23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMulIin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator ARMSTRONG presented a petition from 826 citizens of Australia praying that the Parliament will take action to correct an alleged injustice, namely, the increased hardship and suffering caused by the ever-increasing cost of living and the present inadequate rate of pensions.
Petition received and read.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a statement, attributed to an insurance company executive, that most Sydney insurance companies have abandoned loans for home building because they can get higher rates of interest elsewhere? Can the Minister say whether this statement is correct? If it is, will he see his political friends who control these insurance companies and induce them to reverse their policy and to act, for once, in the national interest instead of for their own profit?
– I shall deal with the second part of the question first. Those in the insurance world whom I know personally 1 am very glad to call my friends. Those whom I do not know, I should like to know, in the hope that they would become my friends. I did not see a statement on finance for home building made by an insurance executive, but 1 saw a statement made by the president of a building society. In regard to the general question of finance for home building, I think it is true that higher rates of interest are obtainable in other directions, but I support the sentiment expressed by Senator Kennelly, that insurance companies should consider carefully and sympathetically making available more finance for home building. I personally should like to see the insurance companies, particularly the fire insurance companies, make more money available for home building than they are making available at the present time.
– I have given thought from time to time to endeavouring to create a Commonwealth Government exhibition for events such as the one to which the honorable senator has referred. I find some difficulty in doing so, but I have exhibits in respect of some of the activities within my portfolio. I think, speaking from memory, that the Queensland Industries Fair will be held over a period of a couple of weeks, and I am glad to say that I have arranged for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to have an exhibit on show. I have seen the exhibit, which is a very interesting one, if I may say so. Quite a substantial capital cost is involved in it. We have obtained many of the exhibits on loan from other people, so that not all of the exhibits have been provided from Commonwealth funds. The exhibits include a scale model of the Mary Kathleen uranium field, a model of the Calder Hall power station in Great Britain, as well as a particularly interesting exhibit, a material-handling device whereby the scientists at Lucas Heights are able to handle by remote control the radio-active materials that come out of the Hifar reactor. I commend Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin on her question, and I suggest to her that she should inspect the exhibit.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport in possession of information that will enable him to enlarge on the report concerning an explosion that occurred on the Norwegian tanker “ Farmand “, which has been responsible for killing eight people and injuring a like number? The vessel is now said to be drifting 780 miles north of Perth. Will the
Minister assure the Senate that the prompt action of the Italian liner “ Australia “ in proceeding immediately to the distressed vessel and providing medical assistance for the injured receives appropriate and early recognition? We can imagine what the position would be if a marine tragedy of this kind occurred in or near Australian waters and no liner was available or prepared to carry succour to those on the stricken vessel. Can the Minister say whether the Marine Branch of the Department of Shipping and Transport, or any other Commonwealth authority is in possession of suitable equipment to handle such an emergency?
– I have asked my department to ascertain at once and let me know the position in relation to “ Farmand “. It was anticipated that “ Australia “ would reach her about dawn this morning, and the latest advice from my department, which I received about an hour ago, was to the effect that contact had been made with “ Farmand “ by “ Australia “. In accordance with the practice that is usually followed at sea, “ Australia “ proceeded to the aid of the stricken vessel as a result of her appeal. I am delighted that Senator Cooke has taken the opportunity to direct the attention of the Senate, and of the public, to the prompt and efficient way in which “ Australia “ fulfilled the traditional duty of a ship going to the aid of another ship at sea.
As to the other portion of the honorable senator’s question with regard to the action to be taken should a similar disaster occur on the Australian coast, we have a search and rescue operation set-up which includes not only the Department of Shipping and Transport but also the Department of Civil Aviation. In recent rescue operations those two departments have co-operated very efficiently. One case which comes to mind, although not completely comparable with the case to which the honorable senator has referred inasmuch as the vessel was not in danger as a result of an explosion, was the finding of Sir Arthur Warner’s yacht within a short time of the vessel being reported as in distress. Some ten minutes after receipt of the SOS call we had a searching aircraft in the area which alerted all vessels. A month or two before that occasion, the two departments were concerned in the search conducted in
Tasmanian waters for the “ Will Watch “, and the Tasmanian court of inquiry commented to the effect that the Commonwealth authorities - the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Department of Civil Aviation - had conducted the search in a manner which was worthy of praise.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Will he consult the proposed Australian Universities Commission when it is constituted to ascertain the best means of making the study of oriental languages, history and culture available to Australian students?
– My understanding of the position is that the proposal of the honorable senator will be considered as a matter of course by the proposed Australian Universities Commission in accordance with its charter to aim at the balanced development of Australian universities. I should think that the commission, in discussions with the universities throughout Australia, would consider the pros and cons of proposals similar to that which the honorable senator has advocated.
– I preface my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by congratulating the Minister who admitted last week that the European common market and its activities possessed most formidable complexities. He generously volunteered the advice that information on the subject had been published in journals issued by the Department of Trade. I have studied the departmental publications closely, and point out that the only informative article on the subject was written nearly eighteen months ago. The European common market came into operation on 1st January last in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Rome, which provides overall import quota increases of 20 per cent, in addition to other restrictions which seriously affect Australia. In view of the great concern felt by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia which is expressed in the current issue of “ Australasian Manufacturer “, and the fact that the European common market is now operating, will the Minister for Trade give favorable consideration to the suggestion that I made over a year ago and convene a meeting of representative manufacturers, primary producers including graziers, trade union representatives, State government representatives and others vitally interested in this gigantic common market in order that they might be fully warned of the dangers facing Australian manufacturers and primary industries, especially in view of the fact that Australia depends on the overseas sale of her primary products to enable her to purchase the machinery, raw materials and the manufactured goods that she requires?
– I have stated previously that I have experienced difficulty in answering questions relating to the European common market because of its complexities. 1 have since equipped myself for the fray with Senator Hendrickson by keeping in my Senate folder brief information as to the constitution of the common market, lt may be of interest to the Senate if I mention that it consists of eight continental nations including Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. The object is the abolition of tariffs and other barriers to trade as between themselves, and the evolution of a common market tariff as against the rest of the world. In other words, eight nations are joined together, aiming to reduce barriers between themselves and to present a common front against the rest of the world.
They started from 1st January of this year. They have removed some of the barriers as between themselves. They have as yet made no start with their common tariff barrier against the rest of the world. When we come to think of the number of variations of tariff schedules there could be, and the multiplicity of products concerned when considering trade with eight nations, we appreciate the difficulty of giving simple answers to what appear to be simple questions from time to time.
We have to remember that it is possible to take both a short view and a long view of the matter. The short view could well be, “What is the immediate effect of this tariff re-arrangement upon Australia? “ The long view could be, “What might be the effect on our markets in those eight countries? If, as a result of this rearrangement, there is a substantial improvement in the economic position and standard of living it could mean bigger markets for our goods in those countries.” So, while the arrangement could divert trade from Australia, it is also possible that it could increase the volume of our trade with those countries.
At the present stage, we have not a great deal of information. We do know that imported wool, hides and skins, for instance, will be free of duty. We do not know in particular what are the final arrangements with respect to agricultural products in which we are so greatly concerned. I hope that there is no need for me to stress that the Minister for Trade and the Department of Trade are watching this matter very carefully indeed. I think it is common knowledge that some aspects of it are under review by special committees of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and that there are discussions in Gatt about it.
As to that part of the question which suggests a meeting of interested parties, if I recollect the question correctly, I repeat what I have said before. The Minister for Trade has established, as ancillary to his department, two bodies - the Export Development Council and the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council. They are two very good, representative bodies, and, in my opinion, the better method would be to discuss the effect of this arrangement on particular classes of goods with those advisory councils rather than to call a meeting of other people, in addition to those two groups which are now getting experience in these matters.
– Could not they be represented on those councils?
– I should think that a great number of the people to whom the honorable senator refers are represented on both those advisory bodies.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services by saying that I understand that the Meecroft Home for the Aged is desirous of building eight duplex dwelling units at North-street, Devonport, Tasmania. Is this organization an approved organization under the Aged Persons Homes Act? If it is, will a grant be made from the Commonwealth fund for the purpose of starting these buildings?
– The Meercroft Home for the Aged is an approved organization. 1 understand that it intends to proceed with the erection of eight duplex buildings to house 32 people. I understand also that it has qualified for a grant of about £20,000, of which the first £12.000 will be made available almost immediately.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the Brisbane “ CourierMail “ was summonsed for contempt of the Commonwealth Industrial Court because of certain statements it published in connexion with an industrial dispute? Is the Minister able to inform me whether the matter has been finalized? T have been unable to find any further reference to the subject in the newspaper which published the original information?
– T did not myself see any reference to the Brisbane “ CourierMail “ being summonsed in that way. Perhaps the honorable senator would tell me t,->e newspaper in which he saw the reference. “ - ^)
– The Melbourne “ Sun “.
– Having that information, I shall brine the matter to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service and ask him to find out whether there have been any developments, or whether, in fact, a summons was served.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I preface it by statins that last week it was mentioned in the Senate that the Premier of Western Australia has taken unto himself the portfolio of tourism in that State. He places great importance on the tourist trade and believes that he will be able to encourage large numbers of tourists from overseas to visit Western Australia. I ask the Minister; What amounts have been granted by the Commonwealth to the Australian National Travel Association over the last few years? Will he assure me that he will give the utmost cooperation to Mr. Brand, the Premier of Western Australia? Does he believe that if we advertised on a Commonwealth basis in countries overseas and spent large sums of money for that purpose, the money would be wisely spent and would give an adequate return?
– I was asked a question on this subject last week, when I was a little at a loss on the facts. I have since checked the facts. The policy of the Commonwealth for many years past has been to regard the Australian National Travel Association as the body through which it should operate for the purpose of improving the Australian tourist trade. For many years, up to the beginning of the war, the Commonwealth provided that association with a grant of about £20,000 a year. In the post-war years, the grant has varied. This year, the Commonwealth has undertaken to provide £50,000, and has said that if the association raises at least £14,000 itself, the Commonwealth will match the amount raised, £l-for-£l. subject to a maximum amount of £100.000. The Commonwealth is providing £50,000 for certain, but it says to the association, “ We will go up to £100,000, on a £l-for-£l basis, but you must raise £14,000 before you become eligible for the matching grant “. That seems to me to be a fair sort of arrangement. It has resulted in the association already being able to open branches in three or four places overseas. I am certain that that will appeal to Premier Brand. His wish to increase tourist trade to Australia is very commendable and, within the limits of Commonwealth policy, we should like to work with him to that end as much as we can.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, refers to a statement which he made last night defining the type of diesel fuel on which duty would henceforth be imposed. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the new duty will apply to primary producers using tractors, such as the Lanz Bulldog, which run on the crude types of fuel oil?
– From to-day, industrialtype diesel fuel, which has previously not been subject to duty, will carry a duty of ls. a gallon, but it will apply only to fuel used in propelling road vehicles on public roads. All other users will be given an exemption certificate on application. They will have to pay ls. a gallon duty from to-day until they get their certificates, but a refund will be made on application to the Department of Customs and Excise.
– Tn view of the great service rendered this country in time of stress by the amateur radio operators, I desire to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the following questions: fs it correct that Australia will be represented by an official delegation at the conference of the International Telecommunications Union shortly to be held in Geneva to revise the currently operating telecommunications convention? Is it correct that Australian departments have prepared a series of proposals, altering present arrangements, which will be sponsored by the Australian delegation? Do these proposals relate to the use of telecommunications by businessmen, commercial interests, private users of telecommunications services, and the incidental use of radio services by various non-governmental authorities and interests, and are some of the proposals designed to curtail facilities at present available? Have the Commonwealth proposals vet been publicly announced, or will they bc publicly announced in advance of the meeting so that informed Australian public opinion can pass judgment on their desirability for the guidance of the Australian delegates? Have the proposals been forwarded, or will they be forwarded, in advance of the meeting, for the informat;on of delegations from other participating States? Are the proposals being disclosed in advance to other government authorities? If so. will the Minister explain why such information is not being disclosed to the Australian public?
– I feel quite sure that a delegation from Australia will be sent to the conference of the International Telecommunications Union. However. I am unable to answer the remainder of the honorable senator’s question and T would ask him to place it on notice.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether the Royal Australian Navy had a training ship for youths from J 912 to 1927. Would the Minister state why this valuable asset to the Navy was discontinued? Is it a fact that the cruiser “ Hobart “. which was modernized at a cost of £1,500,000, and is lying idle, would be an ideal boys’ training ship? Has the Minister received a request from the Old Boys’ Association, comprising retired personnel from H.M.A.S. “Tingira”, that this form of training be re-established? Will the Minister consider the formation of a coastguard service for the north-west and northern coasts of Australia, to include such a training ship, which could also be used as an antidote to adolescent delinquency?
– lt is true that there was a training ship, H.M.A.S. “ Tingira “, during the years mentioned by the honorable senator. It supplied probably the ideal type of recruit because the boys went into it at an early age on condition that when they came out fully trained, they would give the Navy a considerable number of years of service. The practice was discontinued partly because the “Tingira” was quite out of repair and it was far too costly to keep it in repair purely for that purpose, and partly, I imagine, because of some economy in the defence services at that time.
As the honorable: senator indicated, some years ago, at a time when the Korean war looked as though it might spread into something greater, the cruiser “ Hobart “ was partly modernized but the task was not completed. That vessel is not considered to be suitable for e. boys’ training ship, but I have received a request from the Old Boys’ Association of H.M.A.S. “Tingira” along those lines. The matter is under consideration, but at “he moment it does not seem that the “ Hobart “ would be ideally suited for the particular purpose that the honorable senator has in mind.
The formation of a coastguard service or the provision of naval ships to do coastguard service from the north-west of Australia is partly niel now in that a fisheries patrol is carried out in that area. I should think that in time it could well be expanded as more personnel and suitable ships become available to the Navy.
– No doubt the Leader of the Government in the Senate lias often heard disrespectful references to honorable senators as being “ the old men of the Senate “. As those references are incorrect, 1 ask him the following questions: What is the average age of members of the House of Representatives? What is the average age of members of the Senate? What will the average age of members of the Senate be as at 1st July? What is the average age of Opposition senators? What is the average age of Government senators?
– 1 have no hesitation in assuring the honorable senator that, whatever our ages may be in terms ot years, we are all young in spirit. I have not in my mind the statistics that the honorable senator has requested, but I think it would be a sufficiently interesting exercise to warrant my asking him to place his question on the notice-paper. We will then ascertain those facts.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation, by reminding him that on Tuesday he answered a question asked by Senator Wedgwood in relation to a statement about war widows which was made by a cleric during an Anzac Day service. The Minister contradicted the: statement that a war widow received less than £5 a week and then, as usual, proceeded to make a long statement. I ask the Minister whether he would be astonished to learn that the cleric concerned did receive his information from an officer of the Repatriation Department - that is, that a war widow with no children and no other entitlements received less than £5 a week, namely, £4 17s. 6d. a week.
– That is quite right. I explained that when I answered the question. I said that the base rate, with no means test, was £4 17s. 6d. But I went on to say that there was a domestic allowance of £2 7s. 6d. a week, which brought the amount up to £7 5s., that more than 90 per cent, of the war widows were getting the domestic allowance, and that the domestic allowance was given to a widow who had the care of children under the age of sixteen years.
I also stated that the domestic allowance was payable if the widow was unemployable or when she reached the age of 50 years. I was quite right in what I said. The reverend gentleman did not mention anything about the additional allowances that are available to a war widow. He stated bluntly that the amount payable was under £5 a week. I say that it is not.
– Of course it is.
– 1 repeat that it is not. More than 90 per cent, of war widows are receiving a minimum of £7 5s. a week. The reverend gentleman did not mention the rate of pension for the children of a war widow, nor did he mention the education allowance, and the provision for free hospital treatment for a widow and her children, and for free dental and medical services.
It is easy to say simply that the rate of pension for the war widow is £4 17s. 6d. a week. The fact is that, in most cases, widows of the age referred to would be working. There is no limit to the amount that they may earn, nor is there any means test in respect of that amount. If a widow is unemployable she is entitled to the domestic allowance, regardless of her age. She is entitled to the domestic allowance automatically if she is over 50 years of age. If the position is to be stated fairly, the total amounts that are available to a war widow should be given, instead of picking out only the basic provision. To do that is, I think, most unfair.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development, who is the Minister in charge of war service homes, by saying that I realize that, subsequent to the passing of the war service homes legislation, the great number of urgent applications for assistance under the legislation compelled the Government to restrict its lending policy to assistance in the first instance only. In view of the great progress that has been made by the Government in reducing the waiting list of applicants for loans, will the Minister consider broadening the policy to enable a second loan to be made available to an exserviceman who, in the course of his work, has been transferred to a distant area by direction of his employer?
– I am sorry to say that I could not fairly give the assurance that Senator Wade requests. There is still a. tremendous demand for finance for warservice homes. The original intention of the legislation surely was to give those on active service an opportunity to provide a home for themselves on their return. We receive a great volume of applications from people who ha.ve had finance already made available to them. At the same time, we have a great waiting list of those who have not yet had the benefit of an advance. From memory, I think, that there is a waiting time of as long as fifteen months in some categories. I should need a lot of persuasion before I adopted the general principle that we should provide a second loan for ex-servicemen, while so many others had not had the. opportunity to obtain their first loan.
– I address a question to the Minister, representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the attention of the Government been directed to a leaflet which is being circulated, instructing Victorian members of the Australian Railways Union to work and vote for the return of the union’s militant team in the 1959 State branch elections? Are four of the names appearing on the leaflet those of well-known Communists? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether this is another deliberately planned unity ticket between members of the Australian Labour Party and the Communist Party?
– I have not seen the leaflet to which the honorable senator refers, and’ consequently I am not in a position to say whether the four names that are said to appear on it are those of well-known members of the Communist Party. However, if they are, and if they are standing on a union election ticket in alliance with members of the Australian Labour Party in Victoria, that is nothing at all unusual, because it is common practice in that State for members of the Australian Labour Party to break the alleged rules of their party and help the Communist Party in this way. Indeed, I understand that the Australian Labour Party in that State was* for this reason, recently referred to by Dr. Evatt as- the “ unity ticket mob “. So that a detailed and studied reply fo this question may be given, I suggest, that the honorable senator place it on Lie notice-paper.. It will then be possible for the names and the question generally to be investigated, and for the authority or otherwise of the leaflet to be examined.
– My question is directed’ to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In connexion with the question asked by Senator Branson, will the Minister consider four age categories, namely, the geological, the physiological’, the chronological and the psychological, with special reference to the psychological age of Senator Branson himself? (Question not answered) -
– I address & question to the Minister for National Development. May I say that I acknowledge the interest of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in the mineral exploration- in South’ Australia that is being carried on by air at the present time, in collaboration with the State authorities. Can the Minister indicate the basis on which an aircraft of his department is available for such exploration work? Is it available for hire or charter by private, as distinct from governmental,, agencies, and what is the basis of charge?’ hi there more than one aircraft available for this work?
– The bureau has, I think, three such planes. Subject to variation to meet the circumstances of particular cases, at the commencement of each year the bureau plots out its work for the ensuing twelve month;;. It correlates its air work with its ground work and the work that has to be done inside. From recollection,, there is no arrangement whereby a plane may be hired. This, is a service that is provided by the Commonwealth to assist mining development throughout Australia. I think that it- has been necessary for the bureau from- time- tei time to make special charter arrangement* to- obtain additional aircraft, because- th« development of the basic- survey work in mining is turning increasingly towards aerial- photography and surveying.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs seen a news photograph in this morning’s “ Canberra Times “, depicting two Russian scientists from New Zealand being welcomed by one, Victor Lessiovski who is described as the “ advance guard “ of the Russian Embassy returning to Canberra? If this is a correct description, 1 ask the Minister: How many Russian diplomats have already arrived in Canberra, and when did they come? What will be the size of the staff to be permitted here, having regard to the fact that we have negligible trade and no cultural ties with Russia? Is it not a fact that the Petrov commission found that one of the things assisting Russian espionage in Australia was the ridiculously large embassy staff of 53? Is it not also a fact that, during the last month, the left-wing government in Mexico has been compelled to expel the Russian embassy in that country because of espionage? In view of this, will the Government, even at this late hour, reverse its permission to allow the Russians to return?
– I am sorry to say that I did not see the newspaper report to which the honorable senator refers. I think it would be better if I. asked him to put the question on notice because of the various points he raises with which I am not familiar. I think that would be the better way to handle the matter.
– I desire to direct to the Minister for National Development a question that is supplementary to the question asked earlier by Senator Kennelly. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether a recent review of housing development in Australia between 1st July, 1946, and 31st December, 1958, revealed that 26.1 per cent, of the new houses and flats erected were financed with funds made available initially by the Commonwealth and State Governments, that 5.6 per cent, were erected with finance provided by the Commonwealth Bank and other government banks, and .almost 70 per cent, were financed from private sources, including insurance companies? A statement appeared in the press this week, attributed to the chairman of the Association of Cooperative Building Societies, Mr. E. T. Tytherleigh, to the effect that banks and insurance companies had decreased their loans to building societies, and that loans in the financial year 1958-59 would be £1,000,000 below the amount loaned in 1957-58. There was a follow-up statement, to which Senator Kennelly referred, suggesting that in fact the banks had not reduced their advances to the building society movement, but that insurance companies had in some instances stopped completely all loans to societies, because of more attractive securities from the point of view of interest rates offering in the share market, and commercial propositions. Will the Minister take an early opportunity to point out to the insurance companies that a short fall in available finance for homeownership will have a very adverse effect on the economy and that it will, in the long run, militate against the availability of safe investment opportunities for insurance companies, and thus affect bonuses payable to their policy-holders - an aspect that was mentioned in the article?
– The statistics that the honorable senator mentions do not surprise me. I have continually emphasized in the Senate that a successful housing policy turns upon attracting private investment into house-building activities. The statement that almost 70 per cent, of homes erected in Australia between 1946 and the end of December, 1958, were financed from private sources, including insurance companies, surprised me, because that figure is a little lower than I thought it would be. I did see the report of Mr. Tytherleigh’s statement. I have it on my table. I put it there in order to examine it alongside the housing statistics that I always maintain.
Since Senator Kennelly asked his question he has been good enough to pass over to me the newspaper cutting on which he based it, and which I had not previously seen. I can only say that I am very critical indeed of this statement. It is an anonymous statement. I think that the representative of the company who is prepared to make a statement such as this should be prepared likewise to put its name to the statement. The executive who would not allow his name to be published stated that his company was not prepared to invest money in building. Well, if all big companies took that attitude, it would be a pretty serious situation for Australia, and 1 think it is timely to remind this anonymous speaker that the prosperity of his company, as well as that of many other businesses in Australia, is very largely dependent on two things, namely, the prosperity of the building trades and contentment and happiness throughout the community where people have homes. I say to this gentleman that he would be a better Australian - if he is an Australian - if he reversed this policy and provided money for building through building societies.
– The question that I shall address to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration is prompted by a letter that I received recently from a migrant, in which he complained that because Australian girls are so aloof, he and many others like him are denied the prospect of a happy married life in Australia. My question is: Is it not a fact that statistics reveal that in Australia males considerably out-number females? Is not the opposite the case in most European counttries from which the majority of our migrants have come? Has not this trend been aggravated during the last ten years or so by our immigration policy? Can the Minister assure the Senate that when the Minister for Immigration proceeds overseas shortly he will give attention to rectifying this imbalance by further encouraging desirable females of marriageable age to migrate to Australia, as many single male migrants already here are denied the prospect of a happy married life by reason of the shortage of females?
– The substance of the letter to which the honorable senator refers surprises me. I was under the impression that a great number of new Australian men are, in fact, marrying Australian girls. I shall refer the matter to the Minister for Immigration and ask him to give it his attention when he proceeds overseas in the near future to inspect various Australian offices.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been directed to an attack that has been made by the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, Mr. J. L. Shute, on certain aspects of the United Kingdom market foi: Australian meat? Is it a fact that Britain’s, meat markets are not modern, and that they are ill-equipped to accept Australia’s chilled beef? Is it also a fact that there is a freight differential of 2d. per lb. against chilled beef? Does the Minister consider that there is substance in these complaints, and will he ascertain what steps can be taken co improve the position, because of the vii:al importance of this matter to the cattle industry of Western Australia?
– 1 think a detailed question of that kind relating to freight rates and the difference they make, and relating also to alleged shortcomings in markets under the control, not of this Government but of the British Government, should be placed on the notice-paper so that the Minister for Primary Industry can furnish a considered and detailed reply. I therefore ask the honorable senator to adopt that course.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by stating that some time ago the Government decided to impose a duty of ls. a gallon on diesel fuel used by road vehicles. When the duty was first imposed, all purchasers of diesel fuel, whether for road vehicles or not, were required to pay the duty. Subsequently, the Government introduced a system under which purchasers of diesel fuel for use other than in road vehicles could obtain a certificate from the Department of Customs and Excise to exempt them from paying the duty of ls. a gallon. The Government granted that concession. I now ask the Minister whether the present system is operating smoothly, and whether the department which he administers has any information as to whether people who operate road vehicles are endeavouring w obtain diesel fuel without paying the requisite duty.
– I shall be in a better position to answer the honorable senator’s question in a week, or two. My department has just completed the first major survey of the use of diesel fuel throughout Australia which hail revealed a substantia) increase in the sale and use of this nondutiable industrial fuel. We are now examining the trends in the use of different fuels. When that analysis has been completed, I shall be in a better position to give the honorable senator a more detailed answer to his question. My department will take steps to rectify any anomalies that may exist under the present system of certificates.
– I address my question to you, Mr. President. In view of the considerable eye-strain experienced by honorable senators, would it be possible to have a better system of lighting installed in the Senate chamber?
– The matter of the lighting and air-conditioning of the Senate chamber is at present under review. I agree with the honorable senator that the existing system of lighting is not satisfactory and that it has an adverse -effect on honorable senators. At a very early date a proposal will be submitted covering alterations to the lighting system.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Minister for the Interior has furnished the following replies: -
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Customs Act 1901-1957. and for other -purposes.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators are requested to consider a bill now presented to amend the Customs Act 1901-1957. This bill deals with various aspects of customs but its main provisions are in the interests of work simplification. It proposes to abolish declarations on certain entries; to simplify the appointment of wharfs under the act and the licensing of carriages used in the movement of under bond cargo. It also introduces a new concept for documentation in the removal of customable goods; it supplies the legislative backing for simplification of drawback procedures and it removes unnecessary requirements of the act which are now outmoded by modern-day practice. In addition, it proposes to give certain rights to customs agents in the matter of the suspension or -cancellation .of their licences. The powers of the customs in regard to the production .of genuine invoices are strengthened .by .this bill, and it provides authority for an .officer .of .customs or police to arrest, without warrant, a person who the customs or .police officer has reasonable grounds for believing has assaulted an officer in the .execution of his duties. It also makes certain .minor machinery amendments .to the .existing act.
Under section 155 of the Customs Act declarations must be made on certain customs entries as to the correctness of the details shown on the entry. In accordance with the Government’s policy to simplify procedures as much as possible, it has been decided to dispense with ‘the requirement that declarations be made on certain entries and to make a simpler provision for the identification of -the person making the entry and assuming responsibility as to its correctness.
Section 15 of the Customs Act requires wharfs to be appointed within the limits of ports. Modern wharf building programmes extend wharfs for some distance on to land. Limits of ports are usually defined on high water marks and, in consequence, when appointing new wharfs it has been necessary to re-proclaim the limits of the port. The present bill will enable wharfs to be appointed whether or not they are within .the poet limits. A considerable amount of detailed administrative work will be saved by this measure.
All carriages, boats and lighters used in the carriage of under bond goods are required by section 20 of the act to be licensed, and complementary regulations require each vehicle to bear a’ licensed customs number plate issued for that particular vehicle. The bill now before the Senate provides for the licensing of the carrier instead of the individual vehicles. For the purposes of the act all vehicles owned or hired by the carrier will be deemed to be licensed, and licensed customs plates for each vehicle will not be necessary. Honorable senators will realize the advantages of this simplification proposal both to the department and the carriers.
The provisions of the Customs Act relating to the movement of customable goods within Australia are based primarily on the movement of these goods between ports by means of ships. Whilst the carriage of bulk goods still relies to a large extent on shipping, increasing use is being made of other forms of transport, such as road, air and rail to move cargo. The Department of Customs and Excise has had to adapt the measures designed for the control of goods moving by ship to goods moving by the faster means of transport. Realizing these changing conditions a comprehensive review of methods of control was carried out, and this review resulted in recommendations for the change and simplification of these procedures.
In the bill now presented is embodied the legislative changes necessary to put into effect the changed and simplified procedures. Briefly, they envisage a reduction of documentation to a minimum and the authorizing of additional places to which customable goods may be despatched, such as central depots of interstate or intrastate road transport organizations. Certain simplified procedures, including the reduction of documentation from five to two documents, have been decided upon in regard to the allowance of drawback of duty. Implementation of these procedures depends upon the minor legislative amendment of changing the word “debenture” to “claim”. The bill provides these legislative amendments by repealing sections 170 to 174 of the act which contain machinery measures which should be more appropriately prescribed by regulation. The word “ claim “ will be used instead of the word “debenture” in the regulations. I can assure honorable senators that the submission of these changes and simplified procedures has been made only after due consideration of all factors, with major emphasis being placed on the necessity to ensure adequate protection of the revenue.
Section 114 of the act makes provision for a ship to be entered outwards before cargo can be taken on board for export. It has been found that this provision does not serve any useful purpose under present-day conditions and I have, therefore, taken this opportunity to have this redundant provision deleted.
Another provision in the present act which calls for deletion is that contained in section 211 which requires the officer who has arrested a person to give that person a statement in writing of the reason for his arrest. This requirement is not in accordance with present-day practice in other Commonwealth or State legislation, and repeal is proposed.
Under section 232a a penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years is prescribed for offences against that section. In some recent court cases, magistrates have considered that the penalty provided by this section was too severe to meet the circumstances of the cases under notice. One magistrate stated that he had no alternative but to release the offender on a good behaviour bond whilst in other cases Magistrates have employed the provisions of the State justices acts and imposed a monetary penalty on the offender. Whilst offences dealt with under section 232A are serious matters, particularly as they involve violence, I consider it reasonable that the section be amended to provide for a monetary penalty as an alteration to imprisonment.
The Customs Act provides that any owner of goods may comply with the provisions of the act by an agent lawfully authorized. Under this provision customs agents are licensed by the Department to carry out cutoms business on behalf of other people. The conditions governing the licensing of agents are laid down in the regulations. The regulations also provide for cancellation of the licence by the
Collector of Customs and for an appeal to the Minister for Customs and Excise, whose decision is final, by an agent whose licence has been cancelled. Moreover the present law does not specify the grounds on which a collector may cancel a licence
The bill proposes to specify the grounds on which a licence may be cancelled and to confer on an agent whose licence has been cancelled or suspended the right of appeal to a supreme court against the cancellation or suspension. It also proposes to take away from the Collector of Customs the power to cancel a licence, and authorizes the setting up of a committee to inquire into and report to the Minister on matters which may involve suspension or cancellation of a licence. However, it leaves the Collector of Customs with restricted power to immediately suspend a licence prior to the hearing of the case by the committee when he considers that it is necessary in the public interest to do so.
The Minister will now be the authority with the power to cancel or suspend a licence or in the case where a collector has suspended a licence, to remove to cancel that licence. If an agent’s the suspension, to further suspend or licence is suspended or cancelled by the Minister, the agent will have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision. Honorable senators will have noticed that it is proposed that certain amendments are to come into operation either on a date to be fixed by proclamation or on a specified date. These provisions are necessary to permit the making of complementary regulations and for administrative reasons. I recommend the bill to the honorable senators for their favorable attention.
Debate (on motion by Senator Courtice) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29th April (vide page 1 1 34), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Senator MATTNER (South Australia) [12.8J. - In 1958, the Commonwealth Government voted approximately £22,000,000 for assistance to the universities of Australia for the period from 1958 to 1960. This financial aid was given for the purpose of carrying out some of the recommendations made by the Murray committee, and no doubt those recommendations form the basis of the bill under consideration. Two important features of the bill are the establishment of the Australian Universities Commission under clause 5 and the functions of the proposed commission as set out in clause 13. The proposed commission may comprise three or five members. The chairman of the new commission is to be Sir Leslie Martin, Professor of Physics at the Melbourne University. He is a most worthy choice, and his position will carry with it very great responsibilities. The other members of the commission, whether they number two or four, will have one thing in common, in that they are to be appointed by the Governor-General.
But I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge), who is in charge of the bill, this question: “ Why limit the number of members to three, or to five, particularly in view of the Murray committee’s recommendation? “ The chairman is to be appointed for seven years whilst the other members will be appointed for three years. I point out that the bill provides that a member shall be eligible for reappointment, but I should like the Minister to inform me whether the chairman will be eligible for re-appointment, and under what conditions he may be re-appointed. Clause 5 (2.) provides that the commission shall consist of a chairman and certain other members. Does this mean that the chairman is to be eligible for re-appointment? I hope he will be. Again, if he is to be eligible for re-appointment, will that re-appointment be for a term of seven years, or will it be for only three years? I see nothing in the bill relating to how it is proposed to appoint a chairman of the new commission when the first term expires.
– That is so, but there is no provision for the appointment of another chairman after the first term. The bill also proposes that the new commission may delegate its powers to a committee to investigate certain university matters. Why not adopt the recommendations of the Murray committee and enlarge the commission so that it may carry out its allotted functions? Not knowing the facts, I am a little diffident about criticizing the bill, but it seems to me to be quite wrong, first, to set up a commission to carry out certain functions and then to provide that if that commission is unable to carry out the very functions for which it is appointed it may delegate its powers to another committee.
Clause 13 relates to the functions of the proposed commission. It provides that the commission shall furnish information and advice to the Minister on matters connected with the grant by the Commonwealth of financial assistance to universities established by the Commonwealth and also to the States for assisting State universities. At the same time, the members of the commission are required to bear in mind the necessity for financial assistance, the conditions upon which any financial assistance should be granted and the amount of such assistance.
The commission is to be required also to promote the balanced development of universities, and herein lies its great strength. High intellectual ability is in relatively short supply. A university seeks to educate people to graduate as doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, scientists, engineers, agriculturists, veterinarians, technologists, administrators and so on. But. to my mind, it has a far greater task to perform - that of offering not only technical or specialized training but full and true education with a broad cultural outlook. 1 trust that the members of the commission will be selected not only for their high intellectual ability but also for their aesthetic taste and broad cultural outlook.
A well-chosen committee could encourage Australian citizens to endow our universities with special donations. We all know that in the past the magnificent endowments donated by citizens have made it possible for our universities to function. I believe that a progressive and efficient commission could bring still more numerous gifts to our universities particularly if the needs of arts, law, science and medicine were held in balanced poise. Our national economy demands the labour of trained operatives and graduates. This need will be greater in the future. The bill deals with education on the university level and with the provision of financial aid to universities, but I hope that the increased financial aid to be given to universities will permit more money ro be made available to the States for their educational activities in the primary and secondary fields. If the citizens of Australia are to provide financial aid to universities, they are entitled to be assured that the money will be wisely spent. They may well ask: Are the universities fulfilling their functions in an economic manner?
Graduates of universities in this Senate have spoken on this bill from the viewpoint of successful graduates. The general public, too, are interested in the results obtained by universities. They may well ask: What is wrong with institutions where the failures each year amount to between 46 and 33 per cent.? Those figures come from the Murray committee’s report. If we could eliminate failures, instead of only 664 students graduating in arts, the number would be increased to 922. In science, the number would increase from 244 to 367; in engineering and architecture, from 271 to 391; and in medicine and dentistry, from 493 to 614. I could go on through the other faculties. The failure of undergraduates to pass their examinations each year represents a distinct loss to the community. The demand for graduates is so great that universities should be in a position not only to accept all who qualify for and are desirous of entering a faculty, but also to give to the undergraduates facilities and teaching that will ensure that they have a least a reasonable chance of graduating.
The general public, who will be supplying a great deal of money to the universities in the future, are concerned with results. They are concerned with the material that goes into the universities and with how that material is used - and justly so. Speaking as one who has seen, from the outside only - I want to make that clear - the workings of the universities in South Australia and New South Wales in particular, I deplore the national extravagance represented by the failures of students in the first and second years of their courses. It is an extravagance that this country can ill afford. These failures affect the efficiency of the universities. They swell the numbers attending university classes, and that interferes with the education of the students.
Failures also rob students of several years of profitable remuneration and discourage many from doing honours courses - something which seems to me to be a highly desirable objective. Graduates also should be encouraged to continue their studies.
A difficulty that is apparent to the layman is that a brilliant professor often lacks teaching ability. This is a serious drawback to the unfortunate undergraduate in his first year, and perhaps also in his second year. I know that various reasons can be given for some of the failures. One is the pressure on students because of enormous classes - up to 300 or more - in such subjects as physics. Even greater numbers are found at chemistry lectures. Perhaps, too, failures are due to inadequate staff numbers,, or to the accommodation, that is provided.. Those are some of the matters with which this commission will deal.
In the extension of university activities to meet the public demand for university education - and there is a public demand - I believe that if the universities could supply lecturers and demonstrators who could lecture and teach during the first year or two of the students’ careers, leaving the professors to round off the courses, far better results would accrue. It is well known that very often students fail to grasp a professor’s lectures during the first two years of their university courses, and if they can find the time - this may seem strange, but I hope honorable senators will understand what I mean - they attend lectures given by lecturers on the same subject and thereby secure a pass. It is well known in our universities that, particularly in the first year, students fail to grasp what the professor is attempting to tell them. Many of them turn to a lecturer who is lecturing in the same subject. The lecturer seems to be more down to earth and in closer touch with the undergraduates. I am not going to state particular cases, because they do not prove anything, but instances are well known- of students, after attending lectures given by brilliant professors, then attending lectures- given by lecturers in order to grasp the subject. One of the things we have to see to, so far as our- universities are concerned, is that professors and lecturers can not only lecture, but can also teach. I know that I will be told that that is not their function. Nevertheless, I think that an. undergraduate in his early years, shortly after leaving the secondary school needs a helping hand so that he can pass successfully from the secondary school stage to his- university career.
What I have been saying is perhaps a digression from the real purpose of the bill, but it relates to one of the problems in university education. As one who will be asked to pay something towards the upkeep of the universities, I think that I have a right to inquire into the efficiency of universities. I speak with some little knowledge of students going through a university. I can speak as the parent of students who have obtained the degrees of Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Bachelor of Agricultural Science, Bachelor of Veterinary Science, Bachelor of Mining Engineering, and of a student who is now I hope in the last year of his medical course. Therefore, I have some slight knowledge of what happens when a student, goes to a university, and of some of the. difficulties that have to be surmounted there. I think that they are not insuperable. To-day, we. are coming to a greater realization of the fact that the universities have to be put in a position to take the undergraduates who are eligible, and then educate them so that they can graduate without loss of time.
I repeat, the selection of the commission is vital to the future well-being of universities, and I think that it should be chosen on a very broad basis. We have begun with an admirable choice as chairman. My suggestion that one member of the commission should have some architectural knowledge did not meet with favour in one quarter, but I repeat that a good architect with a broad cultural outlook could do much to ensure that our money was spent wisely and well. Much of it will be spent on buildings and equipment, and it must be spent efficiently.
The appointment of the commission need not curtail the independence of the universities. We have heard a great deal about the freedom of the universities but we must view the hard, cold facts and be guided by the Murray committee’s observation that the universities were in truth unfinancial and, if denied government aid, would possibly decline. Once the Government steps in to- assist these admirable institutions it must have some regard for how the money will be spent and, to a certain extent, for what the universities give in return for that expenditure. I realize the great task of the commission and I think that it will do well to work in close liaison with the existing vice-chancellors committee. That would ensure the success and future greatness of our universities. The happy blending of the commission and the vice-chancellors committee would give the universities the sinews with which to expand. The vicechancellors committee meets frequently and has done a great deal to promote the welfare of our universities.
The complexities of world conditions will always call for periodical re-assessment of the financial needs of the universities. Such assessments must be made on a national basis, avoiding duplication and wastage of scarce resources and, at the same time, giving to these institutions in fair measure so that they will give, in return, graduates of each faculty equipped not only to exercise highly specialized skills but also to display the broad cultural outlook which is so necessary in our national life. I support the bill.
.- This bill is a step in the right direction, but I hope that every one will appreciate that it is indeed only a step. We have a long way to go before we can approach in this country a solution of the crisis in university education. We have made an advance by the mere recognition that a serious crisis does exist. There has been overcrowding in our universities for years. There has been a sense of discouragement amongst staff and students. There have been unfair conditions at times - conditions certainly not calculated to assist the development of ripe scholarship. Those conditions have existed for years, but there has been very little public interest in university education. Australians generally are not very educationminded, at any stage of the education system. I would attribute that, in some degree, to the fact that in the States we tend to adopt a strongly centralized system in which local interest and control are, to a big extent, discouraged. In some other countries, for instance in certain parts of the United States of America, more encouragement is given to local interest and control and one finds a greater appreciation of the value of education, particularly university education.
But even though we in Australia are noi education-minded, 1 think that the last year or two have shown an increasing interest in the subject. The press, which is attacked for its activities in other directions, has done something in this direction to bring home to the Australian people the nature of the problem. I hope that the press will continue to do that.
This bill, desirable though it may be. represents only one of many steps that must be taken if we are to grapple with the problem property. One thing that we have to remember, of course, is that universities are not glorified training institutions from which people are to emerge with degrees, so that they can then be made use of by industry, for industrial purposes alone. The Murray committee made it clear that there were three main objects of university education, and I think that they are worth repeating. First, the university must provide sufficient properly trained graduates to meet the needs of the community. I think we can say that there is now a reasonable appreciation of the necessity for that. Secondly, the universities are necessary to provide the fundamental research needed to gain new knowledge and keep teaching alive and inspiring. I think there is a growing appreciation of the need for that also. Thirdly, and in some degree perhaps the most important of all, the universities must act as the guardians of intellectual standards and intellectual integrity in the community. I do not think that there is a very strong appreciation of the necessity for that function in Australia to-day.
– Or within the universities.
Senaor McMANUS. - Or within the universities. I agree with my friend, Senator Wright. It is for us who, because of our appreciation of this report, realize the necessity for that particular function to do something about it. This bill will not have a very great effect in that direction. Even though we are a small community when compared with communities in other countries, I hope Australians will continue to bear in mind that that is one of the fundamental purposes of a university, even in a modern world.
It has been suggested that the commission may interfere with the autonomy, the independence, of our universities; but I. do not think there is any need for fear in that regard. To some extent, there has been a lack of co-ordination among the Australian universities. People could go from a uni.verisity in one State to a university in another State and find that the standards recognized in one place were not recognized in the other.
– Does not that apply all over the world?
– It may apply the whole world over, but I do not think it ought to apply within a country. If the commission can do something to encourage cooperation and co-ordination among our universities, which tend, in some cases, I think, to over-emphasize independence, it will have done a good thing. 1 do not know that it altogether matters whether the number of people who constitute the commission are many or few. What will matter most will be the quality of those who are chosen. If the commission carries out its suggestion about appointing sub-committees to deal with particular matters, possibly it will work more efficiently than it would otherwise. I am associated with a very large education committee - the Board of Adult Education in Victoria. Earlier in our activities we found that, while the then government gave wide representation to all sorts of bodies in the hope that the community would become widely interested in adult education, if we wanted the work done effectively we had to appoint a small executive committee which could co-opt the services of other members of the general committee as opportunity arose. Therefore, the proposed experiment of having a small executive commission with additional sub-committees as required may well justify itself.
The bill provides that the commission shall determine, within the framework, of course, of Government policy, the grants that are to be made for the purposes of university education. That is a worthwhile recognition of the fact that the Commonwealth has obligations in respect of education. I know that in other sectors of education the Commonwealth has largely adopted the attitude that they are matters of State control; but the fact remains that the Commonwealth has the money, and in my view it must provide increasing sums for education. I hope nobody imagines that the question is one only of money or the provision of buildings. The greatest difficulty we face in this country in providing for the university education of the future is the lack of sufficiently trained and skilled stait. That is a problem not only in this country but throughout the world. It is of no use our thinking we can pour out large sums of money, build universities and equip them if we have not the people to do the instructing and the teaching. I should say that we have not got them in Australia to-day, even though the numbers who are seeking university education are only half what is anticipated they will be in a few years’ time. We are told in the report of the Murray committee that 36,500 persons were seeking university education, in 1957, in spite of the fact that over-crowding caused a number of our universities to adopt all kinds of doubtful expedients to discourage people from seeking university education. We are told that by 1964 probably 50,000 people will be wanting to go to our universities and that by 1967 the number will have risen to 80,000. Whatever the Australian Universities Commission may do, and no matter how successful its activities may be, it will not be able to solve this problem effectively.
Where are the trained instructors and the staffs to cope with this problem? If we look at the advertising columns in the press every Saturday morning we find that, even though the academic year is well advanced, almost every university in Australia is advertising for lecturers, instructors and trained staff. The fact that those advertisements are appearing week after week indicates that such people are not available. The same thing can be said about what might be termed the sub-university sphere. Recently, the principal of the Melbourne Technical College, a body which does work of a preuniversity character and which is authorized to issue diplomas that are generally accepted as being awarded for work of a high standard, said that the staff position was now desperate. He said that people trained in technology were able freely to obtain positions with business firms at salaries of at least £500 a year in advance of those that could be offered by the college. He added that the position was so desperate that he now had to appeal to business firms to release their’ trained personnel to act as instructors on one afternoon a week. He made the amazing statement that all he could offer in payment for these highlyskilled instructors for one afternoon a week was the magnificent sum of £2. Unless we are prepared to offer salaries that are attractive to highly skilled people not only in this country but also overseas, we are wasting our time in talking about a big advance in university education in Australia.
What happens to many of the people who are trained in our universities? We are short of engineers. We are told that there must be a big advance in our output of engineers and scientists; but for some years now, as our engineers and scientists have left our universities, quite a proportion of them have left this country for more attractive positions in Canada, the United States of America and other countries.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I had made the point that, while the appointment of the commission provided for in the bill was a step in the right direction, it would be foolish to expect that the commission would be able effectively to solve all the problems that we face in regard to university education. I was trying to make a very strong point of the fact that the chief difficulty we face, and that we are going to face in the future, is the provision of properly qualified staff. I pointed out that there is already a shortage of such staff and that the rewards that are offered to qualified persons by other countries and by business organizations are such that there is a continual drain on our universities in those directions. 1 remember that in Victoria, immediately after the war, an attempt was made to establish a university annexe at Mildura. Many people hoped that that experiment would be persisted with, but unfortunately it failed. One of the difficulties put forward as being responsible for the decision to discontinue the existence of that university annexe was that it was almost impossible to provide adequately for staff. I think we have to face the fact that if we want highly qualified staff we must enter into competition with other countries, and that we have to be prepared to pay competitive salaries. In my view, the first problem that has to be solved is how we are going to provide qualified staff. The problems of providing money and buildings flow from that.
The only other matter that I want to raise is that of decentralization of university training. I should have thought that the representatives of the Australian Country Party would have had something to say on this matter. If one reads the Murray report, one gains the impression that the committee felt that university training would have to be centralized, for years to come, in the big cities, and that there was little prospect of decentralizing university training or of the establishment of universities, or university colleges, in country areas. I think that that is regrettable. I, for one, tried to appreciate the reasons for the decision to establish Victoria’s second university, the Monash University, in Melbourne. Although it was said that the obstacles involved in trying to locate it elsewhere were insuperable, I felt that something ought to have been done to try to decentralize university training. In my opinion, people who say that we have to centralize university training in the big cities are obsessed with the idea that a person obtains an adequate university training if he lives at home, goes to lectures and passes examinations.
Let us be honest. The highest form of university education is obtained in universities where students are in residence. There is a schedule at the back of the Murray report which sets out the extent to which residences are available at the various Australian universities. I was shocked to learn that so few students are able to obtain the immense advantages that accrue to university training where the students are in residence, so that they profit by association with others and by close proximity to many of the extra-curricular advantages that universities offer. I hope that the day will come when there will be in this country a university that is almost entirely residential in character. I think that such a university would offer most from the point of view of cultural education.
– I think that Armidale is such a university.
– I am indebted to Senator McCallum for pointing out that there is the possibility for such education at Armidale. I have been to Armidale and have admired the education facilities it possesses. They have led some people to refer to Armidale as the Athens of the north, but I think that some time will have to elapse before that title can be justified. But at least one must admire the spirit that has prompted people in that area to make education of that kind their objective.
I say again that the best form of university training is derived where students are in residence. The universities which stand highest in the world are such universities as Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. I hope that we in this country will not be carried away too much by the idea that a university is merely a place where you qualify for a job; that it is a place that you go to every day to attend lectures with the object of passing examinations. I hope that we will bear in mind that a true university is one where you live and profit by association with other minds, in a way that you do not profit when you attend a university merely as part of a daily task. I believe, therefore, that there are possibilities for decentralization of education. I hope that those who plan our university education will bear in mind the need for a residential university and the need to decentralize university education, by establishing university colleges and, later, universities in rural areas.
I know that the Murray committee, in its report, stated that the committee was induced to suggest that we would have to concentrate on developing universities in the big cities by a feeling that, after all, the students were going to come from the big cities and that, from the point of view of convenience and other similar considerations, it was necessary to locate them there. I do not altogether accept the view that that will be the case in the years to come. One reason why the bulk of the students has come from the cities in past years has been that the cities have enjoyed almost a monopoly of secondary education, and that the facilities for secondary education in country areas were very few. That state of affairs has now changed. There has been a spread of high schools and higher institutions of learning throughout the country areas. We now have technical schools and high schools where they did not exist before. Now that such opportunities exist for country children, it is a natural thing that, as those children become qualified, they also will look forward to a university education. The improvement of facilities for secondary education in the country areas must mean a big increase in the number of students from such areas who will seek a university education. To my way of thinking, that is all the more reason why we should locate some of our universities and university colleges in rural areas.
There is another reason. I think that the atmosphere of the country would be more conducive to study, to thought, and to discussion than the atmosphere of a big and busy city often is. I feel, therefore, that in suggesting, as the report does, that we should concentrate almost entirely upon the development of educational facilities in the big centres, the committee had in mind difficulties of staff and the concentration of the population in those centres, but I think some consideration should be given to the advantages that could accrue otherwise by locating our universities outside the big cities. University education is a very big problem. After all, as far as we can we need to ensure that every qualified student will be able to undertake university education without necessarily cluttering up our universities with people who are not qualified - who are not the right type for university education. I am one who has admired the system under which facilities are made available through Commonwealth scholarships and otherwise for deserving students, who through lack of funds might not otherwise have been able to go to a university. I would not have been able to attend a university if it had not been that scholarships were available. But in spite of the steep increase in the number of scholarships available to intending students, there are still many well-qualified young people in Australia to-day willing and able to undertake university training but who, for financial reasons, are unable to do so. I have had experience within recent weeks of two young people not far from my own home. I suggest, therefore, that we must not be altogether satisfied that we are doing everything we can to make university training available to all those who are well qualified and able. We could do a lot more to enable young men and young women who are qualified and willing to go ahead but who, for financial reasons, cannot do so.
-Does the honorable senator consider that the stress, should be on agricultural subjects in country universities?
– I should think that it would be natural that that should happen. But on the other point, I say once again that we can do more to help the student from the home where not much money is available. There are quite a number of homes to-day where young people have the ability and the will to go ahead but they are not able to do so for financial reasons. I hope that we will aim at a community where every boy and girl who is willing and capable will be able to undertake university training. I believe that in the kind of world we live in we must do that. There is a demand for qualified people. But I do say that we must not allow ourselves to be carried away with the belief that for purely material reasons we have to concentrate our university training on technological and like subjects.
Real or true university training gives a high place to the humanities. We in Australia were very fortunate in the people that we had to plan and run our universities 60, or 70 years ago. I think it is an amazing thing in a young country, a small country, that those people saw the importance of the humanities and laid such stress upon them. In those days, we had men such as the late Professor Tucker who held world standing as professors of the humanities. We should aim to keep that so.
I conclude, therefore, by saying once again that we must not expect too much from this bill. The problems that this commission will face are very serious problems. The commission is entitled to every help and assistance, but I doubt whether it will be able adequately to deal with all aspects. At any rate it is something for us to be pleased with that to-day there seems to be a feeling of interest in university education and a desire to promote it which did not exist in past years. I hope, that that will continue and that we will be regarded in the years to come as a country which has the right a.nd the proper outlook on education, in particular, university education.
, - I desire to say a few words in support pf the bill, which has been very well debated by most honorable senators, who have applied their minds to it. I should like particularly to commend a number of remarks that were made by. SenatorMcManus. i enjoyed, also, the contributions of Senators Gorton, Wright and Mattner,
I was very interested to hear Senator McManus’s comments in relation to decentralization. Although I have never seen the rural university in the north of New South Wales to which he referred^ it is interesting to contemplate that in this Parliament at the present time, in Dr. Page, and
Pf. Drummond, we have men who have devoted a. considerable part pf their energies to the establishment pf that university and to ensuring that it flourishes. That leads me to. the point that I shall develop later in my speech - the importance of universities from the point of view of this Parliament. The work and the actions of Dr. Drummond and Dr. Page serve as a challenge to the members pf this chamber to maintain an interest in university matters.
Briefly, Sir, the object of this bill is to help the States with finance for universities. It is directed not so much to the control of universities as to how best to help the expansion of university work. The Government must be careful not to leave itself open to a charge of interference with the universities. The independence that the Australian universities have enjoyed for more than a century is splendid. It was my privilege 30 years or so ago to attend the University of Adelaide, and I have very fond memories of the independent points pf view pf students, professors and staff at that university. From my contact with the university at the present time, small though that contact, is, I know that that spirit of independence still obtains. Distinguished men have been chancellors and vice-chancellors of the university, and they have ensured that that spirit of independence shall continue.
The constitution of the governing body of the University of Adelaide is something that may interest the Senate. It will be appreciated that the University of Adelaide is a corporation established under the University Act, a statute of the South Australian Parliament. Section 5 of that act provides that the council shall consist of 25 members, twenty of whom shall be elected by the senate of the university - which consists of all graduates of more than three years standing - and the remaining five of whom shall be elected by Parliament of South Australia. Section 11 of the Australian National University Act 1946 is in these terms - (I.) The Council shall consist of not more than thirty members. (2.) Two members shall be members of the Senate, elected by the Senate. (3.) Two members shall be members of the House of Representatives, elected by that House.
Honorable senators will note that the acts relating to both the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University provide that members of parliament shall bc members of the respective university councils. To my knowledge, the members of parliament who are members of the respective councils have never interfered in any way in the work of the universities. Tha Senate representatives on the council of the Australian National University are Senators Tangney and McCallum. It is fitting that members of parliament should be members of the university councils. The Commonwealth Parliament and the South Australian Parliament are respectively represented on the councils of the two universities to which I have referred.
In recent years we have adopted a completely new approach to university education. The distinguished gentlemen who comprised the Murray committee, which this Government appointed in 1956 to review all matters associated with Australian universities, submitted a most interesting report which gave a tremendous shock to the people of Australia. If one could measure the position in terms of money, in 1951 the Commonwealth Government was contributing £800,000 towards education. In 1957 the amount had risen to £2,300,000, and for the years 1958 to 1960 the estimated Commonwealth contribution will be £20,000,000. The report indicated to all thinking Australians how deficient we were ir. our approach to university education. I shall not stress how important university training is to this nation if we hope to become great, because other honorable senators who have preceded me in this debate have done so adequately.
In recent months I have visited universities in other parts of the world. Whilst I did not visit the University of Moscow, I saw a model of that institution included in the Russian exhibit at the Brussels World Fair. The model of this vast university of Moscow was vieing for pride of place in the exhibit with a model of the Sputnik. Emphasis was placed on what Russia is doing in the matter of university education, both in the academic and athletic fields. After seeing what is going on in other parts of the world, one is surprised at our very minor contribution towards university education in Australia. However, I am glad that the Commonwealth Government is becoming aware of its responsibilities. The contribution of the Government of South Australia towards the University of Adelaide for the period 1958 to 1960 will be £375,000, and that amount is being matched on a £l-for-£l basis by the Commonwealth Government.
I presume that the statutes relating to the various universities throughout Australia are similar to the statute governing the University of Adelaide, namely, that members of the State Parliament shall be selected to represent the Parliament on the university council. They thus become directly aware of the problems confronting the university. We in this Commonwealth Parliament are not fully aware of the universities’ requirements. Therefore, T suggest that the Commonwealth Parliament should be represented on the university councils in the various States, but such representatives should not interfere in any way with the management of those institutions. The Murray committee pointed out that the Commonwealth has a great responsibility to see that all universities flourish and, to that end, I submit my suggestion to the Minister in charge of this legislation in the hope that he will adopt it.
Paragraph 357 of the report of the Murray committee is in these terms -
The climate of opinion in the universities, however, has changed in recent years, partly as a result of the growing realization that the States are unable to meet their financial needs, partly as the result of reassuring experiences in other countries where governmental instrumentalities have advised on the needs of universities, and partly by the universities’ growing recognition of their vital and responsible role in the development of the Commonwealth. The Vice-Chancellors’ Committee itself has submitted that a scheme for a permanent committee should be put into operation similar to that in Great Britain where the University Grants Committee serves the advantage of consultation and negotiation, safeguards government interests, yet leaves the universities as free from interference as is possible in a modern State where so much of university revenue conies from government sources.
The Murray committee recognized that both the Commonwealth Government and the universities have a responsible role in the development of the Commonwealth. For that reason, 1 repeat my suggestion that the Commonwealth should be represented by members of the Parliament on the various university councils. If the parliamentary representatives were well chosen, they could contribute greatly towards the deliberations of the university councils. After all, we in Parliament deal with the really big matters affecting the Commonwealth, such as national development, the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, defence, and so on. 1 do not seek in any way to down-grade the work of State members of Parliament who already occupy seats on such councils, but, at the same time, I do feel that in this modern age well-chosen members of the Federal Parliament would be an asset to any council of any of the Australian universities. I admit that under the bill before us the commission is to be required to report in due course to the Minister and that the Minister is to be required in due course to lay that report on the table of the Parliament; but that is at most an annual event, and I feel that it would be good for the universities if practising members of the Federal Parliament were with them in their deliberations from month to month, assuming that these councils meet each month, as 1 believe they do. lt would be good also for the Parliament, because we would know from our own representatives exactly what is going on in the various State universities. We would not receive the shocks we do at times now when we open the reports on universities. For instance, we would not be so shocked to find that university accommodation was not all that it might be. I do not suggest that these members of the Commonwealth Parliament should be on the councils to interfere or to act as detectives by keeping an eye on the way in which the Commonwealth’s money is being spent; I am suggesting that they sit in with these councils which are doing so much for the universities which, in turn, play such a great part in the welfare of this nation.
I hope that this exchange of points of view between distinguished members of university councils and practising senators and members of the House of Representatives will continue. From what Senator Tangney and Senator McCallum have said here from lime to time relating to the Australian National University, 1 am convinced that the exchange of views has been of benefit, and, although we have no legislative power to carry out my suggestion, I hope that the matter will be discussed on the proper levels and that in due time the statutes relating to universities will be so altered as to permit the inclusion of practising members of the Federal Parliament on such councils because I think that would be good for both the universities and this Parliament.
.- I was very much impressed by Senator Laught ‘s concluding remarks. During the I930’s, I represented the Melbourne Trades Hall Council on the University Extension Board. We had many discussions affecting the position which had arisen in those days as a result of the depression. We also discussed matters relating to the education of men and women whenever the opportunity offered. On one occasion, I suggested that representatives of the university should visit the Pentridge gaol and select young men and women who were prepared to attend lectures to be given by the professors. That suggestion was not very favorably received at the time, but, eventually, Professor Osborne and I went to Pentridge gaol and spent one Saturday afternoon interviewing prisoners. As a result of those interviews, Professor Osborne volunteered to deliver a series of lectures for young men and women in the gaol. Whether those lectures have been continued I do not know, but the experience on that Saturday afternoon convinced Professor Osborne that much good could result from my suggestion. 1 had formed the impression - and it has been strengthened since - that while men and women qualify as specialists in universities they still have much to learn outside their specialised knowledge. I have been supported in that view by very capable men from time to time. Professor William McDougall, England’s leading physiological psychologist - not a copy-book .psychologist but a physiological psychologist - wrote a book called “ Chaos in Europe “ in 1931. The substance of his criticism at that time was that the whole system of education in universities should be re-organized because the graduates from universities in those days were not qualified to deal with the serious problems with which the world was faced. He gave his reasons for saying that.
In 1935, Dr. Alexis Carrell, who was in charge of the Rockefeller Institute in Washington for 30-odd years .and who had made an extensive study of social problems, wrote a book “ Man the Unknown “ in which he said that the more eminent a scientist was the greater the menace he was because his narrow outlook as a specialist in one sphere did not qualify him in any way to express an opinion on matters outside the sphere of his special knowledge. He severely -criticized our education system, especially from the point of view that it merely qualified men as specialists.
In 1956, Sir Ian Clunies-Ross, chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, supported what Dr. Alexis Carrell had said in 1935. In effect, Sir Ian Clunies-Ross said that scientists were ill-equipped to understand political problems. My varied experience convinces me that this is so. Senator Laught’s suggestion that senators and members of the House of Representatives should meet university councils from time to time has much to commend it. Such meetings would be good for both the universities and the Parliament because, at the present time, men and women deal with important problems simply from their own points of view as specialists. They may be qualified engineers or technicians, with a special point of view. The art of understanding or reasoning is to try to understand the other person’s point of view as well as your own. Dr. William Durant, an American, wrote some years ago that people are graduates of either of two schools, the school of practical experience or the school of theory. They have different outlooks. Dr. Durant gave a simile. If a boy bred in the country were asked to give his idea of a town hall clock, he would have in mind a clock of about eighteen inches or two feet in diameter. If the same question were asked of a boy bred in London, he would have in mind Big Ben, with a dial probably twenty feet in diameter. In each case a clock would be the subject, but boys who had graduated in different schools of experience would see different clocks. What can be said about clocks, can be said .about wealth. When you speak about great wealth to a person who has been on wages all his life he thinks in terms of thousands of pounds, but when you speak about great wealth to the Treasurer of the country, :he thinks in terms of .millions :of pounds. Both make different approaches to the subject. The point I am making is that it has been said over and over again that experience without theory is blind, and that theory without experience is futile.
What is required in our universities is a polytechnical education to give the students a general idea of things, particularly in relation to social sciences. In my opinion, social science is a dead letter in most of the universities because very few people attempt to analyse social relationships, such as those existing between employer and employee. They accept ex cathedra that employer and employee relationships or creditor and debtor relationships are beyond question, and cannot be improved. It has been truly said by many people that life in all its phases can exist in equilibrium only. There must be balance in all things, but so far no attempt has been made to achieve a balanced relationship between man and man.
The unbalanced relationships that exist to-day, and in which all disputes have their origin, goes back to the days of antiquity, even to the days before chattel slavery. In ancient India, the slaves had to mortgage themselves to the rajahs body and soul and enter into a bond before they were able to earn a living. To my way of thinking, the hire-purchase system of these days had its origin in that ancient hire-purchase system of India. In order to obtain a reasonably decent home and furniture, men and women, particularly those on low wages, have to mortgage themselves body and soul for years. I did so myself. Before I entered this Parliament, I virtually mortgaged my earnings to obtain a reasonably decent house in which to live. That practice is going on to-day, on a greatly extended scale. The point I am attempting to make is that there should be a balanced relationship between man and man, and not, as is so often the case, one man in the position of a superior and the other in the position of an inferior.
Nothing is being done to help people understand the question, or to modify the existing relationships. The troubles with which I have been associated over the years have had their origin in this unbalanced relationship. Social science, according to Dr. Alexis Carrell, is the most important of all sciences, but is the least understood. In 1907, two well-known professors in sociology, Doctors Dalley and Qually, in the concluding chapter of their textbook on the subject, said quite dogmatically that highly qualified men holding responsible positions as judges, as members of Parliament and in other fields had no knowledge of matters outside their own special fields of interest, and that very few of them read any books on matters not affecting their interests. I make that statement for the purpose of supporting the remarks made by Senator Laught. Members of Parliament should take an interest in universities to a far greater extent than they have done in the past. We should not be interested merely in raising money for universities. In my view, the money is available, the man-power is available and the materials are available to build as many universities as the nation requires, but, as Senator McManus emphasized, we want trained teachers. No university that I know of trains teachers as I think they should be trained. I say that as one who has met dozens of university teachers and discussed with them many important matters affecting the welfare of the people. In the 1930’s I had a long controversy with the late Professor Giblin, whom I met first in 1915; with the late Professor Shann, whom I met about the same time; and with Professor Brigden and with Professor Copland, as he then was. I have never questioned the sincerity of any of those men. They said, especially Professor Giblin, that there was no way out of the position in which we found ourselves in the ‘thirties except by the reduction of wages, the reduction of governmental expenditures, pensions and so on. Their approach was entirely in terms of money. The difference between their approach and my own is that my approach is in terms of goods. As I have said on other occasions there is the money-centric approach and the goods-centric approach.
One should ask these gentlemen whether we have the man-power and resources to improve living conditions and emoluments. I say that the answer to that is an emphatic “ Yes “. Senator Spooner referred the other day to the shortage of houses and said that the reason was that private enterprise was not investing in this field. Private enterprise is not doing so because it is not as profitable to invest in homes for workers as it is to invest in palatial hotels for tourists, palatial office buildings and the like. In the cities themselves one sees these palatial buildings, but on the outer edges one sees the hovels in which the people on whom the nation depends for the creation of wealth are obliged to live. That illustrates the difference between a moneycentric approach and a goods-centric approach. The goods-centric approach is the only approach that should be made by men and women occupying responsible positions in the Public Service, and out of it. No attempt is made to improve social relationships. Almost every bill that is submitted to the Parliament affects social relationships - even the Customs Bill that was presented to the Senate this morning. We tend to take for granted, and without question, a state of affairs that existed 100 years ago. No attempt is made to suggest a change for the better.
Years ago a discussion took place in the United States of America on this general subject of university education. Robert Ingersoll who had fought in the civil war and was perhaps America’s leading scholar and orator said, “ Universities are institutions where diamonds are dimmed and pebbles are polished “. When one asks people holding university qualifications about questions that are attracting public attention one finds that many are only babes in the wood mentally, so far as that sort of knowledge is concerned. I am sorry to have to say that, but it has become apparent to me in the course of negotiations in which I have taken part, for the purpose of improving social relationships, conditions of employment and the like, since before federation. Moreover, I cannot see any change for the better taking, place.
The late Annie Besant, who was a very highly educated woman, in summing up a debate which had taken place over three nights in England in 1886, said, “ Ignorance is the cause of all our troubles. Knowledge is the cure.” That is so. We must widen the scope of the university curriculum if students are to reap in full the benefit of university education. That fact has been emphasized by Senator Laught and other speakers. Potentially, most of those who attend universities are geniuses if given the opportunity to develop. They must have highly qualified teachers and an adequate background and environment. They might well have the necessary brain power, but in these days of specialization - particularly in industry - there is a tendency for work to become mechanized, and for thinking to become mechanical also. That is why there is so much confusion in the world to-day. That is why an appeal to the emotions is invariably much stronger than an appeal to reason.
A gentleman who came to Canberra last week, Dr. Billy Graham, made an appeal that was directed to the emotions. He had not one constructive suggestion that would provoke independent thinking among people who read the Bible as it can be read - and as I have read it. His approach took everything for granted. It was an appeal to the emotions, and an appeal to the emotions will always attract a much greater crowd than an appeal to reason.
One finds the galleries of the Parliament crowded if there is to be a first-class battle in which verbal insults will be used as substitutes for the blows to which galleries were accustomed in the days of trial by strength; but if news goes forth that some one is to produce a reasoned thesis on the way in which the ailing and the aged may be helped, the galleries will be empty. An attempt to show that these problems can be approached both in terms of money and in terms of goods will be recognized as something demanding hard thinking on the part of an audience, and very few will accept the challenge. I repeat, if something approaching a circus or a prize fight is expected one can count on a big attendance. I say that as one who had about ten years’ experience in Melbourne, and more than that in Western Australia. organizing public meetings. In Melbourne, when I was secretary of the Victorian Socialist Party, I organized meetings in the old Gaiety Theatre in Melbourne. The nearer the meeting approximated a prize fight or a circus, the bigger was the crowd, because it appealed to the emotions. But when 1 put up Professor Osborne or other professors who gave a deliberate, reasoned thesis on physiological or psychological problems, very few would attend.
That should indicate to us the need for better qualified teachers, as was mentioned by Senator McManus, and for constant consultation with representatives of the universities, to which reference was made by Senator Laught. Then you get back to the days of ancient Greece when Socrates adopted the same technique. He was so effective that the governments of the day decided that they would end him. He had either to drink the hemlock or be put out of the way. He never wrote a pamphlet or a book or delivered a lecture, but he approached people and spoke to them, especially the young. He provoked thought so much that the authorities got rid of him. The experience of Socrates has been the experience of thousands of others. The nearer you are to the truth and realities, the nearer you are to assassination, political and otherwise, if you do not watch yourself.
– I am sorry to say that events have pressed fairly heavily on me yesterday and to-day and I have not been able to give adequate time to the thought which should be behind the kind of speech that is necessary to do justice to the winding up of a debate such as this. I think it is fair to say that the debate on this measure has been one of the most interesting debates on legislation that we have had in this chamber for some little time.
In taking account of my own deficiencies, I have the consolation that I believe we are passing the administration of this legislation into very efficient hands in the person of Sir Leslie Martin. Although I have not had consultation with him, I am quite sure he will most carefully read and think upon the various ideas that have been advanced during this debate. I do not say that out of any desire to neglect my own responsibility, but I think it is of some importance to those who have put some thought into their speeches to feel that what they have said will not be lightly regarded. 1 shall run quickly through some of the points that have been made during the debate. 1 think it is fair to commence by saying that most of the critical comments that have been offered have been directed to the fact that one or other of the recommendations of the Murray committee has not been .adopted. I think the answer to that criticism is that it can be claimed that the overwhelming majority of the recommendations have been adopted, particularly those relating to the financial proposals. The Government has displayed its support of the committee’s recommendations in the way in which it has provided the finance that is required to implement those recommendations. We will find some £20,000,000 over the next three years.
I do not think I overstate or exaggerate the situation when I say that the report of the Murray committee is, if not the most important, at least one of the most important contributions that has ever been made to an examination and an analysis of university and academic life throughout Australia. Some of the ideas that have been advanced are provocative of thought and differ from accepted university procedures in this country. Distinguished though those who supported the even more distinguished chairman of the committee may have been, it could hardly be expected that all the recommendations would be adopted. I think that those who criticize on the ground that specific recommendations have not been adopted might well modify that criticism when they realize that so many others have been adopted. In the final analysis, it is the Government that must accept responsibility for making decisions. In this instance, we made prompt decisions and made them in a handsome manner. I think we have done well by the committee and by the universities of Australia.
I propose now to run briefly through some of the other comments that have been made. Honorable senators have my apology if T do not acknowledge who made the various comments; my notes do not always show who made them. One of the main divergences between the recommendations of the Murray committee and the proposals as finally adopted by the Government was that we have legislated for the establishment of the Australian Universities Commission instead of a universities grants committee as recommended by the Murray committee. The Murray committee recommended something in the nature of an informal committee without statutory authority, having in mind, perhaps, the background of university life in Great Britain rather that not so much university life in. Australia as political and public life. Instead of having an informal committee, the Government has proposed the establishment of a commission having a statutory background. Having regard to’ the importance of the functions that this body will have to discharge, I have no difficulty in believing that it is infinitely better to give it a statutory background.
I have no difficulty in accepting the view that the proposed name of this body is ot great importance, because important as the question of finance is, it is contemplated that the commission shall have a wider sphere of activity than making recommendations relating to finance only. Written into its charter is the clause which gives it the responsibility of aiming at a balanced development of universities in Australia. The word “ balanced “ is left open to interpretation, but it should include balance as between faculties, as between regions within Australia, as between various subjects, and as between various activities of universities. The commission is to be given quite a wide scope, but we must remember, of course, that it is an advisory body. In the final analysis, it is for the Commonwealth Government to decide whether or not it will accept the commission’s recommendations, bearing in mind that although this Government has provided very substantial sums of money, and that it is possible, as a result of the recommendations, that if will be called upon to provide substantial finance in the future, we are basing the whole programme on the principle, with which I am sure everybody agrees, that the antonomy and independence of the universities in their cultural fields will still be reserved to them.
A good deal has been said about the number of members of the commission for which the bill provides, in contrast with the recommendation of the Murray committee. The Murray committee recommended that the commission should consist of eight members, seven of whom would be parttime members. The legislation before us provides for five members, four of whom will be part-time members. The short answer, to the criticism is.thar,. in the* opinion- 06 the: Government, a smaller; body will do more, effective work. Although Australia, has a comparatively small population,, its geographical area is vast. The smaller the body, within reason, the. more effectively. willi it be able to get: together and; deliberate,, and the more effectively will it be able to cope with the. various travelling arrangements. I suppose^ that the people who are. appointed to the: commission will be no different from practising politicians, in that there will always be: a tendency to talk a good deal. I think that we shall get better results with a smaller group than that recommended by the committee. A group of eight people is quite a large one to speak with one voice.
We have provided, in the: legislation, for advisory committees. I do not propose to embark on a detailed description of the functions of those committees, because the commission is to have a wide discretion in that respect. I doubt very much whether the advisory committees will become permanent or standing committees. I rather contemplate that the commission will appoint committees from time to time to obtain advice on specific issues. There might be permanent committees on such big subjects as the strength and effectiveness of medical faculties in universities, or arrangements at teaching hospitals, but I rather think that, by and large, the committees will be selected to do specific jobs and that their members will be chosen on the basis of their qualifications for particular tasks.
An honorable senator asked whether the chairman of the commission would be eligible for re-appointment. The answer is: Yes, he will be eligible for re-appointment in the same way as all other members of the commission. There was some confusion of thought at one stage of the debate about the committees that it is contemplated will be appointed, and criticism was made of the commission being able to delegate its authority. It is not contemplated that these committees will be given any executive authority. Indeed, by and large, the commission itself will have no executive authority. The committee system is aimed at setting up groups of people to give advice to the commission, so that the commission in turn can give advice to the Government.
Senator. Wright, contrasted the. committee proposals in the: legislation, with what I might: call,, for want” al a better term,, the assessor system, in. the. United Kingdom. This is a. subject with, which I am not familiar, but the note that: L have on it states that the assessors to the University Grants Committee in the United Kingdom are persons who take part in the deliberations on matters on which they are competent, to advise, but are without’ voting rights. The committee system envisaged, in the. bill before us is an entirely different proposition, but although the system is- different from the assessor system, the note that I have goes on to say that Sir Keith Murray, in his own university experience in Great Britain, has used this same committee system, in that he: has appointed a. number of. specialist committees.
Senator M’cKenna discussed the position regarding Commonwealth scholarships. He gave the Government credit for providing a more liberal scale of allowances, but he suggested an increase in the number of Commonwealth scholarships. That point, I think, at least in principle, also was advanced by Senator McManus. There are two reasons why the Government has not yet increased the. number of scholarships. The first is that it hesitates to increase the number until it can be reasonably sure that the additional scholarships will be used to. advantage. In other words, the Government has regard to the high failure rate in the early years of university life. We should like to have more experience, so that we may be able to find out why there has been this high rate of failures. The second reason is that it will take time to provide in the universities the additional facilities made possible by the higher level of finance that is being provided.
Senator Wright had something to. say about the fact that we are not acting upon the recommendation of the Murray committee to give the commission a function in relation to the reviewing of university salaries. I have two answers in this regard. First, we have to be careful about not encroaching on the responsibilities of the State university authorities. At the same time, it is the function of the commission to advise the Government on the financial requirements of universities, and therefore lit is reasonable to assume that the level of academic remuneration will be kept in mind. Although it is not in my notes, I think that it is pertinent to remind the Senate that the Murray committee, in its first report, made a recommendation that certain rates of remuneration in universities should be increased, and I think that most State authorities acted promptly on that recommendation. I think, Mr. President, that I have covered most of the points that have been raised.
– Would the Minister touch upon the matter of the Australian National University and the Canberra University College?
– I have no notes about that matter, but it is fresh in my mind. The subject has been discussed by the Government, at some length. I do not think that it is for me to say what the Government’s decision will be. I think that that will be something for the Prime Minister to announce.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Senator MATTNER (South Australia) 13.36]. - I desire to refer to clause 5, which provides - (2.) The Commission shall consist of a Chairman and such other members, not being less than two in number nor more than four in number, as are appointed from time to time. (3.) The members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Governor-General. (4.) The Chairman shall be appointed for a term not exceeding seven years and each other member shall be appointed for a term not exceeding three years. (5.) A member is eligible for re-appointment. I should like the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is in charge of the bill, to inform me whether the chairman will be eligible for reappointment and, if he is, whether he will be re-appointed for three years or seven years.
– The matter is one of legal interpretation - in this case, my own. Sub-clause (2.) provides that the commission shall consist of a chairman and such other members as are appointed from time to time. Therefore, the chairman is a member. Subclause (4.) provides that the chairman shall be appointed for a term not exceeding seven years. That does not mean that he has to be appointed for seven years.
– I follow that.
– Sub-clause (5.) makes a member eligible for reappointment. So we have this position: The chairman is a member. When his seven years’ term runs out he can be re-appointed; he may be re-appointed for any period not exceeding seven years.
.- Clause 5 (2.) provides that the commission shall consist of a chairman and such other members, not being less than two in number nor more than four in number as are appointed from time to time. It appears that we are still in doubt as to the number of members that the commission should comprise, and this indicates that there has been no definite decision as to the criterion of appointment - that it may depend on our finding persons likely to be proper appointees. I should like the Minister to inform me of the principle that requires it to remain indefinite whether the commission shall comprise three or five members.
– This provision is merely to allow flexibility. I think the honorable senator put his finger on the point when he said that a good deal will depend upon the people that are available. I think that, in a matter like this, flexibility is a considerable asset.
– I desire to address two separate questions to the Minister. Clause 4 provides -
The Minister may, by instrument under his hand, direct that this Act shall apply in relation to an institution or proposed institution in Australia specified in the instrument, being an institution or proposed institution for the provision of higher education (including a residential college connected with a university).
Will the Minister explain to me what is meant by the term “ higher education “?
At what standard, may I call it, does an institution become one of higher education. Could the term apply to, say, an institution for ecclesiastical education only a training institution for clergy or does it have to be open to all who may care to go to it?
My second point is this: There seems to be no provision for regulations relating to this measure to be promulgated. Will the Minister explain how regulations, if made under this measure, will be promulgated?
. -I should define “ higher education “ as something based upon the equivalent of matriculation or the leaving certificate something removed from school education. The note that has been given to me reads “ In general, education at university level. For example, the School of Mines, preparing for a university degree “. That takes it a little further afield than I went in my original statement. 1 would have difficulty myself in saying that a theological college was a university. It it were a theological college within a university and subjects in addition to theological subjects were handled at the same time, yes.
– The clause refers, not to a university, but to an institution or a proposed institution.
– There is a definition of “ university “.
– But not of “ institution “.
– The definition includes all established universities. In addition, the commission is given power to advise on proposals to establish new universities and other similar institutions. For example, the commission may report on activities of the South Australian School of Mines in preparing students for degrees at the University of Adelaide and for which provision is already made in the States Grants (Universities) Act 1958.
There is no provision for regulations, because it is not contemplated that there will be a need for them.
.- There is only one other matter to which I wish to direct the Minister’s attention but it is, to my mind, a quite substantial matter. It is based on clause 13 (2.) of the bill, which relates to the furnishing of advice on matters on which the Commonwealth Office of Education is empowered to advise the Minister administering the Education Act.
If we turn to the Education Act, we find that section 5 (2.) provides -
The functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education shall be -
to advise the Minister on matters relating to education.
Clause 13 (2.) of the Australian Universities Commission Bill is in these terms -
The functions of the Commission do not include the furnishing of advice on matters on which the Commonwealth Office of Education is empowered to advise the Minister administering the Education Act 1945-1959.
Honorable senators will see that this subclause takes from the proposed commission one of the functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education as laid down in section 5 (2.) (a) of the Education Act.
– Clause 4 of the Education Bill is in these terms -
Section five of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsection: - “ (3.)In relation to university education, the
Commonwealth Office of Education shall advise the Minister with respect to such matters only as the Minister directs “.
– I can see that the proposed amendment to the Education Act deals with the particular matter to which I have referred. I am obliged to the Minister for directing my attention to that clause. However, the proposed amendment to section 5 of that act does not affect paragraph (a) of section 5 (2.). The sub-section reads - (2.) The functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education shall be -
I am not aware of any proposed amendment of the section which I have just read. As the matter now stands, the Government is giving a very confused charter to the proposed commission. Paragraph (b) reads -
In the alliterative words of the Murray committee, one of the main functions of the proposed commission will be to establish co-operation and co-ordination between State universities and State governments. As I read clause 1 3 (2.), the commission is told that it is not part of its functions to establish and maintain liaison on matters relating to education with other countries and the States. Section 5 (2.) of the Education Act also states - (2.) The functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education shall be -
In reply to my comments last night, the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) said that the proposed commission might be directed to consider the future functions of the Australian National University and the Canberra University College, either integrated or separated as independent universities. The remainder of section 5 (2.) of the Education Act is in these terms -
In view of the terms of the Education Act and the Australian Universities Commission Bill,I should like the Minister to explain how these two measures have been intelligently integrated. To my mind, the provisions of clause 1 3 (2.) of the bill could be construed as eviscerating to a large extent the fulfilment of the purposes of the Education Act as we have been led to understand it.
– Perhaps I may offer some thoughts on the problem that has been posed by Senator Wright. I think our present difficulty has arisen because we did not debate the Australian Universities Commission Bill and the Education Bill together in committee. The Education Bill is really consequential upon the former measure. The Minister for Shipping and Transport . in his secondreading speech, referred to the fact that the two measures contained complementary provisions, but perhaps he did not make himself clear enough. The proposed Australian Universities Commission will be concerned primarily with all matters connected with universities. Senator Wright very properly has referred to section 5 of the Education Act 1945 and has pointed out the exceedingly wide charter that has been granted to the Commonwealth Office of Education. That charter is wide enough to embrace university activities and, according to the provisions of section 5 (2.) (f) could impinge upon the functions of the proposed commission. According to the provisions of clause 13 (2.) of the Australian Universities Commission Bill, the commission is forbidden to consider any matter affecting universities which has been referred by the Minister to the Commonwealth Office of Education. However, clause 4 of the Education Bill puts the matter in its correct perspective.
– The proposed new sub-section (3.) in the Education Act is merely an addition to section 5, not an amendment of or in substitution for the existing provisions.
– It is an addition to section 5 of the act, but obviously it cuts down the broad terms of the existing subsection (2.). Not only is the proposed sub-section (3.) intended to do that; in effect, it actually does that. The Office of Education is told that it may continue under the charter given to it by section 5 (2.) of the Education Act, but it must not touch anything in relation to universities unless directed to do so by the Minister. As the one Minister will be responsible for the administration of both measures, it is clear that the intention is that all questions affecting universities shall be dealt with by the proposed commission, an appropriate prohibition being placed upon the Office of Education to the effect that it shall not concern itself with matters affecting universities unless otherwise directed by the Minister. If that is the intention of the legislation, in my view the intention has been achieved.
– Senator McKenna has conveyed to the committee whatI attempted to convey to Senator Wright by way of interjection.
.- I shall be brief. I am obliged to Senator McKenna for the view that he has expressed. It is based upon clause 4 of the Education Bill. We understood from the Minister’s secondreading speech that that was clearly the purpose that was intended, but, as a matter of construction, I feel that the new commission will be greatly handicapped by the presence of clause 13 (2.) in the form in which it is expressed. I cannot disabuse my mind of the thought that although, by subclause (3.) the Commonwealth Office of Education shall advise the Minister in relation to university education only on matters in respect of which the Minister directs, it has still a function, under sub-clause (2.) to advise the Minister concerning the grant of financial assistance to the States and other authorities for educational purposes.
As to the other paragraphs, I think real confusion arises, and it does indicate to me that the line of demarcation between the functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education and those of the new Australian Universities Commission should be much more clearly drawn. I hope that a complete revision of the existence and functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education will be undertaken. I certainly hope that if it is decided to continue the Commonwealth Office of Education, the line of demarcation between those two bodies will be much more clearly drawn. I cannot imagine how this confused relationship could occur to anybody who proposes to set up a new independent universities commission. I think it is most regrettable that the statute should leave the matter in such a state of confusion.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 28th April (videpage 1085), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The measure now before the Senate proposes to increase the quota subscription to the International Monetary Fund, and to double the capital contribution of Australia to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Opposition supports both proposals.
Quite frankly, if we were not supporting the proposals, I should be full of protest at being obliged to proceed with this debate at the moment. I content myself with what I intend as a mild rebuke to the Government in the circumstances. This measure was introduced with a quite comprehensive secondreading speech on Tuesday evening of this week at almost 10.30 o’clock. We were given simultaneously the reports of the executive directors of the bank, and of the fund, laying the foundations for these various increases.
It is quite certain that proper consideration of this matter demands a study of the original charters of both institutions, an examination of the recent reports of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and a review of the reports made to the Parliament by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth. Anybody who has looked at the charters of the bank and the fund will know how comprehensive and complicated both are. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is in charge of the business of the Senate, and may call on any item, but when I find there are items on the noticepaper which have been there for a considerable period and that this matter is preferred to those which are of far less consequence in the Opposition’s view, and when I find that we are compelled to go on with this debate at very short notice, I think in the first place that it indicates lack of appreciation of the great significance and importance of the subject-matter of this bill.
Secondly, I say that this haste is unfair to the Opposition. Earlier to-day, Senator
Spooner indicated that he had been preoccupied with many parliamentary matters and could not address himself quite fully to the debate on the Australian Universities Commission Bill. I, too, have many matters, both inside and outside the chamber, to attend to, and the only opportunity that I have had to address my mind to this vastly important bill, with its great international complications, developed from late last night, when I was told this would be the next measure for discussion, until this moment. It is unfortunate that the Opposition is put in that position. I say it is not fair. To proceed so hastily with the debate on a measure of this type, even though it may be known that the Opposition supports it, tends to depreciate the role of the Senate itself in the scheme of things in this Parliament.
– You could delegate your responsibility to another member of the Opposition.
– That is easy enough to do, but I cannot imagine that any member of the Opposition would be in any better position than I to prepare a speech on this bill in the limited time that has been available.
It was my fear that the Government proposed to push this matter to a conclusion to-day; in fact, I was so advised, and the very mildness of the protest I am making has been conditioned by the fact that I understand that will not now be so. At least other members of the Opposition will now have an opportunity to consider the matter more adequately than I have been able to do. That, of course, is by way of a preface to my remarks.
When I looked at the bill, I naturally wanted to ascertain how it came to be proposed that the capital of the fund and the bank should be increased substantially. It interested me very much to learn that the proposal originated in America, in a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. R. B. Anderson, to the President of the United States on 18th August last - not very long ago. In that letter, Mr. Anderson posed the problem for the President’s consideration in terms which show clearly that there is a political, as well as an economic, purpose for these two bodies. The first paragraph of the letter from the Secretary of the Treasury at Washington to the President, dated 18th August, 1958, reads -
Dear Mr. President:
We have frequently discussed together the importance of a sound and sustainable growth in the economy of the free world to both the foreign and domestic policy objectives of the United States. Over the longer term, I believe that the well-being of the friendly nations depends not only on the economic and financial health of the industrialized nations of Europe, North America, and elsewhere, but also upon the economic growth and progress of nations in the less developed areas of the free world.
Then he explained the activities of the fund and the bank and invited the President to give him a direction as to his wishes. They move very promptly in America, apparently, because from the White House at Washington on 26th August-
– Where is the record to which you are referring?
– I am reading from page 1294 of the “Hansard” report of the proceedings in the House of Representatives on 16th September, 1958. The Prime Minister, in reply to a question by a member of that House on how the matter we are discussing to-day originated, incorporated two letters in “ Hansard “. The President wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury at length, agreeing with the statement I have just outlined, and saying -
It is universally true, in my opinion, that governmental strength and social stability call for an economic environment which is both dynamic and financially sound. Among the principal elements in maintaining such an economic basis for the free world are (1) a continuing growth in productive investment, international as well as domestic; (2) financial policies that will command the confidence of the public, and assure the strength of currencies; and (3) mutually beneficial international trade and a constant effort to avoid hampering restrictions on the freedom of exchange transactions.
Later in the letter the President said -
First: In your capacity as United States Governor of the International Monetary Fund, I should like to have you propose, at the Annual Meeting of the Fund at New Delhi in October, that prompt consideration be given to the advisability of a general increase in the quotas assigned to the member governments.
Then he gave a direction in similar terms to the secretary in his capacity as United States Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He wrote -
I should like to have you propose, at the Annual Meeting of the Bank, that prompt consideration be given to the advisability of an increase in the authorized capital ot the Bank. . . .
Those are very interesting and informative letters. 1 thought it would be interesting for the Senate to know the point at which the move came for increases of the capital of the fund and the bank. I am not querying or voicing any objection to the way in which this began. I am starting at the appropriate historical point. When the governors met at New Delhi in October, the matter was referred to the executive directors, who, very promptly - by December, 1958 - brought in a most comprehensive report. We have that report before us now, through the courtesy of the Minister at the table. It is a document that demands close attention and study, if one wants an understanding of this matter. I have scanned it and given to it such consideration as I could. It is most informative.
Adverting to my original theme, I note from reading the report that there is no hurry about this matter. The resolutions relating to increases of the capital of both the bank and the fund provide that notices of acquiescence in the proposal may be lodged up to 15th September of this year. That seems to me to be a further reason why there should be no undue haste in dealing with this bill, and no particular reason for preferring it to other matters before the Senate. Certainly there is no reason for putting it ahead of other measures at a time when, I claim, adequate consideration cannot be given to it.
– Has that notice been given, or is it to be given only after approval by this Parliament?
– The Minister indicated in his second-reading speech that parliamentary approval is not strictly required. Speaking from memory, I believe there is a provision, in relation to both the fund and the bank - I am going back now twelve years, apart from a photographic look at the charter to-day - that members holding three-fourths of the voting power can, by resolution, agree to an increase in capital. Am I right?
– I thought therewas power in the charter itself to provide for such increases. I recollect that the Minister in his second-reading speech indicated that the Government recognized that principle, but still thought it proper to bring a bill before the Parliament.
– I asked my question because I wanted the Minister to make good that claim.
– I can say to the honorable senator in reply - perhaps anticipating the Minister’s difficulty in locating the provision in this enormous document - that such a provision did catch my eye to-day when I was glancing through the documents.
– How many countries are involved?
– There are 68 countries involved, but, of course, they have varying voting rights, according to their various quota subscriptions.
– At what page of the document is that to be found?
– I cannot locate it at the moment, although I saw it to-day. As I continue my speech, if I happen to see it in the document, I will let the honorable senator know where it is to be found.
– I was thinking, of course, whether the Treasurer has power, on behalf of this Parliament, to commit us to an appropriation without parliamentary authority, whatever is stated in the original agreement.
– There may well be a point involved there. It would depend, I suggest to the honorable senator, upon the terms of the appropriation provision in the original act, which may well have authorized payment of the amounts that are required. I notice that section 8 provides -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is, to the necessary extent, hereby appropriated accordingly, such amounts as Australia is, from time to time, required to pay to the Fund in pursuance of paragraph (c) or (d) of section eight of Article V. of the Fund Agreement.
There does appear to have been a complete appropriation. I think the honorable senator has led me to answer a question that he asked me a while ago, namely, where the authority was to be found for Australia to agree to an increase in the fund without reference to Parliament. I think it is in section 8 of Article V.
– I intended my interjections to be helpful. I hope that they are not a handicap.
– I find them interesting, but they have demonstrated that, in dealing with a document of this type, with very limited opportunity for refreshing one’s mind, one cannot put one’s hand instantly on a particular provision. I did see one which related to increase and I recall that it can be done on the basis of a three-fourths recommendation. I shall be obliged to the honorable senator if he can find the particular provision.
The fund and the bank were formed for two different purposes. They were established at Bretton Woods and we of the Australian Labour Party, who were then in government, gave anxious consideration to whether Australia should accept membership. We decided in favour of it because we thought that it was a movement productive of world order in the field of international trade and currency. We thought that it might prevent violent fluctuations in the exchange rates and currencies of various countries. There was also the additional consideration that in an emergency born of balance of payment difficulties, perhaps occasioned by falling export incomes - attributable to droughts, floods or something of the kind - countries could quickly obtain currency of a type that was in short supply so far as they were concerned. Those were the broad purposes of the bank. We thought it desirable to bring to those various fields some semblance of order. We thought that it should not be left to the vagaries of markets or private speculators. We thought it infinitely better that there should be an international body, in effect comprising the governments of the world, keeping a check on that situation.
– Would you not say that your action has proved to be justified?
– Yes. It has served a useful purpose, but the whole idea was new then and demanded mature consideration. The idea of world government was only just being born. We had had the failure of the League of Nations and we hesitated to surrender our financial freedom as a country in the interests of world trade. True, world trade might be improved and we might benefit as a result, but we feared embarrassment from time to time by reason of the fact that our export income, being so dependent upon primary production, was liable to grave fluctuations which could, in turn, affect the nature, quality and quantity of our imports, with a consequent desperate impact upon secondary industry, the great avenue of employment in this country.
A perusal of the charter of the fund reveals that we are prohibited from varying our exchange rate, except with the consent of the fund and subject to conditions which are particularized in Article IV of the schedule under the heading, “Changes in par values”. Section 5 provides -
That was one of the escape doors to which we gave a good deal of consideration. What was the fundamental disequilibrium? One reads further -
There are certain circumstances in which we may vary without reference to the fund. Where the variation does not exceed 10 per cent, of the initial par value the fund is to be consulted, but can raise no objection. There are also limitations, and very grave penalties too. As I recall it, if a member country fails to honour its obligations^ - departing in the slightest particular - it must confer with the fund at least annually, so that the fund will know what steps the country is taking and when it may be expected to emerge from its difficulties. That is a very good service; a very necessary policing of the activities of the member nations.
If a country persists in a breach of its obligations under the fund its withdrawal from membership can be forced; and that could have serious consequences. By and large, I agree with Senator Hannaford that both bodies have proved useful. I do confess to some feeling of disappointment that they have not had a far more widespread effect upon international trade and the development of under-developed countries. I had looked at the capital of £2,000,000,000 with which the fund began, and had felt that it was of astronomical order. Since that time I have realized that it pales into insignificance when compared with even the annual expenditure on defence in the various countries concerned.
Originally Australia contributed £89,000,000, or 200,000,000 dollars. That has been our contribution ever since 1947. It has been the one amount of capital that we have contracted to make available - a limited amount in gold and the balance in securities and in our own currency. We have contracted to supply £89,000,000 Australian, but pursuant to the charter we have supplied only one-fifth of that amount. Each year for the last ten years, the period during which the fund and the bank have been operating, we have spent £200,000,000 on defence. I repeat, our contribution to the bank and the fund was to be of the order of £89,000,000 over a period of ten or twelve years. When one looks at it in that light one can see that vast things could not be accomplished by either the fund or the bank. There is not, of course, the same strain on the fund as there would be on a bank. The bank was formed for a very different purpose. The fund has a broad, general purpose, but the bank, as its name implies, is an international bank for reconstruction and development. Its original purpose was to restore countries that had been shattered by the war, as well as to aid under-developed countries. It was intended to help those countries on to their feet.
I studied the whole proposal in embryo, over a good many months. I did my best to examine and understand the two charters and to realize how they would affect Australia’s future, so far as one could estimate. One naturally forms an estimate in one’s mind as to how these funds will work out and, frankly, I was shocked to find at one stage that Australia was the biggest borrower for reconstruction and development on the fund’s books. Many countries of the world need development much more than does Australia.
– Australia is still the second largest borrower.
– It shocked me to find that that was so. I was shocked to find that that was so readily done, that the bank was operating upon what appeared to be a selection of the best risks that were offering.
It certainly has a. very excellent risk with) Australia. But my feeling about the purpose of the International Bank was that it was to direct its energies, in the interests of world peace and stability, towards the under-developed countries. Our contribution to that end- a paltry £89,000,000, of which we found only one-twentieth under our obligations to the bank, the rest being held in reserve - is really an insignificant contribution for this country, and relatively so for many others.
What I felt might have happened was that the nations which could afford to put in money would do so on a big scale and! that it would be available at the lowest interest to the countries that really needed development. When I speak of countries, I am not thinking of geographical areas; I am thinking of the human beings, the hundreds of millions in Asian countries who have never owned a home, who live onthe footpaths, who breed and die there, and the poverty, degradation and lack of healthfacilities that are available in so many other parts of the world. It was the fundamental services for those people that I felt the bank was established to correct or to help tocorrect.
But what do we find? Looking over the history of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, we find that it has behaved like every normal bank does. It did not call up more than one-fifth of the total capital that was payable by its members; it left a large four-fifths uncalled liability with its members. Then, offering that as security, it went on to the money markets of the United States of America, London, Canada, and Sweden I think, and borrowed moneys at vastly different rates of interest. I refer the Senate to pages 52 and 53 of the thirteenth annual report of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for 1957-58, at which the borrowings and the funded debt of the bank are set out.. The interest rates on its borrowings - borrowings on the security of its uncalled capital from all 68 member nations, a tremendous security - ranged from 2 per cent, on serial bonds of 1950 due in 1959-62 to 4i per cent, on 23-year bonds of 1957 due in 1980. Nothing goes over 5 per cent. The bank has borrowed United Statesdollars, Canadian dollars, Netherlandsguilders, sterling in London, and Swiss. francs. Money has beenreadily available. Thebank in turn has lent to various applicants the equivalent of some 4,000,000,000 dollars. Last year it lent, I think, 711,000,000 dollars. They are amounts of magnitude.
The point is that the bank has conducted normalbanking transactions. It has accepted deposits.One might say that it has issued bonds that are -readily negotiable on the world’s markets.But, in effect, it has taken deposits and has lent to various borrowers. Of course, the borrowershave to pay more than the rates of interest that the bank pays to its depositors. Therefore, it becomes rather dear money for those who are obliged to seek it. The rate of interest ranges up to 43/4per cent,and thereabouts. I have a feeling of disappointment that that interest element emerges so largely in the activities of the International Bank. From the viewpoint of financial management, the bankhas been extraordinarily well managed. The President, Mr. Eugene Black, is one of the very bright financial men that the worldhas seen.
When one looks at the activities of the bank, one is just staggered by the kinds of thing they encompass. In the shorttime that it hasbeen in operation,the bank has developed the most enormous set of technical services, and inthe interest of peace in the world it has done some excellent things. The bank has experts of all nationalities in every conceivable field. I do not wish to deal with the matter in detail, but on page . 6, and subsequent pages, of the thirteenth annual report of the bank there is a very interesting description of the technical service that the bank renders. For example, it was the bank which intervened in the argument between the Arabs and the United Kingdom. Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Senate donow adjourn.
– I direct the attention of the Senate and particularly you, Mr. President, to the fact thatthereis a Standing Orders
Committee, to which reference is made on the noticepaper each day,but which I think youwill agree has not met for a great number of years. Although an instance has not happened within the last few weeks,I donot think a session ever goes by without ourfinding ourselves dealing with some antiquated standing order. I think everyone will agree that the Standing Orders of the Senate, if not those of another place, are long overdue for overhaul. As I imagine you, Mr. President, are chairman of that committee, I was wondering whether you would have alook at the position and ask the Clerk to report on the anomalies that have arisen overthe last year ortwo with a viewto making the Standing Orders much more practicable.
I do not wish to deal with all the anomalies that have occurred; indeed,I would not be capable of doing so. But at a cursory glance, and not having by any meansexamined the Standing Orders from cover to cover, I think I can put beforeyou at leastonestanding order that will certainly bear examination. I refer to StandingOrder No. 180, which has always intrigued me, andwhichreads -
While theSenate is dividing senators may speak, sitting, to aPoint of Order arising out of or during the Division.
It has always seemed ludicrous to me, Mr. President, that when an honorable senator wants to address you in the middle of a division he should retain his seat instead of rising. In other words, the position is quite the reverse from that which is prescribed by other standing orders. In division, an honorable senator goes throughthe rather ridiculous performance of -placing a sheet of paper on his head while he speaks to you. I understand that that procedure flows from the practice of the House of Commons. There, members file out into the lobbies when a division is being taken. When a member wants to attract the attention of Mr. Speaker, he sits and places something on his head. That is because there could be up to 622 people milling around to get into the lobbies. All those people are on their feet.
Butthat does not happen inthis chamber.As we allknow, when a division occurs here every one is seated and no one has his hat on. Therefore, the obvious thing to be done by any one who wanted toattract your attention would be to rise and address you just as he would on any other occasion.
I direct attention also to Standing Order No. 64, which deals with a practice adopted quite often, generally by the Opposition, of moving the adjournment of the Senate to a time and date not fixed by sessional orders in order to discuss a matter of urgency. The standing order requires that four senators shall rise to support the motion. I suggest that that requirement was fixed when the Senate consisted of 30 members. Today, the Senate consists of 60 members. If the requirement of four senators was of any importance of course, the position should be examined carefully it obviously should be altered.
Honorable senators will remember that some time ago we had quite a controversy about the interpretation of Standing Orders Nos. 271 and 423. I think that everybody in the Senate became quite upset at the time, and no one knew much about the position. Honorable senators interpreted those standing orders in different ways. Standing Order No. 423, which is in almost identical terms with Standing Order No. 271, reads as follows: -
When any Senator objects to words used in Debate, and desires them to be taken down, the President shall direct them to be taken down by the Clerk accordingly.
If I remember correctly, the ruling given by the Chair on the occasion to which I am referring, was that the words need not be taken down, despite the almost mandatory terms of the standing order. The heat of debate has passed, and we have since had time to think about this matter. I do not know what purpose is served by requiring that words shall be taken down by the Clerk. Whether it is thought that he may have a better handwriting than the “ Hansard “ reporter, I do not know. I suggest that the desired objective would be achieved by taking objection to the words and debating and deciding the question there and then. The debate on the occasion I have in mind was a complete shemozzle, if I may so describe it. We did not know where we were, and the only result was that the time of the Senate was wasted.
I come now to a standing order which 1 think is a good one, but I have never been able to understand the way in which it is interpreted. I refer to Standing Order No. 406, which insists that no senator shall read his speech. I say that this is a good standing order, because if there were no such rule, all sorts of things could happen. For instance, an honorable senator could read a leading article from a newspaper as a part of his speech, or people outside the Parliament could write a speech for him to read. However, whenever objection is taken on the ground that some one is reading his speech, the practice in both Houses is for the occupant of the chair to say, “ I cannot see that the honorable member is reading his speech. He seems to be quoting from copious notes.” Of course, I am not referring to the reading by Ministers of secondreading speeches. In that respect, the Parliament extends a courtesy to Ministers, although I must say, speaking of this Government, that that courtesy is not always returned. Unless we want to make a complete farce of the standing order,I think that the Standing Orders Committee should consider the matter. I am not suggesting that such a provision should be removed from the Standing Orders. I think that it should stay and that it should be observed, but I think that there should be clarification regarding what are copious notes and what is a written speech.
I have mentioned the standing orders to which I have referred, not because I think they should be given priority by the Standing Orders Committee if it is decided to consider this matter, but because they have made an impression on my mind. During the period of almost ten years that 1 have been a member of the Senate, I do not think any effort has been made to amend those Standing Orders. We have a Standing Orders Committee, composed of experienced members from both sides of the Senate, and I think that it could give really effective service in this regard. I suggest, Sir, that you consider the remarks I have made. You may care to consult the officers of the Parliament, and also the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. If you find that there is anything of merit in the suggestions I have made, you may be good enough to act on them.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I shall certainly confer with the members of the Standing Orders Committee to ascertain their wishes in the matter and whether they desire to go through the Standing Orders. I agree that some of the standing orders appear to be out of date, but, by and large, they seem to work satisfactorily. However, there is no reason why those that are obviously out of date should remain. I must say that in many of these matters,I am very largely guided by Senator McKenna, because I consider him to be quite an authority on the Standing Orders.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590430_senate_23_s14/>.