28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. 3. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– I have received a return to the writ that I issued on 14 August for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Parramatta in the State of New South Wales to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of the Hon. Nigel Hubert Bowen, Q.C. By the endorsement on the writ it is certified that Philip Maxwell Ruddock has been elected.
Mr Philip Maxwell Ruddock was introduced and made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the division of Parramatta, New South Wales.
– 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 humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme;
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a General Practitioner, Specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Donald Cameron and Mr Jarman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme;
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons;
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Drury.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘free’ National Health Scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme;
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons;
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly, pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr McLeay and Mr Wilson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectf ully showeth :
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to make available to the Tasmanian Government a special grant for the purpose of securing Lake Pedder in its natural state.
And your petitioners, in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Cass and Mr Mathews. Petitions received.
To the Honourable, the Speaker, and the members of the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled.
The petitioners of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That the following legislation already enacted, in process of enactment, or to be enacted, namely that involving:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should consider cancellation, repeal, revision or modification of enacted and proposed legislation to recreate a framework of policy within which the Mining Industry might fund and pursue actively the exploration and development of Australia’s mineral resources along lines that will guarantee both proper usage and conservation of resources and also a dominant role for Australian-owned Companies in such development.
And your petitioners, in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Collard and Mr Katter.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shews:
Your petitioners therefore ask that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education, and so instruct the proposed National Schools Commission.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Gorton.
Petition received. .
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectively showeth that your petitioners oppose the proposed reduction of Commonwealth per capita grants to independent schools on the following grounds:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Willson. Petition received.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectively showeth:
That jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and therefore on the lives of citizens living in the general area. That in close proximity to the proposed Galston airport site are the Berowra Reserves, the Hallstrom Nature Reserve and the Muogamurra Sanctuary, and areas of Sydney’s Green Belt, which would be so affected and should be preserved for future generations.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second international airport for Sydney in the Galston area or surrounding north-western suburbs of Sydney.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Edwards.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned residents of Pretoria Parade, Hornsby, respectfully showeth:
That they object to the proposed siting of an airport in the Galston district.
That the proposed site is directly in line with their residential area.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House take steps to ensure that the Government does not site a second international airport for Sydney in the Galston area or surrounding suburbs. by Mr Edwards.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of certain electors of the Innisfail area respectfully showeth:
That they deplore ‘the projected closure of the Innisfail daily newspaper, the “Evening Advocate” due to increase telegraphic charges occasioned by the 1973-74 Budget.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives urge the Government not to increase the telegraphic charges .proposed in the Budget.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Fulton Petition received.
Army Land Holdings at Swanbourne, Western Australia
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
We, the undersigned, residents of Perth metropolitan areas, desire to express our opposition to proposals by the City of Nedlands in Western Australia to ask the Army to release part of its land at Swanbourne, Western Australia, for a road along the coast.
The Army land concerned is part of a unique area of about 400 acres of open coastal country situated within the near Metropolitan Area of Perth which should be preserved for the benefit of the public in the interests of future recreation and conservation of the natural environment.
It is our opinion that the proposed Toad cutting through Army land would inevitably become a major transport route carrying heavy north/south industrial traffic. It would cut off the beaches and fragment neighbouring residential areas.
We therefore humbly pray that the Army and the Australian Government do not release any part of its land or make any decision on the proposals of the City of Nedlands or any similar proposals by the Government of Western Australia, at least until an environmental impact study, open to the public, has been taken of the effects of such a road upon the coastal aTea and surrounding districts.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Viner.
– May I inform the House that the Special Minister of State, Senator Willesee, left Australia this morning to lead the Australian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York and for other international meetings in Japan and France. He is expected to return to Australia on 22 October. During his absence the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, Mr Stewart, is Acting Special Minister of State.
– I direct a question to the Acting Treasurer during the temporary absence of the Treasurer. What sort of anomalies are involved when the Government is trying, by stringent measures, to reduce domestic liquidity at one end of the economy, that is, the private sector, while simultaneously pumping money in at the other end, the non-producing end, with a 19 per cent lift in the public sector? What does the Minister call this type of economic control? I call it chaotic economic management.
– The honourable member may call it what he will, but he might be interested to know that I am not much impressed by his observation. Outlays increased at a far greater rate than income in the Budget last year than was the case with the Budget this year. There was a much bigger turn-around towards a deficit last year than this year. In fact, there was an actual reduction on the level of deficit this year compared to last year. The problems of the economy at the moment have largely been aggravated by the massive increase in the volume of money in the economy, as I mentioned yesterday, that is, a massive increase in the degree of liquidity available. There was a lag between when that occurred and when it started to have its effect. It is having its effect now. The problems with which we are grappling are ones for which honourable members opposite are responsible through their mismanagement. However, I ask members of the Opposition where they would cut back. Would they cut back on pensions? Is this the non-productive area about which they talk? Would they cut back on defence?
– What about the pipeline?
-Order! The House will come to order. The Minister has been asked a question and he is endeavouring to answer it.
– Would members of the Opposition reduce outlays on housing for low income earners, a program which the Minister for Housing has developed and which for the first time ever gives a priority specifically to people in this group? I think it is time for members of the Opposition, if they assert that there should be a cut back in public expediture, to say precisely where it should take place and to indicate at that time why they are so opposed to the Government’s programs for health, welfare, education, housing and development of the urban environment. Do they object to the $30m which will go to the States for the development of sewerage works? If they are not opposed to these proposals, to what are they opposed? Or is their performance now consistent with that which they displayed in government when, even then, they did not know what they were talking about?
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen reports based on a factual answer which he gave to a question on notice in relation to migration inquiries in the United States of America which would appear to indicate that interest in Australia by people in the United States has diminished? Is this the position or has there been some misreading of the statistics made available?
– It is true that towards the end of last year there was- a greatly reduced interest in Australia in the United States of America. As a matter of .fact in December the inquiries dropped to the lowest level for a long time. The inquiries for that month of December last were running at only about 3,000 and that was a very low number of inquiries. I am pleased to say that by June of this year the interest had picked up considerably and the inquiries to .the various officers throughout the United States were at a level of 5,000. When I was there a few weeks ago I must say that I found in the United States literally a boom of interest in Australia. In many locations people who previously did not know where Australia was now know where it is and instead of being surprised to hear something of this country they now look for the information. As a matter of fact Australians in the United States, I would say, at this particular time are walking taller than they have ever walked before. I am particularly pleased because the international image of Australia seems to me to be the best that it has been in my generation.
-I desire to ask the Minister for Defence a question. He will recall that some weeks ago I wrote to him asking whether, as rumoured, schools which ran compulsory cadet corps would have their Commonwealth per capita grants withdrawn. I recently received a reply from Senator Bishop, the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence, which said:
As you are no doubt aware, it is Government policy that military training in any form be voluntary. Accordingly, schools with cadet units have been advised that official recognition and support will be withdrawn if compulsion, or pressure, is exerted on pupils to participate in cadet activity.
I trust that this clarifies the matter.
As that reply has not clarified the matter, can the Minister s~ay now whether per capita grants will be withdrawn from schools with compulsory cadet corps? Is he opposed to military training? If so, how does he intend to fill the mythical battalions and phantom companies that the Chief of the General Staff spoke about?
– The honourable member has raised a number of questions concerning the Australian school cadet corps. It is true that I did issue a directive on behalf of the Government to schools where school cadet corps are located. I pointed out that it was the policy of this Government that service should be on a voluntary basis. At the same time, in informing the headmasters of the schools where cadet corps were located of the Government’s decision, I indicated that there would be a directive issued to them concerning the Government’s policy in relation to school cadets. If the honourable member would like a copy of that directive he can have it. I come to the second part of his question, and that is whether financial assistance that is now being accorded to school cadets will be withdrawn. No decision has been made by the Government in relation to this matter at all. I have issued no directive that funds should be withdrawn except where there is a clear case that the Government’s policy in relation to voluntary service in the cadet corps is not being adhered to. The honourable member will also be aware that currently a committee of inquiry is investigating the role of the Citizen Military Forces.
– That is a question on notice asked by me.
– In that case, I think that to answer the honourable member I should merely say this: The inquiry has under consideration not only the future of the CMF in Australia but also the future role of the Australian cadet corps.
– Per capita grants will not be withdrawn?
– Naturally I will await the report of the committee of inquiry. The Government will then consider the report which will be made available to me in relation to the CMF and the school cadet corps. When thathasbeenreceivedtheGovernment will make a decision about the future of the CMF and the school cadet corps.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the House. Has the Minister seen the Press statement by a senator in which he objected to certain statements made yesterday in this House by the Leader of the Opposition? Will he consider taking appropriate steps to ensure that the dignity of this
House is not further damaged by the use of intemperate and intimidatory language? Is it a fact that many members of the Opposition were elected to this House on Australian Democratic Labor Party preferences? Will he give those members of the Opposition who depend so heavily on Democratic Labor Party preferences the opportunity to dissociate themselves publicly as well as privately from the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition?
– No one regrets more than I do intemperate language being used in this Parliament.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is the Minister for Services and Property responsible for statements by the Leader of the Opposition? I am sure the Leader of the Opposition would completely dissociate himself from such an association. I submit that the Minister has no responsibility in this.
– Order! The point of order is well taken. What was said yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition does not come within the scope of the responsibilities of the Minister for Services and Property. The question is out of order.
– I rise to a point of order Mr Speaker. I do not want there to be any mistake about to whom the prize for the initial authorship of the statement should go It should go to the Prime Minister, of course. I would not want to rob him of that.
– I also wish to raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With due respect, the matter in question does come within the scope of my portfolio. I was asked whether a number of honourable members opposite held their seats on Democratic Labor Party preferences. As Minister for Services and Property, I have the responsibility of seeing that elections are conducted properly and of studying the results. I would like to inform the House on that important electoral aspect.
– Order! Now that the Minister has brought up that matter I think he is quite entitled to answer that part of the honourable member’s question, but he is not entitled to bring in the part about the wedding ceremony.
– The honourable member for Phillip asked me whether it was a fact that a number of members of the Opposition held their seats on Democratic Labor Party preferences. I can answer that part of his question because 1 have in front of me a copy of Focus’ the official journal of the Democratic Labor Party, which states:
In the new Parliament 22 Liberal members and 6 Country Party members hold their seats on Democratic Labor Party preferences.
It lists the following honourable members: The right honourable member for Lowe, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Wannon, the honourable member for Ballaarat, the honourable member for Henty, the honourable member for Hotham, the honourable member for Parramatta - that would have been the former honourable member for Parramatta but the new one will probably want them next time - the honourable member for Mackellar, the honourable member for Moreton, the honourable member for Bennelong, the honourable member for Mcpherson, the honourable member for Canning, the honourable member for Moore, the honourable member for Balaclava, the honourable member for Isaacs, the honourable member for Bendigo, the honourable member for Deakin, the honourable member for Ryan, the honourable member for Herbert, the honourable member for Griffith, the honourable member for Petrie, the honourable member for Stirling, the honourable member for Paterson, the honourable member for McMillan, the honourable member for Chisholm, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party and the honourable member for Cowper.
-Order! I ask the Minister to be as brief as possible.
– I will, Mr Speaker. Having said that, I think you should stretch a point, Mr Speaker, and allow them to apologise publicly.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I refer to the Minister’s speech in the House yesterday. Could the Minister inform me whether the engineer who contacted him was the Chief Operational Engineer of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority? If it was not, why did this engineer contact the Minister instead of the Chief Operational Engineer? Why did the Minister tell this engineer to inform the unions rather than inform the Chief Operational Engineer and the Secretary of the Snowy Mountains Council?
– I was contacted by Mr Douglas by telephone on Saturday at a quarter past twelve. He told me of the facts in relation to the commencement at that stage of the overflow of the Blowering. He told me of industrial requests that had been made. That was the first time I had knowledge of them. I told him that he ought to immediately contact -
– What is the relevance of that?
– I am answering the question. I told him that he ought to contact the union and tell it that the operation was most complex. I told him that he should also contact the Victorian electricity authorities. I told him that I would be again in touch with him in Canberra on the Sunday afternoon. I was.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Housing. As a result of yesterday’s decision by the New South Wales Government to permit building society interest rates to rise by 1 per cent, I ask: What effect will this decision have on home owners repaying loans to terminating building societies? Will these borrowers be hit as hard as borrowers repaying loans to the permanent building societies or does the general structure of the terminating building societies system help to cushion the effect? What action does the Government propose taking to assist borrowers placed at a disadvantage by these interest rate rises?
– I think there are close on 9,000 terminating building societies in Australia. Most of them are distributed in the States of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. The terminating societies are insulated to some extent against the increases recently announced. This principally follows the successful negotiation of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement which is currently before the House. The Agreement provides that 30 per cent of $21 8m, about $70m, made available under the Agreement is to be diverted to the terminating building societies through the home builders’ account. It is fortunate for the recipients and potential recipients of home builders’ account money that we have negotiated this agreement. The funds made available carry an interest rate of 4 per cent for the general purposes of the Agreement and 4J per cent in respect of terminating building societies which finally put their money out to borrowers at 5i per cent.
There is a considerable increase in the amount of money to be utilised by the terminating building societies, particularly that part which derives from the Australian Government’s support. Last financial year some $56m was made available under the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement. This year approximately $70m will be made available to provide housing assistance for the identifiable category of people who go to terminating building societies - those who receive an income in the vicinity of 95 per cent of average weekly earnings. The category of people who are assisted by State housing authorities receives in the vicinity of 85 per cent of average weekly earnings. In answer to the honourable member’s question, there is a very considerable cushioning available which will greatly assist that low income category in this period of rising interest rates.
– I ask the Minister for Minerals and Energy: Will he table gently the minutes of the Snowy Mountains Council meetings held in the last 4 weeks in entirety including decisions made by the Council in a telephone hook-up between members of the Council on 23 September? .
– Yes, certainly. There is no reason why I should not. I will go further than that. I will table and in fact I can inform the House now of the minutes of the meeting of the Council which was held on 14 August, and in which this is stated:
Generation at the present high rates beyond September would cause flooding in the lower Tumut and the electricity commissions’ planned entitlement would be exceeded. The electricity commissions stated that the high rates of generation would be required in September although for the SEVC lower than August. Mr Raddock agreed that to avoid flooding pre-releases from Blowering Reservoir would need to commence within a week.
-I call the honourable member for Robertson.
– I rise to take a point of order. The Minister was asked whether he would table certain things. He said yes. I would like to have from him when he expects he will table them including, as I made clear in my own question, the telephone decision that was made on 23 September.
– He does not bring a filing cabinet into the House with him. What is wrong with you?
– Precisely. I do not bring a filing cabinet with me. But I can say this: Irrespective of the decisions of the Council, I will act as I think best. In particular, I will either completely terminate the generation of power or put it at full capacity, according to what the special needs of a complex operation are. Yesterday, for example - and for humanitarian reasons - the 2 Tumut stations were operated at full capacity. There will be inevitable flooding consequences down below. If it were necessary to terminate that flooding, the power will be terminated.
– Will the Minister for Transport make available a research team to investigate the crash at Cabramurra in which 18 people were killed yesterday to ascertain the cause of the accident and the cause of the loss of life? Will he see whether lives could have been saved by the use of seat belts in the bus? If so, will he consider using the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers regarding interstate trade to make it compulsory for buses transporting interstate visitors to be fitted with seat belts?
– I am certain that the honourable member for Robertson and all other honourable’ members join with me in expressing our regret at the incident and our condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Unfortunately, it is accidents of this type which bring to the fore the need to introduce new regulations and to tighten up existing regulations where necessary. I would be quite happy to make available any officers of my Department to take part in research into the reasons for this accident. Like the honourable member for Robertson who is Chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety, I have been concerned for some time at the laxity of interstate bus operations. Too many accidents have occurred in this field of operation. Because of this situation, at the last meeting of the ATAC, I was successful in having the export group prepare a report on the desirability of fitting seat belts to all buses operating over long distances, together with the adoption of provisions for tighter inspections of the braking systems of these buses. I can say further that, at the previous meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council in February of this year, a uniform code of inspection for buses operating over long distances was introduced by the expert group and adopted by that Council. I have with me a document setting out uniform
inspection standards for omnibuses which may be of interest to honourable members So that they might study it, I seek leave of the House to incorporate the document in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour. Will the Minister inform the House what relief measures are proposed for the unemployed in rural areas for the period between the end of the present scheme which finishes this week and the implementation of the proposed new scheme? Does he realise that people are now being discharged, that hundreds of people are being affected and that the jobs of 8,000 people are at risk at the moment? Is this not a very cruel and inhumane way for a Labor government to be behaving? What steps should local government bodies take to ensure continued employment for those who are at present on relief? Finally, should these local government authorities continue to apply to State government authorities for assistance or is it his intention that they should apply directly’ to him? This is the question I asked yesterday. I hope I can get a reply today because so many people are daily being discharged from their jobs.
– I do not know why the right honourable gentleman grimaces as he does when he asks a question. I do not know whether he thinks it makes it look more penetrating, but he ought to try to look more pleasant if he wants to get a pleasant reply. In spite of the aggressive and almost insulting way in which the right honourable gentleman asked the question I can tell him that the Prime Minister called me into his office only last night to talk about this matter. He expressed his deep concern about the plight of people in certain pockets - not a lot - of unemployment throughout the countryside. He has expressed special concern, for example, for the position of people in Tasmania -
– He is concerned with all areas of distress. He has asked me to prepare another submission to Cabinet. That is now in the course of preparation and it will be ready very shortly. It will provide a scheme which will give proper and adequate protection to those who are in this distressed position. The scheme which the Government introduced for unemployment relief was a very poorly thought out scheme.
– The McMahon Government.
– The McMahon Government, yes, I am sorry.
– You did mean the present Government when you said ‘the Government’?
– The right honourable gentleman ought to know that the scheme that is now in operation was not introduced by this Government. It was introduced by his Government and it was a very poorly conceived scheme. It was so poor that when I asked Cabinet to continue it for another 6 months it rejected it out of hand. I think it was absolutely right. Cabinet Minister after Cabinet Minister drew my attention to gross anomalies in the present scheme and told me that I ought not simply ask it to continue a scheme that was so inadequate. In its place I will be bringing down fresh recommendations which will take care of all the points -
– That is my business, Sir.
– It is not only your business. It is our business - the people who are representing the many unemployed.
– You are carrying on as though you are a member of Al Fatah. You are not going to frighten me with your threats.
– I ask him to withdraw that. It is insulting.
– Order! The House will come to order. When honourable members or
Ministers are referring to members or Ministers they must refer to them by the name of their electorate or the portfolio which they administer.
– I raise a point of order. I am not going to tolerate that remark by the Minister for Labour about a colleague of mine. I ask that he withdraw it and apologise.
– There was so much noise coming from both sides of the House thatI did not hear what the honourable member said.
– You are the only one.
– Order! I did not hear what the honourable member said because of the noise in the chamber at the time so I do not know what the interjection was. However, if it was offensive to the honourable member, I ask the Minister to withdraw.
– What I said was that the honourable member for Kennedy was behaving like a member of Al Fatah.
– Are you going to withdraw it?
– Just calm yourself. You are a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council; try to behave like one.
– That man over there got us thousands of votes in Parramatta.
– Try to control yourself.
– I will not.
– Order! The Minister for Labour will withdraw the remark.
– I must have silence when I am speaking. Of course, if the remark -
– You are a racist. You are a party to racism; let that be clear. Let the hypocrites come out and show their colours.
– They are a pack of hypocrites - a pack of hypocrites and liars.
- Mr Speaker, this has gone on long enough. Will the Minister for Labour withdraw and let the episode be finished?
– Order! I think that the Minister for Labour might withdraw the remark and that the honourable member for Kennedy should remain quiet while the Minister does so.
– Now that order has been restored, I do withdraw, if the honourable member feels offended by what I said. I think he would be the only person in the chamber who would be offended.
– Do not qualify it; withdraw it or get out!
– I do withdraw it and I wind up by saying as I said yesterday that when my recommendation to Cabinet is considered, I am certain that the Cabinet will find it very difficult to reject.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen reports of the failure of the settlement of Ugandan Asians in Britain? Is it a fact that since October 1972 Ugandan Asians have been in hostel accommodation in Sydney? What is the position in relation to these refugees? Does our experience parallel that of the British?
– I cannot comment on the reports which I have seen about the difficulties of Ugandan Asians settling in Britain. But I should like to say that I think the position in Australia reflects great credit on both sides of the Parliament because it was under the previous Administration when permission was given for the issue of some 500 visas to assist in the problem of settling refugees from East Africa. I should like to acknowledge that that decision was made by the previous Administration. Since that time, we have had a request from the High Commissioner for Refugees for an additional 50 visas to assist in the remnants of the resettlement and the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs was happy to agree with my suggestion that they be issued. So, on both sides of the Parliament, there has been concern to assist in the resettlement of Asians driven from Uganda. From October 1972 there were 50 Ugandan Asian families in the ‘Endeavour’ hostel in Sydney and I think all honourable members will be pleased to know that only 10 families remain at the hostel. All the others have been settled successfully and absorbed into their professions. Just the other day, Mr 1. H. Paddick a migrant selection officer, came back from Nairobi where he was instrumental in selecting many of these refugees. He was present at the ‘Endeavour’ hostel at a thank-you function to all the people in Australia who had been concerned with the resettlement of these refugees. I am pleased to acknowledge the efforts from both sides of the Parliament in this humane operation. Mr Paddick, who has had experience in East Africa, said that the people who have come here have been integrated in a way which surprised him, integrated in a far better way than they had ever been absorbed in East Africa. They unanimously expressed the opinion that they were grateful for the hand of welcome that had been extended to them. They wanted to become Australian citizens, and the Operation Refugee from East Africa reflects credit on Australia generally and on both sides of this Parliament.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. What were the industrial demands that Mr Douglas, the Chief Operational Engineer of the Snowy Mountains Council, conveyed to him on Saturday afternoon? What reply did the Minister give on that Sunday afternoon telephone call? Is it not a fact that the problem of flooding to which he referred earlier began about a fortnight or 10 days ago and not last weekend?
– I can quote from a minute which I received yesterday.
– Table it.
– Yes, I will be very pleased to table it, too. It is from Mr Reiher, the Deputy Chairman of the Snowy Mountains Council, acting in the absence overseas of Sir Lenox Hewitt. This is what he said -
– What date?
– It is dated 26 September. He said:
A special meeting of the Snowy Mountains Council was held this morning in Canberra, and it considered the question of control of water in the .Lower Tumut below Blowering Reservoir.
This meeting was convened at short notice last week, because of a situation which had arisen with the filling of Blowering Reservoir by, consistently high energy demands from the Electricity Commission of New South Wales over the past several months.
The position has been reached when water is spilling from the reservoir and flow limitations in the Lower Tumut River were becoming a serious restraint on the flexibility of the scheme and its capacity to meet further energy demands from New Souh Wales. Approximately 11,800 acre feet of water have been spilled from the reservoir since it commenced to overflow last Saturday.
That is the answer to the honourable member’s question. The minute continues:
Irrespective of the industrial action directed at the Tumut Power Stations of the Snowy Mountains system by the hydroplant operators of the Electricity Commission of New South Wales during the past several days, responsible management of water at Blowering Reservoir required curtailment of energy production from the Tumut system.
At its meeting today, the Council set down operational guidelines which will have the effect of curtailing power production from the Tumut stations, so as to prevent flooding from the Tumut River below Blowering Reservoir except in situations where natural inflows cannot be fully controlled by the water storages of the system.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and it is supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Cook. Is one-third of the housing assistance loans made under the States grants housing assistance legislation made available to building societies at the 4 per cent interest rate which has been fixed by this Government, or is it made available to the building societies by the State governments at a different rate of interest?
– I think that was a supplementary question. I call the Minister for Housing.
– The position is that under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement the funds are made available at 4 per cent for ordinary purposes and at 4½ per cent for the home builders account which is a source of terminating building society funds. Those societies pass on that money to borrowers at a maximum of5¾ per cent interest, a highly concessional rate in the current situation.
– That is not all their funds; that is only part of their funds.
– It is about half the funds which sustain terminating building societies. The honourable member oughtto appreciate that funds at5¾ per cent are highly concessional and that the action taken by this Government in providing a substantial increase the allocation will assist greatly to bring home ownership within the capacity of low income people.
– I ask the Minister for Minerals and Energy the question which he refused to answer when asked by the Deputy
Leader of the Country Party. That question simply is this: What were the union requests or demands that Mr Douglas, the Chief Operational Engineer of the Snowy Mountains Council, conveyed to him last Saturday?
– I repeat my answer that the demands did not matter in the context of the overall operation.
– What were they?
– When honourable members opposite are quiet I will continue. The union demands did not matter in the overall context of the balancing of the output, or I should say, the release of water. They were within themselves reasonable. Nor did I want the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to be put in a position where it would be the meat in the sandwich when Sir Robert Askin tolerates exactly the same situation in New South Wales, nor did I intend to have professional engineers from the Electricity Commission of New South Wales brought as agents provocateurs into a federal undertaking.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Are multi-national corporations a target of investigation by United Nations committees set up at the instigation of developing countries which are alarmed by the sway that multi-national corporations exercise over their economies? Did the Prime Minister at the Ottawa Conference of Commonwealth heads of government support the establishment within the Commonwealth Secretariat of a group which would, among other things, examine the roles played by multinational corporations? As Canada and Australia face an appalling density of foreign control in both the petro-refining and mining sectors of 74 per cent, 65 per cent, 80 per cent and 62 per cent respectively, and as the efforts of bothcountriesthroughtheirrespectivecor- porations - the Australian Industry Development Corporation and the Canadian Development Corporation - are attempts to break the power of multi-national corporations–
– Order! The honourable gentleman will ask his question.
– Give a bit more information.
– Be a little patient. Will the Prime Minister inform the House, firstly, whether the secretariat group has yet been set up; secondly, whether he will exchange information with the Canadian Government with a view to formulating multilaterial policies aimed at ensuring that multi-national corporations act in the best interests of both countries, and thirdly, what progress the United Nations committee is making in its consideration of these matters and what part is Australia playing in that consideration?
– The United Nations has established a committee to study multinational corporations, and such a committee group is also being established within the Commonwealth Secretariat following the discussions which I initiated at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting at Ottawa in August. Consultations and exchanges of information have already taken place with Canada, whose experience of control of its industries and resources by multi-national corporations is similar in nature to Australia’s experience but in fact greater in degree. Naturally this mutually beneficial exchange of information will continue. The United Nations committee has commenced its meetings. Australia will participate in the work of the committee and we will be represented on it by Sir Ronald Walker, the distinguished economist who has for many years past represented Australia as Ambassador to France and more recently to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. .The Government will follow the work of both the Commonwealth Secretariat group and the United Nations committee with great interest and attention.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. During a recent Press conference he said that his Government would support certain actions - I quote his words - ‘designed to bring down the South African Government or at least have the South African Government abandon its objectionable policies’. Is there any precedent for an Australian Prime Minister or an Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs making such a pronouncement about a friendly nation? What is his Government’s view on the policies of a fellow Commonwealth country, Zambia, for example, where most of the members of the former Opposition party are in gaol without trial?
– My predecessors, the right honourable members for Lowe and Higgins - I think also the late Prime Minister Mr
Harold Holt - co-operated in international action to bring down a rebel regime in Zimbabwe, the British colony of Southern Rhodesia. That is an immediate parallel which should occur to us all. Australia will cooperate in the United Nations General Assembly and all its specialised agencies in actions designed to change the policy of the South African Government on racial questions and, if the policy is not changed, to bring that Government down. Similarly, Australia will co-operate with the same bodies to oust South Africa from its illegal occupation of Namibia - South West Africa. Australia will carry out any decisions made by those international bodies where South Africa’s major trading partners also heed those decisions.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Capital Territory. What is the degree of pollution in the Molonglo River and Lake Burley Griffin resulting from the now disused mines at Captains Flat? Is excestive pollution coming from these disused mines and is there any danger of that pollution destroying the quality of Lake Burley Griffin? If there ls such excessive pollution and danger, what steps is the Government taking to solve the problem?
– I think the best way to answer the honourable member’s question is to describe the problem briefly. There is pollution in the Molonglo River. It comes from the waste - the tailings - left from the old Captains Flat mine which closed in 1961 or 1962. An estimate that has been given of the degree of the waste is that about 1.5 million cubic yards of slime, dust and other pollutants are in continual danger of sliding into or moving towards the Molonglo River. This situation should be a real lesson to all of us in thinking of such enterprises. Enterprises may operate in a community for years and give profits to people involved in them, but when they close down, years later the community as a whole faces the collective social price of having to fix up the mess.
There is also this to be said: Very little was done by the previous Government to attend to this particular problem. The legal position is that the State of New South Wales is under an obligation to keep the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers, which flow into the Australian Capital Territory, free of pollution and protected against pollution. This requirement is contained in the Seat of Government Administration Act of 1909 or 1910. The fact is that these rivers are polluted and the State of New South Wales is, I suppose it would have to be said, in breach of its obligations. But one can sympathise with the State Government because it is a feature of modern federalism that the State Government has to say: ‘Well, where do we get the funds to put the matter right?’ An interdepartmental committee has been working on the subject. I hope, with my colleagues the Minister for Environment and Conservation and the Minister for Urban and Regional Affairs, to be a party in initiating action in order to avoid any future risk of pollution. The problem also is related to the proposal to build the Googong dam. That would turn off waters for an interim period from the Queanbeyan River into the Molonglo River while the dam was being constructed. The fact that pollution is diluted at the moment by that excessive water would stop for awhile, and there is a risk there. But we are hoping to initiate action.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). The Prime Minister is well known for a somewhat loose use of phrases -
-Order! The right honourable gentleman must give the instance where he has been misrepresented.
– Yes, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister made the statement that my Government had taken action to bring down the Government of Southern Rhodesia or Zimbabwe. The facts are these: The previous Government had consistently taken the view that relationship with the Government of Southern Rhodesia was directly the responsibility of the British Government, and we did not intervene to bring down the Government. Secondly, so far as the United Nations resolutions were concerned, we took the point of view that it was our duty and responsibility to comply with them to the last comma, and we did so. The Prime Minister has been wrong in his statements about my Government.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Prime Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I was referring to no more than the right honourable gentleman’s Government’s application of United Nations sanctions.
– You did not say that. I said that you were guilty of misrepresentation and you are again.
– The right honourable gentleman’s Government did not enthusiastically or fully, but at least partially, apply United Nations sanctions. I agreed that he should have done so. I thought that I was acknowledging that he had.
I have been misrepresented in another way by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in a point of order he took at question time today and also in -a speech he made yesterday. I have not described the Australian Democratic Labor Party as a whore or z harlot. I have, however, quoted with approval Sir Henry Bolte’s description of the Australian County Party as the prostitute of politics.
– For the information of honourable members I present the text of a statement by the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) regarding the 13th South Pacific Conference held at Guam earlier this month.
– Pursuant to section 22 of the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1972, I present the Nineteenth Annual Statement concerning the operation of the Act and the payment of subsidy during the year ended 30 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable members I present a paper listing the birth dates drawn in the 16 national ballots held from 1965 to 1972, which I have been asked to make available for statistical study purposes. I might say that the previous Government kept the birth dates drawn in the first 11 national service ballots a secret, thus preventing any public check on call-ups. It was not until 28 September 1970 that the former Government yielded to Opposition pressure to have these dates made public.
– For the information of honourable members, pursuant to section 23 of the Cities Commission Act 1972-1973, I present the first annual report of the Cities commission for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
Pursuant to section 12 of the Cities Commission Act 1972-1973, I present the report by the Cities Commission on matters relating to urban and regional development.
– For the information of honourable members I present the financial statements on the Commonwealth Railways operations for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable members, I present an interim statement on the operation of the States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act for the year ended 30 June 1973. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a copy of an instrument dated 4 September 1973 made pursuant to section 5 of the Housing Loans Insurance Act 1955-1966 declaring a class of persons to be an approved class of lenders, together with a brief explanatory statement.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a Tariff Board report on plasticisers of the polyester type (Dumping and Subsidies Act) dated 24 August 1973.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949-1968, I present the tweny-fifth annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the year ended 30 June 1973 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on these statements.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Constitution Alteration (Prices) Bill 1973.
Constitution Alteration (Incomes) Bill 1973.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 9 October, at 11 o’clock a.m. or at such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the Chair, unless Mr Speaker shall, by telegram addressed to each member of the House, fix an earlier date of meeting.
Mr DALY (Grayndler - Leader of the
House) - by leave - I move:
The Committee, when undertaking its present present inquiry, may wish to have the power granted by the acceptance of the motion. In accordance with practice, the motion is proposed for the concurrence of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That the House is of opinion that this Government with the co-operation of the Victorian State Government should appoint a joint Commonwealth/State committee to investigate the possibility of the economic and advantageous utilisation of the vast brown coal resources of the Latrobe Valley, for the purpose of producing (a) liquid fuel, (b) solid fuel, (c) synthetic products or (d) any other products of importance to the national interest.
This is not meant to be a narrow motion, but all evidence points to Victoria being the most appropriate source of coal. Apparently the notice of motion I gave last week has aroused considerable interest. Already a question has been asked in the Victorian Parliament by the Australian Labor Party member for Morwell, Mr Amos, of the Minister for Fuel and Power, Mr Balfour, as to whether the Victorian Minister had been asked by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) to co-operate in joint research on alternative uses for brown coal. I presume that Mr Amos, whose State seat is in my Federal electorate of McMillan, does not intend to allow me to get all the credit for having launched this motion on a matter of national importance. I also presume that there has been some collusion between Mr Amos and the Minister for Minerals and Energy to ensure that some political mileage will be gained from the issue by the Australian Government. But. I take comfort in the knowledge that the Minister for Minerals and Energy has already endorsed the taking of the action I have proposed should be taken. I refer to a newspaper article in today’s Melbourne ‘Sun’, which reads:
Mr Amos had asked if Mr Balfour would cooperate with the Federal Minerals and Energy Minister, Mr Connor, in joint research on alternative uses for brown coal.
Mr Balfour told Mt Amos he had not heard from Mr Connor, but would be agreeable to co-operating with him.
Mr Balfour’s reply must be very heartening to us all. Perhaps I should be satisfied at this point that my motion is to be carried. However, to ensure that members of this House are more enlightened, let me not take for granted that the Minister’s generosity is likely to exceed his good looks.
I appreciate the opportunity I have been given to move this motion and speak to it. I hope that my contribution to the debate will remind this Parliament that the production of oil from coal will provide an all-important alternative fuel. This is an important issue for many reasons. We must all appreciate the great value of the brown coal field to Victoria. It could be of the same value to the whole of Australia. Today I am repeating a hope which has been expressed in parallel terms by enthusiasts who have seen and predicted from time to time a need for Australia to produce its own furnace fuel and fuel for the generation of power and the production of electric light, and to produce hard fuel such as char. Initially these goals all seemed too far away. The ideas were greeted as being over-enthusiastic, as something one dreams about. Some will say: ‘Of course it can be done, but it will never be an economic proposition’. What new venture ever was initially an economic proposition?
– The same thing was said about Mount Isa.
– That is correct. How important is the production of oil from coal? I say it is of vital importance. That is why I am requesting the Government to set up a joint Commonwealth-State committee to collate all the evidence, ideas, technical knowledge and research experimentation. Many world authorities have warned that liquid fuel supplies are going to be difficult in the years to come. Australia’s position is solely dependent on off-shore wells and imports. Production of synthetic oil from brown coal - or any coal for that matter - must represent a new and exciting venture for any Government prepared to pioneer. Success in that venture will provide a new era of job opportunity.
Let us look at the history of the utilisation of brown coal, using the Latrobe Valley as an illustration. I regret time will not permit me to retrace all the history, nor is it necessary for me to do so. As far back in history as 1852 brown coal was found in a number of places throughout Australia. As the years went by the Latrobe Valley deposits became easily the most impressive. The Victorian Government geologist, James Stirling, told a royal commission on coal in 1891 that he believed the deposits were the largest in the world, and that proved to be correct. The deposits were approximately 56,000 million tons. What a wonderful asset we have. What a wonderful natural resource for Australia it has proved to be and will continue to be. Victoria was dependent on New South Wales black coal until the great maritime strike in 1890 disrupted supplies. Thrown on to our own resources, with very little research having been done until then, we suffered disabilities whilst testing and research were carried out in Germany. Thus the briquette was made. It was well above the quality of anything previously produced. In 1901 Stirling, the State Geologist, visited Germany and found that the use of brown coal was expanding. He saw in his mind a vision of the Latrobe Valley dotted with collieries and factories, nourished and sustained by brown coal, and he urged that Victoria’s magnificient beds be exploited.
– What did you do when you were in the Legislative Council? You destroyed the brown coal industry.
– I did a lot for it. The honourable member would not even know.
– I know more about it than you do.
– The honourable member would not even know.
– Look where the briquette industry is today through the actions of the Victorian Liberal Government.
– That is a good speech. I repeat that in 1901 Stirling said he saw a vision of the Latrobe Valley dotted with factories and collieries, nourished and sustained by the brown coal, and he urged that Victoria’s magnificent beds be exploited. Nothing was done. It was likened to a huge fortune in chancery waiting for the rightful heirs to the riches. In the 50 years to 1917 by sporadic efforts in various places 120,000 tons of brown coal were won. In the next 50 years Victoria produced more than 300 million tons, an average of 120,000 tons per week. In 1977 production is expected to be 120,000 tons a day. Today, with huge dredges the size of small ships scraping brown coal off the surfaces 200 to 300 ft below ground level, with about 100 ft of soil above, with endless belts running direct to our huge electric power stations, briquette factories and on to rail waggons hauled by electrically powered locomotives, 400,000 tons of coal are won each week.
I am illustrating how procrastination in research resulted in many difficulties in the years gone by. In this day and age we should not be caught in similar circumstances. Men of vision predicted the use and the need to utilise the coal for what we are now using it. Some of them never saw their scientific views materialise. In 1918 we find a parallel to today’s argument. Just as the Bill introduced in the Victorian Parliament at that time to utilise brown coal for the production of of electricity was very vigorously debated as a ‘pipe dream’, ‘uneconomic’ and ‘a burden on the State’, the same would be said of a Bill to set up an authority to produce synthetic oil if it were introduced into this Parliament in this session. However I would confidently predict that the result would be similar by comparison and just as viable as the State Electricity Commission, the briquettes and the char.
Today I am not requesting a Bill to create an oil producing complex. I am requesting that this Government appoint a joint CommonwealthState Committee to ensure we are fully qualified and informed so that eventually we will be able to set up this industry which today I can visualise as being of vital necessity to the welfare of this nation. I am carrying out a promise I made to my electorate of McMillan, that I would press for the scientific research of the economic production of oil from our coalfields. I could echo the expressions of the supporters of the Government sitting opposite and say, ‘I have a mandate from the people to do this’. I am now asking the Government to do this in the interests of the growing population of the Latrobe Valley and the nation as a whole. It is in the interests of Australia to have an alternative fuel should we ever become the victim of aggression from hostile countries. I see it also as one of our greatest provisions for the defence of this country. Perhaps Government members do not realise or subscribe to the view that we need a defence and security measure. In recent times we have seen great new capital works within the brown coal area for the production of electricity. As this is mostly a very sophisticated development, and almost completely automated, the work force is being lowered. With a new process such as I am proposing, we could be working in conjunction with other coal users. I can visualise job opportunity being maintained for the growing population, if we can achieve this result. If the House has any doubts about the quantity of coal available for this project, it may rest assured that what was predicted as being the largest deposit in the world is a proven fact. Australia has many coal deposits. My colleague the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) tells me he would welcome the vast coal areas of his electorate being utilised in the national interest, particularly if employment resulted.
The Latrobe Valley’s brown coal deposit alone is in excess of 56,000 million tons, enough coal to support my proposal. I hope that the Government will see the merit of this motion. The production of oil and synthetic products is supported by a large number of people qualified to give valid reasons for believing in its eventual economic viability. To quote some of the most eminent research and scientific officers, let me first turn to a friend of mine, Mr Leigh Kennedy of Morwell, who is the technical manager of Australian Char Pty Ltd. Mr Kennedy had the good fortune to commence his professional career in brown coal research under the direction of the late Dr Ron Andrews, who was a very distinguished Chairman of the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria. This Corporation manufactured and supplied brown coal gas to Melbourne and suburbs. In 1930 Dr Andrews was Chief Chemist of the Metropolitan Gas Company. In 1953, in addressing the Fifth Empire Mining and Metallurgical Congress in Melbourne, he said:
What is to be done in Australia, where all mechanised agriculture, aerial and road transport and industry are entirely dependent upon imported oil? If a large synthetic liquid fuel plant is to be erected here, it must be obvious that the first consideration is cheap coal. The second consideration would demand that abundant coal be present in the area to warrant the necessary expenditure on the project. The Latrobe Valley would be economically and strategically the best coal bearing aTea in Australia for this purpose.
Mr Kennedy of Australian Char Pty Ltd in a letter to the ‘Australian’ in November 1972, had this to say:
Through the 1930s when he was Chief Chemist of the Metropolitan Gas Company Dr Andrews applied himself to the problem of what could be done with brown coal in Victoria. By 19S0 he had conceived three schemes: The first one was to make gas from brown coal, the second to make char, and third idea was to make synthetic liquid fuels (oil) from brown coal.
The first scheme became a reality in 1956 with the Morwell Lurgi plant which in the years preceding the introduction of natural gas in 1969 played a vital role in supplying gas to Melbourne.
His second idea for the manufacture of char from briquettes became a commercial reality in 1970 with the commissioning of the Morwell plant of Australian Char Pty Ltd, of which I am the technical manager.
I predict that the next decade will see oil from coal plants erected in Victoria.
He says that a singleminded approach achieves results. I would like to say that the motion I moved to have a co-ordinated committee of Commonwealth and State content would produce the point of fact based on the coordinated committee’s and scientists’ results. The letter continues:
Recently I attended a fuel symposium in Canberra where I heard the Secretary of the Department of National Development, Mr L. F. Bott, talk of the abundance of natural gas in Australia, where he said the need is to encourage the search for oil. Mr Bott mentioned the coming shortage of natural gas in the United States and their $120m 4-year program of coal gasification research. He was strangely silent about the multi-million dollar oil from coal research projects which are also being pursued in the U.S.
The Department of National Development takes the view that Australia has no incentive to turn to oil from coal processes. I disagree. Granted the need for further technical development of the new processes which, the Americans have for making oil from coal, the question is: What will Australia’s oil situation be at the end of the decade?
Oil consumption in Australia is growing at the rate of 6.5 per cent per annum, while the exploration rate for new oil fields is declining in spite of a cumulative $124m paid from 1957 to 1972 under the Commonwealth Petroleum Search Subsidy Act. With the inevitable decline in production of oil from existing fields, Australia will become more dependent upon imported supplies unless more oil is found.
I believe that the aim of an oil from coal policy should be to establish 100,000 barrels per day plants-
This would cost approximately $300m: in the next decade in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland where major coal reserves are favourably located with respect to the centres of oil consumption, but away from the capital cities - a contribution to decentralisation as well.
The time has come for Australia to begin oil from coal research, so that our options for oil supply will be open at the end of this decade.
The letter is signed ‘G. L. Kennedy’. I think that I could not do more than agree entirely with the points of view of the writer of that article. He has shown a sincerity of purpose and a keen scientific knowledge. I am sure that there are many dedicated persons of similar calibre to Mr Kennedy who would welcome the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test. I was interested to read in the Melbourne Age’ of 22 September 1973 the report of a speech by a Mr Madsen, who also puts forward the same point of view. As my time has almost expired, I will quote briefly from this Press report. The report states:
Australia can avoid the energy and oil crisis affecting the United States with long term planning now . . .
If new oil reserves are not found, Australia will once again become dependent on other countries for oil - joining the queue as one more buyer in the sellers’ market.
The report continues:
Mr Madsen said the Government, oil companies and industry had to sit down together and come up with a realistic and practical plan for Australia’s energy resources.
I have much pleasure in supporting this proposition.
– Splendid speech! Splendid speech! A blow for the Latrobe Valley! A beauty!
– Order! If the honourable member for Kennedy does that again, I will take the necessary action. He is not sitting in his correct seat.
He is deliberately interjecting in a manner which is not becoming to the House.
– May I seek an explanation? I think that I am entitled to an explanation from the Chair as to what 1 did.
-Order! You interjected and you were not in your correct place.
– But you prefaced that with another remark.
– You also made a speech of which you are well aware.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
-Order! I ask the honourable member to resume his seat.
– I move:
I do so to enable the honourable member to complete his speech.
-Order! The honourable member sat down before his time had expired.
– No. He did not.
-The light indicating the final minute of his speech was still on when he sat down. I understood that he had finished his speech.
– If necessary, I will move that the honourable member be granted an extension of time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank honourable members for the courtesy that they have extended to me. This is a most important subject. I have done considerable research into the matter. I was quoting from a newspaper report of a speech by Mr Madsen, the Managing Director of Mobil Oil Australia Ltd. The newspaper report of Mr Madsen’s speech continues:
Let us decide now what we are going to require, where, when and how we are going to meet that requirement and who will pay the price. . . .
We are wrangling over who is going to own, transport or sell the oil. These are side issues. . . .
I could not agree more. The article continues:
It would be foolish to say that Australia has nothing to fear from the energy crisis.
It states further:
How wisely and productively we spend that time will determine whether or not we too will some day find ourselves caught in the energy crunch.
Self-sufficiency in crude oil is one of our great needs. Large sums of money have been and are being spent on oil search exploration. We do not seem to have reached the goal by any means. Perhaps the priorities are all wrong. Perhaps we should be spending some of the exploration subsidies in the direction of the development of oil from coal. By the millions of dollars that we are now spending, we are discovering unlimited quantities of natural gas but insufficient quantities of crude oil. If this pattern continues, we will never be self-sufficient in this resource. So, I put it to the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor): What about getting your priorities right? Your exploration money would be well spent in establishing a liquid fuel plant. Might I request of the Minister that he set up this co-ordinating committee and co-operate with the States to ensure that Australia has the protection of sufficient oil.
I am concerned about the vulnerability of our fuel supplies. As I have previously pointed out, we have no land based fuel production of any sort. We import one-third of our requirements and two-thirds comes from off-shore wells. This is a most vulnerable supply; the Minister must surely agree. All that aside, I see merit in the opportunity to create employment for a growing Latrobe Valley work force. What about taking the opportunity to make decentralisation a reality? To paraphrase the slogan of the Australian Labor Party: It’s time to make oil and fuels from brown coal.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. I do so with considerable enthusiasm. 1 congratulate the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) on an excellent speech. It is quite obvious that he has done a great deal of research on this subject. I believe that the proposals that he has put forward are in the national interest. 1 only hope that we can treat this matter on an all party basis because T do believe that the proposals put forward by the honourable member contain considerable merit. I think that they could even be broadened.
Let me say something about oil from coal. There is nothing new in producing oil from coal. The late Harold Holt used to recount a story of an incident when he was a Minister in this House. Mr Rowley James, the father of the present honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), was a member of the Opposition. He was very keen on producing oil from coal. One day, he asked a question of Harold Holt on the subject. Harold asked: ‘Did you say “coal” or “gold”, Rowley?’ Rowley said: ‘Coal, you fool - c-o-l-e.’
There is nothing new in this form of obtaining oil. We all know that, in the course of the last war, Germany had vast plants for making oil from coal. The only problem with such production is that of cost. In wartime one can make oil at a cost when it is needed for Messerschmidts and for other uses. That is what Germany did. We know that, more recently, the South Africans have established a plant operating at Johannesburg which makes a considerable amount of oil from coal. There is a major plant in the United States of America. One could not call it a pilot plant because it is even larger than one would expect such a plant to be. Quite obviously, nations are moving to the stage of doing more and more research into ways of getting oil other than by processing crude oil. I understand that some of the oil companies are now moving to buy large coal reserves, particularly in the United States, knowing that sooner or later they will need to turn to this other form of oil supply.
Australia is particularly fortunate in the quantities of coal which it has. The honourable member for McMillan has mentioned the vast resources of the Latrobe Valley. We know that Australia has very large resources of brown coal and also of black coal. Some of that coal is coking coal; some of it is steaming coal. In my electorate near Oaklands, there is a very large deposit of coal which in quality is halfway between brown coal and the best BTU black coal. Undoubtedly this coal in addition could become the basis of some future industry formed to make oil out of coal. We have been told that we have vast deposits in Australia and only recently there have been 2 big discoveries - the discovery by Utah up in the Peak Downs-Goonyella area of Queensland and a discovery, I am not sure by whom, in South Australia.
– Utah made the discovery in South Australia. I may be wrong in saying that Utah discovered the Queensland deposits but certainly the Utah discovery in South Australia has again delineated large quantities and this has meant a 25 per cent increase in the nations reserves of black coal.
There is no doubt whatsoever that large quantities exist and are now known. The Minister for National Development, Sir Reginald Swartz, my successor, announced not so long ago that Australia’s known resources were sufficient at the present rate of usage for the next 250 years at least, and that statement was made before any of these new discoveries. So there is no doubt that the availability is there.
In addition we have large quantities of shale. Oil can be made from shale. Work is proceeding on this in the United States which has large quantities of shale and where is a big demand for oil. Owing to the present problems of a big increase in demand and a reduction in the search for and discovery of oil in the United States that country is turning to shale. We know that during the last war a shale plant was set up at Glen Davis. It continued to operate until the Menzies Government came in and determined that there was no need to continue petrol rationing and that it was much cheaper to import crude oil from overseas than to pay the large price involved in the making of oil from the Glen Davis shale. One of the problems with the Glen Davis shale was its poor quality. Since that time we have delineated a large body of shale in the Julia Creek area. The advantage of that discovery is that the shale is associated with vanadium. I believe that at some time in the future this deposit will be mined because of the possibility of making oil from it and also the possibility of extracting the vanadium at the same time.
I believe that we should do a considerable amount of research into this problem which has been delineated. I would like to see it go further than the proposal outlined by the honourable member for McMillan. The honourable member talks only of brown coal. 1 think it should bc a general attack on oil from coal and from shale. When I was Minister for National Development the National Coal Research Unit was doing quite a bit of research. I have not heard what has happened to it since, but I do have a vague belief that it has been closed down. If this has happened it is a tragedy. In addition there was some most interesting work being carried out on the use of power from brown coal by pulverising brown coal and using a turbine. This was being done at Fishermen’s Bend under a team headed by Dr Wisdom. The work showed great promise. The only problem that the team had to overcome was the build-up of some of the ash on the turbine blades, but it was thought that this problem could be overcome. Unfortunately with the discovery of crude oil offshore in Bass Strait that work came to an end because it was felt there was no necessity for it. I think it is a pity that that project was closed down because in the long term it could perhaps be necessary to continue that work.
The only point on which I disagree with the honourable .member for McMillan is when he said that we have no land based fuel. He was not, quite right on that point. Perhaps it is begging the question a bit but of course we produce fuel at Moonie and also on Barrow Island. There have been discoveries of fuel which I ambled to believe will be developed in the not too distant future in the Cooper Basin. We are*’ constantly hoping that drilling will delineate more crude oil on land as well as at sea. So much for the proposal that we should be going inland doing a great deal of research into the production of oil from coal and oil from shale> We know that if we had a suitable energy and fuel policy it would not be necessary to do this immediately. The great pity at the moment is that because of the uncertainty in the industry and the great many impediments that are being put in the way of producers and searchers for oil, the search for oil is not going ahead at the rate at which it should go ahead if we are to become self sufficient and to remain self sufficient.
I have said time and again in this House that I deprecate very strongly the actions that have been taken by the present Government which have reduced the search for oil. We know that it is tragic. We know that the big multi-national companies, or many of them, are looking elsewhere because they get a better reception. They get a better reception in Indonesia. They get a better reception in the Philippines. If they can spend their money wherever they feel like it they will do so, and they will not come into Australia if they feel that the dice are loaded against them. I have mentioned time and again the actions that the Minister has taken to discontinue the investment allowance. Other actions by the Minister include discontinuance of the exemption of dividends paid from petroleum profits; not allowing companies to write off money that is being spent; not paying subsidies; and the refusal to grant farm-ins where people are anxious to get additional money. Everything that is done is discouraging the search for oil in Australia. The net result, is that today we have only 5 rigs operating off shore and, I believe, only 2 rigs operating on shore out of an availability of 21 rigs. We cannot possibly expect companies to put down the number of wells that are necessary unless encouragement is given. Searchers are taking great risks and if a discovery is made they want to see some profit. Unfortunately that is not the attitude of the Labor Party. The Labor Party thinks the profits are evil. Some of these companies have spent millions of . dollars. I can cite one company which has spent $50m and has not got lc back. Yet the moment they have a success the Government gets onto their back and gets everything it possibly can.
At the same time as we look at the proposal put by the honourable member for McMillan, let us look at the so-called fuel crisis. The Minister loves to talk about this fuel crisis, but if there is one it is a political crisis which has been caused by the Minister himself. If we really want to get oil there are a number of ways in which this Government can increase the prospects. One way is to get people drilling more and searching more. Therefore the natural result, one would hope, would be discovery of much greater quantities. The Australian Petroleum Exploration Association cannot understand why it is that Australia is prepared to pay the Indonesians a lot more than it is prepared to pay Australian companies for crude oil. There is a difference of about $1 or more a barrel between the price paid by Australia to Indonesia or an Arab sheik and what is paid to a decent Australian company producing oil in Australia. This is something which the Association finds pretty hard to understand. Why have the oil search subsidies been cut out?
If the Government wants to get more oil it should reintroduce the subsidies. The subsidy was brought in at a time when it looked as though oil search in Australia was disappearing. It had a great effect and it can continue to do so. If this Government wants to get oil it can allow the deduction of expenses up to the time of a commercial discovery as was done under the previous Government. This Government should put everything that it can into the Bureau of Mineral Resources to make sure that it does all the geological work that is necessary to delineate the best prospects. It should give concessions to Australians to encourage them to invest their money in the search for oil instead of cutting out those concessions. The Government should allow farm-ins and farm-outs. It should allow the development of discoveries. It should not just say that is going to socialise oil and gas and that it is going to take over at the well head anything that is discovered. It should allow in overseas capital. At the present moment overseas capital is prevented from coming in. Where Australian capital is unavailable or companies are unwilling to invest I can see nothing wrong in allowing it to come in from overseas.
One could speak at great length about Australia’s energy needs. The first thing, as I see it, is to have a proper energy and fuel policy which will encourage the search for crude oil and for gas and to look into the production of oil from coal. But there are many other forms of power. It is time that we looked at power from the sun. What is being done about that? When speaking on the Atomic Energy Bill recently I said that I thought the Atomic Energy Commission would be an excellent body to carry out research into power from the sun. There is tidal power. We know that in the north-west, Australia has available vast amounts of tidal power. Unfortunately, it is not where most of the power is required and there would be problems of transmission and cost of transmission. But at least we should know what is available and what the cost would be to deliver it, particularly in the northwest areas where it is likely to be required for the new developments of iron ore.
We should move quickly into atomic power and hydro-power but unfortunately when it comes to hydro-power we are inclined to say: What is the use of having a vast source of hydro-power such as we have in the Snowy Mountains if the unions can cut off this power at will?’ We now know that the Snowy Mountains Council voted - I am fairly reliably informed that it was a 5 to 2 vote - in favour of continuing to operate the Snowy scheme in the way that it was being operated under normal procedures and that something intervened after the Council had voted in that way. I might say that that Council has on it Mr Reddick, who is the Chairman of the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission and Mr Tisdale, the Chairman of the Victorian State rivers and Water Supply Commission. These people knew what the situation was.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We have listened with great interest to the speech of the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) and we do not disagree with its substantial content. In fact at a later stage I will move an addendum oy way of amendment to the terms of his motion which 1 think will put matters in their true perspective. We give the honourable member due credit for what he has done in the interests of his constituents. Of course, he has every reason to do so because, representing the major portion of the Latrobe Valley and such areas as Morwell and Yallourn, the retrogression of Victorian Government interest in the brown coal deposits of that area is a matter of immediate concern to him and his constituents.
As he correctly said, he made certain undertakings in his campaign. So did other people and, in particular, a very talented and able group of Victorian parliamentarians who formulated a proposal in a document entitled Labor’s Blueprint for the Latrobe Valley’ which was put out just before the last federal election. The co-authors were the parliamentarians Mr D. Amos, Mr Frank Mountford, the honourable Eric Kent, Mr Robert Fordham and Councillor Bartholomews. In compiling the document, they included matters of Federal and State policy and said:
Commonwealth and State Government Co-operation Rule National Fuel and Energy Commission - The Latrobe Valley contains the largest resources of accessible brown coal, anywhere in the world. Labor will establish a Joint fuel and energy commission to devise and implement an integrated and co-ordinated national fuel and energy policy. The regional office of this Commission would be sited in the Latrobe Valley.
We have heard nothing from the honourable member for McMillan on that point. They go on to detail the functions of the proposed commission in exploration, development, transport and marketing. National fuel policy is the next item of interest. The document states:
The place of the Latrobe Valley brown coal reserves in Australia’s total energy requirements must be determined, bearing in mind the present and future depletion rates of other fuels needed to match Aus,tralia’s requirements in chemical processing, general industry and national development.
The next heading is ‘Brown Coal Research’. This of course is where the Victorian State
Government has seriously tapered off its interest since 1963. They said this in their document:
The Commission would establish a research centre in the Latrobe Valley, attached to the BIAE (Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education). At present the only research into alternative use of brown coal is being carried out at Melbourne University. The development of the char industry is just one example of the sorts of industries that might result from this research. Feasibility studies into the economics cf the production of petrol from brown coal would be given top priority.
There has been a considerable slackening of economic activity within the honourable member’s electorate since the introduction of natural gas at exorbitantly high prices, thanks to the machinations of former Premier Bolte. Victoria now has the worst of both worlds with the cessation of the production of coal gas under the Lurgi process and the alternative choice of natural gas at exorbitant prices. I note also that even the sale of briquettes made from the brown coal in the honourable member’s electorate is declining.
I also note from the latest statistics available from the Joint Coal Board of New South Wales that natural gas has made only a 9 per cent impact on the total Victorian fuel market when it ought reasonably to have been between 20 per cent and 30 per cent. Again, that is directly attributable to the exorbitant price which has been imposed upon it. Of course, the companies are hanging on. At the present time the Esso-BHP people are simply hoist with their own petard. They want a top price but they cannot get the volume to make it a going proposition. They have yet to learn a fundamental economic proposition which is that it is volume that counts and a competitive price. Victoria has neither and that is a matter to which the honourable member for McMillan might properly address himself in his future activities in this House.
– It has already been done in the Victorian State Parliament.
– It has been done in the State Parliament by the Labor representatives. As recently as this week, certain questions were asked in the Victorian Parliament which are readily available in the reports of the Victorian Legislative Assembly where they- can be perused and duly noted. Of course, the honourable member for McMillan has a further difficulty. He was elected with the preferences of the Democratic Labor Party, and to that extent he must dance to their tune. The Demo cratic Labor Party’s obsessions are defence and intrigue. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the honourable member for McMillan, wittingly or unwittingly, has flattered those Victorian Labor members of Parliament who have been so active in this matter.
We are of course thoroughly aware of the total brown coal resources of the Latrobe Valley. I want to pay my tribute to Dr Andrews for the work that he did, to the various Victorian State governmental authorities for the work they have done in the generation of power from brown coal which is, at best, a medium quality fuel and also to what was done with the production of gas under the Lurgi system. We look upon the brown coal resources of the Latrobe Valley as the ultimate or the final resource of Australia in terms of its energy needs. As I informed the House in a policy statement some S months ago, we intend to have an energy budget under which we will assess annually Australia’s energy needs and how they can best be met by the present recoverable resources. They can vary from time to time, according to market impact.
In addition to the valuable deposits in the Latrobe Valley there are also equally valuable deposits, particularly for purposes of gasification and hydrogenation, in the South Maitland area of New South Wales. The hydrogenation of those deposits can be easily used for the extraction of motor spirit from the Greta seam coal. But, as the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) said, an attempt was made by Hitler to conquer the world and he had to depend very heavily on the hydrogenation of coal. Only last year the Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum group said that the future of the world’s energy needs lay with coal. Not only is research being carried on in other parts of the world by the major oil companies, but also in Australia attempts are being made to acquire blocks of black coal for the purpose of hydrogenation.
– By the multinationals, too.
– By the multinationals. I have had occasion to interview some of their representatives and I have told them that, whilst the granting of leases is a matter for the respective State governments, by the same token if there is any question of hydrogenation and they are seeking to export those products they will not be able to do so because the immediately available reserves, of coal suitable for easy hydrogenation will need to be kept in Australia. Australia’s needs come first so far as an Australian national government is concerned.
Reference has been made to the rising price of crude, and this is a matter of concern to me. At the present time Liberia is pushing the price of crude up to $4.90 a barrel and it is going higher with the policies and the combinations of the Organisations of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Our light Australian crudes are notably deficient in residuals which are suitable for furnace fuel development. For that reason I suggest to the honourable member for McMillan that probably the first efforts that should be made in black coal and brown coal research and development are for the extraction of a furnace oil. Only last week I had the pleasure of interviewing a Mr Lyon from the South Maitland coal-fields. He reminded me of the work that he and his brother had done in this field some 30 or 40 years ago. The price of crude will go higher and it will go to a point at which it will have a crippling effect on Australian industry.
Obviously, the need is to use alternatives. We must minimise our imports of crude oil and particularly the heavy crudes from which the residual fuel can be extracted. For that reason we will maximise the use of natural gas as a furnace fuel and considerably reduce imports. As for the irreducible requirements that will still remain, a thick coal oil will be the obvious substitute for the present fuel oil which is obtained from imported crudes. So the honourable member can be assured that the Government has this problem well in mind.
For the future, we will be very pleased to co-operate with the Victorian Government in our planning for the transcontinental natural gas pipeline. We know that in the ultimate and when the point comes when Australia’s reserves of natural gas are finally depleted, it will be to the brown coal gasification of the Latrobe Valley and the black coal gasification of the Hunter Valley that Australia will look for its ultimate means of industrial subsistence. We are following very closely the developments overseas in research into synthetic natural gas. The United States of America in particular has been forced to seek an alternative to its seriously depleted natural gas reserves and is seeking to obtain by hydrogenation synthetic natural gas which will be of approximately 800 to 850 British thermal units to the cubic foot as compared with 450 for ordinary coal gas and 1,050 or 1,100 for natural gas. That will probably be the first and the best means by which we will ultimately gasify both the brown coal and the black coal for Australia’s needs. My time is approaching its end, so 1 move:
That the following words be added to the motion: and congratulates the members of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, who were responsible for the compilation and publication of the document “ Labor’s Blueprint for the Latrobe Valley “, from which this motion is derived’.
– I am somewhat astonished at the attitude the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has adopted in this very important debate which was initiated by the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) to plan, in effect, the future usage- of our fuel reserves. I am astonished at the attitude of the Minister who has deliberately sought to mount the platform of the honourable member for McMillan. To me it is downright effrontery. Each night in the adjournment debate, and also in the grievance debate, honourable members if they so wish may air their knowledge and ideas on this matter. To seek to undermine the contribution of the honourable member for McMillan is intrigue and sabotage of the highest order.
– The Minister supported him.
– It is true that in his initial remarks the Minister paid some veiled tribute to my colleague, the honourable member for McMillan, but then he proceeded to undermine the great thoughts and contribution the honourable member offered. The Minister quoted from a publication put out by certain Australian Labor Party parliamentarians in Victoria, but what he refused to divulge to this House was that one of the participators in the publication was the defeated candidate for the seat of McMillan. He was defeated by the honourable member who is at present sitting alongside me. The Minister refused to detail to this House that another participator in the publication was a defeated Labor candidate at the State election in Victoria. The Minister went on and on about what they had done. Why does he not in all truthfulness detail to this House the respect in which those people are held in their own State when it comes to election time? He did not tell us that. He endeavoured to seek for the members of his Party the great tribute that should be reserved for my colleague the honourable member for McMillan.
The history of Victorian legislative processes will show that during the period 1964 to 1970 my colleague the honourable member for McMillan on at least 12 occasions in the Victorian Parliament advanced the cause that he so ably advanced here this morning. At that time, like now, he was not a member of the Government, but I compliment him. I have had the great privilege of reading his speeches. He was more or less an irrisistible force but, like us, he comes up against an immovable object. But at least he has been consistent and the people of McMillan rewarded that consistency on 2 December when they sent him to this House.
Order! As it is now 2 hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate on the motion is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr Connor) agreed to:
That the time for the discussion of notice No. 1, General Business, be extended to 12.45 p.m.
– I think we all hold in utter contempt the remarks of the Minister for Minerals and Energy concerning the Democratic Labor Party. It ill-behoves him to criticise in this forum a Party which has played a significant part, with honesty and integrity, for the betterment of all people who live in this country. To counteract his charge I say humbly and sincerely that Australia is better for having known the Democratic Labor Party.
The present Government’s policy about fuel and energy is quite specific. The Australian Labor Party platform states that Labor will establish a national fuel and energy commission to devise and implement an integrated and co-ordinated national fuel and energy policy. I think that no one takes great issue with that. We are all concerned that the generations that follow us have the same access to fuel and fuel reserves as does the present generation. It is a matter of great concern that we should plan to conserve reserves for the use of those who follow. This concept is by no means a new concept. The need for co-ordination was recognised by the previous Government and the previous Minister for National Development, the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), and positive moves were being made towards planning how future energy needs were to be met. One of the men who was at the forefront of thinking about energy policy for the future was the late Sir Harold Ragett. In his book published in 1969 he emphasised the need for a co-ordinated energy policy, which took into account all major energy sources - coal, oil, natural gas and uranium. Sir Harold Ragett pointed out that the Australian fuel and power scene had changed very much over a period of 15 years. Australian resources are very much larger than had been thought previously. Oil and uranium have been discovered in relatively significant quantities.
However, even as late as 1969, Sir Harold Ragett did not mention the grave energy crisis which the great industrialised areas of the world are facing. An energy crisis must have an effect upon Australia when its full impact is felt in Europe, the United States of America and Japan. There will be increasing pressures upon Australia in future years to sell gas, coal and uranium. The need for a coordinated plan is becoming more urgent as time goes on. Let us consider now what President Nixon said in April 1973 about the problems of the United States. What happens there today becomes our problem tomorrow. He said:
Our energy demands have grown so rapidly that they now strip our available supplies, and at present rate of growth, our energy needs a dozen years from now will be nearly double what they were in 1970.
Clearly, we are facing a vitally important energy change. If present trends continue, we could face a genuine energy crisis.
Since President Nixon’s speech the situation in the United States has worsened because of the threatened witholding of oil by the Arab countries. The significance of this as far as Australia is concerned was spelt out in great detail by the proposer of this motion, the honourable member for McMillan. The United States is turning towards coal, of which she has vast quantities, to take some of the demand which would have- been met by oil. But in this area she is also in trouble, because, as Mr Nixon has said:
We have vast quantities of coal, but the extraction and use of coal have presented such persistent environmental problems that, today, less than 20 per cent of our energy needs are met by coal and the health of the coal industry is seriously threatened.
These are the things which initiated the idea in the mind of the honourable member for McMillan many years ago when he was in the Victorian House of Parliament and which he is pursuing in this forum. Fortunately Australia has time to lay down plans for her future energy needs. However, that time is rather limited. On the present known reserves and with an accelerating usage rate, the oil resources in Australia might last for 20 to 25 years, that is, assuming we find more. I think it is pertinent to remind the nation of the thoughts expressed by the honourable member for Farrer. There has been a decline in oil prospecting in this country and the Government has a responsibility to realign its thinking in this matter. These are matters of great importance. The Government must realise that the only way in which oil search, will be accelerated is by giving an impetus and an incentive to free enterprise to set up drilling camps in desert areas and to drill in off-shore areas with the prospect of financial reward if they are lucky enough to strike an oil flow. We have sufficient natural gas to take us well into the first half of the next century and probably beyond. If we go in for nuclear power during the 1980s and retain our present reserves, or at least control their export, we will have sufficient fuel for electricity to see us through the first half of the 21st century. Reserves of brown coal are substantial, amounting to 85,000 million tons in Victoria, but only 10,000 million tons would be recoverable with current technology and economics.
It is also worthy to print out that in the State of Queensland the known reserves are 3,400 million tons. It is good quality coal, some coking and some steaming coal. In my own area of the Darling Downs there are vast areas of coal in what is known as the Millmerran basin and also in the basin east of Warwick. It is good to recount that at the present time the Queensland Government is considering, among other matters, the allocation of some Millmerran coal for the purpose of supplying the fuel needs of a new power station to be set up. This is the type of decentralisation that we should be encouraging to get away from the established coalfields out into other areas where deposits of good quality coking and steaming coal are known to exist.
I come back to the point of the motion moved so ably by my colleague the honourable Member for McMillan, particularly as it applies o brown coal in the State of Victoria. It is true to record that the world has some techniques for getting oil and synthetic products out of black coal, particularly in Germany. The position in Victoria will create a great deal of interest in the years to come. For the information of members of the House, there is a quickening of interest in the use of Victoria’s huge brown coal reserves as a raw material for making synthetic oil. The multi-million dollar technique is known as hydrogenation - adding hydrogen to the coal to bring it to the hydrogen-carbon mix of the oil and natural gas hydrocarbons instead of having coal’s preponderance of carbon. While the technique is simple in theory, it has only recently become the subject of the sustained research needed for practical use and is still prohibitively expensive. But, as my colleague the honourable member for McMillan pointed out, with the world’s developing energy crunch and the sharply rising price of crude oil internationally, interest has grown in making use of coal as an oil source. One of the cheapest sources of hydrogen for hydrogenation is methane, the main component of natural gas, and in present conditions this gives an extra advantage to the Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley area - about which the honourable member for McMillan spoke so eloquently - with its proximity to the Bass Strait fields. However, hydrogen can be obtained more expensively from water, air and other substances but its use is still in need of much more research.
I am pleased to be associated with my colleague the honourable member for McMillan in the outstanding contribution and display of statesmanship that he has exhibited in this House. I congratulate him, not only for his concern for his own generation but for his concern for the future of those who will follow us. It would be good if honourable members opposite occasionally forgot about the present and looked to the future, as did my colleague. I congratulate the honourable member for McMillan on his sincerity of purpose, his honesty of presentation and his concern for those who will follow him.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the Minister for Minerals and Energy. The amendment he moved to my motion is a piece of political trickery. For him to have moved that amendment is damning my motion with faint praise for the Australian Labor Party.
– Order! In what way does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I can assure honourable members that I have never read Labor’s blueprint for the Latrobe Valley which presumably was drawn up from the speeches I made in the State Parliament between 1964 and 1970. I have no need to read it because it was not news to me.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). The proposition moved by the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) is a long-established policy of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party and generally conforms with the policy of the Federal body of the Labor Party. It is fitting and appropriate that the proposed amendment should put this matter in its proper perspective. It is not simply a report that was distributed over the names of the people concerned but for many years its recommendations have been on the policy books of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. Indeed, they were a part of the policy speech of the Leader of the State Parliamentary Labor Party during the recently held State elections. They are spelt out chapter and verse in the following terms:
A Labor Government will initiate and finance a major research study into the brown coal deposits, examining such potential areas of use such as the chemical industry, gasification and petroleum. The research undertaken will have the financial support of the Federal Government.
It was not just a matter of empty phrases such as those used by the honourable member for McMillan when he was a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, as the member for that area. If the honourable member made those statements they could not have had much effect. Nobody ever got up in arms about them. The honourable member certainly did not feature many times in Press reports to the effect that he was screaming that the Liberal Government of the day had not acted on his advice. .
– I rise on a point of order. I was quoted on that issue in the Press on several occasions during my term in the State Parliament.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! That is not a point of order.
– The honourable member must have been reported on page 133, in the comics section. It is ironical that at this time, the honourable member for McMillan should propose the establishment of a joint committee of inquiry. As I have indicated, this is a direct pinch from the Victorian Labor Party’s election speech. I believe that the proposed committee can be an effective instrument not only in saving the lot of the people in the Latrobe Valley but also in endeavouring to influence the
Victorian Government to develop a properly integrated fuel policy for the benefit of the Victorian people as a whole, with ultimate influence on the use of Australian resources for Australian people, not to swell the bank balances of overseas investors.
We have heard a rather belated speech by the honourable member for McMillan. He was shedding crocodile tears about the situation in the Latrobe Valley. What did the honourable member say to the people who had been promised career industries in the Gas and Fuel Corporation or the State Electricity Commission of Victoria? In the face of bungling and policies that were directed towards the interests of private enterprise, what did the honourable member do to protect the Latrobe Valley people at that time? The brown coal industry has been brought to its knees by the very actions of the people whom he represented in the State Parliament. I am apprehensive - I think we all should be apprehensive - that this committee might become a phoney political exercise by the Liberal Party and the Country Party, either in this Parliament or in the State of Victoria. It is far too important for that. What happened in Victoria with the brown coal industry is very interesting. Brown coal was being sold for industrial and domestic use. The brown coal industry - the sale of briquettes - was a very good industry. But what happened? The State Government imposed a turnover tax on the Gas and Fuel Corporation and the State Electricity Commission. It was the confidence trick of the century. The State Government, under Sir Henry Bolte, imposed a 3 per cent turnover tax and then immediately increased the cost of fuel and electricity in that State. So the Victorian people were subsidising not only the efforts of people to bring the brown coal industry to its knees but also the oil companies which were dumping heating oil in Victoria although that oil was already being subsidised by their fuel sales.
By dumping oil on the people of Victoria competition was reduced to a minimum. The turnover tax, increased charges, the dumping of heating oil resources and the co-operation that the State Government gave to Esso-BHP in producing natural gas in competition with the briquette industry all amounted to sabotage and tantamount destruction of the brown coal industry. We all know of the great bungle with the machinery that was used to produce briquettes in Victoria. The State Government, of course, imported a huge briquette machine from Germany. It imported one machine and paid for years and years storage on equipment that had become obsolete. This was superimposed on the price of the briquettes that were sold to the consumers throughout Victoria. Now we have the 16 per cent member for McMillan coming here and shedding crocodile tears about the poor people in the Latrobe Valley. It was little recompense to them to find themselves losing their homes and having to pull up stakes after being guaranteed career jobs in the area because the Lurgi equipment was being shut down. What was the objective? The objective was simply to hand over to private enterprise the industry which the honourable member now wants to resurrect.
We want this type of committee to work. But can the honourable member for McMillan or any Government supporter who will support his proposition give us a guarantee that Ross Edwards and Tricky Dick will support the proposition? Or are we going to be entertained by the same performance as we have had when Ministers of the Federal Government in the areas of housing, transport and health and welfare have taken proposals to the State Government? What has it done? It has gone on with all this rubbish about State’s rights and put impediments in the path of sound proposals and the offers of money to improve the lot of the people in Victoria. Can the Opposition guarantee that that will not happen again and that we will not go through a useless exercise with the State Government ar.d then at the crucial moment find that the same professional procrastination by the people in Victoria holds up any proposition that might be put forward?
As I have indicated there has also been gross misrepresentation about some of the offers that have been made in the areas to which I have referred. There is also another aspect of developments that might arise from the inquiries that are made. Questions were asked in the Victorian Legislative Assembly yesterday of Mr Balfour, the Minister for Mines. He readily supported what I have said, that from 1963 onwards the policy of the State Government was to run the industry down. There has been no attempt whatsoever to maintain it and the State Government has indicated that it is an unprofitable industry. It was more intent on handing over to private enterprise the resources and the expertise that might have flowed from the investigations of the State Electricity Commission, to which the Minister and the honourable member for McMillan have made reference.
A wealth of information has been accumulated by experts over a period of time. The brown coal industry and the State Electricity Commission were started as a State enterprise. The brown coal industry has suffered the same fate as some sections of the electricity supply industry, to the detriment of the Victorian people. One can reflect on some of the exercises that took place in the Kiewa hydroelectric scheme and the waste of money that accompanied the operations. Once again this was an attempt to hand a State instrumentality to private enterprise. The life blood of the Kiewa scheme was discontinued and the equipment was sold for about 10 per cent of its original cost to the contractor who was then working on the site.
We acclaim this proposition, not as coming originally from the honourable member for McMillan but as the established policy of the Australian Labor Party - established over a period of time. The Minister for Minerals and Energy has indicated that the backdrop of our philosophy is to use the Australian resources in the interest of the Australian people; not in the interests of Esso, Australian Char Pty Ltd or any of the masters of the people who sit opposite. We want the backwoodsmen not to stand up here in an empty, pious way and state the propositions that they have, I repeat, pinched out of the Australian Labor Party’s policy. We want them to add weight to what they say and to assure this House that the committee will get the complete co-operation of the State Country Party and State Liberal Party to go through a meaningful examination of the proposition, cease to sabotage it, cease to hand over the resources to private enterprise and co-operate with the Minister who has indicated clearly time and time again that we want the resources to be used in the best interests of the Australian people.
If ever there were a case to be made out for this proposal one must harken back to the Latrobe Valley again. It was pitiful to see the families which had spent years and years in the Latrobe Valley having to send their children away from home to get employment because employment opportunities had ceased as a result of the sabotage of the industry to which I have made reference and to which our friend has been alluding. Who was responsible for that? The people who were responsible for that are the very people who are standing up here and shedding crocodile tears about the fate of the people in country districts. What did they do? The policy of the Australian
Country Party is also the policy of the Victorian State Government.
The Porta-Gas Co., which would be included in one of the areas of investigation suggested for the committee and which is a monopoly aided and abetted by the Victorian Government, sells Porta-gas to country people at twice the price per ton as it does to Japanese interests. I sincerely hope and trust that the proposition, as amended, is carried. The amendment puts the matter in its proper perspective and gives credit to the right people and that is the people of Victoria. This idea was initiated by the people in Victoria. I sincerely hope that it is carried and that we can get assurances from the Victorian Liberal Party and the Victorian Country Party - the cohorts and the counterparts of the honourable members sitting opposite - to ensure that it is carried out not as a cheap political exercise but in the best interests of the Australian people generally and in particular the Victorian people.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Speaker–
Motion (by Mr Connor) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr V. J. Martin)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)The motion which was carried previously was that the time allotted for the duration of the debate be extended to 12.45 p.m. It is competent for a Minister to terminate such a debate at any time by moving ‘That the question be now put’. The House itself has decided that the question should be now put. So the matter is out of my hands.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr Connor’s amendment) be added.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr V. J. Martin)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)They will be tabled.
The Minister is intimately involved. He is directly responsible for reducing power supplies to New South Wales and he is going to keep his own part in this secret until the whole matter is over, until after the week’s recess. What is wrong with tabling the documents after lunch?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The whole matter is out of order. It is not a point of order. If the honourable member wishes to make a statement he should seek leave to do so. The time allotted for consideration of general business has expired.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! Is leave granted?
Government supporters - No.
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
By this historic Bill, Parliament is being asked to establish an Industries Assistance Commission. We propose to extend to all Australian Industries a system of assistance which, for the last 50 years, has applied only to manufacturers, through the Tariff Board. The Bill puts into effect the proposal outlined in the Governor-General’s speech last February. It implements an important plank of the Australian Labor Party’s platform. This Bill is based on a report by Sir John Crawford entitled ‘A Commission to Advise on Assistance to Industries’ which I commissioned in March and which he provided in June. At the time all honourable members were sent a copy. There was also a wide distribution among the public. However, the report has not been formerly tabled. I now do so. All who have read the report’s lucid pages will realise the very great contribution Sir John has made to this very difficult matter. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation and admiration for this further service rendered by a truly great public servant whose quality and calibre allow him to be of service to the Australian Government, whatever its political persuasion.
– I rise on a point of order. To assist the Prime Minister may I point out to the house that a number of Labor Party members on the Government benches are clearly not listening to the Prime Minister on this matter.
– Order! There is no point of order involved.
– The fundamental purpose of the present system of advice on assistance to manufacturing industry has been to allow public scrutiny of the process whereby governments determine the different amounts of assistance to be given to different industries.
The Board is an independent statutory authority which has an advisory function only. It has no executive role. The essence of the Tariff Board system is that it makes public inquiries and public reports on questions of assistance for industry referred to it by the Government. The Government proposes to extend this system to industries in other sectors of the economy because it believes the system has, over a long period, proved its value to successive governments in an important and difficult area of government decision making. The first and most important reason for establishing the Commission is to allow public scrutiny of the process whereby governments decide how much assistance to give to different industries. This scrutiny is necessary because of the highly selective nature of the process. Measures which assist particular industries constitute forms of economic discrimination which, at least in the short term, can be to considerable advantage to the industries assisted and to the disadvantage to those who pay for the assistance, namely, other industries, consumers, or taxpayers. Such a process must be independent and impartial, and seem to be independent and impartial.
The Crawford report indicates that Tariff assistance to manufacturing industries totals several thousand million dollars a year. Assistance to the rural sector involves several hundred million dollars a year. The Government has increasingly made public inquiries, public scrutiny and public reports the basis for major policy decisions. It is important to appreciate fully what the phrase ‘public inquiries and reports’ will really mean under this proposal. It means wide advertisement, in newspapers and by circulars, of matters referred to the Commission. It means public hearings, at which interested parties can support or oppose industries’ claims for assistance. It means prompt availability of those hearings. It means the systematic collection and analysis by the Commission and other organisations of information relevant to the Commission’s inquiries. It means that most of this information should be available for public scrutiny during the course of particular inquiries. And it means that the Commission should be able to call disinterested expert witnesses. Finally, it means public reports which explain in detail the reasons for the Commission’s recommendations. In short, the words ‘public inquiries and reports’ denote a deliberate, orderly and widely accessible system of communication between the Government, industry and the wider public.
The application to all industries of the advisory system which has long been accepted for manufacturing industries is necessary in the interests of fair dealing and open dealing. It is necessary also because it can contribute to a better use of the nation’s resources. By this 1 mean a use of resources more attuned to the commonly accepted objectives of government policy. There are several reasons why the Industries Assistance Commission should be able to make a unique contribution in this area. The first stems essentially from the fact that the Commission will be a single institution, with the responsibility for advising on the assistance which should be given to industries in all sectors of the economy. It will therefore be very conscious of the need to develop a rational and consistent approach towards all industries. This Government has inherited a complex, confusing and inconsistent collection of measures which discriminate between individual industries - particularly as between primary and secondary sectors of the economy. In many cases, the total amount of the assistance afforded particular industries is obscure, and its effects are even more obscure. We propose to substitute a deliberate, systematic, and comprehensive program of public inquiries for the rather random, haphazard, and sometimes informal and superficial process of investigation of the past.
A second reason why the Commission can contribute to a better use of the nation’s resources stems from its status as an independent statutory authority. The Commission will be able to develop .and pursue a long term program of inquiries, . free from day-to-day political pressures. This in turn has very important implications for the amount and quality of its information and for the depth of analysis which the Commission can undertake. This of course includes analysis of the effects of its recommendations on the use of resources in different industries. For example, industries which are comparatively wasteful in their use of resources and which impose a significant cost on the community can be systematically examined through’ public inquiries, and obliged to justify any special assistance they receive from the Government by demonstrating the benefits they bring to the community. The Commission will be obliged, through its public reports, to explain why it considers that certain industries should receive more assistance than others.
I propose now to consider some of the more important clauses in the Bill and the reasons for them.
Clause 21 states that the functions of the Commission are to hold inquiries and make reports ‘. . . in respect of matters affecting assistance to industries and other matters that may be referred to the Commission . . .’. This clause covers any industry, whether in the primary, secondary or tertiary sector of the economy. It is therefore the clause which gives effect to the Government’s wish to extend the present advisory system for manufacturing industries based on the Tariff Board. Together with clause 23 (2), which allows the Commission to consider all possible forms of assistance for a particular industry, clause 21 provides the basis for systematic analysis of the structure of industry assistance in Australia, and thus for evolving a more coherent and rational policy by the Government towards industrial development.
Clause 22 provides certain policy guidelines for the Commission which place the work of the Commission firmly in the framework of general economic management. The guidelines will also help those making submissions for assistance from the Government by providing a basis for them to relate their claims to the public interest. They also make clear the need for Australia’s assistance policies to recognise our international trade obligations.
Clause 23 contains several very important provisions, including one which states that the Government shall not take any action to provide assistance to a particular industry until it has received a report on the matter from the Commission.
– Hear, hear!
– Hear, hear!
– I appreciate the support of the honourable members for Corangamite and Wakefield.
This so-called ‘mandatory provision’ is a more restricted version of a similar provision that has been in the Tariff Board Act since 1921. It is an essential safeguard to the integrity of the system. It ensures that all groups which may be affected by a change in the assistance afforded a particular industry - those who stand to lose as well as those who stand to gain - will have an equal opportunity to express their views at a public inquiry. It will be apparent that the reference to the Commission of questions relating to assistance for individual industries cannot be optional: If some industries, particularly those which stand to lose most from public exposure of their claims, can avoid the process of public inquiry the fundamental purpose of the Commission will be frustrated.
There are several important qualification!! to the mandatory provision which should be noted. First, although the provision obliges the Government to seek the advice of the Commission on all questions of assistance to individual industries, it does not oblige the Government to accept that advice. Like the Tariff Board, the Commission is to have an advisory role only. The ultimate responsibility for deciding what courses of action to take and what policies to adopt resides with Parliament. Secondly, the mandatory provision relates to questions of assistance to individual industries in the primary and secondary sectors of the economy, but not to industries in the tertiary sector. A large proportion of tertiary activities are either in the public sector, and therefore the direct responsibility of the national, State, or regional governments, or are naturally sheltered from the overseas competition or the instability of overseas markets which prompts most of the claims for assistance from primary or secondary industries. Some tertiary enterprises may seek special assistance, and it will be open to governments to refer such requests to the Commission for advice. This Government intends to do so. The extent to which it can do so early in the life of the Commission will depend in part on prior commitments it has given the Commission, such as the current 6 year review of the tariff. Thirdly, the mandatory provision does not restrict the Government’s freedom to make changes of policy such as the recent 25 per cent reduction in tariffs, to negotiate changes in levels of assistance of the purpose of international trade agreements, or to extend preferential treatment to developing countries. And, finally, it does not restrict the Government’s capacity to provide urgent temporary financial assistance to industries, for periods not exceeding 12 months.
Another important provision in clause 23 allows the Government to take action on assistance to a particular industry if the Commission has not reported by a date specified in the reference. This provision enables the Government to set a date by which the Commission must report, which accords with the Government’s own priorities in planning the development of an industry. Consequently, the existence of the mandatory provision cannot cause any unreasonable delay in Government decisions on particular industries; nor could it impair the Government’s planning role. No restraint is placed on the right of the Australian Government to seek advice from other expert bodies.
In practice I would expect there to be few cases indeed of conflict between the Government’s priorities in relation to the timing of advice from the Commission, and the Commission’s capacity to provide advice in accordance with those priorities. As pointed out in Sir John Crawford’s report it is possible, as the Tariff Board has begun to demonstrate, to program the Commission’s inquiry work several years ahead. The absence of long-term and co-ordinated programming of references to the Tariff Board in the past tended to increase the average time required by the Board to prepare its reports. The fact that one Minister will have responsibility for referring matters to the Commission, and that there now exists a permanent interdepartmental committee to keep him informed well before the event on matters likely to be referred to the Commission, should introduce much greater stability into the work of the Commission and greatly reduce uncertainty about the length of its inquiries. This greater opportunity to program ahead means that the Government will have a continuous record of the expected completion dates for particular inquiries - and hence of the priorities which the Commission allots to each element of its total work commitment. With this knowledge, and its capacity to specify when the Commission’s report on a particular matter is required, the Government can avoid the possibility of having its ability to act on questions of assistance to particular industries impaired.
The only other clause on which I propose to comment is that which allows the Commission to inquire into certain matters on its own initiative. This is clause 24. This clause, like the mandatory provision, is central to the concept of the Industries Assistance Commission, and has a parallel in the present Tariff Board Act. In essence, it allows the Commission to initiate inquiries into, and report on, industries whose assistance has been unchanged, or unreviewed, for at least 6 years. It is a safeguard against the indefinite continuation of assistance to particular industries long after it is needed. It is necessary because structures of assistance, like some of the activities they support, can become obsolete.
The Tariff Board was established in 1921 and it has been an important and respected source of advice to 21 of the 28 Parliaments which have been elected since federation. In replacing the Tariff Board with the Industries Assistance Commission, this Parliament will therefore be taking an historic step. It will, I believe, be a step applauded by this and succeeding parliaments, and by the people of Australia, because it extends a principle that we all approve, in general if not always in particular cases. This is the principle that favours claimed from the Government and through the Government from the Australian public should be publicly examined and favours granted by government should be publicly justified. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides for admendments to the Customs Tariff Act which are consequential on the Industries Assistance Commission Bill which I have just introduced. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Edwards) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 1.3 to 2.15 p.m.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Social Services Bill (No. 4) 1973.
Repatriation Bill (No. 3) 1973.
Compensation (Australian Government Employees) Bill 1973.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill (No. 2) 1973.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report by the Bureau of Transport Economics entitled A Review of Public Transport Investment Proposals for the Australian Capital Cities 1973-74’.
Motion (by Mr Lynch) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be given to the honourable member for Curtin on the ground of public business overseas.
Bill presented by Mr Beazley, and read a first time.
Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle- Minister for
Education) (2.16) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment of a Schools Commission. The Government attaches very high priority to education and particularly to the quality of education and to equality of opportunity in education, and as an interim approach to these objectives, to ensuring a sound basic standard in all schools. One of the first major administrative acts of the Government in December last year was to establish an Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission to identify deficiencies in government and nongovernment schools and to make recommendations about ways in which those deficiencies should be remedied. The Interim Committee has lodged its report and the Government has announced its acceptance of the major financial recommendations included in that report. Legislative effect to them is to be given by the introduction of relevant States grants legislation during the present session of the Parliament.
The establishment of a Schools Commission is a logical extension of the principles adopted by former governments in regard to universities and colleges of advanced education. Our approach is to establish commissions of expert advisers rather than a vast centralised administrative machine. Diversity and innovation in education at the school level are desirable. We therefore seek in this legislation to set up an efficient, impartial body to examine, identify and determine needs of students in government and non-government schools at the primary and secondary levels in Australia. The Commission will advise the Government on the best means of meeting those needs and on the resources which will be required to achieve desired ends. ‘Needs’ include the need to provide scope and opportunities for the gifted as well as effective education for those who are in any way disadvantaged.
The States will retain responsibility for administering their own educational programs but will have available to them greatly increased funds for the purpose. Part of the Commission’s task will be to see that there is a proper use of economic resources in the field of education. There will be advisory boards of the Schools Commission to ensure that there is a constant representation to the Commission of community views and vice versa.
The Bill itself, to which I now turn, is not a complicated measure. It seeks to establish the sort of body which we believe is required and which is essential if the Commission is to be able to discharge the functions which the legislation will enjoin on it. As the Commission’s responsibilities will encompass primary and secondary education throughout the whole of Australia, a composition of twelve, of whom, other than the chairman, a maximum of three will be full-time appointees, appears necessary. The terms and conditions of the chairman, members and staff are in accord with those of such bodies as the Australian Commission on Advanced Education. Its staff will be appointed under the Public Service Act, as with the 2 tertiary Commissions, and it will be empowered to request the Minister to appoint such committees of the Commission as are necessary from time to time to enable it to perform its stated functions. It will be required to report on its activities to the Minister who in turn, under the provisions of the proposed States grants legislation, will be required to report fully to the Parliament.
I draw the attention of honourable members to a number of the functions with which the Commission is charged because they indicate matters which are important in the field of education. Honourable members will note that the Commission will be ascertaining the needs and recommending assistance not only for schools, both government and non-government in the States, but also in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
Clause 13 sets out the functions of the Commission. It is to advise the Minister on ‘the establishing of acceptable standards for buildings, equipment, teaching and other staff, and other facilities at government and nongovernment primary and secondary schools in Australia, and the means of attaining and maintaining those standards’. It is, in its advice, to formulate ‘priorities to be given to the satisfying of these various needs’. It is to advise on financial assistance, the amount and allocation and the conditions upon which financial assistance should be granted. The same clause, in sub-clause 3, formulates 7 considerations to be borne in mind by the Commission.
The House will be aware that the Government is in the process of making tertiary education free in universities, colleges of advan ced education, and ‘technical colleges. It will be the function of the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education, and the Commission for Technical and Further Education to keep tertiary education free. There has been an alarming tendency for free education to be abandoned as a principle by governments in Australia and, in one way and another, to charge high fees in State schools. It is gratifying to note that, as a result of the recommendations of assistance to State education by the Interim Committee under Professor Karmel, some State governments propose to abolish these fees.
The Commission is directed to ‘have regard to the primary obligation, in relation to education, for governments to provide and maintain government school systems that are of the highest standard- and are open, without fees or religious tests, to all children’. In advising on the needs of Government and non-government primary and secondary schools, the Commission is required to keep in mind the need to establish educational . opportunities for the handicapped, the disadvantaged and the gifted. The gifted may be gifted academically, but clause 13 (3) (f) is broader than that. The Commission shall have regard to ‘the desirability of providing special educational opportunities for students who have demonstrated their ability in a particular field of studies, including scientific, literary, artistic or musical studies’. The Commission is also charged with the need to encourage diversity and innovation in education in schools, and in the curricula and teaching methods of schools’.
In a sense the Commission is invited to enter the field of public relations on behalf of government and non-government education, for in Clause 13 (3). (e), it is invited ‘to stimulate and encourage public and private interest in, and support for, improvements in primary and secondary education and in schools and school systems’.
The Commission will advise on a vital range of educational’ problems. Child migrant education has been floundering in Australia. Children disadvantaged for cultural and linguistic reasons are to be considered for special help. Aboriginal children are covered by the reference to ethnic disadvantage; isolated children are covered by the reference to geographic disadvantage, and the poor child by the reference to social and economic disadvantage.
I regard clause 13, sub-clause (3) (d) as vital. The Commission is to have regard to ‘the needs of disadvantaged schools and of students at disadvantaged schools, and of other students suffering disadvantages in relation to education for social, economic, ethnic, geographic, cultural, lingual or similar reasons’. Here is a fruitful field of advice as to how the Australian Government may exercise its power to grant benefits to students. The Commission is likewise empowered to give similar advice in relation to the academically, scientifically, artistically or musically gifted students.
The role of the Australian Government in schools conducted by State governments or by non-government authorities is not a primary role but it is a vital role. The States establish state schools and register non-government schools. In both the government and nongovernment sectors of education there may develop special needs, deficiencies, or areas where special encouragement is needed. The Schools Commission is empowered to make recommendations for correcting deficiencies, encouraging diversity and innovation, improving standards of staffing, buildings and equipment, and stimulating the flow of educational ideas. I believe this can usher in an era of advance in education. The Commission is to be a constant searchlight on all education, government and non-government, in Australia. I hope the Bill has a speedy passage through the Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Beazley, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1969-1972 which provides for the 1970-72 triennium. The Bill provides for certain minor variations to projects listed in the Second Schedule to that Act. This Bill will finalise arrangements for that triennium and will amend the principal Act by expressing accurately how the expenditure in the Second Schedule was allocated.
In the closing stages of the 1970-72 triennium. submissions were received from New South Wales and Victoria seeking the inclusion of 3 new projects in the Second Schedule to the Act. Two of these proposals were approved by the previous Minister for Education and Science and one by myself. Confirmation of details for one of the projects concerned has only recently been received. The new projects, which will be funded by the transfer of grants previously allocated, are specified in clause 3, paragraphs (a), (e) and (f), for the New South Wales Advanced Education Board, Prahran College of Technology and the Emily Mcpherson College respectively. The other previously listed projects which are specified are those from which the funds are to be withdrawn or other projects which were the subject of funds transfers within the triennium. I would mention for the benefit of honourable members that, under the terms of the Act, any grant made by the Australian Government in respect of a project listed in the Second Schedule, but not completed by 31 December 1972, is a grant made conditionally upon the State concerned having advanced its share of the cost of that project before the end of the triennium. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Beazley, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1972-1973 - which deals with the 1973-75 triennium - so as to extend its terms to the provision of financial assistance for all State teachers colleges, and for pre-school teachers colleges, as from 1 July 1973. The Bill also makes provision for special grants in respect of the acquisition of library material, the employment of library staff, the conduct of special education courses, and the allocation of a further special grant of $425,000 to fund in 1973-75 the increased enrolments of pre-school teacher trainees.
I recently stated in this House that, in the view of the Government, the high quality and professional skill of the teacher were crucial to the process of education. The Bill now before the House demonstrates, in a practical manner, the Australian Government’s concern for enhancing the quality of teacher education for teachers in all Australian schools. Honourable members will be aware that the Bill has its origin in the recommendations of the Report on Teacher Education prepared by the Australian Commission on Advanced Education. The Commission’s inquiry commenced in October 1972. On assuming office the present Government wished the inquiry to proceed to finality in the belief that it represented a belated recognition by the Commonwealth of the importance of the contribution made by teachers colleges. The Government considered that the scheme for Commonwealth assistance of teachers colleges in the past was little more than a token gesture and believed that it had an obligation to ensure that adequate funds were available to these institutions to meet the costs of their capital development and their recurrent needs.
The Government accepted the Commission’s recommendations in entirety including the recommendations for special grants for the particularly worthy purposes of accelerating the development of teachers college libraries, of fostering research into aspects of teacher education, of increasing the numbers of students undertaking courses to prepare teachers for handicapped children, and of extending teacher education facilities in existing colleges of advanced education. Moreover, the Government decided to amplify the Commission’s recommendations. The report called for a program of $2 10m for the development of teacher education in the former State teachers colleges, the pre-school teachers colleges and in existing colleges of advanced education during the period July 1973 to December 1975. Of this amount the Australian Government contribution under the existing system of matching State-Federal grants would have been $86m. However, following the offer by the Australian Government to the States to finance tertiary education completely from January 1974, our contribution will become one of $188m. Further, by applying to teachers colleges the same arrangements as will apply to universities and colleges of advanced education, the teachers colleges will be brought fully within the community of tertiary institutions.
The Bill before the House, in providing for the Government’s decisions, integrates the teachers colleges completely within the framework of the advanced education legislation. I would draw to the attention of honourable members the fact that the Bill has been pre pared on the basis of. existing financial arrangements. Later in the sittings a further Bill will be introduced to. provide for the new financial arrangements proposed for implementation from January next. The SI 0.29m set down in the report for pre-school teachers colleges was on the basis that these institutions become self-governing under the general supervision of appropriate co-ordinating bodies in the States. However, the Government will make available its share of the recommended grants without this qualification. If the Parliament enacts later in this session the legislation to which I have just referred, the Australian Government will meet $9.17m of this cost of $10.29m.
Earlier this year the Government allocated $100,000 to increase the number of pre-school teachers in training. This grant will meet the cost of the additional trainees from January to July 1973. In conjunction with its decisions on the Commission’s report the Government agreed to provide a further $425,000 to meet the continuing cost of these additional preschool teachers in training until December 1975. Subsequent to the teacher education report I have, at the request of State authorities, agreed to certain revisions to the building and other projects to be supported at Goulburn Teachers College in New South Wales and and Secondary Teachers College in Western Australia and the changes are incorporated in the Bill. Further consideration is being given to projects proposed for Sydney Teachers College.
The revised Schedules in the Bill incorporate certain variations to the program for the previously listed colleges of advanced education. These variations have been requested by the States. They involve the transfer of funds rather than additional grants, and they have been approved by myself or the Commission under the appropriate sections of the Act. The colleges concerned in the first Schedule are Caulfield, Footscray, Gordon, Preston and Royal Melbourne Institutes of Technology; Gippsland and Warrnambool Institutes of Advanced Education; and, Victorian College of Pharmacy. In the second Schedule they are Mitchell College of Advanced Education, the New South Wales College of Paramedical Studies, Footscray and Gordon Institutes of Technology, Gippsland and Warrnambool Institutes of Advanced Education, Victorian College of Pharmacy and Torrens College of Advanced Education.
In commending this Bill to honourable members I would advise them of two other developments in teacher education likely to lead to other measures that will be presented for their consideration in due course. First, consequent upon the Commission’s report on teacher education and the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission I have written to the Chairmen of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education and the Australian Universities Commission asking them to report to me on the grants that should be made to ensure that adequate provision is made for the training of teachers of handicapped children. Second, honourable members are aware that the Commission’s report on teacher education was limited to a consideration of the needs of the former State teachers colleges and pre-school teachers colleges. As teachers colleges are now becoming autonomous the desirability of a diversity of basic approach to education makes it opportune to consider the value of private teachers colleges. Pre-school teachers colleges are. private institutions in many cases. The Australian Government’s policy of full financial support for tertiary education makes the support of private teachers colleges a logical step. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented in a report on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting in London which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on Saturday, 22 September 1973. I seek leave of the House to incorporate the article in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Parliamentary Assn changes LONDON, Friday. - Australian parliamentarians claimed a diplomatic victory in London last night after getting unanimous support for changes in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
They claimed the changes would give Australia more chance of being elected to the organisation’s most influential body - the executive committee.
The acting leader of the Australian delegation. Dr A. J. Forbes, proposed the changes at a private meeting of 160 delegates from 94 national State and Provincial Parliaments.
In a heated session last weekend, the delegates rejected more sweeping changes proposed by the then delegation leader, the Federal Minister for Services and Property, Mr Daly.
An Australian source said today that Dr Forbes had adopted a “less abrasive” approach and had persuaded delegates to adopt compromise measures.
The Australian State Parliaments opposed the changes sought by Mr Daly, but supported those of Dr Forbes.
Under the changes, to apply from next year, each of seven world regions will elect two delegates to the executive committee, instead of one as at present.
At the same time, the meeting decided to abolish the posts of three extra committee members, at present elected on a complicated rotating basis.
Mr Daly wanted the world divided into five regions, each divided into two further areas, with one committee member from each area.
One of these areas would consist solely of the Australian Federal Parliament and the six State Parliaments.
Mr Daly claimed that the Australian Federal Parliament ultimately should have a permanent representative on the executive committee - a point many other delegations refused to accept.
The Australian State Parliaments opposed Mr Daly’s move because they felt it was the first step to overshadowing them in the organisation.
They agreed with Dr Forbes because they were to remain on an equal footing with the Federal Parliament in a wider region.
The first part of the article states-
Australian parliamentarians claimed a diplomatic victory in London last night after getting unanimous support for changes in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
They claimed the changes would give Australia more chance of being elected to the organisation’s most influential body - the Executive Committee.
The acting leader of the Australian delegation, Dr A. J. Forbes, proposed the changes at a private meeting of 160 delegates from 94 national, State and Provincial Parliaments.
In the first place, it was not a ‘private meeting’ in the real sense. It was a meeting of 160 delegates but was the general meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary association at which Dr Forbes moved his proposals. The article then said:
In a heated session last weekend, the delegates rejected more sweeping changes proposed by the then delegation leader, the Federal Minister for Services and Property, Mr Daly.
This was the General Council meeting, attended only by general councillors and was closed to the public. I did not propose more sweeping changes but submitted precisely the same proposals as those later put to the general meeting by Dr Forbes. The position is this: The Australian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association submitted certain proposals on the subject of representation on the Executive Committee, which it was felt would give more appropriate representation to the Australian Branch. The Australian Branch proposals were considered by the Executive Committee of the general council of the CPA and a compromise proposition was recommended. This compromise was known to the Australian Branch before the departure of delegates to the Conference and on arrival in London it was accepted by the delegation on behalf of the Australian Branch. I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the report of the Executive Committee and the proposals.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The Executive Committee gave preliminary consideration to the Australian Branch proposals at its meeting in Grand Gayman, and appointed a Subcommittee to consider them in London in July. The Executive considered the Subcommittee’s proposals at its meetings last week-end, and at a further meeting today, and now reports to the General Council as follows:
The Executive Committee, while agreeing that the Australian Branch proposals are most carefully prepared and documented, is of the opinion that since the CPA’s Constitution was extensively revised less than two years ago - a process in which all Branches had the opportunity of actively participating - it would be better not to initiate further changes until those agreed upon at the meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 1971 have had a chance to work their way through the system.
Nevertheless, since the Australian Branch proposals are before the Council, and will come before the General Meeting in the form of proposals to amend the Constitution, the Executive Committee feels it incumbent to comment on these proposals one by one.
Increased State/ Provincial Branch Representation on the General Council
The Executive Committee recognizes the active role which many State/Provincial Branches play in CPA affairs, and the substantial financial contribution which many of these Branches make to the Association’s central budget. It appreciates that the proposed increase in representation on the General Council will add little if anything to the cost of meetings of that Council since additional Councillors would be drawn from Members already chosen to attend the Plenary Conference as Delegates,
None the less, the Executive Committee notes that the proposal would breach the principle of parity between independent countries, unitary and federal, large and small, alike, which has always been a feature of the composition of the General Council.
If, however, the General Council feels that this objection is not over-riding, it is a matter for it to decide.
The Committee is aware that appointments under Clause 19 are increasingly regionally motivated, and this development is in fact now embodied in the Constitution. If, therefore, changes are to be made to the Constitution, the Committee agrees that the deletion of Clause 19 is on balance desirable, subject to the penultimate paragraph of this Report.
Increased Regional Representation on the Executive Committee of the General Council
The Executive Committee finds unacceptable that increased regional representation should be achieved by a contraction of the present Regions from seven to five. If, therefore, any change is to be made, the Executive proposes that the existing seven Regions should in future appoint two representatives each to the Executive Committee, except that that Region within which the Honorary Treasurership is located shall have only one regional representative. Each Region shaft continue to nominate its representatives by methods of its own agreed determination, for endorsement by the General Council.
This proposal has the effect of increasing the size of the Executive Committee by six, but if Clause 19 is deleted, and the Immediate Past President ceases to be a Member of the Executive Committee, the increase in membership would be reduced from six to two.
The Committee emphasises, however, that its views regarding the structure of the Executive Committee must be seen as a whole, and that an increase of Regional representation is conditional on Clause 19 being deleted and on the Immediate Past President ceasing to be a Member of the Committee.
The Committee further proposes that only if both Regional Representatives from any one Region are unable to attend a meeting of the Executive Committee would that Region have the right to appoint one alternate.
Without attempting to prejudge the decision today of the General Council, it would seem that here are strong arguments in favour of any changes approved coming into operation next year and not this year.
Firstly, in this report it is emphasized that Regions should continue to select their Regional Representatives by their own chosen methods of determination. If the changes are to come into effect this year, we should in effect be running contrary to this doctrine, because we would be making inevitable the choice of the additional Regional. Representative by delegates here not necessarily fully representative of their Regions, e.g. in the African Region the Branches in Malawi and Zambia are not represented here; in the Caribbean, the Guyana and Montserrat Branches are not represented.
Secondly, if constitutional changes are to be made this year, the General Council can do no more than recommend these for the Annual General Meeting next week, because until then the old Constitution will still be in effect. At best this would mean that as we could not assume what the AGM would do we should have to call another meeting of the General Council afterwards, as only then would we be in a position as a Council to implement any changes, with particular reference to electing additional Regional Representatives.
Australian Constitutional Proposals
The Commonwealth of Australia Branch Delegation desires to notify Delegates that at the 18th General Meeting it proposes:
That this meeting requests the General Council to change the structure of the Executive Committee so that:
It is not intended to proceed with the other amendments notified.
Secretary, Commonwealth of Australia Delegation 18 September 1973
At the General Council meeting the compromise proposals of the Executive Committee of the General Council were circulated and on behalf of the Australian Branch I moved that they be adopted. The resolution was prepared by the secretary of the delegation, Mr N. Parkes, the Clerk of the Parliament, and vetted by Sir Robin Vanderfelt, the SecretaryGeneral, and I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the motion that I moved.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
That the General Council approves the proposals of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch for increased State/Provincial and recommends to the Annual General Meeting that the proposed amendment to Clause 18 and Annexure ‘A’ of the Constitution be adopted. 2. (a) That the General Council approves of the proposal of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch for the abolition of Clause 19 Councillors and recom mends to the Annual GeneralMeeting that the proposed amendments of Clauses 18, 19 and 20 of the Constitution be adopted, and
Much to my surprise, only one or two members of the Executive Committee supported their own compromise proposals and several voted against the motion. In fact, the then Chairman of the Executive Committee, who I understand had drafted the compromise proposals, in the final stages of the debate in effect disowned his own executive’s compromise resolution. I think honourable members will agree that it is difficult to get a motion through on that basis. The General Council delegates then voted to defeat the report of their own Executive Committee, or, in other words, their own compromise resolution was rejected although I had moved its acceptance on behalf of the Australian Branch. The article then goes on to say:
An Australian source said today that Dr Forbes had adopted a ‘less abrasive’ approach and had persuaded delegates to adopt compromise measures. The Australian State Parliaments opposed the changes sought by Mr Daly, but supported those of Dr Forbes.
These statements are completely false as I put forward the proposals reasonably and tolerantly and they were the same proposals as those later put forward by Dr Forbes. Subsequently, a few days later - for reasons best known to themselves - the general meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, including all those who voted against the proposals at the General Council, made an about-face and unanimously adopted and supported proposals that it rejected some days earlier. The article then went on to say:
Mr Daly wanted the world divided into5 regions, each divided into two further areas, with one committee member from each area.
One of these areas would consist solely of the Australian Federal Parliament and the 6 State Parliaments.
This is not correct. It was never moved by me as it had been agreed to accept a compromise resolution of the Executive Committee of the General Council, the adoption of which I moved as agreed upon. The report is not only a misrepresentation of my actions but it is also false and inaccurate and gives the wrong impression of events at the conference.
I might summarise my comments by saying that the motion submitted by the Australian Branch and the compromise accepted were designed in the hope that the Australian Branch would not have to wait about another 20 years before being represented on the Executive Committee. It may be only a coincidence, but it does seem strange that a resolution moved by a member of the Australian Labor Government is rejected and yet the same resolution is unanimously accepted a few days later by the same delegates when moved by a Liberal member of the delegation. One can only wonder whether the resolution would have been accepted at the General Council had I moved it again. I thank the House.
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 1473), on motion by Mr Daly:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
as they are associated measures. Separate questions may of course be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
-Order! Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 2 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– Last Tuesday evening when I sat listening to the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) introducing this measure I was reminded of the limerick:
A smiling young lady from Riga
Once went for a ride on a tiger,
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
I can see at the dispatch box the tiger smiling happily. The Leader of the House has a tremendous record for survival. He was a member of this House when the Chifley Government fell; he was a member of this House when the Labor Party split asunder in the 1950s; he was a front bencher in the House not so very long ago but was dumped; and last year he made a remarkable recovery in being reappointed to the front bench of the House and becoming Minister for Services and Property. A man with such a record of survival in a Party such as the Labor Party cannot help but become an expert in the numbers game, which is exactly what these Bills are about.
Of the 2 Bills before us one is simply a machinery measure which is inconsequential, so I do not propose to address any remarks to it because if the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973 (No. 2) is defeated, as the Opposition hopes it will be, the Representation Bill will become unnecessary. The Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973 (No. 2) seeks to allow Senate representation for two of the Commonwealth Territories. I mention this because only 2 Commonwealth Territories are being singled out for the righting of the great wrong that the Leader of the House believes we have been labouring under for so long. It is interesting that the magical figure of two has been chosen by the Minister as being the apropriate number of senators to represent the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. I suggest that this proposal has been motivated by the difficulties which the Government now has, and which the Government had when it was in Opposition for many years. Because of the proportional representation procedure of electing, senators it has become increasingly clear that the Australian Labor Party will very seldom be able to command an absolute majority of the upper House.
Of course we all know that the Government’s real intention is to abolish the Senate completely, so there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in pretending to give representation in the Senate to Territories when it is the policy platform of the Labor Party to abolish the Senate in any event.
One must look a little closer at the motives of the Minister who introduced this Bill. He went to great pains to point out that the purpose of the Bill - its only purpose - is to provide a measure of representation. We know that - at least until the recent Budget - the Australian Capital Territory has been considered by the Labor Party to be a safe Labor electorate. I suppose that Government supporters anticipate that the Government would win the 2 Senate seats because their margin is so great in the Australian Capital Territory. If Government supporters are looking for ways of trying to get numbers in the other House they have to give up the idea of winning them in the States and look around for some other curious method of building up their numbers in the Senate. That is the purpose of this Bill. The Labor Party members probably believe that they could win the 2 Senate seats in the Australian Capital Territory. Of the 2 senators to be elected for the Northern Territory, Government supporters might imagine that they could win one seat so they would be prepared, on those figures, to give one away in order to get three. With the election of 3 Labor senators the balance of power in the Senate would be completely disturbed and would fall more favourably into the hands of the Government.
Once having provided Senate representation for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory there is no logical reason why Senate representation ought not to be provided for Norfolk Island, Cocos Island and all the other Territories of the Commonwealth. If the Government picks up one senator from here and one senator from there it can eventually erode the balance of power in the Senate and put it in a much more favourable position. That is exactly the object of this Bill. However, as in many cases with this Government, the Constitution is completely ignored. The Government seems to imagine that the Constitution is something which was written many years ago and which does not really apply today. I am afraid that the Government is in for a few shocks this year and next year when some of its more controversial legislation is challenged in the High Court. It may find that the Constitution is a vibrant and living document which curtails any ambition for power which it may have. When the Government gets into constitutional difficulties its favourite tack is to say: ‘We will have a referendum’. At present the Australian people are committed to something like 7 referendums, all of which will cost millions of dollars to hold. The Government is putting the first of these referendums to the people on 8 December this year.
I shall deal briefly with the constitutional difficulty that lies in the way of this Bill. Section 7 of the Constitution, which deals with the creation of the Senate, provides that the Senate shall be composed of senators from each State. I read that provision to mean that in order to be a senator, the senator must be from a State. The Leader of the House relies on advice which he has received from his legal advisers. The advice has not, of course, been tabled in the House so that we can see the basis on which it proceeds. It seems to me curious because the basis of that advice would seem to be that the word ‘senator’ in section 7 of the Constitution means something different from ‘senator’ in section 24 of the Constitution. On any principle of legal construction that would be an almost impossible situation. If the same words are used over and over again in one document, the law normally would presume that they are used in the same sense in each context. The Leader of the House may find himself again in legal difficulties if this Bill should happen, by some chance, to come into law.
The Leader of the House wants the senators representing the Territories to be elected for 3-year terms or for terms which would coincide with House of Representatives elections. If the Leader of the House is consistent in wanting to provide equal opportunities for Australian citizens, whether they live in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory, to be represented in the Senate, the basis of their representation should be the same as for those citizens who reside in States. In other words, their senators should be elected for a full 6-year term. This, of course, is another matter which has caused great embarrassment to the Labor Party over a continuing period of time. The fact that Senators are elected for longer periods can create some check on the rashness and extravagance of Labor governments. This is another attack on the constitutional foundation of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
It is trite to say that the Senate is a States House. The Leader of the House, when he debated the subject on the last occasion, poohpoohed that idea and said: ‘Whoever thinks that senators vote on State lines any more?’ If they are members of the Labor Party they certainly do not because that Party has the same monolithic structure for the whole of Australia. All members of that Party are committed to the same platform and if they do not toe the line they get rapped across the knuckles and flung out of office. On this side of the House the situation is quite different and, as the Government should have reason to remember, senators on the other side of Kings Hall sometimes exercise their minds on matters of policy and vote according to the State interests they represent. I suggest to the Leader of the (House that he has suffered several rebuffs during the course of this Parliament which would indicate that senators have, in fact, voted according to their State interests if they were important enough.
– Like the Democratic Labor Party.
– The Leader of the House knows about the Democratic Labor Party I suppose. He is friendly with its members at the moment. I do not know that he was too friendly with them a decade ago.
– The Prime Minister was sitting down at lunch with them.
– Was he indeed? That may be. I see that the tiger has a very nice smile on his face again now. This tiger wants to lead us along the garden path and have us believe that really all he wants to do is to provide for democracy. As I pointed out it is really back to the old numbers game for the Leader of the House. What he cannot get one way he has to engineer another way.
I have already mentioned the discrimination which appears in this Bill against senators coming from the Territories. They are to be elected for only 3 years and will be elected together. Of course, the Leader of the House says: ‘That is very fair because the other side might win one of the Senate seats and we might win one of the Senate seats.’ But I will bet that the Leader of the House had some figures prepared before he introduced this Bill which would suggest that the Government might do rather better than 50-50 at a Senate election from the Territories. The only reason he has not introduced a Bill to give representation in the Senate to Norfolk Island is that he probably realised that if he did that he would be going too far. He would be disclosing the nakedness of his hand to the general public. So he has to do one bit at a time.
The inconsistencies in this Bill would seem to suggest that it ought to be rejected. As 1 have suggested the legal opinion which the Leader of the House has received and which would suggest that ‘senators’ under one section of the Constitution should be read differently from ‘senators’ in another section of the Constitution can only amount to a certain degree of sophistry - window dressing to avoid the real issue which is to provide more seats for his particular persuasion in the other House. It is interesting too that he is not prepared to go the whole hog and introduce a Bill for self-government in the Northern Territory. If he did that there would be no problem. The Northern Territory could be admitted as a new State of the Commonwealth and be given 10 senators. The Territory would be amply represented in those circumstances.
The reason why senators were made to come from States and not from Territories controlled by the Commonwealth would be fairly apparent to anyone except blind Freddy. The Commonwealth Government, having control of all the expenditure in the Territories, can more readily persuade voters to its point of view - that is the Government in power at the time - than would be likely to be the case if there were self-government in the Territories. For these reasons I tell the Leader of the House that we will not have a bar of this disguised attack on constitutional government and the constitutional balance in Australia. We will oppose the Bills here and we will oppose them elsewhere.
– I reject the argument that has been put forward by the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) and an argument which was put forward during a previous debate in the Senate on this matter. I do not believe the statement that people who live in the Northern Territory are not Australians. I do not believe the statement that people who live in the Australian Capital Territory are not Australians. That is what is being said. It has been said in this House and in the other House that the people who live in the mainland territories of Australia are to be considered as having no better right to Australian citizenship than to people who live in Norfolk Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands group and other trust territories. The people who live in these Territories are not under the trusteeship of Australia; they are Australians disfranchised by the Constitution. In the initial stages the Constitution was drafted by State governments with State outlooks and they did not consider people who did not live in the colonies of that time. Whilst the States now talk about sovereign States there were no States initially; they were colonies.
The residents of the mainland Territories are just as much entitled to be represented in Houses of Parliament where laws affecting their welfare or levying taxes on them can be made as were the people of the United States of America at the time of their War of Independence. I suggest that the attitude being put forward in this matter by the Liberal Party is the same as that which was put forward in the British Parliament at that time, namely, that people can be governed by a parliament in which they have no say whatever and which can make laws on their behalf but they are not entitled to be represented as citizens of that country. What utter rubbish it is for any member of this House or the other place to suggest that the Senate is a States House. One would be laughed out of any serious discussion if one tried to prove that the Senate votes on State lines. It is not very long ago - within the last 3 years - that a State of Australia directed its senators to vote in a certain way on a certain question. The senators representing that State, when the vote was taken in the Senate, split on Party lines.
Do not let us have childish nonsense. That is all it is. I suggest that the Liberal Party believes this argument; otherwise it would not have put up one of its most junior members to lead in an important debate such as this. It is childish nonsense to suggest that the Senate is anything but a Party House. It is a House where people are elected on a proportional representation basis. With only 3 exceptions, no member of the Senate would be there if he did not have his Party’s endorsement and he would not stay there if he did not play the game by the Party which sends him there. Let us at least act like adults on this question. The suggestion made by the honourable member on behalf of his own Party that the Liberal Party could not get one-third of the votes in the Australian Capital Territory where the Public Service of Australia is based, where the residents are the people most likely in the best position in Australia to judge the performance of the Australian Government, I think is an indictment of his own Party.
– We could probably get them all at the moment.
– If the Liberal Party could get them all I find it hard to understand why the leading spokesman for that Party said that although, with 2 senators being elected at one time on a proportional representation basis, his Party would require only 33 per cent of the vote plus one to get a senator elected, the Australian Labor Party would get the 2 senators for the Australian Capital Territory.
– I said that the Minister probably thought that.
– The honourable member’s argument against this was that we would get 3 senators to one. His whole basis of argument was that we were trying to distort the numbers in the Senate. The facts of the matter are that these Bills are designed to give this representation without altering the balance of power in the Senate. That is what it is all about and we all know that. Surely even schoolboys know that. I do not want to delay the House for long.
The position of the Australian Country Party on this question is very interesting. I understand the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) will follow me in this debate. It will be interesting to see whether he will still stick to the position which he held before when the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) sat beside me on this bench and voted for this legislation or whether he now accepts the argument which is being put forward by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and which was put forward in the Senate by a number of senators, that people who live in the Northern Territory are not Australians and are not entitled to be fully represented in the Australian Parliament. If that argument is valid and if the argument put forward by the honourable member for Petrie is valid, I challenge the Liberal Party to move an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act to take the Territory members out of this House. This House is as much a part of the Australian Parliament as is the Senate. If the people in the Territories are not Australians for the purpose of electing senators, why are they Australians for the purpose of electing members of the House of Representatives? No one would seriously challenge the right of the honourable member for the Northern Territory to be here, except his opponent at the next election, and he would be only trying to replace him. No one would challenge the right of the Territorians to be represented here and have full voting rights. No one would do that. Apparently the spokesmen for the Liberal Party who are now putting forward the proposition that people who live in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are not Australians are the exceptions. They are saying that those people must be ranked beside the people who reside on Cocos Island, Norfolk Island and the other Trust Territories and not be regarded as full Australians. I conclude by saying that I think the most ludicrous suggestion I have ever heard in my life was the one which came from the other side of the House that next the Government will be seeking representation of Antarctica in the Senate. I know that penguins would be as good members of Parliament as some honourable members on the other side of the chamber, but there is no provision in our Constitution for penguins to be given the vote.
Mr CALDER (Northern Territory) 0.6)- I consider the remarks of the honourable member for Corio, who has just resumed his seat, to be wild, erratic and of no real consequence. He endeavoured to predict the way in which I will vote if the debate on this legislation comes to a vote. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), who is sitting at the table, also endeavoured to do so when this legislation was debated on a previous occasion. Once again I must remind the House and the people of Australia that the Australian Labor Party has in its platform a plank to abolish the Senate. That was referred to by the Minister for Services and Property when he introduced the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973 on 22 May 1973. Quoting the Prime Minister (Mr whitlam), he said:
It has been said quite correctly that the Australian Labor Party is In favour of the abolition of the Senate.
The Australian Labor Party is being hypocritical in this respect, as we all know. I have been quoted by the Minister for Services and Property as being in favour of representation of the Northern Territory in the Senate. I said in 1966 that I was and I have been saying ever since that I am. Having said that, I will not back away from what I have said.
As a Territorian, I would seek to take advantage of the opportunism with which the Australian Labor Party has introduced this legislation. I see no real reason why the Northern Territory - I am not really discussing the Australian Capital Territory in this regard - would not gain from such a situation. I believe that the people of the Northern Territory shou’d be represented in the Senate. One of the Australian Labor Party’s great catch-cries is ‘one vote one value’. According to the last figures I saw the Northern Territory had an enrolment of 31,000-odd on the electoral roll on 27 April. If the Northern Territory were to be represented by 2 senators it would mean that it would have 3 representatives in the Australian Parliament for that number of voters. I am all for Senate representation, but I just cannot accept the Government’s expressed purpose in introducing this legislation. There may be something in what the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) has said. It may be that the Australian Labor Party is not being solicitous of the well-being of the people of the Northern Territory but is playing the numbers game. The honourable member for Corio said that residents of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are all Australians. I agree. They are very much so. In fact, I would say that if anything the people of the Northern Territory are tougher and more like Australians than a lot of the honourable members who are sitting opposite me at the moment, including the Minister.
It has been said the people of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory should have the same rights as the people of the States. That is fair enough. But what about the referendum on prices and incomes which the Prime Minister hopes to hold on 8 December? Territorians have no right to vote in that referendum or in any other referendum. I would ask the Government, while it is being so solicitous about the people of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, to give those people the right to vote in referendums. In all sincerity I ask the Minister to give that matter consideration.
– What was that again?
– The people of the Territories will not have the right to vote in the referendum on 8 December which seeks to give the Government power to control wages and prices. The people of the Northern Territory are now under the influence of the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby), who lives in Canberra. He is a city man. The people of the Northern Territory have to put up with the snap decisions that he makes from 2,000 miles away. I have again given notice that I propose to move that the notice which has been given of acquisition of certain land by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory be declared void and of no effect. This proposed acquisition is a simple example of how little the Minister and the Government think of the Northern Territory. They arc not prepared to listen to people of the Northern Territory. Within an hour of the defeat of this proposal in the Senate the Minister burst from his office virtually in an uncontrollable rage and re-gazetted the acquisition proposal. He took no notice of the Senate. I hope that his departmental officers will have the common decency to go and discuss this matter with the people of the 32 square miles of land south of Darwin he hopes to resume. A principle is involved. Those people do not like being pushed around, especially by someone from down south who does not really know what he is talking about - although I know that lots of those people would themselves treat on their land.
I return to the subject of the representation of the Territories in the Senate. While moving for representation of the Northern Territory in the Senate the Government is moving away from, or appears to be moving away from, giving the people of the Northern Territory responsibility in their own legislature. The views of the Northern Territory Legislative Council are ignored on many occasions. The land acquisition proposal is but one example. Under the previous Government the Legislative Council was to have jurisdiction over urban land. Where does that jurisdiction lie now? It lies in an administrative set-up established in Canberra. What happened to the control of the police force? What happened to the security service? It was abolished altogether. Those are examples of the attitude the Government adopts towards the Northern Territory. The people of the Northern Territory are not very pleased about the Government’s actions.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Northern Territory has been set up to study matters relating to the Northern Territory. Its establishment has been accepted by Legislative Councillors with some reluctance. Some of them have been quoted as saying that it will not be of the slightest use. They say that we should have a continuation of the discussions which were had with Ministers in the former Government about giving responsibility to them to run the Northern Territory’s affairs. On the one hand this Government is giving something and on the other it is taking away something. When the first Bill was debated on 30 May I moved an amendment which virtually sought to bring the date of the election for the proposed senators from the Northern Territory into line with the Senate election in the States. After all, the senators elected from the Territory would be sitting alongside those elected from the States. There is no reason why their election should not take place at the same time and under the same terms as the election for the senators from the States. I cannot understand why that has not been brought about. I do not know whether the ALP thinks it will win 2 of these 4 Senate seats. When this Bill was introduced the ALP might have imagined that it would have won 3 seats to 1. I very much doubt that they would not lose 3 seats to 1.
– Are you going to–
– Do not tell me that you will also prejudge the way I am to vote in this debate.
– You have not said which way you will vote.
– I stated which way I would vote last time. Page 2815 of Hansard shows that I voted for the Bill. No doubt the Minister will be speaking after me and I suppose he will abuse me and carry on the way he usually does.
– No, not you. I was referring to the Minister at the table, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). I can handle you quite easily. Talking about handling people, I would suggest to the Minister for Services and Property that if he were to come up to the Northern Territory, some 5 miles out of Alice Springs, possibly another byelection would be needed, this time in the electorate of Grayndler. I propose to take the Minister for Services and Property to task on his continued inaccuracies in this House. The Minister once said that I, the honourable member for the Northern Territory, believed in 100 per cent Senate representation for the Northern Territory as long as I did not have to vote on it. Well, that very afternoon I voted on it. Why is he allowed to come into the House and say these things and get away with them?
– You fixed it up.
– I have not fixed it up yet. I am hoping to fix him on a dark night somewhere on the Stuart Highway. The Minister went on to say:
If anyone wants assistance the honourable member for the Northern Territory does, but today in this Parliament he said that he does not want anybody to help him in the 500,000 square miles he represents.
That was not in Hansard at all. He made it up as he also made up the business of how I was to vote. The Minister then said: ‘He has never voted for anything worthwhile for the Northern Territory’. If one goes to the Northern Territory and sees what has happened there in the last 6 years one will see that the honourable member for the Northern Territory did vote on something worthwhile. I challenge the Minister on that point. The Minister then said:
That is completely wrong. I did not say that. Honourable members can read my speech in Hansard, by all means, and they can rise and say what they like about it. At a later date the Minister came into the House and, off the cuff in great humorous style, said that no Country Party member had got into this House with 50 per cent of the vote. There was a certain amount of reaction to that statement and once again the statement was completely wrong. As a matter of fact when I was first elected to this House I received more than 50 per cent of the votes. However, I was not one of the Country Party members who made a personal explanation on this matter. I concluded my remarks during that debate by calling the Minister an utter ratbag. I made that remark without thinking. In view of the remarks I have just made I should call him an unmitigated liar.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member must withdraw that expression.
– The unmitigated part?
– No, the expression ‘unmitigated liar’. It is an unparliamentary phrase and I ask for its withdrawal.
– Well, he is an unmitigated teller of untruths.
-Order! That remark is still a reflection on the Minister.
– His mind wanders with regard to the truth.
-I ask the honourable member to withdraw the expression unmitigated liar’ and to rephrase his statement.
– I withdraw the statement unmitigated liar’. I may think it. I will say that he is a stranger to the truth.
– I always listen with great interest to the remarks of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), because he and I have something in common.
– Not much.
– No, not much, but we have something in common. We represent the 2 mainland territories. The territories are different in many ways but they do give us a little in common. I am sure both of us realise how grossly under-represented the people of those territories are. I know the Northern Territory better since 1 became the Minister responsible for its administration than 1 did years ago. We know that about 90,000 people are in the Northern Territory and a third of them are Aborigines. There is local government in Darwin and Alice Springs, a Legislative Council with very limited and restricted powers of a legislative kind and no executive powers at all, and one member in this House.
– And a very good one, too.
– Kindness on my part to the honourable member for the Northern Territory requires that I do not comment on that suggestion. Every member of this House knows that legislation affecting the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory has to go through both this House and the Senate. People who live in Gove, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Darwin or any other area of that great part of Australia - the Northern Territory - have no representation at all in the Senate. They have none at all. Measures can be taken in the Senate which vitally affect the people of the Northern Territory yet they have no representatives in the Senate. It can be inferred by the acts of the Country Party and the Liberal Party that the people of the Northern Territory should not have representation in the Senate. Some double dealing goes on - some very keen but not deeply hidden double dealing.
The Government recently decided to implement the recommendation of the previous Minister for the Interior, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), made last year with regard to the resumption of some 32 square miles of land south of the city of Darwin. I imagine - for similar reasons that the honourable member for Gwydir accepted when he was the Minister for the Interior last year - that it was in the interests of the people of the Northern Territory that the land be resumed. It was never implemented by the previous Government for perhaps a variety of reasons which I do not need to explore. The honourable member for Gwydir said that the measure had his support. We accepted similar thinking when we assumed power. We tried to acquire that land but the resumption was set aside in the Senate, not in this House, on the votes of the Country Party. It was set aside in the Senate by the Country Party for cheap, narrow, nasty and shortsighted political reasons. I understand a similar move is to be made in the near future. That is one example of how the people of the Northern Territory can have their affairs vitally affected by one of the two Houses of this Parliament, the Senate, where they have no representation at all.
As I understand it, the honourable member for the Northern Territory says that he is not opposed to Senate representation. He will correct me if I am wrong. I entered the chamber after the honourable member had commenced his speech but I understood him to be purporting to say that he was not opposing Senate representation for the Northern Territory. Indeed, how could he? We know that the people of the Northern Territory are under-represented and yet his Party opposes in the Senate any legislation to give the people more representation. Is this not double dealing? Is this not an awareness on the part of the Country Party members in this House where they do not have the majority support, where they are little more than a rump and where, for political reasons, they have to allow the honourable member for the Northern Territory to say that he supports increased representation for the Northern Territory? They allow and encourage him to say so. The honourable member says ‘I support the increased representation’. But in the Senate where the Country Party has power and can do something, what does it do? It opposes legislation to give more representation to the Northern Territory. They oppose it. I accuse them of sheer, rank hypocrisy and double dealing.
– What did you call the Country Party - a rump?
– In that case, yes. Their actions are sheer, rank hypocrisy. They come in here, mouth platitudes that suggest that they want increased representation for the Northern Territory, when they know that that is what they wish people to hear them saying. But in the place where the vote counts, in the Senate, the Country Party marshalls its votes, all 5 of them - I think it has 5 senators there - and by their vote they say: ‘Not on your life’. The Country Party does this in the place where the honourable member for the Northern Territory cannot be blamed for the action that is taken. Yet, it is his Party which takes this action. Do members of the Country Party in this House seriously ask those people who are listening to the radio broadcast of this debate to believe that they do not meet as other political parties meet and decide what their course of action will be on various matters? Do they really expect the people to believe that? There is hypocrisy in that attitude. There is dishonesty in it. It is an example of double dealing. The wider this fact is known the better it will be. This fact bears repeating: Where the honourable member for the Northern Territory can be heard to say something that he believes to be popular, he says it. But does he say the same thing in his own Party room? I will wager not.
– It has been on my ticket since 1966.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!
– I take a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for the Northern Territory rises on a point of order.
– I claim to have been misrepresented.
– Well, I have not finished speaking.
-The honourable member can speak to a personal explanation - Mr Calder - I take a point of order.
-If the honourable member desires to make a personal explanation, he may ask leave to do so when the Minister has concluded his speech.
– I take a point of order.
-Order! I will hear the honourable member for the Northern Territory on a point of order.
– The Minister for the Northern Territory is making wild aspersions about me and about my Party. They are without any foundation whatsoever.
-Order! No point of order is involved. The honourable member’s remarks sound more like a personal explanation. The honourable member may ask for leave to make a personal explanation, if he has been misrepresented, at the end of the Minister’s speech.
– It would be interesting to know how anyone could claim to be misrepresented or take a point of order unless that person was stung to fury by the truth of the charge. All I said was: Does the honourable member for the Northern Territory raise this matter in his Party room? I wager not. I repeat that.
– You do not know what goes on in our Party.
– Of course I do not know. I am not in your Party.
– You would never get into our Party.
– I would not want to be in your Party for anything. The truth of my statement is that the Country Party in the place where it counts votes against increased representation for the Northern Territory. It votes against the constituents of the honourable member for the Northern Territory. His Party, in the place where it counts, votes against his constituents. This fact must be rammed home.
I turn to the Australian Capital Territory, the Territory which I represent, and which together with the Northern Territory I try to administer as well as I can. The Australian Capital Territory too is grossly underrepresented. The population of the Australian Capital Territory is approaching 200,000. That population is growing at a rate of approximately 10 per cent a year. The population is likely to continue to increase at that rate, because of the advantages that flow to it from this good Government. But the Australian Capital Territory has one member in this House of Representatives. With 18-year-olds being granted the vote, the number of constituents in the electorate at the moment eligible to be on the roll if an election were to be held tomorrow would be between 90,000 and 95,000- nearly 100,000. The Australian Capital Territory has no representation in the Senate. In that respect it is the same situation as the Northern Territory. The Australian Capital Territory has no local government. Its position in that respect is worse than that of the Northern Territory, yet the population of the Australian Capital Territory is double that of the Northern Territory. The Australian Capital Territory has no State government or anything that resembles a State government. In that sense it is worse off than the Northern Territory which at least has its Legislative Council, with all its imperfections.
What has happened to create this situation? Where does opposition to additional representation for the Australian Capital Territory come from? This opposition to the idea that the people of the Australian Capital Territory, essentially the people of Canberra, should have some democratic representation in this Parliament comes from the Country Party, the
Liberal Party and also from that group called the Australian Democratic Labor Party; the members of those Parties are the people who oppose that democratic representation.
The population of Tasmania is approximately double the population of the Australian Capita] Territory. Let me outline the representation at various levels in Tasmania. The Tasmanian House of Assembly has 35 members. The Tasmanian Upper House has 19 members. Tasmania is represented in the Federal Parliament by 10 senators and 5 members of the House of Representatives. In addition, Tasmania has approximately 500 municipal councillors. In total, that State has approximately 700 full time and part time politicians.
– There is no one vote one value there.
– That is right. Tasmania has some 700 politicians. I repeat the numbers: It has 10 senators and 5 members of the House of Representatives, 35 full time members of the State Lower House, 19 members of the State Upper House, and 500-odd aldermen. Yet, the population of Tasmania is only double the population of the Australian Capital Territory. But the Australian Capital Territory has only one member in the whole of the Federal Parliament - and nothing else. How absurd that situation is.
When it was in Opposition, the Australian Labor Party tried to gain some increased representation for the Australian Capital Territory as it did for the Northern Territory. Whether the Labor Party wins, loses or draws in an election in those Territories does not matter. Who cares about such things? There is an inequity and an injustice in the representation of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory that we are trying to overcome. We have pushed consistently for years to overcome the present position. All we have ever received is opposition from members of the Country Party, because they do not care.
In this proposition, we have tried to achieve that end again. The Opposition comes forth predictably as usual. But think of the arguments that it puts forward. Honourable members opposite do not deny the injustice of the position in the Australian Capital Territory when it is compared with the numbers in Tasmania or in any electorate. I do not know whether I can recall the figures relating to the electorate represented by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) in New South
Wales. I think I worked them out once to show that there were 30 or 40 representatives in that electorate.
– There were 30 or 40 full time or part time politicians who impinged on your area of Gwydir. I refer to members of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, the New South Wales Legislative Council and aldermen-
– That is an exaggeration.
– It may be. I am relying on my memory.
– That is not right. I will work it out for you.
– He will work it out for me. It is a very large number. The honourable member has the membership of the New South Wales Parliament, both in the Lower House and the Upper House, which impinges
– It is six.
– Do not forget the Upper House. Its members cover the whole of New South Wales.
– It is six.
– No, six.
– Well, this is typical of you; yet, you oppose our proposal all the time. This measure surely has justice on its side. It has equity on its side. It has fairness on its side. Yet you people come along and oppose it again. All I can suggest is that either you do not believe that you can win the additional seats - and I do not think that that matters in the Northern Territory because I would think that the Country Party has a greater chance of winning the additional seat there than the Labor Party has-
– I would agree with you.
– Of course. Look at the figures. This will test your honesty. The last election for the House of Representatives for the electorate of the Northern Territory returned Country Party support, not Labor Party support. The Country Party does not want to increase that support. It opposes such a step. We have no chance, or little chance or less chance than the Country Party has of winning that seat. Yet we try to do the right thing by the people of he Northern Territory. We have tried and we will continue to try. But the hypocrisy and the double standards of the Country Party should be exposed.
People argue that the Senate is the States House. What nonsense. Senators vote either as individuals or on Party lines. The Senate has never been the States House. I repeat that fact: The Senate has never been the States House. It was conceived as the States House by the people who worked on the Constitution in 1890. They thought that it might represent the interests of the States. But the members of the Senate have never voted on State lines, and honourable members know it. Never ever has the Senate done that - and honourable members know it. There are independents there who vote as independents because of particular political ideologies and the points of view that they have. Otherwise, members of the Senate vote on Party lines. Members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party vote as a party, whether they come from Tasmania or Queensland; they are Australians.
It is dishonest - and rank dishonesty - to start talking about this nonsense of the States’ rights and of the Senate being the States House. Even if that claim were correct, is that any excuse to exclude representatives of these Territories from the House where very basic decisions are made that affect the Territories? Are honourable members opposite going to continue to exclude representatives of the 200,000 people living in Canberra at this time - that is half the population of Tasmania and the population here is growing rapidly - from their rightful place in the Senate? Are honourable members opposite to continue to exclude representatives of the Northern Territory from the Senate?
Every time that I make an ordinance or my Government introduces an ordinance that relates to the Australian Capital Territory, the attempt to disallow it comes from the Senate. Honourable members opposite do not waste their time here seeking to disallow such ordinances because they know that they are in the minority here at the moment. This is the same double standard as the honourable member for the Northern Territory demonstrates. He mouths platitudes here. But the attempt to disallow and to defeat this progressive legislation and these reforms is made in the Senate where honourable members opposite have the numbers. Yet they refuse to support legislation to give representation to the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory in the
Senate where it matters. The Opposition Parties say: ‘Keep them out. We will decide what is best for them’. I quoted the example in regard to the 32 square miles of land, which was something that the honourable member for Gwydir approved of last year. The Government of the day did not get around to following that through for one reason or another. I will not go into that, but the honourable member approved of it when he was a Minister. It was in the Senate that the Opposition rejected it. .Yet that is the very place in which honourable members opposite refused to let people from the Northern Territory have representation in order to express themselves. The same applies in regard to the Australian Capital Territory. If an attack is made on an ordinance or it is disallowed the attack or disallowance occurs in the Senate, the one place where honourable members opposite say: ‘We will not let the Canberra people be heard.’ That is the one place in which they say: ‘We will not let the Canberra people have their vote.’ One could say that it is cowardice. One could say that it is the action of people who place political expediency above political principles. I think that has to be said.
I support the remarks of the Leader of the House on this question. I think it is a long overdue reform. I only hope that the people in the Senate do the right thing this time. There is no reason to suppose that they will - because of the reasons I have suggested. I do suggest that it is conspiracy, and that word is not too strong. It is nothing less than an agreement that goes against the public interest or has an illegal overtone. I suggest that it is a conspiracy within the Country Party to come into this place-
– You are quite wrong.
– I am not quite wrong.
– Of course you are.
– I am quite right. In the circumstances I have mentioned it is a conspiracy for the honourable member for the Northern Territory to come into this place and say whatever he likes because he thinks he is talking to his constituents. He can say: T did the right thing. Do not blame me’. But in the Northern Territory where he has the numbers, where he has the support and where his Party has-
– He cannot dictate to the Party. He is only one.
– He does not have to dictate to them.
– He cannot dictate to them.
– Has he ever talked to- you about it?
– Yes he has.
– Which way do you vote? Why do you not talk to your colleagues in the Senate?
– The House will come to order. There are too many interjections coming from both sides of the House. The Minister is entitled to be heard in silence.
– It is nothing less than a conspiracy to defraud and to deceive the public, particularly the electors and the people of the Northern Territory, into believing that their member is fighting for their interests in the hope that they will not realise that his colleagues in the Senate, with his blessing no doubt, or if not with his blessing because of his incompetence in that he is unable to persuade them of the strength of his case-
– You are talking nonsense.
– I will repeat it. If it is not with your blessing that in the Senate your colleagues oppose this matter that is so obviously just for the Northern Territory and something for which you yourself have argued in this place, then you are incompetent. I put that to you. I finish on that note.
– I intend to enter into this debate, but before dealing with the Bill there are a few matters that I would like to reply to in respect of the remarks made by the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby). The honourable member referred to a recommendation that was made to me with respect to the acquisition of certain lands that were to be used for urban purposes on the outskirts of the city of Darwin. In my time as Minister for the Interior this recommendation was not implemented, for very good reasons. I think the Minister said that it was not implemented for various reasons. I would like at this point of time to inform the House, the Northern Territory and the nation of the principal reason why that recommendation was not proceeded with. At that point of time we were in the process of negotiations with Northern Territory Legislative Councillors on the question of constitutional advancement. We had made an offer to the Legislative Council to transfer executive responsibilities over a range of State-like issues, including urban land. At the time of the election this offer had not been debated either in the Northern Territory Legislative Council or by the Northen Territory people themselves.
– My point was that you supported the proposition.
– The Government supported the recommendation but it had not implemented it for that very reason I stated.
– That is what I said.
– I felt as Minister for the Interior that it was for the local legislature and the local people to determine whether they should accept the package that was offered for constitutional advancement in the Northern Territory. The offer that was made to the Northern Territory was a firm and a sound one. It offered an advancement towards statehood, which is something that the present Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) promised the Northern Territory prior to the last election. It is in black and white. The Minister for Northern Development on frequent occasions, to placate Mr Ward, I think it was-
– Mr Ward, the member for Ludmilla in the Legislative Council.
– Yes, the Leader of the Labor Party in the Northern Territory Legislative Council. The Minister for Northern Development informed him that if there was a Labor Government elected the Northern Territory would get statehood. Yet after the election the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and, indeed, the Minister for the Northern Territory indicated that the Northern Territory would not get statehood. We have heard all sorts of expressions in this place about double standards. Where are the double standards? The Minister for the Northern Territory inherited a well thought through arrangement for the transfer of executive responsibility to the Northern Territory.
– You should smile when you say that.
– No. I do not smile because we went through a long process of negotiation and discussion with members of all political parties in the Legislative Council and they had agreed to look in depth at this matter. Their reaction initially was very favourable indeed. If the Minister is interested enough to follow this through he can look at the joint Press releases that were issued at that time. So there was a genuine attempt on the part of the former Government to transfer executive responsibility across to the Northern Territory and to have a fully elected Legislative Council. But this has been deferred for various reasons, A reference has gone before the Joint Parlimentary Committee on the Northern Territory. I do not doubt that the Minister is trying to find a formula so that some executive responsibility can be transferred to the Northern Territory. I know that in the Australian Capital Territory he is trying to get a form of government that will be acceptable to the people of the Territory. We had not gone so far with the Australian Capital Territory as we had gone with the Northern Territory. I know the Minister would agree with that. But I would like to defend the honourable member for the Northern Territory who consistently has supported, both in the councils of the Australian Country Party and in the Party room, the concept of Senate representation for the Northern Territory. I have been opposed to the concept because I believe that the Senate is a States house. Of course it is a States house. Here is the Minister for the Northern Territory, a lawyer, a lawyer of great distinction-
– We cannot have that.
– Here is a lawyer of great distinction screwing his face up and ignoring the fact that the Senate is a States house. Of course it is a States house. To try to slip other Senate representatives into a States house by this rather clandestine way I think is destroying the whole concept of the Upper House of this Parliament. It has been for those reasons that I personally have been opposed to the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory having representation in the Senate. When the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory get the equivalent of statehood, when they have their own legislatures and when they have responsibility for their State-like responsibilities, such as urban land and so on, I think it will be time enough to look at the situation. I believe that this Government has had double standards with respect to the Northern Territory. It has established a department of the Northern Territory in Darwin - we admit that - but the fact of the matter is that the administration of the Northern Territory has been fragmented among no fewer than 10 Ministers and 10 departments.
– As many as 10?
– Yes, and the people of the Northern Territory do not know to whom they should go or to which Minister they should go in order to have some of the big problems of that vast Territory resolved.
Let it not be forgotten that the towns and cities of the Northern Territory have the fastest growing populations in Australia today, even outstripping Canberra. Why did that happen? It was because of consistent policies that were implemented by successive Liberal-Country Party governments for 23 years; that has put the Northern Territory into a position where, in the not too distant future, it will be able to take its place in the federation of Australia. I am sure that the Minister for Northern Development
– You mean the Minister for the Northern Territory?
– No, the Minister for Northern Development - Dr Patterson. He must be very disappointed indeed with his own Government for not having honoured a promise that he made - in good faith, I have no doubt - to the people of the Northern Territory. I take great exception to the Minister for the Northern Territory referring to the Australian Country Party as the rump because I believe that he did not say it in the nicest way. Nobody can deny that there is a rump in the Australian Labor Party and one of them - the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) - is sitting on the other side of the table. He is part of the rural rump. I believe that the cheeks of that rural rump of the ALP must be blushing red at present because it has had a lot to overcome in trying to hold rural seats against a government that has shown a great disinclination to support the people of the rural areas, let alone those in the Northern Territory. So, I believe that the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory has engaged in a rather spiteful and quite unnecessary attack upon the honourable member for the Northern Territory and upon the Country Party. I think it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
– We heard the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) attack and heap personal abuse upon the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). Of course, it does the Minister no good at all because he was constantly repeating himself and repetition does not improve a poor argument. The Minister spoke about a conspiracy between the Australian Country Party and the honourable member for the Northern Territory. 1 take it that, by implication, he also tried to draw the Liberal Party into that. Let us have a look at the Minister’s conduct towards his own electorate, the Australian Capital Territory. We can see by the action he has taken that he, his Cabinet and Government supporters are themselves guilty of a conspiracy against those people whom the Minister is supposed to represent, a conspiracy to make the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory which is so capably represented by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), 2 socialist enclaves within Australia. That is what the Minister is about. To see the truth of this one only has to look at the socialist price controls that he has foisted upon the Australian Capital Territory - he would like to do the same thing in large measure in the Northern Territory - and the controls that he is exerting over the Australian Capital Territory by withdrawing land from the people. If he has a desire to bring prices down, what ought to be done is to release on to the market as quickly as possible as much land as possible to satisfy the demand for land to build on of the people that he is supposed to represent. How hollow it is to hear the Minister for the Northern Territory going on in the way in which he did.
One needs only to compare the actions of this Government in relation to Papua New Guinea with the paternalistic attitude that is now shown by the Minister towards these 2 areas to justify what I am saying. This Government forced Papua New Guinea along the road to self-government and independence at a speed at which the people of that country did not want to travel. They of course were looking to the time when they would be an independent nation and when they would have self-government. This Government certainly has sped them along that path. But contrast this with the attitude of this Minister towards the 2 areas under his responsibility. Is he speeding them along the path to selfgovernment or to independence as we know it within the federal system? Of course not. It is quite clear from the way he addressed himself to the House this afternoon that what he wants is to adopt a paternalistic attitude and to say: ‘I am holier than thou. I know what is best for you. You do not know what is good for yourself.
I turn now to the second reading speech of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) when introducing the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill. He said:
The purpose of this Bill - and this is its only purpose - is to provide a measure of representation for the Australian Capital Territory and for the Northern Territory in the Senate. . . .
What does the Leader of the House mean by a measure of representation’? What I would like to know and what I am sure the honourable member for the Northern Territory and the people of the Australian Capital Territory would like to know is: When are these Territories to get a full measure of representation of their area? What is a full measure of representation? Does the Minister say that 2 members in the Senate and one member in the House of Representatives is enough? Is that a full measure of representation? Is that what the Minister is saying is adequate for the people of the 2 Territories that he represents? The Minister remains mute. I can only take it from his silence that he considers that is good enough for the people of these 2 Territories. For me, it is not good enough.
– Move an amendment that would give them ten.
– All right, but we have not heard the Minister propound any argument in favour of that. No doubt, the Minister is against that proposition, so why should I move such an amendment? By the Minister’s statement he denies his own proposition that the people of the Northern Territory should be given as full a measure of representation as the people of the States of Australia. The Minister shakes his head, but I still do not hear him say anything.
– What an ad hoc proposition from the Minister at the table.
– Of course it is. In addition, the Minister said: ‘Why deny representation to the Australian Capital Territory which has half the population of Tasmania?’ He quoted some statistics relating to representation in the Senate of 10 members and in this House of 5 members for that State, the State Parliament and the local authorities. But have we heard the Minister say that, by that comparison, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory should have at least half the degree of representation that the people of Tasmania have in the 2 Houses of this Parliament and in their State Parliament? Of course not, the reason being the paternalistic attitude of this Government towards the people of the Territories for whom the Minister is supposed to be responsible.
Let us make a comparison. Using a word that the Minister used so freely in his speech, I refer to the hypocrisy of the attitude of this Government when one sees what it is doing in Papua New Guinea by speeding it to selfgovernment and independence and compare that with the callous attitude of the Minister towards the people of these 2 Territories. We have not heard from this Government any proposals about self-government or a higher degree of independent representation by the people of these 2 Territories. I know that a prominent, well-known member of the Liberal Party in the Australian Capital Territory has put forward his own proposals for self-government for the Australian Capital Territory. I would be interested to hear the Minister for the Capital Territory tell this House what he thinks of those proposals or, if he disagrees with them in detail, whether he has any idea that the people of the Australian Capital Territory deserve a measure of self-government as distinct from a measure of representation in the Senate. Maybe one day he will enlighten us as to his views on this question and as to how far he and his Government are prepared to go.
Why should the Northern Territory not be moved quickly along the path towards selfgovernment? Quite clearly this Bill is a movement away from that. Clause 6 of the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill provides that ‘the term of service of a senator for a Territory commences on the day of his election and expires at the close of the day next preceding the polling day for the general election of members of the House of Representatives next following his election’. Why is it that the term of service of a Territory senator should be any less than the term of service of a State senator? What is the reason for that discrimination? The reason can only be that the Minister and this Government regard these senators as second-class senators because they represent only a second-class area. Of course, all honourable members on this side of the House would deny that implication quite forcibly and completely. If these Territories ought to have representation in the Senate, the term of service ought to be at least equal to the term of service of a State senator. The only argument that the Minister for Services and Property has given us is that it is the policy of the Government that the time of election for senators and members of the ‘House of Representatives should be brought together. That is no reason for cutting down by half the term of service of a Territory senator.
– None whatsoever.
– It is no reason whatsover. If the Government wants to bring the 2 elections into line it can do that while still keeping the term of service a full 6-year term. I can only think that the reason for clause 6 of the Bill is that the Government does not think that the people of these 2 Territories are worth representation of a quality equal to the States’ representation in the Senate. In the second reading speeches on these 2 Bills which we are dealing with in this cognate debate the Minister for Services and Property said that for the purposes of section 24 of the Constitution a Territorial senator is not to be regarded as a senator for the purpose of requiring that the number of members of the House of Representatives should be as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators. If a Territory is to be given representation in the Senate why should its representative not be regarded as a senator? If the Government were genuine about giving a full measure of representation to these 2 Territories it ought to introduce into this House another constitution alteration Bill for a referendum to give the Territory senators equal status with the State senators so that for the purposes of the Constitution-
– Instead of playing politics.
– That is quite right. This should be done so that they would have equal value before the people of this country. Along with all the other referendum proposals that are being put forward by this Government, pulled out of the hat after being put into the hat at the whim of Caucus, why is it that the Government has not thought of amending section 24 of the Constitution - if the legal advice the Government has received is good - so as to make it clear that the representative of a Territory referred to in section 24 is equal, under section 1 22, to a State senator? I call upon the Minister for Services and Property to tell us why the Government will not introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution to give to a Territorial senator status equal to that enjoyed under the Constitution by a State senator. There is no answer from the Minister now. Presumably he is not going to give us the benefit of his exquisite knowledge of the Constitution and his great desire to give representation to the people of these 2 territories.
There is little wonder that we see in these 2 Bills a full measure of hypocrisy on the part of the Government - not a half measure but a full measure of political hypocrisy. No doubt in his deep, dark mind the Minister for Services and Property has some good political reason for increasing the representation in the way in which it is proposed. We could guess at that quite well enough, I am sure. But when one looks at what the people of these 2 territories require one can see that the Government is intent upon denying them proper representation. Let us remember that there is a clear distinction between representation in the sense of representative government, and responsible government. We know that responsible government means independence for the people so that their representatives are responsible to the people they represent for the government of the particular Territory. But how representative and how effective can Territory representatives be in the Senate or in this House? The Bill proposes 2 senators for both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory - 2 each out of 64. How effective could they be as a lobby, as an influence upon the Government or upon the Senate when a matter affecting the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory came into the Senate?
The Minister for the Northern Territory cannot really be persuaded that but 2 senators can be an effective influence in the Senate and can effectively represent the people of the Northern Territory when a matter touching upon the Territory comes before the Senate. That brings me back to the point I made earlier that, by a deliberate choice of language, the Minister for Services and Property in introducing this Bill, spoke of a measure of representation. Quite clearly he acknowledges that it is not a full measure of representation. But nowhere does he tell this House or the people of the 2 Territories the Government’s view of a full measure. I have no doubt that we will not hear from him. It is for these reasons, along with those that have been so fully and amply put by the honourable member for the Northern Territory and others on this side who have spoken that we are not satisfied with this Bill. We are nowhere near satisfied with what is proposed. It is for these and other reasons that have been earlier expressed in another place that that other place rejected these 2 Bills. They nowhere near satisfy the aspirations of the people of these 2 Territories for effective participation by them in their own government.
The proposals put forward cannot cloud the paternalistic outlook with which this Government wants to administer these 2 Territories, saying clearly to the people that they are not able to decide for themselves what is good for them, that they must always come to the Government. Of course those people will readily and quickly appreciate that giving Senate representation of the limited kind that is given by this Bill does not necessarily involve those senators in the Government. By what I am sure is good luck the Minister for Services and Property happens to be a Minister of the Government, but the people of these 2 Territories cannot expect that by mere representation in the Senate they will be able to participate in the government of the 2 Territories. That above all things is what all people aspire to - government by themselves and for themselves so that their full aspirations may be reached. So there is every good reason to reject both these Bills. They are simply not good enough. All the personal abuse and all the personal attack that was heaped by the Minister for the Northern Territory on the honourable member for the Northern Territory serves him no good, serves the Parliament no good and certainly does not serve the people whom he is supposed to represent in Government any good.
– in reply - There is little need for me to speak at great length in replying in this debate, for 2 reasons. One is that we have heard again the time worn arguments that were brought out when the Bill was first introduced. The second is that the devastating speech by the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) has left the Country Party in particular with not a feather to fly with.
I would like to say a few words to the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) first. He said that there is no need for this legislation. He seems to forget that the people of the Territories pay taxes in accordance with the law. This is what I said in my second reading speech when this Bill was introduced a few months ago:
They are subject to the same laws but are not represented in the Senate where they are surely entitled to have presented to that House the views of the residents of their respective Territories.
As the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for the Northern
Territory said a little time ago, events have been decided which affect particularly the people in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory but on which they have no voice whatever. Then we had the humbug of the Country Party voting one way in this House and another way in the other House under the pretence that it seeks to give some form of representation to the people of these Territories. If honourable members opposite vote against these proposals they are voting against the principle that every Australian is entitled to a say in his Government and a vote in this and the other place. The Labor Party has said that while ever there is a bicameral system all the States of Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory should be represented in the Senate.
Honourable members opposite asked how we decided on 2 senators for each Territory. It is interesting that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) said that this is too many. The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner) said it is not enough. The honourable member for the Northern Territory said that to him 2 senators for 31,000 voters is too many. What does the honourable member for Stirling suggest? Does he want 10 senators for the Northern Territory? Why does he not suggest that figure if that is the case? This is the type of argument that is a phoney one. I will tell the House why 2 senators are suggested. I thought that honourable members opposite would have been glad that it was only two seeing that we have been told that the Labor Party would win all the positions. Does anyone who knows me think that I would not have made the number 10 if I thought we would win the lot? Why would we stop at two? The fact of the matter is that we on this side put principle above political expedience. We are not like the Country Party which votes one way in this House and another way in the Senate. In again, on again, off again, Finnegan - that is the Country Party. In my second reading speech when this Bill was introduced the previous time this is the reason I gave why 2 senators are suggested:
Two senators are suggested because it would be proper to have an even number representing the Territories. If only one senator alone represented a Territory, almost certainly the one party would be represented for long periods. It is possible that both senators would belong to the same party.
According to the Opposition, would that not be dreadful. I went on:
It would appear then to be more democratic to have an even number elected each time for each Territory thus following the pattern of the major parties providing that each would have a representative in the Senate.
Does the Opposition disagree with that principle or does it think that its prospects are so gloomy that the Government will win both the proposed Senate positions in the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory? Does it think that this is possible and that is the purpose of this legislation? Honourable members opposite also ask why the proposed term of office for these senators is to be 3 years and not 6 years. I said in my second reading speech in introducing the Bill:
The Government has adapted the method which was unanimously agreed to IS years ago by the Constitutional Review Committee, upon which all parties in the House were represented. lt unanimously recommended this course for the Parliament. We are giving effect to resolutions passed by the all-party Constitutional Review Committee to which every member in the House at that time, including those on the other side of the Parliament, subscribed. I said:
It was recommended by the Committee that the Constitution should be amended to provide that there should be an election for half the senators every time there is an election for the House of Representatives. The Committee believed that this would cut down the number of elections and so minimise the distraction of elections and the difference between the 2 Houses. The decision to bring the elections of Territory senators into line with those of the House of Representatives is in accordance with the Constitutional Review Committee’s findings. Both senators will be elected every time there is a general election of the House of Representatives. So for the Territories there will be elections for both Houses of Parliament at the same time.
That is a sound basis on which to base this legislation. It is true that there are constitutional problems in respect of these matter One honourable member raised the question of Norfolk Island. I think it was the honourable member for Petrie. This question was also raised in the other place with regard to Heard Island, and it was said that the penguins and somebody else would end up in the Senate if this legislation went through. As 1 said, when this Bill was originally introduced, some comments were made about the representation of other Australian Territories besides those mentioned in the Bill. The case of the mainland Territories, with which this Bill deals, is clearly different from that of the external Territories, many of which are uninhabited or sparsely populated and have little in common with each other. That red herring that the Opposition has drawn across the path of this legislation will not bear constitutional investigation.
The honourable member for Petrie said that he would not have a bar of the legislation. His argument was not so much that the people pf the Territories were not entitled to representation but that the Labor Party would win both positions in each Territory. What a dreadful argument for a democrat to bring forward. Surely if the people want 2 Liberals, 2 Labor members or 2 Democratic Labor Party members and they vote that way they are entitled to have them. But this measure does not provide for that. It provides for proportional representation, which the honourable member knows makes it practically impossible for one party to win both positions. I was disturbed by the speech by the member for the Northern Territory. He threatened me that if I came to Alice Springs I would be done away with 5 miles outside the town, and only at night. I was surprised. He said that this measure is an example of opportunism by the Labor Party, but he is prepared to take advantage of it. He could not have got into the Country Party unless he was an opportunist. So that statement is correct.
The idea of Senate representation for the Territories is not a new idea for the Labor Party. This is what we thought should be done when we were a long way from being the Government. In November 1968 and in August 1970 the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) introduced legislation to give effect to the proposals which we are endeavouring to pass through this House today. So it is not a whim that has come to us in Government, not a whim to keep us there, lt is a longestablished idea or principle of the Labor Party that this should be done. Consequently we are now giving expression from the place of power to principles that we have espoused for years in respect of representation for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory asked what would be done about giving the people of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory a vote at referendums on constitutional matters. The Labor Party’s policy on this matter is as clear as the day. We believe that people in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory should be able to vote on referendums but I am not at all confident that when we introduce legislation into this Parliament to give effect to such a proposition, although the honourable member for the Northern Territory may vote with us, his 5 colleagues in the Senate will vote for it. I should like him to say, on behalf of the Country Party, that his Senate colleagues will support such a proposal, but he will not because he knows they will not support it. The Country Party has the phoney attitude of suggesting things for which they are never prepared to vote when the Labor Party brings the necessary legislation to the Parliament.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory has proved that he speaks only for himself. His colleagues in this House may vote with him but he has no more influence with the 5 Country Party senators than I have, although he is a member of the same Party. His attitude is to do one thing in the Parliament and another in the Northern Territory. He has been a member of this House since 1966. I admit that during the term of the previous Government not many days were devoted to private members’ business but he could well have introduced a proposal to enable residents of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to vote on referendums. However I cannot recall his ever having placed such a proposal on the notice paper. Members are judged by their actions and votes in this place, not on what they say. The only way to establish whether a member is a man of principle who supports the things he espouses is to see how he votes. Not once in the past 6 years has the honourable member for the Northern Territory introduced a proposal to give effect to what he suggested today. If this is such a bad Bill, as the honourable member for the Northern Territory suggested, why will he vote for it? It is dreadful to think that if it is just an opportunist Bill he will vote for it. Either it is a good Bill or it is a bad Bill. I will be interested to see what the honourable member does when the vote is taken.
It is not necessary for me to detail what happened in the other place when similar legislation was introduced earlier this year. In his masterly speech, the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory, clearly outlined the position. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) is, I think, one of the most intelli gent members of the Country Party. Today, unlike the honourable member for the Northern Territory, he spoke against this measure. He was one member who did not vote with the Government on the last occasion when 17 members opposite voted with us. So let us look closely at the real lilywhite of the Country Party. The vote will be taken soon. I will be watching to see what the honourable member does. Today he spoke quite freely against this legislation. He could do so because, unlike the honourable member for the Northern Territory, he did not vote on the earlier occasion. I was almost frightened when the honourable member for Stirling spoke because he said that the Government was endeavouring to turn the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory into socialist enclaves with Australia the real victim. I have in my possession an extract from the ‘Canberra Times’ of 17 May 1973 headed ‘Libs Want Two A.C.T. Senators’ which states:
The Australian Capital Territory Federal Electorate Conference of the Liberal Party may ask the Party’s Senate wing to initiate moves to bring in legislation giving the Australian Capital Territory two representatives in the Senate.
What a conversion to the idea of socialist enclaves that the Labor Party is alleged to be setting up. The article continued:
The Federal Electorate Conference will also ask the Parliamentary Liberal Party to support any legislation providing for the two senators.
At its meeting last night, the Conference carried a motion supporting the establishment of two Senate seats for the A.C.T., both to be elected at the same time.
The Chairman of the Conference, Dr Peter Hughes, said today the legislation should be brought down as soon as possible.
Is he a socialist? Is he one of these dreadful men who will destroy the Australian Capital Territory? I am sure Dr Hughes will be delighted to know that he is now a radical socialist undermining the future of the Australian Capital Territory. I think that the Canberra Branch must be a security risk for thinking so differently from the honourable member for Stirling. This article points out clearly that the attitude of members opposite today is merely an opportunist trick. The honourable member for Stirling said that the proposed senators will be second-class senators. How did he work that out, with his great legal brain? I do not want to go into the morass that makes up a lawyer’s mind - with due respect to the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory - but as an ordinary layman
I can read and understand clauses in a Bill. Clause 5 of this Bill states:
A senator for a Territory has all the powers, immunities and privileges of a senator for a State and -
The provisions contained in sections 16, 19 and 20 and sections 42 to 48 (inclusive) of the Constitution, to the extent, if any, to which they do not apply, by virtue of the Constitution in relation to a senator for a Territory apply, by force of this Act, in relation to such a senator in the same way as they apply in relation to other senators.
Do honourable members want anything clearer than that? This clause gives such senators all the rights of and everything associated with being a member of the Senate.
– What about clause 6?
– I will read out clause 6. It states:
The term of service of a senator for a Territory commences on the day of his election and expires at the close of the day next preceding the polling day for the general election of members of the House of Representatives next following his election.
This is in accordance with the findings of the Constitutional Review Committee. In due course I hope that such provision will apply to all senators. If members opposite are in any doubt about this provision I point out that the Canberra Branch of the Liberal Party at its Federal Electorate Conference supported it. Despite the legal terms used by the honourable member for Stirling, Territory senators, when elected, will have equal rights with other senators in voting and in respect of everything else associated with Senate membership. What is more a Territory senator will get the same salary as other senators and in every way will be one with them.
It was not so long ago that there was some enthusiasm for this legislationfrom some sources opposite, but it is marvellous how events change. Consequently when the Labor Party, as the Government, introduces a reform for which most honourable members have clamoured - we know that the vast majority of democrats wants representation for the Territories - we find it opposed by members opposite. I have no doubt that this is just a political manoeuvre. There is no sincerity or substance in the arguments put forward by members of the Opposition. If members oppos ite really believed in democratic representation for these 2 Territories they would support this legislation. Frankly, if their votes are bad in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, they should be because members opposite are denying to the people of these Territories the same rights as apply to every Australian in every part of Australia outside of the 2 Territories.
I commend the Bill to the Parliament. I will be interested to see not so much what the Country Party does in this House - after all it has to save one of its colleagues from some embarrassment - but what Country Party senators do. I will be watching to see whether they vote the way they did before and discard their colleague in this place like a waif and leave him like a shag on a rock. He says he is fair dinkum, but as we know, he is putting up phoney propositions in this place. The machinations of the Liberal Party are such that one does not know what it will do. I hope it will see the light with respect to this legislation, pass it and give effect to a democratic move designed to give to these 2 Territories the increased representation to which they are entitled.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 25 September (vide page 1474), on motion by Mr Daly:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly) read a third time.
Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory - Minister for the Capital Territory and
Minister for the Northern Territory) - For the information of honourable members I present a statement I have prepared on land and housing in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1972. These amendments arise from reports by the Tariff Board on: acetone derivatives; ethyl methyl ketone; metal plates etc. for printing purposes; and machine tools for working stone, etc. and wood, etc.; pneumatic hand tools, etc.; NZAFTA - machine tools for working wood, etc.; chain saws (Dumping and Subsidies Act). The duty alterations will operate tomorrow. In its report on acetone derivatives; ethyl methyl ketone the Board recommended that a rate of 40 per cent be applied to all the goods under reference except ethyl methyl ketone and mesityl oxide. For the latter 2 products the Board recommended admission free of duty.
On metal plates etc, for printing purposes the board recommended that the rates that were applicable to zinc plates, 25 per cent general tariff and 15 per cent preferential tariff, should also be applied to magnesium plates. This recommendation was designed to continue the situation whereby magnesium plates are dutiable at the same rates as those of zinc under a Substitutes and Imitations Notice issued by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy). On other metal plates the Board recommended that minimum rates should apply.
In its report on machine tools for working stone etc, the Tariff Board has generally recommended that the goods under reference be dutiable at one of 2 industry rates. A general tariff rate of 25 per cent was recommended for certain specified sawmilling machinery. For most of the other equipment a general rate of 35 per cent has been recommended. In respect of chain saws the Board has, however, recognised that the sole local manufacturer of complete chain saws will face the major problem of establishing a new brand of chain saw on a highly competitive market and has therefore recommended a general tariff rate of 42½ per cent for chain saws and components for an initial period of 3 years with a rate of 35 per cent thereafter.
This report also covers the question of whether certain woodworking machinery should be included in Schedule A of the New Zealand - Australia Free Trade Agreement. The Board found that their inclusion in Schedule A should not be seriously detrimental to local industry. The Government proposes to take up the matter with the New Zealand Government, particularly in relation to access into New Zealand for the goods concerned. In accordance with Australia’s trade arrangements with New Zealand a margin of preference of 5 per cent is being provided in favour of that country on non-protected items. However, pending possible representations from New Zealand to the effect that it has an important trade interest in the goods concerned provision is being made for these to be admitted free of duty under by-law.
These Tariff Board reports are the first considered by the Government since it decided that action for dealing with reports held over as a result of the Rattigan Committee’s report should continue. The Government has decided that where it accepts a recommendation of the Tariff Board contained in a report received prior to 19 July, the duties approved for inclusion in the Customs Tariff shall, subject to international commitments, be those recommended by the Board less 25 per cent, with preferential rates set in accordance with the principles embodied in the formulae announced on 4 August by the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns).
The rates recommended by the Board in reports signed but not released prior to 19 July will be regarded as the benchmarks up to which rates may be restored in any subsequent reference to the tribunal appointed to examine claims of damage resulting from the general tariff reduction. A comprehensive summary of the changes and duty rates is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Reports on Items
Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Kingsford-Smith-
Postmaster-General) - I present the reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects:
Acetone Derivatives; Ethyl Methyl Ketone; Metal Plates etc. for Printing Purposes; and
Machine Tools for Working Stone, etc. and Wood, etc.; Pneumatic Hand Tools, etc.; NZAFTA -Machine Tools for Working Wood, etc.; Chain Saws (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 228), on motion by Mr Grassby:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the House seeks to amend the Immigration (Education) Act which was first put before the House in 1970, debated to the second reading stage in 1971, and became law in 1971. It arose out of the then Government’s concern that both adult and child migrants should have every assistance and every opportunity and in fact should get specialised assistance to acquire facility in the English language rapidly. At that time there was plenty of. evidence which showed that the problem was serious. In the debate on 16 February 1971 it was mentioned that a joint CommonwealthNew South Wales Department of Education survey showed that, of 7,700 migrant children surveyed, English was spoken at home all or most of the time in only 15 per cent of the households. In fact English was never spoken in 42 per cent of the households. If this situation had prevailed the difficulties in the progress and assimilation of those who were restricted in this way are easy to imagine.
The previous Government, as I said, took action. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) who is at the table has detailed some of the action that the previous Government took. A series of promulgations was brought in and an amount of money was made available so that the salaries of special teachers could be paid to provide special instruction to migrant children and to purchase approved capital equipment of the language laboratory type for use in special classes to be established. Also, money was made available for the provision of suitable teaching and learning materials and for the cost of training courses for special teachers.
The then Opposition, in response to the initiatives by the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government of that day, did not reject or seek to oppose the Bill. An amendment was moved to the Bill by the then shadow Minister for Immigration and present Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), but the only real sub stance to the Opposition’s case was that there was no provision in the Bill for capital expenditure in terms of the building of extra classrooms. That was in fact the only real argument put forward by the Opposition. I should point out that at that time the shadow Minister for Immigration had this to say about the scheme:
The full cost of the migration scheme is extremely high. Only a small percentage will be spent on the education of migrants, yet this is generally accepted as the most important factor in their assimilation.
He was talking, of course, about education. He went on to say:
Is it too much to ask that a substantial amount be made available for capital expenditure on buildings to alleviate this problem? Members of the Opposition believe that this should be the most important part of this legislation, quite apart from the provision of teachers, and-
He went on to make this prediction - unless the amendment is adopted we believe the scheme will fail.
I think we can assess whether the scheme has failed by having a closer look at the second reading speech of the Minister for Immigration, which was presented in this House just recently. He spoke about the difficulties that had been experienced and said:
The Minister went on to say:
We expect that close on 60,000 children will be receiving instruction in special classes this financial year.
I think the Minister for Immigration, who is sitting at the table, will agree with me when I say that that is a substantial endorsement of the policy of the previous Government. The prediction by the present Minister for Services and Property that the scheme would be a failure if the then Government did not adopt the amendment put forward at the time by the then Opposition has been shown to be nonsense. However, as the Minister for Immigration has pointed out, it is obvious that more needs to be done.
I was interested in the reference by the Minister for Immigration to a survey of child migrant education in schools of high migrant density in Melbourne. That survey was initiated late last year. I commend the Government for the part it played in the conducting of this survey. The survey was undertaken by the Victorian Education Department, the Catholic
Education Office in Victoria, the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and the Commonwealth Department of Education. I think that this co-operation between and coordination of effort by the Commonwealth Government and the Victorian Government has much to commend it. In fact, it is the way in which we of the Opposition believe that agreements and activities which it is hoped will bring about worthwhile results should be undertaken. As a result of this investigation, as the Minister has said, Cabinet has approved a joint submission by the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Education to extend the child migration education program to include provision for supplementary accommodation. This is to be done by means - as he described it - of demountable or portable classrooms. I suppose ‘demountable’ is a jargon term.
– It is a New South Wales Department of Education term. I have accepted its term.
– I think it adequately describes the fact that these classrooms can be moved easily to a position in a school which is in need of them and, when the need for them has passed, be shifted elsewhere for use rather than become redundant: Again I commend the Government for the fact that following its decision the State and independent school authorities were asked to establish priorities. I am glad that the Government has acknowledged the fact that the State and independent school authorities have more idea about the need for the provision of these facilities than a centralised bureaucracy located in Canberra’, lt is unfortunate that the same approach is not adopted right across the broad range of Federal Government activities. However, the Government has sought and obtained the co-operation of these authorities.
I notice that 420 schools have been listed by the various education authorities as being schools where additional classrooms are required for this purpose. The cost of the provision of an additional 550 classrooms will be quite substantial. It has been estimated that at an average cost of $9,500 for their provision, erection and furnishing an amount of $5.225m will be required over a 2-year period. I notice that the Minister has set aside $2m for 1973-74 for the emergency classroom accommodation program. The Minister went on to say that further expenditure can be expected in the course of the 2 years for which the program is designed. I hope he will be more precise about that and not just say that it can be expected. I think a lot of people would be happier if he were to detail this program with more precision than just the somewhat amorphous statement that further expenditure can be expected.
Despite the Minister’s activities in this respect there are many questions still to be answered. I have interested myself in reading the reports of the task forces established by the Minister in the various States. I was particularly interested to read the report of the Queensland Migrant Task Force, which detailed some of the problems occurring in Queensland in relation to, in particular, pre-school education of migrant children. Perhaps I should refresh the Minister’s memory on it. The report reads:
Children are raised in a non-English speaking environment and on reaching primary school arc unable to participate in school activities … On 11 January 1973 the Director-General of the Queensland Department of Education approached the Department of Immigration for funds to establish pre-school facilities for migrant children in existing centres in West End and Paddington in Brisbane. The cost was estimated to be approximately $30,000 per annum. It was envisaged that similar areas would be established nee the West End and Paddington centres became operative.
I am sorry to read the next sentence in the report: It reads:
This application was not successful but it was suggested to the Director-General of Education that he approach the Australian Government Department of Education for assistance in the form of a research grant or, alternatively, contact the Australian Government Pre-Schools Committee. The latter course of action has been taken. If this application is unsuccessful-
Perhaps the Minister could tell us from his knowledge of Cabinet activities whether the application has been successful- the State Department of Education has indicated they would like their original submission to the Department cf Immigration reconsidered.
I am very sorry that the Minister did not grant this application earlier this year because, as I am sure he would appreciate and endorse, pre-school education is of immense importance in the total education of any child. If, as is suggested by this report, we could reduce in particular the difficulties faced by migrant children at this early stage of their development more costly educational programs later in their educational experience might be avoided.
I was also interested to read that part of the report of the Queensland Migrant Task Force which stated that consideration should be given to a review of the requirement that only Australian Government funded teachers should take classes for migrant children, that a regular staff teacher could take special classes for migrant children and that salary reimbursement should be made for the appropriate time. 1 would commend that suggestion to the Minister. Perhaps he will agree in the future to amend the legislation so that an appropriate salary reimbursement can be made.
I have already said something about his somewhat amorphous statement that further expenditure could be expected. I draw his attention to the concern expressed by the Queensland Migrant Task Force about this aspect. It reported:
The present child migrant education program has been operating for approximately 2 years and the State education authorities are anxious to learn whether the agreement will be renewed at the end of the 4-year term.
Once again this is an endorsement of the previous Government’s attitude and action in relation to this very important matter which has been carried on, I readily admit, by the present Minister. I am sure that the Queensland education authority and education authorities in the other States will be anxious to learn whether the migrant education program as detailed in this legislation will be carried on and renewed for another 4-year term following its expiry.
The New South Wales Migrant Task Force Committee also investigated in some depth the problems of migrant education, particularly in relation to children. The Minister for Immigration in his second reading speech referred to one aspect of the problem; that is the urgent need to extend to the fullest possible extent the present system of teaching migrant children English as quickly as possible. Another problem found by the Migrant Task Force was that there is a general lack of knowledge amongst the normal teaching staff at schools of cultural backgrounds of migrants, their customs and attitudes. It was found that this had unfortunate results for many of the children. I certainly endorse that sentiment. I wonder whether the Minister has any plans in assessing this program whereby this very serious problem may be overcome. The problems of assimilating migrants from many countries throughout the world are too obvious to be detailed in the House at the moment. There is no doubt that on a general level Australia has benefited, and I hope will continue to benefit, from the influx of . migrants who have come here in substantial numbers since the end of the Second World War.
Any of us who have had much to do with assisting migrants in regard to the problems of settling in and making their way in Australia and coping with the myriad problems which beset any persons when they come to a new country would support, I am sure, any move by this Government or any other government to make this assimilation easier. The benefits both to the individual and to the country are so great that the Opposition will fully support this Bill. Two aspects of the .situation concern me more than others. One aspect concerns young children, as I have already mentioned. I believe the Government should be looking more closely at young children of preschool education age. The other aspect concerns female migrants. I believe there are many female migrants in every major city in Australia, particularly wives of migrants who may be in the older age bracket, who have a great deal of difficulty, and it appears not a great deal of incentive, in learning English. If we could break down this isolation which lack of knowledge of the language of the country imposes I am quite certain that we would avoid many of the problems which now face us, particularly in the major cities.
Unfortunately, in my view there has been a tendency in the cities to build up ethnic conclaves to what I regard as a disturbing extent. I believe the program should be continually assessed in relation to the education of migrants in the English language before and after they arrive in Australia. I think we could avoid many of the problems which face migrants to this country, particularly those who lack fluency in the English language if before they arrived in this country they had more adequate English language education courses.
As I have said, the Opposition supports the Bill. Obviously we support it because we initiated it in the first place. We are pleased that the Minister has seen the advantages to be gained by the implementation of this scheme. In supporting it I personally hope that a continuing review is maintained so that the scheme can be further improved with the objective of assisting not only the migrants in Australia in a personal sense but also improving the whole welfare of this country.
– It was very pleasing to hear the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) supporting the Bill. The few criticisms which he made were directed in the form of questions to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby). Therefore, I will allow the Minister ‘ the courtesy of answering those questions. This Bill enables the Australian Government to provide funds under the child migrant, program, to help State and independent schools provide emergency accommodation, where ‘this is necessary, and to allow adequate special instruction of migrant children to take place. The Bill reverses a decision of the previous Government to exclude the provision of accommodation from the Commonwealth program.
The speeches made in this .House when the Minister at the time introduced . the Immigration (Education) Bill 197i gave evidence of general agreement with 2 assumptions. One assumption is that the ability, pf. migrants to communicate with other members of the community is fundamental- to their successful integration. The second assumption is that if the community encourages -migrants to learn English, the community and migrants will be the richer in both social and . human terms. Despite agreement on these assumptions, we know that the education of migrant children in our schools is presenting problems which are not susceptible of an easy solution. The Victorian Migrant Task Force in its recently presented report stated:…..
Recent surveys and reports indicate that:
Effectively only 20 per .cent of the children in the schools surveyed who need English tuition are receiving enough of it, and the largest single concentration of disadvantaged schools is located in and about Melbourne, where there are very high proportions of migrants from non-English speaking countries. In effect .there is a blatant denial of the child’s right to a meaningful and fulfilling educational experience.
There was a time when the problems of educational deprivation among migrants, and for that matter among fifth generation Australians, was susceptible of relatively easy solution. At that time the existence of the problem was publicly acknowledged by few. Now, however, the existence of educational deprivation on a vast scale in the inner suburbs around Melbourne is apparent to all and acknowledged by many. An easy ending of this deprivation is not possible. The recognition that the problem exists, together with a willingness to solve it, does not mean that a single, simple solution will be found. On the contrary, we can see that remedial action will require a variety of pro grams. These programs will need repeated revision.
We need more than a recognition of the magnitude of the problem and more than a willingness to resolve it. We need, above all, a sense of passionate outrage if we are to end this shocking deprivation of migrant children’s rights. I choose the word ‘deprivation’ rather than the word ‘lack’ for the obvious reason that the word ‘deprivation’ implies a deliberate, active intent, whereas the word ‘lack’ merely implies an accidental effect. Our community should feel a sense of passionate outrage that so many of us were blind to the cruel reality that has been unfolding before our eyes for more than 20 years. If we are not outraged by past and present deprivation surely we will have future deprivation. Furthermore, we will be encouraged to adopt simple, easy, plausible solutions which will demand more of what is going - more money, teachers, classrooms and books, and better technical aids, better books and beter trained teachers. It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. The certainty that a quantitative extension of the present elements in education will benefit teachers, builders, and the educational aids houses does not convince me that educational deprivation will end.
The provision of quantitative extensions in the on-going system is not without some value, but surely there will still be gaps between the well meaning planner’s promise and his performance. The position here is analagous to the pleas for more from the United States generals in Vietnam rather than to Oliver Twist’s request for more in the work house. We cannot in fairness expect our teachers and their institutions alone to end the deprivation of cur migrant children presently at school. Nor can we expect our teachers and their institutions alone to restore those who were maimed educationally by our past lack of concern. If we are to understand the causes of educational deprivation firstly we must understand the causes of educational success.
It is, of course, a commonplace that success at school is largely caused by home background. Further evidence supporting this generally accepted contention has come from recent newspaper reports of a comparative analysis produced by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement published in Stockholm a short while ago. It is a well known fact that the ability to read a piece of literature is influenced more by the home background of the student than by the type of teaching. It is well known that students who come from homes with many books and magazines, and an environment conducive to reading, not only will read better, but also will show more interest in literature. It is equally well known that when the population of a school comes from homes wherein the parents themselves are well educated, economically advantaged, and able to provide an environment in which reading matter and communication media are available, the school will show a generally superior level of reading achievement. The truth is that it matters not greatly which school the student attends, but from where he comes.
In the report that I mentioned, the Chief Research Officer of the Australian Council for Educational Research, Mr Malcolm Rosier, said that the project assessing achievement in science showed the importance of home background. He stated:
The results provide new light on the relative importance of home background and school activities in educational success.
They confirm that educational achievement in all the countries studied ls directly related to the students’ social circumstances, irrespective of differences in school organisation, or resources or the qualifications of the teachers.
The results pinpoint, in a way which enable international comparisons to be made, the extent to which educational opportunity is socially biased in favour of the upper and middle classes and away from the low status groups.
In this country today, the task which confronts a social democratic Government, dedicated to the eradication of inequality while not debasing standards, is herculean. In this country, for many years past, the judges have decided the winners of the race before the starter’s gun has punctured the air. The apologists for this practice, of preference for some, are justifying this practice by pretending that innate intelligence is the determinant of success. However, success depends upon a judicious choice of parents, although intelligence may help if parents have been chosen carelessly.
Like so many children in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs, the migrant child, in the present situation, needs more than intelligence, initiative, and determination. While the situation is bad for educationally deprived children, it is ironical that every child learns something at school. For as Everett Reimer says in his book ‘school is dead’:
No child, however, fails to learn from school. Those who never get in learn that the good things of life are not for them.
Those who drop out early learn that they, do not deserve the good things of life.
The later drop-outs learn that the system can be beat but not by them.
All of them learn that school is the path to secular salvation, and resolve that their children shall climb higher on the ladder than they did.
But despite the firm intentions of the parents despite the determination of the student, we know that the race is won, and lost, before it is run. Once we have accepted that the problems of migrant education are pretty largely environmentally and socially caused, we will be able, if we have the courage to choose, to look more critically at our society, and to see where governmental intervention can be most usefully employed.
At the present time, constructive action is inhibited by an inability of the community to free itself of the assumptions of the past. The magnitude of the problem that confronts us, and that confronts us ever more urgently, can be seen nowhere more clearly than in the discrimination even Australian girls presently suffer. At the subjective level girls have a poorer view than boys do of their own abilities. At the objective level there is no evidence for a difference in average intelligence of men and women, when we take each group as a whole. However, there is no doubt that there are differences in the aspirations and performances of boys and girls. And that these differences are caused by our expectations as teachers, as parents, and as employers, ‘that girls will behave like this, and boys will behave like that*. The expectations of the various elements of society influence the performance not only of Australians but also of migrants.
When we consider the problems that face us in the area of migrant education we cannot escape the conclusion that Australia’s post war immigration program has been irresponsibly administered in the area of migrant child education, in the area of migrant adult education, and in the area of migrant integration. It is apparent to all that the program has been controlled by the motive of securing an affluent economy for the nation and virtually nothing has been done towards securing the welfare of migrant families. Community attitudes towards migrants have been characterised by false beliefs of wide currency that no government action has been taken to dispel. For example, there is a misunderstanding in the community that migrant children are naturally bi-lingual. They are not.
Under the impact of education conducted in the English language and their natural desire to join in the social life of the school by speaking English as quickly and as often as possible, their language of origin quickly deteriorates into ‘kitchen’ Italian or Greek or whatever their natural language is. As the Brotherhood of St. Laurence pointed out in the booklet ‘two worlds’:
At the age of fourteen or fifteen years, when they are most in need of communicating with their families on the abstract and complex ideas of higher education and its demands, they find themselves unable to do so.
When we discussed the Migrant (Education) Bill . 1971 in this House I was aware of this problem, and in reference to adult and adolescent migrants who were arriving in thiscountry to go straight into factories, I said:
In lacking education, they suffer a lack of knowledge and understanding of their own cultural heritage and in the long run this particular lack is more unfortunate for them than their inability to speak our tongue, for implicit in their lack of understanding of their own culture is a lack of facility in their own tongue, and this is disastrous, because as every one knows, language is more than words.
But despite this, the Department is insisting that instruction not only for adolescent and older migrants, including those who will hardly be involved in the wider spheres of community life because they are confined to the home, but also for children, should be by the situation method as though the study of language or the proper use of words can be divorced from the study of the history and literature that produced those words.
As all the evidence to hand at the present time supports the contention that school administrators and educational experts, armed with vast resources, are unable to overcome the disadvantages of the family background, one step towards this end would be increased government assistance to the adult migrant education program, by sponsoring on television imported Italian, Greek, Spanish or Turkish variety programs, as well as adventure programs, that have met with success in terms of popularity overseas. A difficulty here is that some underprivileged homes may not have television, but, as many do, this approach would meet with some success. We could also sponsor ‘talk-back’ programs on commercial radio. I see no reason for not sponsoring or subsidising foreign language editions of the popular women’s magazines. But more importantly we must make the schools for adult and adolescent migrants more popular, and in this regard I must confess to disappointment that the trade unions have so far made no approach to the Victorian Migrant Task Force Committee. Perhaps some approaches will be made after the Migrant Workers Conference has concluded early in October. Those of us who view education from the outside, neither as teachers, nor as pupils, nor as employers, cannot escape the conclusion that no matter how much money we pour into schools they are not going to succeed in developing or freeing the potential of our children or of our adult migrants. None of us has escaped a nodding acquaintance at least with the works of Paul Goodman, Ivan Illich, and Paulo Freire. Although we may not agree with the prescriptions of these radicals - and for all I know they may not agree with each other - we cannot ignore them. What do they say? Firstly, they are adamant that education is much more than what is provided in schools. They say that over the last 100 years or so, we have identified education with schooling, but Goodman and Illich also say that the school is not, and cannot be the only agency of education. Illich says that school stands in the way of education and that we must deschool’ education if it is to become a means of human liberation.
Secondly, they argue that education is a do it yourself job. They say that the child educates himself with the help of the family, the peer group, the community at large. They say that a child can be influenced, brainwashed, indoctrinated by another person, but he cannot be educated by another person. It is said that the main agent of education is the pupil himself, that the teacher is merely an auxiliary.
If we are to improve the chances of success of migrant children - and native Australians - we must compensate for the backgrounds that are deficient - in books, magazines and communications media on the one hand and, on the other hand, lack of proper study facilities, such as warmth, privacy and freedom from noise and interruption. The achievement of these ends may necessitate the building of boarding schools in the inner suburbs which the children could attend for limited periods on a voluntary basis, and the provision of houses in these areas where children could study away from school in a satisfactory environment.
I point out most importantly that there is nothing radical in these proposals. The well off have enjoyed these kinds of amenities for ages past. Furthermore, we should encourage trained teachers to establish their own schools away from the larger school environment. Four or 5 teachers and 70 or 80 students, working in an inner suburban house, may achieve more than the same number of people working in the larger school environment. These teachers would, of course, be protected by the same conditions of employment as apply to teachers in the larger school system. We know the ingredients for success in education. They are: Home background, pupil motivation, good teachers and ends that realise the student’s potential. We must compensate for unsatisfactory home background, and this will demand creativity of the teachers and the legislators.
For a number of years, the Victorian Education Department has made it plain that schools have complete autonomy in their program choice. Innovations and experimental studies are welcomed by the Department. This policy has often been publicly expressed. However, a great number of principals of schools, and some members of their staffs, still seem to feel that retribution will be swift if they start acting on the assumption that the Department means what it says. Those with this attitude, plus the tradition-oriented quality of many older teachers who are prepared and eager to introduce ways of coping with the problem, find that their worst frustrations come from the schools, not the Education Department.
I said in the beginning of these remarks that the problems associated with the eradication of inequality without debasing standards is Herculean. But it can be done. But we must compensate for educationally deprived home background, and we must see the school as only one element in the education process. This Bill is one move in the right direction and it is an indication of the Labor Government’s awareness of and its determination to eradicate educational inequality.
– The Australian Country Party supports this Immigration (Education) Bill 1973. The Bill provides as an emergency measure supplementary class-room accommodation for migrant children. These class-rooms will be built at both state and independent schools so that adequate special instruction can take place. The reasons why an amendment is needed to the Act, which includes provision for capital expenditure on buildings, has been adequately explained by previous speakers and I have no desire to expand on this issue. But I must point out several urgent issues in relation to migrant education.
I think it is advisable at this stage to recall that in April 1970 the Liberal-Country Party Government introduced a program of special assistance to schools in areas where there was a lack of knowledge of English among migrant children. This handicap, in fact the total problem of communication, is the greatest factor limiting the integration of migrant children into the total Australian society. This applies particularly to the children of migrant people. If we are to be successful in removing all discriminations - in general or those against, individuals or certain ethnic groups - that unfortunately do still exist in our society, the expansion of education facilities must be the first priority.
Most migrant children are usually completely exposed to a new environment amongst people who are unaware of these difficulties. They meet alien attitudes and behaviour and of course they meet a language that they can neither speak nor understand. If they can understand it is usually only imperfectly. The migrant child has the compounded problem and stress of having to live between 2 different cultures. Migrant children have first of all to bridge the gap between the beliefs and the duties of their own family and the quite different ways of thinking and behaving in the life they are experiencing in and out of school. If these children reach adolescence experiencing these same stresses, at a time when they are struggling to establish their own identity as persons, the shock of finding themselves unable to communicate even at the simplest level must be a traumatic experience. Naturally they will then become disadvantaged at the most critical stage of their lives. Under these conditions only children with specific language aptitude have any chance of reaching their academic potential.
The present scheme of special classes which offers special English language classes on a withdrawal basis according to the English language ability of the student is a well planned and systematic attempt to overcome the language barrier by employing specially trained teachers. However, this scheme does have defects. The most serious of these is that by offering the English language teaching through withdrawal from normal classes we are leaving the migrant student about 30 periods only a week in which to absorb through the medium of a language foreign to him instruction for which average Australians working within their own language require at least 40 periods a week. It is little wonder that under these conditions so many migrant children fall by the wayside. Another major defect is the shortage of special teachers and an almost total lack of them in many rural areas.
In my electorate of Mallee - and I refer particularly to the towns of Robinvale, Swan Hill and Mildura - large numbers of migrant children require this special instruction and they require special class-room accommodation. Some schools in these areas have up to one-third of their total enrolments made up of migrant children or children of migrant families. I realise of course that in many of the underprivileged city areas there is a distinct need for the provision of portable classrooms and extra accommodation. But I do hope that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), who is now at the table and who represents a rural electorate with a large percentage of migrants enrolled at the schools in that area, will ensure that some of these classrooms will also be provided in rural areas. Despite these difficulties the development of the migrant children education program has been substantial in the past. The second reading speech points out that the expenditure by the Liberal -Country Party Government increased from $1.8m in 1970-71 to $8.4m for this financial year. The number of special teachers employed has risen from 540 in 1970-71 to 1,500 this year.
The Minister stated in his second reading speech that up to 60,000 children will be receiving instruction in special classes this year. This is a large number of young people. In order to ensure that they reach a level of understanding of the English language comparable with that of their Australian peers, not only are adequate teachers necessary but also it is essential to provide suitable class accommodation. Of the schools that are able to conduct special migrant classes, too often no appropriate accommodation is available and often these classes, as has been stated by the Minister, have to be conducted in temporary quarters, passageways and other forms of substandard accommodation. The initiatives of the previous Federal Government has resulted in advances in migrant child education by providing the funds for salaries of special teachers; the purchase of capital equipment of the language laboratory type; the provision of suitable teaching and learning materials; and funds to cover the cost of training courses for special teachers.
This Bill is a simple one but it will be another step forward in improving in particular the facilities for migrant education and will as a result advance the total role of education available in our community. The opportunities for basic education come only once to us all, but to some areas of our community the need for complementing this basic education is urgent. The needs of children from migrant families whether they be Australian-born or not is one such area and the Australian Country Party is pleased to give its support to this Bill. Migrants have come to Australia from many different countries. They have come expecting higher standards of living and higher educational opportunities. Australia has not only the right but also the potential to give to these migrant people the things for which they come here. The first costs in any program are always the cheapest and, in the long run, any funds used to overcome the serious communication problems faced by migrant children will be more than offset by the future advantages to the whole community. I support this Bill.
MrKEOGH (Bowman) (5.16)- I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words in respect of this legislation, the purpose of which is of course to repair or make good yet another piece of Liberal-Country Party inefficiency. For many years, previous governments treated the education of migrant children like so many other aspects of migrant welfare - it was ignored. Generally speaking, once migrants passed through the gates of the migrant hostel and were finally thrown into the community, the Government forgot about them. In fact, it was only in recent years that the previous Government showed any signs of coming to grips with its responsibility for a continuing interest in the lives of migrants and their children.
For many years, Australia’s immigration program was based on an incoherent system of establishing annual targets, some settlers having their full fare paid for them, and others coming here under their own steam and paying their full fare. Generally, the target that was sought was based upon a one per cent addition to the population, the rate of growth from natural means also being assessed at one per cent. That meant that the annual target increase of the Australian population was 2 per cent. This was the target balance that was set by the late
Arthur Calwell when the immigration scheme was introduced in 1949. The scheme was adequately suited to the early 1950s. However, for almost 20 years the Liberals stuck to this balance, ignoring the fact that gradually over the years the circumstances that originally warranted a target of one per cent had changed drastically and, consequently, in the minds of many economists and others actively concerned with the welfare of migrants and their assimilation into the Australian way of life, the target became economically unjustifiable.
Another factor which in recent years contributed to the eventual awareness of the previous Government of the need for action in relation to English language training was the increasing numbers of unskilled workers with low levels of education who were arriving from non-English speaking countries. I would like to refer to an article in the ‘National Times’ of 25 September 1972 which referred to a Ph.D. thesis being prepared by an Australian student, Andrew Jay. Mr Jay referred to the problems of Australia’s immigration policy and said:
The trouble with Australia’s immigration policy is that it has never had one.
The article continued;
Nowhere has this shown up better than in the recent statement from the Minister for Immigration, Dr Forbes, ‘ tossing a few random extra dollars to the Good Neighbour Councils here, pumping a little more into child migrant education there, setting up a few infactory language courses for new settlers, and grandly announcing a whole new approach to selection and counselling.
In theory it all looks fine, and like the curate’s egg is good in parts, even if the egg has been rather belatedly laid. In practice the statement is a perfect example of the twin theses which have always underlain Australia’s immigration thinking.
First, that given a few language tools ‘they’, the imports, would eventually all become like ‘us’, the hosts, and integrate.
One of the main factors that certainly has contributed to the problem over the years has been the fact that the responsibility for immigration, rightly, has been that of the national Government. The Australian Government introduced the scheme and accepted full responsibility for it. Admittedly, supplementary schemes have been operated by various States, but the main impact of immigration on the growth pattern of this nation has been rightly the responsibility of, and has been conducted under the authority of, the Australian Government.
It has been only in recent years that the Commonwealth has shown some interest in assisting in the financing of education. But for many years the responsibility for financing education and providing the resources for the provision of education of a general nature or of a particular nature, such as was required by the non-English speaking migrants, was that of the States and of course, this is where the scheme of things broke down. This fact was recognised by the previous Government in 1971 when it introduced the Migrant Education Act.
The Bill that is now before the House provides for an emergency grant for the supplementary classrooms that are needed for the accommodation of children in our schools who require this special education. The grant is to be provided to state and independent schools catering for large proportions of migrant children. As the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) said in his second reading speech on this Bill, these classrooms are required at some 420 schools that have been listed by the education authorities. The Minister said:
At some schools, two or more classrooms would be needed.
An initial estimate is that 550 classrooms will be required in all. At an estimated average cost of $9,500 for provision, erection and furnishing, an amount of $5.25m would be required over the 2-year period. Two million dollars has been provided in 1973-74 for the .’emergency classroom accommodation program.
That is the’ amount provided for in this amending legislation. Despite the statement by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) . that the success of the scheme introduced 1 by the previous Government had not been referred to by the Minister, I think it is very timely to bring to the attention of honourable members the need for this legislation and to remind them of the facts I mentioned’ a few seconds ago, indicating the grave . shortcomings of the previous scheme. These shortcomings of course were forecast by the spokesman for the then Opposition during the debate on the previous legislation - now the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) who was then shadow Minister for Immigration - when he proposed just such an amendment during the original debate. Of course, the clear indication that he gave then has been borne out in the years since.
It was revealed to a large extent by the survey conducted into the needs of child migrants in the schools in the high density migrant areas of Melbourne. The idea that such, class rooms would be provided by this Government was indicated in March this year when that report was tabled by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). He said that part of the discontent among migrant children sprang from the inadequacy of school premises to house the number of special classes that were warranted by the children in attendance. There was no provision under the Child Migrant Education Program for accommodation of classes. The Minister went on to say that the schools surveyed showed that only 29 per cent of the rooms used for migrant English classes were proper class rooms. That meant that the teachers and children were working in sub-standard .accommodation. It was revealed that this accommodation often amounted to staff rooms, cloak rooms, store rooms, offices, sometimes corridors and even sick bays, and in one particular instance a shower room and a laundry.
– And a cellar.
– And a cellar, as the Minister reminds me. It is not good enough for members of the previous Government to stand up and say: ‘We introduced a scheme. This Government is only adding to it.’ The previous Government certainly introduced a scheme. The previous Government certainly recognised, reluctantly, some responsibility for the education of migrant children lacking knowledge of the English language. But- ft is not good enough for the previous Government to do as it did, to introduce and implement a half-baked scheme, as the previous- scheme was. This amending legislation will tidy, up the problems that have been revealed by the task forces inquiring into migrant education in the various States.
This afternoon the honourable member for Warringah also referred to the aspect of preschool education. This was mentioned, in the Migrant Task Force report prepared in Queensland under the chairmanship of my colleague the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross). I refer this report, so well prepared, to honourable members. Time will not permit me this evening to quote from it to any great extent or even to refer to it, .but I certainly suggest to honourable members who have a copy of it to read through it because it is a typical indication of how the education of migrant children is struggling for survival in various areas of Queensland! From what I have seen in the reports of task forces in the other States, this is typical of ‘the situation in those States. “ ‘ “ ‘
This legislation is very timely. It is another indication of the concern that the Minister has shown for the responsibilities of his portfolio. It is an indication of the attitude that has been adopted generally by this Government in regard to migrant welfare. It has moved in various ways to tidy up the discriminatory practices of the previous Government. The resistance of members of this Parliament in the Senate, aided and abetted here by some of the ultra-conservatives who are still living in the last century, has meant that the people who look forward so much to the benefits of the implementation of the Government’s reforms must in some instances wait a while longer to receive those benefits. In this instance, of course, they need not wait. These demountable class rooms are to be made available. The grant of money is there. It is a very urgent measure and the class rooms will be proceeded with immediately.
Finally I want to congratulate the Minister on one other course of action which he indicated recently that it was his intention to implement. It was disclosed to the House recently in reply to a question that I asked him in regard to the rigid system and methodology, of teaching that had been used for English language training for migrant children and for adult migrants over a long period of time. The system was introduced some 25 years ago and, like so many other things, had just been carried on by the previous Government. It had not been reviewed. It had not been updated. But this Minister is moving to update that scheme. He indicated to me in answer to my question that he is investigating and giving consideration to bringing people to Australia and awarding fellowships to teachers who speak English who would come here from some of the major countries from which we draw our migrants and that these people would be fitted into the Australian schools system. They would have a background of familiarity with the life in the source countries of migration. They would come here with a knowledge of the English language and they would be able to combine their talents to the great benefit of the migrant children concentrated in many of the schools, in the inner city areas particularly, of our major capital cities. I congratulate the Minister on that move.
The introduction of these teachers into the schools will be of added benefit to the children when they have their opportunity in the near future to enjoy the benefits of these temporary class rooms that it is the intention to provide under this legislation. Once again I must say that it is important that we continue to develop advances in these schemes. I have been critical of the previous Government for failing to provide these class rooms when the legislation was introduced. However, giving credit where credit is due, I compliment the previous Government - perhaps belatedly - for the fact that in 1971 it became aware of the need for the provision of teachers and for the provision of finance for the instruction of migrant children. I also congratulate the Minister for adding this very worthwhile implementation to that scheme. I support the Bill and look forward to its receiving the unanimous endorsement of all members of this House.
– I rise also to support the Immigration (Education) Bill 1973. Australia’s migration program has gone on now for a large number of years. It has been an involved program of migrant integration of a most successful kind. I think it is common knowledge and accepted by most people that Australia has been one of the most successful countries in integrating large numbers of migrants into its community, preserving that which has been good in the cultures and backgrounds of the people who have come here, whilst at the same time integrating them with the peoples already established here. I was pleased to hear that the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) at the end of his address gave some credit to the previous Government, although earlier in his remarks I was disappointed to hear him place such emphasis upon the criticisms that he made of the actions of the previous Government.
I do not believe - and history will bear me out - ‘that 2 December was a watershed in the question of attitudes to integration of migrants into the Australian community. I hope that history will record that it is a continuous process of successful integration, the one program to resolve a particular problem uncovering other problem areas then to be resolved by new and imaginative programs.
In 1971 the previous Liberal-Country Party Government introduced the Immigration (Education) Act. That Act recognised the need for the Australian Government to support the governments of the States in filling gaps in their education programs insofar as those programs related to the education of migrant children. The previous Act, which is today the subject of the amendments we are debating, provided funds for the salaries of special teachers to give special instruction to migrant children. It provided funds for the purchase of approved capital equipment of the language laboratory type for use in the special classes to be established and funds for the provision of suitable teaching and learning material and for the costs of training courses for special teachers.
At the time the Opposition pointed out that a need for adequate accommodation would reveal itself. Events have proved it to be correct, and it is proper that the correctness of its assessment be acknowledged. That Government supporters have now moved quickly to perform what they said was then needed is deserving of praise. For this reason I, with other members of the Opposition, support the program inherent in the Bill before the House - a program to provide the schools that have large migrant student populations where special classes are conducted with adequate accommodation to enable them to fulfil their purpose.
The program provides for the funds to enable demountable buildings and classrooms to be built in the identified schools. I can understand the reason why this was decided upon. Demountable buildings are cheaper. They can be moved when the need for them ceases to exist. But I draw to the attention of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) the fact that in many of the schools where these demountable buildings will be provided there is already a large number of demountable or temporary buildings. As is well known, many buildings that start off as temporary buildings become permanent buildings. One would hope that the provision of demountable buildings for this type of class is not yet further proof of the maxim that the most permanent building is the one that was built originally as a temporary one. I would hope that the Minister would ask his officers, through the Education Departments of the States, to look at this question. It would be a great pity if we found that in the years ahead when we look at the provision of this type of building we find ourselves faced with the same problem which we are tackling now in the replacement of so many temporary classrooms that today exist in too many of our schools. It may be that it would be better to work out a program in consultation with the States that enables them to place some permanent buildings in these schools, providing they make available the additional finance necessary to enable permanent structures to be built. This or other adequate accommodation already within the school could then be made available for these migrant education classes so that laundries, cellars and the like no longer need to be used.
Another aspect I would like to draw to the attention of the Minister is the fact that this program we are now debating will not be the be all and end all of migrant children’s education. There are many schools with a very high proportion of migrant children. These children undoubtedly need special instruction by teachers who have had special training and who have available to them adequate teaching aids. They need to be broken up into classes of a size that enables the teacher to achieve the purpose for which this special education is provided.
As has already been pointed out in this debate, there are a number of methods used in teaching children English and integrating them into the general educational program of the schools. One method, of course, is the withdrawal method of taking the children away from the classes to a special English class, giving them special tuition and then returning them to their ordinary classes. As has already been pointed out by one of my colleagues, this has its problems because it withdraws the child from the standard classroom curriculum in which he or she would otherwise be involved. Other schools - and there is one in my own electorate - have made specially trained migrant teachers responsible for the whole education program of a class of migrant children. The school to which I refer is using both methods. I hope that given adequate lapse of time an assessment will be made of the relative advancement of the withdrawal of children into a migrant English class and their grouping together in one class where the whole normal education program is supplemented by the special English training.
This is possible in many schools where there is a migrant education problem because many of the schools where the problem exists have a very high proportion of migrant children. But as was pointed out by an earlier speaker on the Government side, so much of this problem has its origin in the homes. It was pointed out that educational deprivation often has its source in the home environment because of lack of motivation in the home environment. I think also that it comes about not because of a lack of motivation in the home environ ment but rather because of a lack of understanding there of the objectives of the education process. I draw to the attention of the Minister the urgent need to study this problem to ascertain the extent to which some of the difficulties confronted by migrant children in progressing through the education system derive not from the lack of motivation on the part of their parents but from the lack of understanding of the parents of what the schools are trying to achieve.
Many migrants themselves are illiterate. Many have had very little education. Yet in spite of these disabilities they have an instinctive appreciation of the importance of education for their children. Nevertheless, they very often suffer from the disability that they do not know what the education process is trying to achieve for their children. They experience difficulty in communicating with the school and the school with them. Whereas I commend the Minister for introducing this Bill which will provide better facilities within the schools to enable these children to be given a better head start to overcome the lack of ability to communicate because of language difficulties, I draw to his attention the rising need to make provision so that the schools can communicate with the parents of these children.
I have visited schools in my electorate since my election in December. A number of these schools have a high migrant student population, one having a migrant population as high as 80 per cent. Yet at very few of these schools are there teachers who themselves have come from the country of origin of the majority of children attending those schools. In some cases where there are teachers from the country of origin of the migrant children, although they have become integrated into the Australian way of life, they are somewhat reluctant and hesitant to use their background knowledge of the cultures of their country of origin to act as communicators between the school community and the parent community. Of course the problem is not resolved, if for example, a school with a large number of children of Italian origin has an Italian-born teacher because at that school there may be children from half a dozen different Italian communities whose cultural backgrounds are significantly different. I suggest to the Minister that in the near future he will find, if he has not already found, the need to provide schools with funds to enable them to engage liaison officers whose job would be to act as representatives, to go out into the community and into the Italian households to talk to the parents in their own language with a full knowledge of their own cultures in order to explain to the parents the objectives that the school is seeking to achieve in the education process being provided for their children. I have come across many migrant parents who, sensitive, concerned, yet nervous about communicating with the school, wish they had a better understanding of what the school is trying to achieve. I have also come across many teachers who also wish they had the opportunity of communicating in a more real fashion with the parents of these particular children.
I urge that efforts be made to build bridges of understanding across these cultural gaps. It is necessary to build the bridges from both banks. We must train the teachers so that they have an understanding of the cultural backgrounds of the children they are teaching. As I mentioned a few moments ago, not merely an understanding of the Italian culture or the Greek culture but an understanding of the Calabrisi culture, the culture of the Neapolitans, of the northern Italians and of the many villages and other communities within Italy - I use Italy as an illustration - with different cultural backgrounds which result in the people having differing attitudes and differing problems with respect to their understanding of the education process. I think, too, the teachers should be trained so that they can help the Australian children or the children from other countries to understand the cultures of children with whom they are mixing within the schools.
From the other bank of the cultural gap is a need for a liaison officer to go out into the community to help the parents of migrant children in their understanding of the education process. At this time, when so much is being done to give a degree of independence to school communities and so much is being done to involve the parents in school councils or welfare clubs, assistance needs to be given in those deprived schools where there is this cultural gap to enable the school council, welfare club or parent group to ensure that people do not stay away because of a nervousness or fear that they will expose their lack of appreciation and understanding of the education process. I would therefore urge upon the Minister that he give serious consideration to seeking Cabinet approval for the provision of funds so that liaison officers, specially trained in the cultural backgrounds of the children attending particular schools, can help to bridge this cultural gap.
– in reply - We are discussing a matter which concerns the nation’s most precious capital - the children coming on. I thank honourable members who have taken part in this debate for their thoughtful contributions - the honourable members for Warringah (Mr MacKellar), Batman (Mr Garrick), Mallee (Mr Fisher), Bowman (Mr Keogh) and Sturt (Mr Wilson). I suppose that I might lay a modest claim to, shall I say, a national record in that I represented a school which at one time contained a class comprising 99 per cent migrant children of recent arrivals. This left the one Australian-born youngster in a magnificent position to integrate or not. He survived the experience particularly well. He has passed through the education system and looks back on his school days with great affection.
In 1971 the present Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), then shadow Minister for Immigration, was very anxious on behalf of the Opposition, to see that this initiative was taken. He expressed his views strongly. I am pleased to be in the position to present the initiative to the House of Representatives at this time and to find that it attracts the unanimous approval of honourable members. I think the most thoughtful contribution to this debate by members of the Opposition was from the honourable member for Warringah who posed a couple of queries which should be answered. He questioned why the Government said that more expenditure is expected; he said that this was not very precise. We have allocated $2m at this time. My concern is not that that will be enough by any means but that we will be able to get the material, make the plans and actually have classrooms available quickly for use by the children. This allocation is tied to the availability of material and the ability of the planning authorities in the States as well as the Australian Government to get busy on this matter. If we find that the $2m can be utilised quickly, that we can get demountables and emergency classroom accommodation established and that there is a need for more, the House certainly has my assurance on behalf of the Government that it will be looking at the situation with some eagerness to do more. However this is the reason that it is not possible to be precise at present. Certainly the program will be continued. It will not be static in any way.
The honourable member referred also to the report of the Queensland Task Force and specifically mentioned the application to the Department of Immigration for pre-school or child care centre assistance. Within the Department of Immigration there is not this kind of money. Under this Bill it is not possible, for example, to make funds available for that purpose because ‘at present pre-school education is not recognised as an integral part of the state school system.
– Do you support the application of the Minister for Education?
– May I explain the situation? I am delighted to help these applications in any way that I can but I should explain that there is a Government policy for the development first of child-care centres. The Australian Department of Education at present is responsible for receiving applications from organisations in the community for financial assistance towards the cost of establishment and operation of child-care centres. One of the criteria against which applications are assessed is the educational content of the child care to be provided. Applications also are considered on the basis of the needs of the parents. This means, of course, migrants, perhaps in a special category, but there are other special categories too. It certainly relates to migrant children in their early stage of settlement. This avenue is open for these people and others to apply. I had a deputation in Sydney just a couple of days ago from the Turkish Welfare Association which has been newly established. It will be looking at this means to assist the integration of its people through the establishment of a child care centre along these lines. The avenue is open to them, so I would commend it. I would suggest that the honourable member should get that detail so that he can make it freely available to his constituents.
We are very conscious of the need to reach migrant children at the pre-school level. As a matter of fact we are very anxious to meet ail Australian children at the pre-school level. In reply to a contribution made, I think, by the honourable member for Batman, I would express the hope that our own children at the pre-school level would be able to have the exposure to language and cultures that would broaden the base of our Australian culture at this time. I mention that in passing. The program extends at the moment only to formal education at primary and secondary levels. Pre-school education is not as yet formally part of the education system in all States. That was really why it was necessary to refuse the Queensland request. But the Government is looking at this aspect and has set up, as honourable members will know, the Australian Pre-School Commission to establish all aspects of pre-school need. The Department of Immigration, my own Department, is already providing special instruction to migrant children at pre-school age in the child care centres in migrant hostels. In addition, the Migrant Education Television Unit at Wollongong is already planning an educational television program directed to children of pre-school age for production in 1974-75. The Department of Immigration is also in touch with the Australian Pre-School Commission as part of our interest in ensuring that the needs of migrant children at pre-school age will be taken into account by that Commission. I think it is most important that those needs should be recognised in the assessments which are proceeding at this time.
There was a reference by at least 2 honourable members to the need to train the teachers. This is true. There is a need to teach the teachers. The development of migrant teaching courses at present in our tertiary institutions is to be commended and I certainly look forward to their being properly recognised and supported. There was a reference also to the often neglected part of the migrant community, which is the womenfolk. Of course, these initiatives will not directly help womenfolk but we have some initiatives in which we have built on the experience of people overseas and which make it possible to have a course of what is known as ‘one for one’. This involves a series of volunteers who can be trained to take the language into the homes of migrant womenfolk so that they are adopted as the women’s teachers and of course as their friends. This scheme is meant to be, in the fullest sense of the expression, a good neighbour operation. This is just the beginning. We are just getting the kits prepared in the Department of Immigration now. Through the kits, when they are prepared, we will be able to have the volunteers given some training in this matter. Then they will be able to go into the homes. This is a new initiative, very much overdue, to try to break the barriers of loneliness and isolation which have beset so many women who have come to our shores over the years.
The honourable member for Batman, who is the distinguished Chairman of the Victorian Task Force Committee, talked very passionately about the eradication of inequality in education. Of course this must be our dedication. We have to do this. We have to bring a whole generation of migrant children into the schools system in a proper and sound way. He sounded a note of urgency, which I commend. He also referred to the fact that we have lost language skills in our country. Of course we have. We have probably lost 20 languages in 20 years. They have gone. We have lost them; we have made no conscious effort to preserve them. We must do that. This is a bank of our national heritage and we should not squander its resources.
– How are you going to do it?
– As a matter of fact this was part of the points that were raised by the honourable member’s colleagues in referring to teaching the teachers and in bringing the languages into the classes at the primary or pre-school level. By doing this our own children have exposure to the broadest possible base of language and culture. If the instruction is left until they are old ladies and gentlemen at high school it is too late and we have mostly missed the bus.
The honourable member looked forward to the day when we would have a choice of bilingual television programs. I think that he was looking a bit far ahead. But the general concept of being able to have the broadest possible choice is one that I very much support. The honourable member for Mallee was very rightly concerned about the migrant children in rural areas. He mentioned some of the areas which he represents and which are neighbours to my own southern areas in the electorate of Riverina. I give him a clear assurance that where there is a need for teachers or for the provision of facilities it must be met. There must be no neglect in those areas and I am happy to give him that assurance. Incidentally, he did refer to the withdrawal system. This was a matter that was also raised by the honourable member for Sturt. We would certainly like to see the withdrawal system applied mainly to migrant children at the primary level where the loss of normal class time is less important than for the children at the secondary level. For secondary level students whose need is urgent we prefer to see intensive withdrawal - that is, for periods of 3 months, 6 months or even 12 months. This is already happening in some States. I would commend Western Australia in this instance.
In the 1972-73 financial year some 200 newly arrived children at the secondary level received intensive instruction in education centres in migrant hostels before passing on to the normal school system. This is an ideal way of doing it and I wish it could be done for all. It is not possible but it is a very good objective. I would say that the ultimate objective would be for all teachers to be trained to take classes in their usual subjects in which there are migrant children. This is where we come to the point of the last interjection. Of course there is a tremendous need at the present time to broaden the base of teacher training to enable all teachers to be able to do what the honourable members have suggested. I agree entirely, but it will take time. It will take further initiatives and I look forward to those initiatives continuing.
The honourable member for Bowman, who is a distinguished member of the National Migration Advisory Committee, properly indicated that the era of the numbers game alone is over. There is no doubt about that. It is not consistent with the high aspirations of people who want to come here and it is not consistent these days with the overwhelming desire of Australians to give a better deal to the people who come to join us.
– That is what I think.
– As a matter of fact my distinguished colleague who was the shadow Minister for Immigration used to say this with great passion and sincerity. I am delighted to have him with me on this occasion. I have already referred to one of the comments made by the honourable member for Sturt. But I should also like to refer to the fact that this is not, of course, the end of the initiatives. It is only one initiative that we are taking at this time. There must be continuing research. I acknowledge that right away because we have certainly not come to the end of our consideration of what are the best methods.
The honourable member for Bowman has queried the 25 year-old methods that have been employed. He is right. These have to be reviewed. They have to be dealt with. I accept entirely the proposition that continuing research must be carried out to ensure that we have the right methods and the right approach to handling the youngsters. That I accept entirely. There was a reference to the need for multilingual advisers. I want to remind the honourable member that we are in the course of appointing 48 multilingual welfare officers which will act as liaison officers. They will not be, if I may use the term, desk Johnnies. If I find them at their desks I will want to know what they are doing there, because they are field workers. They must go into the community. They must work in conjunction with the welfare bodies. They must be at the neighbourhood centres which have already been established. They must be in the schools and they must be part of that bridge building, which has been referred to, with the families. It is entirely essential and indeed urgent and these officers will be orientated in that direction. They have been appointed. They are undergoing training. I would hope that they will be in the field very shortly. That is a very valid point.
In conclusion I would just say that this is by no means the end of the initiatives; it is simply one of the new initiatives that we need if we are to build a united community. That is surely the overwhelming national consideration at the present time. All the other arguments and petty divisions surely fall to the ground when we look at Australia at the present time with a population of 13 million and we say: ‘Let us build a united community, within which we can have our differences in politics, culture and religion, but let us have the basis of national unity laid in this decade’. This is just a modest little measure in this regard, but I am glad that it has received unanimous support on all sides of the Parliament. I thank honourable members for their contributions to the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Grassby) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 229), on motion by Mr Grassby:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I shall be very brief in my remarks. The Opposition does not intend to oppose this Bill. The Opposition thinks it is a common-sense measure. I have a personal reason for wishing briefly to take part in the debate. In doing so I speak on behalf of many people in the community. In a way I suppose I am using the debate on this Bill as an opportunity to ask a question of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby). As the Minister knows, there are not many opportunities to do so during question time. I would like the Minister to outline the attitude of the Government to the granting of entry into Australia to people who are or are not considered to be terrorists, freedom fighters or whatever other expression one likes to use. I wish to refer to a couple of reports which appeared in the ‘Australian’ yesterday, I think it is possible that they appeared also in other newspapers. On the front page of the Australian’ of yesterday there was a report of the deportation under fairly mysterious circumstances of an Al Fatah terrorist, and on the second page there was an unconfirmed report of a so-called African leader seeking asylum in Australia. I ask the Minister: Who is the African leader? What are his politics? What are his reasons for seeking political asylum in Australia? In what way does the Government distinguish between what is in its view an obviously undesirable alien and what is a desirable one? The mere fact that a person happens to be - in the Government’s view anyway - a freedom fighter does not necessarily mean that he is undesirable. That is a political judgment. I know the Government’s attitude towards people coming from, for example, southern Africa. I repeat: Who is the person and what are the particular circumstances of his case? Will the Minister undertake, as he mentioned in the last part of his second reading speech, to ensure that this country will not be treated as a repository for undesirable aliens who come here under the pretence of seeking political asylum?
– in reply - ‘The honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay), on behalf of the Opposition, has supported the measure. He said it is a common-sense measure. I thank him for that comment. He also posed a number of questions in relations to the entry into Australia of certain persons. He was referring to criminals, and I must say to him very bluntly that it is my firm belief that people who have criminal records - in particular, people who have records of violence - should not and will not be welcome in Australia. Certainly anyone who comes to our shores from outside them and practices criminal activities, whether of the left or the right, will be most unwelcome and we will see them on their way. I want to be quite clear about that. I do not want to take up too much time on this point, but I want to give a firm and unequivocal undertaking that people with criminal records who seek to enter Australia will not be welcome. If they in fact engage in activities here which bring them to the notice of Australian courts I will invoke the full powers that are vested in me, as Minister for Immigration, to see them on their way. But I cannot act outside the law or the courts.
I wish to refer specifically to the inquiry that was made by the honourable member for Boothby about a report which appeared in a newspaper concerning a man who arrived from Africa and applied for political asylum. I wish to say that matters concerning political asylum are not under my control. Anyone who comes here for migration purposes, visiting purposes, short term stay purposes in connection with industry or an engagement, is my responsibility. But I refer matters of political asylum to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam). The determination is made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in all matters of political asylum. It is not part of my responsibility.
A fair question was also asked by the honourable member for Boothby in relation to the man who was deported by me recently - Mr Azzam. I want to make it quite clear that as Minister for Immigration I treated his case in no way different from anyone else’s case. I make no distinctions in these matters. In fact, I was very anxious to ensure that the procedures which were followed by me and my departmental officers in his case were exactly the same as those followed in the case of anyone else. It would not matter whether he was going to Paris, London or New York and it would not matter whether he had entered from any one of those places. He was in fact an illegal immigrant. He was in breach of the law. He was properly found to be so by the Australian courts. When I was able to do so I took the quickest possible action to deport him. When he was released from custody it was my responsibility and my duty to do that. I want to say to the honourable member that I will not be deflected from my duty by threats, whether they be from any of the well recognised terrorist or criminal organisations or anyone else inside or outside of the country. I will administer the rules given to me to administer on behalf of the people of Australia. That will be done.
– What about Chitepo and the other fellow?
– The honourable member has made reference to 2 people. In the 30 seconds available to me I must say that one of them was, I think, a British citizen with a British passport and with a clear record as far as the British authorities are concerned. He also had a clear record as far as our authorities were concerned. I have no right to deport a man because of his views and I would not do so. If a man transgresses the law in this country he will be dealt with according to the law. I must repeat that, as far as I am concerned, I want to see the fullest flow of views, but not those of law breakers and not those of people who abuse our hospitality. Mr Azzam would have been treated by me in the same way as anyone else, without fear of threat or favour from any source at all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Grassby) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 29 August (vide page 525), on motion by Mr Hayden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it might suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills- -at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering both Bills? There being no objection, 1 will allow that course to be followed.
– The Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill 1973 and the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill 1973 are both laudable pieces of legislation and have the support of the Country Party. As always legislation to help the unfortunates, the afflicted and the handicapped is in line with our policies and philosophies although at all times we reserve our right and responsibility to draw to the attention of the House certain anomalies and criticisms of not enough emphasis in some instances. It is true that in modern times there has been a rethinking of assistance to the handicapped. In fact it can be truly said that the radiant light of the actions of the Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr Sinclair) who, as long ago as 1966 when he was in charge of social security legislation initiated measures designed to alleviate some of these problems has helped to a remarkable degree to banish sadness and darkness from the lives of many people. The ready helping hand has assisted in easing strains through which others are passing.
One area that causes concern is that the subsidy will be extended to money borrowed by local government bodies, but does not include money borrowed by voluntary and charitable organisations. Some of these organisations have been in existence for many years, and have considerable assets and are recognised as good financial security risks. In order to promote these necessary establishments in as many areas as possible - and let us not deny that there are many areas both in the cities and in the country where there is a crying and urgent need for their extension - impetus and encouragement should have been given to as many organisations as possible to participate. Local authorities often have great difficulty in finding money for purposes such as this and widening the scope of the legislation could have had a twofold object - relieving the pressures on local authorities and more importantly, getting the job done. It would have been appreciated, too, if the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) had shown some initiative in the matter of meeting or subsidising the interest on the loans.
It is an unfortunate fact of economic life that costs seem always to be increasing. Building costs are no exception. Interest is a factor in costs and this added burden could have been eased by a generous gesture from the Commonwealth.
I am informed that at present there is a waiting list of handicapped children seeking admission as boarders and students at these special establishments in some States. On admission to a boarding home the Commonwealth helps in the upkeep of such children with an amount of $3 a day. We pay tribute to this Government for increasing the allowance from the existing $1.50 per day. Additionally, there is an isolated children’s allowance, where applicable, administered by the Department of Education. With the $2 for $1 subsidy for buildings, extensions and equipment, the scheme is able to function.
We are concerned with the plight of children who cannot gain admission because of inaccessibility or lack of facilities and who are cared for at home. No allowance either financial or domestic is available for parents or friends who care for subnormal children, spastic children or mentally retarded children in their own homes. This, we submit, is a a flat spot in our social security legislation and must be corrected. I do hope that the Minister for Social Security can inform the House that he at least is aware of this fact and, if so, that he intends to make positive moves to alleviate this area of great concern.
People who, for a variety of reasons, have to keep these children at home deserve the commendation and encouragement of the nation. True it is that we do not live by bread alone; but it is the staff of life and is a necessary ingredient in our existence. Some help must be extended to these people. Social psychologists have quite often expressed some agreement that these children are better in the close family environment. But special attention and equipment are needed in some circumstances. I therefore appeal to the Minister to consider some extension of or modification to the present domiciliary nursing benefit so that these people, who, through circumstances, are forced to care for these afflicted children in their own homes may receive that benefit.
Handicapped children become eligible for an invalid pension on reaching the age of 16 years provided that they are at least 85 per cent incapacitated. It has come to my knowledge that there is often a delay in having these payments made. The date when payment is eventually made does cause some distress. It appears, therefore, eminently just to make these payments, when granted, retrospective to the 16th birthday.
People who teach in schools for handicapped children do not have their salaries subsidised by the Commonwealth Government although the States do assist. As this matter is currently under discussion it is opportunte to remind the Minister of the hardship that can be caused. With the increasing trend for the Commonwealth to enter the education field it is pertinent to point out anomalies. The salary of a matron at a boarding accommodation centre for sheltered workshop people is subsidised on a dollar for dollar basis while the salary of a matron at a handicapped children’s residential is not. Why does this anomaly exist? Why is there this arbitrary decision to provide a subsidy in one instance but not in another?
Why is it that the Commonwealth pays a subsidy of $2 for each $1 in one case and not in the other? They are both charitable organisations. Matrons at these places have special responsibilties but surely in similar places of residence the responsibilitties undertaken and the skills needed are the same. Why is there this distinction and difference? Similarly, I would have thought that the Commonwealth would have subsidised expenditure on movable furniture such as chairs, lounge suites, television sets and wireless sets. The education of these people and moves to improve their quality of life and to widen their horizons demand that these things be regarded not as luxuries tout as necessities. It is good that people should be encouraged to develop facilities such as these, but there is no help by way of Commonwealth subsidy in these instances because furniture and television sets are not recognised as being set-in fixtures.
There are 2 further comments that I would like to make. Firstly, is the need for an earnest endeavour to ease the burden on these institutions and, secondly, the importance of extending the facilities to as many areas as possible. Sheltered workshops are required to operate on piecework rates and there is the further stipulation that the majority of people employed in them must be capable of earning not less than $4 a week. Institutions receive a subsidy of $500 a person when the person who has been trained by them is found employment and stays in that employment for a period of 12 months. Whilst it is true that the legislation allows a $1 for $1 subsidy where there are special supervisory duties, an increase in the base sum of $500 would help to overcome the high rate of inflation which now is assessed to be running at a rate variously estimated to be in excess of 13 per cent or more per annum.
I ask the Minister to exercise the same initiative and energy that he is displaying in certain other public debates in an endeavour to publicise the proposition of pilot schemes whereby in order to test out in certain remote areas the establishment of these facilities the Commonwealth subsidises suitable premises by means of assistance with rent for a period of 2 years.
– Hear, hear! A splendid suggestion.
– I thank the honourable member for Kennedy for his comment that this is a splendid suggestion. I share his wish that sheltered workshops, accommodation and education facilities for handicapped children shall be available all over the Commonwealth. They should be available not just in the cities and the metropolitan areas but also in areas such as Charleville in the electorate of the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) and areas like Mount Isa which is so ably and well represented in this Parliament by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). I congratulate him for the great fighting spirit that he has displayed on many occasions in this forum to ensure that people who live in isolated areas of this Commonwealth become entitled to exactly the same quality of living as those who live in large metropolitan areas which in many instances are served by a Minister of the Crown and cover only 2 square miles. Compare the work in such an electorate with the magnificent job that is done by the honourable member for Kennedy and the honourable member for Maranoa with their tremendously large electorates. The quality of service that they give is of paramount importance.
In Toowoomba there are 2 welfare organisations - the Spastic Centre and the Endeavour Workshop, the latter incorporating Endeavour Farm and Endeavour Manufacturing which are engaged in the training or employment of handicapped people. The former, as its name implies, deals basically with spastics and the latter, with sub-normals. The Spastic Centre is controlled by a committee of management and an appeals committee is very active in community circles in an endeavour to keep this centre viable. Incidentally, their main method of raising finance is to be part and parcel of the Miss Australia quest. In this regard we applaud their great efforts conducted through charity organisations.
In the Spastic Centre at Toowoomba there are 14 adults, and there are 15 children in the kindergarten section. The Queensland Subnormal Children’s Welfare Association, Darling Downs Branch, controls the Hamewith Day and Boarding School and the Endeavour Farm and Endeavour workshop. It is a truly remarkable organisation and its sphere of influence and activity appears to have no bounds and is not limited by any horizon. It operates facilities at such outside centres as Roma, Kingaroy and Gatton and is controlled by branch managements which are answerable to the State committee. The Darling Downs area cares for 252 mentally retarded children and, in addition, provides 91 beds for residential purposes. The Association commenced operations in Toowoomba in 1954 with 5 children in a rented Army hut in Newtown Park, and it has grown and obtained assets through community involvement. It costs a lot of money to maintain these services for a year. There are 72 permanent employees engaged in teaching, in administration, at the workshop and as residential staff, plus 15 part time employees. It is estimated that $150,000 must be raised each year from the public by appeals.
However, the biggest problem is in the school area - an area where a child’s basic disposition and motivation are formed. Apart from the subsidy, the cost of maintaining this is $70,000 a year. The subsidy in this area amounts to a mere 18c in each $1 that is received. Following a run of losses, if no relief is readily forthcoming - and it must be realised that a community’s ability to help can reach saturation point - either services will have to be restricted or parents already labouring under great difficulties and personal distress at the condition of their children, will have to be charged fees. Neither of these alternatives, I submit, must be allowed. It is the community, through the Parliament, that must come to the rescue. We await with interest what the Schools Commission will recommend in this regard. I am firmly of the view that the best possible service is given and the best outlook obtained by a marriage between government and voluntary welfare organisations. It keeps the lid on institutional care by the addition of voluntary care.
If the community is to accept its rightful place in the care of the unfortunate, the Government must also accept its responsibility - a responsibility that can best be exercised by ensuring that the community does not get ulcers worrying about where finance is to be obtained next. Extra pressure is placed on this organisation in Toowoomba because people come not only from the immediate area; they come from all over Queensland and northern New South Wales. It is pertinent to point out that the mentally handicapped group is the largest single group of disadvantaged people in the community between the ages of 16 and 30 years. Seventy-three per cent of invalid pensions paid by the Commonwealth goes to the mentally handicapped. These organisations have to maintain at their own expense a full time clinical team, a psychologist and a social worker. We know how desperately scarce social workers are. This fact has been commented upon on many occasions previously in the various debates in this House. The cost to the people associated with the Sub-normal Association in the Toowoomba-Darling Downs division is in excess of $16,000 a year.
The extension of this service is vitally necessary because of the numbers involved. It is just not possible to look after all these children and their parents. I submit that there is a very special case for the parents of handicapped children who can and often do require the assistance of trained personnel to help them cope with the extra pressures that are thrust on them following their children’s illness: I hope that the Government may be able to devise a scheme whereby parents of children who suffer from autistic and other complaints can have access to medical advice so that they may be in a better position to cope with their children and with their own special problems resulting from their children’s afflictions.
Much remains to be done in the area of social security. We on this side of the House readily realise that, and we are pledged to help in every possible way to overcome these specific problems. Those of use who are interested in and concerned for the people who fall into these various categories are continually plagued by our thoughts turning along this stream of human endeavour, often with the arrow-swift flight of the kingfisher. We are concerned because there is much to be done and time appears to be running out.
– The Opposition supports these 2 Bills - the Sheltered Employment (Assistance)’ Bill and the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill. Mr Speaker, at the outset may I be permitted to raise a question of principle .in which I think you would be interested? These are Budget Bills. There is unanimity in the House about them, but the House will take probably 2 hours to debate them. Yet earlier this week and indeed today the Government had to gag matters of fundamental. importance. I can sympathise with the Government for wanting to do this, although 1 do not agree with it. But I wonder sometimes at the priorities we have in this House when we debate these matters on which everybody is in agreement, while debates on matters of great- national controversy are gagged and .Very, few honourable members can speak upon them.
I can sympathise with honourable members who have a point of view to put on this tremendously important human problem of handicapped people. I am being led to believe that perhaps we could adopt the American system under which a member who has a contribution to make to a debate on a subject that is not controversial may have his speech read and approved by the Opposition and then obtain leave to incorporate that speech in Hansard. That is a new idea in this place. I know that the suggestion will outrage the traditionalists, but as a former Leader of the House I would have loved to allow this Parliament to become the national forum for debating highly important national issues, whilst not denying the right of an honourable member to make a contribution on an important matter like this one but which is not controversial as far as party politics are concerned. Even if we sit every week in the year, with the complexity of business that is now facing this national Parliament, with the obsession we have with passing Bills - which are necessary - we will spend most of our time debating Bills, some large and some small, and this place will not be the national forum for debate on important national issues that it should be. I invite the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) and you, Sir, as- Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, to contemplate that prospect.
The Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill provides that local government bodies can use borrowed money to attract subsidies for sheltered workshops, hostels or other residential units for the handicapped. It provides also that local government bodies can donate borrowed money to the approved organisations for approved purposes and that money will also be eligible for subsidy. It is hoped that these provisions will encourage further supply of facilities for the handicapped. No great immediate demand under these provisions is expected. A sum of $200,000 is set aside for the next financial year, 1973-1974.
The Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill provides for extensions similar to those I have just outlined, but in addition provides for training centres, training equipment and residential units for handicapped children. It provides the means whereby local government bodies, by using borrowed money, will be able to help in meeting the need for these facilities. I think the outstanding feature of the second reading speech of the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) was his announcement that the Government intends to establish a national council ,for the handicapped. I have been one of those members on this side of the House who ha ve. been constantly critical of the number of boards, commissions, new departments and the growth of bureaucracy under the Labor Government. However, I strongly support the establishment of this council and would wish it. luck in its endeavours.
To test ‘ the bona fides of my friend the Leader of - the House, I have some background notes to my - speech as Opposition spokesman on social security which I think would detain the House if I read them. They comprise one page. The Leader of the House has seen it. I ask leave for these background notes to be incorporated in Hansard.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Under this Act, a subsidy ($2 for $1) is provided towards the capital cost of accommodation, rental of premises; extensions and equipment for sheltered works for the handicapped.
In 1-970 a provision was introduced into the Act to provide subsidies of $1 for $1 for staff salaries over a wide range of activities, such as supervision, medical guidance, counselling and social work, a $500 training fee. -to be paid to sheltered workshops which had placed, people in permanent employment after at least 6 months training, and a $2 for $1 capital grant to organisations providing accommodation for handicapped people engaged in open employment.
As at 30 June 1973, more than 12,000 children were attending handicapped children’s training centres subsidised under the Handicapped . Children (Assistance) Act, an inc. ease of about 1,000 during the financial year.
– I thank the House. The Bill recognises the need to encourage further provision of facilities for handicapped children and workers. The numbers receiving benefit under the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Act and the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Act are approximately 7,500 and 12,000 respectively - a small proportion df the total handicapped population. The Report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare on Mentally and Physically Handicapped Persons in Australia of May 1971 noted the absence of accurate data on the numbers of handicapped people’, in Australia. Invalid pensioners apparently number 150,000. Estimates suggest that between 1, per cent and 2 per cent of our population, that. is,, between 120,000 and 240,000 human beings, .may be mentally retarded. An estimate by ,the Department of Social Services of 1971 put the number of handicapped children between the ages of 0 and 20 years in Australia at a minimum of 44,000. Therefore we are dealing, with a situation which recognises a great .number of human beings in our community who are handicapped either physically or mentally. Obviously there is a need for greater expansion of facilities for the handicapped, as’ provided for in these Bills. The Minister’s second reading speech recognises the haphazard distribution of workshops, a fact recognised in the Senate report to which I referred previously. It stated:
The Association of Sheltered Workshops of New South Wales submitted that little consideration had been given in the past to the geographical location of workshops. In a number of cases small workshops catering for one particular type of disability had. been set up in close proximity, without full assessment’ ‘df the likely future requirements in that area. Also, in the case of country establishments, consideration should be given to providing regional centres rather than small units in individual towns.
The Committee agrees with this logic and considers that the planning of future workshops should be on a regional basis and a matter for discussion between the interested voluntary organisation and authorities responsible for planning of community health services.
The problems of workshop distribution may require more supervision and selective encouragement than is presently provided for. Despite the current labour shortage - this is an aspect that concerns me deeply - employers appear hesitant in making use of handicapped workers. The 3 September 1973 issue of the Victorian Employers Federation report states that last year 11,000 disabled people were registered in Victoria as wanting employment but only 4,800 were placed. Placement figures for 1970 were 1,100; 1971, 2,200; and 1972, 4,800. The report continues:
There appear two main sources of employer objection to the employment of these ‘ people. Firstly fears have existed that employing disabled persons would jeopardise employment opportunities for others. Consequently, employers fear that involvement could cause disputes with unions^ 1 am one member who has been as critical as anyone in this House of trade unions, but I would dispute the point that any responsible trade union would register any kind of. protest against employers employing handicapped people. I feel that this is an imaginary fear that employers have placed in their own minds. Surely discussion between employers and trade unions could result in a solution of this objection
It also gives me no comfort to say that most State governments seem to be reluctant to give permanency to employees with disabilities. This is in contrast to the policy of the Commonwealth Government, which has passed legislation enabling disabled persons to gain permanency. Secondly, some employers fear the quality of the service they would receive from the disabled employee. But those associated with the employment of handicapped people would strongly and immediately refute this objection. They maintain that employees with restricted abilities are. extremely loyal, efficient and conscientious people. This they attribute to the fact that such a person values his position and is therefore prepared to work hard and honestly to ensure that he is retained. Also his special advantage is that generally he is less accident prone than his fully able counterpart due to his greater awareness of the need to be safety conscious. The Commonwealth Government currently maintains about 150,000 people on invalid pensions, many of whom are employable assets. The report of the Victorian Employers Federation continues:
Certainly, if this situation could be improved, then it would mean, not only a reduction in the Government’s social welfare commitment, but greater production and higher productivity.
I conclude with one comment on the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill. I ask the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) or the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) who is now representing the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) to convey my remarks to the Minister. The Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill makes no provision comparable with the provision already in the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Act providing for a subsidy for salaries of professional counselling and medical staff in workshops. I wonder why there is the distinction. I think this is something that the Minister could ask his Department to examine. There seems to be no reason for the distinction and why subsidies on salaries of counselling staff should be provided for elderly people and not for handicapped children. It would seem that younger children would be more amenable to and just as much in need of professional care as handicapped adults. I should be glad if the Department would look at that question. The Opposition wholeheartedly supports the 2 Bills.
Debate (on motion by Mr Lamb) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Motion (by Mr Lionel Bowen) agreed to:
That the amendment be taken into consideration by the Committee of the Whole House forthwith.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
The First Schedule to the Principal Act is repealed and the following Schedule substituted: -
Subject to sub-items (5) and (6), in the case of Category A publications -
posted on or after 1 March 1974 but before 1 March 1975 - an amount calculated, in respect of the articles posted by any one person at any one time, at the rate of -
8 cents for each 250 grams or part of 250 grams of the aggregate weight of the articles, whichever is the greater;
posted on or after 1 March 1975 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -
Subject to sub-items (5) and (6), in the case of Category B publications posted for local delivery -
1 cent for each additional 50 grams or part of 50 grams;
where the weight of the article exceeds 100 grams - 5½ cents, together with 1 cent for each 50 grams or part of 50 grams in excess of 100 grams;
In the case of Category B publications posted otherwise than for local delivery -
where the weight of the article exceeds 250 grams - 10½ cents, together with 1 cent for each 50 grams or part of 50 grams in excess of 250 grams;
where the weight of the article exceeds 100 grams - 7 cents, together with li cents for each 50 grams or part of 50 50 grams in excess of 100 grams;
Senate’s amendment -
In clause 5, leave out sub-items (2), (3), and (4) of item 2 in Part I of the proposed Schedule 1, substitute the following sub-items: “(2) Subject to sub-items (5) and (6), in the case of Category A publications -
1½ cents for each article; or
2½ cents for each article; or
posted on or after 1 March 1975 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -
before 1 March 1974 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the rate of -
on or after 1 March 1974 but before 1 March 1975 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -
on or after 1 March 1975 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -
before 1 March 1974 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -
on or after 1 March 1974 but before 1 March 1975 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -
on or after 1 March 1975 - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -
– I move:
That the amendment be agreed to.
The amendment has been the subject of discussion in this House. It, of course, was discussed subsequent to the passage of the Bill and I gave an undertaking at that time that the Government would introduce this amendment in the Senate. This has now taken place. The amendment now before us is in accordance with the agreement. That is evidenced by the fact that it was incorporated in Hansard here last week when we were dealing with another matter ancillary to this legislation. It deals specifically with the rates for registered newspapers and periodicals. It deals with metric weights and increases in those weights. They are not the increases that the Government proposed or in fact that the Government considers would be warranted to put the Post Office in a more viable position. But bearing in mind that there was considerable opposition and a clear indication that there might even be a complete rejection of the legislation, the amendent is satisfactory. I do not think that I need to say any more at this stage.
– The Opposition accepts the amendment, which was referred to in this place and made by the Government in the Senate. The Opposition was concerned at the impact that the increased charges that were originally proposed would have had on the dissemination of information, particularly in the rural areas of Australia and in the isolated areas of Australia. There are many communities around our country which are extraordinary dependent on the availability of newspapers sent through the mail. The increases originally proposed were such that it seemed that many of these newspapers either would have had to increase their charges beyond a reasonable rate and so people would no longer have been able to afford to purchase them, or the newspapers themselves would have had to go out of business.
It is recognised, however, that the Post Office is facing increasing costs of maintaining services. The amendment that is now before the Committee represents some variation of the Government’s original proposal and yet still makes some increase in the previously existing position. During the course of the debate here at an earlier stage, very real concern was expressed at the degree to which a significant increase in charges denied the right of those who operate newspapers and other periodicals to carry on the task which had been their lot. Part of the problem, which is being answered by this amendment, is that there needs to be recognised by the Government that if it is to change overnight and in a radical way charges that are made - in this instance to newspapers and in other instances to commercial broadcasting stations and elsewhere - there needs to be an examination of the impact on communities and a consideration of the way in which the organs of publicity will be able to undertake their traditional role.
The Opposition believes that it is essential that there should be some reduction in these areas. The Australian Country Party, having as it has particular concern for some of these isolated communities, believes that if these changes had not been made there would have been quite disastrous effects in many areas and on many local journals. For that reason the Opposition accepts the recommendations made to the Committee by the Government. It believes that they will help to some degree to alleviate the penal increases originally provided for by this legislation.
I believe that this is an area in which the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) is to be commended for recognising the problems that arose and accepting the arguments that were presented in this chamber. It is a pity some of his colleagues do not similarly look at and examine the merits of arguments put forward by the Opposition. On too many occasions a reasonable case which is put forward is rejected purely on a political basis. I believe that there is in this area a valid social and economic reason why the Committee should accept the Senate’s amendment. I believe that the Postmaster-General is to be commended for having accepted the merit of the arguments that have been put forward. For that reason, the Opposition supports the Government’s proposed variation to the original Bill.
– In case it is thought that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) is the only person supporting this proposition, I want to say a few words in support of the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party. I, too, would like to offer my appreciation to the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) for his ready acceptance of the Senate’s amendment. I am sure that many people throughout Australia will appreciate the Postmaster-General’s decision to accept the proposals outlined originally by the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon). I think there is little need for me to indicate that since the first announcement of the Government’s intention to accept the proposition put forward by the honourable member for Gippsland many small newspapers have contacted me personally, and no doubt other honourable members who represent country electorates, to express their appreciation. I think it is fairly obvious why they have done so. After all in some of the extreme cases - I emphasise the word extreme’ - postal rates were to increase from something like l.Sc to as high as 11c. I repeat that that is what was to happen in extreme cases. But, in the broad, they were to be increased by up to about 7c. The acceptance of this amendment certainly will mean that the proposed postal rate increases will be reduced considerably. While I am on my feet I would like to say that I appreciate the PostmasterGeneral’s co-operation with respect to the land line rates as far as radio is concerned. His actions have been very much appreciated by people in country areas. I wish to offer my thanks to the Postmaster-General.
– I commend the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) for accepting the amendment transmitted to this House by the Senate. The PostmasterGeneral has shown wisdom and understanding in this matter. He has interpreted the feeling not only of this place and the Senate but also of people in country areas who have a very special problem. It is not merely a matter of assisting the newspaper proprietors. The country newspapers form part of the literature of the countryside. The country Press gives the story of the dealings of the people in their respective communities. It provides marketing information, news and intelli gence on the development of areas. The problems, the difficulties, the doubts and the dangers are all matters which are mirrored in the country newspapers. It is important that the country newspapers be allowed to continue to have a very special place in the intelligence of our nation.
I think all honourable members would be prepared to admit that the mass media - the great organs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide - are dominating the dissemination of news at the present time. The Postmaster-General, by adopting his considerate and enlightened attitude, has certainly done something that I know all members of this House will appreciate. I believe that every one of us has made representations to him asking him to give consideration to what he is accepting at the present time. I thank the Minister. I am delighted to think that the Parliament’s voice has been heard and that the insistence of honourable members on this matter has been respected.
– I will keep my comments brief. I am quite sure that people throughout the country districts of Australia will breathe a sigh of relief now that the Government has suddenly seen wisdom and has changed its original approach. For my part I could never understand why at the beginning the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen), who I believe is approaching his task in a responsible manner, and the new Government were not prepared to wait for the results of the Commission that it set up to look into the workings of the Australian Post Office. The country people have been given relief. It is strange that members of the Government Party this afternoon have risen to commend the wisdom of the Government. It is strange that this wisdom was non existent when this Bill was introduced into this Parliament. The Senate amended the Bill under threat of the postal increases being totally blocked. The Government then conceded this particular point. It is strange that the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) who spoke before me praised the parliamentary institution. His Party has the policy of abolishing the Australian Senate, the upper House. If we did not have a Senate this Bill would have been passed in toto.
– I suggest that the honourable member talk to the clauses of the amendment.
– Right. In speaking to the clauses of the amendment I express my regret that this amendment does not carry announcements of changes in ordinary postal rates. Come Christmas Australians not only in the country but also in the cities will be shocked when they find that the Christmas card which they have bought year in and year out and which weighs more than 20 grams will cost them 15c to post. These are some of the points which I regret. This Government is claiming tonight to be wise and yet it did not see the necessity to amend the legislation before.
I assure the Government that the people of Australia while looking at the 50 or so commissions that have been set up to inquire into various aspects of government will have had their faith shaken to the roots because the Government is not prepared to wait for the findings of those commissions before it makes changes. I return to the amendments which have been made by the Senate. I am very pleased, for the sake of country people, that the Government has gone back on its intentions. I conclude by repeating that Australians from one end of the country to the other will be shocked when they recognise and feel the full implications of the other increases which were introduced with such subtlety and went beyond the comprehension and apprehension of most.
– I wish to speak on this particular matter because it is one in which I have taken considerable interest.
– You were very silent during the debate. You did not say a word.
– Order! The honourable member for Griffith will remain silent.
– He is a hypocrite. Mr Keith Johnson - That is unparliamentary.
– Order! The honourable member for Griffith will withdraw that remark.
– Well, he is not a hypocrite. It is just a strange way that he -
– Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.
– Well, he is not a hypocrite.
– The honourable member will withdraw the remark.
– He is not a hypocrite. I withdraw it.
– This matter is one in which I have been interested ever since the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) indicated that some considerable changes would be made in concessions, which incidentally have been extended to a very wide range of bodies outside and inside our country such as multinational corporations and others. He was most anxious to ensure that there was in fact a just acceptance of the burdens which should be accepted by many organisations well able to bear them, particularly outside our country. As to the countryside I must say that within a very short time arrangements have been made to end concessions which have in fact been enjoyed by many organisations outside our country. It seems in my initial checking that no great difficulty would be experienced by our own people, our own journals and our own countryside. Indeed, I took the precaution of checking with a number of strategic journals to make sure that there was no particular difficulty. Their reply, of course, was nearly unanimous. In effect they said: ‘Oh no, as far as we are concerned at present there are no difficulties at all’. It may be that their judgment was not quite right in that particular case. But they checked with me and I noted their replies and their particular representations to me.
I was anxious to ensure that there would be no difficulties as far as the free flow of information was concerned in the journals in my own electorate. It appeared, of course, after examination and consultation by myself and the Postmaster-General, that that was not the position in regard to one or two of the journals. I took a very charitable view of this matter. In some instances valiant journals - wonderful journals - produced by family groups - had been serving the people over a long period. I can think of their names now. If I am challenged to name them I will do so. They have been particularly fair whether printing material for the Country Party, which is one of the parties in our country which receives 8 per cent of the votes and therefore should be acknowledged, or the Democratic Labor Party which is also a party in our country which receives almost 8 per cent of the vote -
– Order! I suggest to the Minister that he bring his remarks back to the amendment.
– Yes, Mr Chairman. I wish to draw attention to the fact that this matter is relevant to journals which believe in fair play. I am referring to the journals which have recognised the views of people whether from the Country Party, which received 8 per cent of the votes or from the Democratic Labor Party, which received about 8 per cent of the votes but which has no representation in this House. Of course, honourable members will have noticed that. Whether the matter printed refers to the Liberal Party or the Labor Party does not matter at all in terms of the free flow of information. There are journals which)–
– I raise a point of order. In view of the fact that the Minister was so silent when the Bill originally came to this House)–
– Order! The honourable member for Griffith is not taking a point of order. He is making a speech and he will resume his seat.
– The honourable member for Riverina has never been silent in matters concerning his electorate and I might say that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) will do well to learn by precept–
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Riverina has been quietened on many occasions in this House. What have his remarks to do with the particular clause that we are now debating? I submit, Mr Chairman, for your consideration the geriatrics of the Minister.
– Order! The honourable member has made his point of order.
– I am not quite finished.
– Order! The honourable gentleman has made his point of order. I ask him now to resume his seat and I will rule on his point of order.
– Well, I rise on another point of order.
– Order! One point of order at a time, thank you.
- Mr Chairman–
– Order! The honourable member for Darling Downs will resume his seat.
– I thought I had resumed it. I was making another point of order.
– I have not ruled on the first point of order.
– I am making a second point of order.
– Order! If the honourable member wishes to make a second point of order he will resume his seat or he will not be here to do so. I will now rule on the point of order. The Minister should come back to the Bill. He is skating very thinly. I think he is most likely as close to being relevant as speeches in most debates in this House are. He is skating thinly. I asked previous speakers to be relevant and I ask the Minister to be relevant.
– Mr Chairman, for the elucidation of the Committee, I ask you to rule whether the antics of the Minister in his speech would seem to indicate that–
– Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. He is as aware as I am that what the Minister says has nothing to do with the Chair provided that it is within the compass of the Standing Orders. Whether it is correct or otherwise is not of any interest to the Chair.
– I wind up my remarks in this way: I commend the Postmaster-General for his masterly exercise in tolerance and also, I might say, in discernment. As I have said there are newspapers in my electorate which incidentally have prepared an obituary for myself - it is a very brief obituary and they are hoping very desperately that they will print it most rapidly–
– Hear, hear!
– Nevertheless, that is the only thing that they will ever print–
– The most enthusiastic article they have ever written.
– The Leader of the Country Party says ‘Hear, hear!’ Well, you are entitled to your opinion, Mr Anthony. I do not mind. I hope I live for a year or two. I say: God bless you. I have no argument with you at all as an individual. I hope you live long and that you continue with your wife and family–
– I take a point of order. My point of order is this: I would like to know what the latter statement by the Minister has to do with the Bill before the Committee.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member that if that is all his point of order amounts to he should ask the Minister after this debate. If the honourable member does not understand what the Minister says, that has nothing to do with the Chair at all.
– With all respect, this has nothing to do with the Bill whatsoever.
– Order! Your point of order was made. You asked me what the Minister’s statement meant. The Chair is not in a position to tell you. I call the Minister.
– That is a point of view.
– Of course, as the Leader of the House says, that is a point of view. May I say, incidentally, that I think that the honourable member for Wimmera is as red as his tie. But, never mind, we wish him well. I commend the Postmaster-General for his statesmanship on this matter. When the ramifications of this action were brought to his attention and when it was illustrated to him that this action could affect the free flow of information, irrespective of whether that information concerned death, health or any other matter, he said: ‘Let them all flourish.’ It was a tremendous gesture on the part of the Postmaster-General. He accepted it. I want to commend him for that acceptance.
I say to him that when this matter was first raised with me it was raised on behalf of great men in the countryside. I refer to men like the Bradley brothers of Temora, men who are above politics and the petty partisanship that is often displayed by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) and the right honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony) who sit opposite me. These great men raised the matter on the basis of the free flow of information. I might say through you, Mr Chairman, to the Postmaster-General that it is a magnificent–
– What about the Barham paper? Are you still in favour of it, Al?
– As a matter of fact, Mr Chairman, there is a wonderful interjection by the honourable member for New England. He asks: ‘What about the Barham paper?’ The full title of that paper is the ‘Koondrook and Barham Bridge’. It is one of the most objective journals in the whole of our country. It is a fine journal and–
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr Lionel Bowen) agreed to:
That the amendments be taken into consideration in Committee of the whole House forthwith.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
In Schedule 1, item 8, paragraph (g), leave out the proposed sub-regulation (5a) of regulation 46 of the Postal Regulations, substitute the following subregulation: - “ (5a) A publication referred to in paragraph (c) of sub-regulation (3) shall not be registered in the part of the register kept for the registration of Category A periodicals unless -
the publication is, and at all times from and including 20 August 1973 has been, printed and published in a country area within the meaning of that paragraph; or
a substantial proportion of the copies of each number of the publication are posted by the proprietor, printer or publisher of the publication to bona fide subscribers in a country area within the meaning of” that paragraph.”.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
In Schedule 1, item 8, paragraph (g), leave out paragraph (b) of the proposed sub-regulation (5b) of regulation 46 of the Postal Regulations, substitute the following paragraph: - “ (b) a publication that, by virtue of subregulation (5a), is not to be registered as a Category A periodical,”.
– This is the second of the series of 3 Bills which the Senate has returned with amendments. The contents of these Bills are already known to the Committee and have been passed by the Committee. These amendments relate to the wording in a clause which was discussed when the legislation was first before this chamber. The Government indicates its agreement to the amendments. No need exists for any further elaboration of the matter. Accordingly I move:
– Again, the Opposition supports the amendments that have been moved by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen). It is unfortunate that the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), showing such short interest in the legislation, has now left us. He injected into the debate one of the real problems of the initial legislation. It is all very well talking about changes long after the changes have been made. If he had had the concern which he now expresses for his electorate, this Bill would never have been introduced into this Parliament in its original form. He, after all, is a member of Cabinet and as a participant in the original decision is as bound as every member of the Labor Party in this Parliament is by the way in which the Bill distinguished and showed prejudice against every country newspaper in Australia, including those in the Riverina.
The Opposition believes that the changes now submitted by the Postmaster-General are a more realistic basis upon which there should be variations of the postal rates. For that reason, it supports them. The Opposition and the Australian Country Party have been particularly concerned at the way in which this legislation discriminated against country newspapers and against those who live in areas where communications are not as easy as they are in the big metropolitan cities. The amendments do considerably facilitate the mainten ance of these country periodicals and newspapers. For those reasons the amendments are not only desirable but essential.
– I wish to put on record the fact that, while I appreciate the sentiments expressed by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), while I can understand the reason for his saying what he said and while I appreciate what other honourable members said in their remarks on the previous Bill, a number of my own colleagues have been most concerned about this matter, quite naturally, because it affects what might be termed a local industry. Nevertheless, one must look at the matter in its context. The Post Office is suffering severe losses in this category of mail. It will continue to do so. It does envisage future difficulties in the financial world.
A couple of matters were mentioned to which I should refer. The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) mentioned Christmas cards. This aspect has already been taken into consideration. The industry was advised as far back as last May of the metric weight allowances for Christmas cards; there should be no difficulty in that area. As to any sudden change over, this was not intended. He will notice that the proposal that I have put is to be phased in over a period of 3 years. It is for these reasons that we must look at the facts. Every member of this Parliament has been interested in this matter. I make it clear that the decision as to what should be the appropriate gram weight or what should be the cent charge for those grams was the result oi a departmental analysis. The Department considered the matter quite fairly and reasonably. Nevertheless, in view of the weight of opposition, it has had to reassess the situation. But I emphasise that this service is running at a loss and at a bigger loss than was envisaged.
The Australian people must recognise that fact and recognise also that the Government has severe financial problems in the Post Office. It is for that reason that a royal commission was appointed to inquire into the Post Office. It may well be that that royal commission will make recommendations of which members of this chamber may not find themselves in favour. Nevertheless I think that that was most appropriate way for the new Government to act. I look forward to the time when the royal commission presents its report. These problems cannot be solved for instance, by asking telephone subscribers to pick up the tab for somebody else. At the same time, the Government has had to look at the policy it inherited of paying interest on its capital to the Treasury. These payments total $179m a year at present. Honourable members can imagine that a pretty fair impost applies in the whole of the telecommunications field in that respect. I thank Honourable members for their contributions to the debate.
Amendments agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr Lionel Bowen) agreed to:
That the amendments be taken into consideration by the Committee of the Whole House forthwith.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment.
Section 29 of the Principal Act is amended -
After section 137 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “137a. (1) Where an authorized officer has reason able grounds to believe that a person has committed, is committing, has attempted to commit or is attempting to commit an offence against section 111, 114, 115 or 116, the authorized officer may, without warrant -
Senate’s Amendment No. 1 -
In clause 9, leave out the proposed sub-section (2aba) of section 29, substitute the following sub-section: - “(2aba) A publication referred to in paragraph (c) of sub-section (2a) shall not be registered in the part of the register kept for the registration of Category A newspapers unless -
Senate’s Amendment No. 2 -
In clause 9, leave out paragraph (b) of the proposed sub-section (2abb) of section 29, substitute the following paragraph: - “(b) a publication that, by virtue of sub-section (2aba), is not to be registered as a Category A newspaper,”.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 -
Leave out clause 13.
– I move:
That the amendments be agreed to.
I make the comment that these amendments have the same wording as the amendments in the legislation that has just been agreed to, but they have an additional factor in that they propose to omit clause 13. The Government has no objection to the omission of that clause. It is understood as a result of the debate in the Senate that the Senate wishes this clause to be reintroduced in another form at an early date. The clause relates to the search of suspected persons. In other words, persons who are suspected of having committed an offence by interfering with the mail or stealing the mail. It follows that these people have to be apprehended and there needs to be some protection for the officers doing the apprehending. At the moment in some States they have the protection of State law, but in other States they have no protection whatsoever. The proposal was that they would be granted protection. At the same time the Senate in its wisdom felt that the wording of the clause might be a little wide. The Senate is interested in the concept of civil liberties. The delay in reintroducing the clause is not serious. Accordingly, there is no objection to the clause being deleted from the Bill.
– I do not know whether I am in order in speaking to this clause. I do so at your discretion, Mr Chairman. I ask the Postmaster-General whether he has had a chance to look at the matter I brought up during the second reading debate on the original Bill in which I asked a question on authorised supplements in country newspapers and in relation to the efficient operations of country newspapers. I believe that he did state that any Postmaster-General could take ministerial action in relation to this matter, but I do not believe that he ever said whether he was prepared to take this action.
– It is true that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) did raise the matter of supplements. I gave an answer which apparently the honourable member has not had a chance to digest. My understanding is that my predecessor agreed to the proposal that the honourable member has mentioned in regard to the inclusion of supplements in country newspapers. What I endeavoured to convey in the previous debate was that my predecessor did nothing about altering the regulations. It is not left to the discretion of the Postmaster-General. It is not left to me to do this. It is subject to an alteration of the regulations and as such it has to go through the Parliament. That is a matter of policy. At this stage I would not want to give any answer.
Amendments agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
– I have the honour to bring up the sixth report of the Publications Committee sitting in conference with the Publications Committee of the Senate. Copies of the report have been circulated to honourable members in the House.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 1684).
– I rise to join in this cognate debate and to support the Government in its moves to improve the welfare of those who benefit under this legislation. Before I do so I would like to thank the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) and the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) for their promises of support from their respective parties. The honourable member for Darling Downs added some criticisms which I think were a little unfortunate in that they point out the poor features of the previous legislation and its development in that there were ad hoc changes, improvements and measures. I think that the honourable member should wait until we hear from the findings of the national advisory council on the handicapped soon to be established and then find out how we can approach the whole matter of the handicapped with a co-ordinated and long range plan.
The size of the handicapped population is not declining, even though, due to a reduction in the incidence of infectious diseases, there has been a decline in the number of babies born with brain damage. The overall increase is due mainly to the survival of babies born with what previously were fatal conditions and to industrial and increasing road accidents as well as advances made by medical science. However, estimates of the number of handicapped persons are not easily made. They are not readily available owing to differences in definitions and standards of normality and due to the reticence of many handicapped people to admit that they are actually handicapped. An estimate of the World Health Organisation states that between 1 per cent and 3 per cent of the world’s population is mentally retarded. As we were reminded by the honourable member for Hotham, it would appear from these figures that at any time there would be between 120,000 and 240,000 mentally handicapped persons in Australia. Included in that figure would be about 45,000 people under the age of 20.
This Bill attempts to change the method of administration by bringing local government actively into this sphere of help for handicapped people because it will mean localised centres. These are essential because we are not talking about the individuals involved. We are talking of the families involved. The figures given to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, dealing with retardation, in 1971 put the number of mentally retarded Victorians at between 70,000 and 71,000. Conservatively assuming that each of those people directly affect 3 normal people, that means that 300,000 Victorians know what mental retardation really means. When we are considering our program, our integrated plan for the handicapped, surely with these figures and knowing about the family’s involvement we should be catering for them all. We must be considering also their life with their handicapped family member. Planning must be on a regional basis, not for large institutions, and be planned well away from families.
I now turn to the 2 Bills before the House. The Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill opens the way, as I prefaced my introduction, **»r local government to contribute to the welfare of the handicapped. Local government authorities will be able to involve themselves in the establishment of training centres, training equipment and residential units. Local governments have displayed only a minor concern in the past. Usually it has been up to local governments to sponsor or initiate early moves, such as the calling of public meetings, and perhaps to sponsor the establishment of a committee, to invigorate that committee to call for funds and even occasionally to donate land to this worthy cause. The program itself is now 3 years old and voluntary and religious organisations have made strong demands on the Federal Government to provide funds. This is because we have relied mainly on the voluntary religious organisations as well as the State instrumentalities. Over these 3 years we have seen a total of $7m granted, mostly for training centres; but also, I might mention, Si. 4m was spent on residences and 5900,000 on training equipment.
Assistance for handicapped persons in Australia has always been spearheaded by voluntary organisations, financed in the main by groups of hard working relatives. It seems we have to be vitally concerned with the handicapped people to realise the importance of upgrading their lives and integrating them with the community. Without that involvement it seems that governments have been tardy in the past. The efforts of these organisations are to be commended and I congratulate them. I should like to mention two such organisations in my own electorate of La Trobe, one on the border I share with the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews). I refer to Monkami. The other is Knoxbrooke, which is well in the centre of my electorate. Another organisation which has been giving great service is in the electorate of Diamond Valley. I am sure that the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie), who sits adjacent to me in this House and who will not have the opportunity to speak in this debate, would like me to mention the fine institution of Churinga.
However, as can be expected, the growth of such services has been uneven throughout the country. There is a need for increased cooperation between the Commonwealth and State departments, particularly with regard to the uniformity of services and long term planning of facilities for the handicapped. There will be funds following the establishment of another commission - another initiative by this Government. A previous speaker asked what help would be flowing from the findings of the interim committee of the Australian Schools Commission. I should like to mention just briefly that there will be funds flowing from the Karmel report. So, there will be less reliance on this Act for education of the handicapped. With less demands for education, the remainder of the funds will be spent in more pressing areas, such as residences.
The Karmel Committee recognised that the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Act 1970 provides for assistance for a range of facilities wider than purely educational ones and it notes that the education of mentally and physically handicapped children is a particularly complex area both by reason of the range and the degree of the handicaps to be catered for and by the diversity of organisational arrangements that have developed over the years in the various States. The Committee observed that about 33,000 children throughout Australia are receiving full time education in special schools and classes for handicapped children. About 85 per cent of them are in government schools and the remainder are in schools run by voluntary bodies or in schools operated by church authorities. While in the 3 smaller States the Government has accepted almost sole responsibility, the voluntary bodies are most active in the 3 larger States. These bodies are composed mainly of parents who have come together by sheer necessity in order to establish a school so that their children may receive an education. While these schools receive substantial subsidies from State and Commonwealth Governments, the parents are responsible for meeting significant costs, usually by fund raising activities and voluntary labour rather than by substantial fees. In Victoria, the Mental Health Authority is the agency responsible for subsidising most voluntary bodies to provide education and training for moderately and severely intellectually handicapped children.
The Karmel Committee believes that in the great majority of cases the diffusion of effort and resources in this way is wasteful and often deleterious to the education of the children concerned. The delegation of responsibility for the education of intellectually handicapped children to health authorities appears to represent a carry-over from the traditional belief that such people are in need of constant medical supervision. The Committee notes that in recent years Great Britain has transferred the educational responsibility for these children from health to education authorities. The Committee, while conscious of States rights in this matter, feels it should register its belief that the interests of handicapped children would be best served if responsibility for their education were placed in the hands of State Education Departments. We have much to witness and look forward to in initiatives of this Government in marrying and integrating education, under the Interim Committee, soon to be the Australian Schools Commission, with the Department of Social Security.
There is a critical shortage of specialist teaching staff for handicapped children and pupils with learning disabilities. This was revealed in an interim report of the ministerial committee of inquiry into special education in Victoria. The report deals particularly with the staffing crisis in the Education Department’s psychology and guidance branch and speech therapy branch. The report says that there are only 98 guidance officers - 43 still in training - in the psychology and guidance branch serving a school population of more than 600,000 and the speech therapy branch will finish this year with a deficiency of 59 staff members. One of the reasons why the Victorian Government has been tardy in taking initiatives in this area is that it has excluded handicapped children from their right of free education under the Victorian Education Act. However, the Victorian Government finally has responded to the pressures of the parents, the voluntary bodies, the religious bodies and the findings of the Karmel report and has extended section 61 of the Education Act 1958 to make the Education Department, not the parent - I want honourable members to note that - responsible for the education of mentally and physically handicapped children.
It is not my claim that the Karmel report was responsible for this turnabout; this was an admission by the Assistant Minister for Education, Mr Dixon, about a fortnight ago. He said that the interim report had been made on the implications of the Federal Government’s Karmel report on Victorian special education. Because of these initiatives there will be a change in emphasis in the program of expenditure under the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill. There will be a concentration now on residential accommodation for mentally retarded children. The waiting list for admission of mentally retarded patients into residential institutions in Victoria is in a state of crisis. Not only is the number of desperate cases awaiting admission increasing alarmingly but also there is no foreseeable time when the Government’s proposed residential facilities will be able to cope with the demand. The present residential centres are seriously overcrowded and understaffed and yet they are still being pressured to admit more patients by families who are waiting in desperate circumstances for a bed. It is only when we come in contact with these desperate families and have witnessed the pressures they are under that we realise there is a great need in many cases for an extension of the number of beds available to these people. The key, the index, to the bed shortage crisis is the list of mentally retarded people waiting for admission to Victoria’s 9 institutions. That list is increasing at a frightening rate. There is no question that the people on the list urgently need institutional care. Many of them are severely retarded children whose parents are unable to cope and are under psychiatric care.
A mother came into my office in my electorate of La Trobe with a young child of 4 years of age. The child could do nothing but roll on the carpet of my office. It could lift its head only a matter of 6 inches. That was the total free physical movement of which that child was capable. Until that time I had a fleeting understanding and a peripheral concern for the families of handicapped children. From that time, I undertook much research and I am now vitally concerned, as is this Government. That woman cannot find an institution - a bed - to take the pressure off heT family, not even so that she can take a 2weeks holiday after a year of strain. The problem is that there is nowhere for them to go. The average wait is around 2 years. The parents of one severely retarded Mongol child have been on the list for more than 7 years.
The waiting list is split into 4 categories, and these will really emphasise how the Victorian Government has attempted to cope but obviously has not been able to keep up with the demand. The first category is: Most urgent - family in a state of crisis, immediate placement in an institution needed. At latest count there were 318 on this list. The second category is: Urgent - immediate placement desirable, but the family problems are not as grave. There are 207 cases in this category. Probably the mother of young Michael who came to my office is in this category. The third category is: Pending^ - no immediate crisis, but an institutional bed will be needed eventually. There are 813 on this waiting list. The fourth category is: Register - families are coping with the retarded child, placement may never be necessary. There are 1,908 on the list. The real danger area, according to the social workers’ report, is the list of 525 families in varying degrees of desperation on the urgent and most urgent waiting lists. This figure is currently increasing at around 25 per cent a year. Sixty new cases came on the list in the 6 months up to about May, according to the medical health authority.
The plight of Victoria is repeated in other States. It is gratifying that the Karmel Committee report and the change in emphasis given to this Act by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) will mean that more money will be available for residential accommodation. There will be grants made of $2.25m, which is $250,000 less than last year’s total but that had to cover education of the handicapped children as well. Last year the grant was $2. 5m, although when we look at the expenditure we find that only $1,781,937 was actually spent. So not only do we have an increase in the proposed expenditure for the current year but also we can add to that the amount that will come from the Karmel Committee report. I have expressed ray concern personally and I have mentioned an individual case. I am glad to join the Government and I am glad to hear the voices of the Opposition joining in approving the initiatives and the change in emphasis that has been pioneered in this Act by the Minister for Social Security. I commend the Bill to the House.
– Earlier in this debate this evening the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) put forward a point of view concerning the business of the House. He said that, if there were no objection to this measure from the Opposition, honourable members ought to have their speeches simply recorded in Hansard so that we could move on to matters of national concern. I am sure that the honourable gentleman did not mean that concern and care for the handicapped in our community is not a matter of national concern, because by any yardstick it is a matter of concern for all of us in this community. The honourable member for Hotham is a small ‘1’ Liberal. I use that term in its true sense. His views are well known. But he ignores the ultra-conservative views of his colleagues, the plough followers who sit on the corner benches of this House.
The honourable gentleman also made a point about trade unions. He seemed to me to be saying that the trade unions would raise, did raise or are raising some objection to the employment of the handicapped. With the greatest of respect to the honourable gentleman and to his well-known liberal views, I do not think that there is any trade union in this country that would be happy to know that one of its members, after having been injured in an accident, was sitting at home receiving a pittance as a payment in the form of workers compensation when he was able to and would perform certain tasks but for the fact that industry - by that I mean those who employ - would not employ a disabled worker. Medical practitioners are prone to giving medical certificates to the effect that a worker is capable of performing light duties. Nobody knows what light duties are. In industry and in commerce generally all those who employ demand full physical and mental faculties of those whom they employ. Of course, there are exceptions, but these exceptions only go to prove the rule.
Tonight we are dealing with the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to enable subsidy to be paid on money borrowed for the establishment of what are known in our community as sheltered workshops. As the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) said in his contribution to this debate, the Bill does not go to the fundamentals of the human problems of those among us who are for a variety of reasons unable to live what we fondly call a normal life. Our whole society is based on 2 premises - to work, whether manually or intellectually, and to receive reward for that labour. I realise that this simple analysis ignores the parasites who batten on workers and live off the returns from their ownership of capital. But the edict, that those who labour shall receive sustenance, ignores a very large section of our community - those who have been born with a physical, intellectual or mental handicap and those who have been injured or afflicted during their lives.
We display a humanitarian attitude by collectively making sustenance available for these people but money, no matter in what quantity, can never provide or restore the human dignity that comes with being wanted and being able to make a worthwhile contribution to the community of which we are a part. Because of the profit motive of the society in which we live, the profit motive that is built into our so-called free enterprise system, employers are generally more kindly disposed towards those prospective employees who are in top physical or intellectual condition, or both. Therefore, those who suffer from disabilities are, as I have said, generally looked upon with little favour by prospective employers.
The Australian Government Public Service, as presently structured, is perhaps the worst offender in this area. That organisation requires, before it employs somebody, an actual physical examination of that person and requires a written test to be fulfilled satisfactorily before employment is even contemplated. Many private employers exercise the same degree of discernment when selecting employees. What we come up against is this archaic attitude of employers, that those whom they employ should be capable of earning not only their own keep but in fact should be earning a little bit more - or if possible a big bit more - for those who own capital. Any person who is not completely physically and/ or intellectually and mentally fit is in no position to earn his own keep, let alone provide the extra values for the benefits of the parasites. My own concept is that every person, irrespective of accident of birth or tragedy of life, is entitled to dignity.
The encouragement of the sheltered workshop concept is a very worthy one. In this environment men, women, boys and girls can be engaged in worthwhile activities which satisfy their dignity as human beings by providing the opportunity to engage actively in manufacturing or processing and thus making a contribution to society. This contribution is made away from the highly competitive area of ordinary or, should I say, accepted manufacturing procedure. Many workshops exist in Australia now but there are not nearly enough. To establish a sheltered workshop is not easy.
The State member for Broadmeadows in Victoria, Mr John Wilton, MLA, is at present seeking to establish a workshop in the Broadmeadows area to serve the handicapped people of Broadmeadows and the surrounding area. This project was originally started by the mothers of the children who attend the special school in Broadmeadows. They were concerned as to what would happen to their young people when they reached the ripe old age cif 16 years, when they would then be asked to leave the school. It seemed to the mothers of these children, and I think our society generally would agree, that it is a great waste for these young men and young women who have a handicap, whether physical or intellectual, at the age of 16 to have to leave the school which they have been attending in familiar surroundings and under the care and the guidance of the teachers of that school. There is no future for them, there is nowhere for them to go. Local industry is not very interested in employing them. They cannot remain at the private school and so they stay at home with their parents.
This state of affairs is a great tragedy in our community. Recognising this vacuum, the mothers of these young people decided that there should be a sheltered workshop in that area. They started by baking cakes in their kitchens and selling them in the streets on Saturday. It has to be recognised that the concept they foresaw would cost $250,000, which they would have to raise. There is no way known that $250,000 can be raised by people baking cakes in their kitchen and selling them in the streets on a Saturday. Yet these women are so concerned about the future of their children that they did try. Mr Wilton and his band of workers have now raised a considerable amount of money, not by baking cakes but by going about it in a systematic way. They have had to cadge from the community to raise the funds that they need. I am not suggesting that this Bill will go all the way, and neither does the Minister, towards solving this problem. But now that the project in Broadmeadows is under way, with the introduction and the passage of this Bill, Mr Wilton and his workers will be in a much better position to attract a subsidy towards their project.
Land on which to build was made available to them by the Housing Commission of Victoria on a reduced payment basis. It was sold to them at a lower cost than that at which it would have been sold to a private developer. Nonetheless it was sold. The Government of Victoria did not even come to the party and give to this group of people land which they could have used. Still the profit motive exists even with governments and especially with Liberal governments.
But this very real problem of finding employment and employment dignity for these people exists. Industry, as I have said, because of its highly competitive nature is loath to place these people on its payroll. It is unfair to say that that applies to all industries. Some industries are very good in this respect; others are very bad. To provide these people with the dignity that the rest of us endeavour to achieve through our labours it is necessary to have an area in which they can be protected from the extreme competitiveness of industry. So the sheltered workshop concept fits the bill. As well as those people who were born with afflictions there are the workers who have suffered injury during the course of their employment. They receive a very meagre payment of workers compensation on which to survive week by week, and through the whole concept of sheltered workshop’s surely there is an avenue for the Government to be more deeply involved, because to me it is a very fine and productive way in which we can rehabilitate and perhaps bring back into the work force those who, through no fault of their own, have been injured and removed from it. So these workshops perform quite an important function in our community. They deserve full support. They deserve more support than they are now getting. I am quite sure that it is in the mind of the Government that in future they shall receive more support.
It is all very well for those who now sit in Opposition to say that they have no objection to this measure. They had plenty of time to introduce it. They never did. So they should not be raising objection to it now. They ought to be adopting the course they are adopting and suggesting that it is such an important and such a humanitarian effort that the measure ought to go through unchallenged. The points that I wanted to make I have made. I will recapitulate the main points. I compliment the Government on introducing the measure. It will provide a degree of assistance for those who at the moment badly need assistance. It will foster and I trust encourage even further the development of sheltered workshops so that that very large group of people in our community - the statistics would probably astound us, but it is a very large group, because there is one handicapped person for about every 40 members of the work force - can be made to feel that they are being welcomed into society, that they are worthwhile, that they have dignity, and that they are making a contribution. To me they are the elements of humanity, and if we can come to this stage quickly it can only be for the benefit of our whole community. I commend the measure to the House. I trust that it has a speedy passage through this place and also through the Senate.
– I have received notice from the honourable member for Wannon that at the next sitting he will move that this House censures the Minister for Minerals and Energy for his gross abuse of power in relation to the New South Wales power dispute.
– I would like to know whether the Government is going to take this matter up and debate it now or whether it is to be held over for 10 days while this power dispute continues.
– Order! Is the honourable member asking leave to make this request?
– I am asking leave of the House to ask the Leader of the House this particular question.
-Is leave granted.
– Leave is not granted.
– I ask leave to table a certain document relating to this particular matter.
– Is leave granted.
– Leave is not granted.
– I move:
– I rise on a point of order. The honourable member was given the call on a point of order. There is a debate in progress on another question. He asked leave to make a statement relating to the notice of motion. Leave is not granted. I submit that therefore he is not entitled to the call in the middle of the debate.
– I raise a point of order. I submit that the Leader of the House is totally inaccurate in taking that point of order. The facts are quite clear. The honourable member for Wannon had the call. He sought leave. Leave was denied. The honourable member for Wannon, still having the call, then moved a procedural motion. I submit that this is a matter clear beyond contradiction. The honourable member for Wannon has the call and the procedural motion must now take precedence before the Chair.
– The point of order is upheld. The question is that Standing Orders be suspended to enable the honourable member for Wannon to tablea certain paper forthwith.
– Throughout this whole matter there has been an attempt by the Minister concerned–
– Mr Deputy Speaker,I rise on a point of order. I point out to you–
– This is an attempt by the Minister to prevent debate and to preserve secrecy.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! The honourable member for Wannon will resume his seat.
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. A debate is in progress in the Parliament on a certain matter. It has not been adjourned but by some strange procedure the honourable member for Wannon is on his feet moving a totally different motion. The honour able member for Barton was on his feet to debate Bills relating to handicapped children and disabled people. The honourable member for Wannon comes in and interferes with debate on Bills concerning disabled persons and sheltered workshops to make a cheap–
– A point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Leader of the House is deliberately wasting the time of this House. He is not prepared to have the facts come out.
– That is not a point of order.
– I would ask for your ruling.
-I have not finished my point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to take a point of order. For 2 days the Opposition has tried to get the truth from the Minister for Minerals and Energy.
– Order! The honourable member will come to his point of order.
– The Minister has gagged debates and refused to answer questions.
– Order! The honourable member will come to his point of order or will resume his seat. I will not warn the honourable member for Gwydir again.
– I continue my point of order. The House is in the course of debating Bills related to sheltered workshops and disabled persons, a most needy section of the community.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I submit that you should rule on this point of order without permitting further debate because the Leader of the House quite deliberately is trying to talk out time which could be used in discussing my motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.
– There is no point of order involved.
– There is a point of order because the Leader of the House is speaking to a point of order and you should rule on that point of order.
– It is the duty of the Chair to determine whether the Leader of the House is departing from his point of order.
– The point of order that I make in the face of objections is that a debate is in progress on the question of sheltered workshops.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I submit that the Chair is deliberately allowing the Leader of the House to continue in this manner.
-Order! That is a reflection on the Chair and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it with deference to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, but a limited time is allowed for debating a motion to suspend Standing Orders and the Leader of the House is quite deliberately speaking to delay the debate and to prevent the truth being revealed in this matter. He cannot be allowed to continue and you, Mr Deputy Speaker, are the only person who can take action.
– Will the honourable member resume his seat. I have already ruled that the motion to suspend Standing Orders is in order. The Leader of the House is raising a point of order.
– With respect, Mr Deputy Speaker, I submit that he is canvassing your ruling permitting me to move the motion to suspend Standing Orders.
-Order! The honourable member for Wannon will resume his seat.
– May I, with the greatest respect, say that you have already ruled with regard to the motion to suspend Standing Orders?
-The honourable member for Wannon will resume his seat. I call the Leader of the House to complete his point of order.
– The point of order I make is that-
– Get on with it. Come to the point.
– I will take my time. In accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, I will wait until members opposite are silent.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Are you going to allow the Minister to continue as he is at the moment?
-Order! The House will come to order.
– I rise on a point of order.
-Order! The Leader of the Country Party knows that, under the Standing Orders, he must remain seated while the occupant of the Chair is standing.
If the House will come to order it will enable the Leader of the House to make his point of order and I will give a ruling. However, the way the House is being conducted at the moment I am not being given that opportunity.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not proceed with my point of order until such time as honourable members opposite obey the Standing Orders and remain silent. All interjections are disorderly. The point I make is that a debate is in progress on the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill, which provides for very deserving people. This Bill is being debated in a cognate debate with the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill, which relates to a most deserving area and concerns the poorer and more afflicted sector of the community.
-Order! The Leader of the House is debating the matter.
Mr Daly - I will come to the point. In my long experience in this House I have never known an honourable member to be able to rise on a notice of motion given to be heard on the next day of sitting, interrupt a debate, particularly one such as this, and then seek to make cheap political capital out of suffering children and others. It is contemptible - and you are all as contemptible as you look. The honourable member is the wealthiest man in the House- (Opposition members interjecting)
Order! The right honourable member for Higgins will resume his seat. The honourable member for Wannon will resume his seat.
– May I raise a point of order?
– Not until I have spoken. I think that the exercise the House has witnessed is a disgrace to this House. If it continues I will be forced to take action which I have always tried to avoid. The Leader of the House does not have a point of order. The procedures which were adopted by the Deputy Speaker were correct and in accordance with the Standing Orders. I therefore call the honourable member for Wannon and I ask the honourable member not to debate the question.
– On a further point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! I ask the Leader of the House to resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a further point of order.
-Order! I ask the Minister to resume his seat. I have called the honourable member for Wannon. I intend to stick to that.
– This matter has been raised in this way tonight because there are power strikes and shortages in New South Wales and they have been made worse by the deliberate actions of the Minister for Minerals and Energy.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! I ask the honourable member for Wannon to speak to the motion he has moved. He is not doing so. He has moved that Standing Orders be suspended in order that he may table a document. That is the only subject matter. What is in the document is not relevant.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I table the document that is the subject of this motion.
-Order! The document cannot be tabled without leave.
– So that the House may understand, and the Chair may understand, the significance, of this document the clearest thing I can do is to read it and refer to one short paragraph. This is a letter on the correspondence paper of the Minister for Minerals and Energy. The letter was written to Mr Reiher, the Deputy Chairman of the Snowy Mountains Council. He is also DirectorGeneral of the Department of Works. The letter states:
I write to confirm the direction I conveyed to you by telephone at about 4 p.m. yesterday-
The letter is dated 24 September - to the effect that the Snowy Mountains Council should operate the permanent works of the Authority in a manner that does not run counter to the intentions of the 35 Hour Week Committee unless-
-Order! The honourable member for Wannon will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I submit that in contravention of the Standing Orders the honourable member is canvassing the sub ject matter of the motion he intends to move later and should be called to order.
-Order! I rule that there is no point of order.
– I am merely explaning the nature of the document that I sought leave to table in the House. Let me continue. The letter states that the operations of the Authority must be conducted - . . in a manner that does not run counter to the intentions of the 35 Hour Week Committee unless, in so doing, the personnel associated with the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and/or the equipment and permanent works of the Authority, are endangered.
The letter is signed by the Minister for Minerals and Energy.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The point I make is that the honourable member for Wannon is debating the issue that he seeks to raise when his motion is presented and in so doing he is not within the Standing Orders.
-Order! I would ask the honourable member for Wannon to restrict his comments to the motion.
– In view of what has happened, this is an urgent matter. A document of the nature I have mentioned ought to be tabled. The Minister himself earlier today said he was happy to table these documents but he could not find them. He was going to take 10 days or so to get them together. Well, I happened to find one lying around and I wanted to table it. The Minister and the Government have objected to the tabling of a document which at question time they said they would table and they have had all this shemozzle merely because they know quite well that with this document on the record the Minister stands condemned, his own explanation stands condemned as false and he has taken actions-
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. Never before in the history of this Parliament has such a deplorable incident happened. The Government, through a Minister, has sought directly to deny to this House the opportunity to table a document, demonstrating that everything the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) told this House yesterday was completely untrue, demonstrating that the answers he gave to this
House were deliberately intended to hoodwink the people of New South Wales and of Australia into believing that he in no way intervened in restricting the availability of power supplies to the people of New South Wales, lt is therefore essential that, this document be tabled in order that the Parliament may consider the circumstances of the denial of natural justice-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I ask whether the honourable gentleman is canvassing the question rather than debating whether Standing Orders should be suspended.
-Order! There is no point of order.
– The document which we seek to table demonstrates that the Minister sitting at this table, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, has deliberately instructed the responsible officers of the Snowy Mountains Council to withhold power to New South Wales in order to further the intentions of the 35- hour week committee. It is a document which obviously is intended to go completely contrary to the expressed answers which the Minister gave today in the Parliament to questions by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Fraser), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and myself - answers which did not in any way relate to the real reasons for his instructing the Snowy Mountains Council to restrict the availability of power to New South Wales.
At this very moment there are significant blackouts throughout New South Wales. There is a lack of availability of power to the sick, to the invalids and to every citizen of New South Wales. There is a direct intention by the Minister for Minerals and Energy to contribute to this reduction of availability of power. The only way in which we have any opportunity to ensure that the truth is revealed is by the tabling of this document. The honourable member for Wannon sought leave to suspend Standing Orders because he was not given leave to proceed with his motion of censure forthwith. It is obvious that the Minister for Minerals and Energy should resign. He has obviously contravened his responsibilities to the Parliament. He has contravened his responsibilities to the people of New South Wales. He has - (Opposition members interjecting) -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. When the House comes to order and the honourable members behind the honourable member for New England allow him to speak, I will call him again. If that happens again I will take the same action. I call the Deputy Leader of the Country Party.
– It is quite obvious that the Minister for Minerals and Energy treats this as a light hearted matter. He treats it as an incident which has no substance. Yet millions of people in New South Wales are suffering because of the deliberate action of this man - the deliberate action revealed by the document which we seek to table. It is a document which shows that this man has completely contravened his ministerial responsibilities. He has intervened to further an industrial dispute. He has intervened in order to further the intentions of left wing trade unions. He has intervened directly contrary to the best interests of the people of Australia and New South Wales. He has intervened directly contrary to his ministerial responsibilities. The only vehicle available to us is to table this document. The only vehicle we have to ensure that this man is revealed for his lack of concern for the truth, his lack of consideration for his ministerial responsibilities, is by demonstrating that in this document there is a complete rebuttal of the statements that he has given to this House. Yesterday and today he said that he would bring the documents to our notice.
-Order! I think the honourable member is getting a little wide of the mark.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this document should have been part of the documents which the Minister said he would table in this House. I asked him earlier today when he would table them. He said that he would table them when the House resumed. That is not good enough. The document should be tabled immediately. We seek to table this document immediately. It brings forward circumstances which reveal that that Minister should resign, that the Government should be censured and there should be an immediate debate to that effect.
– The Opposition has become very excited. It must be a delayed Parramatta reaction. Earlier tonight the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) gave notice in these terms:
That at the next sitting I will move that this House censures the Minister for Minerals and Energy for his gross abuse of power in relation to the New South Wales power strike.
That notice was given for the next day of sitting and, in accordance with it, notice would have been taken, because that was all that was asked for in the motion. Consequently the Government has a right to say whether it takes notice yea or nay. The honourable member for Wannon then produced some document which I had not seen until a second ago and said: ‘Can I table this?’ I did not know what was in it. He had not shown it to me before he asked to table it. Quite rightly, as I do not trust any Liberals, I would not accept the document.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-Order! The Minister will resume his seat.
– The document is signed by the Minister for Minerals and Energy. The Minister who is speaking-
-Order! There is no point of order.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I think there is. The Leader of the House said that he does not accept the document and that means that he is repudiating his own Minister in the Cabinet.
-Order! There is no point of order and the honourable member is aware of that.
– As the honourable member knows, I am not the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I did not know the document. I had not seen it until a second ago when the Minister showed me what I presume to be the document, but I do not know yet whether that is it. The honourable member, with his long experience in a Ministry, might well have paid the courtesy at least of asking me to read the document before he sought to table it in his usual aristocratic dominating manner.
– Why do you not talk about the motion now?
– I will get back to the motion. In the course of his remarks the honourable member said: ‘I move: That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Wannon tabling a certain paper forthwith’. I still have no knowledge of what was in the paper. The honourable member is quite annoyed because he wants to table a document which nobody who was here at the table at the time - that was me - has seen. And when does he want to table it?
Opposition members - Now.
– And when did he try to do this? In the middle of a debate on the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill and the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill - the poorest section of the Australian community; the most suffering section. And the wealthiest man in the Parliament caring not a damn for them, interrupted this debate and then proceeded- (Opposition members interjecting) -
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat when the Deputy Speaker is on his feet. If the honourable gentlemen on the Opposition benches want this motion to be voted upon I would suggest that they retain some decorum in the House so that the debate can continue and be brought to its normal conclusion. Otherwise I will be forced to adjourn the House, and I would hate to do that.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. With great respect, I submit that the Leader of the House is moving wide of the motion in personal abuse. What is important in this matter is the harm that is being done by the actions of the Minister for Minerals and Energy-
-Order! The honourable member is debating the question, and he is out of order. I would ask the Leader of the House to remain on the point under consideration.
– I was pointing out that the Government thinks more of handicapped children and sheltered workshops than it does of the cheap political stunts of wealthy people opposite in this Parliament. We on this side will never be a party to putting aside the interests of those suffering people just to let our political opponents opposite get some cheap political capital out of it. They have had all day to move this motion. They have been here a week and they have not done anything. There has not been one of them in the House tonight for more than 5 minutes. The honourable member for Wannon wandered into the chamber at 10 minutes to 10 this evening and, in a dramatic gesture, he - this wealthy exponent of the rights of the individual, caring not a hang for the children in sheltered workshops and other institutions - wanted to table a particular document forthwith.
– I rise to order. This is totally irrelevant to the procedural motion before the Chair.
-Order! 1 ask the Minister to confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.
– Perhaps 1 should remind honourable members of the terms of the motion. It states:
That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Wannon tabling a certain paper forthwith.
I am now on the beam, am I not? The honourable member for Wannon moved that motion a few moments ago. When he sought to censure the Minister for Minerals and Energy and to move for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable him to table the document there was only about 25 minutes of today’s sitting, which will be the last one for this week, remaining. I wonder what honourable members opposite would say if the Government were to accept their challenge and bring all of them back tomorrow? (Honourable members interjecting) -
-Order! If the House is not able to maintain order the debate will not continue.
– May I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker? The whole matter could be short-circuited very easily if the Leader of the House were to carry out his threat and bring the House back tomorrow for a debate on the matter at length.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I did that once and the Liberal Party could muster only 35 votes in the first division. What chance would one have of getting honourable members opposite back tomorrow when they voted against sitting an extra hour a week? Honourable members opposite know that that is a phoney proposition. If this matter is so important the .Opposition should have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders this morning when the Minister for Minerals and Energy was under attack in this Parliament. That was the time to have followed up on the attack and to have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable the tabling of a paper. The Minister could have been given adequate time to prepare his reply to the Opposition’s place, if it had one. No self-respecting government could in the last 20 minutes of a sitting on the last sitting day of a week accept a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable a Minister to be censured, particularly when the Opposition has had all day to move such a motion and every opportunity to do so. The fact that the members of the Opposition are all slow thinkers and take all day to work out things does not excuse their lateness in bringing forward such a proposition. In seeking the suspension of Standing Orders tonight for this purpose the Opposition would know full well that its methods would not be acceptable to the Government. The Opposition is trying to have this matter hanging over the Minister’s head for a couple of weeks.
– Come back tomorrow.
– As sure as I am here I know that the Opposition could not get a quorum tomorrow. Honourable members opposite are nervous wrecks because they think I might accept their challenge if they are not careful. The Opposition has had all day to move this motion. Perhaps some honourable member opposite can explain why it was not moved this morning. Perhaps some honourable member opposite can explain why the Opposition did not bring the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders forward at a time when all might have had the opportunity to participate in a debate on it. Why has the Opposition waited until this very late moment before coming forward with anything in respect to this matter? As I said earlier I did not know - I do not know yet - what is in the document the honourable member for Wannon wants to table. I was never shown it. I wonder whether he will let me have it now.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, would I be in order in moving ‘That the House rescind its decision that the House, at its rising, stands adjourned until Tuesday week’ and replace it with a motion that the House meet tomorrow?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! No motion can be moved while a motion to suspend the Standing Orders is before the Chair.
– I will conclude my remarks by saying that the motion to suspend the Standing Orders and the notice of motion of censure might well have been put forward at a much earlier hour this day. As I mentioned a moment ago, it is too much to expect the Government to accept a motion of this nature in thelast 20 minutes of the sitting, particularly if the motion is in relation to the tabling of a paper which the person seeking to table it would not let me read before he asked whether he could table it. I do not know whether the document is authentic. I do not know whether the honourable member for Wannon has manufactured it.
– You have seen it.
– I have not seen the document. I have seen one document, but I do not know whether it is the right one.
– Read it.
– I cannot read a document from 30 yards away. I am not a searchlight. The situation is that the Opposition has had all day in which to move this motion but preferred instead to have a great battle during the last few minutes of the sitting. That is not good enough.
– Are you frightened?
– We on this side of the House have nothing to be frightened about. All we want is a bit of responsibility to be shown by the Opposition. I have never seen such a frustrated collection of people in all my life. One would have thought that–
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The time allotted for the debate has expired. The question is ‘That the motion be agreed to’. Those of that opinion say aye; to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.
– The noes have it.
– Is a division required?
– The House will divide. Ring the bells.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Order! It being after 15 minutes past 10 o’clock p.m. in accordance with the Order of the House I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
I call the honourable member for Gwydir.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. It has been said by members on the other side of the House that I gagged one of our own Ministers in the debate for the suspension of Standing Orders. Mr Speaker, as you well know, the time allowed for debate on the suspension of Standing Orders is 25 minutes and in accordance with the procedure, the Deputy Speaker at the time put the question. Consequently there was no opportunity for any one to speak but me. Had I sat down the call would have gone to the Opposition and consequently, knowing that Opposition members would have taken the call there was no alternative but to let the time expire as it did. It is not my fault; it is the fault of the Standing Orders.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Surely the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) knows full well that the period of time for this debate to run is 25 minutes and if he takes the lead in terms of speaking on the Government side clearly by that fact alone he will well understand that he has effectively gagged one of his own Ministers.
-Order! There is no point of order.
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) stands condemned
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat. He is not running this show.
– I rise on a point of order. The Leader of the House has taken a point of order that the Minister for Minerals and Energy was not given an opportunity of being able to reply.
– I inform the House that now on the adjournment-
-Order! The right honourable gentleman-
– . . . we have a chance-
– . . . to hear from the Minister-
– . . . and to think-
-Order! The Leader of the Country Party will resume his seat.
– And to think we deserve-
-I name the right honourable Leader of the Country Party.
– Mr Speaker-
– Under the circumstances, on a point of order, 1 think it is quite a disgraceful thing to do to the Leader of the Country Party.
-Order! The Leader of the House did not take a point of order. He made a personal explanation. I name the right honourable Leader of the Country Party.
– Mr Speaker, I move:
– Under the circumstances which prevail it is a disgraceful thing to do, to name the Leader of the Country Party on that fact.
-Order! The right honourable Leader of the Country Party will be given every opportunity, as would any member, to withdraw and apologise.
– What does he have to apologise for?
– For the defiance of the Chair; that is what he has to apologise for.
– It was my understanding that the Leader of the House had taken a point of order -
-Order! The Leader of the House had not taken a point of order at all. I asked the Leader of the Country Party to resume his seat. He defied the Chair. The Leader of the House was speaking to a personal explanation and not a point of order.
– I rise on a point of order. I think members on both sides of the House will appreciate that the Leader of the House has spoken in a provocative manner and that he is responsible for what has taken place.
-Order! The question is:
That the Leader of the Country. Party be suspended from the service of the House.
Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.
Opposition members - No.
-The House will divide. (The bells being rung).
– Mr Speaker, will you make sure that the Leader of the House does not doctor the tapes which will explain what the actual motion was?
– Mr Speaker, have you any power to see that the Minister for Minerals and Energy is not sent overseas before the next day of sitting?
That the Leader of the Country Party be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (The Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 16
– Order! The result of the division is ayes 59, noes 43.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! The Leader of the Country Party is suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours. (The Leader of the Country Party thereupon withdrew from the chamber.) (The honourable member for Kennedy having interjected) -
– Order! The honourable member for Kennedy will withdraw the remark that there is a swastika flying over the Chair.
– I did not say that a swastika was flying over the Chair. I merely indicated that if the conduct of this Government continues it should take down that thing we are proud of and put a swastika up there.
– Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw that remark.
– In all sincerenty I can’t–
– Order! I am asking the honourable gentleman to withdraw that remark.
– I am sorry, Mr Speaker–
– Order! I name the honourable member for Kennedy.
Motion (by Mr Daly) put:
That the honourable member for Kennedy be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I rise tonight to express my complete concern at the way in which this House has been conducted by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) this evening. I cast no reflection whatsoever upon the Chair, but I cast a lot of reflections upon the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) who has deliberately avoided debating an issue which has been of tremendous importance to the State of New South Wales.
– He misled the House.
– He misled the House yesterday. He used the gag to end the debate on a matter of public importance yesterday. There was a further debate today in relation to fuel and the brown coal industry in the Latrobe district. The House was given an undertaking that it would debate that private member’s motion until 12.45 p.m.; but as soon as the Minister for Minerals and Energy saw the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) go to the table the debate was gagged. He has been most evasive in answers to questions, and the revelations that have been made tonight indicate the reason why. I want to read out the letter which he wrote because I think the people have a right to know. I have a photostat copy of a letter signed by the Minister for Minerals and Energy, which reads:
I write to confirm -
– To whom is it addressed?
– The letterhead states: ‘Minister for Minerals and Energy’. It is addressed to Mr A. S. Reiher. Deputy Chairman, Snowy Mountains Council, P.O. Box 850, Canberra City.
– What is the date?
– The date is 24 September 1973. The letter states:
Dear Mr Reiher,
I write to confirm the direction I conveyed to you by telephone at about 4 p.m. yesterday to the effect that the Snowy Mountains Council should operate the permanent works of the Authority in a manner that does not run counter to the intentions of the 35 Hour Week Committee unless, in so doing, the personnel associated with the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and/or the equipment and permanent works of the Authority, are endangered.
F. X. CONNOR
– Who signed it?
– R. F. X. Connor, the Minister for Minerals and Energy. The point is that the Minister has used his statutory authority to support the 35-hour week co-ordinating committee in New South Wales and to try to stop power going into the system in New South Wales. He was not concerned with the interests or the welfare of the people of that State. He was using his position in spite of the fact that at a Press conference on Tuesday the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) gave an assurance that the Australian Government would not intervene. The Minister for Minerals and Energy did this in spite of the fact that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) said that he did not believe that now was the time for a 35-hour week. The Minister for Labour told the Prime Minister in this House that he could not have it both ways. I just want to touch briefly, on the dispute in New South Wales. It is clear that the people of New South Wales - and the people of Canberra, for that matter - are about to become the victims of one of the worst political and industrial intrigues in the history of the State of New South Wales.
After nearly 2 years of exhaustive inquiries the New South Wales Industrial Commission recommended to the Askin Government that there was no justification in the power generating and power distribution industry for a 35-hour week. The Government accepted this recommendation. Earlier this year we had a power blackout, during which time thousands of people - in fact, millions of people - in New South Wales and elsewhere were inconvenienced. People lost their jobs; shortages were created; costs rose; building materials particularly were affected by that stoppage, making homes more expensive for the average home owner. The Askin Government conferred at length with the Labour Council. The Labour Council in New South Wales has lost control of this situation because of a left-wing intrigue in New South Wales trying to take over the power industry in New South Wales.
Sir Robert Askin was told by the union leaders that if the Industrial Commission had examined the case of the power generating employees as a separate issue it would have been a different story. The New South Wales Government bent over backwards in agreeing to refer the single application to the Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission then studied this fresh application for a 35-hour week in the power generating industry as a separate issue. In a 35-page report the Commission rejected the claim. Now these militant union leaders will not accept the ruling of the umpire for the second time. The workers control movement has threatened to take over and take control of the power generating stations of New South Wales. It appears that not only are they going on strike but also the strikers are going to take over the power houses of New South Wales to prevent any executives, or indeed anybody, from generating power. If this is to be the Labor Government’s blueprint for the interests of the welfare of the people of this State then God help Australia.
Obviously, we are seeing an industrial blackmail by these unions in New South Wales, supported by the Minister for Minerals and Energy using his authority under the Act to stop the generation of power if it conflicts with the co-ordinating committee’s objective of a 35-hour week. I pose this question because of the confusion that is being created by statements from the Minister for Labour, the actions now by the Minister for Minerals and Energy and the statement on Tuesday by the Prime Minister: Is the Labor Government falling apart or is it trying to create confusion amongst the Australian people so that it can completely socialise industry in this country by a backdoor method? For 2 days the Minister for Minerals and Energy has duck-shoved and has tried every device, with the aid of the Leader of the House, to avoid the questions and to avoid the truth in this issue. The truth has come out. The Minister for Labour is the only one who has any brains at all. At least he is honest. He told the Prime Minister that he could not have it both ways. He told the workers of this nation that now was not the time to seek a 35-hour week, but he has been stabbed in the back.
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired. I call the Minister for Minerals and Energy.
– Let the strangler have a go.
– He has moved the gag twice.
-Order! I will adjourn the House if you do not keep quiet. You keep quiet. I mean it; I will adjourn the House if you do not keep quiet.
- Mr Speaker, at the present time within the State of New South Wales, which is under the control of a Liberal Government, certain restrictions are operating in respect of the generation of power. There is no member of any of the unions associated with the operation of those stations on strike. It is a situation which is tolerated by the Liberal Government of New South Wales. It is being suggested by the Opposition that some alternative action ought to have been taken in respect of the operations of the Snowy Mountains scheme. That is the precise situation. For some sordid, stupid, foolish political advantage it is being suggested that we in some way should have led with our chin and allowed the officers of the State Electricity Commission to come in and ensure industrial turmoil that would have resulted in the complete closure of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric generating scheme. That precisely is the situation on the industrial side.
I acted with the advice of my responsible officers to whom I posed the question as to what would be the alternatives. I consulted with my responsible officers on Sunday afternoon and acted on their advice, which was that they could see no reason why the Snowy scheme should not be operated on the same basis - no better and no worse than in New South Wales. The overriding consideration, and the main one which has been under consideration by the Snowy Mountains Council since 14 August last, was the excessive drawing of water from the Snowy for power generating purposes by the State Electricity Commission of New South Wales.
At the present time Blowering Dam is running just at flood point. There are 1,400 cusecs going through the generator. There are 1,700 cusecs going over the top of the dam. At a total nf 3,200 cusecs there is flooding in the poplar plantation near Tumut, and at 3,700 cusecs more occurs. For miserable, paltry, political advantage, that would occur.
– Did you write that letter?
– Yes. I gave the direction as coverage for the responsible officers; of course I would. But it was not the major consideration, as I pointed out this morning, in the context of the total situation. Lake Eucumbene is half empty and Blowering Dam is overflowing when it should not be overflowing. I acted quite deliberately, and if a situation arises where there will be flooding I will terminate the generation of power until the situation can be corrected. When I gave the instructions to my officers I told them that it would be completely at their discretion as to how the water was operated and regulated as between the respective storages and that under no circumstances was any officer or any other person to come on to the premises. No other person was to come on to the premises as provocateurs or for the purpose of usurping the functions that they were bound to exercise.
– You are deliberately furthering an industrial dispute contrary to the Prime Minister’s direction.
– You are digging your own grave, you know.
– If it suits New South Wales to tolerate this situation we could not do otherwise, but again, as I pointed out this morning
– You are-
– Oh, shut up.
– As I pointed out this morning, it was not the primary consideration -
– You are deliberately provoking the situation in New South Wales by supporting the power unions.
– There was no alternative but to act in that fashion. I acted wisely and I take the responsibility for it.
– And acted dishonestly.
– You misled this House and gave in to the demands of the power unions.
-Order! If there is one more interjection I will adjourn the House.
– Hear, hear!
-Order! The House stands adjourned - the honourable member for Wannon will apologise when he comes back - until Tuesday, 9 October, at 11 a.m. or until such time thereafter as Mr Speaker takes the Chair.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information which has been collated for the honourable member is too lengthy and complex to be published in Hansard. Copies are available at the Table Office of the House of Representatives.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
However, there remains an essential need for international travellers generally to be able to identify themselves and to establish their nationality by producing a valid travel document and in Australia’s case I believe our best interests arc currently served by retaining the visa requirement except for direct transit traffic.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– I am advised that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Numbers 360 and 361 of 1971. 1.6.72 - $104 per annum- National Wage Case. 31.5.73 - 2 per cent plus $130 per annumNational Wage Case. 23.8.73- approx. 16 per cent- Offer by Public Service Board.
This means that since 1.1.70 Second Division salaries have increased by the following amounts:
In the same period, the wages of selected fourth division designations have increased as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The terms of reference of the Australian Dental Services Advisory Committee are:
The Australian Government, the States, the Territories and the Australian Dental Association are represented on this Advisory Committee. Therefore, considerable collective experience is available to the Committee in formulating its recommendations.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
The main reasons for organisations not taking up their notional entitlements to free hostel beds can be summarised as follows:
Aged Persons Homes Act: Personal Care Subsidy (Question No. 901)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
What would be the cost in a financial year of extending the provisions of the personal care subsidy payable under the Aged Persons Homes Act to include hostel residents 75 years of age and over.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is estimated that lowering of the qualifying age for the payment of personal care subsidy from 80 years to 75 years at the present weekly rale of $10 would cost an additional $2 million in a full financial year.
Legislation now before the Parliament provides for personal care subsidy to be increased to $12 per week in respect of residents aged 80 years or more and for this subsidy to be paid also in respect of other residents of approved hostels who require and are receiving personal care services.
Public Transport Concessions for Children of Pensioners (Question No. 908)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Government is responsible for these services only in ACT and the Northern Territory and any information relating to these territories may be obtained from my colleague, the Minister for the Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The information relating to the position in other States should be sought from the appropriate State Departments.
Pensioner and Endowee Records: Conversion to Microfiche (Question No. 917)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
What staff savings have been made in the Victorian offices of his Department following the conversion of pensioner and endowee records to microfiche.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Victorian pensioner and endowee recordsof my Department have not been converted to microfiche. However periodic continuous stationery listings of file records which were produced for index and enquiry purposes have been replaced with microfiche listings.
This innovation which was first introduced into the Victorian office during January of this year is now being progressively implemented in all States.
The changeover from the use of continuous paper lists to microfiche lists has not meant a reduction in the number of staff engaged in answering telephone and counter enquiries but it has provided significant advantages in ensuring that more up to date information is available for dealing with these inquiries, at many more inquiry points than was previously possible.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian Forces in Singapore (Question No. 963)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Did he at any time give an undertaking or commitment of any kind to the British Minister for Defence, Lord Carrington, to the effect that Australia would maintain its forces in Singapore under the Five Power Arrangements.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
I gave no undertaking or commitment of any kind to Lord Carrington that was inconsistent with the Government’s announcement on 4 July concerning Australian forces in Singapore or with the Australian Labor Party’s 1972 Policy Speech, which was made before Lord Carrington’s visit, in which I said that we would honour the full terms of the Five Power Arrangements, under which Australia agreed to provide Malaysia and Singapore with personnel, facilities and courses for training their forces and assistance in operational and technical matters and the supply of equipment; but that the Five Power Arrangements do not require an Australian garrison in Singapore and that the battalion and battery there would not be replaced when they complete their tour of duty.
I also refer the honourable member to the answer given to Senate Question No. 372 (Senate, Hansard, page 948).
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Will he provide a list of the interdepartmental committees which have been established since 2 December 1972 on which officers of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Foreign Affairs are members.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
The right honourable member will understand that in the normal course my two Departments, and indeed all Departments, are involved daily in consultation with other Departments in matters that affect them collectively. It would be quite impracticable even to attempt to list these consultations in total. Some of them are by way of interdepartmental meeting, but others, and by far the majority, are by way of telephone, circulated papers or bi-lateral discussions.
Again, as the right honourable member will understand, there is a confidentiality which attaches to many of the consultations, e.g. for international reasons, reasons of commercial speculation.
The consultations which take place by meeting arise in some instances from specific decisions at Government level, and in other cases from departmental initiative.
I interpret the question to relate to those interdepartmental committees which arise from specific decision at Government level. I repeat, that to compile the information, even as to these, with full certainty would involve time and expense that I am reluctant to authorise, as were my predecessors. However, to be as forthcoming as I can, and subject to the necessary exclusions, I list below committees which I am informed have been established by the Government with representation from one or other, or both, of my Departments:
Arrangements for provision of advice on ionising radiation
Assistance to Industries
Australian Government Office Space
Australian Investment Overseas
Australian Participation in NASA Post-Apollo Program
Australian Trade with Developing Countries
Brussels Definition of Value for Duty and GATT Anti-Dumping Code
Consideration of First Report of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission
Environmental Impact Studies
Freedom of Information Legislation
GATT Trade Negotiations
Metric Conversion Co-ordination
Motor Vehicle Industry
National Archives Legislation
National Housing Policy
Revaluation Adjustment Assistance for Rural Industries
Social Indicators- (Social Welfare)
Structural Adjustment- (Tariff)
The Production of Educational Publications
Unified Aid Administration
Urban and Regional Development
Purari River Project
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 September 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730927_reps_28_hor85/>.