25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General the following communication in connection with the address to Her Majesty The Queen on the occasion of the death of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal -
The Address from the President and Members ofthe Senate on the occasion of the death of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has been laid before Her Majesty The Queen.
I am commanded to convey to you Mr. President and to the Members of the House Her Majesty’s heartfelt thanks. The Queen is deeply sensible of the expressions of sympathy by the elected representatives of her people throughout the’ Commonwealth of Australia at a time when Her Majesty and her family were suffering from a sad and unexpected loss.
Yours sincerely, DE L’ISLE.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. On Thursday, 29th April, I addressed a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate relating to the reported danger of Australia losing much of its wildlife within the next 10 years. As I have learned that the Department of Customs and Excise exercises control over the export of Australian fauna, I now ask the Minister whether he can report to the Senate what action is being taken by the Commonwealth Government to ensure the preservation of wildlife in Australia.
– Under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations, the Department of Customs and Excise, in close co-operation with State fauna authorities, exercises strict control over exports of native fauna. In a moment I shall let the honorable senator have copies of a pamphlet issued by my Department setting out the details of this control. As a general indication of my own interest and that of my Department in fauna conservation, it is perhaps worth mentioning that a senior officer of the De partment recently participated in a week’s conference of fauna authorities, including State authorities. This conference dealt with a wide range of matters concerned with the conservation and re-establishment of fauna. Although it is not within my province, it is also worth mentioning perhaps that the Commonwealth, through the agency of the Wildlife Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, maintains a staff of nearly 100 persons who are directly concerned with this matter. Mr. President, the pamphlet to which I referred is fairly comprehensive and with the concurrence of honorable senators I shall incorporate it in “ Hansard “.
Item 1, Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations prohibits the exportation of “ animals and birds native to Australia, skins of animals native to Australia and plumage, skins, eggs and eggshells of birds native to Australia “ unless the consent in writing of the Minister for Customs and Excise has first been obtained.
In terms of this Item the following restrictions apply to animals and birds whether taken in their native state or bred in captivity:
An intending exporter is required to produce to the Collector of Customs evidence that his application has been approved by the appropriate State Government authority.
Because it has been found that some overseas zoos trade commercially in animals and birds, intended exportation for zoological purposes is regarded as “ bona fide “ only when certain conditions are met, e.g.:
Since these proceedings are being broadcast,I should like to say, in short, that I will not give my consent in writing for the export of fauna unless certain conditions are complied with and the export is strictly on a zoo to zoo basis - from a zoo in Australia to a zoo in another country. Approval will not be given, in any case, where commercial interests are involved, and will be given only where export is for zoological purposes.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. On 7th April I asked the Minister whether he had seen a report of the Victorian Public Health Commission that toy plastic sets being sold in Australia and imported from Hong Kong and the United States of America contain plastic instruments that could blind, deafen or kill and that similar sets had been withdrawn from sale in Perth after doctors had pointed out their dangers. I asked the Minister whether he would investigate the powers available to him to prohibit the importation of such dangerous and possibly lethal toys and whether he would take action to protect the interests of Australian children. I now ask whether the honorable gentleman is in a position to give me answers to those questions.
– I have already communicated by correspondence with Senator McClelland on this subject but as it is of great public interest I should like to give the substance of the decision I have taken.I had an opportunity to examine this question and I am now able to assure the honorable senator and the Senate that I have taken positive steps to ensure that future importations of this type of toy will be prohibited. Item 18 of the Second Schedule to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations provides me with the authority to prohibit the importation of goods which are of a dangerous character and a menace to the community. I feel that this provision should be used to prohibit the importation of children’s toys in circumstances where such toys are the miniature - nevertheless, effective - of a lethal or dangerous weapon or substance. This is particularly so in the case of toy medical sets which contain effective miniatures of medical instruments which are used on the person to make an incision, to break the skin, or to interfere with certain organs of the body.I have directed my department to prohibit the importation of any toys falling within this category provided that toys similar to those whose prohibition is contemplated are not, in fact, being produced in Australia.
Honorable senators will appreciate that the use of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations presents some administrative difficulties in this particular field. The question of where to draw the line is the problem. It could be argued that any imported toy having a sharp edge is potentially dangerous. My officers will apply a criterion which we hope will meet the situation. It could be argued that a carpenter’s toy kit could be dangerous, or that a dart set could be so and, knowing children, we could, perhaps, all agree. But for the purpose of the regulation we will, without being too restrictive, attempt to distinguish between types of imported toys; for example, a child in his or her play life will use the toys as he sees them employed in the normal usage. A carpenter’s kit will be used to work on woodwork, but a medical pack of instruments would be used in play as the child sees them used medically. It is equally true that a toy razor would be used on the face or neck by the child in play. If, therefore, the toy razor has a real cutting edge or blade it would be treated as we are now proposing to treat medical packs. There will be marginal cases, it is true, but my officers will endeavour only to restrict toys which, in their normal appreciation, are dangerous or potentially lethal.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he is aware of the great difficulties imposed on the Tasmanian potato industry because of the shortage of containers which are indispensable to the shipping of potatoes. Is he also aware that it is reported that a quantity of potatoes ready for shipment is held up for that reason? Whose responsibility is it to provide the containers? Will the Government use its influence through whatever avenues are available to rectify this position?
– I am not aware of the particular problem to which the honorable senator has referred, although I understand that the requirements for shipping space for moving potatoes from Tasmania -to Sydney recently created some problems for shipowners, but that arrangements were then made by the Australian National Line to provide space for about 60 containers of potatoes a week from the north west coast of Tasmania. These arrangements will, I believe, satisfy the requirements of potato merchants until the end of the season in October. The provision of containers for potatoes is the responsibility of the shippers. The Tasmanian Government Railways are practically the sole shippers and provide all the containers. There is a tendency for the containers to bank up in Sydney and Melbourne.
– Was the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware, either in that capacity or as Minister for Defence, that the Prime Minister intended to make his announcement on sending troops to Vietnam at 8 p.m. last Thursday? If he did have this knowledge, does he consider that instead of the Senate adjourning at 5 p.m. after one debate had been gagged and another adjourned, the statement should have been read to the Senate simultaneously with the announcement in another place? If it is true that the Minister for Defence gave related information affecting his department in the corridors, does he not think that the Senate is a more appropriate place to make statements on such an unprecedented and important matter?
– The question as to whether the Prime Minister was in a position prior to any hour very late on Thursday afternoon to make a statement relative to the despatch of a battalion of troops to Vietnam is something on which the Prime Minister himself will be speaking in another place today, I understand, if he is given the opportunity so to do. As far as whatever comments I might’ make on this matter are concerned, as the honorable senator is probably aware, I shall be repeating in this place this afternoon the statement made by the Prime Minister and I am hopeful that a rather full debate - not just a debate restricted to a selected number - will follow, in which every member of the Senate who feels disposed to talk will do so. On that occasion I shall be explaining, if necessary, my own position with respect to this matter. As a short answer to the question, let me say that I was not aware that the Prime Minister was to make a statement until very, very late in the afternoon. As for the detail associated with it, I am sure that both the Prime Minister and I will be most happy to comment on this in a very detailed way, because I have noticed that the Opposition proposes to attempt to make something of this position. I shall be delighted to do so.
– The Minister has not answered my question.
– 1 have answered it. I have told the honorable senator that I was not aware of it.
– What about the Minister’s statement to the Press in the corridors?
– There was no statement to the Press in the corridors. There never are statements by me to the Press in the corridors. My statements are made to the Press by way of written statements.
– My question relates to one asked by Senator Wedgwood. Has the Minister for Customs and Excise any comment to make on the suggestion by Professor Marshall of the University of Melbourne that the Commonwealth Parliament should control the preservation of wildlife throughout Australia? I understand that the Professor’s comments were made following a declaration by the Tasmanian Government of a short open season for Cape Barren geese, to which objection was expressed by Professor Marshall.
– I think the first thing that must be realised is that we live under a Federal system and that the States have certain sovereign powers. The States exercise control over internal matters associated with fauna and flora. The customs power relates only to exports. As I have already indicated in reply to Senator Wedgwood’s question, that power is applied very strictly. I exercise a very strict control over the export of fauna and will allow export only in bona fide cases such as the sending of specimens from zoo to zoo. A certain amount of research must be done first to satisfy my officers that the zoo seeking fauna is a proper zoo and that the fauna will not be used for commercial purposes. As the pamphlet which has been incorporated in “ Hansard “ indicates, I also insist upon very strict measures covering the transit of fauna. As I have said, internal management is a matter for the States.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that the Western Australian Employers Federation has put forward a proposal to bring committed labour from overseas with an offer to pay return fares conditional upon satisfactory performance of work? Will all such workers recruited overseas be approved by the Department of Immigration in the same way as ordinary migrants are approved before they come to Australia, so that if they complete their contracts, or break them there will be no hindrance to them remaining in Australia and obtaining employment elsewhere?
– There are some elements of that question which I feel should be answered by the Minister for Immigration. Therefore, 1 ask the honorable senator to place it on the notice paper. However, I would say in a general way that there is no variation in the criteria and requirements for immigration. We do not distinguish between potential immigrants. We have a very proper and strict rule in relation to the entrance of migrants into Australia. This is not a variable thing. Everyone has to conform to it. I am sure the honorable senator will agree that (hat is a proper procedure to adopt.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Commonwealth Government been approached by the State Premiers for drought relief? Will the
Minister agree that it is time for some constructive policy to be formulated, with a view to the elimination of the periodical economic battering which primary producers take from recurring hazards? Will the Government take action to make available at low interest rates long term loans for the purposes of irrigation and fodder conservation schemes, as advocated by producer and rural political organisations?
– I do not know whether all the State Premiers have approached the Treasurer on this matter, but I believe there has been an approach by one of them. There is a normal procedure by which the States approach the Commonwealth Treasury, and 1 understand that the rule is for a grant in aid to be made on a £1 for £1 basis.
– They want more than that.
– If the honorable senator puts on the notice paper that portion of his question which relates to a request by the States for more than the usual grant, 1 will ask the Treasurer to deal with it.
– I address this question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Have the contents of the Prime Minister’s letter to the Premier of Western Australia concerning the Ord River scheme been made public? If not, in view of the concern in Western Australia over the statement that the Commonwealth has shelved the States’ application for financial assistance, will the Minister ensure that the general public is informed of the contents of the letter so that the reasons given by the Commonwealth will be known publicly?
– The practice invariably followed by the Prime Minister in these matters is not to disclose the contents of his corespondence without the agreement of the addressee. In this case it is the Premier of Western Australia. In view of the importance of the matter and of the way in which it is regarded in Western Australia, I shall bring the question to the notice of the Prime Minister and inquire whether he is prepared to release the correspondence.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government agree with the reported statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) at the opening session of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation conference that the risk of a third world war starting today was more immediate in South East Asia than in any other part of the world? If his opinion constitutes the Government’s view as to the danger of a third world war, what action does the Government propose to initiate within the United Nations Organisation to examine this threat or to canvass the possibility of limiting any extension of the war?
– I do not think that anyone, taking a dispassionate view of the international situation today, would attempt to refute the statement that there is a more immediate danger of a world war having its origin in South East Asia than in any other part of the world. I am not aware of what action, if any, the Government proposes to take in relation to the United Nations. I shall ask the Minister for External Affairs whether any action is proposed and, if so, what it is.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. It follows on the question asked by Senator Willesee. I ask the Minister whether, at the time I asked a question on Thursday about Australian troops being sent to Vietnam, the Leader of the Government in the Senate instructed or advised him how to reply. When did the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs know of Australia’s decision to send troops to Vietnam? Will he answer the question that I asked last Thursday: Was the Government’s decision taken as a result of the visit of Mr. Lodge to Australia, or was it the result of a decision of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation or a direction or request of any government, and if so, which government?
– Last Thursday Senator Cavanagh asked me a question concerning the despatch of troops to Vietnam. At the time I told him that I knew nothing of the matter. That answer was perfectly accurate and perfectly correct. The answer to the first question that he has asked today is: “ No “. The answer to the second question is that I knew for sure when the Prime Minister made his statement. The answer to the third question has already been given by the Prime Minister in his statement when he pointed out that the decision had been made in principle soma weeks ago by the inner Cabinet.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the fact that the Tasmanian Government is prepared to subsidise a further Australian National Line ship to the extent of £40,000 a year to supplement the present shipping service to the north west coast of Tasmania, will the Minister have an investigational survey made of the spectacular increase in freight and tourist traffic to Tasmania largely as a consequence of the introduction of the three Australian National Line ships, the “ Princess of Tasmania “, the “ Empress of Australia “ and the “ Bass Trader “7 I ask the Minister further whether he is in a position to make a statement on any plan that the Federal Government has for providing further shipping services through the Australian National Line on the north west coast of Tasmania run?
– As far as I am personally concerned, I was not aware of any proposal made by, or on behalf of, the Tasmanian Government to undertake subsidisation of the new shipping service such as described by the honorable senator until I saw a reference in this morning’s Press made by the appropriate Minister in the Tasmanian Government. I am not aware that this proposal has been communicated officially to the Commonwealth Government. If this proposal has been communicated to the appropriate Minister in the Commonwealth Government, Mr. Freeth, then I am sure that it will be now receiving consideration. If it has yet to come from the Tasmanian Government, then I am sure it will receive proper consideration when it reaches the Minister. All I can say to the honorable senator is that any decision that is reached will be made on the merits of the application that the decision will be communicated officially to the Tasmanian Government when the Tasmanian Government officially takes the matter up, not through the Press, but with the Commonwealth Government.
– My question is supplementary to the question by Senator O’Byrne in which the honorable senator said that a subsidy of £40,000 a year is being suggested for extra shipping services between the mainland and Tasmania. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he is aware of the grave problem facing the shipping industry operating between King Island and Tasmania following the granting of a subsidy by the Federal Government to the service between King Island and Melbourne. Is it not a fact that Tasmania will lose seriously in an economic way if the present shipping service is to close down? Can the Minister tell me also whether the responsibility for subsidising and helping to keep in action the shipping service between King Island and Tasmania, which is an intrastate service, rests with the State Government or with the Federal Government?
– Last week I answered a question similar in some respects to this question. Lest there be any misunderstanding at all as to the respective responsibilities of the Governments in connection with the maintenance of shipping to King Island, let me say again that the service from King Island to the State of Tasmania is an intrastate service which is. and always has been, the responsibility of the State Government. Up to this point of time, this service has been recognised as the reponsibility of the State Government by the State Government itself. I will ask my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, to have a look at the rest of the honorable senator’s question.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In view of the preBudget discussions which will take place, I suppose, during the next parliamentary recess, will the Minister give some consideration to the question of including dental health as an integral part of the national health scheme as the high cost of dental services is a matter of grave concern and hardship in the community? Is it a fact that the high cost of dental care could be a contributory factor in other health problems?
– The question relates to a matter of policy to which, no doubt, consideration will be given when the Government gets down to the work of formulating the Budget in the course of the next few months.
(Question No. 384.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
However, before receiving the Board’s letter and without advising either the Board or the Department, the Unions announced plans to hold slop work meetings on 24th March, 1965. Once these plans were known, the Postmaster-General was in frequent contact with the Director-General, Post and Telegraphs, who, in close and direct consultation with the Chairman, Public Service Board, made every endeavour to avert the stoppage, including consultation with the general secretaries of the two Unions throughout the afternoon of Friday, 19th March. The Director-General personally assured the general secretaries of the Unions that necessary joint Board Departmental work was still in progress and there would be real finality reached at the meeting to be held on 29th March and, in his view, the time taken in joint Public Service Board and departmental investigations on the salary claims would redound to the advantage of the staff. Despite this assurance, the Unions persisted with the planned stop work meetings.
(Question No. 392.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 396.)
Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
How many people are awaiting admission to each of the repatriation hospitals?
– I have the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question -
At the beginning of April, there were 1,595 persons whose admission to repatriation hospitals, mostly for non-urgent surgery, had been deferred to suit their own convenience, or pending availability of a surgeon. The majority of these had already been assigned an admission date, and the others were shortly to receive one. The numbers in each State were as follows -
Persons seeking admission to repatriation hospitals comprise those who need immediate treatment or diagnostic testing for a disability, and those who require some test or treatment, generally surgery, which can be deferred for a time. The former are referred to as urgent admissions, and the latter as non-urgent. A proportion of beds must be reserved to meet the continuing commitment for urgent admissions, and it is the practice to spread forward bookings for nonurgent admission so as to provide this reserve. Within this framework, the earliest possible date convenient to the patient, and having in mind an appropriate period in a suitable surgical session, is allocated to non-urgent admissions.
(Question No. 410.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 422.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following reply -
(Question No. 424.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Does the Government propose to provide a relay station to give better television viewing in the Upper Murray area in South Australia? If not, will the Postmaster-General consider some emergency booster facilities to enable residents in this area to obtain reasonable viewing reception?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer -
The Upper Murray area of South Australia is one of a number of country areas throughout the Commonwealth which it has not yet been possible to provide with satisfactory television service. The Government is still heavily committed with the establishment of the 20 national television stations in the fourth stage of television development and it is not yet practicable to consider the extension of service to further country areas. The
Government will, at the appropriate time, give consideration to the further extension of television in country areas. Until it does so,I am not in a position to make any statement in relation to the Upper Murray area of South Australia or other areas not yet provided with television.
(Question No. 425.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer - 1 and 2. Australia’s share of the Papua and
New Guinea trade is not progressively shrinking. The total value of Australian produce imported into the Territory is increasing and over the last three years the percentage has risen. Australia’s share of imports into the Territory increased from 57 per cent, in 1961-62 to 59 per cent, in 1963-64, the last year for which the statistics arc available. On the other hand, the share of the market enjoyed by the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Germany, France and the United States of America has in each case decreased as a percentage of total territory imports.
(Question No. 429.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
On 8th April, Senator Hannan asked me the following question -
In addressing my question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-GeneralI refer to the legal requirement imposed upon American television manufacturers by the Federal Communications Commission that all current television receivers shall be capable of reception in the ultra high frequency as well as in the very high frequency band. Bearing in mind the fate of frequency modulation broadcasting in Australia, and with a view to minimising existing and future frequency difficulty will the Minister discuss with his technical advisers the possibility of imposing a similar provision in Australia?
The Postmaster-General has now provided the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question -
The Postmaster-General is aware of the requirement imposed on television receiver manufacturers in the United States of America that all television receivers shall be capable of reception of transmissions in the ultra high frequency as well as in the very high frequency band, both of which bands are used for television services. No decision has been made in Australia concerning the use of the ultra high frequency band either for sound broadcasting or for television, but if and when such a decision is made, appropriate steps will be taken in advance of the band being brought into use in order to minimise reception difficulties. It would seem undesirable to require the purchasers of receivers to incur additional expense, at this stage, for the provision of a facility which may not be used during the lifetime of their receivers.
Mr. President, I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work -
Construction of permanent barracks and depot accommodation for Australian Regular Army units at Broadmeadows, Victoria.
I ask for leave to make a statement in connection with the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– -The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows -
. -by leave -I wish to inform the Senate that Australia has approved the operation of regular airline services into Sydney by Philippine Air Lines. In discussions concluded in Melbourne today, representatives of the airline have informed my Department that they propose to begin a service, twice a week, from next September or October. I also understand that the service will be operated with Douglas DC8 jet airliners.
Honorable senators will know, of course, that our own international airline, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., has for many years operated services through Manila with the permission and full co-operation of the Philippine authorities. Therefore it gives me great pleasure to announce this reciprocal service by Philippine Air Lines. I am sure that the new service will further strengthen the ties of friendship and co-operation that already exist between our two countries.
– by leave - Honorable senators will remember that when presenting the Martin Committee Report on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia the Government announced that it would appoint a committee to advise the Government on research grants to individuals and research teams. It has already been announced that Professor R. N. Robertson, Professor of Botany, University of Adelaide, has agreed to act as Chairman of the Research Grants Committee. The other members are -
Emeritus Professor W. M. O’Neill, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Sydney.
– by leave - The statement that I am about to read is the statement made last Thursday by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the House of Representatives. The first person pronoun, where appearing, relates to the Prime Minister. The statement is as follows -
The House in recent weeks has conducted an important debate on foreign affairs in which the situation in Vietnam was fully and anxiously discussed. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Hasluck, devoted a large part of his statement to Vietnam, explaining developments there and the critical significance of those developments for South and South East Asia as a whole. Nor of course do the implications end with South and South East Asia. Whether an externally directed Communist guerilla subversion is to succeed or fail has world-wide consequence. It has particular consequences for Australia.
In the first half of 1962, the Government decided, following upon a request from the Government of South Vietnam, that Australia should contribute militarily to the defence of South Vietnam. We sent at that time a group of some 30 military instructors to provide military training assistance. Since then additional military aid has been provided. The strength of the Army training team was, in the first place, doubled, and later still, increased to 100. A flight of six Caribou transport aircraft has been provided. We have progressively increased our programme of economic aid to South Vietnam so that it now runs at the rate of about £1 million per year. A devoted body of Australian experts is at work in different parts of South Vietnam. In addition to Australia and the United States, some 30 other countries are providing assistance or have undertaken to do so in the military or non-military aid fields. This includes assistance from a significant and important group of Asian countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, and the Republic of Korea, who are contributing either economic or military aid.
The Australian Government is now in receipt of a request from the Government of South Vietnam for further military assistance. We have decided - and this has been after close consultation with the Government of the United States - to provide an infantry battalion for service in South Vietnam.
There can be no doubt of the gravity of the situation in South Vietnam. There is ample evidence to show that with the support of the North Vietnamese regime and other Communist powers, the Vietcong has been preparing on a more substantial scale than hitherto insurgency action designed to destroy South Vietnamese Government control, and to disrupt by violence the life of the local people. The rate of infiltration of guerrillas from North Vietnam has been increasing and last year rose to some 10,000. The infiltration of a battalion of the North Vietnamese regular army has recently been confirmed.
We have not of course come to this decision without the closest attention to the question of defence priorities. We do not and must not overlook the point that our alliances, as well as providing guarantees arid assurances for our security, make demands upon us. We have commitments to Malaysia which we are meeting. We have to bear in mind, and make preparations against, the possibility of other developments in the region which could make demands on our defence capacity.
Assessing all this, it is our judgment that the decision to commit a battalion in South Vietnam represents the most useful additional contribution which we can make to the defence of the region at this time. The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South and South East Asia. It must be seen as part of a thrust by Communist China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The task of holding the situation in South Vietnam and restraining the North Vietnamese is formidable. But we are conscious of the magnitude of the effort being made by the Government and people of South Vietnam in their own defence. In recent months the United States has taken historic decisions to extend further military assistance to South Vietnam. South Korea has also committed substantial forces.
We have noted and welcome the attempts to open the way to agreement which have been made, so far unsuccessfully, by President Johnson and by the Prime Minister of Britain through his representative, Mr. Gordon Walker. We also welcome President Johnson’s proposals for a wide-ranging economic programme. We will certainly continue to play our part in the economic development of the region. 1 make it clear that the Government has no desire to have Australian forces in Vietnam any longer than necessary to ensure the security of South Vietnam. We and our allies are not seeking to take over North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese must not take over South Vietnam by armed force or subversion.
I shall read the text of President Johnson’s letter to the Prime Minister, lt is in these terms - “ Dear Mr. Prime Minister: 1 am delighted at the decision of your Government to provide an infantry battalion for service in South Vietnam at the request of the Government of South Vietnam.
This action simply underscores the full cooperation and understanding that has existed between our two Governments, and between both and the Government of South Vietnam, in assisting South Vietnam to maintain its independence. Like you. we have no desire to maintain military forces in Vietnam any longer than necessary to ensure the security of South Vietnam. But we share your belief that we must both respond to the needs brought about by the aggression being carried on from North Vietnam.
More broadly, this action proves again the deep tics between our two countries in the cause of world peace and security. As yon know, my personal experiences in association with Australians during World War 11 have made this a particularly deep and abiding feeling for me. I am confident that our two nations, working together, can continue to make great contributions to checking the spread of aggression and to bringing about peace that South Vietnam and SouthEast Asia deserve.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON.1’
1 present the following paper -
Vietnam - Ministerial Statement, 29th April, 1965.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE! RANKIN (Queensland) [4.11. - I move -
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this short Bill is to amend that part of the Coal Industry Act which deals with the Joint Coal Board’s banking operations and with the power of the Board to borrow money on overdraft. As the Senate is aware, the Board operates by virtue of almost identical acts of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and of the State of New South Wales.
As they now stand the Commonwealth and State Coal Industry Acts require the Board to bank with the Reserve Bank of Australia. The Board’s principal bank accounts are in Sydney but accounts are also maintained in Wollongong, Newcastle, Cessnock and Lithgow. With the exception of one small account with the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is an imprest account kept for the purpose of paying witnesses their expenses in attending the Coal Industry Tribunal, all these accounts are with the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia. The result is that the Joint Coal Board is in breach of both Coal Industry Acts. As I shall now show, this position has arisen following amendments made to the banking legislation of the Commonwealth, subsequent to the enactment of Coal Industry Acts.
Under the terms of the Acts, the Board, when it was established, was required to open and maintain its accounts with the then Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The Board accordingly opened accounts with the Commonwealth Bank at a number of metropolitan and country centres. Apart from the accounts at the country centres, these accounts were all carried by the central banking section of the Commonwealth Bank which then performed both central and trading bank functions.
By the Commonwealth Bank Act 1953 the central and trading bank functions of the Commonwealth Bank were separated. A new corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, was created which took over the trading bank functions of the Commonwealth Bank. The Commonwealth Bank continued in existence with its central hank functions. Late in 1954 the Board moved from its address in King Street, Sydney, to its present premises in Goulburn Street.
Shortly thereafter it requested the Commonwealth Bank to transfer all its metropolitan accounts except the one required for the purpose of the Coal Industry Tribunal to a conveniently situated branch in Oxford Street. This, in fact, was a branch of the Commonwealth Trading Bank and the Board was advised after the accounts were transferred that they would in future be with the Commonwealth Trading Bank and not with the central bank as hitherto. Similarly, as a result of the 1953 legislation, each of the country accounts was transferred by the Commonwealth Bank to the Commonwealth Trading Bank.
This position was basically unaffected by the Commonwealth banking legislation of 1959 under which, inter alia, the Commonwealth Bank was renamed the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Trading Bank was placed under the control of a new corporation, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. So far as the Board was concerned, this legislation meant that the Board’s accounts should be with the Reserve Bank and not with the Commonwealth Trading Bank where, with the exception of the one account referred to earlier, they were and still are held.
The Board’s present banking arrangements are efficient, convenient and satisfactory. It would not be possible for the Reserve Bank to provide the kind of banking service at present provided by the Commonwealth Trading Bank. The effect of the statutory changes which I have outlined above is that the Board cannot lawfully continue its present banking arrangements which it considers essential to its efficient operation. This is an unsatisfactory position which needs to be resolved by legislation.
It is the Government’s view that the Board should be authorised to continue its present banking arrangements and, accordingly, the present Bill has been prepared to amend the principal act which is the Coal Industry Act 1946-1958.
A new section 19a is proposed for the principal act. This will authorise the Board to maintain an account or accounts with an approved bank or approved banks. Such approved banks will include the Reserve Bank or any other bank declared by regulations to be an approved bank for the purpose of section 19a. Upon the coming into effect of the legislation now before the Senate, it is intended that regulations will be made declaring the Commonwealth Trading Bank to be an approved bank.
The power of the Joint Coal Board to borrow money is conferred by section 23 of the principal act and the opportunity has been taken to provide that the words “ Commonwealth Bank “ wherever appearing in this section will be omitted and replaced by the words “ Reserve Bank “. Finally, a section of the amending Bill validates the action of the Joint Coal Board in having maintained banking accounts with the Commonwealth Trading Bank in the past.
Under an agreement referred to in the preamble to the Coal Industry Act the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the State of New South Wales have undertaken not to take action without the prior concurrence of the other, to repeal or amend any of the legislation covered by the agreement. The concurrence of the New South Wales Government has been obtained to the amendment proposed in the present Bill. I should add that this Bill has been drafted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman after consultation with the State Parliamentary Draftsman, and in agreement with him. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a short Bill, designed to amend the Aliens Act 1947-1959 to require aliens resident in Australia, in addition to their obligation to register initially under the Act, to notify the Department of Immigration annually, at a specified time, of their address, occupation and marital status. This requirement would replace the present obligation to notify a change of address or occupation within a specified time of any change in such detail taking place.
The two main purposes of the Aliens Act, which was introduced in 1947, are first, to ensure that the Commonwealth will have knowledge of aliens in Australia; and, secondly, to provide basic data for analysis of Australia’s alien population to enable the Government to implement its immigration policy on sound and scientific lines.
The principal provisions of the legislation are -
The Register of Aliens is complete so far as initial registrations are concerned, as these are effected under official supervision. However, the degree of failure to notify subsequently a change in address or occupation is high, despite endeavours to encourage compliance by aliens, and the introduction of procedures to facilitate the notification process. We have therefore been concerned for some time that the Register is far less accurate than is desirable, so far as the current address and occupation of aliens are concerned. A recent exploratory check has confirmed this. However, to assess the degree of accuracy of the present Register would require a separate approach being made to each individual alien in the country. Apart from this there would be no other practicable method for establishing whether the addresses currently recorded are accurate or not. The requirement for an annual notification by every alien would provide a basis for an immediate check to be made with respect to those aliens who, having registered initially, fail subsequently to comply with the annual notification requirement. In this way follow-up action would be confined to actual defaulters; that is, those persons only who fail to comply with the annual notification requirement.
The Government considers that the replacement of the present ad hoc notification of changes of address and occupation as they occur by a system of annual notification by all aliens of these particulars, together with detail of marital status, not only will result in a more accurate and upto date Register of Aliens, but also will be a less onerous requirement for the aliens themselves, especially those who in their early years of residence frequently change their address.
It is proposed that the period in which annual notification would be required will be from 1st to 30th September in each year, with respect to any alien who was in Australia on 3 1st day of August that year. These dates will be prescribed by regulation. The necessity for the alien, after registering initially on arrival, subsequently to notify his address, occupation and marital status during a specified period each year would be the subject of wide publicity in advance of its being introduced. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Fitzgerald) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29th April (vide page 545), 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.
Upon which Senator Cohen had moved by way of amendment -
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.’ “.
– Mr. Deputy President; when the debate was adjourned last week, I was speaking of the need for increased educational facilities. It is essential, if we are to keep pace with the requirements of modern living, that we should meet these needs. It is not strange that all progressive countries are finding that the percentage of national income required for meeting the educational needs of the people is continually increasing. It is interesting to note that the proportion of our work force directly employed in the teaching profession has increased from 1.59 per cent, in 1911 to 3.18 per cent, in 1961. With the increasing number of persons so employed there is an accompanying increase in the percentage of our gross national product required to finance our Australian universities. It is noted that, in the period from 1947 to 1963, the increase has been from . 11 per cent to 67 per cent., or an increase of six times the amount required in 1947. If these figures are expressed in pounds, the finance required in 1947 for Australian universities was £2.297 million and, in 1963, an estimated £55 million. This is, in some measure, an indication of the rate at which our educational needs are increasing and are being met.
The paper we have been considering indicates the manner in which the problem of the increasing needs of education is being faced. When we look at the tremendously increasing scope of education and when we are aware of the fantastic rate at which the store of human knowledge is increasing in practically every field of interest, it is not surprising that more and more of our available funds need to be devoted to enabling us to try to keep abreast of the widening range of accumulated learning. It becomes increasingly necessary for a person desiring to obtain any degree of competency in any particular field of learning to devote more and more time and study to that subject. It is not surprising that students find it necessary to devote more years of study to their courses and the graduates find great need to pursue post graduate studies. One hesitates to use the word expert these days in connection with the pursuit of knowledge. It used to be said that an expert is one who knows more and more of less and less until, eventually, he reaches the stage of knowing everything about nothing. If that was ever a joke, it is not one today, because it is approximating very closely to the position that we find regarding advanced education at this time.
If we look, for instance, at the field of chemistry, we find that a person is not just a chemist. If one pursues the study of chemistry, one very soon finds it is necessary to segregate one’s attention to one branch of the vast field, and a vastly increasing field, of chemistry. A person nowadays is not merely a biochemist. His attention is focussed on an increasingly narrow range of biochemistry; and so the need is present in the whole range of human knowledge. The terrific expansion in the fields of knowledge can be compared only with our modern knowledge that is gained from the study of radiophysics which teaches us that the universe itself is expanding at a terrific rate, something that has only recently been comprehended.
We find that, in studying this subject of education and the needs of educational training, the provision of finance to meet the needs of the various institutes which are requiring this rapid growth is absorbing the interest of a great number of people. It is pleasing to find that the authors of the Report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia deal with this aspect of the vast expansion of the perimeters of knowledge with a great deal of careful attention. There are some things said in the report, particularly in the first volume, that need to be given some wider prominence. I cannot help resisting the temptation to quote one or two extracts that 1 think are very quotable and which could be well presented to a wider audience. The following words are to be found on page 6 of the Martin report -
It is important to stress that the Committee is hero using the term “ education “ to include both general education and specialised training at all levels. The preceding discussion has referred to the skills of the work force, but it should be emphasised that general education is of basic importance. A broad educational structure, offering opportunities for general education to the young, creates the whole educational climate of a modern nation, which no amount of highly specialised training can replace. Moreover, in a dynamic world, in which skills may become outofdate, a sound general education offers the best guarantee of a flexible work-force whose members are capable of turning to new tasks.
I think that in this report there is an awareness that, despite the pressures in the modern world for increased expenditure on and increased effort in technological education, the basic requirement and the main purpose of education should not be lost sight of. Senator Morris was attracted by the statement in the report that education is something more than preparation for a job and that it goes deeper than mere instruction. I would like to add to that the words of Professor Whitehead, who said -
There is only one subject-matter for education and that is life in all its manifestations.
Accepting these basic concepts of education, one is confronted with the immense task of meeting the basic requirements. It is quite impossible for me, in the time now available, to examine in detail the Minister’s statement or its relationship to the Martin report in its entirety, but, trying to find a few words to sum up my impression of the Minister’s statement, I would use a phrase that was used many years ago in regard to horse breeding activities. One used to see a notice: “ All care taken but no responsibily “. That impression came through to me on reading the ministerial statement.
I am not using that phrase in a critical way. I feel that this attitude has been more or less forced on the Commonwealth Government, which increasingly is bearing the costs in a field where responsibility remains with the State Governments. I think there are cogent reasons why the administration of education should remain largely with the States. There is a decided advantage in having the administration of education divided between the States. We hear a great deal about the advantages of uniformity, but I fear that there would be great danger in constructing a monolithic edifice of education. I think this would be in the nature of a catastrophe. There would be a system under which it was difficult to make changes to meet changing needs or to experiment to find new approaches. So there are, to my mind, great advantages in keeping the administration of education largely the responsibility of the State Governments. In that way we can get some variety into our educational approach.
I feel that, with the major exception of finding further funds for teacher training, the Government’s proposals have gone a very long way towards meeting the increased costs of tertiary education. Senator Cohen started out in his speech to make comparisons of what the Martin report proposes and what the Government’s statement sets out to do, but he did not go very far with his comparisons. I fear that he made very much more of the points of disagreement than of the points of agreement. He certainly did not give due prominence to what the Government proposes to do. He said that the Government’s approach was pedestrian and negative, but I find some very positive points in the Government’s proposals. As an instance, there is the increase by 2,250 of the number of new scholarships. Surely that is a positive proposal. In this respect the Government may not be galloping as fast as Senator Cohen would like, but, to my mind, it is harsh to describe this proposal as a pedestrian approach. I think that at least it raises a canter. Senator Cohen did not give much, if any, prominence to the fact that for the new look tertiary colleges there will be provided over a three-year period the sum of £58 million, of which the Federal Government will find approximately £24 million. It is easy to bandy about millions here and there, but I see the Government’s proposals as a positive approach to meeting the needs of education, particularly when one remembers that it is only comparatively recently that the Commonwealth commenced to assume responsibility in the field of tertiary education.
I was very interested in Senator Cohen’s comments on the Government’s departure from the recommendations of the Martin report in its refusal to accept responsibility for teacher training. Senator Cohen said that this failure tore the heart out of the Martin report, and in support of that statement he quoted the Minister for Education in Tasmania. As Senator Gorton pointed out, that Minister was not an educationist. Senator Cohen’s statement caused me to look at the figures presented in the report regarding the number of young people who stay at school to the age of 17 years. The figures set out in the Martin Committee’s report give a comparison between 1954 and 1961 which is not important at this time but they show that in 1961 the proportion of students aged 17 years still at school in various States was -
I do not know the importance that educationists would put upon these figures but on the face of them it seems that the Tasmanian Education Department has some explaining to do. For example, why is it that in Tasmania where there is a compulsory school leaving age of 16 years, at 17 years virtually all students have failed to continue at school? The statistics in the Martin Committee’s report show that only 4.92 per cent, of Tasmanian children are still at school at the age of 17 whereas in New South Wales the figure is 18.41 per cent. To my mind, this denotes the success or failure of an educational system. If young people have not derived from their acquaintance with an educational system a desire to stay at school, that is evidence that the educational system is not a success. If a love of learning is created, something positive is being done with the character of a child. But in this case, a State educational system which compels children to stay at school until they are 16 has failed to attract any degree of affection for learning or any desire to continue at school.
This also raises the question whether or not it is wise to lift the compulsory school leaving age. The school leaving age in New South Wales and Victoria is 15 years. It is 14 years in Queensland and South Australia and the requirement in Western Australia is that a child has to stay at school until the end of the year in which he reaches the age of 14 years. In Tasmania, the age is 16 years. I have often wondered whether the decision in Tasmania to lift the compulsory school leaving age to 16 was wise.
The figures I have cited give me reason to doubt whether it was a wise decision because these vital years of education are being cluttered up increasingly by young people who are compelled to remain at school. I do not believe that compulsion to attend school after the age of 14 achieves very much with a scholar. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. You can keep a child at school and give him all sorts of educational facilities, but you cannot make him learn. Learning is something positive he must do himself. He may be taught but does not necessarily learn.
The presence in the field of secondary education of a great number of students who are not keen to study and are not willing to utilise their time properly surely must increase the difficulties of the teacher in lifting the standard of interest of the class. He is continually frustrated by students who are in class because they are compelled to be there. If nothing else is achieved by quoting these figures, I hope that what I have said attracts some attention to this remarkable difference between the figures for Tasmania and those for other States.
It is pleasing to me - as it was to several other speakers including Senator Tangney - that the Government does not propose to place any difficulty in the way of part time students. Much has been said - and rightly so - about the value of part time study being available for those who for various reasons are prevented from participating in full time studies. I think many unfair conclusions have been drawn particularly about the failure rates of part time students. Surely it is understandable that part time students would have greater difficulty in passing examinations than people who are prepared and able to devote their full time to their studies.
I should like to compliment Senator Tangney on her comments about the lack of training for tertiary education teachers. While members of the Opposition have been critical of the Government’s decision not to participate in the training of teachers as a part of tertiary education, one has to remember that we are dealing with tertiary education. Training of school teachers is of major and vital importance in the field of primary and secondary education but the time devoted to the training of tertiary educators is virtually nil. Except in the field of technical education, I do not know that teachers in tertiary educational institutions are, in fact, trained to teach. The qualifications required, for example, for a lecturer in first year subjects at a university are not based upon him having been through a training establishment for teaching but upon his qualifications in the subject he is required to teach. The result is that although these people might be excellent students - and Senator Tangney made this point very well - they may be very bad teachers. We talk about the university as a seat of learning but it must be regarded also as a place where a certain amount of teaching must be given. That is also the opinion of the authors of the Martin Committee’s report because they have stated at page 45, chapter 3 -
As teaching is a prime responsibility of universities, every effort should be made to improve teaching methods.
If we analyse the causes of the first year failure rate and the wastage of first year students at universities and in other tertiary education establishments, I am sure the transition from being taught at a secondary school to being subject to a measure of lecturing or educational experience in a university is a gap that many students find it very difficult to bridge.
I believe that the answer to the problem lies partly in phasing out high pressure teaching in the last years at secondary school and in increasing the element of teaching in the first year of tertiary education. Instead of that happening, we find that many schools, being jealous of their records at examinations and of their reputations, increase the pressure of teaching in the final years of secondary education. This problem calls for a greater degree of attention from educators in general. I believe that we could reduce the wastage of students. Surely if a student qualifies by passing the matriculation examination required by a university his mental attainment should be such that, provided he gives an acceptable degree of diligence to his work and does not find the change in the method of education too difficult to bridge, he should be able to pass the examinations subsequently set by the university.
I should now like to refer to agricultural education, in which I have long been interested. This is one of the most difficult fields of education. The difficulties are acknowledged in the Martin Report. No other field of learning is so complex, because it embraces almost the whole range of subjects that it is possible to study. The problems to be overcome here are perhaps greater than in any other field of education. The number of students of agriculture at tertiary institutions is disappointingly low. From memory, 11 per cent, of our work force is directly engaged in agriculture, but only 1 per cent, of the students in the field of tertiary education are studying at the few agricultural colleges that we have in Australia. That is a dramatic indication of the fact that we have not paid sufficient attention to agricultural education. Only 3 per cent, of university students are studying for agriculture degrees. That fact, too, must be considered against the background that 11 per cent, of our work force is engaged in agriculture. Other students are taking veterinary and other allied courses, but altogether those who are engaged in this field of study are few when compared to the total number of people who are engaged in industry.
Let us look at the matter in another way. In 1961 the value of agricultural production in Australia was £1,014 million, while that of manufactures was £2,197 million. In other words, the value of agricultural production was very close to one-half of that of manufactures. When we recall that the agricultural industry provides more than 80 per cent, of our export income, surely it will be agreed that we are not directing enough attention to agricultural education. As I indicated earlier, agricultural education embraces a great diversity of subjects, and the problems that are associated with selecting the right type of school at which to study and the application of the technical training received are very great indeed.
Although it is not generally conceded that the work of the junior farmer movement is in the nature of tertiary education, we do well to place on record the very great part that this movement is playing in agricultural education and, indeed, in education generally. If we were to assess the relative value of the results achieved from making sums of money available to various institutions, we would find that money has never been better spent than in assisting the junior farmer movement. A number of people have been encouraged to come together voluntarily to bring to the rural people a sense of the true value of this particular phase of education. We are greatly indebted to these people.
One wonders why not more men are attracted to the study of agricultural science. But when one looks at the rates of pay that are available to graduates in this field one is not so surprised. I believe that the true value of this form of education is not sufficiently appreciated. Men are leaving the field of agricultural science for the field of pure science and to undertake teaching because the rates of pay in the agricultural field do not compare favourably with the rates that are paid in these other fields. That is not good for a country whose economy is very largely dependent upon the best possible education in agriculture. A new country like Australia has to solve many problems, and the challenge is great. It is a tribute to those who have worked in this field that Australia virtually leads the world in many aspects of agricultural attainment.
I was interested to read the concluding paragraphs of the Minister’s statement and also the statement that was made today about the appointment by the Government of a committee to co-ordinate and direct research through the universities. A tremendous responsibility has been given to these people. The allocation of moneys for research will surely be a matter of considerable contention and difficulty. I trust that this committee will devise a satisfactory distribution of the available funds, because the needs and the claims are great. There is great difficulty in reaching a wise decision to make the most effective use of the moneys available for scientific research. This work must go on. I think we tend in this modern and scientific era to attribute, perhaps, too much importance to the field of scientific education and research, but the competition is so great that we cannot fail to stay in that field. I hope that increasing amounts will be made available for scientific research, for that is the way in which the expanding perimeters are extended even further. We must never forget that the real importance of education is not merely the expansion of our fields but a greater understanding of life itself and the spiritual values that make a people great.
I believe that these are the real requirements of primary, secondary and tertiary education. I repeat the words that I quoted earlier -
There is only one subject matter for education and that is life in all its manifestations.
I believe that the Commonwealth’s increasing interest in tertiary education must continue to grow. I am sure that the Government is aware of the needs and is doing its best, having regard to all its commitments, to meet those needs. I know that those who are directly concerned with education are impatient with the progress we are making. I believe also that there is no party line in our agreement on these needs. There may be a difference of opinion on whether we are moving fast enough or in a way that meets the desires of every section engaged in the business of education, but the Commonwealth is making progress and a material contribution. I welcome the statement that has been presented to the Senate.
– I speak as a layman on the subject of education. I also speak amongst a group of intellectuals who have had university experience and who are referred to in the modern world as “ educationalists “. I think that such people are very important in the community. There is a need for people to specialise and to concentrate on the drive for higher education. I am one of seven members of an Australian Labour Party committee which has the job of studying education. If the speech I am about to make seems to be more mundane than the views expressed by other speakers, it is because I have a layman’s approach to the subject.
I think that the Government is in political difficulties. Senator Prowse suggested that the Government was not emphatic enough in its approach. I think that was the suggestion he made. I believe that the reason for that shortcoming is that the Federal Government is entering a field that has been the preprogative of the States. If there are any experts trained in the subjects we are discussing and the problems we are dealing with, they are to be found on tha
State level. Quite naturally, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has to step very warily when speaking about education. 1 think I have heard him referred to by the title of “ Prime Minister of Education “. The Commonwealth Government has been engaged in the process of filching State rights ever since I have been a member of the Senate, and for many years before that time. It moved into the field of housing.
– I thought the honorable senator approved of that.
– But we are not discussing that subject. I am simply trying to explain the Government’s dilemma. I will not explain my dilemma - just the Government’s dilemma. The Government introduced a few bills dealing with housing which proved to be innocuous.
– We are discussing tertiary education.
– I know. I shall get off the subject of housing very quickly. The Commonwealth Government gets the credit for doing something in the field of housing but it does not really do anything. Government supporters speak of advances of £250 to people who wish to build houses, but they do not mention how many houses are being built. They refer to the loan scheme, but most of the work has been done at State level.
When the Government speaks about tertiary education to the New South Wales Government, it is talking to experts. I shall cite some figures which I have extracted from a speech by the Premier of New South Wales. The number of teachers’ training colleges in New South Wales increased from 2 to 10 in 10 years. This year 8,000 teachers are in training in New South Wales. The New South Wales Government is working on education and does not need to have the stick poked at it. It is really doing the job. Four new universities have been built in ten years and a fifth university is at the planning stage. When we in the Commonwealth sphere refer to tertiary education, we should remember that the boys at the State level are entitled to smile, because they are doing the job already. While we at the higher levels are debating these matters, the work is going on everywhere. I. repeat that in New South Wales a fifth university is at the planning stage.
In Victoria a similar position exists. In 1 0 years the New South Wales Government has spent £670 million on education. Is it any wonder that the Commonwealth should step warily when it eases into the field of education? It is already a pretty well established field. The New South Wales Government has spent half of the State revenue on education. So when the intellectuals and the educationists speak of how much more is needed to be done in the field of education, we should examine what has been done already. That does not mean that I do not think the Martin report is an impressive document. I consider that the Government has done a wonderful thing, even if we have had to wait three or four years for the Report. It is a history of education in Australia, which we have needed for a long time. It will be of great value in the future, because it deals with all of the complex questions that educationists, people interested in education and men in the street are thinking about all the time. The only trouble is that not enough copies have been printed. I think that the last copy has been distributed. I had to sneak the one that I am using from my Leader’s room when he was not looking, because mine was taken from my room.
In the past ten years the number of high schools in New South Wales has increased from 46 to 185. I think that a similar trend is to be seen in almost every other State. I remind those honorable senators who are inclined to be critical of the States that in the referendum which the Prime Minister has announced will be held, the question of an increase in the number of senators from the present figure of 60 will not be involved because, according to some spokesmen of the Government, senators have not really been doing their job of defending the States in the Senate. We have been accused of that. The Senate was established as a States House and it is said that we no longer defend the States. I am not defending New South Wales Governments, past or present. I am not saying that Federal interest in education is not worth while. Tt is an advance that we have Federal interest in education, and this Government is to be complimented on having appointed the Martin Committee and on presenting its findings to the Parliament. When the complete report comes through - it is not finalised yet - it will be a monumental document and worth having. I hope that the Government will have reprints made so that copies may be distributed to all of the people who need the report. Dozens of people have called me on the telephone to ask whether I could get copies for them.
Very few people are not interested in education today, but there are those who have not very much faith in what governments say about certain aspects of education. For example - I shall not cite schools - I met a pupil the other day who had not had very much success at school. He is now aged about 20 and he is battling to get through his examinations. I said: “ Why did you not qualify at school? You have brains.” He said: “ T was never in a class of fewer than 80 pupils. I never had a teacher look over my shoulder and explain a problem to me.” That went for about 50 per cent, of the boys in his class. Overcrowding in schools is a very serious problem. It is at the very basis of the matter. What is the good of talking about tertiary education for that boy when he has been denied education at the lower levels? He has not been prepared for higher education. He will be a success, of course, because he has native ability, but what about all the other boys who have never at any stage had teachers to lean over their shoulders and help them?
– Is that why there is a change of Government in New South Wales?
– No. This boy to whom I referred did not happen to be at a New South Wales school. Do not let us have politics in this matter. There ought to be no politics in education. Nobody who voted against Labour on Saturday last would say that Mr. Heffron had not been a monumental Minister for Education in New South Wales. He did tremendous things for education everywhere in the State. These things have been done over a period of 24 years, because Labour has been in office there for that period. Many persons who were kiddies at school when Labour came in to office were teachers when it left.
– Is the honorable senator conceding victory?
– No. Jack Renshaw has said: “ My head is bloody but unbowed “.
– The honorable senator is certainly not yielding.
Senator ORMONDE__ No, I am not yielding. The question of education is beyond politics. Members of the Labour Party treat it in that way and 1 am certain that Government supporters treat it in the same way. [ just want to make a few remarks about this report as I see it. The Prime Minister said that the heart of this report was in what he called the junior colleges, the second group of tertiary colleges or universities that are to be established. Generally speaking, as a Labour man I would say that if that were the only form of education that the majority would be able to get I would support the Prime Minister. I would argue that it was better to have half an education than none. On that basis I would say that the Prime Minister’s scheme of secondary universities, as we might call them, would do me, because unless something is done many people will not be getting any education at all at the tertiary level.
To that extent the proposal is good, but another group of educationists says that the proposal might cause a deterioration in educational standards. For example, the people at Wagga want a university. They have been demanding one for years. Likewise, the people at Tamworth and the people at Parkes want universities. If the Prime Minister is to settle for a secondary type of university which does not give degrees or a top university education, those people in Wagga and in the other towns I mentioned, which are in country districts of New South Wales, will not be getting the full benefit of a university education. This will be so if they support the local tertiary secondary system which the Prime Minister proposes to establish in these areas. The educationists say that this could be bad for education.
If the Prime Minister has at the back of his mind development of the university system to such an extent that it will take in all those who need a top level university education, that is a different matter. There are tables in the Martin Report that deal with these things, and they will bc invaluable to students. The statistics are just extraordinary, and they make it a wonderful document. I do not know how many people with a university education are necessary to keep Australia at the highest technical and educational level. I am not saying that everybody who has the ability or the desire should not have a university education, if it is possible. A lot of people talk about technical needs. If Australia is to compete with other nations, it must have highly educated men at the top. How many such men must it have? What proportion of university trained men must it have at the top? I am not certain that anybody can answer that.
A few nights ago we saw a film on the Snowy River project. I had been reading the Martin Report and it struck me that of 8,000 men on the project about 6,000 could not even speak English, yet with about 5 per cent, of academics at the top they built the most wonderful project in the world. I am not suggesting that those 5 per cent, were not necessary or that we do not need to have top men. There is some case for the education of men like the 8,000 who helped to build the Snowy Mountains project. I am particularly interested in everyone receiving an education, but I have not heard anyone refer to those men.
Technical education may be slightly outside the field of tertiary education, but I want to deal with it now. I think it was a great mistake for people to become very interested in university degrees and to lose all interest in technical college diploma courses. I know that in New South Wales diploma courses have become unpopular and that people have moved over to the University of New South Wales. I am reminded of certain men who held diplomas and who played an important part in our war effort. Some of the technical men at the top of the war production drive in Australia did not have university degrees; they held diplomas from technical colleges. I do not claim that they would not have been better off if they had had university degrees - I am not arguing that point - but the fact is that they did not have university degrees. The Minister will know some of the men that I have in mind. Sir Giles Chippendall, as he now is, came up through the ranks of the Post Office. He is a diploma man who did a big job in our war effort. Many men like him were called to service from industry. They held diplomas and they did the job, as we all know.
The point I am seeking to make is that people work under great difficulties when doing diploma courses in technical schools. My experience in New South Wales and Victoria has been that the equipment available in technical schools is almost antiquated. To me, it seems always to be about 15 years behind the times. It has been explained to me that, owing to modern developments, they cannot keep up the standard of equipment; it changes too rapidly. The B.H.P. organisation, for example, which has its own school at Newcastle where it trains part time students, possibly would have a more up-to-date technical setup than would the New South Wales technical colleges. This company is teaching its students the skills of the metal and engineering trades as they apply to the steel industry.
It was explained to me by technical college teachers that at the technical college level it was considered to be sufficient to teach the principles involved in the various aspects of a student’s education. I do not know whether that is sufficient; I do not think it is. The Commonwealth Government probably would do better if it made more funds available to the States to enable them to develop their systems of technical education, because that is the field in which assistance is needed. Do not forget that the employers of this country are pretty niggardly when it comes to doing anything about technical education. They are niggardly about letting students off work to do their studies. Boys who want to follow technical trades and to take up studies in technical colleges sometimes have great difficulty in doing so. Nothing is done in this country along the lines of what big American employer organisations do in the matter of employee education. In America substantial grants are made to assist employees. I do not know of any fund that has been set up by Australian industrialists to supplement Governmental aid in the field of technical education. As the industrialists benefit most from technical education, the least you would expect of them would be that they would do something about creating a fund to assist in the development of technical education.
I do not know whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., like B.H.P., has. a technical college of its own, but I think it should have. All big industrial organisations should develop schemes to train their own apprentices. We must face the fact that there is a great shortage of apprentices in Australia today. This is one of our really big problems. Interestingly enough, it highlights the inconsistency in the Government’s attitude to technical education. The Government has a bill in cold storage, which could have been passed during the last sessional period, relating to dilutee employment. Dilutees are people who are given tradesmen’s rights without having been apprenticed to a trade. What is proposed is a short cut towards getting more skilled workers into industry, but the Government should be dealing with the real problem.
I compliment the Government on what it is doing to help in the field of tertiary education at the highest level. We of the Labour Party accept the Martin report, even though we criticise it in some respects for not going far enough. However, the Opposition has a right to do that. We think the Government should do something to assist the States in the matter of teacher training. What is the use of having more colleges if you do not produce more teachers? About one-half the number of teachers now teaching in Australia are from overseas. At present we are evading our responsibilities in relation to teacher training. The Teachers Federation and other organisations have put to us strongly for years the case for developing more intensive teacher training. If we do not do so, we will not have the teachers available to use the facilities which will be provided - shortly, we hope - as a result of measures to be introduced following the presentation of the Martin report. The provision of the new colleges will cost a lot of money. I think the expenditure will be something like £55 million over three years. We need something in addition to bricks and mortar; we need teachers. If we do not do something about teacher training, the field will dry up completely. The teachers are very dissatisfied people. We are living in an age when there is great pressure for increased educational development, and that pressure will not ease in the future. When other attractive avenues of employment are available, young people may not be so anxious to become teachers. They may prefer to enter other spheres of activity.
One of the great things about this report is that it will be a document on permanent file. I do not think that Senator Paltridge, who has now entered the chamber, was here when I mentioned earlier that very few copies of the report are available. There is a demand all over Australia for it. Because the report is in such short supply and because it is of such value, the Government should consider having it reprinted so that copies can be distributed to the thousands of people who are interested in education.
If the Minister assured me that the new colleges which the Prime Minister and the Government have in mind would not replace universities, I would say that the proposal was a good one and one which the Labour Party would accept. We believe that the question of offering this type of education to the mass of the people contains some electoral merit. I think that the Government ought. to reassure the educationists that the top level of university education will not stand still while the other sections develop. The Martin report points out that education exists at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, that it is interrelated from the bottom to the top and that it should always be considered in that light.
The Government has shown an interest in education and it would be foolish to argue otherwise. But I believe that in many ways it has taken the academic view and has not listened to what I might call the utility view. That is terribly important. The education system in the Soviet Union is directed towards the possibility that every child is a potential university student; that every child has a potential for the top. I am not saying whether that theory works out in practice. We seem to have a different idea. Our education system seems to direct one group of children to one standard, another group to another standard, and so on up to the tertiary level. It would need greater brains and greater experience than I have to work out a solution to this problem. I do not have a solution to it. I am only attempting to relate to the Senate the views that have been expressed to me by people who are interested in the problems of education.
I have not very much more to say on the matter. I again congratulate the Government on this report. I am sorry that it will not accept the report in totality. Probably that is impossible because the document deals with so many matters. The report is so comprehensive that I do not suppose any government would be able to implement fully all the findings and recommendations.
The Government has still to face the question that worries me. I refer to the rights of the States and the Commonwealth in the matter of education. All political parties will have to face that issue sooner or later. I can see value in the Commonwealth showing a parental interest in educational matters and in leaving the major problems to the States. I think that it has to adopt that policy at the moment.
I believe, in common with most members of the Australian Labour Party and possibly of the Government parties also, that the more points at which education can be given the better it is for all concerned. But there is a fear that possibly Canberra might exercise a monolithic control.I do not believe that it would be possible for education to be controlled from Canberra. I do not think that anybody would like to see that happen. The Government has to step warily. Members of most political parties have definite policy views on this matter of State and Commonwealth rights in education. It is a problem that we must overcome. As I pointed out earlier, in theory the Government is taking an interest in tertiary education. It is providing finance.
I want to repeat again the achievements of the New South Wales Government in the matter of tertiary education. In the period that we are discussing at the present time, that Government has moved in terms of bricks and mortar in relation to education. The figures are worth repeating. They will bring the minds of honorable senators to the point and give the right perspective. We should not assume that nothing has been done in education. A great deal has been done in education in Australia over the last 10 years. I shall repeat the figures because there are honorable senators present in the chamber now who were not here when I mentioned them a few minutes ago. They apply to New South Wales. Similar figures could no doubt be given for other States. I am not trying to be political in this matter. The number of high schools in New South Wales has increased from 46 to 185. That is a terrific growth in educational facilities. I do not know whether or not the State Government is spending too much of the money that it receives from the Australian Loan Council on education, but the expenditure on education has increased from £51/2 million to £125 million a year. In 10 years the New South Wales Government has spent more than £670 million on education. It has introduced six-year high school courses. It has established four new universities and a fifth is now in the planning stage. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 5.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 May 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650504_senate_25_s28/>.