27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hoa. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m. and read prayers.
Mr STEWART presented from certain citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that, due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. The petitioners call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Unions policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension. The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner, means the figures issued from, time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring, about the wishes expressed in the petition so that citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
Petition received and read.
Mr SCHOLES presented from certain citizens of Victoria a petition showing that due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions are finding Lt extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. The petitioners call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average male weekly earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Unions policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension. The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner, means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in the petition so that citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
Mr WHITTORN presented from certain citizens of Victoria a petition showing that, due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. The petitioners call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Unions policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension. The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from dme to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in the petition so that citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
Mr HURFORD presented from certain citizens of South Australia a petition showing that, due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. The petitioners call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Unions policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension. The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in the petition so that citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
Mr FOX presented from certain residents of Victoria a petition showing that our national symbol, the red kangaroo, is, through shooting for commerce, being reduced to a numerical level where, if the shooting is not stopped, the animal will become extinct. Reports from scientists, conservationists, tourists, graziers and shooters confirm that State Governments are unable to effectively enforce legislation to control shooting and that kangaroos are already extinct in many areas where they once were prolific. Science has established that kangaroos seldom come into direct competition for forage with sheep; there is therefore no reason why this unwarranted killing, which is branding us internationally as barbarians, should be allowed to continue. The residents of this nation want the kangaroo, which can be found nowhere else in the world, to be part of the Australian landscape. We believe that tourists, who will play an increasing part in the national balance of payments, want this too.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will (i) ban the export of products made from kangaroos; (ii) quickly pass the legislation necessary to make the kangaroo a protected animal throughout Australia - the culling of herds for the protection of the few property owners genuinely threatened by excessive numbers or for the welfare of kangaroos themselves to be carried out by or under direct supervision of government officers.
Petition received and read.
Social Sen ices
Mr ARMITAGE presented from certain citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. The petitioners call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Unions policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension
The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
Mr HAMER presented from certain residents of Victoria a petition showing that Australians, custodians of the world’s largest marsupial, the red kangaroo, have allowed it to be reduced so low numerically that even Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation research has had to be suspended :n some areas and alternative means of research employed in others. The kangaroo is being exploited whilst facts on numbers of kangaroos are unknown. Any day the numbers could be reduced below that level needed for survival of droughts and natural mortality. At this date neither the number needed for survival nor the the number of kangraoos left is known. Pending the outcome of investigations by the Select Committee, it can be logically assumed that shooters, fearing restrictive legislation in the future, will intensify their efforts to obtain as many animals as possible while they can.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will immediately ban the export of products made from kangaroos, strongly urge the State governments to ban the shooting of kangaroos for commercial purposes, at least until the Select Committee has made its investigations and recommendations and add to the Constitution a clause giving power to the Commonwealth Government to act to safeguard any species of wildlife that is endangered through any cause.
Mr KENNEDY presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that (a) the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system;
The petitioners pray that the House make provision for a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants, Aboriginals, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of preschool opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Petition received and read.
Mr ENDERBY presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that (a) the Comonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; (b) a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal opportunity for all; (c) 200,000 students from universities, colleges of advanced education and other tertiary institution, and their parents suffer severe penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968; (d) Australia cannot afford to hinder the education of these 200,000 Australians.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for 1, the allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes; 2, removal of the present age limit in respect of the education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students; 3, increase in the amount of deduction for tertiary education expenses; 4, increase in the maintenance allowance for students; 5, exemption of non-bonded scholarships for part-time students from income tax.
Petition received and read.
Mr REYNOLDS presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that (a) the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian Education system; (b) a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; (c) 200,000 students from Universities, Colleges of Advanced Education and other Tertiary Institutions, and their parents suffer sever penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968; (d) Australia cannot afford to hinder the education of these 200,000 Australians.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for: 1. The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes. 2. Removal of the present age limit in respect of the deduction for education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students. 3. Increase in the amount of deduction allowable for tertiary education expenses. 4. Increase in the maintenance allowance for students. 5. Exemption of non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax.
Mr BERINSON presented from certain citizens of Western Australia a petition showing that the recent increase in the interest rate on Government bonds has caused hardship to the thousands of home buyers throughout this State due to the subsequent increase in interest rates on mortgage contracts by home lending institutions.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will give earnest considerations to this most vital matter.
Petition received and read.
Mr BENNETT presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia a petition showing that the recent increase in interest rates on housing loans has caused hardship to thousands of home buyers throughout the Commonwealth.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will give earnest consideration to (a) immediate reduction of the interest rate on Government bonds to 6%; (b) introducing legislation lo protect present home buyers by having the maximum interest rate ever payable clearly stated, so that the fear of further interest rate increases may be allayed; and (c) introducing legislation to protect future home buyers by having the maximum amount of interest payable on housing loans clearly stated in the rise and fall clause on each contract at the date of signing.
Mr GARLAND presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia a petition showing that the recent increase in interest rates on housing loans has caused hardship to thousands of home buyers throughout the Commonwealth.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will give earnest consideration to (a) immediate reduction of the interest rate on Government bonds to 6%; (b) introducing legislation to protect present home buyers by having the maximum interest rate ever payable cleanly stated, so that the fear of further interest rate increases may be allayed; and (c) introducing legislation to protect future home buyers by having the maximum amount of interest payable on housing loans clearly stated in the rise and fall clause on each contract at the date of signing.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has his attention been drawn to newspaper reports of recent date that certain government departments are attempting to bring pressure on the Government to review its attitude towards the destruction of kangaroos? Whether or not his attention has been drawn to the matter, will he give an assurance, as I expect he will, that the Government has no intention of restricting or restraining the activities of the Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation?
– I have not seen the reports to which the right honourable member refers, nor has it come to my notice that any government department has been offering advice or seeking to bring pressure on the Government in anything whatsoever concerned with kangaroos.
– You have had hundreds of petitions.
– An honourable member on the Opposition side says that we have had hundreds of petitions. I do not know what mat has to do with a government department. I am answering a question by the right honourable member for Melbourne. I know of no government department which has offered advice or sought to bring anything to our notice. But I am also quite positive that the Committee appointed by this House, whose terms of reference would be sufficient to cover the question of kangaroos, would not allow itself to be influenced in any way, even if there were any truth in those reports, and certainly the Government would not want a committee of this House to be influenced in any such way.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior why police photographed pensioner and unionist demonstrators outside Parliament House on Tuesday, as has been reported in the Press? Is (his a normal procedure, and what is the reason for it?
– A photographer from the scientific branch of the police force was assigned to photograph a union march organised from Garema Place to Parliament House on Tuesday. Coincidentally with that, as the House will be aware, there was a demonstration of pensioners outside Parliament House. The photographer was not. specifically assigned to photograph the pensioners at all. He was assigned to photograph an organised march by the unionists who were campaigning against rising costs. The practice followed in the Australian Capital Territory in this regard is the practice followed by all State police forces. It comes out of court cases where defence counsel on previous occasions have used photographs and films to assist their cause. The police have found themselves in the position of having unofficial photographs being used to support the case of the defendants, and they therefore adopted the practice in their own defence of taking photographs themselves. I do not believe that reasonable people would object to the practice because the police have the responsibility to maintain law and order. They have the responsibility to care for people and their property.I might say that police in the Australian Capital Territory carry out this duty with a great deal of credit to themselves and to the force generally. I do not believe that people would object to the use of photographers. There is the old saying that the camera does not lie. There is no reason at all why people would object to seeing photographs of a demonstration if a court case ensues following a march.
– I direct a question to the right honourable Minister for Trade and Industry. The Customs Tariff Bill 1970 had a provision in schedule 17 for the reduction of tariffs on man made fibres. After that law was passed, did the Minister or his Department have representations from the industry for action to be taken to offset the effect of those tariff reductions? If these representations were made, were they considered and has any action been taken since that Bill was passed through this Parliament to offset or modify the effect of those tariff reductions? If so, what action has been taken?
– I am sorry, but I would have to refresh my memory in order to answer the honourable member. I will do so. I will ascertain the facts and I will report to the honourable member or to the House.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that South Australia is to make a claim to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for further financial consideration? If this is so, will the Treasurer make all possible representations to the Commission for the utmost generosity to be applied to the application? Does the Treasurer agree that this is a proper suggestion, in view of certain budgetary disadvantages incurred, in view of the drought conditions applying in the State of South Australia and in view of the general lack of economic activity and confidence in that State since the unfortunate advent of a Labor government?
– Order! The honourable member is giving information. I call the Treasurer.
– At the time of the Premiers’ Conference the Premier of South Australia and other Premiers were invited by the Prime Minister, if they felt that their States had been particularly disadvantaged in the relative split up of funds, to present their cases to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. This the South Australian Government did. The aim of the Commonwealth Grants Commission in conducting this inquiry is, of course, to provide an objective financial and economic assessment of State and public finances and conditions generally. South Australia’s case has already been presented to and examined by the Commission.
As I have told the honourable member and also his colleagues from South Australia who have been assiduously importuning me on this matter, we shall deal with it as expeditiously as possible and at a suitable time, as is customary, the Prime Minister will make an announcement of the action we propose to take.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister During the Budget Speech I understood the Treasurer to express concern for low income groups and for those engaged in the rural industries. I therefore ask the Prime Minister: Is it not a fact that when increases have been made previously in indirect taxation, postal and telephone charges and on several other charges in which increases have been proposed in the Budget this year, manufacturers and in turn retailers invariably have increased the prices of the articles they make or sell? This being so, what action does the Government intend to take to protect the people referred to by the Treasurer against any unnecessary increase in either the cost of living or the cost of production? Finally, if no such action is contemplated, did I put a wrong interpretation on the Treasurer’s remarks?
– I do not think the honourable member put a wrong interpretation on what the Treasurer said. On the other hand, I do not think the consequences he suggests would flow to low income earners or underprivileged people would flow unless, indeed, they were heavy smokers or drank wine very often or bought such things as cars, furs or jewels which are subject to sales tax.
– Is the Treasurer aware that in Queensland, where the drought situation grows more desperate every day, businessmen in country towns are unable to obtain finance from trading banks to enable them to retain staff, particularly the experienced staff which will be essential when the drought breaks and business returns to normal? Can the Treasurer take such action as will enable the trading banks to allocate more funds for this category of businessmen who are suffering financial difficulty as a result of giving assistance to sorely pressed primary producers?
– I am well aware of the unfortunate drought conditions in Queensland. In fact, over recent months the Commonwealth has been paying out many millions of dollars towards financing measures being taken by the Queensland Government to alleviate drought in that State. There is a provision of $11. 5m in the Budget which is the present estimate of the likely cost of further drought relief measures in Queensland for this financial year. We are all hoping, of course, that we will get a break in the drought which alone can really alleviate the situation. The policy of the Government in this matter is well known, that is, that preference will be given both in the allocation of funds and the interest rates to be charged to primary producers in rural areas and other exporters. This is well known, and also recently the Reserve Bank has once again been asking banks to give particular consideration and priority to those stricken by drought and to others who are afflicted by adverse seasonal conditions. This policy is well known and is being carried out, but in view of the honourable member’s question I will ask the Reserve Bank to go into the matter and ask what other measures it can take. In due course I will let the honourable member know.
– Before asking a question of the Prime Minister, may I draw the attention of the House to the fact that it is 2 years today since Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia?
– The honourable member may do that only if the matter is relevant to the question.
– It is relevant to some extent, though not obviously so. lt is relevant if you look at the question in the way I am looking at it.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member ask his question.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that Commonwealth police have been photographing pensioners advocating higher pensions outside Parliament House will he say whether the thousands of petitioners on the same topic should in future include their photographs?
– I am entirely at a loss to understand why the honourable member should draw to the attention of the House the armed invasion of Czechoslovakia by Communist countries unless he is seeking to suggest that something like an armed invasion or totalitarian action such as Communist action is happening here.
– No, of course not.
– Well, that seems to be. If he was to suggest that then I would deny it completely. I can see no connection whatever between photographs being taken at protest rallies whether they are taken by police or whether they are taken at the invitation of the protesters as, for example, when they asked photographers to come along and photograph them when they made a violent attack on the house of the Attorney-General. It is well known that agitators of this kind ring up the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial television stations and say: ‘We are going to put on a riot. We arc going to put on some kind of demonstration. Come and photograph that so that we will get more publicity.’ It is also well known that usually, when in the defence of the citizens of this country those demonstrations, if they pass ali bounds, are stopped, there are screams of police brutality and it seems not unreasonable that there should be a defence for the police by actual photographs of what goes on.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Recently General Dynamics reported that it bad overcome the problems associated with the Fill aircraft and that it could not understand why Australia had not taken delivery of these aircraft. Is there any substance in this report?
– I have seen reports in this respect and I understand that a number of pressmen went to General Dynamics a short while ago and the reports emanated from that visit. The aircraft are now again flying with the United States Air Force but to flight limitations, which is not abnormal for an aircraft at this stage of its development. 3ut the aircraft still does not meet the technical and operational assurances that will be required by the Royal Australian Air Force and which the United States Department of Defence has indicated would be necessary. The new wing carry through box has not been designed. The proof testing for the wing pivot fittings has been undertaken, t understand, quite satisfactorily, but the non-destructive inspection which is also necessary before one can be quite certain has not yet been developed to enable it to be properly applied to the same faults. The static and fatigue testing has not yet been completed and 1 am advised that it will not be completed until some time next year. In these circumstances there can be no question of (he Australian Government making any decision no matter what any spokesman for General Dynamics might say. I can only suggest that General Dynamics would be better employed in rectifying the aircraft and bringing them fully up to standard and not trying to develop some public pressure in the way that I believe it has. It will be the aircraft’s performance and the manner of its performance that will ultimately determine the Australian Government’s decision. I do not see a decision being made in relation to that before the end of next year in view of the timing of the various test programmes tha: will be necessary. Meanwhile, in September and October all the Phantom F4E aircraft will be delivered to Australia.
– My question to the Prime Minister arises from the news thai troops are again being reinforced in the
Gazelle Peninsula. Will the Prime Minister again intervene in the affairs of Papua and New Guinea to cut the Gordian knot that is developing on the subject of taxes and the multiracial Council? fs it recognised that in the Gazelle Peninsula the establishment of the multiracial Council involved, as such bodies involve nowhere else, a transfer of control of enormously valuable native assets, including the Tolai cocoa project? If Mataungan leaders came to Australia and could discuss affairs with him out of the atmosphere of the Gazelle, would the Prime Minister receive them as he once received Mr Paul Lapun in settling the affairs of Bougainville?
– I think that perhaps the first part of the question was based on a misconception because it stated that troops were again being reinforced in the Gazelle Peninsula. To the best of my knowledge no troops have ever been sent to the Gazelle Peninsula. It might have happened a long time ago, but certainly in recent days no troops have been sent there. Possibly the honourable member might have meant police - I do not know. The second part of the question related to the multiracial Council. I think the House would know that both before I went to New Guinea and while I was in New Guinea I made a plea for peaceful discussion between the Mataungans and the Tolai, or at least as many as believed in the multiracial Council. I suggested that a referendum should be held on this matter, if that was the best way of discovering what the will of the people was, and said that the Government would certainly be bound by the results of that referendum. The Mataungan Association refused to have any talks whatsoever and also refused to take any part in a referendum.
Previous to that I had already done what the honourable member suggests I might do, in the sense of asking whether I would receive the Mataungan leaders as I received Mr Paul Lapun and helped in Bougainville, in that I had spoken to a Mr Kaputin who had come down here and had suggested to him that the best way to deal with this situation would be to ascertain the will of the people there. He indicated to me that he refused to have any thought of that at all. If he did have any thought abou! H il would have to he an 0Den referendum so that everybody would know how everybody else voted, which is not really the way of ascertaining it. He was completely intransigent about it as he has been ever since. But I have some hopes that other leaders of the Mataungan Association are now willing perhaps to enter into some talks up there and I would hope that if that were to take place a proper resolution of this whole matter could be reached without the dramatics which some of the Mataungan leaders have previously sought to introduce into the matter.
– Does the Prime Minister agree that the fall of Cambodia to the Communists would mean the end of free Laos and gravely threaten South Vietnam? Does he agree that, as our recent parliamentary delegation established, the present offensive began with the unprovoked North Vietnamese aggression at least a month before South Vietnamese and United States forces entered the sanctuary areas? As the Djakarta Conference has failed to gain support from the Communists, will the Prime Minister now take urgent steps to confer with our allies, especially the countries of the region, with a view to encouraging the formation of a united front in Indo-China, including Thailand? Finally, if such an alliance can emerge will the Prime Minister pledge increased economic and material aid from Australia to enable these nations who already have the manpower but lack the sinews of war to defend their freedom?
– I would certainly agree that should Cambodia be overrun by the Communists that would pose, I think, more than a danger - a very, very severe threat indeed - to that part of Laos which is still free from Communist invasion. I believe, as I have always believed and as I believe history is proving to be true, that in fact what has been called the domino theory is in operation and would be in operation should Cambodia be overrun. It has been one of the bases of our policy in that area, a basis which has been derided by the Opposition but which I think is now shown to be true. I believe that there is no question - perhaps there is in some people’s minds, but there can scarcely be a question in any sensible person’s mind who has studied the facts - that the invasion of Cambodia took place long before the United States troops and South Vietnamese troops entered that country and that they entered that country in order to repel the troops from North Vietnam who were already on the soil of that country illegally.
On the other question which the honourable member has raised I would say that in a sense there is a united front now in that area in that Cambodians, South Vietnamese and, as I understand - although I am not sure - some Thai troops are there; certainly Thailand would be one of the countries threatened by these developments. We have already increased our aid to Cambodia. As has been announced by the Minister for External Affairs and the Treasurer, we will keep this subject under review.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior a question concerning the enrolment of 18, 19 and 20 year-old men and women. My question does not ask him to announce the Commonwealth Government’s policy but raises the administrative consequences of State government policies for the Commonwealth Electoral Office, which compiles the electoral rolls for most of the States. I ask him: How long would it take to include these younger citizens on the electoral rolls for any State where they are given adulthood rights and a vote for the more numerous house of the State Parliament and where, under section 41 of the Constitution, they cannot be prevented from voting at elections for either House of this Parliament?
– There would be no difficulty at all in relation to the enrolment of 18, 19 and 20 year-olds in the States which run their own rolls. The Commonwealth and several of the States do have joint rolls. I take it that it is to this part of the administrative problem which the Leader of the Opposition has turned his mind. As the Leader of the Opposition rightly said, the Commonwealth has made no decision in this matter. So far as the administration of the rolls is concerned, there would need to be an approach by the State governments to the Commonwealth to include 18, 19 or 20 year olds on the roll.
– I asked how long it would take.
– I think only practice will find out.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development, who is also the Chairman of the River Murray Commission. Is the building of the Dartmouth Dam being delayed because certain members of the Opposition moved for further unnecessary investigations into the Chowilla proposition and because members of the Australian Labor Party in the South Australian Parliament have used the circumstances for their personal political advantage. As reports by water conservation experts strongly favour the building of the Dartmouth Daa, and as my constituents and others urgently require their share of the increased water supply it will provide, will the Minister for National Development do all in his power to speed up the building of the very necessary Dartmouth Dam?
– The history of this is well known. There had been an agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for the completion of the Dartmouth scheme as part of the overall River Murray development. The agreement was ratified by the Commonwealth Parliament, and by the Parliaments of New South Wales and Victoria, but although agreed to by the then Government of South Australia it was not ratified by the Parliament of South Australia. Then an election intervened. Subsequent to that, an approach has been made by the present Premier of South Australia. First of all. he approached me when I was in South Australia for other reasons. My understanding is that he has since written to the Prime Minister on this matter and also to the 2 other Premiers. I believe that South Australia will ultimately accept the situation as far as Dartmouth is concerned. The State has been making some conditions in relation to Chowilla.
The position is that never at any time has it been stated that Chowilla was removed from consideration in the future. Chowilla is still a part of the overall programme for the ultimate development of the River Murray system. It was indicated that priorities should be given. It was agreed ultimately that priority should be given to the construction of Dartmouth, and the construction of Dartmouth was to provide additional water for South Australia. It is a fact that, in this House, Opposition members who represent South Australia have opposed the Dartmouth proposal, and my understanding-
– That is not true. Get your facts right. That is not right.
-Order! The House will come to order. I remind the honourable member for Sturt that during the last sessional period I warned him more than I warned any other member for interjecting I think that on at least 3 occasions during this present period I have warned the honourable member. I appeal to him to restrain himself. If not, he will leave me with no alternative.
– As I was saying, Opposition members who represent South Australia in this Parliament did indicate during the debate in the last sittings opposition to the Dartmouth proposal.
– Mr Speaker, I am anxious to avoid any unmannerly interjections. Therefore, I take the point that the Minister is not entitled to misstate matters or, if he is entitled to misstate matters, he is not entitled to revive a debate in an earlier session. The fact is that no member in this place opposed the Dartmouth proposal. The opposition to associated matters was to the dropping or the abolition of the Chowilla proposal.
– Speaking to the point of order, in order to set the record quite straight, I point out that the opposition by Labor members of this House was to the agreement to build Dartmouth which had been signed between the Commonwealth and the 3 State governments concerned.
– On the point of order, the agreement which was signed by the 3 premiers and the Prime Minister would have abolished the provisions in the River Murray Waters Agreement for the construction of Chowilla. If Chowilla were ever to be built under that agreement, a completely new agreement would have to be made.
– Order! I suggest this is not a matter for debate by either side at question time. The point raised against the Minister for National Development is not in order.
– 1 am not debating this matter. I am merely stating the factual situation - that members of the Australian Labor Party in the last sitting of this Parliament opposed the Dartmouth proposal which had been agreed to by the previous government of South Australia, the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria. They supported what had been put up by the present Premier of South Australia, namely that construction of Dartmouth and Chowilla should be undertaken together. That was the proposal at the time. There was a further query regarding the works which would be undertaken on Lake Victoria. Those particular points were answered in this House at that time. It is essential that a decision be made very soon to undertake this work on the Dartmouth proposal. The River Murray Commission is at present making a study of the salinity report which has just been obtained. This is part of the overall programme of development. If in the near future agreement is not reached and ratified by the Parliament of South Australia to undertake the Dartmouth proposal, as agreed to by the other parliaments, the State to suffer most will be South Australia. I can only suggest that as soon as possible the Government and Parliament of South Australia should ratify the agreement which was reached with the previous government. In the ultimate this is in the best interests not only of the upstream States but also of South Australia itself.
– I wish to ask a question of the Prime Minister mainly because the Government does not have a Minister for Pollution. In view of the mounting problem of pollution in our cities and the urgent need to take action before it reaches crisis point, will the relevant Government department make a study of the Clean Air Act passed by the House of Commons 2 or 3 years ago, which has already beaten pollution in London and several industrial cities of England? In this way the Commonwealth could give a lead to the States before their cities choke to death.
– 1 think the honourable member has raised a matter of great importance to the community and one in which the community is greatly concerned. But I am not clear how an Act passed by the Commonwealth Parliament - assuming that were to happen - could be enforced in the State jurisdictions where the pollution mainly takes place. But the honourable member can nevertheless be assured that the Commonwealth Government is aware of and is concerned with (he problems of pollution, though the actual action of dealing with them would, I am afraid, have to be left to the State governments.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the rallies, announced by the Leader of the Opposition and subsequently Mr Hawke, to be held next Tuesday and from which strike action has not been disavowed. As this can clearly result in the threat of an economic moratorium in Australia in the same manner as the Opposition and Mr Hawke have been instructed to participate in a Vietnam moratorium in September, can the Prime Minister assure the House that domestic as well as foreign and defence policies will not be paralysed by Tuesday’s events, not by those proposed for September, in the same manner as has occurred in a number of countries, even though the Leader of the Opposition is intimately involved in both series of demonstrations.
– The honourable member is, of course, referring to the arrogant and basically undemocratic attempt by Mr Hawke to call a national strike apparently after discussion with the Leader of the Opposition, although I do not know whether he was confirmed or opposed in that by the Leader of the Opposition. To call the national strike apparently without even getting a resolution passed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions saying there should be a national strike unquestionably shows an approach to a Government of this country and to the rights of citizens in this country which rides completely roughshod over the concept of elected members of the public coming to this House and deciding economic and other policies. If, indeed - to use the rather felicitous term which the honourable member has used1 - this economic moratorium is to be a march or a strike because Mr Hawke does not like the economic policy of the Government then, as the honourable member has clearly pointed out, there can be marches and strikes and riots because he does not like military policies or indeed any policies. This is why this is such a clear attempt to strike at the very basic roots of democracy. For my part I can assure the honourable member that the Government will do all in its power to see that this attempt at disruption does not succeed. 1 can give complete and utter assurance that the suggestion that this Government should confer with this individual on matters of policy will bc treated with the derision and the contempt which it deserves.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he was correctly reported by the Press as having told the New South Wales Country Party conference at Griffith on 26th June this year that the Government was trying to preserve the status of the many responsible members of the trade unions? If so, how does he define the term responsible members of the trade unions’? Does he know whether any member of the Government has conveyed the views attributed to him to any of the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court? Will he explain any other steps that have been taken by the Government to preserve the status of those whom he was pleased to describe as responsible members of the trade unions?
– 1 am delighted to have the opportunity to explain to the honourable gentleman that, as he may not be aware, there are many responsible members of the trade union movement who have been substantially behind the repeated election of governments from this side of the House. There are members of the trade union movement who in the past have seen fit to take action through the recognised legal processes of the conciliation and arbitration system in order to negotiate wage adjustments according to the criteria laid down by the Commission. In the present environment that exists in the Australian community this responsible trend is unfortunately being negated. The question to which the Prime Minister replied a moment ago from the honourable member for Lilley indicated one field in which, unfortunately, there seems to be some sections of the trade union movement which are quite intent on denying the rights of the individual worker in a way which I am quite sure the responsible members of the trade union movement would abhor. It was towards the restoration of responsibility in the trade union movement that my remarks at the Country Party conference at Griffith were directed.
-! wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In making this personal explanation I do not detract from my admiration for Hansard. Last night when the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) was speaking he referred to what had been said by me in respect to this place being the most important place in Australia when Parliament is sitting. I am reported as replying: ‘Chifley said that.’ I have great admiration for the former Labor leader. What I am about to say may seem trivial to the House but it is very important to me as a principle. What I said was: ‘Mr Chifley said that’. I will continue to use the Mr’ in respect of Mr Chifley and other men I honour although I may not be or have been personally acquainted with them.
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The urgent need to appoint a joint select committee to inquire into and report upon the grants and conditions which the Housing Agreement 1971 should provide for housing, land development and urban environment.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– The arrangements under which the Commonwealth at present makes grants to building societies and State housing authorities will end next June. The Commonwealth first made advances to the States for housing under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreements Act 1945, which ran for 10 years. The arrangements were extended for a 5-year period by the 1956 Housing Agreement Act, which was passed on 21st June, the day the House went into recess, for a second 5-year period by the 1961 act, which was passed on 16th May, the day before the House went into recess, and for a third 5-year period by the 1966 Act, which was passed on 13th May, which was again the day the House went into recess. One can expect, therefore, that the Gorton Government will follow the practice of the Menzies and Holt governments in letting the House debate the framework of State housing grants for the next 5 financial years on the very last day or the last day but one of our sittings in this financial year.
The original 1945 Agreement was intended both to enable ordinary Australians to secure housing at a cost they could afford to pay and ensure that housing was provided in a properly planned and serviced urban environment. The three extensions of the Agreement dropped all provisions for planning and servicing the environment. It is appropriate, therefore, that we should inform ourselves on the extent to which these goals have been realised, on current housing needs to be met within the context of a new housing agreement and upon the resources which are available for that purpose.
In July 1968 and again in March 1969 the State Housing Ministers - at that time all members of the Liberal and Country parties - unanimously but unsuccessfully requested the Commonwealth to make grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act and the Homes Savings Grant Act in respect of houses constructed by State housing authorities, to relieve those authorities of their obligation to set aside a quota of houses for serving members of the forces, to grant the States Sim for the provision of plans for urban renewal and to make other grants for approved development and research housing projects by State and Commonwealth authorities.
A committee from both sides of both Houses of this Parliament should not only examine how the next quinquennial legislation should incorporate these modest State requests. It should also formulate a 5-year plan to counter the dearth of housing caused by this year’s credit squeeze, the record interest rates reached in the last months, the mounting cost of land caused by Commonwealth and State failure to participate in land development and the poverty of urban facilities and amenities caused by the Commonwealth and State starvation of local government.
Australia required in 1969 additional dwellings for at least 108,000 families newly formed by marriage and at least 25,000 families newly arrived from overseas. We required additional dwellings for 9,000 families who had previously shared accommodation and for 17,000 families who felt sufficiently affluent to want a second home. We required replacements for 18,000 dwellings lost by mishap or demolition. In all, therefore, our total national housing requirement was 177,000 dwellings and of these 34,000 were found from existing housing stock. Since we constructed in the course of the year only about 135,000 dwellings there was a shortfall in housing supply of at least 8,000 dwellings. In 1970 we will require at least 147,000 new dwellings but instead of stepping up our rate of construction we have actually allowed it to fall quite drastically. The number of new dwellings approved fell between 1969 and 1970 in May from 14,732 to 11,307, a drop of 23%, and in June from 13,123 to 11,954, a drop of 9%. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) foresaw in her address to the Housing Industry Association that it would be in the September quarter that ‘chill winds’ would really begin to blow. In all, the number of approvals for dwellings granted in the first half of 1970 has fallen short by 1,730 of the number granted in the first half of the previous year. Even if the Minister is confounded and matters get no worse, the deficit for the year will be at least 16,000 dwellings. The housing industry estimates that it must expand its capacity each year by 5% in order to keep abreast of demand, but present government policies are actually driving builders out of the industry. By 1972 our annual requirement for new housing will have risen to 156,000 dwellings and by 1977 to 183,000 dwellings. We should bc gearing ourselves to build within the next 30 years as many new dwellings as we have built in our whole past history but the present Government is systematically and cynically undermining our capacity to do so.
This destructive and irresponsible process is being undertaken in the name of squeezing the building industry to reduce overheating in the economy as a whole. Tt is being undertaken on the initiative and under the direction of a Treasurer who once asserted, as Minister for Housing, that ‘to damp down housing because of undue expansion in other sectors of the economy may distort our ultimate priorities for survival’. What should we make of a policy which so gravely handicaps the vital housing component of the building industry while permitting the other component - factories, shops, office blocks, etc. - to leap in value in June by 26%? What should we make of a Treasurer who so blatantly contradicts his stated social priorities by resorting to measures which on 4 previous occasions - in 1951, 1956, 1961 and 1966 - cost Australia at least 110,000 houses?
The burden of government indifference in matters of housing falls most heavily upon those members of the community who are least able to bear it. It falls, that is, upon the 1 million Australians who subsist on incomes which are below the poverty line or only marginally above it; upon the 60,000 families which the Housing Industry Association earlier this year revealed are living in substandard accommodation and upon the 40,000 who rent accommodation only because they cannot obtain finance to purchase.
These are Australians for whom there is no welcome sign in the windows of conventional institutional lenders. These are people who have no choice but to rely upon governments for adequate housing and for housing at a cost they can afford to pay. In recognition of their needs, the Chifley Labor Government provided the States with 53-year loans for low-income housing bearing interest at 3%. It agreed to meet three-fifths of the cost of rent rebates designed to ensure that no lowincome family would be required to pay more than one-fifth of its income for a government home. Subsequent governments have increased by half the rate of interest which the States must pay for their lowincome housing finance and which they must pass on to tenants and purchasers in higher rents and prices. They have refused to share the cost of rent rebates for homes occupied since mid- 1956, thus obliging the States to raise still further the average rentals which low-income families are required to pay. They have forced the States to divert 30% of the funds which they receive for low-cost housing to terminating building societies and other approved sources of finance for middle-income groups. It is utterly indefensible for necessary increases in the supply of finance for middle-income housing to be provided at the expense of those whose needs are so much more pressing and whose predicament is so much worse.
Liberal policy on housing for low income groups has created a situation in which State housing authorities were able to construct in 1968-69 only 8,488 dwellings although 51,861 applications were lodged with them in the course of the year and 76,060 were still outstanding at the year’s end. This is a very serious reduction indeed in the supply of housing available for those Australians who have missed out on affluence. The Minister for Immigration asserted recently that: ‘We. as a government, recognise that everyone in Australia has the right to a decent standard of housing’. The Minister should have added ‘if he can afford it’. How many Australians can alford the high cost of land, construction and finance which has been generated by Liberal apathy, Liberal torpor and in some instances Liberal intent? Australians must now pay for their homes on an average $23,000. They must pay at least $4,000 for land $10,000 for the house itself and $9,000 in interest charges. Middle income earners who each week put aside 20% of their pay packets to save a deposit must now do so for 7 years in the case of terminating building societies and 8 in the case of a war service home; in 1952 it took them only 2 years. The Housing Industry Association has pointed out:
Looking broadly at the income pattern of the community in relation to the main arising sources of demand for new housing, it would appear currently that many newly marrieds and migrants may never be in a position to buy a home.
Nor is the situation of those who succeed in doing so necessarily an enviable one.
Rampant speculation in land has been the greatest social disaster and public scandal of the postwar period. It obstructs orderly urban planning, discourages saving towards home ownership and benefits nobody but the speculator. Australia remains one of the few urban countries in which public participation in the development of residential land is almost unknown. The average price of land has risen over the last 10 years by 182%. In many areas h has tripled or quadrupled. High land prices are inflated still further by the inefficient and uneconomic Liberal approach to land development. Impoverished local councils and semigovernment authorities off-load upon private land developers most of the cost of roads and reticulated services which was previously met from the public purse. Developers necessarily carry out these works on a piecemeal basis, finance them at the higher interest rates of the private money market and pass on the additional burden to the customers. Estimates prepared by the Institute of Real Estate Development of New South Wales show that the cost of new requirements imposed by local government and other authorities has increased since 1959 by 500%. Each year roads and services previously financed from the public purse add an additional SI 50m to the price of housing land. The average home buyer pays $2,000 more for his block as a result of the impasse in Commonwealth-State financial relations which Liberals use as an excuse for under-investment in the public sector. His block would cost him $2,000 less if councils could still afford to carry out the works which they did 20 years ago.
Nor is land the only component of the cost of housing to be inflated by Liberal torpor. Restrictive building codes continue to add an additional $600 to the cost of the average home although the government has been wending a dilatory and desultory path towards agreement on a uniform national code of building regulations since 1964 and foresees ‘a long period of negotiation and revision’ following the receipt of reactions to a tentative draft at the end of this month. Napoleon was able to revise the entire legal code of France in half that time.
All these unseen, avoidable additions to the cost of housing must be financed by home buyers at interest rates which are the highest in Australia’s history. The government adds an utterly unnecessary $4,000 to the cost of the average house and land, then expects the buyer to finance it at rates which have increased in the case of savings banks, which provide 30% of all housing loan, from 3J% to 6i%, and of permanent building societies, which provide 30% of all loans, from 5i% to 7i%. The predominant rate of interest from terminating building societies has risen from 4±% to 6i%, from trading banks from 44% to 5i% and from life insurance companies from 5% to 8%. The cost of interest on an $8,000 savings bank loan in 1949 totalled $4,456. It now totals $8,440. Seventy-five per cent of all housing loans from institutional lenders are now made at rates of interest which in total substantially exceed the value of the loan itself. Moreover, the Statistician has established that at least 24% of all home buyers are obliged to secure an average of $2,000 from ‘fringe’ lenders outside the banking system. Two thousand dollars borrowed from a finance company and repayable at a representative flat rate of 9% adds $11 to the borrower’s weekly housing outlay. Added to the repayments for a 30-year savings Bank loan of $8,000 at 61%, it lifts that outlay to $23. It is clearly iniquitous and unacceptable that 1 home buyer in every 4, and these economically the least privileged, should be required to outlay for housing an amount greater than one-third of current average weekly earnings.
A committee from both sides of both Houses of this Parliament should be established to determine how within the frameword of the Housing Agreement Act 1971 - which on Liberal performance will be passed by this Parliament on the last day of the sittings next autumn - we may best gear the resources of financial institutions and the building industry to meet annual increases in our national housing requirement; how we may adequately house those Australians whose economic status effectively excludes them from the existing network of housing finance; and how we may reduce the cost of housing land, construction and finance. The original CommonwealthState Housing Agreement of 1945 envisaged creative joint endeavour between State housing authorities and the Commonwealth to achieve just such purposes, and it is for us to see that a similar breadth of purpose and vision informs the Agreement now in prospect.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has adopted his usual practice of using this House as a public relations platform, with scant regard for the House itself. He has come in here today with a prepared statement which 1 have not seen. I have no doubt that the Press has a copy of it. So that he could get through it in the time allotted to him the Leader of the Opposition gabbled it out in such a way that it would be quite impossible for honourable members to take in any detail what he was trying to say. I just want to place that on record, lt seems to me to be an abuse of the ethos of this chamber.
I want to make 2 comments on what the Leader of the Opposition had to say. Because he read his prepared statement at such a rate 1 am not completely sure whether I am drawing the right conclusion. Perhaps I am slow. His criticisms of the Government in relation to action taken recently and on a number of occasions in the past which involved some slowing down in the rate of new dwelling construction appeared to imply that a Labor government would put no limit on the proportion of. our total resources going into the housing industry. He implied that it was not the function or the responsible role of a government to make an assessment as to whether at any particular time too great a proportion of resources is going into this industry, or that there is an obligation on the Government to take action to correct an imbalance. We have it on the record that the policy of a Labor government would be full steam ahead in relation to housing, whatever the situation, whatever the strain on resources, however much of those resources would go into housing and whatever effect it would have on the price levels in the economy.
The honourable gentleman’s speech from beginning to end was one criticism of the Government’s activities in housing. It was an attempt to suggest that the housing policies of the present Government have been a dismal failure over the last 20 years. Anybody who listened to the honourable gentleman could be forgiven for thinking that the Government had sadly failed in this field. In the period that this Government has been in office we have produced the situation in which a higher proportion of home ownership has been achieved in this country than in almost any other country in the world and perhaps more than in any other country. This is what the Government’s policies have achieved, ft has been made possible for a greater proportion of our population to own their own homes than in any other country. What a failure! lt is a failure by the standards of the Opposition. It still harks back to the little capitalists of the Dedman.
The Government regards the degree of home ownership in Australia as the hallmark of its achievement. The specific remedies that the Opposition would propose, if it came into government, to correct the alleged defects in the housing situation are related to the Opposition’s belief that there is something bad in home ownership because this makes a person into a little capitalist. I use the words of a predecessor of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who will speak in this debate. Although the Leader of the Opposition did not say much about it, his motion foreshadows an urgent need to appoint a joint select committee - of this Parliament, presumably - to inquire into and report on the grants and conditions which the Housing Agreement 1971 should provide for housing, land development and urban environment. That is the matter of public importance that we are debating. I see no need to appoint such a committee, and the Government will oppose such a proposal. My colleague, the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), has already received the views of all the State Housing Ministers on the nature of the offer of housing assistance they would wish the Commonwealth to make. These views are now being considered very carefully by the Minister and her advisers. In addition she is studying closely the nature and extent of the Commonwealth’s offer of assistance to the States for housing. She will shortly be putting her proposals to her ministerial colleagues.
Honourable members may be interested to know that, having regard to the terms of the matter that the Opposition has raised, the Minister for Housing has asked her Department to make a study of those people who are most in need of housing assistance. Those best able to inform the Commonwealth Government on this matter are the State officers who are in day to day contact with families, widows, deserted wives and others seeking housing assistance. Officers of the Department of Housing recently discussed this matter in some depth with the housing officers from all the States. We now have a comprehensive and up to date story of those in need of housing assistance and of the manner in which the States wish to obtain Commonwealth assistance to enable them to carry out their housing tasks. I venture to say that the State Ministers for Housing and their officers are better informed of housing needs and what should be done to meet them than are most members of this House who would of course constitute this committee.
– That is why we want the committee.
– The Opposition does not want a committee for that purpose. It wants a committee to tell the States what they should do in a field in which the States clearly have the expertise and the competence to discharge the day to day responsibilities.
The question of land development for residential purposes is also one which the Commonwealth Minister for Housing has been looking into very closely. She has also discussed this with a number of State Ministers and, following on these discussions, has reached the conclusion that this is a matter for the States, several of which are actively engaged in land development and have introduced schemes to keep the price of newly developed land as low as possible to young families. I might also add that under the existing CommonwealthState Housing Agreement the States may develop, and are developing, small areas of land for sale to home seekers. To take another element of the motion, urban environment is not being ignored by my colleague the Minister for Housing. As a result of informal discussions with the States it has become apparent that the States wish to experiment with new types of estate development which would include, in addition to the building of cottages, the building of a number of terrace houses and groups of cluster housing as well as modest high rise buildings for single persons and families without children in particular.
All the State housing authorities are interested in improving the environment surrounding homes. Some of them have already embarked on interesting experiments. The States are seeking, and obtaining, more information on types of dwellings desired by home seekers, and some universities are assisting them with this work. The point I am making in relation to all the elements in the motion is that it is perfectly clear that there is not an ‘urgent need’, to quote the motion, to appoint a joint select committee of this Parliament for the purposes set out by the honourable gentleman. As I said before, the responsible authorities are the State governments. They have the expertise. Is the Opposition suggesting that the State housing authorities are not competent to decide these matters, that they have not the expertise and that these are not unquestionably matters which lie within the constitutional powers of the States? We will be hearing from the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), the Labor Party’s shadow Minister for Housing, who has been overshadowed today by his Leader. He can tell us just what the Labor Party does think about the competence of the State authorities in this field.
I think it is overweening arrogance on the part of the Labor Party Opposition to suggest that this Parliament knows better than the State governments what the States want and the priorities that they attach in this field, because this is the implication in its move to set up a select committee for the purpose named in the motion. As I say, my colleague has been actively discussing this matter with the States and they, from their knowledge, experience and expertise and also from a consciousness of where their responsibilities lie, have made clear where their priorities stand. As I have also said, the Government will very shortly proceed, as a result of the discussions that my colleague has had with the States, to decide its attitude on the new agreement after the existing one expires. The Government opposes the motion.
– My only comment on the speech of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) is that the Government is so barren of ideas on housing and urban living that there was only a slight mention of housing in the Budget speech, even though the home building sector of the building industry is in a chaotic condition. There was no mention in the Budget Speech of urban life or of pollution associated with the urban environment.
I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I have pleasure in supporting him and following him. There are many reasons I could give for supporting this motion, but time will permit me to deal with only a few aspects. A few of the aspects are, firstly, the interest burden on the young married couple seeking a home - also the family group, which is continuously having its interest burden increased; secondly, the cost of a home and land and the inadequate loans that are available; thirdly, spiralling land costs; fourthly, the inadequacy of the low cost housing provided by State Government authorities; and, fifthly, the fact that it is almost impossible because of finance difficulty for a young couple seeking to construct or purchase a dwelling to do so.
Let me give briefly some details of the low cost housing constructed by the State Housing Commission and the moneys made available under the StateCommonwealth Housing Agreement. In 1945 the Chifley Labor Government provided the States with 53-year loans for housing for people on low incomes. These loans bore an interest rate of 3%. The Commonwealth Government at that time agreed to meet three-fifths of the cost of rent rebates, which was designed to ensure that no low income family would be required to pay more than one-fifth of its income for a government home. There has been a gradual erosion of this monument of social justice to the not so fortunate in our community. The present staggering interest burden placed on dwellings constructed by the State housing authorities is at a rate of 6%. Just imagine: The rate of 3% under the Chifley administration has increased to 6% under this Gorton administration - or should 1 say maladministration. The number of dwellings constructed has diminished each year. From a peak of 17,900 dwellings constructed in 1954-55 the number diminished to 12,300 in 1968-69. So that from 1954-55, when the State housing authorities constructed 22% of all dwellings constructed in that year there has been a decrease in low cost housing to only 9.7% of dwelling construction in 1968-69. In other words, the public sector of the building industry is getting into greater and greater squalor. But one must question whether one can even describe it as low cost housing.
Let us examine the example of a home, including land and dwelling, which costs $12,000. The average cost of a block of land and a house is $14,000 throughout Australia. If one were to rent a home and land costing $12,000 from the State Housing Commission with an interest burden of 6% , the weekly cost in interest alone would be $13. On top of that there would be maintenance costs, depreciation, rates and taxes and the amount necessary to be put aside to pay off the capital cost of the dwelling. How can such housing be described as low cost bousing? We need an inquiry to examine the stupidity of the Federal Government and its exploitation of the States with this heavy interest burden. It is a weapon that is destroying our people who need assistance, guidance and encouragement. We need to give them social security from this urban drought - the drought in the cities that drags them down. This Government is not assisting and encouraging them to face their insecure world. We need an inquiry, because they need a new deal and we should begin again. We should return to the Chifley era. We need a cheap money policy for low cost housing. If the rural sector has a case for special consideration, then people living in a social drought in the urban areas need special consideration.
I turn now to the ever-increasing interest burden on housing. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Mr J. G. Phillips, said recently that in the course of its contacts with savings banks, trading banks and life insurance offices, the Reserve Bank had asked these institutions to maintain and, in the case of savings banks. to extend and increase the volume of their housing loans in the coming months. 1 ask the House rationally: Can young people benefit from such action? Last April, due to the action of the Reserve Bank, interest rates were forced up. The interest on a loan from a savings bank to purchase a home was increased to 61% for the first $8,000, and in certain circumstances a second mortgage of $4,000 at 84% interest was available from the trading banks to bring the loan up to $12,000. But a purchaser of a home has to find another $2,000 to $3,000 to close the deposit gap, because the average home costs approximately $14,000 to $15,000.
The repayments on a loan which is to be repaid over 15 years would be $127.85 a month for the first 8 years and $70.79 a month for the remainder of the period. The repayments on a loan to be repaid over 25 years would be $112 a month for the first 8 years and $55.27 a month for the remaining 17 years. The repayments on a loan of $12,000 from a permanent building society, to be repaid over 15 years, would be $116.42 a month, and if it is to be repaid over 25 years the repayments would be $94.62 a month. It seems to me that it is putting young people into an impossible position. If the lending authorities require the mortgage repayments not to exceed 25% of the earnings of the male earner, a person who wanted to obtain a bank loan and repay it over 25 years would have to earn at least $110 a week. If he were to obtain a loan of $12,000 from a permanent building society, to be repaid over 25 years, he would have to earn $94 a week. If the loan was to be repaid over 15 years, the burden would be much greater. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table setting out the relevent figures.
What is the solution? We need an inquiry into all sectors of housing. The interest burden continues to grow. Interest on Commonwealth Bank loans has risen from 3i% to 6i% in 2 decades. Interest on second mortagage loans has increased to 8J%. Interest on premanent building society loans has increased to 8i%.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has suggested that a 2% housing subsidy be granted to every young married couple in the first 10 years of marriage. On a loan of $12,000 repayable over 25 years this would mean a benefit of $352 in the first year of the loan. On a loan repaid over 25 years it would mean a savings in interest repayments of $4,635 over the life of the loan. This proposal could assist young married couples. On the other hand, the subsidy could be extended to help the family groups who 5 or 10 years ago entered into housing agreements and who now find their interest burden, with the encouragement of the Government, continuing to rise.
An examination of the present estimated value crf home loans outstanding to all lending authorities shows a total amount outstanding of $6, 129m. If one excludes home loans outstanding on war service homes amounting to $900m with interest at 3i% and to State housing authorities amounting to $700m with interest at about 5%, the value of outstanding home loans is $4,529m. If one applies an average interest rate of 7%, the interest burden per year would be $317m. If Mr Whitlam’s subsidy of 2% were extended, it would reduce the interest burden to $226m per year. Therefore, it would cost $91m to finance the proposal. It may be necessary to consider a means test both on the cost of land and dwellings and also personal income. Such an inquiry could examine this proposal.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to oppose the proposal put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) because it is totally unnecessary. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has already taken the matter up with the States. The housing Commissions in the various States have done a very good job. They have built a home of good standard which is rented at a minimal price. These homes are sold to low wage earners on very reasonable terms. I think that the discussions which are taking place between the Commonwealth Minister for Housing and the State Ministers for Housing will reveal that the people who need urgent assistance, who need to be given preference in obtaining homes, are those in the low wage bracket and with large families. The numbers of people waiting to rent housing commission homes in New South Wales has been reduced considerably, but I would like to see it reduced further as quickly as possible.
If we consider the improvement in home construction and the amenities that have been provided in homes over the last 7 years we will find that the cost dollar for dollar of building a home has not increased to the same extent as has the price of land. Why has the price of land increased to the extent that it has? It has increased because of the so-called planning that has taken place. The present prices obtained for land are fictitious. They have been brought about by an unrealistic approach to the problem. I speak only in regard to New South Wales. I think that the increase in the price of land in New South Wales has been brought about by zoning. Latterly a person subdividing property has had many impositions placed upon him. He has had to supply reticulated water and also make improvements such as footpaths.
This is all right to a point, but naturally the developer passes the cost of providing these services on to the purchaser who in turn is not relieved by the payment of lower rates to the water and sewerage board or to the council. Despite the fact that all these amenities are provided by the developer and paid for in turn by the purchaser, the purchaser still has to pay the same rates as do people in the more exclusive areas who have had all their amenities provided by the public utility. This is not fair to our young, low wage people. A young couple in New South Wales who have the opportunity of renting in the first instance a Housing Commission home may buy it on exceptional terms. They may purchase it for a deposit of $100. Of course, in addition they have to pay State stamp duty and legal costs. I have been told that they would require $300 to $350 to start off on the purchase of their home. This is a very wonderful opportunity for young married people and people on a low wage. The interest paid for a loan or a Housing Commission house is something in excess of 6%. The Commonwealth charges the States 6% for the money that is provided under this scheme.
The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is to come up for review in 1971. I am the chairman of the Government Members Housing Committee and it has already had discussions about the Agreement. I think the emphasis from now on will have to be to ensure that the low wage earner - especially the low wage earner with a family - and the young married couple will be given the precedence to enable him to purchase his own home. It would appear that more money should be directed into this field. It would appear that the middle bracket and higher bracket of wage earners have the resources available to borrow money and to erect their own homes. It would appear that because of the percentage of young married couples and the low age of a great number of our citizens the emphasis as regards need has passed now to the low wage earner and the young married couple. We will view this position in association with the States, which are very close to the scene and are better able to judge than we are. We are able to get more direct evidence from State officials because they are in daily touch with the people requiring homes. I think it would be preferable to act in this way than to do what the Opposition has suggested.
Honourable members may be interested to know that 80% of all married pensioners own their homes. So the position has not been as bad as that depicted by the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). I believe that in New South Wales we have to get rid of the zoning method, by which rural land can be bought very cheaply. Immediately the land is zoned as residential, human nature being as it is, the price goes up. Planning is always necessary, but the implementation of planning in New South Wales is wholly responsible for the high price and the increase in the price of land in New South Wales.
– I rise to support the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that a parliamentary inquiry should be conducted into the terms under which the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement will be renegotiated next year. I do so because I think a very narrow view of housing is being expounded by the Commonwealth Government. In fact, we have reached the stage where the only consideration in relation to housing which is evident in Government policy is how much money will be spent on it; how much interest will be charged; and how much can be extracted from young families in order to meet repayments over ever-extending periods. I believe that there is more to housing than this. I believe there is more to Commonwealth responsibility than this. And this is not a new view to be put before this Parliament.
Provision was made in the initial Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement that certain allocations of money had to be spent on recreation and community facilities. No such provision now exists in the Agreement with the result that some of the housing projects which have been constructed and are being operated by State authorities with Commonwealth money are an absolute disgrace to our society and will cause our society far more problems than would the total failure to provide housing. I think that is a fair statement. As early as 1945 the urgent need for the provision of housing was brought to the attention of the Parliament. A report was prepared that year for the then Minister for the Post War Reconstruction and presented to the Parliament. Despite the fact that at the time pressure on the nation’s resources was far greater than it could conceivably be considered to be today, provision was made in the recommendations of that report that as a matter of urgent consideration recreation and community facilities should be constructed with housing projects. I would like to quote 2 passages from that report - I do not have time to quote any more. I will later ask leave to have the report incorporated in Hansard because the report was made to the Parliament at a time of austerity and as a result only 1 copy is available in the Bills and Papers Room. Members cannot peruse this copy at their leisure because of the obvious value of the single copy that is available. The section of the report dealingwith the summary of recommendations has this to say about the activities of the Commonwealth Housing Authority.
I think where large sums of Commonwealth money are involved it might not be a bad idea to have some guidelines for the allocation of Commonwealth funds. Quite obviously some of the recommendations have become out of date by the passage of time and some have been covered by legislation.
In another section of the report dealing with minimum community standards we find that the following provisions recommended in any new housing estate:
Shops (to provide day-to-day needs); play areas, infant health and pre-school child welfare centres; meeting hall; and schools.
The report also recommends under the heading ‘Education and Culture’ that urgent needs include:
Under the heading ‘Recreational’ the report states:
I think that these requirements are as relevant now as they have ever been. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard 2 sections of the report.
Part XVI. Community Facilities.
Summary of Recommendation 942. We recommend that:
Note- This will be particularly necessary in the immediate post-war period, in view of the probable shortage of some resources and the need for reestablishing defence personnel and war workers^
Note - The above recommendation is general and should apply to all governmentsponsored housing (which includes government-financed housing), and should be a condition of financial assistance to government-financed housing. (paragraph 233)
A body corporate under the name of the Stale Housing Authority with perpetual succession and a common seal, capable of suing and being sued; having power to acquire, purchase, sell, lease and hold lands, goods, chattels and other property for the purpose of housing and borrow moneys for such purposes; and to consist of five members, one of whom should be a permanent officer with experience in public administration, preferably in housing, and act as chairman, and the other members should have knowledge and experience of all or any of the following:
Note. - The collection of premiums for insurance simultaneously with payments in respect of the house would be a convenience to the occupants. It should be possible to carry on this service at a very low administrative cost.
to control, until there is adequate town planning legislation, development of land for housing, inclusive of:
to administer housing projects, including dwelling units erected;
to make advances to assist:
to delegate any of its powers and functions to an approved local government authority or any approved group of local government authorities, or to any approved body. (paragraphs 392-396)
In all cases special consideration should be given to those with large families. (paragraph 482)
In order to develop new methods of construction, the Commonwealth Housing Authority, soon after its establishment, should inaugurate competitions for the following:
In regard to improvement of housing conditions, whether such housing be owner-occupied or rented, and be in city, town or rural areas, each State should enact legislation:
Modular standardisation of components be investigated by the Experimental Building Station and the Standards Association of Australia for the following reasons to secure:
With respect to hostels:
ii) people of mature age, including single persons liable to transfer, and workers employed at some distance from their homes;
With respect to aged and infirm persons:
for those who prefer to live in groups, by accommodation (suitably furnished where necessary), grouped either as separate dwellings with central common rooms or as small dwelling units with central common rooms and central service; arrange the authority to manage same or arrange or lease such groups of buildings to a government department, local government authority, or other approved organisation; and
For new permanent dwellings the standards laid down for government-sponsored urban housing in Appendix X, Division (ii), should apply also to government-sponsored rural housing, with certain qualifications, such as:
The minimum community facilities listed below, unless otherwise determined by the Commonwealth Community Facilities Committee, should be built at the same time as the dwellings and should be within reasonable distances of every dwelling; these distances will vary in accordance withthe density of the population in the area concerned and the type of facility:
Educational and Cultural
Local Community Facilities Committees should be set up as follows:
The use of electricity should be extended by the following means:
All authorities whose functions include domestic water supply immediately make a technical survey of water supplies with special reference to:
In respect of sewerage, septic tanks and drainage:
LEO P. D. O’CONNOR, Chairman. JOHN S. GAWLER, Deputy Chairman.
Sydney, 2Sth August 1944. “ Recommendation 48 in the summary of recommendations (paragraph 507 of the report) was not agreed to by Mr A. V. Thompson.
The relevance of that can be seen by the fact that at the time when those reports were prepared the consideration was for multi-storey units of some 3 floors. Today the multi-storey units are of 20 storeys, and in the areas where my colleague the honourable member for Batman (Mr Garrick) has had considerable experience in local government we have huge monstrosities containing up to 180 dwelling units per building constructed by local bousing commissions, with absolutely no provision for the people who live in them wilh regard to recreation facilities, educational facilities or community activities and no facilities for the children. There would be a minimum of 700 persons, adults and juveniles, in each building but no facilities whatsoever are provided. No provision is made for land for local government to do anything about this, if it had the money to do so.
It is a disgrace to this community and to the Commonwealth that it allows ils money to be spent 1 in such a manner be cause what we are doing now is providing the basic framework to give Australian cities exactly the same problem as is tearing the cities of the United States apart today. I do not know whether the Ministers concerned are trying to build up their own portfolios by creating problems which will be administered by the Departments of Health and Social Services. One thing is certain and that is that if we continue as a Commonwealth Parliament to allow moneys to be spent to build 20-storey prisons in which neurosis and prison psychology will develop and where children will enter the schools 2 years behind comparable children from the same areas and must live their lives with no playing facilities or anything else then we are a very poor Parliament, and I can only suggest that the Commonwealth, by its lack of action, is seeking to avoid its responsibilities. I believe that efforts should bc made to bring some of these people further out of the cities to places where they can live in a decent manner. The fact that they are putting roofs over their heads means very, very little. We are creating the type of situation which must result in delinquency, crime, drug addiction and retardation of the development of mental facilities.
In the inner suburbs of Melbourne up to 2,000 flats have been constructed in one area with not one square yard of land being made available for recreation facilities. One council - the Collingwood Council - sought land from the Housing Commission of Victoria to build a youth centre to provide some diversion, but the Housing Commission refused to allow any land to be used lor that purpose. There is a minimum of 360 children per building with at least a dozen buildings in the near vicinity, and the Housing Commission is not even prepared to provide the facilities for a youth centre let alone provide playing fields for sport, swimming pools, libraries and the real facilities that are needed if people are going to live a decent life. I believe that this resolution is important. I believe it is time the Parliament informed itself of what is actually going on and how the money that is being passed through this Parliament for housing is being spent. I think it is a negation of responsibility for people to stand here and make snide remarks, as the Minister did, about the former member for Corio, the Honourable J. J. Dedman, who under difficult circumstances did a good job for this Commonwealth - probably a better job than any man in the present Ministry could have done in the circumstances. There is a need to re-negotiate, a need for the Commonwealth to lay down a standard of community and recreation facilities and the way of life to be provided for people who are put into high density areas. The need is urgent and it should be a pre-condition of the expenditure of Commonwealth money that the Parliament inquire into and lay down terms which can bring about those conditions.
– Nobody would deny the importance of home building in Australia. Australia has always been looked upon as a community of people who like to have their small plot of land - a quarter of an acre or whatever it may be - and on it have their own homes and so their independence. We see the development of Australia moving ahead. Nobody would deny either that the standard of homes being built across the continent today is very good. The standard has been improving for some time. Firstly, there is the matter of responsibility. This comes up quite often not only in this Parliament but also wherever politics and development are being discussed. Let me remind the House that within this Commonwealth of ours we have 3 levels of government - local, State and Commonwealth - and we have our own constitutions relating to those areas of government. As I see it, far too often some people are apt to forget about such things as constitutional responsibility. This motion seeks to set up another committee and if we do not look out we will have far too many chiefs and far too few Indians in this country. That is the way it will go. If we leave the areas of responsibility where they belong today and stop trying to cut across each other’s area of responsibility we will get on quite a lot better.
We have our responsibility as a Commonwealth which includes certain financial responsibilities. Under their constitutions the States have their responsibilities in relation to housing and within this area local government authorities certainly have their own area of responsibility. They are much nearer to the scene of activity of
Government and I believe that the Minister in negotiating with the State Ministers concerned and in arriving at solutions in relation to the problems of home building is in fact doing the right thing. Something has been said in relation to finance for home building in Australia. We know that in home building than is this Commonwealth recent times we have had an increase in interest rates. This is a traditional move not only in this country but in the economies of other countries. Economists in other countries do precisely the same thing when they have inflationary pressures bearing down on their economies. This is important to home building. The pressure on home building in the Commonwealth during recent years has created an inflationary pressure in this area. The pressure has been tremendous and there simply have not been enough bricks or whatever it takes to build a home or enough chaps to put them together. This inflationary pressure was building up and so we had to do one of 2 things: We had to allow that to continue and the inflationary pressure to move on with the cost of homes moving up as it was in fact moving up or we had to do something about it.
The Government’s decision - or the Reserve Bank’s decision as I understand the monetary system of this country - to increase interest rates was made in order to dampen the economy and therefore dampen the cost of home building. If we did it the other way within a few years home builders would be paying far more for their homes than will result from the extra interest rate which has been applied. Nobody likes to see increases in interest rates. Nobody likes to see additional costs but in a country developing as rapidly as this one this inflationary pressure is dangerous not only to the housing industry but also to all the other sections of the community. If it were not dampened down the results would be far greater costs not only to the housing industry and those people who, following our tradition, are buying homes but to all other sections of the community as well. Therefore, if this matter of finance and interest rates is raised it is necessary to take a choice of one of the two matters which I have mentioned. In this motion it seems that the Opposition’s only concern is with urban homes, urban environment and urban development, but we want to see equal opportunity for the people not only in urban areas but also outside urban areas. We have heard much talk about pollution and that seems to be a popular topic today. If we do not do as has been done in Canberra we will be building pollution into the city areas. We must get out of some of the big cities, cut off development at the point we have reached, and begin building additional cities. This can be done. It must be borne in mind that we can create pollution by establishing a certain environment, but it must be remembered also that we can move out into the great areas of this country and build cities elsewhere if we want to avoid this situation. We have heard a reference by the Opposition to equal opportunities, but there are not equal opportunities. I think it was the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) who mentioned something about droughts and other problems which affected certain areas of the rural sector. I remind the honourable gentleman that in the main the rural sector does not have the same opportunity in relation to housing as does the urban area or the provincial city areas. If the honourable member were on a farm he would find that he could not obtain a long term loan of any dimension whatsoever at this stage.
– Or a war service loan?
– Loans for war service homes have been made available to farmers only in the last few years. I am well aware that they were not available until a few years ago. So the financial terms and conditions available to people in the cities for building homes are not available to persons living on farms. We hope that this situation will be corrected in the not too distant future. When we consider the city areas and the advantages there compared with country areas we must look at both sides of the ledger to understand the situation fully.
I should like to mention one other point in relation to homes to illustrate what I have been saying about there not being equal opportunity for people. I am sure that the honourable member for Reid would be the first to admit that there should be equal opportunity. To illustrate my point perhaps I can refer to the homes savings grant. Under this scheme there could be 2 barnes valued at precisely the same amount, one being in the country and one in the city.
But because the person in the country has to install his own water supply he immediately adds to the capital cost of that block of land when his home is built. If he installs a tank or sinks a well to obtain a water supply the cost is included in the capital cost of the home. I trust that this situation will be rectified in future. 1 have just recently discovered that this situation exists and when I discover something I endeavour to do something about it. Let us consider what happens in the city. 1 am not saying it should not happen, but in Sydney, Melbourne or somewhere else when a water supply is available from a reservoir all that is needed to supply water to the home is about 30 or 40 feet of half inch pipe coupled to the main. But there is no main in country areas. Perhaps in some towns there may be a water supply, but no main is available to the farm and so the farmer has to provide his own water scheme, the cost of which is included in the estimated capital cost or value - however it is termed- of the total home and so it affects his entitlement to a grant. To apply the same cost component to the city dweller it is necessary to take a percentage of the cost of the Sydney or Melbourne water supply system and apply that to his home. Inconsistencies of this kind can be sorted out by honourable members. I do not think we need a special committee to sort out problems of this kind. We have enough chiefs - good ones in the States, the Commonwealth and local authorities - to sort out the situation in relation to housing and let the Commonwealth do its job in relation to these matters.
– Order! The discussion is concluded. I call on Government Business.
Debate resumed from 20 August (vide page 355) on paragraph (2) of motion by Mr Snedden:
– I move:
That a new standing order 29a be inserted, viz: 29a - (a) The following standing committees shall be appointed as early as possible after the adoption of this standing order and at the commencement of each subsequent Parliament:
The Standing Committee on Legal, Home and Internal Territory Affairs. to which the House may refer, on motion, for inquiry and report, any Bill, motion, vote or expenditure, message, petition, report or other matter which has come before the House or any other matter coming within the field of Commonwealth Government responsibility.
I want to place before the House a proposition that we establish a system of standing committees in line with the procedures that have been outlined and circulated to the Parliament. 1 believe that this would be a most important addition to the procedures of the House. It would be, perhaps, almost a revolution in the procedures of this Parliament. Arguments on this matter have been advanced for many years but I want to put before the House the reasons why 1 think it essential that at this stage in the parliamentary history of this country we should make a change towards greater parliamentary participation in the management of the nation. I do not believe that elections or the Parliament itself are concerned merely with the selection of an executive. They are not to be regarded as an exercise to find somebody who can press buttons and have action taken. In Australia there is no shortage of action. We have a very efficient Public Service. We have an administrative system right throughout the continent which can produce results whenever it is so desired. It is not a question of executive action that I believe needs to come under scrutiny at this time but the question of parliamentary participation and public participation. In general, we need a scrutiny of power rather than the exercise of power.
Honourable members may look at this amendment and say that they prefer select committees to standing committees but I do not believe that the definition of the subject is important. I believe that what we have to do is to get the maximum parliamentary participation in the work of the nation. It is not exactly a consideration of executive authority which will be the basis of the work of the committees, as I see it. The opportunity has occurred, as a result of the work of the Standing Orders Committee, to place this matter before the Parliament and the further opportunity has occurred because of the agreement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) - almost his initiative, I would say - for questions associated with the Parliament to be decided by members by a free vote. I hope that members of Parliament will consider these issues as parliamentarians and not as Party members.
I agree that this is perhaps a change of some magnitude in the procedures of the Parliament and that perhaps it should not be entered upon lightly, but I believe also that the proposition contains no real dangers to the parliamentary institution. We will still meet here, the 125 of us, and there will still be the votes and decisions that have to be taken in this place. The motion is to establish 7 standing committees. A schedule of the duties of the committees has been circulated to honourable members and I do not propose to read them out. lt might be said that this is the first thought about the way in which we would divide the functions of this country. We have first to consider the magnitude of the administration of a country such as ours. The 12 million people involve all sorts of social, financial, political and other complex activities. Parliament itself is responsible for the management of a Public Service of well over 100.000 full time public servants. lt is responsible for the administration of 30 to 35 major Commonwealth departments. There is a large number of statutory organisations of great magnitude. Some of them appear as minor matters in the Estimates. One with which I am associated, the National Library of Australia, is responsible for the employment of hundreds and the expenditure of millions. There are some areas of the Estimates where just one line involves millions of dollars and thousands of people. So the following divisions are suggested: A standing committee on foreign affairs and defence, a standing committee on finance and trade, a standing committee on health and welfare, a standing committee on primary industry and national development, a standing committee on transport and communications, a standing committee on education, science and the arts, and a standing committee on legal, home and internal territory affairs. 1 have no doubt that other honourable members could think of other ways in which this could he organised but 1 believe that in the first instance it would be worthwhile to launch the project in these terms. The motion is designed to give the greatest possible flexibility to the membership of the committees. In the first instance each committee will have a chairman and a nucleus of 1 1 members, but there will be room to appoint 6 other members if this motion is carried. Paragraph (c) of the proposed new standing order 29A reads:
By agreement between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, up to 6 additional members may. having regard to their special knowledge and qualifications, be appointed to a committee during the consideration of a particular matter.
The object of this proposal is to give the greatest possible flexibility to the work and membership of the committees. I believe it is fatal to the workings of an institution such as ours to have to make decisions about such a matter at a fixed lime and that because somebody is not appointed to a committee on a certain date his expertise and his capacity are lost lo that committee. I put thai point before honourable members so they can sec that we are attempting to design a flexible system under which members of the Parliament may participate in the deliberations of the nation to the greatest possible extent.
Of course, the object of these committees in the. first instance will be to examine the work of the nation and the legislation before the Parliament. We will be beginning a system which has already worked successfully in various ways in other countries. We are stepping into a new era. For various reasons, some of them historical and some of them deriving from the exceptionally partisan nature of our politics. I think it is fair to say that our political structure is certainly much more partisan over large areas than in the United States of America and. I believe, in Canada, and even in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Because of this characteristic our tendency has been to polarise everything in a party area.
In my experience of the committees with which I have been associated I have found allies right across the board. Some years ago with members of all parties I sat on the Select Committee into Grievances of Yirrkala Aborigines. Arnhem Land Reserve. This was a most rewarding experience because, when it comes to the general human values which one is required to examine. 1 am able to arrive at the same basic conclusions as my friends opposite. This is the case with much of the legislation that comes before us here, lt is true that a large amount of the legislation that passes through this Parliament is not of a controversial nature and does not cause any great difference of opinion. Many Bills, motions and resolutions are passed without dissent. Therefore we accept the view that we are in agreement on so many things. That is why I took this opportunity to bring this motion forward. We ought to capitalise the consensus in the Parliament rather than polarise the dissent. 1 believe this is what a committee system can do. When honourable members sit round a table and consider a matter in detail, getting down to the bones of it so that they can see where the good lies and where the wrongs are, they find that over large areas of social enterprise there are not many great differences between those of us who are regarded as being on the left and those who are regarded as being on the right. This is the opportunity that a committee system would give.
Our Parliament has certain characteristics which are not familiar to other people round the world. As I pointed out. it is partisan and is likely to polarise dissent rather than capitalise consensus. This is partly because the nation is as it is and partly because, relatively, we have looked upon ourselves as a small assemblage. An assemblage of 125 people is not a small assemblage at all. Even in the days when 70, 72 or 73 members were meeting here it. was still a fairly large public meeting. So the democratic need for open discussion and exchange of views is almost impossible to achieve. 1 believe that democracy faces a very important challenge at this time. Tn the world at large there are very few totally democratic communities. I have made many speeches to show that there are large areas of undemocratic practice in this community. I do not propose to expound on that today. I believe that at this time the world needs examples of democratic political co-operation.
Sitting suspended front 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had moved a motion for the establishment of a standing committee system. The motion has been circulated and most honourable members are familiar with its contents. J was outlining the reasons as I saw them for the necessity for a standing committee system, one of the principal reasons being that it would create more opportunity for particiation by the Parliament itself in the government of this country and it would broaden the basis upon which the whole administration of the nation works. I believe it is necessary at this stage for a country such as Australia to establish standards for democracy which other people can admire and emulate. In the area in which we live parliamentary democracy - indeed the whole idea of democracy - is under continual challenge. These days people talk about democracy but they implement it as little as possible. This applies to many people in our neighbourhood. It is important that we try to introduce or regather to ourselves some confidence in the institution of Parliament.
I believe the committee system will do a number of things. First of all it will look as if Parliament were participating. I hope it will dispose of the idea that we are just rubber stamps for an Executive which meets in some secret enclave somewhere and presses on from there, lt would give easier and more effective access to the deliberations of Parliament by a greater number of people who now just write to us in voluminous documentation of some case, lt is a very important feature of our democratic society that people should have access to the decision making and policy making processes. Of course it would bring to honourable members some sense of doing something useful, in my mind there is no doubt that there are large areas of government in which all of us could participate. In this Parliament there is a great deal of intellectual capacity, human experience and - to use a colloquialism - a great deal of nous. For instance it would bc a great and fortunate accident if by some means members of the Ministry had this capacity to a greater degree than anybody else had. I am not conceited enough to think that I am much more gifted than people in the Ministry and 1 am not modest enough to say they are any more gifted than I am. I believe this is a convocation of equals. We are not in the contest of presenting the country with Prime Ministers, Ministers or people of rank. We are all of equal status. We come here in the same way representing people.
The very function of government requires that some people shall have the responsibility of initiating Executive action and seeing that things work smoothly. But each one of us has a function to perform because of the capacity which we have, the people we represent and the very nature of the society of which we are a part. Therefore I start with the assumption that this is a convocation of equals and not just a selection of a Ministry. We are all in a position to consider and answer for the things we do. I believe we have to arrive at a state where decisions of this Parliament are both deliberative and considered. As I said earlier a large number of the decisions of this Parliament are not controversial. Whether there will be 8,000 scholarships or 10,000 scholarships, whether they shall be this sort or that sort and whether they shall be contested in this way or be granted in that way are not political matters. These are decisions which have been made somewhere along the line perhaps by somebody in the Public Service after the Minister has initiated the scheme.
In my conversations with people of ministerial rank, with people who have held that rank at some time in the past and with senior public servants I gather some sense of how it all happens. The Minister has visions or ideas - perhaps not enough at the current time. He makes his views known, his staff starts to think about them and produces suggestions or facts in accordance with his ideas. One might say that hints have been dropped in various ways. The great difficulty that this Parliament creates for itself is that little opportunity exists for the hints from our side of the House or from outside the Ministry to flow into the apparatus. In the Public Service there Ls a great pyramid in which ideas can flow, 1 have no doubt, from even the most humble to the top until they reach ministerial level. They may well be implemented by political decisions. Outside that there is a curtain of some sort behind which the rest of the honourable members are consigned. On the other hand I believe it is necessary for some mitigation of power, not necessarily the mitigation of my friends in the Ministry but a mitigation of the authority which flows through the Executive decisions of the nation. We should be careful to keep everything under scrutiny, to let everybody possible participate and see that any decision which is made is exposed to public view.
This Parliament is a forum. At this time that is about all one can say for it. In the last few days we have been able to consult and decide for ourselves on matters of some importance such as the quorum. I happen to disagree with the decision the Howe made on the quorum but in fact we made individual decisions. It seems to me the party system prevents debate in the Parliament from becoming an actual exchange of views. We can expose our views here but we cannot exchange them and then change them as a result of the deliberations of this House, in smaller groups such as committees one can do this. I believe we ought to be prepared to initiate a system which will allow us to do it. What shall be the functions of the committees? One might say that we are beginning. For some time we have had a number of standing committees such as the House Committee, and statutory committees like the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee.
I have circulated a paper which is headed ‘Development of the Committee System’. I do not know whether it has been printed in Hansard but, if feasible, I would like it incorporated in Hansard. It is a description of the committee system. If it were incorporated I think it would help honourable members as time goes by. It is an official document.
– Is this a paper which the honourable member has prepared himself?
– No. This has been circulated. It was presented by Mr Speaker.
– This was a paper circulated previously to all honourable members in my name. The honourable member for Wills in moving his motion is more or less suggesting a system along the same lines as that contained in the report which I distributed some time ago.
– This is not in Hansard already, is it?
– No, I do not think so. I think it would be useful to put it in Hansard.
– There being no objection the document will be incorporated in Hansard.
The recommendation is made that the House of Representatives should establish the seven Standing Committees as shown in the schedule attached.
Appointment of the Committees
The Committees could be appointed by Resolution at the commencement of each Parliament. Alternatively, their establishment could be provided for by an amendment to the Standing Orders. The latter course is considered preferable and a draft standing order is attached.
Functions of the Committees
The Committees may be described as’ legislative and general purpose’ committees. In their ‘legislative’ role they would be immediately available to consider and report upon any Bill, motion, petition, vote or expenditure, report or other matter which is before the House and which is referred to them by the House on motion.
In their ‘General purpose’ role the standing committees could consider and report upon any aspect of government administration or responsibility which is referred to them by the House on motion.
Reference to the Committees
The Committees would not be free to undertake an inquiry of their own volition. Authority to commence an inquiry would always come by way of motion from the House.
For example, if it were desirable to consider, say, the Copyright Bill in a Committee operating in its ‘legislative’ role, the motion, moved immediately after the second reading (as already provided for in the standing orders) would be - ‘That this Bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Legal, Home and Internal Territory Affairs’.
As in the United Kingdom, this Committee would have the power to make amendments in Bills but the amendments made would be subject to ratification or review when the Committee’s Report’ is moved for adoption in the House.
In the case of, say, a motion standing on the Notice Paper relating to Conservation, a motion would be moved - ‘That the motion standing in the name of the honourable member for………. relating to the establishment of a National Water Conservation and Constructing Authority be referred to the Standing Committee on Primary Industry and National Development for inquiry and report’.
Again, there is no reason why, if the House should so desire it, a proposed vote, block of votes or a section of the Second Schedule of the Annual Appropriation Bill should not be referred to the appropriate Standing Committee for examination.
There is, in fact, a strong case for the development of a system of examination of the annual appropriations in greater depth. The House of Representatives, by virtue of Constitutional provisions, has an initiating role in the appropriation of revenue and moneys and the imposition of taxation. It is illogical that any real examination of the expenditure should be left to a second Chamber which, by clear implication of the Con stitution, should play a lesser role in money Bills. This was clearly shown by political commentator, David Solomon, writing in ‘The Australian’ of 23 March:
Public servants already look with some apprehension to the time when their estimates are examined by the Senate. They have no problems in the House, where debate is far more cursory, but procedures and proclivities in the Senate make it far easier for embarrassing areas to be explored in great detail, and at length.’
Therefore a study of the various annual appropriations by the Standing Committees each having the power to call before them responsible Departmental officials would be a useful and efficient way of ensuring administrative efficiency and, indirectly, that the taxpaying public is getting value for its money. Although the Committees could commence examination upon presentation of the Annual Appropriation Bill there would be no absolute need to report before the passage of the Bill. The salutary effect of the Committees’ work would lie in the fact that a Report will eventually be tabled.
In their ‘general purpose’ role a ‘select committee’ type of inquiry could be initiated by a motion such as - ‘That the Standing Committee on Legal, Home and Internal Territory Affairs inquire into and report upon the extent to which Australian equity is being preserved in foreign owned business enterprises in Australia’ or
Thatthe Standing Committee on Transport and Communications inquire into and report upon the desirability and practicability of establishing a public corporation to conduct the business of the Post Office.’
Composition of Committee
Membership of the committees should reflect the party numbers in the whole House. Each Committee should consist of about 11 Members (say 6 Government and 5 Opposition) as a nucleus to which another 5 or 6 Members may be added depending on the nature of the inquiry and the interest of Members in it (i.e., Members, in addition to those constituting the nucleus, could ask, through the Whip, to be attached to the Committee for the duration of its current inquiry).
A quorum should consist of a majority of the membership of the Committees, or some smaller number.
Initial Moves for reference to Committees
It is suggested that any matter which is on the Notice Paper of the House may be referred to the appropriate Committee by a motion in the House. References relating to other matters, i.e., to the Committees in their ‘general purpose’ role might be initiated by an approach through the Leader of the House (for Government Member promotion) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (for Opposition Member promotion). The Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition together with Mr Speaker and the two principal Parliamentary Whips could then confer regarding the promotion of a motion in the House to refer a matter to a committee.
The existing ‘domestic standing committees’, i.e., House, Library, Printing, Privileges and Standing
Orders, should remain as at present. Also, the existing Statutory Committees of Public Accounts, Public Works and Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings should remain as at present. The future of the Joint Committees on the Australian Capital Territory and Foreign Affairs may have to be reviewed in the light of developments of the standing committee system.
It is anticipated that the need to appoint ‘Select Committees’ would be largely superseded by the establishment of the new Standing Committees. However, the existing provisions in the standing orders relating to select committees could remain in case the occasion arose for a committee to operate which did not readily fit into the pattern of any one of the 7 standing committees.
Comments on (he Proposal
All (Senators) would subscribe to the theory that the Senate has already surpassed the House of Representatives as the most important functional part of the legislature. And one could make out a very respectable argument along these lines.
– Let us consider the question of petitions. Many of them involve a great deal of research and effort on the part of somebody and a lot of hopes. 1 think petitions should be referred to committees and examined. Some of them are simple matters which ought not to take up much time. In 1963 I was here when a petition from the people of Yirrkalla in the north brought forth a committee of this House which examined the position. Many Bills are non-controversial. They do not necessarily involve any great differences of political philosophy. Legislation on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund is one example, the Repatriation Act is another and great areas in education are others, in my time here some of the most fruitful examination of legislation has been as a result of the tabling of legislation some months before it is finally considered. The matrimonial causes legislation was of that sort. The Attorney-General at the time was criticised over the Bill. He paid the House and the community the compliment of having the Bill circulated before he finally pressed it through the House. J believe that would probably apply equally to legislation relating to copyright, patents and so on. On the other hand estimates of expenditure ought to be considered. The point that one must make is that no committee will have an executive function on its own. Two features of it will protect any rights of the Ministry and the rights of the Parliament itself. Under the motion a Committee shall act only when a matter has been referred to it by the House. Secondly, it shall report back to the House. 1 believe those are the protective devices for those who are concerned that perhaps this is a breach of the established parliamentary custom of executive, responsibility. Of course, a strong case can be made out for some committee of the House to examine what might be termed the need for legislation in various areas. Conservation is one of them, but there are a lot of other areas in which people can see need for legislation. It would be conceit on our part to think we know all about everything and that we should keep only the present standing committees.
As far as the work of a parliamentarian is concerned, the most satisfying task I have had is my membership of the National Library Council. This is an executive authority. It conducts the affairs of a large institution. It has on it some very distinguished Australians and I regard it as an honour to sit and deliberate with them. I find myself in the unique position there of actually helping make decisions, evaluating the judgment of other people and assisting in the development of that institution. I believe a lot more of us could be used in this fashion. Most honourable members are isolated from this kind of deliberation no matter how good they are. There is one other matter that is perhaps a little parochial. The Senate has instituted committee systems and so on. I believe there is a slow move of responsibility and respect for the institution as a legislative and deliberative body to the other side of King’s Hall. It might be just a narrow parochial view on my part but I want a great deal of it to stay here. I believe we have to become equal parts of the deliberations of this Parliament and that, therefore, the standing committee system would be an important contributor to that. On the other hand I remind honourable members that the parliaments of Britain, Canada and New Zealand all have similar systems to that outlined here.
I hope that we will adopt the motion I have placed before the House. I know it has a great deal of support around the House. 1 am not quite sure how one crystallises this into full scale deliberations by a House such as this. Perhaps we are just learning the methods by which we deliberate, not as free people but as parliamentarians considering our affairs unrestricted by partisanism of any nature. Having sat opposite Ministers for so long and knowing them personally I can understand the difficulties they face. A Minister must have an overwhelming task to maintain his ministerial duties, his duties in this House and all the other things that go with being a Minister and a member. I believe the Ministry would be aided in most of its tasks - forgetting partisan-political ones - in most of the areas in which Ministers are engaged if Ministers had the independent minds that come from being members of this Parliament. Parliament is different from any other institution. We stand as equals before the greatest in the land. We are always treated as perhaps less than equal by many people, with the equal sign in the democratic equation. It is only to us that people can come with a sense of equality and it is from there we can step into here with a sense of equality. I hope the House will adopt the motion I have placed before it, that honourable members will give it proper and due consideration and that we will take a new step in the evolution of Parliament. I remind honourable members that Cabinet itself is an historical development of the committee system that was introduced in Britain in the 17th Century. I will not outline the history of it. We can all find that in the Encyclopaedia Britannica in the Library which, of course, is developing great resources as a result of an effective committee system revolving around the Library itself.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment moved by the honourable member for Wills and reserve my right to speak.
– T wish to ask a question on the adjournment of the debate. Last night I raised a matter when the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) indicated that today he would move the adjournment of the debate after the speech of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). The Leader of the House said this:
I can make no statement as to when it will come on because I have not worked out the programme as to when it will come on. But it is a matter of major importance. Obviously it cannot come on again until all honourable members have had an opportunity to consider the implications of it.
I ask the Minister in charge of the House - he may be considered ornamental in the present context but indeed, the position he occupies is not an ornamental one, since the Leader of the House is not here - to give some indication of when this debate will come on, because we arc all conscious that a government can so easily bury a matter so that it will not come on at all. Can he give any indication of whether this will come on again within a reasonable time?
– I understand the concern that has been expressed by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). 1 am not in a position to give any assurance to the House about when the debate will come on. The purpose behind the procedure that has been adopted of moving the adjournment of the debate at this stage is that the Government feels it is only proper that the remarks made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) in moving his amendment should be weighed and considered so that the Government may define its attitude. Although I can give no assurances as to the date or time at which the debate will be resumed, for my part I would certainly not be disposed to make the assumption that the subject matter will be buried at the bottom of the Notice Paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– by leave - I present the report of the Australian delegation to the 57th Interparliamentary Union Conference held in New Delhi from 30th October to 7th November 1969. I move:
I am pleased indeed to present this report to the Parliament and at the outset 1 desire to indicate that it is not my intention during these few remarks to speak on the matters which were discussed at the Conference because they are fully reported in the report itself. However, I commend the report to all honourable members and trust they will make time available to read and study it. I welcome the opportunity to express publicly my thanks to the other members of the Australian delegation, namely, Senator Laucke, Mr Devine, Senator Hendrickson, Senator Byrne and Mr Hallett, for their help and comradeship during the whole period of the Conference. T am sure I speak on behalf of all members of the delegation when I record our sincere appreciation to Mr Roy Bullock, Deputy Clerk of the Senate, who acted as secretary and organiser of our party, and Mr David Sadlier of the Department of External Affairs for their outstanding cooperation, helpful advice and assistance, not only in making our task of performing our duties at the conference much easier but also for the thoughtful and efficient manner in which they handled other personal matters that arose during the course of the trip.
I feel obliged to report that the leader of the delegation, Senator Laucke, performed his important duties with great energy, courtesy and tact. His co-operation and friendliness were a great boost to us all. Senator Laucke was very much assisted by his enthusiastic and active deputy, Mr Devine. The delegation’s special thanks go to Sir Arthur and Lady Tange for acting as joint hosts at the reception given at the High Commissioners residence and to other members of the High Commission and their families for the kindly assistance extended to us all. Words cannot express our thanks for the manner in which our host country, India, from its gracious Prime Minister right down to its most humble citizen, assisted and encouraged us. Finally, I desire to state that in my honest opinion the Australian delegation, having regard to its small numbers, played a most significant role at the Conference and, because of this, I believe greatly enhanced the already good name of Australia among the vast majority of the 54 countries represented by some 400 assembled delegates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 4 March (vide page 85), on motion by Mr N. H. Bowen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill ratines an agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government to set up and operate a large optical telescope to be located in Australia at the Australian National University’s Observatory at Siding Spring Mountain, near Coonabarabran, in New South Wales. We support the Bill. Australian advance in astronomy will be continued by this legislation. In the field of research by radio telescope Australia is making a significant contribution to world science. This Bill will enable Australia to make a similar significant contribution to optical astronomy. 1 understand that some problem has arisen because Australia is prepared to plan finance for this telescope on a triennium basis but Great Britain is prepared to plan finance only on an annual basis, the consequence being delay in the provision of finance. I ask the Acting Minister for Education and Science (Dr Forbes) whether this will inhibit the development of the project. For the rest, the Opposition welcomes the Bill.
– I want to identify myself with this Bill because I know, like a number of other people in this House who have been interested in this project for quite a number of years, that the project will give a boost to Australia’s reputation in astronomy. My particular interest dates back to 1963 when the Australian National. University Bill was introduced by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. I raised this matter in 1966 and during the debate on the Budget Estimates in 1967. I remember well that the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) led for the Opposition at that time. We also heard speeches from the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who is now the Minister for Social Services, and others, particularly one of our colleagues at the time, Mr Failes, who was then the honourable member for Lawson. He had a great interest in this matter because Siding Spring Mountain was in his electorate. The Australian National University Bill was designed to remove any restrictions of a geographical nature from the workings of the Australian National University in the field of astronomy. At that time some of us took the opportunity to advocate the building of the telescope with which this Bill deals.
This suggestion received very strong support. The Australians received strong support from leaders in astronomy throughout the world. I think it is as well to remember these things because they have helped to put Australian astronomers in world class. I remember that Professor Ambortsumian, a Russian, at that time was President of the International Astronomy Union. He chaired a symposium in Canberra in 1963. The construction of a telescope of this size had the support of the Astronomer Royal, Sir Richard Woolley. Honourable members will remember that at one time he was Commonwealth Astronomer and I think he was Professor of Astronomy at the Australian National University. Professor Gold of the Cornell University in the United States of America expressed the opinion at that time that Australia was then in the top flight in the field of radio astronomy. He gave great support to the proposal for a 150-inch telescope, upon which we have now decided.
I think I should digress here to refer to the great spirit of co-operation which exists among astronomers throughout the world. In this troubled world of ours we grab at anything at all which will unite the peoples of the world who are working for something better. They work together firstly through the exchange of information, which is given readily throughout the world. The time of use of the great telescope at Parkes, which is working 24 hours a day, is shared between certain nations. I remember being there not long ago with 2 Ministers of the House. We were spoken to by an Indian who described to us in a lay way the pulsing quasars that they have found as timed against the atomic clock. The fact that we have these people working in our observatories is all to the good. There is co-operation in relation to finance also. The telescope at Parkes was paid for partly by the Carnegie Corporation, partly by the Rockefeller Foundation, and partly by private subscription and, I am glad to say, the Commonwealth Government, which provided more than half the funds. Again in this Bill we see international cooperation. The cost of the telescope will be shared by the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
At this time I think it would be fitting to refer to the work of Professor Bart Bok.
He was known to a large number of people in this country. Here again there is an international aspect to the matter. He was born in Holland, he was a naturalised American, and he spent a great deal of his time working at Mount Stromlo and in astronomy in general in this country. He was a great agitator for the 150-inch telescope that will be built. He wanted it as a basic insrument to be used in what he termed the British-Commonwealth Southern Observatory. I remember, in a paper he delivered - I think it was to one of the international symposiums - under the heading The Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds’, he said:
An instrument with an aperture of 150 inches should provide in Australia a major telescope that need not take second place to any now in the planning stage.
This Bill provides for the construction of such a telescope. He pointed out that experience overseas had demonstrated that a 120-inch reflector was exceedingly useful but on the small side by modern standards. He pointed out that it was definitely too small to enable the astronomer to observe directly at what he referred to as the prime focus. I assume that that is the best focal setting or the best focal length. As a scientific instrument, he pointed out, a 150-inch reflector is clearly the very best buy.
The honourable member for Fremantle has raised a question concerning the cost of the telescope. It is interesting to compare the estimate made by Professor Bok in 1963 with the present estimate. It is a tribute to him that, for such a complicated instrument as this, with the effluxion of time his estimate has been found to be very close to the present estimated cost. He estimated that it would cost us £A6m. Now we see that the cast is estimated to be $1lm. I think that h a particularly good estimate for something as sophisticated and complicated as this instrument.
After the Australian National University Bill was introduced, the next thing that happened in relation to this telescope was the agreement in 1967. That was the agreement between the United Kingdom and the Australian Governments to build the 150 inch telescope. It was also decided at that time to build it at the Australian National University’s observatory at Siding Spring
Mountain. A joint policy committee was set up with a panel of particularly wellknown people. They included Sir Richard Woolley, to whom I referred a while ago, and Professor Fred Hoyle, Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge University. They comprised the British side of the team. Other members were Professor Eggen, Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory, and Dr Bowen, chief of the Radiophysics Division of the CSIRO. That distinguished panel was set up in 1967. It was pointed out by these people that the optimum site for this telescope was in the southern hemisphere. Its siting there would be of benefit in the study of the Milky Way and essential for the study of the Magellanic Clouds. Another reason for this siting was that if its location was too far north some of the advantage would be lost and if it was located too far to the south there would be too much interference from auroral intensity.
It has been pointed out by scientists that obviously the best position for an optical telescope is on a space platform, away from atmospheric refraction and other forms of interference from the earth. The site we are talking about was chosen after very intensive investigation throughout the southern areas of Australia. One of the main factors taken into consideration was the absence of cloud cover. Under this measure we envisage the setting up of one of the largest optical telescopes in the world; it is certainly the largest in the southern hemisphere. It is exceeded in size only, as far as I know, by the Palomar 200 inch instrument in California. The proposed optical telescope will do tremendous work and will extend the already great range of knowledge which has come from our research in Australia. It will complement the work of radio telescopes and optical telescopes throughout the world, and particularly the 210 inch radio telescope at Parkes. That instrument was set up and went into operation in 1961. A lot was expected from it because of its great size. It was then about the biggest radio telescope in the world, although I think a bigger one has been built since. The Parkes telescope was designed to operate to very fine tolerances and it had the propensity for pinpoint focusing. That is what is was designed for and that is what was expected from it. With such things the plans often go astray, but in this particular case this world standard telescope achieved more than it was designed to do and far more than was expected of it.
At this stage I should like to commend Dr Bowen for his work not only in this connection but also in radiophysics in Australia. His success has kept Australia in world class in radiophysics. I should also like to commend Mr Bolton, the man in charge of that great instrument, and his band of workers. One should not forget that in the building of the telescope at Siding Spring Mountain not only was the Federal Government involved but local government played a big role. The Warrumbungle Range is very old geologically. It is quite rugged and in parts inaccessible. The first step was to build roads. The Coonabarabran Shire Council did a magnificent job in putting roads through to enable the building work to commence. Provision of water had to be looked at, and one of the big problems was to provide electricity. The Ulan County Council did a good job. Apart from the rugged nature of the country, one of the problems was the importance of providing constant voltage at the site for the successful operation of this $1 Ira instrument. This has been achieved.
I want to draw attention to 2 of the side effects which have come from the efforts in astronomy in this country. Firstly there has been quite a solid influence on decentralisation. We have the equipment at Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Mountain, which is a long way out; the Australian invention, Mills Cross, at Hoskinstown, and the interferometer at Narribri. 1 believe there is also a heliograph at Narrabri but I may be wrong. The CSIRO has quite a large establishment at St Marys. There is at Dapto a radio spectroscope. One of the reasons for setting up these projects in country areas was the absence of smog, which is common in our pattern of pollution today. The second important side effect that we should be very pleased about is in the scientific field. We have built this telescope and we are building a nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay. Before these events Australia experienced a great brain drain of young scientists. Our young doctors of philosophy qualified in astronomy, who in the past were limited in what they could do in this country, were being attracted to places overseas. The building of this world class telescope and the prospect of the new atomic reactor at Jervis Bay should have a profound and favourable effect on the brain drain amongst these young scientists and this will help Australia to maintain its position in astronomical research in the world.
I not only support the Bill but warmly commend the Government for concluding an agreement with the United Kingdom for this $llm project. It will enable Australia to maintain its world position in astronomical research and it will also assist our radio astronomers to maintain their world lead in this branch of science.
– I rise simply because the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) said that he understood that there was some problem in relation to finance because Australia is prepared to plan the finance for this telescope on a triennial basis and Britain is prepared to plan the finance only on an annual basis, the consequence being a delay in the provision of finance. The honourable member asked whether this would be likely to inhibit the development of the project. As he would be aware, I am only assisting the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) and therefore I have no personal knowledge of this matter. I have consulted officers of the Department on this subject who have assured me that there will be absolutely no difficulty at all in this respect. The finance for part of this project will be provided by a body in the United Kingdom and the required amount has definitely been committed. I think the honourable member was wrong when he said that our appropriations will be on a triennial basis. I think that the appropriations will be made annually. However, the main thing is that the honourable member can rest assured that there will be no difficulty in the provision of finance for the part of the project which Australia is handling and the part of the project which the United Kingdom is handling.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Forbes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1788), on motion by Mr Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this measure, which is an extension of the book bounty legislation which was before the House in September 1969. With some prescience on our part the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten), who was a back bencher at that stage, and I indicated during the course of the debate on that occasion that the amendment which is now being considered by the House might be necessary. The present proposal is to add to the list of books which are eligible for the payment of a bounty certain Commonwealth and State government publications which were excluded previously. Honourable members will recall that the purpose of the bounty is to encourage the publishing in Australia of books which are being published in countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and, I think, Japan because it is cheaper to do so. The Australian publishing industry was in jeopardy because it was much cheaper to produce books in those countries.
A rather curious anomaly exists whereby a duty is not imposed upon books as such because that would be regarded - and rightly so - as being a penalty upon knowledge, but we do impose a duty on paper and the other raw materials which are used in the printing of books. A book published in Australia is therefore at a disadvantage compared with a book produced somewhere else by reason of the fact that the cost of many components of the Australian product is inflated because of the duties which are imposed. These duties are escaped by publishers of books in other countries. It was felt that the disadvantage could be overcome by applying a bounty. In other words, a payment is made to the publisher in certain circumstances to enable him to publish books in Australia without being placed at the disadvantage of having to compete with a foreign product. I asked the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) some questions about the book industry. Unfortunately he is not with us today. He replied on 12th May stating:
Before moving adjournment of the debate on the second reading of the Book Bounty Bill 1970-
This bill was introduced in this House in May - - you asked me for some details of the nature of and value per annum of the books that arc printed for the States or the Commonwealth.
The nature of the books involved are publications of a literature or educational character which qualify for book bounty and some details of books on which bounty has been refused because of Section 8 (2)-
That refers to the Act as it stands - of the Book Bounty Act include textbooks and technical reports for the Papua and New Guinea Administration; text books for the Department of Education, Victoria; literary books for the Australian War Memorial Trustees; technical books for the State Electricity Board, Queensland; technical books for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
In addition it is known that there are a number of other books for which no formal application for bounty has been made and in several of the abovementioned instances the publisher has indicated that because bounty was not payable, printing would possibly be done by lower cost overseas printers.
No precise estimate is available for the value involved per annum but the industry indicates that this type of work represented about 10% of their output and on this basis the amount of bounty involved could be about $150,000 for 1969-70.
I noted on the Estimates presented to the House on Tuesday that a sum of $1,600,000 is included this year as the likely outlay for the Book Bounty Act. This is a comparatively small sum in toto for the encouragement of what is a significant industry.
During the last debate on this measure I think honourable members on both sides of the House quoted with approval from the booklet entitled ‘Books are Different - A case prepared by the Printing and Allied Trades Employers Federation of Australia on behalf of the Federal Book Manufacturers’ Group’. The foreword to this book states:
This industry arose during the Second World War to meet the gap created by reduction of overseas supplies and Australia’s internal defence and civilian requirements and in later years developed to the point where it has manufactured about 25% of the books sold in Australia- <
I wish we could get a similar kind of content arrangement for Australian television. I hope some day that that very serious matter also will be considered by this Government. The foreword continues: serving Australian based publishers with the production of books primarily written and published here for the local market.
This is apt in regard to Australian television -
Imported books, representing about 75% of the Australian market, are usually written and published overseas for world consumption. . . .
Then the author goes on to list the great inroads that have occurred in Australian publishing because it was easier to send the matrices, or whatever they are, to Hong Kong or Singapore to have the books printed and then sell them much cheaper than would have been the case had they been produced in Australia. Figures are cited to show how book imports from Asia increased dramatically in the last 3 years. The value of books printed in Japan rose from $442,000 to $1,023,000. In regard to Hong Kong the value rose from $83,000 - almost a negligible amount - to $983,000 - almost $lm. This was to the detriment of the Australian publishing industry.
I noticed that a few days ago the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) addressed a function called ‘Pakprint ‘70’. The title of his address was Horizons for the 70s’. He described the very great importance to Australia of the printing industry and indicated the quite significant changes that had taken place in technology. To indicate the technical changes that are taking place in this field I shall quote from the ‘Newsletter’, volume 5 No. 2 for 1970 of International Business Machines. I think that many honourable members regularly get copies of the ‘Newsletter’ which indicate some of the processes in the computer and other allied fields. The article from which I shall quote is headed Australia’s First Computer-produced Book Now on Sale’ and states:
Australia’s first computer-produced and typeset book, the 2,184-page Kompass Register of Industry, is now being distributed.
It lists the source of supply for 296,000 specific products available in Australia and gives details of 8,300 Australian companies.
Data for the register was punched into cards from information supplied by the listed companies, stored on magnetic tape, and sorted into various categories by an IBM System/360 according to an international formula for Kompass registers.
The Melbourne Data Centre undertook the job of writing the required programmes and of processing data entry and compilation.
The first edition of Australian Kompass, which will be published annually, was only 15 months in preparation. lt is one of 14 international editions of the Swiss-based Kompass. The Australian publishers, Peter Isaacson Pty Limited, Melbourne hold the franchise for Australia and New Zealand from UK Kompass, and IPC subsidiary. They plan to produce the first New Zealand edition in 1972.
Data preparation for the Australian edition created one of the largest data files yet handled by the Melbourne data centre.
A Melbourne photosetting firm, ran the processed magnetic tape riles on four more computers to produce the final mag-tape for typesetting.
The publishers laid down the several thousand feet of photographic output from the photosetter in page format and printed 7,000 copies of the 2,184-page book on their own web offset press.
I hope that honourable members realise the immensity of the operation: 7,000 copies of a volume with 2,184 pages is an aggregate compilation of the magnitude of IS million pages. The article continues:
All editions of Kompass include three main data groups.
There are alphabetic indices in five languages to 31,000 different classes of products. For the Australian edition the publishers added 33C products unique to Australia or newly-marketed, ranging from abalone to pantyhose.
That is certainly a wide variety. 1 have quoted this merely to indicate the great changes that are taking place in some industries. A sum as small as 51 .6m, wisely spent, may preserve this industry against the day when it is able to sustain itself by more and more operations of this kind. I am told that by reason of the quality of Australian labour in making magnetic tape for computers in Australia we have quite a distinct competitive advantage even against the United States of America. We are capable of working up an important export industry on the basis of Australian skills employed in making tapes to be fitted into computers in other parts of the world because Australian labour in relation to this skill is still cheaper than, say, in the United States or somewhere else, lt seems to me that this bounty, although it is applied directly to particular sorts of publications, is helping to preserve an industry that is likely to be on the verge of great technical change. Therefore, as we did on the previous occasion, we support this measure which has a relatively minor financial impact on the total Australian economy but which is significant in preserving an industry that is vital to Australia’s culture in this era of technological change.
Mr WHITTORN (Balaclava) (3.10]- As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said, this legislationthe Book Bounty Bill 1970- has had a very tortuous path. I know that he was prepared to speak on it in May of this year, as I was. Now, because we are working on Fridays, we have an opportunity to say a few words about this well deserved legislation. Its main purpose is to assist private enterprise printers in binding books competitively. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports said, in September last year a 25% bounty was placed on books used by private enterprise but excluding books that would be sold to the Commonwealth and State governments and to instrumentalities of the Commonwealth and State governments. The Commonwealth Government was waiting for a Tariff Board inquiry regarding books that were produced for the Commonwealth and State governments. Most of us realise that State governments in particular and the Commonwealth Government to a lesser extent have imported too many books from overseas because they are cheaper to produce there.
On 7 th May 1969 the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) indicated in a statement to the Parliament that this section of the printing industry - that is, the bookbinding section - was reaching a parlous situation and therefore the Government had a duty to do something about it. There was a significant loss of employment in the bookbinding section of the printing industry, and there were very good reasons for that I hope that before I sit down I will be able to give some of the reasons which are not within the power of the Australian Government
So, in September -of last year the Government took the unprecedented step of bypassing the Special Advisory Authority - it did not refer the matter to the Special Advisory Authority, which is the normal procedure for this Government to take - and, after extensive investigation into the industry situation and careful consideration of other methods of assistance, it took this decision to introduce an interim bounty. Reference to that decision may be found at page 1547 of Hansard of 18th September last year. However, as I said earlier, certain books were excluded, namely, those that were supplied to the Commonwealth and State governments.
Nine months later - that takes us to June this year - the indications are that the legislation introduced in September has been partially effective. In fact, it has resulted in some books being retained in Australia for production. It has caused some books, which were sent to Hong Kong for production before the bounty was introduced, to be recalled to Australia for local manufacture. It has not stopped much book work, particularly that in the multi-colour field, being placed overseas. It is this section of the industry that is still being hit, even with the assistance of a 25% bounty. It has not stopped books being imported at an increasing rate, particularly from Hong Kong - one of the main problem areas for local manufacturers.
Despite the Book Bounty Act 1969 the latest figures indicate that books worth $2.8m will have been imported from Hong Kong in 1969-70, an increase of 54% in 12 months. The information I have before me was collated on 30th April 1970. The estimated total value of books imported into Australia in the same period is $43.6m, an increase of 13.5%. I can assure the House that printers in Australia would like to get even a small proportion of that production. A number of very good printing and book binding factories could be set up and a number of skilled artisans could be employed in this printing work if the books that are now imported were produced in Australia.
In an effort to protect local book manufacturers who faced unfair competition from overseas - particularly from low cost Asian countries - the Government took the unprecedented step of legislating for a book bounty. One of the prime reasons for my speaking today on the bounty on books produced for private enterprise or for Commonwealth and State governments is that Australian artisans are still well behind overseas countries in the production of books printed in multi-colour. Australian printers get the black and white printing work but the work that is interesting to highly trained men - that is, the production of multi-colour books - will still go overseas simply because wages in Australia are so high for these artisans compared with wages paid for similar work overseas.
Many honourable members will appreciate that over the years I have criticised the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission because of the tremendous wage rises it has given to the work force in Australia. In recent weeks I have been overseas. On my trip I found that my views are supported by the fact that artisans in the countries concerned receive between oneeighth and one-half of the wage paid to Australian workers in the same occupation. Overseas they are unionists, just as Australian printers belong to the trade union movement. It is obvious that the people who invest their money in the production of books will continue to go to the low cost countries with their work while the wage differential applies - and it seems that it will apply for a long time. In other words, so far as multi-colour work is concerned it seems that the book manufacturing industry in Australia must ultimately wither away.
I believe that the Government cannot continue to increase bounties to compensate for the difference in wages and other costs as between South East Asian countries and Australia, which I will refer to later. There is a continuing demand for the production of black and white books in Australia and this demand should be maintained, but the colour work will continue to go overseas because of tremendous differentials in production costs and the fact that printing artisans overseas work a good many more hours in a week than their counterparts in Australia. One reason why the Government introduced the bounty is what is called the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Florence Agreement. This Agreement necessitates that books shall enter countries without being subjected to tariff. As Australia adheres closely to the United Nations it has maintained the need to import books without tariff. I believe that the Australian printing industry could have produced a good proportion of the books to the value of $43 .6m imported into Australia in 1969-70. In that year there was a 13.5% increase in the value of books imported into Australia. This should provide good work for the Australian printing industry.
It is fallacious for us to believe that we are doing the right thing by imposing duties on raw materials, such as paper, to protect our local industries and then allowing books into Australia duty free. Admittedly we now have a bounty for all types of books but this bounty has not prevented the flow of work to Hong Kong and Korea. While I was in South East Asia I learned that printing industries were being set up not only in Djakarta but also in Singapore to a greater extent and in Kuala Lumpur. This set of conditions will apply not only to the printing industry but to other industries as well. General Motors-Holdens Pty Ltd and the Ford company have already set up assembly and partial manufacturing plants in the 3 overseas centres I mentioned. Companies dealing in plastics, not only from Australia but from Japan and the United States of America, also are setting up plants in those areas. This problem which is connected with the bookbinding and the printing industry will become general as the years go by. The artisans in the overseas countries I mentioned are equally competent to carry out the work which is done in Australia. The facilities in overseas countries are as good as those in Australia. The weekly hours worked by overseas artisans is 57 compared to 40 in Australia.
– They need good unions there.
– We have a unique problem in Australia as far as this industry is concerned. The end products are admitted to this country duty free because we adhere to the decisions made by the United Nations. The materials used for manufacture in Australia are substantial and we have, as a protection for those materials, general and anti-dumping duties.
Australian manufacturers in the bookbinding and printing industry have high labour costs. Sometimes these costs are as much as 8 times those which apply in Singapore and Hong Kong. Australian manufacturers have to bear a higher cost for their materials. Until September 1969 there was no protection at all. So this bounty of 25% does help the industry in a minor way. I have been told that Asian manufacturers can purchase their raw materials for as much as 60% below the cost of materials in Australia. 1 have already said that the Asian wage varies between one-eighth and one-half of the wage in Australia. Many workers in Asian countries work up to 57 hours a week. In reply to the interjection about the need for good unions in those countries, let me say, having been there 3 or 4 weeks ago, that they believe they do have very good unions. They believe that workers should work a reasonable time for a reasonable wage. They believe that this sort of thing should apply in this country. However, it does not seem to have very much relation to what takes place in Australia.
Because of the additional costs which I referred to earlier either the bookbinding industry will wither on the vine or the Government will have to do more and still more to assist it. The industry itself realises that it has a special problem and that other forms of assistance such as those which are being granted in America could be a great help to it. America, of course, is a high cost country. The costs of labour and materials in that country are higher than those in Australia. America has found a way to comply with the UNESCO Florence Agreement. It does not have tariff barriers against books; but it does have other methods of protecting its bookbinding industry.
I have in my hand a booklet entitled Books Are Different’. I think the best way to demonstrate my point is to read the questions and answers as they are set out in the booklet. They read:
Question: What other forms of assistance could be beneficial to the industry?
Answer: A manufacturing clause arrangement similar to that which has applied for many years in the USA.
The manufacturing clause of the USA Copyright Law states that to obtain copyright in the USA a book must be printed and bound ‘from type set in the USA (i.e. from a process wholly performed in the USA)’. Certain concessions were made during the Universal Copyright convention in 19S4 and manufacturing restrictions were narrowed down to a single phrase that ‘books in the English language, by American Authors or by French Authors resident or domiciled in the USA must be manufactured and printed from type set within the USA’ for copyright . . .
This mechanism has enabled the US book manufacturing industry to develop and prosper in a protected field whilst abiding by the UNESCO Florence Agreement requirements that no tariff barriers be erected against book imports.
I think that this Government will have to consider following the action taken by the United States Government if we want the bookbinding industry in Australia to be maintained. I believe that we should ensure that text books purchased by State governments for use in their educational systems and text books prescribed or recommended by State Education Departments should be printed in Australia. I do not think any honourable member on either side of the House would contest that view. The booklet continues:
A large proportion of primary and secondary school recommended text books have always been imported (e.g. in South Australia 29 out of 62 books prescribed for primary school are imported) although these books would provide a sound basis for a strong viable Australian book manufacturing industry.
The position has worsened in NSW, Victoria and South Australia because some Australian text books, previously printed here, are now being printed in Asia. The list for the 1969 school year will include many more for which orders have been placed. Often these are reprints of text books originally manufactured in Australia but newly recommended text books are also being ordered from Asia.
Although the book manufacturers are in agreement that the Government’s policy in following the UNESCO ideal of not imposing tariffs on book imports they consider that the intention of such an international policy was to ensure that copies of a book which is written, published and manufactred in say, UK, for world consumption should enter Australia duty free, but that it was neither intended, nor is it in the spirit of the agreement, that this should be used to permit the sub-contracting of book manufacture out of Australia for re-entry duty free. Under these circumstances the book manufacturers consider that a tariff or restriction on such farming out’ of manufacture would not conflict with Australia’s policy of following the UNESCO Florence Agreement
Some fringe assistance could be provided by an increased preference in the postage rates for books printed in Australia. There is precedent of very long standing for a preferential rate of postage for Australian manufactured books. Many years ago this was of considerable value to the book manufacturing industry but, although the postal preference still exists, its degree of effectiveness has lessened to a point of little direct value.
In effect I make a plea on behalf of the book binding section of the printing industry, particularly in relation to multicolour books, that the Government have a further look at the problems facing this section of the industry. It certainly is true that the 25% bounty has helped the industry considerably, particularly in relation to black and white work. So far as multi-colour work is concerned - this is the work that is of interest to the trained printing practitioners or the artisans - this is still being sent overseas for production for the reasons that 1 have mentioned. There are other reasons. The tremendous tariff protection that we give to Australian paper manufacturers makes it desirable for overseas people to buy their paper overseas, and they do so. They have a 60% advantage when they purchase their paper from overseas sources rather than in Australia. It is well known in the industry that Australian paper can be purchased in Hong Kong a good deal cheaper than it can be purchased in Australia. I believe that it is the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry and, to a lesser extent, the Department of Customs and Excise to have further investigations made into this problem because we will continue to put good Australians out of work if we maintain our present policies. I support the Bill, but I ask that the Ministers and departments concerned do a good deal more for this section of the industry than they have done in the past.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
House adjourned at 3.31 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
How many migrants of each nationality have been refused naturalisation on security grounds based upon (a) extreme left wing political views or associations and (b) extreme right wing political view or associations.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Refusals and deferrals of naturalisation to communists and to extremists of the right have been - recorded as being on security grounds. Until 1.1.66 separate records were not maintained in respect of the cases involving communists and extremists of the right.
The following table records the refusals and deferrals in the period 1.1.66 to 31.3.70 in respect of (A) communists and (B) extremists of the Right.
Since 1st January 1966. 74 persons whose applications were deferred or refused on security grounds have been granted naturalisation following the review of their cases. Two of these are included in column ‘D’ above.
The total number of persons granted Australian citizenship in the period 1st January 1966 to 31st March 1970 was 148.121.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Mr N. W. Hill, Department of Civil Aviation Mr E. S. Keehn, Department of the Interior Mr J. M. Brown, Department of the Interior Mr R. S. Gilbert, Commonwealth Treasury Mr K. W. See, Commonwealth Treasury Mr H. C. Williams, Department of Works Mr R. G. McLean, Department of Civil Aviation (Secretary).
Council Rates on Commonwealth Property (Question No. 1291)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
A scheme for ex-gratia payments in lieu of general rates on various classes of Commonwealthowned property was introduced in 1947. Some isolated payments were made in earlier years.
District Council of Onkaparinga.
District Council of Clare.
City of Port Adelaide.
Corporation of the City of Enfield.
Corporation of the City of Mt Gambier.
Corporation of the City of Mitcham.
Corporation of the City of Marion.
Corporation of the City of Gawler.
Corporation of the City of Brighton.
Corporation of the City of Woodville.
Corporation of the City of St Peters.
Corporation of Port Lincoln.
Corporation of Port Pirie.
District Council of Murat Bay.
Corporation of the City of Salisbury.
Corporation of the City of Mt Gambier.
Corporation of the Town of Wallaroo.
District Council of Tanunda.
District Council of Angaston.
District Council of Berri.
City of Whyalla Commission.
District Council of Pirie.
Corporation of the City of Port Pirie.
Corporation of the City of Mt Gambier.
District Council of Murat Bay.
Corporation of Murray Bridge.
City of Adelaide.
City of Brighton.
Corporation of the City of Burnside.
Corporation of the City of Enfield.
Corporation of Glenelg.
Corporation of Hindmarsh.
Corporation of the City of Marion.
Corporation of the City of Payneham.
Corporation of the City of Prospect
Corporation of the City of Salisbury.
Corporation of the City of West Torrens.
Corporation of the City of Woodville.
Corporation of the Town of Renmark.
Corporation of the City of Burnside.
City of Adelaide.
District Council of Angaston.
District Council of Balaklava.
District Council of Marmera.
District Council of Blyth.
District Council of Burnt.
District Council of Central Yorke Peninsula.
District Council of Clare.
District Council of Cleve.
District Council of Crystal Brook.
District Genoa! of Eudunda.
District Council of Franklin Harbour.
Corporation of Gawler.
District Council of Gumeracha.
Corporation of Jamestown.
Corporation of Kadina.
District Council of Kapunda.
District Council of Karoonda.
District Council of Kingscote.
District Council of Lacepede.
District Council of Lameroo.
District Council of Lincoln.
District Council of Loxton.
District Council of Mannum.
District Council of Meadows.
District Council of Millicent.
District Council of Minlaton.
District Council of Morgan.
District Council of Mount Barker.
District Council of Mount Gambier.
District Council of Murat Bay.
Corporation of Murray Bridge.
District Council of Noarlunga.
District Council of Onkaparinga.
District Council of Owen.
District Council of Peterborough.
Corporation of Port Augusta.
District Council of Port Elliott.
Corporation of Port Lincoln.
Corporation of the City of Port Pirie.
District Council of Port Wakefield.
Corporation of Renmark.
District Council of Riverton.
District Council of Robe.
District Council of Snowtown.
District Council of Strathalbyn.
District Council of Tanunda.
District Council of Tumby Bay.
District Council of Waikerie.
Corporation of Wallaroo.
Whyalla City Commission.
District Council of Willunga.
District Council of Wilmington.
District Council of Yankalilla.
District Council of Yorketown.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Pre-school Pupils and Teachers (Question No. 102)
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Will be bring up to date the information on pre-school education in the States and Territories which his predecessor gave me in his answer on 28th November 1968 (Hansard, page 3492) and 25th February 1969 (page 120) and can he give
me the information which was not then available for his predecessor’s answers.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In respect of my predecessor’s answer to question No. 748 (Hansard, 28th November 1968, page 3492), updated information is as follows:
(2) and (4) Pre-school centres for which my Department is responsible have been established at the following places in the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory.
Pre-school centres have been established at the following places in the Northern Territory. The number of aboriginal, part-aboriginal and ‘other’ children attending these Community Pre-school Centres as at 31st March 1970 was as follows:
All the Centres listed in the table above are conducted by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science. The two exceptions are:
The following Pre-school Centres for full-blood Aboriginal children are operated by the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration. The information concerning them in this and subsequent answers has been made available by my colleague, the Minister for the Interior.
Note- At 31st March 1970 enrolments at the above pre-schools totalled 732 Aboriginal and 46 Other’ pupils.
It is estimated there are about 1,600 children of pre-school age living within reach of pre-school centres operated by the Department of Education and Science in the Northern Territory. The forthcoming population count of Darwin and Alice Springs will provide more accurate information on this point. There are 786 Aboriginal children of pre-school age living within reach of the pre-school centres operated by the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration.
The number of children aged 3 and 4 yean (i.e. of pre-school age) in the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory are:
The number of Aboriginal children of pre-school age living in the Northern Territory is an estimated 1,124 and the approximate number of pre-school aged children in the Northern Territory (including full-blood Aboriginals) as at 30th June 1968 was 3,310 (calculated on the basis of the 1966 census).
The number and percentage of children receiving pre-school education in the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory is as follows:
86% of all 3 and 4 year old Aboriginal children.
Other- (i) 3,030
In the Northern Territory there are:
In respect of my predecessor’s answer to question No. 746 (Hansard, 25th February 1969, page 120) updated information is as follows: 1. (a) and (b), No change. 2. (b) No change. 2. (b) Non-government pre-school centres in the States may be divided into:
Centres in group (i) provide a generally recognised pre-school education; of those in group (ii) a small number provide a similar programme to those in group <i), while many provide little more than child-minding facilities. The following table gives updated information on the numbers of nongovernment pre-school centres. The information shown for group (ii) is approximate only.
Because of the diversity of pre-school activity in the States and differing methods of recording enrolments in centres, it cannot be assumed that the figures shown above are directly comparable from State to State.
Government centres only. The percentages relate to the number of pre-school teachers with pre-school training college qualifications to the total number of persons employed as pre-school teachers. Kindergarten and pre-school assistants are excluded.
Pre-school centres for Aboriginals are included.
In the Australian Capital Territory all persons employed as pre-school teachers in both government and non-government pre-school centres in 1969 had pre-school training college qualifications.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 August 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700821_reps_27_hor69/>.