25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In the granting of the shipping subsidy to the service from King Island to Victoria, has consideration been given tq the freight position existing between Tasmania and King Island?
– In anticipation of a question of this nature being asked, I requested my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, to give me information in this connection. He has advised that consideration was given to the granting of financial assistance in respect of the Melbourne to King Island service as a result of representations made by the municipality of King Island, supported by the Tasmanian Government, concerning the high cost of sea transport between the island and the mainland. The MelbourneKing Island service is the island’s key transport service and the one on which its future is mainly dependent. The Government was aware that assistance was already being provided by the Tasmanian Government to this service and to the services operating between Tasmania and King Island. The fact that trade between the island and Melbourne is of an interstate nature, and therefore a matter of concern to the Commonwealth, was a primary consideration leading to the decision to grant the direct Commonwealth assistance in respect of this service. I am subsequently informed, as might be anticipated, that the question of the shipping between the island and Tasmania is one which is exciting the attention of all political parties and all those interested in Tasmania and that the Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania, Mr. Bethune, has been to the island and is today conferring with the Government of Tasmania concerning the service from the island to Tasmania.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has his attention been directed to a re ported statement by a London publisher, Dr; Desmond Flower, that censorship of books in Australia was often administered by people with little knowledge of books and that customs officers and police come under this heading? Will the Minister inform the Senate who is responsible for literature censorship in Australia?
– Yes, I have seen the article to which the honorable senator has referred. Contrary to the opinion expressed by Dr. Flower, I would like to say that the Government does not accept the view that there need be no censorship at all. I believe that the majority of Australians want a proper control over imported literature. Dr. Flower raises the old bogey of some untrained customs officer banning works of merit and value to the community. I repeat what has been said before, that no works of merit are prohibited unless they <> are first considered by the expert Literature Censorship Board. The decision is then made by me as Minister. For the information of honorable senators I wish to advise the Senate of the composition of the Literature Censorship Board. The Chairman is Professor E. R. Bryan, Professor of English, Duntroon, who is at present on sabbatical leave; the Acting Chairman is Professor K. C. Masterman, Emeritus Professor of Classics at the Australian National University, and the other members are Professor E. K. T. Koch-Emmery, Senior Lecturer in German at the Australian National University, Mrs. A. H. Hewitt, Lecturer, Department of English, Australian National University, and Mr. H. C. Chipman, the retired Secretary of the Victorian Crown Law Department.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question in the light of his answer to the previous question. Will he tell us whether the eminent persons whom he mentioned have recommended that the book, “ Lady Chatterley’s Lover” be admitted to Australia and whether he has. nevertheless, continued its prohibition?
– The book “ Lady Chatterley’s Lover “ was banned many years ago by the then Minsiter for Customs and Excise, in the light of the evidence that he had before him. lt is not my policy at this point of time to make any specific statement as to what recommendations were placed before the Minister by the members of the Literature Censorship Board. I point out that a Minister is not bound to accept a recommendation of the Literature Censorship Board. The Board is there to give him advice and in the ultimate the Minister has to accept the responsibility of making a judgment. The book to which the honorable senator referred was banned many years ago and I am therefore not in a position to make any further comment on it. But I want to repeat that, in the final analysis, in our parliamentary processes and according to the system under which we operate, the Minister has to make the executive decision. He has that authority. In addition to the Literature Censorship Board, there is an appeal board to which people have access in relation to any decision the Minister may make under regulation 4a. Beyond that, any person, publisher or organisation who is not satisfied with a decision has access to the courts.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Territories: Has his attention been drawn to a recommendation by Mr. Sidky, the retiring Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Papua and New Guinea, that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea needed another 10 years in which to prepare itself for independence? It is also recommended that Australia should seek help from United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund. Will the Government give consideration to these recommendations?
– My attention has not been focussed on the matters raised by the honorable senator. However, I will bring his question to the notice of the Minister for Territories and ask him to get in touch with the honorable senator, either directly or through me, and provide him with a written answer.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of the answer I received yesterday to a question directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Immigration, will the Leader of the Government in this chamber make a statement as to which overseas visitors or representatives of other countries will be permitted to enter Australia and which types of intending visitors will not be granted visas?
– All I can say to the honorable senator is that I will examine the questions asked yesterday and the answers that were given. If they do not make the position clear and if, in addition, statements made prior to yesterday do not make the position clear - if in fact there seems to be the need for a statement to be made - I shall consult with my colleague in this chamber who represents the Acting Minister for Immigration, who sits in another place.
– I ask the Minister representing the Acting Minister for National Development whether he has seen a newspaper report of a nuclear power plant, described as a “ beer bottle power plant “, on show at a nuclear exhibition at Brighton, England? The unit is still in the early stages of development, but it could be of tremendous importance in providing a source of power for remote areas in Australia. Will the Minister endeavour to have his Department keep in touch with the development of this possibly important contribution to Australian power supplies?
– Mr. President, Senator Prowse was good enough to indicate that he would ask me this question. I am glad that he did, in view of the technical nature of some parts of the answer made available by the Minister for National Development. The Minister advises me that the article “Britain Sees ‘Beer Bottle* Power Units “ refers to the development in the United Kingdom of small electric generators powered by radio isotopes. Several other countries, in particular the United States of America and Russia, have also been working in this field. In these devices, heat generated by the decay of radio isotopes is concerted directly into electricity by the use of thermo-electric or thermionic converters. Most American units to date have employed thermo-electric conversion whereas the British unit apparently uses thermionic conversion, which is a little more efficient.
Although units of up to one kilowatt or more are considered feasible, most units so far built have a rating of only a few watts or tens of watts. A single electric light bulb requires about 50 to 100 watts. The high cost, weight and life of these devices depends largely on the type of isotopes used. The cost of isotopes per unit of output is extremely high and prospects of significantly reducing them are not generally considered very promising. The present cost of suitable isotopes range from an estimated 23 dollars to 1,600 dollars per watt of radio isotope. Hence, to operate a single 100 watt electric light bulb the minimum cost of the isotope would amount to about 2,300 dollars.
It will be obvious that for most applications requiring significant amounts of power, devices of this kind would be ruled out on the score of cost. In addition, there are certain problems involved in their servicing because of the extreme radioactive nature of the isotopes. It is therefore very unlikely that we shall see their widespread adoption for domestic purposes in remote locations for many decades, if at all. However, they will continue to be used in increasing numbers in isolated areas for unmanned lighthouses, weather stations and space purposes et cetera.
– I ask the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer whether it is a fact that, contrary to the practice that was followed in 1962 and 1963, exemption from taxation has been refused in relation to donations to the Freedom From Hunger Campaign. Does not the Government recognise this as being a humane and worthwhile campaign which may be affected adversely by this decision? Will the Acting Treasurer agree to review the position and, if possible, reintroduce the deductions?
– I am not aware of any change having been made in relation to deductions for donations to this fund. If the honorable senator places her question on the notice paper, I shall certainly submit it to the Treasurer.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Immigration, relates to a report of a statement .that was made by Professor Spate of the Australian National University when speaking recently in New Zealand in which he said that Australia should have a quota system for Asian migration. Is it a fact that for many years the Canadian Government tried to make a quota system work but that it has abandoned that system as being impractical and unsuccessful? Is it a fact that the Canadian Government has now introduced a restrictive migration scheme very akin to our own? Also, is it a fact that under our scheme some 10,000 Asian people, apart from students, have already been brought to Australia to live? In order to prevent the giving of ill informed advice by Australian people when overseas, as a result of which they attract world wide publicity, will the Minister take up with the Acting Minister for Immigration the possibility of having printed a pamphlet or a booklet in which our restrictive immigration policy is briefly set out and inserting it in the passport of every Australian who goes overseas so that he may study it?
– I agree that far too often statements are made about Australia’s migration policy that are not accurate and that tend to give a false impression. It is my understanding that the Canadian migration processes are as the honorable senator has indicated. She has suggested that I should ask the Minister for Immigration to consider having an appropriate statement prepared and to consider having it distributed when passports are issued. I shall certainly place the honorable senator’s questions before my colleague, and I am quite certain that he will give very serious consideration to them. We have nothing to be ashamed of in relation to our migration policy. It is desirable that everybody throughout the world should know precisely what is being done in this country in this connection.
– Is the
Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Governor-General, during his farewell visits to Melbourne and Sydney, granted a holiday to school children and left it to the Education Departments to decide the day? ls he aware also that the New South Wales Government has granted the holiday to all the children in that State but that in Victoria the Bolte Government hits granted the holiday only to children in the metropolitan area and has notified the teachers that they must report for duty even though the children will have a holiday? Will the Minister ascertain whether the correct interpretation has been put on the Governor-General’s intentions by the Victorian Government which is depriving the country children in that State of the holiday? In New South Wales yesterday the Governor-General said that he would like all the children of that State to be happy on the day of his departure from Australia.
– I have seen some reports in the Press to the effect that the Governor-General has asked that his departure be marked by the granting of a holiday to school children. I did not know that the granting of the holiday had been restricted to Victoria and New South Wales. If that is so, it might be a cause for further interstate warfare when it becomes general knowledge. I am sure that His Excellency the Governor General in making this suggestion had in mind only a method of showing, as a departing gesture, his goodwill to Australia and particularly to Australian children. But the question of interpretation, I suggest to the honorable senator, remains a matter for determination by the authorities concerned. I would not consider t appropriate that action should be taken for or on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to question in any way an interpretation which a State Government might place on the request made by His Excellency.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it not a fact that it is the policy of the Commonwealth Department of Health to insist that members of the medical profession use generic terms in the writing of prescriptions, at least, for the pharmaceutical benefits scheme? Does the Minister know that certain members of the pharmaceutical profession claim that the practice opens the way for so-called backyard producers of drugs, and that in the public interest the use of recognised trade names for drugs would ensure the dispensing of better quality drugs?
– The honorable senator has asked me whether I know that these things are facts. I do not know. I shall convey his question to the Minister for Health to see what information he can give the honorable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Has the Minister seen reports of a statement made in Canberra last week by Dr. R. T. Appleyard, a Senior Fellow in Demography at the Australian National University, drawing attention to the fact that thousands of Australian families are living below the standard of basic human needs in food and housing and urging that a national poverty survey be undertaken by the Government? In view of the undeniable persistence of pockets of poverty in Australia’s version of the affluent society, will the Minister consider accepting Dr. Appleyard’s proposal so that the dimensions of this very important problem can be assessed as a basis for effective Government action to eliminate such conditions?
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Social Services. Of course, I think it is proper and fair to say that the Department of Social Services, because of the nature of its responsibilities and the Act which it administers, is constantly carrying out surveys in all fields that come within its sphere. However, I cannot say any more than that I shall refer the question to the Minister for Social Services.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for National Development.
Is the Minister in a position either to confirm or reject the statement made in today’s Melbourne “ Sun “ that the Commonwealth Government has put ofl its consideration of the greater Ord River irrigation scheme for at least 1 2 months?
– In reply to a question relating to the Ord River and the application for financial assistance made by the Western Australian Government in connection with the Ord River scheme, the Prime Minister said today that he would be writing to the Premier of Western Australia shortly. I am not in a position to say more than that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister lor Shipping and Transport. Having regard to the fact that the very welcome subsidy for the shipping service from King Island to Melbourne is based upon the consideration that that service constitutes an interstate activity, will the Minister ask the Minister whom he represents in this chamber to have regard to the fact that the subsidising of the other service from King Island to Tasmania will be within constitutional competence if it is channelled to the State of Tasmania as a conditional grant under section 96 of the Constitution? In that way, no constitutional difficulties would be met. Will he also ask the Minister to have regard to the anomalous and adverse position that has now been created in relation to shipping freight rates between King Island and Tasmania itself?
– I have no doubt that the constitutional position is well known to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, but I take it upon myself, without consultation with the Minister, to observe at this stage that this does not remove the responsibility from the State Government for subsidising a service which is undeniably an intrastate service. This has quite obviously been recognised in the action taken by the State Government in the past in respect of the subsidisation of that service.
– The State subsidises both services.
– That is right. It subsidises the intrastate service, which is the one about which I am now talking. However, I recognise that the position that exists there now involves a number of considerations, and the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition will be brought to the attention of the Minister.
– I direct a question on the same matter to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask whether or not the question of subsidising King Island freights was brought to the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport by political representatives in this Parliament months before the submission made by the Premier and the municipality. Was not that submission for subsidisation of freights, whether from Tasmania or Victoria? In announcing a decision to subsidise freights only from King Island to Victoria, was consideration given to the immediate effect that that will have upon freights to Tasmania? Is it not within the knowledge of the Minister that subsidy is given to internal airlines, in the manner that Senator McKenna suggests, under section 96? Is it within the knowledge of the Minister that application has been made by the entrepreneur who carries on a shipping service between Ulverstone and King Island to import a new replacement ship for that service and that this has not been sanctioned by reason of Commonwealth policy with regard to the construction of shipping in Australia? Is not this an important factor in considering how freights between Tasmania and King Island should be financed?
– Knowing the activity of Tasmanian representatives in respect of shipping freights, I have no doubt at all that they have for some months been making representations to the Minister. Indeed, I should be extremely surprised if that were not the case. The honorable senator will, I am sure, appreciate that I am quite unable to state the particular representations which were put to the Minister for Shipping and Transport or, indeed, whether he gave consideration to all of the factors mentioned by Senator Wright; but I would assume that he did. However, in order to get the facts for Senator Wright, I shall discuss with Mr. Freeth the question which the honorable senator has submitted and see what information can be made available to him.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise yet decided whether the book “ The Trial of Lady Chatterley “ should be treated as a prohibited import? Is this book not an account of the trial in which the present Lord Chancellor appeared as counsel for the publishers of the book “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”? Does it not contain a reasoned discussion of the problems of censorship? I assume the Minister has read the book. Will he now say whether this book, which has been on sale to the public in New South Wales is, in his opinion, obscene?
– I must decline the honorable senator’s invitation to embark upon a dissertation of the specific merits of “The Trial of Lady Chatterley”. I do not want to add anything to what I said in a Press release on 22nd April in relation to the publication in Australia of a prohibited book.
– Is it, or is it not, illegal to import the book?
– The honorable senator, being a member of the legal profession, likes to ask: “Do you or do you not say this?” We are members of Parliament. This is a place of debate, not a court of law, and I decline the invitation to be cross examined by anyone, least of all by Senator Murphy. After that statement I merely want to repeat, in relation to “ The Trial of Lady Chatterley “, that no matter how effective my department’s screen is it can never be expected to detect single copies of prohibited books imported piecemeal in the form of first class mail addressed to several or many different persons in the community. Further, I want to mention again my decision to await the outcome of any legal action which may be taken in those States where the book has been distributed or sold, as the honorable senator indicated.
There were certain consultative arrangements entered into between the Commonwealth and the States in 1961. I, as the Commonwealth Minister responsible for these matters today - I cited the clear pattern of my responsibilities in answer to a previous question - need to weigh my own views against the views or actions of the individual States. My officers, of course, are in touch with their State counterparts on this matter and at this point of time I propose to decline the invitation to enter into an off the cuff discussion with Senator Murphy of the details of the book. I rely entirely on the Press statement that I have already made.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In what year and by whom was Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport first declared to be the major international airport for Australia? Would it be correct to say that the greatest percentage of Australian overseas air passenger traffic emanates from Victoria? Will the Minister supply statistics showing the percentage of Australian overseas air passenger traffic emanating from all States?
– The fact that Australia’s international airline, Qantas, maintains its headquarters and the whole of its organisation at Sydney has, I think, established Sydney as Australia’s international airport. The honorable senator has asked me for statistics relating to overseas air travellers from Sydney and Melbourne. I will obtain those statistics for him but I am sorry to say that they will not be of very much use to him because most of the people who travel overseas from Victoria travel by domestic airline to Sydney where they board the overseas flight. There is no way of keeping any statistical information about those travellers. However much the honorable senator would like me to do so, I cannot station officers at the gangway of each departing aircraft to ask the passengers: “Are you travelling overseas after you arrive in Sydney?” If any statistics are available which will help to calm the honorable senator’s mind, I will try to get them for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Following an announcement yesterday which was confirmed today that the Indonesian Government had taken over the Naspro organisation, will the Minister inform the Senate whether any move has been made to inhibit or prevent the operations of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. through Indonesia?
– My information is that the Indonesian Government has done nothing but give correct treatment to the international airline Qantas to date.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. I refer to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation station at Griffith and to the retrenchment of staff there, particularly members of the cleaning staff, some of whom have been employed there for many years. They have been retrenched although there is no complaint about their work and the cleaning will still have to be done. Will the Minister request the executive of the C.S.I.R.O. to look further into this matter so as to avoid unnecessary retrenchment of staff and the possibilities of industrial disputation?
– As the honorable senator no doubt knows, the C.S.I.R.O. is a statutory authority set up by the Government. Having decided the amount of the national resources that can be made available to the C.S.I.R.O. for all its activities and having in some cases directed that some particular research should be undertaken by it, the Government then leaves the direction of the component parts of the C.S.I.R.O. to the executive which has been appointed under the relevant legislation. The chiefs of divisions are then responsible to the executive for the running of the divisions under their authority. So I would not have any real knowledge of why in a particular division at a particular time some cleaners are or are not wanted. However, since the honorable senator has asked the question I shall ask the C.S.I.R.O. to indicate why this situation has arisen and give the honorable senator an answer.
(Question No. 385.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following answer to the honorable senator’s questions has been provided by the Prime Minister - 1 and 2. On 12th March1965, I wrote personally to the President regarding the measures being taken to correct the United States balance of payments. This letter and the two I received in reply from the President were presented in both Houses of Parliament on 1st April.
(Question No. 402.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 403.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Acting Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
(Question No. 405.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Acting Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
On 6th November, 1964 - automatic data processing equipment.
On 24th November, 1964 - price computing scales, price computing fabric measuring machines, postal franking machines and electric petrol pump computers.
On 31st December, 1964 - self-service petrol pumps, deposit recording machines, taxi meters and certain types of parking meters, coin counting machines, coin tube machines, cheque writing machines and ticket issuing machines.
These decisions were based on recommendations received from the Decimal Currency Board and the announcement last December completed the list of monetary machines for which the Government has decided to provide assistance.
(Question No. 408.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Acting Treasurer has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 421.)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 436.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
Referring to the statement made by the Treasurer on 29th March 1965 that Australia’s new dollar notes might not be ready in time for the decimal changeover on 14th February 1966, what is the present estimated date on which stocks of the new notes will be available for issue?
– The Acting Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Adequate stocks of dollar notes will be available for issue by the time of the changeover to decimal currency on 14th February 1966. If the dollar notes with the approved new designs cannot be produced in sufficient quantity by that time, notes of the current series will be made available with all references to £s.d. amounts replaced by the dollar equivalents.
In order to provide adequate printing capacity to produce notes of the new designs, the Reserve Bank is installing five new printing presses. Three of these presses were constructed in Australia and are already in operation, and the testing of the two of overseas origin is now nearing completion.
As soon as the new machines are operating satisfactorily - possibly in a few weeks’ time - the Reserve Bank will be able to state definitely which series of dollar notes will be issued on C-day.
– by leave - I present for the information of honorable senators the texts of the undermentioned treaties, to which Australia has recently become a party without ratification -
Debate resumed from 27th April (vide page 457), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Senate has before it Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) 1965, Customs Tariff (Canada
Preference) Bill 1965 and Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1965. I hope that it will be accepted that while we debate Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1), references may be made to the other Bills and that the three Bills may more or less be taken together. In this way we may cut down the time spent in the debate.
The Tariff Bills before us cover quite a wide variety of commodities, each of which has a bearing on the overall economy. For instance, in the First Schedule, the tariff changes arising from recommendations by the Tariff Board apply to the expanding ginger growing industry in Queensland. It is of interest to note that in 1954 in the Buderim area of Queensland about .103,000 lb. of ginger was grown. By the end of 1960 production had increased to about 654.000 lb. The latest information available shows that about 290 acres are under cultivation in the production of an estimated 2,295,000 lb. of ginger. In a period of 10 years the industry has increased the acreage under production from 17 acres to 290 acres, while production has increased from about 103,000 lb. to about 2,295,000 lb.
Adequate protection is being given under this measure to sponsor the industry. Those who are in favour of the protection put forward the case that despite great difficulties, the quantity produced in 1963 was sufficient to supply slightly more than half the total market. It was expected in 1964 to be able to supply 80 per cent, of the market. Complaints were made by a cordial maker using ginger flavouring (‘hat the Australian product was not of sufficiently high quality. However, the Tariff Board found that those people who drank the particular brand of ginger ale of the manufacturer lodging the complaint could afford to pay the extra tariff duty if their palates required the better quality. We do not oppose this legislation which affords protection to a primary industry which seems to be well on its way to becoming an important part of the Queensland economy.
I turn now to discuss dental chairs and units. This industry tried to establish itself in Australia but because of the limited demand here it was found uneconomic to employ the more modern techniques of manufacture. The Australian Dental Association gave evidence at the inquiry that although it was in favour of protection of
Australian industries, the difference in costs did not warrant the maintenance of tariff protection for dental chairs and the protection that previously was granted is to be withdrawn.
– Where do the dental chairs come from now?
– From Japan. There was a small industry in Australia. The Australian Dental Association said that it supported the claims of the Australian dental manufacturers for tariff protection against (he importation of dental units and chairs of equivalent design. It said that this support was based on the assumption that (he Australian industry is at present, and will continue to be, conducted in an efficient and economic manner and is therefore worthy of protection. The Tariff Board, in ils report, stressed this point -
In the present circumstances of the industry, it seems that no acceptable increase in the level of tariff assistance would enable the Australian manufacturer to achieve an economic volume of production. Moreover, the Board considers that the industry has not taken full advantage of the tariff protection afforded to it for many years and, in general, has not demonstrated that its standards of production and managerial efficiency are such as to merit a continuance of tariff assistance.
We of the Opposition have no argument wilh that finding. The next item in the First Schedule relates to narrow woven fabrics of cotton, in relation to which increased duties of 324 per cent, are to be imposed, adjustable shoulder straps and hook and eye tape.
– What undertaking confines itself or any branch of its activity to adjustable shoulder straps on women’s clothing? When we deal with such minutiae as that in the National Parliament, we are reaching the point of absurdity.
– Women are wearing topless garments today and doing away with straps.
– I understand that is true. I am all in favour of these things being thoroughly examined. We must conduct a lot of detailed research in order to be able to understand the nature of tariff proposals. It is very important that we should know what is happening. One of the practices upon which we insist is that the various boards that have been established should report back to the Parliament.
The Second Schedule deals with emery stones, oilstones and whetstones. The Tariff Board has proposed that the present combined ordinary and primage duties should be replaced with new protective duties of 10 per cent. British preferential tariff and 221 per cent, most favoured nation tariff. In practice, the only change in incidence will be an increase of 5 per cent, ad valorem in the British preferential rate.
For a few moments I wish to address myself to the recommendation of the Board in regard to continuous filament man made fibre yarns. Over the years this industry has been the subject of quite a few reports by the Tariff Board. The Board’s latest report, which is dated 8th October 1964, followed a report made on 5th February 1962 and a report by the Special Advisory Authority on 7th June 1963. In the first report that was made the Board found that the Australian processing industry had grown in recent years and that most of the growth had been in the nylon and terylene yarns. The Board went on to say that there was no evidence to suggest that there should by any increase in the duties on other types of processed yarn, but it considered that various duties should be imposed on particular types of yarn.
On 7th June 1963 the Special Advisory Authority recommended that a temporary duty of 25 per cent, ad valorem be imposed on processed continuous filament yarns of polyamides or polyesters or a combination of both. The case for increased duties was put forward mainly by people from Victoria where this industry is centralised. The various mills, or throwsters as they are called, that spin this man made fibre are B.L.B. Corporation of Australia, Johnson Bros. Pty. Ltd., Peerless Silk Mills Pty. Ltd., Qualitaire Mills and Viel & Co. Pty. Ltd. Representatives of those firms gave evidence before the inquiry. Their argument was that the Australian industry until October 1962 received considerable protection from import licensing and a little from the operation of patents on nylon and terylene yarns. They said that import licensing now has been removed from processed yarns and the patents in question, with one exception, have expired. Their further argument was that overseas manufacturers have advantages in the cost of labour, materials and overheads, and because of the larger scale of operations they are able to spread overhead costs more widely. Other arguments were put foward by the people who supported the increased duties.
From the time of the report in February 1962 the industry attained a rapid rate of growth. In 1959-60, there was a production of 3.8 million lb. with funds to the extent of £2.8 million. There were 784 persons employed in the industry. By December 1963 there were 730 persons employed, or 54 fewer. The funds employed amounting to £2.5 million, were about the same as previously, but production had reached 5 million lb. of man made fibre. The industry was becoming more efficient by producing a greater amount of the fibre although fewer persons were employed.
I come now to the question of costs. From the costs submitted by the representatives of the Australian industry, selling prices which were returning a reasonable rate of profit were calculated. These were compared with the landed duty free costs of imports for which invoices were available. It would appear that the Tariff Board had difficulty in getting really accurate and up to date information about this industry from the sources from which it usually gets information in inquiries of this kind.
The Board found that if the Australian producers had been selling at notional prices in competition with earlier imports, the local producers would have been at some apparent disability, but in comparison with the more recent imports, however, the lower cost producers would have had virtually no disability. That recommendation of the Tariff Board creates an element of doubt as to whether the findings were based on really factual information or whether there was a certain amount of supposition in them. The Board said -
It is apparent, however, that there has been pressure from imports in the not far distant past, and evidence by witnesses suggests that this could bc repeated in the future.
There again the Tariff Board has shown an element of doubt as to whether this industry has reached a level of stabilisation. The Board continued -
Substantial increases are at present taking place in overseas capacity. If these increases are not matched by increased overseas demand, there could be a downward pressure on overseas prices. However, it is not possible to predict the extent of any future price movements of processed yarns.
Similarly, no prediction ‘cun be made In respect of raw yarns, the prices of which will affect the competitive position of processed yarns.
It. is. the opinion of the Opposition that, with these doubtful factors being expressed by the Tariff Board, no alteration should be made to the recommendations of the Special Advisory Authority at the present time. We believe that not only should the 25 per cent, tariff protection rate continue, but also there should be a more permanent protection for this industry to give it the measure of stability that it requires. The Board has not been able to give an indication that the industry has stabilised itself. The report states -
The Board considers that the processing of continuous filament yarns in Australia is a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance if such were necessary and could be afforded at reasonable cost. The local producers are, however, in no immediate need of assistance and :he Board is unable to assess their possible future needs. It notes that provisions exist for urgent action which could be used to counter a sudden adverse change in the position of the Australian industry.
The debate that took place in another place highlighted some of the background factors relating to this industry. We protect the basic materials from which these man made fibres are processed. Of course, the processing’ provides another industry for this country. But on the other hand, at the present time our balance of trade is causing quite a deal of concern and heartsearching in the Treasury Department and some of the main trading nations. At a time like this, when an industry is trying to justify its existence and produce commodities at a cheaper rate than we can import them from overseas, there is very strong argument for the retention of the protection to keep the industry stable and developing.
Dr. Cairns stated that this was essentially a Victorian industry, that five of the manufacturers were in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, and that there was one in Bendigo and one in Shepparton. He pointed out that apart from the economics of the matter the fact that the industry was decentralised was a good argument for protection. The industry employs quite a big proportion of female labour. The menfolk go off to work in heavier industries, and in these days when many wives seek employment, an industry of this type is ideal in creating a balance that will encourage people to stay in decentralised areas.
Although the Tariff Board investigates these matters more on the economic level, it should be Government policy to inculcate in the minds of members of the Board the need to consider the economic consequences of drastic changes such as the removal of a 25 per cent, temporary duty. We must advocate decentralisation. Our major cities are sprawling and bursting at the seams. Outer urban areas and rural areas are just sleeping places for people who commute to work in the larger cities. Such industries as this can help in decentralisation.
The smaller undertakings are still in a state of instability. Man made fibres are big business in any language, whether it be Australian economic language or international trading language, and in big business the trend is towards monopoly control. As a matter of national policy, we should watch this matter very closely. Fibremakers Ltd. and Courtaulds (Aust.) Ltd. are the two large producers. By expanding their plants for the production of yarn they might place themselves in a position to take over smaller undertakings which are weakened by the taking away of the protection afforded by the Special Advisory Authority. This would lead to another branch of an international man made fibre monopoly. This aspect should not be overlooked. As we all know, business - national or international - is pretty ruthless. It has no respect for persons or organisations. I suppose that you could call these people the status seekers in the monetary field. With the accumulation of capital and wealth, they gain power and prestige. One of their most important motives is the profit motive, but the profits automatically come when they have a monopoly.
I believe that Victorian supporters of the Government should be especially alert to this situation. In their State is a substantial industry employing 750 people and £2i million in capital. That is not a great amount of money, but there will be a growing demand for these commodities in the increasing use of man made fibres. Victorians should be interesting themselves in the matter from the point of view of pro.tecing their own State. It is their duty to have a very good look at the situation before a decision is made. We shall give them an opportunity to eliminate Item 460, which relates to this particular matter. I do not know whether the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) will make a statement or whether this matter is to be referred back to the Special Advisory Authority in view of the change in circumstances since the report was made. I hope that Victorian representatives will give very close consideration to the effect of this proposal on quite a substantial industry which is based mainly in their State.
We take the view that all is not well with the recommendations of the Tariff Board in relation to this industry. We believe that there has been much difficulty in getting really accurate information, particularly from those persons who have been opposing preference for the Australian product. Amongst the organisations opposed to increased duties was the Australian British Trade Association, of 4 Bridge Street, Sydney, on behalf of the Silks and Man-made Fibre Users Association, of Surrey, England, John Heathcoat and Co. Ltd., of Devon, England, Mutual (Filaments Division) Ltd., of Lancashire, England, British Depa Crepes Ltd., of Lancashire, England, and Sewing Silks Ltd., of Middlesex, England. Others opposed the increased duties, but the main opposition was from the English interests which have a big potential in their own factories and are looking for an opportunity to enter the Australian market. From the research we have made we have found that when a demand exists for their products in other markets they supply those markets and do not worry about the Australian market. At times there are shortages of their products here. They are really capable of using Australia as a market of opportunity, and we should give very close attention to the importance of keeping in operation the factories that are presently established here. At the Committee stage I intend, on behalf of the Opposition, to move for the deletion of Item 460. We believe that there is justification for retention of the 25 per cent, temporary duty that has existed since the recommendation of the Special Advisory Authority. We hope that Government supporters will agree that this course is warranted and will support us at the Committee stage.
The Third Schedule provides for changes in duty based on the Tariff Board’s report on 12 gauge shotguns and parts. They are to receive increased assistance by the introduction of duties of IS per cent, ad valorem British preferential tariff and 25 per cent, most favoured nation on guns having a value of £32 or less. This means that the Australian manufacturers of sporting shotguns will be protected to that extent. Following the completion of the international negotiations, the most favoured nation rate of duty on lightweight woollen piece goods is raised to 45 per cent, ad valorem to conform to the level of protection recommended by the Tariff Board in its last report on this industry. There is a reduction of 5 per cent, in the most favoured nation duty on motor scooters and non-electric typewriters as a result of these negotiations.
Other than the recommendation relating to processed nylon and terylene yarns, the Opposition has no objection to the proposed tariff alterations. I formally inform the Senate that during the Committee stage I will propose an amendment on behalf of the Opposition.
.- The Senate is discussing three Bills relating to tariffs. One of the Bills relates to tariffs generally, another to tariffs on Canadian goods and the third to tariffs on goods coming to Australia from New Zealand. When one understands fairly fully the amount of work which the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority put into their investigations into tariffs, one has the greatest respect for them. The Tariff Board never submits a report without having extensively examined the items which have been referred to it by the Minister or which it has decided should be investigated. It calls evidence which sometimes is given over a number of weeks. It examines the evidence and, on the evidence, it furnishes a report to the Parliament. Any honorable senator who wished to make a complete examination of the reports of the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority, and of the tariff legislation which has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament over the last 40 or 50 years, would have very little time to devote to any other duties.
I appreciate that at times the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) must find himself in a quandry when thinking about tariffs. The officers who furnish advice to him are doing work of a really technical nature. One would need to be a technical officer to have the considerable knowledge of customs duties that is necessary before giving advice to any parliamentarian. It is with those thoughts in mind that I am discussing these three Bills. 1 do not propose to refer to any of the goods listed in the bills because they have been mentioned already, but perhaps I will be pardoned if I refer to one important commodity. At the present time the Tariff Board is investigating the question of whether a tariff should be applied to oil brought to the Commonwealth from other countries. The purpose, of course, is to determine whether protection should be given to the Australian product. The way I look at this as a typical citizen is that the Tariff Board will have to decide whether oil that has been discovered in Australia - oil that has flowed. out of Australian soil - is to be admitted to the Australian market. I will not say any more about that because the Tariff Board hearing has not been concluded. I do not imagine for one moment that anything I say is likely to influence the Board one way or the other, but I feel confident that Australia will not be left in the ludicrous position, of having discovered oil in its own soil, of having that oil flowing from the point of discovery to a refinery, and then not having the oil available for use in the Commonwealth. The matter will be decided in due course.
– Is the Tariff Board the correct body to do that?
– Well, when there was a dispute on whether the oil would be refined and sold in Australia I recommended that a tariff be applied to oil imported into the Commonwealth to protect the Australian industry. If we go back over the history of tariffs and protection in the Commonwealth, and if we examine the articles on protection which were written perhaps 70 years ago by the late David Syme, we will see that tariffs were introduced for the purpose of establishing some modest secondary industries in the Commonwealth. A gentleman named Clark also contributed articles on this very interesting subject. These writers always favoured tariffs which could be operated economically, not to the disadvantage of another country but to the advantage of the Commonwealth.
Tariffs are today a worldwide problem. A General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade conference was held, I think within the last 12 months, in Geneva. A representative of the Commonwealth Government attended that conference but to date I am not aware of any report having been furnished to the Parliament relating to the deliberations of and the decisions arrived at by the conference. I think the Parliament is entitled to such a report, and if there is a copy anywhere within the grasp of any Commonwealth official I hope that it is passed on to me for my examination. The conference was held mainly for the purpose of deciding which goods could be extirpated entirely from tariff schedules so that there could be a free exchange of those goods throughout the world. In fact, the very object of G.A.T.T. is to establish a common policy and understanding on tariffs. I suppose that later on something will filter through from G.A.T.T. which will affect some of the goods that arc now manufactured in Australia. lt is necessary, I think, for an authority such as G.A.T.T. to be functioning constantly because, as Senator O’Byrne mentioned a short time ago, international trading is not conducted methodically. When you examine what is being done in relation to (he transport of goods from one country to another you can clearly see that we are acting in an idiotic manner. For example, wc send cheese to New Zealand and import from New Zealand cheese of much the same quality as that which we export. Other commodities are sent back and forth in this way. I referred yesterday to blankets that arc being imported from Poland, no less, into the Commonwealth. I saw the blankets myself in a general store. Alongside beautiful woollen blankets at 10 guineas and 15 guineas a pair, the store displays these Polish blankets for sale. They were 55 inches by 77 inches and were 63 per cent, colton and 37 per cent, spun rayon. Whether they could be used in Canberra in winter may be left to conjecture. Personally, I would not let a cat of mine use one as a blanket in Canberra.
– The Tariff Board examined this item.
– I am glad the honorable senator made that statement. These blankets had to go through the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department would be fully aware that they were entering Australia. The Department of Customs and Excise operates very methodically. If you study the newspapers and see how many transistors are seized by customs officers you realise that the Department of Customs and Excise is alert throughout the year. It would be impossible for any trader to import these blankets from Poland without the knowledge of the Department.
The Tariff Board furnishes reports upon various industries at times. 1 have in mind a report completed two or three years ago on the timber industry. This came to my mind quite recently when I opened a Brisbane daily newspaper and saw a picture of partly milled timber that had arrived from Brazil. It seemed odd to me that Australia had to send all the way to Brazil for pine timber when we have areas in Australia which could be devoted to afforestation.
– Mills are closing down too.
– Yes, that is a bad feature of the industry. Probably some of them are closing down because of shortage of timber. I know the Minister for Customs and Excise will do his best to get these anomalies corrected because he represents a State which has devoted large areas to profitable afforestation. It will be profitable not in the next year or two but in the future. Australia has the best silviculturists in the southern hemisphere and their skill and knowledge could be used by the State departments. There could be co-operation between the State Governments and the Commonwealth Government to develop a grand policy and institute a grand programme for afforestation. In Queensland some of the fancy timbers such as red cedar have become exhausted and nothing is being done to replace the loss.
Perhaps it may seem inappropriate that I should mention these matters in this debate but I take this opportunity to direct attention to them so that they can be considered when the Government is looking for a worthwhile industry to establish. Here is one that could be started at any time and does not require a great deal of capital, either Australian or foreign. So far as I know, no inquiry has been made to ascertain the quantity of pine and hardwood, timbers that will be required in Australia in the next 50 or 100 years. We do not live by the day, the week or the year in modern times. We must get accustomed to living by the decade and by the century. If we have taken huge quantities of millable timber from the land and used, wasted or burnt it, there is a duty upon us to replace that timber so far as it is possible for us to do so. Only this week I flew from Sydney over an area where pine trees are growing. Looking down, I was saddened to see that some of the pine trees were dying because of the dry weather. I hope they do not die. If it is the duty of somebody to water them, water could be drawn from Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra for the purpose.
When we consider the whole question of imports, we find that approximately 68 per cent, of our imports are goods which are indispensable to our secondary industries. These are materials that are required in our own manufactures. That position may be difficult to overcome. We are not yet able technologically to manufacture all the goods that are coming on to the market. The new materials in the warehouses and retail business places are really amazing. The reports of the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority often refer to goods and materials which were unknown five or six years ago. There are names in those reports that the ordinary member of Parliament cannot pronounce because they are new and novel in character. Such goods are increasing and will continue to increase.
I am not asking the Minister for Customs and Excise to do anything about that. I know that he does his best conscientiously. However, I am concerned about the other 32 per cent, of our imports. Permits for these to enter Australia could be withheld without loss to the people. There is a demand for some of these goods because of a measure of prosperity in Australia but the list is ludicrous. The typical member of Parliament who has had to battle his way through life is, by and large, a hardened citizen. He is not accustomed to extreme comfort. He is not a spoilt individual. He can be excused for amazement when studying the list of imports in the 32 per cent. I have mentioned exclusive of those goods needed for our secondary industries.
There are chocolate covered fried ants. I do not know in what country they are a delicacy. There are strawberries soaked in brandy. It is a pity those who consume them could not be given honest work to do. There are roasted caterpillars and tinned toads in aspic. I have not tasted them and do not want to do so. There are reindeer steaks in cream and wine, frogs legs with mushrooms, barbequed steak from Texas and roast pheasant in wine jelly. These are only some of the goods besides the Polish blankets that comprise the 32 per cent, of non-essential goods coming into Australia. If we had a system of imports and exports so that we brought in from other countries only the goods that we actually required and they in their turn took only from other countries the goods they required for their industries and consumption, it would be an ideal trading world. I do not expect that to be brought about. I am inclined to put my faith in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and a hope that some day international trading arrangements will be better than they are. The Opposition gives these three measures its blessing and wishes the traders well.
– in reply - Senator O’Byrne who led for the Opposition in this debate gave general approval to the proposed amendments of the schedules to the Customs Tariff 1933-64. He dealt with the various items mentioned in the schedules. The First Schedule relates to ginger and ginger oil, dental chairs and units, narrow woven fabrics and adjustable shoulder straps. The Second Schedule deals with emery stones, oilstones and whetstones, processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns, butadiene and styrene butadiene synthetic rubber. The Third Schedule deals with shotguns and parts.
In general terms Senator O’Byrne expressed approval and concurrence, on behalf of the Opposition, with the legislative proposition with which we are dealing which is, after all, an enactment of the Government’s decision to accept Tariff Board findings. The honorable senator did indicate, on behalf of the Opposition, an intention to move an amendment in connection with processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns. I would like to refer to that matter in a moment or two.
Senator Benn, whilst not specifically dealing with the items mentioned in the Bill, nevertheless referred to the function of the
Tariff Board. He, along with Senator O’Byrne, paid a compliment in recognition of the tremendous job that the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority are doing in this particular field. As Minister for Customs and Excise, and because I am in a sense partly associated with this legislative responsibility, I thank them for the sentiments they expressed.
The whole of the critical references made by Senator O’Byrne related to the processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns. He suggested that the Tariff Board was tentative and had perhaps fallen into error in its treatment of this particular matter. He attempted to draw a comparison between raw yarn and processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns. But although he read from the Tariff Board’s report the paragraph at the bottom of page 11 I do not think he got the full grasp of what the Board actually said. T think I should repeat that paragraph in rebuttal of his statement. The Board stated -
The Board considers that the processing of continuous filament yarns in Australia is a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance if such were necesary and could be afforded at reasonable cost. The local producers are, however, in no immediate need of assistance . . .
I pause there to say that, after all, it is the function of the Tariff Board to decide that. If the Board is satisfied that an industry is not in need of immediate assistance surely it must, according to its charter and sense of responsibility, in its report to Parliament, have some regard for that fact. It is the critical factor in the making of the Board’s recommendation in relation to duty. I think the words I have read are the most operative words in the entire report. I will repeat them -
The local producers are, however, in no immediate need of assistance and the Board is unable to assess their possible future needs.
Senator O’Byrne referred to that section of the report. The report continued -
It notes that provisions exist for urgent action which could be used to counter a sudden adverse change in the position of the Australian industry.
This, of course, is the whole substance of the difference that we may have in the approach to this particular debate. There is a Special Advisory Authority to meet these special circumstances. The Tariff Board fixes a duty in relation to the position as it finds it, as it very properly must do, conscious all the time - and indeed the
Board states this in its report - that there is machinery that this Government has subscribed to, and which the Opposition can support, by which the Authority is able to give short term immediate remedial assistance pending the Board again investigating the matter. I just want to point out to the honorable senator that that, in fact, is what has happened.
Senator O’Byrne indicated that the Opposition would move an amendment for the deletion of this particular item during the committee stages. I would remind the honorable senator with great respect that such an amendment would be completely pointless. The facts are that at the present time there is a duty imposed on the recommendation of the Special Authority and there is a reference of the matter to the Tariff Board.
So that the Senate may perhaps avoid a more lengthy discussion during the Committee stage I will give the historical sequence of events relating to this matter. Senator O’Byrne pointed out that the Tariff Board was in some difficulty with this question because of the changing scene. That is true. It is a fact that this particular industry has been the subject of sudden change. It is a fact that the Special Authority, on two occasions, has stepped in at the request of the industry, and in response to instructions from the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), and has considered the matter as at that moment. After consideration the Authority has introduced a special duty and then referred the question to the Tariff Board for further examination. The position, as I understand it, is that on processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns the British preferential tariff was nil and the rate for the most favoured nation was 12* per cent. In June 1963 the Authority, having considered the matter following instructions from the Minister for Trade and Industry, recommended a duty of 25 per cent, across the board. The question was then referred to the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board report, as honorable senators know, was tabled on 12th November, 1964. That report has been referred to by both Senator O’Byrne and myself. The Tariff Board, considering the circumstances in which it took evidence - and I think evidence was supplied by four different firms - immediately came to the conclusion which I have already quoted: There was no immediate need of assistance to the industry. Therefore it recommended that there be no assistance. Consequently, following the Tariff Board’s report, the special duty of 25 per cent, was removed in November last. In any case, the duty would have been removed, as honorable senators would appreciate, in the period of three months from the date the Government received the report. However, the duty was taken off on 1 3th November.
I feel that perhaps Senator O’Byrne is not completely up to the moment on this matter. That is not a criticism of the honorable senator because only last week there was a reference once again to the Special Advisory Authority. That was a reference regarding both raw and processed yarn, made on 19th March this year, which is not very long ago. On 23 rd April, following the report from the Special Advisory Authority, a special duty of 2s. 6d. per lb. was again imposed. The matter has now been referred to the Board as a general reference in relation to both raw and processed yarns. It would, therefore, be completely pointless for Senator O’Byrne to move his proposed amendment to delete this item in the Second Schedule. The 25 per cent, duty was removed in November of last year; there has been a reference to the Special Advisory Authority; the Authority has agreed that there is a need for a short term special duty - a holding duty, shall we say - and a holding duty of 2s. 6d. per lb. has been imposed and is now in force. The whole matter is now before the Tariff Board for further inquiry.
– What would be the percentage of the duty?
– If the price were 10s. per lb. the duty would be 25 per cent. I think the ruling price is between Ils. and 12s. per lb., so the duty would be between 20 per cent, and 25 per cent. That is my understanding of the matter at present. I do not want to inhibit the honorable senator in the debate, but there is now no purpose in the proposed amendment. I repeat that the 25 per cent, duty was removed following the Tariff Board report to which he referred. The reasons were given by the Board and the honorable senator was fair enough to read them out. Subsequently a new situation arose, an emergency was considered to exist and a holding duty of 2s. 6d. per lb. was imposed only last week. These events are so recent that it is perhaps understandable that the honorable senator is not informed on them. As I have said, the question has now been referred to the Tariff Board for consideration.
There is only one other matter to which I shall refer. I think the honorable senator tried to draw some distinction between the raw material and the processed yarn. However, he did not press the argument and at this stage I do not think I need follow it through. The position is that there has been no special protective duty. The 2i per cent, duty, which has existed for a long time, remains. It is true that there has been anti-dumping intervention but, as the honorable senator appreciates, that has nothing to do with the actual rate of the tariff.
I thank Senator O’Byrne and Senator Benn for their approach to this debate. This field is complex and I must say that in the short time available to him Senator O’Byrne has been able to grasp all the elements of it. It is understandable that he was perhaps not advised of the imposition of the holding duty by the Special Advisory Authority, because it was imposed only about a week ago.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– In my second reading speech I intimated that the Opposition would, during the Committee stage, move an amendment to the Second Schedule to exclude item 460, which relates to processed continuous filament man made fibre yarns. The merit of the proposition I put forward to the Minister has now been more or less conceded by his announcement - this was unknown to me before this debate - that the matter had again been considered by the Special Advisory Authority who, in his wisdom and to his great credit, had, by means of a different formula, basically conceded the necessity for a measure ofcontinuing protection.
– A holding protection.
– Yes, a holding protection. While the previous report of the Board made a special’ recommendation for a 25 per cent, duty - the imposition that is removed by this legislation - we now have the assurance of the Minister that a 2s. 6d. per lb. holding duty has been imposed. Therefore, the reason for our proposed amendment no longer exists, because after all it is a matter of debate whether the industry requires a duty of 20 per cent, or 25 per cent, and 2s. 6d. per lb. is in that vicinity. Having consulted my colleagues I feel that the point which the Opposition was stressing - not knowing of this latest reference to the Special Advisory Authority - has been conceded, andI do not now want to move the proposed amendment. The Minister has announced that the 2s. 6d. per lb. protection has been imposed and will continue as a holding measure to see whether the industry does stabilise and whether in the time which has elapsed since the protection was lifted, any appreciable amount of yarn hits been shipped from England or other parts of the world to our market. This holding protection will give the industry and the Tariff Board an idea of whether the industry is stabilising itself. We, on this side of the chamber, do not want to mollycoddle any industry. The quicker an industry can get on to its own feet and not only compete on the local market but also reach such a stage of efficient production that it can become an exporter, the better. That is the position we want to encourage. I think that with stability, this industry will eventually become an exporter, and that is highly desirable.
The Minister said that this is the fourth change that has taken place in a period of three or four years. No industry likesto have the sword of insecurity hanging over its head, so that it cannot plan expansion or make forward marketing arrangements. I feel that all the objections that we advanced have now been met by the Minister’s assurance and we therefore do not propose to proceed with our proposed amendment.
– [ thank Senator O’Byrne for his remarks. I would like to read from the reference made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) to the Tariff Board, following the examination by the Special Advisory Authority and the imposition of the 2s. 6d. per lb. duty. The date of the reference is 22nd April 1965 and it concerns man made fibres and yarns, tyre cord and tyre cord fabric. The reference begins -
I, John McEwen, Minister of Stale for Trade and Industry, in pursuance of the powers conferred upon me by the Tariff Board Act 1921-62, in the interests of -
achieving the economic and efficient development of the industries producing and using man made fibre yarns; and (if) avoiding the disruption caused by undue fluctuations in conditions of supply from overseas; do hereby refer to the Tariff Board for enquiry and report, in accordance with Section . 15 of the aforesaid Act, the following questions -
Whether assistance should be accorded the production in Australia of -
man made fibres . . . and so on. I repeat that a holding duty has been imposed which will remain until the Tariff Board’s report is received by Parliament. The duty could then be removed if no action were taken within a period of three months.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27th April (vide page 457), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- As this Bill is consequential to Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) 1965, which has already been passed, we have no opposition to its speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 27th April (vide page 457), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As this Bill is also consequential to Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) 1965, which has been debated and passed, we do not oppose the measure and wish it a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 27th April (vide page 455), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the Senate take note of the fallowing papers -
United States of America Balance of Payments Programme -
Letters, dated 12th and 24th March 1965, exchanged between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States of America;
United States of America Balance of Payment Programme - Ministerial Statement, 1st April 1965.
In the few minutes available to me last evening, I had time only to answer the points made by Senator Cormack. It is my intention, now, to commence the speech I would have made last evening, had the opportunity been granted to me. In my opinion this debate is not only historic but is also very important. It marks the first time that the Government has faced up to the fact that overseas investment in Australia carries with it very grave dangers. The Government is not yet facing up to all the dangers and its present attitude has been forced upon it because it now finds that the source of money being invested in this country from overseas is likely to dry up.
I wish now to summarise what has been happening in the field of overseas investment in Australia in the last few years. Almost from the time that the present Government took office Australia has incurred serious trade deficits which at times have assumed monumental proportions. In fact, the total figure is £1,803 million. The figuresI wish to cite have been supplied by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. Over the last four years a deficit of £842 million has been incurred. Obviously no country could continue indefinitely in this way. The Government has maintained international solvency only by heavy borrowings overseas and by encouraging overseas investment in Australia. Over that time overseas investors have invested capital of £1885 million in Australia. A further £900 million has been borrowed by this Government from overseas.
For many years the Australian Labour Party has pointed out the dangers of unrestricted investment from abroad. I think the matter has been discussed in this chamber on three or more occasions. Those who have spoken on behalf of the Government have always said that things would work out all right for Australia. If I may use a very old expression, now some of the chickens are coming home to roost. We of the Opposition have said that, with some reservations, we welcome investment from overseas. We want Australians to have the right to invest some of their money in industries that are established in this country with overseas capital.
We admit that overseas investors have brought new industries and technical knowhow to Australia and in so doing have helped us to overcome temporary difficulties in our balance of payments situation. But the Government has shut its eyes to the fact that some of the money that has come from overseas has been used to buy out existing industries. That has happened particularly in regard to the food processing industry in Victoria. Such investment has done very little to help our economy.
We have said that continual borrowing overseas and the continuing investment of overseas capital in Australia do not provide a long term solution of our balance of payments problem. I do not deny for one moment that the Government has not tried to help our exporters in a small way. The Government has established the Export Payments Insurance Corporation and has given exporters some tax reductions. But because a large percentage of our exports consist of primary products and prices, particularly for wool, fluctuate we find that for the last two quarters we were on the wrong side in regard to our balance of trade to the extent of £168 million. The position was worse to the extent of £179 million than for the same two quarters in 1963-64. The people in Britain or the
United States of America who have invested in Australia the sum of £1,885 million to which I referred earlier have not, in the main, the welfare of this country at heart; they have been activated by the profit motive. Otherwise, it is logical to suggest that they would have found other avenues in which to invest their money.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has mentioned large sectors of our economy that are under foreign domination. He has told us that the pharmaceutical industry is owned by overseas interests to the extent of 97 per cent., the petroleum refining and distribution industry to the extent of 95 per cent., the motor vehicle manufacturing industry to the extent of 95 per cent., the oil exploration industry to the extent of 95 per cent., telecommunications to the extent of 83 per cent., and the bauxite and aluminium industry to the extent of 75 per cent. If one had the time, one could mention other industries that are owned to a lesser degree by foreign interests. Some may say that if foreign capital had not been brought into this country, some of those industries may not yet have been established. 1 do not believe that to be so. I hope to point out what Canada, which is much nearer to the great industrial nation of the United States than we are, has been prepared to do, as indicated in her last Budget. The time has come when we must do something on the same lines. I am pleased that we are friendly with the United States, but that does not mean that we should sink the whole of our individuality as a nation and should hand over our economic welfare to our friends overseas.
Another bad feature of the present situation is that most of the Australian industries to which I have been referring are at a disadvantage in exporting their products. They are restricted by an export franchise which does not permit them to compete with the parent companies in the United States, Great Britain or elsewhere, or with subsidiaries of the parent companies in other countries. That, of course, slows up the expansion of our exports to a certain degree.
The inflow of capital from overseas has slowed down. I pointed out last night that foreign owned companies are going on to the financial market and are attempting to raise the money that they require to enable them to carry on their businesses. As a result, we are losing in two ways. First, we are not getting the benefit of new capital coming into the country to relieve our balance of payments situation and, secondly, the profits that are being made are being sent back to the parent companies overseas. Therefore, I think we will find in the future that we are in a worse position than we are in today. I am happy that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has gone to America, but I am not happy with what he is doing there. I do not like going cap in hand to anyone at all, and I do not think that this nation should do it.
– Who went cap in hand?
– I think that the Treasurer has. What else has he done? What negotiations is the Government entering into? Let us face the facts. The United States has made a certain decision. 1 do not think that we have the right to quarrel with it. It affects this nation because the present Government has been in office for too long. The Government has said: “ As long as we can import capital, irrespective of who owns the industries in this country, it is all right “. I do not know whether the Government has ever realised that sooner or later the profits of these subsidiary companies that have been established in this country must be sent home. I mentioned these facts last night, but I shall repeat them. According to the Commonwealth Statistician, in the years 1962 to 1964 inclusive, we paid out £358.6 million by way of dividends to overseas people who had invested in this nation.
– It did not all go out of the country, did it?
– It did. If my charming friend did not interject when she knows nothing about the matter, she might learn something. The facts are that that amount of money went out of this country.
– Not as dividends, though.
– According to the Commonwealth Statistician, it left the country in the form of dividends. In return we received new capital of £335.8 million. So for the three years from 1962 to 1964 there was a difference of £22.8 million between what we received and what we paid out. That was before President Johnson said to the American people: “We are in some trouble as far as the balance of payments is concerned. You had better stop sending money abroad.” In the Senate about three years ago I referred to a speech that was delivered by the late President Kennedy at the Conference of the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations held at Florida when he first mentioned taxing money which was going out of the United States to be invested in other countries. He said, in giving the reasons for instituting the tax: “ We are exporting money and importing unemployment “.
President Johnson has made a decision and we now find ourselves in serious trouble. Over the years only one Minister in the Government has taken a sufficient interest in the question of overseas investment in Australia to tell the people of the dangers. I think that he deserves great credit for it. I refer to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) who has told the people of this nation and particularly of the State I represent, the dangers involved. He used words to the effect that we are selling a bit of the farm each year.
– The Government is not aware of the dangers even now.
– The only thing the Government has done is to send the Treasurer to America. I hope that he meets with some success, but the Government should not think for one moment that that will solve the problem. It will not do so. If the Government continues to balance the Budget or to correct the balance of payments by means of overseas investment in Australia, the time must come when difficulties arise. “It reminds me of the period in 1925, 1926 and 1927 when the policy of the Bruce-Page Government was: “Borrow, boom and bust”. If the Government continues to adopt its present policy, it will come to the same end.
It is true that we are living well today, but we are not living within our means. We are living by the good graces of other people who sooner or later must demand their pound of flesh, as they are entitled.
– Do you tell that to the Arbitration Court?
– It is the old story. When the Government gets the country into trouble, the only people who are supposed to carry the burden are those whose wages and conditions are governed by the Arbitration Court. It is remarkable. Government supporters can think of nothing else. Let us have a look at the position. To be quite candid, the question of overseas investment in Australia is one of the most important matters that has ever come before the Senate. The letters that have been exchanged between the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the President of the United States have brought home to us who sit in the Parliament, and to people outside who take the trouble to consider these matters, the very serious economic troubles that confront this country today. An honorable senator said that I was hard when 1 used the words “ cap in hand “. The letters were exchanged and I think 1 said when I commenced to speak that that was an historic fact. It is the first time that the Government has faced up to the fact that foreign investment carries with it very grave dangers. Perhaps I am giving the Government too much credit because if President Johnson had not said to. his people: “You had better, cut down on sending money abroad “, it would have continued on its happy way. What has the Government done? Has it asked the best economic brains in this country to look at the position? No, all that it has done is to tell the Treasurer to plead with the United States of America to let us carry on. To my mind, these are stupid and inane financial methods which, in the logical sequence of events, must sooner or later put this country into pawn. The Government has done nothing else.
– Was not the Vernon committee a top level committee?
– What has the committee said? Has it said that we can go on as we are going? Has it thought of anything that will rectify this position? By this method of finance the Government has the people of the nation living up to a standard with which we are all pleased. We are delighted to think that 70 per cent, of the people either own or are buying homes, but we are all frightened of what can happen. Those of us who have sufficient years to know what happened in the early 1930’s, when people lost homes, are frightened of the very large hire purchase debt of this country. As a matter of commonsense, this cannot go on. Any sane people ruling Britain must attempt to get Britain out of its trouble. However much we may be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the fact is that Britain will look after Britain, and who will blame her for that? Who will blame the United States for looking after the United States? It is true that we are friends, but it is a good friend that looks after himself first, particularly when he is compelled to do so. We know the reasons why the United States is in this position. She is in the position because she has helped practically every country, particularly those that were devastated during the last war. What is this great idea of sending Mr. Holt to the United States? Admittedly, something had to be done. But for what has he gone there? Has he gone to see the President and the other leaders of the United States, to say, with some respect for this nation: “ Give us six or twelve months to see if we can place ourselves in a position where we can help ourselves?” Or has he gone, as he has gone in my opinion, just grovelling and crawling in the name of this nation-
– What else is it?
– Bilge water.
– The honorable senator should rise and answer me; the people answered him. What has the Treasurer done? What does the Government expect him to do? I do not want to read again the letter which appears in “ Hansard “. The Government has asked him to try to get from the United States special conditions for this nation.
– Which the U.S. has given to others.
– She has given them to others for other reasons, other economic reasons. I believe that we are not facing up to our responsibilities. I have been over-critical but I think we have thrown away all national pride in this matter.
– I think the honorable senator is getting rid of a little exuberance which he was not allowed to get rid of in Hobart.
– That is not so at all. We shall deal with that later. This is not an answer to the economic position in which we find ourselves today. The Government is, like an ostrich, putting its head in the sand and saying that everything is all right. Will Mr. Holt say in the United States that we shall have a look at import control of non-essential commodities, either by tariff or by licensing? I heard what Senator Benn said recently on a tariff measure about the exotic foods that are coming to this country.
– They are not exotic to migrants.
– The nation cannot afford this. I would give them the world if I could afford it. I believe in the old, old story that if one earns £1 and spends 19s. 9d. he has no worry, but if he earns £1 and spends £1 Os. 3d. it will catch up with him some time. But the Government has not spent only £1 Os. 3d.; it has earned £.1 and spent nearly £2. The Government followed the United Kingdom and Canada in relation to insurance on exports and housing. According to an article in the “Financial Review” by a special writer in Toronto, the Canadian Budget, presented by the Finance Minister, Mr. Walter Gordon, included the creation of the 1,000 million dollar Canada Development Corporation, which will share in the financing of new large scale industrial development. The article goes on to state that the Government will take up 10 per cent, of the corporation’s shares and underwrite the balance. Have we thought of doing something like that? Is that too real? At least, it would keep the money in our own country.
I am certain that if the Government went out and appealed to the people, putting the whole facts before them, using the famous statement about selling a bit of the farm each year - as is the case - the people, in the financial crisis that we face, would give the Government money, as they gave money when we were in war trouble. I believe we are in trouble and I hope we can get out of it. Has the Government thought of using even its taxation powers to say to these foreign owned companies: “ Unless you are prepared to allow a certain amount of your scrip to be placed on the stock markets of this nation you will be taxed at the rate of
X per cent.”? 1 have no desire to hurt friends but this is a matter in which Australia must come first.
– That is, after these companies have become successful.
– I know the honorable senator’s views. I have a great personal friendship for him but I listened to him last night and I regret his remarks. Has the Government ever thought of saying to those who come to Australia to buy the Rosella and other food preserving plants: “ No, our capital is invested in those companies and the dividends they earn will be spread among our own people and spent in this country”? Or does the Government become nervous when confronted by Heinz Bros, and others? I have no particular reason for hurting Heinz Bros, and I have mentioned that company simply because it came to my mind.
We have a credit of about £700 million or £800 million in London. If the trend which the United States has set continues, how long will those reserves stand to us? Let us face the facts. Let us not put our heads in the sand and allow our people to suffer in two or three years time. We were not accustomed to as much in the late 1920’s as we are today. The people have become accustomed to a high standard of living now. They like it. I ask the Government not to court trouble.
I thank you, Mr. Acting Deputy President, for the time that has been allowed me to participate in this debate because I think this is a tremendously vital matter. I hope I am not over pessimistic. I see danger in the future even if the Treasurer is as successful as he wants to be. I fear that we will only be selling more of that famous piece of land each day and sometime, somewhere, either the Government or the Opposition, or whoever follows us here, will have to find a way out.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
– At the outset, I want to say that I do not agree with what appeared to be criticism of the Government and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). He was critical of the fact that the Treasurer had gone to Washington at all to discuss the balance of payments problem with the Ad ministration of the United States of America. Representatives of Australia have gone overseas to discuss maters of far less importance just as representatives of other countries have come to Australia to discuss matters of concern between Australia and the countries they represent. I think that Senator Kennelly used the word “ beggar “ in speaking of the Treasurer’s visit to Washington and said that he was going cap in hand; but my deduction from newspaper reports today was that such was not the case. The Treasurer would have been most remiss if he had not gone to Washington in the present circumstances.
We have listened to criticism of the Australian economy by the Opposition ever since this Government has been in office. I concede the right of the Opposition to criticise, but criticism could be levelled at the economy of any country in the world. Not one of them is perfect. If or when we reach a stage where countries have all things ordered just as they should be in. accordance with an infallible plan, we will have reached the millenium. There is always room for criticism of a country’s economy but it is reasonable to expect from the critic some logical alternative to rectify the problem. In reply to an interjection, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said the remedy for the position we find ourselves in today regarding overseas investment was to increase exports, It is one thing to say that and quite another to lay down a reasonable, practical formula. How do you embark on a campaign to increase exports? This is a most difficult project. The Government has been encouraging export production and has done a good job in that respect. It has offered inducements to farmers and others to export produce. But the plain fact is that there are very limited markets where the buyers can afford to pay the prices necessary to cover our high costs of production.
– It was the Government which the honorable senator supports that took the lid off prices and allowed them to go haywire.
– That is another matter. To enlarge the export markets that will take our exports at prices to cover our cost of production is a tremendous problem. I haVe yet to hear of some infallible or reasonably practical formula to achieve that objective. The Opposition has advocated a Commonwealth shipping line to take our goods overseas. The cost, of course, would be fantastic and would impose a burden on our export production greater than the load we are carrying now. The Opposition has suggested that the solution is to subsidise freight on export production. This also would place a burden on the country. There has been a lot of criticism of the Australian economy but no practical proposition to rectify the difficulties.
Since the Second World War a lot of capital has flowed into Australia. That also has been criticised by the Opposition; but it is certain that the flow of immigrants could not have been sustained without it. We would have had to adjust our plans to a much smaller workforce and the working population would not have benefited as it has done from a marked increase in real wages. According to the Commonwealth Statistician such an increase has been achieved in spite of inflation. In other words we would have had to cut our coat according to our cloth and that would have been considerably less but for the inflow of capital from overseas.
Senator Cormack made a good point when he said earlier in the debate that we had to have capital after the Second World War. There is a schism in the world today as he said. A nation can acquire capital if it orders the population to work under the hardest conditions for the lowest remuneration. That practice was adopted by the Soviet Union, Red China and other Communist countries, but such a policy necessarily imposes much suffering and hardship on the people concerned.
We have heard it said in this debate and many times previously that there is a nigger in the woodpile of foreign capita] inflow and that we are selling the country piece by piece to foreign interests. On the contrary, 1 believe that Australia has had a tremendous uplift from this inflow of capital. The great progress that has been made by Australia over the past few years would not have been possible without it. I was impressed by the statement of the Treasurer when, in speaking about the payments that go out of the country to satisfy foreign investors, he said - . . considered as a proportion of our export income and of our gross national product, the income which is payable overseas from the invest ment that has come here is, if anything, a slightly lower proportion of our gross national product - and, at that, it is about 2 per cent, only - and a slightly smaller proportion of our export income than it was in 1947-48. . .
– Who said this?
– The Treasurer. He said -
That is, of our gross national product. I concede that that is not a fantastic rate to pay for the very great benefits which have come to this country as a result of it. We hear much about these companies which, it is claimed, are owned almost entirely by overseas interests. Let me say that the overseas companies in production in this country certainly exclude the importation of the article that they are producing. We must have a very substantial credit in that respect. Obviously, if they are producing a certain article in Australia, particularly if it >was not produced here before, this obviates the necessity for importing that article. General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., a company which in the main is owned by overseas interests, is a company against which a lot of criticism has been levelled, if I may say so, by the Opposition. The Treasurer said this about that company -
But Hi million Australian people have a share in the profitability of General MotorsHolden’s because we collect 42 i per cent, of that company’s profits in tax-
That is approaching half - and when it sends some of the balance overseas we get another chop at that under the withholding tax arrangement.
The Treasurer went on to say further that this same company was responsible for export earnings at the rate of £9 million a year. One of the markets for Holden cars is New Zealand. I have been to New Zealand and I think the position that I observed in that country still pertains. There is a long waiting list if you want to purchase a new car. Two or three years ago’ I think the waiting period was up to 12 months. There is still a waiting list for cars and for other things simply because they do not manufacture those articles in their own country- Here, in Australia, we do so.
It has been said during this debate that fresh skills, new techniques and advancement of every kind has flowed into this country as a result of the overseas investment. But, Mr. President, in my own opinion and in the opinion of many others, Australia is in a peculiar and dangerous position. We are close to about half the world’s population. It has been estimated that a third of that population, or approaching half, is undernourished. It well may be - and all the portents seem to indicate this - that we are to be the culmination of the Communist drive down through South East Asia. We are in a position where we simply cannot afford to be choosy. Australia has to have this development and advancement. The best investment we can make for our own security is to have as much capital, our own and from overseas, as we can possibly obtain and in that way develop our latent resources and be in a position to support a much greater population. Only in that fashion can we approach a position of safety at all.
I took note of what Senator Kennelly said when he spoke about these firms coming to Australia and purchasing industries that were already in operation. I would not doubt for a moment that that has been done in some cases. But surely, when those industries are purchased the money is not simply lost to the economy for ever. That money becomes available for fresh investment and for fresh industrial expansion. I cannot see the point in reiterating that these people come to Australia at times and purchase an industry which is already operating. I feel that we have a lot to lose so far as overseas investment is concerned. A lot has been said about it and it reminds me of the saying about looking a gift horse in the mouth. I repeat that our position is such that we cannot afford to choose in this manner and that a tremendous benefit has been conferred upon us by these industries coming to Australia.
Mr. President, I noted the letter that was sent by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to the President of the United States of America and the reply from the President. I think Senator Mc’Kenna referred to it. I think the President said that in his opinion no serious damage would be done to the Australian economy. Of course those words indicated that some damage could be done to our economy by reason of this curtailment of American investment. I also noted newspaper reports today that the President of the Chase Manhattan Bank said that Australia probably would not be excluded from such measures as are taken by the United States. It well may be that these measures will have some effect on Australia’s economy. It is to be hoped, as the President of the Bank said, that the strictures might not be too long in duration. I concede the right of the United States, the United Kingdom or any other country to take such measures as it thinks fit to keep its own economy stable. One’ must take into consideration the relationship which exists between Australia and the United States. I think the figures in the Prime Minister’s letter to the President of the United States were quoted by Senator Branson when the honorable senator said, I think, that it was only in the past year that our imports from the United States had risen by 43 per cent, and that our exports to the United States had dropped by about 50 per cent. It seems to me that our trading relations with the United States are gradually getting worse. A similar position exists in regard to the United Kingdom. It is to be noted that the Minister concerned with industrial development in the United Kingdom has written to, I think, 300 companies overseas asking them to curtail operations and to bring home as much capital as possible. I agree that both these countries have the right to take such action as they think fit to stabilise their economies. After all. that is their first concern and their first consideration. Our adverse trade balance with the United States of America has been getting worse and now, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has said, the United States has placed an embargo on our goods almost as though we were a hostile power. We had an earlier experience of this only last year in regard to our exports of beef. I can understand the feelings of the American producer who wants to keep his own local market to himself and have produce from other countries excluded. But the fact remains that our trade position with America is becoming worse and worse. The volume of our imports from the United States - and probably from the United Kingdom - is rising steadily. At the time when Britain first proposed to join the Common Market we were purchasing more from the United Kingdom than was any other country on earth. I believe that situation still exists. In view of those things one cannot escape the thought that wherever possible - I do not know whether it is practicable or not, but some people claim that it is - we should turn for our imports to countries with which we have a favorable trade balance. 1 have in mind, for instance, Japan, because our trade balance with that country is the reverse of what it is with the United Kingdom and the United States. We have a trade balance with Japan of about two to one in our favour, and it is claimed that Japan could supply a lot of the goods ‘that we at present import from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Japan has not gone nearly as far as the United States in prohibiting imports from Australia. J think I am correct in saying that Japan has been our best postwar customer for wool. Is it not reasonable for us to try to foster trade with those countries that buy our produce rather than to continue in our present trade relationships which, according to all indications, will become worse and worse? The United States, with its 193 million people, takes only a paltry nine tons of our butter annually. Its importations of our sugar are similarly low in spite of the fact that there was, and I suppose there still is, an embargo on the importation of sugar into the United States from Cuba. So, I cannot escape the thought that there is a strong case for turning elsewhere for at least some of those things that we now import from countries with which we have such an adverse balance of trade. I concede that the United States of America has done a wonderful job in postwar reconstruction in many parts of the world. It seems to be rather ironical but, as Senator Cormack said last night, France, West Germany and Japan - vanquished countries of the last war - ‘have certainly won the peace as far as prosperity is concerned, while those countries which are supposed to have won the war, with the exception of the United States, are in economic trouble. I hope that the present position will be shortlived and the indications are that it will be shortlived. But I believe that the time will come when a re-assessment of our trading position will be necessary. I do not speak as an economist. Sometimes I am glad to think I am not an economist. My proposition may be impracticable, but it seems to me that the time will come when a re-assessment of our trading relationships will have to take place and we will have to purchase more from the countries that seem eager to purchase more from us. 1 believe that the criticism that has been levelled at the flow of overseas capital into Australia has not done us much good. Certainly a lot of that criticism is not justified. The benefits derived from this capital inflow have far outweighed the disadvantages, and I believe that the continued expansion of our economy requires that the capital inflow should continue. If it does not continue, then like a man who finds his income depleted, we will have to measure up to the position and adjust ourselves to it. We will watch with a lot of interest the experiment which is proposed to be embarked on by Canada. It may be a way out - I do not know - but Canada is in a position very different from that of Australia. It is not so placed that it has to provide for 100,000- odd immigrants per year, with all the amenities they require and the money they need to have spent on them. However that may be, I hope that the mission upon which the Treasurer has embarked will be successful and that we will secure every £1 of capital possible, whether it comes from within Australia or overseas. Nothing is more certain than that unless we do secure the capital we need, wherever it comes from, and go on and develop our potential, that development will be done for us by others in a way and under a system that we will not like very much.
– The Senate is indebted to Senator Lillico for the usual thoughtful contribution which he has made to the debate on the problem with which we have been dealing for the last few days. He has brought into the debate a note of restraint and has made a contribution which is of some significance in the solution of this problem. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the debate on the letter of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to the President of the United States of America, and the President’s reply on the measures which he has proposed in order to dampen down American capital investment overseas and to repatriate dollars as urgently as possible to the United States because of the adverse balance of payments position in which that country finds itself.
I have noted with great interest that within a period of almost one month, the deficit which for three months was somewhere in the region of 6,100 million dollars was reduced to about 3,000 million dollars. lt would have been reduced further. but for the delays caused by maritime strikes in the United States of America. Exports were held up and their value could not be included in the three monthly period in which it should have been included. That is a vast improvement of the position in the United States.
I wish to reply to two or three matters raised by the Opposition during the course of this debate. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) repeatedly said something which, of course, is axiomatic. He said that, in order to benefit Australia we must increase exports. Of course we must. Nobody would quarrel with that proposition. The Government has given great attention to that aspect and has offered export incentives to industry knowing full well that, by our exports, we can earn more income to control the balance of imports and to meet our commitments overseas. The Government has a good record in this field, lt did not start to take action only yesterday. During the last two or three years incentives have been offered to Australian industry to enter the export field and assist to solve our balance of payments problem. From listening to the Opposition one would gain the impression that the idea of increasing exports had never occurred to the Government. In fact we have been taking clear steps -
– To meet this position as it has arisen. If Senator Cant were aware of the facts he would never have made the stupid suggestion that we are taking steps backwards.
– Have a look at the trading position.
– We have been giving incentives to industry because, as Senator McKenna has said and every member of this House should say, we must aim to cure the problem of increasing our exports as early as possible. Nobody would suggest that we can wipe out the total deficit immediately by increased exports. Of course, that is impossible.
I want, now, to deal with one or two aspects which will be appreciated by Senator McKenna as a Tasmanian. I have never been able to understand the opposition of the Australian Labour Party to capital inflow into this country. The Labour Party is living in the past - in centuries gone by. In fact, I have always thought that members of the Labour Party are mentally constipated in respect of the use of overseas capital investment here. I shall give two instances from the Tasmanian scene, because Senator McKenna and I are both from Tasmania. I ask him to have a look at the position of the aluminium industry, which was a Government venture entered into by the Australian Labour Party and taken over and expanded by the present Government when it came into office.
– Part of it was sold out to an international combine.
– Bless your heart. I was hoping you would say that. There is always a mug who will come in. Senator O’Byrne, another Tasmanian, says part of it was sold out to overseas interests. In the last four years, the production of aluminium ingots at the Bell Bay plant in the hands of private enterprise has been increased from 12,000 tons to 52,000 tons annually. That is the detrimental effect that Senator O’Byrne suggests has resulted from the takeover of the plant by private enterprise. Production has been increased by about 400 per cent, in four years, yet Senator O’Byrne suggests that it was detrimental to Australia for the Government to get out of the plant in favour of private enterprise, with its knowhow and drive. This is a reflection of the mental constipation to which I have referred. The Labour Party is living in the past.
One of the great developments in Australia in recent times has been seen in the aluminium industry into which private capital has been introduced. As a result, I repeat, production has been increased by about 400 per cent, in four years. From the port of Bell Bay the increased production of aluminium ingots flows out in ships. Waterside workers are employed to load those ships. More and more people are employed. Senator O’Byrne ought to be aware of this position because he comes from Launceston, as I do. He has seen the great advantages of the introduction of private capital into the Bell Bay venture.
The Labour Party is terrified of overseas investment which creates the type of expansion seen in the aluminium industry, and the increased employment for waterside workers and other people which follows. Additional revenue is obtained by the port of Bell Bay because of the ships which come there to load the increased production we have experienced. Yet Senator O’Byrne, a Tasmanian, says this is wrong. What nonsense! This is the outlook of the Australian Labour Party on the development of Australia. It explains why I say the Labour Party is living in the past. Its whole outlook and upbringing is about 50 years behind the times. This is why the young people of Australia will not have a bar of the Labour Party. They know it is living in the past.
Senator Aylett, another Tasmanian, is attempting to interject. When he lived in Tasmania - some years ago - he knew something about that State. He knew something about the west coast of Tasmania. Senator O’Byrne says that we sold out the aluminium industry to private enterprise. I shall now tell him about the iron ore industry on the west coast of Tasmania, which the Tasmanian Labour Government has given wholly and solely to a JapaneseAmerican combination.
– But the Tasmanian Government kept its interest in Bell Bay. You could not take that away.
– Senator O’Byrne cannot answer as to the iron ore industry. He used the expression “ sold out “. The Tasmanian Labour Government has sold out the iron ore industry in Tasmania to Japanese and American interests. Good luck to them, if they develop the industry for the benefit of Tasmania. Senator Aylett used to know something about Tasmania until he went to live on the Gold Coast. .Good luck to the foreign interests if they develop the iron ore industry in Tasmania for the benefit of Tasmanians.
For the benefit of Senator McKenna, who occasionally visits Tasmania to see us, I have cited these instances of the benefits gained from the capital inflow into Tasmania. They are down to earth, practical illustrations of the results obtained. If Senator O’Byrne wishes to return to Tasmania and debate this matter with me on the public platform, I shall go with him to Bell Bay or to Queenstown to do so at any time he wishes.
– I will quote to the honorable senator the Leader of the Country Party, Mr. McEwen.
– The honorable senator can quote whomever he wishes. If the introduction of overseas capital, wherever it comes from, is for the benefit of Tasmania, I am for it. Senator O’Byrne is at variance with the Labour Premier of Tasmania who has brought about the sale of the iron ore industry there. I turn now to deal with one or two other matters. I was interested in a point raised by Senator Willesee. He uttered a couple of little sentences which I though were significant. He said, as reported in yesterday’s “ Hansard “ -
If we look back over the years we see the thrilling expansion that they have made. In 1944 it was not possible to visualise that West Germany or Japan would recover so quickly or become so important in world affairs.
Then I rudely interjected and asked -
Where did they get their capital?
Senator Willesee replied ;
I think the honorable senator is agreeing with me that their capital originally came from America.
That puts the whole thing in perspective.
– They will own the lot in the end.
– That remark is another example of the mentality I was talking about earlier. When Australia was founded, the United States of America was a country of 4 million people. Because it was not afraid and terrified, as is the Australian Labour Party, to borrow capital overseas it has become a country of 190 million people. It is one of the greatest countries in the world. It was prepared to take risks, just as we in Australia are. We as a Government encourage people to take risks, and we believe that people who take risks should be able to retain some of the rewards that are won.
Senator Willesee spoke about the development of Japan and West Germany. He admitted that the development of those two countries was achieved with capital borrowed from the United States. A great deal of the tremendous amount of development that has occurred in Australia in the last 15 years has stemmed from the fact that the Australian people have been prepared to take risks. We have encouraged people to come to this country with knowhow and techniques and to develop industry, to the great benefit of Australian working men. Our workmen enjoy immeasurably better jobs and better paid jobs as a result of the development that has been achieved. We have been able to increase the Australian population by 100.000 people a year as a result of the investment of capital and the development of great secondary industries. The Australian Labour Party wishes that we had not achieved this result. Senator McKenna has been moaning about the inflow of capital since 1956 - a period of nearly 10 years. If he continues to do so for long enough, he may be right. If he does so for the next 25 years - I am sure he will be in opposition for that time - he may be right in the end. But if he is right in 25 years time, then we will have been right for 35 years. Let us make no mistake about the fact that what we have done has been to the great benefit of the people of Australia.
– Is the Minister happy?
– I am. I have been saying one or two things about Senator McKenna. Senator Kennelly had a great beef about the development of overseas industry in Australia. I though it would not be out of place to remind him that the Australian Labour Party, to its credit, induced the General Motors organisation to come to Australia. But now that organisation has been successful, the Labour Party wants to rake everything off it. It does not worry about the people who have come here and have not been successful; it hates the people who have been successful. Labour Party members hate the people who have developed their industries and who have employed thousands and thousands of Australians. Our Labour friends hate those people because they have been successful and have made profits. Oh, how they hate the profit motive! How they hate the capitalist system. How they like to ally themselves with those who do not like the capitalist system but would destroy it - the Communists. How they like to ally themselves in thought with such people. Is there any member of the Labour Party who will rise and say that the late Mr. Chifley did not encourage the General Motors organisation to come to Australia?
– And guaranteed their account.
– Yes, and guaranteed their account, bless your heart. But once an organisation has become successful, how the Labour Party hates it. What have General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. and other organisations done for Australia? They have produced wealth.
– What is America doing for Australia now?
– What about the Johnson letters?
– Don’t they hate the truth. By Jove, when you touch them with the truth they hate it. Senator Cant asks: “ What about the Johnson letters?” Let me tell him something about the export income of the General Motor-Holden’s organisation. It has been reported that Mr. Hegland predicts record sales of Holden vehicles this year. He predicts that Holden exports will top last year’s peak of 13,693 vehicles. Last year this organisation exported 13,693 vehicles and earned income overseas. Mr. Hegland predicts that he will top that figure this year by 2,000 vehicles. That is the type of American I like to see in Australia. This is the type of industry I like to see in Australia. It is giving to Australian workmen well paid jobs which the Australian Labour Party would deny them. The Labour Party would like to take over the industry and socialise it. Labour would like to place it under government ownership, with the result that those who worked in the industry would never receive the benefits that they get from private enterprise.
– The Minister has 10 minutes left. Let him tell us about the Johnson letters.
– Tell us why this debate was introduced?
– I have been dealing with some of the matters that have been raised by honorable senators opposite. There is one other matter that I must refer to, because the figures quoted obviously were wrong. Obviously Senator Kennelly did not know what he was talking about. He referred to the inflow of private investment to Australia and to dividends remitted overseas and said that in the three years ended in June 1964 we had sent overseas £22.8 million more than we had earned. I am indebted to the Department of the Treasury for certain figures I have before me. They are not my own. Senator Kennelly’s calculations should have shown that dividends remitted overseas amounted to £205.1 million and that the inflow of new money after deducting reinvested profits amounted to £432.9 million, a net gain in foreign exchange of £227.8 million - not an outflow of £22.8 million. I thought 1 should point out that there was an error of a couple of hundred million pounds which is coming our way instead of going the other way. I am sure that the honorable senator will appreciate that that is the position.
Senator Kennelly referred also to the steps that Canada has taken. They were dealt with in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of 28th April. Canada proposed to raise its own capital, but Canada is in a vastly different position from that of Australia.
– I agree with the honorable senator on that point.
– I would not expect the honorable senator to understand, but if he listens 1 shall try to explain the position. If he is a good boy and sits quietly, perhaps the facts will permeate his mind. As a result of the Ottawa Agreement, Empire preference was established. A great deal of American industry went across the border into Canada to gain access to the Empire markets. The production was then Canadian based. That, of course, led to a far greater inflow of capital into Canada than ever there has been into Australia. As the Treasurer pointed out, at the present time only about 2 per cent, of our gross national product is payable overseas from the investment that has come here. Canada’s position is entirely different from our position. The inflow of capital into Canada to secure the preference at that stage was very great.
– Tell us what Mr. McEwen said.
– This is not Gold Coast philosophy; this is sound common sense. If the honorable senator had studied the history of the matter and knew what it meant, he would realise that the Ottawa Agreement was built around Empire preference. This position has been brought about as a result of the action that was taken by the United States of America. It is a step which is driving Canada somewhat into isolation. We may be forced into the same position. In case honorable senators have not read the letter which the Prime Minister sent to President Johnson, I shall refer to one passage in it. He said -
This is not to say that we would oppose the issue by United States investors of some equity capital in their subsidiaries here to finance new investment in this country; indeed it would accord with an attitude we have frequently expressed . . .
On the other hand, however, we would be troubled and embarrassed if United States investors were to begin repatriating capital, substantially increasing the proportion of profits remitted or adding largely to their fixed interest borrowings or other forms of capital raising in Australia which gave Australian investors no equity share in the businesses in question. Developments such as these could very well force upon us the need to reconsider the policies we have hitherto followed in these areas.
The Prime Minister pointed out to the United States that it may, in fact, drive us into a sphere of isolation if it pursues the policies which it is following at the present time.
– Too many dollars.
– The honorable senator may know something about too many dollars, but I would have thought that the Australian Labour Party was very averse to having too many dollars invested in Australia. For my part, we cannot have enough. That is the difference.
– Tell us what the President said.
– A copy of the letter which was sent by the President has been made available to the honorable senator. He can study it himself. No doubt it would be a very profitable exercise for him. I want to refer to what Senator Kennelly said about, the Treasurer’s mission to the United States. He instanced it in the very narrowest sense as crawling cap in hand. That was a pretty miserable type of criticism to offer. The Treasurer has gone to put Australia’s point of view to the United States, to which we are allied and which is one of our great friends.
I know that the Labour Party loves the blunderbuss attitude; I know that it loves controls and to force everybody into a pattern. That is its economic outlook when dealing with matters affecting Australia. The Labour Party loves to force everybody to adopt this blunderbuss attitude. But it is a much more intelligent approach to go to your friends, put the point of view that Australia holds very dearly and let them know what it means to us as a nation. Having discussed the matter in a man to man way across the table, at least you are sure that the United States of America knows Australia’s point of view. That is a much more mature and a much more sensible approach than to use the blunderbuss tactics that have been suggested by the Opposition. It suggests that we should adopt some attitude of force; that we should take some economic steps and introduce import controls; and that we should return to the position where bureaucracy says what are the necessities in this country and what are the luxuries. As a Government, we have always stood for the greatest possible freedom in international trade. It is here that I disagree with the United States of America.
– Oh, no!
– Yes, I do. The members of the Opposition prefer to sit back and snipe at the United States all the time. They will not face the Americans in a man to man way and say: “This is where we disagree with you.” The Opposition hates the United States of America and has always hated it. It hates everything the Americans do.
– What did you do in 1942?
– The Labour Party would never have allowed the Americans on to the west coast of Australia. It hates our great allies. As soon as I mention the United States of America honorable senators opposite get upset. lt is a much more sensible approach to go to the United States and point out to the Americans what they are doing to this great nation of Australia. They have imposed a duty on raw wool. They are the only great nation in the world that imposes a duty on wool, which is the most important Australian product. They have placed a 25.5 cents .duty on it. We can ask the Americans to have a look at the position. In fact, they have damaged their own wool industry by this action. The quality of their wool declined as soon as they placed a duty on Australian wool. Do not honorable senators opposite think that it is a wise move to go to them and say as the Treasurer said at a symposium in the United States: “ We have not access to your markets in lead and zinc.” Is it not a proper, man to man attitude, as distinct from a blunderbuss, stupid, unintelligent attitude such as the Opposition adopts, to say to the Americans: “ You made a meat agreement with us and we believed you made it in good faith, but 28 States of the United States of America have taken steps to see that what you have done federally is undone at the State level by forcing imported meat to be so labelled as to be to the detriment of the sale in those States of Australian meat?” Is not this sensible and mature?
Is not this the proper way to tackle the position, and not the silly, blunderbuss way of import restrictions? We are not yet in difficulties. We only have a credit balance of £740 million overseas. We only have a second line at call of £250 million. We have about £1,000 million sterling at call overseas in case we ever get into difficulties. Of course, the amount is running down; nobody denies that. But this is no time for panic action. This is a time to look at the matter in a sensible, mature way, to talk to our friends, to put our case to them and to say: “ Will you have another look at this? “ It is not crawling, cap in hand, as Senator Kennelly said, for the Treasurer to go overseas, face the Americans man to man and put our case to them. I believe it will have good results.
– Please give me a penny, Sir.
– Senator Cavanagh thinks that it is infra dig, that it is crawling, for the Treasurer of this great Commonwealth to say to the United States of America: “ These are the steps that you have taken which we think damage Australia “.
– Is his cap in his hand or on his head?
– That is all right. Nobody squealed louder to the Americans when we thought we were going to be invaded than did representatives of the Labour Party in the last war. Bless their hearts. Were they pleased to see the Americans? Did they welcome them? Did they send S.O.S’s to the Americans to send their conscripted troops over here to defend Australia? Representatives of the Labour Party were pleased to squeal to the Americans then even though at that stage the Labour
Prime Minister of the country was wise enough to exclude some people from security areas in Australia, which we have not done.
– The honorable senator opposed them in this chamber.
– They sound a little disgruntled when told the truth, do they not?
– It is amazing. These points were raised by the Opposition and I thought it was time to put the matter into perspective. Honorable senators opposite have had a great time standing up over there and making all these accusations and criticisms. I thought it was just as well that somebody should answer them. There are one or two other matters upon which I want to speak before I sit down. They would like me to sit down now but I am not going to sit down yet. I think that I have given pretty good examples of the great cleavage that exists in the Labour Party.
– The honorable senator is the only one that thinks so.
– I know that it exists in the Labour Party. We had to listen to Senator Kennelly letting off a bit of steam. The Labour Party would not allow him to let it off in Hobart. He was taken there but he was told: “You must not talk.” This is the great democratic Labour Party. It would not allow the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber to put his point of view to the Hobart conference. I know that there is a cleavage over the other side, but let me state that there is a great cleavage between, on the one hand, the Liberal and Country parties and, on the other hand, the Labour Party. I have given an indication of the great cleavage that exists. Here we have an Opposition that is terrified of borrowing money overseas. It has no faith in the development of Australia. It has no faith in the ability of the Australian people to pay back borrowings, as we have done for generations. It has not the slightest faith in the ability of the people of Australia to continue the development of Australia. Since we turfed the Socialists out in 1949 there has ensued the greatest 15 years period of development that Australia has ever seen. This has been achieved by the system of free enterprise, by the profit making and all the other things that the Socialist Opposition hates and which it would destroy tomorrow if it got into Government. Honorable senators opposite have been in opposition for 15 years and they are getting used to it, but if they got into office they would destroy these things. This is the great cleavage between the outlook of the Liberal and Country parties and the outlook of the Labour Party.
– Keep talking, and soon honorable senators opposite will be over on this side of the chamber.
– I do not think that we will be over there in my lifetime, but if we ever get into opposition we will be a darned sight more effective Opposition than those fellows over there have been for 15 years, because they have been talking with about three voices. They have not even consolidated in opposition. Heaven knows what they would be doing in Government. They cannot agree amongst themselves in opposition, so they will never agree in government; but that will not be in my lifetime.
I have been astounded at the ideology that has been promulgated by the Opposition during the course of the debate, and which so closely follows the pattern of that of their bedfellows. They love all controls. That is why they would love to get over here. They would love to be in office so they could control industry and tell the people of Australia what they must do - so, as the great white fathers of the Commonwealth of Australia, they could order little Australians about. I do not think that they will get that opportunity. The ideology for which we stand and under which we and all the other free countries of the world operate, embraces increased development and increased international trade.
– Name a free country. We would like to hear about it. Is Vietnam a free country?
– The honorable senator finds it very difficult to get his eyes off Communist Russia and Communist China, but there are other countries. The United Kingdom, the great United States of America, Canada and the other free countries of the Western world are still democracies. I know that the honorable senator would love to alter this. I know that he would like to introduce his own system of democracy, which is control, but he will not get the chance for a long time. The Australian people are a wake-up to the Opposition. I abhor the pattern that may be developing in the world, the driving into isolation of the great free countries.
– What rot.
– lt is not rot. Here is the United Kingdom now restricting its exports. lt is restricting its income. Now the United States is taking action which may well drive the Western nations into isolation. Surely honorable senators recall the dreadful growth of isolationism between 1914 and 1939. This is the danger to the free world posed by the steps now being taken. The world will continue to develop, the peoples of the world will continue to be employed and their standard of living will continue to be raised only if there is a great expansion of international trade and if there is free access to the markets of all nations.
– Has the Government told President Johnson this?
– Of course honorable senators opposite would not have the Treasurer of this great country go to America. They would have him remain here to receive the insults that they would like to hurl at him.
– We would not need to send him to America.
– Do not worry, the Opposition will not have a Treasurer to send to America. The point I want to make to the Senate-
– We are broke.
– We are broke? Goodness, that is the expression that Senator McKenna used. He said “ We are bankrupt “. What nonsense. If we were bankrupt we would not be able to borrow as much overseas as we have been borrowing. We can take steps to overcome the present situation just as every other country has taken steps when it has been faced with a similar difficulty.
– I hope so.
– We will not act until we see that there is a dire necessity to do so because we believe that an increase in international trade is the best way to make employment available to the peoples of the world and to raise their standards of living.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 24th March (vide page 74), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Senate take note of the following paper -
Tertiary Education in Australia - Report of Committee - Ministerial Statement, 24th March 1965.
.- The Senate is debating a motion by the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) that the Senate take note of the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia. The presentation of this long awaited report and the Government’s statement of its approach to the major recommendations contained in it provide an opportunity for the Senate to examine what can only be called the crisis in Australia’s education system, especially at the university level, and to discuss the future of tertiary education, and primarily the extent to which the Government’s decisions on the so-called Martin report will assist in meeting the many and complex problems in our education system.
It is important to recognise at the outset that in dealing with education generally and with universities we are not dealing with machines or mere problems of statistics. We are dealing with problems relating to human beings - men and women, boys and girls. We should not speak of increases in expenditure on education in the same way as we speak about increases in production in industry and say that something has increased by 6 per cent, or 25 per cent, over a period of years. We are concerned with complex problems when we are dealing with the structure of the education system and the human beings whom that system is designed to assist.
Education is a subtle process. It consists in the maturing of the minds of young people so that, gradually, they develop skills to make them capable not only of earning a living in the vocation of their choosing but also of enjoying in their own way and according to their own inclinations, cultural and recreational activity, attaining their own standards of cultural achievement and, at the same time, learning to exercise judgment as citizens in a wide variety of private and public problems. So it is that when we come to consider what is done by governments and other institutions in the field of education, we are dealing with matters of some delicacy. But delicate as the human sub-structure may be, we cannot have education systems without institutions and without finance to oil the machine, to make the system work and to give it the opportunity to develop, to prosper and to serve the community and the individuals who are the objects of the education system.
It is with that kind of consideration in mind that we approach this extremely important report of the Martin Committee on tertiary education. That Committee was appointed in 1961. It consisted of a number of very distinguished citizens in the educational and public life of the community. It was authorised by its terms of reference to consider the pattern of tertiary education in relation to the needs and resources of Australia, and to make recommendations to the Australian Universities Commission on the future development of tertiary education. The first two volumes of its report were signed on 18th August 1964 and apparently became available to the Government within a matter of weeks after that. I sec the Minister shaking his head.
– It was a month after.
– At any rate, it was during the month of September. We waited until late in March not only for the decisions at which the Government had arrived upon the subject matter but also for a sight of the report itself. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in acknowledging in October last year that the Government had received the report, seemed to indicate that the third volume to come might be something which would delay the ultimate process of decision, but in the end it was plain that the Government had enough information in the first two volumes to make up its mind on the recommendations. Indeed, the Universities Commission itself, in the preface to the report, indicates that the recommendations in the two volumes may be acted on forthwith and that they contain an analysis of the present pattern of tertiary education in Australia, together with proposals for its future expansion and development, and the consequent financial implications.
I think it is important to say at the outset that the recommendations of the Committee have the support of the Universities Commission itself. That appears from the letter to the Minister accompanying the report.
I suggest that what has happened here has been somewhat unusual. The Government has presented to the Parliament at the same time both the report and recommendations of the Committee and its own decisions on the report. As though by some political sleight of hand, the Government has manage to convey the impression on this occasion that it has largely adopted the recommendations of the Martin Committee. The truth, of course, is that it has in large measure rejected the recommendations of the Martin Committee and has seen fit to adopt only in part the thinking and the specific proposals of that Committee. It is accordingly necessary, in outline at any rate, to distinguish between what the Committee recommended and what the Government is prepared to do about the recommendations.
Before dealing with the Opposition’s attitude to the report, I want to sketch briefly the main aspects of the Committee’s recommendations and the Government’s decisions in relation to them. To clear the air for the discussion which I am initiating on behalf of the Opposition, I think I ought to say at the outset that we propose to advance an amendment to the motion that the Senate take note of thepaper.
It might be convenient if I indicated to the Senate now the terms of that amendment. It will then be plain upon what basis we seek to amend the motion before the Senate. The amendment will indicate that there is a substantial difference of approach between the Government and the Opposition on this question. The amendment, which I move, is as follows -
That the following words be added to the Motion - but regrets
the Government’s rejection of the Martin Committee’s recommendations on scholarships, teacher education and scientific and social research,
the imprecision of the Committee and the Government in their outline of non-university tertiary institutions, and
the Government’s continuing refusal to establish a Ministry of Education and to hold a national inquiry into vocational, technical, secondary and primary education.’.”.
– What does “imprecision “ mean?
– I think the honorable senator knows what it means. It means lack of-
– I am not sure from what quarter I received that assistance but 1 am very grateful for it. That is my short reply to Senator Hannan. It means lack of clarity or precision or preciseness. I am not sure which word is strictly acceptable according to the dictionary but “ imprecision “ is the one the Opposition has chosen to adopt in its amendment.
I think it will be plain from the terms of the amendment that we are not wholly at one with the Martin Committee in its report. There are areas in which we feel that clarificaiton is needed and areas in which, in our view, the Committee’s approach fell short of what we think it ought to have recommended in the long term interests of tertiary education in Australia. But broadly speaking, we feel it was a constructive, comprehensive, reasonable document which came from the Martin Committee after many months of research and painstaking work. It would be wrong to let the opportunity pass without saying how valuable that report was and indicating appreciation of the work of the Committee and the very mature document that has come to the Parliament as a result of the research and work of the Committee.
Having said that, I emphasise that the main burden of the Opposition’s attack is against the Government which, as we see it, has failed to implement more than a portion of the recommendations of the Committee and has lost a golden opportunity which occurs rarely in national life to move with the times and accept fully the implications of Commonwealth responsibility in this field of tertiary education. Some of the matters on which the Government failed to act - and notably in the field of teacher education - represent in our view an omission amounting to supreme national folly because we believe it is almost criminal folly to attempt anything less than the possible in such an important field as education, whether it is at the. primary, secondary, technical or tertiary level.
But I shall come to these particular matters in due course. For the moment, I content myself with saying we join issue with the Government on its failure to act on so many of these recommendations, and its failure to measure up to the responsibility that governments have at this time.
The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Harold Wilson, made a notable speech a year or two ago in which he dealt with the whole challenge of the advance of science in our time. He pointed out that the decade and a half between 1960 and 1975 would see as much advance in the scientific and technological field as in the previous 250 years. In the same speech, Mr. Wilson stated that there are living and working today the equivalent of 97 per cent, as many scientists as have lived in the whole of the time since Pythagoras. I think Mr. Wilson obtained his statistics from one of the academies of science. I mention this only to indicate the fantastic rate of progress of scientific and technical achievement in the advanced countries of the world. When we come to contemplate the education system and whether what is done is relevant and necessary it has to be decided against that kind of background. What has to be measured is whether what is being done is going to do the job that has to be done. If it is not, the figures, whether they run into hundreds of thousands or millions, do not answer the fantastically difficult problems that are presented by a consideration of the future of tertiary education.
I come now to some of the specific recommendations of the Martin Committee which failed to find acceptance by the Government. What we are dealing with here are two sets of propositions side by side - first, what the Martin Committee recommended and, secondly, what the Government decided it would do as a matter of policy. First, in the field of scholarships, there are set out by the Minister in the paper supporting the Government’s recommendations, a number of categories in which assistance was recommended. Side by side with that is a statement of what the Government is going to do about it.
In the field of scholarships, the Government has slashed by rather more than half the proposals of the Martin Committee. For example, the Committee recommended that all full time university students who successfully complete their first year at the first attempt should receive Commonwealth scholarships. The Government’s answer was: “ No, but we will increase the total number of these later year awards as they are called by 250 to 1,530 as from 1966 and we will review that number “. In other words the Government has said that approximately two-thirds of those involved are now receiving scholarships and it is not prepared to move to the extent recommended by the Committee.
The Martin Committee recommended - and this was one of the major items in its report - that there should be new tertiary colleges or institutions attempting to bridge the gap between the secondary system and the university system. Those students who were not good enough to get a university degree but nevertheless wanted some tertiary education of a non-vocational kind after passing through the secondary school system would come into this category.
The Committee recommended 2,500 new scholarships for students pursuing full time tertiary courses at technical colleges and recommended the same benefits as Commonwealth university scholarships except that each would carry an immediate allowance of £J00 but would not be subject to a means test. The Government’s answer to this recommendation was to say: “No. We will award 1,000 of these scholarships in 1966 and the benefits are to be the same as those for Commonwealth university scholarships but with no additional allowance.” In other words, the number was cut by 60 per cent, and the recommended additional allowance was eliminated in the Government’s decision on the report. The Government dealt with a number of other items. I do not propose to detail them but they relate to book allowances, differences between full time and part time students and so on. When dealing with scholarships I am excluding, for the moment, the teachers’ scholarships because in my treatment of them they are under a separate heading covering the general problem of teacher education. But, broadly speaking, the Government’s response to the Committee’s recommendations was disappointing on the aspect of scholarships. The Opposition believes thai the proposals of the Martin Committee on this aspect were modesty itself. The Committee’s proposals were minimal. They were by no means ambitious. They were practical and concrete proposals, but were on the conservative side if anything. What the Government did was to take the recommendations and slash them by about 60 per cent.
The second major aspect of the Committee’s recommendations was the development of a new concept of tertiary education. There is a need, according to the Committee, for a new type of institution which will in some way bridge the gap between the secondary school and the university. The Committee put forward a series of proposals for institutes of colleges to which would be affiliated, so to speak, technical colleges, these new-look liberal arts colleges, or whatever you desire to call them, and other courses which might be developed over the years of a tertiary character but not reaching university J eve]. The proposal was that these should be created in institutes in each State; that there should be, additionally, a Commonwealth institute of colleges situated in Canberra to look after the needs of Territories including the Australian Capital Teritory. It was proposed that these institutes should channel the various requests for assistance from the non-university tertiary institutions and should act as the vehicle through which finance is distributed to the States. They would be the recipients in each State of the finance as it came from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth agreed to matching grants for these new tertiary institutions in the same way as for the universities. The Government has accepted the recommendation, or what it calls the “ reasoning “ of this proposal, but has, in effect, taken the teeth out of it by saying that it does not insist upon these institutes of colleges being formed at all; that these new tertiary institutions may be developed and encouragement given to them along the lines agreed upon, but any assistance would not be conditional on the institutes of colleges being formed in the various States, The recommendation for a Commonwealth institute of colleges was rejected.
I want to say something in a broad way about the policy of the Australian Labour Party relating to the Committee’s report. I do not want to anticipate the particular criticism of this, but I do want to indicate that this is a matter of substantial importance. We do not believe that the Committee’s proposals are sufficiently precise for us to form a final view upon them because although there is, no doubt, a good argument to be put up for what has come from the Committee, there are equally substantial arguments against it.
– Does the honorable senator expect the Government to have a final view on them?
– The Government has a final view on them but we say that that view is imprecise and we do not fully appreciate what it amounts to. The proof of the pudding here is going to be in the eating and in what kind of institutions there will be.
– The honorable senator is saying that the Martin report is imprecise.
– I am saying that the Martin report is imprecise, too, and 1 propose to deal with that matter a little later on.
The next aspect I want to deal wilh - and perhaps from many points of view it is the most serious omission in the whole of the Government’s thinking on the Martin report - is the complete rejection by the Government of the proposals relating to teacher training. Again and again in its report, the Committee stresses that the question of teacher training is fundamental. The Committee’s recommendations on this aspect arc documented and substantially detailed. lt recommends autonomous training institutes in the various States; a series of scholarships for teachers along the lines of Commonwealth scholarships for secondary schools and universities; the closest liaison between the Commonwealth and the States in setting up teacher institutions and the development of higher standards of teacher training. It is the view of the Opposition that the failure of the Government to act on this recommendation is an act of monumental irresponsibility because, first, it puts in jeopardy all of the rest of the Committee’s recommendations on which the Government has seen fit to act; secondly, it throws doubt on the sincerity of the Government’s intention to do something which will be, in the long run, of fundamental value in this field of tertiary education. I will return to the recommendations about teacher training but at this stage, in summarising what has been done and what has not been done, we say that this is the heart of the Martin Committee’s report and the heart has been cut out.
– Oh no!
– lt has been cut out. If the honorable senator read what the educationists are saying about it-
– I have read what they say.
– I challenge the honorable senator to point to any significant educationist of standing who approves of the Government’s decision not to enter this field of teacher training. In Tasmania, the Minister for Education, speaking yesterday. I think, at a meeting of Directors of Education of all States, said that this action of the Government was a fundamental omission. He said that this aspect of the report was critical to the whole question and he virtually called upon the States not to accept this decision by the Commonwealth Government but to fight it.
– The honorable senator would not call the Minister for Education in Tasmania an educator. He is a politician.
– Well, he is a member of the Australian Education Council comprising the six State ministers responsible for education. This Council has produced an extremely important document on the needs of Australian education to which, as I am sure Senator Gorton is aware, the Martin Committee itself draws attention and regards as an extremely responsible document.
– I only want to establish that he is not an educator.
– No, he is not a professional educator. He is the Minister for Education. However, it is perfectly clear that professional educators agree with that view. The Commonwealth Government may have its own reasons for being unwilling to accept the implications of the recommendations concerning teacher training. But that has not always been the view of the present Government.
– Will the honorable senator explain what he means by “ teacher training “?
– Yes, the training of teachers.
– But in what sphere, primary, secondary or tertiary?
– In primary, secondary and technical education; all spheres, but particularly in primary and secondary education.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that the Commonwealth should take over the whole field of education?
– No, nor did the Martin Committee.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the Martin Committee?
– I do not disagree with it on this.I have indicated the respects in which we are not happy about the Martin Committee’s recommendations, particularly in this ill-defined area between secondary, tertiary and university education - the newlook colleges. It may be that when there is clarification on these points some workable system will emerge, but I am not talking about that at all. I am talking about a separate part of the report about which we say that if ever a report had a heart in it this section is the heart of the Martin report.
– It is that comment with which I disagree.
– I am accepting this part of the Martin Committee’s report and suggesting that the Government should implement it. I am calling in aid the educationists of this country. I have mentioned the statement by the Minister for Education in Tasmania as one example. The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Renshaw, expressed his disappointment at the Commonwealth Government’s failure to act on the teacher training aspect of the Martin Committee’s report. Some of the other States - I am not dealing with this in any State or parochial way - have been disconcerted by the Commonwealth’s rejection of this part of the report.
In respect of other aspects of the report the Commonwealth is committed to matching grants with the States in various fields of tertiary education - the new-look colleges, scholarships and so on. The States will not get anything unless they make their matching grants and they will have to pour into the matching grants resources which they might otherwise have been spending on secondary education or on other aspects of education. They will not be able to do anything about teacher training, because they will be flat out co-operating with the Com monwealth and getting the necessary finance in those areas in which the Commonwealth has agreed to move. I can see Senator Morris shaking his head, and I dare say that he will have opportunity to speak later, but I have limited time, as we all have, and it is important that I say what I want to say on behalf of the Opposition.
– I deliberately did not interupt the honorable senator.
– I do not want to be discourteous about it but I do not propose to take the debate with you further at this stage. I have to develop the points which I want to put on behalf of the Opposition. I would like now to summarise the Opposition’s view by inviting the Senate to follow me in a statement issued today by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party on the Martin Committee’s report. This statement of party policy seems to me to summarise the essence of the controversy that exists between the Government and the Opposition on this question. It reads -
The Martin Report is a cautious and conservative assessment of Australian educational needs. Its recommendations are not even the minimum necessary to meet the demands of the immediate future. It is astonishing that it goes too far for the Government. The Parliamentary Labour Party affirms the following policy points arising from the Martin Report on Tertiary Education -
It endorses the assertion in the report of a clear need for an inquiry into all other levels of education. Tertiary education should not be considered in isolation and this fact is responsible for some weaknesses in the report. This inquiry would best be conducted continuously by a ministry and department. Failing the adoption of the suggestion for a ministry and department the needs of all other sections should be studied by a committee.
It endorses the recommendations of the Martin Report on teacher education, especially the recommendations for the establishment of autonomous teacher training authorities and the extension of Commonwealth scholarships to student teachers.
While giving general support to the proposals of the Martin Report on technological education the party affirms the need for raising the standards of general education in technical institutions. It also calls for a change in the attitude of the employers towards schemes for day release and part time courses. Students should be free to spend more of their time studying so as to raise standards of achievement in the national interest. In a world of rapidly changing technology the skilled worker needs flexibility beyond the requirements of an immediate employer.
The party considers the Martin Report lacks charity in its recommendations for nonvocational tertiary colleges. The Party fears that four critical needs may be neglected if a cheap and inadequate form of tertiary education is provided. These needs are (a) the establishment of Liberal Arts Colleges of high standard capable of awarding internationally recognised degrees but not proceeding to postgraduate research. If the Martin Report envisages anything less than this it is reactionary and inadequate. In any event it needs clarification, as does the Prime Minister’s reference to it. (b) The establishment of a nationally supported system of Adult Education or further education (in the British sense), (c) A radical improvement in secondary education. There is a danger that the establishment of low standard tertiary education may be accepted as a substitute for the great improvements vitally necessary in secondary education. More and better trained teachers and better facilities are acutely necessary at the secondary level, (d) At the end of secondary education matriculated students should be able to proceed to degree courses.
The Martin Committee envisages the establishment of an Australian Tertiary Education Commission. Instead, we would propose a Ministry of Education and a Department to undertake continuous investigation and research of all Australian educational needs and to guide national action to meet them.
There should be more active national support for research, including the field of the social sciences. The recommendation of the Report that there be established a National Science Foundation should be adopted.
The Labour Party asserts the need for free university education. In 1962 only £4.5 million out of £50 million university income came from fees. That 9 per cent, is declining. The abolition of university fees should be national policy. When that stage is reached, scholarships would be living allowances.
That is the statement made by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party as the result of its consideration of the Martin Committee’s report and of the Government’s decisions on that report. Of course, the Government has made it plain that where it has not indicated specifically any decision, it is not to be taken as having a concluded view on the particular item in the report of the Committee. Apparently the Government rests its case for that limited view of what it ought to do in this situation upon the argument that these are, constitutionally, matters for the States and that so many of them depend upon particular matters of State interest and upon State institutions.
– Which is correct.
– It is true, as Senator Morris says, that many problems of education can best be dealt with in the sense that the operations can be best carried out by the States. In the field of finance it is plain for all the world to see that if Commonwealth finance is not forthcoming, nothing can be done. Without the fullest appreciation by the Commonwealth of its responsibilities in this field, as in any other field, the work will inevitably be frustrated by lack of funds. This is the crying heart of the crisis in education today - the desperate need for funds to carry out the work.
I shall give an illustration for honorable senators. The Committee on Tertiary Education gives some very startling figures, which almost make one’s hair stand on end, in relation to the projection of potential university enrolments over the next decade. These figures are given at page 15, chapter 2, volume 1 of the report. The Committee has estimated that in 1963 117,900 students were undertaking courses at tertiary level; 69,000 of those students were enrolled at universities, 14,600 at teachers colleges and 34,300 at technical and other institutions.
The Committee has estimated the numbers expected to be undertaking tertiary education in the years 1967, 1971 and 1975, based on projections of pupils in the final two years of secondary schooling. For Australia as a whole the estimated enrolments for 1967 are 158,900; for 1971, 213,100; and for 1975, 248,000. It is the Committee’s recommendation that tertiary education in Australia should be expanded to provide places for 248,000 students in 1975. Its recommendations are based upon the assumption that if all its proposals are accepted, including proposals for new-look tertiary institutions, of the 248,000 students to be enrolled in 1975, 125,000 will be at universities, 96,000 at technical and other institutions and 27,000 at teachers colleges. I said before that these statistics would make one’s hair stand on end.
– That would be a hard job for us.
– Senator Prowse and 1 have little hair to stand on end. They are startling figures, but they need to be appreciated in order to fulfil the commitments. We all have to stand up to the implications of the figures. I concede it would be a nightmare both for Governments and educators to contrive and finance a system to cope with this inevitable and enormous expansion. In this situation one looks for national leadership of a very high order. It is a national problem of very large dimension which requires almost a touch of genius to solve. That touch of genius is singularly absent from the Government’s consideration of the report. The Government’s attitude towards the report is essentially negative and pedestrian. It has reduced a series of quite modest proposals to something substantially less than modest. In our view the Government’s scheme is destined to prove inadequate before it is even launched. The Government has refused to face facts which were recognised by the present Prime Minister 20 years ago. In a now celebrated speech, the Prime Minister when Leader of the Opposition moved in the House of Representatives a resolution in which he called for the widest participation of the Commonwealth in the field of postwar education. I shall quote from “Hansard” of 26th July 1945. He said-
In particular, attention needs to be directed to increased facilities for secondary, rural, technical and university training, special adult education -
J pause to emphasise these words - and the problem of the qualifications, status and remuneration of teachers;
One can only applaud the direct statement of intention by the Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition in 1945. One would have wished that the reality would have coincided with the expectation. Mr. Menzies, as he was then, said -
Unless the Commonwealth, no matter which political party is in power, can aid the States financially, only limited objectives will be sought. ] have profound distrust of limited objectives on the great and vital problem which we are now considering. If adequate resources are not available to the States, they will cut their coats according to their cloth, and that should not be allowed to happen. As a nation we cannot afford to do anything less than our best in a campaign, the result of which will be to determine whether, in the new world, we are to be a nation of strong, self-reliant, trained and civilised people, or whether we are to be content with second rate standards and more devoted to the pursuits of material advantage than to the achievement of a genuine humane community spirit.
What has happened in the meantime to that broad outlook? Has it changed because the Prime Minister is now the Leader of the Government and not the Leader of the Opposition? One would hesitate to think that. The mighty problems of education have grown in complexity since the Prime Minister was speaking about them in 1945. Today we are entitled to expect a leader to respond to the extraordinary challenge that Australia faces. It is not to be found in the Government’s approach to the Martin report.
I shall deal now with one or two matters in the policy statement of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party which I read a few minutes ago. We have stressed, and the Martin Committee stressed, the interdependence of the various levels of education and how impossible it is to separate into watertight compartments teriary, technical, secondary and primary education. The Australian Labour Party has for years in this Parliament called for a full national inquiry into all levels of education. We do not believe it is possible, any more than the Martin Committee believed it is possible, simply to deal with tertiary education as though it were a subject entirely separate from technical and secondary education. The whole range of educational institutions and educational problems in the community has to be assessed at some time. This still has not been done except in the field of tertiary education. Until it is done, we cannot speak with final confidence about the in between range of institutions and the function that they are to perform.
One of the dangers to which we draw attention in our policy statement is that concentration upon the new look tertiary institutions that will ultimately produce graduates or diplomates at standards lower than those of the universities may well distract attention from the crying problem of secondary education. Not every community in the world approaches these problems in the same way. Sweden, for example, regards the last two years of secondary education as being the most critical in the education of its youth. Swedish authorities regard that particular area as the one that is most productive of results. Having developed a splendid system of secondary education, they have not found any need for the intermediate type of tertiary institution. This is not to be taken as a final word of wisdom on that approach; it is merely an indication that we in Australia must know nationally what we are trying to achieve. We must know what are the various aspects of the problem before we can decide affirmatively what “is to be done in any one area. It is the opinion of the Opposition that there is a lack of clarity about this inbetween range of institutions.
– Would the honorable senator say imprecise?
– I have used that word in the amendment I have moved.
The next aspect of the matter with which I want to deal is the problem of research. Inevitably I must hurry over a number of subject matters, but they all are important and all arise out of the recommendations of the Martin Committee. The Committee has recommended that the Government consider the establishment of a national science foundation to deal with the whole problem of research, including research in the field of social science. This is not a new suggestion. It has come from the Academy of Science in the past, ft has been put forward by a number of people in the academic world and in the field of research. It has been supported by the Australian Labour Party.
There is no real excuse for the Government’s failure to act upon this recommendation. Instead of adopting the recommendation, the Government has agreed to the appointment of a committee to investigate the dimensions of the problem and to make some recommendations to the Government. Again, the Government has played down the full impact of the Martin Committee’s report, lt is setting the solution at a lower level than that recommended in the Committee’s report. This attitude permeates the whole approach of the Government to the report. The Government is always doing something less than was recommended. In one or two cases, the Government has turned its back upon a constellation of recommendations, as in the case of teacher training. Time and time again it has chopped down or whittled away the recommendations of the Committee. If the Government had said “ We will accept the implications of the Committee’s report and will implement its recommendations “, the Opposition, although it might well have been unhappy about some aspects of the matter, would have recognised that approach as being a proper attempt to cope with the problem and as measuring up to the challenge contained in the Committee’s report. In those circumstances, we could hardly have complained if some aspects of the Government’s action did not suit our thinking. We might have wanted different approaches to be made in certain cases, but we would have had less justification for quarrelling with the Government if it had grasped the nettle and had said: “ This is what we want; this is what Australia wants “. Only by thinking big can the Government think relevantly about the future of education in Australia.
The Government’s approach to the problem is inadequate. The Committee’s recommendations rested upon a three-sided approach which dealt with universities, nonuniversity tertiary institutions under the institutes of colleges, and autonomous teacher training colleges and institutions separate from the Department of Education in each State. At the top of the pyramid, the Committee recommended the establishment of an Australian Tertiary Education Commission which would act as an expanded universities commission in dealing with Commonwealth responsibilities in tertiary education. The Government said: “ We will not have an Australian Tertiary Education Commission. We will have a committee that will advise us.” The Government has continually failed to think big; it has therefore failed to do its job properly. The Labour Party says: “ If we were making the decisions, we ourselves would not have a commission for tertiary education. We would prefer to have a Ministry of Education and a Department of Education to undertake continuous investigation and research of all Australian education needs and to guide national action to meet those needs.” We would not be entirely happy about a Tertiary Education Commission, because we would regard it as falling short of what really is needed - a Ministry of Education. We have pleaded for that at election after election since about 1958. But we certainly would have welcomed an attempt by the Government to implement the recommendations of the Martin Committee by setting up a tertiary education commission.
I wish to refer now to the matter that is mentioned in the seventh point of the
Labour Party’s policy statement which I have read to the Senate. We believe that in principle the Government should acknowledge the need for free university education. When we examine the mathematics of the matter, it appears that that objective would not be as difficult to attain as it would seem. Of the sum of £50 million which the universities received by way of income in 1962 only £4i million, or 9 per cent., came from students’ fees. Of that sum of £4) million, the amount of £H million came from scholarships which the students had received from the Commonwealth. In other words, if the Commonwealth had paid the universities direct instead of the money having come through the students, the relevant amount would have been reduced to £3 million. In a discussion of this kind I do not want to quibble about £1 million or £2 million. Naturally, governments have a responsibility to watch such things, but I do not wish to argue that out at this stage. What I am saying is this: Free university education ought to be adopted as a matter of principle, because there exists the very serious problem of socio-economic class to which the Martin Committee drew attention at page 43 of volume 1 of its report. It stated -
If we extend those statistics from universities to tertiary institutions generally, we find, as the report does in table 43 -
As before, 33 per cent, of the fathers of male school leavers were in the classification of unskilled or semi-skilled. Of their school leaver sons 4.4 per cent, entered tertiary institutions, where they represented 13 per cent, of all male entrants to such institutions. Of these sons, 30 per cent, entered technical colleges, 36 per cent, entered teachers’ colleges and 24 per cent, entered universities.
As a contrast, only 2 per cent, of the fathers were classified as university professional.
– Is the honorable senator saying that the cause of this is financial?
– I am saying that a very large ingredient in it must be financial, but it is a complicated question of social attitudes and so on.
– It is an economic problem.
– Yes, it is economic, as Senator Tangney has said, and it must be economic. No other explanation would satisfy the inquirer because the disparity is so great. My point is this, and it is a short one: The recommendations of the Martin Committee, if they were adopted in full, would make no impact on this problem because it is too big. Any approach which looks to the future must come down on the side of saying: “These universities should be free. Our scholarships will take the form of living allowances. It will not be necessary to pay for fees.” Basically, the money that is involved is a very small number of millions of pounds.
Finally on the question of costs, the Committee at page 204 of its report indicated that the cost of implementing all the scholarship proposals, including teacher education, would not be prohibitive. It was estimated that the cost of the scholarships for universities, institutes of colleges and teachers colleges, so far as assistance to students and scholarships were concerned, would be of the order of £1 1 million by 1975 compared with £2.7 million in 1962. It is big money from one point of view, but it is small money when compared with what is demanded of this country and of the Government if it is to attempt to fulfil its responsibilities.
– Small on the results obtained.
– Yes. I conclude by saying that there are many aspects of this report and of the Government’s approach to it that we could consider in a critical way. There were some substantial misstatements in the Minister’s speech. For example, he said that the Committee recommended an upper limit of 10,000 students as the number to be admitted to any university. The Committee said nothing of the sort. The report contains some observations about disadvantages that occur when universities have more than 10,000 students or fewer than 4,000. The Minister said the Committee recommended that there should be no new universities established for at least a decade. In the Minister’s speech it is put that the Committee made firm recommendations to that effect. It did nothing of the sort. What the Committee said was that provided all its recommendations were adopted, there should be no need for further institutions until at least 1975.
When we reach the position that teacher training is out altogether, that the recommendations for assistance by way of scholarships are slashed by 60 per cent, or more and that the proposals for the interim type colleges seem to be vague because, to some extent, the Government has drawn the teeth out of these proposed institutions, we realise that it is quite wrong to say that the Committee recommended that there should be no new universities until 1975. That recommendation was conditional, and the condition has not been fulfilled.
On behalf of the Opposition, while paying full tribute to the Martin Committee and to the splendid report that it has produced, which is admirable in so many ways, and while accepting, so far as they go, the proposals of the Government with regard to the Committee’s recommendations, I express keen disappointment that a golden opportunity has been lost by the Government to put Australia on the high road to educational maturity in the future.
– I thank the Government for the opportunity to acknowledge in the Senate the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia to the Australian Universities Commission. I listened quite intently to the very long speech that was made by Senator Cohen. I listened also to the recommendations which he put forward to the Senate on behalf of the parliamentary section of the Australian Labour Party. I have read the amendment to the motion by the Minister, which has been circulated. I intend to oppose the amendment. I take it that Government supporters in the Senate will do likewise.
Dealing first with the report, it may interest honorable senators to know that this report comprises 413 foolscap sized pages which are closely packed with facts, figures, findings and recommendations. It is a momentous document. I do not think it deserves the rather unkind reference that Senator Cohen made to quite a portion of it. He called it a reactionary report. In my opinion, it is a stimulating and original type of report. The action on the report which has been promised by the Government is, as it were, an instalment. There has to be action taken by the State Governments. Up to the present time I have not seen any specific action taken by the respective State Governments in the matter.
I think that the history of the report is worth recounting to the Senate. On 27th August 1961 the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced the composition of the Committee which the Government established to inquire into the future of tertiary education. It was established as a subcommittee, as it were, of the Australian Universities Commission. All the members of the Commission were appointed to the Committee, and some other distinguished people were subsequently appointed. When the Prime Minister made his opening statement concerning the Martin Committee, he recalled that the recommendations of the Murray Committee, and more recently of the Australian Universities Commission, had been accepted by the Commonwealth Government and by the State Governments, with the result that there had been vastly increased grants for universities since 1958. Putting the Martin Committee in proper perspective, its appointment was a result of the great impetus which tertiary education received following the report of the Murray Committee in 1958. The Prime Minister said that the Committee would make a wide ranging investigation and it was hoped that it would be able to complete its work and submit its recommendations before the end of the 1961-63 triennium, that is, before the end of 1963. But, alas, this was not possible. This was a comprehensive matter, which involved the interrogation of 300 or 400 separate institutions and people. It involved also a visit to the United States of America by some members of the Committee. So we have had to wait a little longer than was first expected for the report of the Committee.
It goes to the credit of the Committee that it made such a comprehensive report, thoroughly studded with tables, diagrams and even illustrations of aspects into which it inquired. When the Prime Minister announced the appointment of the Committee, he expressed the hope that it would have the benefit of advice and co-operation from the Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee, the university staffs, the Commonwealth Office of Education and the State Departments of Education. From my reading of this report, I get the impression that great help was received from all those instrumentalities. I was particularly interested to note the great work done by certain departments of the Australian
National University for which this Parliament has assumed such a great responsibility. I believe that this report will circulate throughout the world amongst scholars and educationists and will be received with great acclaim in such circles. One reason is that the cream of Australian thinkers was brought in to form the Committee. There were university administrators, academics from all of the disciplines, men of the land, manufacturers, and commercial figures. This was a real galaxy of talent and I think that this Parliament should give great praise to the Committee for the quality of the work that it did.
I should like to congratulate the Government upon seizing the nettle and saying, after a careful consideration of the report, what it intended to do, because after all so many reports come to the Parliament, are debated and redebated after debates have been adjourned, and nothing seems to happen. Here we are fortunate in having a report and at the same time having the Government’s decision. This is quite important, because the grants that this Government intends to make are, in quite a number of cases, required to be met by the State Governments - with regard to capital expenses on a one to one basis, and with regard to what are virtually running expenses, on a basis of one to 1.85. So the States know exactly where they stand with regard to the matters upon which this Government has agreed to act.
From place to place throughout the Minister’s statement one reads that the Government is giving further consideration to one aspect, that the Government would like the Vice Chancellors’ Committee to consider another aspect, and so on. It is very good that the Government has committed itself and that the States know where they stand. Despite what Senator Cohen says, this was a straight out way of handling the problem, in order to get the thing started. It is well to remind the Senate that under our constitution the States have normal constitutional responsibility for matters of education. Even though Senator Cohen acknowledged this, he did not go along with the argument. Although it was important that the Commonwealth should define its attitude, one should not lose sight of the fact that the primary and normal responsibility for education lies with the States. It is im- portant for this to be noted by the Senate when it considers the whole question of teacher training.
Senator Cohen has quite forcefully pointed out that he regards the whole question of teacher training as the heart of this report. Although this is a very important field, it is quite understandable that the Commonwealth is not prepared to enter it. This has been the exclusive responsibility of the States in the past, because they have a very big responsibility with regard to education. Each State has its own method of educating at the primary level and at the secondary level and it is in the teacher training colleges that the teachers are trained for these levels.
– Is teacher training any different in principle from, say, technical training or any other aspect of education that is normally a State matter?
– I regard teacher training as bound up closely with the State Education Departments. They always run the primary and secondary schools. It is logical that they should be responsible for the training of teachers to teach in the States.
– Who trains teachers for the universities?
– They are usually trained at the respective universities or overseas.
– Not in teacher training colleges, which are for primary teachers.
– The States have been carrying on these activities quite properly. My own State of South Australia has built a noticeable building in recent years for the purpose of teacher training. The building of 11 storeys at Kintore Avenue, Adelaide, is beautifully equipped, I understand. So far as I have detected, there has been no request from South Australia, at any rate, for the Commonwealth to enter the field of teacher training. I think that the Commonwealth Government is quite within its rights in saying at this point of time that it does not intend to follow the recommendation of the Committee on the question of teacher training. After all, this Government is a responsible government. It has a certain budget. It decides upon great and increasing allotments to the States each year for the normal services of the States. By adopting certain of the recommendations contained in this report the Government is doing something in addition to what it normally does for the States. In the past its calculations have been based on the assumption that the States will carry on their responsibilities in relation to primary education, teacher training and the like. I do not think it is fair to criticise the Government for failing to implement those parts of the report which it has decided not to accept. If and when the Minister replies to this discussion I should like him to say whether he has heard from any State Minister for Education what the States intend to to in regard to matching the grants that are proposed.
– I have not heard as yet.
– I thought that would possibly be the case because I have not been able to detect any reaction on the part of the South Australian Minister for Education. Let us consider for a moment what the Commonwealth is prepared to do about the recommendations contained in the report. .1 hope to be able to put the matter in true perspective and to show that the Commonwealth is prepared to do quite a lot for tertiary students and for universities, although that is not the primary purpose of the report, and to foster the development of a broad comprehensive system of tertiary education with an emphasis different from, but complementary to, the tertiary education provided by universities.
Let me deal first with Commonwealth University open entrance scholarships. Before 1963 there were 4,000 such scholarships. At the end of 1963 there were 5,000 and at the end of 1965 there will be 6,000. So, within the last two or three years there has been a 50 per cent, increase in what we have always known as Commonwealth scholarships - those open entrance scholarships which cover a student’s first University degree at least. Then there are the scholarships known as later year awards. Those scholarships are awarded to students in their second and subsequent years. Before 1963 there were only 780 such scholarships. At the end of 1963 there were 1,280 and by the end of this year there will be 1,530. This is an increase of about 100 per cent, in the last three years.
I know that the Martin Committee suggested that every student who had successfully completed his first year’s study should be entitled to these later year awards, but the Government said that it did not want to implement the suggestion in that way. Instead it decided to make this rather startling increase in the number of these scholarships.
Then there are the tertiary education scholarships for students who come from the secondary schools. By the end of this year the number will have increased from 6,280 to 8,530. Of these, 7,530 will be tenable at universities and 1,000 at the new technical institutions to which I shall refer in some detail in a moment. It can be seen that on the scholarships aspect also this report is important and the Government’s actions are quite impressive.
I want to put these views before the Senate because one obtained the impression from Senator Cohen that the Government’s actions are of no great consequence. I detected the idea running through Senator Cohen’s speech that the Government was actually ruling out sections of the report and casting them aside. I point out that in certain instances where the report suggested something the Government went the second mile. It did not merely rule out pieces here and there and leave the remainder. It actually did more, in soma instances, than the Committee suggested. I believe that the Government was wise in granting scholarships to part time students. Admittedly the results obtained by part time students are not as good as those obtained by full time students, as the report shows, but I think the Government displayed great imagination in determining that despite that fact, there was a need for the encouragement of part time students. After all, part time students, having the benefit of variation in their study and their work, sometimes are of greater value to the community than are full time students who engage themselves on the academic side without having any contact with the practical side. So I am very glad that the Government has seen the wisdom of pushing the part time students along with the aid of the scholarships.
As a South Australian I acknowledge the suggestion in the report relating to the new university at Bedford Park about 7 or 8 miles south of Adelaide. This shows that the Government quickly realised the importance of ensuring that Bedford Park opens on time in 1966. The Martin Committee recommended the expenditure of an additional £400,000. Assuming that the State Labour Government in South Australia matches the expenditure-
– It will.
– In that case Bedford Park will benefit to the extent of £400,000 and will open on time. I express my appreciation of this direct help in the constructing and equipping of that building. I have now dealt with scholarships and this important capital accretion to the university in South Australia. Of course, this does not apply only to that State but I am highlighting it to illustrate my point. I want to spend some little time now discussing the new concept referred to in the Minister’s statement to the Senate. As I see it, this new concept which the Minister claims to be the heart of the report is that Australia, during the next decade, should develop advanced education in virtually new types of colleges. The Minister said -
These colleges would provide for those students who, though qualified, do not wish to undertake a full university course, or whose chosen course is not considered appropriate for a university or whose level at passing matriculation indicated a small chance of graduation from a university in minimum time or minimum time plus one year.
This most imaginative part of the report has also attracted the attention of the Government which has fully supported the idea. The Committee recommended that in these colleges there should be appropriate courses in the liberal arts for young men and women taking up administrative positions in commerce, industry and government. Such colleges could be of great value as they would be spread all around Australia. As one who has been honoured by this Senate to be a member of the Council of the Australian National University I think it is beyond doubt that the young men and women of Canberra who attend that University and who work in government positions are greatly enriched in their approach to their daily life and are of great value to the Public Service of the Commonwealth. With these colleges or tertiary education institutions spread throughout the Commonwealth, the State Governments and municipal bodies will receive great help from the advanced learning open to students attending these colleges. They will make a valuable contribution to State and municipal government and also to the Commonwealth Public Service in the State capitals and larger provincial cities.
These tertiary colleges will be of a higher standard than secondary schools but not quite the standard of the universities and I hope they will find a place in the provincial areas. In this connection I am encouraged to see in the report the list of possible sites. It is recommended that in New South Wales there should be one each at Bathurst and Wagga; in Victoria, one each at Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo; in Queensland, at Darling Downs and Rockhampton; and in South Australia, the South Australian Institute of Technology. The Government, of course, wants more time to consider the locations of these colleges but I mention that list to show that there are prospects of education of a tertiary nature in the provincial cities which can be of great importance to the areas concerned.
The Martin Committee’s report also referred to the various categories of colleges. It is interesting to note that in tertiary education in Australia at present there are universities, residential colleges, teachers colleges, technical colleges, theological colleges, agricultural and forestry colleges, non-departmental teachers training and para-medical colleges, library training and music colleges and a group covering other colleges. So before this report was issued there was a wide spectrum of colleges in the general classification of tertiary education. I hope that as the idea of these colleges develops, theological and musical as well as technological matters will receive attention.
My time has practically gone and I shall conclude by saying that the Australian Labour Party, like all Opposition parties, has adopted the attitude that not enough has been promised by the Government in connection with this report. I have a certain amount of sympathy for the Opposition in its claim that not enough was done. But we must be reasonable in the consideration of this matter. There has been a noticeable lift in the number of scholarships provided in the past few years. In my earlier remarks I cited percentages to show that a considerable increase in the number of scholarships has been promised. I have shown the wide spread of the Government’s interest in tertiary education throughout the States and the provincial cities.
I would say that the time has not yet arrived for the Government to enter into primary and secondary education in general. 1 think that the establishment of a ministry of education as envisaged in the amendment of the Australian Labour Party is not appropriate at this point of time. The approach of the Government has been cautious with due regard to its financial responsibilities. Earlier today we debated decisions by the United States of America on its balance of payments problem and the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and President Johnson. This should strike a note of caution in our hearts and in our thinking and should remind us that there is a lot to be done in Australia. The Government has allotted a fair proportion of its resources towards implementing recommendations of the Martin Committee. Therefore, I support the motion that the Senate should take note of the report and I reject the amendment moved by Senator Cohen on behalf of the Opposition.
– I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had disagreed to the amendment made by the Senate in this Bill.
That consideration in Committee of the Whole of the House of Representatives message be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– In rising to support the amendment so ably moved by Senator Cohen I should like to congratulate him on the extent of the research he undertook before delivering his address to the Senate tonight and on the quality and logic of the statements he made. The fact that the Opposition is moving this amendment does not in any way decrease our admiration of the work of the Martin Committee in this very important and complex problem of tertiary education in Australia. I feel that all members of the Martin Committee - all men of very high standing in the professional life of the community - have done a very excellent job. The Opposition does disagree to the extent that we believe some of their findings have not gone far enough. But the very fact that they presented such a report to this Parliament will do a great deal of good in spotlighting the attention of the Australian public on the needs of Australia for various types of education.
The fact that this inquiry was limited to tertiary education only and, in the main, to many problems outside the university education at present available, is, I think, rather a limiting factor. The Opposition considers that there should be a complete inquiry into the whole of the educational needs of the community. It is of no use when discussing a building to sneak only about the roof and saying nothing about the foundation or walls that support it. We feel it is time that the Commonwealth Government undertook some responsibility for research into the whole of the education problems of Australia and we feel this may be done by the terms of our amendment as moved by Senator Cohen tonight. This provides for the establishment of a ministry of education with power to deal with research in this way, but not necessarily to take over control of the Departments of Education in the States or to decide that throughout Australia everv child from the age of seven should be studving spelling at a certain hour of the day and arithmetic at another hour and so on. We do not want the Commonwealth to take over responsibility for the details of ordinary primary education. We do feel that there are terrific problems which have arisen in the field of education and that it has reached a crisis. We feel that the Commonwealth Government has important responsibilities in this regard.
This report is so voluminous that there are certain aspects in each one of its sections which could, I feel, well be the subject of a separate debate. Of course that is not possible. However, there are certain aspects of the report in which I am particularly interested. One is teacher training. Another is the role of women in the system of tertiary education. The conclusions reached by the Committee on this aspect are conclusions with which I wholeheartedly concur. Another aspect concerns the various problems affecting students in the universities, particularly young students who face the difficulties of the transition period between secondary school and the first year at university when there is a great fall off due to factors which, in many cases, are beyond their control. Those things have to be really understood in the light of all the problems that are posed by the training of teachers. That is the reason why I interjected and asked Senator Laught who was responsible for the training of university teachers. In many cases they are like Topsy - they just grow. Some of them are brilliant men but when I was teaching I found sometimes that brilliance was not the only criteria to apply to teachers. Very often the teacher who has been a bit slower at learning is a much better teacher because he or she can comprehend more fully the problems of students. They know what it is to have to face difficulties. Things have not come so easily to them and in many cases this gives them a better understanding of the average student and, particularly, of students who are not in the brilliant category. No community can succeed if it is built up only of brilliant students. In many cases in the past the less brilliant students have done a better job in the long run as far as the community is concerned. This is an aspect of the report with which I would like to be able to deal more fully.
Another aspect of it in which I am particularly interested deals with the income groups of the families from which students come. Long before I came to this Parliament I did some research into this matter myself for the National Union of Australian University Students. I did this research into the income of the parents of students enrolled in our medical schools. It was very enlightening to me to find that very few of them - I think it was less than 10 per cent, of the future doctors of Australia - at that time came from homes where there were incomes of the basic wage or less. Very few students indeed came from homes where the only income was the basic wage. At that time this fact did not affect my own State to any considerable degree.
– Did the honorable senator say the basic wage or over?
– It was about the basic wage. There were very few students who had enrolled at university who came from homes where the only income was the basic wage. Even if students from that income group were provided with expenses or had other assistance they still could not afford to go to university. Senator Cohen’s remarks about the economic factor were valid but .perhaps they do not apply to such a great extent today because more Commonwealth scholarships are available than in the times of which I have just spoken. I was going back into history and there was much difficulty at that time.
– It is still so, proportionately.
– That is true. At the same time, I could not afford to go to the university - and I know there were many others like myself in Western Australia - if fees had been charged in those days as they are today. We in Western Australia could be very proud of the fact that we had a free university. I could not have attended university if it had not been free. Even then, I could not afford to go full time. I was one of the part time students referred to in this report - and not always referred to very sympathetically. I always take my hat off to part time students because I know from my own experience how difficult it was to attend a part time university course and be employed full time. I know that many people who were with me at the university at that time have achieved high places in the community. At that time Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, was not a full time student. He attended part time. Dr. Curtin, who was for a long time an economic advisor to the Commonwealth Government, was a part time student at that time. Many other people who were my contemporaries have done much better than I in the community although they were only able to attend university courses as part time students.
Because those part time students had to work hard to get the benefits of university education they were much more appreciative of it and therefore worked a great deal harder. Of course it was not very easy for them to do so. I am not in any way detracting from the work done by students today. These remarks might apply to them, also, but I feel they are having a much better time than we had. Of course I am glad that that is so. But I do hope that they realise what is being done for them in this respect. Now the University of Western Australia has been forced to charge fees for courses in the same way as have other universities in the Commonwealth.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir
Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, Iformally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senateadjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 April 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650428_senate_25_s28/>.