25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I move -
That, until the end . of the present period of sittings, and in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-60 leave be granted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works to meet during the sitting of the Senate.
By way of explanation, I point out that it is proposed that the Public Works Committee shall meet in Melbourne this afternoon. The approval of the Senate is needed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls the Government considering, or is it about to consider, the appointment of a successor to Viscount De L’Isle as Governor-General? If so, will it take note of the overwhelming opinion of the Australian people, as evidenced in recent gallup polls, that an Australian should be appointed to this exalted position?.
There is clearly a clash of views on this matter. I do not accept the view that the overwhelming proportion of the Australian people want an Australian to be appointed. In any event, I do not think it is seemly to discuss this matter on the basis of question and answer.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question which I regard as being of considerable importance. In view of Australia’s dependence upon its great primary export industries, does he not consider that the discovery of a deposit of high grade rock phosphate vies with the discovery of oil as being Australia’s greatest need? Has he seen a report of the statement by Professor T. G. Hunter that the Government should make an award of at least £25,000 for the discovery of high grade phosphate in Australia? Has the Government considered such a suggestion or, alternatively, have other means of encouraging the discovery of this much needed commodity been canvassed?
The discovery of phosphate rock would be of very great importance indeed to Australia. I have not seen a report of Professor Hunter’s statement, to which the honorable senator has referred, but I have noted that the sort of approach that apparently he has suggested has been suggested in other quarters. Comparatively recently the Government asked a group of its officers to consider various methods of stimulating the search for phosphate. More recently that committee was asked to make its views available as quickly as possible. When the committee lets us have its analyses and proposals, they will be considered by the Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and also concerns phosphate derivatives. Is the Minister aware that there is a critical shortage of superphosphate in the south-western areas of New South Wales, and that this may be associated with the legislation which was passed by the last Parliament providing a bounty on superphosphate production? Has the Government made any follow-up investigation to see whether the legislation has really acted adversely in practice in the farming areas of New South Wales?
– The bounty legislation increased very materially indeed the demand for superphosphate. There is no doubt about that. The manufacturers, as I understand it, have found that the demand in some States and some areas has increased rather more than they expected. However, I do not think we can yet say that the existing manufacturers will not be able to meet even the increased demand.
– That is the position.
– You know it is?
– I am sui” it is the position.
Well, 1 hae ma doots about that. But this matter is of such consequence to the primary producer that I am quite certain the relevant Ministers will be looking at it and trying to find a solution.
– 1 address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When docs the Government propose to allow the resumption of the debate on the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television? ls it a fact that although the report has been debated on three sitting days during the present session of the Senate, and eleven senators, including six members of the select committee and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, have spoken in the debate, not one Minister has participated nor has any indication been given as to whether the Government intends to implement the recommendations contained in the report? In view of the deafening silence of the Government, are we to lake it that the Government intends to pigeon-hole this report, which was the result of many months of work by the select committee?
– I hope that Senator Cohen will agree with me when I suggest that we do not want a resumption of the debate to-day. I think we are on common ground there. 1 am quite certain that we would be willing to restore this matter to the business paper at the request of honorable senators. thought the position had been reached at which the subject, for purposes of debate in the Senate, was just about exhausted and that there were no further speakers from the back benches. No Minister has taken part in the debate for the reason that if a Minister took part he would, in effect, be expressing Government policy on the matter. As no Government policy decision has been made, it is not practicable lor Ministers to participate in the debate.
My recollection also is that the report of the select committee contained some 67 recommendations - certainly a great number of recommendations - and although the report may have been completed a few months ago, it is not fair to say that it has been pigeon-holed because it has not yet produced Government decisions. Many other problems relating to television are also being considered by the Government. I did try to get some preliminary expression of opinion from the Postmaster-General for the purpose of the Senate debates, but I have not yet been able to do so.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Having regard to Dr. Coombs’s warning to hire-purchase industry executives this week that Australia’s economy, after one of the most protracted upswings in post-war history, was approaching conditions of overstrain and that we must be prepared to slow down, does the Minister agree that Dr. Coombs’s warning presages a likely imposition of credit restrictions? In view of Dr. Coombs’s slatement, may I ask the Minister for how long the Vernon committee, set up by the Government to inquire into and report upon the national economy, has been sitting? Is the Minister able to say whether the committee has heard evidence in recent times from Dr. Coombs? When can the committees report be expected?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__
I cannot say when the committee is going to make its report. I know that the committee is working very hard indeed. 1 have heard it said that ils report will become available within the next month or so but I should not like to say whether that information is accurate, lt is a massive task and it is being gone about in a very thorough way. I see the evidence of that from the information that is being obtained by the departments. I do not propose to comment on Dr. Coombs’s expression of views or say whether I agree or disagree with them. 1 do not think it is proper to do so. He is the governor of the central bank and he is entitled to express bis views. It is a good thing that he does so. As to whether his statement presages a credit squeeze or credit restrictions. 1 have to destroy the honorable member’s hopes by saying that I do not think so. As he is in Opposition, I know that he would like to sec the need arise for the Government to do something unpleasant, but 1 think that the events of recent months show that the financial authorities are adopting procedures which are giving the desired results. I sincerely hope so. I am watching with great interest the various moves they are making.
(Question No. 131.)
asked the Minis ter for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to Ihe honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 133.)
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 140.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies: -
Although not a member of the plan, Brunei, a protectorate of the United Kingdom, has received some assistance under the Colombo Plan.
Tn addition, £235,000 had been spent on the Mekong survey and £1,057,706 has been incurred on administrative and other miscellaneous expenses. Australia had not incurred any expenditure on assistance to the three newest members of the plan - Bhutan, the Maldives and Afghanistan - up to the end of 1963.
(Question No. 156.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 161.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 162.)
asked the Minister for
Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
and 2. The radar is primarily an air traffic control tool and will provide air traffic controllers with a continuous and accurate picture of the disposition of civil and military aircraft within a radius of approximately 150 miles of Adelaide. Without it, air traffic controllers must rely upon periodical position reports from pilots over a radio communications network. This is slower and less accurate. The principal benefit will be enhanced safety, especially in those instances where civil or military aircraft make an unannounced manoeuvre. A further advantage will be greater expedition of aircraft movements, especially in adverse weather, and therefore greater economy in aircraft operations.
(Question No. 144.)
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
Capital expenditure in the New South Wales coal industry is continuing at a high rale. £7,900,000 was spent during 1962-63. This total included expenditure on underground, face and transport equipment, coal preparation plants and new drifts. As a result the following improvements have been achieved -
Within New South Wales there have been, this year, sharp increases in coal consumption by the steel industry and for electricity generation. Both these industries have recently installed modern equipment for coal utilization and both industries are being supplied to a major extent by modern highly mechanized captive mines. The Commonwealth’s proposals, based on the Committee’s recommendations, for increased research into the use of coal were recently agreed to at a meeting of Ministers and representatives of industry. Steps are now being taken to give effect to these proposals.
– I bring up the nineteenth report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. This is a general report of the committee’s activities since it last reported to the Senate.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I ask for leave to propose a motion in relation to the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move -
That the Senate take note of the report.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed from 20th May (vide page 1344), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
Thai the bill be now read a second time.
. This bill proposes to amend the Explosives Act 1961 by providing that the powers already held by the Commonwealth under the Explosives Act and regulations shall be extended to the handling of defence explosives which are to be dumped at sea. lt seems surprising, as this method of dumping of outmoded ammunition and other explosives has been used through the years, that this loophole in the act has not been closed before this. However, the act will now be amended to make certain that the Commonwealth has full powers relating to (he dumping of service explosives at sea.
Another power sought in this measure relates to Commonwealth-State relationships. Power is sought with regard to the transport of Commonwealth explosives by rail, similar to the power that already exists with regard to the handling of explosives in ports, lt would appear that under the defence section of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers the Commonwealth, in time of war, has full authority to use State instrumentalities for the transport of explosives, it would naturally follow that if that power were used the Commonwealth would take full responsibility for indemnifying the State instrumentalities in respect of damage or anything else which might arise from the transport of explosives. 1 would like the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) when replying, to give an assurance that this matter has been thoroughly canvassed and that the States will bc given that protection when the Commonwealth is using their railways for the purpose of transporting explosives.
The bill also contains a provision relating to Comonwealth-owned or Commonwealthcontrolled explosives which are not for defence purposes. It is quite reasonable that, with Commonwealth activities expanding as they are and with the use of explosives for extensive mining operations and other purposes increasing, such explosives used on behalf of the Common wealth should be covered by the act. The bill will remove any doubt which might at present exist in this regard.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, referred to obsolete or surplus explosives being loaded into merchant vessels for disposal by dumping at sea and to the indemnifying of the port authorities concerned by the making of an order, lt appears that merchant ships and port authorities need to be covered in this regard by the Commonwealth, and 1 presume that that action will be taken. A differentiation is made between surplus or obsolete explosives and condemned explosives. This matter came very much to the forefront of the minds of the people of Australia at the time of the tragic “ Woomera “ disaster. “ Woomera “, which was a naval vessel used, among many other things, as a rouseabout to do transport work for the Royal Australian Navy, was engaged in an exercise involving the dumping of old ammunition. Apparently there was some breakdown in the method for differentiating between condemned and unsafe explosives and obsolete or surplus explosives. I hope that the Government will extend its interest in these matters to make certain that the risks inherent in the handling of condemned explosives by the services are reduced to the lowest possible level.
Another provision of the bill relates to explosives of a general nature which are manufactured by the Commonwealth and are intended to be sent to the governments of other countries. Provision is made for them to be handled in our ports on the same basis as other Commonwealth explosives. I understand that this is in anticipation of arrangements being made for explosives of any nature that are manufactured here and are under Commonwealth control to leave Australian ports and to be handled similarly to other explosives.
The purpose of the bill is to tidy the Explosives Act 1961 by making provision for these four main amendments. The Senate has been assured that when the act comes into operation by proclamation on a date to be fixed, any recommendations that are made by the permanent committee of the Australian Port Authorities Association will be very carefully considered before regulations are made. That definite assurance has been given to the Senate. I feel that matters of this nature need the most careful scrutiny, and close consultation with the Australian port authorities.
I feel quite certain that the department administering the Explosives Act will act in- the best interests of all concerned. We do not oppose the measure and hope that it will have a speedy passage through the Senate.
– Mr. President, I rise to answer a specific question asked by Senator O’Byrne. If an order is made under this act by the Commonwealth, an indemnity will be given to the States concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
CELLULOSE ACETATE FLAKE BOUNTY BILL 1964.
Debate resumed from 20th May (vide page 1344), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. President, this bill to amend the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act is a machinery measure. A report is being prepared by the Tariff Board on the subject of cellulose acetate flake manufactured in this country. Sufficient time does not remain, before the current parliamentary sittings end, to enable the Government to receive, study and act on the board’s report. To allow such steps to be taken, the operation of the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act 1956-1961 is to be extended to 31st December, 1964. This bill provides for that. When the matter comes up for further consideration the Senate will have had the opportunity of studying the Tariff Board report. In view of the growing importance of cellulose acetate flake to our economy, I am certain that we will be much better armed to take part in a discussion after a thorough Tariff Board inquiry into all aspects of the industry has taken place. The Opposition does not oppose the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 20th May (vide page 1384), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill before the Senate relates to the sulphate of ammonia bounty. It has been introduced as a result of the recommendation of the Tariff Board to increase the bounty from £2 a ton to £4 a ton. The bill prescribes an annual limitation on the bounty, in a full year, of £450,000. It will give a measure of protection to the Australian manufacturers of nitrogenous fertilizers and enable them to produce this most important fertilizer on an economic basis.
Sulphate of ammonia is largely manufactured in Tasmania by the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited, the process used being an extension of the treatment of zinc. It has proved to be an economic proposition. Three other companies manufacture sulphate of ammonia, namely the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, at Port Kembla and Newcastle, the Australian Gas Light Company Limited, which produces a small amount, and Australian Fertilizers Limited.
During the course of its report the Tariff Board pointed out that the synthetic production of ammonia, as a by-product, is the source of nitrogen in this fertilizer. Sulphate of ammonia is growing in importance and is being used more and more by people wishing to build up the fertility of their soil by adding to its nitrogen content. The increase in the use of nitrogenous fertilizers can be illustrated by the fact that in 1959 production of sulphate of ammonia amounted to 113,000 tons and imports to 20,000 tons. During 1963, the imports rose to 37,500 tons. This created very keen competition, particularly as the Canadian product was produced under much more economical conditions than the Australian product was.
In times like the present, when costs have an important bearing on the ability of our primary products to compete on world markets,I do not think that too much emphasis can be placed on the need to build up soil fertility. The use of superphosphate, which also enjoys a bounty, and of a combination of superphosphate and other nitrogenous elements such as potash can considerably change the whole outlook of many pastoral and agricultural areas. Some areas have become impoverished because of leaching and, in many instances, overstocking. There is no doubt in the minds of people who have become accustomed to using fertilizers that the combination of superphosphate and sulphate of ammonia replenishes the depleted supply of nitrogen in the soil, builds up the body of feed and so improves the carrying capacity of land.
The Tariff Board has gone very thoroughly into the subject. After its examination, it recommended that, to give the Australian companies producing sulphate of ammonia an opportunity to compete on equal terms with the imported product, they should receive a bounty of £4 a ton with a limit of £450,000 a year, still maintaining the 10 per cent. profit limitation prescribed in the act. I would hope that this matter would come up for review again in the future. Encouragement should be given to the companies manufacturing sulphate of ammonia and other fertilizers. The advancement of the primary industries is becoming more and more dependent on the application of fertilizers and the cost of fertilizers is quite a big item in the eventual cost of production of the commodity. In these circumstances, it should be Government policy to ensure that superphosphate and fertilizers generally reach the farmers and are spread on the land at the lowest possible cost. Although the manufacturers in Australia are producing almost 100,000 tons a year, the demand will continue to grow and there must be a continuing supply without times of scarcity. It would be a great pity if the farmers were required to pay an extra £4 a ton for fertilizer needed to maintain production.
I think there should be some elasticity in a matter such as this. At present, the fertilizer companies have a flood of orders as a result of the increased use of superphosphate and, of course, the use of a combination of superphosphate and sulphate of ammonia will increase. The resulting pressure on the companies will make it imperative for them to expand their treatment plants. 1 hope the Government will watch the position very closely. Country that previously was not top dressed because it was not considered worthwhile to do so is responding extraordinarily well to the application of superphosphate and combinations of nitrogenous fertilizers. It has been said that a dressing of nitrogenous fertilizer even on natural grasses, without the use of imported types of clover or basic nitrogenous legumes, will improve the quality of native grasses and in some instances their value as feed becomes equal to the traditional high quality grasses such as clover and other imported plants.
Farmers and agriculturists generally should be encouraged to expand and extend the application of nitrogenous fertilizers. Replacing the nitrogen in the soil can be only in the national interest and it is to be hoped that this bounty will help to make the fertilizer available to more people and will put the industries producing it on a sound footing. The Opposition does not oppose the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 20th May (vide page 1 326), on motion by Senator Gorton - That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill now before the Senate grants financial assistance to the States for science laboratories and equipment in schools and for buildings and equipment used in technical training in schools. For the year 1964-65, the bill appropriates two sums, one for each of the purposes that are indicated in the title of the bill. The first is an amount of £4,952,900. This falls short of £5,000,000, the amount mentioned by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his policy speech on this subject, by £47,100. The reason for this is that there will be a separate appropriation in the Budget session to cover that amount for schools in the Australian Capital Territory.
The second appropriation is for £5,000,000 in favour of technical schools. 1 note only one condition attached to the making of these grants. The condition in relation to science laboratories and equipment for use in schools is set out in subclause (3.) of clause 2, which provides that the amount will be applied by the State, as approved by the Minister, for purposes in connexion with laboratories and equipment for use in the teaching of science in schools at the secondary level of education. A school is defined in sub-clause (4.) as a school or similar institution, whether conducted by a State or not.
When we turn to the grant for buildings and equipment for use in technical training again we find that it is to operate for the year 1964-65. Although the bill does not state the fact, the proposal is that this grant will be an annually recurring one for an indefinite period of years. No particular term has been indicated. The condition under which the grant in relation to technical training is given is similar to the condition under which the grant for science laboratories and equipment is given. The amount will be applied by the State as approved by the Minister for purposes in connexion with buildings and equipment for use in the training in schools of persons for employment in trades and technical operations. Sub-clause (4.) of clause 3 defines “ school “ as a school or similar institution conducted by a State. The sub-clause provides that seven institutions named in the Third Schedule to the bill shall be deemed to be schools and to be free to participate in the grant of £5,000,000. I will return later to the subject of conditions attaching to the grant.
I want to address myself now to the basis upon which the grants have been allocated in the first instance to each State. Later I will show how the distribution in the State is made. One does not find these provisions in the bill. They appear in statements made by Ministers and, to an extent, in the second-reading speeches made in another place and in this chamber. I deal first with the sum of £4,952,900 for science laboratories and equipment. That amount has been allocated between State and non-State schools on an Australia-wide basis in proportion to the numbers of secondary school pupils in government and non-government schools as certified by the Commonwealth Statistician. It is interesting to see that that is the first approach towards making an Australia-wide distribution as between the two types of schools - State and non-State. The figures are based on the very comprehensive statistics which, to my surprise, I find the Commonwealth Statistician has in the matter of school populations. Distributing the amount I have mentioned on that base yielded £3,618,900 for government schools and £1,334,000 for non-government schools. The Senate will be interested to know that in 1963 there were 491,836 pupils in government secondary schools and 181,499 pupils in non-government secondary schools, making a total secondary school population in Australia of 673,335. Our secondary school population is approaching the surprisingly high figure of 700,000 pupils.
Next we come to the distribution of the £3,618.900. That sum has been distributed between the States in proportion to their respective populations. We depart from the basis adopted for the severance of the initial grant between State and non-State schools and then we pick up the section allocated to States and divide that according to populations. That does not seem to me to be a logical basis for the distribution. The problem is one of the needs of students and prospective students; it is not a matter of the size of the population. I concede that from what we have been told it appears that five of the States have agreed to the distribution on that base, but Tasmania has protested and has not acquiesced. Tasmania claims that the distribution between States should have been effected on the basis of the number of secondary school pupils. As a cold matter of logic that claim seems right to me.
– I do not think Tasmania claimed that. I think it claimed that the total school population should have been taken into account.
– I thank the Minister for his correction. Tasmania referred to the total school population. That is a reasonable claim because the needs of secondary schools to which this grant is directed for the future must be assessed having regard to the pupils in primary schools and the flood of children moving through to secondary schools. When I look at this proposal I see the logic, the wisdom and the practical considerations that influenced the Tasmanian Government to select that basis. In my view Tasmania has prepared and presented to the Commonwealth for consideration a very powerful case on this subject. Tasmania points out that it has a higher percentage birthrate than any other State and claims that for this reason it is entitled to some differential consideration. lt also points, among many other factors into which I do not propose to go, to the fact that there is a tendency for young Tasmanian adults to move at an early stage to the mainland States, where they find wider opportunities for employment. Both the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) have acknowledged the receipt of representations from the Tasmanian Government. They have indicated that the Commonwealth will be flexible in its approach to this matter after the experience of the first year.
Before I leave the topic of Tasmania’s case I indicate, to show what is involved, that had the formula contended for by Tasmania been followed that State would have received £22,600 more for science laboratories and equipment and an additional £41,000 for technical schools - a total extra amount of £63,600.
– Senator, will you give me the benefit of your views as to why the division for technical school students should be made on the basis of total school population instead of the proportion to secondary school students?
– Simply because I believe that the percentage of children who may go to technical schools as against secondary schools would be a well established trend, lt would run to a pattern and that would be a basis of reason and logic for adopting Tasmania’s suggestion. In terms of the amounts that we consider in this place from time to time, £63,600 may not seem a very large amount, but it can be a significant amount to a State of the size of Tasmania.
I come back to a topic that I mentioned earlier, namely, the conditions that are’ to bc attached to the grants. Only one condition, which 1 have detailed already, is imposed in the bill. So, in cold law that is the one condition attached to the grant. Statements from Ministers, however, indicate that there are two other conditions. The items upon which the grant in each State is expended are to be particularized in the Stare budgets along with the source of the funds that are provided by the Commonwealth. Both figures - the grant and the expenditure therefrom - should be clearly identifiable in State budgets. That is a completely reasonable proposal. The second condition is, in my view, of great significance. It is that the Commonwealth grant in each State should be in addition to the normal State expenditure on education. In other words, the sum of £3,600,000 that is to go to the States for distribution in State school secondary systems, should be completely additional to what the States normally expend on education. The Government wants, in effect, to duplicate the amounts that would be expended in this field. I think it is worthwhile to ask the Minister for his comments in due course on where those conditions are established. Are they established in any kind of written agreement between the States and the Commonwealth, or do they rest on a gentlemen’s agreement of some kind, with a sanction for breach always being that the Government may decline to continue payment from the grant or decline to renew the grant in future years. They are two very important conditions, and it does not seem to me to be right, when we are legislating on the subject, that those two conditions do not appear in the legislation. The Minister may have some explanation that will justify the failure to include them.
I am still dealing with the allocation of the initial grant of almost £5,000,000 for science laboratories and equipment. I have indicated that the amount allocated to nonState schools for that purpose, Australiawide, is to be £1,334,000 for the year 1964-65. The distribution of that amount amongst the States is to be made on the basis of State population. In each State there will be a further division amongst Catholic and non-Catholic schools - two classes of schools are recognized - in proportion to the numbers of pupils in each category, as certified by the Commonwealth Statistician.
In each State there will be established - if this has not already been done - two advisory bodies, one representing Catholic schools and the other representing independent non-Catholic schools. Each body will suggest priorities amongst the schools that come within its jurisdiction. The Commonwealth itself will then select the schools to bc assisted. The advisory bodies will recommend, and the Commonwealth will select. The Prime Minister, in introducing this measure in another place, indicated that the amount available, £1,300,000, is of such an order that many schools in the non-State category and in both sub-divisions of that category, may not for quite a numbm of years receive any help at all for their science laboratories and equipment. When the exact allocation to the individual schools in the two sub-divisions is determined, the amounts will be paid to the schools through the State. A formal grant pursuant to this bill will be made, and the State will act as the agent of the Commonwealth in distributing the amount to the individual schools.
There is one other committee to which I should refer to complete the story. The standards to bc observed in both buildings and equipment for science laboratories in non-State schools will be determined by the Commonwealth on the advice of a specialist committee which will be known as the Robson committee. This has been established to advise the Government on standards, help the various schools to understand and comply with the standards, and generally to assist the Government in that type of thing. When I indicate to the Senate that already 506 non-State schools have applied for participation in distribution of the £1,300,000, it can be seen that there will not be very much to go round each school in the year that is immediately ahead of us. It would be futile to distribute the amount even on a basis of the numbers of students at the various schools; nothing tangible or satisfactory would be achieved. It is quite obvious that a selection has to be made and that the Robson committee will assist the Commonwealth to make a determination.
– No. It will not have anything to do with selecting schools. It will be concerned only with standards.
– That is completely right. The committees in the States will do the selecting. The Robson committee will advise on the standards. I put that position earlier and I had overlooked it. The committees in the States will make recommendations and the Commonwealth will decide.
– I suppose the education departments of the States will make the recommendations so far as State schools are concerned.
– No. The Stales will collect £3,600,000 of the total amount, and each State will allocate that for its purposes, subject to certain conditions, one of which is laid down in the bill and the other two of which, as I have already mentioned, are at least the subject of an understanding between the Commonwealth and the States. Both the Prime Minister and Senator Gorton were, I think, at pains to indicate that whilst the Government will have general knowledge of the projects that are to be undertaken by the States, there will be a minimum of interference with State Governments in the allocation of the amount of £3,600,000 to their own purposes in the field. There will be nothing more than broad supervisory action on the part of the Commonwealth in relation to the grants allocated to the States. The whole of the amount of £5,000.000 for buildings and equipment for technical schools will go as direct grants to the States. They will select the schools to be assisted in the provision of appropriate buildings and equipment. This matter will remain completely under the control of the State educational authorities.
On behalf of the Opposition, I say that we welcome the fact that, under prolonged and insistent pressure from the Labour Party, and in particular under the pressure from Mr. Calwell’s policy speech last November, the Government at long last has acknowledged a national responsibility in education outside the field of universities. We are all aware of what has been done in the university field. We applaud the intelligent approach that has been made through the establishment of committees of inquiry. These committees went most exhaustively into the case for universities, projecting their trends and their needs for years ahead, and the whole field is now being administered by the Australian Universities Commission. Triennnial periods of education are being prepared, and detailed programmes of work for each of the institutions are being made ready for presentation to this Parliament. That was belated action. It is very disturbing to think of the enormous chaos that would have occurred in the field of universities if action had not been taken by the Commonwealth Government in entering that field. But for years the Commonwealth Government rejected the suggestion that it had a responsibility in other education fields.
– Not entirely. What about the Canberra schools?
– I will come to them before I conclude. They are in a different category. The Government claimed that the broad question of education in the States, outside of universities, was entirely one for the States. The Prime Minister claimed on occasions that there was no jurisdiction on the part of the Commonwealth to make grants to the non-State schools that are functioning in the various States. The Opposition welcomes the fact that at last the Government is stepping into the field by presenting a bill such as this, providing that 86 per cent, of the money granted will be available for the State education systems in two categories outside universities. That is one of the most significant features of this legislation, in our view. But we have some criticisms to make. Our first criticism is that this recognition has been delayed for so long. Our other criticisms relate to the Government’s inaction rather than its action. They are crystallized in the terms of an amendment, which has been circulated to honorable senators. I now move -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert “ the bill is an inadequate contribution to science education and to education generally in Australia because it- (t) fails to provide for an inquiry into all aspects of education, at all levels, as requested on several occasions by State Premiers; (2) fails to meet the crisis in education by making an emergency grant of at least £10,000,000 to the States; (3) fails to assist parents of all children at all schools to bear the burden of education from primary to tertiary levels by instituting a system of Commonwealth scholarships for all students capable of receiving an education, such scholarships to bc tenable at the schools of the parents’ choice; (4) fails to attack the problem of science education by ignoring the question of teacher training, and the need for the establishment of a national science foundation to co-ordinate scientific training, teaching and research; and (S) fails to recognize that all pupils are entitled to be educated to the fullest extent of their abilities on the principle of aid to the scholar without discrimination “.
Our first criticism is that the bill fails to provide for an inquiry into all aspects of education, at all levels, as requested on several occasions by State Premiers. I might add to that, “ and as pressed for by teachers’ federations throughout Australia and, in particular, by the Opposition in this Parliament.” In the heat of an election, and at short notice, grants were promised by the Government to two parts of the educational system below the university level. We think it is completely wrong to make an ill-considered and hasty approach to some of the many parts of the field of education. The Government itself has set the pattern to follow. Before it embarked upon the magnificent help it has given to the universities, it set up the Murray committee. There was a most complete inquiry and the Government and the nation knew, once the scheme for assistance to the universities was embarked upon, where the Government was going. It had clear objectives. But when we come to the vast part of the field of education beneath university Bevel - to primary, secondary and technical education - the Government just rushes in with these proposals.
In themselves they are good, and I welcome them on the basis that I stated just now. But what is the use of the Government making an approach to education unless it knows where it is going over the whole field? It cannot put the universities in a separate category, because from the day a child goes to a primary school he is perhaps moving along, according to his abilities and in regular rhythmical procession, to the university stage. His progression cannot be cut off at any point. The crisis in education should be approached intelligently. It is absurd for the Government to crash in with ad hoc grants of this type, not knowing where it is going. The Government’s action is precipitate. It lacks wisdom. There is no pretence of any effort to co-ordinate all the activities in education. The objective should be to get all parts of the education system working together, to make easy the transition from one stage to another, and to close the enormous gap in the type of teaching between the secondary school and the approach to the university.
Secondly, the Opposition says that the Government has failed to face up to the crisis in education in the States. The States have a great shortage of school accommodation. Fortunately for the nation, our school population is growing fast, but the schools are busting at the seams. Also, there is a real shortage of teachers in Australia. In our view, there should be an immediate grant to enable the States to try to overtake some of the arrears in education and to alleviate the desperate situation in which they are placed in many respects.
Thirdly, we claim that the bill fails to assist the parents of all children at all schools to bear the burden of education from the primary to the tertiary levels by instituting a system of Commonwealth scholarships for all students capable of receiving an education, such scholarships to be tenable at the schools of the parents’ choice. The Opposition recognizes the right of parents to have their children educated at the schools of their choice. We accept the dual system of State and independent schools. We say that the right way to eliminate the vicious discrimination in regard to church schools is to have a system of scholarships that will assist the children, with no discrimination. Underlying the policy of our party in this respect is the desire to avoid discrimination between children. We want to ensure that each child will get an equal opportunity, not merely to ensure that the brightest children, according to particular examinations, will be given opportunities for higher education. Some children mature later than others. I have seen this myself in my long experience. The Opposition believes that every child should be given an opportunity for secondary education. We believe that every secondary school pupil should be given the right to undertake university training. It was for that reason that during the last election campaign we proposed a scheme that would be applicable to every secondary school child who qualified year by year. We proposed to help a student with a grant that would increase from year to year. Coupled with that proposal was another proposal to increase the number of university scholarships awarded from 5,000 to 10,000 a year. We envisaged a regular progression right through the secondary school course and the university. Under the Government’s scheme for secondary school scholarships, 10,000 scholarships a year will be granted. Based on the figures which I have quoted in relation to secondary school pupils, that will mean that only one child in every 67 at secondary schools will get a scholarship.
– Not unless the figures you quoted were for just one year. I thought that figure of 70,000 applied to children at the secondary school level and not just to one year.
– I see what the Minister means. It is true that the figure does not apply to any one year of the secondary school course.
– So the proportion is not one in 67 but is one in twelve or one in fifteen.
– It applies to the last two years. 1 suppose that, to be strictly accurate, one would have to know the number of children in those particular years.
– I. see the point.
– That shows that your reference to one in 67 is not quite on the ball.
– I should say that if you apply it to all secondary school classes it is right. It is right for me to put that point when we consider that the Opposition’s proposals in regard to secondary school children relate to children in each year throughout the course. T am right when I say that, under our system, every child who qualified to move from one year to another would be eligible for a scholarship. The scheme would be applicable to all those in secondary schools. On that basis, I am entitled to adopt the proportion of one in 67. I admit that, although the Government’s scheme gives nothing to secondary school students in the earlier years, it picks them up in the last two years. Whatever percentage that works out to, I do not contest it. J do concede that the proportion would be less than one in 67.
– But is not that the period in which you get the greatest wastage? Does not the wastage occur amongst the advanced pupils.
– I cannot answer the honorable senator with assurance upon that point. Without knowing the facts, I should be inclined not to agree with the honorable senator, because there would have been a sieving of students in each of the earlier years. I should think that, if there is any wastage at the advanced stage, it would be due not so much to a lack of intellectual ability on the part of the student but to the economic factors which compel parents to take their children away from school and put them to work.
– That is a very important factor.
– It might even be the major factor. 1 am not knowledgeable on that point, so I should not like to answer the honorable senator with any pretence to assurance. Quite frankly, I would expect the wastage to occur in the earlier years when children without ability are gradually sieved and drop out. I cannot carry the point any further than that.
I should now like to refer to the policy speech that was delivered on behalf of the Australian Labour Party during the last election campaign. We indicated that, if we were elected to office, we would establish a Commonwealth ministry for education and science and would make an emergency grant of £10,000,000 to the States.
– We have done that in this bill.
– Our grant was to be for general purposes. The Government’s grant is for two particular purposes. The States cannot take up the money that the. Government proposes to make available and apply it for their own general purposes; they are confined to science laboratories, including buildings and equipment, in secondary schools and technical schools.
– You would have preferred it to go to the States rather than to something specific?
– I am not saying that. If the honorable senator will let me complete what I was saying, I think she will see the picture that we had in mind. We proposed to increase the number of university scholarships from 5,000 to 10,000. We proposed also to establish a system of scholarships on lines similar to the univerity scholarships for students at technical colleges, teachers’ colleges and secondary schools. Let me digress for a moment and deal with teachers’ colleges. I understand that one of the great deficiencies suffered by the secondary schools is their inability to get properly qualified science teachers. The Government, in the approach it now makes, completely ignores the teacher problem; but the Labour Party proposed to help the States in particular way, in addition to making a grant of £10,000,000, by providing scholarships to enable young people to go to training colleges. I forget where I saw it, but I read a statement that only approximately 4 per cent, of the science teachers in the State schools of New South Wales are science graduates. The position is grave, and it must be rectified. If a national inquiry into education needs were held, that factor would be considered immediately.
– Dr. Malcolm Mackay referred to the figures in the other place.
– I understand that that figure is correct. That state of affairs should not only cause grave misgiving to anybody who is concerned about education at the national level but also move him to do something about it. That is why we on this side of the chamber have sought to impress upon the Government the need for an overall look at the situation. That is the burden of our lament in relation to the measure now before us. During the election campaign we proposed an inquiry into all aspects of education. Referring to the need for such an inquiry, Mr. Calwell said in his policy speech -
Similar in its aims, and equal in its importance to the Murray Commission of Inquiry into Universities, this inquiry will invite evidence from all groups and competent persons interested in all aspects of education, State and private alike, in primary, secondary, technical and teacher training schools. A labour” Government will expect that inquiry to provide a blue-print for education in Australia for the next decade. We will act on the report when we receive it.
In short, Labour will plan education as a major task facing the nation.
The Question is not just how much we can afford to spend: Australia just cannot afford the waste of not investing heavily in education now.
I am certain it was that dramatic presentation of the need for education which galvanized the Government, after almost fifteen years of inactivity, into moving into the field below the university level. I should say that, in interesting the National Parliament in that field even in a preliminary way, as evidenced in the bill now before us, the Australian Labour Party has rendered a signal service to the nation. Our policies are quite clear. They are recorded in documents and are quite public. The moving of resolutions, by whom they are moved, the result of debates, the whole sequence of movements of amendments and further amendments - these are all recorded in official publications, and the final determination of the party is available for the world to see. It is open to inspection, and anybody who is interested in the last report in particular - the last determination on education - should refer to a speech made by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) in another place on 19th May this year.
At page 2017 of “Hansard” appears a most comprehensive statement of Labour’s altitude to education. It is impossible for mc in the course of this speech to deal with it, but I place on record the fact that it is there, readily available for any honorable senator who wishes to look at it. It is not complete. There are some aspects of the policy upon which there can be arguments as to interpretation and methods, and it has already been resolved that the few remaining matters that need to be determined will be considered at the federal conference to be held next year. Anybody who wants to ascertain what is a comprehensive approach to national education will certainly not be well informed unless he takes the opportunity now presented to run through the material I have mentioned and examine the exceedingly comprehensive approach that we made.
– By whom did you say that was prepared?
– The federal conference of the Australian Labour Party at Perth last year. It is often difficult for people to find documents relevant to this subject. That is why I am saying now that any one interested will find our approach set out quite completely in the speech made by the honorable member for Lang on 19th May. I seriously suggest that any honorable senator who is interested in studying our policy should take the opportunity of looking at that speech. I have heard it claimed that this proposal is a break through in favour of non-governmental schools. Of course, it involves allocating some 121 per cent, of the £10,000,000 appropriated under the bill to those schools. But this is certainly not a novel proposal to come from this Parliament.
– It could not bc termed anything else but a break-through.
– As the honorable senator takes that view, I just indicate that already the principle applies in the Australian Capital Territory. It has been established there. It has been established for many years, throughout the whole term of office of this Government and also during the time of the prior administration, that denominational schools in New Guinea and in the Northern Territory should receive the most substantial measure of financial help. Again I advert to this document, the second report of the Australian Universities Commission. At pages 56 to 64 is to be found an account of some millions of pounds expended and to be expended in favour of university colleges, many of which are denominational.
In those circumstances this measure does not constitute any kind of a break-through in principle. This kind of thing has been done without opposition from any party. There is no question about that. I point out that the governments of all the States, in some cases, perhaps, at the instigation, and certainly with the concurrence in nearly every instance, of Oppositions, have provided all forms of assistance for independent schools. I have heard an assessment made that this assistance has been in 40 different forms. I have not checked the figure personally and I do not affirm it, but I would say with certainty that if one were to categorize all the types of aid given, in the way of school books, travel concessions, radio facilities, even direct grants and in various other ways, one would see that the principle has been pretty well established in a fairly wide area throughout Australia.
We move our amendment believing that it is exceedingly worthwhile and that it represents the only approach that ought to be made on a completely national basis. We differ from the Government on a vital point, perhaps, in that whilst the Government is seeking no discrimination in this field between schools we think it is better to avoid the feelings that are stirred up by assuring that the discrimination does not take place at the student level. Such aid as ought to be given should be given on that basis. The parents then would be in a position to direct the financial aid that is given to them to whatever quarter they choose. 1 am happy to say that in the discussions I have heard on this matter within my own party, not only at the federal conference in Perth in March but also in our own sections of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Labour Party, the whole matter has been discussed, thank goodness, despite any differences there were of opinion, in the calmest atmosphere. It will be finally resolved, so far as anything requires resolution, at the next federal conference. It is interesting to see the new spirit of tolerance and mutual understanding that is abroad between the Christian churches. I hope that this trend continues and that no development in this Parliament will do anything to halt the progress of this highly desirable development in our community.
We believe the amendment serves a national purpose. It is very much in line with what we put to the people last year. What we put certainly galvanized the Government into this limited action in a limited field. We believe that we served a national purpose by drawing attention, by our criticisms, to the defects in what the Government is doing now. We welcome the measure for the reason I have given. We have forced the Government into the field and we hope the Government will take note of the continued pressure we exert. If the amendment is not acceptable at this stage we will offer no further opposition to the passage of the measure.
.- I agree with Senator McKenna’s remarks that the provision for aid under this bill will develop into an annual grant to the States for the purposes designated in the bill. It may well be that, as the years go by, the amount granted annually will increase. But I cannot go along with the suggestion that after fourteen years of indifference to the education needs of the Commonwealth, the Government has at last wakened up and embarked upon this proposal which, of course, breaks new ground inasmuch as it provides for a grant outside the ordinary financial resources available to the State governments. The whole history of CommonwealthState financial relationships over the last fourteen years belies that statement. It is apparent to any one who takes cognizance of discussions at Premiers’ Conferences and of the variations in grants to the States that the Commonwealth has been conscious of the education needs of the States. In 1959 the Premiers met in conference in a spirit of discontent, as they are entitled to do and, I suppose, as they often do. The conference adjourned briefly, and on resumption the Commonwealth brought forward proposals which contained betterment clauses having regard to alterations of population and increases in wages. The proposals were attractive to the States because they covered all the needs of the States and were unanimously adopted. I do not know with what justification, but the Premier of Tasmania claims that he was the architect of the proposals. At a Premiers’ Conference held in the early part of 1963 a majority of the Premiers said that they would prefer to have provision for education needs included in the ordinary reimbursements to the States rather than a special Commonwealth grant. They said that in that way they would have full and sole control over education in their respective States. In spite of that, later in the year the Commonwealth increased State grants by more than £14,000,000. This has been the story right throughout the entire history of Commonwealth-State financial relations. Right throughout the story of the various disbursements that have taken place from the Commonwealth to the States, the Commonwealth has been conscious of and has taken into consideration the education needs of the various State governments. This is reflected by the compiled estimate of the amounts that have been spent on education under the auspices of the State governments over a number of years. As the years have passed, these amounts have been increased until to-day they are about five times as much as they were a few days ago.
I cannot go along with the contention that the Commonwealth has only just wakened up to the education needs of the States. I repeat, the whole history of Commonwealth-State financial arrangements bears witness to the fact that the Commonwealth has been conscious of the education and other needs of the various Stale Governments. However, I rose to speak mainly about the treatment that has been meted out to Tasmania, to which Senator McKenna referred. Prior to the recent State election held the Tasmanian Minister for Education circularized parent associations in that State, members of the Federal Parliament and, I suppose, other people interested in education, and sought to prove in his statements - and he also made statements in the Tasmanian press - that Tasmania had been most unfairly treated in the apportioning of the amount provided for in this measure. But in the supporting figures that he produced he aggregated the total school population in Tasmania - primary, secondary, and, I assume, pre-kindergarten - although primary school children are not concerned with these scholarships or with science laboratories and secondary education. Nevertheless because there was an election pending he sought, for political purposes, to disparage the Commonwealth Liberal-Party Government in respect of the treatment meted out to Tasmania. In my opinion the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) has given a most convincing and conclusive reply to the contentions of the Tasmanian Minister for education, lt is well worth quoting, because I believe that the facts it states are irrefutable. The Minister said -
For the first time the Commonwealth is providing two-year scholarships at secondary schools in Tasmania, each scholarship being tenable during the fifth and sixth year of secondary schooling and being worth up to £200 a year with no means test. The proportion of scholarships available to those students eligible to sit for scholarships is - on the latest enrolment figures available - one scholarship to fifteen students in all States except Victoria and Tasmania. In Victoria it is one in twelve and in Tasmania it is one in nine. Thus Tasmania will have the highest proportion of scholarships to students of any Stale in Australia.
Surely when one looks at the situation on that basis - and it is the only reasonable basis - a very special benefit is being conferred upon Tasmania. The Minister’s statement continued -
The Tasmanian Education Minister estimates that of those available to sit for scholarships some 2,000 students at most will, in fact, sit. The number of scholarships available will be 331. This means that 1 in 6 of those who sit - as distinct from those eligible to sit - will be able to gain scholarships. This again is the highest proportion of awards lo actual applicants of any State in Australia.
In referring to grants to science teaching laboratories in secondary schools, the Minister said -
The Commonwealth is to provide assistance for the building of science leaching laboratories in secondary schools, whether such schools are government schools or non-government schools. The details of the scheme have been announced and the amount of money available to Tasmania in the first year of the scheme will be approximately £170,000. Mr. Neilson objects to this on the grounds that the grant should be distributed not on the basis of population, as is usual wilh Commonwealth grants, but on the basis of total school enrolments - not, you will notice, secondary school enrolments although the grant is confined to secondary schools. But there is no accurate and agreed statistical information on which to make such a distribution. Statistics are compiled on differing bases by the various Stale Departments of Education. Tasmania, for instance, includes in its figures of total school enrolments pre-school children, and other States do not, and there are various other significant differences. Such a system of distribution would therefore be impracticable and the tried, and usual, method of distribution according to State population is better. If, of course, Mr. Neilson’s principle were followed in the -distribution of technical scholarships, and these were distributed in proportion to technical students enrolled, then Tasmania would receive only about half of the number of such scholarships which she is in fact to receive.
He concludes by referring lo capital grants for technical schools, and has this to say -
Mere again the method of distribution according to State population avoids the difficulties which arise owing to incomplete and non-comparable statistics from the different States. But in this case it is clear that Tasmania has fewer technical institutions in comparison to its population then has any other State; it also has fewer students in proportion to population taking technical courses than has any other State. This means that whereas, under the system of distribution according to population, Tasmania will receive approximately £170,000 a year for capital expenditure on technical schools, it would receive, if the distribution were lo take place on the basis of technical school students, something like £80,000 less than it is actually to receive. (This sum cannot be accurately stated because of the lack of accurate statistics referred to above but it would be something of that order.) Yet the provision of proper technical facilities - which have been allowed to deteriorate so badly by the present Tasmanian Government - is essential if industry is lo be fostered in Tasmania and the population and strength of the State is to be built.
I emphasize the words “ which have been allowed to deteriorate so badly “. 1 do nol emphasize them with a view to making political imputations concerning the recent State election, but I cannot help pointing out that these facilities have been allowed to deteriorate in spite of the generous treatment meted out to Tasmania bythe present Commonwealth Government. I feel better when I think of the £3,500,000 that was paid to Tasmania supposedly for the immediate relief of unemployment and which, in the main, was spent in ways calculated to gain political kudos for the State government. The Premier of Tasmania went about the State making a Santa Claus of himself and handing out largesse. He became very popular in the process. 1 say “ Good luck “ to those who received the benefit of the money; I do not begrudge it to them; but I do say that that £3,500,000 could have been spent on something very much more worthwhile in Tasmania.
Without any particular knowledge of technical school buildings or other educational facilities, I cannot help but believe that if at least some of that money had been directed to educational purposes the Commonwealth Minister concerned would not have been able to suggest that Tasmania had let its technical facilities fall into a bad state. The money has been spent, but surely there were men in the Tasmanian Government - if there were not it could have called in others to advise it - who could have got together in conference and considered how to spendthe money to the best advantage of the State. Instead, it was used in the fashion I have described. It makes my gorge rise when the State Government chides the Commonwealth with being niggardly to Tasmania in respect of this, that and the other thing. If the expenditure of the £3,500,000 had been concentrated on relieving unemployment it would not have been so bad. The opportunity was given to use the money on something really worthwhile, but advantage was not taken of the opportunity. I feel that the Tasmanian Government should be well content with the very favorable treatment that is being meted out to it by the Commonwealth under this measure.
– I enter this debate in support of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), forI believe that the amendment expresses Labour’s policy on this question, a policy which is beneficial to the school-going population of Australia. During the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address- in-Reply, I touched onthe question of Labour’s attitude to State aid, which as has been stated in our policy, is one of opposition to State aid. 1 do not agree that there is real acceptance by the public of State aid at the present time. In fact, I think the bill under consideration could well plunge the country into a controversy which might have serious repercussions in the future. In this morning’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ we read that the Presbyterian Assembly of New South Wales has expressed its complete opposition to the proposal and has requested the Presbyterian Church schools not to seek aid under this measure.
– That is in New South Wales?
– Yes. In May of this year. St. Peter’s Church of England issued a pamphlet containing an article by the Reverend Bernard G. Judd, Rector of the Council of Churches, in which he condemns the proposal. In the article, Mr. Judd said -
The Prime Minister’s election offer of State Aid for denominational schools wasa piece of blatant political opportunism aimed at securing the “ delivered vote “ of the Roman Catholic Church with which a direct deal had been made. It paid off because the Roman Catholic Church is able to “ deliver “ the votes.
I still do not accept that Slate aid was a major vote-catching factor in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. Many other factors, including the assassination of an important person overseas, had an influence on the results of that election. The Victorian General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia carried the following resolution in 1962: -
That the Assembly -
Affirm wholehearted support of the State system of education;
Believe the criticism of the State schools as pagan is to be deprecated as unfair and untrue;
Declare that public funds should be directed to the support and extension of State schools, and that the diversion of public funds to non-State schools will hinder the fullest development of the Stale school system and create a hurtful division and rivalry in education; (41 Commend the Government for taxation concessions to parents and bursaries to scholars, and urge extension of the same without assisting a system of schools which will compete with the State schools and divide the community into rival groups.
In 1956, the Council of Churches in New South Wales commented on the aid that had been given by the Commonwealth Government to church schools in Canberra. Referring to this, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) stated in a letter to the Council of Churches dated 10th December, 1956 -
The whole case has been so thoroughly argued that I do not feel that it is necessary for me to re-state it here, i will mention only a couple of points.
First, Canberra is, in a sense, a “compulsory town “. Most of its inhabitants, if they wish to pursue a career in the Commonwealth Government Service, have no choice but to live in the Territory. Because it is still a small community, though so rapidly developing, it is unreasonable to expect those members of the community who like to have their children educated against a religious background to find themselves the whole of the enormous capital cost of such education.
The Government help proposed under this scheme is very small, and is a mere fraction of what would be spent if we compelled people to send their children to State schools, or made the cost of building church schools too heavy for a limited community to bear.
We see in that letter the apologies of the Prime Minister for the assistance that he gave to church schools in Canberra. The right honorable gentleman said that this would not be a precedent. He was embarrassed about the possible repercussions on the Liberal Party’s political future. When this scheme was announced in January of this year, after the federal elections, the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) interviewed Archbishop Gough of the Anglican Church seeking his co-operation, but he failed to interview representatives of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. Some hostility was created because of his failure to seek their co-operation. The Minister was forced to appeal to the leaders of the churches for their co-operation - without much success, I suggest - so that the scheme could proceed.
All members of the Parliament have had correspondence from the Australian Council of School Organizations, which has many affiliated organizations and represents practically all the parents’ associations connected with State schools, and from the New South Wales Teachers Federation, an important body, which is opposed to this scheme. While there has not been a great deal of press publicity, we can see growing mass opposition to the extension of State aid to schools and I suggest that this could have repercussions in the future.
I ask honorable senators to consider seriously whether this proposal is the best that could be done for education. In his second-reading speech, the Minister referred to the importance of scientific and technological education for the future development of Australia. He pointed out that we must have children educated to the highest degree possible within our limited resources and facilities. But, throughout Australia, there are schools operating without the facilities desirable for efficient teaching. I have personal knowledge of a lad who is now attending a secondary school where the facilities for the teaching of science are quite inadequate. If we are to do anything about this problem, we must first make sure that we have adequate facilities for the teaching of science, at least in the capital cities. Speaking in the debate on the AddressinReply, I referred to the fact that State Ministers for Education had met and decided upon their requirements and on future education policy. I said then, as is reported at page 155 of “ Hansard “ -
The proposal of the Ministers is that to bring present accommodation up to date by adding such items as science rooms, gymnasium halls and housing for teachers an estimated expenditure of £50,000,000 will be required. That is the view of the responsible Ministers for Education throughout Australia. Fifty million pounds is necessary to provide these facilities in government-controlled schools without taking into consideration nongovernmentcontrolled schools.
The best we can say of the measure before the Senate is that it does not meet the immediate requirements of the responsible Ministers for Education who are in a position to know the needs of the various States. The bill, of course, will not ensure the provision of enough adequately equipped science blocks in all schools. A circular letter from the New South Wales Teachers Federation pertinently points out that in New South Wales 300 government schools require science teaching facilities; but the Commonwealth grant will provide an average of less than £4,500 to each of these schools, whereas the cost of a single science laboratory is estimated to be between £15,000 and £20,000. That shows the inadequacy of the bill to meet the requirements of the States.
The Government’s scheme to assist the teaching of science offers a hotch-potch method of dividing aid between government schools and non-government schools without any knowledge whether the non-government schools can provide suitable facilities with the Commonwealth grant. We do not know the standard of science blocks intended for the non-government schools. We do not know whether they have the teachers they need. In paragraph 33 of the report of the Committee on Australian Universities - known as the Murray committee report - appears the following comment -
In spite of their best efforts the Departments have been unable lo ensure an adequate intake of mathematics and science teachers even with no more than pass degrees: Indeed, because of the pressure of demand, there is little encouragement - or, in some cases, opportunity - given to students lo proceed to an honours degree since this, in the case of arts and science students, requires either an extra (fourth) year or a degree of specialization which is not felt to be compatible with the need for teachers to have had some measure of training in a wide spread of mathematics and science courses. Even though some departments encourage their belter trainees lo take honours degrees in mathematics and science, this is said lo be no guarantee that the Department would have the benefit of better qualified teachers since many such trainees are promptly offered appointments by private employers who are prepared to discharge the student’s bond.
From that report we sec that in the view of the Murray committee we have insufficient teachers for the purpose of teaching science. There is a reluctance amongst students to train as science teachers because of the ex tra training involved, and there is no guarantee that we can retain the services of those who are trained. Although they are under bond, our great system of private enterprise can offer them better remuneraliOn. even to the extent of discharging their bond.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had mentioned that the bill will not provide adequately for much-needed additional science blocks and up-to-date equipment, nor will it provide for sufficient teachers. By this bill we will not be doing our utmost to meet the urgent requirements for education in science. By devoting to other than State schools a portion of the funds that the Commonwealth is able to make available for this purpose, it could well be that we will give assistance to more schools but that each school will have inadequate equipment. As stated in the Murray committee’s report, science teachers may become available for private schools, but at the expense of Government schools, which, at the moment. compete with private enterprise in attracting those with the necessary qualifications to the teaching profession rather than to industry.
Since speaking on this subject in the Address-in-Reply debate I have received a number of letters. Honorable senators will realize that those letters would not all have come from supporters of the Labour Party’s policy of no assistance to denominational schools but a complete educational system run by various State Governments. I received what I thought was a very pathetic letter from a person who wanted me to understand that his desire to send his children to a non-government school was not prompted by snobbery but by a desire that his children should have what he termed a Christian upbringing. I do not think that those who hold this view can be neglected. Some people want their children to have a Christian upbringing in denominational schools, and the Labour Party’s policy acknowledges that. However, our policy is that if parents wish their children to attend denominational schools, then those schools must be financed bv the parents, not by the state. Government finance for denomination schools brings into government administration the controversial question of religion
The position to-day is that those who wish their children to have a Christian upbringing in denominational schools could well be acting contrary to the children’s interests so far as educational standards are concerned if those schools are unable to meet the ever-rising educational standards. If denominational schools are unable to provide the accommodation, equipment or teachers that should be available to enable a proper education to be given, the children will suffer. The mere enlargement .of school areas or the addition of inadequately equipped science blocks will act to the detriment of rather than to the advantage of education. If we are unable to supply each school with a properly equipped science block, we should try to concentrate on having fewer science blocks with proper and costlier equipment. We should ensure that the science blocks will be used fulltime, and that they will not be lying idle for long periods.
The desire by some people for their children to have a Christian upbringing in denominational schools could perhaps be met by the Governments of the various States taking over responsibility for- part of the education of those children so that they would not receive all their education at denominational schools. There was an arrangement in South Australia whereby children from denominational schools attended State technical schools for half a day each week, so that they could use the technical equipment available at the State schools. In that way they were able to receive a technical education which would not have been available to them in the denominational schools. It would be far better if children attending denominational schools had access to properly equipped science laboratories, even if they were required to share the facilities, than if they had to use half-equipped laboratories under the instruction of teachers with questionable qualifications.
The bill contains no provision for supervision of denominational schools to ensure that a proper standard is established. I have mentioned before in this chamber that in South Australia there is no act that requires this type of supervision. Whilst We recognize the right of people to send their children to denominational schools where they believe they will be given a Christian upbringing, and although we regard that right as sacred and something that should not be interfered with, it may well be that parents will be doing an injustice to their children and will be sacrificing their progress by adhering to this principle.
Denominational schools are suffering badly to-day because of the decreased value of money and the failure of this Government to put value back into the £1. Modern methods of education cost more, and in the affluent society the denominational schools are unable to attract the teachers necessary to provide a proper education for the children. Many denominational schools in
South Australia are employing teachers from outside, and sometimes these teachers follow a faith contrary to that practised by the schools. Often the salary required to attract a teacher is beyond what parents who have to pay the whole cost of schooling can afford. I believe personally that the desire of parents for a Christian upbringing for their children could well be met by allowing the children to attend as many classes at denominational schools as the parents can afford, and by allowing the children to receive the remainder of their education at State schools. That would ensure that the children received an education equal in standard to that provided by State schools.
This bill will provide grants to religious organizations, and one religious organization will receive double the amounts that will be available to others. This matter was referred to by the Minister in his secondreading speech. It is surprising that the amount to be provided to Catholic schools compared with other denominational schools is in the ratio of about 2 to 1 in every State except South Australia. Perhaps by Catholic standards South Australia is a pagan State. At any rate, it does not have the same proportion of Catholic population as the other States. Neither time nor capabilities will permit me to go into the legal aspects of these grants, but these aspects have been dealt with by Quick and Garran in their annotations to the Constitution of Australia and in the book entitled “Prosper the Commonwealth “. Quick and Garran state that this Parliament has no constitutional right in this field.
I wish to conclude by repeating what I believe is the attitude of the parties to this question and the reasons for the opposition to this legislation that is now being aroused. During the suspension of the sitting I was reminded that it is not confined to church organizations. I have been surprised at the number of Liberal Party politicians who, since my utterance during the AddressinReply debate, have told me that aid to schools in this form is not in accordance with the desire or view of many members of their party, but that they feel that they are unable to do anything about it, as it was the result of an election promise which apparently was conceived in the mind of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies).
They say that if members of the party were given a free vote on the policy to-day, the attitude could bc entirely different. They feel they are under some obligation as the policy perhaps assisted them in getting their majority at the last election.
The Labour Party’s attitude is opposition to State aid, and has been so since 1947. 1 do not consider that there is any possibility of an alteration of that altitude on the ground merely of its election attraction. We are a socialist party which does not believe in divisions among the working-class communities and especially among the children. We think we should advance State education facilities to such an extent that everybody would be proud of and satisfied with them.
During my speech on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I said there had been some criticism of the attitude of the Labour Parly in New South Wales to State aid for education. The matter was raised at the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party. It was then pointed out that, if there was some breach of party policy in New South Wales, support in one form or another for denominational schools had been given in many Slates by Labour governments. This support, whatever the form it took, was introduced in (he main before the Labour Party adopted as a plank of its platform opposition to State aid. As the result of the support given at thai lime - it continues to-day - the Federal Labour Party decided to refer the matter lo the next federal conference.
I can only interpret this as a decision to mean that whilst our policy of opposition to State aid has been breached at times, this probably does not commit the party to giving some assistance. Because of the purpose and ideology of the Labour Party, I would expect much more rigid opposition and not a more lenient attitude to State aid in the future.
The fundamental principle of our policy is that the Commonwealth and the States should provide the best education system possible and whether or not there is a case for Commonwealth assistance to schools, the Commonwealth should not place itself in the position of giving the taxpayers’ money to a section of the community to assist in education.
This bill deals with the most controversial question that could arise here. It could have serious repercussions in future and could, to some extent, belittle the Parliament in the eyes of a section of the public. That is why, in the opinion of Quick and Garran, the Government should have nothing at all to do with education and that it should be left to an individual to pursue his own policy. I, therefore, support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I have pleasure in supporting the bill and consequently suggest that the amendment, which would kill the bill, should be rejected. If the amendment were agreed to, the measure could not be read a second time in this place at this time and that which the Government has promised could not be carried out. I have examined this bill as a South Australian Senator, as well as in my role as a member of the National Parliament. I regard it as an adequate and complete fulfilment of one of the important electoral promises made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The bill provides £5,000,000 for science buildings and equipment in all secondary schools, without any discrimination. The cut-up of the £5,000,000 will give South Australia £462,200. In addition to that, £5,000,000 is provided for the States for the provision of buildings to be used in technical education. Of that amount, £466,600 will be spent in South Australia. The designation contained in the Schedule of the bill shows that the South Australian Institute of Technology will handle this money.
I should like the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) to let me know whether any of this £466,600 will go to the new Whyalla branch of the South Australian Institute of Technology, to which I understand the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has given vast sums of money and which it is supporting to the hilt. If the matter has not yet been decided I should like the Minister seriously to consider the desirability of causing some of this money to be spent in areas outside the capital cities.
– Your own government - the South Australian Government - will decide that.
– Thank you very much. I still present that view to the Senate and hope I will be able to support it, in another quarter, in South Australia. I think it is of great importance that we decentralize, wherever possible, the spread of Commonwealth money. I will leave the matter there for the moment.
I was very interested to read the contribution by the Treasurer, Sir Thomas Playford, in the South Australia Parliament when he introduced the loan estimates in August last. When dealing with the paragraph relating to education and school buildings he explained that the proposals for school buildings and associated works for the 1963-64 period totalled £5,400,000. He then set out the way in which those funds were to be used, and concluded with this statement -
The school building programme in recent years has more than kept abreast of current enrolements and there has been a marked improvement in the ratio of pupils to classrooms. The proposals for 1963-64 envisage further improvement in that ratio.
So I put it to the Senate that the Treasurer of South Australia - a man usually rather critical of the adequacy of the amount of money coming from sources other than the State, and who from time to time has indicated that there is not sufficient money coming from loan and Commonwealth sources - has indicated in the statement that the funds available for this year are sufficient. It is therefore important to realize that the South Australian Government at present has adequate funds for the improvement of its school buildings and equipment. As a resident of South Australia, I have been quite interested to see, from time to time, the fine new buildings that are being opened in that State for use by the State school system. The practical effect of the granting of this money to my State is that State schools will receive £337,700 for science blocks and equipment and £466,600 for technical schools, giving a total, in round figures, of £800,000.
According to the figures given by Sir Thomas Playford, £5,400,000 will go into buildings for the State education system. This gives a total expenditure on education of £6,200,000 in a year, and I am assuming that next year the same amount will be spent on buildings as is to be spent this year - in round figures, £500,000 a month. Now, for the first time, this bill will make money available to non-State schools, which will receive £124,500, or about one-eighth of a million pounds.
In a year non-State schools will receive under this bill as much as State schools receive in one week. It is therefore apparent that it is not a sufficiently large amount of money to cause a disturbance in the educational system of South Australia, as some opponents of the bill have put forward. They have said that the State school system would suffer because of this subvention for non-State schools, but in one week the Education Department receives as much as the non-State schools will receive in a year.
I was very interested in the speech of Senator McKenna and I would like to pay my tribute to him for his very careful analysis of the bill. I did not agree with everything that he said, but it was a contribution of importance to the Senate. 1 refer particularly to his final phrase, when he said that he welcomed the new spirit of tolerance apparent in the approach of members of Parliament, as he thought, and of the general public to this new idea of State assistance for non-State schools.
However, Senator Cavanagh brought an entirely different view to the situation when he said that this bill and the spirit behind it would plunge the country into controversy. I am prepared to accept the view of Senator McKenna because 1 have made a personal survey of the majority of the schools that will benefit in South Australia. It is all very well for Senator Cavanagh, who proudly acknowledges himself as a socialist, to quote the top brass - if I may use the expression. He referred to the decisions of archbishops, the heads of churches and large assemblies, but I sought my enlightenment amongst the rank and file - amongst the workers - in the educational field. I consulted teachers, both clerical and lay, working in the non-State schools in South Australia.
I was privileged to visit twenty schools during the two recesses that have occurred since Senator Gorton made his statement on 4th March. As a result, I came to some very interesting conclusions and I shall mention some of the things I found which were common to the schools, irrespective of whether they were State schools or denominational. Two schools I visited were not conducted by any denomination. They were big schools for girls founded by charitable people and carried on over the years by well-wishers. One school had 400 pupils and the other had 600 pupils. 1 was welcomed in every one of the twenty schools I visited to examine their science facilities. I was amazed at the dedication and devotion to duty of the teachers, irrespective of whether they were church or lay people. All schools appreciated outside help and the most significant outside help they have had within recent years has come from the Industrial Fund for the Advancement of Scientific Education in Schools, a large fund which, under Mr. Robson’s guidance, has allotted moneys for the purpose of construction of science blocks.
In South Australia there are four or five schools which have received such help. One received 80 per cent, of the cost of construction of a fine science block and another received about 50 per cent, of such costs. Every school that had been helped by the fund was fully appreciative, but what interested me more than their appreciation was the way they used the money. For instance, one Anglican boys’ school has invited leaving certificate honours girls from three other schools - a Methodist school, an Anglican girls’ school and a school with no religious affiliation - lo share the facilities provided by the fund.
It is most interesting to observe that these schools are immediately prepared to share their facilities for the higher education of science students. 1 also noticed amongst the schools the great interest of the parents’ committees, particularly in what the Government is doing in this matter. 1 was impressed by the calibre of the men and women serving on these committees. Amongst them were some of the top scientists of Australia, men from the Weapons Research Establishment, university professors, unionists, employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department and housewives. Some retired schoolteachers of *.he South Australian Education Department have been so impressed with this imaginative scheme of the Commonwealth that they want to help to get it working in a most efficient manner in the schools on the committees of which they serve. This scheme is important. I discovered in my travels that every child above the age of thirteen years or thereabouts - that is in the senior schools, as they are designated - does some science study for at least two years. Some then go into commercial classes and some into classes where they stress the humanities and some of the scientific-
– What about the students under thirteen?
– They are in the primary schools.
– But what about the primary schools?
– We are not discussing primary schools. The students under thirteen are well catered for in the usual stream of the junior schools. We are now discussing the question of science blocks and equipment. 1 discovered that in recent years there has been great emphasis on the teaching of science in girls’ schools. I am dealing now with non-government girls’ schools. This interest in science has come about because of the requirements of the medical profession for female assistants to operate the equipment used by modern doctors. Female assistants work with radiographers and engage in laboratory work in medical and veterinary science institutes, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization establishments and the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in South Australia. The need for young women to work in the various laboratories has created the need for science to be stressed in the girls’ independent schools. The assistance to be provided under this bill comes at a most important and critical time. I hope that, as a result of the work of the committee to which Senator Gorton referred., the needs of girls’ schools in particular will be recognized. What is also important in South Australia, and no doubt all over Australia, is that new standards are being established in the public examination system. In South Australia the present matriculation certificate is to go out and a new certificate is to be introduced which will be the hallmark for entry to a university and possibly to important jobs. The new certificate will be based on a higher standard of examination than is the traditional leaving certificate. Undoubtedly the change will mean that students who want to qualify for this certificate will continue at school for another year, lt could well be that, as one of the subjects for matriculation is to be a science subject, the importance of science will be highlighted.
Another thing I found when I visited these twenty schools was that the virtue of self-help is promulgated in the schools. Parents’ committees do a tremendous lot to help, and some parents who are engaged in industry or on the land have been known to make large benefactions. As a matter of fact in one school, as a memorial gesture to one of the scholars, the father of a student gave a small engineering workshop for the teaching of practical engineering. One discovers wherever one goes that this type of school self-help, or help by parents, is a very important feature.
I believe that the help which, for the first time, the Government is to provide will be an inducement for other help to be given, of which the schools will be the beneficiaries. I say that, because I have noticed that since the industrial fund has helped these schools other people have donated equipment for the buildings that the fund has helped to provide. I think that this help will generate new help as it goes along, and I compliment the Government for starting it off.
One other aspect which I noticed had developed from the activities of the industrial fund is that in two schools at least an additional form - which one would call the seventh form, because the tradition is for the top form to be the sixth form - has been introduced. I was present the other day at the opening of the advanced science block of the Prince Alfred College. Mr. Robson, the chairman of the industrial fund, was present at the function and opened the building. The block has been designed for research by the senior scholars of this great and historic college in Adelaide. At another school I noticed that there was a research section in the science department. The fund provided the science block and the headmaster has encouraged research at a higher grade than the top examination grade. Furthermore, as a result of money received from the fund this school has established a science library. You can see how one thing leads to another.
I have heard the speeches by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber indicating how important is research. We all know that research is a great feature of the Australian National University. The late Mr. Curtin was possibly one of those who generated that idea in .1945 or so. One of the buildings at the Australian National University is the John Curtin School of Medical Research. I want to indicate that by doing what it intends to do the Government may well inculcate the idea of research in science subjects by children at a lower age than possibly fifteen, sixteen or seventeen. That can be done only ;f the necessary equipment is provided.
As I moved around I was rather appalled to see some of the disadvantages because of the lack of accommodation for the teaching nf science, under which devoted teachers were carrying out their duties. All in all, mv investigation at, as it were, the grass roots, showed that this bill will be most acceptable to those who are carrying out this excellent work in education in Australia. My investigations, of course, had particular reference to South Australia. I gathered from my inquiries and observations that the teachers in the schools I visited are right behind the proposition in this bill. The students are looking forward with great interest to receiving the equipment that has been promised. The parents who are supporting non-government schools most directly, and who in many cases are making sacrifices for the schools, are also right behind the scheme.
I was interested to read what the general public thinks about the measure. Last Saturday’s Adelaide “ Advertiser “ published the results of a gallup poll on the question whether the money .to be provided by this legislation should be shared by government and church schools or should be given solely to government schools. The results show that 65 per cent, of the people who took part in the poll said the money should be shared; 31 per cent, said it should all go to government schools; and 4 per cent, had no opinion. The report gave a dissection of the same poll. It disclosed that 65 per cent, of the people who traditionally vote for the Australian Labour Party, 63 per cent, of those who traditionally vote for the Liberal Party or the Country Party, and 94 per cent, of those who traditionally vote for the Democratic Labour Party, were in favour of sharing. Both sets of figures showed clearly that the people of Australia are behind the proposal of the Government.
I hope that I have been able to show that people in South Australia who send their children to non-government schools support the Government’s legislation. From my own observations I can predict a great future for this measure. It will keep open the old wells of interest and will open new wells of support for these schools. I warn the Senate that if this bill is rejected the rather caustic words of lohn Milton could well be applied to the Senate -
The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.
Senator HENDRICKSON (Victoria) [2.54J. - I realize that the sessional period is almost at an end. I would not take up the time of the Senate were it not that I wish to emphasize my strong protest against this iniquitous legislation. Naturally the Labour Party had a discussion in caucus on the bill, and I shall support the party’s decision on the matter. However, I believe that this is one of the most inadequate pieces of legislation that has ever been brought down in the National Parliament. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition in another place. I think this legislation was ill-considered - or never considered. I believe it was brought down under the influence of political alcoholism. No Minister, not even the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), had any idea of the meaning of the legislation until the last few weeks.
In my opinion, the title of the bill is wrong. It refers to States’ grants. I believe some honorable senators opposite hold views similar to mine. This is not State aid. As one of my colleagues said some time ago, in the main this is for the greedy and not for the needy. I will endeavour to show this as I develop my speech. The Prime Minister and the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) boast that the bill will make £5,000,000 of taxpayers’ money available for the development of science in the Commonwealth. If the Government were sincere - we know it is not - it would provide a greater amount. What will £5,000,000 do towards the development of science in the Commonwealth.
– The amount is £5,000,000 a year; not £5.000,000 altogether.
– It is £5,000,000 altogether. I venture to say, my dear girl, that with your beautiful physique it would not provide you with an overall if you were a science student.
– Yes, it would.
– It would not. It would not provide the necessary glassware that is used in science laboratories. The people of Australia must give more thought to education in the near future. I have had the opportunity and the pleasure of being a representative of Australia at the United Nations. The Australian delegation has boasted that we have free education. But where is the free education? Like Senator Laught, I sometimes visit schools. At a school gathering recently, the headmaster of a State school in Victoria said, “ Well, senator, we are provided with a shell; we have to supply the kernel “. The mothers’ clubs in State schools in Victoria have to supply even the chalk that is used by teachers to write on the blackboards. That is the free education of which we boast. We call this State education. But since 1942 we have had uniform taxation, and only the Commonwealth Government can make free education available to the children of Australia. Yet in this year of 1964 it gives a grant of £5,000,000 to the greedy and not to the needy.
The schools are calling out for assistance. I am one of those who would be prepared to go all the way and make ample money available for the education of the youth of the country. I was a soldier in the First World War. I found that 80 per cent, of the German prisoners we took could speak English, but not .8 per cent, of the Australians who took the prisoners could speak a language other than English.
Senator Laught said that he visited schools and that the children, as well as the teachers, were most courteous. The teachers in the Victorian schools, whether they be State or private, teach the children to be courteous. Naturally, Senator Laught would be welcomed at those schools. He would be heard in silence, but the children would not necessarily believe all he said. 1 think that Senator Laught went away from the schools he visited with the wrong impression. I have here a letter from the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I do not want to read the whole of it, but I would like to read one portion, lt says -
The decision to provide specific grants for secondary and technical education is to be welcomed but to tie in with this the subsidization of education at private schools is to undermine the very foundation of public school education which has made possible the educational developments which have taken place in this country since the last quarter of the 19th century.
That is a letter from the New South Wales Teachers Federation.
– They are the greedy ones that you speak of. They want all, and they do not want anything to go to the independent schools.
– Nor do I, and I think you will agree with me before I finish my speech. I will deal with your interjection later. When I say “ independent schools “, I do not mean primary schools. I believe that a nation develops as it is ready to develop, just as wheat sown in a field ripens when it is ready. Developments in education, whether in science or in any other subject, depend on the foundation that is laid when the student is young. The party to which Senator Buttfield belongs is the very party that took away from students in this country the privileges that are granted now in England and Northern Ireland. Senator Laught did not know his Australian history very well. He said that a Labour Prime Minister, the late John Curtin, introduced the legislation that did this in 1947. I ask Senator Buttfield to bring her knowledge of education up to date. If she docs, she will learn that it was a conservative government that took away the rights of the children in those days. Senator Hannaford is shaking his head. He should refer to literature that is available in the Library.
– What rights were taken away?
Senator HENDRICKSON__ A conservative government in Victoria took away rights and subsides paid to denominational schools.
– Who was the
Premier? Perhaps the teachers did not tell you that in the letter.
– It is all very well for Senator Hannan to ask who was the Premier. I inform him that it was not a Labour Premier but a conservative Premier who took away from school children rights that they enjoyed in the early part of the century. This is on record.
We believe that the matter now before us is a contentious one. This is a very serious question. If the Prime Minister and the Government are sincere, they will deal with it on the proper basis. They will not rely for political life, as they have in the past, on the sectarian issue. This Government has lived and thrived on the sectarian issue. I venture to say that many senators on the Government side would be willing to vote against this legislation, and would be glad to do so. The Australian Labour Party at the last election promised to provide scholarships. Those scholarships would have meant £2,500,000 to the parents of scholars attending Catholic schools. That was the policy enunciated by the leader of the Labour Party at the last federal elections. If the Prime Minister is not sectarian but is genuinely in favour of developing the education of Australia’s children he will bring down legislation which will make ample money available for the education of all children in the Commonwealth, whether they be Jews, Catholics or Protestants. I trust that we would support such legislation. I have no denominational affiliation but if the Prime Minister is genuine he will bring down legislation to aid the education of future generations of Australians. Parents who belong to a particular faith are obliged to send their children to certain schools. Surely that is their privilege under the four freedoms. But what is the position of those parents? They are forced to subsidize those schools out of their own pockets. We find that the hierarchy of the Catholic faith is supporting this legislation, which makes grants to the greedy and not the needy.
– That is a bit tough.
– This will go well with the Victorian State executive.
– I may not belong to any denomination but at least I am a Christian, and that is more than you are. I do not use religion for my selfaggrandisement, as Senator Hannan and others not in the chamber to-day have done. The ordinary taxpayer, including some of the people whom Senator Hannan is supposed to represent in this chamber, will be forced to make greater tax contributions to subsidize private schools, simply because parents, for their own reasons, want to send their children to those schools. I know of a man in Melbourne who pays £200 a quarter - £600 a year - to keep his two children at Melbourne Grammar School. If you send your children to Xavier College or Geelong College you have to pay enormous fees. I do not mind what views people hold about the education of their children - they are entitled to those views - but just imagine these sponsors of the youth of Australia trying to prostitute the child at birth by saying that everybody must subsidize these private schools. That is wrong. Education in this country is lagging. I see Senator Hannan-
– You would be blind if you could not.
– Senator Hannan may console himself with his blindness, but many of his colleagues would prefer not to support this legislation. However, the bill will be passed because we do not have the numbers to defeat it. We are passing legislation which will give a further subsidy to the snobocracy schools. I do not deny Senator Hannan his right to send his child to the school of his choice.
– I am glad of that.
– I would not deny Senator Hannan his faith. I believe that is hereditary but I would deny him the right to force the poor slave, who is obliged because of his religious beliefs to send his children to a particular school, to pay extra taxes, which will go to those private schools which do not need the money.
– If we did not have the private schools we all would be paying more taxes to educate the private school children in government schools, which we do not have in sufficient numbers at the present time.
– Listen to Senator Buttfield, the champion of the Premier of South Australia, who has been in office for 30 years - a record! I say to you, my dear, that if your Premier was sincere there would be no need for private schools. We boast of a system of free education-
– I say that you would be paying more taxes to provide more government schools were it not for the existence of the independent schools.
– What would be wrong with that?
– Do you want to pay more taxes?
– When I was a soldier during the First World War we took German prisoners. The Germans were supposed to be oppressed people yet 80 per cent, of the prisoners could speak English, whereas not .8 per cent, of us could speak German. I do not mind how much money you spend on education as long as it is spent wisely.
– If your party gets into power you say that it will impose further taxes on everybody in Australia to provide schools that are not necessary.
– If the good senator has finished her speech I will continue with mine. I venture to suggest that if a Labour government comes to power in this country in the near future - I believe it will - it will not impose any tax on the people that is not a just tax.
– Would you repeal this legislation?
– A Labour government would not impose an iniquitous tax on the people, as this Government has done. I remind the Senate that although in the decade prior to the last war successive anti-Labour governments had been unable to find sufficient money for education, food or public works, when war came the late John Curtin and his Cabinet were able to finance the war effort at the rate of about £1,500,000 a day.
– I thought the people financed it.
– When the Curtin Government came to power Australia was in pawn just as it is to-day. It was the Curtin Government which liberated
Australia. It used the only policy that was adequate - the policy of the great Australian Labour Party.
– I agree with certain of your principles but not with your economics.
– You would not understand them. I say to Senator Hannaford that my party is governed from the bottom, not from the top. I think Senator Hannan referred to the 36 faceless men.
– You will hear reference to them from time to time.
– You have mentioned them. During the election campaign in November last the Prime Minister said on television - this cannot be denied - “ I am the Liberal Party and anything I say goes”. So we virtually have a dictatorship.
– What nonsense!
– Do you say that the Prime Minister did not make that statement?
– If the records of the telecasts made during the last election campaign are available I will have them brought to this chamber. When we return after the recess I will ask that the transcript of what the Prime Minister said on television be brought into the chamber.
– You bring it in and let us see it.
– We know who wrote the part of the Liberal Party’s policy that is represented by this measure. They are the people who belong to the faith to which Senator Hannan belongs.
– You are giving me an importance out of all proportion.
Government is doing to those people what it did in 1949 and 1955. It is pulling the political wool over the eyes of the poor unfortunates who have to keep going those schools which your children should attend. It is doing it successfully. I have heard that the science grant proposed by the Government was an election winner. All I can say is that it was the same old trick perpetrated once again. I remember in 1931 -
– You are getting old.
– I am older than you, dear. At least I have made a contribution. In 1931-
– That would be B.C.
– There would be incidents in the honorable senator’s life in 1931 to which I could refer. In 1931 the late Jim Scullin led the Australian Labour Party.
– Scullin would be ashamed of you.
– I venture to say that Scullin would not go in the same room as you. Never mind about being ashamed of me. The late Jim Scullin then led the Australian Labour Party and the late Joe Lyons led what was known then - it changed its name at each election - as the United Australia Party. The late Jim Scullin was a very strict, practising Catholic, and so was the late Joe Lyons, yet the miserable people who are supporting this legislation spread propaganda to this effect, “ Vote Scullin and Rome will rule “. They did not say a word about Joe Lyons. You could vote for Joe Lyons and who would rule? It would be the people who are ruling and’ ruining this country at the moment, the members of the Liberal Party.
.- It is a pity that a measure so constructive as this has had to be degraded by the exhibition which has just concluded. As Senator Hendrickson has dredged the gutter for his contribution, it is not surprising that he has come up with a mess of putrefaction. He says, for reasons best known to himself, that he expects a Labour government to be in office in the near future. As I recall, Labour men have been saying that since 1950. As far as I can see, the prospect is getting further away than ever. The answer, which the honorable senator did not give, to my interjection as to whether Labour would repeal this bill in the unlikely event of success at the next election is, of course, a crucial matter. Are all of the children in Australia to be deprived of a benefit because Senator Hendrickson objects to £1,250,000 of the money to be provided under the legislation going to private schools?
Before I advert to the bill, I feel that I should make some reference to the contributions made earlier by other senators.
I think it is right and proper to give, as Senator Laught did, some credit to private industry for the way in which it has contributed to schools for the provision of science blocks and science equipment. The Industrial Fund was a group of capitalists - those great, big, fat men who sit behind mahogany desks, smoking impossibly fat cigars, while they press buttons so that the whips come down on the backs of the downtrodden, struggling workers. They are the men who made available about £200,000 - I suppose the Opposition would say “ of their ill-gotten gains “ - to schools throughout the Commonwealth, without pressure and without discrimination. It might well be said, in a sense, that the Industrial Fund in a mild way happened to set a pattern for this legislation, and for that I give it full marks. I agree completely with Senator Laught’s remarks in this regard.
I listened with interest to Senator McKenna’s contribution to the debate. I was able to go along with a great deal of what he said, but, of course, his amendment is utterly unacceptable, as it would destroy the substance of the bill. As happens so often in this place, Senator Cavanagh introduced a note of bitterness into a debate which had been proceeding hitherto on a more or less elevated level. The authorities whom he cited claim to be leaders in education and progressive thinkers. It strikes me as being a pity that they are shackled to the outmoded shibboleths of a century ago. If they have nothing more to offer than the passages cited in this chamber by Senator Cavanagh this afternoon, certain teaching organizations must be in a parlous state indeed.
I noticed that the unpleasant sword of sectarianism was drawn, and the honorable senator attempted to make something of the fact that twice as much money was to go to Catholic schools as to non-Catholic schools. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said, in his classic phrase, that the matter was to be administered without discrimination. The simple truth is that there are more Catholic schools than other independent schools. In accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise, the matter is being legislated for and implemented without discrimination. This, of course, is the wish of the vast bulk of the Australian people, as shown in the overwhelming victory of 30th November last, a date which honorable senators opposite would remember, some of them with apprehension. The gallup poll cited by Senator Laught shows that two Australians out of three are in favour of this legislation. Senator Cavanagh says that it will divide the children of a nation. I wonder whether the Labour Party in Great Britain believes that the legislation introduced by Churchill is dividing the children of a nation. Does the Scottish branch of the British Labour Party believe that if a Labour government should be in power in the United Kingdom in a year or so it would repeal the existing education provisions? What the honorable senator says is arrant nonsense. Of course he does not believe that.
This matter ought to be examined, if it is at all possible, calmly, coldly and dispassionately. We should look at the people who will benefit. All of the children in Australia - not some of them - should be treated equally, and that is precisely what the Government is doing in this legislation. I was amazed to hear Senator Hendrickson say that this was the most iniquitous piece of legislation ever brought down in this Parliament. Such gross hyperbole did he employ in describing it, that he said it would not even provide a grass skirt for Senator Buttfield.
– He said “ a pair of overalls “.
– I thought he said “ a grass skirt “. I am told that he said it would not provide a pair of overalls for Senator Buttfield. The honorable senator cannot have it both ways. If this bill is the greatest piece of iniquity that the Parliament has ever seen, surely it must make a massive allocation of funds. On the one hand, he says that the allocation is massive. On the other hand, he says that it would not provide enough to cover the trifle that is Senator Buttfield. I think we should correct the mathematics of the honorable senator, because accuracy has never been a strong point with him. He said that this bill would mean £5,000,000 for the greedy and not for the needy. I presume that, when he says “ the greedy “, for some reason or other best known to him he means the independent or church schools. In truth and in fact, the bill will not provide £5,000,000 for them. It will provide £1,250,000. As the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) pointed out in his second-reading speech -
A good deal of the discussion of these proposals has so far centred about the one-eighth of the total sum which is going to assist the education of children whose parents, for one reason or another, do not send them to government schools.
Now, I feel that the appeal to class hatred, outmoded ideas, and outmoded shibboleths of snobbery tears the fabric of the community in a criminal fashion. It is no good Senator Hendrickson standing up and trying to pretend that some Australians are the implacable enemies of other Australians. There is no room for that wretched philosophy in Australia. With those few introductory remarks, 1 would like to turn to some consideration of the bill itself.
This measure revolves around the importance of science in our twentieth century age. Obviously, the bill is fully worthy of support and the amendment moved by the Opposition, which is simply a rebuttal of the bill’s propositions, must be rejected by the Senate. We are living in an incredible age when men travel almost to the moon. They travel around the earth in a few hours. Amazing instruments of manufacture and medical treatment are being developed day by. day in the laboratories and science works of the world. In order that Australia may take its place in a fully civilized and developing society, it is essential that the foundations for our scientists’ study be prepared at school. This is a matter which the Government has fully realized. This proposal rode in the van of the election campaign of the Prime Minister on 30th November of last year. I feel that the matter got a thorough working over on 30th November, 1963, and that the people of Australia gave the final imprimatur. It is quite clear, as Senator Buttfield pointed out in her interjection, that the church schools have become an integral part of our educational system, and that the existing government schools would be unable to cope with the present flood of pupils. The amendment moved by the Opposition would, of course, penalize those people who, for reasons which seem good to them - usually reasons of conscience - have sent their children to church schools. 1 want to rebutt in regard to this matter the suggestion that there has been a late change of policy by the Government. It has been suggested by honorable members opposite (hat the proposal of this scheme was a cheap and dirty bid by the Government, because of some secret arrangement with secret people, probably in dark lanes around the various States, to buy votes at this election. I want to remind honorable senators opposite that this Government has been following for years and years the principle embodied in this legislation. Since 1956-57 it has been paying the interest on church schools in the Australian Capital Territory. It provides 80 per cent, of the cost of maintenance of missionary schools in Commonwealth Territories. For years - I cannot recall how long - it has been paying money to church colleges and universities. Now. in a logical and coherent sequence, the Government is bringing forward this legislation in relation to secondary education. There is nothing new in the views that the Prime Minister has put before the electors in this matter. He has proclaimed it from the housetops for years. To honorable senators opposite who wish to brush up their English, and their appreciation of domestic problems a little bit, I commend the speeches of the Prime Minister at the Essendon Grammar School and the Camberwell Grammar School during the last eighteen months.
The question of conscience takes an awful beating from time to time, but I, for myself, express appreciation of the fact that the Government believes conscience is important. During the war, with the enemy at our gates, the Government so regarded matters of conscience that people whose religious beliefs did not allow them to take life or to bear arms were permitted to serve in the non-combatant section of the forces. Now, in peacetime, this right of conscience is acknowledged as sufficiently important by the Government to warrant the assistance which it is giving to these institutions and independent schools.
The principle behind the bill fits in with article 123 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that parents have a prior right to choose the type of education which their children shall have. Australia is a subscriber to the
Declaration of Human Rights. In acknowledging that obligation, we have come around to the proposition that conscience, although an abstract noun, has a very real existence and very real rights which the Government in this case has respected. Shakespeare makes one of his characters say, “ Conscience doth make cowards of us all “. If I may refer to honorable senators opposite, conscience has certainly made cowards of two of them to-day.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Calwell) described this very real measure on school aid as being - and I quote his words because they are worth quoting -
Ignoring for a moment the viciousness of that statement, not to mention the gynaecological impossibility of the honorable members’ proposition, it strikes me as a well nigh incredible statement. Imagine one who, despite his expressed objection to titles, recently accepted a knighthood from His Holiness, the Pope, so describing this measure which gives such substantial assistance to all Australian children at State, Catholic or non-Catholic schools without discrimination. I wonder whether Sir Arthur was seeking to get a bar to his knighthood by this sort of conduct.
It is customary for Opposition senators to claim that, when the Government does something wrong, it does so of its own initiative, but when it does something good, it does so under the inspiration and pressure of the Labour Party. That formula is a standard approach in this chamber. I feel honorable senators opposite will agree with me that it gets trotted out at least once a week. However untenable this thesis is - as I say, it is frequently repeated - I wonder whether honorable members opposite are going to say that about this measure. As I pointed out in my speech on the Budget last year, since 1947 the Budget papers have included the particular documents in respect of which the tax refunds to the States are computed. In measuring the size of the grants to the States, all the children of each State, including those at church schools, are included for the purpose of working out the formula. One might have thought that there was the inference to be drawn from this, and the inclusion in those figures of children at independent schools was a direction that a proportion of money which was given to the States in respect of education would be spent on them. As I said, ‘ I referred to this matter last year, and I suggested that the relevant authorities might examine and correct the position. Whilst I do not wish to impersonate Uriah Heep, I am too humble a man to believe that my views were the deciding factor in the formulation of that policy speech.
I am delighted with the rapidity with which the Government has redeemed its election promises. I congratulate the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) upon his speedy administrative action in preparing the way for this bill and the reasoned and temperate manner in which he has placed it before the Senate. The cynics say that politicians’ promises arc like pie crusts. I should think that, after the Government’s discharge of its election promises during the current sessional period, that old cynical saying will have to go out of favour. I congratulate the Commonwealth Government upon the integrity it is showing in the discharge of its electoral obligations.
– Mr. Deputy President, I support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). There is no need to stress the importance of science and science teaching in this community, lt is something about which we all agree. We all would like to see the teaching of science extended and encouraged. I suppose that in the long history of human alf airs one of the most regrettable features of, and blots on, humanity has been the war which has been carried on over many centuries between science and religion. It is very pleasing to note that nowadays science is recognized by all in the community as being basic to teaching. No person in the community, whatever his religious beliefs - even if he lacks such beliefs - would do other than encourage the utmost spread of scientific knowledge.
So far as the bill deals with the extension of science facilities to government schools, we are in favour of it. So far as it deals with the making of grants to States for the purposes of technical colleges and schools, we are in favour of it. The bill is designed to grant financial assistance to the States for science laboratories and equipment in government schools and technical colleges and schools. There is not the slightest doubt that, in relation to that objective as it affects government schools, there is unanimity of opinion in this chamber. However, the amendment is designed to show that, even in that respect, the bill makes an inadequate contribution to science education and education generally in Australia. The amendment sets out in detail, and Senator McKenna has shown clearly, the reasons why that is so.
So far as the bill is designed to grant financial assistance to the States for the purpose of providing science laboratories and equipment in schools other than government schools, it is undoubtedly and absolutely opposed to the federal platform of the Australian Labour Party. With the concurrence of honorable senators, 1 incorporate in “ Hansard “ that portion of the federal platform which deals with the subject of education.
This applies particularly tothe following classes of people: -
The Australian Labour Party believes that, to meet Australia’s rapidly growing educational needs, specific policy objectives should be based on five considerations: -
A short-term programme of action aimed at providing adequate standards of operation within the shortest possible time. Such standards would apply to the numbers and qualifications of teachers, the size of classes, standards of school building and facilities, and the level of financial assistance to students through bursaries and scholarships. Specific actions to include the following: -
An adequate policy of university development to provide: -
An immediate review of the elements contributing to the continuing shortage of trained teachers, with appropriate action to overcome this lack in the near future. Matters which should be reviewed include -
The establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Education and of a corresponding
Ministerial portfolio. The functions of this department would include the following: -
To provide an administrative centre for various investigatory and advisory bodies such as the Australian Universities Commission, and Australian Education Council of Federal and State Ministers meeting frequently, a Standing Committee of Directors of Education and appropriate specialized panels.
Promoting a greater and better informed public understanding and appreciation of educational matters.
This shows that much more is called for than the mere provision of financial assistance to the States. It is not merely a matter of money. There must be much more investigation than there has been. There needs to be a complete inquiry into the matter. It should be tackled on an overall national basis. To shrug off the problem by dealing with it as though it were merely a matter of granting financial assistance is insufficient.
State aid - that is the expression which is popularly used to describe the provision of money to religious schools - is, as I have indicated, opposed to the policy of the Australian Labour Party. Although the Labour Party’s policy has been described as being opposed to direct State aid to schools, it supports the giving of aid to the scholar. Whatever the scholar does with the money - whether or not he pays it to some religious school - is his own business.
If that principle were followed, one would avoid the divisions which are created by legislation such as the measure we are now considering. This legislation must be considered against the background of the statement which was made in this place on Sth March by the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research and which was entitled “ Provision of Science Buildings and Equipment in Secondary Schools “. It is apparent from that statement that it is the intention of the Commonwealth to create division amongst school children and within the community generally in three ways: There will be a division between those children who are in government schools, those who are in private Catholic schools and those who are in private non-Catholic schools. Anything which tends to divide the community on religious lines is to be deplored.
– Do you think it divides those in England?
– I do think it divides those who are in England. Such a division is to be deplored in any community. We of the Australian Labour Party are fully in favour of the right of any individual to have his children educated at the school of his choice. We are in favour, also, of giving increasing assistance to scholars or parents of scholars so that the scholars might have a better and fuller education. That can be done in ‘many ways without encouraging division on religious lines between various sections of the community. Division is bad, and it ought not to be introduced into this community.
The bill contains some interesting provisions. It purports to make available a grant under section 96 of the Constitution. Leaving out the immaterial part, that section reads - the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
It is interesting to observe the condition which is set out in sub-clause (3.) of clause 2 in relation to the payment of an amount to a State. The sub-section reads -
Payment of an amount to a State under this section is subject to the condition that the amount, will be applied by the State, as approved by the Minister, for purposes in connexion with laboratories and equipment for use in the teaching of science in schools at the secondary level of education.
What does that mean but that the States are to decide how the amounts shall be applied, and the Minister is merely to approve? But a perusal of the statement of the Minister in charge of this bill of 5th March, 1964. shows that this is not the intention of the Government at all. The Minister said -
In the cass of non-governmental schools, the Commonwealth will be solely responsible for deciding grants.
Then he set out the procedure that will be adopted by the Commonwealth, lt seems from that statement that the Government does not intend to implement the provisions of his bill. The Minister’s statement implies that it will not simply be a matter of the Minister approving what is decided by the States. In truth, then, the Government is dishonest in including these provisions in the bill, and some people may live to regret the Government’s apparent decision to disregard certain parts of this bill, including this provision. The implications of it go far beyond the provision of laboratories for schools, whether private or otherwise. They go far beyond the question of State aid. Here we have a position in which payments are made to a State under section 96, and although a provision is included to the effect that the application of amounts decided by the State will be approved by the Minister, this will in fact be completely disregarded, and the Commonwealth will determine exactly what is to be done.
If this principle were to be extended we might find that when moneys are given to the States under section 96 of the Constitution for other purposes the Commonwealth would say, “ We will give this money to you but we are going to say exactly what will be done and how it will be done, down to the last penny of expenditure of this money “. This may happen in any sphere at all. It may happen when money is provided for the purposes of roads, education, scientific teaching or any other matter that is presently within the competence of the States. This represents a potent weapon which may be found useful by a future government. It is a strong weapon which could be used not only by the Liberal-Country Party Government but also by a future Labour government. I suppose the Government can be congratulated for pointing the way to a procedure which will have very general applications.
– Would you recommend the repeal of this bill?
– In answer lo Senator Hannan I would say this: First, this bill is not, as it has been described, a bill to provide annual grants. We should not go beyond exactly what is included in the bill. It is a bill to provide certain moneys. Those moneys will be paid over and that will be the end of the matter. It is quite wrong for senators on the Government side to suggest that this bill will make provision for payments from year to year or that it will go any further than the payment of one sum of money. That is correct, is it not, Senator Hannan?
– Would you recommend its re-enactment?
– I have no hesitation in saying that I would not recommend the enactment of a bill in these terms, for the very reasons that appear in the federal platform of the Australian Labour Party, and which are apparent in the amendment proposed by Senator McKenna and also have been advanced by members of the Labour Party in the other House. It follows from the remarks I made in the beginning of this speech that I would be in favour of extensive grants to the States for the purpose of providing buildings and equipment for use in technical training in schools and for science laboratories and equipment in government schools. In accordance with the policy of the Labour Party I would be in favour of very extensive subsidization of scholars so that they may be educated in the schools of their choice, whether government schools or other schools.
I was pointing out the way in which this bill is at variance with the statement which was made by the Minister on 5th March. The terms and conditions which were referred to by the Minister in his speech on 5th March do not appear in this bill, and it may well be that the Government feared that if those terms and conditions were included the bill would be unconstitutional. It has therefore taken the course of discreetly setting out in a statement, but not in the bill, the terms which it proposes to lay down and the procedures it proposes to adopt. Because this question of constitutional validity arises, it may be that many people will feel regret not merely in relation to this matter but also in relation to many other matters in the future. This step has been taken in connexion with a matter on which there is a clear division within the community. Some people are bitterly opposed to any form of State aid. Others, like Senator Hannan, are undoubtedly strongly in favour of it and perhaps feel a little bitter towards the opponents of it. If is a tragedy to see this kind of bitterness and hostility engendered in a country which has been relatively free of it.
There is one further observation I want to make, lt is undesirable that there should be direct grants to schools in this way, because undoubtedly, as the old proverb goes, in the long run he who pays the piper calls the tune. If there were to be further grants of this nature there is no doubt - and this is feared by some church schools - that there would be a tendency towards increasing interference in and control of the affairs of those schools. This would lead to an overlapping of the functions of the State and the church in a sphere in which it is better for the State, the church and the whole community that the two be kept apart as far as possible.
For those reasons I support the amendment proposed by Senator McKenna.
.- I support the bill, and certainly oppose the amendment. It is amazing to me that there has not been a general expression of appreciation of the contents of this bill, the purpose of which was endorsed by the vote of millions of people throughout Australia. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in his policy speech, set out clearly the terms of the bill he intended to bring forward this session, so there can be no excuse for any member of the Opposition saying that this legislation was ill-considered or rushed through, and that members of the Opposition and the people of Australia were not aware of what the bil] would contain and of what its implications would be.
We must realize the vital importance to the individual and to the nation of the education that is provided. It is the right of every child to receive all possible assistance in being educated for living, so that he or she may become a responsible and helpful member of the family, the community and the nation. It must be said, of course, that the child should be enabled to learn appreciation of the humanities. This bill, however, deals with the scientific and technological fields of education. I should like briefly to refer to clause 2 (3.) and clause 3 (3.).
It is very necessary, for the sake of the child and for the standard of living in his home, that the income of the nation be maintained and, indeed, increased. That income depends largely upon the export trade of our primary and secondary industries; therefore there is an urgent need for skilled workers and research workers in the various fields of industry, as well as for teachers in the colleges and institutions where the training is given. I was pleased to see listed in the Third Schedule various Victorian technical schools. Bendigo Technical College, Prahran Technical School, Roys.! Melbourne Institute of Technology, the Gordon Institute of Technology, the Ballarat School of Mines and Industries, and the Swinburne Technical College all are carrying out most valuable .work, but they are in urgent need of finance to assist them in the development of that work. I remind honorable senators that not only do Australian children attend these institutions; they are attended also by students who come to Australia from other countries in a voluntary capacity - their parents providing the finance for their education - and by those who come here under the Colombo Plan.
Other speakers’ from the Government side have referred to the excellent assistance given, through the years, by the Commonwealth Government in the field of education. May I refer briefly to the work carried out by the Commonwealth Office of Education, which is wholly responsible for the scheme of Commonwealth co-operation in education, for the United Nations extended programme of -technical assistance, for the United Nations special fund, the Colombo Plan programme to which I referred earlier, and the special Commonwealth promotion assistance plan - all programmes dealing with education. Of course, Victoria is happy to receive the aid that is to be given under this bill. According to the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, in 1963 the total number of students in government schools was 1,755,883 and in non-government schools 550,003. These numbers are increasing rapidly. Of that total number - in excess of 2,000,000 - the number of girls under the age of eighteen years was 1,110,728. I make a special plea to the advisory bodies which have been formed in the various States, to give sympathetic consideration to girls’ schools where there is a serious lack of educational facilities and equipment and a shortage of teachers who are qualified to instruct in science.
Mrs. J. G. Norris, who represented Australia for a period of three years on the Status of Women Commission, reported that much time and attention was given by that commission to considering the desirability and, in fact, the necessity of training girls and women in the field of science. As the girls in our schools total almost half the number of children attending primary and secondary schools, surely it is desirable that they be given every opportunity to prove, as they certainly could, that they are capable of carrying out excellent work in the various fields of science and technology which are now open to them. The girls’ schools place before the students, when advising them on careers, an excellent list of possible careers. I need mention only the fields of agricultural science, biochemistry, chemistry and dietetics and, in the technological field, medical laboratory technology, veterinary science and electronics.
– They can enter those fields without discrimination, can’t they?
– I hope so. I have been interested to read - and 1 do not suggest that we should follow this line entirely - that in the Soviet countries half the number of engineers are women. What the women in those countries can do Australian women can do also.
I should like now to advert to Victoria and to point out that the government schools there will receive about £1,022,000 and the non-government schools about £377,000, from the total grant of £1,399,600. When this money is given to Victoria it will be allocated by an advisory committee. I have been told by the chairman of the advisory committee, the Right Reverend Felix Arnott, Bishop of the Diocese of Melbourne, that the members of that committee are being drawn from the metropolitan as well as the rural areas. The committee will have the broadest possible base. On it are representatives of the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church and other Protestant churches. The Roman Catholic Church is also setting up a committee to attend to the allocation of funds to its schools, and I understand that complete amity exists between the two committees. If 1 may, I should like to point out here that many members of the Anglican Church in Victoria have told me that they very strongly deplore any suggestion that the newspaper, the “ Anglican “, which is produced in New South Wales, purports to speak for the Anglican Church. It is an independent paper and is without any official status in the Church. I wish to make that point very clear.
The hour is getting on and 1 do not want to repeat any of the excellent points made by my colleagues. In conclusion, I congratulate the Minister who, I am proud to say, is a Senator from Victoria, upon the production of this bill. I am sure the Senate appreciates the hours of work which he and his officers must have had to devote to the preparation of the measure. I strongly support the bill.
– in reply - The secondreading debate on this bill has ranged over a wide field and, unfortunately, once again a large proportion of it has been devoted to the question of assistance being given to schools which are not government schools. In other words, a great deal of the time devoted to the debate has been spent on considering the allocation of about one-eighth of the total amount of money being appropriated by this measure. This was really a discussion of principle, with one man saying he believes a certain thing should be done and another saying he believes it should not be done, and therefore it does not lend itself to analysis and points of argument. It is a matter for each man to make up his own mind, according to his beliefs. I can only say that it is my belief that there is nothing wrong whatever in extending the assistance proposed here to all children in all Australian schools. Again, so far as I can see, no new principle is involved because State aid has been accepted already in other fields of education. I remind honorable senators that we have been granting aid to students in all university colleges for a considerable time now. I do not propose to delve any further into this question of principle. The important point is that what is embodied in the bill was clearly put before the Australian people and was endorsed by them. The bill merely represents the implementation of a promise made by the Government to the Australian people, lt was our duty to implement that promise.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) made two or three points during the course of his speech. One related to the method of division of the grant and to some alleged discrimination against Tasmania. I suggest that the argument adduced by Senator Lillico indicated quite clearly that, in fact, Tasmania is not being badly treated in this respect. Indeed, it might be of interest to the Leader of the Opposition to know that the Department of Education in Tasmania made a strong case for dividing the money to be allocated for secondary schools in accordance with the total school population. This was done because Tasmanian statistics included pre-school children and this made it appear as though Tasmania had a larger secondary school population, proportionately, than any other State. But when it come to dividing the money to be allocated to technical schools, because Tasmania has, proportionately, a smaller technical school population than any of the other States, one of the first ideas propounded was that the money for this purpose should be divided in inverse ratio to the number of technical school students in a particular State. This, in effect, represents an approach to the same problem from a completely different angle. But there is no doubt at all that the students of Tasmania will not be discriminated against.
Senator McKenna also suggested that there should have been a much more comprehensive inquiry. Indeed, he gave that as one of his reasons for moving the amendment. I suggest to him that, for the reasons given in my second-reading speech, the need for more facilities for technical education is so great that no further inquiry is required to establish it. There can be no denying that the task of meeting this need should be given a high priority by this nation.
As to the provision of science teaching facilities, I point out that the operations of the industrial fund to which Senator Hannan referred highlight the difficulty some schools have in providing such facilities. The last report submitted by the Australian Universities Commission before the Parliament rose last year stressed the high failure rate in science subjects in the first year at universities, and indicated that the universities felt that this high failure rate was due to inadequate preparation in secondary schools, resulting from the inadequacy of the facilities provided. There can be no doubt that both technical facilities and science teaching facilities are badly needed in Australia’s educational system.
Senator Cavanagh endeavoured to show that the money being made available is not very significant and will not go very far towards solving the problem. Certainly it will not meet all requirements in one year; but it will solve the problem over a reasonable period of years. In fact, I think that everything that Senator Cavanagh quoted supports the argument that the voting of a sum of money of this size over a few years will go a very long way towards meeting the requirements of the schools. For instance, he referred to the sum of £50,000,000 which the State Ministers for Education claim is required; but he did not point out that, according to a report by the Ministers, this £50,000,000 would be spread over at least five years and includes provision for gymnasiums, playing fields, teachers’ houses and a number of other things besides science teaching laboratories. I remind the honorable senator that if the operation of this legislation is continued, as I hope it will be, then, over a period of five years, it will be the means of providing well over £40,000,000 for science teaching facilities. This being so, the schools will be left to find only approximately £8,000,000 for gymnasiums, teachers’ houses and things not covered by this bill.
In further support of his argument, Senator Cavanagh referred to a circular issued by the New South Wales Teachers Federation. I also mentioned that circular in my second-reading speech because, although it was devised in an attempt to show that the sum of money being provided was fairly insignificant, in fact it succeeded in showing exactly the opposite. It showed that there were 300 State schools in New South Wales in need of science teaching equipment, and it mentioned the amount of money which would be needed to provide each one of those schools with an adequate laboratory. It requires only a simple exercise in arithmetic to discover that the backlog of requirements of all 300 schools will be met in four years by the money provided under this bill. Therefore, I think that, on the whole, Senator Cavanagh supported my case rather than his own.
Senator Cavanagh also said that he did not know whether the non-government schools could provide adequate standards. All I can say about that is that a committee has been appointed to see that adequate standards arc provided. On that committee are three science teachers - one of them is a woman. All three have been State presidents of their science teachers’ associations. The chairman of the committee was in charge of and adviser to the industrial fund which has provided laboratories and laboratory equipment to schools.
Senator Cavanagh also mentioned the Labour Party’s policy in relation to assistance to denominational schools. I do not propose to enter into this field because 1 still do not know what that policy is. I have heard conflicting descriptions of it, and I leave the matter to the Labour Party itself to decide. Senator Hendrickson we will leave without comment. I should like to mention one point raised by Senator Murphy, who complained that this bill is divisive - is dividing children. I suggest that for many years past children in Australia, in England and in other countries have been attending varying schools. They are attending different types of school now. Far from being divisive, this bill will assist all children, no matter what kind of schools they attend, in proportion to the numbers attending the various schools. I suggest that it would be divisive to extend no assistance to a particular child at a particular school.
The bill will provide a grant for one year only. 1 hope that at about this time next year I will be able to introduce a bill for a triennium, but at this stage that is just a hope. This bill is for one year only. That is all I wish to say in reply to the points raised during the secondreading debate. I feel that most points were replied to in advance by the secondreading speech, which is already in “ Hansard “.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) bc left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 20th May (vide page 1384).
Clause 4 (Interpretation).
[4.18]. - I think it might be appropriate if I start off the committee stage to-day by replying to the various points that were made last night in relation to clause 4. I have since had a chance to read and consider them. I believe it may shorten the proceedings considerably if I take a little time and deal with everything that was raised last night on clause 4.
Senator McKenna, referring to the definition of “ approved interest “, asked what would be the test applied by the secretary to the Department of Housing before he approved an interest in an estate for life, as is provided in paragraph (c) of the definition. As the holder of a life interest would be under 36 years “of age, there is a reasonable expectancy that he will have the right to occupy the land for 30 or more years. In most cases evidence that the applicant for a grant is entitled to a life interest will be acceptable. Tt will be a matter for the applicant to satisfy the department that he does hold a life interest. Senator McKenna asked also how the department proposes to be satisfied that the conditions of a lease give reasonable security of tenure to the lessee for a substantial period, as is provided in paragraph (e) of the definition of “ approved interest “. The Department of Housing proposes to request a lessee who applies for the grant to supply a copy of the lease. The department will be interested in the unexpired period of the lease, any rights of renewal upon expiration which may be contained in the lease and any conditions in it regarding compensation for improvements on the land provided by the lessee. Where a lease has more than 21 years to run and contains no conditions which it would be difficult for the lessee to meet, such a lease will usually be acceptable. However, in one State at least, there are Crown leases of rural land under which, upon expiration, if the lessee has met all the conditions over the period of the lease, he is entitled to receive the freehold title of the land. In cases where there are only one or two years of such a lease to run, the lessee has a relatively secure tenure of the land. This is the reason why no specified time was mentioned in the bill.
Senator McKenna, in commenting on the definition of “ approved interest “ also referred to paragraph (b) of sub-clause (1.) of clause 4 and expressed some surprise that a purchaser by instalments has not an approved interest except where the vendor is a State government. In cases where the vendor is a private person, the contract of sale would usually provide that if the purchaser defaults in a payment on a due date and the payment is outstanding for a given period, the contract is terminated and the vendor empowered to dispose of the land and the improvements. The purchaser could lose the whole amount he has invested, including the amount of the Commonwealth grant. My Government feels that it would not be proper to make a grant in a case where there would be a possibility of this happening.
asked why paragraph (f) has been included in the definition of “ savings bank “ and paragraph (e) in the definition of “ trading bank “. These paragraphs authorize the secretary, by notice published in the “ Gazette “, to determine that any other bank may be a savings bank or a trading bank for the purposes of this act. These provisions were included because of the possibility that a State might establish a new savings bank or trading bank. Senator Cohen pointed out that the definition of “ share “ excluded shares quoted for sale or purchase on a stock exchange. The definition is included because it is the practice of some building societies, in addition to issuing shares which confer eligibility for loans, also to issue shares in which the general public may invest. The act is not concerned with these shares and they have thus been specifically excluded.
Senator Cavanagh referred to paragraph fa) of the definition of “ prescribed date “. I understood him to say that his reading of the paragraph would result in a person receiving a grant notwithstanding that only the spouse of that person had entered into a contract to purchase a dwelling house. I am informed that the honorable senator is correct in his reading of the provision.
Senator McKenna has made a suggestion with respect to sub-clause (3.) of clause 4. The sub-clause provides that a reference in the act to moneys saved by a person is not to include moneys borrowed by the person. Senator McKenna has suggested that the words “ and which have not been repaid “ should be added. The purpose of the bill, so far as savings are concerned, is to ensure that the Commonwealth grant will be made only in relation to true savings of the person concerned. The provision was therefore included to exclude borrowings. Senator Gorton, by way of interjection, has already pointed out that upon repayment of a loan a person would not be in possession of either the loan or the moneys needed to repay it. Senator McKenna has referred to sub-clause (4.)-
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, I rise merely to provide the opportunity for the Minister to continue.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [4.32]. - I am sorry to have taken up so much time, but I think giving these various explanations will shorten the debate in the long run, as I was a bit confused last night with them. Senator McKenna has referred to sub-clause (4.) of clause 4, which provides that a person is not to be treated as having ceased to reside in Australia during any temporary absence. Temporary absence overseas would include a holiday, a business trip or a visit to a sick relative overseas, where the period of absence from Australia is reasonable in relation to the purpose of the overseas visit, and the person may reasonably be regarded as continuing to be a resident of Australia.
Senator Cohen has referred to subclause (2.) of clause 4, and some explanation of the intention of the provision may be of assistance. The sub-clause provides, in effect, that an applicant and his wife are to be deemed at any relevant time prior to the application to have been the spouse of each other, even at times extending back before their actual marriage. Such a relevant time would, in determining the acceptable savings of an applicant and his spouse under the provisions of clause 22, be a date seven years before the date of the building or purchase contract. Sub-clause (2.) of clause 4 makes it clear that even if an applicant and his wife were not married at that earlier date, their individual savings at that date could be taken into account for the computation of acceptable savings.
Senator McKenna has suggested that the words “ at the prescribed date “ be added to paragraph (a) of sub-clause (5.) of clause 4 after the word “deposit”. He said that the provision, as expressed, does not permit a withdrawal. The point is that the provision is concerned only with the actual amount maintained on deposit at a particular time and if, in fact, there had been withdrawals, then the amount on deposit at that time would, of course, be less. Furthermore, to add the words suggested by the honorable senator would give the paragraph an operation limited to the prescribed date, whereas it is intended to have effect in relation to savings maintained at any relevant date.
Referring to sub-clause (6.) of clause 4, Senator Cavanagh asked why, when a grant is to be repaid, it should be mandatory for the repayment to be made by the person or his spouse. I give the honorable senator this answer: The person - the spouse or the applicant - owes money to the Commonwealth so he or she has to repay it, but there is no objection if repayment is made by another person. However, if that other person made the repayment, it would surely be on behalf of the person owing the debt.
– I thank the Minister for the great deal of information he has given. I wish to comment upon only one matter: That is the failure of the bill to treat as land in which there Ls an approved interest, land that is the subject of a contract of sale between two individuals, or between a purchaser and somebody other than a State authority whereby instalments are to be paid over a number of years. The reason for the exclusion, we are told, is that there may be default under the contract. The contract may be rescinded and the purchaser would forfeit his deposit which would, no doubt, include the amount that had been paid to him as a grant. 1 should have thought that, in view of all the discretions vested in the department, regard would be had, before the grant was made, to the equity that the purchaser had in the property and the likelihood of default occurring.
I wish merely to place on record the comment that exactly the same circumstance could arise in relation to paragraph (b) as was given as a reason for not including a contract between, say, two individuals. Paragraph (b) relates to an interest as purchaser of an estate in fee simple from the Crown in right of a State where payment of the purchase price is to be made by instalments over a period of years. The possibility of default and the certainty that in any such agreement there would be provision similar to that indicated by the Minister providing for recision of the contract and forfeiture of the deposit, would also exist in these circumstances in exactly the same way. So I merely comment to the Minister that the reason he assigns for this action does not impress me and I am very much afraid that time will show that there are many disappointed applicants for the grant.
– I am grateful to the Minister for the pains he has taken to explain what is possibly the longest controversial clause of the bill. I rise now to refer to the question 1 raised last night concerning money provided under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement and its relationship to the State Bank of South Australia. If it is not the intention of the department to exclude Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement money lent by the State Bank of South Australia with no reduction in interest to the borrower, perhaps the Minister would consider the inclusion of Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement money where it is provided to home-builders at less than normal interest rates. Persons borrowing money on these terms will not receive any benefit from this legislation. It seems to me that a suitable exemption should be provided in the legislation as this need is particularly apparent in South Australia where the Government has manipulated Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement money.
The Minister has furnished an explanation of the “ prescribed date “ and has agreed with the interpretation that a grant may bc approved when a spouse signs a contract. 1 do not suppose we can budge the Government on this point, but never let us say again that this is a bill related to savings for home purchases. A person may be eligible for a grant because he has saved £750 and the contract to purchase a home has been signed by his spouse. However, their relationship may not be very good and the money obtained could be used for any purpose at all other than the purchase of a home. The Minister referred to clause (2.), which states -
A reference in this Act, in relation to any time, to the spouse of an eligible person shall be read as a reference to a person who was the spouse of the eligible person at the date of application by the eligible person for a grant under this Act . . .
A subsequent clause in the bill provides that if the Government seeks to reclaim the grant paid it can be reclaimed from an eligible person who receives the grant or from his spouse. If this is interpreted lo include the spouse at the date of the application it could mean that the grant is reclaimed from some one who has never enjoyed any benefit from it. Many strange things happen in present-day marital relationships. It could well be that since the date of the application the eligible person has acquired another spouse who is enjoying the benefits obtained by the grant, yet the amount of the grant may be reclaimed from the person who was the spouse at the time of the application. I believe it is important that we should consider this possibility as the word “ spouse “ is used in many clauses of the bill and it could result in some difficulities.
I thank the Minister for his explanation of clause 6. I point out that clause 4 lacks a definition of a dwelling house and I ask that this point should be considered. In his second-reading speech the Minister said that grants will not be approved in respect of sub-standard or condemned houses but a definition of the houses on which grants will be approved has not been included. While we have been thinking in terms of the possibility of grants being approved on houses costing £7,000, houses the subject of applications could range from the most meagre dwelling houses that just escape being condemned. It is possible that an application will be made for a grant in respect of a house every time it changes hands. If the grant is approved in each case the Commonwealth could be paying out taxpayers’ money in excess of the value of the property concerned. 1 believe that a definition of an approved dwelling house should be included so that we may advise applicants whether houses which they seek to build will qualify for a grant. I would welcome a statement from the Minister on this matter.
– The Minister has not yet given me a clear explanation of the position of purchasers of homes built for sale by the South Australian Housing Trust. I have queried their position twice - on 26th February and again on 27th February. I was told that the matter would be the subject of discussion when the bill was introduced. Last evening I pointed out to the Minister that a statement had been made by the chairman of the South Australian Housing Trust that purchasers of houses built for sale by the trust would be eligible for the subsidy. He said that representations had been made by the South Australian Government to the Federal Government, and that, as a result, it was clear that such purchasers would be eligible for the subsidy.
I have pointed out to the Minister that this has not been stated either in the other place or in the Senate - by the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) or by Senator Spooner who was aware of the question I raised. Before the suspension of the sitting last evening I gave him a copy of the statement by the chairman of the trust. I thought that he might then have occasion, if he had not before, to discuss the matter with the department or with the Minister for Housing. The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Birrell) also has raised the same question in another place. Although a statement appeared in the Adelaide “ News “ to the effect that young people who buy homes from the South Australian Housing Trust will get the subsidy., no official announcement has been made. I should think that the question could be answered easily. Are young people who buy rental-purchase homes from the South Australian Housing Trust eligible to benefit under the bill? I said last night that I thought they would be outside the scope of the bill. Are the people who buy homes from the housing trust under the normal conditions of purchase also eligible for the subsidy. If either, or both, of these two classes of people are eligible why does not the. Government plainly say so? Then everybody will know the exact position. Admittedly, the South Australian Housing Trust is different from some other State housing authorities whose operations are carried out exclusively on Commonwealth moneys.
The Minister ought to be able to state what the position is in South Australia so that everybody will know, and so that the facts will appear in the records of the Parliament. He should tell us what the Government has agreed to with the Premier of South Australia. If there is no agreement, then the chairman of the South Australian Housing Trust had no right to make the statement that he made. If the Department of Housing, or the Minister for Housing, has told the honorable member for Port Adelaide that the subsidy will apply to people who buy homes from the South Australian Housing Trust, and if that actually is the position, why can we not have a clear and definite statement to that effect?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [4.47]. - I shall deal with the position in respect of the South Australian Housing Trust first. That position is quite clear. The trust builds two categories of houses. The first consists of houses built solely for sale, with moneys raised by the trust itself. In other words, the trust uses semi-governmental moneys. Those who buy such houses are eligible for the grant, as no Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement moneys are involved. Those are houses that the housing trust finances from State government moneys or from moneys that are raised on the market. This is not a case of any arrangement being made with anybody. The provisions of the bill speak for themselves, and do not apply only to South Australia. If similar circumstances exist in any other State the purchases also come within the four corners of the bill.
The South Australian Housing Trust also uses Commonwealth and State Housing
Agreement moneys to build homes primarily for rental, but from time to time a few of those homes are sold by the trust. The homes built with Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement moneys are not eligible for the grant. I cannot put the matter in any plainer terms than that. I repeat that South Australia is not the only State involved. Other States have similar arrangements, and the line of demarcation is whether or not the trust, or authority, uses moneys which are provided under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. If it does, then there is no eligibility for the grant. The source of the finance determines the position.
Senator Cavanagh suggested that the term “dwelling house” should be defined. He fears that sub-standard houses might be built, and he would like to have something included in the bill to specifically exclude this possibility. This is one of the things that is easier said than done. It would not be a simple matter to draft such a definition. The answer I give to him is that the granting of an application under the act is discretionary. The secretary of the department when making a grant will exercise his discretion as to whether or not the house to be built is sub-standard. I know that that does not, as it were, put down in chapter and verse and in exact words what a substandard house is, but I suggest to Senator Cavanagh that it is better to have it that way than to try to use a complicated specification on which there could be disagreement.
– I do not want to take up time unduly, but I should like to remind the Minister that he has not replied to a point that I raised about South Australia. I think that what the Minister has said about the South Australian Housing Trust was stated in his second-reading speech, but I raised the subject of the State Bank of South Australia which obtains the largest allocation of money under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement and lends that money out at 5 per cent. What I want to know is whether persons using that money would be eligible for the grant.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [4.52]. - Under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement 30 per cent, of the moneys provided by the Commonwealth are to be advanced to building societies or other approved institutions. Under this legislation, therefore, those who use that 30 per cent, of the moneys supplied under the agreement will be eligible for the grant. The important words are “ building societies or other approved institutions”. In South Australia, a portion of the money goes to building societies and a portion to the State savings bank, which is an approved institution. The 30 per cent, which is channelled to home-builders or homeowners through the savings bank instead of through a building society is eligible for a grant.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 13 - -by leave - taken together.
– I wish to ask one question in relation to clause 13. This clause contains a provision about secrecy and requires an officer not to disclose anything that he learns in the course of his duty. Following this provision is an authorization to the officer to disclose information in certain circumstances. The first is that the Minister or the secretary may certify that it is necessary in the public interest to divulge information, and so on. I do not complain about that, because the Minister and the secretary openly accept responsibility. However, paragraph (b) provides that an officer may - divulge any such information to any prescribed authority or person;
I ask: What authority is it thought may bc prescribed? My interest is aroused by the fact that in the course of investigating the savings of an applicant a good deal of information about income and its sources will become available to the departmental officers. People may be inhibited from making applications if they think that information placed before the secretary will be passed on to the Commissioner of Taxation. Has the Minister considered just what type of authority may be prescribed as an authority to which an officer may be free to divulge information and specifically, would he bc free to make disclosures to the Commissioner of Taxation?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [4.56]. - I direct Senator McKenna’s thoughts to the fact that the officer can divulge information only lo a prescribed authority or person. The honorable senator asked whether this would permit information to be given to the Commissioner of Taxation. 1 suppose the short answer is that the provision cannot operate until the necessary regulation is made to prescribe the authorities and the persons. If the regulation prescribed the Commissioner of Taxation, it could be disallowed by the Senate. But 1 put Senator McKenna’s mind at rest, and also my own, by adding that there is no intention at all to prescribe that information can be given to the Commissioner of Taxation.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 14 (Eligible persons).
– I wish to say a few words about clause 14. I ask whether the Minister considers it desirable to have as one of the requisites of eligibility that a person be married. This does not seem to allow a person to build a home with the intention of occupying it after marriage. I have expressed my party’s opposition to the limitation of the grant to people under 36 years of age. The Minister has said that paragraph (c) of this clause enables a grant to be made to a migrant who intends lo reside in Australia. Of course, the paragraph does not make this stipulation and 1 am of the opinion that it should. I ask the Minister whether an applicant who meets the requirements of this provision is obliged to take up permanent residence in Australia, if he is not already an Australian. Could an applicant, after he had resided in the home for a short period, sell it and return to the country of his birth?
Paragraph (e) provides that a person is eligible for the purposes of the act if - a grant under this Act has not been made to the person, or to the spouse or a former spouse of the person during his or her marriage to the person;
To my mind, this is completely unfair. A former spouse may have had a grant which has been of no benefit to the applicant. The applicant may have separated from his former spouse and remarried. If he seeks to establish a home, he is deprived of assistance under this bill. Paragraph (f) provides -
The word “ or “ is pertinent - on or after the second day of December, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-three -
Honorable senators will remember the remarks I made on the interpretation of “ prescribed date “. This provision shows that the grant can be given to an eligible person who does not intend to use it to build a house or does not own land. The land can be owned by his spouse. The paragraph continues -
Again, the person to whom we are giving the grant need not build a house, need not spend it on the house and need not own the land on which the house is built. I have already referred to paragraph (h), which relates to a personserving a term of imprisonment. To mymind a person should not be barred because he has committed a misdemeanour and is paying the penalty for it. He should come within the provisions if he wants to rehabilitate himself and has the money to set his family up in a home, though he may still be confined to prison.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [5,2]. - Senator Cavanagh asked why marriage is a prerequisite to the payment of this grant. The answer is that there is no constitutional authority to pay it to a single person, to an engaged couple or to two single persons. It is payable only to a married couple.
– It is a family allowance.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.That is right. The honorable senator also asked about permanent residence. I think the department must approach this matter in a commonsense way. Perhaps a married applicant could say he intended to live permanently in Australia and then sell the home a few months later and leave Australia. However, I think we must keep in the back of our minds that this grant is payable only once. People can receive it only once. I think the department can be relied upon to be satisfied that the applicant for the grant and his spouse do intend to live in the home for which the grant may be made. There may be an odd case of dishonesty or something may be done that should not be done, but by and large I think in the circumstances that is a risk we should take.
– It is being very generous with the taxpayers’ money.
– It is not altogether a matter of being generous; it is a matter of being practical. If we tried to work out a formula to cover this situation, we probably would catch more innocent people than guilty people. Then there is the question of a second grant where either one of a married couple has had a grant previously. In drafting the bill, we took the view that if a person had had the grant once, he would have some assets and would have made some provision. He would have enjoyed the benefit of the scheme once and it would be unduly generous to give him a second grant, even though he may have married for the second time. I confirm what Senator Cavanagh said earlier, that the husband and wife can save together, the husband or the wife can save separately and, when it comes to buildingthe home, even though the husband has saved all the money himself he can put the home in the name of the wife. The giving of the grant does not force the person receiving it to put the home in his own name. The important thing is that the couple must be married before they can obtain the grant.
As to persons in prison, the disability applies only so long as they remain in prison. When they are released they become eligible.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 (Acceptable savings where prescribed date is not later than 31st December, 1964).
– There are two matters on clause 15 to which I wish to refer. The first relates to sub-clause (2.). Under this sub-clause savings effected prior to 31st December this year may be in the form of investment or otherwise. 1 ask the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) to consider the case of an endowment policy that may be taken out and held over many years with a view to providing a deposit for a home on maturity - perhaps at 35 years of age. The man may become an applicant for a grant before he reaches that age. The policy would have some surrender value. He may not want to surrender it but may wish to raise money on it and continue the payments after marriage and even after the grant. I realize that amounts paid by premium probably would not be treated as acceptable savings. But would the surrender value of that endowment policy be regarded as savings?
My second point is in connexion with subclause (3.). It will be noted that we are talking about what are acceptable savings prior to 31st December, 1964. Paragraph (a) of sub-clause (3.) describes acceptable savings as those which - were maintained at that date by the person, or by the person jointly with his or her spouse, on deposit with a branch in Australia of a savings bank or of a trading bank.
Paragraph (b) refers to acceptable savings as moneys that were saved in Australia before the prescribed date and - were maintained at that date by the person, or by the person jointly with his or her spouse, on deposit with a building society, friendly society or credit union.
Clause 18 provides that moneys put on deposit with a savings bank or a trading bank are to be deemed to be held as to half of the savings by each spouse. I am submitting that under clause 15 (3.) (a) the savings would be halved. Each spouse would be credited with acceptable savings of only half of the joint deposit with the bank, but as I read clause 18 it does not apply the same ruling to moneys that are jointly deposited with a building society, a friendly society or a credit union. Is the Minister able to tell me why that line of distinction is drawn between joint deposits with a bank and joint deposits with building societies, friendly societies or credit unions?
. -I would like some clarification of the different ways in which moneys on deposit are treated under clause 15 and clause 18. There seems to be a contradiction. However, I will say no more about that until I hear the explanation given to Senator McKenna’s queries.
I am concerned about sub-clause (2.) of clause 15, which reads -
For the purposes of this Act, the acceptable savings of a person to whom this section applies as at a time before the prescribed date arc, subject to this Act, the moneys that were saved in Australia before that time by the person and were held at that time in Australia by the person, or by the person jointly with his or her spouse, whether in the form of an investment or otherwise.
Sub-clause (3.) reads -
For the purposes of this Act, the acceptable savings of a person to whom this section applies as at the prescribed date are, subject to this Act, the moneys that were saved in Australia before that date by the person and -
were maintained at that date by the person, or by the person jointly with his or her spouse, on deposit with a branch in Australia of a savings bank or of a trading bank;
I want to know what happens to those persons who have entered into contracts between the date of operation of this legislation - 2nd December, 1963 - and the present date. Those who have entered into contracts as at the prescribed date are obviously entitled to the grant if they fulfil the other requirements, but those who had their money invested at the prescribed date in something other than one of the institutions mentioned in the legislation are not eligible for a grant. Will the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) say whether this distinction is fair and whether there is any way of overcoming the anomaly?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [5.13]. - Taking the last point first while it is fresh in my mind, I point out that the period between now and the end of December,1964, is in the nature of a transitional period. In that transitional period savings, no matter in what form they are evidenced, become eligible for the grant.
So i[ the couple marry and build a home they become eligible for the grant by virtue of the department accepting their savings in any form, investment or otherwise. That, I think, is the foundation for the answer to Senator Cavanagh’s query.
– But their savings must be in a particular bank at the prescribed date.
– Not until 3.1st December, 1964. When you get to 31st December, 1964, by and large, with certain exceptions, your savings must bc in a narrow group of savings banks, permanent building societies or trading banks. That proviso becomes operative from 1st January, 1965, with an exception in the case of credit unions and friendly societies, which may continue the even tenor of their ways until 1967.
Senator McKenna raised a query about subclause (3.) of clause 15 and its relationship to clause 18. This query was also inherent in Senator Cavanagh’s remarks. Acceptable savings are, for the purpose of this legislation, moneys that were saved by the person before the relevant date, which ordinarily would be the date of the contract, and maintained at that date by him or by him and his spouse jointly on deposit in a bank. In other words, regard will be had to the savings of a person, notwithstanding that he pays them into an account kept jointly with his spouse. However, when it comes to ascertaining the amount of a person’s savings for the purposes of the act, the effect of clause 18 will be to credit a person with one part only of the amount of any savings in an account maintained jointly by him and his spouse. Clause 15(3.) makes a joint account an eligible account for the purposes of the act, but clause 18 then determines how much a particular person is to be regarded as having saved in relation to that account.
– I am satisfied as far as the Minister has gone, but he has not answered two queries. My first question related to an endowment policy.- I should like a specific answer to the question whether that will be included in savings effected prior to 31st December, 1964.
I realize that the meaning of clause 18, which halves savings deposited in banks, is exactly as the Minister has stated. My real inquiry was directed to clause 15 (3.) (b). Why is clause 18 not made applicable to joint deposits by the spouses with a building society, a friendly society, or a credit union? That was the question in which I was interested. I fully understood the application of clause 18 to clause 15 (3.) (a), that is, to deposits in savings banks or trading banks. Why is the principle of halving applied in those categories and not to the categories mentioned in (3.) (b)?
Will the Minister be so good as to comment on the questions I raised at another stage in relation to amounts deposited with friendly societies and credit unions? They are deemed to be acceptable savings up to the end of this year, but thereafter they will cease to be. You could not make a fresh deposit after 1st January that would be an acceptable saving.
– A new deposit?
– Yes. The existing balance can remain in its normal form up till the end of December, 1967, as I understand the position. Will the Minister indicate what has been the result of Government consideration of very strong pressure from the credit unions? Will he tell me officially the Government’s reason for their exclusion? I read something about it in the press to-day, but I should like to have it on record.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [5.17]. - I shall deal first with the insurance policy. Money paid as a premium on a life or endowment insurance policy will not be regarded as acceptable savings unless an endowment policy matures before 31st December next and the proceeds are paid into one of the acceptable forms of savings before that date, or unless the policy is cancelled and the money is withdrawn and paid into one of the acceptable forms. In practical terms, an endowment policy is not regarded as a saving for housing unless-
– It has to be realized upon?
Yes. In relation to the second point, clause 18 refers only to joint savings in a bank account, as the Leader of the Opposition said. However, this will not prevent the department deeming half the savings in a joint deposit with a building society or credit union to be those of the husband and the other half to be those of the wife. In other words, the point that the honorable senator takes is correctly taken, but this docs not prevent the department, in the administration of the legislation, from applying the same principle to the other category. I read into this explanation an indication that it is the department’s intention to do that.
– Probably the position would have been happier had the intention to halve these savings, too, been expressed in clause 18. I realize that friendly societies and credit unions will run out of time fairly soon, but the building society will still be there. I conclude with the comment that the fact that this can be done by the secretary, in his discretion, is one more instance of the discretion conferred under this measure.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [5.19]. - The Leader of the Opposition raised a query about credit unions. 1 find that my colleague, the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury), has made a statement on this subject. The purport of it is really that the functions of credit unions are not properly related to the financing of housing. They are more properly related to financing the purchase of consumer goods, and to the making of loans for short periods and for comparatively small amounts - not such large loans as are needed to finance housing, which are repayable over long periods. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the statement of my colleague on the subject.
CREDIT UNIONS IN RELATION TO HOMES SAVINGS GRANT SCHEME.
I have received widespread representations from office bearers of credit unions that these bodies should become approved institutions for the deposit of eligible savings under the Home Savings Grant Scheme on a permanent basis. These representations have been submitted to and been given careful consideration by Cabinet.
The useful part which many credit unions play in mobilizing deposits for the benefit of their members is widely acknowledged. They vary considerably in size and scope and in the efficiency with which their affairs are conducted. In the main, they provide purchasing power for consumers* durable goods, including furniture and other household equipment. Loans are also made to meet the cost of repairs or extensions to a home. Some loans, usually in the form of second mortgages, are made to help members buy a home. The maximum loan that a credit society may make is £1,000 (in some States £500), and loans must be repaid within five years. The rate of interest offered on deposits is between 5 and 7 per cent., loans are offered to members at about 10 to 12 per cent, per annum. Naturally these rates vary among the different societies.
Because of the nature of the purchases, most loans are small. Because of the community of interest, most loans are unsecured. Because of the short-term nature of the deposits, most lending is short-term. The management of a credit union requires skills quite different from those in lending for housing. So far, the credit union movement has not set out specifically to encourage personal saving for the purpose of acquiring a home, and have not contributed significant funds for new home construction. Their function has been rather that of providing finance to members on a cooperative basis for purposes similar to loans made by hire purchase companies. One of the basic purposes of ihe Homes Savings Grant Scheme, on the other hand, is to encourage savings for homes in institutions which provide long-term finance for housing, and thus to increase the supply of housing finance of this character. The institutions in which all new savings for the purpose of this scheme must be deposited after 1st January, 1965, have been carefully selected to achieve this purpose.
For these reasons the Government has decided that credit unions as they operate al present, cannot bc accepted as eligible institutions on a permanent basis. However, new deposits made in credit unions up till 31st December this year, will be regarded as eligible savings, and balances outstanding at that date may be retained and remain eligible up to 31st December, 1967.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 19 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 20 (Grants).
– I refer to sub-clause (5.), which reads -
A reference in either of the last two preceding sub-sections to land on which a dwelling-house is, or is being, erected includes a reference to the land comprising the curtilage of the dwellinghouse but does not include a reference to any part of the land or dwelling-house that the Secretary is satisfied is not, or will not be, used by the eligible person and his or her spouse as a dwelling-house or for purposes connected wilh the use by those persons of the dwelling-house as a dwelling-house.
At another stage of consideration of the bill, I dealt at length with the situations that could arise. I do not want to traverse again the whole of the ground, but I point out to the Minister that, according to the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) a place may be considered for subsidy, providing it costs no more than £7,000, if it forms part of an establishment that includes a surgery or a shop. I suggested that the inclusion might go very much further, lt might represent a very big business establishment or even a block of home units, the proprietor of which had one area, costing not more than £7,000, at his disposal in the building. Am I correct in understanding that such a person, assuming that the other conditions were complied with, would be eligible for a grant under this bill? 1 put the position regarding rural land. I think 1 was misunderstood earlier as complaining about the low price of the land. That was not the case at all. The case I put was that if on 1,000 acres of farm land valued at £100 an acre, with a total value of £100,000, a home were built, only half an acre, relating to what is termed the curtilage - that is, the immediate surround of the house - would be taken into consideration in assessing the value of the home. The value of the land would be taken as £50. What I am concerned about is not the cheapness of the land but the opportunity that this gives for a very much more extensive domicile. I argue that the domicile could be, perhaps, a two-storied one, the upper portion of which is reserved for the farmer and his family only, the lower portion of the building being utilized by staff and for all sorts of other amenities. Again, a person in a very wealthy position, with a big farm, might be able to attract this subsidy of £250. What would the Minister say regarding cases of that type? Am I right in saying that these things are possibilities? Is the only safeguard against some enormous abuse of the subsidy idea the discretion of the department and the secretary of the department?
[5.26]. - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) puts the position correctly. I well remember the discussions that we had before we agreed on this principle. Let us try to sort out the pros and cons of it. There could well be a property, such as the stated one, on which somebody might build a home which would become eligible for the subsidy. But all the possibilities are that the owner of a property of that size is likely to build a homestead with a substantially greater value than £7,000. If you say, “ Well, because it is a large property, we will not make the subsidy applicable”, the reply is that there are families on such a property with sons and daughters who may have a direct or indirect interest in the property. Then, remember that a great majority of country properties are not big, and that people on small country properties are finding the struggle to make ends meet just as hard as are people in the suburban or metropolitan areas. We thought, therefore, that it would be wrong not to make the grant available in the country no less than in the city and on the same terms in city and country.
The Leader of the Opposition is right in saying that a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer or a grocer could erect a building for his professional or trade purpose and have his residence within that building. We could not find any logical reason why he should not be eligible for the grant in the same way as any one else. Remember that he has to be under 36 years of agc. If he is under 36 years of age, and he is building a surgery or a corner shop, the probabilities are that he is doing so with the assistance of mortgage moneys. Not many people could make the big capital investment that would be needed in such a case. Young people have to carry a burden or liability which they have to pay off over the years ahead.
The same thing applies if a young couple decides to build a block of flats and have portion of the building for themselves. We think all the chances are that the young couple who do so will be carrying heavy liabilities and heavy responsibilities. This happens only once in a lifetime. Young couples can get this grant only once in a lifetime. We thought that, rather than be a bit mean about it and try to exclude those people because of one complication or another, we would let the tail go with the hide and give them the grant even though it is tied up with other ventures.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 21 to 28 - by leave - taken together.
– This clause completes the picture of the interpretation which I made last night and which I was told was a pathetic one. The stage has been reached where the grant of £250 may be given once to an individual. He need not spend the money on the construction of a house, or the house may be constructed on land that he does not own. Despite those facts, he has £250 of the taxpayers’ money. Clause 24 makes provision whereby the Government can demand the refund of the £250 if the person to whom it has been granted does not comply with certain conditions, such as if a contractor has not completed a job, or a contract is not fulfilled in a certain time. Clause 24 reads -
Where, after a grant under this Act in respect of a dwelling-house has been paid to an eligible person -
the dwelling-house or portion of the dwellinghouse is not occupied by the eligible person and his or her spouse within three months after completion of its purchase or its construction, the eligible person and his or her spouse shall forthwith notify the Secretary in writing of that fact.
The person to whom the grant is given has only to occupy the dwelling-house, or portion of it, within three months after the completion of its purchase or its construction. If that condition is not complied with, the eligible person or his or her spouse has to write to the department and notify the secretary of that fact. The secretary has the right to demand the refund of the £250, and proceed in a court of competent jurisdiction for recovery of the amount. But the only thing that the eligible person has to do is to occupy the dwelling. There is no requirement as to continuation of occupancy. My point is that any one with £750 at the present time can sign a contract and get a grant of £250 from the Commonwealth Government. If he complies with the further qualification that he has to live in the house - for a brief period only - he can then sell the house which has practically not been used at the sale value. He has been given a grant of £250 from taxpayers’ money, and the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) says, “ Well, he can get it only once “. Surely that is not acceptable to those who are struggling to pay taxation,
If the eligible person does not comply with the conditions I have mentioned, the provisions of clause 24 (2.) apply -
Upon the occurrence of any of the circumstances referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of the last preceding sub-section, the Secretary may require the eligible person or his or her spouse or both of those persons, by notice in writing served by post on the person or persons at the last known address or addresses of the person or persons to pay to the Commonwealth an amount equal to the amount of the grant . . .
So, the spouse of the person to whom the £250 grant was given is in the unfortunate position that, if for some reason or other the grant has to be refunded, and the eligible person has not the £250 to refund, he or she will have to repay that money although he or she may have been separated from that person in the meantime and may have obtained very little benefit from the grant. Surely that is not good legislation.
The provision for recovery at this stage shows that the money is paid before the completion of the dwelling-house. The recovery takes place if the house is not completed within three months of the date stated. Therefore, the date when payment can become due is the prescribed date when the contract was entered into. This is a most generous scheme to those who in this year have £750. It is the best investment that has ever been offered. I ask the Minister to explain why the period of occupancy of the house is not stipulated and why it is possible under clause 24 (2.) to claim from some one who has never received a grant the recovery of money issued by the Commonwealth as a grant.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [5.34]. - Senator Cavanagh is right. A couple could get the grant and they could sell the house. May I point out to the honorable senator that, if they did so, they would have to pay commission on the sale of the house, legal expenses and stamp duties. I doubt very much, in the practical world in which we live, that a young couple would derive much advantage out of getting the grant and then selling the house. They could not get a grant in respect of a second home. The grant can be made only once. Of course, nobody can cover the exceptional case. I think that the honorable senator is saying, in effect, that if a young married couple bought well, built well and then sold at a profit, they could move to a larger house. He appears to suggest that we should not let them do that, but should make them stay in the first house for a period of, say, six months, twelve months or two years. ] do not think it would be worth while to include any such provision. We must start on the basis of being satisfied that they are bona fide purchasers when they go into the house. I can imagine people going to a house with the intention of staying and then wanting to sell it six months or twelve months later. I do not think we should be so tough as to prevent them from selling.
The honorable senator then made the point that a grant might be made to a person, that he or she might have parted with his or her assets and might then be called upon to repay the grant. This is a repetition of the old story about matrimonial unhappiness. I do not think anybody has yet devised a formula which operates satisfactorily in such circumstances. This would happen to only one person in 10,000. lt is one of the things that have to be faced. We would complicate the situation if we tried to cover this circumstance.
Clauses agreed to. - Clause 29 (Information as to applicants).
.- Clause 29(1.) provides -
Where the Secretary or a Regional Director has reason to believe that a person is in possession of any information in relation to any matter that might affect the payment of a grant under this Act to any other person, he may, by notice in writing served by post on the person . . . require the person to furnish to him a confidential report relating to that matter.
Would this authority conferred upon the secretary or a regional director operate to enable that officer lo override the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Act? Again I am concerned about whether the secretary might call for a person’s income tax returns lo verify savings. Can the Minister give me an assurance that would exclude the Commissioner of Taxation from the operation of this provision?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [5.38]. - My colleague, the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury), has authorized me to say on his behalf that, whatever might be the legal effect of that provision, it will not be used for the purpose of calling for information from the Commissioner of Taxation.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 30 and 31 agreed to.
Clause 32 (Reports).
– This clause requires the secretary of the department lo furnish a report each year as soon as practicable after 30th June, the first report to be furnished after 30th June, 1965. That report is to be laid on the table of each House of the Parliament. Having regard to the vast number of discretions which it has been agreed have been conferred upon the secretary, I thought it might have been proper to have required him to include in his report some information about the principles upon which he operated in exercising his discretion. I expect that this legislation will be reviewed and that amendments will be made as various difficulties arise. I content myself at this stage with expressing the hope that the secretary will take steps to indicate in his first report the principles upon which he has exercised the discretions that have been conferred upon him and that, if and when the act is being amended, a requirement to report upon the exercise of those discretions will be included in the amending legislation.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 33 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner) read a third time.
(Question No. 116.)
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: - 1 and 2. The number of civilian and service personnel employed full-time at 31st March, 1964, and the amounts for their pay and allowances estimated for 1963-64 are shown in the following table:-
(Question No. . 167.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice) -
At the United Nations General Assembly, on 17th December, 1963, did Australia vote-
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies: - 1. (a) Yes;
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the silting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), who represents the Minister for Territories in this place, to Ordinance No. 60 of 1963 of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea which deals among other things, with the migration of natives within the Territory.
In my view, this ordinance is an infringement of human rights and civil liberties and ought to be removed from the statutebook. I do not want to go into the powers of the Parliament, because they are very complicated and to do so would delay honorable senators. The relevant legislation provides that certain matters including migration must be referred by the Administrator to the Governor-General. The relevant ordinance is referred to the Executive Council, which then forwards it to the Governor-General for assent. After it is assented to, the ordinance is laid on the table of the Senate. The Senate has no power to disallow it. For some time the Regulations and Ordinances Committee has been asking to be relieved of the responsibility of reviewing such ordinances. The committee, of which I am a member, believes that it ought not to be reviewing the enactments of a parliament. Of course, there is a parliament in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Ordinance No. 60 of 1963 was designed to replace existing separate ordinances relating to migration, to abolish restrictions on movement between Papua and New Guinea, to establish an entry permit system, to provide for the deportation of persons on certain specified grounds, to establish the machinery for deportation, to prohibit the migration of natives without a permit from the Administration, and to prohibit the taking of a child out of the Territory where there is a court order entitling a person to custody of or access to the child.
That simply gives an idea of what the ordinance set out to do. So that the Minister will have a full picture of the situation when he considers my proposition, as I am sure he will, with the leave of the Senate I incorporate in “ Hansard “ Part III., Division 1 of Ordinance No. 60 of 1963. It is-
PART III. - EMIGRATION OF CERTAIN PERSONS.
Division 1. - Natives. 50. (1) The Administrator may issue a permit in the prescribed form for a native to leave, or to be removed from, the Territory.
The Administrator may, by notice in the “ Gazette “, authorize a District Officer to issue permits under this section, either generally or in relation to such natives or class of natives or to movement to such places as he specifies in the notice.
Except where the Administrator in a particular case otherwise directs, a permit shall not be issued unless the applicant -
lodges with the Administrator or the District Officer to whom the application is made a bond in the prescribed form with at least one surety approved by the Administrator or District Officer, as the case may be, in the sum of One hundred pounds;
deposits with the Administrator or the District Officer, as the case may be, the amount of One hundred pounds; or
lodges with a bank in the Territory a deposit under the sole control of the Administration of One hundred pounds, in respect of each native to be removed from the Territory under the permit for the performance of the conditions of the permit.
A permit shall be issued subject to -
such conditions as are prescribed; and
such other conditions as the Administrator or the District Officer issuing the permit thinks proper.
The conditions subject to which a permit is issued shall be endorsed on the permit.
Subject to the provisions of this Division, a native shall not leave or be removed from the Territory unless a permit under the last preceding section has been issued and is in force, and except in accordance with the conditions subject to which the permit was issued.
A native who leaves the Territory contrary to the provisions of this Division, and a person who removes or assists in removing a native from the Territory contrary to those provisions, is guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Two hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months. 53. (1) The Administrator may, by notice in writing to a person to whom a permit under Section 50 of this Ordinance has been issued, revoke the permit, and order the return of the native in relation to whom the permit was issued in such manner and to such place in the Territory as he thinks fit.
A person shall not, without reasonable excuse, proof of which lies upon him, refuse or fail to comply with an order made under the last preceding subsection.
Penalty: Two hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months.
In proceedings for an offence against this Division, the negative averments of the prosecution shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary.
Upon the conviction of a person for an offence against this Division, the court convicting that person may order him to pay to the Administration the actual cost to the Administration of returning the native concerned to the Territory in accordance with the permit, and that order operates as a judgment obtained by the Administration against that person. 56. (1) The Administrator may exempt a native from the provisions of this Division.
An exemption under this section may be made subject to such conditions as to the Administrator seem proper. 1 am not going to build up a big case at the moment, and I merely ask the Minister to refer the matter to the Minister he represents so that it may be closely examined. I have no doubt that something will then be done about it.
I shall briefly mention one or two of the provisions of Part III., Division 1. It deals with the movement of natives in the Territory. It says, in section 50 (4.) -
A permit shall be issued subject to -
such conditions as are prescribed; and
such other conditions as the Administrator or the District Officer issuing the permit thinks proper.
On more than one occasion this Senate has rejected regulations authorized by Ministers which have contained provisions similar to this, because it has been held that a standard form should be prescribed. Nobody should have the power to say to citizen A, “ You shall fill in this form and give this information “, to citizen B, “ You shall give half that much information “, and to citizen C, “ You need give no information at all “. This is discriminatory and not a good thing.
The penalties flowing from disobedience of these sections are prescribed as “Two hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months”. I do not think there is provision for an appeal.
Then there is in section 54 a provision regarding evidence which refers to averments. This is always a controversial sort of provision -
In proceedings for an offence against this Division, the negative averments of the prosecu tion shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary.
Then there are provisions concerning exemptions.
I hope I have said sufficient to interest the Minister. A complete case could be built up, but time does not allow me to build it up. This matter is so glaring that when the attention of the Minister is directed to it I am sure he will take appropriate steps. Nothing can be done now about this ordinance because this Parliament has not had an opportunity to disallow it. It has slipped through, I am sure, unnoticed. But there is nothing to prevent the new Parliament, when it is sworn in, from amending this ordinance. I ask the Minister to bring the matter to the attention of his colleague and ask him to examine it with a view to repealing this section of the ordinance and inserting a new one in its stead, having in mind the objections I have raised this evening.
– I shall certainly refer this matter to my colleague, the Minister for Territories, Mr. Barnes. I am not familiar with it myself, nor do I know just how the Minister will deal with it. But Senator Willesee can be assured that at a very early date I will bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Territories.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.49 p.m. till a day and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640521_senate_25_s25/>.