28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.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 respectfully showeth:
That grave concern is felt at the imminent introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament of legislation to permit abortion on demand.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the law of this land a principle which violates a fundamental right, the right to life. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Daly, Mr Beazley, Mr Lynch, Mr Adermann (2), Mr Cooke, Sir John Cramer, Mr Drummond, Mr England, Mr Erwin, Mr Malcolm Fraser (4), Mr Garland, Mr Giles, Mr Hallett, Mr Jacobi, Mr Jarman, Mr Katter, Mr Keating, Mr Keogh, Mr Kerin (2), Mr Luchetti, Mr Lucock (4), Mr Mackellar, Mr McLeay, Mr Martin, Mr Morris, Mr Nixon and Mr Viner (2).
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the law of this land a principle which violates a fundamental right, the right to life.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson, Mr Anthony, Mr Bennett, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Corbett, Mr Cross, Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Hansen, Mr Hunt, Mr Kelly, Mr Kerin, Mr King, Mr Maisey, Mr 0’Keefe, Mr Eric Robinson, Mr Thorburn and Mr Wallis.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray (hat the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Sir John Cramer, Mr Graham and Mr Wentworth.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of various faiths (electors of the Division of Flinders) respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Lynch.
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 -
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should maintain the existing laws covering Abortion and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Jarman.
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 Australiahas 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 $240 million.
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. by Mr Mathews.
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 ensure that finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy-eight per cent of Australia’s children.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Viner.
– I ask the Minister for Educa tion whether he can assure the House that on receipt of the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission he will not only forthwith announce details of grants to be made available in the 1974 school year but also announce the availability of advance giants for immediate expenditure so that the maximum number of the recommended areas of need can be satisfied immediately, or at least by the opening of the 1974 school year.
– I cannot give guarantees about what will be done arising out of a report until I see the nature of the report. The honourable gentleman will appreciate that not every aspect of every report is accepted. For instance, the former Government did not accept the report on libraries of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education but we are now accepting it. As I have said, I am not in a position to give a guarantee about what will be done about a report I have not seen. I have not tried even to ascertain the direction of thinking of the Committee because I have desired it to be completely free to exercise its professional judgment. However, I am bound to tell the honourable member that I am certain the report will be treated as one with very great authority. i MAKIN HULL INSURANCE
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is the placement of marine hull insurance by the Australian National Line effected through an Australian or an overseas brokerage firm? If it is effected with an overseas firm, why is that done? Will the Treasurer take immediate steps to have such brokerage undertaken by Australian owned and controlled firms? Is it a fact that 90 per cent of the marine hull insurances of the Australian National Line are placed overseas? If so. is the Treasurer satisfied in view of the Government’s declared attitude to Australian contractors that the full resources of the Australian insurance market be utilised in the placement of this insurance? Will the Treasurer take immediate steps to establish guidelines and policies directed to the placement of all Commonwealth Government insurance with Australian owned and controlled companies?
– In replying to the honourable gentleman’s question I would like first to give some factual information. The Australian National Line instructs its insurance brokers to negotiate the most favourable rate with underwriters when seeking hull insurance on behalf of its fleet. Hull insurance is sometimes rather picturesquely described by my Leader as insurance of bottoms. At the same time, the ANL stipulates to its brokers that they should approach Australian companies involved in marine risks with a view to the acceptance of proportion of the risk in Australia. The Line has indicated that it is conscious of the need for local companies to participate in these insurance placements. However, at the same time it is aware that placement beyond a certain level with companies domiciled in Australia would lead only to reinsurance with parent or affiliate companies overseas.
The insurance brokers of the Australian National Line have advised that the maximum amount of business is being placed locally. Local underwriters have taken approximately one-ninth of the total premiums payable by the Line in the current year. This is higher than it has been for a number of years previously. Local business is shared among 18 companies. I think this merely highlights inadequacy, in some respects, of the insurance markets in Australia. Recently I was able to stop the takeover by a foreign company of one of the few remaining underwriting companies in Aus tralia. I think it is time that those companies which claim to be the bearers of risk should think less of building safe office blocks and more of undertaking some of the risks that ought properly to be undertaken by insurance. I certainly will examine the propositions put by the honourable member, but I assure him that at present, even though technically the insurance might be accepted by an Australian company, in turn it is re-placed with one of the overseas operators because of the magnitude of the risk. The total value of the ANL fleet is about $125m. That seems to me to be quite within the competence of Australian insurers to undertake. I hope that more initiative will be shown by so called private enterprises in Australia. I have already indicated that there will be no further takeovers by outsiders of any existing Australian undertaking in the insurance field, and I am quite firm about that.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the House. As a member with an individual responsibility in this matter, I ask the honourable gentleman whether he is aware of the fact that the period of gestation of the Abortion Bill in England was at least 9 months from the time of its conception as a Bill presented to the House until its final birth as an Act of Parliament. Does he regard 31 hours of debate as an efficient means of dealing with a social question of very’ great importance to a very large section of the Australian community or should it rather be seen as a travesty of democratic parliamentary government? I ask the honourable gentlemen in all sincerity whether he and his Party will reconsider the implications of such a farcically and tragically truncated debate, precluding all but a handful of members from expressing their views and debarring them from the opportunity of putting and voting on vital amendments, even to the second reading of the Bill, quite apart from a Committee stage which may never happen.
– The Government believes quite frankly that the debate on this issue could be spread over a lengthy period. But I point out to the honourable member that under this Government every issue brought forward by private members has been given time not only to be debated but also for a vote to be taken. That was never done under the previous Government. Had this Bill been introduced by a private member in the time of the previous Government, the debate on the Bill would not have extended beyond 12.45 p.m. and would then have remained on the notice paper until the dissolution of the Parliament. The Government has made its position clear. The Government has a legislative program to carry out and, naturally, time must be set aside for all measures. But unless members are prepared to sit indefinitely - say, right through until Christmas - it is impossible to allow full debate, on major Bills. All things considered, the Government believes, in view of the great public interest which has Deen expressed, that this measure should not be left without a decision being taken. We have therefore agreed as a Party that we will not interfere with the rights of members to vote as they think fit. But the Government, in charge, of the business of the House, has decided that a given time will be provided for debate and in addition time will be allowed for votes to be taken so that the views of honourable members on this Bill can be determined.
I suggest that if honourable members opposite are agreeable, we might even consider, say, a Friday, a Saturday or a Monday sitting to give more time to debating the Bill. However I do not think there would be much enthusiasm for this suggestion from the other side. But the fact is that honourable, members opposite will be given the opportunity in principle to declare their views on this matter. As I said, the time for debate could well De extended to cover days but if the honourable member for Bradfield has any suggestions as to how we could provide the time under the sitting hours of this Parliament to allow every member of this Parliament to express his views on this issue, I would be pleased to hear from him. Let me summarise by saying that the Government is doing something that honourable members opposite never did when they were in government. We will be allowing this issue to come to a vote and we will give honourable members the right to express their opinions and the right to participate in a debate and to reach a decision. This in itself is a democratic forward step.
– Did the Minister for Defence see the program ‘Federal File* in which it was alleged that Australia had told
Thailand that in future no place would be available at the Queenscliff Staff College for the training of Thai officers? If the Minister saw the program, can he deny or confirm the statements made?
– I did not see the program referred to by the honourable member but the implications of that statement were drawn to my attention. It is true that Thailand has had an officer training at the Queenscliff Staff College since 1958 and, indeed, there is one officer training at that establishment today. Thailand has not been told that there will not be a position for Thai officers in future. An application from the Thai authorities for a position at the College would be considered together with all other applications received from overseas countries.
– The Crown Prince is here.
– Yes, the Crown Prince of Thailand is now training at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. But what happened is that earlier this year the Thai authorities wrote to the Department of Defence and asked whether a permanent position could be made for a Thai officer at the Queenscliff College. It was pointed out to the Thai authorities that this proposition could not be accepted but that a decision would be made in due course. They subsequently wrote and asked whether a position could be made available for the 1974 course. I believe that application was made on 1st March. The Department of Defence informed the Thai authorities that the application would be considered, together with all other applications, in August of this year. The question of providing training facilities for overseas countries at the Staff College at Queenscliff must be seen in context with the number of positions available. In point of fact, for the 1973 course 13 applications were received from overseas countries.
– Which countries?
– The former Minister should know but I would be happy to find out for him all the countries involved. I cannot readily recall them. However, for his information, some examples are New Zealand, Great Britain, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. As I was pointing out, 13 applications were received in 1973 and only 4 positions were available. The Thai authorities have been informed that their application foi the 1974 course will be considered, together with applications received for positions at the
Staff College lodged by other countries. It ls not true to say that Thai officers have been refused admission to the Queenscliff Staff College.
– My question which is addressed to the Prime Minister, relates to the Pikes Creek Dam irrigation and town water supply project on the Queensland and New South Wales border. Is the decision as to whether the Commonwealth will provide its one third share of the funds required for this project now in the hands of the Prime Minister? Is he aware that the previous Federal Government had agreed with the State Governments of Queensland and New South Wales to share equally the cost of the dam, which is estimated at $14.5m, and which will provide substantial benefits to towns and districts on that section of the Queensland and New South Wales border? Further, is he aware that considerable work already has been done on the project on the understanding that the Commonwealth Government was to share the cost, and any repudiation of the undertaking given by the previous Government could seriously jeopardise the whole project and the project could be discontinued only with a substantial loss and waste of public funds?
– I have been concerned about the long delay - at least 2 years delay - in carrying out the understandings reached by the preceding government with 2 State governments on this project. My colleague, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, is submitting the matter to Cabinet, I think next week.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Are any reliable estimates available of the amount of carryover or reserve stocks of wheat which will be on hand in Australia prior to the next wheat harvest? Is it a fact that the position is quite critical?
– It is a fact that the present situation with respect to wheat stocks is quite unsatisfactory and perhaps it could be termed critical. Prior to the commencement of the harvest just concluded the amount of wheat for carryover was approximately 50 million bushels. As a result of the last harvest, which was not a good one, the deliveries amounted to approximately 200 million bushels which allows only 250 million bushels to be disposed of for the full 12 months. The first priority must be given to Australia’s own requirements for human consumption and stock feed, which will be about 80 million bushels. This means that we have only 170 million bushels to supply the very large export markets that we know are available. Obviously, we cannot do it. We will have the lowest exports for over a decade. Just recently the lowest deliveries for over a decade took place. The cold facts are that we will not have any wheat at the end of the year if we fulfil the orders that are available.
It would be prudent for the Australian Wheat Board to hold on to some stocks of wheat, and it would be a matter for the Board’s judgment to provide a minimum carryover of, say, 10 million bushels. Honourable members will understand that if we had another bad harvest at the end of this year the position would be very critical. It is most unsatisfactory. The whole matter of national aggregates and State quotas are being looked at thoroughly by the Government because a new wheat stabilisation scheme is to be brought forward this year. We have storage capacity for 700 million bushels. I believe that the Government must offer some encouragement or at least some incentive to growers who are prepared to grow above quota wheat at their own risk. It is obvious that, in view of the deficiencies in the meat market today, we should give serious thought to the growing of a lot more wheat for stock feed also.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it correct that he is threatening the close relations that exist between the Papua New Guinea Government and the Australian Government? Is it correct that the Minister has not only refused the recent requests of the Papua New Guinea Government concerning that country’s future national airline but has also threatened the Somare Government with the withdrawal of future development funds for civil aviation, and has even threatened to make that Government immediately responsible, financially and otherwise, for functions now performed by his Department - functions which could not immediately be readily assumed by the Papua
New Guinea Government and which do not come within the ambit of recent transfers of responsibilities by the Minister for External Territories, details of which I gather he will announce in the House today?
– The former Minster for Civil Aviation, Senator Cotton, negotiated an agreement with the Papua New Guinea Government in September last year which provided that a national airline should be set up comprising 25 per cent interest by the Papua New Guinea Government, 25 per cent by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, 25 per cent by Trans- Australia Airlines and 25 per cent by Qantas Airways Ltd. At that time I did not agree with the proposal. I thought that the airline should be owned completely by the Papua New Guinea Government, but because Chief Minister Somare and his Cabinet had agreed to it, I decided that I would not interfere and that 1 would accept those conditions. When I became the Minister I conveyed my decision to the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation and indicated to him that I was prepared to accept that agreement for only one reason - I repeat it - that the Chief Minister Somare had agreed to it.
My personal reaction was that the airline should not involve Australia’s 2 domestic operators as when independence was granted Papua New Guinea would become a foreign country. Therefore Qantas, the Australian foreign flag-carrier, should be the one to operate that service and to give whatever assistance was necessary. Qantas has had considerable experience in providing such assistance to developing countries. That is the background to what took place. The Minister for External Territories and I received advice in the period up to about a month ago that considerable lobbying was going on by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd in political circles in New Guinea. On Saturday morning approximately 4 weeks ago a conference was held in Sydney between the Minister for External Affairs, Chief Minister Somare and the Minister for Transport, Mr Jephcott. The opening advice to us by Mr Somare was to the effect that his Government had decided that it wanted a new agreement, and the new agreement was to be on the basis that the Papua New Guinea Government would hold 52 per cent of the shares in the new company, Qantas would be given 12 per cent, TAA would be given 12 per cent and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd would be given 24 per cent. My immediate reply to that was that I would not accept those conditions; that if there was to be any change in the arrangement it would revert to the basis of the Papua New Guinea Government having half the shares and Qantas having half the shares, and the 2 domestic operators would be excluded from the company altogether. I conveyed to Mr Somare that as far as the Minister for External Territories and I were concerned, speaking on behalf of the Government, we favoured the Papua New Guinea Government having total control of its own airline. I stand by that. That is what should apply in New Guinea. The Papua New Guinea Government should have complete control of its own airline.
We gave him the assurance that we would take every step possible to ensure that Papua New Guinea got finance, technical advice and aircraft to operate the service. We want to see the Papua New Guinea Government operating its own airline. But Mr Somare insisted on Ansett Transport Industries being brought into the service and having a dominating role in the service. I said that this Government would not spend Australian money on developing airports and providing services in such circumstances. It should be borne in mind that S3m is to be spent on the Port Moresby airport, that $I0m is to be spent on a new airport at Nadzab, that the cost of operating Department of Civil Aviation services in Papua New Guinea is almost $llm and that the replacement value for equipment, etc., that is in the Territory is almost S50m. If the Opposition thinks for one moment that this Government will provide all those things for Ansett Transport Industries to have the dominating role it has another think coming.
– Can the Minister for Transport give any information on the progress of the negotiations now proceeding between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia on the construction of a new standard gauge railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs? Can he also restate the intention of the Commonwealth Government to proceed with this project at the earliest opportunity?
– An agreement is pending between the Australian Government and the South Australian Government on the construction of a new railway line between Tarcoola and Alice Springs. My understanding of the position is that in May of last year the then Minister for Shipping and Transport forwarded to the South Australian Government the outline of an agreement for the building of that railway. The South Australian Government did not agree with it. It indicated that it wanted to have the right to determine what section of the existing line linking Alice Springs, Marree and Port Augusta could be closed at any time. It wanted to determine what would be the freight rates on the new line so that they would not be more than those applying in the South Australian railway system. The then Prims Minister replied in November last year rejecting that proposition. When I became Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation the South Australian Government wrote to me through the Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister replied in February of this year indicating that this Government was adopting the same attitude as the former Government, that it considered the agreement to be a fair and reasonable one but that it was prepared to confer before any changes took place. At this stage the matter is still in the hands of the Premier of South Australia.
– Is the Minister for Housing aware that owners of war service homes have been charged increased annual premiums for insurance on their homes? Can he inform the House what caused increased claims under war service homes insurance to rise from $520,000 in 1970-71 to over $lm in 1971-72? Are similar yearly increases in claims and premiums to be anticipated?
– I am not aware of the situation as it has been stated by the honourable member. I understand that there has been a drain on the resources of the insurance fund as a result of the catastrophic cyclone in Queensland. It is quite likely that the overall situation may be affected by this. I will have some investigations made in regard to this question and advise the honourable member.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Capital Territory. Has his attention been drawn to the tent which has been erected on the lawns outside Parliament House and which carries 2 signs, one being Women’s Embassy’ and the other ‘Abortion Law Reform’? Has the Minister received any complaints about the presence of the tent? Is the Minister considering taking any action?
– No, I have not received any complaints. The few comments I have heard have been very favourable. It is significant to note that the tent that has been erected bears a sign declaring it to be a women’s embassy. The House will remember the last embassy on the lawns - the Aboriginal embassy - which was so brutally dispersed by this Opposition when its members were in power. I suppose I can add as part of my answer that personally I am glad that they are not in power now - otherwise the women’s embassy would probably be dispersed in like manner. There is some significance, I suppose, in the decision of the ladies to be there and to spend last night there in a temperature that fell to about 8 degrees Celsius, together with a lot of rain. A 75-year-old lady whom I know was there at half-past 8 this morning. These are the significant factors. May I add that there is significance in their choice of a women’s embassy because there is oppression against women in this community. Women who are aware of social issues like the abortion issue and who know that this issue and other issues that fundamentally concern them are going to be decided in this House of men do feel oppressed. Women who are aware of social issues and who like to think that they should be treated with full civilian rights and have opportunities available to them in much the same way as you gentlemen have opportunities available to you feel oppressed and discriminated against. There is considerable significance in this. Finally, I have no intention of taking any action.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the very good work undertaken by the Pacific Basin Economic Council and that the sixth annual meeting of the Council is to be held in Sydney this month? Also, is he aware that Mr K. T. Li. the Minister for Finance for Taiwan and a distinguished Asian, has been invited to attend this meeting and that he seeks to do so in his private and personal capacity? In view of the reception tendered to the North Vietnamese in Parliament House yesterday and their receipt by the Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry, on what terms and conditions will Mr K. T. Li be allowed to enter Australia in order to participate in this regional conference?
– I am certainly aware of the advent and the significance of the PBEC meeting. In fact 1 am to address the meeting on the opening day. I am not aware of the position concerning the gentleman whom the honourable member mentioned. He would undoubtedly be able to come to Australia under the same conditions as any other person comes from Taiwan, that is, in any unofficial capacity.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Is he aware that the Queensland Premier is about to journey overseas and that one of his stated intentions is to confer with Her Majesty the Queen and British Government leaders? Will the Prime Minister ensure that the Queensland Premier is advised in detail of the success of the Prime Minister’s recent trip and the discussions that he held with both the Queen and the British Prime Minister as the only government leader entitled to speak officially internationally on behalf of all Australians, including the Queensland Premier?
– When I was in Britain I was asked who this gentleman was that was announcing that he was coming to Britain. There was not much interest, but I was able to answer those who showed any. The success of my own visit is apparent to anybody who reads the newspapers here or in Britain. The British Government takes the same attitude to my Government as it took to my predecessor’s government, namely, that the British Government regards the Australian Government as the government in Australia with which it communicates.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the visit to Australia of the representatives of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, to the public entertainment of them in Sydney by one of the Prime Minister’s senior Ministers and also to the entertainment of them in Parliament House yesterday. I refer also to the fact that Australia recognises the Government of South Vietnam and maintains diplomatic relations with that Government. I ask: Does the Prime Minister consider it proper for his Ministers publicly to entertain members of a group dedicated to the overthrow of a government with which we have formal and friendly relations? Further, the interest of the Department of Foreign Affairs in travel documents and the entry to Australia of such groups is well known and no doubt the Prime Minister will be aware of the nature of the travel documents held by this group. Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether this group travelled to Australia on North Vietnamese passports’?
– Australia recognises both the Government in Saigon and the Government in Hanoi and maintains a parity of diplomatic representation with both. Australia does not recognise, and is not contemplating recognising, the PRG. The PRG visitors came here on North Vietnamese passports. They presented those passports for Australian visas in Rangoon. Therefore they were perfectly entitled to come here and to go about the country as they wished. Anybody is entitled to speak to them.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it a fact that the New Zealand Government has taken positive action aimed at controlling the prices of certain meats which will have the effect of reducing meat prices in New Zealand? Is any action on similar lines contemplated in Australia, or is similar action possible?
– The New Zealand Government has been very concerned about the dramatic increase in meat prices in New Zealand in recent months, just as the Australian Government is concerned with a similar position in Australia. The New Zealand Government has taken action to stabilise certain meat prices in New Zealand. These measures have been concerned principally with sheep meats. In recent weeks the price of sheep meats, because of the Japanese demand, has doubled and it has been necessary to take some action. The New Zealand Government has put a blanket freeze over all wholesale and retail sheep meat prices throughout New Zealand. At present it is finalising a schedule of sheep meat prices which will operate and will in fact have the effect of reducing the prices of sheep meats in that country. This might involve a subsidy.
In regard to beef, a similar position applies as in Australia. It is considered to be impracticable to fix or freeze the prices of beef throughout New Zealand. The New Zealand
Government is looking at this question at present. There is a deficit in pork production in New Zealand in terms of demand, and pork is actually being imported. I would say also that New Zealand has a major advantage over Australia in that it has a unicameral system of government.
– And unitary.
– And a unitary system. New Zealand is able to take action quickly to stabilise prices without the hindrance, as often occurs in Australia, caused by some States. I shall have pleasure in referring this matter to my distinguished colleague the honourable member for Adelaide, Mr Hurford, for his committee to look at the situation and to study what has happened in New Zealand to see whether some positive similar action can be taken in Australia.
– I ask the Treasurer: At a time when there is excess liquidity in the economy, what is the purpose of increased interest rates? What action has the Treasurer taken to ensure that Commonwealth bond interest rates are maintained at as low a level as possible in order to serve his own avowed policy of minimum interest rates rates? Has the Reserve Bank in its operations allowed the interest rate to rise at the long end of bond rate by almost one-half per cent? Has the Treasury, and the Treasurer, supported this rise in interest rates? If the Treasurer has supported it, when did he take the decision to allow the interest rates to increase?
– 1 must say that I find gratifying on the part of the Opposition, as expressed through its leader, concern now about both inflation and interest rates - a concern which to say the least there was very little evidence of in the last 3 years of office of the previous Government.
– The Australian Labor Party is supposed to be the low interest rate party, yet it intends to ir.crease interest rates.
– I was asked a question but I seem to be getting the answers from the other side of the House. If honourable members opposite will be quiet I will endeavour to reply to the question. I say categorically that it is better for the community as a whole if interest rates are lower rather than higher. More people benefit because most are borrowers whereas the lenders tend to be a more select group. Nevertheless, one is confronted with an economy with a great deal of existing institutional and financial arrangements.
– What do you mean by ‘existing arrangements’?
– The Leader of the Opposition should know what I mean but if he wants the information specifically, let me tell him that there are bodies in existence such as life insurance, companies and banks. There are other bodies in existence but nobody knows quite whether they are banks or something else. They are sometimes called hire purchase companies but now are more respectably called financial companies. There is another curious group, of whose movements we know very little in Australia, called merchant banks. All of them in one way or another are collectors of funds and disbursers of funds. They compete with each other and it is my responsibility as Treasurer, and with the Treasury and, if you like, the Reserve Bank of Australia also to see that there is a proper balance of the available sources of credit. There are some people, of course, who think that there is no limit to the ability to create, credit, but if we create too much there are unfortunate effects on the money claims that are already in existence.
My task as Treasurer is to be able to divert more money into the public stream of spending and less into the private; in other words, to keep the proper balance. If nothing is done about interest rates outside the Commonwealth bond area it is very difficult in isolation to hold the bond rate at either the long or the short end. Sometimes - I am sure that former Ministers on the Opposition front bench and the Leader of the Opposition in particular, as a former Treasurer, would agree with me - one has to take decisions which one does not like to take. To some, extent that situation has been forced upon me in relation to the short term end of the market. I am no great lover of what is called the short term money market. I think it gives power and a great deal of glory to a few at the expense of the financial structure generally. However, that is a situation that I have inherited. I have indicated already that I believe that if we put controls for social purposes upon banks and insurance companies there is also a case for putting controls on other areas. If I find that I cannot hold the situation as I want to hold it by what are called the monetary forces operating in what is supposed to be a free market, though I think it is anything but free, I will have to take other courses, including perhaps direct measures, over some of those areas outside the ambit of credit control. I can assure the House that if I have to do it, I Will do it.
– 1 ask the Minister for Science whether he saw a report in the media to the effect that clinical trials indicate, that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial [Research Organisation has made an important breakthrough in producing poly-unsaturated meat and dairy foods which could play a vital part in fighting heart disease. If so, did he also note that the claim was made that conservatism on the part of Australian agricultural marketing boards has cost both Australian consumers and farmers the full benefits of the breakthrough and that, consequently, CSIRO has assigned licensing rights to an Anglo-American controlled company? What can the Minister tell us about this report?
– One of the difficulties that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation had in the project was that no Australian company was prepared to undertake the development. There is nothing that we can do about the past, but we are now reviewing the procedures for licensing and patenting for CSIRO. We hope that the development aspects of CSIRO discoveries and inventions will be undertaken in co-operation with the Australian Industry Development Corporation. It has been a very regrettable, part of previous government policy that sufficient impetus has not been given to the development of CSIRO inventions. I agree with the honourable member that it is a loss to Australian industries that the particular process to which he referred was not taken up by Australians.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report on the location, nature and development of institutions of tertiary education in Sydney, Melbourne and the Albury-Wodonga region. This report was prepared by the Australian Universities Com mission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education. Copies of the report will be made available to honourable members as soon as possible.
Currency Revaluation: Australian Minerals Industries - Health Benefits: Medical and Surgical Wigs - Education: School LibrariesFuel Prices - Shipbuilding: Evans Deakin Industries - Broiler Industry - Whitlam Government - The Parliament - Brisbane Airport - Coral Sea Battle Celebrations - Victorian Government - Tourist Industry.
That grievances be noted.
– I want to point out to the Government that it must face up to the structural damage which has been done to the mineral industries of this country. I raise the matter again today because there has been an opportunity of some weeks to see what the effect of the Government’s policies on those industries has been. I refer particularly to industries in Western Australia and Queensland, but certainly to industries elsewhere in Australia. This matter affects the national interest because the impact of currency rate changes by the Government has run very deep. I repeat that it has caused structural and permanent damage. The Government made a unilateral revaluation of the currency. It further made a decision - although the Treasurer (Mr Crean) was inclined to say that it was not a decision - not to devalue the Australian currency at the time that the United States of America decided to devalue by 10 per cent. The Treasurer in his Press release of 14th February referred to the decision as not producing much net change in the effective exchange rate for the Australian dollar with its main trading partners. I point out to him that that misses the point.
The point is the relationship with our competitors, and I refer particularly to Canada and Brazil which devalued with the United States dollar. It is not what has happened with our trading partners that is important. What is important is the people against whom we must compete. The actions of the Government, both in the short term and the long term, greatly affect the 2 less populous States of Western Australia and Queensland. I suggest that they are affected more than the Government seems to realise.. They will lose many hundreds of millions of dollars and handouts by the Government of Federal funds of the order of $5m, $10m, $15m or $20m will not nearly compensate in employment or in economic efficiency in those communities. So, I warn again some weeks after those events that the consequences for those States lead to inequities and to unjust treatment. There seems to me to be a strong indication that the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in particular show an interest, really, only in the 2 big cities of Sydney and Melbourne and are inclined to ignore economic influences - indeed, one gets the impression at times that the Prime Minister disdains to have much to do with economic matters - and to concentrate on the problems of those cities. I stand here this morning and say that the cities of Sydney and Melbourne have problems which need to be redressed by the Government but that other cities, communities and States also have rights and needs. ] take up again the furphy, because it is repeated so often, that the big mining companies ought not to have signed their contracts in United States dollars and I repeat that, in the circumstances of those days, it was impossible to write a large contract other than by tying it to United States dollars. If those contracts had not been written in that way there would have been no development, no contracts and not one new project, Yet the Government says again and again that the mining companies ought not to have tied their contracts to United States dollars because if the Government were to admit the reality, it must accept some of the blame, as indeed it must.
The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), when he was Acting Treasurer, went out of his way in this House to comment about resource allocation in Australia and what he thought should be done. He was quoted in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ as saying that the present resource allocation was not good. What justification in terms of that statement can there be for the action of the Government in damaging these great industries in Australia? I emphasise that the mining industries in Australia are - or were - among the most efficient industries, if not the most efficient, in this country. The present Government has for a long time gone out of its way to criticise the efficiency of areas of manufacturing and rural industry, but the rnining industry - the one industry which was capable of such great productivity, which was so capi tal intensive, which reversed an unfavourable balance of payments situation into a favourable one and which built up a high standard of living in this country - has now been damaged by this Government. Judging by remarks made by responsible Ministers, the Government apparently extracts some pleasure from this action. The Government’s announced plan is to shore up the less efficient industries in the community, having caused this damage to the mining industry.
This is a matter of national interest. I have referred in particular to the plight of the 2 States concerned because of the significant effect on the entire Australian economy. When one hears the intemperate language of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), who appears to act with excessive aggression, it give serious doubts about the objectivity of his policies and, to me, creates considerable doubt about the fairness of those policies. One can understand the desire of this new Government, filled with its enthusiasms and with some release of frustration, to be progressive and to make changes. But one gets the impression at times that they are changes for their own sake. Through all of this activity to which I have referred this morning there has been an impetuousness in the statements which have been made, a lack of balance and, I believe, a clear impression that proposals are being made without calm thought and objectivity. The Government’s actions and statements in respect of the mining industry in particular have been very damaging and the currency changes which were tremendously adverse to the mining industry, were the result of expressed government decision. I say that, even if the Treasurer, in respect of the second matter, tried to pretend that he had not made a decision but had simply allowed the currency to remain as it was when the whole world was considering what it would do in relation to the United States currency as a result of the United States decision - it has a decision. He said that because he did not want to consult his colleagues, the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), in spite of the fact that they have great responsibilities to the Australian people and to this Parliament. But he did not consult them, as was clear, in making that great decision.
With respect to the great iron ore developments and other developments which have taken place in this country in recent years, the
Government failed to approach the Government of Japan, at the time it made these decisions. Indeed, I would say that it should have approached that Government before making the decisions because there were a few days when it had an opportunity to try to make some arrangements. The famous British economic journal, The Economist’, in its latest edition referred to the unilateral revaluation as ‘largely a political gambit’. What a condemnation is that from such an authoritative journal!
Surely the mining industry and the much needed processing of minerals will, in future, provide opportunities for graduates from our universities and will in future create opportunities for enterprise, and for Australians, to justify the retention of our great and remote regions. Mining and processing give us very much opportunity nationally and, in particular, give an opportunity to the 2 less populous but larger States of the federation, Queensland and Western Australia. All States and the whole Australian nation and its interest are involved in this issue.
– I should like to bring 2 matters to the attention of the House. The first is one that I believe will have the support of all honourable members of the House. The people involved would be regarded as a forgotten group in our community - a group which I believe could claim a sense of genuine injustice for the way in which it has been treated. I refer to those people who, for one reason or another, have to wear medical or surgical wigs. The present position is that no assistance is given by the Government, nor is it a matter for tax deductibility. The question may be asked: ‘Who are these people who are forced to wear medical and surgical wigs?’. I point out that they include women, children and men. It is not a small group within our community. It would involve thousands of people.
These people have to wear wigs for reasons which result from medical complaints. In some cases it is alopecia which, in its chronic form, results in complete baldness. Accidents, burning, scalding and so on also can cause the loss of hair. The question may be asked: Why are they a forgotten group?’. I believe this is explained in a letter from one of my constituents who wrote:
In mitigation of the lack of consideration previously shown 1 think it is fair to say that the majority of sufferers from this handicap would find an approach to their parliamentary representative a little too embarrassing.
The key to the reason why nothing is done is probably the embarrassment that is caused to those who are in this position. Surely it is natural that a young child or a woman would wish to keep this matter secret. For this reason there are no organised groups as such and they have no voice in the community. In the past the only group that has spoken out for these people has been the manufacturers of medical wigs. The sufferers of baldness, particularly the children and the women’s experience, as one can imagine, countless frustrations. Often humiliation is involved and this can be relieved only by the wearing of a wig. I wish it was possible to show in this Parliament photographs that I have here of a young lad aged 6 who is completely bald, and photographs showing the lad wearing a wig. Honourable members would see what a difference it makes. The purchase of a wig means a heavy financial burden on the parents or on the person concerned.
We should distinguish clearly between the wearing of fashion wigs and surgical wigs. They are not the same thing. The surgical wig must be made to perfect measurement and must match the texture and colour of the hair. Fashion, style or cosmetic wigs, whatever one likes to call them, do not have to conform to those same high standards. The result is that medical wigs are extremely expensive. I am informed by both purchasers and manufacturers that at present the cost is approximately $180. To allow for servicing and cleaning it is necessary to have 2 wigs. The estimated cost that I was given was that it would be $200 a year. I draw the attention of the House to an article in the ‘Age’ newspaper dated 22nd June 1972. It reads as follows:
People who have to buy wigs to conceal complete loss of hair (as distinct from cosmetic wigs) are no doubt happy that the Government promised that the cost of these high-priced wigs will be tax deductible after the next Budget. It is a concession which is long overdue. Had these people been living in Britain, things would have been different. More than $3m is spent each year by the British government on supplying wigs free on National Health Service to people whose doctors consider they need them. Each patient, as here, has to have 2 wigs. They are made of human hair and cost about $100 each. In Britain the State also pays for the periodic cleaning.
Two points emerge from that article. The first is the promised concession of tax deductibility for 1972-73 which did not eventuate. The second is that the British Government not only supplies medical wigs free but also pays for periodic cleaning.
I submit to the House that as a first step we must make medical wigs a tax deductible item. To prevent abuse, this may necessitate the presentation of medical certificates as evidence that the people receiving the relief are in fact purchasing medical wigs. For the future, I sincerely hope that the Government will go much further and that wigs together with many other items that are prescribed for medical reasons, such as spectacles and false teeth, will be included in a comprehensive national health scheme.
The second matter that I would like to bring before the House relates to education and concerns my own State of Victoria. I am particularly concerned about a number of matters where there has been a failure by the State Government to spend money that has been made available to it by the Commonwealth. In the first year of the triennium of the Commonwealth libraries program the Victorian Government claimed only $500,000 out of the possible $2,300,000 that was available to it. In my electorate 2 schools on the short list in 1971 wei e promised emphatically that they would get their libraries in 1972. They are the Doveton High School, of which I was a member of the staff at the time, and the Noble Park High School. Throughout 1971 nothing took place. In 1972 - an election year - they were promised that there would be action. But I would highlight the point that those 2 schools in my electorate should today have the advantage of a Commonwealth library.
Another area in which Commonwealth money has been made available and not used as quickly as it should have been is the area of technical training grants. In the first 20 months of this program we find again that the Victorian Government failed to use all the money that was available to it. During this period $3. 5m which could have been claimed in fact was not claimed. Again I am concerned from a personal point of view. I live in the city of Dandenong. On visiting the Dandenong Technical College recently I was told by the principal that the college’s most urgent need - the children at this college have 13 portable class room buildings - is a middle school complex. A technical training grant would be applicable to that area. The information that the college received is that the money is not available. At this stage $3.5m from the Commonwealth Government remains unclaimed. I know that Mr Thomp son in the Victorian Government will eventually take this money from us. I do not doubt that, but the fact remains that this money should have been used when it was first made available so that the students could now be getting the benefit of it. In this regard I would point out that it is rather hollow to promise that $62m is to be spent on education when one queries whether the efficiency of the Victorian Government will allow that amount of money to be spent. One also feels that it is a little hollow to promise one year’s kindergarten training when in fact this was one of the issues we took to the poll on 2nd December.
– I desire in the time that is available to me to bring forward to the Parliament the matter of fuel prices in Australia. It has been of great interest to users of refined products to learn of an announcement made by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) that he would recommend to Cabinet that the newly set up Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices be given a reference on this very important subject and that the Minister had assumed that the Government would agree to this taking place. Today petrol and distillate, which of course are the refined products, are universally used in our every day life, and the price of such fuels is of great importance to the economy and is an element in the cost of all types of goods and services.
It appears from recent events in the distribution of petrol and distillate that prices being charged across Australia are too high. It is interesting to note that in New South Wales the Minister for Labour and Industry has conferred with oil companies to see whether it is possible to decrease the number of service stations in Sydney. It has been reported that these companies have agreed over the next 12 months to reduce by 10 per cent the number of stations servicing the public. Apparently the theory is that the proprietors of the remaining stations would make a better living without having to increase their profit margin, and of course a reduction would eliminate some of the proprietors who are on the breadline because of low profits in this industry.
In Victoria about 300 petrol outlets and service stations have closed in the past 3 years, and it is understood that the oil companies plan to close many more outlets. These companies have stated in Victoria that they would be prepared to have talks with the Government in that State similar to those recently held in New South Wales. The petroleum industry generally agrees that the closing of uneconomic service stations reduces the risk of any petrol price war. It has been interesting to hear the statements being made by the chairman of XL Petroleum Pty Ltd, Mr Ian Sykes, to the effect that there has been heavy over-investment in service stations in Australia over the past 25 years. He further added that two-thirds of the stations in Victoria and half those in New South Wales should close. This is an interesting observation coming from a man who has taken on the major oil companies in a price war, particularly in Victoria where, as honourable members know, concessions are being given, and also in New South Wales. This gentleman, on behalf of his company, has been able to enter into a contract with Ampol to refine his company’s entitlement of Australian crude oil. Under the contract a profit of 4c a gallon will go to Ampol. It is interesting to note what the managing director of Ampol has said about this deal. He said:
It was preferable for us, as an Australian-owned company with an Australian refinery running 10 per cent Australian crude, to supply them instead of letting more business go to foreign-owned competitors.
On completion of this deal with the Ampol company XL Petroleum reduced the price of super gasolene at its Melbourne garages by 10c a gallon below the normal price of 49.7c. Admittedly XL Petroleum has no refineries and no big capital expenditure in installations or depots and no large overheads. Possibly this is the basis on which it can make this product available at a lower price.
The man who is responsible for the wholesale price of petrol, the South Australian Prices Commissioner, Mr Baker, has said as recently as 24th April that there is no indication that oil companies are making excessive profits in Australia. This gentleman has stated also that the wholesale price of petrol before Commonwealth duty is added is cheaper now than it was 15 years ago. The Australian excise duty on petrol imported into this country in its refined state and the excise duty on petrol refined from Australian crude is now 17.3c a gallon. That makes up the main cost of petrol being sold in Australia. Mr Baker has stated also that the larger oil companies were required by the Federal Government to process a certain amount of indigenous oil at a price fixed by the Liberal-
Country Party Government. The small oil companies do not have to process an equal amount so their costs obviously are lower.
The tax paid by the oil companies amounted to $47.7m last year. There is no doubt that the Commissioner of Taxation looks very closely at the records of all companies involved in international transactions to ensure that they pay their share of taxes in Australia. Nevertheless it does appear that the discrepancy in the price of petrol as between the major companies and the independent operators such as XL Petroleum is too large. It is time that the Government of the day had a searching inquiry into the price structure.
However, there is one side of the petroleum distribution with which we must be concerned. I refer to the marketing of refined products outside the reseller area, that is, outside the service station area. I refer to the supply of fuel to transport companies, commercial enterprises, industrial undertakings and primary producers. When one looks at this situation one finds that the companies are making rebates to certain preferred accounts in the capital cities of Australia. These preferred accounts are generally taxi companies, big transport operators and industrial concerns. The companies are rebating these organisations to the extent of 9c a gallon on petrol purchases. I feel that if the oil companies can rebate 9c a gallon to these organisations the rebate should be made available right across the board in Australia. Fuel is an extremely costly part of the operating costs of primary producers who are not given the rebates which the major oil companies are giving to operators in the capital cities. Small accounts are not treated so liberally. This type of trading indicates that there is room for a standard price reduction right across the board.
Some primary producers who purchase large quantities of gasolene and distillate receive lesser discounts on their purchases - probably 3c to 4c per gallon - than do operators in the capital cities. These primary producers have to purchase huge quantities of fuel before the oil companies come to the party and give a discount. The smaller operator is hit all the time in that he has to pay the full price. This aspect of oil company trading must be investigated immediately with a view to giving fair treatment to all users of petroleum products. If costs were reduced and prices stabilised, a reduction could be made in the price of refined petroleum products that would benefit all. 1 trust that no time will be lost by the Government in holding an inquiry into these operations. It is a long time since an inquiry was held and it should not be delayed any longer because action is needed now.
– The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) has given us a fair example of the double standard. During the 23 years Ja& previous Government was in office - and the Australian Country Party was part of that Government - nothing was done, at all about price control and no effort was made to institute an investigation into the prices which private enterprise organisations charge. The practice of giving rebates that the honourable gentleman talks about has been going on for years. In many instances the rebates given by oil companies to private purchasers are greater than the rebates that they are prepared to give to their own one-brand service stations. If the honourable gentleman took the trouble to examine the report of the inquiry into the petroleum industry which was carried out some years ago by the Australian Automobile Chamber of Commerce these facts would be revealed to him. What the honourable gentleman talked about has been going on for a long, long time. 1 think it is fair to say that State governments have constitutional power over price control. The honourable member for Paterson was a former member of the New South Wales Government of which his Party is a coalition member. That Government could institute an inquiry and enforce forms of price control if it so desired. It is open to the Party of which the honourable gentleman is a member to take action in this matter because it has the constitutional power to do so. I am quite sure that the Askin Government will not do a single thing about it. It is far better to complain here.
– It has done something already.
– The New South Wales Government has the constitutional power to take action but, as I have said, I am sure it will not do anything about it. It is easier for members of the Parties which form the New South Wales Government to talk in this place, which does not have the power to take any action, and then to go back to the electorates and say that another government will not do anything about it.
– We learnt that from you.
– 1 say to the honourable member for Angas that I hope that I am never in the situation where I propose a resolution to this House and then vote against it being voted upon. The facts are that repeated requests have been made especially to the Victorian Government to do something about setting up a mechanism for examining prices. These requests have always been refused on the grounds that the government’s philosophical point of view is opposed to interference in the free enterprise system. I accept that as the view of the Victorian Government. But it is pointless to complain, for instance, of unions moving outside the established machinery for the price fixing of labour if one is not prepared to participate in schemes to examine the methods of price fixing for the employers of labour. 1 think it is time that State and Federal governments agreed to do something to take up the constitutional void which exists because of the changes which have taken place over more than 70 years since Federation, to ensure that one form of government or the other is able to and will legislate in fields such as price justification. The Commonwealth is almost totally limited in the actions it can take in this field - actions which are akin to blackmailing companies to comply with what the Government says. There are very few legislative means by which the Commonwealth can force a prices policy on companies in general. The States have this power and also with the power an excuse that it is not practical for a State to act in isolation on such matters, although the South Australian Government has done so rather successfully over a number of years.
The honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow) mentioned briefly the position with regard to Commonwealth assistance for school libraries in Victoria. During the last Parliament members of the then Opposition, members of the present Government complained repeatedly that the level of per capita grants given to private schools was at considerable variance with that of grants given to State schools. The then Minister for Education and Science informed the House on a number of occasions that the reason for this variance was that the responsibility rested on the State government to meet part of the cost of providing these libraries. If we accept that, I suggest that it is a cynical exercise for the Victorian Government now to suggest that it will catch up on the backlog in the provision of libraries in state secondary schools out of additional money to be made available for educational purposes by the Commonwealth in the next financial year. A smaller number of schools than should have obtained libraries have them.
Two high schools in my electorate are without libraries. Both of those schools have been promised libraries from the amount of money which has not as yet been spent by the Victorian Government - the only government which has not fully taken up its allocation of funds.
The schools I mention are both in areas where the need for library facilities is extremely great. They are in areas where the parents are in the semi-skilled to unskilled working groups. It is establishable that children from those areas have a greater’ need for availability of literature and libraries than would exist in areas where parents have a higher educational background. The culturally under-privileged children have a greater need in this area, yet they are the very people who have not been provided with libraries under the existing State policies. In the next 5 years some of those schools will probably get libraries but in that time at least 4 groups of students will have passed through the schools from Form 1 to matriculation without the benefit of libraries. In many cases those students will have totally lost these educational opportunities. It will not be of any benefit to them to come back and look at a building which should have been constructed 20 years earlier.
I want to take up only one other point. It relates to the availability of housing for rent. The Victorian Government has so far refused to agree to the new Commonwealth-State housing agreement because it contains a provision that 50 per cent of the total funds provided under the agreement be used for rental accommodation and 50 per cent for houses which are to be sold. The Victorian Minister for Housing has said repeatedly that the Victorian Government sells its houses to tenants. There is no evidence of this. In fact, the manner in which the houses are sold is exactly the same as that adopted by A. V. Jennings Industries (Australia) Ltd or any other mass seller of houses. The only difference is that the Victorian Government has set a minimum and maximum income level for persons who can purchase the houses. If a man earns less than a certain income he is denied the right to purchase, and if he earns more than a certain income he also is denied the right to purchase. Persons who are not able to meet the commitments involved in purchasing a house have no access whatever to new Victorian Housing Commission houses. In my electorate not one dwelling has been erected for rental purposes in the last 14 years. In that period one-third of the total number of houses in that area which were then available for rent have been sold without being replaced. So whereas in 1958 there were some 3,500 rental dwellings available to low income earners in Geelong, with the population now some 50,000 greater there are only 2,000 houses available.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to speak on a matter which is very important to the people of my electorate in Brisbane, to the people of Queensland and, in an indirect manner, to the people of Australia. I read in today’s newspaper that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) is going to Brisbane tomorrow to talk to tha directors of Evans Deakin Industries Ltd, a shipbuilding company situated in my electorate which is presently beset with problems. They are the same directors whom the Minister on 4th April, only a month ago, described as being up to skulduggery. That insulting and irresponsible comment from the Minister is well and truly recorded in Hansard. As honourable members are possibly aware, this company over the last 6 years has lost approximately $6m and in the last 2 years has lost 250,000 man-hours which is equivalent to 100 man-years. In the last 6 months the company has lost more than $ 1.25m.
At the time of the debate on the closure of Australian shipyards the Minister, defending himself following my attack on him of charges of parochialism and favouritism tor his own electorate, made certain claims. I refer particularly to the vessel ‘Seacoaster’ which was the fifth vessel to be awarded to the shipyard in the electorate of the Minister for Transport. We know that recently Adelaide Ship Construction, a company in that city, was forced to announce its closure. We know also that Evans Deakin has more than threatened to do the same. That company is greatly concerned that it cannot carry on under the present Government. The ‘Seacoaster’ contract was one which Evans Deakin virtually had in the bag prior to the last election. The Australian National Line, however, took the ship off the drawing board because it wished to convert it from a twin screw to a single screw vessel. The vessel was then given by the Minister for Transport, who has discretion on where he will place vessels, to the shipyard in his electorate. For them this was the fifth vessel. Hie Minister said in the House in defence of his actions that this was done because the tenders of Evans Deakin and Adelaide Ship Construction were higher than the tender submitted by the Newcastle State Dockyard. This was only a ploy the Minister used in the House that day to try to avoid facing the facts.
An examination of another tender by the Adelaide company recently and of the tender by the Whyalla shipbuilding company, part of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd complex, will show that the tender of the Whyalla shipyard was much greater than that of the Adelaide shipyard, yet the Minister saw fit on that occasion to give the construction of 2 vessels to the Whyalla shipyard and to deprive the lower tenderer of the contract. Yet the Minister has tried to say that the Evans Deakin yard in Brisbane missed out on the contract because its tender was higher. The fact is that the Minister has the final discretion on which company will be given the job. With Evans Deakin’s future being uncertain because of the lack of orders, I suggest that if the Minister had cared about Brisbane and Queensland he would have given consideration to placing the order in that State. Further, on 4th April the Minister said that Evans Deakin would be given an opportunity to tender for the construction of two 12,500 ton roll-on roll-off ships for the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand. He went on to say:
It is a decent job and will involve about $30m, and that is not chicken feed.
But the Minister told us only half of the story because we all know that the Tariff Board report suggested that the shipbuilding industry should be offered a subsidy of between 25 per cent and 45 per cent. Yet in respect of these 2 ships the Minister for Transport, a Minister of a Labor Government which claims to champion the rights of the people, did not tell the Parliament that the maximum subsidy offered by the new Labor Government was only 25 per cent, the bottom of the barrel. In effect, he was saying to Evans Deakin: ‘You can tender for these ships, and if you lose money that is too bad’. The Minister also referred on that occasion to the Santa-Fe oil rig and said that Evans Deakin had had an opportunity to build this rig if it wished to do so. What he did not tell the House at that time was that the Santa-Fe Drilling Company had indicated that in all probability the vessel would be taken out of Australia after a time. All the Minister would say was that as long as the vessel was kept in Australia for a reasonable time the company would be eligible for a subsidy on the building of the rig. If you, Mr Speaker, said to the Parliament that we could speak on this subject for a reasonable time no one would understand what you were talking about. Neither did Evans Deakin nor the Santa-Fe Drilling Co. know what the Minister was talking about. To my knowledge the Minister still has not clarified what he means by ‘reasonable time’. Meanwhile all he does is indulge in accusing the directors of Evans Deakin of skulduggery.
In recent days we have heard the hollow cry of the socialists in Queensland who have said that the Government should step in and nationalise and socialise the Brisbane shipbuilding industry - Evans Deakin. If such a capable board of directors as that which Evans Deakin has is incapable of making the shipbuilding industry work and if Evans Deakin, functioning properly, cannot avoid a $6m loss in 6 years, I ask in all sincerity how a nationalised and socialised industry would expect to get this industry on a sound footing. What Evans Deakin needs is a clear enunciation of the Government’s future policy. That is necessary not only for Evans Deakin but for every shipbuilding yard. What a sorry record it is of the Government. It has been in power for 6 months. The Adelaide Ship Building Co. has gone to the wall and Evans Deakin is going to the wall. The Minister has mentioned his pipe dream for the industry. It suggests that he is ambitious to cut down the number of shipbuilding establishments throughout Australia. I suggest that the Labor Party is happy to see the Adelaide Ship Building Co. go to the wall and will be happy to see Evans Deakin go to the wall. The Government will probably tell us that it is rationalising the industry, making it smaller and easier to cope with. The Adelaide people can speak for themselves. As a Brisbanite and Queenslander I resent the application of the
Government’s policy. I resent the new Labor Government’s attitude to Queensland and to Brisbane.
The Minister for Transport is also Minister for Civil Aviation. In today’s Press is an announcement that his submission to Cabinet for expenditure of $150m on a new Brisbane airport has been thrown to the wind.
– Why don’t you tell the truth? Why don’t you use some facts?
– You prattle on like a parrot. I would not even put a canoe building yard in your hands. The new Government has a lot to answer for. Last night it allocated $450m for a new war service homes system, yet it regards the building of a new Brisbane airport as expendable. It is starting to worry about inflation and the expense of carrying out some of its promises. All 1 ask of Government supporters, including the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh), is that they be fair dinkum. They should stop making political speeches which are devoid of any meat or truth simply to protect their Government. I ask them to take an interest in the people of Queensland. As far as I am concerned, that is what counts. Anyone can sit in the Parliament and yell, interject and scream out, but if Government supporters do not come up with solutions in their speeches the people of Queensland will not be impressed. Let us face it, they have not been impressed to date.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I hope that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) will pay me the courtesy of listening to my speech. After hearing it he might hold the view that something should be done about nationalisation or socialisation of the broiler industry which is in the hands of free enterprise. I wish to relate to the House some of the experiences of the unfortunate people who are breeding chickens for big combines. I have a lot to say to the House on this matter and because of the limited time available to me I will have to speed up my speaking rate. I want to point out what I consider to be prima facie evidence presented to me of considerable injustice imposed upon one of my constituents. I understand that his experiences are not uncommon amongst people engaged in his occupation throughout Australia. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) recently stated to the media that he was concerned about conditions in the broiler industry. I wish to quote a letter written to me by Mr E. Bichard of 3 Government Road, Kersley, near Cessnock, on 13th January 1973. He wrote: 1 wish to make a complaint against 2 combines trading under the names of Steggles Holdings and Mountain View, both processors of poultry. These 2 companies deliberately went out of their way to ruin me financially. They refused to supply me with chickens for continuation of my business in which I have invested thousands of dollars. To top it all, obstacles have been put in the way of my selling my property. I must point out that Mountain View was under the managership of W. Halliday and his son, Phillip. W. Halliday finished his contract at the same time as they put me out of business. My property was worth between $40,000 and $50,000 on the market in 1968, but today because of deterioration since 1968 the value has dropped to zero.
As the solicitors, Messrs E. H. Tebbutt and Sons have pointed out to Mr Crawford, Minister for Agriculture in the State Parliament of New South Wales, these companies have far too much power; they can get people to go heavily into debt and at a whim of any source finish him up and nothing will the State Government do. Every grower that has gone out of business can give a poor story. Mr Morris, Minister for Transport in New South Wales, has also received complaints from growers.
This has all developed to me from an item inserted in a newspaper by Mr G. Neilly, MIA for Cessnock, and referring to government help for the growers to form a co-operative. The following, although condensed, will show you what each one of these companies did to me.
I say that Steggles was after revenge.
I worked for these people growing 20,000 chickens at a time, but they wanted more chickens and pestered me to erect another 2 sheds, raising my capacity to 40,000 chickens. Steggles loaned me $4,000 towards the cost of such sheds, supposedly interest free.
By the time these 2 extra sheds were ready for use I found myself in debt to the tune of $17,000 to $20,000 and prices of feed at Steggles had risen alarmingly. The price of chickens had dropped. I found that it would be impossible for me to get out of the situation for years, or go bankrupt. I was man enough to approach Mr B. Steggles and tell him that I would have to leave him and grow for Mountain View (a fatal mistake).
Mountain View is another firm in the Newcastle region. Mr Bichard’s letter goes on:
He was very upset and I still had 4 sheds of chickens to be picked up by them. I can show you my statements from Steggles which will prove that I grew average chickens regularly. My wife, son and myself always made it a practise to weigh a quantity of chickens on the morning of each pickup. We always found our weights correct. The first 2 sheds
Steggles picked up after I told him I was leaving lost 6 ounces in weight from Kearsley to Beresfield, costing me $1,500 or $1,600.
From Kearsley to Beresfield is between 12 and 15 miles. The letter continues:
After consulting a solicitor and much arguing over their weighbridge, they collected the remainder under my conditions, which were that 1 select my weighbridge and my son and myself would witness the taring of trucks and the gross weights also. (Steggles did not like this). There was a lot of animosity. We come to a time in 1968. P. Wrigley reads the newspaper article referring to co-operative. Within a week 1 receive a message through the grapevine that Steggles would like me to go back and grow chickens for them. I wait a few more days and I see an advertisement in a newspaper. Steggles were advertising for growers. I phoned D. Marshall and asked him if he would accept me back as a grower. (Answer) ‘Yes Ted. I will be out tomorrow to see you.’ Appointment was kept and my wife was present at the interview. (This is where 1 think there was collusion between D. Marshall P. Wrigley, W. Halliday, manager of Mountain View, and his son P. Halliday.) I would like you to take notice of the conversation. D. Marshall promised me a permanent job with his firm. But he said ‘1 want you to grow one more batch for Mountain View’ (which was a killer batch as you will read under the heading Mountain View’). ‘Let me know when Mountain View takes delivery of that batch.’
I had to phone him twice before he came to see me after that batch was picked up. My wife was present again. D. Marshall apologised and told me he had Te-engaged another grower who had left him on 2 previous occasions, but he was negotiating with yet another one of Mountain View growers. He was experiencing some difficulty and if he could not get him I would take his place. I said, ‘You would not be giving me the run around’. Answer, ‘Of course not Ted, what makes you think that’. I told him that when my last batch was only 3 weeks old, news had reached me from Steggles farm next to me that I was finished and out of business. Answer, ‘He should not have said that’. (Comment - it came true). Later 1 found out that he could not get the second grower. J phoned him and told him the news. He said, That’s right. Keys and Co. would not come to the party.’ I said ‘Where do I stand?’ Answer, ‘Where you always stood’. 1 am asking you, did this man ever have any intentions of re-employing me or did he just want to be in on the kill?
The last time 1 had an interview with Steggles he said that I could sell my property and he would promise to put chickens in for the new owners.
I appeal to honourable members to listen particularly to what follows. The letter goes on:
As the result of advertisements, 2 people were very eager to purchase and make any alterations necessary. But, when they approached Steggles he told them he did not need any more growers.
All this time my farm is deteriorating. 1 have had to sell the brooder pipes and various other items to pay debts.
I told Mr Crawford-
He is the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales- in my first correspondence that had there been an ombudsman I would never have been out of business. Mr G. Neilly told him that I had been victimised.
Mr Bichard went on to say that he believes that he has been the victim of the monopolies and mismanagement and bungling in the broiler industry by the 2 companies which have been named. He goes on - I stress these points - to say:
They reduce the price of chicken from 2.1 lc per lb to 20c per lb. This on ils own meant about $1,500. They cut my chickens down from 40,000 to 32,000 (another loss). P. Wrigley told me that if I do not prepare all 4 sheds the number of chickens would be reduced more. They delete the 6c guarantee under which 1 had been growing previously. 1 have to order my feed through Mountain View office for the first time so they would make sure I received medicated feed. Extra cost of feed medicated being $6.50 per ton.
I interpose by saying that this constituent did not want to use medicated feed. He believed that he could breed the chickens to a point of satisfaction to himself and the industry without using medicated feed. It was imposed upon him at an extra cost of $6.50 a ton. He goes on to point out that as a result of the treatment of these organisations - Steggles in particular, a company which is well known in Newcastle - he has been reduced to a point of bankruptcy and has had to take work at Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd at a very small wage. He is over 50 years of age and this makes it difficult for him to effect a new start in life on his own initiative. He ends by saying:
I paid a visit to the new manager, Ron Pittard, whilst in the office P. Halliday walked in.
J said, ‘Can I ask you two questions’. ‘What are they?’ ‘Why did you take my chickens away so quickly?’ ‘You would not adhere to the medicated feed program set down for you’. 1 urge an inquiry into the matters I have raised.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think that many people in Australia have been shocked at the left wing drift of this Government. At the last election they did not know what they were voting for because this was not put in the policy speech of the new Government and was not made explicit to the people. The people perhaps should have known because they should have realised the inherent truth of the admission of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) which was made in this HOuse on 28 February that he took his instructions on policy from an outside body and carried out those instructions. That outside body is a left wing body and in it the communist influence is very evident. The contents of the official platform of the Australian Labor Party to which the Prime Minister acknowledges himself subservient are in a way a blueprint for a socialist Australia. I believe that honourable members opposite - perhaps not individually but carrying out as a body the instructions which they are bound and pledged to carry out - will be trying with every means in their power to make Australia a fully socialist state and will stop at nothing in order to do that.
Honourable members opposite, it is said, are held back by the views of the electorate. It has been said that if they do this they will not be re-elected. There is some truth in this but the only truth, really, is that if there is a fair election they will not be re-elected. There will not be a fair election if at any time they can control the Senate because only the Senate stands between us and the imposition of a completely unfair electoral system. If the Government can only get through the Senate the electoral changes it wishes, Australia will never have a free vote again. It all depends on the Senate.
Indeed, it goes further than that because the interpretation of the law depends upon a High Court which is and should remain incorruptible. The High Court consists of 7 judges. That is set down not by the Constitution - section 71 of the Constitution permits an unlimited number of judges in the High Court - but by section 4 of the Judiciary Act.
That limitation to 7 cannot be changed without the approval of the Senate. But if the Senate were ever under Labor control, the Government could swamp the High Court and make this presently incorruptible court a vehicle for corrupt Labor policy. This Government will go to any lengths if it has the power. Only the Senate stands between Australia and what would be almost a proletarian dictatorship. I know that many honourable members opposite do not want this but they are pledged to bring it into existence because, one and all, by their own words, they are the subservient creatures of an outside body - their Federal Executive and Conference which controls them in regard to policy.
How safe is the Senate? It would not be safe if the ALP ever had that vital 31 votes out of the present 60 senators. At present, as honourable members know, the composition of the Senate is 26 Government senators, 26 Opposition senators, 5 Democratic Labor Party senators and 3 Independents. The Government does not have in the Senate the vital 31 votes which it needs for its revolutionary changes. I do not believe that all honourable members opposite intend to make these changes. I know that many honourable members opposite are entirely honest and wellintentioned. It is not what they intend themselves but what they would be instructed to do by the outside body which controls them.
How could the present situation as to the party strengths in the Senate be changed? It could be changed, of course, by legislation. Proposals have already been made to change the representation of the Australian Capital Territory in the Senate. These proposals may be innocuous - I do not know - but, at all events, they could not become law without the concurrence of the Senate. Once again, the Senate is the vital safeguard. The party strength situation in the Senate could be changed by casual vacancies. None of us can determine what casual vacancies may occur. It could be changed by a double dissolution, but that could not occur unless the Senate behaved in a certain way and the Government chose to accept the challenge and, even then, the Senate might come back divided evenly. I think it most likely would come back divided 30-30 and the Labor Party would not have the vital 31 votes which it needs for revolution.
– Yes, for revolution, not because honourable members opposite are revolutionary individually, although some of them may be, but because they are being directed by a revolutionary body outside this Parliament. What about the more likely eventuality? What is going to happen at the next Senate election which will occur sometime between now and June 1974, the date not yet being fixed? Let us examine what is going to happen at that election. The survivors in the Senate, that is the senators who have the long terms and remain in office after 30th June 1974, add up as follows: Fourteen Australian Labor Party senators, 12 senators from the Opposition, 2 senators from the Democratic Labor Party and 2 independent senators. If from the 31 seats which will be vital to the ALP for control of the Senate you subtract the 14 seats already held by the Australian Labor Party 17 seats will remain. If the Australian Labor Party is to control the Senate after the next Senate election it thus needs to Win 17 seats, which means it must win in 5 of the 6 States. This is scarcely on. Subject to the chances of casual vacancies occurring one would say that the position would be safe, even after the next Senate election.
Now casual vacancies can occur in two ways - either through the death or resignation of a senator or through the engineered resignation of a senator. It could be vital if the Labor Party could engineer, before the next Senate election, a casual vacancy for a long term non-Labor senator for either Queensland or Western Australia, which are the 2 vital States because these are the States where with 5 vacancies the split would be likely to be 3 to 2 against Labor, but with 6 vacancies the split would be likely to be 3 all. I do not know what will happen but I am ready to bet that the Labor Party will be making desperate efforts to engineer casual vacancies among the long term non-Labor Party senators for those 2 States.
– I rise on a point of order. The honourable member is suggesting that members of the Senate could be corrupted.
Order! The honourable member will not take a point of order on matters of debate.
– Let me say, so I may put the honourable member’s mind at rest, that I am not saying that honourable senators could be corrupted. In my view they will withstand the offers of corruption that will be made to them. 1 believe that they are honourable men who will withstand these offers which will undoubtedly be made to them. I am sure that the long term senators from Queensland and Western Australia will be the targets of an attempt to corrupt by the Labor Party but I feel equally that they will resist these temptations. I may differ from my honourable friend opposite on this, but I do not believe that these honourable senators are dishonourable men. I do not believe that they would take the bait but it is essential, for the Labor Party plan to get control of the Senate, to get those 31 votes and it will not scruple to employ any such device for this purpose.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a few comments on the remarks made by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). He made misleading statements in this House that were not true. I do not mind him coming in here and making statements that are true, but when he resorts to untruths I believe it is time that a member of the Government replied to him. In my opinion they were deliberate untruths. There has been a long standing practice in this place - certainly while I have been a member for the last 14J- years - that if an honourable member intends to make an attack on another honourable member he always pays him the courtesy of telling him in advance.
– I came looking for you.
– If you did, you did not look very hard. The honourable member knows where my office is. My staff was in the office but he did not speak to them or tell them what he proposed to do. The honourable member for Griffith said that in the last 6 years Evans Deakin Industries Ltd has lost about $6m. I do not know whether that is true or false but it is pretty close to the mark. However this amount of $6m was lost by Evans Deakin when the Liberal-Country Party Government was in office, not during the time of the Australian Labor Party Government. If the honourable member for Griffith has any adverse comments to make about the $6m lost by Evans Deakin, he should refer them to members of the former Government which is guilty. The guilty men are not on this side of the House.
The honourable member for Griffith said that I had indulged in parochialism and favouritism in granting the Australian National Line ship ‘Seacoaster’ to the Newcastle State Dockyard, which happens to be in my electorate. He said it was a foregone conclusion before the election that it would go to Evans Deakin. I am certain that the people of Adelaide will be delighted by that statement. Let us examine the facts. Five tenders were received. The Newcastle State Dockyard was the lowest tender. The next lowest tender was from Carrington Slipways Pty Ltd, which is also in Newcastle but in the electorate of the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock). It is just across the river from Newcastle. The next lowest tender was Sim higher than the State Dockyard tender and it was from Adelaide Ship Constructions. The next tender was from Evans Deakin and it was S2m more than the State Dockyard tender. The fifth tender was from Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. So the former Liberal-Country Party Government intended to allocate this order to Evans Deakin. In other words, it was a $2m handout to that company over and above, for example, the tender of Adelaide Ship Constructions. Is this favouritism? Is this the way to run a ship building industry? Does a government make handouts to its friends, which obviously was the intention of the Liberal-Country Party Government - a $2m handout? That is what the honourable member for Griffith was suggesting in his contribution today. As far as I am concerned work for which tenders are called will be allocated on the basis of the lowest tender and best delivery date. As far as I am concerned, that is the set-up.
– Did you-
-Order! The honourable member for Griffith will stop interjecting.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, will you shut that jackass up?
-Order! The Minister will be silent. If the honourable member for Griffith wishes to continue listening to this debate I suggest that he should remain silent.
– The honourable member for Griffith said that I allocated 2 ships, the ‘EZ’ and the bulk ship to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd’s Whyalla shipyards when Adelaide Ship Constructions submitted the lowest tender. This is a deliberate untruth because these 2 ships were allocated to BHP at Whyalla by the former Minister for Shipping and Transport, the Honourable Peter Nixon - not by me, but by him - prior to this Government being elected. The honourable member should examine the facts. It was the former Government that granted orders in a manner in which they should not have been granted. The honourable member for Griffith should be prepared to accept responsibility for decisions made by the former Government.
In relation to the Union Steamship Co. and the proposal to build 2 roll-on roll-off vessels for the trans-Tasman trade, it is perfectly true that in the discussion of a matter of public importance raised by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) on 4th April I did not state that the Government would only pay a 25 per cent subsidy. But I made no attempt to cloud the issue or not to make facts available because on 12th April I released a Press statement in which I set out what the Government has done in an endeavour to stabilise and retain the existing shipbuilding industry. The present Government has a proud record. The Press release I issued stated that the Australian Government had instigated a comprehensive review of the industry and offered a 25 per cent subsidy to the Union Steamship Co. to build 2 roll-on roll-off vessels in Australia for the transTasman trade. This decision was made by the Treasurer (Mr Crean), the Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) and myself who are responsible for shipbuilding policy, in order to get these 2 ships, which the previous Government would not subsidise because the ships were for what is actually foreign trade. The ships were for a foreign company, admittedly owned on a 50-50 basis by Thomas Nationwide Transport and the Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand. Because the Government knew and understood the problems in the shipbuilding industry it decided to pay subsidy of an amount which would be sufficient to cover the cost of these 2 ships to put the Australian shipbuilding industry on a basis on which it could tender competitively overseas.
Honourable members opposite will find shortly that the 25 per cent subsidy is adequate. If they want us to hand out a 45 per cent subsidy when a 25 per cent subsidy is adequate, they are in the wrong place because we will not make handouts like that. We will assist the industry, encourage it and make sure that sufficient orders are received. The honourable member for Griffith said that I was setting out to close 2 shipyards. Once again that is a deliberate untruth. The Labor Government has set out to get work. Another misstatement that the honourable member made concerned the Santa-Fe rig. The Government agreed to pay a 45 per cent subsidy on it. We were no sooner in office than we were approached by Evans Deakin Industries Ltd to see how much subsidy we would pay.
The Minister for Secondary Industry, who was the responsible Minister, consulted with me and we gave the firm an answer within 24 hours. We said that we would pay the 45 per cent subsidy. I was later approached about what would happen if the rig were taken off the coast in the event of no work being available. I gave them a verbal assurance. I had a resolution carried by Cabinet. The honourable member said that the company has not yet been advised of the interpretation of ‘a reasonable time’. It has been advised. It was advised verbally some time ago when I personally granted an interview to the representatives of the Santa Fe Drilling Company. I told them what the Government had in mind. It was satisfactory to them then. All they asked for was that it be put in writing. It has been put in writing. They have received it. They have a definition of what we mean by ‘a reasonable time’. I considered it to be a most reasonable proposition that we put to them.
– It was over-generous.
– It may be overgenerous, but at the same time we want to retain the existing shipyards in Australia. That is why we are going out of our way to get orders for them.I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the Press release I put out on 12th April which sets out the position.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
(Statement by the Minister for Transport and
Minister for Civil Aviation, the Honourable C. K. Jones, M.P.)
The Australian Minister for Transport, Mr C. K. Jones said today it was apparent that the flow of orders for Australian shipyards was on the upswing as a result of the positive steps taken by the present Government to revive the industry.
This week, an Australian shipowner advised me he was planning to call tenders for 2 ships of about 30,000-40,000 tons in the very near future’, Mr Jones said. ‘I am not at liberty to divulge the name of the shipowner at this stage - but this advice is clear evidence that the Australian Government’s shipbuilding policies are starting to have the desired effect.’
Mr Jones pointed out that since coming to office, the Australian Governent had:
Instigated a comprehensive review of the industry.
Offered 25 per cent subsidy to Union Steamship to build 2 roll-on/roll-off vessels in Australia for the trans-Tasman trade.
Given an assurance to Evans Deakin Ltd that it would not recapture subsidy on the proposed oil drilling rig for the Santa Fe Co.
Announced tenders would be called shortly for a 70,000-ton replacement for ANL’s Tolgra’.
Announced 2 further orders would be placed shortly by ANL:
One as a replacement for ‘North Esk’.
The other a further vessel for the Tas- manian trade.
Called tenders for an oceanographic vessel for the Navy.
Announced tenders would be called shortly for a navigational aid vessel for the Department of Transport.
Advised it expected several companies to announce plans to build vessels and oil rigs in Australia.
Permitted the import of three 100,000-ton vessels for the coastal trade on condition that orders for equivalent tonnage were placed with Australian shipyards.
Asked ANL and HHP to get together to design a standard ship for the bulk trades.
Announced a decision to reserve the coastal trade to Australian-built ships.
The Government was also seeking an equitable share of the overseas trades for Australian bottoms.
In these circumstances, I am disturbed at the lack of confidence shown in the future of the industry by certain shipyard managements. There is every reason for optimism but 2 yards have announced their closure’, Mr. Jones said. ‘One of these is Evans Deakin.
Too often the unions are blamed as the sole reason for a yard’s closure. Certainly, the unions have not been blameless and must accept their share of the responsibility. However, in these situations management must also accept its share of the responsibility, too.
The Australian Government has gone a long way towards assisting Evans Deakin’, Mr Jones said. “We have provided the guarantees requested by that company for the Santa Fe rig. We have announced various proposals for new orders. We are undertaking a comprehensive review of the industry to develop positive policies.
These are the facts. Evans Deakin should stop looking back into the past and look to the future’, Mr Jones said. “There is a new Australian Government taking positive steps to get the industry moving. The Company should recognise this and gel out into the market place and compete for the orders that are becoming available.
Their present stance is not improving their commercial image. They have work and there are sufficient orders about for them to be assured of continuity of work. They should gel on with the job’, Mr Jones said.
– I want to refer now to the Brisbane Airport. For 23 years, when honourable members opposite were in government, Brisbane has done without a first class airport. On Tuesday of this week Cabinet approved the allocation of $6.5m to acquire all of the land necessary to build the Eagle Farm Airport. It also approved sufficient money being made available to acquire the northern site which will be required somewhere about the end of the century. It will be there when it is needed. This is different from the bungle that exists in Sydney today as a result of 23 years of Liberal government. Because this Government had a lot of other things of greater importance to consider, such as prices and the economy of this country, the matter was referred back to the urban and regional development sub-committee of Cabinet to be brought on again.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to draw the attention of the House and of the public to the disgraceful way in which the recent Coral Sea Week celebrations have been used by leading members of the Government to express their hatred, contempt and dislike of the United States of America and our whole American connections and previous relationships. I refer in particular to the recent occasion when the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) had accepted an invitation to address the Coral Sea dinner in Sydney which for some years has been staged by the AustralianAmerican Association. For this Coral Sea Week the United States President sent out as the chief American celebrant an astronaut whose name is well known and who has represented his country continuously.
On Monday last a dinner was held for this celebration at which the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence was invited, as the leading representative of the Government, to make the main speech of welcome to the visiting astronaut and to address the guests. He accepted this invitation. A very short time before the dinner he informed the AustralianAmerican Association that he could not attend because he was too busy as he was going to New Zealand. Having virtually dumped them at the last minute, he suggested that they get in touch with his deputy, Senator Bishop, but he also was not available when he was approached. Further discussions then took place about which Minister would represent the Government and the Deputy Prime Minister. Contact was made with another Minister. A discussion took place in which that Minister indicated that if he accepted the invitation he expected to be able to say exactly what he liked. It became obvious to the members of the Association that he would be a most inappropriate invitee. Time expired and the matter lapsed. When the dinner actually took place the chair, which should have been filleJ by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, was vacant. It was left empty and the situation became extremely embarrassing to all concerned. The very poor effort of the Government in this matter was made manifest to all.
I draw this to the attention of the House because, above all, this occasion which should have been one to celebrate our previous victory with our allies was used by the Government as a vehicle to express the very fashionable hatred now felt by large numbers of members of the Australian Labor Party, and particularly by leading members of the Government, towards the United States and everything American. I think that this disgraceful episode should be made known and that as many people as possible should express resentment at these kinds of occasions being used by the Government to express its hatred of the United States. The House and the public should be roused to great resentment by this disgraceful episode.
– The matter which I desire to draw to the attention of the House concerns the people of Victoria and the way in which they are being blatantly deceived by the Liberal Government in that State which is attempting to lead the people to believe that that Government is in no way associated with its counterparts who sit on the Opposition side of this House. However, the people in Victoria will realise that they belong to the same Party and are equally responsible for the chaotic conditions that prevailed prior to the December election that led to the defeat of the Liberal-Country Party coalition and which will, I hope, lead to the removal of the Liberal Government in the forthcoming State election. The Hamer deception goes further than that. The Liberals have let things slide over a number of years. They have failed to take the initiative to introduce policies. Now in great haste they are plundering Labor Party policies in an endeavour to pull the wool over the eyes of the Victorian electors.
I instance the concrete monstrosities known as freeways that tear the heart out of the inner suburbs of Melbourne. They were part of the great Liberal plan that proceeded despite the desperate opposition of the Labor Party, to leave in their wake destruction of the environment, incalculable social disruption by the bulldozing of houses and the uprooting of people in many cases after a lifetime in the locality. While sabotaging the quality of urban life, the State Government has led the motorists in Victoria up the most expensive garden path in the history of the Slate. After refusing to listen to the Labor Party for a number of very expensive years, on the eve of the election the Hamer Government slashed $700m off the freeway program simply because the freeways were planned to run through Liberal seats and the inhabitants were up in arms about it. The Hamer Government realises that cars simply do not vote.
Whilst Victoria is spared the freeways, the Liberal Government must stand condemned for the fact that it has not given the Victorian people any alternative. It has failed to do anything at all about upgrading public transport. In 18 years the Liberal Government in Victoria has performed the magnificent feat of laying a total of 10 miles of new railway track. The railway rolling stock belongs to the 19th century, and if it was not in such bad shape I am sure the antique dealers would be interested in buying it. The only aspect of public transport that could be called up to date is the fares. 1 am sure the Victorian people would agree with me that they are well ahead of their time. The Government is trying to pretend that better transport facilities are just around the corner. A recent example I can recall is the production of a bright, shiny, glittering tram, the only one that has been produced at this stage of the game. A public relations exercise broke down when the tram itself broke down.
In the area of high rise housing the Victorian Government has been forced to adopt the policy of the Labor Party, which is to oppose the construction of huge concrete jungles which leads to the destruction to the fabric of people’s life, the creation of enormous social problems and a breeding ground for child delinquency. The Housing Commission’s plans for high rise development were halted as late as 26th March this year obviously to try once again to fool the people of Victoria. Westernport is certainly another example that can be pointed to of the Liberal Party in Victoria being forced to adopt the policies of the Victorian Labor Party. Sir Henry Bolte proclaimed the Westernport project as the Victorian Ruhr, while the Labor Party strenuously opposed the industrial development of that area. The project was once again belatedly stopped by the Hamer Government only after enormous pressure from the Labor
Party and people within and around the area who felt that the price of industrial development was the destruction of one of our national assets. As the elections have come closer, so the plundering of Labor Party’s policy has been speeded up. We can refer to a few of them.
– They are the best policies it has had.
– I think that is very true. An education teacher housing program, for instance, was part of the Labor Party’s policy in 1967 and was adopted by the Liberals in 1971. A fourth university outside the metropolitan area was Labor Party’s policy in 1967. In November 1970 the Government established a committee to look at the fourth university. Autonomy for teachers colleges was Labor Party’s policy in 1970. In 1972 it was adopted by the Liberals. The appointment of an ombudsman was the Labor Party’s policy in 1967. A Bill was introduced in the House at that time to give effect to this policy and has been introduced every session since but it has been opposed by the Liberal Government. But in March of this year, lo and behold, the Liberal Government adopted that policy. The vote for 18-year-olds for many years was Labor’s policy. In the closing hours of the parliamentary session prior to the forthcoming State elections great haste has been made by the Hamer Administration to adopt the proposition. But in doing so it has not given sufficient time to have all the 18-year-olds registered. One month before the rolls were due to close the decision was taken by the Hamer Government.
– Do you think that was a confidence trick?
– I would think so. It was part of the Labor Party’s platform to have a helicopter emergency service to ferry sick people over long distances. This was adopted very recently, as late as April, by the Hamer Government. On 5th April Mr Holding announced the pegging of country natural gas prices to the city level as part of the Labor Party’s program. Mr Hamer reannounced it on 13th April. I could go on for some considerable time referring to such matters as the setting up of a series of ministries to adopt the progressive policies set out in the various areas of the Labor Party’s program. What we see is that the Hamer Government follows suit. I am quite confident that the people in Victoria will not be fooled by this deception.
The Liberal Party has had its head in the sands of time in Victoria over a number of years, and those sands of time are quickly running out for it. As I have said, the Victorian people will not be deceived. They will not fall for the deception of the Hamer Government. Mr Hamer will suffer the same fate when he faces the people on 19th May this year as his Federal counterparts did on 2nd December.
– The importance of the tourist industry is receiving more recognition as time goes by. I hope there is no argument as to the significance the Gold Coast plays within that industry and the importance of the beaches of the Gold Coast to that region. In 1967 these beaches suffered substantial erosion due to cyclonic damage, lt attracted much undesirable publicity in the southern Press and the result was that the occupancy rate of places of accommodation dropped from 80 per cent to 45 per cent, and in that year earnings in the tourist industry decreased by $15m. I believe every honourable member would be concerned if in his electorate an industry had a decrease in earnings of $15m in a year.
The state of the beaches on the Gold Coast led to a report being commissioned as to how we could best control beach erosion. It was known as the Delph report. The recommendations of the report, when costed, meant an expenditure of $14m over 5 years. All the States of Australia were prepared to accept that the situation was urgent because the Australian Loan Council agreed to an additional allocation of S5m to the Gold Coast City Council to start the necessary work. But if it is to remain a loan and if S14m is to be the accepted figure it would mean that the ratepayers on the Gold Coast would face an increase in rates of 40 per cent or almost half the present rates. This obviously was unacceptable and led to discussions between the State and Federal governments because of the significance of the Gold Coast beaches to the tourist industry. We were attracted to the national water resources program initiated in 1963 which was designed for flood mitigation purposes. There was an arrangement whereby the expenditure would be borne in the proportion of 40 per cent by the Federal Government, 40 per cent by the State Government and 20 per cent by the local authority. The 2 important criteria were those of protection for property and lives in the area and productivity. The flood plains of large sections of New South Wales were the scene of a disastrous experience in 1954 involving 22 deaths, a number of people being made homeless and $30m worth of damage covering a number of electorates. Certainly there was a requirement for protection. Productivity in that area at that time was $20m, basically from the sugar and the dairying industries.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, you could possibly guide me on this. The honourable member is raising these matters here, but his own party was in power for 23 years and did nothing about them.
Order! No point of order arises.
– 1 will comment on that before I sit down. In the New South Wales flood plains region productivity amounted to $20m and expenditure to restore the area amounted to $22ni. On the Gold Coast no lives have been lost as a result of cyclonic damage, but do we have to wait until some lives are lost before action is taken? There has been a substantial loss of property, although nothing like a loss of $30m. People who have visited the Gold Coast and who have seen the tremendous multi-storey development there accept that there is substantial danger and risk to property in that district during a cyclone. The tourist income in Queensland is worth SI 50m a year. Of that amount $100n1 comes from interstate and overseas. Half of the income derived from tourists in Queensland is developed within the Gold Coast region. That means, in effect, a productivity of about S50m in that region. Yet a request by the Queensland Government for assistance was refused by this Government. Assistance was asked of the previous Government very late in 1972 but no decision was reached. I have made it very clear that I regret that »he previous Government did not reach a conclusion in regard to assistance for this area. This matter was raised again by the Queensland Premier with the new Government, but his request has been refused. The reasons given were that there is so much coastline around Australia that the Gold Coast is only a small part of it. That is true, but when one compares the economy of the Gold Coast with the economy of a vast area of the coastline around Australia one finds that the Gold Coast is a significant area of Australia.
Another reason for the refusal was that the local authorities were to be blamed because they had allowed development too close to the beaches and the Federal Government could not be held to be responsible for that. Yet part of the reason for acceptance of a claim made years ago was that man-made development in that area had been subject to natural disasters. Indeed a study of old maps of the Gold Coast will show not that the buildings were put too close to the beaches but that a steady rate of erosion over the years has increased the rate of erosion, particularly in a cyclone, to a much higher degree. I hope that the Labor Government is now in a position to reconsider this matter. Certainly reconsideration of it is needed. 1 know that the Gold Coast City Council and the State Government are having discussions on this matter. They are having a second look at the report to which I referred to ascertain whether it is possible in some way to reduce the expenditure which will be needed. But the matter does require and deserve reconsideration.
There is an inability by people to recognise the importance of the tourist industry. This importance has not been recognised by previous governments over many years. In fairness to the McMahon Government, in the policy speech delivered by that former Prime Minister he indicated that if his Government were re-elected he would move to allow as a taxable deduction depreciation on income producing building and he would ensure that access to long term developmental funds was made available to the tourist industry. I notice that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) is now in the House. I know that submissions are coming before him and I look forward to a consideration of them by him. I believe he will accept that what I have put is essential to the development of the tourist industry. Having said that, J reiterate that I believe that this Government should reconsider this matter.
One decision by this Government which I applaud is the one announced yesterday or the day before in regard to the new off-peak airline schedules and fares. I believe that this is desirable and helpful to the development of the tourist industry. As we move into the future I hope that there will be a greater acceptance and understanding by ali honourable members of the significance of the tourist industry to- the national economy.
– My principal purpose in entering this debate today is to draw to the attention of the Government a matter that gave me much concern in the days between the end of the last Parliament on 26th October and the holding of the election on 2nd December. 1 refer to appointments that were made by various Ministers in that dying Government. We all knew at the time that it was a dying government. But firstly I feel as a Queenslander that 1 must once again make reference, as I had to do the other evening, to the irresponsible remarks of the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), lt is true that we in this House have come to know him well, and it is also true that he continues to go on and on with the same irresponsibility, seldom worrying about the matters which he raises.
The honourable member touched today on 2 matters which are of great importance to Queenslanders. He dealt with the grave problem facing the shipyard of Evans nc- ‘ n Industries Ltd. In a truly irresponsible way he accused the present Government and the present Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles (ones) of being almost totally responsible for the position in which this shipyard is placed. Any reasonable person knows that the total responsibility must be laid at the feet of the previous Government which, at the end of a long series of Liberal-Country Party governments, failed to show any sense of responsibility by preserving in a viable way the economic future of the shipbuilding industry in Australia. Never in the long period that the previous Government was in office did it take any action to show that it was concerned for the continued growth of this industry which is vitally important to this nation. That Government tolerated the industry in Australia rather than sponsor its growth, and the stop-go policies that it adopted over the years were totally responsible for the grave situation now faced by the shipbuilding industry in Australia and particularly by the Evans Deakin shipyard. 1 do not deny that there are problems in the industrial field in Queensland as far as the unions are concerned. On this aspect I compliment the Minister because he has taken every opportunity to make his position and the Government’s position clear on this matter. 1 go on record as saying that my view at the moment is that we should not sponsor the move that has been made recently for this Government to take over the shipyard. I do not believe that that is an action that we should be contemplating today. My principal reason for opposition to this move is that I believe the problems faced by Evans Deakin would be multiplied and compounded if the shipyard were run by a Federal Labor government. 1 would be very happy to see a Federal Labor government in co-operation perhaps with the State Government and in partnership jointly with Evans Deakin - if this were suitable, or perhaps with the State Government alone - to take over the responsibility for making a decision to rebuild this shipyard. A decision must soon be taken to rebuild the shipyard. A decision should have beon taken in 1967, but instead a political decision was taken. That decision, which was influenced by the then Queensland Treasurer, Sir Thomas Hiley, was to reconstruct the yard at Kangaroo Point. The yard should have been reconstructed at the mouth of the Brisbane River. 1 hope that this Government will be responsible for initiating that type of decision in the very near future.
Let me touch on one other area of irresponsibility in which the honourable member for Griffith took the opportunity to join this morning. I refer to the accusation that this Government is responsible for the delay in the development of the Brisbane airport which is so vital to Queensland. This is the airport which caused members of the previous Opposition and the Lord Mayor of Brisbane to be so critical of previous Liberal-Country Party governments. Its condition certainly is not something that can now be slung around the neck of this Government with an accusation that we will prevent the development of the airport continuing. No decision has been made by the Cabinet, and this was very clearly indicated by the Minister, to take action that will hold up the development of this airport. Action taken so far has shown that the Government is prepared to make a move in a direction that will result in the establishment of the airport as planned. I agree that this is following on a plan that was prepared and put into operation by the previous Government in co-operation with the
Queensland Government and the Brisbane City Council.
The recommendations of the advisory committee which during the period 1970-71 reviewed the need for this airport and made certain decisions are being carried out by this Government. The announcement this morning by the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation that $6.5m will be allocated for the acquisition of land required for the development of this airport certainly cannot be taken as an indication that the Government does not intend to go ahead with all possible speed, taking into consideration of course the needs of the development of the airport, to see that the airport is developed and is operational by the late 1970s as was recommended by the advisory committee. The fact of the matter is that once again the honourable member for Griffith, who I assume has based his remarks on the ill founded and irresponsible article that appeared in the ‘Australian’ newspaper of Wednesday last, has gone off half cocked and has tried to accuse the Government that has been in office barely 6 months of something he would like to see happen but which we know will not eventuate; that is that this Government will hold up such an important development as the Brisbane Airport.
I want now to refer to action that was taken in what I believe to be a most irresponsible fashion by several Ministers in the closing hours of the life of the previous Government. Knowing that they were certain of defeat at the polls they proceeded with a rush of appointments to a wide range of responsibilities, In doing so I suggest to the House they abused the office they held as Ministers of the Crown. Their actions were a disgraceful example of the unprincipled methods of operation so typical of many Ministers of the last Government.
– 1 raise a point of order. Is the honourable member entitled to refer to actions by honourable members of this side of the House as unprincipled? I personally am affronted by these irresponsible-
– The honourable member does not want to hear what I want to say.
– As I was saying. I am affronted by these irresponsible remarks that the honourable member is making.
Order! There is no point of order.
– The methods of operation of Ministers of the last Government were so typical of this irresponsible and haphazard approach. The honourable member for Angas need not take my word for it. The former Prime Minister in an interview on 25 November, a few days before the election, said:
I couldn’t get the work done quickly enough and 1 found frequently that the political approaches to it were not as good as I thought they should be.
That is what the former Prime Minister thought of the Ministers to whom 1 am referring. I want to refer to the appointments that were made by former Ministers which covered a wide range of responsibilities. Significantly enough and most importantly 1 want to refer to the appointment of members to the Australian Wool Corporation. On 26 November, knowing that he had not much longer to go and to be able to make decisions of this sort, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), the then Minister for Primary Industry, announced the appointment of members to the Australian Wool Corporation. Mr A. C. B. Maiden was appointed to the position of full time chairman of the Corporation. The names of other members of the Corporation were given, but I do not have time to list them now. On 8th November the right honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony), the then Minister for Trade and Industry, announced a senior trade appointment in Osaka. On 9th November he announced the appointment of the position of Minister (Commercial) to the European Economic Community. On 21st November the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen), the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced the appointment of Australian diplomatic representation in Nauru. I suggest that if the Government or the Ministers now responsible for these appointments have not had the time to examine them in close detail, they should do so because it is vitally important that the nation’s confidence in these boards and corporations is restored. The Government should make sure that the appointments made so hastily and irresponsibly by the last Government are reviewed and that it takes this action to show how intolerable they were.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! As it is now 15 minutes to 1 o’clock, in accordance with standing order 106 the debate is interrupted. I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I wish to inform honourable members of recent events in Papua New Guinea of interest to this Parliament. As honourable members are aware, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard), the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh), the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones), and I have, since this Government took office, had discussions with the Papua New Guinea Government, both in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, on the development of that country to self-government and independence. The Government has reaffirmed the agreement reached by the previous government with the Papua New Guinea Government on the timing for self-government and has indicated that it will work with all due speed to independence for Papua New Guinea in the closest consultation with the Papua New Guinea Government and the House of Assembly.
Part of the process of development towards the goals of self-government and independence is the development of organs of government in Papua New Guinea to suit its particular circumstances. Thus the Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments agreed recently to the creation of a Department of the Chief Minister and Development Administration. This Department will combine the former Office of the Chief Minister with the functions of the Division of District Administration, the Local Government Office and the Intelligence Branch, all of which were formerly parts of the Administrator’s Department. This reorganisation has resulted in minor portfolio changes within the Papua New Guinea Ministry and after consultation with the Administrator I have agreed to the recommendations put forward by the Papua New Guinea Government for the formal creation of 2 portfolios - that of Chief Minister and that of Minister for State and Minister Assisting the Chief Minister. To date the designation ‘Chief Minister’ has been an unofficial title that has given recognition to the position within the Papua New Guinea Ministry of the Minister elected by his colleagues, to be Deputy Chairman of the
Administrator’s Executive Council. The abolition of the portfolio of Minister for Local Government is consequential.
On 30th April 1 executed instruments under the Papua New Guinea Act to give effect to these changes and also to give effect to the devolution of authority to Papua New Guinea Ministers which had been agreed on in constitutional discussions last year. 1 have placed copies of these instruments in the Library for the information of honourable members. These instruments devolve the authority of the Minister for External Territories upon Ministers of the House of Assembly over all aspects of government in Papua New Guinea except those matters for which Australia, by virtue of constitutional or administrative reasons, still retains full responsibility and control. The powers transferred by the instruments have been approved by the House of Assembly. Previous instruments had devolved specific powers upon Ministers of the House of Assembly but the position now is that the bulk of the powers lie with Papua New Guinea Ministers and therefore only the powers still retained by Australia are listed. Papua New Guinea Ministers are finally responsible for such matters as education, health, works, finance, labour, agriculture, stock and fisheries, district administration, local government, information, social development and transport and thus now have effective control over virtually all aspects of the internal government of Papua New Guinea.
The purpose of my most recent talks was to review progress on the various legislative and administrative measures which have to be taken to meet the timing of self-government agreed upon by the House of Assembly and the Australian Government. As the Chief Minister wished to refer the results of the talks to his Cabinet, to the Constitutional Planning Committee and to the Leader of the Opposition, it was not possible to reach any definite decisions. As all constitutional and administrative decisions now made affecting Papua New Guinea must be decided in the light of the rapid approach of selfgovernment and independence the discussions were of value in helping to identify a number of matters requiring early resolution. For instance I expressed the view that the continuation of officials appointed by the GovernorGeneral of Australia as members of the House of Assembly and the Administrator’s Executive Council would be an anachronism in a self-governing Papua New Guinea and I proposed their withdrawal.
A matter for which the Australian Government is reluctant to continue to accept responsibility is the legal system apart from the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. There have been many expressions of opinion by Papua New Guineans that the legal system should be one appropriate to conditions in Papua New Guinea. Any changes to the legal system before or at self government must be such as will be acceptable to an independent Papua New Guinea. 1 indicated my belief that responsibility in this field should be assumed by Papua New Guinea at an early date, and the Chief Minister agreed to refer the question of the appointment of a Minister for Justice to his Government after fully consulting the Constitutional Planning Committee and the Leader of the Opposition. 1 stressed at these talks that the movement to self government and the transfer of powers was a continuing process and that the talks were part of this process. I announced, for instance, Australia’s decision to transfer authority for formulating the Improvement Program and for final approval of major aid projects to Papua New Guinea as soon as possible. This transfer of authority had been agreed to in principle by the previous Australian Government and is in line with Labor policy on aid for Papua New Guinea. Mr Somare will put Australia’s proposition to his Government and the Constitutional Planning. Committee.
The talks isolated those areas of government which for administrative or constitutional reasons might not be transferred until after self government on 1st December 1973. While matters such as defence and foreign affairs will not be transferred until independence for constitutional reasons, some other matters are under consideration by the Constitutional Planning Committee. The review has indicated however that it will be possible for most remaining powers held by the Australian Government to be transferred to Papua New Guinea by or shortly after self government. Where a matter still retained by Australia at this stage falls within the portfolio function of a Minister of the House of Assembly then that Minister has full day to day responsibility for the implementation of policy which had been agreed upon by the Papua New Guinea and Australian governments. Further, there are some matters which do not fall within the portfolio functions of a
Minister of the House of Assembly but, at this stage, in accordance with the agreement reached between the Papua New Guinea Government and the previous Australian Government, these functions are exercised by Australia only after the fullest consultation with and advice from the Papua New Guinea Government. Thus by the time of independence Papua New Guinea will be familiar with and have experience in all areas of government.
For instance, although Australia will continue to be responsible for Papua New Guinea’s foreign affairs until independence, Papua New Guinea is beginning to assume a separate international identity. One example of this is that the Chief Minister formally signed the Indonesian Border Agreement in Djakarta earlier this year. A this moment discussions are being held in Papua New Guinea on the development of a regime for this border between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia and it is interesting to note that these events mean that virtually all the recommendations of the Interim Report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs dealing with Australian Relations with Indonesia concerning the delineation of the border and the development of a border regime have been achieved. This is most satisfactory. As I have indicated, the Australian Government has every intention of seeing through the task which Australia undertook in Papua New Guinea not only in the period up to independence but beyond.
– by leave - Both the content of the speech of the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) and the material contained in the instruments tabled in the Parliamentary Library by the Minister are substantially matters agreed to by the previous Government. The Minister was kind enough, and I suppose accurate enough, to make reference to this throughout his statement. As he said, the movement to self government is a continuing one. He cited, among other things, some matters have developed during his period as the occupant of the portfolio of External Territories. One of these is the creation of the Department of the Chief Minister.
I assume that there will be a withdrawal of the role of the Administrator as a result of that movement. This further decline in the direct influence of the Administrator brings to mind the remarks of the previous Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), when he described the present Administrator as the final and probably the finest Administrator. I should like to place on record, although the term of office of Mr Leslie Johnson is not yet completed, the fact that many members of this House and many Australians should be grateful for the role Mr Johnson has played as the Administrator of Papua New Guinea. He has been exceptional and outstanding. Because of the regrettable dearth of knowledge of Papua New Guinea affairs in Australia many people may not recognise or be cognisant of the contribution that this outstanding man has made to the close relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia and to the development of self government in that area. 1 am not here just to extend plaudits, but his predecessor, the Secretary of the Departmental of External Territories, and the officers who work in that outstanding Department who have done so much to bring about even the acceptance by the United Nations of Australia’s role in Papua New Guinea, should have their performance placed on record before that Department is merged with other Commonwealth departments.
The Minister seems to be working extremely closely with the Government of Papua New Guinea and for this we can be most grateful. The handling of the movement towards self government and independence is most delicate. There will be occasions when there will be differences of views between the Australian Government and the Papua New Guinea Government. Australia needs to be tolerant of this. We must recognise as each step is taken that Papua New Guinea is becoming an identifiable force in world affairs - a minor one at this stage but an identifiable country. ‘A separate international identity’ I think were the words the Minister used. We have to take cognisance of this. Although Australia does not look for gratitude for the role it has played in Papua New Guinea it looks for close ties with her in the future. But her role as a separate entity in world affairs which is beginning to develop will mean that inevitably she will be looking to problems of her role in Asia, the Pacific and the world through the eyes of Papua New Guineans and not through Australians’ eyes. We must be tolerant of this viewpoint. 1 hope that these remarks do not sound as though I am lecturing in this regard. But I think that there is a tendency for Australians still to think that they must exercise a more overt authority over Papua New Guinea than is realistically necessary. We are now close to the stage where self government and then independence will occur. This is the first step and not the last step. The second step will be in the development of Australia and Papua New Guinean relations post-independence. I trust and I am sure that the Minister and the Department are giving thought at the moment to the way in which Australia’s relations with Papua New Guinea will develop. The watershed between Australia’s relations with Papua New Guinea will occur, after all, at independence and not at self government. There ought not to be a sudden break on the day of independence. We ought to be determining now the relationships which will occur between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Of course it is essential that the movement to self government and independence be as smooth and as orderly as possible. This has occurred and is continuing to occur. [ trust albeit that the Australian Labor Party has a policy on independence for Papua New Guinea that the Government will not arbitrarily or unilaterally determine the date of independence. I hope that the date of independence will be in response to the wishes of the people of Papua New Guinea. That must be the cardinal motivating factor in relations between our countries and in the movement of self government and independence. We should be responding to Papua New Guinea’s wishes. The Minister said in the earlier part of his statement that he and the Australian Government will work with all due speed toward independence for Papua New Guinea in the closest consultation with the Papua New Guinea Government and the House of Assembly. 1 trust that it will not be just consultation but that Australia will look to the views of Papua New Guinea as the motivating factor.
Sitting suspended from 1.1 to 2.J5 p.m.
Motion (by Mr Crean) proposed:
I ) That the following matter be referred to the Joint Committee on Prices: Imports in respect of which evidence is presented to the Committee that the Australian dollar price to consumers or users failed to respond to reductions in landed costs following the revaluation of the Australian dollar in December 1972 or following other relevant currency changes in 1973, with particular reference to those imports having a significant effect on domestic costs and prices.
– The Joint Committee on Prices has been constituted. Although the Opposition has reservations about the form of the Committee and the fact that it is not entitled or able to look into all aspects of price movements, particularly insofar as there is no mention in its terms of reference to wage adjustments, the Opposition does not oppose this reference. There are some problems in determining priorities for references to the Committee. In our community there are many facets that affect the cost of goods to consumers and to pick on any one broad category, as this reference tends to do, places undue emphasis on areas within which there have been adverse increases in prices and on the reasons for those increases. In particular it is noteworthy that this reference relates to the unilateral revaluation of the Australian dollar by the Australian Government and the subsequent currency changes during the course of this year. The Opposition feels very strongly that this unilateral action was premature in its form and regrettable in its impact, and while this reference is designed to ensure that domestically there is a passing on of the consequences of revaluation for those industries which are engaged in export it is notable that the Labor Government has not been prepared in any significant way to demonstrate its concern about the impact on them of the revaluation.
Of course, there are broad categories of industry where revaluation has an immediate and, without doubt, a continuing effect. For many of the primary industries the high world commodity prices presently prevailing have offset something of what might otherwise have been a pretty adverse effect of the revaluation. The interesting thing is that it is supply and demand that has ensured that those industries engaged in export have not been as adversely affected as might otherwise have been the case. Yet domestically the same supply and demand situation is apparently not to be allowed to play its part. Of course, the very fact that there is to be an inquiry into price levels does not deny the flow of supply and demand, but this reference tends to presuppose that there are areas where supply and demand have not taken effect. Therefore, we have a contrast between the position of export industries - industries whose returns to producers have been and are affected by supply and demand - and industries which are being let slide without consideration by this Government, and the position of domestic industries which are apparently to be inquired into to ensure that they pass on the effects of revaluation.
Not unnaturally, each honourable member in this House is concerned with costs to consumers, whether they be direct or indirect costs. It has been one of the facets of the changes in our society which gave the previous Government very real concern. Regrettably there has been little indication to date that the Labor Government has the same concern. Its policies on expenditure, the changing volume of expenditure in the public sector and the minimal steps it has taken, particularly in the industrial and wage sectors, demonstrate that while things are allowed to run we will have inflation to an increasing degree in our community in the next few years, and that is something of very real concern. It is of very real concern to the Opposition. It is an area in which we believe that already there has been a demonstrable failure by the Labor Government. The Opposition does not believe that this or any other reference of itself to the Joint Committee on Prices, or any action by the Committee, is likely to have the sort of meaningful effect that responsible economic policies of a government should have. For that reason, while the Opposition does not oppose this reference, it regards it as being only a shop window presentation by the Government; no more than that. It regards the whole of the administration of the economy as something of far more consequence, and something which involves total Government policy, not merely this one aspect of it which is to be referred to the Joint Committee on Prices. The Opposition does not oppose the reference but it has some reservations about the degree to which this or any other reference to the Committee is likely to contain inflationary effects within the community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Crean) proposed:
That the following matter be referred to the Joint Committee on Prices: Stabilisation of meat prices, with particular reference to the report of the Australian Meat Board on this subject.
– Of the areas of cost movement in the community that have, been given publicity none has received more publicity than has meat prices. The Australian Meat Board has made some comments and observations about the possiblity of containing excess prices in the meat industry, and has brought out an admirable and concise report, admirable in its argument and admirable in its conclusions. The one area of concern to me in this reference to the. Joint Committee on Prices, in addition to the general concern I expressed a moment ago in relation to the first reference, is that the problem which exists in the community is largely a matter of availability of meat. If as a result of this reference there is to be generated in the producing community a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling that meat prices are to be reduced below comparable profit levels in other sectors of agriculture, it could well be that this reference and any subsequent public examination by the Joint Committee might aggravate the circumstances which create the present high prices for meat.
The present prices are a compound of circumstances which were referred to in the report of the Australian Meat Board and circumstances which relate to supply and demand. They relate also to the series of adverse droughts we have had. They are consequential in part on the very low wool prices which prevailed over the preceding few years. They are consequential also on the poor prices paid for lamb and mutton, and a diversion by producers from meat production. It is in lamb and mutton in particular that there has been a significant increase, and in the choicer cuts of beef. If by this reference we are seeking to place any sort of bar on producers, to contain the level of production or to deter the confidence of producers in their industry, the result is likely to be the direct reverse of what is supposedly the purpose of the Government in making this reference. I think that the Government and the community need to be aware that if this action disrupts the normal forces of supply and demand it could well aggravate the prevailing circumstances of high prices for lamb, mutton and the. choicer cuts of beef to which I referred a moment ago.
The Opposition does not oppose the reference but is cynical about the results it will achieve. We are cynical about the degree to which a reference of this character is put forward by the Government as being a major effort to contain inflationary forces in the community. It belies the Government’s motive at a time when, day by day, the Government comes out with significant new areas of government expenditure. In fact, it is directly contradictory to pursue constant escalation in the government sector and then pretend by this reference to contain the impact of prices on the consumer. Indeed, the whole of the management of the economy must be seen as a direct result of the financial and economic policies of the Government. Whilst it is true that excessive prices in any area are to be deplored, it is equally true that providing there is adequate competition and the circumstances in which goods are produced are not excessively interfered with by the Government, excessive prices will not exist. I do not believe that the reference is likely in any way to contain the present level of beef prices. I do not believe that it will stabilise meat prices. I believe that, on the contrary, it is likely that it is simply a deterrent thrown out to the people to distract them from the real causes of inflation. In so deterring them, I hope that it does not so depress the confidence of the producer community that meat prices and the availability of meat are aggravated as a result. 1 find it quite deplorable that the Government has sought only in this one narrow field to attack inflation in any way whatsoever. There are very real problems in the general industrial section to which we of the Opposition have referred. There are problems throughout the whole industrial policy of the Government. There are problems in the escalating expenditure of the Government. It is absolute nonsense to put forward a reference of this character as a meaningful attack on the inflationary forces in the community. The Opposition does not oppose the reference. However, it does not believe that it is in the best interests of consumers or of stabilisation of meat prices in the community.
– The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) has just demonstrated how much the Australian Country Party represents sectional interests. He referred to the industrial sector but, of course, he meant wages. What he really means is that the Government ought to control wages and prices in every section of the community except in the area about which he is concerned; that is the prices that farmers receive. I hope that this reference to the Committee will not result in undue delay before a decision is made by the Government on this matter. I hope that it can be dealt with as expeditiously as the Australian Meat Board made up its mind on the matter of meat prices. The Government must decide very early what it is going to do. I believe that some reductions in quotas for exports of meat will result from the inquiry.
We have to decide whether wc are to please the producer or whether we are to try to do something to help the housewife. We cannot please both. The Country Party is prepared to say that we have to do something for the meat producers. Of course, when things start to go badly for the meat producers they will be the first ones to look around for help. They want it both ways. H. L. Mencken once said: ‘The trouble with farmers is that when things are going well for us they rob us blind. When things are going badly, the first thing they do is run to the public till for assistance.’ I hope that this matter can be expedited. I hope that it will be dealt with as quickly as is humanly possible. 1 do not believe that there is anything productive in having an extensive look at the market structure of the meat industry. Perhaps it would be fruitful in the long run but it will not solve the immediate problem of high prices which requires urgent action by the Government. My own judgment is that the retail butchers are not charging excessive profit margins at the moment. They are probably shaving their margins at present because of the high prices they have to pay. I think the deliberations of the Committee on meat prices will be most fruitful when the supply becomes more plentiful. If we then find that meat prices are not reduced, that will be the time to examine the whole vertical market structure of the meat industry.
– I am provoked by the entirely unfair and unwarranted attack by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) on people in the private sector of the nation. We all know the honourable member’s view that there should not be a private sector. He wants everything brought under the public sector umbrella. He is for synthetic meat, bread and talk. As a doctor he has a capacity to put people to sleep, synthetically I expect. I think the whole theme of the honourable member’s remarks this afternoon is most unfortunate. For many years honourable members who are now in Opposition have tried their hardest to make Australia one nation and to stop this tactic of trying to carve us up into separate groups and areas. It is not a fair tactic for the honourable member for Kingston once again to try to force a division between my party and the Country Party that sits on my left in Opposition, a message he propounds to the people in the electorate of Kingston.
In my humble opinion it is about time that we began in this House to think of the national interest, and in so doing, of consumers generally. The honourable member for Kingston has tried to demonstrate that he represents the consumers. He does not. His colleague in the neighbouring electorate - he is not in the chamber at the moment - at question time this morning tried to promote artificial food manufacture and use in this country, unless 1 understood him incorrectly.
We live wilh a free economy for the time being, but the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) this morning was promoting a firm that is not even Australian. All we of the Opposition ask is a fair crack of the whip on this business. The honourable member for Kingston entirely ducks the situation that the rural sector of Australia has an enormous debt around its neck. We are not getting any help - so far, at any rate - from the promise of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) of a loan of $500m at an interest rate of 3 per cent to he!p primary producers out of their difficulty. We have heard nothing further about it since he stumped the countryside, even in the land of the crow-eaters, saying the same sort of thing. All we get is a complete lack of sympathy for a sector of the community that needs help.
If the honourable member for Kingston insists on going on with his antics, which are quite divisive in terms of the Australian economy, that is his business, but I am quite sure that honourable members on this side of the chamber will back me up when I say that we do not stand for trying to divide the community into groups. The sooner that people grow up and look at this nation as having incipient greatness and being a cohesive unit, the better off we all will be. I have sought to record my disgust at the antics of the honourable member for Kingston this afternoon.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. 1 have to point out to the honourable member for Angas - I am sorry that he is ignorant on this point - that polyunsaturated meat is not a substitute for meat. All that he had to say about me is completely out of order.
– 1 rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker, ls the honourable member correct in drawing attention to this matter at this stage?
-Order! A personal explanation is the only method the honourable member has of making his- point.
– I could speak in the debate.
-Order! Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I am told that I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Angas in looking upon polyunsaturated meat as a substitute for meat. It is not, and he is gracious enough to acknowledge that.
Question resolved in- the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in lieu of the times fixed for the meeting of the House in the resolution of 1 March 1973, for the remainder of this period of sittings, unless otherwise ordered, the House shall meet for the dispatch of business on each Tuesday at ten o’clock a.m., or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the Chair, on each Wednesday at eleven o’clock a.m. and on each Thursday at ten o’clock a.m.
The purpose of this motion is to provide additional time for dealing with the growing pressure of government business that must be dealt with before the end of the sittings. In addition to the Bills that are already before the House, we expect to have a considerable number of new and important measures introduced in the next week or so. I know that the proposed new arrangements will cause some inconvenience, not least, I might say, to Ministers, as we shall now be obliged to have Cabinet meetings on Mondays rather than Tuesdays, as at present. Nonetheless, I am sure the changes I propose will be preferred to such alternatives as sitting beyond 11 p.m., Monday or Friday sittings, or extending the length of the sittings. In particular, I believe that members would wish that, if at all possible, we should be able to continue the system introduced at the beginning of the sittings whereby the House adjourns each evening at 11 p.m. I may not have won universal acclaim for the way in which 1 have run this place, but I have had no complaints on that particular score.
It is proposed that the House should now sit for an unbroken period of 4 weeks to Thursday, 24 May, before adjourning for the winter recess. I hope that we can look to the co-operation of all members in achieving this objective and that we will not need to consider further extensions to the sittings in order to ensure that the House deals with the Government’s program of legislation. The revised sitting arrangements I am now putting before the House are much in line with the arrangements under which the House operated for most of the 1972 Budget sittings. Members who were present at that time will recall that these arrangements, introduced by my predecessor as Leader of the House, the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), worked quite satisfactorily. I might mention that the Australian Labor Party, in Opposition, did not oppose the introduction of those sitting arrangements.
It might be interesting to honourable members if I were to point out some comparisons between the Budget sittings of 1972 - the last under the previous Government - and the current sittings. In the 9 weeks of the Budget sittings of 1972, the Parliament passed 81 Bills - rather more, I might say, than average. In the 10 weeks planned for these sittings we should exceed that figure somewhat. In the Budget 1972 sittings, grievance day was held once, and general business not at all. We do not intend to take time away from private members. Indeed, by sitting half an hour earlier on Thursdays we have added to the time for grievances and general business.
The new sitting times for the House as from next Tuesday, once this motion has been passed, will be: Tuesdays - 10 to 1, 2.15 to 6.15, 8 to 11, with the adjournment moved at 10.45; Wednesdays- 1 1 to 1, 2.15 to 6.15, 8 to 11, with the adjournment moved at 10.15; Thursdays- 10 to 1, 2.15 to 6.15, 8 to 11, with the adjournment moved at 10.15.
If I might just elaborate on this point slightly, I should like to say that at the commencement of the Parliament, I indicated to the House the desire of the Government to allow reasonable time for discussion of legislation and advised that it was the wish of the
Government to debate legislation at reasonable hours. The change of Government has therefore been remarkable for a number of things, quite apart from the huge legislative program which has been implemented. I list a few of them: The Parliament has not sat beyond 11 p.m. or into the early hours of the morning; adequate time has been given for questions, matters of urgency and adjournment debates; adjournment debates have taken place at a reasonable hour on 3 nights a week and in fact, on some occasions, the time set aside for this purpose has not been availed of by members, and only on one occasion due to deliberate disruption by certain , members of the Opposition, was it not possible to adjourn the House at 10.15 for the adjournment debate as intended; private members’ business has been called upon on all occasions and sometimes extended and a vote taken on all occasions; and the Grievance debate has been called upon on all occasions.
I might say that the members, staff and officers of the Parliament have benefited because of the sane and sensible sitting hours which have been decided upon. For those who might be interested in the curtailment of debates, I point out that in the twenty-seventh Parliament the gag was moved on 222 occasions by the honourable members who now sit opposite. In this Parliament on only 18 occasions has the gag been moved to curtail debate, in some cases because of the obstruction of honourable members who sit opposite. The number of Bills to be introduced will no doubt be a record at the time this session finishes. I mention, because I have heard it said otherwise, that the purpose of these changes is not to curtail debate but rather to extend the time and at reasonable hours provide for full and frank discussion and at the same time get the legislation passed.
I hope the members of the Opposition will co-operate and subscribe to this point of view. Members on both sides of the Parliament have heavy commitments and I believe it is our task to fulfil our responsibilities in the Parliament, but at the same time not unduly prolong sittings for political purposes. There have, of course, been occasions during the session when disruptive tactics by the Opposition have I would say wasted considerable time. This, of course, is a parliamentary tactic that is quite within the province of those who sit opposite. I remind the House, however, that the Standing Orders provide for the Government to retaliate should this occur regularly in order to ensure that its legislative program may go through.
Contrary to what may be thought by some, the decision to curtail the sitting hours to 11 p.m. was done in the interest of commonsense and consideration to members, staff and all concerned. It has been beneficial and in order that our program might be completed, I would appeal to the Opposition for a measure of co-operation in our efforts to carry out the Government’s legislative program. Without therefore wishing to curtail the activities of members I ask that they be selective in the subjects they discuss, thus providing not only for more effective debate but also for the passing of outstanding legislation. I also mention that it is hoped that these hours will ensure that Parliament will adjourn on 24th May but in any case, it is intended that the House will remain in session without any breaks until the recess and the program is completed. I also mention for the benefit of honourable members that the Budget session will commence on 21st August 1973.
– It is obvious that the benign Leader of the House (Mr Daly) does not really have his heart in what could be called the tongue in cheek motion which he has just moved. All his fine words cannot hide this one inescapable fact: That while he might well have the numbers in this House, the motion which he has moved lacks the logic of fair play in the effective working of the Parliament, which certainly will suffer as a direct consequence of the decision which has been made by the Government. No doubt the Leader of the House simply is reacting to the orders of a dictatorial Prime Minister who for reasons which are obvious to honourable gentlemen on both sides, has a preoccupation with closing this House at the earliest opportunity.
The Leader of the House mentioned that the change of government had been remarkable for a number of different reasons. I certainly would agree with that statement because, as the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) himself knows full well, that his Government has been sadly discredited by the sordid repercussions of what I could call the Murphy affair, the manner in which the Prime Minister has destroyed the reservoir of good will with the United States of America built up over a quarter of a century by the former Government, the failure to control effectively the problem of inflation, the degree to which he has ignored the interests of the rural sector, his lamentable preparedness to advantage the trade union movement by sectional legislation - contrary to public interest - the divisions in his own ranks between Left and Right and his total Prime Ministerial incapacity to control the Left wing of his Party. One can therefore understand the dilemma which faced the Leader of the House in moving this motion. He, of course, will recall his halcyon days in opposition, to which no doubt he will shortly return. I am glad to see that I have his support. He knows that he has a real problem with this motion. If he thinks back to the period when he was in opposition-
– It will not be too long before he is there again.
– I am glad for that reminder from the honourable member. Of course this period during which we currently are in opposition may be seen as a temporary mental aberration of the Australian people.
The Minister will recall that during his period in opposition he was one who always gave a great lead in consistently seeking an extension of the sitting hours of the Parliament particularly when it was headed towards a recess. Now is the time for the Leader of the House to show that he is a real statesman, a man who is prepared to stand and be counted. He knows in his own heart that the Parliament should not be a matter simply of numbers. The Parliament is a great democratic institution. We ask the Leader of the House to recant, because he knows that this motion is contrary to all the principles which he so glibly proclaimed during his period in opposition. No doubt if he takes that stand he may well stand alone, but surely that would be no disincentive to a man of great national stature, a man of courage and integrity and a man who really appreciates the fundamentals. At this late stage of the debate it is not too late for him to recognise that while-
– You are embarrassing him.
– 1 can see him nervously shuffling his papers.
– Order! Will the honourable member please address the Chair and not members of the Opposition.
– I am happy to address the Chair. I always pay the courtesies which should be paid to the Chair but I regret that the Government seems to let those courtesies go by default. The Leader of the House is still nervously shuffling his papers. No doubt he is thinking of the great decision to be made. It is time for him to be prepared to be counted on this issue and to tell the Prime Minister what a dictatorial regime he is forcing the Leader of the House to impose on this forum.
– Everybody knows how they dislike each other.
– That is so. This is a fact of national record. There are great divisions in the Australian Labor Party. If the Leader of the House is not prepared to recant we should examine some of the hard facts of the situation. This motion has been moved because of the Government’s unwarranted and unprecedented pressure upon the workings of this House. Already the Government has introduced 61 Bills during this current session and we understand it is the Government’s intention to introduce a further 25 to 30 Bills, making a total of about 90 Bills for the session. I point out that during this same period in 1970, 77 Bills were introduced; in 1971, 65; and in 1972, 73. In 1970 a total of 61 Bills was passed; in 1971, 66; and in 1972, 64. It is crystal clear that the Government’s intention is to seek to create some form of legislative record during the first session of this Parliament.
– It is a matter simply of statistics.
– Yes, one might say of daily statistics. I am not certain whether that should be spelt ‘Daly’ or ‘daily’ but in whatever way it is spelt it certainly is a distortion of a situation which causes real national concern. Apparently the Government is labouring under a delusion. Just as in business momentum is no sign of a successful company the Government has yet to learn that pressure of legislation and the number of Bills passed in a session are no sign of successful legislation. It will be judged on the type of legislation which is introduced.
This motion, if carried, will result in heavy inroads into the amount of time which is available for Opposition members to consider, examine and make recommendations on policy initiatives of the Government. These mat ters must be considered in the Party rooms. The proposed sitting times will cut completely across meetings of the Opposition executive on Tuesday mornings. They will reduce by 2 hours the time for consideration of matters in the Opposition Party rooms on Wednesday mornings. Members will realise that on each Wednesday morning the Opposition Party room is the real forum where alternative policies for this country are being forged. I can understand that the Government has no concern for affairs within its own Party room. We know that the Government is not controlled by the Party room but is controlled totally by the Federal Conference. One wonders what business, in fact, is processed in the Government’s Party room. No doubt some members sit looking at one another wondering when the next knife is to be brought out and for whom. It may be a question of the Prime Minister looking at the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) or of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) looking about him. I do not know whether honourable members have seen the cover of the current ‘Bulletin’ and the way in which the Attorney-General is characterised. If that is indicative of the position I can understand why members of the Government benches would have a lot to look at during proceedings in their Party room.
This measure is totally inconsistent with the workings of the democratic institution - with the effective operation of this Parliament - and the Opposition believes it should be resisted. There is no reason why the motion should have been moved in its present terms. If, for its own reasons, the Government wishes to introduce further legislation it has a series of options available to it. It can extend the hours. It can work the Parliament on Mondays and Fridays. Perhaps it has not occurred to the Government to consider extending the session itself. If the Government is responsible in relation to the degree and extent of legislation it is introducing, it will ensure at all times that the Opposition parties have a full opportunity to assess that legislation and to forge their own policies for presentation in this House and, through this House, to the Austalian people. This is no less than the Australian public and the Opposition Parties deserve. I commend that thought to the Leader of the House.
Unfortunately the Leader of the House seems to overlook completely the fine words that he may well have been saying on this occasion were he in a different position. We have heard from him how effective this Parliament has been, how much opportunity the Opposition parties have had to discuss matters on the adjournment debates and how infrequently the gag has been applied. Listeners will know with what frequency the Government has moved the gag and with what frequency it has sought to restrict debates on important matters of national substance. If the Leader of the House thinks back only a few days ago to the statements which have been freely debated here - but not to the extent that the Opposition would have preferred - concerning his colleague the AttorneyGeneral, he will know that these debates became a farce simply because the Government was not prepared to give the opportunity to the Opposition to press effectively the point which it has been seeking to make in debate after debate.
– lt has a jackboot approach.
– 1 appreciate the third interjection from the honourable member, lt has been a jackboot approach which has been totally contrary to the effective working of this House. The listening audience of this chamber on Tuesdays and Thursdays will know that day after day during question time the Ministry has totally ignored questions which have been put to it by members of the Opposition parties. One knows that the heart of the Leader of the House is not really in the motion which has been brought down. He cannot make this statement without very real challenge because the facts are simply not on his side. However benign or benevolent he can appear to be on these occasions, whatever witty speeches he might make, he knows full well that the facts are not with him. He might have the numbers, but this is a jackboot approach. We appeal to the Leader of the House to recant. This is a late hour but not too late, as I mentioned before, for a man of great national stature to tell the Prime Minister that this is not the way for the affairs of the Australian Parliament to be conducted effectively. I appeal to him as a man of goodwill and good intention, if one is prepared to make that presumption. I appeal to him at this stage to repeal the vicious proposal which he is now seeking to introduce. The Opposition opposes the motion.
– The Australian Country Party has taken note of the proposed new times of sitting, and it opposes them on 2 grounds. The first is the inconvenience of travel caused not only to members of my Party but also to many other people in this House. The second ground is that the Opposition will be denied the time to study the heavy stream of legislation which will be brought in. This proposal was made fairly quickly. It was suggested at 6.15 last night. It was hard to get my Party together to discuss it due to functions that were on last night, the meeting of the House and commitments this morning. As my Party’s Whip it has been made very clear to me already that considerable inconvenience will be caused to members of my Party by these new sitting hours. 1 am not altogether sure that a great deal of consideration has been given to the convenience of people who live long distances from Canberra. That remark applies to honourable members from all parties and from all States. This arrangement will be inconvenient to honourable members who live in rural areas and those, wherever they live, who have already entered into commitments in rural areas. It will also be very inconvenient and upsetting to the people with whom those arrangements have been made.
On behalf of my Party I acknowledge that we have appreciated the achievement of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) as Leader of the House in being able to get us home at 1 1 o’clock at night. This has happened in the first 7 sitting weeks of the Parliament. I do not think that anybody here would have thought that this was likely to go on towards the end of the session when the work thickened up. The proposed Tuesday morning sittings would seriously inconvenience members of my Party particularly in relation to travel and commitments already entered into. In regard to Wednesday mornings, I think it is an important factor that 90 Bills are being introduced in this session of Parliament and, in fairness to the public and democratic rights, all of these require close attention and study clause by clause. The legislative commitments are very heavy. My Party met yesterday morning and the meeting continued until after 1p.m. That is the normal practice for us on a Wednesday. We will be denied that right on a Wednesday and there will be no other time to make it up. The Bills being introduced require really mature and extensive consideration by us on behalf of the people we represent. There will not be a great deal of change on Thursday mornings.
The provision.il advice we received in the early stages was that the session would last until about 24th May. If the usual warning was not there, it was implied, as always, that this would not necessarily be the concluding day of the session. That date was given as a guide. Over the 12 years that I have been in this Parliament I remember the tremendous upheaval there was from the present Government when it was in Opposition when the previous Government tried to alter the hours to get the work finished by the end of the session. Honourable members opposite shed crocodile tears at that time. I am not shedding crocodile tears. I am putting forward 2 solid factors as to why my Party thinks that these times are not acceptable. My Party is ready to sit for longer periods and on more days. On those grounds we oppose the new hours.
– I would be the last person to want to be unfair to the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). I think we should acknowledge that under his leadership of the House there have been some improvements. I think we would all want to put that on record. I would not want to be unfair to him in the slightest, but I feel that this motion is not in itself so much ill conceived as it is evidence of a well conceived plan. We are to be asked in these last few weeks to pass important and controversial measures. I know that a lot of unimportant measures have been put through. More time should be available for debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill and more time should be available to debate prices justification, off-shore minerals and statements which have been made in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and noted for debate and about which there are many controversial aspects. Apparently we will not be given an opportunity to debate them.
Much more importantly than that, the whole of our foreign policy is being changed, and there has not been a major debate in this House on foreign policy. It looks as though, under the truncated program, there will not be one. Many honourable members would have liked to have said something about the Government’s nuclear adventures with France and the lack of its nuclear adventures with Communist China. We would have liked to have had a chance to discuss these things in detail as they are really important. What is more important is the drift of our foreign policy to the left and the way in which Australia has been made to change sides in the world scene. This was not put forward during the election campaign. People had no idea that they were voting on this. This is one of the most important things that has happened in Australia’s history.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I direct your attention to the remarks of the honourable member. They seem to be irrelevant to the subject matter before the House and I think he is out of order in making them.
– I do not think there is any substance in the point of order.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am simply trying to list the more important things which we will not have the chance to debate under the Minister’s proposal. 1 gratefully acknowledge the fact that in some respects the procedures in this House have been improved but surely, in place of the gag and the putting through in the last stages of important measures inadequately discussed, we should be prepared to sit for a longer time, that is, to sit for an extra week or two. Let us have time to discuss these important matters.
I put this to the Minister. I know that it is very difficult for him to say anything in this House which has not been vetted and approved outside this House. I do not expect the Minister to be able to give his own honest opinion. Of course not. I do not expect him to say what he thinks frankly or to make a decision of his own will. Decisions are made outside. He sits there at the table looking benevolent. He sits there looking like the aging Faust in the first act waiting for somebody to give him the right kind of drink, and then he will do to democracy what Faust did to Marguerite.
– in reply - As I missed an opportunity to have the wide and extensive education of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), the last part of his speech is pretty well lost on me. I want briefly to reply to what was said a few moments ago. I thank the honourable member for his compliments and I also thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) for his dubious praise. I remind honourable members, so that their hopes will not be raised too high, that despite the introduction of these hours they may still linger on into the cold months in this place. As has been said, these new hours may not provide the solution, but at least we hope that they will. I am one who subscribes to the view that in future the sittings of the Australian Parliament may have to be almost year round if we are to get through the legislation we want to discuss. That happens in the House of Commons and other Parliaments to a big extent. I think that that is a move that may have to be made.
I cannot believe that the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party was serious when he said that the Government has ruthlessly used the gag. Surely he has heard of his colleagues in the New South Wales Parliament who in the dead of night hammered into the ground, by the ruthless use of numbers, those standing for democracy. Surely he has seen how the ruthless use of numbers in another place in this Parliament has crushed and endeavoured to destroy the reputation of honourable members of the Labor Party. As I say, in this Parliament we would still have to move the gag 220 or 230 times to catch up on the number of gags moved by honourable members opposite. I witnessed the spectacle in this Parliament of a member of the Australian Country Party moving the gag against us in the early days of this session. Members of the Opposition cannot remember the bad things they did in government.
Throughout the period since the election we have endeavoured in every way not to restrict debate in any way. But undoubtedly if honourable members persist in speaking on Bills which have very little content and putting in extensive lists of speakers merely for the purpose of holding up debates, we will have to act accordingly. As the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) said on one occasion, if an Opposition is silly enough of course it can force a government to use the gag. I say to honourable members opposite: ‘You are honourable men. You are intelligent men. Do not place yourself in that category and force us to do those things. Be reasonable. Take your time over debates that matter and there will be no problem at all.’ The solution to all these things is longer sittings, as honourable members have said, which as I say may mean very lengthy sitting periods. With the limited time that we have I think that there is a need for honourable members to co-operate, and the Government in its way will be charitable, benevolent, reasonable, decent and just. All honourable members know that when we on this side of the Parliament say these things we mean them, because all that Labor promises Labor will do. Having said so much, I have not the time to read again the full record of what has been done by the Government, but what has been done today is an endeavour sincerely to try to finish the business of this House with reasonable sitting hours, without curtailing debate in any way, and with the co-operation of honourable members opposite I know full well that it can be done, and I know they will give that co-operation to us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– May I crave your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– No. I claim to have made a statement I wish to correct. A few minutes ago in talking in a previous debate 1 referred to the mentioning by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) of meat substitutes or meat alternatives. I have since been told that what the honourable member for Adelaide was referring to earlier today was in fact polyunsaturated meat, which in its usual form is meat treated so that its fat becomes unsaturated. It is not strictly or necessarily a meat alternative. To set the record of the House straight I would like to point out that 1 misunderstood earlier the reference made by the honourable member for Adelaide.
Bill presented by Mr Charles Jones, and read a first time.
– I move:
When the previous Government introduced the Airlines Agreements Bill 1972 into this House of Representatives on 24th October 1972 the then Minister for National Development, Sir Reginald Swartz, included in his second reading speech the following statement: lt is the intention of this Government, therefore, to introduce in the first sittings of the new Parliament a Bill amending the Australian National Airlines Act so that there is no question about TransAustralia Airlines having the powers enabling it to engage in activities closely related to airline operation and to give effect to the Government’s decisions.
The Minister made it clear during the debate on the Bill that the matters referred to were such things as aviation engineering work for outside organisations, the handling of Commonwealth contracts, the establishment and operation of hotels and other kinds of accommodation, the establishment and operation of road transport services, the acquisition of subsidiaries or shareholdings in companies or the establishment of subsidiaries for the purposes of the Australian National Airlines Commission, aerial work and charter operations, and operations in Papua New Guinea after independence. The amendment of the Australian National Airlines Act to widen TAA’s powers is one matter concerning which this Government is in complete agreement with the previous Government. It therefore has no hesitation in bringing forward this Bill, which is designed to give TAA the additional powers mentioned so that it will be in a fair and equitable position compared with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd in respect of its operations under the 2-airline policy. 1 need not go into the Bill in any detail. The main provisions deal with matters on which the Government and the Opposition are in agreement, and I need only comment briefly on certain items. Firstly, the Government believes that it ought to be possible to appoint 7 commissioners to run TAA, instead of 6 as at present, and that the Act should enable the General Manager to be appointed as a commissioner, with the same rights and responsibilities as other commissioners. Clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill are included for these purposes. Clause 5 sets out the basic functions of the Commission, lt largely restates existing functions in different language, but adds the power to transport passengers and goods by land as well as by air, or partly by each means, and to provide for the Commonwealth aviation, land transport and engineering services and other services which are within its resources. In effect, this is one of the provisions which the previous Govern ment indicated it would introduce. If TAA is to be in a position to compete effectively under the 2-airline policy, it must be able to provide aviation services within a State when it is authorised to do so by the State Government concerned. Clause 6 is designed to enable TAA to operate intrastate services, nol only in Queensland and Tasmania where it already has the power to do so, but in any State where the State Parliament refers the matter of air transport to the Commonwealth or adopts the relevant part of the Commonwealth Act. This provision is also- one which the previous Government would have had. to introduce in order to honour its undertakings given last year.
Clause 7 inserts in the Act provisions enabling ing TAA to provide air and land transport services within a State, and to engage in other activities within a State when authorised to do so by State legislation. In addition, it provides for the other activities on which there is agreement that TAA should have full powers in such areas as aerial work operations: the operation of hotels and other forms of accommodation; joint operations with other carriers; air transport operations in Papua New Guinea, after that country becomes independent, under arrangements which are agreed between the Commonwealth and the Government of that country; and engineering services for outside organisations. The clause also restates the powers of the Commission to engage in activities incidental to its basic functions and in particular authorises it to participate in a company or partnership for the purposes of carrying out those functions. The remaining clauses of the Bill are designed to introduce amendments to the Act consequential upon the provisions I have mentioned, or to bring up-to-date the financial provisions of the Act. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1617), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I wish to round off my remarks which I commenced in this cognate debate last night. I was speaking of the need for social workers to be used in broader aspects than we have been accustomed to and I had commented on their role in a society of increasing urbanisation. I made mention of the International Conference on social work in 1966 which had this topic as its theme. One of its concepts was that specially equipped social workers should be members of town planning teams. I should like to quote from an address to the Victorian Branch of the Australian Association of Social Workers which was given in regard to this conference. The address stated:
One of the speakers (Whitney Young) called for ‘an excess of caring and decency’. He suggested that social workers as a ‘prime civilising force, must compel world society to recognise that people die inwardly from being nameless and faceless, from not having roots in the community - from having to react endlessly to a thousand small uncaring ways’.
Therefore in the development of communities a great deal of attention must be given to ensuring that people are not nameless and faceless. One hopes in view of the rapid response that the Minister for Education has made in supplying finance for the training of social workers that the money will be used to produce social workers capable of dealing with this type of situation. It seems that at present social workers are considered to be those who deal with social evils or ills that arise as the end product of circumstances in society. This should not be their role. Their role should be more in the area of preventing things going wrong and even, as 1 have mentioned, in assisting with the planning of social services to prevent happenings among the ordinary people in the community.
This is a continuation of some of the remarks which I made last night. I commend the Minister for his early recognition of the need. I believe that the Government, which has put forward a number of propositions that will require an increased use of social workers, has done the right thing. In this respect I trust that assistance, which on this occasion goes to the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and to the Tasmanian Advanced College of Education, will in the near future be extended to other institutions which can serve a useful purpose in training social workers.
– As the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) said last night, the Opposition does support in broad principle the legislation at present being considered by the House. We support these 3 Bills - the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Bill and the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) - which are being debated in a cognate manner. We support the concept of assistance to needy students. We support the concept which sets out to achieve additional social workers. We support also the decision to allocate increased moneys for libraries to be developed at colleges of advanced education. There is no doubt, as the honourable member for Chisholm said last night, that there is a great and growing need throughout the community for increased numbers of social workers. The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) in his address to the House also mentioned this growing need. I think it is somewhat symptomatic of the development of our society and the way in which family units are being increasingly fragmented that this need is developing.
I am very conscious of the problems particularly of the elderly people in the electorate of Warringah. I know just how useful trained social workers are and how much benefit would result from an increase in the number of trained social workers available not only to voluntary institutions working in the Warringah electorate but also to those institutions supported by the local council. I am very pleased that there is to be an increase in the number of males who will undertake courses in social work. I think this is a significant response to a deeply felt social awareness by a large number of people and I think that the increased number of males being trained for social work will result in increased benefits right throughout the community.
Dealing very briefly with the proposal to increase the allocation of funds for libraries at colleges of advanced education, I am one of those who believe very deeply that library facilities, not only in educational institutions but also right throughout the community, should be built up in the most rapid manner possible. I was a student at the University of Sydney before doing a post-graduate degree Sydney before doing a degree at Oxford. I was amazed at the difference between the library facilities available to the students at the University of Sydney and those at Oxford. The experience of being within walking distance of, I think it was, approximately 7 world class libraries in the case of students at Oxford was something which was an extremely eye-opening and mind-expanding experience for me. I believe that not only should students have access to these libraries but also that we should try to increase the availability of library facilities for the general public. I commend to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley)in fact 1 have written to him about this matter - that not only should he support the concept of an increased allocation of funds for libraries at educational institutions but also he should not forget about municipal libraries. I am not quite sure whether this comes within his responsibility, but certainly it should come within his interest. He should support the concept of an increased allocation of funds for municipal libraries.
Dealing with the problem - and it is a problem - of needy students, there is no doubt that this is a problem which has been with us for many years and will be with us in the foreseeable future. At every university and at every college of advanced education there are and there will be from time to time students who experience difficulties in completing their courses mainly because of the financial difficulties in which they find themselves. I was very interested in the amount of $3m selected by the Minister to be divided up between the universities and the college of advanced education to assist needy students. The Minister did not inform the House how this amount was arrived at. This was an omission because I believe very strongly that in any allocation of public moneys the House and the electorate should be informed as to how the decision was arrived at. What reasons were behind the choice of $3m? Why was it not more or less than this figure? I ask the Minister when he is replying to the second reading speeches to inform me and the public how he arrived at this figure of $3m. I think that the fact that this is a comparatively small amount is, in its way, a tribute to the support that the previous Government gave to tertiary institutions, and particularly to its increased support for universities and of course its development of the concept of colleges of advanced education.
It is rather interesting to note that one of the chief growth areas in education in Australia is in the number of students attending tertiary education institutions. Approximately 200,000 students throughout Australia are attending tertiary education institutions this year. The previous Government in an accelerating fashion over the last 10 years recognised the growth of tertiary education institutions and significantly increased the number of scholarships of various types to students attending those institutions. For instance 29,800 scholarships were made available in 1972. Also 71,000 students held scholarships that year, and there were 4,000 Aboriginal student scholarship holders. This situation can be contrasted with what obtained in 1961 when only 4,800 scholarships were available. Of course, there has been a tremendous increase in the direct allocation of Commonwealth expenditure on education as such. I would just instance again that in the period 1967-68 the Commonwealth allocated $176.5m and that this amount was increased in 1971-72 to $345m. I think that we can truthfully say that the provision of these scholarships and of course the living allowances which are available to scholarship holders who come within the provisions of the means test, has to a significant extent cut down on the need for extremely large amounts of money to be made available to needy students. Although I mentioned living allowances, I would not like it to be thought that I believe that the living allowances given to scholarship holders are adequate. I do not think that this is the case at all.
The question of needy students is not a simple one. In a number of instances it has been shown that a substantial proportion of students who fail more than half of their course subjects in any one year do so primarily because of financial difficulties which they have encountered during their period at a tertiary education institution. Those who received the maximum living allowance find it still increasingly difficult to cope with the charges and the costs which they face as students both at universities and at colleges of advanced education. The then National Union of Australian University students in 1969 conducted a very detailed analysis of the minimum costs facing students at tertiary institutions who were living in private accommodation and paying their own fees. I will deal with the question of fees at a later stage. This body found that the absolute minimum amount which students required to support themselves in any form of respectability was $1,632. I again point out that this analysis was carried out in 1969. I might add that fees represented less than one-third of this figure and that those fees were made up of not only the actual course costs but also included additional costs such as union fees, sports union fees and other additional charges made on students.
The problem of needy students is not confined only to those who do not hold scholarships. Many applicants for additional assistance are in fact Commonwealth scholarship holders or scholarship holders of some sort. The problem is exacerbated in the case of people who previously have held Commonwealth scholarships. These are people who have lost their scholarships because they have failed some subjects. Such people are caught up in a very vicious circle because their financial difficulties are such that they find it extremely difficult to keep on with their course and if they do not satisfactorily complete their course work they find it increasingly difficult or impossible to regain their scholarships. 1 am very pleased that the legislation introduced by the Minister gives universities and colleges of advanced education the responsibility of allocating the funds they receive and the right to decide whether this allocation wi.l be in the form of a grant or a loan. I believe very strongly that the people best equipped to know the particular circumstances of each individual student are those closest to the student and not someone from some remote bureaucracy. This task should be performed by the people at the institutions who are concerned with a student’s well-being and education. I think that this practice in regard to the allocation of funds is one that should be encouraged. As I have said, I am very pleased that the Minister has taken the step of giving universities the right to decide who will receive he’p, what the extent of that help will be and the way in which the help will be provided.
I am very conscious that because of rising costs, tertiary education universities and colleges of advanced education face the prospect of losing their autonomy as more and more of their funds are provided from public moneys. I am one who believes that universities should have the maximum possible autonomy. One of the ways in which this can be achieved is to give these institutions not only the right but the responsibility to decide on the allocations of moneys ceded to them by the Government. Also I would like to point out to the Government the danger of adopting a niggardly approach to needy students. The cost of keeping students at tertiary education institutions is rising all the time. I believe we should take whatever steps we can to reduce the failure rate of students at these institutions because a year repeated is a very costly business not only for the students but also for society as a whole. If one of the prime causes of failure is financial need we should look very closely at the provision of funds to avoid or at least lessen to the maximum possible extent the contribution that financial need makes towards the failure of students. 1 would advocate a policy which errs on the side of generosity rather than one which seeks to be penny wise and pound foolish.
The Minister in his second reading speech spoke of fee abolition. I was a bit disappointed to read this because it is one aspect of the legislation which concerns me. The Minister said that the legislation would continue for only one year because fee abolition will be introduced next year and the necessity for the allocation of this money will then be lessened. The abolition of fees is to be the subject of a separate debate and I hope that we are given the opportunity of debating this question because I know that the Minister feels strongly on it. We all know that he made a statement before the last election concerning his views on the abolition of fees and that the views put forward in that statement are at variance with the policy he is forced to espouse at the moment. I am a strong believer in the fact that entrance to universities and educational institutions such as colleges of advanced education should be on the basis of academic excellence. Once the student is accepted at a university he or she should not be unduly hampered by financial difficulties. It is not pertinent at this point to argue about pre-university educational experiences in terms of education opportunities. We are concerned about the student once he is at the university. The scholarship system does not cater for the poorer student of lower academic standard. This is why I support the legislation introduced by the Minister for Education.
I point out that fees are only one aspect of student costs. They are by no means the main cost; they are only a fairly small proportion of them. As far as I know, we have not yet had an accurate statement of what fees will be abolished next year at tertiary institutions. I should like the Minister to make that plain in his reply to the second reading speeches. The abolition of fees will not specifically help the people who need it most - in other words those students of perhaps lower academic standard, students without scholarships. Therefore, it is wrong to presume that abolition of fees will eliminate the need for assistance to needy students. There will always be needy students and there will always be a need to assist them. We should be looking to see what we can do about fee abolition and whether the money that would be saved if fee abolition were not undertaken would be better spent in assisting needy students in other ways. Wc in the Opposition foresee a need for continuing help to students in financial difficulties. Therefore we propose to move amendments to the legislation put forward by the Minister.
I stress that these amendments are not aimed at curtailing the rights or the autonomy of universities. They are significant in the fact that they seek to elicit information as a result of the operation of this legislation over the coming year, in order to provide guidelines for more meaningful legislation and a continuation of the assistance to needy students in the coming years. I hope that the Minister, who is a fair minded man, will look at these amendments in this light. In other words, we are seeking to obtain information which will be of enormous help in casting further legislation which we all agree is necessary to provide financial assistance for needy students to cut down on the economic and personal lo;,s occasioned when a student, in many cases through no fault of his own, fails his course. This is a loss which the individual and the community can ill afford.
– I want to refer mainly to one of the 3 Bills that we are considering together, namely, the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1973. Firstly, I should tike to make a couple of comments on some matters which the honourable member for Warringah (Mr Mackellar) mentioned. He referred to the development of the concept of colleges of advanced education by the previous Government. I think that the development of this concept has not really happened. The concept W:.s hastily introduced. I think that if the previous Government had taken more time to think about what it intended colleges of advanced education to be we would not have the present generally unsatisfactory situation. The honourable member for Warringah referred also to fees being only a small part of the costs of a university student or a college of advanced education student. Of course this is true. But the honourable member failed to gather that all students at universities and colleges will be eligible for a means tested universal living allowance. Better off students will not be eligible for any living allowance but from next year on needy students will be supported.
The States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill has 3 main purposes, namely, to provide money for libraries, for needy students and for a social work course in Hobart. Firstly, it provides $5m for libraries in colleges of advanced education. Colleges of advanced education have a great lack of library material - much more so than universities, and I do not think that we can say that universities have no need in this area. This grant is to enable college libraries to build up their stocks of books and other resource material. The third report of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education last year recommended that this sum be made available for this purpose. In the chapter of the report dealing with college libraries, the Committee stated:
The library represents a central and essential facility for the college as a whole. It is clear to the Commission that the quality of the educational program in a college will be directly influenced by the standards of library provision in bookstock, accommodation, and services. If these are of a high order they will act as a stimulus to staff and student effort; if they are less than adequate, there will be dissatisfaction and reduced incentive.
The report goes on to mention the quality of libraries and the need for libraries to be involved centrally in the educational process. It also mentioned bookstock provision. The report states:
We further express our conviction that the existing levels of allocations must be increased substantially if the college libraries are to provide adequate support to the educational program, and we urge that all colleges try to accelerate their libraries’ development in order to attain more educationally satisfactory bookstock levels.
The report then refers to a lot of other matters connected with CAE libraries such as microfilm, audio-visual and other non-book materials of special need to colleges of advanced education which have a high proportion of part time students and thus also have a greater need for multiple copies of much used reference books. The report recommended:
That the Commonwealth Government provide a sum of $5m to be made available to the States on the basis of need and on the advice of the Commission, for the development of library materials In colleges of advanced education.
The previous Government, in its shortsighted way, cut the figure of $5m back to $500,000, or 10 per cent of the sum recommended. This Bil] sets the situation right by acknowledging the need for this sum and by implementing the Commission’s recommendation. I maintain that even $5m will be insufficient to provide completely adequate library materials, but it is a start and it is 10 times more than the previous Government was prepared to allocate. The Bill provides a total of $806,000 as aid for students in need at colleges of advanced education. One of the other 2 Bills we are considering provides more than $2m for needy university students. “ The object of this assistance is to bridge the gap for students who would otherwise be unable to continue their courses or who would find difficulty in doing so, or who would endanger their success by the necessity perhaps to spend too much of their time earning enough money to keep themselves while they continue their courses. We will not be able to implement our policy on abolition of tertiary education fees until 1974. Meanwhile, students are experiencing hardship because of their financial circumstances. This assistance is to be distributed, or already has been distributed, to such needy students by the colleges and universities by grants or loans or by covering the costs of fees. No one should be prevented by lack of finance from taking or continuing a tertiary course if he is qualified to do so. But many are prevented. These grants will alleviate the situation.
The third purpose of this Bill is to provide the finance to cover a special need in Tasmania at the Hobart College of Advanced Education. That need is a course in social work. Until now there has been no means by which social workers can be trained in Tasmania. We all know that there is a great need for trained social workers throughout Australia but this need is particularly evident in Tasmania because people trained in this field have to be attracted from others States.
The third Bill we are considering is the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) which provides assistance to the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne to allow them to train more social workers in their courses. This serves to emphasise the diversity in the method of training social workers in each State. Education for social work is conducted mainly by the universities, 4 universities providing under-graduate degree courses while 2 universities provide post grad uate diploma courses. One university provides a master’s degree in social work. One university and 2 colleges of advanced education provide sub-graduate diploma courses. There are only limited facilities for higher degree work. In other words, the situation is inconsistent. There is no clear idea uniformly held about how or where social work should be taught. However Tasmania, which has had no facilities for educating social workers, is now to have a post graduate course at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education because of the proposal in this Bill. I am not saying that all diversity is necessarily a bad thing or that diversity in education in general is necessarily a bad thing. But this lack of uniformity is a reflection of the unclear attitude of educational institutions, employers of social workers, the community in general and probably social workers themselves about what sort of people social workers are, what their job is to be and the kinds of qualifications they should- have.
So we have this rather unsatisfactory uneven situation of a wide variety of means available for becoming a social worker. It is unsatisfactory mainly because the training is supposed to lead to a professional qualification. This results in the inevitable arguments within and outside the profession about who is or who is not a social worker, and about who is or who is not a properly trained social worker. The same sort of thing has happened in the past with pharmacy. The truth is that all of the social workers trained by these various courses are all pretty well trained for their job, a job which is so necessary these days in the expansion of social welfare services and agencies involved in social welfare. I am certainly not one to say that a person trained in a university is better than one trained in a college of advanced education or that a person with a degree is better than one with a diploma. This does not follow at all.
However, the problem is further complicated by the existence of other people and the courses which train them. I am referring now to welfare officers and the courses, which would probably be described as subprofessional, which train welfare officers. These courses are usually at technical colleges as I know is the case in Tasmania, or within social welfare departments such as the certificate courses run by the Victorian Social Welfare
Department. Tasmania’s Mental Health Services Commission runs a course for welfare officers. Such courses get very little recognition or financial assistance despite their valuable contribution to the community. Neither do their students get as much recognition or financial support as do those doing social work. I believe that we have to look at the relative place of social workers and welfare officers. Is a welfare officer just a less welltrained social worker, or is a social worker just a better-trained welfare officer? Are they 2 entirely different people each making a valuable contribution in a different way? I believe that there is a difference and that there should be a clear difference in the way they are trained and in the work they do. By this 1 do not mean that social workers should be put up on a pedestal. This would be bad for them and bad for the people they serve. So far 1 have not mentioned the word ‘status’ but it does come into it. I am not knocking social workers by saying that because they do a fantastic job.
I think that the time has come to make a fairly generally accepted decision about the type of course required for social workers, the sort of level al which they will operate on graduation and the relationship between social workers and welfare officers both in the work they do and in the relative numbers of each, and the relative numbers of each to be trained with governmental support. Should the welfare officer qualification be used as a stepping stone to a later qualification as a social worker, if desired? There should be some planned relationship between the two but I suggest that very few people have more than a vague idea of what is best. The whole system has grown up in au ad hoc fashion which only makes matters worse. As I said before, there is a wide range of course levels in the various tertiary institutions throughout the country even for social workers only. A lack of co-ordination in this field can lead to a great inefficiency in the use of resources in training and in the employment of workers in the welfare field. I know that many of those involved are thinking about these problems and I hope that the situation can be rationalised.
Nevertheless I am extremely pleased that Tasmania is to get a course in social work. Given that it is a long term process to rationalise the system, the special Tasmanian need must be filled as soon as possible, and it must be remembered that it will be 2 years from the beginning of 1974 before the first graduates finish their diploma course. I think that a degree followed by a post graduate diploma is probably the preferred type of course for training social workers. In a letter to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), the Tasmanian Minister for Education, who was kind enough to send me a copy of the letter, said: 1 am writing to you to express thanks for the very beneficial action you have taken in respect of three of the requests which have come recently from Tasmania.
He then refers to the assistance given in the training of more pre-school teachers, and continues:
I also feel extremely pleased at the action you have taken in relation to social welfare. For some years this course has been needed in this Stale and it is only through your reasonable attitude that this has become possible.
I endorse those remarks about this action and support the Bills, particularly the provisions in them for social workers, the money made available for libraries in colleges of advanced education and the assistance for tertiary students in need.
– The Australian Country Party supports in the broad the 3 Bills being debated today. The adequate provision of satisfactory library resources is a vital factor in promoting the development of our colleges of advanced education. The $5m provided as an unmatched grant in the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1973 will be used in the current triennium to assist in the upgrading of many libraries to a satisfactory level. Further grants for libraries must be extended not only for advanced education facilities but also for many inadequate libraries at the secondary level. The Swan Hill High School in my electorate - this is an outstanding example - caters for up to 1,000 students, but it is severely restricted by a library area and a composition so inadequate that many schools one-quarter the size have better facilities. The glaring library needs at al) levels of education must therefore be corrected and given a high priority.
The provision of other grants in this Bill and in the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) will also help to mitigate the extreme shortage of social workers particularly for work in the field of education. This is to be commended. The pressures of 20th century living in complex city and urban areas will require a continuing and expanding number of qualified people prepared to work in this vital area of human responsibility. While realising that the demand and necessity for social workers is in the cities, the destitute and distressed exist in all of our communities and at all levels of our educational system in rural Australia, necessitating the provision of an adequate supply of professionally qualified social workers. The visit of a social worker to some of our schools or other areas of social security once or twice every year, as occurs in many country areas at present, is entirely unsatisfactory and for that reason also this grant is to be commended. 1 turn now to the States Grants (Universities) Bill 1973. I believe that the Federal Government assistance to all levels of our education system is desirable and has to be expanded. From the amount of $3m being made available the Australian National University will receive $69,000 and the balance will be made available to other State universities and some colleges of advanced education, lt is to be administered by respective universities and assistance will be given in the forms of grants or loans, depending on individual circumstances. These will help to pay fees, other allowances and approved educational expenses. While in agreement with the general concept of assistance proposed by this legislation, and taking into account the proposals by the Government for the abolition of all tertiary fees in 1974 - and this, of course, will be the subject of further discussion at another time - I wish to take this opportunity briefly to examine the relationship of Federal Government assistance in the future, as apart from any discussion on student fees.
I wish to look also at the administration of any such assistance and in particular from the viewpoint of my electorate and other rural electorates at the value of such aid in promoting an equality of opportunity for educational achievements as related to children living in rural areas. It is noteworthy that in this Bill not only students from low income families can expect aid, but also special circumstances such as death, injury or serious illness of breadwinners can also be used as qualifications for financial assistance. The dismantling of family income by exceptional misfortunes such as floods, droughts and/or bushfires is covered by clauses contained in the proposed legislation. I concur entirely with these provisions.
The financing of education will place huge stresses upon available funds in the years ahead and it will be vital that the best value be obtained for every dollar made available by the Federal Parliament. Whilst it is not appropriate now to discuss the overall financing of education, the importance of this Bill in relation to other aspects prompts me to mention some of those issues now. A vital question relates to the level of government support that this nation should and can devote to education, and what relationship it should have to private support and income obtained from student charges. The trend is, I feel, to show a growing reliance on public and government schools and a growing dependence by all schools on public funds.
I am aware that this Parliament realises that the ability and the willingness of the Australian people to embark on a program of increased public expenditure depends mainly on our economic growth, an acceptable tax level, and naturally upon other demands upon our resources. Personally, I believe that a total effort combining all sources of finance will be necessary in future and also a continuing diffusion of support to meet our educational needs will bring about a better balance of responsibility.
Student charges have increased considerably over the last decade. Whilst they are still an important part of financing our institutions, the gap between charges and costs is rapidly becoming greater. This is obviously caused by far greater enrolments in combination with the provision of better facilities and the continued rise in general costs, particularly in salaries of staff. Student charges are an emotional issue and full of complexities, but they are a vital part of the structure and the difficulty is in deciding how much students should be charged and how much is the Government or public responsible.
There are probably 2 ways to look at higher or tertiary education. The first is that it is a social necessity and therefore requires the maximum social expenditure. The second is that tertiary education is a personal investment, an individual desire for more lucrative employment opportunities or a desire simply to broaden intellectual and academic capabilities. Therefore it is regarded by many as being largely the responsibility of the individual. Having briefly mentioned those thoughts, in an attempt to highlight the alternatives for the future financing of education, I return to the Bill and to government assistance. I am far from convinced, for instance, that our scholarship system is serving our young people satisfactorily, and I am not convinced that such a system will remain free from political interference or manipulation. I am concerned that many of our students are being channelled into occupations simply because present assistance by scholarship or studentship is available in some areas - for example, teaching or nursing - while alternative areas of study, particularly in engineering, veterinary, medical and dental courses are virtually unobtainable without private financial backing.
I am also concerned not only that many of our students, and particularly rural children, have limited opportunities to make use of our scholarship system, but also that the knowledge of any available assistance provided for in the Bill is not freely available to secondary headmasters far enough in advance of an academic year. Secondary students apply in August for entry to universities and colleges of advanced education. It should therefore follow that students should know of any financial assistance available and whether an application within the needs category is worthwhile. From an administrative point of view, I think it would be preferable to involve high school principals in the decision of need because, firstly, they have generally known students and their families for up to 6 years in an educational relationship. Secondly, they have sometimes already awarded help such as by requisites, maintenance or relief grants.
The 283 students from this year’s enrolment of 2,980 at Monash University in Melbourne who have been granted deferment of their courses mainly for lack of finance will, as will others in similar circumstances, no doubt derive real benefit from this Bill as they should, but concern lies with those students who could not see their way clear even to consider enrolment in the first place. On the surface, some dangers exist in large institutions such as the University of Melbourne - which has about 17,000 students - having to administer this assistance. I hope that the Minister will have established satisfactory arrangements for the distribution to real areas of need. I believe that the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) dealt with the matter quite adequately and in depth when he spoke earlier in the debate.
Even with the abolition of tertiary fees, country students in particular will need con tinuing assistance from government sources. The provision of more tertiary opportunities in country areas, the provision of hostels for students travelling excessive distances and a scheme of guidance into educational and vocational opportunities, which are of so much more value to a country child than to a city child who has a variety of facilities close at hand, will all help to alleviate these difficulties. I realise that this Bill is only a stop gap measure, but I believe that it is a worthwhile contribution to the advancement of educational equality. Such measures always display to me the need for a reorganisation of our assistance program so that all needy students have not only availability of finance but also are able to undertake courses of their choice at any institution of tertiary education.
I believe that many degrees today are being allowed to be lost in a sea of meaningless ones. Universities are being flooded with students who are unable to enter the commercial world. Teachers are having to multiply their jobs without in many instances expanding their teaching. This Bill specifically refers to students desiring or entering tertiary education. In view of the tendencies towards a rush of students into these educational areas, due consideration must urgently be given to assistance to all young people wishing to enter all forms of education. I feel that the need for such a Bill as this displays the inadequate state of our assistance to all needy students. Perhaps now is the time to consider alternative means of government support so that every student is able to enter into any course available with the maximum of opportunity and initiative. 1 suggest that a system of interest free student loans should be made available. This also would have a number of practical and political advantages. Loans could be made available to all needy students irrespective of their level of ability, a condition which restricts the scholarship system. Loans are also of a temporary and repayable nature and of a recurring benefit to students and governments alike; outright grants are not. Most importantly, loans give students the desire and incentive to advance by their initiative and ability without financial difficulty.
The Bill will do much to give support to many students through the provision of an extra $3m. But it must not be forgotten in future planning for education in Australia that opportunity and equality go together. The opportunity for education is a little like the right to vote - it may not always be exercised but it must always be available. I and the Australian Country Party support the Bills being discussed together today and I wish to congratulate the Minister for Education for introducing these vital Bills so promptly. I feel that some consideration should be given to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Chisholm as it perhaps will do much to facilitate future planning.
– I rise to support the Bill. The 3 major areas in the Bill - financial assistance to needy and destitute tertiary students, increased grants for libraries in colleges of advanced education and provision for increasing training facilities of social workers - have already been referred to in the debate. Each of these initiatives is significant in its own right and I believe the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is to be congratulated for the speed with which he has acted to meet the emergency situation in each of these areas. The underlying principle of all 3 points is to ensure that an education of quality is available to all students at the tertiary level, irrespective of financial circumstances. We on the Government side are committed to the principle that no student should be deprived of his educational opportunity because of hardship.
I refer firstly to the matter of financial assistance for needy students. As outlined by the Minister in his second reading speech, $3m is to be made available to assist needy tertiary students and, of this amount, $806,000 is for students attending colleges of advanced education. I believe there are a number of significant points in this area of the 3 Bills we are considering. There is a considerable flexibility in administration of the assistance. It should be noted that assistance can be given in 2 ways - either in the form of grants or of loans. Within the provisions of the Bill it is the Vice-Chancellors or the heads of colleges of advanced education who have been entrusted with the task of deciding to whom assistance should be given. In fact, as we know, anticipating the passing of this Bill, this task has already been completed. I believe this Bill also provides an excellent example of decentralised or localised decision making. It is a co-operative venture in which the Government has complete trust in the ability of those on the spot to make the final decision as to who should receive aid. This no doubt is an important contributory factor in the enthusias- tic response to the scheme by the university authorities.
It should be noted, I think, that there is a significant departure in this Bill in the manner in which the Government’s financial assistace to students is to be given. So often in the past assistance has been given by means of scholarships. This has been so particularly at the tertiary and higher secondary levels. The criterion used to determine the successful student has been the ability to pass an examination - frequently, I would suggest, an outmoded type of examination. In the case of this Bill, the criterion that has been established is need. Under the guidelines of the legislation, financial assistance must first be given to those in greatest hardship. This area of the Bill, again, must be seen in the total context of the Government’s announcement that tertiary fees are to be abolished as from the commencement of the 1974 academic year. So, it naturally is anticipated that need for assistance of this nature will not be as great in the remaining years of the 1973-75 triennium.
I stress that we on the Government side see this as simply a further step towards the ideal of equality of opportunity for all students at the tertiary level. We readily admit that there is a long way to go. We acknowledge the point made by the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) that students who wished to enter tertiary institutions this year and could not for financial reasons will not be covered by this Bill. However, I would remind honourable members that at present the Commonwealth Department of Education, in conjunction with the Australian Union of Students, is carrying out a survey in Victoria and South Australia to determine the reasons for rejection by students of university places. One of the pertinent points to which an answer is sought is the importance of financial considerations in influencing potential students to reject places at tertiary institutions.
I would stress again that this Bill is seen only as a step in the direction of achieving the ideal of equality of opportunity at the tertiary level. In this regard and based on a fair amount of experience in the educational field, it is my belief that the students who reach the higher school certificate or matriculation level tend to follow a fairly predictable socioeconomic pattern. The group about which I am concerned is the significant number of students who drop out at forms 3, 4 and 5 because of financial pressures in the home. To illustrate this point, I recall vividly a brilliant young form 3 student who indicated to me that she would be leaving school at the end of the year. Recognising her undoubted ability I questioned her on her reasons for leaving at such an early stage. Her reply was a simple one. She said: ‘I have to help mum and dad on the flower farm. They cannot afford to leave me at school’. To achieve fin’ally the ideal that we are seeking - equality of opportunity for students at the tertiary level - these are the sorts of problems with which we must come to grips. I believe that the provisions of this Bill are a significant step in this direction.
I should like to speak briefly on the provision contained in the Bills to provide an unmatched grant of $Sm for libraries in colleges of advanced education. There seems to be general agreement amongst speakers on both sides of the House that this provision is long overdue. 1 would remind honourable members that recommendation 21 of the third report, that for 1973-75, of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education states:
That the Commonwealth Government provide a sum of $5m to be made available to the States on the basis of need and on the advice of the Commission, for the development of library materials in Colleges of Advanced Education.
It surprised me today and last night in the debate on this point to hear Liberal-Country Party members saying that they supported this provision. The previous Liberal-Country Party Government rejected this recommendation. One might well ask why it rejected it. The former Government must have realised - its members are realising it now - the tremendous need that existed in the colleges of advanced education for greatly improved library facilities. Surely those honourable members were aware of the serious handicap to students if library facilities were not adequate. The answer may well be the indifference of the previous Government. Whatever the reason, the facts are that as in the previous 2 triennia the Liberal-Country Party Government was prepared to make available, as unmatched grants, the sum of only $500,000 for the 1973-75 triennium. In addition it said it would make available up to $lm subject to matching arrangements with the States. The provision of an unmatched grant of $5m will greatly assist colleges of advanced education to have library resources in keeping with the status of the studies undertaken in these institutions.
The third area of the Bill on which I comment is the provision for increased training facilities for social workers. I believe this must be seen in the context of the Government’s forward looking social security policy. The Government’s progressive policy will be retarded unless immediate attention is given to social worker training in universities and colleges of advanced education. Increasingly in our community there is recognition of the tremendously important role to be played by social workers. Enlightened and concerned municipalities and other institutional bodies have recognised the need for expertise that comes from training. Too frequently, through shortage of qualified applicants, nonprofessional welfare staff has to be appointed. To realise the severe shortage that exists in this field of training social workers, one has only to look at the classified advertisements. In Victoria each week in the ‘Age’ classified advertisements, there appears a long list of unfilled appointments in every area of human need. To name but a few, social workers are required for work in hospitals, in the field of geriatrics, in child care, among the migrant community, in local municipalities and in Commonwealth and State Government departments. These weekly lists of unfilled appointments are testimony of the need for increased training facilities.
There are 2 areas in which I have been involved personally and where I am convinced of the importance of the work of trained social workers. I am equally aware of the acute shortage that exists at present. These 2 areas are at the local government level and in schools. At the local level the social worker can provide that human contact which is so essential in any welfare program. Close to the grass roots, they can mobilise the voluntary organisations already in existence, they can initiate new programs, and act as the pivot in the development of local social welfare complexes which may well include welfare, officers, youth co-ordinators, home help services, meals on wheels services and so on. Many local councils have shown a diffidence to the appointment of a trained social worker. I know this only too well, having been involved deeply in trying to secure such an appointment for the city of Dandenong. The following sorts of questions are encountered: Are not voluntary services enough? Do we really need professionals? If we approve an appointment can we secure a social worker? Who will foot the bill? Not only must local authorities be convinced of the need for such appointments - often this is difficult as I well know - but they also must be sure that the Federal Government takes the matter seriously. The provisions of this Act demonstrate clearly the high priority placed by this Government on the work of the social worker.
The other area on which I want to concentrate is psychological and guidance services, and I will confine my remarks to the Victorian scene. I think the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) would agree with me in regard ito the tragic plight of psychological and guidance services in that State. Amongst the psychological and guidance services, the social worker plays an important part. I think this is highlighted in the report issued by the Minister for Education in 1971-72. The section of that report which deals with psychology and guidance states:
The Branch is at present only able to provide minimum services to schools. It is very dependent on temporary employees (36 per cent of the professional staff). It needs at least 400 fully qualified and experienced guidance officers, together with perhaps 200 social workers, to be able to provide a comprehensive service to existing schools.
Later the report states:
There is an urgent need to increase the number of social workers employed as professional officers beyond 5 as at present.
I do not think the honourable member for Mallee should be surprised that he has had difficulty in having a social worker called to a school. I am personally aware of this sad state of affairs. For 6 years prior to entering this Parliament I was in charge of large secondary schools and that mythical thing called discipline - possibly a more apt term would be ‘guidance’ or ‘counselling’ - and there were numerous occasions on which I had reached the point with a student where I knew he or she had a deep rooted problem and I was unable to proceed further. What I needed was to be able to call in an expert or, better still, to have a trained guidance officer on the staff of the school and to be able to call on the services of the social worker who would have the ease of movement into the home, which is often very difficult if one is a teacher at a school.
In his second reading speech the Minister emphasised the urgency of the social worker training program. The Bill provides, for the current triennium, unmatched grants totalling $75,000 for the University of Sydney and $240,000 for the University of Melbourne to enable these universities, commencing this year, to increase the number of students being trained as social workers. In the case of the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, an unmatched grant of $40,000 is provided to enable the establishment of a postgraduate course in social work to commence in 1974. The provisions of this Bill indicate that what the Government can do now, it will do. Immediate finance is made, available to overcome the long neglected social worker need. The appalling neglect of the previous Government in this area is clearly apparent. There has been nearly a quarter of a century of inertia and ineptitude. The previous Government failed to discern the red lights of emergency. The result is a backlog of social claims. What government would not stand condemned if it failed to provide a defence force commensurate with the contemporary military strategy and technological advances? A government should be condemned also for failing to provide the facilities for the training and equipment of professional task forces to combat the attacks of family maladjustment, social disintegration, emotional disorder and urban pressure.
These Bills support the social welfare concept of this Government’s policy. They undergird and give practical support to facets of the health and social security program. The Government has a total program. Ministers are not operating within a vacuum. Government legislation is rational and consistent with overall policy. What value . is health and social security legislation if it cannot be implemented because of lack of professional expertise? Conversely, a program of financial assistance in the field of education to provide training facilities is a waste if social welfare lacks vision and planning. The ministries of Education, Health and Social Security are working in the closest co-operation, with Education providing the tools. I commend the Bill to the House.
– The honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow) spent some time condemning the previous Government for not allocating enough funds generally for education but particularly towards developing a task force to alleviate particular social problems in the community.
I point out to him that, over the course of the last considerable period of years, there has been a constant escalation in the amount of money available in the whole field of education. The decision that the new Government has taken, reflected by this Bill, represents something of a new era of expenditure. It is a matter for decision by each government as to how its funds are to be spent. Earlier today we were considering one of the measures of the Government supposedly to contain inflation in the community. It is desirable that there be an increasing allocation of money for education but it is not desirable that funds be spent without regard to the end result.
It is necessary that wherever money is spent we are conscious that the money has to come from the taxpayers. We are not spending money that belongs peculiarly to the Government; we are spending Australian taxpayers funds. Commendable though many individual areas of expenditure might be, regrettably money does not grow on trees. It is essential that we recognise that if we are to spend taxpayers funds they must be collected from taxpayers. If they are to be collected from taxpayers, the taxpayers will have less to spend on other areas which they in their individual judgment might well regard as being more desirable. So it is ridiculous to condemn anything in the area of education allocations by the past Government. I believe that over the course of the years the significant improvement which has occurred in tertiary educational facilities in particular, is a tremendous tribute to the wise allocation of money by previous Ministers for Education and Science and by the Commonwealth in the educational spectrum.
I rise principally to talk on the measures contained in the States Grants (Universities) Bill which arise out of some discussions that were initiated by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England, Professor Alec Lazenby, with the present Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). I commend the Minister for Education for the expedition and the manner of his acceptance of the recommendations of Professor Lazenby. At the same time I also commend Professor Lazenby and the Council of the University of New England, for it was there that the whole concept of providing additional funds for needy students originated. Professor Lazenby developed the concept as a result of his concern that in a rural university numbers of students were likely to be precluded from the opportunity of either entering into tertiary studies or maintaining tertiary studies because of the circumstances of the rural depression. Professor Lazenby and the Council accepted that special funds should be set aside by the University from its own resources to offset the problems of the needy. It was from that particular fund and that concept that he came to make his representations to the present Minister for Education. It is very much to the credit of the present Minister for Education that he accepted those recommendations.
There are some facets of this subject on which I would like to comment. The first is that, in his second reading speech, the Minister set down in broad form the criteria for eligibility for this assistance. Again I commend him because of the flexibility of expression and the obvious necessity for such flexibility. I believe that in determining to whom funds should be made available it is necessary for university authorities to be able to consider the individual circumstances of each student. I do not believe that comprehensive and broad guidelines can be laid down which are necessarily applicable to each individual. In a university such as the University of New England there is a very peculiar problem, because the expenditure by the student himself or by parents on his behalf is not only for educational expenses.
I note that the Minister has said that because of the Government’s undertaking to absorb the cost of tertiary fees, or to abolish tertiary fees, as from the 1974 academic year he does not envisage the need for assistance to be as great in the future. While that may be true with respect to fees, the problem at New England was largely the cost involved in living in a decentralised university. This meant that students had to pay for their accommodation either in a university college or in accommodation downtown. Regrettably, in many instances excess expenses are involved for students in that area who are not in a position to have a regular income for charges other than tuition fees such as fees for the membership of the Students Representative Council, the Sports Union and all the other many organisations which are part of university life.
I believe that a fund of this character is likely to be necessary indefinitely for that reason. I trust that the degree to which the present scheme is available on a broader base will continue to be available for those other specific areas if circumstances so require. I trust that it will not be made available only for the 1973 academic year. I note that the Bill does not specifically provide to that effect. It is necessary that there is a recognition of the expenses other than fees for education when one takes into account the cost of tertiary education to an individual. Those remarks pertain equally to colleges of advanced education.
The next point I want to make relates to the problem that I see emanating from the general trends in education in Australia today. It arises in part out of the allocation of funds provided in the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2). There is provision in the Bill for specific moneys to increase the number of qualified social workers in the community. I do not want to speak specifically about the need for social workers because a great deal has been said in the House today in that area. I believe that this is a very worthwhile field. Having been involved in the Department of Social Services in the past I think it is necessary that one looks both at the number of social workers and, in some instances, at the nature of their training. The need for social workers certainly exists but the area within which they can work and the opportunities they have for undertaking work in relation to the need in the community do not always match the character of their training. We should be conscious of the need in the community as well as of the standard and* character of education.
In our universities today we are educating a lot of young men and young women who, regrettably, may not find adequate opportunity for meaningful employment in the community. There is a real need for study to be undertaken - be it by the universities or within the Department of Education - to determine the extent to which present degree courses and diploma courses will give to the student the sort of qualifications the community needs. I have spoken about social workers and the problems of ensuring that a social worker’s education enables him to go out into the community and meet the community’s need. It is true that within a university or any institution of learning it is necessary for men to be engaged in the quest for knowledge for knowledge’s sake. But it is also true that those who engage in such a quest should be able to find meaningful employment when they complete their university studies. They need to be given an opportunity for worthwhile employment when they leave the university. We are coming into a period in which the correlation between employment opportunities and a degree is regrettably declining. Various papers have been presented on this subject. I know something of the work that has been done in this regard in individual universities.
I think that at a time when we are providing funds for universities we should reflect on the necessity for the training of those who are fortunate enough to receive a university qualification to be translated into meaningful employment in the community. It is a pity for the training to be wasted; it is a pity for their ability to be wasted. I would hope that the Minister in his search for and examination of ways in which funds can be allocated for tertiary education might take account of the necessity relativity between training and employment opportunities. Of course, under this measure students might have to repay the funds which are to be made available to them.
I commend the Minister for the nature of his extension of these facilities. I commend Professor Lazenby for his initiation of the concept. I believe that the product of this loan idea will be to the distinct advantage of the present generation of students both in universities and in colleges of advanced education. At the same time I believe that the amendments which have been foreshadowed by my colleague, the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley), are such that the Minister should accept them. After all they will provide the Australian Universities Commission some opportunity of knowing how worthwhile this assistance has been. I think it is necessary when moving into a new area to have some measure by which the effectiveness of assistance can be gauged. After all, the money that is being provided is Commonwealth funds and funds for which the Commonwealth is responsible to the taxpayer.
– I do not propose to delay the House for very long, but today is about the 15th anniversary of the day when I raised in this House a matter of public importance calling for the Commonwealth to start to take a real interest in education. I recall that on that occasion the matter received what might be called patronising commentary from those members who were then on this side of the House, those who are now in permanent Opposition. So on this occasion I want to congratulate my colleague, the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), for the measures that he has introduced.
There are one or two matters which have been adverted to this afternoon in the debate on this legislation to which I should like to refer. First of all there is the question of needy students. I think it is time that the community faced the fact that when people come to the tertiary student stage some kind of regular financial assistance should be available to them based not on the need of their parents or the wealth of their parents. In other words I believe, and I think the community in the long run will have to face this, as it has with say teacher trainees, that students whose parents are wealthy ought not have to depend on their charity and that students whose parents are poor should not have to depend on the charity of a government. At this stage students ought to be treated as people as such with a role in the community as important as that of anybody in the work force. The provision of assistance to all students would be a pretty severe financial burden. It may not yet be the time for us to do that. But the expansion of support for students is, I think, a very important contribution to equality of opportunity in a community such as ours. I think this is probably the most important subject we are talking about this afternoon. We are simply salvaging some of the situations that were created by the previous Government’s parsimony to colleges of advanced education in relation to libraries and facilities such as that. The provision of these facilities is what one would expect to be happening with a progressive government such as we now have in office.
I think that the amendment presumes that this assistance will have to continue for a long while and that the system will not be changed. There will be a radical change in the way in which the Commonwealth faces its responsibility in education within the next 12 months. Fees will be abolished, and I think that is a very important step. I know that such a move comes in for criticism because many people who have enough to pay the feees now are therefore advantaged. But I think there are very few people in the community in their early twenties for whom the payment of university fees is not a heavy financial burden. I do not completely go along with my colleague opposite - I think it was the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) - on the question of academic excellence. Tertiary education should be the logical prolongation of one’s education. As the world continues there will be less demand for people to be in the work force and more demand for opportunities for them to develop their intellect and their cultural level. In the next 12 months we will be making a substantial improvement in that situation. Therefore I am pleased on this occasion to be speaking fromthe Government side on the acceptance by the Commonwealth of a real responsibility in education. It has been a long time coming, but we now have a government which accepts no constitutional inhibitions and which will place our rights and duties to the citizenry of Australia before any theology, including State rights or constitutional precedence.
– We of the Australian Country Party in general congratulate the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) for his energy and initia-. tive.
Motion (by Mr Daly) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr A. S. Luchetti)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– I have an amendment to clause 4 which in part reads:
Omit ‘the State will ensure that the amount is applied towards assisting students in need’, substitute the following paragraphs:
the State will ensure that the amount is applied towards assisting students in need; and
the State will make available annually to the Commission statistics and information upon the following:
the total amount provided by way of each grant, loan, or by, any other means;
the number of students assisted by way of grant, loan, or by any other means;
the number of applications for assistance received, and the number rejected;
the academic progress of students assisted by way of grant, loan, or by any other means;
the average interest rates, if any, charged upon any loans made during the reporting period;
the amount of repayments due under the conditions of any loan, and the amount of repayments actually made during the reporting period; and
the sufficiency of any grant for providing assistance to students in need’.
I said in my remarks in the second reading debate on this Bill that this amendment, which
I foreshadowed, would not go to the whole substance of the Bill. The aim of the amendment is not to interfere with the initiative of the universities in making grants or loans to students during this year. Indeed the universities and the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education have already, in most cases, made grants or loans to students. What we seek to achieve with this amendment is information that will be in the hands of those in the college of advanced education and in the universities who advise the Government. I extend my remarks to cover the amendment which will be moved to the States Grants (Universities) Bill so that it will not be necessary to take up the time of the House by repeating my argument.
The aim of this amendment is to provide the Government with information which will enable it to make future policy decisions in the whole area of student assistance, that is to say in the area of assistance to students under the old scholarship scheme, which obviously will be radically revised when fees are abolished, and also any other additional scheme which might continue and which is similar to the present scheme involving one-shot grants to needy students. It has been suggested by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) that this will be a one-shot scheme because so much will change. I think the implication was that the need for assistance may well not be there when fees are abolished and other changes are made. Precisely, our point is this: We want to ensure that needy students are in fact really assisted by the Government. We do not for a moment accept the assumption that the abolition of fees will get to the nub of the problem of assisting needy students. We believe therefore that the Government has a high responsibility to develop a long term policy consequent on its changes and, of course, in the light of needs which many of us perceive without some of the changes which the Government is introducing anyway. So this is a matter which is of particular importance at the moment; it is a matter which, of course, has a more general importance in any grant of money to any kind of institution by any government in this country.
I think that all of us in this chamber would accept the proposition that there ought to be accountability for the expenditure of public moneys. Some honourable members may say that the 2 Bills involve only a mere $3m. But, if you like, this is the thin edge of the wedge. A great deal of money will be expended in the future on aid to needy students just as a great deal has been expended in the past. So we want to see accountability. We ask for no interference in the affairs of the institutions. Indeed, the whole thrust of our thinking during the second reading stage of these Bills was that we would want to encourage more initiative at the university and college level and less in the way of ham fisted action or distantly administered bureaucratic rules and regulations. I do not wish to delay the Committee any longer because there are many other matters to come before us. I have moved an amendment to clause 4 of this Bill and I will move a similar amendment to the States Grants (Universities) Bill shortly.
– I would like to add briefly to the remarks made by the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley). We believe that there are 2 aspects of special importance which are contained in the amendment. Firstly, we believe - and this has been stressed by the honourable member for Chisholm - that it would assist in future planning, not necessarily at universities or colleges of advanced education, but at other educational institutions in Australia if this information was made available to the Australian Universities Commission as well as to members of this Parliament and the people of Australia. I think that those responsible for the expenditure of public funds have a duty to give to the people who provide the funds some readily available accountability as to what has happened following the expenditure of such funds. I would like to stress very strongly that we in no way suggest that the autonomy of universities should be cut down in any sense. What we are seeking to do is to ensure that information is provided for future planning purposes and, incidentally, information about the differing administrative procedures adopted by separate institutions.
There is no compulsion on any of these institutions to allocate any specific proportion of the funds made available either by way of grant or by way of loan. It is up to the institutions themselves to decide how the moneys will be allocated. What we are saying is that it would be of great use to know the effect of the differing procedures adopted by the separate institutions. One of the easiest ways in which this information can be made available is for the Government to adopt the amendments which have been moved by the Opposi tion. Most of the sections of the amendment mentioned by the honourable member for Chisholm relate directly to the administration of the scheme by the educational institutions. It may be thought that amendment (iv) which deals with the academic progress of students assisted by way of grant, loan or by any other means, impinges on the individual rights of students assisted. Let me make it clear that we do not intend that the individual student should be singled out for assessment and report by name. What we are seeking is a general return in response to the spending of money or the allocation of moneys to him to enable those assessing the results of the allocation of moneys to judge for themselves what result the allocation of moneys has had in lowering the failure rate which could be attributed to financial difficulties experienced by students.
I reiterate that the amendment fits in with 2 concepts which I believe are of great importance. Firstly there is the concept of reporting the results of the spending of public moneys so that the public can have a ready accessibility to information about the spending of those moneys. Secondly, I think it is most important that material is readily available to enable not only those people responsible for drawing up additional plans in the future to be able to make more informal decisions but also for those involved with policy formulation on both sides of the House to have this information’ readily available.
– There are 2 institutions that are directly accountable to the Commonwealth Auditor-General, and they are not mentioned in this legislation. One is the Australian National University and the other is the Canberra College of Advanced Education. The position is that the moneys allocated under these Bills are State grants and the universities are accountable to the State Auditors-General. The honourable gentlemen are pushing us into a delicate area. We are trying to stand back and say that this is a grant under section 96 of the Constitution and then coming in with some sort of direct administrative action by this Parliament in this area to make the universities accountable to us instead of to the State Auditors-General. I do not feel that we can accept that, especially in view of the negotiations that are taking place with the States about future grants.
I think most of the information which is sought in the amendment will be found out by the Australian Universities Commission or the Colleges of Advanced Education Commission in their conversations and dealings with the institutions with which they are associated in the course of their action as commissions.
– Why should they not report to the Commission?
– They do.
– That is what we are asking for.
– Most of the points that the honourable member is asking for take place anyway, but there is some sense of intrusion in the prerogatives of the States when accountability is to the State AuditorsGeneral and you actually specify this. Therefore the amendment is not acceptable.
I have sympathy with what the honourable gentlemen have said about the lessons to be learnt from this and I am sure that we will learn these lessons. But I think that they misunderstand the situation that will arise and the reasons why this legislation is only a temporary measure. Let us look at the situation in which we now find ourselves, at least 50 per cent of which is the work of the previous Government because the Budget brought down by that Government will apply up to 30th June. For this academic year the scholarship system in the universities and the colleges of advanced education applies to more than 50,000 students, and 70 per cent of the students now attending Australian universities are having their fees paid. The cost in this full calendar year of 1973 is $46.7m. We are committed to continue to honour the scholarships granted by the previous Government. Therefore next year some of the students who are the recipients of scholarships granted by the previous Government will have left, but the new system will be phasing in the payment of fees for all first year students and for the 30 per cent of the other students in universities who were not receiving assistance under the scholarship scheme. The payment of fees for this calendar year under the tertiary scholarship scheme is worth $24.3m and means tested living allowances are worth $22.4m. In addition to what is left of this, next year - and this is subject to negotiations with the university vice-chancellors, the students and so on - there will be added the payment of academic fees, and I will say a word about that in a minute, and means tested living allowances to all students. I do not imagine that any of the students who are receiving means tested living allowances now were the recipients of any part of this $3m. I think the 30 per cent of students-
– But you do not know.
– There may be some cases where irrespective of the $1,300 a year there was an additional hardship.
– Our amendment would have told you, but you just do not know.
– But we will find out.
– This information will come to the Universities Commission. The Commission is conferring with the universities now.
– That is the purpose of the amendment.
– Yes, but I do not want it specified in the Act. I think it is an administrative procedure and I explained when I began my remarks why I do not want it specified in the Act. In addition to what is left of the $46. 7m commitment an additional payment for tertiary costs of about $56.5m will be made, which will be the cost of abolishing academic fees and extending a means tested living allowance to all students who secure admission to universities and colleges of advanced education.
– What will be the cost of abolishing fees?
– It will be about $23m. The means tested living allowances will cost about $23m; that is on top of what is left from this grant. There will be $10m for technical education fees and about $500,000 for private teachers colleges. So, assuming that all the negotiations about these matters are accepted and the Commonwealth scheme operates from 1st January next year, we do not actually envisage that there will be a need for this emergency grant. A living allowance will be available for all students who would have been entitled to this benefit. I presume that such students, under the means test, would be given assistance.
I admit that a number of contradictory positions have arisen. I stress that this was an emergency. The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) was correct. I had an exchange of correspondence, which began accidentally, with Professor Lazenby of the University of New England. He spoke about the increased fees in New South Wales and the problem of students because of drought. I wrote back to him saying that whilst I could not cover all the New South Wales increase in fees the Government would deal with that problem in 1974, but that I was interested in the question of hardship. From that communication came this scheme of emergency grants. Honourable members may remember that in the original second reading speech I spoke about families whose income had been annihilated by drought and bushfire and so on. So we do not feel that this is a pilot project for a future tertiary education scheme. We feel that the needs of these people will be covered anyway in a system of universal means tested scholarships.
During the course of the debate I was asked what our present proposals are for assisting students. They are for the Government to pay all tuition fees, library fees, examination fees and registration fees for recipients of a means tested living allowance. There will also be an incidentals allowance which incidentally will be more than sufficient to pay union fees. But the Australian Union of students is still questioning us on the subject of union and student fees, and we have not made a decision to pay such fees. However, under the existing scholarships, which will be continuing - the Government will honour the previous Government’s late agreements - existing scholarship holders will continue to have their union fees paid. The incidental allowances of recipients of means tested living allowances will be more than enough to cover those fees. So we do not feel that there is any grievance there.
The grant to various universities through the States has been differently administered by different universities. Some have made loans and some have made straight out grants. I indicated the circumstances in which I personally would have favoured straight out grants but I think that the information which the honourable gentleman set out certainly can be obtained by the Universities Commission without this provision being inserted in the Act and seeming to indicate a supervisory action on the part of this Government. We feel that the universities are accountable to the State Auditors-General that they have applied these funds to the purposes that the State decides following their acceptance of the
Commonwealth’s conditions as the conditions when they make the grants to the universities.
– I think the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has indulged in semantics. All mat the Opposition was asking for is the acceptance by the Government of an amendment for both Bills so that adequate information would be available and so that this Parliament could have an adequate responsibility for the funds that it appropriates. The Minister said that he is perfectly satisfied with a system which allows money to be handed to universities and colleges with very broad discretion as to how that money is spent. He will not know how any of it is spent. He said that the answers will come to the Universities Commission and the Commission on Advanced Education in any case. If past experience is any guide those Commissions will not be able to collect information which by statute they are not entitled to ask for. The Minister will know that in his own Department there has been a reluctance on the part of tertiary institutions to provide information concerning students. I am quite certain that that reluctance will remain. Therefore his suggestion that the information will be collected but that he merely does not want to put that requirement into legislative form is, I think, quite false.
The form of the amendment proposed surely is proper. This Parliament has a right to know how funds devoted to student assistance are spent and what impact that assistance has in aiding students who might otherwise have to work in the long vacations or the short vacations to get through university more quickly than might otherwise have been the case. The suggestion that because a means tested living allowance for all students will be available later and that therefore students will not want or need emergency assistance at some stage is, I think, a very naive suggestion indeed. The information that the Opposition suggested should be collected would indicate whether scholarship holders receiving a living allowance are given emergency assistance by way of grant or loan under this provision. I would have thought that a number of Commonwealth scholarship students in that category would get some assistance from the universities. But the Minister will not know. He is not prepared to accept an amendment that will enable him to find out. He suggests that he is reluctant to accept the amendment because the universities are responsible to State Auditors-General. That is true, but are they going to be responsible to State Auditors-General when he and his Government are financing the totality of the universities?
– They will be grants under section 96.
– If they are grants under section 96 will this Parliament have no responsibility for the way in which those funds are expended? Of course, reports will have to go to the Universities Commission or the Commission on Advanced Education so that this Parliament will be able to judge that moneys are spent as the Parliament has ordered that they be spent. For the funds that are now voted to the universities and colleges for capital works there are, of course, reporting procedures to the Commissions. If my memory is correct the requirement for those reporting procedures are at least in part contained in the Acts which deal with the establishment of the 2 Commissions.
What really is the objection to having such a requirement in this Act? The Minister thinks that it will be only a one off proposal for one year because he says that an all-embracing means tested living allowance will entirely cover the situation in the future. That is really taking a much too narrow view of the need for emergency and special assistance for students from time to time. If this is to be ruled out the advance that was being initiated by this particular measure, something which the Opposition applauds, is not anything like as great an advance or as good an advance as I and the Opposition generally had hoped it might have been. It is clear that the Government intends to oppose the amendment but we will vote on that when the time comes.
– I would have thought from the second reading speech and from the speech of the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) who applauded the form of it, that so far as the universities are concerned this was virtually a vice-chancellor’s discretionary fund, analagous to many discretionary funds they have set up out of their ordinary funds for assisting needy students. For instance, the University of New England had a fund of some $35,000 to which a grant of $63,000, I think, is to be added under this scheme. It is to be given to the university in very broad terms. I said that it will be a matter for each university to determine who shall receive assistance, but I would expect that grants would be made available to students who are in extremely difficult financial circumstances following misfortune outside thencontrol such as death, injury, serious illness or desertion by breadwinners of families on ordinary income; the annihilation of family income in flood, drough or bushfire; seasonal or chronic unemployment of the breadwinner; loss of earning power by the breadwinner for any other reason and so on. I could not envisage all the circumstances under which a vice-chancellor would use his discretion, and having said to them: ‘Here is a discretionary fund for you to use on a confidential basis to assist students’, we now have certain points moved in an amendment which makes the whole situation appear very rigid as far as those universities are concerned.
There are some sections of the amendment which have nothing to do with accountability. One refers to the academic progress of students assisted by grant, loan or by any other means. In normal university procedure this exists now. Students can lose scholarships and in future, by failure, they will be able to lose their means tested grant and the payment of their fees. But they will not be able to lose this grant by failure. If they receive assistance under this provision and fail at the end of the year, this will not be being renewed next year as an emergency grant. It came about originally because of the circumstances this year in which the Commonwealth is not offering to meet all tertiary fees. The State of New South Wales produced a situation in which fees rose by I6i per cent, and this came as a very heavy blow at one university where the income of many families was seriously affected by drought. We have given to universities what was virtually a vice-chancellor’s discretionary fund, and while no doubt a lot of this information will be available to the Australian Universities Commission the Government does not want to make it a condition of the grant that a lot of this information be sought. The making available of academic results of all students who are being assisted by this grant, as sought in part 4 of the amendment, would give the universities some considerable administrative duties which I would not wish them to have.
There is no great point in accepting or rejecting the amendment moved by the Opposition but I think that it would manoeuvre the Government into having a seeming desire to supervise in detail what is an emergency and discretionary grant, and would take away the character of a discretionary fund for the vicechancellors which, in discussions with their leaders and the people with whom I have corresponded, was left as a very flexible fund. I have not any doubt that the institutions concerned will apply this money for the assistance of needy students. To that extent they are accountable to the State Auditors-General, and I would not want anything more rigid put in statutory form.
– The continued opposition to this amendment of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) and the reasons that he gives for that opposition become more far fetched the more he tries to justify the position that he takes. He has suggested that the amendment would impinge upon the discretion given to vice-chancellors. There is nothing in the amendment which in any way inhibits the vice-chancellors using the funds in any way in keeping with the general purposes of the Bill. He has suggested that the fourth point about the academic progress of students assisted by grant, loan or by any other means has nothing to do with accountability. Surely this Parliament and certainly the taxpayers have a right to know in broad terms the academic progress of students, but not individual students, who are assisted by taxpayers funds. That was the purpose of that part of the amendment. Also we hoped that funds of this kind would make it possible for students who now find it necessary to work part time, to do less part time work and more academic work and therfore to progress through the university quicker than might otherwise have been the case.
The third point I wanted to make, without detaining the Committee too long, was that whereas the Minister saw this as a proposal for one year only the Opposition saw it as something for which there would be a continuing need. Even if there were means tested living allowances for all students, I would still see emergency situations or the possibility of emergency situations arising where a fund under the discretion of vice-chancellors would have a continuing place and a continuing advantage for many students. The Minister has made it plain that that is not to be so. Consequently he has introduced a rigidity into this concept which is a pity for it detracts from the overall benefits that could have come from a measure which I had thought was far sighted.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - I call the honourable member for Chisholm.
- Mr Deputy Chairman-
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr J. L. Armitage)
Majority . . . . 14
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Staley’s amendment) stand part of the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr J. L. Armitage)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Beazley) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 14 March (vide page 554), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– I propose to move an amendment to clause 3 which reads:
After section 11 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: 11a. (1) In relation to each University specified in the Eighth Schedule there is payable, in the year that commenced on 1st January 1973, to the State in which the University is situated, for the purpose of financial assistance, the amount specified in the second column of the Eighth Schedule opposite to the name of that University.
The financial assistance to a State by way of payment of an amount under this section in relation to a University is granted on the conditions that -
the State will, without undue delay, pay that amount to the University; and
the State will ensure that the amount so paid to the University is applied by the University towards assisting students in need.
In this section, a “student” means a student enrolled at a University specified in the Eighth Schedule who is determined by that University to be experiencing hardship by reason of his financial circumstances.’.
In clause 3, proposed section 11a, at the end of sub-section (2) add the following paragraph:
the State will, as a condition of the payment to the university, require the university to report annually to the Australian Universities Commission upon the following:
the total amount provided by way of each grant, loan, or by any other means;
the number of students assisted by way of grant, loan, or by any other means;
the number of applications for assistance received, and the number rejected;
the academic progress of students assisted by way of grant, loan, or by any other means;
the average interest rates, if any, charged upon any loans made during the reporting period;
the amount of repayments due under the conditions of any loan, and the amount of repayments actually made during the reporting period; and
the sufficiency of any grant made to the university for providing assistance to students in need.’.
The arguments supporting this amendment have been made in substance in the debate on the previous Bill. We will not press the issue at this stage; we do not wish to prolong the argument.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Beazley) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 4 April (vide page 1072), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Beazley) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 1071), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition wishes to support this Bill. Commencing in 1965, the Liberal-Country Party Government introduced a scheme for the provision of unmatched grants to the States of $10m per annum for building and equipping technical colleges. In 1971 the Government increased the annual unmatched grant to $12m for each of the years ending 30th June 1972, 1973 and 1974. This was followed at the end of last year in the Liberal Prime Minister’s policy speech with a promise to increase the grant for the period ending 30th June 1974 to not less than $20m per annum which would have made a total of $48m available by way of unmatched grants to the States for building and equipping technical colleges during the present triennium. That suggests that the amount might have been marginally greater than that proposed in the Bill. But the Opposition supports the Bill. We are pleased that the Minister has acted at this stage.
– I wish to address myself briefly to this Bill. Like the previous speaker, I commend the additional $10m that the Bill makes available for technical training in the States and the fact that it is in addition to the previous Government’s program which runs until the end of June next year. One of the problems a member of the Australian Parliament has in discussing technical training is the different approaches to technical training in the States. There are a number of different points of view. One concerned with Victorian technical education could say that the great feature in that State is the very early streaming of students in Victoria into the technical stream as compared with the commercial and professional streams. One of the results of this has been that there is too heavy a load of remedial work in the technical training sphere. This has been reflected in the number of the technical schools that will benefit from these grants, particularly in the suburban areas. It is a most unsatisfactory position and one hopes that Victoria which in the past, through its Liberal Government, has shown a great lack of ability to spend the funds that are available to it in education will see that these funds are used to correct some of these situations.
Despite this previous inability to spend moneys available to it for education, the Victorian Government is offering, in its current election program, new expenditure of $72m for education. From this Bill it receives a substantial sum that can be used for furthering technical education. However I would remind honourable members that the Bill provides that if the Federal Minister finds that the finance will not be used in any State for the purposes of furthering technical education he can direct that that finance be used elsewhere. With the state of technical training in Victoria it would be a great pity if that State did not use its full allocation.
One of the areas in which this Bill allows the use of finance is the acquisition of land. In the education field in Victoria there has been a great reluctance to acquire land for the future needs of technical training - in areas where technical training will be needed. There is much evidence of the growth of population from which students will be drawn. There is ample information about the types of industries and the types of occupations that will be available to those areas. Yet in those areas money is not spent on acquiring land until the very last minute. Consequently one often sees a technical institution established on an area of land bought at a price which, if forward sight had been shown, would have paid not only for the land and the school but also for a couple of other schools as well. It is well that this Bill allows for the acquisition of land. This may cause the Victorian Government to show a more enlightened attitude and look to the future of technical training in that State.
This finance may also be used for SUPPLYING some of the essentials in technical schools. I speak particularly of the Victorian situation because its technical training is, from discussions that I have had with colleagues and from an examination of the situation in other States, somewhat different. Very few of the schools are properly equipped with gymnasia and assembly halls which are proper parts of any technical training institution. However none of these institutions seem to be short of canteens which are used as commercial fund raising enterprises to excuse the State Education Departments from supplying essential equipment and to force voluntary bodies - the parents, the school councils and others - to work and even to employ staff to raise money in a commercial way to support a sagging training system. At the outset I said that I would be brief. I am delighted that technical training in the various States will receiye this extra $10m over and above that provided in the previous Government’s program. I only hope that in the State from which I hail it will be put to much better use than it has been put in the past.
– I am pleased to support this Bill which seeks Parliament’s approval to provide an additional $10m to the States for technical training facilities. This is an extension of the policy introduced originally by a Liberal-Country Party Government in 1965. Indeed, existing legislation provides for grants totalling $36m during the triennium to 30th June 1974. Over the past 5 years there has been a growing interest in the needs of technical training in Australia. For too long technical training has been the Cinderella of education. For too long it was held that university education was the be all, the end all, the aspiration of practically every Australian parent. In this technological age we need a growing number of people trained in a wide variety of technical skills. I foresee technical colleges being called upon to play an increasingly important part in education, employment and development.
I welcome the Government’s decision to set up a commission to examine the needs of technical education and to make recommendations for financial assistance that should be provided to the States for technical education. We now have a number of commissions established by the Government to examine the needs of the various levels of education. It is to be hoped that in examining the recommendations from these various commissions the Government will consider the whole broad range of education requirements and will secure a balance in the distribution of financial assistance to the areas of need. There is a great need for a rationalisation of the use of resources for education - for example, in the rationalisation of education opportunities between the States. At present there is a wide divergence in the approaches to education as between the States and whilst diversity in opportunity is essential in this age and flexibility is a must there is, nonetheless, a great need for a co-ordinated approach in the use of finance and manpower to ensure that our resources are being spent to the best advantage to meet the changing needs of our time.
I want to devote attention to the need for the Commonwealth to assist the States in establishing pre-employment or transitional courses for young people at technical colleges, such courses to be of one year’s duration. As the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) knows, I have made representations to him on behalf of the Gunnedah Municipal Council and also the Dubbo City Council to have at the technical colleges in those towns one-year pre-employment or transitional courses for young school leavers in those towns. In a letter I received from Mr Trevallion the Town Clerk of Gunnedah, he states:
We wish to see the provision of special preemployment classes for auto-mechanics, carpentry and joinery, having in mind that boys who do obtain a suitable education level will attend at the college for a period of 6 months duringwhich time they will be trained up to a 2-year apprenticeship level.
He goes on:
You will appreciate the difficulties in catering for these boys, the estimated number within the range of 20 to 25 for each course, due to the fact that many come from low income families and will be unable to attend full time courses unless they obtain some living allowance. As you know, once they register for technical training they will no longer receive Commonwealth social service benefits. It does seem anomalous to us that they should be deprived of this allowance particularly in view of the fact that there is just no employment opportunity available for the majority of the boys concerned.
The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) replied to my representations on 19th March. He has shown a great interest in this area of need. He said:
In your letter of 2nd February you sought support for the establishment of pre-employment training courses at Gunnedah and for the payment of allowances to students in the 16 to 18-years age group who attend courses at technical colleges. I am happy to support the establishment of free pre-employment training courses as I believe they provide an effective way of imparting basic occupational skills. However, the introduction of a course at a particular centre is, you will appreciate, a State matter and I note that the Gunnedah Council is following up this question through Mr C. M. Fisher, M.L.A.
He is the member for Upper Hunter. The Minister continued:
I note also that Mr Hewitt, the Minister for Labour in New South Wales recently announced the establishment of pre-apprentice training courses of bricklaying and carpentry at a number of country and metropolitan centres. You will be interested to know that the question of assistance for persons undergoing pre-apprentice training courses was considered at a meeting I held with my State colleagues recently. Following that meeting I have asked my Department to prepare proposals for my further consideration. The payment of allowances for attendance at any technical college course to young people in the 16 to 18-years age group, who are in necessitous circumstances and who have not yet entered the work force has not been provided for under the existing Government training schemes.
The Minister for Labour has appreciated this need and has indicated his willingness to pursue it.
I suggest that the newly established commission give consideration to such a need in our changing society. The concept is not new. For instance, courses have been provided for young people in Japan wishing to learn technical skills. Other advanced nations are considering the idea at the present time. In any such program it is essential that the Commonwealth Government pay such students at least the basic wage during the 12 months course. This is essential for low income families. It is an essential incentive to attract more young people who have neither the ability nor the desire to undertake a university education, attend a college of advanced education or undertake teacher training. At the present time too many of our young people are leaving school and taking the first unskilled job available. A young person is attracted to this decision because of the relatively higher wages available to him in some of the unskilled jobs that are available on leaving school. At present students have little incentive to go to technical colleges or to enter into apprenticeships. In rural areas there is a shortage of skilled tradesmen such as motor mechanics, electronic engineers, carpenters and joiners and plumbers. If regional development throughout Australia is to get off the ground we will need hundreds more of such technically trained people. Therefore 2 considerations are paramount. The first is that incentive is necessaryto attract more young people into these trades, and the second is that the Commonwealth will have to provide the funds for such training.
I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 12 April (vide page 1411), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the House take note of the following paper:
– The Treasurer (Mr Crean) has returned from the meeting of the Committee of Twenty of the International Monetary Fund held in London last month. The IMF is based on Washington but this meeting was held in London. The Treasurer made a statement to the House and I now reply to that statement. It was largely a factual account of the discussions on reform of world monetary system. Obviously the ground covered was broad and several points need to be made. The first is that there has been a growth in acceptance of floating currency rates as against the traditional IMF stance insisting on stable par values adjustable only in cases of fundamental disequilbrium. The United States dollar was in fact in post World War II the crucial element in this stability.
The United States dollar became the major international currency. Most nations official exchange rates were expressed in terms of United States dollars and it was the major international reserve currency. Since August 1971, however, the United States dollar has not been convertible into gold, although remaining readily convertible into other currency for payments and transfers. The problem the world faces - this forms the basis of the second point to be made - is that the world is facing a continuing surplus of dollars.
The Committee met at a time when the United States dollar was under strong pressure. The Treasurer has judged the United States actions as significant. But as yet it cannot be known whether these actions can be judged sufficient if there is continued monetary expansion in that country and the pressures on the dollar continue. Before I refer further to the surplus of dollars, mention should be made of the need for the balance of payments process to function in a better manner. This I note the Committee of Twenty saw as a necessary development.
One mechanism about which there was a great deal of discussion is ‘objective indicators’. It is said by some that this would help the process, but there must be doubt about how much this discussion means and whether such a process is real. It is understandable that there should be a search for stability that the IMF once ensured. It is argued that ‘objective indicators’ will provide the stable indices to trigger off an automatic parity change. In fact a floating exchange rate would suffice in most cases. If there were to be a lag between the indicator being observed and the exchange rate being adjusted - as I believe there inevitably would be - I feel that the speculator could step into this lag period, and make a ‘killing’ and force bigger movements, bigger changes than would otherwise be necessary, and even bigger changes than have occurred by international monetary speculation which has been so common over the last couple of years. It is because of this factor that the proposal is pitched in terms of automatic parity change. But what country would accept that this fundamental of economic management should be determined by formula solely. Would the Australian Labor Government agree to this?
In regard to funding the ‘overhang’ or the excess’ holding of United States dollars in the Committee’s statement, the mechanism by which this is to be done is not disclosed. The Treasurer has recognised the dangers, but I hope that the full terms of any such proposal are disclosed before further consideration is given to ‘them and certainly before the Australian Government were to express a willingness to accept them. I ask the Treasurer to undertake to do so. The concept of primary reserve assets entering and leaving the United States can be regarded as a form of discipline against the United States. This is technically called the reserve assets scheme, but whatever one calls it it needs the country to discipline itself.
Of course the use of statutory drawing rights may be the alternative. The SDR could be elevated into a pre-eminent position and if countries refuse to exchange dollars for this or other assets, then alternative assets will need to be made more attractive. For instance, SDR interest rates could be increased. As I stated in the past, you cannot make SDR work by decree and this notion is reinforced when countries complain about a dollar problem but do not take the opportunity to convert their dollars into other asset forms including the special drawing right. The implication is clear - there are no satisfactory assets at present into which it is possible to switch. Australia has a very large holding of United States dollars, which has risen strongly. In February 1973 they represented 45 per cent of Australian total official reserve assets, and this is a problem which must be borne in mind. We are very much interested in the mechanism by which these so called excess’ holdings of US dollars are to be managed, and if they are to be exchanged for some other asset value. This is a problem to be resolved, not merely for us but for many countries.
However, as I have said before, the international monetary system must not be conceived as an end in itself. The ultimate aim is to facilitate the flow of international trade and commerce. This is important when countries with chronic balance of payments deficits try to place countries like Australia with surplus balance of payments at a disadvantage in terms of trading relations with one another. This has particular relevance to Australia at a time when the United States and Japan, each with different balance of payments problems, are seeking a special relationship with the European Economic Community. I have argued the general case before the International Monetary Fund, but we want a world monetary system which is fair to all parties, not a system that would place in the hands of an international organisation a power of direction which would weaken legitimate national interests.
Up to this stage I have dealt with Australian vis-a-vis the international monetary system and its effect on overseas trade. I want to deal with the questions of foreign exchange control, but before I do so I should like to say I believe that in relation to the reform of the international monetary system the Treasurer will have attitudes which are not very different from the views which I put as Treasurer. I would hope, and I think it likely, that in relation to this the overriding attitude of the Treasurer, like that of myself, will be that we must put forward as vigorously as possible, without any inhibitions and not permitting any obstacles, the expression of our own national interest. But of course, in putting forward our own national interest, we cannot expect that other countries will agree to formulate a system which suits Australia. It will have to be a system which suits all countries, and therefore there will need to be for us periods of give and periods of take. I think the Treasurer will recognise that I stand very strongly for Australia expressing its independent view, and it will not weaken the independent view which we express simply because there will be times when the view we are expressing is precisely that of a powerful ally. We are not to be thought in any way subservient to that powerful ally because we are saying the same thing, because there will be other occasions on which we will be saying the very opposite.
– You are not antagonistic if you say it.
– You are not antagonistic if you say the opposite. We will be saying the opposite on occasions. On an issue such as whether trade should accompany international monetary reform, of course, we will take the same attitude, for instance, as the United States, which wants to break down trade barriers to get access to trading blocks, etc. So we ought not to be reluctant to side with countries on the basis that we may be thought to be subservient to them, and we must not be reluctant to be in total opposition to the view of a powerful country when our national interest is not the same as theirs.
I shall now lastly deal with the question of foreign exchange control. I am afraid that the bipartisanship I have been expressing - and the Treasurer has been giving me clear indications across the table that he shares the bipartisanship - now disappears. I deal now with the question of foreign exchange control and parity of the dollar. To the man in the street these most directly affect what is happening in the domestic economy. Australian controls of foreign exchange are vested in the Reserve Bank and the official exchange rate is fixed accordingly in line with the government policy. The Labor Government’s excursion into international monetary matters has seen 2 changes in the value of the Australian dollar. Let us review the background.
Last year this country had a substantial trade surplus consequent upon stable import levels and a sharp rise in exports. The import situation reflected a shakeout which had occurred in Australia in that there had been lower importation of producers materials and capital equipment and high levels of imports pf finished goods. The export situation was largely due to the jump in world prices for some of the major rural commodities, notably meat and wool. The combination of these factors resulted in a balance of payments surplus of $ 1,669m, which added to our official reserve assets but provided no benefit in the supply of extra goods and services within Australia. This was not necessarily a situation for adjustment of the foreign currency rate even though it was a position we knew was not benefiting us. The previous LiberalCountry Party Government had recognised the problems and taken appropriate steps to resolve the position in such a manner as to avoid adding to inflationary pressures stemming largely from wage cost forces. These measures included removal of controls on banks to increase the availability of domestic finance and other measures.
In December 1972 the new Government flexed its economic muscles and revalued the Australian dollar effectively by 7.05 per cent. More was to come on 23rd December 1972. Control on overseas borrowing was further tightened with the imposition of a variable deposit requirement which increased the interest burden by one third. The issue of restriction in overseas borrowing lies not only in its economic application but in its excuse for certain members of the Government to display their xenophobia for all foreign capital. The Treasurer himself shows a remarkable ambivalent attitude. One moment he is preaching international co-operation in the very best Sunday school master manner, and the next moment he cautiously states the fact that any monetary system of the future will need to pay due attention to the sovereignty of national government. We know that the honourable gentleman’s economics stop somewhere in the 1930s, but it is the very fact that there is an international economic machinery and that there is a better understanding of the underlying forces than there was in 1930 that the currency troubles have not generated a severe crisis in world trade and employment.
As I said to the board of governors of the IMF last year, clearly no country can have a monetary system which is of its own unilateral design. The saga of the foreign exchange control continued with the devaluation of the United States dollar on 12th February 1973. Like Horatio, the Treasurer stood firm and by default our currency bounced upwards in the sea of floating currencies. Compared with the pre-December revaluation situation, Australia’s currency was now appreciated by 19.6 per cent against the United States dollar; 12.7 per cent against Sterling; and 5 per cent against Japan and Germany. It would be difficult to sustain any argument for any appreciation of any kind against the competitive economics of Japan and West Germany. As an act of self-flagellation it has few comparisons.
However, I suppose our gallant Treasurer swaggered off to the Committee of Twenty feeling very much the economic Titan. He has come back with a policyless statement, and presumably to help the more somnolent members on his own back-bench, a glossary of terms One of these terms is ‘fundamental disequilibrium’ - not well denned but one which the Treasurer should re-examine if he feels that our economic ills can be all resolved by fiddling the foreign exchange button. A spending spree is about to take place in the Labour Party and there is no concern for the ‘cost-push’ spiral. Everyone knows that devaluation tends to reinforce inflation and set a new and higher plateau of domestic costs. The Government must have regard to the real threat of inflation that exists in Australia today, and about which it shows no realism in its approach to it. The next time the Treasurer visits the Committee of Twenty, let us hope that the Australian economy is not cracking and he is not shuffling shame facedly into the Committee bearing what remains of a once stable Australian economy.
– Order! The right honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– In referring to the statement by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) relating to the international monetary system. I should like to congratulate him on his lucid and most informative account of the state of the batting in the discussions in the Committee of Twenty on reform of the international monetary system. The contrast he draws between the problems of the 1930s, especially the competitive exchange depreciations of that period, and the problems of the 1970s, especially - to use his felicitous phrase - the tendency to competitive non-revaluation, is most apposite. In the latter part of his speech he reports on the broad conclusions reached by the Committee of Twenty, and as one interested for a long time in these problems I find these conclusions extremely heartening.
I strongly support - and urge the Government so to do - the broad drift of the Committee’s view. I will refer to 4 points. First, the reformed exchange rate system should remain based on stable par values but with a greater measure of flexibility than in recent years. Second, the question of ‘disequilibrating capital flows’ - and the related problem of bringing about a ‘convertibility’ obligation on the part of the United States and the United States dollar, to which I might say the United States, as I understand it, is by no means averse - is of key importance.
What is involved here is the devising of a scheme to fund or demonetise - as I put it in an earlier speech in this House - those swags of excess United States dollars now ‘sloshing around’ in the foreign exchange markets of the world and poised, per medium of the Euro-dollar market and the operations of the multi-national companies, to flood in this direction and that whenever the betting is good for up-valuation of a currency. With a devaluation, actual or relative, of the United States dollar imminent in early February last, the central banks of Europe and Japan - as the Treasurer records in his statement - absorbed no less than $US9 billion in the first 9 days of February. To get that sum in perspective our own total of official foreign money reserves was of the order of $5 billion at its peak in December last. It is now nearer $4 billion. In fact the sums footloose in the world today to indulge in these one-way bets is vastly greater than $9 billion or so. Some have put it as high as $100 billion. Be that as it may, there can be no sound international monetary system until this vast de-stabilising element is neutralised - hopefully, by funding into longer-term United States bonds or other assets, not necessarily American, encouraged by sufficiently attractive terms.
The Treasurer refers to his insistence at the meeting on ‘voluntary participation’ in this process by the holders ‘for whom these dollars represent not an “overhang” but actual reserves’. I have no quarrel with the necessity for voluntarism and hence my reference to sufficiently attractive terms. But for a man professing a concern for reforms of the system, the Treasurer’s statement is a bit carping. The essence of the matter is precisely that many countries, including Australia, do have holdings which are - and the Treasurer used the word a few sentences back in his account - excess’ to their reasonable requirements for national reserves. In our own case, as recently as the beginning of 1971, our total reserves stood at $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion - contrast the $4 billion now, and I am using the word billion in the American sense of 1,000 million - and that, at about half a year’s purchase of imports, was pretty favourable by the standards of earlier years. There can be no doubt that we do have a surplus which, while small in the overall scheme of things, is a component of the so-called ‘overhang’, and the Treasurer cannot blink that.
It is perhaps worth noting in passing that within our total reserves there are some $US2 billion, as the Treasurer himself stressed recently in an address to an AmericanAustralian Association luncheon in New York. And as he added: *We have been very firm holders of dollars’. Very good chaps, us. I am, of course, aware of the background of this large holding and, as the Treasurer told his hosts after referring to the risks in this holding in the light of the 2 recent devaluations of the dollar:
But then we have been holding United States dollars for decades - sometimes at very attractive rates. 1 find the Treasurer’s stance acceptable but somewhat in contrast with that of his colleague the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor).
– The hillbillies.
– As my colleague says, the hillbillies. I was about to say that I can scarcely refrain from wondering whether that latter gentleman would characterise the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Government, as he did the businessmen who negotiated our export mineral contracts, as ‘hillbillies’?
The other main elements of the Committee’s view were, third, that the SDR - Special Drawing Rights - should become the principal reserve asset of a reformed system. I have advocated this in a previous speech in this House and I return to the theme in my concluding remarks, and fourth, that it is essential that there be a better working of the balance of payments adjustment process, as the statement stresses, by surplus as well as by deficit countries. Of course, the United States of America is the archtype of the sluggish deficit adjuster and Japan of the sluggish surplus adjuster. In this connection the Treasurer, I might say, preens himself both in this statement and in other speeches on Australia’s unilateral revaluation of the currency on 23rd December last and the effective revaluation of 12th February. ‘I told them, both in Washington and New York,’ he says about this, no doubt basking in the approbation of his hosts - one might point out that they were self-interested - like a schoolboy receiving a school-masterly pat on the head. But what a misguided exercise of Australian independence and national pride.
I can recall the Treasurer rebuking an honourable member - in fact several honourable members - on this side of the House for not taking pride in the movement of the Australian dollar in the recent past, specifically the appreciation of the Australian dollar against just about everything - even fractionally the yen. But this is not a context for national pride. That was the bane of England with the Churchillian return to the gold standard in 1926. National pride, which resists both an appreciation, for fear inter alia of giving something away, and a depreciation, for fear of losing prestige - ‘going down’ as the newspapers say - is at loggerheads with the objective of a better balance of payments adjustment process, to which the Treasurer referred. And what posturing we have seen. Far be it from me ever to sell this country short, but look at the position. The Treasurer himself refers to a payments deficit by the United States of around SUS30 billion in 1971 - the actual trade deficit was less than that - and the Japanese surplus, the major counterpart of the United States deficit, was of the order of §6 billion. What of our puny current account surplus in that league? At its peak in the recent December half-year it was at an annual rate of the order of $0.6 billion.
Not national pride but our reasonable national commercial advantage should be the guide in these matters. I am not urging that there should have been no revaluation in the first quarter of this year, but I do urge, as I have in my previous speech on this subject, that, taking account of our position in the world league, a proper regard for our national interests would have counselled a prudent Australian Government against reducing our options by the unilateral revaluation of the exchange rate on 23 December last, an action appropriately and rightly described in the current issue of the ‘Economist’ as a ‘political gambit’ and counselled against the magnitude - it is too large - of the up-valuation which we have, so to speak, been led into. Of course, the current value of the Australian dollar is great for travellers and ever so timely for the junketing, or should I say overseas trips, of many members of the front bench opposite. I was privileged to travel extensively abroad in 1971. In the first part of that year I was getting about $US1.10 for my $A1. So honourable members can see that I am consumed with envy for the traveller today getting SUS1.42 for his $A1. But the situation for our exporters, especially of manufactures, is hardly such a happy one.
The fourth point refers to the Special Drawing Right as a reserve asset. I wish there were time for me to review the history of the emergence of the SDR in greater detail than was possible for the Treasurer in his nevertheless very complete and very interesting statement, including the appendices supplied therewith. I believe that the devising and development of the SDR must be acknowledged as an outstanding chapter in international financial co-operation. It began at the extended meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1967 at which, if I recall correctly, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) was head of the Australian delegation. The first SDRs were created on 1st January 1970. I stress the word ‘created’. This arrangement of Special Drawing Rights is not a cloak cup- board affair like the ordinary drawing rights of the Fund where no more comes out than is put in. The SDR is a near-unconditional reserve asset created by the Fund and in that way is indeed, to quote the Treasurer, ‘a contribution’ - I would say a contribution potentially of the very greatest importance - to better international management of liquidity’.
But the Special Drawing Right is still something of a tender plant. So in conclusion I put this to the Government: If the Government is serious in its concern for the development of a sound international monetary system, Australia should at a suitable opportunity follow the recent lead of West Germany and express the parity of its currency in SDRs as an earnest of its support for fundamental reform of the international monetary system. The parity would be of the order of $A1 to 1.16 SDR. That is the enlightened, albeit difficult and complex, path we and the world should follow along of course with appropriate trade policies and programs for the accelerated economic development of the developing world.
– I would like to begin my speech by likewise congratulating the Treasurer (Mr Crean) on his account of and participation in these important events. I would like to say, however, that my praise ends there - and this has nothing to do with the Treasurer himself. I refer to the inherent lack of progress in the affairs of the 21 countries. The statement which was supplied to us by the Treasurer is a papering over of the deficiencies of the ministers and those who are fundamentally concerned.
I would like to point to what I regard as another very unsatisfactory development. I refer to the sudden retirement of Mr Schweitzer, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Mr Schweitzer has made an outstanding contribution to the world. He is a first class man. In fact, he is one of those rare examples of a really first class Frenchman who has a perfectly international mind. The Australian Government in other respects has made a good deal of criticism of America, most of which is very ill-placed. But it is an open secret that it was the Americans who forced the resignation of Mr Schweitzer. Normally he would have been reappointed for another 5 years to continue the very significant and important leadership that he has given already. I believe that this is an important matter for Australia. We should observe, note and deplore the fact that Mr Schweitzer has virtually been pushed out by United States pressure. Apart from anything else, this resignation leaves a very serious gap in the proceedings. Also, it will be difficult to find a successor. I should add that Mr Frank Southern, Mr Schweitzer’s very able and experienced deputy managing director, also has resigned. I have known Mr Southern very well for years. I do not know the circumstances of his resignation but I can well visualise that Mr Southern was disgusted at the treatment which his own countrymen extended to Mr Schweitzer and he has resigned as his silent, effective and only way of expressing openly his disgust at this action. The fact that these 2 key figures have been removed from the scene I regard as most unfortunate.
I will not detain the House by putting forward everything I had intended to say. Apart from the lack of inherent progress I think this is very unsatisfactory and I hope that the Treasurer and Australia generally will give particular support to obtaining another first class head of the International Monetary Fund. It is all very well to have this committee of twenty-one. The establishment of this committee is, of course, temporarily taking it out of the hands of the experts and putting it into the hands of great authority, thus passing from the realm of greater knowledge to that of greater power. This in itself has not apparently improved the situation.
I would like to say that we now have 2 fundamental requirements. One is a new stable convertible currency as the basis for our reserves and those of other countries, acting as the lynch pin of the whole system. The other is a more satisfactory mechanism for establishing the exchange value between individual currencies. These are fundamental requirements; they are 2 points in which we need to have progress. This brings me very much to what the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) was talking about in his remarks on Special Deposit Receipts. I join in his remarks as one who also has participated internationally in creating these and supporting them in the past. But Australia needs to look at this development very carefully. I certainly supported this arrangement in the days when Australia’s position was that of a debtor liable to get into balance of payments difficulties. Added to our reserves, this arrangement gave us an extra cushion. But it is now suggested in the communique which the Treasurer circulated that the Special Deposit Receipts should become the principal reserve asset of a new reformed system. Australia needs to look at this development very carefully because we have moved into a position, and we will probably continue in this position unless we mismanage our affairs too badly, of being among the creditor and strong countries. The danger to us in the ultimate development of SDRs is that as one of the major SDR countries we could well in fact be called upon to provide real resources to finance the rest of the world, particularly the rest of the world which does not manage its affairs as well as we do and which gets into balance of payments troubles.
At times pressure will be put on us to be a good fellow for the sake of the rest of the world and so forth. All of these kinds of pressures will develop. In hard terms the prospect is that Australia will be called upon to provide real resources through this means to The rest of the world. In fact, we have done this for quite some time, as I am sure the Treasurer will recognise. What should originally have been a source of strength must now be something that we have to attend to very carefully. Whether it is possible to create gradually over a period of years a new synthetic reserve of this kind remains to be seen. We certainly do need a basic currency unit and we must play our part internationally towards getting it. Many new and different proposals are being put forward. One of them was put forward by the Professor of Economics at Harvard in his Jacobsen lecture the other day. He suggested for instance that there might be something to be said for keeping, as one has to, the old idea that each country should determine or initiate changes in the par value of its currency. Both the United Kingdom and the United States of America have been very sluggish in doing this. That has resulted in currency crisis dragging on. In the end they had to devalue their currency and disturb the rest of the world.
This mechanism, he suggests, might be that the fundamental par value would be determined by individual countries on their own initiation and their discussion with the International Monetary Fund but the margins which are now allowed and have been permitted to expand might expand each side of the par rate. But these finer adjustments, the finer tuning as he called them, instead of being left to individual countries would be left to the International Monetary Fund which could quite easily take a more objective overall view of the situation. It might be responsible for the fine tuning of balancing one movement against another. This, of course, would involve some sacrifice of sovereignty. But we have to be flexible. We have to examine all these proposals now coming forward. I hope and I think it would be the desire of the Treasurer to keep us all very carefully informed. Admittedly, when this House has discussed exchange movements it has not in the past distinguished itself. Such discussions consist mostly of rival members of the House screaming loudly at each other from the depths of their constituents’ pockets.
In the future, with a greater understanding of these matters, this situation could improve. 1 ask the Treasurer to keep us continuously informed. I hope he will enlighten us as to the changes that have taken place in the personnel of the International Monetary Fund, and if he has a position on that it would be interesting for us all to know it. I imagine when we do know it, we will come to the same conclusion as he has. But it is important that all members of this House and the public should be informed of the movements which are taking place as soon as the Treasurer can possibly inform us. Finally, I should like again to congratulate the Treasurer on his part in these matters.
– With deference to the House I state that this debate will be brought on again as I know that a number of honourable members are interested in speaking on this matter.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff to implement the Government’s acceptance of the Tariff Board’s recommendations on agricultural tractors and cherries. The changes operate from tomorrow. In its report on agricultural tractors the Tariff Board recommended assistance be accorded to the Australian manufacturing industry by means of a bounty payable on the production and sale of agricultural wheeled tractors having a power of 15 kilowatts or more at the power take-off. This recommendation has been accepted by the Government and will take effect from 4th May 1973. The Tariff Board has also recommended changes in the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966-1972 and legislation will be introduced during the present session of Parliament to implement these recommendations.
Honourable members are aware that the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1973 is currently before the House. The intention of that Bill is to extend the operation of the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966-1972 until 30th June 1973, or such earlier date as may be fixed by proclamation, to allow the Government to receive and consider the Tariff Board report on agricultural tractors. As the Government has now considered the report and accepted the Board’s recommendations in relation to bounty I will be shortly asking the House to agree to discharging that Bill.
The Tariff Board in its report recommended that agricultural wheeled tractors having a power of 15 kilowatts or more, and derivatives of those tractors, be admitted free of duty. To comply with commitments to the New Zealand Government on preference tariff arrangements it is necessary for goods from countries other than New Zealand to be made dutiable at a rate of 5 per cent. Consultations will be held with the New Zealand Government to ascertain if they have an active trade interest and in the interim all imports of these goods will be admitted free of duty. On agricultural wheeled tractors having a power between 7.46 and 15 kilowatts the Board’s recommendations have been accepted and the duty rate is to be increased from 71 per cent to 30 per cent. The Board recommended that existing duties be maintained on the remaining goods covered by the Board’s report, including derivatives of agricultural wheeled tractors incorporated in or forming part of loading or excavation machinery, such as front end loaders or back hoes.
I turn now to the Tariff Board’s report on cherries. The Board recommended that existing duties be maintained on fresh cherries. On brined cherries the Board recommended a duty of 30 per cent to be phased out over 3 years. On drained cherries the Board recommended a duty of 65 per cent to be reduced progressively over 4 years to 40 per cent. The
Board stated that the duties of 30 per cent on brined cherries and 65 per cent on drained cherries, that is the rates which will operate from tomorrow, approximate the current temporary duties. The Board based its recommendations for the gradual lowering of duties on a number of measures, which if implemented would result in considerable cost savings in the industry and allow the industry to operate at the proposed lower duty levels.
The Government has accepted the Tariff Board’s report but has decided to establish a Government-Industry Panel to examine the practicability of the measures suggested by the Board and the industry’s capacity to implement them fully and to assist the industry in accomplishing the changes involved. The panel will report to the Government prior to the first scheduled duty reduction. Honourable members will notice that the Board’s recommended ad valorem rate for brined cherries has been qualified by the inclusion of an alternative rate of 13 cents per kilogram, if lower than the ad valorem rates. This was necessary to avoid a possible breach of Australia’s international commitments. A comprehensive summary of the changes and duty rates is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– I present the following reports of the Tariff Board:
Agricultural tractors; and
Ordered that the reports be printed.
STATES GRANTS (TECHNICAL TRAINING) BILL 1973
Debate resumed (vide page 1706).
– Before the suspension of the setting I was stressing upon the Government the need to establish one year pre-employment courses or transitionary courses in our technical colleges. I pointed to the need for the Government to pay at least the basic wage for such students in the first year as an incentive to young people to learn a trade. At present too many of our young people are leaving school and taking the first unskilled job available. They are attracted to those jobs because of the high wages offering to young people in unskilled areas. Each year approximately 130,000 young people leave school and it is estimated that about 10,000 of those students could be encouraged to enter technical colleges under the scheme to which I have referred. If this were so such a scheme would probably cost the Commonwealth Government in the vicinity of S5m in a full year. I believe that this is not an excessive cost; rather it is a wise investment by both the Government and society generally. It will enable more of our young people to move into meaningful and productive employment in our community.
Such transitional classes could include courses in industrial relations, management, trade union administration and a whole range of other courses. It could help educate our young people in such areas of industrial relations informing them of their rights under the laws and their obligations under the laws. It could help to improve industrial relations in the long term thus creating a better climate in industrial relations, a better understanding, and ultimately perhaps a higher level of productivity in industry. We are now living in a fast changing society where better formal education facilities are available at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. However, due to inadequate incentives in technical education there is a considerable wastage of talents and resources in some school leavers who could be attracted into this area. Young people who cannot enter university or a college of advanced education, young people who drift, often aimlessly, into unrewarding activities often’ become frustrated because of a lack of job satisfaction. There are young people who are often referred to as drop-outs, which is a cruel term. If there are drop-outs in our society then society itself is not really living up to its responsibility to help them.
We owe it to society to give every child a chance within the limits of his ability to make the most of what facilities are available to perhaps the greater portion of the community. Of course, there are always minority groups coming from low income families and families that perhaps do not place sufficient emphasis on education. These people suffer in society today. I am sure that the technical colleges should be geared financially and physically to help a section of our young people.
The pre-employment or the one year transitional course offers this opportunity and this incentive to a group of young people. I hope that the Government, and especially the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), will see fit to give this matter very serious consideration. It would be a very worthwhile area for the new commission to move into. In fact I think the Minister has it in mind that the proposed commission study this area of need in the technical education system.
– It is essential for people to approach the commission.
– As the Minister has said, and I have no doubt he will say it again later, it is essential for people to approach the commission and to produce evidence that there is a need for this sort of system in our technical colleges.
– This Bill seeks authority for the Government to provide an additional $10m for the provision of technical training facilities until 30th June 1974. The existing legislation provides for grants totalling $36m and the purpose of this Bill is to increase that amount by a further $10ra. This sum is mainly to provide for vocational training in various skills required in the Australian workforce. The Government is determined that technical and further education should receive the same consideration as is given to other areas of education. It has decided therefore to establish a commission which will examine the needs of technical and further education, and make recommendations to the Government for financial assistance. This commission will be established as soon as possible and the assistance for technical and further education will be granted after 30th June 1974. The Government wishes to ensure that the additional capital provided is spent on work of an urgent nature and that such work will not be delayed until after 1974. This Bill to provide supplementary grants totalling $10m is an interim measure intended to raise the level of assistance available.
When the Australian Education Council was requested to forward details of the requirements of technical training in Australia it suggested that an amount of $14m was needed. This Government came up with an amount of $10m but it is clear that each State has a capital development program which is lagging behind this schedule. The common problem was that rising building costs were not matched by funds available for technical college buildings, furnishings and equipment. Caught in that situation, each State has been forced to defer building projects. The actual amount spent during 1971-72 was just under $7.5m and the estimate for 1972-73 is just under §13m. An amount of $36m has been provided for this specific grant, and it is envisaged that $20m of this will be spent. We are now proposing in this Bill to give an extra $10m. I cannot imagine a State government which is fair saying that the Commonwealth is not providing adequate funds for this. Tonight the Opposition has agreed with the proposal. It is not opposing this Bill and will join with honourable members on this side of the House in supporting it. The present program is intended to assist the States. It is providing buildings and equipment for the training of young men and women undertaking trade and certificate courses in technical colleges, trade colleges and agricultural colleges, and taking part in rural training schemes.
Although in the past the grants have not been used for land and buildings, in this case they will be. The Commonwealth is providing an additional $10m for facilities for technical training. Technical training has great importance for Australia. Much has been said about the training received at pre-school, at primary and secondary levels and at universities. Australia is a young nation. Our progress since World War II has been by no means extraordinary. Recent discoveries and developments indicate that progress in the immediate future is likely to be greater. I have in mind the development of great sources of power, and the discovery of oil and extensive mineral deposits. Methods of agriculture have been improved. Vast areas of previously undeveloped land have been cultivated. AH these factors confirm that Australia is destined to play an important international part in the future, especially in the industrial sphere. Tremendous technological development can be achieved by Australia only with a work force that is adequate in numbers and efficiency for the task ahead. Immigration cannot for much longer be expected to supply great numbers of professional, technical and skilled workers necessary in these fields. Our own educational institutions must provide the necessary training.
The Commonwealth is providing money to increase the technological studies of all students attending technical and agricultural colleges. The aim is to encourage people of all ages, but particularly young people, to receive training that will fit them for present and future demands and opportunities. It is also desired to give parents a full understanding of the reasons why their children need a higher level of training than has been required in the past so that they will provide encouragement for their families to become more highly qualified. We must emphasise to employers that it is vital to their own interests to support the development of training facilities, not only in schools but also in their own establishments in order to meet the rapidly rising needs for skilled personnel. The community must be persuaded of the national importance of giving vigorous support to the provision of substantially increased facilities for technical education and training.
The aim of this legislation is to facilitate in co-operation with the States the provision of buildings and non-consumable equipment for technical training institutions. It is hoped to complete the scheme by 30 June 1974. The benefits to be derived are substantial. There will be unmatched special purpose grants to the States to provide the facilities for postsecondary non-tertiary training courses in trade schools, technical and agricultural colleges and rural training schools until 30th June 1974. An amount of $70 has been provided. The States Grants (Technical Training) Act provides $36m during the period from 1970 to 1974. The purpose of this legislation is to provide an additional $10m in the balance of the period.
The Government has also established a technical education committee which will be functioning by 1974. The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), who is at the table, must be proud of this measure. On 29th April 1971 in a debate on similar legislation, in his then role of shadow Minister for Education, he said:
I am afraid that Australia needs much greater expenditure and effort directed to technical education to give to the Australian labour force the skill and flexibility it requires.
Tonight we are taking the first step forward by a grant of an additional $10m to the States for that purpose. I agree wholeheartedly with the Bill and I hope that it will pass through all stages unchallenged.
– It is not my wish to delay the business of the House for any great period of time, but I wish to mention one or two points in connection with the States Grants (Technical Training) Bill 1973. The importance of technical training as part of our educational system must be fully appreciated if we are to avoid having too many of our students being forced, because of lack of adequate technical facilities, into a university when their qualifications and inclinations are for an alternative career. The comparative neglect of technical education stems partly from the higher prestige accorded to academic studies and partly from a persistent belief that utilitarian schools cannot be intellectually respectable. Or as Sir Mark Oliphant said: There is a growing snobbery developing about education in Australia’.
This Bill provides for an additional $ 10m to the sum of $36m already made available by the previous Government. It is absolutely essential that new buildings and equipment be provided, not only to replace old facilities but also to establish new schools in areas where technical facilities are not at present available. The Mallee electorate covers about onequarter of Victoria. Its constituents, who are evenly distributed throughout the electorate, have only 3 technical schools. One of those schools, at Irymple near Mildura, exists only because of the foresight and work of individual teachers and committees established by local grower co-operatives which provided finance in the early stages of the school’s development.
The purchase of additional land by existing technical schools and for new complexes has become a real problem, not only in city areas but also in rural regions. The amendment to the principal Act to allow for this purpose is to be commended. I appreciate that this Bill is purely an interim measure. I realise that a significant increase has occurred every year in the realisation of the importance of technical education. However, it is still a poor relation in the education system. The pressures on the universities today have become especially intense, pardy because of the natural desire of young people to proceed to higher levels of education in the interests of their own development and partly from a valid conviction that a university degree is a passport to a highly paid occupation and first rate career prospects in the longer term. I believe that recently there has “been a turnabout and today technical education is in real demand.
However, technical education extension has not kept pace with the demand or with the changes that are taking place in industry, and in particular with, the urgent need for more and better trained technicians. There are today exciting openings in most areas of industry, both public and private. There are tremendous opportunities for skilled technicians in many areas of research in this country with good salary prospects and occupations that will be much more rewarding than finishing a routine university degree. I and the Australian Country Party support this Bill because we believe that the future development of Australia and the development of many of our young people relies heavily on a rapid expansion of technical facilities.
– Australia’s future economic, political and cultural development will depend very heavily on its capacity to provide adequate technical education. The capacity to produce goods and services for the benefit of the Australian people will be determined by our capacity to train workers to perform the necessary tasks involved. Economic development will not occur on its own. The provision of capital equipment, no matter how sophisticated or highly developed it may be, will not achieve production without the co-operation of skilled technicians. Oyer recent years emphasis appears to have been placed on tertiary education to the exclusion of many areas of technical training. This emphasis has been given in a situation where the total funds spent on education and training has been inadequate and inappropriate for future needs. It is not my claim that any funds spent on other spheres of education should have been diverted into the area of technical education but it is an inescapable fact that too little attention has been given to the whole question of education. Regrettably, the neglect of education during one period cannot be corrected or the results of it rectified in a later one. Opportunities for education and training which are ignored are lost and never present themselves again. A year lost in training is never regained for the individual who lost it.
Each year in Australia we have the spectacle of young men and women who leave school suffering the frustration of not being able to follow their chosen careers because of difficulties of being admitted to the system of trade training. The system of trade apprenticeship places very heavy responsibilities on employers and the relevant trade unions. It is most unfortunate that there is not more consultation and co-operation between a wider number of companies and trade unions on the subject of technical training. In some industries the present level of co-operation is excellent and leaves very little to be desired. In other industries there is an apparent reluctance by many employers to accept their share of the responsibility to assist in training skilled workers for their own future needs. Some companies are adopting a quite irresponsible attitude to this subject. Such organisations appear to have the view that the community has a responsibility to bear the cost of training workers in the skills required in thenown industries. The same companies, of course, strongly assert their right to act without regard to community interests in respect of the prices charged for goods and services produced by them. Companies which refuse to train apprentices in trades or refuse to have on the job training schemes in various occupational groupings are acting contrary to the national interest.
The demand for technical education has been increasing at a rapid rate over a number of years. The report of the survey of needs for technical education in New South Wales between the years 1971 and 1975 which was published in August 1971 showed the growth in demand of technical education in that State. For example, in 1920 one person in every 200 was enrolled in a New South Wales technical college. By 1963 the rate was one person in every 53 and by 1970 it was one in every 30 who was enrolled in a technical college in that State. This rapid growth in demand has placed a strain upon the resources and available facilities of technical colleges. There is no reason to suggest that there will be any reduction in the demand for courses of technical training. Indeed, I believe the opposite will be the case. As technological development continues at a rapid rate the demands of industry for skilled technicians is certain to be maintained.
The real difficulty in our modern industrial society is directly related to ethical values. As technology is developed to replace existing methods of performing work we find the displacement of the needs for old skills and the growth of demand for new and different skills or skills of a higher level. Different considerations are involved in the needs of training school leavers as compared to the training of adults whose skills have been displaced. The common mistake made over a number of years has been to expect a man in his middle age to respond to the same training methods as those used in the schemes for training school leavers. The attitude of older workers is quite different and they need special consideration.
The training of the Australian work force is a most important consideration. The rate of technological development is governed by the supply of skilled technicians available to utilise the new technology. Neglect and indifference to future needs have been regrettable features of the attitude of previous governments. True, the previous Government established a committee following a national seminar on the subject in May 1971 and I sincerely hope that this committee will continue its worthwhile work. But technical training has been traditionally a function undertaken by the States. It would be quite impractical to alter that responsibility. At the same time, it must be remembered that economic planning is a matter for this Parliament. It therefore is a Federal responsibility to ensure that the technical training facilities provided by each of the States are adequate for the present and future national needs. I emphasise particularly ‘the future national needs’.
The time has passed forever when Australia could afford the wasteful practice of having each State act in a disjointed way in the field of technical education. There is now an urgent need for co-ordinated planning of technical education facilities on a nationwide basis. We need to be able to forecast with accuracy the projected needs for particular skills in the future. It is fundamentally wrong in principle to spend public funds in training young men and women for jobs which will not be required in the foreseeable future. It is quite unethical to encourage young people to sacrifice their time, to undertake expense and to subject themselves to the rigours of disciplined study to acquire skills for which there will be no need in the foreseeable future. It is bordering on immorality to encourage people to spend their funds and energy in useless pursuits. The disappointment and frustration of those who have been adversely affected in this way is very considerable. It also means that persons who have spent time on study find that the economic rewards promised do not materialise. Such experiences can and should be avoided. We should not encourage people to train for jobs which will be redundant. We should avoid predictable redundancy.
Another consideration for this Parliament is to ensure that technical training is available in those areas where it is hoped to achieve decentralised development. For example, there are many rural towns in Australia where there is no public institution where the skills of typing, shorthand and other administrative tasks and procedures are taught. The sole opportunity to learn these skills rests in the schools. But not all schools teach these skills. In my view, this represents a denial of rights to certain young Australians and it is these rights which have been ignored by previous governments which have had a preponderance of people who professed to represent the needs of persons from rural electorates. Decentralisation of industry on an effective basis is partly dependent of the availability of skilled labour in the areas concerned. Frequently, technical training is seen to be solely concerned with trades, apprenticeships and craft skills. We need to be concerned with training for all levels of skills. They are all important to the development of the economy. They are vitally important to the development of our citizens.
The skills required in our community are many and varied. The levels of different skills also vary quite considerably. The number of unskilled jobs in our community is rapidly declining and such jobs will be non-existent for all practical purposes within the foreseeable future. If we seek to achieve increased national productivity we must be prepared to invest most funds in training the work force to higher levels of skill, as well as investing more funds in advanced technology. We must keep in mind that there are at least 4 times as many persons attending technical colleges as there are attending universities. Both are important and should be given due recognition. We should also encourage the community to recognise the status of technical skills. It should be recognised that the skills involved in modern technology are very great. This fact should also be recognised by the wage and salary fixing authorities.
The time has arrived when our community must recognise that those who produce the goods and services are no less important than are the consumers. It may be necessary for the Government to consider more active encouragement to the secondary schools, both government and independent, to prepare children for technical careers as well as for tertiary studies. Not every child wishes to attend university or a college of advanced education. It is a significant gap in our present system of secondary schooling that thousands of children who wish to follow technical careers receive no preparation for those careers during their school years. They suffer a serious disadvantage.
Previous Liberal-Country Party governments have been either indifferent to, or ignorant of, this rapidly growing need of our future citizens. In some schools technical subjects are not taught at all. In others the facilities for teaching technical subjects are so inadequate as to make the teaching of them extremely limited. This is but one example of the inequality of educational opportunity. In some industries the training of the work force is being positively neglected. The construction and building industry is an outstanding example. The growth of the practice of subcontracting, which is an unethical device to avoid legal obligations under industrial laws, is already having a disastrous effect on training. Sub-contracting to a level where, as a matter of law, workers become agents of principals rather than employees means that young men are not apprenticed to learn the various trades and therefore have no opportunity to acquire the skills involved. This allows large development companies, with near-sighted policies, to maximise their profits by reducing overhead costs in respect of such things as provision for sick leave, annual leave, long service leave, workers compensation, payroll tax and so on. But the community suffers because of the absence of training. Already many skills are in short supply as a direct result of this avaricious policy.
This Government may have to examine alternative means of achieving sufficient skilled labour in this industry. When the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) recently introduced measures to overcome part of this problem by imposing conditions on government construction contracts, he was attacked viciously and quite unfairly by the Opposition. This attack was led in this House by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) who should have known better, because he was the Minister for Labour and National Service in the preceding Federal Government. His action illustrated the previous Government’s indifference and lack of concern for this problem. The building industry may well become incapable of carrying out its functions in our economy if this lack of training is not corrected.
The Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) is to be congratulated upon his efforts and concern for technical training. He needs, and is entitled to receive, the full support of the employers and trade unions in this country in respect of all his efforts. He is entitled to receive the co-operation of State governments in his endeavours to ensure that adequate training facilities are available to all citizens of whatever age or sex. In these efforts he will undoubtedly have the full support of the Parliament. Australia’s future rate of economic development will be determined by the ability to develop properly planned training programs so that we, as a community, will have the collective technical skills to do those things which are necessary and desirable for the common good. Technical training is a matter of the greatest importance. It deserves to be given a high priority in terms of our national planning and development. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, when Minister for Labour and National Service, said in May 1971:
Out approach to training policy and the development of training programs do not measure up to what is being achieved in other advanced countries.
This was an admission of inadequacy.
It has been widely and freely admitted that training in some vocational areas has been very sadly neglected. Administrative, clerical and supervisory functions have been cited as prime examples of this neglect. We need far more co-operation to develop better training schemes. Australia should be moving beyond the concept of apprenticeship for the training of craftsmen. We should be providing facilities and active encouragement for craftsmen to continue training with the objective of their attaining technician, diploma or degree status. The apprenticeship system has been advantageous in many ways. It has provided the means of having an organised training schemes for the acquisition of technical skills. It also has had the advantage of providing legal obligations and responsibilities on employers as well as on employees undertaking the training. The apprenticeship system has become quite irrelevant, however, in respect of some areas of technical training and skills.
Although the apprenticeship system has been the corner-stone of technical training in Australia so far as craftsmen are concerned, and it still is, it is by no means the sole method used for training employees in the use of technical skills. Technical training needs to be expanded and to be made more readily available to a greater number of people in Australia. Access to knowledge and the acquisition of higher skills are fundamental to a healthy, progressive and developing society. I congratulate the Minister for Education on taking this step. I remind honourable members of the words of Professor J. K. Galbraith who said:
In Australia we need to determine the skills that will be required during and beyond the next 10 years. Training to equip our work force with those skills should receive a very high priority in national planning. I am very pleased indeed to add my support to the recommendations made by the Minister.
– in reply- First, I should like to welcome to debates on education the new voices of the honourable members for Phillip (Mr Riordan), Evans (Mr Mulder) and Mallee (Mr Fisher). I am grateful for their contributions to this debate. I should like to assure the honourable member for Mallee of the interest of students in technical education. This legislation deals with institutions in which 400,000 young people are enrolled. That number is approaching double those engaged in tertiary education. The funding of this triennium for which this Bill provides an additional $10m, means that the States will have $32m between 1st January 1973 and 30th June 1974. This is a much greater rate of expenditure than has prevailed earlier.
After 1974 the funding of technical education will be the function of the Australian Committee - it will become the Commission - for Technical and Further Education. Within the scope of this legislation and also within the scope of that Commission will be, for example, agricultural education in its subtertiary aspects. The terms of reference given to the Commission are very wide - they relate to ‘further education’ - because we believe it could evolve a great many new forms of education. For instance, it could evolve forms of education mentioned by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) when he spoke about the interest of certain groups with whom he has been dealing. That form of education quite certainly comes within the scope of technical and further education as envisaged by the Government in setting up this committee. I would like to announce to the House the personnel of the Committee and then to make a brief comment about them. The Chairman of the Committee is Mr M. Kangan, O.B.E. who is at present Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Labour. He is especially expert on the needs of all forms of Australian industry for manpower. Then there is Mr G. F. W. Brown, Chairman of Commissioners of the Victorian Railways, which is a body tremendously involved in technical education and in apprenticeship training; Mr C. O. Dolan, General Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia, Federal Council; Mr P. W. I. Fleming, Chief Staff Development Officer, Department of the Public Service Board, South Australia; Mr N. M. Gow, Chairman and Managing Director of R. M. Gow and Co. Ltd, Brisbane; Miss K. E. Holmes, Federal Secretary of the Institute of Personnel Management, Sydney; Dr W. J. Howse, Director of Technical Education in Tasmania; Mr H. King, Assistant to the Director of Technical Education in New South Wales; Mr G. Lees, President of the Technical Teachers Association of Victoria; Mr W. J. Paterson, Director of Technical Education in Western Australia; and Associate Professor E. Richardson from the School of Education at Macquarie University who played a very large part in the development of technical education in the Philippines.
As some of these people are the top men in State technical education we believe that we are appointing men capable of assessing the needs of the States. After all we are discussing grants to the States for their technical education. Some of the other members are associated with business and trade unions. They are people who are especially experienced in the questions relating to training of apprentices and tradesmen. We believe that the committee is a very balanced one which will expand Commonwealth assistance and action in every form of technical education. Its terms of reference have been made very wide. They cover the subject matter mentioned by every speaker in this debate. For instance, they include overall manpower policy and national and local occupational requirements; the emerging needs of industry, commerce and governments as they adjust to technological, economic and social change; priorities within needs and appropriate measures to be undertaken by the Australian Government. The committee will furnish information and advice to the Minister on matters relating to the development of technical and further education in Australia, including financial assistance to the States in relation to institutions in the States. The committee has a wide range in the terms of reference it has been given which will enable its members to use all their skills and intelligence to broaden technical education in Australia and to respond to the requests of State governments and of persons who give expert attention to the whole field of technical education. As from 1st January 1974 we will also be including in our scheme the paying of fees for technical education - some $10m in the first calendar year. However, the recommendations of this Commission will take effect a little later than the other commissions because we propose that its action will start after the funding already provided for in the current triennium which expires on 30th June 1974.
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 Beazley) read a third time.
– I have received a message from the Senate acquainting the House that the Senate does not insist on the modifications made by the Senate with which the House has disagreed, and has agreed to the modifications made by the House in place thereof.
– I have received a message from the Senate acquainting the House that the Senate does not insist on the modifications made by the Senate with which the House has disagreed, and has agreed to the modifications made by the House in place thereof.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Debate resumed from 14 March (vide page 551), on motion by Dr Cass:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I am pleased to support this Bill. It is a relatively brief Bill to amend the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act 1971 to include 3 creeks in the Tweed area. They are in the Richmond electorate which I represent so it is very nice to have the occasion to speak on an amendment to an Act which relates to my electorate. Naturally, I feel that there is great virtue in the inclusions of these 3 creeks, namely, Cudgen Creek, Cudgera Creek and Mooball Creek, which are all adjacent to the Tweed River. The history of this legislation goes back to the early 1960s. I am pleased to say that I have been closely associated with the evolution of a form of financing which has involved local government, State government and the Commonwealth to see that this sort of development takes place.
The rivers of northern New South Wales - the Manning, the Macleay, the Clarence, the Richmond and the Tweed Rivers - were all suffering from devastating floods during the 1950s. The damage from the 1954 and 1956 floods in the Tweed, Richmond and Clarance areas was enormous. The earlier floods in 1952, I think it was, in the Taree and Kempsey areas also caused enormous damage. Houses were washed away, shops were inundated and farms were put out of production for many months. In the early 1960s we had another series of floods. This built up into a very big issue along the north coast of New South Wales, and people there demanded that some mitigation action be taken. It was not possible to devise a scheme to prevent flooding. The amount of runoff was enormous. The volume of water that came down the rivers was beyond control. An alternative approach was considered. That was to try to lessen the impact of the flood. The greatest damage from floods is due to water remaining in areas for a long period rendering the ground useless for grazing or cropping, causing tremendous stagnation and a most unpleasant smell over the whole district.
The answer was to provide better drainage or to build levee banks and flood gates to control flooding when there were only minor or medium level floods. Schemes were evolved by the local authorities with the help of the New South Wales Department of Works for this to be undertaken. The expenditure involved was beyond the capacity of local government authorities and the State Government to meet and did not allow them to become deeply involved in the scheme. However at the end of 1963, prior to the elections, the Government announced a commitment to become involved in an arrangement wherby local government authorities would be responsible for 20 per cent of the charge and the balance would be shared in the proportion of 40 per cent each by both the State and the Commonwealth.
I feel that the evolvement of this scheme is largely due to the efforts of 4 members of Parliament during the period prior to its introduction. They included the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), the honourable member for Macarthur at the time and also a member who came into this House after 1963, the present honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson), who at the time was the member for Casino in the State House. These men played a leading part in liaising between the State and the Commonwealth. It took a good deal of negotiation and discussion to get all the parties eventually to agree. I do not think anybody will ever really appreciate what a difficult task it was. All the local communities were saying: The Commonwealth should provide the money’.
– 1 rise on a point of order. I do not wish to interrupt the Leader of the Country Party but this is a very restricted Bill. It is to amend section 3 of the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act 1971, and in broad terms it refers to 3 creeks. Quite honestly I do not think that the Leader of the Country Party can go beyond a discussion of the 3 creeks.
– I remind honourable members that the Bill before the House refers to prescribed rivers and indeed lists those prescribed rivers; so the debate is not as restricted as it would appear to be at first.
– I thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I am sorry that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) had to try to stifle me and take up my time. I do not intend to speak for long, but 1 have the capacity to speak for the full time if that is what he is wanting.
– I have the capacity to move the gag too.
– All right, you try it; but we have the capacity to disrupt the House. We are well experienced in relation to the Leader of the House trying to gag debates, and if he wants to engage in that sort of performance we will respond to it. The title of this Bill is not long. It refers to rivers along the whole of the seaboard of New South Wales. I thank the Chair for so ruling as to give me permission to talk about these rivers. People were demanding that the Commonwealth immediately provide the money to carry out flood mitigation work. It took repeated representations to make these people realise that it had to be done through the State Government and that it was the responsibility of the State Government to present a case to the Commonwealth for consideration. It was only when the States prepared a detailed submission which could undergo a cost benefit analysis that the Commonwealth became involved. I am pleased to say that the cost benefit analysis of that time, which showed that there was a good return on that sort of investment, has been vindicated.
The success of the scheme has been enormous. I believe that low lying areas in the river basins would have been depopulated and would not have had the productivity they now have if flood mitigation had not come into being. In the areas I know so well - that is, in the Tweed and Richmond basins - land along the lower rivers has been developed very extensively into sugar cane growing areas which are as productive as any other areas in Australia. Production has expanded considerably to make the mills efficient. This would not have been possible without flood mitigation. The flood mitigation scheme puts the onus on the land holders in the areas to which it applies. They have a levy imposed on them by local government authorities to pay part of the cost. I believe that this is a good system. They are just not sitting back and expecting somebody else to pay for the increased benefit to the area.
I shall deal now with the amount of finance that is involved. The scheme at first was to cost $5.5m for the 6-year period from 1964 to 1969. Unfortunately, because of rising costs and amendments to the proposals put forward, a supplementary grant had to be given, taking the amount up to S8m for that first period of operation. In 1971 a new act was brought into being which enabled the scheme to be expanded to cover not only the first 5 rivers that were accepted but also a number of other rivers which are included in this Bill, that is, the Bellinger, the Hawkesbury, the Moruya and the Hastings Rivers. This has enabled other people to receive the benefit of the scheme. Apparently because the 3 creeks named in this Bill were not immediately adjacent or connected to the Tweed River but were associated with the scheme there was some delay in having them included, but I compliment the Government for reconsidering the matter and having these 3 creeks, which are part of an overall river system, included in the legislation so that payment may be made -for the flood mitigation development that has taken place already on 2 of the creeks. The work done has enabled a satisfactory outlet into the sea by the provision of break walls, drainage work and flood gates along the creeks. I think that the most important question about the new flood mitigation proposals is whether the $9m now provided-
– I rise on a point of order. I contend that this Bill is not about flood mitigation proposals. It is about 3 creeks and what the proposals are for flood mitigation has nothing whatever to do with the Bill. It is restricted to section 3 of the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act.
-I have already ruled that the Bill deletes a section of the existing Act and substitutes a definition of prescribed rivers. This necessarily widens the content of the Bill from the 3 creeks that the Leader of the House has mentioned. However I would suggest to the Leader of the Country Party that to go too far into the field of flood mitigation is straying a little from the Bill.
– Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I do not believe I have strayed from the Bill in any way and I do not want unnecessarily to take up the time of the House. I believe that my remarks are confined to flood mitigation, which words are contained in the name of the Act. It is the New South Wales (Flood Mitigation) Act, and my remarks have been confined to that. They have not been political remarks. I find it intolerable to be interrupted or to be confronted with an attempt to gag me. I am talking on a Bill which is so important to the people of my own electorate and the people of nothern New South Wales, who for many years considered this a major political issue in their areas.
– I rise on a point of order. In the second reading speech of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation he said:
The amendment simply varies the description of prescribed rivers’ as contained in the original Act to rectify the omission previously mentioned. There is no intention to vary the Act or its method of operation except to cover the addition of these words.
That being the case, for the Leader of the Country Party to embark on an excursion into all aspects of flood mitigation is to go completely beyond the subject of the restricted Bill, which is a Bill to amend section 3 of the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act 1971.
-I appreciate (he point taken by the Leader of the House. The Minister’s second reading speech was brief. He mentioned in it that the flood mitigation scheme was concerned with constructing works to mitigate flooding on all of the major coastal rivers of New South Wales, and those rivers are named in the Bill.
– I assure the honourable member for Grayndler that if he wants me to talk about the 3 creeks - Cudgen, Cudgera and Mooball - I can do so because I was brought up in those areas and I could run him up every tributary of them if he wished. I would have finished speaking by now if I had not been interrupted by the Leader of the House. The point I was about to make is that $9m has been provided for the second phase of flood mitigation works on rivers in New South Wales and from that amount $422,000 has been made available for the development of flood mitigation in the Tweed River area. I believe that because of rising costs this amount of money will be quite inadequate to do this work by the time the period for this program expires. With rising costs it becomes very difficult to complete programs which have been developed.
I will emphasise how important it is for this sort of work to take place as quickly as possible. In the Tweed River area, which is my home and in which I have lived beside the Tweed River, in the last 13 months there have been 5 floods. This is the pattern of rainfall in that part of New South Wales. Something like 114 inches of rain fell in that area last year. If the land in this area is to be utilised effectively - and it is extremely fertile country - we will have to use up-to-date methods to achieve the greatest productivity in this area. To do this there is a need to construct levee banks and to have barrages to prevent salt water coming up the Cudgen Creek, the Cudgera Creek and the Mooball Creek. If the honourable member for Grayndler wants me to keep on mentioning them I will do so. This area has the capacity for increased crop production, particularly sugar cane growing. There is also a capacity for increasing grazing in these areas.
My point is that flood mitigation is essential and important but if this scheme is to fulfil the programs at present outlined I would hope that the Government will during the period of this 7-year program give consideration to reviewing the overall amount of money to be made available because with rising costs the present program can not be fully accomplished. There will need to be an adjustment. More money will need to be made available. I conclude my remarks by saying to the Minister that I appreciate very much the Government’s acceptance and inclusion in the Bill of the 3 creeks to which I referred and which I consider to be an important part of the overall flood mitigation program in that district.
– In the second reading speech on this Bill the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) made it clear that this legislation is only to enable assistance to be provided for work on 3 creeks flowing into the ocean south of the Tweed River. The 3 creeks were inadvertently left out of the proposals submitted by the New South Wales Government in 1970. The Commonwealth’s contribution is $105,000 and the amount to be spent overall is more than $250,000. I understand that the works will be concentrated on drains and levee construction. I do not have as close a knowledge of these creeks as does the honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony) although I can remember spending many happy weeks on the Clarence looking at the flood mitigation scheme. The Minister for the Environment has stated that there is no intention to vary the Act or its method of operation, but the opportunity to say a few words on flood mitigation in general should not be let pass.
The 3 creeks are a part of a progressive submission from the New South Wales State Government and, as honourable members are aware, that is the State which is responsible for the design works and the nomination of these projects, in conjunction with the relevant local authority. Funding is shared by the 3 levels of government. The scheme is a good example of what can be achieved by cooperation. There have been 2 programs of Federal aid. The first was for the 1963-69 period and the second for the 1969-76 period. One of the rivers prescribed in the Act is the Shoalhaven which is in my electorate and in which a close interest was taken by the former honourable member for Macarthur. The Commonwealth contribution to the mitigation of floods in the valley of the Shoalhaven will be of the order of $1.7m by 1976. A conference on flood mitigation will be held in Nowra on 15th May and 16th May and I anticipate that new proposals for measures of government assistance will come from its deliberations.
The scheme has been successful in the Shoalhaven valley but there are some measures which will greatly expand the effectiveness of that scheme at little cost. I think they should be canvassed on this occasion to ascertain the possible value of such measures to the other prescribed river floodplains in the scheme. The maximum time for inundation of the floodplain of the Shoalhaven with major floods is about 5 days with the remaining water after that time being present only in the semi-permanent back swamps. The morphology of the floodplain and the construction of flood mitigation levees and protecting rock banks is such that large basins are now protected from other than the so-called 50 year flood and internal water catchment in the basins themselves. The floodplain of the Shoalhaven contains 11 swampy areas or basins and some of them can now readily be brought into greater production by the use of large capacity vortex or radial pumps to discharge rapidly accumulated water and internally collected water. It will also prove economic to use pumps for the discharge of water associated with minor floods by using pumps associated with existing works. With accurate and predictable water removal control the lower lying areas become particularly attractive for crop production and pasture usage.
This seems to me to be a logical extension of flood mitigation schemes and, as drainage is very much allowable under the terms of the Act, it would appear that if the State Government agreed to these proposals the Commonwealth could not refuse. I am very sure that exceptionally favourable benefit cost ratios will be found for many of the present semipermanent swamp areas of our flood plains if they can be drained. I fully realise that wildlife would have to be taken into consideration with some swamps on the floodplains and in regard to some of the prescribed rivers. But there are just as many other areas in which this consideration would not apply. n small drainage union of land holders on the Shoalhaven flood-plain has already demonstrated the economics of a small vortex pump but it is beyond their ability to raise the capital for a pump for the larger swamps. One farmer recently gained $35,000 by producing rye grass seed on what formerly was swamp. The water table in this area is generally 2 feet below the usual level in the drains. The Shoalhaven Shire Council, which is the administering authority in this area, has been carrying out surveys into this matter and the preliminary results have been very favourable. Local farmers have already demonstrated that pasture species with a high tolerance to water can be established provided the water can be removed within a period of days beyond the major inundation period. Water couch, for example, can stand inundation for one to two months at certain times of the year. The sort of pumps we have in mind would have to be capable of discharging about 180 cusecs. It has been estimated that a pump of this sort would cost about $46,000. The productivity of dairy farms adjoining the swamps would be greatly increased and, in view of the fact that there is a dairy reconstruction scheme operating in Australia, it can be argued that a small outlay of Commonwealth money on one farm would increase the average living area of the farm, thereby increasing more viable farming units.
The other major area of flood mitigation which could well merit further investigation with a view to a logical extension of the scheme centres on the neglected state of river estuaries. The State governments are limited in the work that they can do to construct breakwaters to prevent sand drift and silt accumulation in the delta. The Shoalhaven Heads, for example, used to provide an escape for the waters of the Shoalhaven but now only open for a major flood. The opening of the heads and the construction of a breakwater at this point would greatly mitigate the effects of flooding on the flood plain as there have been situations in which the level of the blockage of the heads has determined the level and the consequences of the flood. For example, the pushing of water up Broughton Creek is entirely dependent on this. Although each flood-plain has its own morphology it seems to me that this aspect of mitigation should be more closely examined. Shoalhaven Heads has now become Shoalhaven Bay and it will shortly become Shoalhaven Flat unless some work is undertaken in this area. I commend the amending Bill to the House and I trust that logical extensions of the scheme will be reviewed when they come forward.
– I support the Bill which is to make a minor amendment to the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act 1971. This Bill will permit flood mitigation work to be carried out on the 3 small creeks which are near the Tweed River and which are enumerated in the Bill. Unfortunately these creeks were inadvertently omitted from the original Bill although they were submitted by the New South Wales Government in 1970 when the original proposals were submitted. The Act put through this House in 1971 provided for assistance to the Government of New South Wales for flood mitigation to many coastal rivers, namely the Bellinger, Clarence, Hastings, Hawkesbury, Hunter, Macleay, Manning, Moruya, Richmond, Shoalhaven and Tweed. The cost of the works on the 3 creeks listed in the Bill - the Cudgen, Cudgera and Mooball - estimated to be $100,500 was included in the original proposals approved by Parliament in 1971.
There is under this legislation no intention to vary the previous Act but simply to correct an omission. However, the Act is of great importance to flood mitigation in the areas and rivers mentioned in the Bill. Over the years the fertile valleys and rich agricultural areas fed by these rivers have been subjected to the ravages of floods and thousands of millions of dollars worth of damage has taken place in huge agricultural areas and cities, towns and villages adjacent to the rivers. The need for flood mitigation in New South Wales really became evident in 1955 when a major flood established a real need for flood mitigation schemes. The year 1963 was the turning point. The national importance of flood mitigation was recognised by the Commonwealth Government and the amount of finance available for flood mitigation construction was almost doubled. The cost of works on the Hunter River in my electorate since 1963 has been shared on the basis of $3 each from the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government for each $1 allocated by the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust. The Hunter River rises in the Dividing Range at Tomala and reaches the sea150 miles away at Newcastle. It flows through a very fertile valley where there are many important towns. The city of Maitland is situated at the lower end of the valley and honourable members know that this city has been ravaged by floods on many occasions. The construction of the large Glenbawn Dam above Aberdeen has been a great help in providing water for farms along the river and assisting flood mitigation.
I had pleasure in advising the Maitland City Council and members of the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust at the time of the 1971 Act of the fact that the Government would be making money available so that the Trust could get on with the job of flood mitigation above the city, and what a good job it has done. Floods in this area now have been minimised. Levee banks, engineering works and other works have prevented many serious floods since this date. The original Bill provided for $9m for assistance with flood mitigation works on 11 New South Wales coastal rivers. In my electorate $6m was allocated to the Hunter Valley Trust. The Trust, as I have said, has done a great job and its work has been practically demonstrated over the years by the prevention of flooding of main towns in the valley and of the farming areas in this region by the provision of levee banks and engineering works. If this work had not been carried out many of the floods that have occurred would have caused millions of dollars worth of damage.
Money is to be made available under the Bill over a 6-year term. This legislation is continuing the assistance that was given by the previous Liberal-Country Party Government. I hope that when the present term of assistance is completed another Government will be in office to look after conservation. Money spent and work done on flood mitigation is giving people more protection all the time. Possibly we may see the time when flooding will cease on the Hunter and other coastal rivers as well as the 3 creeks which are enumerated in this Bill. Flood mitigation is a most important item in the government of this country and it will receive full support at all times from the Australian Country Party.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28 March (vide page 780), on motion by Dr Cass:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Naturally the Opposition supports this Bill. I say naturally because, of course, the initial water resources measurement was instituted some 10 or so years ago by a Liberal-Country Party government. In fact, the Australian Water Resources Council was set up in 1964 by the government of which I was a member. The Council immediately adopted as one of the basic things which had to be done by all water authorities in Australia the need for an accelerated program to measure our surface and our underground water. The Council had as its principal objective the provision of a comprehensive assessment on a continuing basis of Australia’s water resources and the extension of measurement and research so that future planning could be carried out on a sound and scientific basis. One of the first things done by the Council was to assess what were the water resources of Australia. Such an assessment had never previously been made. Any assessment that had been made up to that time had been conducted State by State but this work had never been done on a broad Commonwealth basis. The results of this assessment were rather surprising. From the first assessment it became apparent that the total average discharge of the whole of Australia - and this figure included Tasmania - was only about 280 million acre feet per annum. More than half of this discharge had to be guessed because adequate records were not available. In addition, much of this discharge was in the north of Queensland, the north-west of Western Australia and in the south-west of Tasmania, areas which are wild and which in many cases could not be used for the storage of water. Therefore this assessment of the discharge of water was the first task to be carried out in the program to estimate Australia’s water resources. Everyone knows that Australia is the driest continent. In fact the total annual average discharge is estimated to be even less than the discharge of the St Lawrence River which is by no means one of the largest rivers in the world.
In order to assist in this accelerated program the States had to guarantee that they would not only continue but would accelerate their programs. The Commonwealth initially made a grant of $2.8m in 1964. Three years later that amount went up to $4.5m and a further 3 years later to $8.2m. The amount proposed under this legislation is $15. lm, an increase of $6.9m or some 85 per cent. I am sure that everyone on both sides of the House who has any regard for water conservation will welcome this increased expenditure and congratulate the Government on continuing the program which, as I said, was started by the previous Government some 10 years ago. The Commonwealth will now meet half the cost of the programs submitted by the States. I know that there are people in Australia - unfortunately too many of them sometimes - who are opposed to water conservation or water assessment in any form. They will ask why it is necessary to spend sums such as this and to match the State grants in order to bring forward this accelerated program. Before almost anything can be done with water it is necessary to know what is the quantity and the quality of the water available. Water resources data needs to be gathered over a considerable period of time. The available water supply with or without storage has to be estimated.
No water storage, major or minor, can be planned in Australia today unless there is a fair idea of the amount of water available. Of course, this is necessary to determine the safe yield from the reservoir. Some people think that the size of the reservoir is the only thing that matters. This is probably one of the things which matters least. A lot more water may be drawn from a small dam with a large safe yield than from a large dam with a small safe yield. An example of this is the Fairbairn Dam in Queensland, which I am afraid has a low yield owing to the fact that it is built in a fairly dry area. Although it is an extremely large dam - the largest in Queensland at present - the safe yield from the dam is very small. By comparison, the Ord River dam, which has perhaps only 3 times as great a volume, has a yield 10 times that of the Fairbairn Dam. These are the sorts of facts which it is necessary to know, as well as such things as the safe draw and the design of the dam and the spillway. All these things must be designed with a knowledge of what the draw and the resources in the particular river are. I believe it is correct to say that the Burrinjuck Dam, which is not far from here, was designed without a full knowledge of the amount of water which was likely to come from the catchment. I understand that in the early days the engineers were extremely worried because the amount of water in the spillway was very much larger than had been estimated and they were concerned that the dam could have been carried away.
– It was enlarged later.
– Yes. The honourable member is perfectly correct. It is necessary when designing stormwater drains, bridges, culverts, floodways and so many other things that the necessary knowledge be available. The second reason why it is necessary to have this assessment program is to assess the underground water supply. There are vast areas in Australia where our knowledge of the underground water is inadequate. We should know the quantity, the quality and the amount that can be drawn without drawing the aquifer down too far. In fact, it is interesting to note that the next Bill on the Daily Programme provides for the construction of a pipeline into a very dry area of South Australia. This pipeline can be constructed because of the discovery, under the water resources measurement legislation, of the Polda aquifer or basin which has a large supply of good quality water. That is a direct yield from the amount of money that we are making available and from the work that is being done by States and the Commonwealth on the measurement of Australia’s water resources.
I am sure that we will come to know that in other areas there are adequate sources of water. Around Alice Springs and north of Alice Springs some large aquifers have been outlined. I believe that this program is an extremely beneficial move. It is planned to increase the number of stations on which recording equipment is placed in Australia from about 1,400 at the time that the previous Government introduced the first Act of this kind, to 2,800. In other words the number has been almost doubled within a year or two. I believe that very good progress has been made towards achieving this figure. It has also been possible to install automatic recorders in many places. These save the cost of people going daily to areas to record the actual flow. On the other hand, of course, these recorders are expensive and they still have to be accessible and to be read on occasions. But great progress has been made. We will not get the full benefit from some of these 2,800 stations for perhaps another 10 or 20 years until they have recorded the resources of Australia for a considerable length of time. The Opposition heartily supports this measure. We are delighted to know that what we started has progressed so well. I congratulate the Government on the amount which it has made available and the increase which it has made available to see that this work proceeds.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (9.55)- It is important that while we are considering these grants to the States for water measurement programs we also give some consideration to what is happening to our handling and utilisation of our meagre water supplies. In my electorate there is reason for dissatisfaction in this regard. If we are increasing our grants to the States to allow surface water measurement programs totalling $13.7m and underground water measurement programs totalling $16.5m, we have a responsibility to the people we represent, in regard to waterways on which millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money have already been spent, to see that the quality and quantity of these waters are preserved and used to the best advantage of all water users and are not allowed to be sabotaged by the greed or lack of concern by one State for another.
This is especially so when we are told by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) that in order that objectives endorsed by the Water Resources Council may be achieved the Government is making available $15.1m by way of grant to the States for planned programs in the next 3 years. He has informed us also that this is an increase of almost 85 per cent in Commonwealth aid over the past 3 years. Anyone familiar with the driest parts of Australia would realise how important it is to know what the stream flow is over a number of years - years in which there have been a number of floods as well as a number of crippling droughts. This knowledge is essential from an engineering as well as from an economic point of view. As a member representing one of the driest parts of New South Wales, the Western Division, I fully appreciate the grants to the States.
The measurement of the streamflow is important not only from the point of view of the volume of water, but also from that of the reliability of supply. It is just as important that where there is a reliable streamflow consideration be given to the quality of the water. One would expect every State sharing in this grant of $15.1m to play its part to protect the quality and the quantity of the water of our great streams. But as far as I can gather from the evidence that I have seen, the Victorian Government, while expecting millions to investigate water measurement for the benefit of that State, appears to have little or no concern for water that flows into other States.
I refer in particular to the situation at Barr Creek and Lake Hawthorn, where the Victorian Government has the responsibility of pumping high saline water inland to evaporation basins in order that the water will not run back into the Murray River. The announcement made a few weeks ago by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that discussions were taking place between the Premiers of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria concerning measures necessary to reduce salinity in the waters of the Murray River was welcomed by citrus and vine fruit growers in the Buronga, Coomealla and Wentworth districts. However, the statement prompted one grower to write to me and ask that I should pass on the information that following the recent rains the flow in the River Murray increased and the Victorian State Rivers and Water Supply Commission has been discharging a large flow of highly saline water - 3,000 ppm - from Lake Hawthorn into the Wentworth lock pool upstream from the Coomealla and Curlwaa pumps.
This practice has been the concern of growers for many years and resulted in many protests being made to the Victorian Government. But the selfish practice which is damaging some of the best citrus and grape vines in Australia continues without any apparent concern for those further down the river. Part of the letter read:
About 4 years ago the Federal Government gave Victoria $1.6m to instal electric pumps on Lake Hawthorn and several miles of piping to take highly saline water to evaporation basins well back from the River Murray but it claimed the Victorians used some of the grant to excavate a large earth channel to allow large quantities of highly saline drainage water to flow straight back into the Murray River.
If this is correct, and there is some evidence to support the statement, surely we have no justification to spend the people’s money on grants for water investigation when we cannot control this type of thing between the States. A further letter from the Curlwaa Salinity Committee states:
We are extremely disappointed and distressed with the Prime Minister’s statement, which is the answer to 2 years of repeated appeals by a salinity committee to the various Governments to do something positive in reducing the salinity of Murray water where it flows through our district.
The means to reduce the salinity are clearly stated in the report of the Gutteridge Committee, which was released in 1570, after 2 years investigations. lt would seem none of the Parliamentarians present at the 2nd March 1973 Meeting bothered to read this report, perhaps they, are unaware of its existence.
The position as we see it is we are back where we were at the end of 1967, when the Government of the day decided to employ Gutteridge, Hoskins and Davey of Sydney and Hunting Technical Services Ltd of London to investigate the Murray water salinity. Their report contains all the information that the Steering Committee needs to make a start on diverting saline drainage water away from the Murray River without delay.
This information was obtained from the 3 State Water control departments, the only competent source available to the newly formed steering committee.
Here’s hoping that Dr Cass is more successful with the State Ministers for Water Supply than Mr Johnson is with the State Ministers for Housing.
I do not claim that everyone who writes a letter outlines the true position but surely claims made in letters should be investigated. 1 believe that the last 3 annual reports of the River Murray Commission more than indicate that the growers in this area have just reason to complain. On page 5 of the 1969-70 report of the River Murray Commission the following appears:
During the past year, the Barr Creek pumps diverted for evaporation in Lake Tutchewop, a volume of 6,810 acre feet containing 23,450 tons of salt. The Lake Hawthorn pumps near Mildura diverted to inland evaporating basins a volume of 2,150 acre feet containing 7,590 tons of salt.
As was discussed in last year’s report, due to the limited evaporating capacity of the storage basins, it is not possible or necessary to pump continuously, from Barr Creek or Lake Hawthorn. During the oast year, advantage was taken of a number of Murray flushes to release saline water from Barr Creek and Lake Hawthorn.
In the Commission’s 1970-71 report there is a similar statement but the figures are different. The report states:
Two Victorian salt disposal schemes at Barr Creek near Kerang and Lake Hawthorn near Mildura were operated and prevented saline drainage waters reaching the Murray. During the past year, the Barr Creek pumps diverted for evaporation in Lake Tut.chewop a volume of 10,570 acre feet (55 per cent more than 1969-70) containing 32,420 tons of salt. The Lake Hawthorn pumps near Merbein diverted to the Wargan evaporation basins, a volume of 820 acre feet (a reduction of 60 per cent on last year’s figure) containing 3,100 tons of salt.
According to the 1971-72 report the position is worse as far as Lake Hawthorn is concerned. The report under the heading ‘Victorian Salt Disposal Schemes’ states:
Salt disposal schemes at Barr Creek near Kerang and Lake Hawthorn near Merbein were operated by the Victorian State Rivers and Water Supply Commission and reduced the quantity of saline drainage waters reaching the Murray. During the year, the Barr Creek pumps diverted for evaporation in Lake Tutchewop 7,780 acre feet (75 per cent of last year’s total) containing 25,800 tons of salt. The Lake Hawthorn pumps diverted to the Wargan basins a volume of 755 acre feet (a reduction of 10 per cent)
My point is that in areas which mainly affect the quality of the water in Victoria there is a great build up of pumping to the evaporation basins. On the other hand, in 1968 the Barr Creek pumps pumped 6,810 acre feet to evaporation basins. This was increased to 7,780 acre feet in 1971-72. However, in the pumping to evaporation basins from Lake Hawthorn, which affects to a higher degree the quality of water in New South Wales, in 1969-70 some 2,150 acre feet of water was pumped and this was reduced to a mere 755 acre feet in 1971-72. It appears to me from those figures that the fruit growers in this area have good reason to complain. Those are not my figures. Anyone can find them in the reports of the River Murray Commission. The Commission claims that the water is allowed in the channel from Lake Hawthorn only when the river is in flush, but the growers in the area claim there is always some water in the channel. 1 have passed over the channel many times and have yet to see it dry. The Curlwaa Salinity Committee has complained continuously to me about this and I ask the Minister to give the matter consideration when further investigation of this area is made. I congratulate the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) for the interest he has shown in this problem. It appears that at last a real investigation will be carried out,for the people in this area.
Motion (by Dr Cass) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leaving granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
(LOCK TO KIMBA PIPELINE)
Debate resumed from 28 March (vide page 780), on motion by Dr Cass:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this proposal, naturally enough, as it was announced by the McMahon Government some months ago. The promise which was made by the previous Government is now being put into legislative form. The proposal is to grant to the South Australian Government $2.1m under the national water resources development program. The South Australian Government initiated the. project which was estimated to cost just over $5m. When the South Australian Government had done some of the work it ran out of money and work ceased. About $3m is still required to complete the scheme. The Commonwealth will provide $2.1m and the remainder will be provided by the. South Australian Government.
I believe that this is an excellent proposal, just as I believe that the national water resources development program has achieved a tremendous amount. The other measures introduced by the previous Government to build additional water storages and to assist the States in building additional storages have done a tremendous amount to change the whole face of Australia so far as water conservation is concerned. The proposal we are considering is to pump water from the Polda acquifer or basin where there is a good quantity of high quality water. The water is to be pumped through 69 miles of trunk main on Eyre Peninsula and about 170 miles of distribution branch mains.
The purpose of the scheme is firstly to provide water for stock in an area which has a rainfall of about only 16 inches a year. In that region it is very difficult to store water in reservoirs. Water is also to be provided for the 2 small townships in the area - Darke Peak and Kimba. At present Kimba has only 2 small earthen reservoirs. These do not fill and do not provide an adequate supply for the town. From the scheme 207 properties will be able to gain a water supply, thus permitting increases in livestock numbers. It is estimated that it will be possible to run an additional 71,000 sheep. Not so long ago we would have said that there was not much point in increasing the number of sheep anywhere in Australia, but today when sheep are being sold at between $25 and $30 each it is well worth while to increase their numbers. The project will also permit the running of an additional 22,000 cattle and 4,000 pigs.
The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has worked out that the scheme is economically sound and that the internal rates of return will be from 7.7 per cent to about 8.1 per cent, so it is well worth while. It is just one more example of the benefits of the national water resources development program which was initiated some years ago. In fact, I can claim to have taken the scheme before Cabinet and into the Parliament. It has done a tremendous amount to develop the water resources of this continent. Apart from the scheme provided for in this measure we have proceeded with water storages at the Ord River and Dartmouth. The honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) was asking what is being done to improve the quality and quantity of water in the River Murray. He would know that a start has been made on the Dartmouth Dam which will increase considerably the quantity of water available in the Murray River. But for Mr Stott and Mr Dunstan we would now be filling the Dartmouth Dam instead of just commencing its construction. Nevertheless, we have at last commenced it. It will make additional water available to be sent down the Murray River to reduce saline slugs on occasions when they occur. I hesitate to believe that the Victorian Government would be responsible for putting as much salt back into the Murray River as the honourable member has said, but I will certainly make inquiries to see whether that is happening.
Dyslexia - Postal Department - Rhodesian Information Centre - Currency Realignments: Overseas Pensions - Select Committee on Road Safety- Whitlam Ministry- Nuclear Tests
-Order! It being 15 minutes past 10 p.m., in accordance with the Order of the House of 1st March I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Speld deals with children who have specific learning difficulties, and it is from these words that the composite word ‘Speld’ is derived. Doctors have been aware for some 30 years of minimal brain disfunction and the resulting specific learning difficulties which are relatively new entities to the educationist. It has been estimated that at least 10 per cent of the primary school population suffer from varying degrees of deviation in learning and behaviour. Speld aims specifically to assist children who have an average or above average intellectual capacity - in other words, high IQ - but who suffer from subtle misfunctioning of the central nervous system, particularly with regard to perception, integration and expression. Children with glasses and hearing aids are commonplace today. These children are not ridiculed for their problem. It is now essential that people realise there are children who cannot recognise letters, figures or shape forms because of purely physical disfunction. This is difficult for us to understand but nonetheless it is true.
Many of these children have for some years been a heartbreak to their parents and a dreadful loss to the community. This disaster has been caused through misunderstanding. The children were thought to be lazy and unco-operative when in fact all that was needed was specialised, understanding, remedial teaching with special equipment and other facilities. These children do exist. There are already more in the community than can be assisted and if one takes the statistical figure of 10 per cent of the primary school children in Australia there are thousands in Queensland and at least 1,200 in the Darling Downs area.
Learning to read is part of the wider development of communication skills. Reading is a complex cognitive process requiring visual, auditory and motor skills to enable a child to recognise words and symbols, to associate them with the appropriate sounds and to invest them with meaning derived from previous experience. When a child has not fully developed one or more of these abilities he is likely to be unusually slow in learning to read. This delay is often accompanied by emotional disturbance. This reading difficulty is known as dyslexia and it has been found that there are varying degrees of this complaint. The term ‘dyslexia’ was originally used to describe a localised brain damage affecting a person who was previously an excellent reader. The same term also applies to children who have severe reading retardation and have never been competent readers. It has been found that dyslexia has no common symptoms because some children who have all the characteristic features of dyslexia are in fact good readers while others who read badly have no such signs.
It has been generally recognised by teachers, psychologists and neurologists that the best way of dealing with specific reading difficulties is to have special remedial education. It is generally recognised that a person’s basic motivation and disposition are formed prior to attaining the age of 6 years. For this to be a workable project there would have to be an assessment of the child’s reading skills and an examination of the functions that underline them - visual and auditory perception, association processes, language development and visuo-motor skills such as handwriting. It is necessary that a child with specific learning difficulties be identified as early as possible so that remedial measures can be begun without delay. So that a child with specific reading difficulties will not have his intelligence based solely on this, 2 assessments must be made, one for reading attainment, the other for general ability, the results of which can be compared to reveal inconsistent performance.
The medical examination which is carried out on all students when they first enter school is not sufficient because they are not old enough to get a proper view of whether they are going to have learning difficulties. During the first years an experienced teacher should be able to notice children who have different development from the other students in the class. When children show any social difficulty this is a possible indication that they may have either a sight or hearing problem. This should be brought to the immediate attention of the school medical officer. Teachers will also notice any difficulty in reading during the first few years, but a full screening will be necessary. Between the ages of 7 and 8 years is a good time for the screening and remedial treatment can begin immediately. The fact that these children have specific learning difficulties does not mean they should be sent to a special school. These students often benefit from the ordinary school where they are stimulated by their peers. The trouble with the ordinary schools is that they do not have enough remedial teachers; each primary and secondary school should have at least one trained teacher for the students. The acquisition during initial teacher training of a basic knowledge of how to teach children to read provides an invaluable foundation on which to build.
Therefore the aim of Speld is to advance the education and general welfare of children and others who are handicapped by specific learning difficulties. This term refers to a lack of a particular skill which seriously retards a child’s educational progress. This object can be achieved only by a greater public awareness of the problem and needs of children who have these problems. Several ways of bringing this matter to public notice are to hold meetings and discussions amongst parents who face this problem. This is hoped to relieve some of the emotional strain placed on the family when a child has these difficulties. The Speld association is striving to have facilities set up to aid these people. These facilities would include clinics where an early diagnosis and if necessary remedial teaching could take place. It is also hoped to have included in the teacher training scheme a course of instruction to equip teachers for early recognition of children with difficulties.
The local branch of Speld has been active over the last few years in providing books for special education centres, Speld books for municipal libraries and other equipment necessary for the training of these students. Other projects have been adult reading and writing courses and mini seminar for the early diagnosis of specific learning difficulties. Up to the present, there has not been general recognition on the part of the Australian genera] public for the needs of children of normal and above normal intelligence who require usually for short periods, remedial assistance. There are no authoritative figures available at the present but it is known that Queensland has only 30 remedial teachers in the Queensland Department of Education, there is a need for 300.
Realising the need for more remedial teachers the Apex clubs of Toowoomba, like so many service clubs before them, have taken up the challenge and are trying to raise the sum of $10,000 so that remedial teachers can be trained at the Darling Downs Institute of Technology. I seek leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard the aims and objects of the local branch of Speld.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
EXTRACT FROM THE SPELD PRESIDENT’S REPORT- YEAR 1972
Ai brief resume of our work so far: Projects in 1972, completed or started in Toowoomba: $150 for books for Guidance and Special Education Centre, November 1971. $110 for special Speld books for Municipal Library, February- 1972. $150 for 2 Peabody Kits for Guidance and Special Education Centre, May 1972. $184 for 3 day workshop weekend, April 1972, conducted by Miss Win Apelt, B.A., B.Ed.. Senior Tudor, Schonell Centre. $40 for Mini-Seminar on early diagnosis of s.e.l.d. November 1971. $100 Adult Reading and Writing Course, begun May 1972. $100 for text books and articles for distribution to professionals involved in field of education and interested people, begun June 1972.
Projects In immediate future in Toowoomba
Petition to Parliament for a grant of money to establish a lectureship in remedial education at D.D.I.A.E., in Department of Teacher Education for 160 students.
Audio-Visual Bench for Municipal Library.
Remedial Equipment for Guidance and Special Education Centre.
More special Speld Books for Municipal Library.
Continue Adult Reading and Writing Course.
Feasibility study for establishment of a special class for 6 children with advanced specific early learning problems in Toowoomba.
Feasibility study for building a special centre in Toowoomba.
Long range projects for Toowoomba
A special class in every school with more than 6 diagnosed children with specific learning difficulties.
A remedial teacher visiting every school requiring services of such a specialist.
Continue Adult Reading and Writing Courses where numbers warrant.
A permanent lecturer in remedial education in Department of Teacher Education at D.D.I. A. Ed.
Diagnosis of specific early learning difficulties at kindergarten and, pre-school levels.
– This is indeed a worthy cause and the clubs should be congratulated on their efforts. I have noted in the education Bill the Minister introduced into the House on 28th March 1973 that the Federal Government is providing an unmatched grant of $40,000 in 1973 to enable the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education to establish a post graduate courses to commence in 1974. On behalf of the residents of Darling Downs I ask: Will the Minister give a grant to the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education for the same purpose.
This is important to the area. The Apex clubs in Toowoomba are dedicated to help in an effort to make the lives of the people so affected rich in the fulfilment of their utmost potential. The distinct needs in this regard are to provide courses in diploma and degree programs for suitable persons to take out majors in remedial and special education; the need for teacher preparation programs to provide a bridging course whereby general teachers, perhaps by independent study, may develop their background knowledge in this area and then take out a diploma or degree in special education after full time attendance at a tertier, institution; and, the need for all general teachers to have some course work in this area and to provide a wide range of in-service courses for practising teachers to enrol in.
The people of Darling Downs have rallied to the cause, as they always do in the things that matter. I appeal to the Minister for Education to have a good look at the position and determine whether the Commonwealth Government can help the local service clubs of Apex in their efforts to raise from the public the sum of $10,000 to establish this chair of learning - a chair which will be vital to our area, a chair which will enable people to be trained as teachers who will go forth over the whole length and breadth of Queensland, teachers who will be affecting eternity because there is no knowing where their influence for good will be felt and their ability to help these people will be realised.
– Last evening the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) made a number of statements during the adjournment debate. He was somewhat critical of certai’n aspects of the Australian Post Office and I feel that a reply should be given to some of the remarks which he made. In particular, the honourable member for
Lyne referred to some legal action that is pending. I will not refer to that in detail but it related to the Rhodesian Information Centre. The honourable member was incorrect when he said that, because a State government registers that name under the Business Names Act, that business is virtually entitled to continue. As a matter of interest to the honourable member, the State Government of New South Wales has taken action to see whether that name could be deregistered.
From the point of view of the principles of the Australian Government, under the Posts and Telegraphs Act we must look at matters to see whether they are legal or illegal and there is no doubt - it will not be determined otherwise by any court in this country - that the regime in Rhodesia is illegal. It was declared to be so by the United Nations. In December 1966 the Security Council made that decision. The decision, of course, was made because of the rebellion of the regime against the British Government. I am somewhat surprised that the honourable member for Lyne fails to recognise the fact that in Rhodesia there is a regime that is denying the British Government. It is on that basis that the United Nations imposed those sanctions. It was a unanimous decision of the United Nations and, accordingly, it is not proper to suggest that there is any validity in the regime. Perhaps in the cause of humanity something can be done to solve the problems but nothing could be further from the truth than that political censorship is being imposed.
Whether action can be sustained within the scope of the present Act is another matter. It is purely a matter for determination by the High Court of Australia. If there are weaknesses in that Act, no doubt they can be rectified in this Parliament. It is somewhat incongruous to think that we have been asking a State government to do something about matters and now that it is doing something we are not doing anything, particularly when our attitude towards this issue was raised in this House and bearing in mind that sanctions have been imposed and the United Nations has already passed judgment as to the legality of the regime.
It is also worth while to look in passing at some of the problems now facing the Rhodesian regime. We could look at the trials and tribulations of a journalist named Peter Niesewand who is still under detention even though - thank God for British justice, we might say - the court of appeal in that regime found him innocent. Despite that finding he is still detained. These are some of the problems of the world. However, do not let it be said in this House that political censorship was being imposed. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is completely wrong and without foundation to suggest that some sort of censorship is being imposed that would prevent any sort of publication being delivered in the course through the Australian post. It was suggested by the honourable member for Lyne last evening that perhaps censorship would be imposed which would prevent publications being transmitted by post. That is not so. The people associated with the Rhodesian Information Centre are free to carry on with their functions and the honourable member for Lyne knows that. However, those people should not be spreading propaganda to sustain the illegal regime and this is what caused the action that is now being taken. It is not difficult to explain that to anybody who is aware of the circumstances behind the action. But to suggest that there has been an improper action on the part of this Government is completely wrong.
The honourable member for Lyne also suggested in his speech that the Australian Postal Workers Union was guilty of what might be termed wrongdoing in endeavouring to intimidate people in another place to pass legislation by threatening that mail would not be delivered to them. Let me explain to the House the situation regarding this issue. No such resolution .was passed by the Postal Workers Union. It was reported that there had been such a resolution but that was not so; no ban was ever imposed. I will admit, that such a ban was considered for the very good reason that the piece of legislation involved related to workers’ compensation, and we now must acknowledge that it still has not been passed. I make no further comment except to say that the legislation was introduced in this House on 7th March and was not opposed by the Opposition. In fact the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen), a distinguished legal counsel, in leading for the Opposition supported the Bill and said that he found himself unable to disagree with it. His speech took no more than 10 minutes and the Bill passed through all stages in this House,
Nothing has happened since then. The Bill has gone into a state of limbo in another place and still has not been dealt with although some 2 months have elapsed since it was first introduced into the Parliament. Is it any wonder that the Postal Workers Union should be concerned? Under that Bill its members had rights to workers compensation, weekly payments, lump sum payments and recognition of compensation for specific injuries or disease, none of which is now recognised because of the delay in dealing with this legislation which was passed unopposed in this House 2 months ago. The situation is that some 250,000 Commonwealth employees have been denied compensation entitlements which will flow to them once the legislation is passed. However a sanction is still available. If a person is elected to the Parliament he is supposed to perform his functions as expeditiously as possible. It would be the will of this House that when legislation is passed by it that legislation should not be delayed for other than a valid reason. The legislation was passed by this House in April but it has not been dealt with by the other House. It would be for that reason that employees might have felt entitled to impose some sort of sanction or ban on the delivery of mail. They have been advised that this would be improper and illegal and they will not do it.
However other action is available to them. These employees, and their wives and families who may be dependent on them, number about 500,000. They should take a keen interest in the democratic process and should realise who are responsible for the delay in the passage of this legislation. I should think that members in another place might be interested in knowing that by subterfuge they are affecting so many people. It is improper for an honourable member to suggest, during an adjournment debate, that employees of the Post Office did something wrong. They did nothing wrong at all. They felt that they should do something - that they should ban the delivery of mail. They were advised that this would be improper and illegal and they did nothing to institute that sort of action. The action they should be encouraged to take is to teach a lesson to those members in the other place who are prepared to deny rights to others. The way to teach this lesson is for the 500,000 people who may be affected to throw themselves into the next Senate election campaign and determine which persons are best fitted to represent the needs of the people of Australia. I think that what I have said may explain 2 of the matters that have been raised, but if my explanation has not been satisfactory to the honourable member for Lyne I will await further developments from him.
– I wish, in this adjournment debate, to draw the attention of the House to the needs of a significantly large, but necessarily diverse group of people who have been affected by the impact of currency realignments on the real value of pensions that they receive from overseas countries. As the weeks have passed I have been impressed by the actual number of people affected because constantly this matter has been drawn to my attention. A large number of people have come here from other countries with entitlements to pensions through other government schemes or through private employer based schemes. In many instances when these people have left their country of origin the pension entitlement has been fixed at the rate payable when they left that country. This is not true in all cases. Some of these people are members of schemes, both government and private, under which wherever they live they continue to be entitled to increased benefits paid in the source country of the pension. These people are either wholly or, in some cases, partly dependent upon the pensions that they receive from overseas countries.
As a result of the change in the value of the Austraiian dollar many of the recipients of these pensions have sustained a substantial income loss. It might be said that they should take this into account as one of the risks of coming to live in Australia either because they personally wish to come here or because they are drawn here to join relatives and family living permanently in this country. It might be said that one of the risks - together with all the other problems that they face in making their determination as to whether to move - they should take into account is the possible impact upon their real income of changed value of the pension to which they are entitled. If we say this of these people we should similarly say it of the industry groups which go into the export market to sell Australianproduced goods overseas but when those groups, properly organised as they are entitled to be, make representations to their governments as to the difficulties in which they are placed as a consequence of a change in the value of the Australian dollar, we find that governments of all persuasions look at the impact upon these industries and introduce schemes whereby that impact is lessened.
Only a few weeks ago we were told, in relation to certain manufacturing industries, that in respect of the loss over certain ranges the industries would get recoupment from a government scheme of 90 per cent of the price reductions actually made between 23rd December 1972 and 31st December 1973, as a result of the revaluation. Very little, if any, attention has been paid to the individual person whose real income has been affected by the revaluation of the Australian dollar. My plea this evening is to urge the Government to examine the extent of the numbers of people who have, in this way, been adversely affected. I am aware of the fact that, in a debating way, the argument could be advanced that if the movement in the value of the Australian dollar had been in the reverse direction no one would be standing up and saying that these people should not have the benefit of the windfall that they received. But when that happens in the case of organised industry in Australia the Government does not say to that industry that it must give back, in some form, the benefits it received because of the realignment of international currency. The movement, in recent times, has been particularly severe in the case of certain currencies. The American dollar has had an exchange rate change of 20.49 per cent; the Greek currency as against the Australian dollar, 20.66 per cent; and the pound sterling, 1 8.54 per cent.
In the case of the American dollar it may be that not a large number of people in Australia are affected. There are not significant numbers of American settlers in this country in receipt of the type of fixed or occasionally variable income of the type to which I have referred, but there are large numbers of United Kingdom migrants living in Australia who are in receipt of pensions, government or employer-base, who have been adversely affected in terms of their real Australian income as a result of the revaluation of the Australian dollar on the 2 occasions on which the effect of international currency movements has been to revalue the Australian dollar. I believe that larger numbers of people are affected than we are aware of. It is true that many of these people may now, as a consequence of their loss of real income, to some extent be able to recoup that loss by becoming entitled to Australian social security pensions. I know that in some instances it is possible to say that, dollar for dollar, their loss will be picked up. In other cases the loss will be picked up by only 50c in the $1. because under the reciprocal agreements that apply 2 categories of pensioners in Australia are affected.
The first contains those who do not qualify by the normal residential qualification. If they are eligible under the means test as it still operates, they do not count the pension that they receive from the United Kingdom in their assessable means. Under the agreement the Australian Government merely makes up the difference between what their English pensions. I know that in some instances it is social security pension they would receive in Australia. So it can be said in that area that the loss is picked up totally. Where people have been here for a longer period and have qualified by 10 years residence - there are many of them - and they are in the tapered means test area, the loss of the value of their overseas pensions is supported only by the 50c in the $1 by virtue of the operation of the present means test.
In addition there are a number of people who are right outside the area of the operation of the means test. At a time when we are showing increasing concern about the relationship of pensions to pre-retirement earnings, we should have some concern about the effect upon this group of persons who perhaps are getting no benefit under reciprocal agreements or under the Australian social security system. We should be concerned about the effect upon them of the reduction in their income as a result of currency revaluations. Numbers of people have approached me who have been entitled to United Kingdom police pensions or pensions from their employers. Some of them have been in United Kingdom Government schemes. They all have been adversely affected, and quite seriously, in terms of the relative degree to which their incomes have been fixed and the habits they have formed at a level related to their incomes. In addition to facing up to the consequences of inflation upon a relatively fixed income, they have had to face this substantial reduction in their real incomes.
My plea tonight is to urge the Government to examine the needs of these individuals. They are spread in a diverse way throughout the community. They are not organised as industry groups are organised, and yet the effect upon them of currency realignments is perhaps in a personal and human way far more severe than it is on industry groups which can make adjustments in their patterns of trade to suit the new circumstances. As world mobility increases, I urge that this problem be looked at in a far wider context even than the present situation that has arisen from the recent revaluations.
– 1 have received advice from the Leader of the Opposition that he has nominated Mr Hamer to be a member of the Select Committee on Road Safety in place of Mr Drummond, as advised to the House yesterday.
– I thought it might be advisable to draw the attention of the House once more to the change in the standards of conduct - perhaps not so much conduct as the standards of estimation of conduct - on the part of the Government. I refer particularly to what has happened in regard to the approach that the Government has adopted on the left wing and the communist issue. Not very long ago it was considered a libel and unparliamentary to say that a supporter of the Government was associating with the Communist Party, had communist sympathies and was an adherent to the communist cause. Such a remark was judged to be unparliamentary and had to be withdrawn. But today this is no longer so because supporters of the Government, including Ministers, are openly associating with communist causes and making the communist cause their own. Consider the way in which the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) has been cohabiting with the North Vietnamese, bringing the Vietnamese murderers - the Vietcong - into this House, and making their cause his own. He has been associating the Government with communists. Under these circumstances it is no longer unparliamentary to say of a supporter of the Government that he is an associate of communists; that he runs with the communists; that he does what the communists want him to do; that he is a propagandist for the communists. This can no longer be considered in any way to be unparliamentary. The points of reference - the axes of reference - have been changed because the Government has moved in this direction. Of course there are more substantia/ examples even than those. Consider the way in which the major matters of international concern have been covered up by the exacerbation of matters which are of minor concern. For example, there is a tremendous pother about the French nuclear tests. That is well and good, but why is there no pother about the Chinese nuclear tests? lt has been said that the Communist Chinese are not really parties to the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty and they cannot be brought before the International Court of Justice, which they have not acknowledged. So we must do this to France. If this is so, why are we not threatening to do to Communist China what the Government is threatening to do to France, namely, to break off diplomatic relations unless it comes to the party? It is extraordinary that when the Chinese are doing these things the Government is falling head over heels to establish diplomatic relations with them, but when France is doing them we threaten to break off diplomatic relations with that country. Is not this ridiculous? I am one of the people who take these nuclear tests very seriously, not because I believe that the radiation damage is important - it is not - but what is important is the proliferation of nuclear weapons. I think that this is the main problem confronting the world today. In comparison with it, everything else sinks to minor proportions.
I can see that there is a reason - not the given reason but a real reason - why we should be sensitive on this matter. If this is so, why should we be sensitive against Prance, our ally, and not sensitive against Communist China which, diplomatic ties or not, proclaims itself to be our enemy? We have this double standard all the time. I remember not very many months ago when the Government was still the Opposition that the then Leader of the Opposition, now the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), was out in front of Parliament House with Vietcong flags in the assembly and supporting that assembly which was under Vietcong patronage. I know this because I saw it myself with my own eyes. When this matter was brought up in the House a great storm was raised by the honourable members of the then Opposition, the members on the Government side today. They said now terrible it was that any such accusation could be brought against their noble Leader of the Opposition, now the Prime Minister, How indignant they were. Do honourable members remember? Today Ministers from the same Party are officially appearing under Vietcong flags and before the portrait of the infamous Ho Chi Minh. And it is not so terrible, is it? This is a measure of the way in which our standards have changed. It is a very terrible thing that this is happening and nobody is taking very much notice of it. Surely it is our business in this House to try to give some leadership to the Australian people.
– lt would not be possible with you here.
– It is that kind of remark which portrays the attitude of the Government. The Government is looking at the matter only from the political point of view. It wants to defend itself against the revelation of the infiltration of communists and communist influences into its own ranks. I suggest to the House, even at this late hour at night, that we should be turning our attention to these things. These are the main things in Australian politics. The main thing in Australian Politcis is the way in which this small revolutionary faction has infiltrated itself into the Labor movement. It has infiltrated itself into the Labor movement because the Labor movement admits itself to be under the control of bodies outside this House, and in those outside bodies the communists are very powerful.
– What rot!
– I heard somebody say: What rot!’ Let me put it on the line. Before the last elections the present Prime Minister went and cringed to a communist mob in one of the trade unions in order to get money. That is officially on the record, and I have here the official transcript of the way the Prime Minister cringed and crawled to the communists on that occasion.
– It was the metal trades.
– It was the metal trades. People like Halfpenny and Carmichael were there. They were the men to whom the Prime Minister kowtowed, and then it was only to get money. That was a small thing.
Today he is talking about something much more important than money. He is talking about power, because unhappily the Prime Minister has power and the Prime Minister will be-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) ,was right a couple of weeks ago. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) should be certified.
-Order! The honourable member for Blaxland will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark. The Government of Australia recognised North Vietnam and made a public announcement a few weeks ago that people can travel between Australia and North Vietnam and that North Vietnamese people are welcome to come to this country, and it infuriates me to hear the resulting hue and cry that we so often hear in this House and the bleatings of the honourable member for Mackellar. But what a change there would be in the situation if instead of the United States Navy having ships in the Gulf of Tonkin the Soviet Navy had ships off the coast off New Zealand and naked aggression was being committed by the Soviet Navy against the New Zealanders instead of by the American Navy against the Vietnamese. What a changed situation it would be if as a result of that naked aggression, without any attack from New Zealand on the Soviet Navy, the Soviet Union plastered every New Zealand city almost to the stage where they were rubble for years to come, dropped the greatest bomb load in the history of the world and oppressed a small nation which is much less than it in size. What a hue and cry we would hear from members of the Opposition then. That analogy does not hit the deck because they would not want to recognise it.
If the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) feels some concern and some sadness for the plight of these people I do not think it is to be scoffed at or to be talked about in the derogatory terms which the honourable member for Mackellar uses on regular occasions. I think his remarks tonight were an unwarranted attack on the Minister and deserve the contempt of this House. I am sure that the honourable member for Mao kellar has the contempt of this House.
In talking about the attitude of the Government to the French nuclear tests the honourable member criticised its approach to tests carried out by China. Most of the Chinese tests have been underground tests, and the only indications we have had of those tests have been seismic disturbances which have been picked up by surveillance stations around Asia. The Chinese tests have not been atmospheric tests, so there is no analogy to be drawn between the French tests and the Chinese tests. The Soviet Union and the United States came to fruitful conclusions after entering into the strategic arms limitation talks, and there has been a general movement throughout the world to lessen the impact of strategic arms. The Labor Party has always supported such a move. It supported a nuclearfree zone in our area, but the Government of which the honourable member for Mackellar was a member only 2 years ago was encouraging Professor Baxter to establish a dirty bomb unit on the south coast of New South Wales at Jervis Bay from which a nuclear weapon could be developed.
The honourable member talks about the French but he was a Minister in the Government which agreed to have Baxter go to Britain and attempt to rubber stamp and push through a purchase of a type of nuclear reactor which could have produced weaponsgrade plutonium in this country. It is only because of the pressure of the Australian Labor Party, which opposed the construction of a natural fueled uranium reactor on the south coast of New South Wales, that there is not available to people like the honourable member, if ever in office again, weapons-grade plutonium. They are the facts of the situation. He would explode his devices in the Pacific if it was left to him. The Labor Party has been consistently opposed to nuclear tests. We have been opposed to nuclear weapons. We are opposed to the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere anywhere, and we have been consistent in that approach. We will oppose the French tests as far as we can.
The honourable member talks all the time about the Labor Party’s association with communists. It is because of the likes of him that there are people who think there is some value in communism. Does the honourable member realise that he is the outstanding example in this country to people who think there is some value in that ideology? It is because of the excesses of people like him that they exist. I put it to him that it is only because of the moderation of the Labor Party and the middle of the road social reform party that this element within the Australian community has in fact been curbed and absorbed in many ways within that structure. Rather than being poked at I think members of the Labor Party are to be applauded because they provide for people who have views which could correspond with some of the views-
-Order! It being 11 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until Tuesday next at 10 a.m. or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair.
House adjourned at 11 p.m. until 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8th May 1973, or until such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following information in answer to the honourable member’s question:
There has been no local investigation conducted specifically on its effect on the environment However, the likely effects on the environment in its use on cotton crops would be:
cotton - used as a defoliant.
The chemical is not very persistent, lasting a few days. It has no apparent lasting effect on soil and in this respect it has advantages over many other defoliants.
Operatives should not incur additional risk if the material is dealt with according to the precautionary advice on the label. The State Poisons Authorities require that precautionary statements and warnings shall appear on the labelling of agricultural chemicals which are considered to require these statements. Such statements are drawn up only after a detailed consideration has been made of the hazards- involved.
It is important to note that whilst ‘merphos’ is an organic substance containing phosphorus it does not possess a significant ability to inhibit cholinesterase enzyme activity in man or animal. On the other hand some organo-phosphorus compounds which are insecticides are highly toxic due to their effect on these essential biological processes.
There is extensive literature on the effects of organo-phosphorus insecticides on the health of operatives and from data obtained from this literature, guidelines for the safe use of these insecticides have been drawn up. The National Health and Medical Research Council has issued a booklet ‘Poisoning by Organo-Phosphorus Compounds’ which has been widely distributed.
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
According to the latest available census figures, what proportion of Australia’s population lives in urban centres with a population of more than (a) 500,000, (b) 75,000, (c) 50,000, (d) 20,000 and (e) 10,000.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
At 30th June 1971, the proportion of Australia’s population living in urban centres of (a) over 500,000 was 57.92 per cent; (b) 75,000 to 500,000 was 6.58 per cent; (c) 50,000 to 75,000 was 2.52 per cent; (d) 20,000 to 50,000 was 4.59 per lent; (e) 10,00 to 20,000 was 4.21 per rent. The total proportion of population in centres of more than 10,000 people is therefore 75.82 per cent.
However, for the purposes of the 1971 Census an urban area was defined as a local government area with a population density of 500 persons or more per square mile. The percentage of Australia’s population living in urban areas with a population of less than 10,000 persons was 9.73 per cent giving a total percentage of the Australian population in all urban areas of 85.55 per cent.
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. Two thirds of all the parking needs tor staff in the House are available within some ISO metres. There are ample additional spaces for all day parking within approximately 300 metres.
asked the Minister tor Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Information is only available on scholarship candidates and winners. Enrolment statistics are compiled by the Bureau of Census and Statistics and are not yet available for 1972. When this information becomes available the honourable member will be supplied with it.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Trade Unions: Representations on Government-created Bodies (Question No. 456)
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730503_reps_28_hor83/>.