27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe:
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that:
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least $240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples -of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Nixon, Mr Lynch, Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Gorton, Mr Armitage, Mr Beazley, Mr Brown, Mr Enderby, Mr England, Mr Erwin, Mr Fox, Mr Garrick, Mr Grassby, Mr Irwin, Mr Jarman, Mr Keith Johnson, Mr Lloyd, Mr Reid. Mr Staley and Mr Street.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled The humble petition of Senior Students of Benilde College, Nazareth Senior Secondary College, Bass Hill High School, Picnic Point High School, Sir Joseph Banks High School and Benedict College in the State of New South Wales respectfully showeth -
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world
That the knowledge skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that:
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least$240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Keating.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on 10th December 1948, Australia signed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in. the event of unemployment,, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and. other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all States, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.
Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public inquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line wilh accepted world standards of the most advanced countries. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, by Mr Calwell and Mr Hurford. .
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Irwin and Dr Solomon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth: (a) That the amenities of residents in the vicinity of Kingsford Smith Airport are being affected by the rapid growth of aircraft traffic and the accompanying increase in aircraft noise.
Your petitioners, therefore, most humbly pray that:
And your petitioners, as in duty1 bound, will ever pray. by Mr Morrison and Mr Reynolds!
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives ‘ in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we are concerned that ..young people in the 18 to 20 .years of age group, are .deprived of a vote at elections of the Commonwealth Parliament.
Your petitioners therefore, humbly pray that the Government .will immediately introduce legislation which will grant the vote- to citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age. ; .
And your petitioners as in- duty bound will ever pray. . i i. by Mr Armitage.
To the Honourable the Speaker’ and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition from certain residents of the western suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan area and surrounding- districts respectfully showeth:
That due to an expanding passenger air travel business together with larger and more powerful jet aircraft, aircraft noise has already become a serious problem for people living in the vicinity of airports.
That jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and airports should be situated so as to preserve the environment of populated areas.
That protest should be made against the proposal to establish an international airport at Richmond owing to the detrimental effect it would have for the environment there and in surrounding districts.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second, 24-hour international airport for Sydney at Richmond or anywhere else in the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Armitage. Petition received.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the French Government intend to or has, in fact conducted tests of nuclear weapons to the damage and danger of people in the testing area and elsewhere.
You petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Commonwealth Government oppose and resist the conduct of these tests.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr J. F. Cairns.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned employees in Parliament House Canberra respectfully showeth:
That the inadequacy of the present parliamentary building is resulting in unpleasant, inefficient and inconvenient working conditions in the House itself.
That the fragmentation of staff at West Block and other offices in the City due to the inadequacies of space in the present building causes inefficiency in staff control and working relationships.
That although the present patchwork extension system results in better accommodation for some sections of the working population in the House it has worsened the accommodation in other areas by shutting out light and ventilation. That the older sections of the House, besides being cramped, axe affected by extremes of heat and cold and quite out of keeping with modern office working conditions.
That the House lacks proper records storage facilities, and other facilities, especially related to staff comfort, a requirement highly desirable in view of Parliament’s extended working hours.
That the present extensions, as with past extensions, have been costly to the taxpayer and economically short-sighted and will merely relieve the most pressing needs for a very limited period of time due to the inevitable growth of the business of this Parliament.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that an early decision will be taken by the Government to build the new and permanent Parlia ment House which will, in the long run, be a more economical way to house the Parliament and which will, at the same time, be an impressive and proud symbol of Australia’s progress and national unity.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Sales Tax on all forms of Contraceptive Devices is 27) per cent (Sales Tax Exemptions and Classifications Act 1935-1967). Also that there is Customs Duty of up to 47i per cent on some Contraceptive Devices.
And that this is an unfair imposition on the human rights of all people who wish to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And furthermore that this imposition discriminates particularly against people on low incomes.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Sales Tax on all forms of Contraceptive Devices be removed, so as to bring these items into line with other necessities such as food, upon which there is no Sales Tax. Also that Customs Duties be removed, and that all Contraceptive Devices be placed on the National Health Scheme Pharmaceutical Benefits List. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Hurford.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of residents of Victoria respectfully sheweth:
That permitting kangaroos to be commercially exploited when permissible cropping rates are unknown and the means of enforcing controls or protective laws are completely ineffective in this land, is allowing this unique animal to follow the path to rarity or extinction, along which all wild animals have gone when subjected to exploitation in similar circumstances.
Estimates show that kangaroos alive in their natural habitat as tourist attractions are worth $200m more to the Australian economy over a 9- year period than dead ones exported as pet food or toys over the same period.
We, Australians, have the right to see kangaroos in reasonable numbers on the landscape; we find the commercial slaughter of the kangaroo to be abhorrent and unjustified. We your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that you will:
To the Honourable die Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in’ Parliament assembled. The humble petition of ‘ residents of the Commonwealth of Australia, respectfully showeth; .
That as most other Commonwealth employees receive recognition of length of service by way of Long Service Leave or Furlough, we employees of Government Departments, who work 24 hours per week or less are denied this benefit. We call on the Treasurer and the Minister for Labour and National Service to amend the sections of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act which causes this injustice. We believe the recognition- of length of service to an employer to be the right of every employee and that the Commonwealth Government should recognise that right. Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that Sections SB and 6 (3) (a) of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act be repealed.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Keith Johnson.
The Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster General’s .Department, Central Office, policy of centralising Post Office affairs and activities under the various titles of Area Management, Area Mail Centres, Area Parcel Centres and similar titles is resulting in both loss of service and lowering of the standards of service to the Public, directly resulting in the closing of Post Offices which is detrimental to the Public interest.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:
And yOur petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr King.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives ‘ in Parliament assembled. The humble petition pf residents of the Division of Murray respectfully showeth:
That we are deeply concerned, over the location of the border between Papua. New. Guinea and Australia which in one place is only 200. yards, from Papua but 100 miles from the coast of Australia. We believe that it would be diplomatic if the Australian Government would initiate a more equitable drawing of. the boundary ‘between these two countries. ‘’. ,
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will immediately review the location of the boundary before Independence ;is granted to Papua . New.., Guinea and whilst this is still an internal Australian concern. . ,
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Lloyd.
To the Honourable the Speaker ‘and Members of the House of Representatives “in Parliament assembled. The humble petition, pf. the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will restore to the Australian people, true religious freedom, which can exist only when Church and State are legally separated both in form and substance.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by Dr Solomon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.
That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.
That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.
And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Uren. Petition received.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that the Minister for Health and the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, is ill and is not expected to resume duty before 11th September. During his absence, the Minister for Immigration, Dr Forbes, will act as the Minister for Health.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Last May in 2 written answers to questions the right honourable gentleman said that he had been advised that the deliberations of the CommonwealthState Officials Committee on Decentralisation set up 8 years ago should enable it to finalise its report and present it to the governments of the Commonwealth and the States in the near future and that the question of tabling the report in this Parliament would be decided after the governments had considered it. I ask: Has the Committee finalised its report? If so, have the Commonwealth and State governments considered it? And, if that also is the case, has it been decided to table it or not to table it. or when will the decision on tabling it be made?
– The answer to the first question asked by the honourable gentleman is yes, the report has been completed. The answer to the second question is that we in the Commonwealth have considered it to the first stage and I, on behalf of the Government, now state that we are prepared to have it published. The publication of the report therefore depends upon whether or not the States agree and, if they do agree, on what conditions. But in the hope that there will be a favourable reply I have already given an instruction that the report be printed. I believe that the printing will take a considerable time, certainly extending over some weeks.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the intense public interest in the Government’s new social service programme announced in the Budget, will the Minister prepare a concise and clear pamphlet and wide-spread publicity to explain the entitlements of the various groups and the benefits which are to be gained? Will he have this information ready to issue to the public immediately the appropriate legislation has been approved by this House?
– I think the suggestion made by the honourable member is a valuable one. As the House will know my Department does make a practice of endeavouring to get the full pension entitlement into the hands of everyone who is entitled to it. The House will recall that for that reason recently we published a small concise pamphlet entitled ‘Know Your Social Services’. I gratefully acknowledge the help that was given to me in the circulation of that pamphlet by honourable members on both sides of the House as well as by other people. I will have it updated now because, under the new arrangements announced by the Treasurer last week, many people will become entitled to a greater pension than they now receive and many people who are at present not entitled to a pension at all will become entitled to one. I will have that pamphlet updated and reprinted and made available to honourable members on both sides of the House so that it can be circulated as soon as possible and so that everybody who is entitled to a pension will get the largest possible pension as soon as possible. I hope that honourable members will assist me in this endeavour.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Health and concerns the reported finding in Victoria of mercurial contamination of shark to 4 times the legal limit, a finding which has removed from Victorian fish shops over one-third of the quantity of fish normally consumed in Victoria, threatened disaster for fishermen in 3 States including those in the Minister’s electorate, and disclosed a threatening public health hazard. Can the Minister reassure the House that this instance of marine pollution is not related to the widely, publicised deep sea dumping of industrial effluent? Is he aware that the high incidence of mercurial poisoning in a Japanese fishing village has been , attributed to dumping of industrial effluent? Does the Commonwealth regard this matter as the concern of the Commonwealth Department of Health? If so, does the Commonwealth have the constitutional and legal power to take appropriate action?
– I will endeavour to find out what information there is in the Department of Health on this matter and provide the honourable gentleman with a full reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Does the Minister recall my serious warnings in the Parliament on 29th March and those of the honourable member for Oxley and myself on 19th April about the activities of Travel House of Australia Pty Ltd? Does the Minister recall his Press release of 19th July in which it is stated that some States were prepared to enact legislation to control the activities of travel agents but that others were not convinced that legislation was necessary? Will the Minister tell the House which States were prepared to enact the legislation and whether the rest still require convincing?
Finally, does the Minister consider speeches by private members a complete waste of time and can he advance any theory as to why only one newspaper, the now non-existent ‘Sunday Australian’, ran the story against a company which indulged in very extensive newspaper advertising?
– I remember quite clearly the speech made by the honourable member for Griffith. There is nobody more anxious than I to see enacted legislation controlling the activities of travel agents. However, in spite of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition last week it was made clear to me by a number of States that in order to ensure effective legislation it was necessary to have legislation covering not only international and i interstate activities but also intrastate activities. Therefore, to ensure that the matter was properly dealt with it was important to have model legislation that was available in all States. One of the major, States saying that this was necessary was South. Australia. As a result model legislation was drawn up by the Victorian Minister. It was presented to the Tourist Ministers Council in April of this year. Four States agreed that this legislation should be proceeded -with but 2 States stood out and said at thai time that they thought it was not necessary. Those States happened to be Western Australia and Tasmania. Following a meeting last Friday all States are now agreed :. that legislation should be prepared. I understand that Victoria, Queensland, South , Australia and New South Wales will be going ahead very shortly and that Western Australia and Tasmania are in the process, of preparing recommendations for their, governments. I expect considerable progress to be made before the end of the year and that it will be of interest to the honourable member for Griffith and other honourable members in this House.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Australian people are waiting impatiently for a change of government? If so, what is the reason for the delay in announcing the date of the election? Is it because of his personal low popularity polls or the grim prospects of inevitable political disaster and doom? In any case, when will he announce to the House and the nation the day of political judgment for his Government, namely, the date of the Federal election?
– Most of us know of the humorous type of conduct embarked upon in this House by the honourable member for Grayndler and the frequent ridiculous kinds of assumptions that he makes when he asks questions. I can assure him that the assumption upon which he has asked his question is just as ridiculous as most of those he asks and that will be shown when we hold the next election. As to the last part of his question, as soon as I think it is appropriate and proper to make an announcement, I will do so in this House.
– The Minister for Primary Industry no doubt will be aware of the results of the opening of yesterday’s wool sales at Melbourne which indicated an increased demand for wool. Does the Minister see the possibility of this demand continuing and does he also see it as justification for this Government’s policy of assistance to the wool industry in its time of severely depressed prices during 1971?
– I think that all Australian people, even members of the Opposition, would be delighted to see the result of the wool sales yesterday. As the honourable gentleman’s question demonstrated, there has been a complete vindication of the policies pursued by this Government with respect to the wool industry. I think it is also heartening that, although the last week of auction sales scheduled for June 1972 had to be cancelled because of the uncertainties following the flotation of the pound sterling and that, as a result, those wools could not be sold, the decision now has meant that the growers whose wool has been reoffered and sold in fact will receive an enhanced price because of the improvement in the market circumstances yesterday. Of course, in addition, they were covered by the advance that was made by the Australian Wool Commission on the same basis as wools that normally were received by the price averaging plan and, as a result of this, I believe that they in no way suffered because the wools were not sold. Although it no longer is true that Australia depends entirely for its development and progress on the merino sheep, it is still quite demonstrably true that the merino wool industry has a significant contribution to make to this country and I think that all Australians were very heartened by yesterday’s trend which I trust will continue throughout the rest of the season.
– The Minister for Primary Industry no doubt will be aware of the statement by the General Manager of the Farmers and Graziers Co-operative Co. to the effect that Australia may soon import sheep capable of producing wool for carpet making. Could the Minister advise the House of the likelihood of sheep entering Australia to meet the huge demand for this type of wool?
– Generally, Australian wools are what are known as apparel wools and, of course, it is those wools which have achieved the distinction and reputation for the Australian wool clip. However, in New Zealand, they have produced a sheep which I understand comes from a mutant of the Romney Marsh type of sheep which has been known as the Drysdale, after a scientist who discovered back in the 1920s that there was a particular N-type gene which gives the wool of these sheep a characteristic which make it suitable for carpet making. I am told that carpet making wools require a certain resilience or springiness, and this quality normally is not present in Australian wools. The Australian Wool Board in 1970, 1 think it was, made a study of the circumstances of the demand for carpet wools. As result of its investigation, it saw an opportunity for limited production of carpet wools in Australia. I have no doubt that the statement made by the manager of the Farmers and Graziers Co-operative Co. is correct, namely, that there is an opportunity, although a limited one, for the production of such wools in our country.
The only difficulty is that at the moment there are no Drysdale sheep in Australia and, to the degree to which they were to be imported, one could not run the risk of their being imported and spreading disease which might affect the other sheep which, of course, are such a vital part of the Australian wool industry. I think there Ls an opportunity for Australia to produce other varieties of sheep than those which it has produced in the past. If this were done we might be able to pick up part of the shortfall in what is a very real demand for carpet wools. At the moment most wools used for carpet purposes are imported. I hope that wool growers, particularly in those areas that might be suited to the production of this type of wool, will pursue, in conjunction with State Departments of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, efforts to see whether sheep of this type might be introduced into the Australian flocks. .
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: Has the Government reached any decision on the question of accepting some Asians from Uganda?
– The attitude of the Australian Government to the admission of Asians from Uganda for residence remains basically the same as expressed by me in answer to a question from the honourable member for McPherson last week. However, I would add, in amplification of what I said then, that Australia’s existing immigration policy has allowed and will continue to allow some Asians to migrate from Uganda, in particular persons who are qualified in professions to practise in Australia and who can be absorbed readily in those professions in Australia. I remind the House that Asians and other non-Europeans already are settling in Australia at the rate of some thousands per annum under these arrangements. But the Commonwealth Government is unable to depart from its policy of accepting only those people who can integrate successfully into the Australian community. We believe that this is in the interests not only of the Australian community but also of migrants coming to Australia for settlement. However, the Government recognises that there exists a humanitarian problem of great magnitude. The Government is keeping in close touch with developments and will give sympathetic consideration, in consultation with other governments, to other ways in which we can assist in relation to this difficult problem which initially arose between Britain and Uganda.
– Did the Prime Minister during a Channel 7 interview on 20th August, when discussing foreign takeovers, say: T don’t like these takeovers’ and that ‘laws may soon be introduced to curb foreign takeovers?’ If so, how does the right honourable gentleman reconcile this statement with the Government’s action of allowing the pink pages advertising contract to be taken away from a wholly owned Australian company and given to an American company - an act which will cause much hardship and unemployment to many Australian workers?
– I did make the statement that the honourable gentleman has attributed to me. As to the second part of his question, the honourable gentleman will have to direct that to the PostmasterGeneral and get an answer from him.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport I remind him of the intractable problem of Tasmanian shipping services and costs. In view of the understandable reluctance of the Government to introduce freight subsidies for the Tasmanian traffic alone, and recognising that sea carriage accounts for less than half of the total door to door costs, will the Minister give close attention to the development of a rail-ferry service on the lines of the north European models? I point out that such a service would give direct access to the mainland railway system, obviate service disruptions caused by irresponsible unionists and be in line with Commonwealth support for railway developments throughout Australia.
– I will take up with the Australian National Line the matter raised by the honourable member to see how practical and useful such a proposition might be. In respect of the last part of the honourable member’s question I must say that I am not sure that the proposition, whatever it may be in detail, would avoid the union trouble that he speaks about because I cannot see the Australian National Line securing a situation where it could avoid the use of seamen and members of seagoing unions which do cause a great deal of trouble in Tasmania. Nevertheless, as I said, I will take the matter up with the Line and when I obtain the proper information will refer it to the honourable member.
– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by referring to a recent statement by John Irwin, the United States Under-Secretary for State, who said:
The urgency of the developing world energy crisis surely dictates that the time for our governments to take action is now.
I ask: Is is a fact that the recent rash of takeovers offers involving the Ansett, Travelodge, Valentine, and Kiwi organisations total a mere SI 90m? In contrast this nation’s most valuable asset is its vast, nonrenewable fuel resources of natural gas and uranium which are conservatively valued at $ 19,000m. Of these 2 areas on the national priority list-
-Order! The honourable member is now giving information. He should ask his question.
– In regard to these 2 areas on the national priority list, does he agree that the national interest demands the taking of action against escalating alienation and foreign control? Will he take immediate steps to set up a joint parliamentary committee for the purpose of a complete, balanced evaluation of our fuel and energy resources and our requirements?
– I ask the Minister for National Development to answer the question.
– I will not deal with the first part of the question which was more in the nature of a statement and a comment than a question. Dealing with the second part, which related to the industries associated with the production of petroleum gas, often termed natural gas, and uranium, these 2 industries have a tremendous importance to our future economy. I would certainly not be in a position to accept or deny the figures which have been quoted by the honourable member. I have seen quite a number of references from time to time to the estimated value of the ultimate production from the known deposits of these 2 industries. I merely repeat what I have said before in this House, namely, that I will not accept any figures until they are finally proven and then I will make a statement on them. This applies to these two industries.
The position in relation to natural gas is that the deposits which have been discovered so far are being utilised substantially for local domestic purposes. It appears that on the north-west shelf there are very substantial deposits which are not yet proven. This, of course, is well known to the honourable member. If he can contain his anxiety a little I will obtain as much information as I can in relation to a quite extensive question which he has on the notice paper. Undoubtedly he will obtain some more information when an answer to that question is supplied to him.
To deal with the question of uranium in the depth with which one should deal with an industry of such importance would take a considerable time. The interesting fact - I think that the Leader of the Opposition also will be pleased to know - is that the present uranium province in the Northern Territory, the discoveries in Western Australia and the anticipated proving of areas in South Australia show that the bulk of the exploration work and also the results that have been achieved so far are largely in Australian hands. The policy that applies generally in relation to this industry, as in other resource industries, is that even though extensive overseas resources are involved in many cases of development the policy followed by this Government has always been that there is an element of Australian equity, which varies in accordance with the resource concerned, and principally that the management of the resource industry remains in Australian hands.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Education and Science. There has been much discussion since the presentation of the 1972-73 Budget concerning the variation of expenditure between several departments. Will the Minister inform the House the variation of expenditure between education in Australia and defence?
-The honourable member must have in mind that, whilst the defence vote is purely a Commonwealth type vote, the education budget of Australia is a shared one between the Commonwealth and the States. This year the defence budget, as I understand it, is a little over $l,300m and the Commonwealth’s education budget is up by over $70m. It is likely that the Commonwealth and State education budgets will be increased by not less than $200m - perhaps $300m - but we will not know that until we have had the results of the States’ budgets. Last financial year the States increased their education budgets by $200m over the year before. I would expect them to make a further increase of about the same order, which would give a total education vote, additional to last year, approaching $300m, which is much greater than the actual increase in the’ defence vote. I understand that the honourable member’s concern might have occurred because Mr Hawke indicated that the total defence vote was more, or increasing at a greater rate, than the education vote. That just is not so.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Health: Is it correct that hospital coverage for pensioners under the pensioner medical service is limited to hospitalisation in public wards in public hospitals? If so, is the Minister aware that such accommodation, particularly in country areas, is frequently unavailable and that pensioners have no alternative but to enter other wards or other hospitals where charges are well beyond their capacity to pay? Does the Government recognise the injustice of such a situation? If so, can we expect during this current session to see legislation introduced to provide total coverage to all pensioners in all hospitals and wards, public or otherwise? If not, why not?
– I suggest that the honourable member should address his question to the Premier of Western Australia. The Commonwealth Government has an arrangement with the State governments, being the governments responsible for the provision of hospital care, whereby the
Commonwealth pays $5 a day to hospitalise pensioners free of charge in the public wards in public hospitals.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen reports of a statement by the Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Mitchell Sharp, in Peking that Canada in future will have first preference on sales of wheat to China? As a result of this statement is the Minister concerned about Australia’s future wheat sales prospects?
– I think that anybody who is responsible for Australia’s primary products is concerned about the markets that are available for them. I know that my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, has spent a great deal of time in the last few years trying to develop new market outlets. But I think we would be foolish if we failed to recognise the tremendous contribution that the Australian Wheat Board, despite the efforts of the Australian Labor Party, has made in negotiating sales around the world. It is true, I understand, that there has been a suggestion that the Canadians henceforth are to receive initial opportunities for the sale of wheat to China. It is equally true that that has been the position consistently over the past 10 years, as my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, explained in the House last week. It is equally true also that over the course of that 10 years Australia has made a greater volume of sales to China than has Canada. It is also true that, at a time when all members of the wheat industry are becoming increasingly concerned that more and more wheat is being sold on terms, sales to China have been on terms.
I think it is of interest to note that only today the Australian Wheat Board has reported a sale, the largest sale ever, to another Communist country, the Soviet Union, of one million tons of wheat for an approximate sum of $50m, and of course, that sale is for cash. To the degree to which the Australian Wheat Board has negotiated this contract, I think it demonstrates that the Australian Wheat Board is well and truly going about its commercial task; it is forgetting about the political nuances which the Labor Party has sought to intrude into the marketing of Australian agricultural commodities; and it has produced effective results which are demonstrated completely in the statement by the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board today.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the question asked by the honourable member for Mitchell last week concerning the Riverstone Meat Co. Pty Ltd. Is the Minister aware that the Gosford abattoir laid off 200 workers approximately 10 days ago and that it announced that the reason for the lay-offs was the unavailability of stock for slaughter? Has he investigated the Riverstone company’s claim that its lay-offs were caused by industrial disputes? In view of the experience at Gosford, does he now accept the Riverstone company’s version of the sackings or does he now consider that there may well have been a lock-out? “ Mr LYNCH- The honourable gentleman and, of course, other honourable gentlemen opposite are desperate in their attempts to condone the increasing degree of industrial unrest which has characterised this country in recent years. I believe that the facts about the Riverstone Meat Co. are clear; certainly, they have been subject to no refutation by honourable members on the other side of this House, as I might well have expected-
– I rise on a point of order. Is it correct for the Minister by way of implication or otherwise to suggest that the honourable member asked a question in which he condoned this dispute? That is not so. He did not condone it.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– He did not condone it.
-Order! The honourable member will behave himself.
– Of course, I am not conversant with the particular circumstances of the Gosford abattoir dispute to which the honourable gentleman has just referred, but the fact is that some weeks ago about 700 men were retrenched by the Riverstone
Meat Co. because of severe industrial dislocation in its plant. As I said to the honourable member for Mitchell, who showed a most proper interest in this matter because the plant, as I recall it, happens to fall within his electorate, since January of this year there have been 168 stoppages at that plant. Surely no-one in this House would seek to condone, even by implication, that degree of industrial unrest. The honourable gentleman who asked the question might care to check with his Labor colleagues about the attitude of the Labour Council of New South Wales. He would discover that the company concerned had agreed to take the men back on the basis that the Labour Council would- use its good offices to stop the influence of wildcat strikes in that particular plant. If the honourable gentleman seeks further information he might talk to his own colleagues in New South Wales who rightly and quite properly are equally seised of the necessity, to do something about this degree of madness in relation to industrial disputes.
– I ask the Treasurer: What would be the cost to the average taxpayer in extra income tax- if the present allowable, deduction for superannuation or life insurance payments were disallowed? What, would be the effect of : such a policy on the private insurance companies and hence private investment in Australian business?
– I saw the text of a speech made by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports a week or two ago to an audience of, I believe, security analysts. That text was freely made available. Any reader of that speech would be led to the conclusion - as I believe .the audience was led to the conclusion - that all deductions for income tax purposes except family concessions would be taken away by a Labor government. I must say that the audience was left in a state of considerable consternation at the possibility of a Labor government’s achieving office. I therefore decided that it would be worth while to find out the average cost to taxpayers of the elimination of the deduction for superannuation or life insurance payments. The cost to a taxpayer on average would be $50 a year. This deduction, which is referred to in section 82h of the Income Tax Assessment Act, has the very real purpose of encouraging people to make subscriptions or investments in superannuation funds and insurance to guard them against losses through personal accident or death, or alternatively to make provision for the later periods of their lives. This deliberate policy has been pursued by this Government and until now it has never been contradicted in the Australian community that people should have the opportunity to claim deductions when pursuing that course of action.
The next point that is important to make is that nationalisation of the insurance companies remains a part of the Labor Party’s platform. The suggestion of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports is apparently supported by his Leader, Deputy Leader, Caucus Executive and the whole Australian Labor Party but with the nationalisation of insurance companies it really would not be necessary for the deduction to be allowed. If this were to happen not only would the ordinary person in the community be seriously affected but also the flow of funds through the insurance companies to the development of resources, thereby improving the standard of living in this country, would be seriously prejudiced. The consequence of examining the honourable member’s suggestion is to come to the conclusion that it would be immediately harmful to the whole range of Australian taxpayers and in the long term would be disastrous to the Australian nation.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. Last Thursday at question time I suggested that he recall the Australian passport of the official who represents the illegal Rhodesian regime in South Africa. The Minister in his reply and in a subsequent statement said that an important point which weighed against the Government’s doing so was that, although the passport was issued after the Security Council’s resolution, it was issued before the official took up his present appointment. I now ask why the Government did not consider that the Security Council resolution had just as much application to this official at the time he was granted the Aus tralian passport, insofar as he was at that time the commander of the Rhodesian Air Force.
– The honourable gentleman asked a question about this matter last week and 1 gave him my reply. I discovered subsequently that I was factually incorrect by a month or two - only a month or two - in relation to something that happened some years ago. I corrected what I had said in a subsequent statement to the House. I have nothing to add on this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Science. Is he aware of the visit to Canberra today of a comparatively large number of parents and citizens from Victoria to express their interest in and concern about the standard and quality of education in Victorian government schools in particular? Also, has the Minister received a deputation from amongst those parents and citizens? If so, during the course of his meeting with this deputation was he able to throw any light on what the Commonwealth in fact has achieved and has been doing in the field of education? In particular, in view of the fact that such citizens look primarily to the Commonwealth Government to remedy some of the defects in education, was the Minister able to hold out any hope of further Commonwealth assistance in this field?
– I did meet a deputation of parents and citizens from Victoria, which also included some teachers. I was glad to do so. The numbers who have come to Canberra, I think, evidence the very real concern that a great number of parents and citizens groups have about the quality of education in government schools. They put their point of view to me. I tried to indicate that the new policies the Commonwealth has announced over the last 10 or 12 months - in particular concerning capital funds for school construction and the teacher training policy which I announced on behalf of the Government last Thursday and which includes policies for the training of pre-school teachers - would do much to improve the quality of education in all schools, but especially in government schools, because the 2 areas of concern are the adequacy of the number of teachers and greater equality in capital facilities. I think I mentioned this morning also - if I did not, it remains a fact - that the revised programme of assistance for scholarships will do a very great deal to help an additional number of families to have their children pursue their education further. I hope that as these policies come to bite and have an impact their worth for Australian education in government schools will be felt.
– I ask the Minister for the Army a question. He will have noted that the document ‘Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure’, which was tabled with the Budget, at page 173 shows that the estimated number of males in the Army will fall by 969 in 1972-73; that is, the actual strength in 1971- 72 was 41,439 and the estimated strength in 1972-73 is 40,470. Can the Minister explain why the strength .of the Army is expected to fail at a time when net recruitment is exceeding wastage by a substantial amount? Is this a hint of a further decrease in the period of national service? Alternatively, has the Government decided to reduce the overall number of volunteers in the. Army? Finally, how does this square with the Government’s statement that it insists on a maximum component of volunteers in the Australian Army?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition seems to be constantly concerned with the actual statistics relating to the rise and fall in the number of volunteer recruits for the Australian Army. I will supply the Deputy Leader of the Opposition with detailed answers to the questions he has asked. I would add, before I resume my seat, that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition seems to be constantly concerned about the Government’s attitude to volunteers, who are coming forward very readily at the present time.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants a specific answer with specific numbers; he will get it. What has him rather concerned, no doubt Mr Speaker, is that those numbers tell the Australian nation a very clear story, that is, that if the policy of the Australian Labor Party is put into effect the security of this country will be put very much at stake. I have repeated this again and again. That is why it appals and worries the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that I should offer to give him a detailed answer to the question he has asked. But let me make it perfectly clear, as the Minister for Defence has and as I have done on numerous occasions, that we will retain our present system as long as the requirements of this nation demand what, according to the experts- never mind about the armchair experts- is an Army of an absolute minimum of 40,000. I make one other point while I am oil my feet, that is, that not only is this a .matter of the security of this country; there will be an additional reservoir of unemployment should the policy of the Opposition be put into effect.
– I direct; .my question to the Minister for Trade and. Industry. Has the Minister seen a statement made by the Managing Director of Bradmill Industries Ltd announcing the closing down of the operations of the company’s fabric dye house at Rutherford, which closure will affect the jobs of approximately 100 employees? Have cheap Asian textiles been imported into Australia, seriously affecting employment ‘ in this important industry? Can the Minister state what action is being taken by the Government1 to rectify this situation?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honourable member but I have been, notified by Bradmill Industries Ltd that it intends to close down its plant at Rutherford, near Maitland, the reason being that it desires to increase the efficiency of the company’s operations by concentrating in other areas. The company is trying to find within its own organisation job opportunities for the people who will be affected by the closure. Those for whom the company cannot find jobs will be given the maximum amount of notice and will receive certain severance benefits.
The competition that the Australian textile industry is facing from imports is a matter of concern, and the Government has taken certain, action in this area. The House will recall that at the end of last year a Tariff Board report was presented which suggested that the quantitative restrictions be lifted. The Government did not accept this advice. Instead it agreed to carry on quantitative restrictions for certain knitted wear for a period of 18 months while negotiations went on with certain countries to see whether voluntary restraints could be imposed. I am happy to say that we have had very satisfactory discussions with Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea and I believe the industry representatives who have been there feel relatively satisfied with the results that have been achieved up to date. The specific matter of woven manmade fibre fabric that the honourable member mentions was referred to the Government earlier. It was decided to send that matter to the Special Advisory Authority which recommended temporary protection by way of an increase of about 10c per square yard of fabric. . If this action had not been taken I would say that there would have been much more severe repercussions throughout the whole industry. The matter is now being fully examined by the Tariff Board and when the Government has a report it will make a judgment on what action should be taken.
-I present the following paper:
Audit Act- Finance - Report of the AuditorGeneral for year 1971-72 - accompanied by the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave - Although it is not the normal practice to . comment on the presentation of the statement of receipts and expenditure I do so on this occasion because I wish to draw the attention of honourable members to certain changes in the form of the statement and to explain their significance. These changes have been made on the advice of my .officers following an in-depth review of the information required to be included in the statement. The changes, which were discussed by Treasury officers with the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, make for a more logical and informative presentation of the statement required to be prepared by the Treasurer under section 50 of the Audit Act 1901- 1969. Honourable members will, as a result, be better informed because of the material now contained in that statement.
In table No. 5 - Expenditure Classified Under Heads of Appropriation - the heading for each department has been altered to show clearly the funds appropriated to that department under each annual Appropriation Act and the amount, if any, provided from the Advance to the Treasurer. The total actual expenditure has then been deducted from the total funds provided, the resultant figure being the total amount unexpended and which lapsed at 30th June in accordance with section 36 of the Audit Act 1901-1969.
In section ITI of the statement - dealing with the trust fund - several changes have been made. Table No. 6 lists all heads of trust fund and the trust accounts established under section 62a of the Audit Act. It shows the balance of each account at the beginning of the financial year, the total cash transactions and the closing balance. This year the table lists the accounts in the groupings adopted in 1968-69 following a recommendation of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Another important change is to show the balance at 30th June 1972 according to whether that balance is held in cash in the Commonwealth public account or invested. Previously all investments of the trust fund were included in a composite table - table No. 13 in 1970-71- which did not disclose the authority for the investments. This table has been replaced by new tables Nos 7 to 12 inclusive.
Table No. 7 lists only the investments made by the Treasurer pursuant to section 62b of the Audit Act 1901-1969. Table No. 8 brings together the deposits lodged with the Treasurer under the provisions of the Insurance Act 1932-1966. the Life Insurance Act 1945-1965 and the Australian Capital Territory Trustee Companies Ordinance 1947-1968. Tables Nos 9 and 10 set out details of the cash transactions and the investments of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and the Superannuation Fund respectively, which are made by the statutory boards under the authority of the relevant legislation.
Because these Boards must themselves report to the Parliament annually the view is now taken that the presentation of this information should be left to them as soon as they are able to present their reports in the Budget session. It can be expected that tables Nos 9 and 10 will disappear from the Treasurer’s statement next year.
The receipts and payments of these funds flow through the Commonwealth public account because of the integration of accounting arrangements. For this reason, the balances now shown in tables Nos 6, 9 and 10 report cash or uninvested balances of the funds and do not any longer include the invested balances, which of course, appear as assets in the financial statements of the respective Boards. These invested balances do not form part of the Treasurer’s accounts and this form of presentation is designed to provide a more precise statement of the position. Tables Nos 11 and 12 similarly show the cash transactions, uninvested balances held in the trust fund and details of the investments of the Ministerial Retiring Allowances Fund and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund made under the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948- 1968. These tables will continue to be included in the Treasurer’s statement as no report is made to Parliament by the controlling trust.
Omitted from this year’s statement are the former tables No. 9, National Welfare Fund, and No. 12, War Service Homes Insurance Account. Information in respect of the National Welfare Fund can be found in the table published on page 25 of the attachments to my Budget Speech and full details of the war service homes insur- ance account are provided in the report of the Director of war service homes. It is unnecessary duplication, therefore, to continue to include this information in the Treasurer’s statement.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a report on the activities and developments of the Department of Supply for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Australian Research Grants Committee for the 1970- 72 triennium, the report of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education for the 1973-75 triennium, and the report of the Australian Universities Commission for the 1973-75 triennium.
– by leave - The reports of the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education represent valuable documents for those who wish to obtain a full understanding of the developments that are planned in education in universities and colleges of advanced education during the next 3 years. The reports summarise the developments and progress which have taken place in the period 1970-72 and make recommendations for, financial assistance for universities and colleges of advanced education for the coming triennium 1973-75. A number of summary tables has been prepared setting out the financial details of the programmes recommended by the 2 commissions and giving comparisons wtih the grants provided in the 1970-72 triennium. With the concurrence of honourable members, I shall incorporate these tables in Hansard at the conclusion of my statement. I would also like to take the opportunity of dealing with the Government’s decisions on financial support for the Australian Research Grants Committee’s programme during the 1973-75triennium.
I am pleased to be able to say that the Government has found it possible to accept all the financial recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission and virtually all of those of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education. The estimated cost of the’ combined programmes approved for universities and colleges of advanced education for the 1973- 75 triennium is $ 1,467m which represents an increase of 45 per cent over the actual programmes in the 1970-72 triennium. This can be compared with an increase of 41 per cent in the programmes approved for the 1970-72 triennium over those of the 1967-69 triennium. Of the total amount of $l,467m the Commonwealth Government share will be $665m.
The programme for universities, ot $1,0 18m, represents an increase of 34 per cent on the actual programme of $758m in 1970-72 as compared with an increase of 26 per cent from the 1967-69 to the 1970- 72 triennium. The main reason for the higher rate, of increase is that a number of major new developments is proposed for universities in the 1973-75 triennium which had no counterpart in the current triennium. In particular, substantial funds will be provided for the establishment of 2 new universities, Griffith University in Brisbane and Murdoch University in Perth; a fourth veterinary school in Australia will be established as the first professional faculty of Murdoch University; the Wollongong University. College will become an autonomous .university- in 1975 and needs to be developed to enable it to manage its own affairs; and there will be a substantial development of the medical school at the Flinders University of South Australia for which small initial grants were provided in the current triennium. The programme for colleges of advanced education of $450m represents an increase of 78 per cent compared with an increase of 117 per cent for the previous triennium. The rate Of growth in the programme for colleges is substantially greater than that for universities but it must be remembered that the colleges are still going through a stage of rapid growth and reorganisation.
When presenting the reports in respect of universities and colleges 3 years ago, I expressed the belief that the courses offered by the colleges being more directly related to the immediate needs of industry and commerce would appeal to many able students as a meaningful alternative to university education. This is borne out by the events of the last 3 years, and honourable members will note from the reports that there has been a significant shift in emphasis in the distribution of students between tertiary institutions. In 1969, 65.5 per cent of all tertiary students were undertaking university courses, 21.5 per cent courses in colleges of advanced education and 13 per cent were in teachers colleges. This year only 58.6 per cent’ of the total tertiary enrolment is in universities while the proportion in colleges of advanced education has risen to 27.5 per cent. By 1975, it is estimated, the proportions in universities and colleges will have moved further so that the total enrolment will be distributed as to 53.9- per cent in universities, 33 per cent in colleges and 13:1 per cent in teachers colleges. Thus, of a.’ total expected enrolment of approximately 245,000 in tertiary institutions by 1975, excluding students, in universities proceeding to higher degrees, about 132,000 will: be undergraduate students at universities, 81,000 students at i Colleges of advanced education and 32,000 teachers college students. The growth in numbers in colleges of advanced education will be the most significant and will represent an increase of 50.4 per cent on’ the numbers enrolled this year compared with an increase of 15 per cent in universities. The programmes of financial assistance proposed “ for x universities and colleges of advanced education will provide greater educational opportunities at the tertiary level and by 1975 the proportion of the 17-22 years age group studying at these institutions is expected to rise to 15 per cent compared with 12.5 per cent in 1972. If higher degree enrolments at universities and enrolments at teachers colleges are included these proportions will be 18.4 per cent in 1975 compared with 15.5 per cent in 1972. It is of interest to note that total enrolments for 1975 are expected to i exceed the estimate made by the Martin Committee in 1964 by 5 per’ cent.
In presenting these reports I would like to emphasise that the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education have prepared their recommendations and reports in close consultation with each other and that each commission has had detailed consultations with the relevant authorities and institutions in all States. In deciding to support the programmes for the 1973-75 triennium, the Commonwealth Government concluded that they represent both a reasonable expansion of tertiary education facilities and an acceptable demand on our overall resources, bearing in mind our other considerable commitments to education at other levels. The Government also believes that the allocation of resources as between universities and colleges of advanced education is appropriate for the balanced development of the 2 streams of tertiary education. I shall now outline the reports in more detail.
There is presently a total student body in the universities of Australia of 128,000 of whom 83,000 are full-time, 37,000 parttime and 8,000 external students. It is estimated that by 1975 there will be 148,000 students enrolled in the universities of whom more than 97,000 will be full-time, 41,000 part-time and more than 9,000 external, students. The rate of increase in the number of undergraduate students at universities over the triennium is expected to be 4.9 per cent per annum compared with a figure of 5.8 per cent per annum over the previous triennium. In spite of the somewhat slower rate of growth, the proportion of the 17-22 years age group which is enrolled as undergraduates in universities will rise steadily from 8.5 per cent in 1972 to. 9.3 per cent in 1975.
The Commonwealth will provide its share of a total programme for buildings and equipment of $182m, of which $ 122.8m is for university buildings, $6m for teaching hospitals, $7. 8m for student residences and $45. 4m for equipment.
The total provision for academic buildings in 1973-75 is higher than the provision for 1970-72 but the increase is more than accounted for by substantial new developments that had no counterpart in the 1970-72 triennium. I shall discuss these new developments in more detail later. The Commission has deliberately limited its recommendation for buildings so that a greater proportion of its total recommendations will be applied to general recurrent grants and equipment for which it believes the universities are in greater need.
The approved programme for teaching hospital buildings is $6m, compared with $5.1m for the 1970-72 programme; but, as the total provision includes $2. 2m for the new Flinders Medical Centre, there will be a fall in expenditure on buildings for teaching hospitals associated with existing medical schools, as forecast in the Commission’s third and fourth reports.
Student residences supported by the Commission in the past have been of 2 kinds, namely, those owned and operated by the universities themselves, which are known as halls of residence, and those owned and operated by other bodies but affiliated with a university, which are known as affiliated residential colleges. The Commission has become concerned at the ever increasing costs of providing such collegiate type accommodation and has also been persuaded by the many representations that it has received’ from universities, from college heads, and from students themselves that there has been some diminution in demand for traditional collegiate accommodation. Accordingly, the Commission’ has not supported the establishment of any new collegiate style institution and has recommended the provision of fewer additional places in existing institutions than in previous triennia. The proposed programme for buildings for halls of residence and affiliated colleges is $5.7m compared with a provision of $2 1.5m’ in ‘the 1970-72 triennium. r
The Commission has been impressed by the argument that there is now a significant demand for student accommodation of a less formal kind, than that hitherto provided. The Commission refers in its report to this kind of accommodation as non-collegiate accommodation. Such accommodation may take a variety of forms but could be broadly defined as accommodation which does . not include a conventional dining hall and other common facilities. The Commission has recommended that financial support be provided for accommodation of this type because it believes not only that there is a demand for such accommodation but that it should be able to be provided at a significantly lower cost to governments than traditional accommodation. The Commission has recommended that support by governments for such accommodation should be limited to $2,500 per student place, to be met in equal shares by Commonwealth and State governments, and that the university to which the accommodation is attached should be responsible for raising the balance of the cost of construction by loans.
The Commonwealth has agreed to support this recommendation and will be interested to watch this development. Grants for this purpose will be made available to a number of universities which will own and be responsible for the accommodation. The grants to be provided in the forthcoming triennium for non-collegiate accommodation total approximately $2m of which the Commonwealth’s share is $lm. It is expected that this will provide more than 820 non-collegiate places spread over 6 different universities.
The grants for collegiate type accommodation will provide some 780 additional places in extensions to existing colleges and halls, in addition to the 820 non-collegiate places to which I have just referred. However, because the building programmes for the 1970-72 triennium which are still in progress should yield about 900 collegiate places after 1972, a total of some 2,500 additional student places is expected to become available in the forthcoming triennium.
The provision of adequate equipment to meet the needs of teaching and research in universities has long been a problem and, in its visits to universities last year, the Commission became convinced that there are serious shortcomings, particularly in the older universities which must replace obsolete equipment in order to ensure that teaching and research conform with modern standards. In the past, universities have had to meet their equipment needs by using funds from a number of grants. The Commission has now recommended that there should be a single large equipment grant for each State university to cover all its equipment needs. The new equipment grant would bring together the components for equipment that were . previously included in general recurrent grants, building grants, special research grants, grants for computing equipment and the separate grant for large items of equipment costing more than $40,000.
The equipment grant is intended to provide funds for the purchase of equipment needed for new buildings and for expanding student numbers, for the replacement of obsolete and worn out teaching and research equipment, and for major items of equipment, including computers. The Commission has also proposed that the equip ment grant could be applied to the purchase of library materials to fill some of the more serious gaps in library collections. It is hoped that this new provision will place the acquisition of equipment for teaching and research on a sounder basis in the future. In calculating its recommendations for the 1973-75 triennium, in order to allow for the new equipment provision, the Commission has made appropriate reductions in the amounts for buildings, special research and normal recurrent grants which otherwise would have been recommended.
The total recurrent programme for the 1973-75 triennium, including the provision for special research grants, is $835. 5m of which the Commonwealth’s share will be $370.9m. This compares with an actual recurrent programme of $619.4m in 1970- 72. The latter is some $80m greater than the programme originally recommended by the- Commission, this difference being accounted for by supplementary grants- to meet increases in academic salaries and by the supplementation that was provided last year for. increases in non-academic salaries.
From its examination and consideration of the universities’ submissions, the .Commission concluded that most universities are suffering from deficiencies in the recurrent funds for ordinary university operations. As I have already mentioned, the Commission has recommended the allocation of relatively more resources for recurrent purposes and less for’ buildings during the 1973-75 triennium. In’ its calculations of recurrent grants the Commission has paid special attention to the size of universities and the distribution of students between faculties. Universities which are small are relatively expensive because their overheads are spread over a smaller number of students; and those which have a high proportion of students in such faculties as agriculture, engineering, medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, are relatively expensive because of the high costs of teaching and research in those fields. As a result of the Commission’s approach for the 1973-75 triennium the distribution of the general recurrent grants between universities will differ somewhat from the pattern that applied in the current triennium.
I should mention that the general recurrent grants that have been approved include an allowance for payments to parttime clinical teachers for clinical teaching sessions for medical students. The Commonwealth has accepted the Commission’s view that clinicians should be paid for their teaching service in the same way as are all other part-time university teachers but understands that the payments will be subject to the clinical teachers being appointed by and responsible to the universities for undertaking specific teaching assignments at specified scheduled hours.
The Commission has also recommended, and the Commonwealth agrees, that in order to encourage the development of extra-mural activities in universities, that is, refresher courses for the professions, extension work, adult education and the like, the Commonwealth legislation should provide that the fees for such courses should not be included in the formula which determines the Commonwealth and State contributions towards recurrent grants for universities. This has been the practice in some States. The Commission believes that its extension to all universities will improve the provision that universities make for such activities.
The general recurrent grants for the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne include earmarked grants for general development purposes at those universities. In the Commission’s judgment, those 2 universities have reached such a stage of maturity that their student numbers and consequently their recurrent grants are not expanding sufficiently for them to commence any major new activities without some special provision being made. Other universities either will have sufficiently high rates of growth in the recurrent grants recommended for the 1973-75 triennium to enable them to introduce new activities, or have had, in the recent past, opportunities for introducing new developments. The Commission believes that the general development grants for the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne will enable those universities to introduce valuable new activities which, with consequential budgetary adjustments, would then be capable of being supported within the ordinary recurrent grants within 3 to 5 years of their implementation.
The Commonwealth will continue its practice of providing a contribution towards the recurrent costs of training medical students in medical teaching hospitals. The total programme for this purpose for the 1973-75 triennium is $3.8m.
Since 1951 the Commonwealth Government has provided annual unmatched recurrent grants to affiliated colleges and halls of residence to help them meet administrative and tutorial expenses. During recent years, the colleges and halls have faced rapidly increasing costs and there has been no significant change in the rates of recurrent grants. On the recommendation of the Australian Universities Commission, the Commonwealth has decided to increase significantly the rates of these grants. The grants comprise 2 parts - a basic grant and a per capita grant - and the new rates approved by the Commonwealth will double the per capita grant for full time undergraduate resident students. The overall effect will be to raise recurrent grants to colleges and halls, on average, by about 40 per cent. The grants will, in total, amount to $4.2m for the 1973-75 triennium. Recurrent grants will not be available towards the cost of operating non-collegiate accommodation. That was part of the Commission’s recommendation.
The Commonwealth is supporting the Commission’s recommendation that special research grants should be continued in the 1973-75 triennium. These grants provide for general research support, particularly to those members of the academic staff who have promising research projects which are as yet unsupported by outside funds or who have responsibilities for the training of research students. In the 1970- 72 triennium special research grants were $8m. After making allowance for increases in the numbers of academic staff and research students and for rises in cost levels, the Commission considered that special research grants for the 1973- 75 triennium should amount to $10m. However, as I have already explained, separate provision is now being made for equipment. Since approximately 40 per cent of special research grants has been spent on equipment, special research grants for the 1973-75 triennium have been set at $6m. I should like to emphasise that, when the grant for equipment is taken into account, this represents an increase in Commonwealth support for research.
I have already mentioned the major new developments for which support will be provided in the forthcoming triennium. Honourable members may be interested to know the provision that is included, in the programme for these purposes. Griffith University in Brisbane, which will enrol its first students in 1975, will receive grants totalling $9.9m for buildings, equipment and recurrent expenses. The opening of Griffith University, which is the second metropolitan university in Brisbane, will ; ease the pressure of student . numbers on the University of Queensland which currently has a total enrolment, of over 17,000 students.
Murdoch University in Perth will also enrol its first students in 1975 arid will establish as its first professional faculty a school of veterinary studies which will be the. fourth veterinary school in Australia. I welcome particularly the development of the veterinary school, which will. meet a long felt need for additional facilities for the training of veterinarians and it is pleasing to note, that this school will accept a number of students from other States whose universities do not include provision for veterinary training. The , total grants for Murdoch University, in the. 1973-75 triennium, including the provision for. the veterinary school, will be $13.4m.
In addition to these 2 new universities, the Wollongong University College, which was established in May 1961 and is presently a college of the University of New South Wales, will become an autonomous university in 1975. The grants for the Wollongong University College in 1973-75 triennium will be provided separately from those for the University of New South Wales and will total Sl5.5m. As a result of these developments, by 1975 there will be 18 autonomous universities in Australia.
The other major development in the 1973-75 triennium will be the development of the school of medicine at the Flinders University of South Australia which is expected to open to first year students in 1974. Initial small grants for the medical schools were provided in the 1970-72 ttriennium mum and planning is now well advanced. Grants of $7.1m will be provided in the forthcoming triennium for the medical school and will include ‘ an amount of $6.1m for buildings, site works and equipment to provide teaching, research and associated library and’ lecture theatre facilities in the Flinders Medical Centre for an output, initially of about 60, and ultimately of about 100 graduates per annum. This will, represent a significant increase in the output of medical’ graduates in the State ‘ of South Australia.’ ‘ It might be appropriate at this point to remind honourable members that a committee of the Australian Universities Commission is currently examining the] need ‘ for ; new or expanded medical schools, in Australia in the light of likely trends in the delivery of health care oyer the next 20 years and, when its inquiry is complete, there may be recommendations from the Commission in respect of other medical schools. , ^Australian National University
Before .leaving the, area, pf universities, I should make some comments .about the Australian National University. which is, of course, , the. only university, for which the Commonwealth has, sole. responsibility. The total , financial programme ,. for the Australian National University for the 1973-75 triennium will be $l22.3m made up of recurrent grants totalling . $1 14.1m, building, grants of $7.8m and recurrent grants for student, residences of. $’365,000. The figure of $1 14.1m will,- as, ‘in the case of State universities, include the University’s income from fees but. will not include income from rents and other sources. The recurrent grants recommended include provision for equipment and special research purposes for which separate grants have been provided for State universities. Although the Commission has not recommended any funds for .additional residential buildings at the Australian National University in the next triennium, the fourth undergraduate hall of residence for which funds were provided in the current triennium has not yet been built so that, in fact,, a new student residence will become available during the triennium.
In the course of its deliberations the Commission gave consideration to the rate of growth of the Institute, of Advanced
Studies at the Australian National University and to the ultimate size of its research schools. The Commission believes that it is not in the interests of Australia or of Australian universities generally to concentrate the development of research schools in one centre only. The Government agrees with the view expressed by the Commission that strong arguments should be required to justify the creation of any new research school in the Institute and that the rate of growth in real expenditure by the Institute can now be expected to slow down appreciably. The Government expects the Australian National University to seek agreement to the establishment of a new research school prior to the University’s committing itself in any way.
The report of the Australian Research Grants Committee which I have tabled is a review of the Committee’s activities in the years 1970-72. As honourable members know, the purpose of this programme is the stimulation of high level research to be carried out by individuals or research teams. Not only has this programme been successful in supporting research of the highest quality in diverse fields in Australia, but also it has helped Australia to retain distinguished workers and has also attracted to Australia, and often back to Australia, outstanding researchers from overseas. During the 1970-72 triennium, the Commonwealth Government provided $13. 5m for this purpose. It recognises, however, that high quality projects will require an even greater measure of support in the future. Moreover, the Government appreciates that the stimulus given to research by past support from the research grants scheme will lead to an increase in the number of good projects now coming forward. It has therefore been decided to provide a total of $20m in the 1973-75 triennium, or approximately 48 per cent more than the funds allocated for the current triennium. This amount will be in addition to the special research grants for State universities, to which I have already referred.
The $20m available during the 1973-75 triennium includes $17m for general appli cation over the broad spectrum of responsibility of the Australian Research Grants Committee, which comprehends the humanities and the social sciences as well as the natural sciences. Additionally, $3m will be devoted to new Commonwealth initiatives in fields of special contemporary significance.
The importance of environmental research is now well appreciated and one of the new initiatives for which provision is being made in upper atmosphere research for which an amount of $900,000 will be available. This provision meets the recommendations of an interdepartmental committee, assisted by a special advisory committee of the Academy of Science, which examined the desirability of stimulating research in this area. With the co-operation of my ministerial colleagues, the programmes thus generated will make use of the resources of the Department of Supply which include excellent facilities for sounding rocket and balloon experiments.
There is general agreement among scientists, parliamentarians and the community in general that the time is now opportune to increase the Australian involvement in marine science. The many strong reasons for this are well known to honourable members. The recent establishment of the Australian Institute of Marine Science is evidence of the Commonwealth Government’s recognition of the importance of this need. It is the Government’s belief that special additional incentives are also required, especially for research initiated within the universities. To this end, the sum of $900,000 will be available in the forthcoming triennium for projects recommended by the Research Grants Committee.
A further Commonwealth initiative comprises $650,000 for the support of studies of a multi-disciplinary nature and requiring, for example, co-operative research among ecologists, biologists, physical and social scientists. This provision indicates the Commonwealth’s recognition of the growing need for studying the impact of one branch of science on another, and of science and advanced technology in general on society.
Finally, $550,000 will be provided for the acquisition and operation of a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer of high resolution which will be available for use by research workers throughout Australia.
The Commonwealth recognises the importance of the programme of the Australian Research Grants Committee in developing scientific and scholarly research in Australia, and believes that the funds being made available during 1973-75 will encourage a continued expansion of this research,
The Commonwealth has accepted all the recommendations of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education applying to individual colleges and will support in 1973-75 a programme of approximately $450m for colleges of advanced education in the States and in the Australian Capital Territory. Of this total the Commonwealth will provide almost $200m. During the 1970-72 triennium the total programme exceeded $252m and the Commonwealth contribution to this amounted to over $112m. The programme for buildings and equipment which the Commonwealth will support over the triennium . 1973-75 totals $ 168.5m which represents an increase of 65 per cent on the programme for 1970- 72. The programme of recurrent expenditure which the Commonwealth will support amounts to $28 1.2m, an increase of 86 per cent on the recurrent programme in 1970-72 and, of this amount, the Commonwealth share will be $108.8m. The growth in the advanced education sector of tertiary education has been substantial over the last 3 years and the increased support the Government is now prepared to provide emphasises its belief in the growing significance of colleges of advanced education.
In every State new buildings have been erected which, while not being over lavish in design, have been aesthetically pleasing and functionally well designed for the educational needs of the students. In Brisbane the Queensland Institute of Technology building is a city landmark, in Rockhampton new buildings to house engineering studies have been erected and in Toowoomba the Darling Downs Institute is growing apace. Here the Resource Materials Centre is the focal point of the campus, providing library facilities, other audio-visual materials and student amenities in close proximity. In Sydney the New South Wales Institute, of Technology is rising above Broadway and the full scope of its design is now becoming apparent. In Victoria new buildings and new equipment have been provided, not only in the large metropolitan colleges including the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology but also in the new colleges in the country such as the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education and in the older country colleges like the Ballarat Institute and the Bendigo Institute. At the Warrnambool Institute student, residences are in the course of construction, and will be occupied by students in 1973.
In both South Australia and Western Australia, visitors to the respective institutes of technology have been impressed not only with the. visible, growth of the institutions but also with;. the extent to which the colleges have, gained public acceptance, In both States evidence from the admission centres pf the tertiary institutions shows an annual,, increase in the proportion of school leavers ..nominating the institute of technology as first choice of place of study. In Hobart, on the slopes of Mount Nelson , the magnificent new building of the Tasmania? .College of Advanced Education- is now occupied by students engaged upon a wide, range of tertiary vocational studies… ; :
Buildings and equipment, ‘ however while representing a substantial investment of capital tell only part of the story of development. The expansion ‘ iff physical facilities has been accompanied by an expansion in numbers of students.1 Whereas in 1970, enrolments in colleges of advanced education numbered only 37,625, ‘by 1972 they had risen to approximately 54,000 and, by 1975, they are expected1 to reach about 81,000. With their emphasis upon fully tertiary courses oriented towards ‘ vocations, the colleges are making’ a substantial contribution to the education of the professional workforce in Australia..
With regard to staff,, .too, the colleges have made substantial progress: The acceptance of the Sweeney report has enable colleges to retain and recruit staff who are able to bring to their teaching task a high level of academic attainment and/or industrial experience. Following the publication of the report of the Wiltshire Committee which conducted an inquiry into awards of colleges of advanced education, the Australian Council of Awards in Advanced Education was established by joint agreement of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Education, The Council will register courses in colleges of advanced education which are accredited by State authorities.
One of the areas in which the colleges of advanced education have made a significant contribution during the triennium is that of teacher education. At the present time 6 colleges of advanced education provide courses in teacher education. They are the Canberra College of Advanced Education, the Mitchell College at Bathurst, the Riverina College at Wagga Wagga, the Darling Downs Institute at Toowoomba, the Capricornia Institute in Rockhampton and the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education with branches in both Hobart and Launceston. In 1970 fulltime teacher education enrolments in colleges of advanced education numbered 1,068. By 1973 it is estimated that the fulltime enrolment will exceed 2,500 and in addition there will be more than 500 parttime student teachers following courses in these colleges. These figures reveal the substantial contribution which the colleges are making to the provision of fully qualified teachers in Australian schools, both government and non-government.
The scale of involvement of the Commonwealth in teacher education will increase in the triennium, as I indicated in my recent statement on the Commonwealth’s programme in education for 1972-73, where I outlined the Government’s decision to expand its support for teachers colleges. In brief, the Government has decided to extend present matching arrangements applying to universities and colleges of advanced education to include State teachers colleges which are being developed as selfgoverning tertiary institutions under the supervision of appropriate co-ordinating bodies in the States. Also the Commonwealth is offering to share with the States capital and recurrent costs of pre-school teachers colleges under advanced education arrangements. I have asked the Chairman of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education to investigate the application of these proposals and to submit a report no later than March 1973. The Government will then be guided as to the nature of the supplementary programme it will support with regard to teachers colleges from 1st July 1973 for the remainder of the triennium, that is to 31st December 1975.
I am pleased to note that the colleges of advanced education are providing a valuable service to those students who cannot attend institutions of tertiary education and who must undertake their studies by correspondence. In 1970 almost 1,200 students were undertaking studies externally through colleges of advanced education and by 1972 this number had doubled. While the bulk of these students are undertaking commercial studies, substantial numbers are enrolled in fields such as applied sciences and para-medical studies. The 3 States which are providing external tuition are New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. In New South Wales a new development this year has been the establishment in both Albury and Griffith of study centres where external students of the Riverina college may receive tutorial and other assistance from the staff of the college who make regular visits to the centres. In Western Australia the Institute of Technology is proposing to establish a study centre at Bunbury to cater for the needs of external students in that region and funds for the establishment of the centre have been allocated in the programme recommended by the Commission and accepted by the Government
Developments in the Colleges
There is only one alteration to the recommendations for individual institutions set out in the Commission’s report. This is the recommendation that recurrent expenditure in Western Australia should be $42m for the period 1973-75. Since the report was prepared, the Western Australian authorities and the Commission have re-assessed some elements of the costs and have agreed that a sum of $40m will be sufficient to accomplish the recurrent programme originally recommended for that State. On the advice of the Commission, the Government has accepted the State’s amendment and is now prepared to support a recurrent programme in Western Australia of $40m. I will not attempt to deal in detail with the other particular programmes. Those proposals can be examined in full in the report of the Commission. There are, however, some new developments which are of general interest, and I mention some of these.
A number of new colleges will be established in the triennium. In South Australia a new college, the Torrens College of Advanced Education, will be built in the western suburbs of Adelaide. In New South Wales the first stage of the Kingswood College of Advanced Education will be built to the west of Sydney and the teaching and administration block of a new college of para-medical studies will be erected on a site adjacent to the Lidcombe Hospital. In addition, a Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education will be established at Lismore in New South Wales but in the first instance it will use the buildings at present occupied by the Lismore Teachers College. In New South Wales the construction of the New South Wales Institute of Technology is proceeding and the scale of building there makes heavy demands on the capital funds available in that State.
– I am glad that honourable members opposite are recognising the generosity of the Government’s proposals for higher education. Naturally, while the high rise blocks are under construction the building expenditure is not being matched by a corresponding increase in the number of student places being provided. The Commission has looked very closely at the situation in New South Wales where the proportion of places in colleges of advanced education is low in relation to the population. The New South Wales authorities have proposed that the assistance of the New South Wales Department of Technical Education be utilised to provide tertiary courses in existing technical colleges. The Commission has recommended the endorsement of this approach as an interim measure which will provide addi tional tertiary education facilities. The Commission has also recommended that the Commonwealth and New South Wales together provide $8.4m for the triennium for recurrent expenditure under this arrangement, together with a sum of $500,000 for alterations and renovations to buildings and for larger items of equipment. The Commonwealth has accepted the Commission’s recommendations.
Canberra College of Advanced Education During the 1970-72 triennium the Canberra College of Advanced Education has developed rapidly. In 1972 the College enrolled 2,577 students and by 1975 it is expected that the total enrolment will reach 4,600. During the period 1970-72, total expenditure is expected to reach $ 14.1m of which $7.8m will be spent on capital projects and $6.3m will be expenditure of a recurrent nature. To meet the needs of the College and provide for its rapidly increasing student numbers, the Commonwealth will fund in the 1973-75 triennium a total programme of $26.5m of which $11.6m is allocated to capital projects and $ 14.9m for recurrent costs. This amount represents an increase of 88 per cent on the expenditure in 1970-72.
The development of residential facilities for students in colleges of advanced education has followed a somewhat different line from that applying in the universities. In only 2 colleges of advanced education are there affiliated residential colleges in the university sense, that is to say, residential colleges which include a conventional dining hall and other common facilities. One of these colleges, McGregor College, is affiliated with the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education in Toowoomba, and the other, the Agricola College, is affiliated with the Kalgoorlie School of Mines, a branch of the Western Australian Institute of Technology. In other colleges of advanced education, student residences have tended in the main to develop along the lines of grouped study-bedrooms with some shared cooking facility such as a kitchenette servicing perhaps half a dozen students, perhaps some small shared lounge or common room, but no large dining hall or major common facilities. This type of accommodation, which is becoming increasingly popular with students, is referred to in the fifth report of the Australian Universities Commission as ‘noncollegiate accommodation’ and, in the university area, will attract no Government recurrent grants. Certain of the colleges of advanced education, however, operate their student residences in a manner that is more akin to a university hall of residence. The Commission on Advanced Education has recommended that where, in its opinion, a college of advanced education student residence is of this kind, recurrent grants should be provided on the same basis as applies in the case of university halls of residence. The affiliated residential colleges will continue to receive recurrent grants on the same basis as applies in the universities. The Government has accepted these recommendations and an amount of $500,000 has been set aside for these purposes.
The Commission believes that there is a need for the further development of residential accommodation facilities for students, particularly in colleges in country areas, and has made 2 recommendations to encourage the building of additional student accommodation at colleges of advanced education. The first recommendation is for special unmatched Commonwealth assistance df $lm to construct additional residential places in country colleges. The Government agrees with the Commission’s view that there is a particular need for additional residential accommodation in association with country colleges. However, it is not prepared to depart from the established basis for financing building works in both the advanced education and university sections in the States. Accordingly, the Government is prepared to provide the additional $500,000 for this purpose subject to a matching contribution by State governments. Such an arrangement will allow the funds for construction of student residences to be increased from $5.3m to $6. 3m during the triennium.
The second recommendation to encourage the provision of additional student accommodation is similar to that of the Australian Universities Commission in respect of non-collegiate accommodation. The Government has accepted the recommendation of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education that Government contributions of $2,500 per student place, to be met in equal shares by the Commonwealth and the State governments, should be provided to assist with the provision of additional student accommodation where the balance of the cost of construction is borrowed by or donated to the college of advanced education concerned. The total grants to be provided in the forthcoming triennium for this purpose are $2m of which the Commonwealth’s share is $lm, and the provision will apply to all colleges of advanced education, whether metropolitan or country.
The proposals submitted by the Australian Commission on Advanced Education included a recommendation that the Commonwealth should make an unmatched grant of $5m to provide book stocks and equipment for libraries in colleges of advanced education throughout Australia.
Whilst recognising the need for some special assistance for libraries in colleges of advanced education, the Government, as I have already mentioned, is unwilling to see any extension of grants which do not fall within the agreed basis of funding developments in the advanced education sector of tertiary education. In each of the last 2 triennia the Commonwealth has provided an unmatched grant of $500,000 for libraries and it will make a similar contribution in the 1973-75 triennium. In addition, the Commonwealth will provide a further amount of up to $lm if States provide a matching sum to promote library development. The total effect of these measures will be to make available for libraries $2. 5m in addition to the amounts included in the budgets of the individual colleges. The distribution between institutions of these additional funds for libraries will be made on the recommendation of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education.
As in each of the previous triennia, the Commonwealth will provide the sum of $250,000 which the Commission has requested for its support of contract research into problems of particular application to advanced education in Australia. The results of the projects undertaken in the past have been extremely valuable to the Commission for its consideration of the future developments of the college system. The colleges themselves have also been able to utilise the results of these investigations.
I turn now to the Commission’s recommendation that the Commonwealth make available a ‘Reserve’ grant of $5m as a matching contribution to be drawn upon in 1974 and 1975 by any State which wishes to add to its capital programme desirable projects for which it is not able to accept a firm commitment at the present time. The Government was not prepared to endorse this recommendation because it believes that in accordance with the triennial principle, it should not accept commitments beyond the actual capital proposals recommended for the triennial programme.
During this session the Government will introduce State grants legislation authorising Commonwealth payments to the States for universities and colleges of advanced education during the 1973-75 triennium. The legislation will, as in the past, specify the maximum Commonwealth contributions that will be available subject to the appropriate contributions being made by the States. I must emphasise that the Government’s decisions on the recommendations of the 2 Commissions do not bind the States. The initiative rests with the States to determine the levels of the grants that they make to their universities and colleges of advanced education and these will be matched by the Commonwealth up to the limits specified in the Common wealth legislation. The 1972-73 Estimates include relevant amounts for the first 6 months of the triennium 1973-75.
The total expenditure in the 1973-75 triennium under the 3 programmes to which I have referred will be $ 1,487m compared with $ 1,024m in the 1970-72 triennium. The Commonwealth share will rise from $487m to $685m. In the past, the Commonwealth has taken the view that universities and colleges of advanced education should not receive any supplementary grants during a triennium except those which arise from reviews of academic salaries. On the occasion of the last review of academic salaries in 1970, the Commonwealth and the States accepted a recommendation of Mr Justice Eggleston, as he then was, to the effect that in future academic salaries should be increased automatically in accordance with national wage case decisions. Both the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education have recommended that, commencing from the 1973-75 triennium, supplementary grants should also be provided automatically to meet the costs of increases in non-academic salaries and wages resulting from national wage case decisions but not in respect of any other increases in non-academic salaries and wages. The Commonwealth accepts this recommendation which it believes will be endorsed by the States. Subject to the provision of supplementary grants following reviews of academic salaries and to cover the cost of increases in both academic and non-academic salaries and wages flowing from national wage case decisions, the Government adheres to its principle that the levels of the grants now accepted should be firm for the triennium, unless there should be exceptional increases in costs. In conclusion may I say that I am sure that, with the financial provision for universities and colleges of advanced education that will flow from the Government’s decisions on the programmes recommended by the 2 Commissions, we will see a significant development of our universities and colleges of advanced education in the 1973-75 triennium.
I present the following paper:
Universities and Colleges of Advanced Educa tion-Ministerial Statement, 22nd August 1972.
Motion (by Mr N. H. Bowen) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
The marathon speech which has just been made by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) sets out future developments in tertiary education, matching the Government’s view of future developments in primary and secondary education presented last week. It continues a practice which I think is less than fully gracious towards the House. We have received 3 magnificent reports, one each from the Australian Research Grants Committee, the Australian Commission on Advanced Education and the Australian Universities Commission, all of which require close study in conjunction with the 32-page statement of the Minister. If we permitted the matter to be left simply as a question that the paper be printed we could be sure that the debate would go to the bottom of the notice paper, especially In the rush of the last session of this Parliament. We would not then’ be able to comment on the statement. However, despite the brevity of time that the Minister has allowed us to study the question, I would like to make one or two comments which will not be equal to the comments that I could have made if there had been adequate time to consider the matter.
The Minister has foreshadowed immense expenditure on tertiary education. The real division of educational privilege in Australia is not so much between those students who get a private school education and those students who get a government school education as it is between young people who get a tertiary education and young people who do not. I have been associated with the Australian National University for a good many years and have served on its Finance Committee for perhaps 22 years. Over the next 3 years $1 14m is to be expended on that university. I do not oppose that expenditure. I think that is an essential expenditure, but let us face it, it averages $38m a year for about 6,000 students. Students receiving a tertiary education have immense sums expended on them by the Australian taxpayers. A child receiving 3years of secon dary education has expended on him about $525 a year, or $1,575 over the 3 years of his secondary education. I do not think it is too much to say that on one university student the taxpayers spend $13,000 and on the other student they spend $1,500.
I have made that comparison particularly in view of the fact that university students have a great deal to say about educational privilege. But we are concerned about the accessibility of universities to people who, normally speaking, would not be able to afford to attend them. It was my good fortune to attend the University of Western Australia when education there was free. ‘ If it had not been free I would not have been able to attend that university. It is still the view of the Labor Party that free education should be available at university level, I do not, however, believe that this in itself means equality of educational opportunity.
Many other things are- needed to ensure equality of educational opportunity. We need to look at the economic conditions of many families who cannot put their children through a secondary education. Those children do noteven reach the level at which they might have access to tertiary education. However, we believe that there are possibilities of tertiary education within the existing system which can be increased if certain steps are taken. Firstly, many students of ability could receive a tertiary education, either at universities or at colleges of advanced education, if the facilities for part time study were improved.
The Minister has cited figures for external tuition and part time studentship. If he studies those figures in relation to the enrolments to which he has referred he will see that very few students are in that category. We believe that many more parttime centres should be. developed in the universities. I have been a part-time student. It was my experience that when parttime students came to borrow university library books the people who had been engaged in full time study during the day had already borrowed them. Part-time students were at a considerable disadvantage. I am pleased that the Macquarie University has deliberately set about the creation of a part-time students centre with library facilities and with tutors for part-time students. We would like to see that as part of the Commonwealth Government’s plan in all of the Australian universities. It would be one way of assisting the boys and girls who have to earn their living, who have not been able to leave school and go straight into a university, either because they do not have a scholarship or parents to support them to get a chance to study at a university. lt is an interesting thing that some of the finest quality of students are part-time students. It seems that if a boy or a girl becomes a part-time student immediately after leaving school where they are confronted with the problem of both adjusting themselves to a job and trying to continue their studies, they become drop-outs. But those who go along later at about the age of 25 when they know what it is that they want to study, when they have a definite knowledge of the application of what they want to study, become the best students in the university. We believe that to meet the real needs of the Australian community much more attention should be given to the part-time student. This would be to take a step towards the equality of educational opportunity and also a step towards national efficiency.
We also believe that it is time the Commonwealth Government committed itself on the question of open universities. I suppose that no country is more tradition ridden academically than England. It has been rather difficult for steps to be taken to ensure Oxford and Cambridge are joined over the years by the so-called red brick universities. Academically there was resistance to the idea of the open university - a university using the untraditional techniques of radio, television, lending libraries, seminars, tutorial papers going through the post and other devices for students who actually could not come and work in an institution in a fixed geographical locality. But as time has gone on the academic respect for England’s open universities has greatly increased and it is recognised that they have contributed a great deal to educational practice.
It is our belief that these techniques of radio, television, seminars and centres and tutorial papers should be applied not only to university studies but also to further education and to adult education. In other words, we believe that there are many valuable people in this community who did not get educational opportunities in the past and who could get them through these means. We believe that open universities, apart from being a valuable additional form of education in Australia, would make good the years that the locust has eaten for many people who have missed their educational opportunities.
I do not know really what to make of this question of student flat accommodation. There is now a tendency on the part of many students not to want to go into residence in colleges affiliated with the universities because they do not like the discipline. There are some extremely expensive colleges, which I will not name, which were built in the past or halls of residence which are not fully occupied. Apparently what the Minister for Education and Science is foreshadowing is a Commonwealth acceptance qf the recommendation of the Australian Universities Commission that universities should provide flats for the accommodation of students. I hope that the people concerned will recognise the princely level , of .concern that the Commonwealth Government is showing towards a relatively small body of students. We in Opposition in this House are pleading for a pre-school education in the most under-privileged areas of Australia where no pre-school education exists. The educational structure of this country is becoming increasingly privileged and increasingly top heavy. The pre-school facilities are all in the wealthy suburbs and not in the poor ones. The Commonwealth scholarships system - the Australian Council of Educational Research itself has demonstrated this - is directing the money towards the more well-to-do sector of the community. We are to have a very great increase in expenditure apparently in providing private accommodation for students. I am inclined to believe that the future interest of the Commonwealth is in building good colleges affiliated with universities and in developing halls of residence. If the students do not wish to live under that discipline but wish to live out in flats I think they should pay the economic rent themselves. But the colleges- the places of residence - seem to me to be the places where the most effective association of students in education can take place.
It is a good thing in a hall of residence or a college for a man who is doing a medical degree to rub shoulders with a man who is doing an engineering degree, a man training for teaching or a man going into the Commonwealth Public Service. It has been found in the past that this association in colleges has been one of the valuable aspects of education. 1 personally regret it if we are now to go into a development whereby we will spread these people out in flats to live in small groups of associated students outside of the benefits that they can get from the collegiate association. It is true that our halls of residence are not the adequate educational concept. I would like to see them developed towards the fully collegiate status whereby they would have in them as far as possible resident tutors. I believe that the long experience of university education of the past in this respect is something upon which we should be building.
The question of academic salaries has been touched on by the Minister. There is a need for a new realism in this field. There is a great disparity of ; career sacrifice. Everyone knows that a professor of engineering, if he abandoned his professorship in engineering, would earn a great deal more as a professional engineer. Everyone knows that a man who becomes a professor of surgery probably sacrifices about $50,000 a year that he could earn as a practising surgeon. I think that it is time we acknowledged this in salary levels of certain faculties. There are, of course, great difficulties in effecting this because of inter-disciplinary academic jealousy. There might be a good deal of resentment if a professor of surgery were paid a great deal more than a professor of history. I fear we need to be more realistic about this otherwise we will find that we are not getting into the chairs the men who are absolutely at the top of their professions. I want the man who is absolutely top of his profession in surgery to be the man who is training surgeons. We are far too conservative on this question of salaries. There is a realistic case for making a completely different approach.
The Government is greatly wedded to the policy of recurring matching grants and it never acknowledges how unfair the system is to the States. For instance, the
Commonwealth will provide a dollar if a State provides $1.85. Let us take a look at this in the context of a case that almost beautifully fitted the point I am making. There was an increase in professorial salaries of about $2,850. The State found $1,850, the Commonwealth found $1,000 and the Commonwealth got back $1,400 in taxation. Therefore, if there is less than usual enthusiasm in the States about these recurring grants, let us acknowledge that they get the worst end of the stick and that the Commonwealth rides across its own inflation, expressed in increased academic salaries, by getting back in the form of taxation on them either 1 all or more of what it makes in recurring grants. (Extension’ of time granted.) . The : Labor Party believes that the Commonwealth should progressively take over the , financing of tertiary education, beginning . with the universities. If that expenditure is, shall we say, $100m a year the Commonwealth could find that amount of money with no need for a matching grant. from the States on the. condition that the .States spend the money so .saved in some other, area of education. By doing this the Commonwealth would advance university education and education at other levels. , .
The Minister has spoken extensively about the Australian National ‘University. I believe that the ANU should be truly national. That is to say, it should draw its student body undergraduate as well as graduate, from all over Australia. It should not ‘have a strong tendency’ at” one level - the research level - to be a national institution or even an international one, drawing students from all over the world, and at the other level to be a ‘ university of Canberra. The Opposition believes that the ANU is reaching the limits of its size and it is about time we started to make it exclusively national, drawing its students from all over Australia. Enrolments would include students from Canberra, according to the standards of admission. We are approaching a time for a university of Canberra established to service northern Victoria, southern New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory itself as a regional institution. If the ANU is to be a national university let it at both the levels of the Research schools and general studies be entirely national.
The Minister has mentioned the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which has been established 10 years too late. I beg the Minister not to provide for the research ship or ships another 10 years too late. The Australian Institute of Marine Science needs adequate research ships immediately. Canada has about 14; we have not yet got one. Australia is surrounded by oceans, and marine science is an important study for this country. If we had a marine research ship, which could really be regarded as a scientific laboratory, it could be used not merely by the Institute of Marine Science in Townsville but also by all those in Australia who are studying in this discipline.
The Minister has spoken about teacher education. We need to be realistic. On all sides it is said Australia has not enough teachers, and now the States are beginning to recruit teachers from overseas. A new concept in teaching, I believe, is necessary. Perhaps we are attracting into teaching about 50 per cent of those people who go through tertiary education. We will not be able to attract much more than that. It becomes a question of vocation. Even if we increase teachers’ salaries in order to attract more teachers a law of diminishing return begins, to operate because a lot of people do not want to be teachers, no matter what the salary is. There is some limit. Therefore we must consider using our teaching service as best we can. Teachers should not be librarians; they should not be electronic experts handling electronic equipment in the schools. Australia will have to follow the United States in the direction of having a teacher with various teaching assistants. Headmasters will have to stop being secretaries if they are required to plan education. A great deal more clerical assistance and other expert vocational assistance will have to be given to headmasters and they will need the assistance of teaching aides. A teacher must now be the centre of a convoy of other escorting and assisting persons who can be brought in to act in full time or part time positions.
It is also time for a new approach to the location of universities. There is much to be said for the establishment of more universities in country areas. The University of New England has very many attractive qualities as a place for study and research. Its location is to be commended because of the absence of distractions. I do not dispute the present location of universities in the capital cities, but it is about time to plan the decentralisation of university education. I do not dispute that Sydney needs the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University; nor that Melbourne needs the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the La Trobe University; nor that Perth needs the University of Western Australia and the Murdoch University. But the future development of universities should also be in country areas. For example, in Western Australia a university could be situated at Albany or at Bunbury and in some other States in the larger country towns. After all, in medieval England, Oxford and Cambridge Universities were not established in London; they were placed in the country some way out from the capital city. There is something to be said for that. It would involve certain special expenditure but in turn the location of the university in the country seems to have a desirable effect on both the students and the locality.
A great deal more has been said in this statement about the quantity and the quality of education which we on this side warmly welcome, but there is not breathing through these papers a philosophy of the equality of educational opportunity. Nor is the Australian Universities Commission noted for a concern to do other than routine things. The Commission has no national philosophy on education. It is apparently quite unconcerned as to which type of person university education is reaching. There is no passion on the part of the Commission to give opportunities to those who at the present time are not getting them. I think we are reaching a point in our educational expenditure when such opportunities should be made available. If expenditure on education is to increase by 15 per cent or 20 per cent a year something will have to be done about educational opportunities for those who are not getting them at present, otherwise we will reproduce the American inverted triangle - the situation of super-education for the minority and the ghetto education for too many people who, because they have not got the certificates, will be treated as nothing and earn nothing much for the rest of their days.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I bring up the Committee’s report on proposals for variations of the plan of the layout of the City of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory as gazetted in 1925 - the 50th series of variations. I ask for the leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The report which I have just tabled from the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, sets out the Committee’s conclusions in respect of its deliberations on the 50th series of proposals to vary the plan of the layout of the City of Canberra. Honourable members will have noted the increasing frequency with which these reports have been presented, which reflects the rapid growth of Canberra. The scrutiny exercised by the Committee over this growth is therefore becoming increasingly important;
It may be observed that the Committee has not as yet presented its report on the outstanding items of the previous series referred to the Committee, known as the 49th series of variations. A number of items in the 49th series were proposals about which the Committee had some misgivings and we have been hard at work pursuing these matters, taking a considerable amount of evidence and making several inspections. It is proposed to report on these outstanding items quite soon. I commend this report to honourable members.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed from 17 August (vide page 428), on motion by Mr Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I understand that we are limited in time in the debate on this Bill and that we should cut our speaking time down to 10 or 12 minutes each. I do not approve of that proposal but I will agree to it in keeping with my normal co-operative attitude. I only wish that that attitude could seep across to the other side of the House and- that honourable members opposite could realise that these issues have to be debated at some length. Goodness knows when we will get around to a full debate on the marathon discussions or the omnibus statements that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has been making. I suppose this matter is the, ‘Blue Hills’ of the .Department of Education and Science. Back in 1968 it started to make money available for the building of teachers training colleges. Some time last year it had to extend the time for expenditure of this money to the end of June 1971. Then.it was extended to 1972 and now, here we are in business again extending the -time for the expenditure of the magnificent sum of about $2.5m - about half the cost of . a Boeing- throughout the. whole of Australia until 1973. This simply demonstrates the approach of this Government to almost everything it does and to all those things it should do. It is dilatory in action and perfunctory in its acceptance of responsibility and I believe that this legislation shows the total inadequacy of its concept of education.
What is this Bill about? It is an effort to launch pre-school education on a new wave length for the 1970s. What does it do? All it does is compound the existing inadequacies and the existing differences between States. There has been no effort made to reduce the inequalities between States, areas or in any other sphere. This is the typical Commonwealth attitude of largesse, but let somebody else accept the responsibility. It would be quite instructive for people to read what has happened in the field of pre-school education. The bodies to whom we have passed responsibility are private institutions. They have no resources at their disposal to cope with local councils, to acquire land compulsorily or anything else. The slightest administrative hookup and they have to stop in their tracks. One has only to consider the general position; in Canberra 52 per cent of children of the appropriate age attend preschools while in New South Wales it is 3.1 per cent, in Victoria it is 28.9 per cent and in Queensland it is 13.2 per cent. Even the Northern Territory has managed to get to 34 per cent.
There can be no adequacy in the Commonwealth’s approach unless it accepts the responsibility to give every Australian equal access to whatever kind of education is going, whether it is tertiary, technical or pre-school education. It is the fundamental responsibility of this Parliament to see that Australians are treated equally wherever they are born and whatever their social or economic background. The Australian Labor Party recognises the importance of the first 5 years of a child’s life on the road to intellectual and cultural development. lt is rather odd that we are drifting into this field in such a perfunctory way. Although I am critical of this Government on this issue because it has had the facts of life before it for many years and the resources of the Commonwealth at its disposal for many years, it is true also that educationists in Australia have not accepted the responsibility or taken an appropriate attitude towards pre-school education. 1 have the 1971 return of the Bureau of Census and Statistics and it is interesting to search through it for what it contains about pre-schools. Is a pre-school a school? I would say it is but I cannot find pre-schools included in the appropriate statistic. They have not been acknowledged. I hope in future that the Department will include pre-schools in its statistics and so make them a little brighter. It is over 200 years since Johann Oberlin in Germany launched into pre-school education and nursery centres for the children of his village and surrounding districts. Robert Owen, one of the socialists of the last century, did the same thing in Scotland and Montesori in Italy established a new approach to education at this level. It has been going on for 2 centuries. Even in this benighted country 30-odd years ago the Lady Gowrie centres were established around Australia as an example to the States. There is nothing more fruitless than to try to set examples for State governments in the expansion of services or the further expenditure of money. It is increasingly obvious that pre-school education is a fundamental part of the cultural and intel lectual capacity of the nation and we have to accept responsibility for it. The Commonwealth through the legislation before us does not do that in any way.
What are some of the problems associated with pre-school education? The fact that it is hardly acknowledged in statistics is an elementary and fundamental demonstration of our approach to it. Pre-school education has no official status whatever apparently. College staff, according to the evidence given before the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts when it inquired into pre-school education, have totally inadequate salaries ranging from $3,600 to $7,200. Compare those salaries with the salaries received by lecturers at teachers colleges and universities and with the salaries of those engaged in almost every other form of social endeavour. Members should look closely at the salaries set out at page 402 of the Hansard report containing evidence given before the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. There is no need for me to demonstrate that teachers entering the system of pre-school education sacrifice thousands of dollars a year from the day they start. There is a strong need for a total approach to pre-school education. The Labor Party believes that a statutory authority would need to be established, in all probability - a pre-school commission, call it what you will, set up however you might - in what is an important an area as many others. In many parts of Australia it is much more important than other fields of activity. Early learning is a fundamental part of a person’s life.
What are the problems? In this instance we are taking a handful of institutions - 6 or 7 of them - which are all privately run except for the Launceston Teachers College because Tasmania has accepted the view that pre-school education is part of the education system and simply expanding these existing institutions. They have no relationship to the rest of the education system. What are the problems in establishing a pre-school system throughout Australia? At present there are nearly 2 million children in the primary schools in Australia. We could divide that number by 4 or 5 to determine the number of children who should be in pre-schools; it is perhaps 400,000. In primary schools in Australia there are about 70,000 primary school teachers. This is another demonstration of the inadequacy of the return of the Bureau of Census and Statistics in relation to schools. Perhaps the figure is in it somewhere but I could not extract the number of teachers working in primary schools. However, if we divide the number of teachers by 4 we get 15,000 or 16,000. There are about 18,000 teachers in training for Australian primary schools and if we divide that by 4 we get 4,500. At present we have some 1,000 teachers in teacher training colleges. We have a handful of children in the pre-school system throughout Australia. The Minister has said that the Labor Party’s policy of universal preschool education is a dream, that it is something at the end of the rainbow and asks: How on earth could we afford it? Of course, last week’s Budget demonstrated that money is no object if we have to buy votes because of our reaction to a gallup poll or if we want to see that the graziers are fixed up all right.
– Where are they getting it from?
– I suppose the Government is printing it. The whole, situation opens up a new form of educational challenge in Australia.
I represent the industrial area of Brunswick - Coburg in Victoria. At present, it is a densely populated area with about 110,000 or 115,000 people of great political perception; but there are only about 10 or 12 pre-schools in the whole area! There are 4 or 5 pre-schools in Brunswick and 6 in Coburg. One of the interesting points is that the citizens of this area are not really making the full use of these, pre-schools. So I believe that there is a need for an educational programme for parents. Those of us who have lived in other areas such as in the outer suburbs or in country towns know that there is no difficulty in filling the kindergartens in those areas when they are opened. In the outer suburbs of Melbourne, pre-schools have waiting lists of literally hundreds of names of people desiring to get their children in to pre-schools, while in the areas in which the children perhaps most need pre-school education the parents are not aware of the necessity to make the greatest possible use of pre-schools.
Therefore, while the House accepts this piece of legislation, it recognises it as a remarkable demonstration of the Government’s dilatory approach to this matter. This is no way in which to approach the situation. One has only to read the evidence given before the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts to see that this is not even a stopgap measure. It is simply a fill ‘ in or a sop to the whole system. I recommend that honourable members obtain the official Hansard report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts for Monday, 25th October and read the statistics, comments and pleas from the people who are associated with the kindergarten and pre-school system..
I regret that we are hot able to debate’ this matter at much greater length. I hope that the idea of pre-school education will become as important in this1 House as has university education. I believe that the campaign that has been conducted both inside and outside this House over the last 16 or 17 years to make the Commonwealth conscious of its direct responsibilities will bear fruit only when this Government is replaced by a government more conscious of its responsibilities. I can think of no reason whatsoever why this Parliament should not direct all its energies and resources towards equalising Australian educational opportunity and ‘giving education a new sense of direction. Part of that new sense of direction means the development of pre-school education. It is interesting that it is in this area that the first ideas of the free flow of the child’s thought and activity inside the school takes place, but that increasingly, as he passes through the education system, he becomes more restricted and inhibited. In fact; from the way that the Government controls this House, one would think that its. members were produced by the most restrictive education system possible. I will conclude on that note and I hope that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, will use your good offices with honourable members opposite so that at some stage we can have a more appropriate debate on this subject.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) criticised the Government for being dilatory in not having introduced this measure before now and in not having seen the need for this Bill which extends the prescribed period for the matching financial arrangements. In fact, this area has not been within the province of the Commonwealth Government but of the State governments, if they desire to take action. In fact, this is what is done in Tasmania. It is very easy to try to attack the Commonwealth Government on every field whether or not it is the Commonwealth’s fault. Honourable members opposite gloss over the State responsibilities and try to pretend or endeavour to convey that the Commonwealth has been at fault in this direction whereas, in fact, it has not. The Commonwealth Government has provided the extra time which was needed.
I recognise that, as is now widely recognised, pre-school education has become a very important part of the total education system. Despite what has been said, I believe it would be fair enough if we were to accept the fact that the advantages of pre-school education were not as fully recognised as they might have been until comparatively recent times. There has not been the acceptance of the fact that pre-school training could play the important part in the total education of a child which is now quite clearly demonstrated that it does. We realise and accept the fact that quite young children can absorb information quite effectively. It is particularly important that teachers receive specialist training in this field if the full advantage of this type of education is to be provided for our children attending pre-schools. It was once felt that almost anyone could undertake preschool training. That concept has gone by the board and I believe that it now is recognised throughout the Commonwealth that at least a 3-year training period is necessary for pre-school teachers.
It is pleasing for me to note that while this is becoming increasingly recognised, my home State of Queensland has the highest percentage - some 94.5 per cent - of pre-school teachers with pre-school training qualifications. Of course, it is obvious that there are only about 5.5 per cent of pre-school teachers in Queensland, who do not have training as pre-school teachers. However, I realise that there is a need for more pre-school centres in that State. When the centres are provided they will need trained teachers and they will be able to call upon the fully trained teachers who will be available as a result of this Bill. I was pleased to note that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his speech last Thursday night said:
At the same time I would stress that I see the existing voluntary bodies as continuing to play an important role in the pre-school area.
I desire to pay a warm tribute to those people who have dedicated themselves to providing pre-school education for children in many areas of the Commonwealth. Of course, I am more conversant with those people in my own State, where quite small towns have been provided with pre-school education.
– Give us the percentage of the overall population.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable gentleman is out of his seat.
– Give us the percentages.
– The honourable member will learn if he listens, but the trouble with him is that he does not seem to learn to listen.
– Give us the percentage of the people; that is what we want.
-Order! The honourable member is out of his seat.
– I do not know whether the honourable member is in his seat or not, but he certainly has no sense or idea of what he is talking about.
– Give us the percentages of the people.
Mr Katter - Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. This honourable member is interjecting continuously. He is not in his seat and yet he is carrying on with his usual-
-Order! I have already told the honourable member that he is out of his seat. The honourable member for Sturt will be quiet.
– The point has been made that people who really need to send their children to pre-school centres or to kindergartens just cannot afford to do so. It has been claimed that the cost is beyond them. If this is so - I question it to some extent, but I agree that it does happen - I hope that some investigation will be made into the matter. However, there are very many parents in the lower income bracket who, to my knowledge, not only send their children to kindergartens but also - at least some of them - have taken a very active part in providing kindergartens or preschool centres in the towns in which they live.
I accept the fact that to implement a complete pre-school training programme would be an undertaking that would cost a substantial sum of money. We realise that, but I am looking forward - I am sure that the Government is, too - to the day when we will be able to complete this programme.
– You have been saying that for 20-odd years.
– Here he goes again. Empty vessels make the most sound and this is a striking, living example of that fact. The benefits of pre-school training now are widely recognised and used and, as I said, I hope this will continue. However, if we are to provide such a system we must have as a first essential the training of our pre-school teachers. We cannot have everything in 5 minutes. We must have an overall programme. We must make continuing progress towards the goal that has to be achieved, and that is what the Government is doing.
As I have said before, my time is very limited. Like the honourable member for Wills who preceded me, 1 certainly would have liked to have had more time to develop my argument on this aspect of education. I believe that the benefits of preschool training will be recognised mee and more widely,- but at the same time I stress that it indicates in just one more way how handicapped are those children who are not within reach of pre-school, primary or secondary schools. 1 trust that the needs of these children will bc provided for as yet another of the expanding activities of the Commonwealth Government in the field of education.
I commend the Minister and the Government on the great progress that is being made, but I hope that very close consultation between the State Ministers for Education and the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science will be maintained to ensure that the combined efforts of the Commonwealth Government and the State governments will be directed most effec tively towards achieving the common goal of providing the best possible standard of education for every Australian child. The honourable member for Wills in the course of his remarks mentioned that this should be taken up. I believe he mentioned that there was a strong need for a total approach - the setting up of a commission, if need be. It seems to me that the only attitude the Opposition is able to take on educational matters is to have a commission appointed, and to me this highlights the inadequacy of the Opposition as an acceptable alternative government for the people of Australia. In order to conform to the undertaking that I gave and in order to keep within those limits, I will now conclude by commending this Bill to the House and expressing the hope that the Government will continue to take the keen and active interest in pre-school education which it has evidenced in the past and which this Bill will promote in the future.
– I can agree with the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) in paying tribute to those parents who provide for voluntary pre-school kindergartens, but I do not think I can share his idea of their enthusiasm in having to do so. Most of the people associated with pre-school kindergartens that I know of resent very much that they should be singled out in this way, that they have to make these kinds of sacrifices for their children. They see no reason whatsoever why their children at this tender age should not have the assistance of government in the provision of their schooling, as do all other children.
There are 2 factors, I think, which have brought this matter of pre-school education very much to the fore at the present time. First of all, there is a greater community awareness and appreciation of the educability of children in these early, tender years. It is not just a case of the intellectual development of the 2-year old, the 3-year old, the 4-year old or the 5-year old; equally important - some would rate it as even more important - is the emotional and social development of young children at this tender age. I suppose this applies particularly to those children in a one-child family - the only child or the first child. But psychologists tell us that it is very important that even subsequent children should have this social and emotional development. This is the area in which pre-school education has been recognised to play a tremendously important part. Let us recognise that factor.
We in this country have been rather backward in acknowledging the educability of children in these early years. It is not so many years ago, most of us will probably remember, that we used to sneer at what was done in countries such as Russia and certain European countries which put young children into pre-schools. This was supposed to be State indoctrination in the early, tender years of a child’s life. We have come to recognise that this attitude is idiotic and that in fact there is much to gain by young children having educational opportunities from about the age of 3 onwards.
The second factor that makes pre-school education so important, of course, is the greater tendency on the part of women to go into the work force. Many of them do so by choice; but many others, unfortunately, are forced to do so by sheer economic necessity. This accounts for the greater demand for pre-school education. A recent survey of applications for child care conducted by the Sydney Day Nursery Schools Association showed that 40 per cent of all applications were from oneparent families - usually a divorced mother, a widowed mother or a deserted wife - in which the mother had to work to support herself and the children, and that 47 per cent of 2-parent applications were from families in economic difficulties because of high rents, hire purchase debts or debts arising from illness or accident necessitating hospital and/or medical care.
Another survey that is very relevant to this question was conducted by a subcommittee of the Industry Standing Committee of the New South Wales Association for Mental Health. This survey was carried out in 1971 and it was stated, inter alia:
Our own surveys revealed that 67 per cent of professional women would prefer part time work.
I am presuming that these were mothers of pre-school age children. So, 67 per cent of professional women would have preferred part time work, 10 per cent would have preferred full time work and 23 per cent would have preferred not to have to work at all. The corresponding figures for nonprofessional women were as follows: 54 per cent preferred part time work, only 5 per cent desired full time work and 41 per cent preferred not to have to work at all. While we acknowledge that there is a number of women who would like to go to work and while there are many others who perforce have to go to work for economic reasons, there is a very strong demand for part time work opportunities. I hope that one of the developments that will occur in industry and commerce in the very near future will be the far greater availability of part time work opportunities for mothers of young children.
It is all very well to quote large statistics on how much money the Government is providing for this, that and the other. We heard the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) doing that very thing this afternoon. Telling how much money the Government intends to spend is only part of the story. The important point is to relate that expenditure to the known needs in the community. Never do we hear the Minister or a Government supporter saying: ‘We are spending so much, but the needs were so much; therefore this year we will have a deficit of so much’. These days there are lots of statistics in relation to the need for pre-school education. A survey conducted in 1970 - of course, the figures have escalated since then - showed that the number of children in our Australian community between the ages of 3 and 5 was 699,000, of whom 203,000 were enrolled in schools, usually at the age of 5 years, and 74,000 were enrolled in pre-schools. The very important point I want to highlight is that, in round figures, 200,000 children of working mothers were unable to get into schools or pre-schools. Many other mothers of young children said that if they could get a place for their child in a preschool or child care centre they would like to go into employment.
There is a great diversity of need in our States. The State worst off in terms of preschool education is, unfortunately, New South Wales, where the need is greatest in terms of sheer numbers. In New South Wales only 3 per cent of pre-school age children are in affiliated pre-schools. If all kinds of child care centres, many of which are unregistered, are taken into consideration, only 6 per cent of pre-school age children in New South Wales have the opportunity to go to a kindergarten or some other kind of pre-school facility. By contrast, 95 per cent of children of that age in the Australian Capital Territory have that opportunity. What the Australian Labor Party is urging in its amendment is that all children in Australia should have the same privilege, if I may put it that way, as that enjoyed by the parents and their children who reside in the Australian Capital Territory, In New South Wales the Government pays only $935 a year towards a kindergarten teacher’s salary, but in the Australian Capital Territory and in some other States the full cost is borne by the government. In most affiliated preschool kindergartens in New South Wales the charge is $1.20 per morning. Sometimes it costs up to $12 or $14 a week for a parent to place a child in a pre-school kindergarten. But in the Australian Capital Territory. I understand, the charge is 20c per morning.
I have talked about the necessity for providing pre-school kindergarten facilities, but there are a good many people who urge that we ought to consider making some grant or payment to mothers of very young children,, particularly those below the age of 3 years, not to enable mothers to send their children to some child care centre but to enable them to stay at home and mind their children. I think there is a lot to be said for that. It is very important that the young child should be cared for by his mother from birth to about 3. years of age. I think a darn good case can be made out for making this possible by allowing the mother to stay at home with the child. As I said before, I think these early mothering moments, if I may put it that way, when emotional ties are established and when the early development of the child in its social setting in relation to the family is taking place, are very important indeed.
Australia, the affluent country that it is, should be able to relieve many mothers of the necessity to go to work and enable them to stay at home to care for their children* They should not be debarred the opportunity, if they desire it, of subsequently sending their children for pre school education, for the reasons which I outlined at the beginning of my speech. Of course, I have talked in coarse figures and generalised figures about the need for preschool education in Australia. Admittedly, voluntary efforts and sacrifices are being made in many places. But they are being made in those communities which, even if it is difficult, can afford to provide this kind of facility for pre-school education.
We must think of the young children born into families of great economic and social deprivation. For the last 15 months this Government has had before it the report of a Senate inquiry into the welfare of mentally and physically handicapped children. It is a standing disgrace that 15 months after that report was tabled nothing has been done about these children. If it is necessary for the ordinary, normal child to have pre-school education opportunities I say categorically that it is even more urgent and demanding that intellectually and physically handicapped children should have that opportunity, not only for the sake of the children but also for the mental health of their unfortunate parents. Another group that badly needs provision and which cannot afford it consists of migrants during their early period in this country. A report that was recently published stated:
A current ACER-
That is, the Australian Council of Educational Research - survey of the pre-school experience of children in Melbourne entering primary school reveals some striking differences among ethnic groups. Only 26 per cent of children in non-English speaking families had been to kindergarten. By comparison, 49 per cent of children of English speaking migrants and 70 per cent of Australian children had enjoyed some pre-school experience.
The point made in this statement is that while it is very desirable for our normal Australian children to have pre-school education it is all the more desirable so for children of families where English is not normally spoken. If they do not get this opportunity when they come into our community, they will be further behind in their rise up the educational ladder.
I spoke a moment ago about the importance of a mother staying at home where necessary. We can call on the experience of European countries which have made provision for this. It is not a novel idea. In
Hungary, for instance, for the first 3 years of a baby’s life a mother is paid to stay at home if she wishes to look after her child. In Austria a mother is paid to look after her child for the first year after its birth. It is interesting to note what other countries are doing. The United States of America has a great programme, called the ‘head start’ programme, which was introduced under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. This is a comprehensive, early childhood education programme for disadvantaged pre-school children and their families. It includes not only the provision of educational facilities but also other such important services as health, nutrition and parent involvement, as well as the educational component that I referred to a while ago. It is a comprehensive programme to look after children and their families in deprived areas. The funds for this scheme are provided by the United States Federal Government. It is a good example for us to follow. The Federal Government provides up to 80 per cent of the total funds for the programme. The average assistance as at October 1970 was $1,050 per child in a full year. When we start providing that kind of help for disadvantaged pre-school aged children in Australia we will have a social revolution. America provides $1,050 per child in each full year. What does this Bill provide? It provides for $2.5m to be spent for the whole of Australia over a period of 3 years and even its implementation has been delayed. Since 1964 in the United States, more than 3.5 million preschool children have had the opportunity of education simply because of that ‘head start’ programme.
There are many other matters about which I should like to have spoken. It never ceases to amaze me why we in Australia have gone for so long without government accepting the responsibility of pre-school education and education for our handicapped children. It is always a matter of great concern to me to see on the streets of a Saturday morning, parents running chocolate wheels, selling lucky numbers or using some other device to raise tremendous amounts of money to provide for the education of their pre-school children or handicapped children. I think it is a standing social disgrace to this affluent country that this occurs and I only hope - to be quite political about it - that a new government will soon get the opportunity to bring about these desirable reforms.
– The Opposition has criticised this Bill and the contribution of the Commonwealth Government to pre-school education. But I think that the irony of this criticism is that we are debating this measure wholly and solely because the States are lagging in their expenditure of this $2. 5m. So if anybody should be criticised it should not be the Commonwealth; it should be the States because they have failed to spend this amount in the time prescribed, i believe that this is the second extension of time for this pre-school teachers colleges capital grant that was originally to expire on 30th June 1971. This Bill will enable the money to be spent up to the end of 1973.
The original aim of this legislation was to double the existing capacity, for preschool teacher colleges.’,, Information provided by the Minister for ;Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) indicates, that this aim will be well and truly fulfilled. In considering ^Commonwealth participation in pre-school education one really should not be thinking so much about this Bill, which is an extension, but should be considering more the important new initiatives in the proposals announced by the Minister for Education and Science in this House last Thursday.’ I congratulate the Minister and the Government on these important new initiatives: Because I think that much of the Press has not recorded the pre-school section of the Minister’s statement on education, I wish to quote the appropriate passage. The Minister said:
Recently, there has been increasing support from a number of directions for the principle that State teachers colleges should receive Commonwealth funds, both capital and recurrent, under the arrangements for matching grants for colleges of advanced education. The Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and’ the Arts, which in February this year reported .on .the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education, ‘ recommended that teachers colleges be granted’ financial assistance for recurrent and capital expenditure under terms and conditions similar to colleges of advanced education. At a meeting of the Australian Education Council in ‘May 1972 State Ministers of Education requested Commonwealth matching assistance for State ‘teachers colleges and gave support, in principle, to bringing preschool teachers colleges within’ the “advanced education arrangements. In addition my Department has received requests for assistance, with recurrent expenditure as well as continuing assistance with capital expenditure for pre-school teachers colleges from the Australian Pre-School Association and from the 6 pre-school teachers colleges.
The Minister stated further:
Secondly, the Commonwealth will offer to share with the States the capital and recurrent costs of pre-school teachers colleges, under advanced education arrangements, from July 1973.
I think that this is a most important and commendable initiative by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has now set a firm and generous base for the expansion of pre-school education in Australia. The speed and direction of future development of pre-school kindergartens rests more with the States now than with the Commonwealth because it is the States’ basic responsibility to conduct pre-school education. It is absurd for Opposition members to claim that the Commonwealth can step in and take over this role. It is absurd to blame the Commonwealth for the present percentage of children attending preschool kindergartens. If one wants to use the varying percentages of children at present attending pre-school kindergartens one should use them only as a basis for criticising the commitments of certain States to this aim. Unfortunately, the responsibility for pre-schools varies from State to State. Now that the Commonwealth has set a good basis for teacher training I hope that the States will improve their control and administration of pre-schools so that a greater percentage of children can benefit.
My home State of Victoria reveals both the weakness and the strength of present arrangements at State level. The Melbourne Kindergarten Training College has had difficulty in obtaining land for its expansion programme. It is to be hoped that this matter will soon be resolved and that the college will be reimbursed for the $70,000 to which it is committed for the purchase of the land and will be allowed to complete its building programme. Now that teacher training college recurring costs will be shared by the Commonwealth it is to be hoped that the present fee of $380 a year charged to students attending the kindergarten training college can be abolished, that preschool teacher training can be placed on the same basis as other teacher training in Victoria and that the required number of students can be obtained for the expansion of this level of education. Victoria can also be congratulated on the commendable percentage of children attending pre-schools in that State compared with every other State in Australia with the exception el Tasmania. The development of pre-schools in Victoria in the last 10 to 12 years has been rapid. For example, in 1960 there were 357 pre-schools in Victoria. In 1970 the number had doubled to over 700. I am told that the annual State budget of the administering authority - the Maternal, Infant and Pre-school Welfare Division of the Department of Health - will be about $5m this year. In February of this year Victoria also instituted an inquiry into preschool child development. That is a most important inquiry. I hope that the findings of the consultative council that has been set up for this inquiry will provide a matching base at State level for a firm and clear development of pre-school education in Victoria in the future in the same way as the new initiatives announced in this place last week by the Minister will provide a Commonwealth base for that development.
Like others who have spoken in this debate. I add my congratulations to the many people around Australia who are giving their time and money to assist and ensure that pre-school education is functioning in their own community. My wife was the president of a pre-school for some years and I am well aware of the calls that are made on people with young children - not only on people with young children - to help in this capacity. On some occasions even 1 have helped. In the discussion of this Bill mention has been made of groups of children who will benefit especially from pre-school education. I agree that those groups will benefit, but I want to add another group - the country children. It is difficult for children living on farms, even though they may be within reach of preschools by the use of modern transport, to mix and enjoy the social development of young children by learning to mix with other young children of their own age. Pre-schools provide this facility, lt is of tremendous importance to them for their social and psychological development that, prior to attending school, they can mix with other children of the same age. This provides a great advantage for them when they go on to state schools. I support the Bill and I congratulate the Government on the role it is playing in pre-school education, and particularly on the new initiatives announced last week.
– This Bill extends the date for the expenditure of moneys which were allocated some time ago. In the second reading speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) there are one or two matters which I think deserve attention. They refer to the difficulties being experienced by some of the organisations to which the moneys are being granted, in expending the moneys which have been allocated because of local government, State government and other problems. In some States pre-school education is not even recognised as education. It is associated with the Department of Health rather than with the Department of Education and is financed almost totally, on a capital level anyhow, by local government and voluntary contributions.
It seems to anyone who has read the second reading speech and who knows something about the problems of running and operating kindergartens, that this area of education should be given far more serious consideration than it has been given up to date. This applies especially to areas where what can be described as culturally underprivileged children reside. I refer to those areas where, in the main, the parents are in the unskilled, manual working groups. The statistics for tertiary education show fairly clearly that these children have very little educational opportunity. One of the means by which the educational opportunity for these children can be advanced is by giving them adequate pre-school education. This is just not available to them. Pre-school education is a municipal, private education system which has to be financed on balance by the funds available to local councils - these are not unlimited because of the competing interests for their funds - and by local contributions. It is unlikely that those contributions will be large enough and sufficient to provide educational opportunities in those areas where, in the main, the parents are in the low income groups. In those areas where the children are most in need of this form of education, the likelihood that they will obtain it is lowest. This is something which is of serious concern.
The other factor of concern is availability of teachers. The only purpose of this Bill is to grant additional time for the expansion of teacher training facilities for pre-school’ teachers. The original Bill was introduced in 1968. Apparently - in Victoria at least - the doubling of the output of the Melbourne teachers college, which was the purpose of the , original grant, is still some way off. This means in effect that preschool centres are finding increasing difficulty in obtaining qualified teachers. This year the Victorian Government is allocating only 40 bursaries . for the training of teachers. So that the House will know the exact level of this: problem, let me say that in my electorate it would take more, teachers than those to man preschool centres to enable the bulk of children in. that area to , obtain pre-school education.. My electorate, represents one-thirtieth of the State of Victoria. I think we should understand- that not only are .the schools not being ; provided or financed but also teachers .are not being trained in anything like the numbers needed to eliminate the backlog. In Victoria 27 to 28 per cent qf children obtain a pre-school education.. I. think that if we could get a statistical breakdown, on these children we would find that in those areas where the. children were most. in need of that form of education the percentage is less than half that. I refer to those children whose parents are in the semi-skilled, manual labouring area.
I raise one other factor - which is of serious concern. I refer to a. document that has been submitted to me by the Shire of Corio, the major shire in. my electorate, which contributes towards the operation of 7 kindergartens. It sets out the difficulties which are experienced in maintaining existing levels of support. These existing levels cater for something slightly in excess of one-sixth of the children who should be attending pre-school centres. In that area the shire council has reached the stage where its total capital investment in kindergartens is $148,000. The community has at least equalled that amount in investment. The council is subsidising kindergartens to the extent of $1 to $1.50 per head, and the children’s parents are paying fees ranging from $12.50 to $14 a quarter for their children to attend kindergarten. I have had the experience of being president of a committee establishing a kindergarten. I have also had experience in local government. The competing interests of local government are such that some councils have virtually refused to accept responsibility for what they consider to be an educational responsibility of a State government. I have had personal experience of it costing parents more to send a child to kindergarten than it did to send a child to the first year at State school. I think this is an inverted order of costs.
I think we also have to recognise the necessity for this form of education - and it is a form of education. If we recognise the right of the children in need of this form of education to have this form of education, we must also recognise that, just as in other forms of education, the Commonwealth has to accept some degree of financial responsibility. I wonder whether the Minister could tell us what discussions have taken place with the Government of Victoria, for instance, to enable the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College to proceed with its programme. I see from the Minister’s speech on this measure that it is proceeding, but it is now some 4 years since the original Bill was passed, and I would think that if we were proceeding at the rate at which we should be proceeding we would not now be aiming at an output of 400 students; we would be seeking a teacher output of 800 to 1,000 in Victoria - and most likely that is totally inadequate. It is very difficult to get statistics to tell us what the demand is for pre-school teachers because, according to statistical analyses which are put forward, pre-school education is not part of the education system.
I seek permission to incorporate in Hansard a summary of the problems which the Shire of Corio has with its pre-school centres. I think it sets them out in fairly good detail. The document contains nothing but a summary of the Shire’s problems. It is in fact a submission it made to the State Minister for Health. I seek permission to incorporate it because I think it is worth while for honourable members to know first hand the problems with which local government bodies are confronted in assisting kindergartens.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows:
Bell Post Hill Kindergarten Corio South Kindergarten Flinders Kindergarten (in formation) Lara Kindergarten Norlane-North Shore Kindergarten North Geelong Kindergarten William Parker Memorial Kindergarten
There are six Council supported kindergartens in the Shire and a Committee has just been elected to promote the establishment of a seventh kindergarten. In addition there is a kindergarten set up by a local Church to which the Council pays a small subsidy. In the case of the six kindergartens, the Council has assisted with the establishment and capital cost of each. In four cases the Council has provided the land and the full cost of construction, except for Government grants and a local contribution of approximately $2,000 towards each building. The total investment by the Council amounts to $148,000.
There are three double and three single unit kindergartens. At present double unit building costs approximately $40,000 for which a grant of $10,000 is received. Single unit buildings cost $22,000 for which a grant of $6,000 is made. It is apparent that Councils or local organisations are bearing the major cost of providing buildings to cater for kindergarten education.
Although kindergartens receive a subsidy to cover the cost of the directoress salary there is still expenditure of $1,600-$1,800 for single unit and $3,400-$3,700 for double unit kindergartens to be made up by parents’ contributions and by fund raising.
With the economy suffering from a high rate of inflation, all Committees have found that costs are rapidly increasing; salaries paid to untrained helpers, payments to relief directoresses kindergarten supplies and cleaning costs are major items of expenditure which must be financed by Kindergarten Committees.
A major expense is the wages paid to assistants, at present payments by kindergartens in the Shire vary from between $13 and $25 per school week. All Kindergarten Committees expressed concern about the move to have a Wage Board set up for untrained assistants. The effect of such a board on wage rates cannot be determined at this stage, however an official of the Miscellaneous Workers’ Union stated that ‘they would be disappointed if the wage rate was less than $1.50 per hour’. The wage award may be hypothetical at this stage, but since its introduction would have such far-reaching effects on kindergarten finance, it is desirable that the Consultative Council consider the matter in detail.
Assuming a Wage Board is set up and that a wage rate of $1.50 is awarded on the hours presently worked, wages per assistant will rise to between $33.38 and $42.75 per school week.
If a wage rate of $1.25 per hour was granted, the range would be $27.81 to $35.63, an amount considerably in excess of current wage rates.
If an award is handed down it is likely that prorata sick pay, holiday pay and long service leave would be introduced. By applying a wage rate of $1.50 per hour the annual payments will increase from between $370 and $975 to between $1,480 and $1,890 per assistant. On the basis of $1.25 per hour the new range would be between $1,200 and $1,550.
Without commenting on the merits of the wage claims made by untrained assistants, single unit kindergartens would face an average annual increase in wages of almost $1,000. Since double unit kindergartens employ two untrained assistants the increase in expenditure would be almost $2,000. It is obvious that such increases would seriously affect the financial stability of kindergartens. These increases would affect the present structure of kindergarten finance and management throughout Victoria. Kindergarten Committees in the Shire of Corio would immediately be faced with the prospect of raising contributions by between 60 per cent and 70 per cent to cover wage increases.
The present Government subsidy is for the salary paid to the qualified teacher appointed to the kindergarten. Some kindergartens have incurred heavy additional expenditure through the need to employ a relief teacher if the permanent teacher ls absent or ill. Relief teachers are paid at the same rate as permanent teachers and a few weeks absence by the permanent teacher can seriously upset a kindergarten budget.
Most kindergartens have been unable to create a provision to meet this expenditure as finances are all ready severely restricted. It is considered that this cost should be borne by the State Government as they have all ready assumed the cost of permanent teacher’s salaries.
Recognising the fact that all kindergartens in ils area suffer from an acute shortage of funds, the Shire of Corio has taken over the responsibility of the external maintenance of each kindergarten. This is in addition to an annual subsidy of $1 per child in double unit and $1.50 per child in single unit kindergartens.
The subsidy and maintenance expenditure to all kindergartens will amount to $3,000 in this financial year. The Council has been placed in a position where, to ensure the continued functioning of local kindergartens, it is subsidising expenditure on education.
Contributions for attendance at kindergartens range from $12 to $14.50 per child per term. It ls important to recognise that this charge of approximately $1 per school week, when added to the Government subsidy, falls considerably short of the total funds required. Parents and Committees have been placed in a ‘position in which they must continually endeavour to raise additional funds. Of the kindergartens covered in this submission, yearly fund raising, in addition to contributions, varies from $470 for a single unit to $1,000 for a double unit kindergarten.
An increase in contributions of about 25 per cent would remove most of the need to raise additional funds, however all Committees consider that an increase of this extent would prevent some children from attending kindergarten as their parents would be unable to afford the additional burden.
Several years ago the Council tried to establish a kindergarten in an area which has a predominately migrant population. The proposal received very little support, however the Council considers the establishment of a kindergarten in this area to be of importance.
The main benefit which would accrue is in ensuring that children from migrant families have a reasonable command of English prior to commencing schooling. These children would also benefit from a general kindergarten’ training.
In 1970 research was carried out into language development at kindergartens, part of the report stated ‘The results from the six kindergartens using the special (language development) programme showed that children receiving the special programme made quite large gains in language and intellectual skills While those in other kindergartens made moderate gains’.’ Whilst the report stated that further research was needed, it .is apparent that a kindergarten education would be very useful and important to migrant children.
This is not a financial problem, but it is desirable that either the State or Federal Government take steps to encourage immigrant parents to send their children to kindergarten as an essential part of their child’s education.
Low income areas also create a special area of need as parents with a small income or persons receiving widows or deserted wives pensions often cannot afford to spend a dollar a- week to send a child to kindergarten. It is recognised that a condition of the granting of a subsidy for a directoressdirectoress salary is that children will not be refused permission to attend kindergarten due to parent’s inability to pay the contributions.
In practice however, many parents are unwilling to approach a Kindergarten Committee and to tell them of their financial problems- which after all are a personal matter - as a result the child just drops out of kindergarten or does not start in the first place.
The situation is aggravated by contribution increases due to rising costs and the need for the Committee and the parents to help in fund raising, which often has the effect’ of increasing a parent’s financial commitment. :
In low income areas, as in an area which is predominately migrant, many parents do not recognise the importance of a kindergarten education, however it is essential that attendance at kindergarten cost as little as possible to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity to receive a good education.
Members of all Kindergarten Committees were most concerned at the state of the finances of the Free Kindergarten Union. Last year’s deficit of $9,000 has grown to $12,000 this year and the Union is now being forced to sell some of its assets to cover current expenditures.
The FKU provides essential supervision guidance and advice to kindergarten directoresses and, when necessary, to Committees. The experience and knowledge of FKU supervisors is most useful in the running of kindergartens. In the Council’s view a much needed service is provided and it is one which increases the efficiency of each kindergarten. Each supervisor employed by the FKU advises u pto 30 kindergartens, this ensures good supervision and it is the opinion of the Kindergarten Committees that the aid given by the FKU is essential to the running of their kindergartens.
As the Government now pays a subsidy to those municipalities which employ a supervisor for their kindergartens, it is considered that this principal should be extended to the FKU which supercises kindergartens in so many municipalities.
The Council and the Kindergarten Committees consider that kindergarten training is an important part of the development of young children and that the teaming received plays a big part in the child’s formative years.
Mention was made previously of the drastic effect a wage award would have on kindergarten finance, however, it is important to remember that kindergarten finances are all ready in a poor state wilh Committees having’ to raise, by contributions and donations $1,600-$ 1,800. annually for single unit and $3,400-$3,700 for double unit kindergartens. In addition the Council is spending an average of $600 per year on each of the five kindergartens.
The Government ls requested to increase the capital subsidy towards kindergartens, and to increase its maintenance subsidy by meeting the costs of a relief teacher and of wages paid to untrained assistants. At present Committees are unable to provide for superannuation or for long service leave due to the shortage of funds.
With continually rising costs a position has arisen where kindergartens are providing an education for a privileged group and very large numbers of children are being denied their right to equal opportunity.
For these reasons subsidies should be increased and the State Government should assume more responsibility for an essential part of the education system.
– I make one other point before closing. I think there is a real need for far greater co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States and local government bodies in this area of education. I am not sure that it would not be in the best interests of all concerned if the Canberra model on the establishment of pre-school centres - we would all love to get the levels that obtain in Canberra - were generally adopted. It seems that there is something fundamentally wrong with a situation in which one level of education is financially and administratively ignored by educational authorities - as happens in Victoria; as, I have no doubt, happens in other States; and admittedly as is happening totally in New South Wales - whilst all other forms of education are consuming nearly half the State budgets.. I think that some fairly serious discussions on this matter should take place between the Commonwealth and the States, and that the Commonwealth should accept the position that pre-school education’ : is vitally necessary for children who I Would describe as culturally under-privileged.
– I .thank honourable members for their contributions in this debate and also . for the indications, of support for the . measure before the House, although I recognise that that support has been tempered by criticism on the part of the Opposition. I think that the House needs to have in mind that we are really debating an extension of a measure that was introduced a long while ago, and the debate itself and the substance of it have in part been overtaken by later events. I regret as much as the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) does the fact that the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College has not been able to proceed with its building. I had been, advised earlier that the problems with the Kew City Council had been overcome that a permit had been granted for building and that the conditions had been accepted by the College. But now somebody has lodged an objection, so various appeal procedures have to be gone through. I regret this, and I am sure that all members of the House do.
With that exception, the measure has been achieving even more than we had originally anticipated in terms of the numbers of teacher trainees. We hoped that the programme would double the output of pre-school teachers. The enrolments in 1966 were 726. The enrolments at the present time are 1,265. Potential capacity when the new facilities are all completed will be 1,750. I am not saying that that fa adequate for Australia’s needs. All 1 am saying is that the programme has more than achieved its stated objective when it was introduced, but it has been overtaken by the announcement I made last week concerning much wider decisions on Commonwealth support for teacher training in both State teachers colleges and pre-school teachers colleges under which we are prepared to undertake joint programmes with the States for the capital and recurrent development of pre-school teachers colleges. I hope that this will lead to expanded programmes. I believe it will.
The Chairman of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education has been charged with the task of examining the situation in the States and of reporting back to the Commonwealth before the end of March 1973. That would be a report on supplementary programmes that would include programmes for pre-school teachers colleges. 1 mention this because the statement I made last week attracted virtually no attention from the media. In terms of the quality of teacher training and the quality of education, I think that the decisions the Commonwealth made are some of the most far reaching and significant, especially so far as government schools are concerned.
The only other point I make is that in examining the statistics on pre-school population I think we get a somewhat false picture of what happens within the States unless we take into account the percentage of population between the ages of 3 and 5 years that is enrolled in pre-schools or in schools, because the starting age for schools varies between the States. Let me indicate what I mean by referring to New South Wales. If we take the percentage of children in pre-schools between the ages of 3 and 5 in New South Wales in 1970 we get a figure of 2.9 per cent. That compares unfavourably with all other States, but taking the percentage of the 3-year-old to 5-year-old population enrolled in preschools or schools, the New South Wales figure comes up to 33J per cent which compares favourably with at least 3 other States. It is greater than the percentage of 2 other States. Instead of being the lowest, it immediately becomes greater than the percentages of 2 other States and is almost the same as. that of one other State - Tas mania. I therefore think that the statistics available are not complete and can be used to depict the total situation incorrectly.
A difference of view still plainly exists between the States. For example, Queensland has quite recently accepted a full obligation to provide pre-school education for one year for all school children. As it can be done by one State’ one might be led to ask whether the other States could accept the same responsibility. For our part, we want to see a greater provision of pre-school teachers and I would especially want to see a greater provision of preschools in the priority areas mentioned by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I hope that the Bill will proceed quite quickly through the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message . from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third, reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.ni;
Debate resumed from’ 15 August (vide page 139). on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– On Monday night last week, unemployment rose to 2 per cent of the Australian workforce for the first time since December 1962. For the fifth successive month, more than 100,000 Australians were unemployed. On Tuesday of last week the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said in his Budget speech: “The economy at present is moving in the right direction’. Let that stand as this Treasurer’s and this Government’s epitaph: 112,000 unemployed, 6 per cent inflation, a miserable 3 per cent growth rate - but: ‘The economy at present is moving in the right direction’.
Not since the early 1950s has Australia been presented in 2 successive years with 2 such contradictory Budgets as this year’s and last year’s. Last year all brakes on; this year, in the words of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), all stops out. But Sir Arthur Fadden at least had the grace to acknowledge his blunders and his responsibility. Last Tuesday, not a word in the Treasurer’s Speech acknowledged the mistakes of last year. There was not a word to imply that any of the economic set-backs and human hardships now occurring and mounting in our community are in the slightest part the Treasurer’s own making.
Is the Government in any way to blame for one of the slowest growth rates in the developed world? ‘Not a bit of it’, says the Treasurer. On the contrary, he says: ‘We did well’. I quote him: ‘We did well to come out of it with a growth rate of 3 per cent’. He then proceeds to give 4 reasons for the present chaos. He says: “The international monetary crisis jolted world confidence severely. Do not blame me, blame the Americans or the Japanese or the gnomes of Zurich. Then,’ says the Treasurer, ‘there were wage pressures. Do not blame me, blame the unions and the. white collar organisations. There was a marked set-back to business confidence. Do not blame me’, says the Treasurer, ‘blame business’. And he says finally: ‘Consumers became more cautious. Do not blame me, blame the people of Australia.’ Blame anyone and everyone except those charged with the economic management of this country - those who have sat so long and so smugly on what are traditionally called the Treasury benches. Could one imagine a more graceless, a more demeaning performance - surveying mankind from China to Peru’ in search of a scapegoat, blaming indiscriminately the Australian employees, the Australian employers, the Australian consuming public but never, never a word of apology, a hint of responsibility for the blunders of himself and his colleagues, and the needless hardships they have caused.
Last year’s Budget was presented as the ultimate in all economic wisdom. So, of course, was this year’s. Last year there was even the proud declaration headed: ‘The Budget Strategy’. It proclaimed in ringing tones:
We see it as a critically important objective of ow policy to combat the inflationary forces now running in our economy.
This Budget sets out no strategy. The comparable heading this year is reduced to a modest ‘Philosophy and Objectives’ though philosophy or objectives are hard indeed to discover. Instead of a declaration of war against inflation, or unemployment, we are merely told confidentially: ‘In looking at the year ahead, the Government has in mind a number of considerations’. This relatively modest tone; this retreat from rhetoric, is I suppose the most we can hope for; the nearest we can hope to get to a confession of failure from the Treasurer. On his own admission,’ he has failed in what he called ‘the critically important objective to combat inflationary forces’. He says now: ‘A modest abatement of inflationary trends has been achieved’. How modest is shown by comparing this year’s Speech with last year’s. In last year’s Speech he said: ‘By the June quarter of 1971 the underlying rate of increase in prices was above 6 per cent’. Last Tuesday he said; In the year to the June quarter of 1972 the increase was still far’ too high at 6.1 per cent’. Some reduction! Some achievement!
And what price has this nation paid for this ‘achievement’? Over $800m in lost production, production which need never have been lost and which can never be recovered; 100,000 unemployed who need never have been unemployed and . thousands of whom may never find themselves in employment again; incomes ruined; standards undermined; lives ..wrecked; families broken - all because of. these divided and desperate men. Yet for . all their proved incompetence, for all their bickering and pettiness, they remain, still as arrogant as they were in the days when, finding themselves suddenly the successors of Menzies and Holt and McEwen, they thought that they had been endowed with the right and ability to rule this nation.
The restoration of confidence’ - that was the Treasurer’s statement of his aims in this Budget. And he is right. It is imperative to restore confidence. National confidence, business confidence, the people’s confidence will never be restored under this leadership. Confidence can only be restored by removing the root cause of the loss of national confidence. It can only be restored by removing this government. Therefore I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House condemns the Budget because it fails to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia; and in particular because it provides no programme for restoring full employment, no means of checking the costs and prices of goods and land, no framework for improving the standards of education, health, welfare and public transport and no national plan for our capital cities and regional centres’.
The dramatics associated with this Budget and some of its proposals have helped hide how very orthodox, how very conservative and how very backwardlooking a document it is. To that extent it is well fitted to be the last fling of the Liberal Party and, as I said before I was gagged last Tuesday night, its last will and testament. The Budget contains one very clear message to the people of Australia as far as the Liberal Party is concerned. This Budget, more clearly than any I can recall, defines exactly the Liberal Party approach to the relationship between the national Government and the national community. This Budget asserts, more strongly than any in recent times, the Liberal view that the real links between the national Government and the national community are the tax laws and cash payments. It asserts, with fewer concessions to true national needs than any Budget since 1961, that the basic decisions of the national Government are to determine the level of income tax and the level of pensions. It asserts that the distribution of the nation’s wealth and the enhancement of the quality of the nation’s life must be determined entirely within an arbitrary tax level and an arbitrary level of cash benefits. It asserts that once these decisions have been made the national Government has discharged its basic responsibilities to the nation. It asserts that economic management chiefly depends on these 2 items of revenue and expenditure. It is a narrow and limiting Budget, because it accepts the most narrow and limiting view - the genuine Liberal view - of the role of the national Government.
It denies that it is the responsibility of the national Government to set goals for the nation. If ever there was a time and an opportunity and a need to set national goals, this was it. The people of Australia want to know where their country is heading. The Parliament and the nation should have been told that the elected Government would set goals for 1975 of genuine full employment, of reducing inflation to acceptable limits. We should have been told that Australia can and must eliminate poverty in the midst of plenty, can and must give every Australian child an equal start in life by providing proper pre-schooling and raising the standards in the State and parish schools to some sort of equality with the wealthiest schools and by training the teachers we need. We should have been told that by 1975 a firm foundation would have been laid for a national highway system and for the modernisation of the urban transport system; that by 1975 the endless sprawl of the capitals will have been reversed and that our countryside will begin to be taking a new shape with the building up of new and existing centres; that by 1975 the Australian national Government shall have moved decisively on behalf of the Australian people to regain control of the ownership and use of Australia’s resources. These are some of the matters the people wanted to hear about but on these great matters this Budget told them nothing.
There is scarcely a proposal, and not a single major proposal, that sets a lasting mark - nothing permanent, secure, irrevocable, enduring. This Budget is writ in water. There is nothing in it that is not reversible - nothing in it that does not follow slavishly the advice of the Treasury White Paper last month that the key measures of the 1972 Budget should indeed be quickly reversible - or, as the Treasurer said in ominous words:
What the future holds can be only dimly seen. We shall review economic trends as the year goes on. I think it right to inject this cautionary note. But tonight 1 shall not dwell on it further.
That is merely Sneddenese for saying: What I have given, I shall just as easily take away - if you are fool enough to give me half a chance’.
But what really has he given? Take his own definition - his ‘portrayal’ as he put it - ‘taxes down, pensions up, growth decisively strengthened’. Taxation is not down. The rate of tax increases has merely been taken down a notch. The process of pushing the low and middle income earners into ever higher tax brackets by leaving the tax schedules fundamentally unchanged is to continue as damagingly as ever. The Treasurer’s typical family man - the average wage earner with a wife and 2 children - pays a higher proportion of his income in tax under the McMahon Government than under any government in Australia’s history. The number of cents in each dollar earned which he must pay in tax was 2.9 in the last year of the Chifley Government. It was 10.3c in the dollar in the last year of the Menzies Government, 11.4c in the last year of the Holt Government and 13.9c in the last year of the Gorton Government. In the first year of the McMahon Government the average income earner paid 15.8c in the dollar. He will now pay 14-. lc in the dollar. In the McMahon years- in this year’s Budget and last year’s - the Australian wage earner is paying tax at the highest rate ever levied by any government in’ Australia’s history. The relief which the Treasurer purported to produce last Tuesday is real only in terms of the excesses for which he was responsible last year. The taxpayer will not pay less tax; his tax increase is a bit lower than it would have been if nothing had been done.
Separate figures for income tax paid by employees first became available in 1963- 64. Between that and 1971-72 the amount earned by employees rose by 127 per cent but their taxes will have risen by 264.8 per cent. The governments of Sir Robert Menzies, Mr Holt, Mr Gorton and now Mr McMahon have been increasing the burden of taxation more than twice as fast as employees have increased their capacity to bear it. According to the Treasurer, earnings will rise this year by 11 per cent but tax collections will rise by 13.5 per cent. The Treasurer has not, as he would have us believe, reduced taxation. He has merely foregone a part of the annual tax increase to which successive Liberal governments have accustomed us.
A mere reduction in the rate of tax increase is not real redistribution of the tax burden. Nothing has been done to attack the real problem of middle income earners paying taxes at rates set for high income earners. The equivalent of $5,000 18 years ago was a high income; it is an exceptionally modest income today. But the $5,000 a year man today is taxed as if he were the wealthy man of 18 years ago - because the system remains unchanged. The new scales just do not attack that fundamental problem. Yet there are commanding economic reasons why such an attack should have been made this year. This year above all, equity is good economics; fairness is sound finance. The immediate need is to boost spending. The man on $2,200 who gets an extra $33 will spend every one of those dollars. Will the man on ‘$20,000 spend the $600’ the Treasurer is giving him? Let there be no nonsense about the fairness of these tax cuts. As much as any other produced in the last 23 years, this, is a rich man’s Budget. ‘
The second part of- .the -Treasurer’s ‘portrayal’ is ‘pensions up’/ There is deep resentment in the community about the deal given to pensioners. The community’ instinctively feels the injustice, and the hard figures bear the feeling out. Since 1970 the single pension has been lower in’ terms of average weekly earnings than at any time since the war. Only in 1970 did it fall- below 20 per cent. Under the Chifley Government it was 25 per cent. Last year ‘it fell to 19.6 per cent. If we accept the- ‘Budget assumption that average weekly earnings will increase by 9 per cent, the single pension at the new rate will be only 19.7 per cent of average weekly male earnings: The married pensioners are in an even worse position. Their benefit will fall from last year’s level of 34.4 per cent of average weekly earnings to 34 per cent this year. And worst of all are repatriation pensions. The totally and permanently incapacitated rate falls from 45.8 per cent to 45.4 per cent. Twenty years ago it was 58 per cent of average weekly earnings. The general rate - at 13.2 per cent of average weekly earnings - has only once been lower since the war, and that was last year when it stood at 12.4 per cent of average weekly earnings compared with 27 per cent 20 years ago. Pensions up indeed! In the only real measure of the cost of a decent life and the resources available to the community, pensions in the last Gorton year and the McMahon years are at their lowest level ever.
The major piece of window dressing in the social services section of the Budget is the suggestion that the means test might be abolished in 3 years. This of course is not a 1972 Budget proposal at all. It has nothing to do with this Budget, its reality, its consequences or its costs. It is an election promise, not a Budget proposal. And how extraordinary indeed to find it included in a Budget Speech - this proposal, which when I made it in 1969, as my predecessors since 1954 have made it, was dubbed financially irresponsible and wildly inflationary. Indeed, latter-day Liberals like the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) even made a moral virtue out of their opposition to abolition. Labor’s proposal, they said, was not only irresponsible financially but wrong in principle. Some honourable members may remember the occasion of my speech on the Budget in 1969 when I said:
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) rejects not merely the practicability of abolishing the means test but the principle as well. 1 quote from Hansard:
– Hear, hear!
It was the most succinct utterance he ever made. The right honourable gentleman introduced the tapered means test. The present Prime Minister detapered it last year as part of the whole process of degortonisationdegortonisation Now he has retapered it. And lest it be thought that the deposed Prime Minister was the only opponent of Labor’s proposal to abolish the means test, let me remind honourable members that the costing of Labor’s proposal in 1969 was the occasion of a memorable and ominous public disputation between Mr Gorton and the present Prime Minister during that campaign. The present Prime Minister, then the Treasurer, said the proposal was even more irresponsible than Mr Gorton made out. The present Prime Minister doubled the estimate of the right honourable member for Higgins, and therefore was twice as hostile to our proposal. This of course was in the days when ‘where’s the money coming from’ was a question directed only to the Labor Party. Not 6 weeks ago, when this very Budget was being framed, there was a public brawl between the 2 Ministers most directly involved - the Treasurer and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). The Treasurer scouted the very idea of aboli tion; the Minister for Social Services accused the Treasurer of falsifying the figures. The Prime Minister arbitrated and came down on the side of the Treasurer. Now we have this vague uncosted proposal inserted into the Budget Speech; and again I emphasise that it is not a proposal for which this Budget accepts one iota of responsibility. But I invite the Parliament and the people to look closely at the nature of this much-vaunted proposal.
In the words of last Wednesday’s excellent editorial in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ - though the ‘Financial Review* was referring to the whole Budget Speech - the Budget Speech was ‘clever, alluring, misleading’. For what the Treasurer says is this:
It is one that has, of course, considerable financial and social implications. Because of this, the government proposes to appoint a Committee of Enquiry to examine and report on these matters and on how this proposal-
That is, to abolish the means test - . . may be responsibly financed with particular reference to national superannuation.
So we have this situation: A Labor principle which has been bitterly denounced by Liberals since 1954 - a proposal which has set the whole leadership of the Liberal Party at public loggerheads right up to a few weeks ago, a proposition for which this Budget makes no allocation or costing whatsoever - has suddenly become Liberal orthodoxy. And its implementation is linked to the say-so of a non-existent committee, and that committee in turn is linked to an inquiry into national superannuation, namely, the inquiry on superannuation to hold which has been 5 times moved in this Parliament by the Labor Party and 5 times voted against by every member of the Liberal and Country Parties. Mr Deputy Speaker, which do you think the people of this country would trust? Where lies the weight of evidence of good intent? On one side the Labor Party with 2 decades of support for abolition, or the Liberal Party with 2 decades of denunciation of it; the Labor Party which has committed itself in every election since 1954 to abolition, or the Liberal Party which until 6 weeks ago was wrangling about it, with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer opposing it; the Labor Party with its full programme of combining the base single pension rate to one-quarter of average weekly earnings, the abolition of the means test and the introduction of national superannuation, or half a dozen lines - a completely uncosted proposal - in the last Liberal Budget, uttered by a Treasurer who only a few weeks ago was rubbishing the whole idea?
Let me make these points on behalf of my Party. Our 1969 proposal to abolish the means test could have been implemented by our winning that election. Every person over the age of 69 would now be receiving the pension free of means test. Our 1969 proposal to inquire into Australian proposals and overseas examples of national superannuation would now be bearing fruit in the establishment of an actual national superannuation scheme. Our time-table was based on the figures officially provided by the Government itself. Now the Minister for Social Services has revised those figures. On the basis of those figures, we say that the means test could be responsibly abolished by 1975. We will complete the abolition of the means test by 1975.
The third part of the Treasurer’s ‘portrayal’ was ‘growth strengthened’. The Treasurer does not presume , and does not dare to identify or discuss the - growth effects of his measures. At most, he offers a restoration of a growth rate which should never have declined, and which would never have declined except for his measures of a year ago. And as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) have proved, the growth rate the Treasurer hopes for still implies an unemployment level next year of between 150,000 and 200,000. The Liberal Party wishes to redefine full employment after a quarter of a century of bipartisanship on this issue. Full employment is now to be redefined by the Liberals as never less than 100,000 and as many as 200,000 unemployed. Not even in 1961 was there argument about the meaning of full employment. It means, and can only mean, that every able and willing man and woman can find a job. Written into this Budget is the clear assumption that there is to be a pool of 100,000 unemployed, including a hard core of 50,000 or 60,000 unemployed.
So put the Treasurer’s package together, take the Treasurer at his own words, and see what sort of a statement of national goals we have. Is a temporary and illusory and inequitable tax cut the limit of the aspirations of the Australian people? Is a small rise in cash welfare benefits, with an actual decline in their value, the answer to poverty, indignity and insecurity among the aged, the widowed, the returned men, the sick and the handicapped? Is this the limit of our capacity to ‘respond to the social needs of our people? Is it enough; is it anything much to restore a growth rate needlessly destroyed a year- ago? Yet this is the limit of this Budget’s vision and purpose. It is its author’s own “portrayal’ of the Budget’s purposes. Such is the extent of the Government’s vision for Australia in 1972. It is not a vision. at all; it is a mirage deliberately designed to shimmer for 3 months. v
The Budget rnakes absolutely no attempt to plan for Australia’s future, either economically or socially. We have’ returned to the bad old days of stop-go with a vengeance. The: fact is that the business com- :community and the general ‘ public have no guidance at all as to where the economy : will be in 5 months, much less 5 years. The business management- consultants, W. D. Scott and Co., last’ ‘month’ conducted a survey’ of 370 top executives; One of the questions they were asked was: ‘
Do you believe Australia as , it nation should ‘ have specific growth objectives’ for, say, the next 5 to 10 years? . .
Ninety-five per cent answered yes and, as the survey states:
This question was answered by a sweeping affirmation for increased national planning.
National planning does hot involve setting growth objectives for every industry and every product, but it does require government co-operation with industry as a whole to establish balanced growth objectives. And the key to national planning is decidedly ‘co-operation’. There must be continuing co-operation between government, management and employees. At the root of ‘ much of the current industrial unrest is a break-down of co-operation inspired by the Government’s determination to have an industrial confrontation, even to a point where the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) publicly called on the aid of multi-national foreign corporations to use their strength against Australian employees. National planning is in fact another name for national cooperation.
In planning national goals, in reducing industrial unrest and in such fundamental matters as any review of the tariff structure, continuing consultation and cooperation with management and employees are essential. It requires mutual confidence and goodwill and confidence in Australia’s future. A Labor government will be calling upon both sides of industry to participate and co-operate in planning the future of Australia, in the creation of full employment, in the containment of inflation. Cooperation, not confrontation, will be our watchword.
– Halfpenny and Laurie Carmichael.
– Order! The Minister for Shipping and Transport will cease interjecting.
– He usually is adrift, Mr Deputy Speaker. The planning in this Budget is limited to the broad assertion that the economy will grow at 5 per cent. But this was the same figure asserted in last year’s Budget. Even as late as December the Treasurer maintained that a 4 per cent growth would be achieved. In fact it turned out to be an appalling 3 per cent. So much for the Government’s grasp of the consequences of its economic policies. Although the inflation rate is basically unchanged from that of last year, the Treasurer has in reality ignored the problem altogether. He makes no reference to the inflationary consequences of the 3-day wrangle over the currency valuation last December - a display of Government incompetence and division which has done perhaps more than anything else to destroy confidence in this Government both at home and abroad. The Treasurer was an early advocate of a prices justification tribunal. There could never have been a more appropriate time to set it up. The Treasurer maintains his obsession with wages. He ignores altogether the problem of prices.
The Budget is built upon a totally inadequate and, I believe, totally mistaken concept of the relations between the national government and the citizens of Australia. I make 2 fundamental propositions: This Budget narrows the role of the national government and it narrows the real meaning of being an Australian citizen in 1972. The Treasurer said that his standard of reference was what he called the typical family man. He had nothing to say, one notes, about the typical family woman. But how narrow and constricting is the Treasurer’s concept. The Australian citizen is not merely a wage-earner who pays income tax to the Federal Government. He is not just a taxpayer. He is a citizen who must buy land, build a house or rent one, raise a family, keep them and himself in health, travel to work, pay State charges, pay municipal charges, pay insurance charges. If the community, if governments by doing nothing or by deliberate action raise the cost of the other charges he must bear, then he is being taxed as surely and deliberately as he would be if the income tax were increased. Alternatively, if government action or investment can save the individual citizen money, it is as effective a means of increasing his standard of living and his freedom of choice as a reduction of taxes or an increase in wages would be.
And my other proposition is this: Any function of our society will grow in strength, quality and equality to the extent that the Commonwealth involves itself. But if Commonwealth involvement is limited just to providing cash, then there is no true national commitment at all to promoting the quality and equality of that community service. It is not enough for the national government to help in paying fees for doctors, for hospitals or for schools. That does nothing to reduce costs or to improve equality. The national government must involve itself in planning the service, and in the services themselves, not merely the costs.
These are the 2 great tests, and by these tests this Budget fails. The Treasurer has set himself the narrowest possible target - $2 or so to the so-called typical man. The Australian whose real needs and aims, his hopes for himself and his children, are to be met in this way in 1972 not only is not typical; he is non-existent. The typical Australian today is, I profoundly believe, a man or woman who wants to believe that he or she lives in a society which is committed to achieving justice and equity and opportunity for all, not just for himself and his immediate family but for all his fellow citizens, and who believes that he can and does contribute to achieving such a society.
This is my judgment of the typical Australian, and I am confident that my judgment is not misplaced. But the typical Australian cannot believe he is living in a society committed to justice and equal opportunity when he sees his national government content to have 100,000 and more of his fellow-citizens unemployed, when he sees one million of his fellow citizens living near or below the poverty line, when he sees the operation of one law for wage earners and another for price fixers, when he sees men of great wealth able to avoid, through tax dodges, paying millions of dollars, when he sees the Aboriginal community suffering from the world’s highest infant mortality rate, when he sees millions of dollars spent on a handful of the wealthiest schools in Australia while most State and parish schools are struggling to meet basic standards, when he sees a health system which costs the richest man scarcely half as much as the average man has to pay. In modern Australia the typical Australian looks to his governments to redress these injustices, not least because he knows that governments themselves have done so much to create them. And in modern Australia the government he increasingly looks to for leadership and justice is the national government. From that national government he is looking for leadership. The Budget could provide an opportunity for leadership, for the setting of national goals. This most impermanent and unstable document this year provides nothing of the sort.
And if the typical Australian is to be our measure, then this Budget ignores completely the most typical characteristic of the vast majority of Australians. And that is that they live in cities - not just the State capitals, but cities and centres throughout our continent. I find it unbelievable that in 1972, in a nation which pretends to be advanced, the national Government can produce a national Budget which is silent on cities - silent on the basic problems of 85 per cent of its citizens and the places where they have to live. A national government which has nothing to say about cities has nothing of real or enduring importance to say to the nation at all.
Where was the voice of the Country Party when this Budget was being framed? While our great cities are becoming daily more costly and unworkable, the countryside is being depopulated. An intractable problem of rural unemployment has developed - the youth of the countryside are leaving both the farms and the towns in their thousands. The economic conditions of the day as well as the long term needs of the nation absolutely require that we should start this year on restructuring our capital cities and building up our provincial cities and building new cities. The longer we delay proper regional development, the longer we defer regional development schemes, the less chance -we have of preserving any semblance of community balance and community identity in our countryside. But the Country Party, mesmerised by the shadows of subsidies and ignoring the substance of regional development, allows another year to be lost; it allows another year of drift and disintegration.
One of the greatest inflationary forces built into the Australian economic system is the manner in which our great cities are growing. The increasing congestion of cities - their gross inefficiency as part of the transport system - adds yearly to all transport costs, not least farm costs. The number of miles per hour a road transport can travel in Sydney has been halved in a decade. The greatest single outlay the Treasurer’s typical Australian ever makes in his lifetime is for land and housing. In every capital - now one has to include Canberra for the first time since its beginnings^ - the average price of land has trebled in the last 10 years. Yet the Liberals have refused to acknowledge that the national government must accept a share of responsibility for reducing the cost of the citizen’s greatest single burden. This Budget continues the refusal to assist the States and local government to buy land, develop it and sell or lease it at cost.The nation’s basic resource is its land; the Liberals still hold to the doctrinaire belief that developers alone have the inalienable right to alienate the people’s land.
The Treasurer’s typical Australian is a ratepayer. Increasingly, he and his family depend on local government to provide a whole new range of basic services in health, welfare, sport, culture and recreation. Yet this Budget once again - like every Liberal Budget for the past 25 years - ignores the role of local government and ignores the national government’s direct responsibility for local government. This is where the debts are growing fastest and where taxes and charges are growing fastest. In the Sydney Water Board area, 53c in every dollar paid in rates goes on loan servicing. In the Prime Minister’s own electorate of Lowe, householders are now receiving notices which tell them that their water rates will be on average 55 per cent higher this year. In North Sydney, the water rates have just been doubled.
And it cannot be argued that local government is not a national budgetary responsibility or that the third level of government in Australia is solely a State responsibility. The Australian national Government takes directly a greater share of the national revenue resources than is the case in any other federal system in the world; but the Australian national Government provides directly fewer government services than in any comparable federal system in the world. The latest figures the Treasurer has given me show that the percentage of total government revenue raised by Federal authorities is 78.6 in Australia, 62.9 in America, 51.5 in Canada and 49 in West Germany. The State share is 12 per cent in Australia, 20.2 per cent in America, 32.7 per cent in Canada and 32.1 per cent in West Germany. Local and semi-government authorities in Australia have had to resort increasingly to borrowings. Within a year their debts will exceed those of all the States combined. To discuss the national economy, the national revenue and expenditure simply in terms of the Commonwealth taxes and CommonwealthState finances is to ignore the very heart of the financial problem - and that problem is the proper and effective financing and functioning of the 3 levels of government in Australia. Yet the Budget is silent on every aspect of municipal problems. It makes no provision to give local and semi-government authorities adequate access to the nation’s finances. As a result, every charge and cost will continue to increase, and every service will continue to decline. Every typical Australian, and every atypical one, will continue to pay more for less as a consequence of this Budget’s neglect.
Every year the Commonwealth involvement in cities, schools and hospitals is deferred, standards decline and the backlog becomes ever more difficult and ever more costly to overcome. Take hospitals, a field in which this Government refuses to involve itself in any more than helping to meet part of the fees. The result of that sort of limited involvement is that a family man with a taxable income of $3,000 pays in New South Wales $1.24 a week for public ward cover, a man on $5,000 pays $1.06, while a man on $20,000 pays 5 lc. The richer a person is, the less he pays because the more his tax deductions are worth. But in the hospitals themselves lack of Commonwealth commitment is leading to alarming regional imbalances and inadequacies. For instance in Sydney the Planning Liaison Committee of the Metropolitan Hospitals has just reported that by 1980, even if all present proposals are fulfilled throughout the metropolitan area, the bed surplus in the inner Sydney region and the bed deficit in the western region will both have become much greater than at present. Any saving to the Commonwealth by inactivity now is storing up disaster for the future.
Even more important, there is the human cost and human waste arising from every year lost. Take pre-schools - in this Budget there is a paltry effort to redeem in 1972 the promise made by the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), for kindergartencumchildminding centres. Without disparaging their value, let me say that they are no substitute for proper preschool training. Yet the Commonwealth refuses to involve itself in this field. Because of its refusal a whole generation of Australian children is growing up without the enormous benefits that pre-school education brings. It is one of the great instruments for educational, social and cultural equality. Yet only in Canberra, where the Commonwealth cannot escape its responsibility, can every child enjoy at least 1 year’s pre-school training at properly equipped, properly staffed centres. A nation’s education system is a failure if students do not leave it with equality of opportunity in life. By that standard ours is an outstanding failure. It is idle to pretend that its inadequacies and inequalities can be solved just by the provision of more scholarships, as the Budget does. It requires a continuing Commonwealth commitment to government and nongovernment schools. In future Labor Budgets the education sector will be the area of greatest growth. The lack of any national perspective is again seen in this meagre and piecemeal approach to development. Nothing in this Budget will in any way retard Australia’s growing loss of control over her major resources and major industries. Increasingly, the key sectors of the Australian economy are tied to the control of great international corporations. No Australian company alone can deal on the level of these corporations. No Australian State acting alone can deal with them. Only the national Government has the resources, status and stature to do so.
The greatest reservoir of private capital in Australia is the insurance companies. It is a bigger pool than possessed by the banks or any individual company in Australia. Just as the insurance companies opened up the American West, they can play their part in opening up the new resources in the new areas of Australia. The Commonwealth provides very valuable concessions to Australians by way of tax deductions for insurance. Very properly, Australians have been encouraged to invest in life assurance. Let us maximise the value of these deductions to Australia by co-operating with the insurance companies in the development of Australia.
The whole of this Budget is framed in the spirit of demoting national responsibility and preserving inequality. There are the immediate questions of unemployment side by side with inflation. There is the long term question of the strong, balanced development of the nation’s human and natural resources. The slack in the economy gave a rare opportunity for making a basic attack on the nation’s long term problems. The opportunity has been frittered away. It was intolerable that the Government should have deliberately created the sort of unemployment we are now enduring. Yet it might have reduced the mindless cruelty of its own decision last year if the chance had been seized this year to use the economic conditions to begin building a new future for Australia. It might have been poor consolation for the thousands of men and women thrown out of work, but in the long term it would have made some amends to the nation. But this Government has not even left the unemployed with the dignity of having served the nation’s larger purposes by their unwarranted and enforced sacrifice.
The 1972 Budget required a thoroughgoing range of short term measures and long term structures. In this Budget there are only short term measures and the Treasurer scarcely hints at what he believes their economic impact will be. He has done nothing to ensure that the money will be spent by those who most need it, and where it will have the greatest immediate impact without building in inflation. This was the time to establish machinery for national planning and national cooperation. This was the year to begin concentrated efforts to move pensions towards Labor’s objective of 25 per cent of the average weekly male earnings and to restore the value of repatriation benefits. This, if ever, was the time to raise unemployment benefits. A government which has produced unemployment has a moral duty to help its victims. This was the time to make an immediate grant of $100m to pensioners and unemployed and thereby give an immediate, once-and-for-all boost to the economy. We would know exactly what it would cost and could quantify fairly accurately its short term economic impact.
This was the time to begin a proper restructuring of the income tax to reduce the burden on the lower and middle incomes. This was the time to close the tax avoidance loopholes which are costing the revenue not less than $100m a year, and one single case of which, on the Treasurer’s own admission, cost $30m last financial year. This was the time to reduce sales tax, particularly on a whole range of necessities which the Treasurer absurdly describes as luxuries. This was the time to involve government in the purchase of residential land to reverse soaring land and housing prices. This was the time to turn rural relief into a long range programme for rural concentration in regional centres.
This was the time to begin to encourage chosen growth points outside and between the capitals by charging the minimum rate for telecommunications between those points and between them and the capital. This was the time to begin national participation in the regeneration of the urban public transport systems, to implement the latest Australian road survey, to order modern rolling stock and signalling systems for our inter-city railways, to investigate such developments as the French interurban and suburban aerotrains. This was the time to move away from providing scholarships for a minority and to move towards making education, including tertiary education, genuinely free.
This was the time to start the expanded programme of pre-school teacher training required to give every Australian child proper pre-schooling - the time to open a new world to a whole generation of Australian children. Australia possesses only 28 per cent of the number of qualified pre-school teachers required to give every child in every State the same start as every child in Canberra has long enjoyed. This was the time to put purchasing power in the hands of Australian families by restoring the value of child endowment or introducing family endowment. Whether a family includes one young child or 4 young children, it is still a one-income family. This was the time to begin a programme of direct Commonwealth commitment to the nation’s hospitals.
This was the time to drop the frantic search for exploitable migrant labour, and being a programme of migrant family reunion. This was the time to start looking after the true welfare of the migrants already here - the people who suffer most from unemployment, most from the pressure in the state and parish schools, most from exorbitant land and housing costs, most from the decline of the quality of our cities. This was the time to stop the loss of 34,000 migrants a year by changing the emphasis from recruiting to retaining migrants. This was the time to begin to share the nation’s financial resources directly with local government. This was the time to establish a prices justification tribunal, to prevent or retard those unjustified price increases which we well know the untramelled price fixers will try to sneak through in the spending atmosphere the Treasurer hopes to create.
This was the time to examine seriously the Reserve Bank’s warning that last year’s decision on the value of the currency is forcing internal prices up and raising overseas capital inflow to dangerously uncontrolled levels. This was the time to start building Australia’s future on the basis of justice, equality and national co-operation. Those who aspire to lead this nation must do so on the basis of co-operation with the whole community, not by confronting key sectors of it. This is the root of the present national sickness - the feeling deeply held by whole sections of the community, the employees, large sections of the employers, the youth, the poor, the Aborigines, that their own elected Government is . at best totally indifferent, or at worst overtly hostile, to their hopes, that it seeks to divide them from their fellow citizens. And indeed, in its policies on cities and schools there is an attempt by this national Government to establish an actual physical as well as a cultural and economic division between the sections of the community.
It is in these things - things close to the national spirit - that the discontent of our community lies; the industrial, student and political unrest is just the most publicised manifestation, of. this unease. And it gets back to a lack of confidence in the national Government, not just in. its personnel, or their competence, not just lack of confidence in their capacity to manage the economy, but a lack of confidence in their very motives. The people of this country just do not trust this Liberal Government. And not the least reason is that this Liberal Government does not trust the people. Public confidence is being sapped in a climate of mutual and deepening suspicion and distruct. By all means let us have an election on this Budget; the sooner the better. However it will not be just in the narrow context of an annual financial document, but in the narrowness of the philosophy the Budget represents, arid the limited vision of the men who presented it to the Parliament and the nation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– I wish to speak to the amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has moved an amendment which starts with the words: ‘That the House condemns the Budget’. There is not the remotest chance of this House condemning the Budget, but by moving the amendment he is trying to deprive the people of Australia of this Budget That is the purpose of the amendment. The people of Australia have welcomed this Budget and they wish to have it. The honourable gentleman has said: ‘By all means, let us have an election on this Budget’. I think that is a good suggestion, because I have no doubt whatsoever that the people of Australia do welcome this Budget.
Tonight the Leader of the Opposition treated us to a performance of little man’s rhetoric - cliche and spite throughout. We have had cliche and spite fluttered at us throughout his speech which has been richly laced with distortion. Let me give 3 examples of it. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) had called upon foreign controlled Interests - I think that is the term he used - to attack the Labor movement. The Deputy Prime Minister interjected: Say what I did say’. What the Deputy Prime Minister said was that all employers should resist the 35-hour week. If the Leader of the Opposition would cease distorting what other people say and would not distort his Party’s policies the people of Australia would be in a better position to judge his Party’s policies. To this day the Leader of the Opposition has failed to tell us the Opposition’s attitude to a 35- hour week. The Opposition wishes to distort it.
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy Speaker. If you read the amendment again you will find that the Treasurer has not mentioned one word about the amendment. The amendment specifies certain things and he has not touched on one of them. 1 think he is completely out of order. He is not speaking to the amendment.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh has said what he thinks the Opposition’s attitude to a 35-hour week is, and that is to give it to certain selected industries. He himself would negate any idea of equity in the work force for he would give it only to some and would deny it to other members of trade unions who are just as anxious to have it, so they say, but I do not believe that they are because the Australian trade unionist is a sound man when not badly led. He is not badly led when he goes to the ballot box. The Government would not have been in office all these years if it had not had the support of trade unionists in Australia.
The second distortion was for the Leader of the Opposition to say of me that I had advocated a prices justification tribunal. He knows that what I said was that we might have to consider a prices notification system. There is a vast difference between justification and notification. The honourable gentleman with his idea of regulation and controls naturally jumped in a Freudian way to justification instead of to notification. The third distortion was the allegation that this was a rich man’s Budget. The Leader of the Opposition used the term ‘rich man’s Budget’ while talking about tax. I would like to remind him, if he has ever read the Budget or examined the Budget papers, that 57 per cent of the tax saved to income earners will go to those people who have $4,800 a year or less, and 75 per cent of it will go to people with $6,400 a year. It is very strange for many people in the community to find, in terms of what the Leader of the Opposition said, that they are rich men because they are getting $6,400 a year. All I can say is that the people of Australia would have to be very careful about the tender care of the Leader of the Opposition.
The cliches that have poured out from the Leader of the Opposition have been used for 2 very good reasons. The first is that economics is not his strength. Even his tutors have given up. Now they just write the stuff for him to say. The second is the power base. The power base of the Australian Labor Party resides in the trade unions and the trade unions tell the parliamentary Labor Party what policies it can have. The consequence is that the honourable gentleman demonstrates a lack of control over economic concepts simply because, even if he did understand them, he would not be able to trot them out. Over recent times the Leader of the Opposition, apparently deceiving himself into believing that he would serve his own interests better by saying nothing, disappeared from the scene.
And who marched into the vacuum he had left? The President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Vice-President of the Australian Labor Party. I very much regret to say that the President of the ACTU with his robust manner has made a political pigmy of the Leader of the Opposition, because he does all the talking on policy issues for the Labor Party.
The Leader of the Opposition objects to the Budget. The Government parties do not object to the Budget and the people of Australia do not object to the Budget. The people of Australia have never welcomed a budget more warmly than this one and they do not want to be deprived of it. The Australian Financial Review’ in a delightful phrase called it a ‘combination of political allure and fiscal responsibility’. The Melbourne ‘Sun’ called it ‘a vigorous Budget that steers an intelligent course between generosity and responsibility’. The ‘Australian’ called it ‘a many-faceted Budget of some sophistication’. The ‘Age’ called it ‘a responsible Budget’. How does the assessment by the Leader of the Opposition line up with these verdicts? He found it really hard to find criticism. That slogan the Labor Party has been trotting around came pretty hard when he found it and said: It’s time to talk about the Budget’. It is time to talk about it. That is what we are doing and what we feel ought to happen.
Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, we are not resorting to generalisations. It has been reliably reported to me, and on the basis of the generalisations he made tonight I could confidently believe it, that he is in favour of motherhood. That is the sort of generalisation to which we were treated tonight, but even that is in limited quantity. He had a catalogue of all the things that ought to be done. Every tram that passed by he jumped on. Every single thing that anybody in the community has ever asked for the Leader of the Opposition said tonight we should do or we should give. He wants to be on the angels’ side on every single issue. The catalogue of things he wanted to do was quite boring in the end, even to his own supporters. It is said that we should have growth and development. We have growth and development by this Budget.
– Three -per cent.
– Three per cent, which was a very good performance in international terms, and we will restore it to 5 per cent. That is, of course, basic to the economic purpose of the Budget. As for goals, we have been fostering industry. We have fostered the shipbuilding industry, the rural industries, industrial research and training and the construction of national highways. Of course the Opposition will not agree with what we have done in defence. Not a single word was spoken ‘on defence by the Leader of the Opposition. The first and primary duty of any government is the protection of the national interest, and not a single word was spoken about it in the speech on the Budget by the Leader of the Opposition.
On education, he seems to. have failed completely to notice that there was an increase qf $72m in spending on education. On welfare,., we have a concern for the people. There is idealism in our community - an idealism we try to foster. Let me make this point clear: No matter how highly developed the idealism is in a country, that idealism cannot be translated ‘ into action without community wealth. There are many countries which have a highly developed idealism but which can achieve little in translating it. We are able to do that. We have as a prime objective the; eradication of poverty, and in heading in that direction we have record spending increases in housing, health, pensions, child care, and repatriation. Generally speaking, it is thought that the Budget increase in the standard rate pension was $1.75; but of course those people paying rent, who are in the poorest circumstances, had an increase of $3.75 because of the doubling of the supplementary allowance. In the case of the married pensioner, whose rate went up to $34.50, those in the poorest circumstances - those paying rent - actually had an increase not of $2.50 but of $6.50. This is a performance of which the Government is duly proud.
The honourable gentleman talked about an employment pool of 1 00,000. He knows that that is nonsense. He does not expect anybody to believe him. Relying on the honourable member for Hindmarsh, he says that there will be 150,000 to 200,000 unemployed, even with the expected growth rate. Honourable members opposite have a recession syndrome and I fear that they really wish that this would happen. So anxious and so frustrated are they for office that they would wish that sort of recession on the people and try to scare them into that belief. I say now unequivocally that there should not be an acceptance of that fear by the slightest percentage because it has no basis in fact.
Then I come to income tax. Crocodile tears were shed about income tax. We remember about a quarter of an hour of crocodile tears about income tax. But have a look at the amendment. It contains not a single word about income tax. What did the Leader of the Opposition say? First of all he said that the income tax cut was not great enough. Then he said that it was inequitable. But if it had these faults, why did it not find its way into the amendment? The reason it did not find its way into there is that he is rigidly committed to increasing the burden of personal income tax. That is one of the matters that distinguish the Liberal Party, a party committed to free enterprise and the growth of the private sector, from the Opposition socialist party. The Opposition can see no further than the public sector. That is why there is not a single word about income tax in the amendment.
Not only would the Australian Labor Party increase direct personal income tax, but it would also take away all deductions except the family allowances. What does that mean? The Leader of the Opposition talked about a partnership with insurance companies to develop Australian national projects. What the Opposition would do is nationalise all insurance companies. That is set out in the Labor Party’s platform. If the Labor Party takes away that deduction, every life insurance policy holder in Australia, every single contributor to a superannuation fund, every bank clerk, every employee in private enterprise who is contributing to a superannuation scheme and every public servant will find that his personal disposable income will immediately be reduced on average by $50 per annum. That is the sort of attitude that the Labor Party has. This is a stimulatory Budget. It is a Budget which sets forth the proper thing to do at the present time.
– It’s time.
– It is time, as was very clearly pointed out by a cartoonist named Pickering in the ‘Canberra Times’ on 1st August. He drew a cartoon in which he had the President of the ACTU as the bowman, and there standing against a tree was the Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the Opposition had said to him by the President-
-Order! The right honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I move:
Opposition members - Why?
-Order! The House will come to order.
– May I have leave to say to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who is at the table, that I have consulted with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), who has consented to an extension of time being granted to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) on the understanding that we give the honourable member for Melbourne Ports the same courtesy, which we will be pleased to do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– This cartoonist, Mr Pickering, from the ‘Canberra Times’ had the Leader -of the Opposition standing against a tree and the President of the ACTU and the Senior Vice-President of the Australian Labor Party, with a quiver of arrows and a bow, saying to the Leader of the Opposition: The secret is that you remain completely motionless’. That is exactly what has happened. The Leader of the Opposition periodically is allowed to strut the stage with the distortion and the petty cliches. This Budget is stimulatory. It will strengthen growth, and no expert opinion contests this. The Budget stimulus will be provided through increased private sector spending by increased pensions, increased take home pay and underwriting increased consumption in the community. Does the Opposition say that tax concessions totalling $434m this year and welfare and repatriation expenditure increases of $362m this year will not encourage spending? Is that what members of the Opposition say? Is that why they have moved an amendment to the motion to accept the Budget? Do they condemn it because they feel that it will not be stimulatory? If they adopt that attitude they will be in glorious isolation because nobody at all believes that. Have they overlooked the increase of $395m in payments to the States? Do they deny that increased consumer spending will in turn encourage investment? Is that what they say? The Budget strategy is quite clear. We have acted decisively to foster private sector spending, yet the Budget is responsible. It would be enlightening if the Australian Labor Party would reveal how it would spend the revenues, by how much it would increase the revenues and by how much it would increase personal income tax. That is why income tax is not mentioned in the amendment which the Opposition has put forward.
One matter remains with which I want to deal in more detail in the extended time allowed to me. The Leader of the Opposition adopted the proposal that 150,000 to 200,000 people would be unemployed even at the expected growth rate. I categorically say that that is abject and complete nonsense. The Leader of the Opposition said that the position had been exposed by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). The honourable member for Hindmarsh reached the conclusion that 100,000 people would be unemployed. The Leader of the Opposition has jacked up that estimate by 50 per cent to 100 per cent. The honourable member for Hindmarsh reached his conclusion on the basis of an estimated growth in the work force of 190,000 and the slower growth of employment, he said, of 2 per cent, giving employment for 90,000 and leaving a gap of 100,000.
I honestly believe that members of the Opposition wish that to be true but unfortunately for them their wish will not be our command because that position will not arise. The honourable member for Hindmarsh is wrong because the normal growth of the work force is about 170,000 and not 190,000. Two per cent growth in employment is 115,000, and not 90,000 as the honourable member for Hindmarsh suggested. Therefore the gap of 100,000 suggested by the honourable member for
Hindmarsh has to be halved to 55,000. Adopting the honourable member’s logic it could be said that there may be 55,000 unemployed, but I have disclosed that his logic is wrong.
What is more important is that apparently the honourable member for Hindmarsh did not read properly Statement No. 1 attached to the Budget papers. If he had read it properly, or if the speech writers of the Leader of the Opposition had read it properly, they would have been aware thai there is expected to be a year-on-year comparison of 2 per cent, but the rate of growth this year is expected to be greater because it is starting from a lower base. That will very considerably alter the matter. Not too many honourable members are betting men, but I suggest to them that they wager 20c with the honourable member for Hindmarsh against his estimate of 100,000 unemployed, or with the Leader of the Opposition against his estimate of 200,000 unemployed. On second thoughts, perhaps they, ought not do that because it is not proper to bet on certainties and the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Hindmarsh are certainly wrong. . 1 believe that this Budget ,has been received very warmly by the public. I believe that the public would regard any action oy the Opposition to try to deny .them the fruits of the Budget or to prevent the economy from having the thrust which the Budget will provide as action that would not serve the interest or will of the public. I believe that the public would not be impressed with the great catalogue of promises that the Leader of the Opposition made by inference in his speech. It is true that in formulating this Budget. the Government went to the very boundary of responsibility and to go beyond that would, be irresponsible. The Opposition would not only go beyond it but would go markedly beyond it and in doing so it would,, with great certainty, have to increase the amount of personal income tax; alternatiyely .it would have to take out the deductions .which the Budget has already provided.; : . ; .
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)I wish to make a personal explanation as I have been misrepresented by the. Treasurer (Mr Snedden). He misrepresented me when he said that I had stated that the number of people who would be out of work by February of next year would be 100,000 and that therefore the estimate of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) of 150,000 to 200,000 unemployed was nearly double the figure that I had stated would be the true figure. That is not true. I said that with the estimated growth rate of 2 per cent - the only firm estimate that the Treasurer could make - we would have an extra 100,000 unemployed on top of those who are unemployed now, making a total of 200,000 unemployed by February of next year. 1 am prepared to bet anybody in this House that at least that number of people will be unemployed by February of next year.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Chipp) - by leave - agreed to:
Thai so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Melbourne Ports speaking for a period not exceeding 30 minutes.
– All I can say about the second speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) is that it was not an improvement oh his first speech. Whatever are the merits of the 35-hour week, Australia’s present economic ills have nothing to do with the 35-hour week. That applies both to farm and factory. I want to say a few words about one or two matters to which the Treasurer has just referred. I hope he will pay me the courtesy of remaining in the chamber to hear me since he made an attack. The Treasurer referred to defence and I want now to address myself to the Government’s defence effort. In 1963-64 the Fills were ordered supposedly as the linchpin of Australia’s defence system. Since the Fills were ordered, in the period from 1963-64 to the projected 1972-73 $9,878m has been expended on defence in Australia, including the sum set aside for defence expenditure this year. We are now told that we might get 6 of the Fills ordered. This is the sort of government that is asking us now to trust it for the next 5 years with another plan involving the spending of $7,000m on defence. 1 suggest that we ought to be talking about the Government’s past defence effort. I do not have any more time to go into that subject now.
I want to nail a misrepresentation of what I said about taxation. I said at a gathering, and I have said it on many occasions before, that not only the question of taxation rates has to be considered but also the question of taxation deductions. I have taken as a sort of parameter the tabulation in a document that was circulated the other evening setting out details of income tax statistics for the year ended June 1970. The Treasurer, taking his figure, drew the line at $4,000 annual income. What he did not say was that more than two-thirds the number of taxpayers have incomes of less than $4,000 and slightly less than one-third have incomes in excess of $4,000. Therefore, if there is any equity in the system of taxation deductions surely something like 70 per cent of the total number of taxpayers ought to get more than 55 per cent of the deductions.’ But that is the figure which the Treasurer has given.
What’ I did say in another place was that the majority of taxpayers in Australia would be advantaged if we doubled the concession for families - that is for wives and children - and eliminated all other deductions. I simply gave that example as a parameter, to highlight the injustice and to show- anyone can read this-that by near enough to coincidence, the value of all concessions covering the deductions for ‘dependants and housekeeper* . for all taxpayers whose incomes are less than $4,000 comes to $463m. That is the face, value of concessions. The face value of insurance deductions allowed to taxpayers with incomes over $4,000 is $474m. In other words, more tax concessions are given to fewer than onethird of the number - that is, those taxpayers earning over $4,000 a year - in respect of life insurance and superannuation than are given for all of the family claims of taxpayers earning under $4,000.
I ask: What is the justice in that kind of thing? Where is the logic in it? What is the basis for allowing, as the Government belatedly has done now, a deduction of $364 for a wife, but $1,200 if a person is lucky enough to be able to save for life insurance? This is what I am trying to draw attention to. Surely taxation, in the finish, is about equity. I do not have time this evening to go into the schedules. What I want to talk about is the disastrous state of the economy at the moment. But I would just like to put a question to those who would seek to justify the increases in concessions and the variations that are to be made.
Taking the Treasurer’s own tabulations, I would like to put forward the example of a taxpayer with a dependent wife and 2 children under 16 years of age. If bis actual income - not his taxable income - is $2,800, which is S54 a week after the so-called tax concessions, that man still pays in tax $163.57 a year, or over $3 a week. On the other hand, take, for example, people like members of parliament whose taxable income is $10,000. After the concessions people in this category would pay tax of $2,521. A man on this salary, as a consequence of the proposed taxation measures, will receive a tax reduction of $295 which is more than the man on the lower income is paying in tax.
I simply ask honourable members to think of that kind of example. Do honourable members believe that in this day and age. with prices rising as they are, a married man with a dependant wife and 2 children who receives an income of $54 a week should pay over $3 a week in income tax? I do not believe that he should. I repeat that the Government has fudged its opportunity. Tax reform ought to be from the bottom of the scale up and not from the top of the scale down. At least I thought that I had the other day an intelligent audience who could see for themselves the kind of example that I put forward. But I suppose that one could not expect stockbrokers to see things in quite the same perspective.
What I want to do this evening is to make an examination of the Australian economy as we can see it at the moment. Despite what the Treasurer said, there is not much difference now between what the Labor Party is proposing and what the Government has proposed in this Budget. There is agreement about eliminating the means test by 1975. I think that is now common to both sides. Both sides believe that the basic pension should be raised. But the Labor Party has gone further than the Government. We suggest that it should be raised as soon as possible to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. But whatever is done, the health of the economy will determine whether these payments are to have real purchasing value. At the moment the health of the economy is not good. I would like to quote briefly a passage in what the Treasurer said - at least it is said in his name - when he introduced th: 1971-72 Budget. Under the heading ‘Statement No. 1 - Summary of the 1971-72 Budget’ the Treasurer said:
The 1971-72 Budget has been framed in a context of rapidly increasing costs and prices, a relatively tight labour market and the prospect of increased pressures on resources in the year ahead.
He predicted in that Budget that there waa likely to be an increase of 5 per cent in thu gross national product. What has happened? In the event the increase in the gross national product, instead of being 5 per cent, was 3 per cent. The difference between a growth rate of 5 per cent and a growth rate of 3 per cent at today’s inflationary prices is nearly $700m. That, again, is an indication of how incorrect the Treasurer has been and can be.
The same sort of thing applies to the Treasurer’s overall assessment last year. He predicted a domestic surplus of $630m but in the event it was $387m. The Treasurer was only $243m out in his reckoning. My colleague the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that as recently as last December, the Treasurer still predicted an increase of 4 per cent in the gross nation il product. He has been $3 60m out in his reckoning in a 6 month’s period. But what has he said on this occasion? Again i quote his words:
The Commonwealth Budget for 1972-73 has been framed in the context of an economy already picking up from the moderate rate of growth experienced in 1971-72.
It is a great thing when one is down in a trough to be able to say that one is climbing ever upwards. Why did the Government ever get down into the trough in the first place is the question that should be asked. The Treasurer continued:
Features of the economy presently include an easy labour market. . . .
What is ‘an easy labour market’? An easy labour market presumably means that according to the June figures, which were the last figures issued, there were 27,000 males looking for fewer than 5,000 jobs in non-metropolitan areas and 15,000 females in country towns were looking for 2,000 jobs. In the metropolitan areas there were 41,000 males looking for 8,000 jobs and 15,000 females looking for 10,000 jobs. More ladies were on the dole, or were receiving the unemployment benefit in country towns than in all the metropolitan areas. Yet we have a Country Party that backs this Government and tries to score cheap debating points about what the level of unemployment is likely to be in some months time. Surely to goodness the Country Party ought to be concerned about the appalling prospect. This is why I want to take up the words ‘easy labour market’. I have said over and over again to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) that not sufficient analysis is being made in Australia of the nature of unemployment. There is an easy labour market, if one likes to use that term, as far as unskilled people and semi-skilled people are concerned but there is still a tight labour market as far as skilled people are concerned and that is the devastating factor that is besetting the Australian economy.
This Government has somehow to lift the economy and get back into it some feeling of confidence. Until this happens the skills will not be properly utilised as a result of unused capacity in factories. Skilled men are wandering around defence establishments because no orders have been placed to produce equipment, although a boat may be built in 1975 at the naval dockyard.
This is the kind of thing that is going on at the present time and again it is starkly revealed in a table in the White Paper on national income. I refer to gross fixed capital expenditure and the value of physical changes in stocks at average 1966-67 prices, keeping constant prices to take out of account the effects of inflation. It was the Treasurer who last year talked about private enterprise. If it had not been for good old public enterprise unemployment would have been even greater than it was last year and industrial activity would have been even less than its deplorably low level. This fact is revealed in 3 figures dealing with gross fixed capital expenditure. Reference is made to a growth rate of 3 per cent. What does ‘a growth rate of 3 per cent’ mean at a time when the population of Australia is rising at about 2i per cent per annum? It means that the country is barely maintaining its per capita standards and this is in a country with a government which talks glibly about productivity and other things. That was the record for the last year and it was not much better the year before.
– You talk about the need for it.
– You talk about the need for it but do nothing about it. You will set up another committee which will talk about it. Begin to get some action and talk to the people who matter. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said, get together employers and employees in trustful cooperation, not in confrontation. Measured at constant prices personal consumption expenditure rose by 3 per cent in both 1970-71 and 1971-72, which again is barely maintaining the per capita standards in terms of 2i per cent population growth. Private gross fixed capital expenditure, valued at constant prices, decreased 3 per cent in 1971-72. This is what the figures show: For the year 1969-70 gross fixed capital expenditure on dwellings was $ 1, 353m; 2 years later, expressed in the same constant prices, it was only $l,386m. There was barely a change in 2 years. Another item about which I want to say more relates to other building and construction, that is, the skyscraper as distinct from the school and hotel as distinct from the hospital. Gross fixed capital expenditure on other building and construction for the year 1969-70 was $990m. This rose to $1,1 18m in 1971-72. The other important item, all other fixed capital expenditure in the private sector, that is, the sort of thing that goes into factories and into making industries more efficient declined in real terms from $2,370m in 1969-70 to $2,298m in 1971-72. Does this sound like a dynamic economy suffering from just temporary restrictions?
What do the figures show as far as company income is concerned? I will give the current prices. They show that company profits for ordinary companies are lower now than they were 2 years ago. In a separate section, the profits of finance companies rose from $226m to $246m. Is not this an indication that interest and other components are dictating the turn of things rather than physical activity? I noted a report yesterday of an address by a Mr
John Patterson to a group of planners in Melbourne. He said that we were threatened with considerable over-building in the capital cities. He suggested that some of the large development companies could crash in the next few years. Surely this is the sort of thing that the Government should be looking at.
The 1972 report of the Reserve Bank of Australia states at page 38:
During recent years, the growth of short term financing outside the banking sector has been very rapid (rates of growth of banks and some other major types of financial intermediaries are compared in graph 17). The most rapid growth, perhaps apart from that of authorised dealers in the short term money market, has occurred in the less formalised markets (such as merchant banking and the inter-company market) for which precise measures of growth are unavailable.
Why are precise measures of growth unavailable? They are unavailable because the Government is not sufficiently concerned to look into the matter. We are faced at the moment not only with a threat internally to our economy but also a threat to the value of our currency internationally. Surely there ought to have been a little bit of a discussion on this kind of thing. But I have not the time this evening to go into it in depth. What I . think we have in Australia at the moment is what Professor Henderson recently described in a lecture given in Melbourne as ‘too much instant government’ - acting when the crisis is on you instead of preparing to avoid a crisis. This is the situation as far as the Australian economy is concerned. I think my favourite quotation about a Budget is one that I came across only recently in the Economist’ just after the British Budget had been delivered. This is what the writer said:
A modern budget is a major political occasion-
If ever it was a major political occasion it was last week when the Treasurer and his Government provided a display which was showy in the window but very shoddy in the shop - an exercise in redistribution of a rather small part of the national income-
This Government chose 2 redistributions - an increase in pensions and an adjustment to the means test, and an adjustment to the tax structure. But I do not think it gave much thought to redistribution when it looked at the tax structure. The article continued: and nowadays also an arithmetical and economic guess.
I would hope that we in this country will be mature enough not to believe that something which is done on the second or third Tuesday of the month of August by the great man, the Treasurer - I say that with all humility, whatever the portents for the future may be - will produce out of a hat overnight assorted varieties which will set the economy right. My Leader is again correct in saying that what Australia wants is purpose in public policies and confidence restored in the exercise of private investment. This Government has not got either of them at the moment. There exists an aimlessness and paralysis which affects the totality of the Australian economy. My point is borne out in the statistics which 1 have quoted.
I will refer to what seems to me to be a rather curious statement which appears in one of the documents tabled with the Budget Speech and which bears on the question of taxation. There has been a I0 of talk about taxation concessions amounting to about $480m somehow rejuvenating the economy. To begin with it will be felt only by pay-as-you-earn taxpayers on 1st September and the bonuses to most people on smaller incomes are quite small. Provisional and other taxpayers will feel no effect until March, April or May of next year.
The other thing that is not said is that even though nominally there is a reduction of $486m in aggregate in tax received from the same taxpayers, $400m more will be collected after the reductions come into effect than was collected last year. The White Paper on national income shows that last year income tax collections rose by 19 per cent. Why did income tax collections rise by 19 per cent? Prices and wages did not rise by as much as that. Income tax collections rose because a larger part of one’s income is taken as one’s income rises. So there is this so-called sleight of hand trick of the Treasurer on this occasion in relation to the new tax rates. Let us take these examples. If a man receiving about $3,600 gets a 9 per cent increase in his wage he will then be paying as high a marginal rate of tax, even with the reduced schedules, as he was before the tax rate was reduced. This illustrates the sort of nonsense that one hears about reductions. The Government sticks on a 2i per cent or 5 per cent levy and then takes it off. I notice that this time, when comparing the so-called new schedule with the old schedule, the Government has reduced the tax rate without removing the 21 per cent levy. So there is very little difference, to take the Government’s figure, in marginal tax on an income of $3,600. The Government says that the marginal rate is now 26.8c in the dollar. It used to be 28.8 so there is less than the suggested 10 per cent reduction. Similarly, where the marginal rate is now 30.3 it used to be 31.9. This simply means that if a man receives a 9 per cent increase in his salary he will be paying as much tax as he was before the reduction in the tax rate.
What has been happening in relation to wages? Last year the gross national product in nominal terms - that is, at current prices - rose from $33 billion to $36.5 billion, in round figures, an increase of $3.5 billion. But over 2 billion of that $3.5 billion was puff - it was increased prices. It costs that much more to buy the same goods and services at the new prices at the end of the year as it did at the beginning. This is why these 2 problems of unemployment and inflation are closely related. The great dilemma in a modern industrial economy where most people work for a wage for their living is that the wage is the income to the recipient and is a cost to the person by whom he is employed. The prosperity of the economy depends on expanding consumer expenditure and that is the thing that has been in rapid decline in Australia in recent years. Of course, the Government’s only device is to blame the wicked trade unionists for seeking wage increases. As the statistics show, despite all the organisation and agitation, they have barely maintained their proportionate share of the gross national product.
I have said over and over again that if prices did not rise wages would not need to be increased as much as they have. But if prices do rise then the only way for the wage earner to maintain his standard of living is to seek a wage increase. The proposition is as simple as that. So as well as making an attempt to regulate wages the Government also should do something about prices. The Treasurer did not refer to a price justification tribunal but to a price notification tribunal, and there is a great difference. What does he mean by ‘notification’? Does he mean that the Government simply trusts the big boys in the business world to raise their prices and carefully notify the Government after they have done it or does he mean that they notify the Government in advance and cannot raise their prices until they have justified it. The latter is what I mean by ‘price notification’. 1 happened to be in the United States not many weeks ago when the Chrysler organisation wanted to increase the price of its motor cars by 5 per cent. However to have done it Chrysler would have had to put its bookkeeping in detail before the Prices Notification Board. Chrysler had second thoughts and decided that it would not want a 5 per cent increase, it would want only a 2 per cent increase. But even the 2 per cent increase had to go before the Board for justification.
That contrasts what happens there with what happens here. Here the motor car firm resists the attempts of its employees to get higher wages - their demands have to be justified somewhere else - but blithely raises the price of its products itself. Surely if the Government is serious about inflation it at least has to do something about some prices. The American system, insofar as it seems to be working, is working mainly on the basis that it is believed that it is only the bigger concerns that they have to be worried about first. They are too much a law unto themselves and therefore cannot just increase prices. They have to ask and an increase has to be justified. We in the Australian Labor Party believe that that sort of system is required in Australia. Unless we get back into our economy the dynamism it should have - and our economy should be capable of a growth rate of 5± per cent instead of 3 per cent which is the difference between $900m and S750m annually - we will only have to pay higher social service benefits to some people at the expense of the rest. However, if we increase the cake we will all get more.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who by virtue of his office presents himself as the alternative Prime Minister of Australia, enters ‘.he major economic debate of the year for his Party he must be listened to carefully. I listened carefully tonight, as did all honourable gentlemen on this side of the House, for economic policies expressed by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in a cogent and lucid way and treated with some precision, for precision discloses conviction and understanding which the people of Australia are entitled to expect. How much more important is this opportunity to make a clear statement in the major economic debate of the year with only a few months remaining before the election, and in a year when aspects of the economy are of major political interest. The Leader of the Opposition has failed in this task. In his speeches during economic debates one searches for some useful and practical comment on economic matters. But those speeches really are almost wholly speeches of vague political slogans and tonight we heard a catalogue of slogans and abuse. Tonight’s speech perhaps exemplified that more than any other.
The aspects at issue in tonight’s Budget debate surely are economic understanding, the correctness of economic policies and economic responsibility and competence. Last Tuesday the Leader of the Opposition tried to make a speech but was ruled out of order. However he made a few comments and tried to imply that the Budget was the last effort of the Liberal-Country Party Government. Having made that statement in that way it is only fair to point out that this is also the last chance of the Leader of the Opposition. These last few months are his last stand before the Hawke forces and left wingers engulf him. I see the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) nodding to me from the front bench of the Labor Party. I thought that the Leader of the Opposition looked a little agitated but we must remember Labor’s traditional sentence for election failure. The Leader of the Opposition made as one of his major points the statement that the Budget had no national goals and that was when he really launched himself into the catalogue of slogans, about which I have spoken. This sort of attack on the Budget confuses words and deeds. At the one extreme there is a hankering after indicative planning; at the other, slogans are what is sought. The deficiencies of indicative planning were spelt out by the Treasurer in his recent address. Slogans such as ‘the New frontier’ or ‘the Great Society’ may sound fine and imaginative when coined but they mean nothing and eventually become the focus of derision.
The Budget does have goals. However, these are not readily summed up in a few glossy sentences, both because of the intrinsic complexity of the directions in which any economy and society moves and because, anyway, the Government cannot be the final arbiter on all these matters. The Australian community simply does nol want its entire life to be shaped by the Government, even those in the community who might agree with the desired nature of the shaping. Let me very quickly mention the goals of the Budget. They include economic growth, population growth including immigration, defence, development of industry, Aboriginal advancement, development of education, improvement of health facilities and equity in the tax system including estate duty and personal income tax. These are just the headings, and there are many other vital community matters towards which this Budget is directed.
The fact that these are not part of an overall plan which lays down the law about all facets of economic and community life reflects the Government’s understanding of the emptiness of relying on words rather than on deeds. As the Treasurer pointed out, for the Leader of the Opposition to talk about taxation levels and make criticisms is laughable. The Leader of the Opposition has long since committed himself to greatly increased Commonwealth expenditures in a wide variety of directions, but he studiously avoids snowing us the other side of the coin, namely, the increases in taxation which such policies would make necessary unless, of course, he would be prepared to see the Commonwealth gain control of the necessary resources by permitting a disastrous rate of inflation.
Let me turn to the two most important aspects of this Budget, which are interdependent, namely, unemployment and inflation. The record of this Government in maintaining for many years an employment level of 99 per cent, and now about 98 per cent, is envied by all countries. Yet the Government recognises that the present rate is unacceptable and has taken a number of measures. It has eased monetary conditions, granted non-metropolitan unemployment relief, boosted State works and housing programmes and reduced income tax and increased pensions, both in April and in this Budget. The problem is that excessive wage demands are forcing every employer in this country to find ways of continuing on the minimum possible number of employees. Recently, wage increases were running at the rate of 9 per cent per annum and prices at 7 per cent - a clear indication of the excessive wage levels. This consequent rate of inflation is unacceptably high and Government measures have been implemented over the last 18 months to decrease it, with present signs of some success.
Attempts to make political capital out of the situation, if successful, strike at the very confidence of the community and are to be deplored. The impact of this Budget will improve, and has already improved, that confidence. Here again tonight - and it has done so on every Budget I can remember - the Opposition is endeavouring to achieve a roar of criticism, using whatever argument it thinks might have some appeal to the public. The speech tonight of the Leader of the Opposition was made in the hope that it will assist the Labor Opposition’s election prospects. It is not intended to help employment or the economy. Indeed, those who have spent a little time in this place know that the Labor Party has an electoral investment in unemployment. What confidence can people have in a party which claims that it can govern the country better than the present Government but which cannot act in the public interest during industrial disputes? Only the most spurious comments were made by the Leader of the Opposition during the recent fuel dispute. No suggestion for a real solution was made. The Labor Party has no control or leadership in the fields of employment and inflation. In practice, it supports every extravagance of the extreme element of the trade union movement. For example, it supports demands for excessive wage rises when we all know that average wage rises are outstripping price rises. We hear no criticism by the Labor Party of excessive wage rises even though these are disadvantaging those unionists and others who are receiving less than the average wage. We hear no protest against irresponsibility.
Another extravagance is the claim for the 35-hour week. This claim is supported by the Labor Opposition, and yet clearly this is not the time for it. How can a party claiming to be able to undertake responsibility for the economy of this country, and claiming the objective of raising standards of living in the poorer sections, put forward such a proposal? At the very time when there are widespread demands and needs for resources to meet Australia’s problems in education, health, social services and national development, the Labor Party supports a policy of working fewer hours. The result of these policies which Labor supports - the 35-hour week and excessive wage rises - has been * to diminish work opportunities. Every employer in this country in the last 18 months has asked himself how he can operate on the smallest number of employees possible in the face of excessively rising wage costs. The policy initiated by the extremists in the trade unions and. supported by the Labor Opposition has put people out of work.
Who really speaks for the Labor Party in economic matters? The speech of the Leader of the Opposition this evening was hardly one on precise economic matters. It must be pointed out that clear economic objectives for the future of Australia are not presented by the Leader of the Opposition at all but by the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns). What they propose is clear Australian Labor Party socialism in the old style. The honourable member for Lalor never tires of making clear his extreme socialist views and his ideas of revolutionary democracy. It was he who insisted on having incorporated in Hansard last December the extract from the Labor Party’s Platform, Constitution and Rules’ on economic planning, and he went on in the course of his remarks to make it clear that he supported it, and more. In case there are people encouraged to believe that the leaders of the Labor Party are all good, sensible chaps let me read clause 3. lt states:
With the object of achieving Labor’s socialist objectives, establish or extend public enterprise, where appropriate by nationalisation, particularly in the fields of banking, consumer finance, insurance, marketing, housing, stevedoring, transport and in areas of anti-social private monopoly.
That should be enough to show that Labor today is the complete socialist party - and, some believe, more than it ever was. Honourable members will find the speech of the honourable member for Lalor to which I have referred a clear statement of socialist intent, far more honest and lucid than the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition but exposing the same doctrinaire, dangerous approach to the Australian economy which close observers of the Labor’ Party have long known to be the case.
The view of the honourable member for Lalor of socialism envisages worker control - not participation - and he has said that the democratic process leading to this begins in the streets, on the farms and in the factories’.
– What a pathetic speech.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I warn the honourable member for Blaxland to cease interjecting.
– But he is talking-
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Blaxland.
– On a television programme recently, when pressed, the honourable member for Lalor agreed that banking is the kind of thing that ought to be publicly owned’. When asked whether he included in that, Government ownership of all life insurance, he answered ‘yes’, lt is hardly convincing to then try to say that it would not happen under a Labor government, as he did on that programme, until some ‘economic situation’ arose, whatever that may mean. A reading of his speeches leaves the position clear. The Leader of thi Opposition, in a Fabian lecture delivered last month, said that a Labor government would have no excuse not to achieve Ls socialist objectives and that the Constitution need not stop a Labor government s it has sufficient power already. So I say that what the Leader of the Opposition has in. mind is clear.
The Treasurer succinctly portrayed the Budget in this way: ‘Taxes down; pensions up; and growth decisively strengthened’. I do not have time, because my time is much more limited than the Treasurer’s, to go into all the economic detail. I want to say, however, that it is the primary responsibility of the Government to form a Budget which is responsible economically and based on sound economic management principles. With the existing room for expansion in the economy, a needed increased demand in a number of areas, but also the need to see that no renewed inflationary pressures are created after some success in combating them, it has been possible to present these attractive measures to lift the burden of taxation and give assistance to those in need. But it would be well for the people of Australia to have a closer look at some of the Labor Party’s policies in terms of cost and responsibility. Labor is in favour of control of planning education from Canberra, although its members disagree on the extent; it believes in institutional medicine rather than private practice; and it promises expenditure on a lavish scale to all who request it. The Labor health scheme would result in enormous cost and enormous revenue raising. Even in this theoretical planning stage the cost for part of the scheme has gone from a staggering 1.25 per cent to 1.3 per cent and now 1.35 per cent of taxable income. On an income of $5,000, that represents a $67.50 tax increase, plus the loss of tax deductions on the present medical benefit payment and medical expenses. Who can doubt that with the scheme in implementation costs would rise dramatically? Labor’s interest policies are absurd but must be taken seriously when presented by the shadow Treasurer, and therefore are quite frightening in their economic impact.
– What do you stand for - high interest rates?
Order! 1 have already warned the honourable member for Blaxland. This is the final warning I will give, if he interjects again I will name him without any hesitation.
– Make him speak to the Budget.
-Order! 1 name the honourable member for Blaxland.
– I move:
– I rise to a point of order. Might I suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you give the honourable member for Blaxland an opportunity to apologise for any offence he might have committed in your eyes because I feel that it is an exciting night and honourable members do get carried away. It is one of those occasions on which a little tolerance might be appreciated by both sides.
-Order! I actually had warned the honourable member for Blaxland twice. In the circumstances, if the honourable member for Blaxland tenders a suitable apology to the Chair I will accept it on this occasion.
– I apologise, Mr Deputy Speaker.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, by way of contrast the Government’s reduction of income tax for a man with a wife and 2 children and a $5,000 income would result in a tax saving of $141; and income tax reductions start at the $2,000 level with a 34 per cent reduction and diminish as the incomes grow.
A most enviable standard of living has been built up in this country and this is a firm basis from which we can reach higher yet. This Budget will create much stimulation in an economy which is very strong but which has excellent capacity for expansion. It is a confident Budget based on sound economics to provide confidence - that ‘will o’ the wisp’ - to allow Australians to progress at a faster rate than they have been prepared to do in the immediate past. The future will not be without its difficulties, but Australia can move ahead in the immediate knowledge of improving world and domestic conditions, leaving behind a rougher section of the way to responsible government, and real betterment of Australia’s way of life. Just as the Gov ernment has taken measures to stimulate demand, to reduce unemployment and at the same time to decrease the rate of inflation - measures which I took the opportunity to list the other night - it is time, too, for the trade union movement to play its part by recognising the need for a moratorium on wage rises and restraint or even opposition to excessive wage rises as a matter of its policy.
Anybody who has travelled overseas or read widely knows what a great country we live in. I have no doubt that this Government, working vigorously in every area and being realistic and pragmatic in the correct sense of those words, is the one which can best achieve the national objectives and aspirations of Australians. I am certain that this country will be much greater yet - in its contribution to our region, in being a force for good in the world, and in encouraging our citizens to be better and to lead more satisfying lives.
In recent years there has been a dramatic development in our export trade, mineral development and secondary industry as well as in the avenues and relationships in our world trade, and there has been a tremendous expansion and diversification of our financial system. I have no doubt that Australia, in the foreseeable future, will become a major exporter of iron, steel and aluminium. We will be a significant source for energy materials of all kinds - coal, gas and uranium - and their development will need expertise and finance on a scale at present little realised. With our diversified industrial base our powerful and diverse banking and financial systems our significance to the Western and other economies is growing dramatically. We have the resources and the power to become a very great nation - let us say one of the top dozen - and by striving we can obtain greater independence economically, socially and in other ways. There are no quick and easy solutions; we must work and work together as much as possible. Australians, and not just the Government, must work really to solve need at the roots of the problems. Australians, by their efforts, their directness and their naturalness of manner, can be a truly great people - even unique. Let us encourage the best in our people, not the worst. We have the capacity if we maintain the will.
– The Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) who has just completed his speech, comes, as I do, from Western Australia - the State with the highest rate of unemployment, the highest rate of metropolitan unemployment, and the highest rate of inflation. I had hoped that in the circumstances he would join me in some expression of concern about that combination of facts. Instead he contented himself with satisfaction with what he called our enviable standards. I can only regret that that was so.
This Budget, like all Budgets, is partly an economic, partly a political, and partly a social instrument. It deals with 13 million people and $ 10,000m; it takes 10 Budget Papers and 1,000 printed pages of elaboration; it affects us from before we are born till after we are dead; and we, knowing all that and representing the people upon whom all this impinges, allow ourselves 20 minutes each to discuss it. This is not a plea for longer speaking time. What I am suggesting, though, is that, as applied to a measure as wide ranging as the Budget, our standard forms of debate are practically useless and little more than long winded gestures of habit. In a sense our real debate on the Budget is not what we are engaged on now at all but what occupies us all year round, In any event, I for one approach it on that basis and accordingly attempt at this time to cover no more than a very small part of the field which the Budget opens up for discussion.
The question I would have preferred to discuss in this context is this: Considering the sharp increase in the social services allocation and the heavy emphasis on this aspect in the Budget Speech, might it now be possible to discern at last something that we could regard as a Liberal Party plan, scheme or philosophy of social welfare? That is, might the Liberal Party at last have moved away from ad hocism as the basis of its social welfare programme? I believe that to be an important question to which the answer would still be no, but my reasons for that conclusion must await another time.
For the purposes of this debate I feel obliged to concentrate on a question which is much more narrow but also more urgent.
My question is this: What will this Budget do and what does it omit to do for unemployment, particularly in the special circumstances in Western Australia? The Parliament has been back for only a week and this is already the third time that 1 have raised the problem of unemployment in Western Australia. I know that this must seem highly parochial but I make no apology for it. I will no doubt be accused of repetition. 1 make no apology for that either. If there is one assurance I can give the House it is that I will continue to be parochial and will continue to be repetitious until the Government does something about this matter or is replaced by a government that will. The problem essentially is that in the present unemployment crisis, Western Australia is suffering more and is being assisted by the Commonwealth less than is any other State. That it is suffering more is clearly shown by the July unemployment figures of the Department of Labour and National Service. These indicate that, with 2.99 per cent unemployed, the Western Australian rate is now more than double that of Queensland, 80 per cent above that of New South Wales and Victoria and 50 per cent above the Australian average.
That Western Australia is being assisted least of all the States is equally true and follows from the combination of 2 facts: Firstly, unlike most other States Western Australia has the bulk of its unemployment in the metropolitan area and, secondly, all Commonwealth funds for emergency employment projects must be spent outside the metropolitan area. If these 2 facts are put together a third fact emerges quite clearly, namely, that for the great majority of Western Australian unemployed no help at all by way of increased work opportunity is available from the Federal Government. The extent of the disadvantage and, indeed, discrimination to which this gives rise is illustrated by a table extracted from the statistics of the Department of Labour and National Service. I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Orudis leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720822_reps_27_hor79/>.