights, what formula will be used to make the allocation of the rights to Australia? It is in our interest to have as large an allocation as possible. One is aware that, in the past, quotas that have been awarded to various countries, particularly Germany, have been undervalued, or have been too small, having regard to the capacity of the country receiving the allocation. I will be very interested to learn what principles the
Government will follow in making its application for maximum allocations under the special drawing rights.
At this stage I refer to an initial problem that occurred with respect to the International Monetary Fund. It arose when quotas were first awarded in 1946. I havehere a book titled ‘Money International’, by Fred Hirsch, who is an authority in this field. Speaking of the period with which I am now concerned, he tells how various countries, excepting France, wanted to have a maximum drawing of quotas. Then he says:
A member of the French delegation, Professor R. Mossé, subsequently wrote:
The Chinese and the Indians would have liked a large weight for population. For the British, the figures on foreign trade were the only truly important ones. The Americans were more interested in national income. The French recommended a formula giving strong weight to population, including the population of overseas territories, and to gold holdings.
Then comes the interesting comment:
With respect to the Soviets-
Who were interested at that time- it was generally admitted that any advantageous formula had to give weight to a coefficient K, representing their sacrifices and heroism.
I do not know whether we can use that kind of argument in our application for our own quota. But it is obviously extremely important that we have the right weightings and the right factors so that Australia can obtain an allocation under the special drawing rights appropriate to her influence and to her significance. To allow our allocations of special drawing rights simply to follow the present quota proportion is unsatisfactory. Another matter in relation to this Fund that ought to be mentioned and which is appropriate to the present crisis relating to the Deutsche mark-
– Not a crisis.
– It is a crisis, exacerbating the problems with the French franc. We are at liberty to ask ourselves whether we waited too long to become aware of the crisis with the Deutsche mark. Only recently, it would seem, has it become obvious that it has been a scarce currency.
Mir Dobie - They are too busy supporting it
– That may be so, hut it is still outside the Fund’s operations, and it has not been considered. There is a scarce currency clause in the Fund’s agreement, Article 7, which is appropriate to the consideration of the problem of some European currencies, but unfortunately it has not been applied. One would hope that Australia will request that in any modification of the Articles of the Fund the scarce currency clause will be modified and arrangements will be made to have a contribution from the appropriate countries before we come to the kind of crisis that we have at the present time.
Because the Fund has been rather emasculated, it has not been able to do this. Because the operations of the Ten have rather been associated with the operations of various central banks nothing has been done; but it is outside the operations of the Fund. Various ways of dealing with an operation of this nature are set out in the scarce currency clauses. The grossest application of this clause to a series of countries which had a scarcity of currency would be inappropriate since the number of countries with scarce currencies at the same time had over 20% of the world trade. You cannot operate on all these at the one time. But something ought to be considered in relation to the scarce currency clause, and there ought to be an arrangement whereby it will at least begin to be applied before it is too late.
The last point I want to make relates to the growth of the influence of the Bank for International Settlements through its assistance to the European Payments Union and its consequent influence on the present arrangements to support the French franc or to support the liquidity and trade in Europe. The European Payments Union and the Bank for International Settlements were clearly regional organisations, and the European Payments Union was facilitated in its activities because a great deal of trade of the appropriate European countries occurred between one another. I suggest that Australia’s position is that since we are located in the Pacific and since it has been demonstrated that the International Monetary Fund has had a less than proportionate influence on the less developed parts of the world, it should give con sideration to the development of an appropriate Pacific Bank for investment and settlements in this area.
– Similar to Europe.
– Yes, and the European Payments Union.
Let me refer to a series of papers delivered at a conference held by the Japan Economic Research Centre in Tokyo in January 1968. In one of the papers presented it is demonstrated that the Japanese yen, in being converted to Canadian dollars through a reserve currency, lost up to . 3% of its value. It is a complicated argument. This factor in itself is an argument for the development of an appropriate bank in this part of the world which would supplement the interests of banks such as the Asian Development Bank which operate in the public field. At that conference Professor Ashiya stated:
It is expected that the Bank will play many roles on top of its functions that will help solve the current problems. Of particular importance is that with the Bank as the centre co-operation among the central banks and commercial banks of the five countries will be pushed forward. It is to be hoped that the Bank will assume features of the Bank for International Settlements for the central banks and those of the Pacific Bankers Association for the commercial banks.
The capital required in the first instance is $200m. This is not as far fetched as one may think it is. One should bear in mind that the success of the European banks is related to the fact that at present over 43% of trade is intra-area between appropriate countries. If one looks at the developing countries of the Pacific - and the five referred to are immediately obvious - the proportion of intra-area trade is from 37% to 38%, which is surprisingly high. So consideration of this type of bank is not without foundation, and perhaps Australia will look into this to see what can be done.
While waiting for the Minister-in-charge of Aboriginal Affairs to come into the House tonight it has been my task to have a look at some of the difficulties of the International Monetary Fund over the years, to see whether the problems for which the Fund was instituted have been solved, and to determine in what way the experiences of the European banks in the late 1940s and 1950s can be transposed to some of the experiences which we have in the Asian area. It is interesting to observe that with the development of these new drawing rights we could well say that Keynes, even though a couple of decades later, is having a win with respect to the operations of the Fund itself.
– The proposal to provide special drawing rights for international liquidity is a valuable proposition. I am certainly pleased to be able to say that much progress has been achieved. I think it would be fair to say that only about 2 years ago a great deal of pessimism was expressed as to whether we could achieve the result which we are achieving at the present time. No doubt the problems which Britain ran into with the runs on sterling, and the United States with the runs on the dollar, in recent years have helped to consolidate the acceptance of an urgent need to establish some sort of international currency to replace the forms of international liquidity which have been used up to the present time. Concern has also been heightened, as the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) suggested in his speech when introducing this Bill, by the fact that the proportion of the world reserves to world trade fell from 67% in 1961 to 39% in 1967. Although this relationship is generally quoted as an indication of the problem of international liquidity the fact is that it does not tell us a great deal. There are quite a number of references which we could use and of indexes which we could adopt to indicate the problems which we have in international liquidity; but in fact when we analyse each of these we find thai they really tell us nothing. The lubrication of international trade is a fairly complex thing.
– More trade is being done with less reserves.
– Exactly. The point I want to make at this stage is that in 1951 our world reserves were equal to 67% of world trade and in 1967 they fell to 39% of world trade. Bearing in mind that world trade now takes place at a much greater volume and is of greater complexity today than in 1951, there is clear evidence that we now have a more effective method of lubricating the international movement of trade. So the fact that the ratio of reserves to world trade has fallen is not necessarily an indication of a critical situation. Indeed, if one could look at the destructive situation that existed in the depression of the 1930s one would find then a higher ratio of reserves to world trade than exists today. Certainly no one would suggest, with any seriousness, that world trade was taking place on a more efficient basis than is the case today.
Simply stated, the fact is that we have learned more effective and more efficient ways of carrying out modern trade. But this is in no way to suggest that we do not have international liquidity problems - and I want to develop this a little further later. In this world we have serious international liquidity problems.
I am one who has been convinced by Professor Trifiin that the world economy has been poised on the edge of world economic collapse. It has only been through careful manipulation, largely through shoring up the international financial position of some countries that we have been able so far to avert this collapse. There is no guarantee that we can continue to avert it. We may be successful, but there is no guarantee. Some foolishness on the part of some country - some excessive speculation or some excessive precautionary withdrawal of finances by business people - could easily lead to a situation where a major currency that is used as a form of international liquidity - the dollar comes to my mind - could be so challenged that we could easily end up in a situation where world trade is seriously imperilled, and indeed the world economy would be placed in a difficult situation.
We have heard some talk tonight about the contribution of the International Monetary Fund since its inception. This is relevant to this discussion because the special drawing rights which are being created under the proposals of this Bill are an advance on what has been provided by the International Monetary Fund. When one reflects on the stiff conservative opposition to Keynes’s proposition some decades ago for the bancor as a form of international currency and then realises that we are moving rapidly in the direction indicated by Keynes, one realises just how badly this world has been treated by conservative economic thought. This is not an isolated example. One could well go back to the depression of the 1930s in Australia and see how conservative economic thought, completely blinded by an old, outdated theory about the need to balance budgets, managed to worsen the effects of the depression and to prolong it unnecessarily with deflationary policies at a time when Theodore, who was the Treasurer of this country, was proposing what to conservative economists then was quite radical and frightening but which today would be regarded as quite moderate - Keynes’s moderate inflationary economic policy.
– Whose views are these?
– They are my views. We are making some progress when we get to the stage where special drawing rights are going to be created to add, in a growing way, to international liquidity. The International Monetary Fund has in fact made a contribution in helping the economies of various countries. Frankly, the Fund has been fairly restricted in the contribution which it has made. It has certainly not lived up to the hopes which were expressed at the time when it was created. One of the reasons is that the Fund has been on the sideline when the major crises have developed in the field of international finance in the post-war period.
Probably one of the causes for the greatest weakness in the Fund is that although it was created shortly after the last World War it was well into the 1950s before it started to operate effectively. The reason was simply that there was a dollar shortage in the world. Without the dollar, not much could be done. So, in effect, for the best part of a decade the United States of America stepped in and adopted the role of lubricating, reconstructing and redeveloping world trade. It was probably into the early 1950s before the world started to move away from heavy dependence upon the support of the United States dollar.
But this is not the only cause for weaknesses in the Fund. I suppose that the greatest weakness in the Fund is that its resources do not grow with trade. There is a fixed volume of resources which are changed from time to time; but over a given period the resources in the Fund have been in a fixed volume. So the resources have not grown with world trade or with the needs of world trade. Indeed, the resources do not create new liquidity, and the need in international finance is to create new liquidity at a growing rate so that world trade can continue to expand, free flow of goods between countries can take place and the settlement of deficiencies can be effected. In fact, to the extent that gold is held idle in the fund the volume of liquidity is decreased.
There are other problems in the Fund. There is the fact that the burden of adjustment falls on countries with deficits; it does not fall on countries with surpluses. Countries with surpluses, quite obviously, have an internal economic structural problem just as much as deficit countries have. There is something irrational, from the economic point of view, when we throw the whole burden of adjustment on to the countries which have a deficit and leave the countries which have a surplus alone. The countries which have a surplus are contributing to the problems of international economy.
The International Monetary Fund does not respond quickly enough in time of crises. An application has to be made and various procedures have to be gone through. At times of really serious crises the Fund is incapable of responding quickly enough. It is tied to gold, and to the United States dollar so that, in effect, the Fund is pretty largely within the influence of the American Government which can change the value of gold to the dollar at any time it wants to. Thus it can completely alter the relationship of currencies in the world without any reference to or any contribution of view from other countries. I know that America has never done this.
– I think that it is bound not to change the value of currency more than 10% in any one year.
– No country is able to change its currency more than 10%.
– Without the consent of the Fund.
– Yes, but the American Government, if it wants to, can change the value of gold. America is powerful enough to do it, even if the Fund does not want her to do it. If she does this she completely disrupts the relationship of other currencies. This at least has been pointed out as a potential weakness in the Fund. There is also the fact that loans from the Fund give a target for speculators to bump a country’s currency against, if they want to put a run on a country and force devaluation. This again is a weakness in the Fund. The Fund is supposed to provide finance for short term structural problems or balance of payment problems. The Fund states that its resources are available to meet what is called fundamental disequilibrium - whatever this might be, and there are many and varied definitions of it. The Fund has this virtue of being flexible in its definition of this term, and this has allowed its concontrollers to adopt a flexible approach to varying problems in different countries. But the fact that the Fund provides money to meet fundamental disequilibrium in fact establishes that the Fund provides assistance for a long term problem when it was proposed that it should help in short run adjustment. A structural problem in the economy really needs more than this sort of assistance. It needs internal rectification.
The world looked to the Fund to provide a greater amount of international liquidity. It never really did this. What the Fund has done is to perform the role, in a very moderate way, of international finance stabilising fund. There are many other deficiencies in the Fund and there is not much point enumerating them. These deficiencies show that although the Fund has made a contribution of some value to the international economy it has a great number of weaknesses. It needs to be superseded in terms of the needs of the modern world economy. On the point of international liquidity: The most peculiar thing - and I find it is the general problem that people who first come across this concept have difficulty in understanding - about providing international liquidity is that it is necessary for some countries to continue to run in deficit. The two countries that have run in deficit are the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Of course their economies have been strong enough and there has been enough confidence in them in the past for other countries to be happy to let them run in deficit so that they have available to them international liquidity to lubricate the flow of international trade.
If Great Britain and the United States were to apply internal remedies to the disequilibrium in their economies and eliminate these deficits we would have a chaotic situation because the international liquidity which is so necessary for international trade would no longer be available. So we are faced with this problem at present. A very real problem has been the run on the United States dollar and earlier a run on the pound sterling. Countries such as France and Germany, and more especially France, have bean stressing the need for adjustments in the economies of the United States and Great Britain. They have been stressing the need for these two countries to reduce their deficits and, of course, their complaint is that Britain and more especially America, with continuing deficits, have been exporting inflation to other countries. But even worse than this point of view is the belief that these countries have been living off the credit of other countries, and increasingly so, as the deficits assume greater proportions.
Of course, one can well understand and have some sympathy for this sort of criticism from countries such as France and Germany. We can appreciate that they resent having to carry another country on their credit. So this has been cause for concern about the present situation where, in order to obtain international liquidity, we have to depend upon the United States and Great Britain having continued deficits in their economies. On the other hand other countries have stressed the problem as lack of confidence. Italy and the Netherlands have been the two main countries. Probably these two countries are the countries nearest to the mark in the assessment of the problem. If there is a lack of confidence and a run on a particular currency, people will want to get out before devaluation takes place. They will want to move to another currency so that they can hedge their losses and if necessary move back into the currency they have left and in doing so make a profit. No doubt this was a fair motivational force behind the runs that sterling and the United States dollar have suffered in the last 4 or 5 years.
Unless we can establish the special drawing rights on a substantial and firm basis this problem of confidence in the forms of international liquidity which we have today could be very serious in the future. I have mentioned to the House that the international economy has been dithering for some time in a most unstable situation and has only been shored up - I stress the words shored up* - by the timber work and carpentry work of the central banks of some of the major world powers. This shoring up could easily be undermined and we could easily have a collapse. Let me put the proposition to honourable members. Suppose that America was put in the position where there was a heavy run on her currency and she had to devalue to a great extent. This in turn to be effective would require deflationary domestic economic policies if the economy is reasonably fully employed. I understand that the 4% unemployment which exists there is normal; at least it seems to be an institutional problem that she has in her economy. So we say that she is reasonably fully employed. So to be effective with a devaluation there must be a tight money policy at home, with a certain amount of unemployment and cutting back on expenditures. This will be reflected in an easing in demand for imports which in turn, of course, will have shock waves around the world. A country like Japan would be one of the first to feel these shock waves. Australia would be another country. World trade would contract accordingly. Recessionary effects on the Australian economy would be felt. So it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that this sort of development does not take place. We should help as much as possible the countries which have been the subject of attack. It is not a matter of trying to prop up any capitalist economy. It is simply a matter of trying to look after our own economic health and welfare.
We would be affected adversely if one of those other countries that are performing the roles of being a major supplier of international liquidity were to have its economy collapse. There are some observations that I would like to make about special drawing rights. Perhaps the Minister would like to look at this proposition and discuss whether it was considered. If it has not been considered he could perhaps say whether Australia could put it forward. Incidentally, a proposition for a world currency is not novel. There have been many variations of this over the years.
Maxwell Stamp, a well-known economist, has one such proposition. The great attraction I find with Mr Stamp’s proposal is this: Not only is a form of -international currency created but additionally, countries running in surplus - West Germany is one country at present - will have the opportunity of buying from the central banking organisation - it will be the IMF in this case running SDRs - a credit certificate for a certain amount. This will be in a form similar to a bank credit. This bank credit can then be loaned to under-developed countries at very low rates of interest.
Quite frankly, I am one who has become converted in recent times to the argument that a certain amount of money should be provided to underdeveloped countries at low interest rates to aid economic efficiency. It would also help underdeveloped countries to make a more effective allocation of this form of economic resource.
This proposal of Stamp to me is one of the greatest virtues that has come out of the great deal of talk about international liquidity. The proposition put by Mr Maxwell Stamp is that ‘surplus’ countries, instead of allowing their surpluses to rest idly, are in a position where they can have a credit certificate provided on their deposits and this amount of surplus is put into action in the world economy to help underdeveloped countries. This is a wonderful concept and is something that should be looked at. We should not narrow ourselves just to propping up wealthy economies because after all it is unavoidable, given the distribution of wealth in the world economy that the biggest and wealthiest countries in the world will fare best out of a proposition of special drawing rights. i would now like to mention two points. One must not expect too much from this proposition for a special drawing right. It will not rectify internal structural problems in economies. Any individual who expects that, merely by creating this form of national currency, the countries which have been in chronic deficit will be able to overcome these problems is not facing up to the cold hard facts. These facts are that if a country is in chronic deficit then a little pruning has to be done within the domestic economy and no amount of liquidity from outside will overcome this sort of problem.
Finally, I refer to the concern of France. I do not know how much justification there is for this concern. Recently I read in an article that France had expressed some reservations about the scheme and at one stage it seemed that those reservations would be sufficient to keep France out of the scheme. Honourable members will recollect that earlier in the year France was somewhat diffident about endorsing the scheme. France has suggested because a country can utilise 70% of its drawing rights over a 5-year period this will mean that a country like America will be able to run a persistent deficit equivalent to about 70% of its drawing rights over a long term period. I do not know how much justification there is for this argument in theory and in fact I do not know whether America is likely to succumb to this sort of practice. Indeed, from what I can gather, the Americans believe that they can overcome their disequilibrium problems in the short term if they want to do so, but this would be damaging to other countries. They can overcome the problems over a longer term but still in a reasonably short period, once the special drawing rights are properly established. The American view is that, although the deficit looks large and serious to outsiders, the simple fact is that the deficit is less than 2% of America’s gross national product and the Americans believe that this is easily manageable in terms of their economy.
I repeat the point I made earlier and that is that the proposal to establish special drawing rights is a valuable contribution to the economy of the world. But we need to go further. Perhaps one of the great weaknesses is that the scheme is still tied to the myth of gold. I do not know why we must put so much faith in gold. Why not use bottle tops or used motor car bodies? There is just as much justification for that as there is for putting so much faith into gold. The weakness that arises is that if some countries, especially those with powerful economies, decide that they want gold and not special drawing rights, they can completely undermine and cause the collapse of this scheme of special drawing rights. As soon as we can move away from being tied to gold the more rational we will be in our approach to the problem of international liquidity and the better we will serve the international economy. Indeed, current gold production is going into private hoardings and is not adding to world liquidity. So we must not expect too much from the scheme. However, it does represent progress and it is a contribution to the world economy. I think world liquidity will be greatly improved by the creation of this scheme.
– I rise to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on the leading part he has played in the establishment of this scheme. I also congratulate the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) on his full understanding of this very complex scheme. It is not easy to comprehend the full detail of the scheme and he is to be complimented on his grasp of it. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) in his discourse as a student of economics has shown the extent of his knowledge not only in regard to the establishment of the special drawing rights but also in regard to world economics.
My main purpose in speaking tonight is to congratulate the Treasurer, who has played a leading part in the formation of this special scheme. We are creating a fictitious method to counter the gold holdings of various countries. Soviet Russia has been hoarding gold for some years and France has huge reserves of gold. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) also spoke in this debate. I remind him that most of our internal economic troubles arise from our external economic troubles - that is to say, our balance of payments. The scheme we have been debating creates credit and it is experimental. Its success will depend on the confidence that the various member states have in it. Their confidence is needed if this huge fund, which is to be drawn upon initially over 5 years, is to be established. The scheme has several worthwhile qualifications. One country may be in debit in its balance of payments but may have a surplus of goods that it can exchange for another country’s credit in the fund.
As I said, this scheme is experimental. It is an effort to break down the power of gold. However, the power of gold has existed from time immemorial and we may be optimistic when we think that we can counter it in this way. I know of many people in Australia who have stored gold away in various places. It will be difficult to break this traditional worship of gold, and I do not think there is a better word than worship’ to describe the attitude to gold. It would be well nigh impossible for such a scheme as this to break the power of gold, but it can counter the influence of gold on the world markets. For that reason, the scheme is worth while. Most of these schemes depend on confidence. This scheme will assist developing countries to improve their standards and gradually to obtain a share of world trade.
As I said, I rose mainly to congratulate the honourable members who have already spoken in the debate on their understanding of this very complex and difficult piece of legislation. I have been heartened by the ability of the honourable members for Melbourne Ports and Lilley, who gave able discourses on this difficult problem.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Freeth) read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment.
Proposed new clause 4a.
After clause 4 insert the following new clause: 4a. The Minister shall cause a statement to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as practicable after the end of each year during the period to which this Act aplies describing the arrangements in accordance with which payments under this Act have been authorised in that year and stating, in respect of each State -
in relation to secondary schools not being secondary schools conducted by the State -
the total amount paid to the State under this Act in that year; and
the names of the secondary schools in respect of which approvals for the application of moneys included in that amount have been given, and that amount approved for expenditure in respect of each such school; and
in relation to secondary schools conducted by the State-
the total amount paid to the State under this Act in that year; and
the names of the secondary schools in respect of which the State has, during that year, applied amounts paid to the State under this Act.’
– At the Committee stage of the debate on the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill in this chamber, the Opposition proposed an amendment similar to the one which the Senate has agreed to. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said he thought that the amendment he had proposed had been circulated earlier than it in fact had been circulated to honourable members. If the amendment had been circulated earlier it would have been possible to examine it more thoroughly. At that time 1 said I thought the amendment was unnecessary because the information that was being asked for was made available to honourable members in any case at least once a year and perhaps more than once a year. After considering the Bill, the Senate has thought it desirable to amend it so that there will be a legislative requirement to make the information available to the Parliament in an annual report. I willingly and gladly accept the amendment and the Government accepts it.
– The Opposition naturally accepts this amendment. Now that I have had an opportunity very briefly to study the amendment which the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has moved that we consider, and which was made in another place, I hasten to point out that it is very much the same as one that was moved by the Opposition when the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill was before this chamber a short time ago. The Opposition is pleased that the Minister has decided to accept the principle that the Opposition advanced on that occasion. We believe that the Parliament in particular and the people, ought to be kept fully informed about the way in which money is expended under the terms of this measure. The Minister has accepted this principle. He has said that the amendment is acceptable to the Government. It is certainly acceptable to the Opposition, because it embodies the principle that we raised earlier. Therefore, the Opposition accepts the Senate’s amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 3157).
– I support the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill and the Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Bill. Firstly I want to deal with some of the remarks of previous speakers. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) mentioned the expenditure of the money to be made available to the States under these Bills. He said that costs in the north were vastly different from what they are in the southern States. I agree with this. It is quite obvious. I have said here again and again that the cost of anything in the north is one-third more than it is down south. The honourable member for Dawson seemed to be worried. He did not seem to know very much about the terms of the Bill. His whole speech was nebulous, and seemed only to use up time. He was concerned with the amount that the States were to provide. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Social Services and Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) said: 1 should add that each State has agreed to maintain at least its current level of expenditure from its own funds on Aboriginal advancement so that the grants by the Commonwealth Government will be in addition to, and not in substitution for, amounts spent from State funds.
The honourable member for Dawson was at a loss to understand this. He did mention that the crux of the Jardine River project was management. I entirely agree with him. If these sums are to be spent in the north on Aboriginal projects, good management is essential. Although management must be taken over by the Aboriginals, as he said, it must be started by people who know about irrigation and what the soil has to offer. I again agree with him.
The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) made a very constructive speech and I commend him for his non-party approach in supporting the Aboriginals and the projects mentioned in the Bill. The States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement)
Bill will provide for financial assistance to be granted to the States for the Welfare and advancement of Aboriginal people. A sum of $3,650,000 is to be allocated in the form of non-repayable grants to the States for housing, health and education. Approximately $2,300,000 will be spent on housing. Other honourable members have dealt with this allocation. A sum of $500,000 will be made available for health and $850,000 for education. The Government is to be commended for making this money available.
The Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Bill will provide assistance for the establishment and development of enterprises conducted by Aboriginal people. This Bill is the one concerned with the financing of projects undertaken by Aboriginals. Clause 5 of the Bill reads:
The object for which the Fund is established is to enable persons of the Aboriginal race of Australia to engage in business enterprises that have prospects of becoming or continuing to be successful and the Fund shall be administered for that object.
Clause 7 reads: (1.) There shall be paid into the Fund, out of the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account, an amount of Four million six hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Clause 8 reads: (1.) For the purpose of carrying out the object for which the Fund is established, moneys in the Fund may be applied -
As the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) pointed out earlier in the debate, the Aboriginals at Yirrkala will be able to acquire shares in the Nabalco consortium.
– This will give them control of it!
– They will have an interest in it. If the Aboriginals can acquire a financial share in the Groote Eylandt mining project they will have a greater interest in the work. Anybody who is really concerned for the welfare of the Aboriginals will endeavour to give them an interest in what they are doing. The amount of money to be provided under the Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Bill is in addition to the amount to be provided for the Bamaga project. This legislation is the first example of the Government’s plans to assist the Aboriginals and I commend the Government for its action. The money being made available for the Bamaga scheme will do a lot to help the Aboriginals.
In so many ways we can assist the Aboriginals. We can help in such projects as fishing, agriculture, contracting, mining, painting, manufacture of artifacts and the study of music. We all know the record of Aboriginal musicians in the Darwin eisteddfod. There is scope for assistance in prawning and wood chip operations. From Ayers Rock to Arnhem Land, Port Keats to the Pellews you can find ways to help the Aboriginals.
Only last week the Minister announced that $18,000 was to be allotted to enable Aboriginals to participate in the Yuendumu copper project. For years they have been stock piling copper at Yuendumu. Now they are to have their own processing plant which they will operate with some supervision from technical experts. This will be an Aboriginal enterprise. After the Minister had made his announcement I was talking to a journalist in Darwin. He rubbished the idea, saying that $18,000 was nothing and that the Government should have allocated Sim. I think he missed the point. The point is that this is a show run by Aboriginals, assisted by a certain amount of technical supervision. The journalist was looking at the situation from the publicity angle; we look at it from the practical angle of getting these people to do something for themselves. They are starting to do this in a small way.
There is no point in putting Sim into a show such as this. I know these people - men like Tim Jabangardi and his team of miners. They are the fellows doing this work. Do not rubbish them. They are doing a genuine job, starting from scratch. They must be allowed to develop by their own efforts as much as possible. It is essential that not only this small group at Yuendumu but any other group of Aboriginals be allowed to do something for themselves. They will be guided by men like Bill Frazier and Jim Hureen, who are on the spot and know something about local conditions. The Aboriginals will have all the goodwill and sympathy that we can give them but they must be prepared to do an honest day’s toil. They must not be given a handout, and they do not expect it. To give a handout would be wrong.
This legislation will enable us to assist the Aboriginals in their viable enterprises. Under this legislation the Aboriginals will be able to work up profitable businesses. They have every chance of being successful. Last Sunday I was told by a man in Alice Springs who has lived and worked with these people for years, as I have, that it will be a long time before they can run their own enterprises. We all realise that this is so but we must be patient and sympathetic towards the Aboriginals. Only last Tuesday in this place a man who has dedicated his life to serving the Aboriginals said much the same thing. We all realise that this is so. If the Aboriginals are to succeed they must have the support of the people and the Press in the south. They must know that we are on their side. Of course we are. They have picked me up from the ground when I have been thrown from a horse. I have done the same thing for them. Why would I not be for them? We have to look after them, to help their projects, to bring them into these things gently. I heard from a reverend gentleman in this House only last Tuesday about a project a long way from Alice Springs. It cannot be said that we are not on the side of the Aboriginals. The Aboriginals in the north realise this, but the problem is serious, many sided and complicated. It should not be treated as a political football as it has been throughout the country ever since I have been a member of this House.
Many people who live in the south do not realise the difficulties involved, nor do they appreciate the sincerity of the people who are trying to help the Aboriginals. I say to these people and to the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham): If you want to do something for the Aboriginals, get outback and live among them as we do and see for yourselves the difficulties, not at the political level but at the national level’. We must see what we can do for them and what they can do for us. I urge honourable members not to try to push them from afar too fast into something of which, at present, they do not know very much. We must hasten slowly in moving forward to solid achievement.
These two Bills, and the money provided for in them, represent a positive step towards unravelling these many sided problems which differ with every locality - from Darwin to Melbourne, from the outback to the city, from the traditional full blood tribesman to the Aboriginals in missions and on settlements, from the fringe dwellers in country towns to those in cities. There are problems for every one of them. They differ in cultural attitudes, religion, education and employment. Vast difficulties are involved in this problem. Another positive step forward is the establishment of the Commonwealth Council for Aboriginal Affairs, which is headed by Dr Coombs and which has as members men like Stenner, Dexter and now the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett). Let me quote what Dr Coombs said on 12th April 1968 when he was speaking of the Council’s advisory role. He said: the Council in advising the Government will aim: Firstly, to strengthen the sense of Aboriginal Australians as a distinctive group within our society with a distinctive contribution to make to the qualty of our national life; secondly, to develop the means whereby Aboriginal citizens can look forward to a secure future, a security which will derive not from handouts, but from the results of their own efforts; and thirdly, to open the doors of opportunity in all fields of endeavour, but above all to try to develop the means whereby Aboriginal citizens, whether as individuals or as groups or communities can increasingly make the decisions in their own affairs.
This is what these Bills are heading towards. This is what they are aimed at. They are endeavouring to get these Aboriginal people to work for themselves and to realise that they must work for their self-respect the same as we do. Dr Coombs continued:
Consequently, we will in our approach to problems of Aboriginal citizens emphasise opportunity - particularly economic opportunity.
This is what 1 have been saying. The first two projects are the Bamaga irrigation scheme and the Yuendumu copper project. This is where we have to start. They must work for themselves although they will have to obtain assistance from technical people the same as any of us have to have assistance from technical people. Dr Coombs went on:
We will look for ways of giving Aboriginal citizens access to effective training so that they can successfully seek and find employment. We will look for ways of giving them access to resources and knowledge by which they can embark upon enterprises either individually or in groups.
This is exactly what is happening. He continued:
We will listen especially sympathetically to those who say ‘we would like to do this or that- can you help us?’ but less sympathetically to those who say ‘we would like to have this or that, can you get it for us?’
This is exactly what happens in the outback today. They say: ‘You have to do this’. That is exactly what a black fellow will say to a person: It is his phraseology. Dr Coombs continued:
In other words, we envisage a form of security which derives from being aware that opportunity exists and a confidence that such opportunity can be seized. To bring our Aboriginal compatriots to this state of justified confidence will not be easy nor will it be wholly accomplished quickly - but the sooner we begin the sooner substantial progress will be made.
That is pretty straight talk, but it is very right. It is the sort of talk that one hears from people in areas where these Aboriginals live. These people are practical, down to earth men.
Another step in the right direction was an announcement that an Aboriginal woman has been employed by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs and that the policy will be to seek applicants such as this. The thinking is towards helping these people. and I am all for this. I am dead against the publicity that goes on and the political football that has been kicked about for the last 2 years. This is sound and sincere thinking and it is to be hoped that all Australians will support the Council’s approach. The Aboriginal is on the way, but like a fresh, broken colt he has to be handled quietly. He has to be led gently. I support these two Bills and the sentiment behind them. I hope that from this beginning much will flow to the benefit of these people and of Australia.
– I found the speech of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) slightly disappointing. I had expected from him a good deal of specific guidance of the kind that I have no doubt we will get shortly from the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). The honourable member for the Northern Territory is very condescending towards people such as myself. I wondered at the fact that he quoted the learned Dr Coombs with so much approval. After all, Dr Coombs is one of these so-called do-gooders from the south who do not go and live among the Aboriginals, but apparently he is all right in the honourable member’s eyes - as indeed I think he is all right, lt was a triumph for some sort of political psychology when we managed to bring Dr Coombs into this field and were able to give approval to his appointment as Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory says he is on the side of the Aboriginals. How much have we heard from him about the battle of the Gurindjis to get some land from Vesteys to ensure their future development? We have heard not a sound from him, as I recall. I wonder whether any Aboriginals have ever worked for him. and I wonder whether he has always paid them award wages. I wonder whether all his friends pay award wages to their Aboriginal employees. I wonder how often his voice is raised on their behalf in matters of that kind. 1 am a little tired of the people who come from the more northerly parts of Australia and display in this place such great condescension towards . the rest of us. This is a national problem. It is just as much a problem of the people I represent as it is of the people represented by the honourable member for the Northern Territory, lt happens that in Melbourne there would be, relatively speaking, only a handful of Aboriginals - perhaps some 3,000 or 4,000. lt happens that there are probably 24,000 or more in the Northern Territory. As the people of Victoria have a very small financial commitment to raise the standards of the Aboriginal people, it is therefore not only our duty but also our responsibility, and it is and has been part of the responsibility of the people of the rest of Australia, to keep the position of Aboriginals under close scrutiny. it is not a bad idea to recall how we come to be discussing this kind of question in this place tonight, lt would never have been as a result of attempts on the part of people like the honourable member for the Northern Territory to stir the people of Australia or. indeed, this Parliament, lt happens that for a century or more there have been people deeply concerned about the position of the Aboriginals. A concern for these people is written into the very charter with which Australia was founded. Turn back to Governor Phillip’s commission. See what was said to the people who founded each of the States. What was the British colonial policy? Read the letters from the early governors when they sent their despatches back to Britain from time to time. The correspondence shows how deeply regretful the early governors were at being unable to do as much as they would have liked to do for the Aboriginal people of Australia.
I would like to pay a tribute at this time to the people who formed organisations such as the Federal Council lor the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. I have been associated with it since its inception in Adelaide some 10 years ago, and although I was one of its founding members I did not initiate it. 1 was part of the organisation that did. A handful of people with no great resources at their disposal brought the body into being, and now throughout Australia there are people who are associated with it and with like organisations and who have been acknowledged as having played an important part in stirring the national conscience and the legislatures of Australia. They have done so to such good effect that in 10 years every State has altered its laws with respect to Aboriginals. The Commonwealth Constitution has been altered. Here tonight the Commonwealth is taking some fairly diffident steps, but I hope practical ones - and certainly they are ones much appreciated - towards trying to make the lot of Australian Aboriginals much better.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory is still slightly paternalistic in his attitude. In some areas his record is exemplary. He has been a first class Australian. But I still think that in his speech tonight he showed some of the cautious and conservative approach which has bedevilled the position of the Aboriginal people for 160 years or more. ‘Do not go too far too fast.’ he says, or words to that effect. It is very unlikely that we will go too far or too fast. The only people likely to go too far are the Aboriginals who are being driven off their tribal lands for the benefit of mining development in the north. One has only to turn up the records in this place to see how we went about handling the position of the Yirrkala Aboriginals.
The legislation before us is still, I suggest, inclined to be too vague. It is not very specific. I do not blame the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth). He is competing in a very conservative area. He belongs to a very conservative party. There is attached to that party a satellite Australian Country Party which is even more conservative in this area and which could only regard as poison any practical approach to a reasonable land policy for the Aboriginal people. I hope the honourable members on the other side who express their great humanity in proper cliches at the appropriate times will come to the rescue of the Minister when these matters are brought up in their party rooms. But I sympathise with his efforts because we are up against the great vested interests of the State governments also. People talk about State rights. We have a Premier in Victoria who talks about State rights. The States have no rights; only people have rights in this country, and it is time we recognised the fact. Both the speech by the Minister and the Bills themselves show a strong recognition of State rights.
I find in the legislation the usual deficiencies that are apparent in CommonwealthState relations. First of all there is a general vagueness, and this, I think, is practical and natural enough in this instance, because we really do not know what we ought to do. We can only create some of the opportunities for things to be done. But one of the Bills will pass the major job to the States. We are evading as much responsibility as we can. We want somebody else to do the job under the largesse system. We will spread largesse amongst the State authorities and hope that they will do the job. Out of a long experience the Australian people should realise that it is unlikely that the States will do the job very well. Tn the past the States have failed miserably in the field of Aboriginal advancement.
I think it is fair to say that in comparison with other countries, despite the opportunities at our disposal, despite the fact that we have one of the richest countries to work with and despite the fact that the problem is reasonably small from the point of view of numbers of Aboriginals involved, we have probably done worst of all. New Zealand has done much better than we have, although certainly there are some areas of deficiency in race relations in that country.
The people of the United States of America have certainly tackled the problem in a much more emphatic way than we have. I am speaking of the American Indians, not the American Negroes, who represent a different kind of problem. The Americans have shown a much greater acceptance ~cf the rights of the Indian people to own their own lands. The same applies to Canada. Turn back the records and you will find that even in Malaysia and India there has been a greater acceptance of the individual rights of the tribal people than has been seen in Australia for a long time.
Our debate tonight on what is in effect the first piece of legislation stemming from the change of the Constitution made more than a year ago becomes an historic occasion. I would say, from my examination of the situation, that if we are to have the job done properly the Commonwealth will have to do it. lt will have to be a Commonwealth departmental activity. It is true that in some areas we get Commonwealth-State co-operation and that in many administrative areas that co-operation is complete. Sometimes it is miserably complete. The Commonwealth passes laws to put people in prison and the States supply the prisons without hesitation. The Commonwealth passes laws to hand over money for education and then hopes that the States will do the job well. But it is fair to say that in Australia at large the Commonwealth alone has at its disposal the kind of resources which are needed to tackle national problems properly and effectively. As far as we are concerned it is only the Commonwealth which we have under close surveillance. To that extent I wish that this was a little more a Commonwealth responsibility and a little less State responsibility. These remarks are not just grouches on my part. I think we should acknowledge that in the long term it will be done properly only if the Commonwealth does it.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory must be well aware of the unrest in the Northern Territory amongst Aboriginal people. The position with the Gurindji people is not just a flash in the pan. There has been some trouble at Groote Eylandt, and not long ago there were matters that concerned the authorities at Yuendumu. Throughout the Northern Territory there is growing resentment amongst the Aboriginal people which is still not very well expressed. They have not the facilities to express it; they have not the capacity to get it across. We have to do a lot more than to speak in cliches in this place.
I was informed tonight that Professor Stanner, who is renowned for his work in the field, regretted the way in which Aboriginals are being driven off their tribal lands throughout Australia. He said that large tracts of country have been lost forever. If we are really concerned with the advancement of the Aboriginal people we should get closer to the ground, as the honourable member for the Northern Territory would say, and meet these people face to face to find out what it is all about. I do not think that a person always knows people’s problems just because he happens to have lived among those people. That is not always the best way to find out. The problem is different in various parts of Australia, but it is Still one that concerns the people of this country.
What are we doing here tonight? The Aboriginal people of Australia make up 1% or a little more of the population. Our national Budget for this year was about $6,000m. What is 1% of $6,000m? It is $60m. How much are we spending on Aboriginal welfare? About $10m. lt has been said that if we made $60m available for Aboriginal welfare the money could sot be used effectively. I do not know how many homes the Aboriginal people of Australia really need, but I think it would take between 15,000 and 20,000 to house them at the desired standards. We still have a long way to go. We should not want to dislocate our shoulders yet by patting ourselves on the back. This measure is a good step, bit it is only a preliminary skirmish. We have not found our targets yet. Do we know what we should do in regard to health? We know how deplorable the record is. The infant mortality rate amongst Aboriginals is one of the highest in the world. In areas in the north of Australia leprosy is a scourge and is almost greater than anywhere else in the world.
Only a handful of Aboriginal people have reached the top of the education ladder, and they have a battle on their hands. The housing situation throughout Australia is deplorable and disgraceful. We have not resolved the question of economic development. In fact, we have done very little about it. As yet we do not know what our targets are. We are making available $2,300,000 for housing. That will build perhaps 300 houses. I hope that this money will be spent in some effective way. It is true to say that the houses which will be built in the Northern Territory will be quite different to those erected in Melbourne, on the outskirts of a Victorian town, or in the heart of a Victorian town. It is sad but true that in many parts of Australia we still have a battle on our hands if we want to put a house in a town. This sort of problem exists in Dareton, on the Murray River, and occurs in many country towns in New South Wales. In many areas of southern and eastern Australia racial discrimination is more apparent than in the north, lt is true, as my colleague the honourable member for the Northern Territory said, that a different atmosphere exists in the south to that which exists in many areas of the north. I pay credit to the people concerned.
We should remember that this legislation is just the first approach to the welfare of the Aboriginal. I would like to think that we were involving the whole Parliament in it. T have suggested before - I hope that some day the suggestion will1 fall on fertile ground, if that is where suggestions should fall - that perhaps a select committee or a standing committee of this Parliament, perhaps from both Houses but certainly from this one, ought to be established so that we can bring to bear on this problem all the wit, will and good patience from both sides of the Parliament. No political party in this country can write any charters for itself as a result of its efforts in Aboriginal welfare. The Labor Party has been in office in some States for a long while and its record is probably no better than that of our political opponents. To that extent this is a non-political exercise, but to the extent that the Liberal Party and the Country Party are running Australia and have control of the funds it becomes a political matter. But I think that we could make it non-political by involving the Parliament officially as we have in other areas. In recent times the Senate has become a committee House. There are many talents in this House which I think could be involved in such an inquiry.
– Let us have something constructive.
– I was thinking of a committee on which the honourable member for the Northern Territory, myself and others could be involved and which would probably arrive at straightforward conclusions about what ought to be done. 1 think that this would be the most effective way in which the House of Representatives could be involved, because there are large areas in which the Government will not get much through the established system. I know a good deal about the established system. I have probably been around Australia, have talked to these people and have sat in at conferences with them as much as has my good friend and colleague the honourable member for the Northern Territory, lt is all right to be condescending to us poor sufferers in the south who pay most of the taxes to keep his area in going order. But the fact is that it is people such as myself, the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs and Dr Coombs, who has apparently grown a halo instead of horns, even though he does come from the city, who do the most effective work in this area. We are amongst the people who have to be converted. To that extent we have been constructive in this debate.
The Government is to spend $850,000 on education. That will build perhaps one high school. We do not quite know what to do in the field of education yet. None of the education systems have had any great success. There has been a tremendous wastage of talent in the Aboriginal field. Out of 120,000 to 130,000 Aboriginals in Australia only 5 or 6 have reached the university level. In other words, one Aboriginal in about 20,000 to 30,000 has reached university level. Of the ordinary population in Australia one person in 120 has reached the university stage. The odds against an Aboriginal reaching a university at the present time are about 100 to 1 - if that is the correct terminology to use. If the Government can bridge that gap as a result of this legislation, it will have done great work.
What disappoints me a little, as I remarked earlier, is that the Minister intends to place a great deal of responsibility and reliance upon the State authorities. As he said, the authorities in charge of Aboriginal welfare in a State will be consulted before any particular approach in that State is approved. In the long history of Aboriginal welfare I think that one will find that State authorities have been great wet blankets. They have not achieved very much themselves in areas in which I personally have been involved - one in Victoria and one in New South Wales. Those States are governed - I had better say this softly - by parties of different political colour to mine. I find both governments equally diffident, difficult, cautious, conservative, and in fact darn hard to get along with. This is something that flows out of the system itself rather than out of politics.
If we are going to rely upon the Slates we want to remember that there is great diversity in the way in which the States go about things. In Queensland the system is paternalistic. In Victoria the stress is upon the social areas of activity. In New South Wales I think they are over complacent about things. South Australia, as a result of the work of the present Leader of the Opposition in that State, is slightly adventurous. Western Australia is strangled by distance. But the States are all rather paternalistic and are all very possessive. One of the differences between Aboriginal affairs conducted by the State governments and other matters is in regard to how possessive the authorities become. In repatriation matters one can be critical of the Government and still remain friends with the Minister for Repatriation. In education one can be critical of the system and still be friends with the directors, inspectors and management generally. 7n Aboriginal affairs, if one becomes critical of the way in which things are done the people concerned become mortally offended.
I would hope that we are going to do something special in the field of Aboriginal education. In the past there has been tremendous neglect in this field. For some reason or other it has been accepted - it is not necessarily true, and in fact it is not true - that Aboriginal children cannot get past, say, the fourth grade. It is some years now since I visited Palm Island in Queensland, but from 1919 until that time hardly any Aboriginal children had got past fourth grade. There has been a slight increase in the number of Aboriginals reaching secondary schools in Queensland and in New South Wales in recent years, but it is nowhere near the level for the rest of the children. As for the tertiary system, Aboriginals hardly get into it at all.
The Minister has a great challenge on his hands. We know very little about the way in which we ought to approach the curriculum, the teaching techniques and even the sort of school buildings we ought to construct in the field of Aboriginal education. So many of the Aboriginal children are in the north where there is very little economic development. This might be one area in which the honourable member for the Northern Territory and the honourable member for Kennedy could assist. What kind of economic development should take place in the north?
– Why did you not listen to what was said?
– I listened to what was said and there was not one piece of constructive sense or feeling in any of it. The honourable member talked in generalities. He talked nonsense. What is the Government going to do about Maningrida, which has a population of approximately 1,100 people? ls it going to put up a boot factory or a shirt factory there? Is it going to do something about processing fish there? Is it going to do something about providing luggers for the people of Thursday Island? Of course it will npt because it is a private enterprise government. The last thing it will do is exercise any initiative in the field of business or commerce. The whole system of the development of the north will be strangled by the philosophy, ideology and cautious and conservative way in which the Government goes about it.
This is a great challenge. If a line is drawn from about Cairns through Alice Springs to Carnarvon, the population to the north of that line is almost 50% Aboriginal. What does the Government intend to do about the population on Bathurst Island? Is it going to shift the people? I suppose that is what it would like to do. If minerals are found on Bathurst Island the Government will shift the people quickly enough. Of course, the people on Groote Eylandt are lucky players indeed. They can buy shares in the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. It will not be long before York Syme is shaking in his shoes ‘because his power over BHP is to be challenged. What we want is some constructive suggestion about these Aboriginal communities so that they can remain as Australian Aboriginal communities. There are half a dozen such communities in the Northern Territory which ought to be developed as thorough going Australian townships.
Somehow the Government will have to overcome its obsession about private enterprise and do something about public enterprise. Until it does that, anything it does in the field of education will be largely wasted. A knowledge of the theorem of Pythagoras is not much use to the child who is going to leave school at Maningrida or Groote Eylandt or Goulburn Island or any of the towns in the north of Western Australia or Bamaga or Lockhart River until the Government finds some way in which the economic development of the areas is placed in the hands of the Aboriginals and there is some fruitful promise for the future. Until the Government has done that, most of the exercises will be involved in making life a little more comfortable but not much more fruitful.
I believe we have set out on a path to destroy the people of Yirrkala. I hope that we do not do this, but I think it will happen. There have been very few examples in the past of successful exercises of this nature. So although I am still hopeful, being continually optimistic despite the people who have been running this country for so long, J still retain an area of cautious acceptance of the operations that we see before us tonight.
Probably the greatest psychological necessity of the Aboriginal people is to feel that they own some land. We do nol know in what way this can be met. As one of the witnesses before the Yirrkala committee pointed out, they get spiritual refreshment from the land. It is not a question of owning the land so that they can run cattle on it or dig minerals out of it. It is the way they feel about it; the same way as we feel about so many things. In 10, 15 or 20 years we may well have to build another Parliament House somewhere. Perhaps there will be some great discussion about pulling the present Parliament House down. Then a great psychological upset will occur. There will be a surge of resentment and some people will say: ‘You can’t pull it down. After all, the honourable member for the
Northern Territory and the honourable member for Wills have both spoken in it, and to that extent it is hallowed ground*. Who are we to scoff and scorn at the people on Wave Hill, or the Gurindjis, who happen to want their piece of turf, whether or not it has any grass on it.
Would anyone try digging up the Melbourne Cricket Ground or doing something to some of the botanic gardens around Australia? Would anyone try to shift some of the hallowed buildings in this country? The great psychological necessity of the Aboriginal people of Australia is to have some sense of ownership of land. When we have done something in that direction we may have a solution to the economic problems of the north. While we are doing this we might do something about the question of social discrimination which still applies around Australia. Only 6 or 7 weeks ago 1 was in Cairns, attending a conference. The Mayor of Cairns, when opening the conference in the morning, said: ‘Fortunately, there is no racial discrimination in Cairns’. That evening four Australians, who happened to be Aboriginals - and two or three of them were quite distinguished Aboriginals - went to have a drink at a hotel but they were told that coloured people were not served in that part of the hotel. That happened in Australia only a few weeks ago.
We accept the Bills before us with the suggestion that we have offered about the way in which things ought to be clone. We accept the Bills with some thankfulness that we are on our way, but with some caution generated out of experience. We recognise that, when the Commonwealth steps into the field, if it wants the job done properly it ought to do it itself.
– The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) gave us, ] believe, something of the depth of his own long experience of a situation which unhappily, in the speech which followed his speech, has been set at nought. Indeed, one felt that although there was on the surface of the latter speech an appeal for a non-political, nonparty approach to this problem - and I would be the first to applaud such an attitude - there showed through all too often the venom and destructiveness of a purely partisan political attitude. One only had to see the way in which the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) could not resist rising to the bait of his own making as he opposed the activities of a free enterprise government and what it was going to do for the Aboriginals, to know that his attitudes, deep down, are completely antagonistic to and incompatible with a great deal of the thinking that lies behind these Bills. So I find with a great deal of his argument that there is a gulf between my own thinking and his. 1 am not saying that he is insincere. But 1 am saying that there is a tremendous problem to be solved right here in this place if we are to arrive at a consensus which is constructive. I personally feel that there is a possibility of reaching a constructive solution to this problem; that it does not lie along the imposition of political attitudes that come from either the right or the left of politics as practised in the south or as practised in western civilisation. But there are some things that 1 believe show up in the kind of speech to which we have just listened and which make it imperative for me to make some comment.
For instance, the honourable member for Wills has stated that he believes a cautious and conservative approach has bedevilled - his word - an approach to finding a solution to the Aboriginal problem for far too long. I believe that this is purely a superficial attitude. It is one that ignores a large number of attempts that have been made by do-gooders in times past which have wreaked havoc among the Aboriginal people. To realise this does not take a great deal of reading about the dealings with the Aboriginal people that followed the early days in Western Australia, for instance, where there was a tremendous surge of emotion across the white population with regard to Aboriginals. There was a great desire to make amends for former attitudes of cruelty or indifference. As a result of putting some ideas into practice precipitately, incautiously, in an unconservative way and in an unthoughtful way there came about some of the greatest havoc that has ever been wreaked in the numbers of the Aboriginal population.
One of the things that we have done, for instance, concerns the life long and age long development of resistance in the Aboriginal himself with regard to his diet and this dependency upon vitamins of various kinds. Without thought new kinds of food were given tohim. For instance, an Aboriginal who had accustomed himself to do without Vitamin C was suddenly given fruit and other substances of diet that changed the balance of his own physiology and before long he became dependent on new things that were no longer available all the time and as a result there were tremendous problems of health. Diet changes in many other ways brought about difficulties to say nothing of the more physical things such as the effect on teeth.
In our own time I believe that we will see how do-gooders racing into the field have without thought brought about a situation that can only degrade Aboriginal people. I refer to the too speedy opening of the doors of hotels and the access of Aboriginal people to alcohol. Anyone who has travelled in the backblocks of Western Australia, Queensland or the Northern Territory would have seen something of the havoc that has been wreaked upon Aboriginal families. We have the spectacle of tiny children waiting for their mothers to come out of hotels at all hours in the night. I am not saying that we do not see this with white people too. But I feel that we have done no kindness to the Aboriginal people where we have precipitably opened the doors to them without thought of the implications of bringing new problems into their lives.
Therefore, I am simply making the statement that I believe it is nonsense to say that it is impossible to go too quickly in bringing about changes in regard to our dealings with Aboriginal people. These are people who I do not believe for one moment are inferior to the white man. But they are different from the white man. Their whole background of training is different. Every kind of ingrained attitude over the centuries of battling tor existence has had to be ground into them by brutal experience of physical conditions. This has brought about a different kind of reaction to that which is normal to us. We have moved around, put our roots down and made farms and brought civilisation. But the Aboriginal has to be continually on the move. He is a person who has been so continually in search of new ground for hunting and food that going walkabout is second nature to him - something with which he cannot cope in terms of ordinary intellectual appreciation. It is not a matter of simply telling him it is wrong or training him in one generation from babyhood to stay put in one place. The urge to go walkabout is a tremendous surge of feeling. It is a deeply ingrained attitude - a psychological condition within the Aboriginal’s frame and make up. The Aboriginal who has had to lay prostrate, silent and motionless in his hunting year in year out seeking very scarce game in the fields develops entirely different attitudes that we might interpret as laziness. But they are entirely different from our own man and have been engaged in specialisation in a different direction. So there are tremendous problems with regard to the bringing together of two civilisations, civilisations that have their roots going right back into antiquity.
I feel that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) was dead right when he deplored the uninformed do-gooders who can bring even worse problems to the Aboriginals by simply stirring up a kind of superficial, quasi-political attitude of a revolution taking place among the Aboriginal people. I listened to this kind of nonsense the other night on the ABC from the Reverend Alan Walker who talked about the great desire for a world revolution and in the Australian Aboriginal people after 180 years of their being wronged at last the breath of God was making them to revolt. This kind of nonsense, I believe, can only bring disaster and a most unhappy situation with regard to the possibilities lying ahead of Aboriginal people.
The honourable member for Wills talked about infant mortality and asked why was it that mortality among ‘Aboriginal people was one of the highest in the world. There are very good reasons why it is one of the world’s highest - the very same reasons I have been mentioning-
– It is because of neglect.
– The honourable member talks about neglect. This is arrant nonsense because 1 have been out on one of the most advanced stations dealing with Aboriginal people at Ernabella. These people have a hospital and have tremendous opportunities for developing their own children and giving them the best medical attention and diet. Yet year by year the Pitjantjatjara people will go out on walkabout into the bush taking their tiny children with them. Before they have been out there a week the children are suffering from dysentery. How the parents treat them for the dysentery in the bush I know from first hand experience from what I have seen myself with persons trained in medicine who have been with me on these occasions. The kind of diet given to those babies was such that there was admittedly a tremendously high mortality rate, lt is not easy to stop people from taking their children on walkabout away from medical attention. It is not easy to give the children the kind of diet that is necessary. The infants suffering from dysentery are usually given the soft parts of a kangaroo or even perhaps with a more enlightened approach the bellies of honey ants which may be the best that is available. But it is not good enough to prevent such an infant mortality rate.
The honourable member for Wills talked about Dareton in New South Wales and instanced it as a place for racial discrimination. 1 lived on the outskirts of Dareton for 2 years. I know the people of the area intimately. I know that the men there have done their level best to try to bring these Aboriginal people into furnished dwelling areas of that town: to give them belter conditions; to give them jobs; to give them the kinds of opportunities for their children that would enable them to benefit. They have gone out of their way to build homes and the rest of it for the Aboriginals. I have seen the way in which this has failed. It is not that I am blaming the Aboriginal people. I am simply slating that there is a problem that is far bigger than superficial lip service would indicate.
The honourable member for Wills talked about education.- He thought that we were not going far enough or fast enough and that we were providing only $850,000, or whatever it was. He also said that we do nol know quite what to do. He talked about the theorem of Pythagoras. How do we teach Aboriginal people? How do we set about the education of people who have no written language at all? At least the people at the Ernabella mission station made an effort to get a written form of the Pitjantjatjara language so that the children at least would have a grammar and a literature of their own and could begin to put their thoughts on paper. But can we imagine a race that has never had an opportunity to develop a vocabulary for conceptual thinking? How can we talk of an Aboriginal from the Pitjantjatjara tribe or the Aranda tribe thinking in terms of the theorem of Pythagoras. We must give a tremendous amount of time, thought and patience to dealing with these people. They arc our heritage and they are the people we should be working with and for. But we should never rush into a revolution of change that will sweep them in one generation into our schools and universities. That would not produce the results that are so earnestly sought and I believe genuinely and sincerely sought by honourable members on both sides of the House.
We have heard mention in this debate of Aboriginal enterprises and proposals have been put before us. I sincerely hope that the various enterprises that have been mentioned will be successful. We have been told that the Aboriginals have been stockpiling copper ore for some time past at Yuendumu. Now $18,000 will be made available to them so that they can install a processing plant. I do not know what quantity of ore is there or what the grades of the ore are, but I do know that they will not get much of a processing plant for $18,000. It may be that a great deal of ingenuity and innovation will be there. There may be simply an upgrading of the existing grades to the quality that will enable the ore to be transported economically to Tennant Creek or some place where more sophisticated methods of crushing and floating the copper are available. But certainly there is a need for very close and careful technical advice. I am not convinced that the Aboriginal people have available to them the kind of technical advice that will enable an enterprise of this kind, which must be in the first stages anyway almost equivalent to a gouging operation, to become an economic and viable activity.
In contradistinction to what has just been said with a good deal of heat on the Opposition side, I believe that it is private enterprise that can be most helpful here. 1 do not believe that the real help will come from Departments of Mines or from Government mining engineers, no matter how eminent they are or how eager they are to help. The real help will come from people who have had to grapple with the economics of a situation such as this, who understand how to make every penny count and who will be able to give the Aboriginals an opportunity to develop these copper deposits.
The situation at Groote Eylandt is similar. The honourable member for Wills sneeringly asked: ‘What do shares in the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd mean to these people? How will this assistance give them an opportunity to get a controlling interest in this company?’ This idea of a controlling interest, of looking for something like black power behind a company that is already 100% Australian, is to my mind the kind of thinking that we do not want. I should think that the Aboriginals who live on these tremendous manganese deposits at Groote Eylandt will have an opportunity not only of working for the company but also of obtaining an interest in the company. At the moment they are working cheek by jowl and side by side with, and sharing the same conditions as, white workers and they are living in the same housing settlement. This is one area where the co-ordination of the two races has been a tremendous success. Employees in it company that is successful are given an opportunity to obtain an interest in the company. We can name a dozen mining companies that do this now. The employees are given an opportunity not to take a controlling interest but to obtain an interest that is sufficient to give them an incentive, satisfaction and self-fulfilment in terms of their work. This interest is more than the mere gathering in of wages.
I would end with a word of caution. J join with the honourable member for the Northern Territory, who has had a vast experience, in saying that the need is for caution, not because we are afraid of making progress but because it would be a disaster for these people if they were rushed into projects that could become chapters of errors, mistakes and failures, which would inevitably be identified with the Aboriginal people. We must see that their projects are successful. That is the challenge that comes to this House. If a project is undertaken, we must see to it that it is sound, that it is thoroughly set up and that it is successful. Out of this will surely grow the kind of respect for themselves and the kind of respect from the rest of the world that the Aboriginal people deserve.
– The speech we have just heard from the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) is typical of the speeches we expect from people who have no knowledge of the problems of the Aboriginals people. Apparently he could not resist the temptation to criticise the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). It was the height of impertinence for a man so ignorant of the problems of these people to rise and criticise the views of a man like the honourable member for Wills who has made a close study of these problems.
We have two Bills before us at the moment. I. will deal first with the State Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill, which proposes lo provide financial assistance to the several States of the Commonwealth for the advancement and welfare of the Aboriginal people of Australia, who at the moment, number about 45,000 full bloods and 72,000 who would be something less than full bloods. Certainly the proposal is a reasonable one and worthy of support, provided, of course, that the money is used properly and for the real benefit of the Aboriginal people. It is rather unfortunate that so little information was given lo the House that we cannot really satisfy our minds that the money will be used for this purpose. Even if we turn to the statement on Aboriginal policy, we find that the only subject dealt with at any length is housing, and even on this subject it was very vague in some respects. Health and education received very little attention. One can only wonder whether the Government at this stage has any firm ideas on these two important subjects.
In his second reading speech, the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) evaded or failed to expand on these matters and simply referred the House to his policy statement. The honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) tried to clear the situation and made it worse. He spoke of the meeting of State and Federal health officers last month and suggested that all decisions on these matters had been made at that time. If this is so, surely that is all the more reason why the decisions could have been made known to the House. We are concerned at this lack of information, particularly with regard to the terms of the agreement between the States and the Commonwealth and we have moved an amendment to have them included in the Bill. Apart from that, the Bill has my support. It should be the means of improving conditions for Aboriginals, but I wish to remark on a few aspects of the proposition.
While the States will have the use of the money and will make proposals as to how and where it should be used, I am pleased to see that the Minister, who is presumably the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, will have the final say. The Minister in this place will be the person responsible for the proper use of the money and for deciding where and how it will bc spent and in what period it will be spent. I think this is very good. After all, it is Commonwealth money and the Minister in this place should make the final decisions. If the Minister has that authority and responsibility, we can reasonably expect that he would now know what principles are to be adopted and in what areas of the States he would expect to see the welfare and advancement of Aboriginals take place. Therefore, he will no doubt be able to remove our qualms and satisfy our queries and curiosity in that regard.
The Minister informed us in his statement on 22nd August that the total of $3,650,000 to be provided under the terms of the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill is to be split »p in the proportions of approximately $2.3m for housing, $500,000 for health and $850,000 for education. That is not much really when measured against the great deal that has to be done. The amount to be granted to each State is as follows: $775,000 for New South Wales, $225,000 for Victoria, $350,000 for South Australia, $25,000 for Tasmania, $825,000 for Western Australia and $1,450,000 for Queensland. We were informed that those amounts were arrived at on the basis of the number of Aboriginals in each State. Unless the idea is to spend all of that money in the capital cities or places near the capital cities, the method of arriving at the amount for each State, to my mind, is not equitable. For instance, a school hostel in the Kimberleys, in Western Australia, would cost a great deal more than it would cost to build a similar or identical hostel in Melbourne, or in any part of Victoria for that matter. I felt that the Minister Gould have given us much more information about just how the amounts were apportioned. On the basis of the number of either full bloods or part Aboriginals in each State, I cannot get a complete picture.
The grants are to be aimed at overcoming three very important problems that face the Aboriginal people of this country. I refer to housing, health and education. Of course, these are problems not only for the Aboriginal population. They pose very great problems for the whole population of Australia. There is a general shortage in all of these fields. There is a shortage of houses particularly for sale at a reasonable price or for rent at a reasonable rate. There is a general shortage of education facilities, and particularly schools and teachers. High level education is available only to those who can afford to pay for it. There is a general shortage of hospitals, and in many areas of Australia there is also a general shortage of doctors. So there is much to be done not only for the Aboriginals but for everybody. At least the money proposed to be allocated for Aboriginal advancement in this Bill should go some of the way towards improving the problems they face.
As the proposed assistance will not go beyond 1968-69, I feel that the States will find it difficult to make any arrangements for long term projects except in relation to the expenditure of funds provided by the States themselves. As the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) pointed out, we have not been given any indication at all of the amounts the States are likely to spend in the following years. Because assistance at the proposed level will be granted for only a limited time and there is no certainty about its continuity, the effectiveness of the expenditure will be limited, particularly in relation to health, a field in which projects surely have to be pursued over a number of years to have any worthwhile effect. I would much rather have seen a proposal which would have ensured a certain measure of assistance on a long term basis than the short term basis that we see in this Bill. I appreciate that the Minister gave the State Ministers an assurance that the Commonwealth’s involvement would bc a continuing one. But to do the job properly the States need something more specific than that, I imagine.
Apart from the matters referred to earlier, there are other problems facing the Aboriginal people. These are problems which can be overcome and which must be overcome if we hope to bring about a situation in which there will be a complete acceptance of the Aboriginal in every community. The problems I refer to are those of employment, social and recreational activity, and hygiene.
Until those problems are overcome we cannot expect to obtain the full benefits which would otherwise flow from better education, health and housing. In mentioning those problems, I do not cast a blanket over all Aboriginals, of course. I am pleased to say that many of them are very capable in all respects and have a very high standing in relation to the matters I have referred to. In fact, many of them could set a pattern for people of other races to follow. Unfortunately, others do not fall within that category. They are the people whom we must set ourselves to assist. To do this we must concern ourselves with all the problems I have mentioned, including those that the Minister set out in his second reading speech. The Aboriginals to whom I may refer in Western Australia could be in a completely different situation and could have a completely different outlook from those whom the honourable member for Henty referred to this afternoon.
I referred to hygiene being a problem. There can be no doubt that many of the objections raised by people in relation to housing Aboriginals in town areas are due to the fear that unhygienic conditions may develop. In a number of cases, those objections are very valid but they are not the result of laxity on the part of the Aboriginals who own or rent the homes. They are due to what happens when a number of their friends or relatives join them. Aboriginals are a people who need company and who enjoy having people with them, and it is normal for their relatives to join them and share in whatever they have. They are naturally a generous people. But before housing projects can be completely successful more education in hygiene has to be undertaken.
Let us have a look at the subject of health for a start. In his statement on 22nd August last the Minister said this:
In regard to health, special emphasis is to be laid on preventive medicine measures, particularly nutrition and sanitation. The full plan will not be finalised until the meeting of the State and Federal health officers in Canberra next October-
That would have been last month, 1 presume - but this will not delay implementation of some interim measures.
Whether or not the full plan has been finalised, we do not know. As I. said earlier, the
Minister in his second reading speech simply referred us back to his statement. What I would like to know is in what areas of the States these preventive medicine measures are to be put into operation. For instance, in what areas of Western Australia will they be introduced? We cannot overlook the fact that the State departments will figure very largely in determining how the money will be spent even though the final decision remains wilh the Minister in this place. This being so, we cannot fail to remember that in most, if not all. States the efforts of State governments towards ensuring health protection for Aboriginals has left a lot to be desired.
Let us look for a moment at the situation in relation to leprosy. The situation in Western Australia is far from satisfactory. In fact, in the view of some people in the medical profession and others who are close to what is happening - more correctly, I should say ‘not happening’ - the position is deplorable. I have had occasion to ask a few questions in this place. Even in reply to those which I have put on notice, .1 have been told that the Commonwealth does not have any knowledge of what is occurring in Western Australia. This seems to me to be more than strange. It is really strange that, at this stage of the proceedings, when we are discussing a Bill such as those now before us, which have the Government’s approval, the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) cannot give any indication of what measures of control and treatment are adopted in the States to combat the dread disease of leprosy. It makes me wonder whether in regard to health the intention is to concentrate more upon the city areas.
According to reports I have received, the incidence of leprosy in the Kimberleys is the highest in the world. Yet the Minister for Health could not tell me whether the reports were correct, nor could he give me any information about how many active cases were being treated in Western Australia or what treatment was being given to cases discharged from the leprosarium. One would have expected a deep interest in this matter when the Minister is responsible for the control and treatment of the disease right next door, in the Northern Territory. Leprosy, in my book, should be under the control of the Commonwealth in the same way as tuberculosis is. I have been told by an eminent doctor that the treatment of both diseases is very similar in many respects. I would hope that the Commonwealth will see fit to place the control and treatment of these terrible diseases under a central authority. However I suggest that if the proposed preventive measures by the use of medicines are to control or contain disease and sickness amongst Aboriginals in the northern parts of Australia as well as in the southern parts the amount of money being made available will not be sufficient even to pay the staff required to carry out the treatment if it is lo be done in a proper manner.
The Minister told us that $2.3m of the total grant will be used for housing. On 22nd August he told us that 40% of the $2. 3m is to be spent in cities or towns. So we have a minimum but not a maximum. lt could be possible for the whole amount to be spent in the capital cities. I would like lo see a percentage - 50% or 60% - made available for expenditure outside the capital cities. Where Aboriginals are living in white communities under discriminatory conditions housing is an urgent problem but the problem is just as urgent outside the capital cities as it is within the capital cities. Housing in many areas away from cities is very costly. I remember that the Loder Committee reported that housing costs in the Kimberleys are about twice as high a.s in Perth. No doubt housing costs in the Kimberleys are twice as high as they are in Melbourne or Sydney, ft seems to me that Western Australia has received a raw deal under this legislation compared with New South Wales.
New South Wales will be able to do much more for Aboriginals in that State by virtue of it* allocation under this legislation than Western Australia will be able to do for its Aboriginals, because so many of them live in high cost areas spread over perhaps I million square miles of country. J would have liked to see something definite with regard to a continuation of grants for housing. This could have been the means of doing away with town reserves, which are not good. An article which appeared in the West Australian’ on 23rd June 1967 under the headline ‘Native Reserves Criticised’ reads:
The Rev. E, A. Clarke has a practical thinker’s approach to the problem of the part-Aborigines in the WA community - he prefers lo call them partEuropean - based on IS years as superintendent of the Methodist Mogmuber mission.
Mr Clarke expresses most of his views unemotionally, unless he is talking about native reserves.
They are the breeding grounds of juvenile delinquency’, he said. ‘Anybody with any ambition gets out. so the reserve boss is the man who can swing the biggest fist.
With sub-standard housing, poor environment and companions, it is not surprising that children fail at school and become delinquents. The part- European has lost his tribal discipline and the essence of living.
If there is to be any progress, the reserves must be rapidly eliminated :md the families rehoused in proper State Housing Commission homes in the community.
I completely agree wilh those views and certainly favour the complete elimination of reserves in or near town areas. Many of them were established with the best of intentions by local authorities in keeping with their financial’ ability with the idea of housing small numbers, but in practically every case it was not long before they became camping rather than housing reserves. Instead of housing 20 or 30 Aboriginals they house 300 or 400. As most of these people are of the primitive type you do not need a great imagination to realise the position that exists with regard to property and sanitation. Certainly people living anywhere near the reserves arc not kindly disposed towards them. Although it may sound hard or cruel I think it would be in the best interests of the Aboriginals if bulldozers were put through many of the reserves, forcing the Aboriginals to go back to their natural way of living. The only trouble is that in many cases their natural living areas have been destroyed by mineral exploration. The Aboriginals should not be allowed to suffer any further alienation of their land. They require assistance to set themselves up in such ventures as mining and farming. I hope that the legislation will be of some assistance in this regard.
Approximately $850,000 is lo be divided amongst the States for education of Aboriginals. Information as to how this money will be used is very meagre, lt would seem that the main purpose of the finance is to provide hostels and what is described as similar assistance, whatever that means, so that Aboriginals may participate in the education system at primary and secondary levels and subsequently at higher levels. 1 trust that we all agree that education is a very important subject and is vital to the advancement of the Aboriginal people. But
I hope that the reference to hostels and similar assistance does not mean that the hostels will be for Aboriginals only and not for white children who happen to live in an area where a hostel is built. I do not think we should do anything to foster race distinction, particularly amongst children.
In the field of education a particular problem arises. Quite often Aboriginal children who have attended school with reasonable success have difficulty in obtaining a job in keeping with their standard of education. Teachers have told me that this is the reason why Aboriginal’s have so little enthusiasm to learn. The Aboriginal child is aware that his brother, sister or father who attended school has been unable to obtain a job any better than that obtained by somebody who did not receive an education. Jobs must be made available for these people. State and Federal governments could do a lot in this regard.
Although education plays a very important part in assisting the Aboriginal people we must not imagine that simply by providing schools and teachers we will solve the problem. We cannot simply provide these things and then sit back to await results. It is not easy to arrive at a situation which will be fair to all concerned. For instance, where white children and Aboriginal children are in the same class there is always the possibility that the education of the white children may suffer, particularly if the white children are in the minority, as is often the case in the northern parts of Australia. Generally speaking the Aboriginal child is not as quick to learn as the average white child and so the advancement of the class may not be as rapid as would otherwise be the case. This is a natural process for the Aboriginal child because it has no educational background. Quite often the Aboriginal child lives under bad conditions and has no incentive to learn. Lessons generally do not allow for this state of affairs. Mr Wallace, the Director of Primary Education in Western Australia, put the position fairly clearly when he said:
In practice Aboriginal children do not get full equality in education opportunity. Though they have equality in the class room the curriculum was developed against a background of European culture.
So it would seem that simply by building schools, additional class rooms or hostels to allow Aboriginal children to attend school is not the complete answer. Let me refer to an article which deals with the teaching of Aboriginal children. The article reads:
In all education systems the teacher is given a key role. To a greater or lesser extent he (or she) has been trained in the method and techniques best suited to his future pupils. But Australian teachers are trained in a European culture with a European culture in view. He has not been trained with a possible cross cultural contact as the class room situation.
To teach Aboriginal children whether from an almost tribal society or from a sub-cultural group as in western New South Wales, some special knowledge of background and parental attitudes would seem to be required. The teacher in these circumstances is the link between one culture and the other; in many cases the chief link for the child. Yet behind the teacher’s training is the assumption that his pupils ‘wilt be of the same cultural mould as himself, already equipped with some of the experience and learning which will be added to by the teacher’s skill.
Of course, that is not the situation. The article continues:
I believe that we cannot and should not rely on the teacher adapting his normal training to the Aboriginal child; we should be attempting to give the teacher some of the background which will enable him to be more effective. What we are doing at the moment is to use a sink or swim method, the one fault being that it is usually the Aboriginal pupil who drowns.
I have another article which makes one doubt the co-operation that exists between the Native Welfare Department and the Education Department and whether everything is done to the benefit of the Aboriginal. The article is the report of a conference of teachers on the subject of Aboriginals. One teacher said that the main problem in schools with natives was that there were no special courses for them. He said that the Native Welfare Department insisted that native children be treated the same as whites, when in fact they had special needs. Another teacher said that schools in which there were more than 33% of natives needed extra staff. His school had small native children who had not washed for 3 weeks. He said that teachers sent north should be trained to work with natives. Recreation organisers and health officers were needed also for school natives.
Another teacher said that his school had 90% of natives and that the native children did not have equal opportunity. In the past 2 years he had battled with the Native Welfare Department to get several of them sent on to high school but the Native Welfare Department always had some reason for blocking the promotion. Such children were then going back to the stations. These are just a few of the problems which we have to face up to in relation to the education of Aboriginals. I suggest that the States will find it impossible to achieve very much on an amount of $850,000 split in six directions. However, it is a start, and it will be interesting to see what advancement takes place in the fields that I have mentioned. 1 turn now to the Bill which is designed to assist the establishment and development of business enterprises by the Aboriginal people of Australia. Here again there is no definition of an Aboriginal. The Bill simply refers to persons of the Aboriginal race of Australia, but no doubt here again we will have to depend upon the definition given by the various States. Irrespective of what the definition may be, the Bill will, or should, be a worthwhile piece of legislation, and I am quite happy to support it. I am pleased to see that the term ‘business enterprise’ will include an enterprise relating to primary industry, because J think that in the field of primary production a goodly number of young people could fit in well on a self employed basis. They may not be so keen to accept employment on farms if it means being isolated from their own people, but if some three or four or more can be placed together on co-operative farms there should be results.
Several experiments are taking place within my own electorate at present, and with some success, although, as with many other people who are breaking new gound, finance has been a problem and stumbling block. We hope that the provisions of the Bill before the House will be helpful in this regard. The amount of $4,650,000 to be paid into the Trust Fund is a fair start from an experimental point of view, and I suppose that is all that it can be regarded as being at present. I note that the Minister is to be responsible for the handling of the money. i must admit that I was a tittle surprised to read in a Western Australian newspaper that the Minister for Native Welfare in that State was reported to have said that five Aboriginal farmers would get loans ranging from S7,500 to $32,000 this financial year from the fund and that he was confident that a further $20,000 would be advanced to a group who wished to take over Yandeyarra Station near Port Hedland. I was wondering how he could say that people would get loans - how he could be so definite about this - before the Bill was even debated in this House. However, I hope that he is quite correct in what he is assuming will take place. The Yandeyarra proposition should be very interesting because it is a property well known by the people concerned and they will be working in an industry in which they have had a tot of experience. I am sure that we wish them, and all other Aboriginals who take part in any such enterprises, the best of luck.
Of course, there are many other business projects in which Aboriginals can, and I am certain will, take an interest if they can be assisted in the initial stages to become established. Provision can be made for the lesser educated Aboriginals to establish garages and to undertake contracting, and professional avenues can be provided for those Aboriginals of higher education standards. The opportunites are unlimited provided - and this is the important consideration - the Aboriginals can become reasonably well educated, not just in the three R’s but in relation to those other matters and problems to which I have referred.
Friday, 22 November 1965
In rising to support these two Bills I suggest that we should give some thought to the fact that this is the beginning of an era. At last the Aboriginals are coming into their own. If we view these Bills, their intent and the impact they will eventually have, then we will have a more reasonable and rational understanding of the problem with which the Bills are concerned. Before proceeding I should like to say that almost from the first week when I arrived in Canberra 1 had an affection - I use that word with a good deal of forethought - for the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I found him to be a charming person and a man of quite outstanding intelligence. Hence T was extremely surprised - I will not use the word appalled - to hear some of his comments tonight about my colleague, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). There is one thing for which I pay tribute to the honourable member for Wills - that is, that he never becomes acrimonious. But he did offer a caustic criticism of the honourable member for the Northern Territory. I am sure that he did not intend it, because he is a reasonable man who faces up to ordinary logic. He must appreciate that if ever there was a man who understands the Aboriginal question it is the honourable member for the Northern Territory. If the honourable member for Wills has any doubt about this, 1 suggest that he accompany me - I will have the greatest pleasure in travelling with him - on a visit to the Northern Territory to question the Aboriginals, to move among the people of the Territory, and to see what they think of and how they evaluate the sincerity of the honourable member for the Northern Territory. If he is not convinced by what he hears, I think he would be convinced by what he reads.
Recently in the Northern Territory there was an election for the Legislative Council. People would be almost unanimous in evaluating the result, lt was the result of a Sam Calder effort. What happened there? Four members of the Australian Country Party were elected to the Council. With all due respect to the Australian Labor Party - one must have some sympathy for a Party which one thought was firmly installed in the Northern Territory - it won only three seats, and it lost the seat of a sitting member. This must cause a good deal of concern to that Party, but the result of that election is a reflection of the estimation of the people of the Northern Territory for their Federal member. 1 do not reflect on people who live in the south and who are associated with Aboriginals there; they have a separate problem. Let them look after it and we will look after our problems. However, I will say this: If a person offends an Aboriginal, if a person strikes an Aboriginal or does something which is fundamentally injurious to an Aboriginal or his family, that Aboriginal offends the white people in the area. Equally, if a person is concerned for the advancement of the Aboriginals then, by heck, the same principle applies - the person must earn the admiration and the support of the people in the area. So much for that.
One is sometimes accused of being parochial. I suppose that when a person lives in an isolated area - 1 am sure that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and honourable members from isolated electorates will agree with me - he cannot help becoming parochial because he is so much more sensitive to the problems of the area. He has so many people depending on him to put their views here in the national capital. Let me give a few homely examples of what will be the result, and, 1 would hope, the inevitable result of this legislation. Then let us examine some specific cases. I mention the town of Cloncurry. I do so not to be parochial but to give a classic example of the problems that we face in trying to help the Aboriginals. People talk of a drift to the cities. Well, there is a drift to Cloncurry from places like Dajarra. The people in that district look on Cloncurry as the city. We have a number of Aboriginals in that town and we have a very serious housing problem associated with them.
One must consider the housing of Aboriginals from two different angles. First there is the problem of the fringe dweller, the permanent Aboriginal resident in the community. I think this problem would be found also in the cities. Then there is the problem of transient Aboriginals, which is a quite separate problem. I was chairman of the shire council in my area for a number of years and that council was faced fairly and squarely with these problems. We approached the State authorities and discussed the matter with the Premier, Mr Pizzey. The solution was this, and I offer it for what it is worth: Those various fringe dwellings, which were completely substandard and in many cases uninhabitable, were to be demolished and we received approval for the construction of 20 cottages. We agreed that they would not be built in one settlement in a particular part of the town but would be scattered throughout the town amongst the homes of the white people. This was quite readily accepted by the community.
Then we came to the problem of transient Aboriginals. I do not want to reflect on the Labor regime in Queensland, but I must say that the home that it built in that town for transient Aboriginals was not fit to serve even as a stable for horses. It was a large galvanised iron shed and as a home for Aboriginals it represented a complete abrogation of human dignity. It was agreed that this would be handed over to the council and become a shed for machinery and that a proper transient home would be built in Cloncurry.
Now I move to the city of Mount Isa, where a very modern, well appointed transient home has been constructed. I would like honourable members to see it. The dormitories are very presentable. They all have radios. The kitchen is a revelation with all the fittings of stainless steel. The building is surrounded by beautiful lawns, lt is a home that any of us would be proud to live in. I have nothing but a complete lack of respect for anyone who says: ‘The transient home is not worth a tinker’s damn because no-one is occupying it’. This is negative thinking, and the person who makes such a statement is not looking for ways to help the Aboriginals. But the fact is that the home is not being occupied. Just prior to the Mount Isa rodeo, which is the big event in that town - again. 1 am not being parochial but I use this simply to give an example of what is happening in this place and probably in many other places - about 4 people were booked into that home, which has accommodation for 40. We have to analyse this situation and try to find out why these people would rather sleep on the bank of a creek in most primitive conditions than in this modern home. We must not simply accept the situation; we must find out why. ls it that they are older people who are not prepared to change their habits?
This brings me to the matter of moving too far and too fast too soon. 1 suppose one could say: ‘Yes, this is a good excuse for doing nothing at all for the Aboriginals’. I think that when people who ate sincere mention these matters their intentions often are misinterpreted. Others say: This is just an excuse for setting aside any sort of intelligent action designed to advance the Aboriginals’. The way I look at it - and, I am sure, the way my colleague, the honourable member for the Northern Territory, looks at it - is this: We should begin moving immediately, but for goodness’ sake do not break the hearts of these people. Do not place them suddenly in surroundings which cause them to abandon any hope at all of accepting this modern and progressive civilisation. As we move stage by stage give them a chance to assimilate.
Now let me come back to what may be called my own dunghill. The MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) and I last year visited Mornington Island. We wanted to learn in a realistic way what possibilities existed there for helping the Aboriginals to advance beyond the stage they had reached. Before I continue with that anecdote let me digress for a moment to tell the House that some 6 or 8 years ago a group of perhaps the most primitive Aboriginals either on the mainland or off it were transferred from Bentinck Island to Mornington Island. If honourable members have the time to have a talk with me in the lobbies later I will give them a very vivid translation of some of the rituals of these Bentinck Islanders. 1 am afraid I could not do so inside this House, even though our proceedings are not at present being broadcast.
They were a very primitive tribe. They were moved from Bentinck Island because the water there had failed. They were settled on Mornington Island and although they were the most primitive Aboriginals known, by the time we visited the island some 3 or 4 years later they had settled in very well. They were beginning to accept the standard of civilisation of the Mornington Islanders. But, after all, the Mornington Islanders themselves are still living in the natural surroundings that they have lived in for as long as they can trace their rituals, ceremonies and way of life - probably thousands of years. I think I mentioned in this House some time ago that these people told me they were aware of the fishing grounds and the great prawning grounds in the Gulf of Carpentaria long before the white man commenced his investigations.
But let me return to my visit to the island with the Minister. We sat on our haunches and conferred with the Aboriginal council. Let me say that the members of that council showed a more intelligent understanding of their problems than many of the shire councillors I have sat with, and I have been mixed up in local government all my life. These people said to us: You think we are lazy blackfellows. We are not this at all, but we are lazy when we are put to work we do not understand. We are lazy when we are put to work we do not like. We are lazy when we are put to the kind of work that is completely foreign to our background. The thing we understand is fishing. Let us become a part of the fishing industry. Let us work for your more advanced and highly trained fishing organisations. This will not only assist them, because we know where the prawns are and so forth, but will also bring us a few extra quid so that we can improve our homes and grow our gardens.’ They mentioned little things like their club rooms and sporting activities and so on.
The point of all this is that these people are to be put to work at their present stage. 1 am not talking of the rising generation. I am talking of the people from 20 to 25 years of age and even the ones over 25 and right up to the elderly people. I am not speaking of the youngsters who are still at school. We have to think differently about them. When honourable members talk to me about Groote Eylandt I do not suggest that the people there are to become mining engineers: after all, Groote Eylandt is a traditional hunting ground of the Aboriginals. How are we to make them accept a situation in which quite suddenly a modern organisation is moved in - an organisation which is io take ore from their land? They must feel resentment. They must feel that something is being taken from them. The solution is to make them feel that they are part of the operation, that they belong. We are told that perhaps 10,000 people will eventually live at Groote Eylandt. Those people will have to be fed. The average Aboriginal is a born stockman, and under correct supervision he has an understanding of raising animals. That supervision can eventually be phased out so that he can completely control his own affairs. The Aboriginals should be allowed to raise cattle, vegetables and other commodities which are needed for this mining enterprise. As the Aboriginals at Mornington Island said, if we let them tackle the things they understand they will be successful. As my friend the honourable member for Dawson knows, there is a large property outside Cloncurry known as Kamilaroi which is almost like a small township and it has innumerable windmills on it. I was told by the manager of the property that for some years now they have not had a windmill expert. There is an opportunity in the inland parts of this country for specialists in station work to gain employment. Recently I was requested to ask the State authorities to appoint a select committee or a royal commission to inquire into the disappearance of pastoral workers from the labour force. Why can we not train these Aboriginals as windmill experts and in the more specific duties associated with pastoral properties?
The Aboriginals could be trained in this field of work, which they like, which they understand, and which they will stick with. This is a realistic approach and one that should be examined very closely. One particular element of an Aboriginal’s life that brings admiration from white people who are associated with them is the cohesion of family life. When an Aboriginal family comes into any town it is quite distressed when it finds out that the children have to go to school. Anyone who knows the Aboriginals closely realises that this is a real fear. When their children are required to attend school the Aboriginals feel that they are losing them. This is an indication of the cohesion of their family life. This is an element to be admired; it is a tragedy that it does not exist among the white people to the same extent. When plans are made for Aboriginal welfare this is one of the elements that should be considered. When any plans are made to bring Aboriginal children into the various stages of education there must be an understanding of the psychological reaction within their families. The Aboriginals may suspect, in their simple thinking, that this will cause a cleavage in family life. This is something that has to be looked at.
Earlier the question of impertinence was mentioned. Anyone who lives among Aboriginals is deeply concerned when he finds that people are endeavouring to interfere with their lives purely on a political basis. No doubt this could cover a multitude of sins. It could be said that every time one moved on behalf of the Aboriginals it was for political motives. I do not want to be interpreted in this way at all. Sam Ah Sam, the President of OPAL in my area, is an Aboriginal. I pay a great tribute to him.
There would not be a more respected Aboriginal in the north-west of Queensland. He is a man to whom 1 would go to discuss problems. No-one can pull the wool over the eyes of the Aboriginals. They have a sensitiveness that may not be apparent on the surface, but if someone endeavours to put something over them they are deeply aware of it. The Aboriginals warn their people against these things.
Recently in a northern part of Queensland it was suspected, to say the least, that there was a great political operation at a particular mission station. News of that was carried right through the Aboriginal communities of northern Australia, f have met those Aboriginals time and time again and have been told: ‘They tried to make idiots of us at that mission station’. The voting was 100 or more to 2. lt is quite obvious that some political skulduggery had occurred there and they had their guard up. If anyone intends to do that sort of thing to the Aboriginals they have a job ahead of them, because there are a lot of people moving about and warning other Aboriginals of this sort of thing. Aboriginals are human beings and they have their dignity. In fact they have very rare dignity on occasion. As I said, they have this wonderful element of family cohesion about which we can possibly learn something from them. 1 want to refer to this business of going too fast, too far, too soon, lt is no good to move too far, too soon. Really you cannot make them move quickly enough to bring Aboriginals out of their unfortunate environment. When they are brought out of it step by step, we should make sure that we consolidate on the first rung of the ladder before we go on to the next; otherwise we will break their hearts. 1 and my colleague, the honourable member for the Northern Territory, will stand four square against any exploitation of these people. I warmly support these Bills and I do so on the understanding that this is the beginning of improved conditions for the Aboriginals. This is not the complete answer. I believe that the speakers who have contributed to this debate tonight had hoped that the funds provided would be far more significant. We hope that this will be forthcoming in the future. However, as the situation stands I give my strongest support to the Bills before the House.
– I will not detain the House very long. I want to comment firstly on the definition of Aboriginals. 1 point out that in many statistics the Aboriginals are divided into full bloods, part Aboriginals and Torres Strait islanders, 8,000 of the latter group being situated in Queensland. I have not seen recognised anywhere the fact that there are Pacific islanders, particularly in central Queensland, who were brought over in the days of the black birders to work in the sugar cane fields. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with requests.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for the purpose of amendments to be made upon request by the Senate announced.
Consideration of Senate’s requests.
Senate’s request No. 1 .
After clause 4, add the following new clause:
Senate’s request No. 2.
The Schedule, Section 4, leave out “ ‘Two thousand six hundred and fifty’ “, insert “ ‘Two thousand eight hundred’ “.
Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce- Minister for
Immigration) [12.50 a.m.] - I move:
I will read the terms of the amendment because it makes the position clear:
There is payable to the leader in the Senate of the second non-Government recognised political party in the Senate an allowance at the rate of one thousand dollars a year, and a further allowance, in respect of the expenses of discharging the duties of his office, at the rate of five hundred dollars a year.
Honourable members will be aware that in relation to the House of Representatives there is a provision whereby the leader of a recognised party of not less than 10 members, which does not have a Minister, is entitled to a certain set of allowances and salary. I do not carry the amount in my mind, and I am sure that the Committee would not expect me to carry it in my mind. A request was introduced in the Senate. It deals with a second non-Government recognised political party. In the Senate there are two political parties which are not in government. There is the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The purpose of this amendment is to provide a salary and allowance for the leader of that second party. Of course, I should point out to the Committee that what is true today in a factual situation may very well be no longer true in a different factual situation in the future. To make this clear I ask honourable members to imagine a situation in which, for instance, the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party were not in government. Under those circumstances the second recognised party not in government would be either the Liberal Party or the Country Party. That is the nature of the amendment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The second amendment provides that in the Schedule, section 4, leave out ‘two thousand six hundred and fifty’ and insert two thousand eight hundred’. The amount of $2,650 is the electorate allowance paid to a member of this House who has a city electorate. What is proposed by this amendment is that the amount of the electorate allowance to be paid to all senators will, in fact, be in excess of the electorate allowance paid to city members of the House of Representatives. Honourable members will remember that when the the Bill left this House the provision was that the amount of the electorate allowance for all senators was $100 less than the electorate allowance for all members. The attitude of the Government is that decisions must be taken on what is the appropriate electorate allowance to be paid to members and to senators. There is a differential between the amount paid to members of the House representing city electorates, and that paid to members representing country electorates. As the Bill left this House there was a differential in relation to senators. The Senate has requested an amendment whereby the relativity of the electorate allowances will be changed. The Government does not accept this request.
– For many years this has been a very burning question amongst members of this Parliament. 1 can see no reason whatsoever for the differential that is made whereby senators have been required to accept an electorate allowance $100 less than that of members. Senators have to spend money in attending to their electorate duties. Let us leave aside the question of salaries. I believe that we are all entitled to the same salary, no matter whether we are members of this place or of the other place. But for many years senators have been placed at a disadvantage regarding allowances compared with the allowances that have been paid to members of this House. Senators in all States have been covering very much wider areas. They have been required to attend meetings and to do the various electorate duties that are required over the whole area of a State, in contradistinction to the requirements that have been made-
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
In the House
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the report be adopted.
– Is the Leader of the House referring to both reports or to only one?
– Only one report has been presented.
– No, the Leader of the House moved two reports.
– We are presenting one report - the report from the Committee to the House.
– May I have permission to proceed with remarks that I was trying to make about the allowances for senators, or am I not allowed to do this?
Order! The honourable member for McMillan can only speak on the question whether the House should adopt the report or not. He cannot debate the subject matter of the report that was presented from the Committee.
– Well, Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to present at this time a most emphatic protest about the extraordinary behaviour of the Leader of the House in gagging me.
-Order! This has nothing to do with the report-
– I know it has nothing to do with it.
-Order! The honourable member for McMillan will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, J still want to make the point that I was trying to make when the-
-Order! The honourable member for McMillan will please resume his seat. The Chair does not want to take action against the honourable member.
– I know the Chair does not, but I want to make-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. Mr Buchanan - Well, you are-
-Order! Unless the honourable member resumes his seat 1 will name him.
-I would like the indulgence of the House for a couple of minutes.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Lilley might take the honourable member for McMillan outside the chamber.
– I will not apologise.
– Order! The honourable member for McMillan will resume his seat.
– I will not apologise. I have the right to speak and I will not sit while 1 have two feet to stand on.
-Order! The honourable member for McMillan will resume his seat immediately.
– Thank you.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I have moved that the report be adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 3204)
– I mentioned before the adjournment of this debate that there is no provision in the definition to cover the Pacific islanders. I realise that the Bill states that the ‘Aboriginal people’ of Australia but in my area of Queensland the majority of people who identify themselves with the Aboriginals and who associate with them socially, inter-marry and are treated to all intents and purposes by the Queensland Government as Aboriginals, have a predominance of Polynesian blood. I would appreciate the assurance of the Ministerincharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) that this understanding will continue or if necessary that the ambit of his Department will be widened to take in these people. I believe that this is quite within the competence of the Federal Parliament because the powers given to it to handle matters and laws specifically relating to Aboriginals are additional to powers that it already had to deal with other races.
I now wish to comment briefly on the matter raised by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) with regard to the preservation of tribal lands. He said that the Aboriginals have requested this in order to obtain spiritual refreshment. Other honourable members have spoken on this aspect. For example they have advanced the argument of what we would feel’ about having a traditional parkland or building taken away from us. But I think it goes a little further than this. After all, these people have what might be called a nature religion. They associate the spiritual life of their ancestors and themselves with the physical environment in which they live - the streams, the flora and fauna, and the seasonal changes. They follow these in their seasonal trekking about in their tribal lands. Some people call it wandering or walkabout, but this is done in a specific pattern according to the season and where food is growing. The Aboriginals know this in great detail and pass on the knowledge from one generation to another. This is part of their ritual and religion as well as tribal law.
So we must look at this ground as hallowed ground in every bit the same way as the Zionists or the Arabs, the Moslems or the Christians look on parts of Palestine as hallowed ground. We have to remember that the people of the religions that we follow in this country - a lot of us do or used to - are religions over which very extensive, prolonged and bitter wars were fought. Crusades were fought over the centuries for those lands. The Aboriginals are not warlike people, but I have no doubt that they feel every bil as strongly on this matter of spiritual refreshment. 1 think this term should be strongly kept in mind.
Because of the lateness of the hour, I do not propose to go in detail into some of the matters raised by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay). However, I would just mention that he has said that the tendency to walkabout is in the frame and makeup of the Aboriginal people. I believe that this has proved to bc incorrect and wrong. The only reason they go walkabout is that it is no longer tolerable for them to stay where they are. Aboriginals in their natural stale move because their food supplies are not available in some area and as a result they must move on to new areas. Very often it is seasonal migration.
But when Aboriginals go walkabout from the white man’s job on a station or wherever he may be it is because things have become intolerable for another reason. Perhaps the opportunity will arise in another context for me to talk at greater length on this feature. But I just want to set the record straight on this point. It is something built into their makeup; it is built into the makeup of the environment into which they find themselves. I think the same argument could apply to the matter of children who were taken away from hospital by their parents and who contracted dysentery, as was mentioned by the honourable member. This is not done because the Aboriginals are less feeling or because they treat their children in an ignorant and off-hand way. it is because of the same feeling that the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) mentioned - the feeling of closeness of the family. This is an instinct that makes them fear that a child is somehow drifting away from them and that they are losing that family contact for no good reason. Of course, there is no advantage in the child going to school if that schooling can never be used. These people have a fear of sending their children to hospitals. The reason that the children get dysentery and diarrhoea is not so much because the parents are ignorant of diet but because the children are exposed to germs that their tradition has not learnt to cope with. These germs are transmitted in the civilised environment of the hospital and the white man’s culture that they have grafted on to. But this will solve itself.
I commend the Minister and the Parliament on the moves that have been made in this direction. I am sure that they will bear fruit. In conclusion I hope that the Minister will make clear to us the terms and conditions agreed on between the Commonwealth and the States as soon as he can as the amendment requests. I also hope that the Commonwealth will take a close interest in the administration of this money by way of regulations, as is also requested in our amendment.
– I rise to express my support for these two measures. I do so partly for sentimental reasons, having been so long associated with matters related to the advancement of the welfare of Aboriginals and partly, of course, as a supporter of the Government which has brought down these measures. In one measure a sum of more than S3. 5m is being made available to the States and should immediately result in increased expenditures to advance the welfare of the Aboriginal people. Under the other measure a trust fund is being established from which it will be possible to provide the finance that will enable persons of the Aboriginal race to engage in business enterprises that have prospects of becoming or continuing to be successful. The fund will be administered for that purpose. The second Bill certainly opens up the prospect of persons of the Aboriginal race being able to support the advancement of their welfare by some measure of economic independence.
Apart from commending the Bills and welcoming this step forward I would like to say one simple thing and say it as plainly and as briefly as I can. There is something of a tendency which has been disclosed even in this debate to categorise the Aboriginals in a way that makes them sound as though they are a distinct and separate people. It is well for us all to remember that the tendency of Australian policy for many years past, particularly under this Government and its predecessors on this side of the House, has been to establish that persons of the Aboriginal race no less than any other inhabitant of the Australian continent are to be regarded as Australians and as having full citizenship rights.
My memory goes back to a time of administrative responsibility when by and large throughout this continent the Aboriginal people did not have the same voting rights as other Australians. Today as a result of what this Government and its predecessors have done they have their voting rights as other citizens have theirs. There was a time when they did not share in the same social service benefits as other Australians. Today they share in those benefits in the same way as others do. There was a time not so long ago when the amount of discriminatory legislation directed against the Aboriginals was very noticeable. But over the years most of the discriminatory provisions have been removed from the legislation of this Parliament in respect of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and from the legislation of the States.
Having been associated so closely with these developments, which were directed towards the one objective of establishing in Australia that there should not be any firstclass or second-class citizens but only one class of Australian citizen, I want to point at this stage in the advancement of the welfare of the Aboriginal people to the danger that in taking these special measures for them we may run some risk of putting them back into a separate compartment by themselves. That, of course, would be bad and would not be what these measures are intended to achieve. They were a class of Australians who suffered from certain social disabilities and some handicaps that deprived them of the full enjoyment of their citizenship, and we are taking social measures not directed towards maintaining a racial discrimination or a racial separation but directed towards ensuring that this group of Australian citizens shall have the full fruits of their status and position as Australian citizens.
Those of us who have been very closely associated with the advancement of native welfare over a long period are not under any illusions about the handicaps and the disabilities that these fellow Australians suffer. But while we go about the business of trying to remove those handicaps and trying to ensure that they can enter into the full enjoyment of their position as fellow Australians we must be very careful not to continue to keep them, as they have been in the past, in a separate compartment. I am sure my colleague the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) will fully agree that the objective of these measures is to ensure that in Australia there will not be racial discrimination, racial segregation or racial separation. There will be only one lot of Australians enjoying to the full the same standards of life and the same opportunities and having the same confidence in the future. That is not yet, but we are trying to remove the conditions - conditions which we hope will be temporary - that prevent this in order that the better and more desirable state of affairs may be achieved. With that warning, and being in full agreement with the purpose of the Bills, I support the motion.
– I have much pleasure in supporting the Bills. I listened with considerable interest to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), who has just spoken. I appreciate what he has said. It is the objective not only of the Commonwealth Government but also of the State governments to see that the Aboriginal people of Australia receive equal opportunities in the community. I would add that within the social and educational structures in Australia we make certain moneys available in Commonwealth and State budgets to help the Aboriginal people. The Bills now before us also will provide assistance for these people. We are making special allocations for the welfare, health, education, housing and the like of the Aboriginal people. This is very important. 1 have been very interested in the Aboriginal people for almost as long as I can remember. I have watched them mainly throughout the State of Western Australia, from which I come, and have helped them wherever I. could. But 1 have found that they need some special allocations and in these Bills assistance is being provided to meet their special problems. The problems differ in the various parts of Australia. Tn the southern part of my State certain steps have been taken by the State authorities and they have been successful. 1 had an opportunity recently to meet the authorities at an agricultural school at Gnowangerup which has been operating for only a short period. At this school Aboriginal people have an opportunity to learn agricultural methods and to obtain special tuition. T was exceptionally pleased at the progress which had been made at this agricultural school over a very short period of time. I would hope that some of the moneys to be made available under these Bills will find its way into such establishments where Aboriginal people have an opportunity to further their education in a number of ways.
In my book the provisions in the Bill relating to education and those relating to business enterprises will work together. It is fairly obvious that Aboriginal children tend to lose interest in their education by the time they reach the ages of 10 and 12. I believe that this causes them to sec in many cases very little future for themselves when they have left school or when they have had to leave school. The two Bills that we are discussing tonight will follow each other. In other words, the allocations for health and education will take the Aboriginals a certain distance, and they will be assisted to get into certain types of business enterprises. This is most important because their education is not enough. They need some further encouragement. These Bills can provide exactly that.
We have had some fine examples of success in housing Aboriginals. It is only a matter of certain individuals taking up the challenge and setting the example for others. From that point onwards, the Aboriginals take a great pride in their house, garden and the area in which they live. I believe that in putting this Bill to the House this evening we are giving encouragement to the Aboriginal people to take up the challenge and carry on with the job. I agree with some of the previous speakers this evening who said: ‘Let us not make haste too quickly’. The Aboriginals will take up the challenge in no uncertain terms but let them do it in their own time. The money to be made available by the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill will assist the States, but the programme mentioned in the Bill will take time to develop. Although the amount of money to be made available seems small, 1 believe that the Government has taken the right step and that, in cooperation with the States, progress will be made.
I will not go into any fine detail at this time in the morning. It is 20 past 1 and I do not think anyone would want me to do that. I want to say very briefly that every honourable member in this Parliament is sympathetic to the Aboriginals and is anxious to have everything possible done for them. I believe that the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) is acting in the right way in bringing forward these two Bills. It has been said by the Minister that the amount of money to be allocated to the States will be apportioned according to the Aboriginal population of the States. I represent part of Victoria that takes in a long stretch of the Murray River. Of course, the Murray River has been a traditional home for Aboriginals. We have heard that the Aboriginals in northern Queensland and in the dead heart of Australia are different from those who live in the Mallee electorate. I agree with that.
The people in the Mallee electorate appreciate the amount that has been allocated to Victoria. The Schedule to the Bill indicates that it is $225,000. I believe that Robinvale, a town in the Mallee electorate, has more Aboriginals living adjacent to it than has any other town in Victoria, lt is in the shire of Swan Hill. I have bee.a requested by the Shire Secretary to ask the Minister whether he could go to Robinvale to see at first hand the Aboriginal problem in that area. It has been causing some concern. I believe that the amount of money made available will help. Of course, all the Victorian allocation will not go to that area, but a fair amount of it should. The money made available for the objectives which the Minister has in mind and which are set out in the Schedule will do much to overcome any problem that may exist or perhaps will exist in the future. Clause 5 of the Bill reads:
The object for which the Fund is established is to enable persons of the Aboriginal race of Australia to engage in business enterprises that have prospects of becoming or continuing to be successful and the Fund shall be administered lor that object.
I draw attention to the words ‘becoming or continuing to be successful’. I think there was a similar clause in the Bill that provided for the establishment of the Commonwealth Development Bank. Not a lot of security is required by that Bank if Che enterprise has a chance of becoming succeessful. In the same way, the Aboriginals do not need to have a lot of security. The only security wanted is for the Act to be administered in a way that will bring out the best in them, in the best interests not only of themselves but of the whole community.
– In reply - I thank the House for a constructive and interesting debate, lt is obvious that those people who have firsthand knowledge of the north of Australia, such as the honourable members for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), Canning (Mr Hallett) or Kennedy (Mr Katter) approached this problem in a rather different way from those who have a more intimate knowledge of Aboriginals in the southern part of Australia. As the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) said a moment ago, this illustrates that the problem is different in different parts.
I think that I should quickly answer some of the queries that have been raised. Firstly, as to definition, there is in the Bill no definition of ‘Aboriginal’. The definitions adopted in the respective States vary. In practice, however, we will say that an Aboriginal is a person of full or part Aboriginal descent who claims to be an Aboriginal and who is accepted as such by the community in which he lives. This is a very wide and flexible definition. I state categorically that the Torres Strait islanders will be brought within this definition and that anybody who is a full-blood Aboriginal or is of part Aboriginal descent comes within the definition. It depends to some extent how the individual is regarded by the Aboriginals themselves.
The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) raised the question of the numbers of Aboriginals for each State that were used to determine the allocation lo each State. The numbers used were those which were unanimously agreed on by the representatives of the States when they met us in conference in Melbourne in July. As honourable members will know, there is no complete statistical enumeration of the Aboriginal population because there is always difficulty in deciding who is an Aboriginal when a person has part Aboriginal blood. So we came together with the States. The Slates unanimously agreed amongst themselves that these were the numbers we should adopt. As far as I can see, they are the best available ones. At that same conference was discussed the question of whether, for the purpose of dividing the Fund between the States, a part Aboriginal should be weighted less heavily than a full-blood Aboriginal1. Wc came to the conclusion, after discussion, that we should not weight the numbers in this way. Although part Aboriginals may have different needs, their requirements are probably very similar in terms of money. At all events, the Ministers coming together felt that such a course would raise undue complexities for the time being. So this decision was taken unanimously by all Ministers concerned.
The honourable member for Dawson referred to the situation in Tasmania. There are some hundreds of part Aboriginals in the Cape Barren Island area. They are not descendants of the Tasmanian Aboriginals but of Aboriginals who were brought from the mainland in the early part of the last century. So although there are in Tasmania some persons of Aboriginal descent they are not descended from Tasmanian Aboriginals but trace their descent back to the mainland.
The honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) referred to special schools. This term is used in respect of schools in special places. In certain reserves or places where there are large groups of Aboriginals the school buildings are inadequate at present and special provision may have to be made for schooling from the funds provided. At question time today I referred to the participation of Aboriginals on panels. This is a matter which we are prosecuting as hard as we can. We hope that the States will be able to help us in this regard. As far as possible we endeavour to obtain Aboriginal participation on these plants. The committee which will advise me with regard to the capital funds will consist of the Chairman of the Council, Dr Coombs, a representative of the Commonwealth Bank and a representative of the Treasury. At the beginning there will bc present also an Aboriginal liaison officer. Later I have no doubt that Aboriginals will participate more. This is our aim. We shall be developing the reserves as far as we can. I thank the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) for his remarks on this aspect.
As regards our relations with the States, we believe that we should decentralise as far as we can. Since we want to save time and get on with the job as quickly as possible it is desirable to use existing State machinery. This will have the effect of preventing undue delays. The Commonwealth is stimulating the States to spend more from their own funds on Aboriginals. As regards the Bamaga project, the terms are not finalised between the Commonwealth and Queensland but I thought it desirable that there should be no delay in this matter. The honourable member for Dawson will be glad to know that some of the equipment is now on the job and that work has started. The important thing was to have no delay. There will be some holiday, as he described it, regarding repayment of this money. The money is being loaned to the Queensland Government but will be returned under the terms of the Bill to the capital fund.
I think that the amendment moved by the Opposition is based partly on a misunderstanding. In August last I set out in fair detail the principles of the housing agreement with the States. After all, housing accounts for the main part of the funds that we are granting. 1 did not read to the House the details regarding housing but I had incorporated in Hansard the relevant material and it is there for all honourable members to see. As regards education I have made it clear in the House that the principle is that the States will see in the primary and secondary fields that every opportunity is given for advancement of any Aboriginal who is capable of advancing. This situation will operate as from the beginning of the next academic year. This is something that the States have undertaken and the system is being dovetailed into the State system. The Commonwealth is providing the finance to enable the States to do this. In the tertiary field the responsibility will fall directly on the Government. This has already been explained to the House.
A detailed programme with regard to health has been drawn up. As honourable members will know, in each State the division between the three main objectives of housing, health and education has been determined very largely in consultation with the State authorities who, knowing their own system, knew where best extra moneys could be applied. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) will be interested to know, for example, that in Western Australia almost all of the money which has been allocated for health has been allocated for the construction of a nursing home in Derby in his electorate. That home will accommodate Aboriginals awaiting admission to hospital. The Western Australian authorities regard this as urgent work. The honourable member will be interested also to know that those same authorities have decided to allocate most of their education funds for the construction of a hostel in the township of Kalgoorlie. So I think the honourable member and most other honourable members will find that every attempt is being made to spend an adequate amount of this money in country areas and where Aboriginals at the moment reside. lt was necessary to have the arrangements with the States fairly flexible, particularly because we are not at the moment able to say precisely how the allocations of finance will work out. We have to find out, partly by trial and, in some cases, error, what is the best thing to do. We try to do our best, and a certain amount of flexibility is needed. We will be keeping a detailed track of this money and will be able to give the States guidance. Since this is an annual grant no doubt this guidance can be effectively applied. 1 do not anticipate great conflicts.
In fact, I do not anticipate any real conflicbetween the Commonwealth and the States in this regard. There is, I think, in the administrations of the States and the Commonwealth a new spirit of co-operation and good will. There is a new spirit of hope that at last we will achieve something. I think we can move forward together, but if we are to eliminate delay - it is particularly important to eliminate delay this year - we must keep a certain amount of flexibility in the arrangements.
Finally may I say how much I agree with honourable members on both sides who have expressed the view that although we must work as quickly as is humanly possible we should not be precipitate or try to push these people through too quickly into a situation which could be disastrous for them because the pressure was too great. I know that this is a problem that varies in different parts of Australia. What is right for the Aboriginal in Victoria may not be right for the Aboriginal in the Northern Territory. I agree that we must cut out adverse discrimination. Our objective is one people; this is most certainly true. But in some cases, though not all, the round about road towards it, which is the one that is inherent in this legislation, is the right road and the one which is best for the Aboriginal and best for us as Australians. I thank the House.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– The Opposition accepts the Minister’s comment in respect of clause 4 that there is need for urgency and flexibility. There is no question about the need for flexibility, because each project will be different and each project will have to be considered on its merits. Although the Opposition accepts the statement that the terms and conditions have not yet been worked out between the States, and that some equipment is already being employed on this project, it is only fair to say that we believe that when this information is available the Minister should endeavour to inform honourable members as to the terms and conditions.
– I think I can give an assurance in that regard. I can add also that the Queensland Minister in charge of welfare and I, having discussed this matter, have considered that some kind of holiday in repayment is desirable. The exact length of it has not yet been fixed, but there will be a holiday.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Wentworth) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 14 November (vide page 2876), on motion by Mr Wentworths
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– The main point of confusion relates to clause 5 of the Bill and a definition of the people who will be able to participate in the grants and loans. Clause 5 states distinctly that the object for which the fund is established is to enable persons of the Aboriginal race of Australia to engage in business enterprises. The Minister has explained how this is defined, and said that the definition is acceptable to the States. But how does he explain the inclusion of Torres Strait islanders in this clause, because never have I known Torres Strait islanders to regard themselves as Aboriginals? In fact when one speaks to them they are quite categorical that they are not Aboriginals, and, of course, they are not.
The wording of this provision is quite clear; so how does the Minister explain the inclusion of Torres Strait islanders? That is my first question.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) told us that we must be careful about putting people in compartments. We accept this as regards business enterprises and the employment of Aboriginals. He said also that we should endeavour to come together and to achieve one Australian citizen, and we are going a long way towards achieving this. But the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs did not answer my question about the inclusion of those people of Pacific island origin who are scattered throughout the tropical coastal areas of Queensland. Their origin is very close to the origin of Torres Strait islanders. Are the Torres Strait islanders who are living in my electorate and in the electorate of the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) included in the scheme?
It seems to me that if the provision can be stretched to include Torres Strait islanders in the islands it can be stretched to include Torres Strait islanders who live in other parts of Australia and to include the people who are in the same plight, who have the same problems, who were pushed into certain activities by white men over the years and who are living on the banks of creeks and rivers through no fault of their own. They have unemployment problems brought about by automation in the sugar industry. I am referring, of course, to the people known as Kanakas in Queensland. Serious consideration should be given to the inclusion of these people in the scope of the Bill.
If the provision relates only to Aboriginals we cannot query it, but how will onequarter and one-eighth blood Aboriginals be defined? The provision refers to ‘persons of the Aboriginal race of Australia’. The honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) said that if a person declared himself as an Aboriginal he would be included. I am quite certain that the Torres Strait islanders would not class themselves as Aboriginals. Neither would the Pacific islanders or those in the areas stretching from Cairns down to Bundaberg. There are colonies of these people. Unfortunately they are living on the banks of creeks and rivers.
This is no fault of their own because they have been pushed there by the white man. There are not many of them, and 1 think the Minister should seriously consider including them amongst those covered by this legislation.
My second question relates to clause 10, and it concerns income tax. In these business enterprises, will the enterprises themselves be liable to pay income tax? The Bill is quite clear as regards trust funds, but will an enterprise be liable to pay income tax? Will the Aboriginals or Torres Strait islanders or other people working in these business ventures also bc liable to pay income tax? The Opposition believes thai, at least in the initial stages, there should be some kind of pioneer tax concession such as operates in New Guinea. In any case these people should not be expected to pay income tax to the Commonwealth on money they earn from a very valuable project which is made possible by the Commonwealth. I think this is a fair request. Even though the Minister may not be able to agree to it on this occasion, he may take it up with the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and see whether suitable provision can be made for these people and these projects.
– As to clause 5, this is a matter of difficult definition, as the honourable member well knows. But it is not, I think, a matter of such great practical importance, because the Minister has a fair discretion in view of the fact that we have avoided putting in any rigid definition. I have given the honourable member our working definition. As regard Torres Strait islanders, I think the word ‘Aboriginal’ means those people who occupied the land before the coming of the white man, and I think the Torres Strait islanders fall within that category. If they do not, they are so close to it that nobody could say to the contrary. Therefore the Torres Strait islanders, although they are, as they themselves would say, racially distinct from the mainlanders, are in my view Aboriginals, and whether they are in the Torres Strait islands or whether they have come down to live in Rockhampton, Townsville or Bundaberg, they are still Aboriginals. This seems to me quite clear.
With regard to the Pacific islanders, the situation is not quite so clear. In nearly every case, although not all cases, there will be either some admixture of Aboriginal blood or at any rate a claim for an admixture of Aboriginal blood. There may be some cases, although they would be very few, that do not fall within the definition, but 1 should imagine that where there is a reasonable doubt the person concerned will get the benefit of it. I do not think the honourable member need have any worries on that score.
I come now to his remarks on clause 10 concerning income tax. Naturally, any cooperative or any such venture will become eligible for any concessions which are given under the existing income tax laws, and I suppose that when these ventures are commenced some regard will bc had for this fact. But I am inclined to think that it would not be good to differentiate between these people and other Australian citizens. This idea of being always free of income tax may well develop into a handout mentality. ] will take this up with the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), but my own view is that if Aboriginals are capable, as I think they will be, of making good profits, it is not unreasonable to expect them to be placed on the same footing as other Australian citizens. After all, we are now giving them, for example, the full benefit of social services, and 1 am very glad that we do. This has been granted by this Government, but it has to be paid for out of tax revenue. I think it might be a doubtful kindness to try to differentiate between Aboriginals and other Australians in this way. The feeling that they are bearing part of the normal burden of administrative costs might be to them a source of pride, and it might not mean very much in terms of money unless they are making good profits. I will have a look at this but I am not entirely attracted to the view advanced by the honourable member.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Wentworth) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 1.57 to 2.40 a.m.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that the Senate did not press its request for an amendment to the Schedule of the Bill which the House of Representatives had not made and that the Senate had agreed to the Bill returned herewith as amended by the House of Representatives at the request of the Senate.
The following Bills were relumed from the Senate without amendment:
Railway Agreement (New South Wales and South Australia) Bill 1968.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1968.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1968.
Ministers of State Bill 1968.
Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1963.
House adjourned at 2.42 a.m. (Friday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Civil Aviation: Airport Development (Question No. 906)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There has been close contact between the New South Wales State Planning Authority and my Department during the formulation of the Authority’s Outline Plan for the development of Sydney which was made public on 19th October. This has been by verbal communication and discussion and by correspondence. The New South Wales State Planning Authority came to D.C.A. to find out the ideas of the forward planners in that Department on the civil aviation airport needs al Sydney for the future, and they had co-ordinated them with their thinking about other matters in the formulation of their Outline Plan.
In the discussions between the New South Wales State Planning Authority and the Department the proposal for airport development in the southern part of Botany Bay was brought forward some years ago. There arc now, however, doubts about its acceptability in that place and other sites are under consideration. The proposal for an airport in the Wyong area was first raised by the Planning Authority in association with the very considerable expansion of residential and industrial activity which they foresee between Sydney and Newcastle; and it was developed by the Planning Authority and the Department working in co-ordination.
The suggestion to relocate Hoxton Park has come from the State Planning Authority and has not yet been the subject of consideration by the Department. I understand it is a very long range project on the part of the State Planning Authority.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What rates are charged for the supply of water in (a) the Australian Capital Territory and (b) the Northern Territory?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
All premises other than residential flats:
Residential flats - Annual charge $10 (no excess).
For an annual allowance of 100,000 gallons -$30.
Charges where no annual charge is declared:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What is the cost per foot of constructing:
kerb and channel, and
underground drainage in
other cities and provincial centres specifying similar construction standards?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following average construction costs have been taken from a recent land development contract in Canberra: (a)Roads - Including kerbs and channels and bituminous concrete surface.
Concrete footpath 2 in thick - 80c per linear foot for 4 ft wide path.
Examples of cost per linear foot of construction using 12 in X Class and 18 in C Class diameter pipes in 6 foot depth of earth trench, are $3.73 and $5.26 respectively.
Interest on Australian External Debt (Question No. 950)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What was the amount of interest on external debt expressed as a percentage of the value of exports for each of the past 10 years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In the following table:
ColumnI shows the Australian currency equivalent of the annual interest liability on loans of the Commonwealth and State Governments domiciled overseas, which were outstanding at 30th June each year. Conversion has been made at the par rales published by the International Monetary Fund or its equivalent in the case of Swiss francs. These figures have been shown in recent years in Table No. 1 of the publication ‘Government Securities on Issue’.
ColumnII shows the figure for exports f.o.b. for each year ended 30th June which is contained in the publication ‘Balance of Payments’ issued by the Commonwealth Statistician.
ColumnIII shows each figure in I as a percentage ofII.
Conferences of Commonwealth and State
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
June 1961 Conference:
August 1961 Conference (Ministers):
September J962 Conference (Ministers):
September 1962 Conference (Officers):
December 1963 Conference:
September 1965 Conference:
September 1967 Conference:
October .1967 Conference:
September 1968 Conference:
As the honourable member was advised in 1960 (Hansard, page 2083), agenda for these Conferences cover a wide range of subjects relating to fisheries administration, management and research. The matters listed above all involved legislative action of some sort, rather than administrative action only. Both the Ministers’ and the Officers’ Conferences have their principal value in bringing the persons concerned together to work out solutions to common problems rather than in seeking to advise governments in their legislative programmes affecting fisheries. As the above list shows, some of the common problems do raise questions of legislative action but the majority do not.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice: Can he give details of the number of:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681121_reps_26_hor61/>.