26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. 1 refer to the announced proposed purchase of twelve Swiss Pilatus Porter aircraft for reconnaissance, observation, supply and casual air evacuation roles. Has the Government learned from the Fill fiasco and agreed upon a firm upper limit to the contract price for these aircraft and the ancillary equipment?
– One lesson that the Government has learned is from the proposal of the Australian Labour Party to bypass the Fill and, if elected to power, to purchase the TSR2.
– That might have been a better aircraft.
– lt might have been but it is not even in production yet.
– No-one knows that it would not have been better.
– No-one knows what the cost might have been. That aircraft has been abandoned. So that is one lesson that we have learned. In regard to the balance of the question, if the honourable senator puts it on the notice paper I will see what answer I can obtain for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. May I say that I am at a disadvantage in that yesterday’s Hansard has not yet been delivered, ls it correct that yesterday the PostmasterGeneral made a statement in the House of Representatives to the effect that television would be extended to isolated areas? Did he specifically mention Kalgoorlie and Geraldton? If such a statement was made in the House of Representatives, does the Minister representing the Postmaster-
General intend to make the same statement in the Senate so that we might have an opportunity to speak on it?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes. With the leave of the Senate, I propose to make the statement at the conclusion of question time.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation seen this morning’s report of a statement made by the New South Wales Advisory Minister for Transport, Mr A. D. Bridges, MLC, in which he used the words ‘there has been a lamentable failure to press on with construction work at Kingsford-Smith .airport at the pace of construction at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport’? I ask the Minister: Who is right, the Askin Liberal Government or the Commonwealth Liberal Government?
– I have seen the report of the statement in the brief time available to me this morning. The Commonwealth Minister for Civil Aviation, the Commonwealth Minister for Works and the Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport have responsibilities in relation to the administration of and all things relating to this matter. What Mr Bridges says is a matter for him; but it seems to me that he has quite a lot of responsibilities in his own State which he would do well to look after.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to inspired reports in our Press over the last week to the effect that, if America would stop bombing North Vietnam, then within a few weeks North Vietnam would be prepared to come to the conference table. Has the Government any information at all which would suggest that there was any truth in these reports?
– The Government has no information which would suggest that there was any truth in these reports, but J would point out to the honourable senator that, on previous occasions when bombing was suspended in the hope that this would lead the North Vietnamese to the conference table, the only result was an accelerated flow of men and supplies and fighting material from the north to the south.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the tragic loss yesterday of a distinguished pilot and a Royal Australian Air Force Mirage aircraft, which apparently crashed in the sea some fifty miles northeast of Newcastle. Has there been a relatively high incidence of mishaps in respect of Mirage aircraft, and particularly of those based at Williamtown? Will the Minister have the details of the various accidents carefully collated in the hope that a study and close examination of them may obviate any recurrence of yesterday’s tragedy?
– The matter referred to by the honourable senator comes within the purview of the Minister for Air, who is in charge of Mirage aircraft, the Williamtown base and so forth. I myself do not feel that there has been any untoward loss of Mirage aircraft from Williamtown. It has not come to my notice that there has been. But I should think that the question is of such importance that the honourable senator should place it on the notice paper so that I may get the details from the Minister for Air, who is the responsible Minister.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Senate regarding the intentions of the Government in relation to arrangements for the implementation of rural feeder or commuter air services which were recently proposed? Will his Department consult with rural and city councils regarding domestic requirements in relation to air passengers and air freight prior to the granting of licences? Will the Department now take the responsibility for the establishment and upkeep of airfields in major rural towns and cities so as to spread the incidence of cost throughout the community?
– The honourable senator’s question does not lend itself to a complete exposition at question time. I remind him that the Minister for Civil Aviation issued a long Press statement in relation to this matter. I have a copy of it with me. If the honourable senator has not a copy of it I shall supply one to him. I shall direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation any new aspects in the question that the honourable senator has put to me and he may get a direct answer from that Minister.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister in a position to advise whether the request made by the Combined Progress Associations of the Bayview Heights and Ingleside areas of New South Wales for finance from the Federal Government has been considered? In view of the recent great fires that caused such destruction in Tasmania, will the Minister seek the help of the appropriate Minister to urge or force the water board of New South Wales, which receives federal moneys, to provide water for 300 families and as many homes - for men, women and children residing fourteen miles from the General Post Office, Sydney? I might add that these people ask whether someone will have to be burnt to death or maimed for life before their cry for help is heard.
– The honourable senator has always shown a keen interest in such matters and in local government. I should think that this matter is one for the Government of New South Wales, but I would not like to dismiss this important question just by saying that. I ask him to put his question on the notice paper. I shall discuss the matter with the Prime Minister to see what assistance, if any, can be given in respect of the problem that he has raised.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Supply. In the light of statements which from time to time emanate from overseas sources as to the probable lessening of the work tasks at the Woomera Rocket Range and the
Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury, South Australia, can the Minister give to the Senate information as to any forward planning of his Department to preserve for the Commonwealth service the skills of many hundreds of highly trained scientists and technicians at present working at Woomera and Salisbury?
– It appears that the programme for the next two years at Woomera and the Weapons Research Establishment will be heavier than we have experienced in the last year or two. Senator Laught will readily understand that at the moment we are renegotiating the joint project which is the subject of agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government. That agreement brought into being the Woomera Rocket Range and the Weapons Research Establishment and has sustained and developed them. As I understand it, Australia’s contribution has been slightly larger than that of the United Kingdom. As we are renegotiating the agreement I cannot give any further information because there is none to give. As to seeking new business, together with the United Kingdom Government, which has a joint interest in further projects, we are constantly in touch with other nations such as Japan which may be interested in testing at the Woomera Rocket Range. I would like honourable senators to know that we are constantly probing and seeking along the avenues we cun find to keep the excellent establishments at Woomera and Salisbury fully employed. When we know the results of our discussions in respect of the joint project, when we can see where the future lies, naturally 1 will report the results to the Senate as soon as possible.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, refers to television reception in the Upper Murray area of South Australia. As the Minister has promised to make a statement this morning in connection with new proposals for television services to isolated areas, I ask him whether he will include in his statement a report on the present examination being made of television reception in the Upper Murray area and whether there is any proposal, as rumoured, to use a particular site for a new television station. If the Minister cannot give that report in the statement he proposes to make this morning, will he get the information and report to the Senate?
– The statement I will make this morning will be the precise statement made by the Postmaster-General in another place yesterday. As to the new matter raised by the honourable senator. I will refer it to the Postmaster-General and endeavour to get a reply for him. If a reply is not available before the rising of the Senate I will ask that a communication be sent to the honourable senator.
– My question follows on the question asked by Senator Webster in respect to commuter air services and is also addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Will Trans Australia Airlines be allowed to take part directly in the proposed services or to be an associate of any of the commuting service operators, or is it intended that these services operators will be left to become agents for Ansett-ANA?
– For much the same reason as I asked Senator Webster to put his question on the notice paper I ask Senator Cant also to put his question on notice. I can then get a comprehensive reply for him.
– My question, which I address to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, relates to a question asked this morning by Senator McManus and the reply given by the Minister in relation to the possibilities of negotiations on Vietnam if and when the bombing of North Vietnam ceases. I ask: What are we to think of the views of U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and many other world leaders who do believe that the cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam will open the way for talks to end the war, and that no progress can be made in that direction while the bombing continues? Is it the Government’s advice to Australian citizens that we should ignore the statements by U Thant and other such eminent men in the world community?
– In regard to what Australians need to make of the statements of U Thant and other people in this connection, I believe they need to examine them and make up their own minds as to what evidence has been tendered in support ot them. All I can say is that there appears to be no evidence available to the Australian Government that the North Vietnamese would come to a conference table should bombing be suspended. As I pointed out in answer to Senator McManus, when bombing was suspended previously in the hope that this would happen, it in fact did not happen, and the result was an additional help to tHe war effort of the North Vietnamese. 1 would appreciate it very much if the suggestion were made that if the North Vietnamese pulled their regular troops out of South Vietnam for a period of twenty-four days, the South Vietnamese would not need to come to the conference table because the attack would have been finished. That seems to be a suggestion that is at least as suitable as the other one.
– I also am interested in the matters raised by Senator McManus and Senator Cohen. Will the Minister inform me as to what evidence is in the possession of the Department of External Affairs of the action taken by U Thant to prevent armed incursions into north eastern Thailand and into Laos by the Vietcong, directed by the North Vietnamese?
– I have not heard or read of any statements by U Thant directed to that particular problem.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General and refers to the Trade Practices Act which was passed by this Parliament in 1965. Can the Minister inform the Senate why the operative and substantial portions of the Act have not yet been proclaimed?
– I understand that there are legal reasons and that arrange ments are being made and talks are going on between various authorities connected with this matter. I believe that the senator will not need to be disturbed for any great length of time in future.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question that is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Bishop. 1 thank the Minister for his interest in the matter of television reception in the Upper Murray area of South Australia and his promise to obtain a reply for Senator Bishop. Can the Minister at the same time obtain similar information for me concerning the Upper Eyre Peninsula area of South Australia?
- Mr President, the answer is yes.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. In connection with the proposed vacation of Wireless Hill, Ardross, Western Australia, by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, will the Minister emulate a former great Australian, Lord Forrest, who set aside King’s Park as a reserve for all time and grant Wireless Hill to the Government of Western Australia to be used as a reserve for all time for the recreation and enjoyment of the people of Western Australia?
– It is clear that 1 shall have to direct that question to the Postmaster-General to see whether he wants to take his place in history under those conditions.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I invite attention to the fact that this Senate spends a great deal of time at question time and on other occasions discussing the great loss of life in Vietnam and the expected loss that we shall have in the future. Also, a great deal of time is spent by our discussing the effects of narcotic drugs in the community and what should be done by the Commonwealth Government. Will the Government give attention to the suggestion that the irresponsible consumption of alcohol by some members of the public creates great hazards to health and to the domestic happiness of certain people in the community, and also contributes to considerable loss of life and the cost of hospitalisation due to road accidents? Will the Government give consideration to providing financial support to institutions which endeavour to direct the attention of the public to the need for responsibility in the consumption of alcohol?
– I will give consideration to the question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. The Minister may recollect that yesterday, in answering a question asked by me, he took strong exception to my use of the word ‘conscript’. He suggested that it was dishonourable and inaccurate for me in particular and members of the Opposition generally to use the word ‘conscript’ when referring to national servicemen who have been sent to Vietnam. By way of explanation of my question, I would refer the Minister to the Oxford English Dictionary - not the shorter but the complete Oxford English Dictionary. I refer first to the definition of the word ‘conscript’, ft is:
A military recruit obtained by conscription; one compulsorily enlisted for naval or military service.
If one turns to the word ‘conscription’, one finds this definition:
The compulsory enlistment of men for military or naval service, especially where the liability to serve is legally established.
– Order! The honourable senator is not asking a question. He is giving information.
– 1 have referred the Minister to the Oxford English Dictionary. Will he not agree that the definiton of conscript’ that appears in that dictionary does apply to all of those national servicemen who are serving in Vietnam? Does it fall within the ambit of his departmental duties to be a greater authority on the meaning of English words than the Oxford English Dictionary?
– In my view, the question does not require an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is it not a fact that for over ten years the Government has regularly stated its intention to bring up to date the hopelessly outmoded Copyright Act? Is it not a fact that this has been regularly promised in addresses of the Governor-General? Is it not also a fact that many people in the community are adversely affected by the continuance of this outmoded Act? Does the Government intend to put off the revision of this Act again?
– The answer to the last part of the honourable senator’s question is no, and the answer to the first part is: I doubt it.
(Question No. 189)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s two questions are as follows:
– I wish to inform the House that the Minister for National Development, Mr Fairbairn, will leave Australia tomorrow on an official visit to the United States of America. He will lead an Australian delegation at the Water for Peace Conference in Washington which has been called by President Johnson. Its broad purpose is to promote international consultation and co-operation in solving the water problems of many countries. The Minister expects to return to Australian on 1 June.
The Minister for Air, Mr Howson, also will leave tomorrow to attend a meeting of the Management Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Malta. He will follow this with visits to Royal Australian Air Force units in Thailand and South Vietnam. He expects to be away until 14 June. During the absence of the Ministers, the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Bury, and the Minister for the Navy, Mr Chipp, will act as Minister for National Development and Minister for Air respectively.
– by leave - In another place yesterday the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) made a statement relating to a proposed agreement for the mining of copper on Bougainville Island. I now propose to present the statement to the Senate on his behalf. The statement is as follows:
A draft agreement has been negotiated for the establishment of a major mining project on Bougainville Island in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. As a result of exploration work during the last three years undertaken by Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd a major low grade copper deposit has been proven. Over 90 million tons of ore averaging 0.63% copper and 0.58 dwt per ton gold have been indicated and geological observations suggest the presence of further substantial ore bodies. Further work will be needed to establish fully the economic feasibility of the very large scale mining project which will have to be launched to bring the venture to fruition. Present indications are that a total investment well in excess of SI 00m will be involved in an operation requiring the provision of roads, a port, dams, a power station and township as well as a mine and mill, and treating as much as ten million tons of ore per annum. An operation of that magnitude would by the mid 1970s double the 1965- 66 rate of Territory exports of $50m.
The company has already spent $4m in exploration work and is in the process of spending another $6m during the current year. There are good prospects that a com mercially worthwhile operation will result. Accordingly a draft agreement has been worked out over many months between the Department of Territories and the Administration of Papua and New Guinea on the one hand and the company on the other. The draft agreement aims at achieving a permanently close and mutually beneficial partnership between the expatriate enterprise and the people of the Territory. It provides for substantial local equity participation and for a three-year tax holiday and certain other tax concessions to the company during the early period to be followed once the venture has been established by a fifty-fifty arrangement for taxing the company’s income.
The provisions for equity participation will give an opportunity for the people of the Territory either individually or through the Administration to retain a permanent substantial interest in this massive project. Once the company decides to go ahead with the project, and provided the Government is satisfied that the venture is sound and offers reasonable prospects of profitable operation, the Government will ensure that an option over 20% of the operating company’s equity capital is taken up either on behalf of or by the people of the Territory. It is proposed that the Territory equity will be held by the Administration or an approved agency and will eventually become available for purchase on appropriate terms by eligible Territory residents. Once the project is firmly established, some eight to ten years after the commencement of production, and the company becomes liable to pay to the Administration 50% of its taxable income after certain appropriate adjustments, the Administration would expect to receive annual revenue of between $10m and $12m from the project.
The people of the Territory stand to benefit in four ways from the success of this project. In the first instance the people of Bougainville Island will reap lasting benefits from massive investment by the company in roads, a port, power and water supplies and improved public amenities by way of schools and medical facilities that will be provided by the Administration. Secondly both the people of Bougainville and the Territory as a whole will benefit from training and employment opportunities in both technical and staff positions and from local purchases made by the company. Payments by way of taxation and royalties will in due course add substantially to Territory revenues. When the enterprise reaches the dividend stage, dividends will accrue on the 20% local share of the company’s equity.
Because of the great economic and political significance of this project to the Territory it is essential that an agreement covering its many facets should be entered into between the Administration of Papua and New Guinea and the operating company and that the agreement should be submitted to the Territory House of Assembly for approval. The Administration of the Territory participated in the negotiations throughout, and the Administrator’s Council was kept informed of progress from time to time and was consulted in detail on the terms of the proposed agreement. A bill to ratify the agreement will be introduced during the next session of the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly but it will not be proceeded with until a later session. Members will thus be able to assure themselves that the terms of the agreement accord with the wishes of their electorates. The successful conclusion of this agreement with CRA will be a milestone in the Territory’s economic development.
– by leave - Yesterday in the House of Representatives the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) made a statement in relation to the extension of television services, which I now propose to make to the Senate on his behalf. It will be understood that when I use the first person pronounI refer to my colleague. The statement is as follows:
The Government recognises that a need exists for the further development of television services in Australia. At present, there are thirty-nine national and forty-five commercial high powered stations and thirtyfour translator or relay stations either operating or approved, covering over 91% of the Australian population. This means that television has been extended in the last eleven years to cover a vast area of the Australian continent. However, there are some areas which, because of their remoteness, comparatively small population or the lack of adequate relay facilities, have not yet been served. The areas to which I refer particularly are Renmark in South Australia, Kalgoorlie and Geraldton in Western Australia, Mount Isa in Queensland, and Darwin. The Government has now decided to extend television in due course to those specific areas.
I must make it clear, however, that it will not be practicable to implement this decision in the short term for Kalgoorlie and Geraldton. In those two cases, the provision of a national service must be dependent on the provision of planned broadband facilities. As the provision of a dual service - national and commercial - is inherent in Government policy, the Government in the meantime will be prepared to discuss with those interested the practicability of establishing commercial stations in all the areas concerned. As honourable members will be aware, the system of national and commercial operation has generally been appropriate, has worked well, and has been satisfactory to the viewing public.
This decision by the Government is not to be interpreted as being the end of the television development programme. On the contrary, the Government has asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to continue its technical studies of effective methods of bringing television progressively to other areas throughout the Commonwealth. This will include the extension, where appropriate, of national and commercial translator services.
– by leave - I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee I present the following report: Ninetieth Report - Treasury Minutes on the Eightieth Report.
The Eightieth Report relates to excise control procedures administered by the Department of Customs and Excise. I commend the report to honourable senators.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Gair) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to child endowment.
Motion (by Senator Gair) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the grant of financial assistance to the States in connection with independent schools.
Debate resumed from 1 1 May (vide page 1400), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bills will be considered separately.
– The Senate is now to consider an important Bill relating to scholarships. It is within comparatively small compass, but the subject matter with which it deals is extremely weighty. This Bill will enable the Commonwealth to grant scholarships in five fields. These are: secondary scholarships, technical scholarships, Commonwealth advanced education scholarships, Commonwealth university scholarships, and Commonwealth post-graduate awards. None of these categories of scholarships is new because this system has operated and is operating under the Commonwealth Scholarships Board, the Commonwealth Office of Education, and under regulations known as the Commonwealth Scholarships and Awards Regulations which have covered much the same subject matter and ground as the present Bill does.
The Bill, as the Minister has told the Senate, repeals the existing Education Act 1945-59. We can summarise the effect of this provision as being that the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Commonwealth Scholarships Board are to be abolished. With the abolition of these authorities, their functions will be taken over by the Ministry of Education and Science so that the work that was formerly performed by those authorities will become part of the work of the Ministry of Education and Science. We see no objection to that course. It is obvious that, with the formation of the Ministry, these matters had to come within the purview of the Ministry of Education and Science. It would not have been practicable or desirable to give them some degree of independent existence to carry out some functions separate from those of the new Ministry. So, as I say, we offer no objection to this method of procedure. The Bill, in repealing the Education Act, will substitute for it the new Scholarships Act and provide for the consequential abolition of bodies that formerly had done the work.
One could, perhaps, on an occasion like this take the opportunity to traverse the whole ground relating to scholarship policy. On this occasion I do not propose to do that. Last night I had the privilege of addressing the Senate during the course of a debate on other educational matters in which the views of the Opposition on the inadequacies of the Commonwealth’s approach to education were set forth by me at some length. I certainly have no desire to cover the same kind of ground today. In giving support to this Bill and in giving strong support to the extension of any scholarship scheme which benefits students and their families in the community, we would not want it to be thought that we were endorsing every aspect of the administration of the present scholarship scheme. Indeed, on the Senate notice paper there is a notice of motion from the
Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) inviting the Senate to express its concern at the inadequacies of the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. As I say, I do not intend to canvass that or to make the case which can undoubtedly be made in support of such a proposition. It is important, I think, that we should realise that we have a long way to go before we can boast of equality of educational opportunity in this country. That is the view of educationists and it is the view of citizens who give deep thought to the problems of education and to the future of young people. So it is important, whilst not debating this matter, to express our reservations about the extent to which we have gone.
I want to stress the point by referring to the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia - the Martin Committee. Reference is made in that report to a publication by Dr W. C. Radford, the Director of the Australian Council for Educational Research in relation to school leavers in Australia. The Martin Committee made full reference to what Dr Radford had to say. The Committee commented as follows:
I think that one only has to recite that statement to realise how far off we are from a state in which it can be truly said that every child in this country has the same general opportunity to pursue higher education. With those expressions of reservation, I indicate that we are pleased to see a Bill which sets out specifically what the scholarships are and which lays the basis for a proper foundation of a scholarship system covering a wide area.
But there is another aspect of the Bill which has given the Opposition cause for very great concern. I refer to a feature of the Bill to which the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) drew attention in the course of his remarks in presenting the Bill to the Senate. I refer to the existence of extraordinarily wide discretionary powers in the Minister to do virtually whatever he likes under this Bill. If this Bill becomes law it will mean that certain matters become not only the responsibility but also the prerogative of the Minister. Clause 10 of the Bill, for example, states:
The Minister shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine -
the number of scholarships that may from time to time be granted;
I would be inclined to concede that this is a matter which is properly within the discretion of the Minister because it depends upon the financial provision made in any one year, and that would necessarily involve some determination at ministerial level as to the sum of money available and the number of scholarships to be awarded in that year. I leave that on one side and perhaps will have the opportunity to discuss it in Committee. Clause 10 also provides power in respect of -
Dealing with the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships, 1 point out that this is not a matter on which there are regulations which would tie the Minister’s hands in respect of a number of closely set out propositions. This is a matter in relation to which the Minister would be at large in the exercise of his discretion as Minister to alter the terms of eligibility at any time and to prescribe the terms so widely that he and his Department would be completely unrestricted in deciding what was to be done, what standards were to be set, what means test was to operate and so on. He frankly sets this out in his own speech, wherein he invites the Senate to give its attention to the problems that are raised.
I go on to point out that at every stage in the clauses of the Bill which follow we are met with a series of situations in which what is done is done in accordance with the directions of the Minister and not in accordance with regulations which define the limits within which discretions are to be exercised. For example, clause 16 provides:
The Minister may determine the terms and conditions on which scholarships are to be held and may make provision by determination for the termination of scholarships on breach of any such term or condition or on such other grounds as he specifies in the determination.
He may make determinations, give directions, grant approvals and vary or revoke anything that is done by him under the Act. Stated shortly, the Opposition does not regard that as an acceptable basis upon which this Act can be administered. We think the powers are wide; dangerously wide. 1 have never known a case of a Minister seeking this power in a Bill. I have known many cases in which, under regulation, a Minister has wide discretion. I think I should say here and now that 1 would not want to tie the hands of a responsible Minister and I do not think he should be bound hand and foot in the administration of an Act, particularly an Act like this in which, at various points and frequently, discretion may be called for. But we believe that the Minister should be subject to the law. If this Bill is passed in its present form no limits aTe imposed, apart from the Minister’s being answerable to Parliament. Such limits may occur at some stage in regulations - I do not know - but there are no limits in the Bill defining the area of the Minister’s discretion.
I think the Minister would concede that if it were not merely a matter of power, but a matter of his exercising power in an unfettered way, he could become virtually a dictator in education. Taking the Bill as it stands, he would have the power to make every relevant decision on every question of principle and he would not have to make such decisions in accordance with any particular statutory obligation that would limit his discretion. We believe that the proper way to approach this question is to prescribe that certain things shall be within the province of the Minister and certain things shall be defined by regulation, but beyond that, as provided for in the amendments that I will move on behalf of the Opposition at the Committee stage, there should be an area in which his own final responsibility can be asserted.
We would be happy to see provision for an appeal to the Minister from any refusal of a scholarship or any decision made departmentally in relation to a scholarship. For that matter we would be happy to see a provision giving the Minister power to grant a scholarship in special circumstances, notwithstanding that the regulations had not been complied with, provided that there was a concurrent obligation on him to report such matters to the Parliament in what we believe should be an annual report. The Minister indicated in his second reading speech that he wants to report certain matters to the Parliament each year. We believe that that should be a requirement under the Act and that one of the matters that should be mentioned specifically in the annual report is not the individual cases but the general types and numbers of cases dealt with under a reserve power and the reasons for exercising such power.
We will not oppose the motion for the second reading of this Bill. But we indicate to the Minister that we are not prepared to support in their present form those clauses that give such a wide amplitude of discretion to him. We have to reach the position where the Minister is subject to the Act and the regulations. One matter that should be quite clear in any Act or in the regulations made under it is the actual terms and conditions of eligibility. Let me take the means test as an example. Every parent who wants information on whether his or her son or daughter is entitled to be considered for a scholarship should be in a position to know whether there is a means test and, if there is, what it is.
– Does the Bill contain any provision that requires that matter to be the subject of regulation?
– Not of regulation. No provision in the Bill requires any particular matter to bc the subject of regulation.
– That was as I read the Bill, but I wanted to know whether the honourable senator had found any such provision.
– I cannot find anything that requires a regulation to be made on any particular subject. There is certainly provision for the making of regulations and it may be that these things in fact would be done by regulation. But there is nothing in the Bill itself that would require the promulgation of regulations on any particular aspect. Whether a matter would be dealt with by regulation or by determination or direction by the Minister, as I understand the Bill, would be a matter for the Minister himself to decide. It would be for him to decide whether he would cover certain matters by regulation or deal with them administratively, by some direction, general decision, departmental order or administrative order that would cover the administration of the Act.
That is the position that we take up on the Bill. We will not oppose the second reading. I have had prepared a list of amendments. It may include several that I have not previously formulated. They will be dealt with separately in Committee. We express our great concern at the way in which these Ministerial powers are framed but we support strongly the Commonwealth’s increasing role in the scholarship field and we express the hope that this interest will be extended further as time goes on.
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria) f 1 0.52] - 1 congratulate Senator Cohen on some aspects of his speech but in respect of others I feel that he has adopted his usual practice, as the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) said last night, of damning with very faint praise any positive action that is taken by the Government. As he concluded his speech he did say that the Opposition supported what the Government was doing in relation to scholarships, although a little earlier he directed attention to Senator Murphy’s motion expressing concern at the inadequacies of the Commonwealth University Scholarship Scheme. Because Senator Cohen referred to that, I should like to say something about the Scholarship Scheme. lt cannot be denied that the Scheme has provided assistance to many thousands of students throughout Australia and given opportunities to many who would have been unable to pursue their studies at universities, colleges of advanced education or technical and secondary schools had such a scheme not been in operation. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard tables which show the increases in awards available and the increased proportion of Commonwealth scholars.
The tables below show how the proportion of Commonwealth scholars has increased:
ie) Total number of full-time, part-time and external students in undergraduate courses in Australian universities 1960-1966 including holders of Commonwealth Scholarships:
1 believe that a perusal of these tables will prove that the Commonwealth scholarship scheme is having the results claimed by the Minister. I should like also to refer to a table entitled ‘Scholars in Training 1966 and 67’, which gives a comparison of expenditure in the year 1965-66 and estimates of expenditure in 1966-67. This table shows the increases in the numbers of students and in the expenditure on scholarships over those two years. As to secondary awards, 15,777 were held at 30th June 1966; 10,000 were available in 1967 and the estimated number held in 1967 is 19,500. The actual expenditure on that class of scholarship in 1965-66 was $5,196,832. The estimated expenditure for 1966-67 is $6,465,000. As to technical awards, 2,749 were held at 30th June 1966; the number available in 1967 was 2,500 and the estimated number held in 1967 is 3,700. The actual expenditure in 1965-66 on technical awards was $600,102: the estimated expenditure for 1966-67 is $963,000. At 30th June 1966 20,570 university awards were held. The number available in 1967 was 8,000 and the estimated number held in 1967 is 26,000. The actual expenditure in 1965-66 on university awards was $9,848,189. The estimated expenditure for 1966-1967 is $12,800,000. Advanced education awards held at 30th June 1966 totalled 1,526. The number available in 1967 was 1,000 and the estimated number held in 1967 is 1,900. The actual expenditure on advanced education awards in 1965-66 was $197,444; The estimated expenditure for 1966-67 is $700,000. The number of post-graduate awards held at 30th June 1966 was 874; the number available in 1967 was 500 and the estimated number held in 1967 is 1,200. The actual expenditure on post-graduate awards in 1965-66 was $1,801,000; the estimated expenditure for 1966-67 is $2,296,000. The total number of awards held at 30th June 1966 was 41,496. The number available in 1967 was 22,000 and the estimated number held in 1967 is 52,300. The actual expenditure on all types of awards for 1965-66 was $17,643,567. The estimated expenditure for 1966-67 is $23,224,000.
The figures set out in the table illustrate clearly the results of the expansion of Commonwealth activities in the field of education. Senator Gorton outlined that expansion in his second reading speech. I would like to congratulate him, as I have done before, on becoming the first Minister since Federation to administer a Commonwealth Department of Education and Science. That is a signal honour. Having in mind the amount and quality of the work Senator Gorton put into the field of education in the years when he was working in association with the Prime Minister’s Department, it is easy for us to understand why he was selected to administer the new Department of Education and Science.
I should now like to say something concerning the contents of the measure which, as Senator Cohen said and the Minister explained, repeals the Education Act 1945-1959 and replaces it with an Act to be known as the Scholarships Act 1967. The Minister dealt with the history of the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Commonwealth Scholarships Board, both of which will cease to exist after the repeal of the Education Act. Senator Gorton explained that the functions previously carried out by the Education Division and the Office of Education had been taken over by his Department when it was established and that therefore there was no need or justification for continuing the Office of Education as a separate entity. He explained also that in the past the responsiblity of the Scholarships Board was limited to advising as to administration of scholarships awarded for studies in universities and colleges of advanced education and did not include any formal responsibilities for secondary or technical scholarships. These, he said, have been administered since 1964 as the direct responsibility of the Minister.
Dealing now with certain clauses of the Bill, clause 5 relates to Commonwealth secondary scholarships; clause 6 to technical scholarships; clause 7 to advanced education scholarships; clause 8 to university scholarships, and clause 9 to postgraduate awards. Clause 10, to which Senator Cohen referred, confers authority on the Minister to determine the number of scholarships that may be awarded from time to time. Senator Cohen had no objection to this, for he believed that this discretion came properly within the province of the Minister. However, he argued that the other discretions outlined in clause 10 - the eligibility of persons for grant of scholarships, the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted, and the persons or class of persons authorised to grant scholarships - should not be left to the discretion of the Minister. He submitted, also, that the Minister during the course of his second reading speech had drawn the attention of the Senate to the fact that the ministerial powers contained in the Bill were quite extensive. Of course, that is so. However, 1 felt that the Minister went to some length and detail to explain the need for ministerial discretion in dealing with the large and ever increasing number of students. When instancing their different circumstances and problems, hs claimed - and I thought with justification - that it would be impossible to make regulations to cover all the circumstances, and he quoted a figure of about 52,000. From the table dealing with scholars in training it would seem that there are 52,300, so he has 300 or possibly more problems than he thought he might have to deal with.
While acknowledging that the discretionary powers were extensive, Senator Gorton made the statement that he proposed to have prepared an annual statement or report that would disclose the number of scholarships awarded in the various categories, the general conditions of eligibility, the maximum benefits payable, the courses approved at colleges of advanced education, and similar matters. I also agree that the powers are wide, but I felt that the Minister’s offer of a statement or a report would provide the Parliament and the public with the relevant information concerning the Commonwealth scholarships scheme. Moreover, the Minister admitted that this would put him in the position where he could be called upon to explain or defend in Parliament any decision taken by him in the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by this measure. Therefore, while I was interested in the extent of the powers, 1 must say that 1 deeply appreciate the Minister’s offer to produce the report or statement, for I view it as a genuine attempt to overcome the objections that might be raised to granting to the Minister such extensive powers of discretion.
– Where was that referred to?
– In the Minister s second reading speech. I shall now make a brief reference to clauses 12, 13 and 14, which set out the financial assistance benefits available to holders of Commonwealth scholarships. The proposed assistance in respect of Commonwealth secondary and technical scholarships in respect of fees, text books or equipment is fixed in the Bill at $200 or such greater amount as is prescribed, and the payment of living allowances is fixed at the. rate of S200 per annum or such higher rate as is prescribed for a full time student and SI 00 per annum or such higher rate as is prescribed for a part time student. If I understood Senator Cohen correctly, I believe he was implying that it was not possible for students or th;ir parents to know the limit of the allowances payable in respect of certain awards, but the Bill also sets out the proposed financial assistance to holders of Commonwealth advanced education scholarships and Commonwealth university scholarships, lt consists of the payment by the Commonwealth in respect of fees payable by or in respect of the holder of the scholarship of such amounts as are payable under paragraph (a) of clause 13 in accordance with the directions of the Minister; the clause provides also that living allowances are fixed for a holder living at home at $559 per annum or such higher rate as is prescribed, and in any other case at $852.80 per annum or such higher rate as is prescribed. The Bill proceeds to set out the allowances for the spouse of a married couple, and takes into account the children of the holder of a scholarship. I believe that some of the matters d;alt with by Senator Cohen have been covered, and therefore at this point I should like again to congratulate the Minister on what he has done in every field of Commonwealth activity in education. Senator Gorton is possessed of the background to make him a first class Minister for Education and Science. As I said before, he is the first such Minister since Federation to hold that portfolio and I believe that Australian education generally will benefit greatly from his work. I support the Bill.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the Bill and is pleased to see a further advance in education. Like Senator Cohen, we were somewhat concerned, when we read the Bill, at what appeared to be the very wide powers that are vested in the Minister; but after a lot of inquiry and a lot of discussion, we have come to the conclusion that there is a good deal to be said for resting the powers iri the way in which they are set out here.
In Australia we do not have a Federal education system. Education, to a big extent, comes under the control of the States. There are very considerable difficulties at times with regard to reconciling Federal policy with the different systems in the different States, and it seemed to us that there was a claim for a wide discretion in the Federal Minister from that point of view. I might say that I was a teacher for many years and I have been very interested in matters of education. I must say, too, that on occasions I have found it much more advantageous to deal with a Minister who has discretion than to deal with ordinary servants of a department who were bound by regulations and who had no such discretion. There have been many cases, as I have said before, where I have found that the servants of education departments, because they had no discretion themselves, interpreted regulations and other matters in a very rigid way.
– They were unable to give a decision even though one had a good case.
– That is so. I do not blame these men because they are bound rigidly by the terms of the regulations. But, as Senator Morris says - and he would have had some experience - often they are unable to help one on matters on which, where the Minister has a discretion, if one is able to put a good case, one can get a favourable answer from the Minister.
– It is the same with many departments.
– It is with many departments. I do not say this about all Ministers, but I would say it about many of them. I would sooner put a case to many of the Ministers than put it to servants of their Departments who are bound by regulations and who can only say: There it is. I am sorry.’ I think that even Senator Cohen and the Australian Labor Party realised that there was something in that contention because, after putting forward a number of amendments for the purpose of placing these powers directly into the hands of the Minister, rather than have them conferred by regulation, they then proceeded to say: We realise it may not be a good thing if it were entirely subject to regulations, so we propose to give a discretion to the Minister.’ One proposed amendment is to insert a new clause 16 (a) to read:
The Minister may in special circumstances, grant scholarships, notwithstanding that the requirements of the Regulations are not complied with.
What does that mean? It means that it is for the Minister to determine these matters in the ultimate, not the regulations. It seems to me that, to a degree, that amendment of the Australian Labor Party is a concession to the feeling that these are matters that probably we shall have to leave with the Minister.
Again, the Australian Labor Party proposes the substitution of a new clause for clause 17 as contained in the Bill. The proposed new clause reads:
There shall be an appeal to the Minister from the refusal of any application or from any decision made in relation to a scholarship under this Act or the Regulations.
Why say: ‘We do not think these powers should be in the hands of the Minister,’ and then turn round and say: ‘In this particular case the Minister can determine it. He can ignore the regulations?’
– It has to be a special case.
– The Minister could say that every case was a special case, if necessary. There is nothing here to determine what is a special case and what is not a special case.
- Otherwise we would have no rules.
– 1 suggest that we do not particularly have any rules if we simply say that we will make these powers subject to regulations and then say that the Minister can ignore the regulations if he wants to. As I have said, under proposed new clause 17, there will be an appeal to the Minister from the refusal of any application. I do not think that our Party could support a proposition that we should make regulations and then say that the Minister need not observe the regulations. In those circumstances, and because of my own experience in the Education Department of one State, and in educational matters generally, I would support the Bill as it stands on these matters because, in my experience, we get a better deal when we deal with a Minister rather than with his servants who are hampered by sets of regulations which they feel they have to adhere to rigidly. 1 refer particularly to the way in which officials have interpreted the transport regulations in my own State of Victoria, where, on may transport issues, people who had very good cases have been knocked back by the servants of the Department while the Minister was in a situation to say he realised they had exceptionally good cases. It has been found necessary to try to find ways to strain the regulations in order to give justice to people on transport issues. Therefore the Australian Democratic Labor Party will not be supporting the suggested amendment to clause 17. The new clause 17b reads:
The Minister shall make an annual report to the Parliament on the operation of the Act . . .
We think this should be done, and we hope the Minister will accept that particular amendment. Whatever happens, we support that proposal because we think it is only right that it should be done. Otherwise, we support the Bill.
– The Senate is dealing with a Bill that has been introduced by Senator Gorton as Minister for Education and Science entitled the ‘Scholarships Bill’. It has the advantage that it enumerates what classes of scholarships will stem from Federal Government finance. In addition to setting out the classes of scholarships, the Bill also contains a unique collection of powers which, .as the Bill is drafted, are committed to the determination, approval or direction of the Minister.
The Bil) also repeals the Education Act 1945 and, in the course of doing so, abolishes the Commonwealth Scholarships Board. I am one of those who, come what may, and however it is received, join with Senator Wedgwood in paying tribute to the amount and quality of work that Senator Gorton has contributed to the purposes of education. This has been a difficult field to pioneer due to the absence of any direct power in education vested in the Commonwealth. Because of this, the Commonwealth has had to operate in a complementary sense to the State Education Departments. Senator Gorton has pioneered the way since we originally opened up our interest in education by first entering the field Oi universities and Commonwealth scholarships. We are now extending these scholarships to those that are enumerated in the Bil) - secondary, technical, advanced education and universities scholarships, and postgraduate awards.
In this Parliament we constitute two Houses so that one shall be a check upon the power of the other. In our democracy, we have all sections of people represented in Parliament so that laws may be made to govern the administration of any important field of public interest. One of the great erosions upon which great effort is being exerted in our generation is the undermining of the proper supervision by Parliament of the law, and, as part of this, of those who exercise and administer the law. At this stage I am simply indicating that the invariable course that I have pursued here for seventeen years has been to endeavour to have laws formulated so that people will know of their rights according to law. The very antithesis of that is a wholesale discretion on the part of any official or Minister.
The same impulses that make me regard myself as bound to defend the Constitution when sections of it are attacked in order to weaken the respect that would be forthcoming for decisions of the Senate in years to come, when it has to oppose the House of the Executive, make me believe that the Senate fails lamentably in upholding one of its chief provinces and purposes if, in a wide field of public finance in which, as 1 think Senator Wedgwood told us, $57m is to be spent on scholarships this financial year, expenditure is permitted to be the subject of determination or direction. There are some safeguards by way of regulation. There are some upper limits. I shall need to be more persuaded as this debate proceeds if my reason is to be convinced that the proposition that the proposed expenditure shall be generally the subject of determination is consistent with the proper basis on which the Senate should exist, be preserved or retain respect.
Before I develop that theme, Mr Deputy President, let me remind the Senate that Lord Hewart issued his warning against the growth of bureaucracy in 1925. In 1931 the Senate was faced with a constitutional crisis of first importance in relation to its control over the administration of the Executive, which, at that time, the Senate very seldom attempted to exercise except in relation to regulations. In that great crisis the Senate exerted and maintained its right to disallow regulations, and claimed and thereafter was credited with a special field of work in the supervision of regulations, which, I remind honourable senators, can be made by any two Ministers in the presence of the Governor-General. Why have we a statute, which passes through all the forms of the Parliament so as to ensure that the representatives of the people, in public debates in the Parliament, shall be given an opportunity to criticise for the benefit of the public the terms of the legislation in question? Why do we require a regulation to take a specific form - a very easy and convenient form that can be put into writing just as easily as a determination - if, nowhere in this Bill is it laid down that determinations must be given written form? Why do we require regulations? They attract to themselves a particular method by which the Senate in particular and the Parliament as a whole has provided for parliamentary supervision of their provisions.
After the Senate, with great courage took its stand in the crisis which arose in 1931 and which, according to my memory continued for about eighteen months, Hitler achieved the downfall of the German constitution by the use of executive power. Even in the middle of the war there were great debates in judicial circles in London about the preservation of the English Constitution. In 1942 Lord Atkin, particularly, took a prominent part in dissenting from the unlimited control that was then claimed by the Executive. In relation to a regulation there arose the question of whether, if the Executive thought a man should be interned, he ought to be interned. The House of Lords, by a majority, said that he should not be interned. Lord Atkin spoke out and said that when a regulation was so framed as to provide that if a Minister had reason to believe that a person was disaffected and should be interned, the question of the reason for the belief arose. Lord Atkin said: ‘I will defend the position, even in 1942 and even if I speak alone’. After the crisis was over his view was accepted and the Constitution was regarded in a spirit in which the Executive was denied complete control. We in Australia have seen a gradual descent of parliamentary powers, which have passed into the hands of the Executive over the last twenty years. I describe this as the downward slope of the degradation of Parliament.
A symptom of this process is to be found in the Education Act 1945-1949, which was introduced by Labour before the people approved the constitutional amendment of 1946 that specifically gave this Parliament power to provide benefits for students.
– I thought it was the Education Act 1945-1959.
– I thank the Minister for mentioning that, and I apologise. That is correct, Mr Deputy President, as the Act is reprinted. In Part III of that Act, section 8 (1) provides:
For the purposes of this Act there shall be a Board, to be known as the Commonwealth Scholarships Board, which shall,-
This is the symptom that was then emerging - subject to any direction of the Minister, be charged with the general administration of this Part.
Various matters relating to the Board were then set out. We would give the Executive sufficient credit to think that it would select for appointment to the Board persons who have some knowledge of education and its administration. Section 14 of the Act provides:
The functions of the Board shall, subject to the regulations-
Again I point out that this germ of power was then being cultured - and any directions of the Minister, be -
For the purpose of re-establishing exservicemen -
Whilst that germ was there giving the power to the Minister to make directions, it did conform at least to the principle of parliamentary government by requiring that arrangements for re-establishment, the prescribed classes of cases to assist other persons to obtain training in universities, and the prescribing of financial assistance to students should be by regulation and therefore be subject to the supervisory power of this Senate in particular, and also the other House of the Parliament if it so chose.
I never thought that I had laboured in the Liberal vineyard for twenty-three years now to find no effort to improve that situation but indeed a determination to degrade it and make the wide field of the administration of these scholarships, the terms of eligibility for scholarships and the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted the subject of a Minister’s direction. I consider these matters in the light of my conception of parliamentary government and not with regard to what the personality of any Minister is. I have paid my tribute to the present Minister. But when laws of this sort are framed they are framed irrespective of personalities. They are to be consistent with the Constitution under which we live, which was inherited and which some of us have made it our purpose to pass on untarnished.
I have said sufficient to indicate that we have only to read the second reading speech delivered by the Minister on this Bill to have it pointedly brought home to us that, in the conditions which have existed and which the Bill proposes to continue in existence, decisions are taken by the Minister who is responsible for explaining and defending them in this House if they are questioned. In short, he is answerable. The reason why I mention these matters concerning the terms of eligibility for scholarships and the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted is that the foundation - the basic principle - of the law should be that the scholarships are available to everyone who qualifies on curtain conditions and without discrimination. No field is so fertile in respect of provoking anxiety, jealousy and uneasiness as the field in which scholarships are awarded and the criteria governing the granting of them unless the qualifications for eligibility are laid down in print so that all can go to the office of a department of education and read the qualifications. I did this in Melbourne on Monday. I went to the Victorian Department of Education and purchased a copy of the scholarship regulations. I read in those regulations that my son or the son of anyone else is entitled to present himself for examination or comply with certain conditions which are objectively laid down and then be judged not by a political figure but, where there is discretion, by the knowledgeable head of the Department of Education who would interpret the regulations so as to ensure that each man is entitled to the same treatment under the law. This is the first birth right that the student has - the right to qualify for his scholarship by no man’s leave underneath the law.
I would fully support any viewpoint that in special cases gave the Minister a discretion to vary a decision. It is quite idle for Senator McManus to put the viewpoint that the Bill, through the medium of comprehensive regulations, prescribes the entitlement of students to scholarships. The Bill would be so framed if it were made clear that in special cases the Minister would have power to depart from the strict criteria while being, of course, faithful to the law. Anybody who thinks that special exemption from the law is given to matters of education is, let me say, as 1 put my point on it with all good will, uneducated. If education ought to provide us with any qualities of citizenship whatsoever, the first of them should be recognition of the safeguards within our parliamentary system and the Con.sitution. I use that term to embrace not only the written Constitution of Australia but also the inherited functions of the law of the British Constitution.
If we do not properly understand that this is the first lesson that we absorb from education, we fail. I do not claim that if we absorbed it we are thereby educated, but it is a condition especially for a parliament when dealing with a field of education so pregnant with opportunity for discriminations that create heartburn, jealousy and a sense of injustice; indeed, such a field as has been the subject of great debate in the Parliament this week. That sense of injustice must be satisfied and can be satisfied only by prescribing the rule and conditions which everyone shall fulfil in order to be eligible to gain a scholarship.
Provision should be made also for exceptional cases. By no means do I ever go through these matters with a fine toothcomb, but I could never excuse myself if I deserted this principle. There is in the Minister’s speech a statement which is an unqualified bid to substitute for regulations, because they are subject to supervision by the Senate, directions, determinations and approvals. The de-escalation has gone on: facilis descensus averno
– -Tros Anchisiadae.
– Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hie labor est.
– Come off it. I thought we were discussing an education BUI.
– Some labor under great tension in this place. When I get the retort, I have not meant to offend anyone. It is the only section of Latin verse that I know. Let me have some relaxation at times. I find the tension terrific. I was saying that the Senate had fixed on regulations as its special field for parliamentary supervision. We have seen in recent legislation, especially since the Ipec-Air Pty Ltd case a drift towards using instruments in writing in lieu of regulations. Senator Cormack has prominently brought this matter to the Senate’s attention on several occasions, and I have brought it to the Senate’s attention on a great number of occasions. Instruments in writing do not attract the power of disallowance in the Acts Interpretation Act. In this Bill we find reference to the direction of the Minister, and in clause 10 to the determination of the Minister. Reference to the determination of the Minister is strewn throughout other clauses of the Bill, and in particular in clauses 16 and 17. Clause 16 states:
The Minister may determine the terms and conditions on which scholarships are to be held and may make provision by determination for the termination of scholarships on breach of any such term or condition or on such other grounds as he specifies in the determination.
It is not even required by law that it should be expressed in writing; it is implied.
The Minister in his second reading speech has stated that in parliamentary terms there will be the equivalent of an undertaking given, because he said:
In addition 1 propose to have prepared an annual statement, or report, indicating the numbers of scholarships awarded in the various categories, the general conditions of eligibility, the maximum benefits payable, the courses approved at colleges of advanced education, and similar matters,-
When one reads clause 17, which provides ‘An approval, direction or determination of the Minister under this Act may be varied or revoked by the Minister’, and then one finds that the Minister shall make such arrangements as he thinks proper in publishing these matters, one sees that there is an unqualified bid to substitute for the use of regulations the determination, direction or approval of the Minister. One notices a deliberate dropping of the expression ‘in writing’. It is quite clear that if the Senate were to accept this proposition, it would surrender its power over regulations which it has made its special field to safeguard since the great constitutional crisis of 1931.
The Minister stated in his speech that there arc some 52,000 students at present holding Commonwealth scholarships. He stated in referring to ministerial powers:
They do give a wide area of discretion but in dealing with the particular circumstances and problems of tens of thousands of individual students - there are 52,000 students at present holding Commonwealth scholarships- it is quite impossible to frame regulations which cover all the cases that may and do arise.
There is within that paragraph an ingredient that unmistakably shows a very real misconception, I think, of ministerial province in this matter, lt would be preposterous that any Minister should think or that anybody should attribute to himself the notion that he was ever concerned, himself, with the problems of 50,000 individual students. It would be improper and, in a sense, unpermitted. The Minis ter’s province is to enunciate policy for his Department so that it can draft regulations prescribing rules that generally conform to the requirements of a body of students as a body. Individual circumstances only come to the Minister in special cases. It is not adopting a real approach to say that he should be preoccupied with 52,000 students. The Minister stated: . . it is quite impossible to frame regulations which cover all the cases that may and do arise.
The Victorian Education Department has laid down regulations giving discretions, prescribing rules and referring to the possibility of the Minister acting on the recommendations of a committee. They also stale that the committee shall have regard to this and that in granting scholarships. These regulations certainly give the Department and the Minister quite large discretions, but nevertheless they lay down the fundamental rules and conditions. If the Victorian Education Department can lay down such regulations, I for my part cannot be persuaded that a new Federal department cannot equally overcome what is called the ‘impossibility to frame regulations’ that provide for the generality of cases.
The next argument I use regarding this claim is that although the Minister says that each year after the event he will make an annual statement, he does not say that it will be submitted to Parliament. He stated:
In addition 1 propose to have prepared an annual statement, or report. . . .
He did not say that it is to be submitted to Parliament. I do not place any great weight upon that, but I ask the Senate to note it. But if it is possible to set out in a statement, with the completeness that commands one’s confidence, the number of scholarships awarded in the various categories, the general conditions of eligibility, the maximum benefits payable, and the courses approved at colleges of advanced education, it is equally possible to incorporate material related to such matters in a set of regulations. The only difference is that the Department is to report what it has done of ils own discretion, whereas our principle hitherto has been to require the administration of a large sum of money to be subject to law and not to the executive discretion of an official. That means that regulations in matters of detail, are the appropriate means, in my submission, by which these matters can be provided for. I hope that the discussion will take the course of a deliberative debate. I have stated my point of view for consideration. I shall be willing to listen to submissions and arguments as the debate continues. I only wish to be understood as striving for a principle which is at the very heart of my view of a liberal attitude and philosophy.
– I want to make a small contribution to this debate on the muller raised by Senator Wright regarding the selection of holders of scholarships. I agree within reason with any Bill which aims to give scholarships to a large number of eligible persons, because that is important to our educational system. In the limited time at my disposal I want to direct my remarks to the allocation of those scholarships. When it was indicated a week or so ago that this matter would be coming before us I made some inquiries from certain of my friends who hold responsible positions in the faculty of education at the
University of Western Australia and at the Teachers College, and I also had conversations with head masters to learn their reaction to the way in which the scholarship scheme was operating. However, it was not possible to interview people who had experience of all branches of the Commonwealth scholarships scheme, so I concentrated on those who were in close touch with secondary school scholarships.
It was in the region of the allocation of scholarships that 1 found considerable agreement that the system was not working in the best interests of the young people for whom the scholarships were designed. When Sir Robert Menzies, the then Prime Minister, agreed in 1964 to set up a scholarship scheme for secondary school students he indicated that it would be advisable to conduct a common examination to select candidates.
– That was laid down as a condition - an examination common to all students and marked externally.
– Yes. Unfortunately it was not possible to hold such an examination immediately because Victoria did not conduct an examination of the kind which could be used to select candidates for scholarships, so the Australian Council for Educational Research was asked to look at the matter. It advanced certain suggestions as to how candidates should be chosen. On the face of it, the suggestions appear to be very good. I think they can be summarised in this way: The requirements for a candidate, based on an external examination set in Victoria, were to be the possession of a good vocabulary, the ability to recognise correct and effective expression, the ability to write correctly and fluently on a range of topics, the ability to read, critically, material covering a wide content from both the humanities and the sciences, and the ability to handle quantitative data. The examination sought to elucidate those qualities in applicants. That seems to be a very sound basis on which to examine students, lt is interesting to note that this basis of examination has since been adopted by New South Wales and Western Australia, both of which States were conducting examinations of their own for students aged fifteen years.
The teachers with whom I discussed this matter concerning the young people of fifteen were unanimous in their criticism of these criteria. Their experience indicated that these criteria for selecting candidates resulted in the choosing of students who had what I might call a reading background. This is tremendously important because it almost eliminates young people who have not had the advantage of belonging to a reading family and means that, generally, the lower income groups who do not have the opportunity, and have not had the training, for a reading background, are practically eliminated. The students who are able to take the examination successfully are those who have the background of a reading family.
This has had a number of related effects, apart from the fact that it eliminates those who, at the age of fifteen, are just starting to develop this higher reading ability and are coming to realise that they should be doing more reading. Within the following two years they develop tremendously and probably would have equal to, if not more than, the ability of those with a reading family background. Now let me turn to another aspect. Having selected candidates who perhaps are at their peak at fifteen years of age, we find that many of the scholarships are not continued because the students are unable to carry on. When examined at the age of fifteen they are satisfactory, but twelve months later they are not, and many of them fall by the wayside.
I have gathered from my discussions that if this aspect were taken into account it should be possible to devise a different kind of examination from that suggested by the ‘Australian Council for Educational Research and thus give those without a reading family background a better opportunity of success.
I raise another point in relation to the allocation of scholarships. We have been told that some 52,000 scholarships are at present in existence. A factor which arises with a number of students - this happened with one of my own boys - is that after taking up one scholarship they go on and take up another which is a little more advantageous than the first. In that case the first scholarship lapses. I know of people who were not able to obtain a scholarship because none was available. This difficulty would be overcome if lapsed scholarships were reallocated. The fact that a large number of scholarships are in existence is not a true indication of the position. I think something like 25% of scholarships that are taken up, lapse for one reason or another. Sometimes they are surrendered and sometimes the person concerned simply does not continue to the end of the scholarship period.
These are not meant to be extremely serious criticisms. I am merely endeavouring to show that there is room for improvement in the operation of the scheme. I am not suggesting that it should be altered specifically. The Opposition’s proposals in this regard will be raised in Committee. In this instance, while supporting the Bill, I am bringing forward these aspects relating to the operation of the scheme and the allocation of scholarships, but I point out that [ have had time only to investigate the position as it applies to secondary schools. However my remarks may also have application to the allocation of other scholarships.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) 112.0] - 1 support the Bill. I wish to discuss some facets of it in general terms. As honourable senators are aware, it deals with two major matters. Firstly, it repeals the Education Act 1945 and the Education Act 1959. Secondly, it sets up machinery for (he administration of Commonwealth scholarships. Under the first heading, it means that the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Commonwealth Scholarships Board will cease to exist. Under the second heading, it sets out, in what I will call a more streamlined form, five types of Commonwealth scholarships that are to be awarded. They are secondary scholarships, technical scholarships, advanced education scholarships, university scholarships and scholarships for postgraduate education.
The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), in his second reading speech, said that for a long time the Commonwealth Office of Education has been acting only in a formal capacity in respect of various general matters including the training of overseas students and cooperation with the State Education Departments. More recently. Commonwealth activities in education have been expanded. They have included direct involvement with universities and a wide variety of colleges and secondary schools, particularly in regard to science teaching laboratories. Now the pattern has changed. But before I leave this aspect I observe that ministerial authority pervaded all of these activities, lt is on the degree or area of ministerial authority that the major part of the debate on this Bill is taking place. Formerly the Commonwealth Scholarships Board administered university scholarships and advanced education scholarships. There were regulations, but they were related to the means test and other matters.
The important point is that the number of scholarships actually awarded, the conditions under which they were held, the arrangements for the selection of scholarship holders and other similar matters were left to the direction of the Minister. The Minister, in his second reading speech, referred to that and expressed the opinion that because that system had prevailed in the past it should be continued. The Bill refers to the five types of scholarships and leaves the administration of them to the Department of Education and Science and, on its behalf, the Minister.
Before proceeding to the second aim of the Bill. I believe that it is relevant for me to give some background to this whole matter. 1 submit that the background discloses factors that strengthen the provisions of this Bill that refer to the discretion of the Minister. I do not want to go into the whole history of education in Australia. But we need to take into account what 1 will call the peculiar circumstances surrounding education at the national level in this country. In a State education system the courses are fairly clear. The constitution is laid down within an area. The administration is rather more straightforward than in the Federal sphere. Many tributes have been paid to the Minister this morning and 1 join in them because of my own observations and personal experience. In the Federal sphere we have to take into account that there are a number of State authorities every one of which is jealous of its own rights. No-one would question their right to that attitude. But as Australia develops and as the authority of the Commonwealth develops, anybody administering an overall education pattern for Australia has to take a number of matters into account. I believe that this gives very real justification for the wide discretionary powers given to the Minister and department in charge of education.
One of the authorities on this matter, writing in a journal connected with higher education in Australia under the heading Supply and Demand’, has drawn attention to the fact that, as a result of complicating economic and social processes in Australia, changes in social attitudes and the relative shortage of skills of all types, more and more young people of each age have chosen to stay on at school for longer periods, to enter universities or to attend technical institutions. I mention that fact because it has made tremendous demands on the total education system in Australia. The percentage of students desiring advanced education, longer periods of secondary education or entry to one or other of the wider range of forms of education has increased tremendously. In the interests of a complete education programme for Australia, legislation such as this must be enacted and must provide for a greater degree of discretion in the Minister and a greater degree of deliberation by him under his authority. 1 join with Senator McManus in the comment that he made earlier today on dealing with departments and people within departments who are bound to the absolute letter of any regulation or Act. I express my personal appreciation of being able to deal with Ministers who have discretionary powers not only in education matters but also in other matters, compared with dealing with Ministers who in certain circumstances are bound by their rules and regulations and have no discretionary powers. I believe that every honourable senator has had this kind of experience in making submissions to Ministers on behalf of constituents. On the one hand we have been helped, but on the other we have been hindered. At the moment 1 am going through the process of putting a very worthy case before a Minister who cannot move because he has no discretionary powers in relation to the particular matter. Also, on behalf of constituents in South Australia, I am making a submission that is receiving favourable and sympathetic consideration simply because the Minister concerned has discretionary powers.
So I support the second aim of the Bill. It is true that these provisions may seem to protect the Minister’s own interests. A Minister is bound by regulations. On the other hand the Minister for Education and Science, his Department and the Government are accepting the responsibility of submitting this Bill to the Parliament and to the country. If there seems to be injustice, irregularity or inefficiency in any way, surely the Minister will come under immediate and continual personal attack. The Government is prepared to accept this responsibility. Therefore it has placed this Bill before the Senate. There are reasons other than the broad ones. It is true that under the Bill a number of matters are left to ministerial direction and determination.
The general position where Commonwealth scholarships are concerned, as 1 said earlier, is that they have to suit several State systems. Each State system has a wide variety of institutions and a wide variety of rules. I suggest that it would not be possible to delineate all of these in so many regulations or in so many lines, because not only would this create a tremendous amount of research but also we would find that a particular State might appear lo be unfairly treated while another might appear to have greater generosity extended to it. Clause 4 provides: full-time student’ means a student included in a class of students which the Minister has directed is to be treated as a class of students engaged in full-time study for the purposes of this Act.
I suggest it is essential that the Minister should have this particular type of discretion because, as 1 said a few moments ago, there is a number of systems within the Commonwealth and the definition of full-lime student may vary. Not every educational institution in the country prescribes how much work a student has to undertake to be considered a full-time student. A student may be taking fewer than the number of subjects that a full-time student may be taking in another place but at the same time have sufficient work to do for him to be engaged in full-time study. Therefore, the Minister should have access to submissions and should be able to give the matter consideration in the light of the student’s proposed occupation or proposed career, so that it will be possible to help someone who is worthy of help. The Minister should have a discretion to determine who is a full-time student.
Clause 6, which relates to Commonwealth Technical Scholarships, reads:
Scholarships . . . may, subject to this Act be granted to persons who are undertaking or propose to undertake, as full-time students or part-lime students at technical colleges in Australia, any course approved by the Minister for the purposes of this section.
In clause 7, which relates to Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarships, the words ‘any course approved by the Minister’ are repeated. Sub-clause (2.) of clause 7 reads:
In this section, ‘advanced education institution’ means any institution in Australia which the Minister has directed is to be treated as an advanced education institution for the purposes of this section.
I think that most honourable senators are aware that in technical institutions and institutions of advanced education there is a wide variety of educational courses. After all, technical education covers a very important range of skills and, what is more, it is a range that is constantly changing by reason of the requirements of the technological area. The Colleges of Advanced Education relate to an aspect of education that has an appeal to me for a variety of reasons that we have debated in other contexts. These, too, must take special care of special situations, a wide variety of situations and people of varying educational standards who, by reason of their ability, are able to qualify for scholarship assistance. Surely these matters cannot be set down page after page in regulations, because one would no sooner set down one set of circumstances than another set would be immediately eliminated. Therefore, I suggest to the Senate that because of the variety in entry level, because of the variety in vocational aims and careers, and because of the qualifications that 1 mentioned, the Minister needs this particular kind of discretion.
– And because of the constant change.
– As the Minister reminds me, because of the constant change in both the technical area and the area of the institutions of advanced education it is necessary that this kind of discretion and flexibility be retained. 1 refer now to clause 10 of the Bill, which has been mentioned by other speakers. It states:
The Minister shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine:
the number of scholarships that may from time to time be granted;
the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships;
the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted-
In the matter of numbers, there must be some difference between that which is allowed and that which is finally used. While the average number of scholarships may be determined by the Government it is impossible, I suggest, from year to year to determine the actual number that may come forward to apply for or receive an allocation. On one occasion more applicants may come forward than there are scholarships available. On the other hand, by reason of the fact that applicants in a certain year may not be as well qualified as others, it would be a wrong principle, surely, to allocate all of the scholarships simply because they were there. Therefore, there must be some provision for this kind of process and the Minister must have the necesary authority to make this allocation. Terms of eligibility cover a very wide range of circumstances: age groups, people who do or do not meet a residential qualification; people who may seek to take advantage of movement from one place to another to take up scholarships or make pleas or claims which are not justified. These are instances of circumstances in which the Minister needs this particular kind of discretion.
I made a point earlier in connection with the wide variety of students who may be seeking Commonwealth scholarships and I said that the Minister required authority to make the system function so that our educational system does not get into a pattern of similarity all the way through, so that a degree of flexibility is maintained while at the same time standards are kept at a consistently high level. As the Minister has said in his second reading speech, in order to give every opportunity for public inquiry, public criticism and public comment, he proposes to make an annual statement or report indicating certain things. This would be done in the form of a ministerial statement on behalf of the
Government. No Parliament and no Senate would allow any Minister for Education and Science to get by any year without making a statement setting out all of the details of the educational programme outlined in the Bill. The Minister will have no opportunity whatsoever to shelter behind regulations or to indicate to the Parliament or to the public that he cannot do this or that simply because the Act prevents him from doing it. This responsibility is accepted by the Government, through whomsoever happens to be its Minister for Education and Science. I suggest that the Senate would do well if it passed the Bill as it now stands.
– I rise as a member of the Opposition to support the Bill generally but also to speak in favour of the amendments which have been foreshadowed by Senator Cohen. The Bill really has two sections. The purpose of the first section is to repeal the Education Act 1945-1959. I have noticed that all honourable senators opposite who have spoken in this debate have refrained from expressing any thought at all for the fact that it was a Labor Government in time of war which brought down the first Education Act and initiated acceptance by the Commonwealth Parliament of some responsibility for education. The reason for that move was the need for legislation for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. Thus it was that the Commonwealth’s interest in universities came about, and the Australian National University was established. The Government of that day had no power to do more. However, since that time the work begun by a Labor Government has been consistently carried on and extended by succeeding governments.
I would like to join with other honourable senators in offering my congratulations to Senator Gorton upon his appointment as the first Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science. He has already had a great deal of experience in this field in association with the Prime Minister’s Department. That the Government has established a Department of Education and Science is a very big step forward. In congratulating the Minister on his appointment 1 would like also to congratulate him on having obtained the services of a very eminent Australian as the permanent head of his Department. I refer to Sir Hugh Ennor, with whom I have worked on the Council of the Australian National University for the last seventeen years. I do not know what arguments Senator Gorton was able to use to win him away from the Australian National University, but they must have been very powerful. I feel sure that with Sir Hugh Ennor as its permanent head the Department cannot but be a success.
However, I believe that the Department is a little top-heavy. The Commonwealth’s interest in education has -begun at the top. It is comparable to attempting to put !he roof on a house before laying the foundations. lt simply cannot be done. The Commonwealth Parliament is doing very little about the important foundation of our university system. I refer to primary schools, which are crying out the loudest for help from the Commonwealth. Of course, grants are made to the States which can use them in whichever way they please, but the State education portfolios have for very many years been Cinderella portfolios. When I was teaching in Western Australia I and my colleagues did not know from day to day who was the State Minister for Education. The job seemed to be handed out and handed back with unfailing regularity. It was a very minor portfolio indeed, instead of being one of the most important. I cannot think of anything more important in any community than the education of the young people, the training of young minds so that the young people may become useful citizens, lt is a much more important element of community life than any other public production. Any other work that may be done depends for its successful fulfilment on the work done in the schools. I hope that the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science will look into the problem and will help in some way to finance our primary schools.
Senator Wilkinson said that only the children with a very good reading background have any hope of getting a Commonwealth scholarship at secondary level. Many requests have been made - 1 made one myself last year - for grants to be made by the Commonwealth Government for the establishment of libraries in schools. I think that libraries are just as important as science laboratories. A great deal is being spent on the provision of science laboratories but nothing is being spent on libraries which help so much to fashion the minds of children and help their later development as adult citizens. I would like to see the new Department set to work on a complete investigation of the education systems of Australia. Nobody wants the systems to be uniform. Every State has its special problem, but 1 think the new Department would be well repaid if it started off with an investigation of the present education standards in each State so that it could then form a really good composite picture of the educational systems throughout Australia.
I am pleased to note that provision is included in the scholarship regulations for the granting of Commonwealth scholarships to part time students at universities. Part time students at universities have a very dear place in my heart because I understand their difficulties. Before so many scholarships were provided, many students - I was one of them - who could not afford a full time university education went to work during the day and earned their way through university. I do not think we are any the worse for that. I think it made us better citizens because we placed a greater value upon our university education than we would have done if it had been ?iven to us on a golden platter. I know of members of another place who did the same as I did - worked all day and went to university at night. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) was a part time university student, as was Mr Beazley. 1 am not sure whether Senator Prowse was also a part time university student. Dr Coombs, Governor of the Reserve Bank, was a part time university student. Each of these people was successful in his university career. They also took time off from everyting else to show an interest in student activities. Each person I have named has taken an active interest in student activities. I had the honour of being made a life associate of the Guild of Undergraduates for the work 1 was able to do for the Guild. At one time Dr Coombs was president of the Guild. I think we felt that we owed something for what the university had done for us. We wanted to do something in return. I am pleased that part time students have been recognised. In the past they have been regarded as not worth worrying about - as a minor element in universities. They are now receiving some consideration in this legislation. We are not told exactly what payment they are to receive. I suppose it depends on circumstances. The fact that they are being recognised at all as an integral Dart of universities is, I think, very commendable.
Clause 13 describes the benefits which accrue to students. It provides that if a scholarship holder is married he receives only S3. 90 a week as an allowance in respect of his wife. She would want to be a very clever person to manage on $3.90 a week. The allowance for a child is $1 a week, lt seems that a scholarship holder with a wife and child is in for a rather poor time while trying to complete a university course, if they are the only allowances that are to be paid. I realise that women are magicians, but in these days of ever rising prices I am afraid that they will have a very hard job to keep the home going on the allowances granted to married students. I do not know whether there is any lesson in that point, but I hope that something will be done to improve the allowances for wives, especially as not many people would be involved. It would be interesting to know how many scholarships are held by married students and what would be the cost to the Department of giving them something better than $3.90 to live on.
Finally, there has been much talk about whether the Minister should have complete control or whether he should have discretionary powers. I believe that he should have a discretionary power but should not have the sole power in respect of these scholarships. We know that the number of scholarship holders at universities is increasing greatly each year. We know, also, that many fathers and mothers are making sacrifices to ensure that their sons and daughters obtain a secondary and tertiary education; we know, further, that to maintain children in these circumstances requires more money than is provided even by these scholarships. However, parents are ensuring that their children obtain a better opportunity than they had, for they realise the value of education and appreciate that perhaps their own education was rather limited. For this reason they are keeping their children at school as long as possible, and I believe that they should receive every assistance that can be given in this way. It would be absolutely ridiculous to expect the Minister to be able to deal with each individual case. There might be 52,000 scholarship holders this year, but this might grow to 70,000 next year. I am sure that the granting of only a discretionary power would be of much more value to the scheme as a whole.
I am pleased that this measure has been introduced and I pay tribute to the men and women who have since 1945 served on the staff of the Commonwealth Office of Education. They have done a good job and now that the Office is being abolished I hope that they arc being absorbed into the new Department. In any case, the work that they have done since 1945 should be appreciated by all people in the community who look forward to seeing improvements made in the vast education structure of this Commonwealth, upon which so much depends.
– The Opposition supports the second reading of the Bill. We have no objection to the administrative arrangements for the granting of Commonwealth scholarships being altered: we have indicated that there will be no difficulty about the passage of the measure so far as that is concerned. However, we are extremely concerned about the degree of administrative discretion that is included in the Bill. The Senate has had the opportunity of considering matters fundamental to personal freedom in this community, and in the past few days it has demonstrated not only ils concern over this matter but also its determination to ensure that the great principles upon which personal freedom depend are upheld. I concede that the Senate would again see to it that these principles were maintained notwithstanding the form in which this measure has been presented to the Senate.
It is alarming to me that the Minister should bring in a Bill seeking to have such personal control vested in a Minister in the education matters that are dealt with in this measure. The Minister seeks power for himself or his successors to determine the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships, the method of selecting persons, the classes of persons who might be authorised to grant them, the terms and conditions upon which they are to be held, and the terms and conditions upon which they might be lost. He seeks authority to have all these matters depend not on regulations, not on law, but on the Minister’s discretion.
Argument has been advanced in this chamber that the Minister will have difficult problems and that there might be borderline cases, [t is suggested that therefore we cannot have regulations, because they could not cover all cases. This is an extraordinary argument. Of course there will be borderline cases. Everbody knows there will be, but that is no reason why one should abandon law and put the matter entirely in the discretion of the Minister. This is a legislative chamber and we are here to make laws, not to pass over the conduct of administration to persons who will do it according to their own whim or discretion, or according to what seems to them to be a good reason. We may have good Ministers and we may have bad Ministers, but our society has been built on law and order. This is a deliberate attempt to throw away law and order and to return to discretion - to return to the old days when matters were handled by executives or whatever we may call them - by Ministers of the Crown, commissars or other officials of any kind. We do not want a Minister lo be told: ‘Run the department how you chink fit. True, we might have a look at how you are running it, but you run it as you think fit. No rules will be laid down for you to follow; you just do it. If you are a good Minister we will keep you there; if not, we will get rid of you.* Under that system the Minister would be able to change his mind from day to day concerning the terms and conditions under which scholarships are granted. On the Monday the Minister might say that such and such will be the eligibility for a scholarship, but on the Tuesday he might not think that that is so good, and he will change the conditions. In effect, he can do whatever he likes.
That is not the system under which we have grown up and it is not the system that we want. So far as possible we should ensure that all these matters are determined by law and order, either by Act of Parliament or, if it is considered that circumstances will change, an Act of Parliament might not be needed to deal with matters which can be dealt with appropriately by regulations under an Act of Parliament. Regulations can be made speedily. For instance, if there is a change in the requirements at universities or other places which requires an alteration in the terms of eligibility for scholarships, that can easily be covered by a regulation. A regulation conforms to the principle of law and order; it is a rule that is subject to the supervision of both Houses of Parliament. There is a tendency on the part of every administrative authority towards administrative convenience, and this obtains whichever government is in office. I am not suggesting that any government at all has tender regard for personal freedom and the rule of law when it comes up against administrative convenience. This is something that affects every government, and when the Opposition comes to power, as undoubtedly it will, this will be one of the things with which it will have to concern itself. It will have to ensure that it does not fall into the error of seeking to avoid the rule of law and depending upon administrative convenience.
The Bill purports or attempts to give this extraordinary degree of power to the Minister. This is quite unnecessary because, if there are borderline cases, surely the logical solution is to go as far as possible in the direction of law and order and to provide rules to cover the generality of cases. One would think that if a proper attempt were made, it would be possible to include in the rules sufficient elasticity to make unnecessary even a special circumstances provision. Because the Government or its advisers might say that they could not or were not prepared to put this elasticity into their rules we sought to provide - and we are prepared to support a proposal to this effect - that the Minister might have power in special circumstances to grant scholarships notwithstanding the other provisions of the regulations. This is the commonsense approach to the matter. We are being fair and reasonable on it. We are disturbed that some might say that because there are these difficult cases one must therefore abandon all attempts to provide by rule for the generality of cases. It is not a case of all black or all white. There is no reason why we should not provide for the generality of cases and then make exceptional provision for special circumstances and for the exercise of administrative discretion in those cases.
The argument that we should not do this is alarming. Let us suppose that it was applied to such fields as social services. There we have a myriad of cases of hardship and of special circumstances of one kind or another, yet this Parliament has seen fit to provide that law and order shall prevail in the field of social services. 1 heard one honourable senator opposite say that when arguments were addressed to the Minister about the application of regulations the Minister would sometimes say: ‘I am sorry but I cannot do anything about this because the regulation covers it.’ The honourable senator suggested that a Minister should be given no opportunity to shelter behind a regulation. What is it but a retreat altogether from law and order in this community when one speaks about sheltering behind a regulation? Acts of Parliament lay down terms and conditions. They lay down the law for every man. That is the protection. Whether it is an Act of Parliament, or whether it is a regulation, personal freedom and the rights of citizens depend upon the ascertainment by law of their duties, their privileges and their rights. It is completely wrong, it is an abandonment of the rule of law if we are going to say that a Minister is sheltering behind a regulation if he says there is a regulation and it is not being observed.
This is what the Parliament has said. This is what the Parliament has permitted by way of regulation. This is what we stand for on this side of the chamber and I think the people of Australia stand by that. They set up a constitution under which there was to be a division of power, legislative, executive and judicial. There is a proper sphere for the legislature, there is a proper sphere for the administration, and there is a proper sphere for the judiciary. In this Bill there is an endeavour to subtract from the proper legislative power and put some of that power into the hands of the Executive so that no longer shall these important matters be determined according to law and order but shall be determined according to what the Minister wishes.
There is no doubt that in this there will be all sorts of difficulties. The Minister will be the one who can give or not give a scholarship. No Minister or official should be put in that position unless there are some special circumstances. We say that the answer, when any person goes to the
Mnister to see whether a child should be given a scholarship is: ‘What does the law say? Does it come within the regulations or not?’ If the case does not come within the regulations and if the Minister thinks there is some special circumstance, then let the Minister give a scholarship; but, in that case, because there is a departure from the ordinary rule, it ought to be reported to the Parliament.
– Would the honourable senator be agreeable to the matter of ministerial power being referred to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which is a standing committee of the Senate, for examination and report back to the Senate?
– I do not quite follow what the honourable senator is putting. Is he referring to provision for the exercise of ministerial power under an Act?
– I am asking whether the honourable senator thinks that the use of ministerial power should be the subject of examination by an existing standing committee of the Senate - the Regulations and Ordinances Committee - and whether that Committee should report to the Senate on the use of ministerial power.
– No, I do not. 1 do not think that any use of ministerial power should be the subject for such consideration by the Regulation and Ordinances Committee. I would think that some committee of the Parliament - perhaps that very committee - ought to be vested with the duty of investigating circumstances in which ministerial powers might properly be exercised, but I do not think that that Committee or any committee of this Parliament, could properly be looking into the administrative actions of any Minister. Primarily, that, is in the administrative sphere. The Opposition has taken the stand, as indicated by the speech of Senator Cohen who lead for the Opposition on this matter, that we want to see the Minister vested with his proper powers.
It is for us to lay down the rules or to permit the Minister to lay down rules by regulation as to all of these matters and then leave it to him to administer them. We are not here as an administrative body. We are not here to look into the 10,000 cases or the 500 cases where the Minister might exercise his powers. That is not our function at all. Our function is a rule making function. What concerns the Opposition is the fact that a departure from this principle has been proposed. Instead of the Parliament laying down the rules or requiring that the rules be laid down by the Minister, or procedurally by the Governor-General by regulation, and that they then be the subject of disallowance by each House of this Parliament, a complete departure from that principle has been proposed. I remind the Senate again of these words of Sir Owen Dixon:
History and not only ancient history shows that in countries where democratic institutions have been unconstitutionally superseded, it has been done not seldom by those holding the executive power.
I therefore would ask the Senate to support the second reading of this Bill, but I would anticipate that Senator Cohen will put forward a number of proposals to amend the Bill so as to delete these alarming proposals for ministerial power over this subject matter. I would hope and anticipate that the Senate will not permit the Bill to go through in this form with this alarming extension of bureaucratic power.
– in reply - No doubt considerable debate will develop in detail round the clauses of this Bill when we come to the Committee stage, but at this point of time when we are examining the general approach of the Bill, and in some sense anticipating the Committee debate, I think I should say something concerning what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has just said, and what Senator Wright has just said.
I think that without any question it is good, when it can be done, for discretions of departmental officers, or of Ministers, to be limited by Act of Parliament, or by regulation made under an Act of Parliament. I think that in the many cases in which this can be done with efficiency and without clear injustice flowing from it, it ought to be done. But there are also some cases - and I think that the field we are dealing with today is one of them - when it is not possible, as I said in my second reading speech, to set out in the form of regulations rules which will cover the vast variety of cases which can arise when you have over 50.000 scholarship holders. These are divided between five different scholarship schemes, between different types of education, technical and secondary, and between six different States that have differing standards and provide for differing lengths of time at school. These factors are in course of constant flux and change. Courses not eligible previously under a rule that has been laid down may become eligible, or the reverse may happen.
In this debate we have heard a good deal that would seem to suggest that what I am asking the Senate for is a power that has never been heard of before and has never been used before. What 1 in fact propose to do is to provide the Parliament, in the case of secondary and technical scholarships, with an opportunity to pass legislation where there was none before. In the whole field of secondary and technical scholarships, matters were left entirely to the dis.cretion of the Minister. I am asking the Parliament, in relation to university scholarships and scholarships for advanced education, to give to the Minister precisely the same powers as the Senate has already given to the Minister by allowing regulations to be made under the terms of the existing Act. Let me tell honourable senators what the present position is. A regulation has been made and has not been disallowed by the Senate. I understand that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is advised by competent lawyers who investigate these matters, pick out anything that they consider is unreasonable and wrong, and bring it to the notice of the Chairman of the Committee. I shall deal with two of the significant points that we have been discussing. Regulation 6D of the Commonwealth Scholarships and Awards Regulations, made under the terms of the Education Act 1945-1959, provides:
The methods and standards of selection of students to whom Commonwealth scholarships are to be awarded and the conditions subject to which Commonwealth scholarships are to be held shall -
to the extent that the Minister has given directions in relation to those matters - be as determined by the Board in accordance with those directions:-
– What number is the statutory rule and in what year was it made?
– It is Statutory Rule 3, made in 1966. Regulation 6c provides:
The Minister shall determine the numbef of Commonwealth scholarships to be awarded in each year.
Regulation 14b a reads:
The Minister shall determine the number of Commonwealth Post-graduate Awards to be made available in each year-
Regulation 14bb provides:
The methods and standards of selection of students to whom Commonwealth Post-graduate Awards are to be granted and the conditions subject to which Commonwealth Post-graduate Awards are to be held shall -
to the extent that the Minister has given directions in relation to those matters - be as determined by the Board in accordance with those directions;-
Some honourable senators conclude that the proposal now being attacked is something unique - that it is an approach that has never before been made or accepted by the Senate. But the Senate, by not disallowing the Regulations made under the existing Act, has accepted the same kind of proposal as is now made. I believe that it has been accepted by the legal advisers of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee because they realise that in the complexities of this sort of thing it is necessary for discretion to be available.
We have been told that discretionary power should not really be necessary and that we ought to be able to reduce the matter to a provision in a regulation. Senator Wright has told us that. He has told us that this has been done in Victoria and that he has obtained a copy of the State Regulations. I want to say two things about that. First, it is very much simpler in Victoria to spell out the conditions on which scholarships shall be awarded. There we have not competition for scholarships but merely a given number to be distributed among particular schools in proportion to the student population of those schools and to be awarded on the advice of the headmasters, each scholarship providing for a fixed sum. And that is that. Clearly, in that instance, matters can be set out in regulations. I, too, obtained a copy of the State regulations, and I find that even in a simple case like that the Victorian Parliament, all the way through, has decided that the Minister or the Director of Education, even in relation to his simplified problems, shall have the sort of discretion for which we are asking now. For instance, the Victorian regulation dealing with junior scholarships provides that a scholarship may be awarded to a candidate in Form III who in the opinion of the Director has reached a standard at least equivalent to that of other holders. On the question of a junior scholarship being tenable for four years and the conditions on which it remains tenable, the appropriate State regulation provides that a holder’s attendance, conduct and progress shall be satisfactory to the Minister. I shall not weary the Senate by going through all these regulations. Again and again we find provision for something to be done ‘if in the opinion of the Director certain circumstances exist.
– Is the Minister speaking of the Victorian regulations?
– Yes. They deal with problems much simpler than those with which we are concerned here. The Victorian problems are very much simplified.
– We hear talk about one education system.
– That is right. We are told also that, after all, provision for matters such as those in respect of which we seek discretionary power can be made in the field of social services. There are all sorts of different problems in that field. We are told that hard and fast rules can be laid down in relation to education just as they have been laid down in relation to social services, a field in which no discretion is provided for. But, Mr President, 1 point out that, for precisely the same reasons as those applying to education, discretion is in fact provided for in the Commonwealth Social Services Act. Running through it are provisions allowing the Director-General of Social Services discretion in various matters. I bring these to the attention of the Senate to support the argument that I have just put. In relation to pension rates, section 28 (1) of the Social Services Act provides: . . the rate of an age or invalid pension shall in each case be a rate determined by the DirectorGeneral as being reasonable and sufficient, having regard to all the circumstances of the case-
That is a discretion of which members of Parliament frequently seek to avail them selves when making representations about cases that they believe fall outside the general run of the powers of the Department but may be dealt with under the discretionary power of the Minister for Social Services or the Director-General Section 63 of the Social Services Act relates to widows pensions. Sub-section (1) provides:
That provision is in the same form as section 28(1). Once again a maximum is specified and flexibility in interpretation is permitted. In relation to the means test, section 29 (2) gives the Director-General power to make a determination affecting the notional apportionment of income and property between husband and wife for the purposes of the age and invalid pension means test. Under the terms of section 30 (2) the Director-General has power to disregard part of the property for any special reason in a particular case for the purposes of the means test applying to age and invalid pensions. Under the terms of section 46(1) in relation to age and invalid pensions and section 73 in relation to widows pensions, the Director-General is given a virtually unfettered discretion in relation to increasing or decreasing pension rates and cancelling or suspending pensions. Honourable senators will recall that not so long ago we provided for supplementary assistance in respect of rent. Its payment to age, invalid or widow pensioners is dependent on the Director-General being satisfied that it is required because the pensioner pays rent. Other matters are laid down also.
I have quoted enough to indicate that in this field about which we hear so much from Senator Murphy, discretion is allowed for the same reasons for which it is sought in this instance: so many individuals are involved and so many special cases arise that if rigid rules were laid down injustice would inevitably be done. The discretion is given under the terms of the Social Services Act for the same reasons for which I am asking for it in relation to this measure. We are told that we shall destroy democracy by departing from the rules that have been mentioned. I point out that they have already been departed from wilh the approval of the Senate and that the departure dates back for many years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Iiic PRESIDENT - The sitting is suspended until 2.15 p.m.
Iiic CHAIRMAN (Senator Drake.Brockman) - Order! The question is that I take the Bill as a whole.
– Might I suggest that we take clauses I to 9 together first and then proceed to consider the other clauses separately?
– We will take the Bill clause by clause, ls it the wish of the Committee-
– Mr Chairman, I do nol want to be difficult at this stage, but I think we should get our record straight. 1 understood that the President suspended the sitting until 2.15 o’clock. If Hansard reports that and if wc meet at 2 o’clock, what is the situation?
– It is laid down that we meet at 2 o’clock, lt was a slip of the tongue on the part of the President. Is it the wish of the Committee that I take clauses I to 9 together?
– Mr Chairman, I read the statement that we were to meet at 2 o’clock. I take the point of order that if the President suspended the sitting till 2.15 then, whether or not it was a slip of the tongue, that is when the Senate should meet. There may be people outside who accepted the word of the President that we were to suspend till 2.15. lt does not matter what the Party Whips have arranged. The time of our sitting has nothing to do with the chamber. It is what the President of the Senate says that counts. If the President said that we would suspend till 2.15 and people will be absent from voting in the division that will take place in about two minutes time because of what he said, then we have no right to be sitting.
– Senator Turnbull, the motion was agreed to earlier in the sittings that the Senate should suspend from J to 2 p.m.
– I read that.
– Did the honourable senator read that?
– Yes. But it does nol matter what the motion was. The President suspended the sitting until 2.15. Unless that was corrected, that is the time at which we should meet. As a matter of fact, I think we are wasting time now. If we talk long enough it will be 2,15.
– Is there any objection to the Senate meeting at 2 o’clock?
– I myself am not in any way embarrassed by the Senate meeting at 2 o’clock. I have curtailed my refreshment to be here one minute late. I see a few vacancies on the other side of the Committee. 1 only rise, Mr Chairman, in response to your very courteous request so that other people might compose their minds. If the division bells ring, honourable senators will be summoned to vote. I am quite sure that in the Committee stage of this Bill I can anticipate relying upon the ability of Senator Cohen to propound his first amendment with such a degree of profundity that honourable senators who are nol here now will have the opportunity to be here by 2.15. I just suggest in a spirit of sweet compromise, which ever pervades my appealing attitude to this Committee, that we continue to a division but that those of us who are present ensure that no division take place before honourable senators were due to be here at 2.15.
– Senator Wright referred to vacancies on this side of the Committee. Let me assure the Committee and the honourable senator that the Australian Labor Party is ready to continue immediately. A meeting is being held al the moment within the precincts. Even though the President may have made a slip of the tongue in suspending the sitting to 2.15, we are quite prepared to go on. I do not say that a time spoken by a slip of the tongue supersedes the motion to which we agreed and which states that the sitting be suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– Is it the wish of the Committee that we suspend till 2.15?
Honourable senators ; No.
– We will proceed.
Clauses 1 to 9 agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That consideration of clause 10 be postponed.
- Mr Chairman,I wish to move that after clause 10 there be inserted a new clause 10a-
– This must depend upon consideration of clause 10 first.
– Defer them at the same time.
– We cannot do that.
– I want to discuss this point.
– This is germane to clause 10 and part of the debate on clause 10. If we postpone this clauseI do not think that anything else with which we are to deal later will be affected.
– The difficulty I feel about that is this:I propose to move for the insertion of a new clause 10a. This covers the basic points on which some discussion will take place on the principle that was discussed during the second reading debate on this Bill this morning. This is tied up with clause 10 and what is involved in my first and second amendments. I feel that, after the determination of that matter, the other matters might fall into some sort of pattern. This is the first place in the Bill where the principle that we are to discuss arises.I shall find myself in difficulty in having to argue some of the later amendments unless we have been informed by a discussion of the first amendment thatI propose and perhaps even by the result of such vote that we take on the first two amendments. If the Minister wants this done for some reason of convenience, I do not want to disarrange an orderly way of dealing with the matter. But I really feel that this raises the first point of principle. There are others. This would set the pattern for any kind of coherent discussion that the Committee would have on this principle.
– Mr Chairman, I feel that the question of eligibility in particular is one which could be considered by itself. I do not see any difference in principle in clause 10 and in other clauses. The question we are discussing is whether the Minister should or should not under particular clauses and in particular circumstances have discretion. I do not want to inhibit Senator
Cohen in any way. But I do not see why we cannot cope with the clauses which basically have to do with benefits and the discretion regarding benefits and leave what I think might properly be the nub of the discussion for consideration towardsthe conclusion of the other discussions. Does the honourable senator want me to withdraw my motion? I do not want to inhibit the honourable senator if he feels that he is being somewhat prevented.
– One could develop this matter, but it would mean that the discussion would range over a much wider area. If one were to take, for example, my third amendment in which I seek the common substitution of the words ‘the Regulations’ for the words ‘directions of the Minister’, I would find it difficult to develop that point without developing the whole ofthe rest of my argument.
– I would not mind that.
– Really, for the life of me, I cannot see why we should not proceed in the ordinary way to meet the problem as it arises in the Bill and face it as a matter of principle.
– Does the honourable senator feel that he is being inhibited by the vote of the Committee? I do not want to inhibit Senator Cohen. I thought it would be a more convenient and an easier way of dealing with the matter.
– Clause 10 should proceed.
– With great respect. I was talking to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I think thatI would find it easier as a matter of convenience.
– I ask for leave to withdraw my motion and ask the Senate to return to clause 10.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
The Minister shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine -
– I move:
That amendment necessarily involves the omission of sub-clauses (b), (c) and (d) of clause 10. 1 would suggest that it might be convenient, if the Committee saw fit. to discuss my first and second amendments together, because they necessarily cover something of the same ground. I do not mind which course is adopted. The first amendment is intended to strike out the matters in sub-clauses (b), (c) and (d) which may be determined by the Minister. 1 have gone further and accepted for the purposes of my second amendment the terms of the Bill as they have been drafted and presented to the Senate.
I think that I ought to commence by dealing with clause 10 and my amendment to it so that honourable senators may see what it is that we say should not be included in clause 10 for the determination of the Minister. As I said in my second reading speech - and 1 repeat it although I do not want to be unnecessarily repetitive - we would regard as a proper matter for the Minister’s determination the fact that he should say how many scholarships should be granted from time to time. It depends on what moneys are available and the Government’s view as to how much it will spend on each class of scholarships in a particular year. From my examination and consideration. I can see no good reason why this matter should not be a proper one for determination by the Minister.
But then we come to . sub-clauses (b), (c) and (el) of clause 10. Sub-paragraph (h) refers to the term of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships. In this connection 1 rely on what I said during the course of the second reading debate. If this were left in its present form it would mean thai, unless the Minister laid down by regulation the terms and conditions - and they could cover a very wide number of subject matters, such as the question of the means lest, the question of competence, the question of minimum qualifications and so on - or unless the terms and conditions were embodied in the Act itself, there would bc no terms and conditions which would be the law. except insofar as the Minister had laid them down. There is nothing in the Bill which requires the Minister to make regulations relating to the terms and conditions of eligibility. He may do it by regulation or he may do it administratively - that is, by departmental order or direction.
The purpose of the Opposition’s amendment is to ensure that these terms of eligibility become part of the applicable law relating to the matter and that persons should be able to determine whether or not they are eligible. If there are matters outside the terms that are laid down, as we have indicated we believe that the Minister should have a discretion to deal with certain cases. But we want a rule. We want to see that these condtions are prescribed in a way that is not at the whim of the Minister who may alter them from day to day or several times in the course of a year. He may do with them what he will. He may make them more generous or restrictive. The only place in which he could then be attacked would be in this Parliament. Nobody would have any rights except insofar as this Parliament ultimately dealt with i he matter. Nobody would have enforceable rights because the Minister would have merely dealt with the matter as he saw fit and not according to some rule of law or regulation which governed it. We do not believe that the Minister should he able to determine matters in respect of which he is not subject to some kind of regulation.
Sub-clause (c) of clause 10 refers to the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted. It deals with procedures for selection. It also deals with qualifications for selection. Again, we do not believe that the Minister should be at large in this respect. In discussing either the terms of eligibility for the grant of scholarships or the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted, what is the difficulty in laying down a norm? What is difficult in laying down a rule according to which these matters are to be dealt with in the ordinary way by the Department or by those on whom the responsibility of selection falls? As the Leader of th : Opposition (Senator Murphy) said during the course of the debate this morning, there are borderline cases. We want to see the Minister have a discretion in special cases. Also, we want to see an appeal to him, if necessary, in relation to refusal of any application for a scholarship. There does not seem to us to be the slightest difficulty in prescribing a norm or in prescribing by regulation the terms of eligibility and the manner of selecting persons.
Pensioners can go to the Social Services Act and read it. They may need some little assistance to understand it because of the complicated nature of the sections but the Act contains provisions setting out what they are entitled to. If they are earning an income or if they have property they can work out the way in which their entitlement is reduced by the possession of any property or by earning any income. These matters can be set out in a statute - whether in the Act itself or in the regulations. To my mind, and in the view of the Opposition, those matters should not fall for the Minister alone to determine in his unqualified discretion.
Sub-clause (d) of clause 10 refers to persons, or classes of persons, authorised to grant scholarships. I assume that this relates to some kind of delegation by the Minister to State education departments, universities and others on whom some task of selection may fall. This is the decentralisation of the administration of the matter. We do not see any reason why this matter cannot be dealt with by regulation, giving the Minister power to do this in the same way as he does a number of other things which we would regard as matters to be covered by regulation. Dealing with clause 10 alone, the only matter that we would concede as being proper to be dealt with as envisaged in the Bill is that contained in sub-clause (a) of clause 10 which refers to the number of scholarships that may from time to time be granted.
– Let me be clear on what is proposed. Senator Cohen, you are seeking to amend clause 10 by omitting the clause and substituting your proposed amendment?
– Yes. Although I have circulated an amendment, what I really am seeking to do is to omit all words in clause 10(a) after ‘granted’. I also seek to alter the punctuation.
– We cannot deal with proposed new clause 10a.
– My proposed amendment relates to clause 10, paragraph (3). If my amendment is accepted, the clause will read:
The Minister shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine the number of scholarships that may from time to time be awarded.
That is the amendment I have circulated.
– For obvious reasons Senator Cohen, on behalf of the Opposition, agrees with the necessity for the number of scholarships that are to be awarded in any particular category in any one year to be within the discretion of the Minister. However, although he agrees with that he suggests that the Minister should not have any discretion in determining the terms of eligibility to be applied to persons in relation to the grant of scholarships. At this point let me deal with the suggestion that a means test might somehow or other be involved in this question of the eligibility of persons for the grant of any scholarship. The intrusion of a means test would be only on the outer reaches of possibility. That is the only way in which it could happen.
As honourable senators know, a means test is applied to living allowances in some scholarships but not in others. A means test is not applied to other than living allowances. But we are discussing the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of a scholarship. The only way in which a means test could enter into that aspect would be for the Minister to say: ‘Anyone who has an income, or whose parents have an income, over $X is ineligible lc enter for a scholarship’. Quite clearly, that would be so unthinkable, unless it were a matter of Government policy acceptable to this House, that it is not within the realms of possibility. That is the only way in which a means test could be applied. I do not think that danger exists. It certainly is not, and never has been, taken into consideration in relation to eligibility.
I am not unattracted by the idea of finding some way of working out the tests which, if they are met, make a person eligible for consideration, but 1 am not prepared to write a rule which, because it is a rule, includes only the persons who meet those tests. I wish this clause to stand as printed. However, my approach to it, which I have sought to make clear io the Senate, is that we must try to work out tests which, if they are met, make people eligible for consideration, but those tests must not inhibit in any way a Minister’s going beyond them and awarding scholarships to people who tlo nol meet the written rules. Should this House pass the Bill 1 would seek to incorporate something along those lines in another place.
The types of eligibility tests that artapplied vary. For example, one of the tests of eligibility under the general rules - and this would apply under regulation - relates to age. A person must be of a certain agc to qualify for a secondary scholarship or a technical scholarship, but if that were embodied in a regulation no-one over .’hat age could obtain a secondary scholarship or a technical scholarship unless the Minister had authority to disregard the regulation. As Senator McManus pointed out, this would bc rather silly.
– We have suggested it here.
– I do not think the honourable senator has really. We will discuss that when we come to it.
– It would depend on how the regulation was worded.
– I do not think it would. If we had a regulation providing that a person must meet a particular age limit before he could get a scholarship, that regulation would have the force of law unless the Minister were given discretion to ignore it. In that case there would be no point in having the regulation, because the Minister would have the discretion. He needs that discretion because cases occur of persons seeking a scholarship, although they are above the age which has been decided upon as the proper age to be applied to the award of a scholarship. On investigation we may find that a person has been out of school for a couple of years wilh polio, a broken back or something else which has seriously interrupted his school career. Although he is a year or two older than other people in his class, he has a really valid reason for that.
– Why can that not be written into the regulations also?
– We cannot write in provisions to cover all contingencies. I just do not believe that can be done. What we can do is say: ‘In general, this age is the age to apply but the Minister has discretion to raise it’. Other matters connected with eligibility arise. One relates to the place of residence of the parents of the applicant. Are they living in Australia? 1 defy anyone to write a regulation covering all the circumstances which could arise of absence of parents from Australia. It is easy enough when parents are diplomats, men in the Services or public servants who ure posted away for a while, but there are others who go away for business reasons. We then are faced wilh the questions of how long they will remain abroad, arc they clearly intending to remain abroad or will they return to Australia. Those are important questions. I understand the difficulties of the situation.
I believe that the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted should be left to the discretion of whoever may be the Minister. We are considering the selection of applicants for scholarships of five different kinds in six different Slates. Tn the case of secondary scholarships, we already have six different manners of selection which the Stales have decided are the manners of selection that they want to use for persons competing for scholarships within their boundaries. If that were all there was to it one could codify that and say: ‘In Victoria this will be the manner of selection, in Tasmania that will be the manner of selection’, and so on. Then we would have to change the regulations - this happens constantly - whenever a State wished to change its manner of selection.
With secondary scholarships wc started with Victoria deciding to use the test laid down by the Australian Council for Educational Research, while Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales were using public examinations. Those tests complied with our requirements and we agreed to use them. This scheme had been running for only two or three years when Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales decided that they wanted to use the test laid down by the Australian Council for Educational Research instead of the one they had been using previously. Then Victoria said it wanted to vary the test it had been using so that it could take into account a scholar’s rating and use it as one of the standards for awarding a scholarship. Western Australia then arrived with a slightly different variation, and New South Wales is working one out now. These things are changing constantly. I cannot see how injustice can be done to any individual because that is the manner in which applicants for scholarships are to bc selected.
Let me move from there to the method of selecting holders of technical scholarships. Again six different methods are employed. In one State alone - New South Wales - three different methods of selection, with slight variations, are employed. University scholarships do not present any great difficulty, except that matriculation requirements vary as between universities, not only as to the number of subjects but also as to the actual subjects that must be taken. The matriculation requirements change from time to time. I do not want to weary the Committee, unless it is necessary, by mentioning all the different permutations and combinations that arise in this field. 1 am quite certain that, no matter who the Minister was, he could not perpetrate an injustice by having a particular manner of selecting scholarship holders. If we sought to lay down regulations covering all the ways of selecting scholarship holders, we would have not only an enormous sheaf of regulations but also a requirement for constant variations, with little or no good being done for anybody at all. I believe that this matter must remain with the Minister in charge of it if we are to be at all effective or efficient.
The next point that Senator Cohen made was that he would like to see the persons or class of persons authorised to grant scholarships selected by regulation. The difficulty in that proposition is this: as he suggested, at present officers of the Commonwealth Office of Education in the various States are authorised by me to grant scholarships. When a person is granted a scholarship he is sent a formal notification to that effect. That happens after the Stale has conducted an examination. After a list of the results of the examination has been supplied, the question of awarding scholarships arises and the actual writing of the award is done. That is the method of selecting students to which we have agreed. The difficulty that would arise under regulations is that these officers change. If persons were nominated in a regulation, every time they changed their position the regulation would have to be changed. A class of persons could be authorised to grant scholarships. I do not know that that would bc of enormous harm or of enormous good. 1 would prefer the clause to read the way I have suggested in an amendment that I have circulated. We will seek to make it read that way when we come to that amendment. At the moment 1 ask the Committee to leave the clause the way it has been presented to us. Later I propose to accept an amendment to require a report to be made to the Senate each year, stating the date by which such report is to be made. That report will contain the general terms applicable to scholarships and people who apply for them. So far I have not been able to discover - and I do not propose to discover for the purposes of a brief discussion of this kind - whether it would be possible to devise a provision that would guarantee eligibility up to a certain level but leave complete freedom after that for the granting of scholarships. If I were able to discover such a provision, 1 would be prepared to see whether I could have it incorporated in the Bill in another place. But at the moment 1 oppose the amendment.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) [2.351- I am pleased that Senator Cohen adhered to, and the Minister accepted, the view that the principle that should govern the Committee in dealing with this Bill is best determined in the debate on this clause. The vital point with regard to scholarships, once the various classes of scholarships have been enumerated in the statute, is for the individual student to know the terms upon which he can become eligible. That is the very heart and soul of his entitlement. I eschew as calmly and as firmly as I can the Idea that any political Minister should have a part in the determination of that eligibility, except in special cases.
In the authoritarian countries education has been manipulated to make it the instrument of authoritarian propaganda. I reject the idea that we in Australia should allow an individual Minister, whose views may change greatly in emphasis although a number of Ministers are members of the one party, to make the degree to which he will exert his influence in his department in order to achieve the objective of his philosophy a matter of personal initiative and energy. We should nol allow that scope for temptation.
Many people forget the era in which we really regarded this as a challenge. I have made it quite clear that it was the Australian Labor Party’s evidencing that tendency between 1945 and 1949 that brought mc into politics. I am glad to say that Senator Murphy, no doubt wilh a political instinct but also with a purpose that come* from his experience, in leading the Labor Party in this chamber understands that the viewpoint that his Party attempted to implement tvt ween 1945 and 1949 was nol acceptable. In that I find great reinforcement of my own spirit in joining with Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen iti seeking to make the benefice of 2557m, which is lo bi distributed among a number of students, distributable according to law and according to a determination - it might be unwritten but let us forget that because I do nol suppose any Minister would Jure to make an oral determination and rely upon il - that is immediately reviewable by the Parliament.
The very purpose of education can bc frustrated if Smith in one street hits a child and Brown in the same struct also has a child and they are in the same class, but the terms of eligibility for scholarships, which may alter from year to year or from month to month, are such that Smith’s child receive? his inheritance of education and Brown’s child is refused his. lt is an impossible position. I would never subscribe to the suggestion that a political figure should make that determination, except in the special case, and that is always a matter of reviewing the Department’s interpretation of the regulations applicable lo die general case. It is said that there is difficulty in formulating a provision, having regard to the fact that we have lo interweave our policy with the policies which exist in ‘he six States. This creates some difficulty hut that only means that one increases his endeavour. It docs not create an impossibility for the purposeful.
Indeed I. who have no wish in the slightest degree to discourage, discount or diminish the area of State educational officers, make bold to say as a representative in the Federal Parliament and in the Senate that we who raise taxes have the responsibility for the expenditure of the moneys so derived. The predominant duty and right of this ministry, operating as the servant of this Parliament, will be to ensure that the terms of eligibility are laid down by the Slates in such a manner as lo ensure that the scholarships will be granted to people who are eligible under policies of which the predominant formulation is here, lt is not a question simply of co-ordinating the regulations of six States as they exist today. If there are element’s in them thai are not acceptable to our views with regard to the people who should become eligible for scholarships, then it is proper that our regulations prescribe the terms of eligibility unimpeded by these matters.
I listened to the Ministers reply before the suspension of the sitting, when he invoked various sections of the Social Services Act. I shall content myself at this stage of my contribution to the debate - because one is limited to fifteen minutes - with selecting one section that he instanced, namely section 28r I could not think of an example that is more unbalanced and therefore has a capacity for misleading the general body of the Committee on the viewpoint that should prevail here, if the analogy in the social services field is to be applied.
Looking at that statute, one finds that the Parliament has taken the trouble to formulate the terms and conditions upon which age and invalid pensions are payable. These are in Part III, which commences al section IS. Part 111 is broken up into a number of divisions. Division I relates to preliminary mailers. Division 2 relates to qualifications for age pensions, which is only another name for eligibility for age pensions. Division 3 relates to qualifications for invalid pensions, which is only another name for eligibility for invalid pensions.
Division 4 relates to the rate of pensions. Section 2S was invoked by the Minister lo explain that the Minister should have predominant, exclusive and undisclosed power, except for an annual report after the event, as proposed by the amendment that is no doubt evoked by he indication that came from the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the second reading debate. Section 28 expressly states:
Subject to this Part, the rate of an age or invalid pension shall in each case be a rate determined by the Director-General as being reasonable and sufficient, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, but shall not exceed . . .
It shall not exceed the maximum fixed by or in accordance with the next succeeding three sub-sections. The Parliament has gone to some trouble, not - as I suggest is proper with scholarships - leaving it to the Department to formulate regulations or delegating to it the function of formulating regulations so that they will take the form of regulations and will therefore be reviewable.
The Director-General’s powers under section 28 are subject to the next succeeding three sub-sections of the statute, in which details are set out, strictly delimiting the matter, and they are subject to Part VI, which is in three divisions. Let me take one instance, the age pension. It shall not be granted to a person, first, unless he is of good character; secondly, unless he deserves a pension; thirdly, if, being a husband, he has deserted his wife without just cause and so forth; fourthly, he has directly or indirectly deprived himself of property or income and so on.
The Parliament there thought fit in the case of the age pensioner to prescribe some criteria. As I understand it, the purpose of this amendment is to see that the terms of eligibility shall be set forth in a regulation which quite permissibly would reserve for the Minister in the case of special circumstances the right to make a special case. Take the question of age. Is Smith’s child, because he is sixteen years of age, to be denied a scholarship and is Jones’s child, because he is a month older, to be allowed it on the determination of the Minister in the individual case? When children arc being put to an educational process they know the courses that are available. They know where those courses will lead and their teachers instruct them accordingly so that they will become eligible in accordance with the conditions. Mow possibly can a forward looking teacher or parent advise his child as to the way in which he shall become eligible for a scholarship if the only expression of that eligibility is an ex post facto report to the Parliament on what has been done in the preceding twelve months?
Therefore it is imperative, I submit, in accordance with principle, that when our servant in the Parliament, the Minister, administers this great public fund of $57m, distributing it among the children of Australia, the terms on which each one of them becomes eligible shall be formulated in an instrument which in a specific way will be reviewable by the Senate. It is idle to say that the Minister is answerable to the Parliament in a general way. In respect of appropriation bills for the ordinary annual services of the Parliament the Senate has no power of amendment. That means that in relation to the general Appropriation Bill, the inclusion of Smith’s child or the exclusion of Brown’s child would be less than a pimple on the face of the Budget. The Senate would have to take the extraordinarily irresponsible course of rejecting the whole Budget in order to give justice to Brown’s child and that is unthinkable. That is why Parliament devised an apparatus whereby we can exercise a supervision over expenditure, and provided a committee to review regulations and to advise the Senate. The Senate, at all times being able to review regulations, ought to require that this matter of eligibility be determined by an instrument that will give justice.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 rise only to allow Senator Wright to continue his remarks.
– I am grateful to Senator Wilkinson for his expression of patience and I hope that by continuing I will not intrude too much on Senator Cormack, who yielded to Senator Wilkinson. It is idle for the Senate to take a special interest in reviewing regulations in order to see that they do not entrench and to constitute a committee of which I have the honour to be a member - the Regulations and Ordinances Committee - for this purpose, if we allow that body to be by-passed. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which Senator Murphy has drawn to our attention, has been acknowledged by world authorities on this matter as making a contribution to the strengthening of parliamentary government. It examines regulations for the purpose of seeing that they do not make individual rights unduly dependent upon executive discretion and that executive action does not restrict individual freedoms. In this generation no man has anything nearer to his soul than seeing to the welfare of his child and to his access to education. It would be completely idle and stultifying if we allowed the Committee to be by-passed now that we have asserted our rights to disallow offending regulations which would enable the executive of the day to substitute for a regulation an instrument not bearing the character of a regulation. That would be the situation if we allowed the Government to substitute this new device, this new idea of a determination, the purpose of which is solely to avoid scrutiny by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.
I have listened to the debate and to the example of the Social Services Act cited to us. For my part 1 was wanting in the capacity or the patience to pen appropriate amendments. 1 had intended to move for the Bill to be referred to a select committee for redrafting in this respect, but so far as I am concerned Senator Cohen’s first two amendments completely express the purpose that the Senate should maintain, and are properly applied to this Bill. I shall vote for them.
– I wish to support the amendment moved by Senator Cohen. I believe that the Minister is prepared to accept portion of the proposed amendment to clause 10, but objects to the proposed deletion of paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) and the proposal to insert other provisions in their place. The provisions we propose to substitute are almost the same as the present provisions, wilh the exception that there is provision for prescription by regulation. I could not find in the Minister’s reply to Senator Cohen any substantial argument as to why the regulation method of prescribing the eligibility, manner of selection and class of persons to be selected would be impossible. He said that it would be beyond the capacity of the Minister if regulations had to be formulated and then had to be approved by him. His contention was that to meet the position the discretion should remain in his hands. I think it should be remembered that already the directors of education in six States have laid down the conditions under which eligibility and selection are to be determined. For the life of me I cannot see why these matters cannot be attended to by the formulating of a regulation, which will then be approved by the Minister. It seems to me that that practice would have the agreement of a large number of people. The determination is taken out of the Minister’s hands, as has been put so well by Senator Wright. It is a matter of deciding just who, of two fairly similar types of people, should have the determination. The Opposition believes that the matter should be controlled by regulation.
– Does the Opposition’s proposal allow for any over and above discretion by the Minister?
– The honourable senator will see from the proposed amendments that the Opposition suggest the insertion of new clauses 16a and 17. There is provision for appeal to the Minister. The Minister may in special circumstances grant a scholarship. It seems to me that to consider one clause to the exclusion of all the other clauses which are considered to be undesirable is a mistake. The amendments must be considered as a whole because they cover a number of clauses of the Bill. I think that if they are taken as a whole they will be found to be perfectly acceptable. I appreciate that we are considering at the moment only the first amendment, but honourable senators are invited to note that in the second amendment we propose there is provision for prescription by regulation in clause 10a. The two amendments are tied together and responsibility is not removed from the Minister. I support the amendment.
– I would like firstly to correct Senator Wright’s opening statement which, as 1 understood him, was that I accepted that this is a debate on the principle which should be applied all through the Bill. I did not agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) that we should bring this clause back for debate on those grounds. I have already indicated quite clearly that I believe in the way in which the provision is expressed in the Bill. The discretion of the Minister is necessary in other cases and 1 have indicated that in other legislation discretion is allowed to a Minister on the same grounds. I do not propose to spend a considerable amount of time on what Senator Wright had to say about the Social Services Act. However, I do want to say that this morning it was advanced by him in debate that the granting of a discretionary power to a Minister - as opposed to prescription by regulation - was unique and had never been heard of in any Commonwealth legislation. I gave him instance after instance from the Social Services Act passed by this Parliament in which this discretion was given.
The particular section which he dealt with does give to the Director-General of Social Services the right to decide what rate of pension shall be paid, having regard to all the circumstances of the case. This is a discretion, lt is not a discretion to decide who qualifies for, say, an age pension, lt is a discretion to decide al what rate a pension will be paid. That point is not directly germane to the argument. What is germane to the argument, instead of the rodomontade we have heard, is thai if you lay down a regulation as to what eligibility means and then slop there, what you have laid down has complete force of law and only those who meet the exact terms that you have laid down will be able to be awarded scholarships. This might sound as though it is a good, democratic approach, but it will undoubtedly lead to a considerable number of injustices. Whatever ironclad rules are laid clown, there will be human cases that will not conform to the rules and need special consideration.
– Does that not happen with most Acts of Parliament?
– I do not believe it does happen with most Acts of Parliament: bin 1 think it happens with Acts of Parliament that deal with a large number of people spread over a wide spectrum of the population, whose individual problems are to be considered - for instance, with social services. But once rigid rules were drawn up they would drive people mad with bureaucracy and petty red tape. More likely than nol. some member of Parliament would be coming to the Minister, as members do now. saying: ‘Here is the case of a man who does not meet the general rules that have been laid down for selection. He was sick. He was away.’ A thousand different reasons are given. At present the man’s case history is submitted and some consideration can be given to granting a benefit despite the general rule. That is possible now, but it would not be possible if these rules were codified in the form of regulations that have the force of law and must be altered before any of these things can be done. Senator Wilkinson suggested that it was easy enough for the Slates to do this and to lay down in their regulations the terms of eligibility for scholarship, but 1 suggest to him that it is not.
– I did not say it was easy. I said that it was done.
– I ask the honourable senator to permit me to develop my own submission. 1 have never said that it is impossible to lay down regulations. What 1 said was that it is impossible to lay down regulations that will cover all the variety of cases that will be brought to the attention of the Director-General or the Minister. Of course it is possible to lay down regulations, but they could not cover all the variety of cases that will arise, and accordingly they would inevitably cause injustices, lt would be of no use providing for an appeal to the Minister against injustices because he would be bound by the regulations, beyond which he could nol go. Provision for an appeal would simply enable the Minister to see whether the regulations had been properly complied with. He could not over-ride the regulations. We have heard about the Victorian regulations, but this kind of discretion is given to the Minister and to the Director-General. Upon examining the provisions for senior scholarships I notice that the State of Victoria has gone much further than I should wish to go. because provision is made for the Minister to grant in each area fifty senior scholarships, forty of which refer to high schools and ten to candidates who live twenty miles away from a main city and are considered by the Minister to be capable of profiting from an approved university course. That type of regulation gives far more discretion than the kind of discretion I am suggesting here.
The basic question that has to be decided by the Senate is whether it wants the kind of rigid rules that were so eloquently described and propounded by Senator Wright, which would result in there being no possible chance of someone giving or denying something to an applicant. On the other hand, does the Senate wish to provide a means by which cases that do not fit into the general rules can be considered on their merits and in a humane way? If this rigidity and the prescription of regulations is included in this legislation, there will be no opportunity to deal with cases that do not conform to the rules. For example, a man might have gone beyond the age limit that is prescribed in a regulation and, irrespective of the reason why he has not reached the stage of education he desires by the time he has exceeded the age limit, there will be no opportunity for him to compete with the other applicants. That is just one example of the kinds of things that can happen.
We have been told that a political Minister should not be in the position of exercising the discretion that has been mentioned during this debate. I have heard this kind of argument before. I hope Senator Wright will take what I have to say now in the same detached spirit as 1 have taken what he has had to say. I believe that basically, it is a grave denigration of the Parliament and a reflection on the Parliament to say that a political Minister should not have this kind of discretion and that it should be given to some statutory board which is not answerable to Parliament. If this were done, the Minister could merely reply: ‘I cannot decide this matter. It must be decided by someone else who is appointed from outside’. To seek by law to put more and more authority in the hands of someone outside Parliament would be a strange development in the eyes of the people who are really concerned with the capacity of Parliament and who seek to hold someone answerable to them for what is done.
– The amendment does not seek to do that.
– I am speaking of the approach that was mentioned by Senator Wright, who said that the amendment flows from that kind of approach. I think it would be true to say that it would be possible, with the Bill as it is drawn at present, for a Minister to say. ‘Nobody with red hair is eligible for the award of a scholarship’. However, it would not be possible to say: “Billy Smith, who has red hair, is not capable of being awarded a scholarship’. I say that because of the provisions dealing with the eligibility of persons and classes of persons. That is the risk I suggest the Senate might reasonably and justifiably take, considering the degree of flexibility and humanity that can be applied when someone falls just outside the rule but still has the opportunity to be granted the particular benefit. Those are the basic matters that I wish to raise.
– I have listened wilh interest to this debate, and I point out to the Senate that on two or three occasions the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) has extended to me the courtesy of discussing this measure. I think it is fair to say of him that he realises the tremendous scope of the power that is to be put into the Minister’s hands by this Bill, lt might bc reasonable to say that he is concerned about the degree of power. Speaking not only as a senator but also as the Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I take a particular interest in this aspect of legislation, and I believe that clause 10 is in this respect the kernel of the Bill. The legal men on the Opposition benches have brought forward this amendment. After discussing this matter with the Minister I believe that the most vital clause, so far as the provisions of regulations are concerned, is clause 10(b) which deals with the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships. That is the important point at which something should be written into the Bill, so that there might be a guide as lo the persons who are entitled to the scholarships. I think everyone here agrees that the present Minister, Senator Gorton, is a man with a high standard of education, and a decisiveness of manner that is most desirable. I do not think anybody would worry about a minister of his type adjudicating on such things as scholarships. One honourable senator - it was possibly Senator Wright - said that in laying down these laws we are thinking not specifically of the present Minister but of all those who succeed him in office.
It is very easy to say that the Minister is answerable to the Senate, and to the Parliament generally, but very often thai docs not carry any weight. I have seen many instances in my own State in which a Minister has made decisions about which some people - often some members of Parliament - were not very happy, but, because t hey were determinations made by the Minister, no alteration would be effected to them. It is therefore the duty of this Parliament to include safeguards in its legislation in order that the control of the administration of legislation shall remain in the hands of Parliament as much as possible. Recently the trend has been to do things by instrument in writing, or to leave decisions to the discretion of the Minister. Parliament has passed its powers on to the Minister. Clause 10 of the Bill provides:
The Minister shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine -
the number of scholarships that may from time to time be granted:
the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships;
the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be granted; and
the persons, or class of persons, authorised to grant scholarships.
The Opposition is proposing an amendment which reads:
Leave out the clause, insertthe following new clause: ‘The Minister shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine the number of scholarships that may from time to time be a warded.’
Then the Opposition wishes to insert a new clause - clause 10a - which covers the three items of terms of eligibility, the manner of selecting persons andthe persons or class of persons authorised to gram scholarships. It wishes to provide that these three matters shall be prescribed by the regulations. The Minister has circulated an amendment which he proposes to move to this clause. It seeks, in line1, to insert the words: ‘shall grant scholarships and’ after the word: ‘Minister’. I take it that the intention is that the clause shall provide:
The Minister shall grant scholarships and shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine- the three matters mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).I note from the circulated amendments that the Minister proposes to omit paragraph (d) which relates to the persons, or class of persons, authorised to grant scholarships,It would seem to me, therefore, that the main part of that clause which is affected by the amendment is paragraph (d) and that the key tothe whole question rests here in that the Minister wishes to delete reference to the persons or class of persons authorised to grant scholarships. The Opposition, on the other hand, wishes to provide that questions relating to the matters covered in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) shall be prescribed by regulations. The Opposition, loo, makes no reference in its amendment to the persons or class of persons authorised to grant scholarships.
I have listened to the Minister and other honourable senators with very great interest. The Minister said that it is difficult to be precise in prescribing by way of regulation what shall constitute eligibility and so on. I know that some further amendments are to be proposed later, but I am not so much concerned about them forI believe that the basis of all this discussion resides in the clause now under consideration. The main objective is to ensure that Parliament shall have full control over these matters. If that objective is achieved, certain matters, in my opinion, can be safely left to the discretion of the Minister.
I find difficulty in arriving at a decision between these two proposed amendments. Looking at the matter as a layman, I feel that either of the amendments could be accepted or perhaps the Minister’s proposal could be accepted if we add to it the words ‘shall be prescribed by the regulations.’ To me, in these circumstances, this seems to be the key tothe whole debate. In my view, it would be advisable to have matters such as eligibility covered by regulation. The Minister has mentioned the difficulties connected with adopting this course, but in my opinion the Minister must have some standard by which to decide eligibility. I feel, too, that this standard should be prescribed by regulation, but in the broadest possible terms in order to give the Minister sufficient elbow room to make decisions covering as many aspects as possible.
– I am tempted to enter briefly into this debate by the difficulty the Minister had in justifying his decision to reject the Opposition’s proposed amendment. The provision to which he objects is written into almost every piece of legislation which bestows a benefit upon certain sections of the community. The difficulties that he sees in including our proposal arise also under other legislation.
There will always be someone who will just miss enjoying the particular benefit prescribed. There will always be someone just over the line. I mention the Homes Savings Grant Act as one example. The person who laid the foundations of his home a day too early misses the benefit. The Minister has stated that if a politician makes representations to the Minister asking that something be done in cases such as that, and if the Minister is adamant about the matter, as I think he must be, then we can do nothing because the Act lays down the conditions with which people must comply. Under the operations of the social services legislation many people miss out. I mention as examples those who do not qualify for a pensioner medical card because their superannuation benefits exceed the prescribed limit by only a very small amount. I know of one case in which a person was denied a card because his superannuation benefit was 3s above the prescribed maximum income. Again, there are those who fail to benefit from the allowance for aged persons under the income tax law because they are receiving only a very small amount above the maximum prescribed to be eligible for this purpose. I repeat there are always some who miss out in legislation of this type.
Senator Cohen’s proposal to include a new clause, 16a, which seeks to give the Minister a discretion is unusual and could be subject to some criticism in certain instances. But there is no other way over the difficulty. It may be said that however the Minister extends the limit of eligibility, someone will miss out; but I emphasise that our proposal gives the Minister the right to extend the limit even further than he may have done in borderline cases if he so desires. Of course, some danger is attached to this provision. The Minister gave an exaggerated instance. He said that the Minister could lay it down as a condition of eligibility that no-one with red hair would get a scholarship. It was a good example. But if it is thought that a Minister might not grant a scholarship to a person who has red hair or might prescribe some other condition which would not generally be acceptable to the Parliament, then 1 remind honourable senators that the regulations under which the Minister acts must be approved by the majority of honourable senators in this place or the majority of the members of the other place. At the present time, the Minister stipulates what in his opinion are reasonable conditions, but what in his opinion is reasonable might not be acceptable to a representative gathering of people.
Obviously, on all occasions this Parliament should decide the conditions attaching to the granting of scholarships. I do not think we can simply say that regulations cannot be framed to provide for every individual case. Immediately cases are considered individually we shall be able to point to many instances of injustice and hardship in which discretion has not been exercised favourably though it was so exercised in another case. I believe that in our system of representative government it is a proper function of the Parliament from time to time to exercise the right to decide the conditions under which public money shall be spent. In this instance, it should determine the qualifications necessary. Their determination should not be left to the discretion of one person.
– Mr Chairman, I support the amendment proposed by Senator Cohen. I assume that he is willing to accept the foreshadowed proposal for an amendment to provide that the Minister be given power to grant scholarships.
– I shall make my remarks on the basis that Senator Cohen is prepared to accept an amendment to his amendment in the terms indicated. The real question is whether we are to have scholarships by law or at the discretion of the Minister. The matter is as simple as that. As I heard the Minister describe the difficulties in the way of adopting our proposal 1 became more and more disturbed. At the beginning of this discussion it appeared that the question at issue was whether the terms of eligibility should be determined in some way by the Minister and written down by him or whether they should be prescribed in a regulation, lt is clear that they ought to be prescribed by law. The making of a regulation is simple enough. If the Minister could not set out in a regulation what, presumably, he is to write down in some instrument, the Government ought not to be where it is and he ought not to be where he is. It should be possible for this to be clone. Indeed, it must be done.
Listening to the Minister, I got the feeling not that the question was one of setting out in the form of a regulation what is to be determined by the Minister but that there will be no definite terms of eligibility, and that it will all be a matter of individual eases being decided on, some, perhaps, being dealt with in globo. It appears that we are not to have a determination, whether by an instrument in writing or by any other means, of the terms relating to lbc eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships and to the manner of selecting those persons. What stage has this community reached if, in a major matter such as the award of scholarships, we are not to have any definite rules? Whether set out in a regulation or not, are there not to be any definite rules relating to the conditions under which persons shall be eligible for scholarships? Are there not to be definite rules relating to the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships will be granted? Surely we ought to have guide lines on those matters. Surely rules should be laid down. If they should, the proper way is to prescribe them by regulation.
In effect, the Minister says: ‘Let me have a system under which I shall be able to determine not only the number of scholarships but also everything else’. No-one quarrels with his determining the number of scholarships. But he asks us to give him power over all things, including power to determine eligibility and the way in which selections will be made. Under his proposal, there is to be no rule or prescription. Not only the present Minister but also his successors will be able to act in the same manner. They will be able to change the rules of eligibility from day to day. whatever rules they may fix. Rules ought to be prescribed. Neither Senator Wright, any Opposition senator nor anyone else in the chamber apart from the Minister has suggested that a regulation must be rigid. One can have elasticity in rules prescribed by regulation. That is one thing that is clear. If one likes to use a little energy one can work out regulations that will provide for persons whose schooling has been substantially interrupted by illness or other causes, for example. Matters such as those can be dealt with. The Opposition concedes that, if ways to make the rules elastic in dealing with these matters cannot be conceived, a discretionary power in special circumstances would deal with the situation. But. by and large, rules ought to bc laid down. The proper way in which to prescribe them is to set them out in regulations, which then become subject to the supervision of the Parliament.
– Of each House of the Parliament.
– Yes. Are wc to have a situation in which the Minister may change the rules from day to day, saying thai they must be flexible in order to meet varying circumstances? Surely, if one education authority changed its examination standards, a regulation could be changed accordingly. The making of regulations would be simple enough. No-one suggests that the Minister should be deprived of any say in these matters. We believe, however, that he and the Government should have their say in a regular and proper manner through the medium of regulations, which would become subject to the control of each House of the Parliament. I have nol heard from the Minister any satisfactory answer to this argument.
– Regulations would be available to be lead by every individual student who was interested.
– That is so. Any citizen interested in his rights and privileges would be able, as he ought to bc, to obtain on request a copy of the regulations so that he could read them and readily see, lor example, the conditions under which he would be eligible for a scholarship. We are told, however, that this is to be a matter for the Minister. He could last week have been giving scholarships to people who satisfied certain conditions, but we cannot be certain what those conditions were. Noone can be certain what the position is. If he changes his mind about the terms and conditions on which scholarships shall be granted, or about other matters, no-one can do anything about it, because the changes are not subject to the control of either House of the Parliament.
The more one considers the matter, the more one is led to believe that what the Minister proposes is an unparalleled bid for official power. This Bill is certainly the worst example in this sessional period of the seeking of power for the bureaucracy. lt is of no use for the Minister to attempt to conceal the situation by using honeyed words in this chamber. The clauses of the Bill speak for themselves. They provide that the Minister is to have all power and that the Parliament is to have none. Not even in the generality of cases is either House of the Parliament to have any control over the terms and conditions attaching to the grant of scholarships, or over changes in those terms and conditions. Changes will be made when the Minister thinks fit or when he changes his mind. Any changes in the terms and conditions attaching to scholarships should result only from changes in the law - in the regulations. When regulations are changed those who are interested in the changes, whether they be the members of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate or other persons, can consider the changes. If those changes are not satisfactory, the matter can be dealt with in a regular manner.
Under the Minister’s proposal, who will know when he changes his mind? Who ml have any control over the situation when there is a change in the office of Minister? We suggest that the Minister has embodied in this Bill an extraordinary approach to these matters. I say that deliberately, regardless of whether the Minister can dredge up a section, or even half a section, in some other legislation, that confers discretionary power on anyone. The Minister has adopted an extraordinary approach that is intended to apply to the whole field of an important aspect of public expenditure - a field that gravely concerns citizens because it affects their whole careers, which will depend not on rules laid down in regulations that come under the supervision of the Parliament but on the discretion and the whim of a Minister, who may from time to time be one person or another, or who may from time to time change his mind. This is not, as is sometimes suggested, one of the steps by which we seem to pass remorselessly into the hands of the bureaucracy. It is a hop, step and a jump into the arms of the bureaucracy. I ask the Committee to support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Cohen as an indication of the principle that should be observed in this Bill.
Senator CORMACK (Victoria) 1.3.30]- Mr Chairman, 1 intervene in this debate at this late stage because of Senator Wood’s remark that the proposed amendment to clause 1.0 is central to the whole of the argument that was adduced during the second reading debate. I yield to noone in my belief that the Parliament is the appropriate place to supervise the delegated powers. Honourable senators will recollect that I took issue last year with n provision in relation to the use of power by a Minister, by instrument in writing, lo give effect to this, that and the other. But honourable senators will recollect also that 1 said that the complexities of administration at the present time are such that the problem which confronted the Senate when it was dealing with situations that arose in the postwar years 1919 to 1 935 attracts attention again. 1 suggested in my remarks last year that the Senate would be ill advised, I thought - and 1 still think st- to take action respecting certain matters until the Senate itself had authorised or instructed the Regulations and Ordinances Committee to report to it whether there had been proper use of the instrument in writing by the Minister or of the Minister’s authority. This suggestion has not been taken up by the Senate. In a question lo the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Murphy) before the sitting was suspended, I suggested that he might consider that, in these circumstances, the Senate’s own committee should be asked to examine and then to advise the Senate as to the extent to which ministerial powers should be used.
The arguments that have been adduced in relation to the Scholarships Bill 1967 apply to the Bills which were before us last year. I take the Minister’s point that in the circumstances in which he finds himself, where the responsibilities of the Commonwealth have been widely increased and where he is trying to get this system of Commonwealth scholarships on to a reasonable basis among six States which have different and differing standards and different requirements, he should be given the right to say that these matters lie within his hands and within his points of view. This does not relieve the Senate of the responsibility for setting tip its own standards by which these powers shall be used. Until such time as the Senate takes unto itself the responsibility to examine the matter, as it did in 1935, in relation to regulations and ordinances and the standard that shall bs applied to the use of such powers, 1 consider that any action to emasculate this Bill in the pursuit of a political philosophy in which fundamentally I believe would be ill advised.
This might be a proper case to be referred for examination to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of which Senator Wood has the honour and responsibility of being Chairman. Senator Wood will be the first to agree that he discussed this matter with me some time ago when the introduction of this Bill was foreshadowed. 1 wish to quote what I said to Senator Wood at that time, and in doing so 1 am not betraying a confidence because ] shall only be giving my own statements. I said to Senator Wood that this was an atea of responsibility which his Committee should supervise and that it was an area of responsibility upon which he, as the Chairman of the Committee, should advise the Senate.
– The amendment seeks to give that power.
– All I am suggesting is that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which is a standing committee of the Senate, should be charged with the responsibility of the supervision of subordinate legislation. This lies within the Committee’s own power and the power should be exercised to examine even If this does not accord with instructions from the Senate to examine the use of ministerial powers. Until such time as that standing committee reports to and advises the Senate on ils assessment of the essence of ‘he problem, I am not prepared, any more man 1 was last year, to try to enforce my will on the Senate. The problem is not readily discernible unless the standing committee examines competent, clear and coherent evidence as to what other administrative problems are involved in this regard.
While listening to this debate, I have recalled areas in which the Commonwealth has been awarding scholarships for sixty years. The Commonwealth awards scholarships to the Royal Naval College and the
Royal Military College. It is true that ever since 1910-11 when those colleges were set up, scholarships have been available to their students through a system that has been embodied in regulations, lt is interesting to follow through the regulations. These regulations have been constantly amended. But while they have been constantly amended there has remained embedded in the regulations the matter that, though the Commonwealth Government has had jurisdiction for over fifty years, the conditions of the scholarships are still varied by the Naval Board or by the Military Board completely beyond the powers of Parliament.
The argument of the Minister for Education and Science this afternoon has been that any Minister is available to Parliament. But I defy any honourable senator to tell me that we can get at the Military Board or at the Naval Board that varies the conditions under which scholarships are granted under their power. Therefore, in these circumstances, I cannot accept the amendment for the reasons I have tried to demonstrate. Until such time as the Regulations and Ordinances Committee - the Senate’s own watchdog committee - has reported to the Senate and laid down the guide lines and the rules for the approach of the Senate to this problem, this Bill must be supported.
- Mr Chairman, I wish to indicate that I am prepared to accept the first proposed amendment referred to by the Minister for Education and Science and to incorporate it in my own amendment. I seek leave to amend my amendment in relation to clause 10 to read:
Leave out the clause, insert the following new clause:
The Minister shall grant scholarships and shall, in respect of each class of scholarships, determine the number of scholarships that mm from time to time bc awarded.’
I do not desire to say anything further in support of the proposition except to mention the Minister’s own concession which he made at some early stage of this debate. I took a note of his words. He said that it is good, when it is able to be done, for the discretions of officers or Ministers to be limited by Acts of parliament or by regulations. The Minister has based the whole of his case on the difficulties of doing what we seek to do as a matter of principle, and what we say is well within his competence and the competence of his officers to formulate. 1 hope that the amendment will be accepted.
– The Minister’s amendment will seek to delete paragraph (d) of clause 10.
– The Minister has two proposed amendments. I have sought leave to amend my amendment by incorporating the first of the Minister’s proposed amendments. As I understood it, leave was granted.
– No. Leave was not granted.
– Mr Chairman, 1 seek leave to amend my amendment by incorporating in it the first of the two proposed amendments from the Minister. My amendment calls for the deletion of clauses (b), (c) and (d) of clause 10.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator SIM (Western Australia; 13.40] - 1 wish to say only a few words because I feel that there seems to be one principle involved in this discussion. That is whether discretionary powers should ever be granted to a Minister. I have never been a lover of discretionary powers, but at the same time I recognise that one has to be flexible in these things and judge every case on its merits. Another question that arises is whether the eligibility of persons who can qualify for scholarships should be defined by regulation. The Minister has suggested that there arc great difficulties in defining qualifications by regulation, but he has suggested that he is endeavouring to write into the Act a general rule of eligibility. I think that is what the Minister suggested. 1 am attracted by that proposition because 1 believe it is difficult in a case such as this to define by regulation unless the Minister is given some wide discretionary powers, notwithstanding the regulation. I think that that is suggested by the Opposition’s proposed new clause 16a.
In my simple way I find it difficult to follow the argument that we should define fairly rigidly because although we may be able to provide a wide range of grounds, they cannot cover the hundreds of cases on which the Minister has to make a decision regarding scholarships in relation to the questions of health, age, residence and many others. Honourable senators say that we can define by regulation, but then they say that the Minister must have some wide discretionary powers in special circumstances. Presumably the Minister himself has to decide these special circumstances. Quite frankly, 1 cannot find any sense in this argument. I go along with the general proposition that there is need for some general rule of eligibility to be clearly stated. But at this stage 1 think that what the Minister proposes is all that should be done. I am most anxious to see that the Minister is not prevented from ensuring that injustices do not occur in cases in which problems arise, because his powers are too rigidly defined. I oan think of dozens of cases in which it would be impossible to define by regulation, unless the Minister had some wide discretionary powers under which he could grant scholarships. I do not want to see anybody, because of misfortune or some other reason, disqualified because of some rigid definition of the rules. At this stage 1 firmly support the proposal contained in the Bill and oppose the amendment.
Senator GORTON (Victoria- Minister for Education and Science.) P.43 - I should like to make two brief comments arising from Senator Murphy’s remarks. Firstly, I point out to the Committee that it is ridiculous to call this proposal a hop. skip and jump into bureaucracy. For the last three years, two of these classes of scholarships with which we are dealing, the secondary scholarship and the technical scholarship, have not been subject to parliamentary oversight except insofar as the Minister has been answerable to Parliament. Parliament has provided the money for them. They have been administered in accordance with the general rules. This is the first occasion on which what has been happening without regulation or an Act of the Parliament has been brought before the Parliament.
In the case of university scholarships and colleges of advanced education scholarships which were added last year, since the inauguration of the Act in 1945 these scholarships have been administered by a board subject to the direction of the Minister. Some regulations in relation to benefits have been made for the purposes of that board, but they have been no more than would have been made under (his Act. These regulations are still in existence.
They are still valid and will continue to be so unless and until any regulations are made under this Act. Can we get more power, for example, than is contained in a regulation which states:
The Board may in any case in which it thinks proper determine that no benefit or benefits of a specified amount shall be paid to a student specified by the Board and thereupon no benefit or benefits of the amount specified shall be payable accordingly.
Some time ago, and on subsequent occasions, this Parliament decided that the Commonwealth Scholarships Board should be a law unto itself.
– It does not mean that that is correct because of what is contained in that document.
– No. But it shows that this is not something which is a hop, skip and jump into bureaucracy or something which is new, strange and different.
That the amendment (Senator Cohen’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Proposed new clause 10a.
– I move:
After clause 10, insert the following new clause: 10a. The terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships, and the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be awarded, shall be as prescribed by the regulations’.
Honourable senators will observe that I have amended the circulated clause by deleting the sub-clause referring to persons or classes of persons authorised to grant scholarships. This follows,I think necessarily, from my acceptance? of the Minister’s amendment to clause 10 to the effect that the Minister shall grant scholarships and shall determine the number of scholarships and so on.
In the circumstances I do not think it is necessary for me to include in this proposed amendment the latter part of the amendment I have circulated.I think I have canvassed the reasons why this amendment should be supported. In my view it follows necessarily from the decision taken by the Committee in relation to my amendment to clause 10. I do not propose to address any argument to it. I ask the Committee to carry the amendment.
– I agree that the basic arguments have been canvassed. However, I would prefer the Senate not to accept this proposed amendment in its present form. Without entering into argument again, I move as an amendment to the amendment:
Leave out the clause proposed to be Inserted, insert the following new clause: 10a. The Minister shall, subject to the regula tions, determine -
the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships; and
the manner of selecting persons to whom scholarships are to be awarded.’
– I interpose at this stage to say that I do not accept that proposed amendment.
– The amendment proposed by the Minister is a very indirect and devious way of keeping on the underground level the power that has been denied the Minister by the last vote of the Committee. I would expect a much more forthright acceptance of the vole. As I recollect the Minister’s proposed amendment, the Minister shall, subject to the regulations, determine various things. That means that he may prefer a determination, and never exercise the regulations, because both emanate from him. No-one usurps the function of regulation-making except the responsible Minister, and so much is it a question of Tweedledum and Tweedledee that all that the Minister, or hi.s secretary, would have to do is to sit at » desk, write the terms of eligibility and i hen say to a fellow Minister: “Will you join with me to meet as the Executive Council on Tuesday morning next? 1 have a regulation to be made*. And it is so made. Bui he prefers to sit at hi.s desk and write: “This is a determination”.
The only difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee is that when the regulation passes through the Executive Council and is printed in the ‘Gazette’ it is then imported into the parliamentary machine, because the mechanisms of this place have ensured that regulations shall be laid upon the table of our House. The next cog in the wheel is that they are automatically referred lo the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee. Following that, every senator wilh his secretary scrutinises them from the point of view of policy. Any one senator has the right then to initiate a motion for disallowance of regulations. So important has the Senate regarded its special preoccupation with regulations that it is provided in the Standing Orders of the Senate thai a motion for disallowance shall take precedence, f think over all other business. I will be corrected if I am wrong: I am only speaking on the substance. As I Iia ve said, so important does the Senate regard (lie supervision of regulations that we have provided a special priority for a motion for disallowance of a regulation, even over Government business.
We have safeguarded that right so well that if the Government manoeuvres the business of the House so that the debate shall not proceed for a specified period - I think it is three weeks - the result is not that the regulation stands but that it is disallowed. No machinations of the Executive predominating in this chamber can prevail over a free vole initiated by any one senator for the disallowance of a regulation. That is the degree of significance we attach to Tweedledum. That particular method of enunciating the terms of eligibility in a regulation attracts that power lo this Senate and each representative of the people in this Senate may exercise that power on behalf of his constituents. Have we abused that power? How many times in the seventeen years since 1V49 has a regulation been disallowed here? They can be counted on the fingers of two hands. But the free acceptance of that power has had such a salutary effect that, by and large, subordinate legislation is no longer the subject of abuse. Instead, it is a matter of strict regard for the principles upon which the Senate Committee scrutinises the regulations.
Now. by a deft turn of draftsmanship, there is an attempt to say that those provisions which the vote of the Senate has excluded from clause 10 of the Bill shall not bc the subject of regulations. Instead, it is proposed lo renew the viewpoint that the Minister, subject to the regulations, may determine the terms of eligibility. I am obliged to the Draftsman for sending me the text of the Minister’s amendment. I can have no respect for it. It lacks the candour that 1 would expect to follow a vote in this chamber. It suggests that the Minister should have the power to determine three items which, by our last vote, we ordered to be deleted from the clause, subject to regulations which he and he alone, according to invariable parliamentary practice, will initiate. That means that his power to determine the terms and conditions of eligibility would ensue, subject only to the cobwebbing notion by which an attempt is being made lo inveigle us into a false situation, namely that he might make regulations lo which his power of determination would be subject.
My perseverance will run out one day. But while I am in this chamber I will speak in defence of its rights, lt is now the only bulwark against the uncontrolled ascendancy of the Executive. Once the bureaucracy obtains the endorsement of Cabinet in another place, that place, unless it wishes to disestablish the government of the day, is bound to accept that decision. That is not the position in this chamber. This forum retains the freedom to correct legislation and to supervise subordinate legislation. This chamber having taken the special province of regulation supervision, in my view it is imperative, if this chamber is lo be respected or preserved for any purpose, that this device to bypass the last vote of the Committee be completely condemned.
– I agree completely with what Senator Wright has said. This amendment is merely a device to get around the last vote of the Committee. lt is an unworthy device. If carried, it would have the effect that the Minister could do exactly what he said he wanted to do in the first instance. The regulations, if any were made, could be so minor as to touch one mere matter of the conditions of eligibility, which would not affect or in any way control the Minister. Then he would just do what he liked. This indicates more and more that this Bill is a bid for official power and that this amendment should be condemned by the Committee. The amendment, following upon the last vote, only confirms me more than ever in the view that this is an attempt to entrench the bureaucracy and must be completely resisted by this chamber. I ask that the Minister’s amendment to Senator Cohen’s proposed new clause be rejected and that the Committee, consistently with its last vote, carry the proposal made by Senator Cohen.
– I wish to make one or two general comments. I point out to Senator Wright that he is not the only one who rises in this place and says what he believes to be correct. I have no doubt that while Senator Wright is in this chamber he will speak for what he believes to be its proper rights. But it does not follow that when he speaks he is necessarily always correct. Nor does it follow that people who put a different point of view from his are speaking against the rights of this chamber. I. merely want it to be clear that complete responsibility for interpreting the rights of this chamber is not properly the possession of a single senator who is subject to human error.
This amendment is not a device. It would mean that regulations would have to be made on these matters. Those regulations would have to be the object of scrutiny by the Senate. They could be regulations giving a general outline of what was required to be done. Within that general outline they could leave to the
Minister a capacity for flexibility. For example, they could require that the passing of an examination be a requirement for the awarding of a scholarship, but they could leave for determination by the Minister the type of examination and the level which had to be passed. I believe that the Bill as it stands goes further than most honourable senators would want it to go, because everything would have to be the subject of a particular regulation. I would have thought that sufficient power and sufficient oversight of these sorts of actions would be left in the Senate if the general regulations within which the Minister had to act were all that was required. Those regulations would be subject to the scrutiny of the Senate, which would say whether it thought they provided sufficient safeguards. That is all I have to say.
That the amendment (Senator Gorton’s) to the proposed new clause be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority … . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 1 1 agreed to.
The financial assistance to be provided by the Commonwealth in respect of a Commonwealth Secondary Scholarship or a Commonwealth Technical Scholarship shall consist of -
The financial assistance to be provided by the Commonwealth in respect of a Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship or a Commonwealth University Scholarship shall consist of -
The financial assistance to be provided by the Commonwealth in respect of a Commonwealth Post-graduate Award is the payment by the Commonwealth of such amounts as are payable under this section in accordance with directions of the
Minister, being amounts that do not exceed in respect of a year a total of Two thousand three hundred dollars or such greater amount as is prescribed.
– I move:
In clause 13 -
In my view, these amendments are consequential upon what has been decided by the Committee, and what has been decided by the Committee contemplates regulations. The kind of matters dealt with in these clauses would be prescribed by regulations and there would be no need for this formulation in the Bill.
– Let me say at once that Senator Cohen’s statement is completely misleading. What we have just done is to decide that the terms of eligibility will be subject to regulations and that the manner of selection will be subject to regulations. That has no consequential effects at all on the proposals in these clauses, which deal with the payment of benefits to those who are eligible and have been selected. I do not propose to run through the whole gamut of this argument. The discretion is necessary if this scheme is to work, at least if it is to work with any efficiency and sense; I make that flat statement.
Clause 12 deals with Commonwealth secondary scholarships, which I will take as a general pattern. A living allowance of $200 per child per year is payable. That is a payment laid down in the Bill. It is not alterable either by the Minister or, I should think, by regulation. It is the payment laid down in the Bill as the living allowance that a child may get.
– It is alterable upwards by regulation, is it not?
– It is alterable upwards by regulation. Price might be alterable downwards by regulation. Here it is in the Bill. It is not alterable in any other way. The matter with which we are concerned is the payment of amounts which will clearly be different in respect of different people, in relation to fees, text books and equipment. The Committee may remember that the policy adopted by the Government and accepted by the people in relation to these scholarships was that there would be not a payment of a fixed sum in respect of fees, text books and equipment, but a payment in reimbursement only of up to $200 for fees, text books and equipment added together. 1 ask the Committee to consider trying to make regulations just covering those payments. Consider for a start reimbursement of fees paid by a child. We are dealing with amounts, sums of money, that would have to be put into regulations. Fees would vary between private schools and between high schools, which sometimes make sports union fees compulsory, and which sometimes do not.
Apart from that, there are fees of other kinds at technical schools which vary according to the particular course that is taken. They vary not only between schools but also between Stales and between courses.
Frankly, I think that it is absurd to suggest that amounts of money to cover all of these things should be written down and that the provision should change every time that they are changed. Consider text books. If this Bill were to go into operation, the report that I would present to the Parliament on the operation of the Act would show that the text books to be bought would be the text books prescribed for all of the children in a particular form in a particular year in a particular State. We would pick up the tab for our scholarship holders for the books which were prescribed by the curricula of all the States. Am I supposed to put down the amounts of money in respect of these? The cost of a particular book changes or the costs of books change. Curricula change.
It would be too ludicrous to try to write into regulations sums of money to cover all of the permutations and combinations of the text books required by one of our scholarship holders. When we come to equipment, remember that we are talking of both high schools and technical schools. Try to imagine writing into regulations amounts of money to cope with all of the variations of different kinds of equipment that a child might need according to the course that he was doing. A sum of money could be more than the amount required to pay for equipment for children at one technical school and could be a lot less than the amount required to pay for equipment at another technical school. I simply do not believe that it is in any way possible to determine by regulations an amount which is to be in all respects payable. Having said that, I ask the Senate to reject the amendment.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia) [4.2 1 J - Clause 13 states in part:
The financial assistance to be provided by the Commonwealth in respect of .a Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship or a Commonwealth University Scholarship shall consist of -
. . .
. . .
if the holder of the scholarship is married and, under the regulations, an allowance is payable in respect of the spouse of the holder of the scholarship - the payment by the Commonwealth of that allowance at such rate as is determined in respect of the scholarship under the regulations, being a rate that does nut exceed Three dollars ninety cents per week or such higher rale as is prescribed:
I ask the Minister whether an accounting has been kept of the number of wives who have been paid the prescribed allowance? Is it known how many students are married and in receipt of an allowance for a spouse? What is the upper limit of the allowance? I cannot understand how a wife could live on S3.90 a week. Paragraph (d) provides for an allowance of $1 a week for a child. I would like to know in respect of how many children at present that allowance is paid. Perhaps many of them are suffering from malnutrition while the allowance for them is $1 a week and for their mothers S3.90 a week.
– I understand that between 300 and 400 people are involved.
– I endeavoured to be heard by Senator Cohen by interjection, because I do not accept the view that the amendment we are now discussing follows automatically from the acceptance of the two previous amendments. I had hoped to ask the honourable senator to explain to rae just what is the effect of these amendments on the legislation. Senator Gorton has explained in respect of clause 12. I have found clause 13 more vexing than clause 12 and so at this stage I propose to deal with clause 12 and what has been said in the hope that Senator Cohen or Senator Gorton will be good enough to provide some discussion that will enable me to understand the balance of the structure of clause 13. I find it very difficult to understand its expression, so I content myself at the moment with clause 12.
The proposed amendment to clause 12 deals with the payment of an amount in respect of a Commonwealth secondary scholarship for text books and equipment used by a scholarship holder, and fees payable. I believe that to be the subject matter of the payment. The clause as printed in the Bill prescribes an upper limit of $200; regulations may lift the upper limit. 1 will not take the initial stand that we sometimes lake of saying that that amount should not be adjusted by regulation. 1 do not object to that procedure at all. But we are dealing with the reimbursement payable for text books, equipment and fees payable in respect of a secondary or technical scholarship holder. My friend Senator Laught interjected during the Minister’s speech to say that there may be a variety of fees payable around the country, from S50 to $500, at secondary schools. Let is be quite understood that F am speaking only for myself. When I refer to a State high school 1 remember with some affection my old school and the people who do not even have access to secondary schools.
Just let me, unperturbed, deal with this question, lt is my understanding that under the legislation we provide a subvention for people who are unlucky enough to require medical or hospital treatment. Do we say that we will reimburse whatever a hospital or a doctor charges? No. I forget the exact formula we use, but we are here to get the maximum benefit of the money that we have available from our taxpayers, our electors. It is not good enough that the whole amount should be absorbed by fees at one school for child Smith, and that child Brown has no fees to pay at a State high school. Am I putting it correctly? The scholarship holder is not entitled automatically to $200. He is entitled only to such amounts as are needed to pay for his requirements of text books and equipment, and his fees, that the Minister determines up to the amount of $200. That is the first point I want the Committee to consider.
I am open to persuasion on the matter but I raise it as something that is perplexing my mind at the moment. I am not sure that it is proper. Suppose my child goes to school A and another child goes to school B, and the fees payable at school A are $100. The fees payable at School B are also $100. Why should the Minister by any power of determination have the right to discriminate? i put the next case of a secondary school at which child Smith attends. The fees payable are $50 a year. The more favoured child Brown goes to a school where the fees payable annually are $500. Are we correct in allowing money to go out in reimbursement of fees in this way when there is a paucity of money and we cannot tax the people to provide the full amount that we would like to devote to education?
The same point can be made about equipment. One science master will have an idea as to approved equipment; another science master - perhaps less intelligent, perhaps less handicapped - will ask for less. Is it the right way to administer this money for the provision of equipment that we should quantify it by a determination by the Minister in individual cases? Is it not a case where the actual reimbursement should be paid up to a certain amount, which we think is the normal, average requirement and then, by our policy, have an influence upon the fees that schools charge to our scholarship holders?
Mr Chairman, I put forward no positive viewpoint, and I rose simply to analyse the subject after having only half thought out the matter and after that idea had come to my mind. Dealing with the amendment, I have confined myself to clause 12 only, and I shall be encroaching on the patience of the Committee when clause 13 is being discussed.
– Mr Chairman, I believe that I am concerned in the same way as Senator Wright. The purpose of Senator Cohen’s amendment is to bring these matters into the area of regulations rather than leaving them to the discretion of the Minister. I conceded that the Minister would not be concerned with matters of administrative detail, deciding how cheques would be sent and so forth. The Minister’s argument seems to be chat there would be all sorts of different sums of money that would have to be prescribed in the regulations. The Opposition’s view on this matter is that surely the kind of decision that could appropriately be prescribed in a regulation would be that the financial assistance shall be, say, $50 towards books and $1.20 towards school fees, if any. That is the kind of regulation that could be made. If the student supplied an account or a receipt for his school fees, the regulation could provide that he should be reimbursed up to a certain amount. There would be no necessity to include in the regulations different amounts in respect of different schools.
– That seems to be the contemplation - the individual case each time.
– That is precisely the intention, and that is what has been done for three years: that is what the Liberal Party submitted when it won the election three years ago.
– The views of the supporters of the Minister’s party might be helpful to the Committee, but the Opposition takes the view, which has been incorporated in Senator Cohen’s amendment, that the proper approach to the matter is for the financial assistance to be set out in a regulation. We should have thought that this would have been a comparatively simple matter so that anyone could say: This is the amount for books and this is the amount to which you are entitled. If you hold a scholarship, you get so much for books and so much for school fees.’ The regulations could provide simply for the payment to a student of either an outright amount in respect of school fees or for reimbursement on the production of a receipt; further, they could provide for the making of some other arrangement if a student wishes the benefit to be transmitted directly to his school. This kind of arrangement could be made, and this would be the proper subject matter for a regulation.
However, the Minister has revealed his intention, which seems to indicate more and more the necessity for the Minister’s discretion to be curbed by this subject being governed by rule rather than depending on the mere whim of the Minister. Apparently the Minister seeks the power to hand out moneys as he thinks fit to the community as individuals and, according to his own whim and at his own discretion, to vary these amounts, and so on. True, there would be some total limit, but inside that limit the Minister would be all-powerful, with no reasonable rule setting out what a person holding a scholarship would be entitled to in respect of books, school fees, and the method of payment. If the Minister did not want to pay everyone the same amount in respect of school fees and wanted to provide for the payment of school fees up to a certain limit, that could be provided simply inside the regulation. But one can see that the Minister could not then do what he wanted to do. He does not want any rules or guide lines, he wants to be able to do what he likes with these scholarships, and he wants his successors also to be able to do what they like. Therefore, I support the amendment proposed by Senator Cohen.
– Speaking first of the matter raised by Senator Wright, I believe this is a policy matter. It was suggested that this should be said: ‘Yes, you are paying a living allowance of $100 to a student, but for the other $200 there is no fixed amount to go to any particular person’. I remind the Liberal Party and Country Party members of this House that at the 1963 election when we went before the people of Australia we proposed to introduce these secondary scholarships, and that each one of them would carry a $200 living allowance and up to $200 for fees, books and equipment. A top limit was set, and the amount below that limit depended on the expense incurred by a pupil as agreed to be properly set by the Department.
It has been suggested that it would be easy to make a regulation prescribing a fixed sum for fees. Of course it could be done, but why should some individual who is paying less than one tenth of that amount in fees be entitled by the regulation to be paid additional scholarship moneys that would, in fact, be in the form of a living allowance? If the object is to reimburse a person for the fees actually paid, and not merely to add to the living allowance, then it should be a reimbursement of the amount actually paid, up to a certain top limit. The same applies to text books and items of equipment that are required for these purposes. The policy might be objected to, and it might be said that there should be a flat sum payment. But there never has been provision for such a payment and, if there were such provision, it would be a departure from the policy that was put to the people, adopted by the people, and put into operation for three years.
– I invite attention to clause 14 of the measure and to Senator Cohen’s amendment. Clause 14 relates to benefits under the Commonwealth post graduate awards. I entirely support the Minister in his explanation to the Senate that it would be quite impossible to prescribe by regulation the benefits under the Commonwealth’s secondary and technical scholarships, but I believe there is a greater support for his argument when one considers the impossibility of framing a regulation satisfactorily to cover the benefits granted under the Commonwealth post graduate awards. Let us think for a moment what post graduate awards really are. As the name implies, they are awards to students who have already graduated and are going on to further studies. I instance a student who is studying for his doctorate of philosophy; there might be only three or four of these students at one university - one doing his doctorate of philosophy in literature, another in science, another in architecture and another in engineering. Consequently it would be impossible to prescribe accurate regulations to cover the post graduate awards for these students. They are individuals, and therefore 1 think the correct way to regulate this matter is by direction of the Minister, not by rigid regulations. I think that the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition fails because it is quite impracticable, especially if applied to clause 14. The same remarks would apply as to its impracticability in connection with the proposed amendments to clauses 12 and 13. I therefore urge the Senate not to accept the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia) [4.40J - 1 fail to see why it would noi be easier to administer scholarships for secondary schools if there were certain set requirements similar to those in connection with hospital benefits. For hospital benefit purposes, there is a set amount payable per day irrespective of the type of hospital and the amount of expense involved. A person does not get a larger grant if he happens to go to a private hospital which charges very high fees. All patients, irrespective of whether they go into a public hospital or a private hospital are paid an allowance at the rate of 80c a day and this is supplemented by the hospital benefit fund to which the patient himself contributes.
As to the allocation of $200 in connection with secondary school scholarships. I point out that at some schools there are no fees payable at all. Those who go to private schools have to pay, perhaps, much more than $200. Therefore, this provision really amounts more or less to a payment to these other schools. I have no quarrel with that so long as there is an equality about it. but I do think that if people are granted secondary school scholarships all those scholarships should be of the same value except in those cases where the student’s home is some distance away from the school, when a living away from home allowance should be paid.
Very many years ago, I won a secondary school scholarship valued at, I think. £250 a year. There were only ten such scholarships granted in that year, but they were all of the same value. I think it is most inequitable that the monetary value of the scholarship should depend upon the type of school to which the student goes. I think they all ought to be of the same value irrespective of the type of school because a student would not be going to a secondary school at which high fees are payable if he could not afford it in the first place. He would not enrol at such schools on the understanding that he was going to get a scholarship to cover his fees. I submit that the money saved by adopting our proposal could well be spent in extending extra benefits or in granting more scholarships, all at the one rate. I submit that the system could be expanded if equal payments were made to all holders of Commonwealth scholarships.
– I should like to substantiate the point which Senator Tangney has just made in connection with one particular aspect of this question. She has mentioned one type of case. I should like to mention the case of a child who is attending a Stale school, who is awarded a scholarship and who then applies immediately to enter and is accepted by an independent school. By canvassing, one may find a school that will take such a child. He then gets the extra payment which goes to the independent school. This is one of the anomalies that arise through the fact that we have this variation in the amounts to bc paid to scholarship holders. I agree with Senator Tangney that there should be one basic amount for all scholarships.
Senator WOOD (Queensland) [4.43J- I should like to know from the Minister what would be the variation in the allowances paid to scholarship holders.
– The allowance could vary in all sorts of gradations from about $40 up to $200, depending upon the school fees, the text books prescribed and the curriculum of the particular school.
– Would any account bc taken of the value that the student gets from the school, or would it be possible for some schools to charge outlandish fees and in this way obtain a higher subsidy?
– 1 think I should make it clear that as a result of ministerial determination there are no fees payable with respect to a child at a certain school which ace higher than fees payable with respect to all the other children at that school. So any school that raised its fees to an enormously high figure in order to get more money from the Commonwealth for the two or three scholarship holders who might be attending there would be driving everybody else away.
– Would the Minister be good enough to explain to me the significance of the different expressions used in clauses 12 and 1 3? I refer first to the expression ‘in accordance with directions of the Minister’. Thai expression is used in clause 12, but clause 13 (c) refers to the payment by the Commonwealth of that allowance at such rate as is determined in respect of the scholar ship ‘under the regulations’. Paragraph (d) provides for payment at such rate as is determined in respect of the scholarship under the regulations. What is the significance of the different expressions?
– I should like to have had the representative of the Attorney-General here with me, but I know of no significance al all in the use of the different expressions. Paragraph (c) provides that if the holder of the scholarship is married, then under the regulations an allowance is payable in respect of the spouse of the holder of the scholarship and the payment by the Commonwealth of that allowance will be at such rate as is determined in respect of the scholarship under the regulations. I should say that the regulations must determine the rate payable under the scholarship.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) 14.47] - I refer to clause 13. which reads:
The financial assistance to he provided by (he Commonwealth in respect of a Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship or a Commonwealth University Scholarship shall consist of -
the payment by the Commonwealth in respect of fees payable by or in respect of the holder of the scholarship of such amounts as are payable under this paragraph in accordance with directions of the Minister:–
Am I to understand that the expression ‘in accordance with directions of the Minister’ means that payments for fees are to be such as the Minister directs? Paragraph (b) of clause 13 reads:
I find in these authority for the Minister to discriminate and vary the assistance given. My present thinking on the whole matter is t hat ‘directions’ would be belter displaced by ‘regulations’. I have not had the explanation I would like with regard to clause 13. As to clause 12. I have been giving consideration to what fell from the Minister as to the matter referred to by Senator Tangney being the subject of a policy speech. If I were in any doubt or if I disagreed with what is proposed I would defer to the policy speech in which the original proposal was made- I have not yet considered the matter sufficiently to warrant my making a judgment contrary to what appears in the policy speech. I raise the points that I have mentioned in relation to discrimination on the basis of my own thinking, unguided by any reference to a policy speech, for it had not been brought to my attention. I find this statement in the policy speech made by Sir Robert Menzies in 1963:
There will be in the case of secondary schools 10,000 such scholarships per year, tenable at a secondary school for two years. They will cove each year payments for fees and books up lo £100 per annum, and a further maintenance allowance to the parents of £100 per annum. They will be open to students of all secondary schools, Slate or independent, without discrimination.
I emphasise that the words ‘without discrimination’ mean ‘without discrimination between State and independent schools’. The statement that the scholarships will cover each year payments for fees and books up to £100 per annum is not very clear, lt appears to be an indication that the Government proposes to reimburse each student for his individual payments rather than provide for reimbursement up to the amount that is paid. As I understand it, whether one person pays £10 whereas another pays £100, the Minister has power to direct what amount shall be payable in each case up to either of those amounts. Clause 12(a) refers to sums payable in respect of text books and equipment and prescribes the payment of sums in accordance with the directions of the Minister. So the reimbursements provided for are not reimbursements up to £100 of fees and sums actually paid on behalf of a student for text books and equipment. The reimbursement will be for such amount, up to that sum, as is paid in accordance with the directions of the Minister. I do not find in the policy speech any indication that the determinant was to be so fixed. I am unpersuaded by the Minister at present and I prefer the view that in clause 13 (a) the word ‘regulations’ should be substituted for the words ‘directions of the Minister’. I realise that there is a desire to get on with the business of the Senate and I believe that once the question relating to this clause is resolved we may be able to deal with the remaining clauses less exhaustively. 1 have made these observations to (he Committee in the hope that somebody can explain to me the need to provide in clause 13 for directions by the Minister.
– Mr Chairman, I think I can answer Senator Wright. Two matters relating to clause 13 were raised. Clause 13 (a) concerns the sums payable for fees. It is true that the reimbursements payable will bc in accordance with the directions of me Minister. That applies to reimbursements payable in respect of fees paid on behalf of an individual student. If we sought to set out amounts in a regulation we would probably need to cover many foolscap sheets. I do not know how many would be needed and how often we would have to alter them. Fees vary a« between Stale schools, technical schools, colleges of advanced education and universities, as well as between State and State, and between course and course within a university according to whether a student is taking three or four subjects in a year. The number of permutations in the variations is incredibly large.
– If that is so, why not provide for the amount of fees payable or paid, up to a specified sum?
– Because specifying a sum would open up the possibility of a student who had won a scholarship not having all his fees reimbursed if the fees for his course were more than was stipulated by specifying the particular sum.
– But an upper limit is already provided for.
– Is the honourable senator speaking of a living allowance?
– Where is the honourable senator directing his attention?
– To clause 12 (a).
– I thought that the honourable senator was directing his attention to clause 13 (a), which I am discussing. He mentioned that provision.
– Clause 13 (a) relates to the same subject matter.
– That may be, but it does not prescribe an upper limit. In relation to clause 13 (b) I am asked what is the significance, if any, of providing that the payment by the Commonwealth of a living allowance shall be at such rate as is determined in respect of the scholarship under the regulations. The regulations will lay down, as they do now, the rates of allowance payable to a scholarship holder. For example, in relation to a means test on a living allowance for the holder of a university scholarship, the regulations set out the sum by which the allowance is to be reduced as the income progressively rises. These living allowances are payable under regulations, and the application of a means test or any other test can be provided for only by regulations.
– Mr Chairman, 1 am not at all satisfied with the situation. Clause 13 (e) is in these terms: the payment by the Commonwealth in respect of fares of a kind approved by the Minister of such amounts as are payable under this paragraph in accordance with directions of the Minister.
An amendment circulated by the Minister proposes that that paragraph be replaced by a provision in the following terms: the payment by the Commonwealth in respect of fares of such amounts as are payable under the regulations.
That seems a reasonable sort of amendment. However, if we had proposed it the Minister’s answer would be: ‘We cannot do it by regulations. We would have to prescribe the fare for every kind of journey. We would have to prescribe, for example, the bus fare for a journey from the Sydney city area to Bondi, and so forth.’ Regulations can be made to deal with fares. They can prescribe that so much a week or a year shall be payable in respect of fares, that for train travel so much shall be paid and that for a journey of more than forty miles so much shall be paid, and the like. All these matters can be prescribed by regulation in order to eliminate discrimination.
– The regulation could use the words ‘the amount incurred’.
– That is so. One could have a rule that would apply to every citizen involved. As Senator Cavanagh has said, the regulations could prescribe for the reimbursement of the amount incurred. That would bc a non-discriminatory rule. If the regulations provided for the reimbursement of up to $50 a year, that would be a non-discriminatory rule. A non-discriminatory rule could be based on a number of alternatives. What we suggest could be provided for by regulation, and this is demonstrated by the Minister’s own amendment as foreshadowed. That related to fares. In the same way, this kind of provision could be made in respect of fees paid and costs of text books and equipment. There is no reason at all why those matters should not bc the subject of regulation.
What the Minister proposes is all part of the gossamer web that has been woven right through this Bill, which gives the Minister power over everything. We have already dealt with the provisions relating to the terms and conditions attaching to eligibility and to the manner of selecting those who will be granted scholarships. If a person gets a scholarship, what does he receive? ls the answer to bc found in regulations? If he looks at them he can see thai he will get so much for fares, so much for text books and so much for school fees in reimbursements from the Commonwealth. He can see that the Commonwealth either pays the lot or gives him so much towards them. As the Bill stands, however, he cannot find out what he will get, for he will receive only what the Minister says he is to receive. There is an upper limit respecting the provision in clause 12 but apparently there is not regarding all matters dealt with in clause 13. Here again we find that it is on the Minister’s say-so and not on the rule of law. That is why the same principle is being followed. We have got over the point of eligibility and the grant of scholarships but the whole matter is negated by the provision for ‘eligible persons’. This means nothing. These persons will get what the Minister says they are to get and in the manner and so forth that he directs. The whole thing comes right back into the hands of the Minister. We have not the simple rules that ought to be there. If the Minister can do it in respect of fares, he can do it with fees and text books. Simple rules could be provided. That is what ought to be done.
– Mr Chairman, there is a considerable difference between the payment of such a variety of fees in such a variety of places and the payment of fares which can be worked out reasonably easily. Indeed, the existing regulations work out and have been able to work out the payment of fares by setting down not amounts but a number of times that the fares be given to somebody, and by defining the class of travel and the things that are attribuatable to all those using the railways. It has been possible to work that out in regulations quite satisfactorily. This is provided in the present regulations. Therefore. I shall move that they go into these regulations because they do take away a discretion which, I think in this case, the Minister does not need. I come back to what I said when Senator Cohen made the statement that if the Minister does not need a discretion there is no reason for him to have it. The other discretions are needed.
That the amendments (Senator Cohen’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . -
– Order! There being twenty-six Ayes and twenty-six Noes the question is resolved in the negative.
– Mr Chairman, I move:
I do not propose to talk on the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clauses 12, 13 as amended, and 14, agreed to.
Clause 15 (Payment of benefits under scholarships).
- Mr Chairman, I have circulated an amendment relating to this clause. Having regard to the vote of the Committee on the last amendment, I do not propose to pursue it.
Clause agreed to.
The Minister may determine the terms and conditions on which scholarships are to be held and may make provisions by determination for the termination of scholarships on breach of any such term or condition or on such other grounds as he specilics in the determination.
– I move:
That proposed clause is in substitution for clause16 of the Bill which makes the matters mentioned therein the prerogative of the Minister. Clause 16 now reads:
The Minister may determine the terms and conditions on which scholarships are to be held and may make provision by determination for the termination of scholarships on breach of any such term or condition or on such other grounds as he specifies in the determination.
We have only to look at this clause to realise what an extraordinarily wide and unfettered discretion it confers on the Minister. According to the Bill, the Minister may determine the terms and conditions on which scholarships are to be held. He may make provision by determination for the termination of scholarships on breach of any such term or condition or o’i such other grounds as he himself specifics in the determination.
– That is in the letter that he writes.
– Yes. He can make up the ground in running. He can simply say: M have looked at your case and I terminate your scholarship. I will tell you now what, my reason is.’
– ls not that clause now in contradiction to clause 10 as amended?
– I am indebted lo Senator Cavanagh for his intervention. Clause 10 deals wilh the power lo determine the terms of eligibility of persons for the grant of scholarships. But if that is to be a matter of prescription by regulation, as a matter of symmetry and commonsense does it not follow that what Senator Cavanagh says is correct - that if one wants to terminate a scholarship it should bc done on grounds that arc specified? We can see no reason whatever why, consistently with the view that the Committee has taken in relation to the first matter, this matter should nol bc subject to prescription by regulation. In other words, if there arc to bc grounds on which scholarships can be terminated, they should bc specified in the regulations.
I think it was said in discussion on one of the earlier clauses that I had gone loo far in suggesting that the amendment that I had moved was merely consequential. Perhaps, on reflection, that was so lo some extent. But what I had in mind was that the Committee having determined a matter of principle in the discussion and the vote on clause 10. these matters were proper ones to be prescribed by regulation and not by ministerial determination. It would be hard to distinguish these matters from those contained in clause 10 and to ‘ay, as a matter of principle: ‘That matter ought lo be covered by regulation but these matters should not.’ I am perfectly certain that so far as clause 16 is concerned, this amendment is on all fours in principle with what the Committee decided in relation to clause 10. 1 invite the Committee to vote for the amendment which I have moved.
– 1 want to make one brief point which illustrates the type of difficulty involved in Senator Cohen’s proposition. One of the requirements for continuing lo hold a scholarship is the making of satisfactory progress. That is why the Victorian regulations stated that progress had to be satisfactory to the Minister. Senator Murphy may stand up and tell us that it is quite easy to define in a regulation what is satisfactory progress, but I suggest thai that is not so.
– I suggest that if the Minister looks at the regulations relating to the Duntroon Royal Military College he will see precisely those terms and a dozen others equally operative enumerated as a ground for the discharge of a cadet from the College. To boggle about this would be to fog ourselves in illusion. We as a Committee have decided that the terms of eligibility shall be the subject of a regulation, lt is no use making a man eligible today if tomorrow the Minister, for a reason which seems a good one to him, can terminate the scholarship by determination and not in accordance with a ground specified in a regulation. The principle in clause 16 is simply the same as in clause 10. Clause 10 makes him eligible. This clause makes him ineligible. Clause 10 qualifies him for the scholarship. This clause disqualifies him from the scholarship.
We were confronted with a similar problem regarding import licensing. The Minister could grant an individual licence but then he reserved lo himself the right to revoke or to vary the terms of the licence. The Committee will remember the remedy of which it forced acceptance on that occasion, lt provided for an appeal. Here we do nol ask for that. I submit that, in line wilh the principle observed in connection with clause 10. just as the terms of eligibility should be expressed in regulations, so the terms of ineligibility should bc expressed in regulations. 1 submit that the position is as simple as that.
– I would agree with Senator Wright’s observations in support of what is proposed by Senator Cohen except that I do not think it is as simple as Senator Wright said it is. What we have done already in relation to clause 10 requires, as a matter of logic, that we should accept the amendment proposed by Senator Cohen, lt is useless to require that the terms of eligibility for the grant of scholarships should be made by regulation if then we are going to allow the Minister to be able to end the scholarship.
– That is precisely what 1 said.
– Yes. But the honourable senator did not go far enough. 1 agree with him that far. It is logical that we should accept this amendment to observe the principle that we have established in clause 10. But there is also a greater principle involved here. Any person who holds any kind of a licence or any kind of property should not be deprived of it under circumstances such as this. Even if we had not amended clause 10, it would still hold good that a person should not be able to be deprived of something in circumstances such as this. Here a person is given something. He is given the entitlement to a scholarship. Now are we going to provide in the law that the Minister can simply end that scholarship on terms and conditions that he thinks fit? Under clause 16 he may end it on any ground that he specifies <n the determination.
In these circumstances the person who holds the scholarship does not know where he stands. If he conducts himself properly, if he makes satisfactory progress, if he does not commit any breach of the law he still does not know whether he is entitled to the continuance of his scholarship. To me it seems terrible to introduce the principle that a person can be deprived of what he has in this manner. Surely the Committee will not say that once a person has a scholarship it should be ended this way. Is it not a reasonable enough proposition that a regulation should be made giving some protection to the holders of scholarships? It might be said, for instance, in the regulation that if the person holding the scholarship is guilty of misconduct - and that is a word which is used generally throughout the law - or, if one wanted to bc more precise, if he is convicted of some offence, or he is guilty of various other things, or if he does not make satisfactory progress, he will be liable to be deprived of the scholarship. These general words are capable of ascertainment in the same way as the law determines what is reasonable.
One of the conditions might be that the student has to make satisfactory progress. If he were making what anyone would consider to be satisfactory progress and if he were not breaking any of the other conditions but he was deprived of his scholarship, then this matter could be aired in this Parliament or elsewhere. It could certainly be made public. We could then look at it and say: We are not satisfied with what the Minister has done because we think the student was making satisfactory progress’. Surely (here must be some criterion, some standard, by which a person is to be judged. He must know the standard he has to reach and also that if he does not reach it he will lose his scholarship.
We ask the Government to set out something to this effect in a regulation: ‘If you do this, this or that you are liable to lose your scholarship’. Is that too much to ask in relation to a matter which involves almost a proprietry right of which the holder can be deprived, at the discretion of the Minister, according to no standard laid down by law? We are not asking for this to be incorporated in an Act of Parliament, although it could well be done that way. We are simply asking for it to be embodied in a regulation so that every person can be judged on what is laid down. The Minister has spoken of difficulties that occur in other fields. What difficulty is there in selling down some standard which will apply to holders of scholarships, and then saying to those persons: ‘These are the conditions to which you must conform. If you do not do so you are liable to lose your scholarship’.
I ask those honourable senators who have not already seen fit to vote with the Opposition to consider this matter seriously, not only as to the logic of conforming with the previous amendment made by the Senate but also as a matter of great principle. A person should not be deprived of his scholarship by the Minister when no rules or standards have been laid down.
– For a number of understandable reasons Senator Murphy has built his whole speech on the theme of the withdrawal of a scholarship. I am sure that if 1 read the regulations relating to the Royal Military College. Duntroon, 1 would find written there quite clearly the grounds on which a student may be deprived of his scholarship. I would have no difficulty, as Senator Murphy has said, in stating the grounds on which people may be deprived of scholarships except, of course, in respect of the question of satisfactory progress. That is a matter which might commend itself to Senator Murphy but, whatever he may say, it is not the subject of some legal, clearly-understood definition.
Of course we can lay down rules and say to a student: ‘If you do this you will be deprived of your scholarship’. But that is not the worry. The worry is in allowing people to retain their scholarships when they have transgressed some provision in a regulation. To give an example, suppose we write in a regulation that students must pass all subjects, but one student does not. He may have been ill. Well, we can cover that in a regulation. I suppose it would have to be left to someone’s discretion to decide whether he had been ill long enough to justify him failing in one subject. Perhaps a student is taking four subjects instead of three in an effort to get through his university course more quickly. Perhaps we can cover that also. But certainly there would be people who, because of the rule that Senator Murphy wants to write in. would have to be deprived of the scholarship and could not be allowed the opportunity to continue with it.
Once again the Senate has to decide whether it thinks it is running a serious risk by giving to a Minister the power to withdraw a scholarship - maybe maliciously - he then having perhaps to explain to the Parliament and the public why he withdrew that particular scholarship when he allowed someone else to hold a scholarship when the same conditions applied. No matter how good one may be at writing regulations, the point is whether the Senate thinks it should take the risk of denying, as it will deny, the capacity of some people to maintain and retain their scholarship in spite of the fact that they do not meet some particular qualification that may be written into a rule.
– Now that the Minister has explained, surely it must be evident to the Senate that there is no substance in his contention.
– There is every substance in it.
– Will the honourable senator listen’:’ Why can a regulation not be written in a way which will avoid completely the danger that he suggests of a person being deprived of a scholarship if there were certain criteria? What is wrong with a regulation which would say: The holder of a scholarship may be deprived of that scholarship if he is convicted of an offence, if he fails to make satisfactory progress’ and so on? He ‘may’ be deprived of it. He does not have to be deprived of it, because the Minister would be left with that discretion. But at least we would be setting down the circumstances in which students would be liable to bc deprived of the scholarship.
The Minister has said that if a regulation provided that a student was liable to be deprived of his scholarship he might be deprived of it. That just does not stand up. The Minister is not forced to deprive a student of a scholarship. A simple regulation could be written to cover the situation completely. I ask the Senate to support Senator Cohen.
– The proposition is that the Senate agree to a regulation providing that a student may be deprived of his scholarship if he does something wrong. That means he may or may not be deprived of his scholarship if he transgresses the rules suggested by Senator Murphy.
– He could not be otherwise.
– But he may or may not have his scholarship taken away. That surely is the exercise of discretion to which the honourable senator objects so very strongly. Would he care, next time he speaks, to say that someone may or may not take a scholarship from a student if that student is not making satisfactory progress, and would he try to tell me how that kind of situation can be covered?
– This amendment is one about which I have spoken to the Minister and to which I have given a great deal of thought. I think it is on a similar basis to the first amendment dealing with the terms and conditions of eligibility for scholarships and provides for the termination of a scholarship when the holder does not perform to a satisfactory standard. It is right that a person who secures a scholarship should know the terms and conditions upon which that scholarship is held and the terms and conditions upon which he may lose it. In those circumstances I feel the amendment has a basis of logic.
– Is the honourable senator proposing to vote with the Opposition?
– I shall vote for the amendment.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) put:
That the Chairman of Committees do report progress and ask leave to sit again.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 1 1 May (vide page 1401), on motion by Senator Gorton.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bit! is one of very small compass.It is consequential upon the repeal of the Education Act which is effected by clause 3 of the Scholarships Bill. Although that clause has been agreed to, the Bill has not yet been passed. I ask the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gordon) whether -
– That does not make any difference.
– This Bill is consequential upon the Scholarships Bill being passed.
– I do not think that is so. The Australian Universities Commission Act refers to some functions of the Commonwealth Office of Education. That reference can be taken out of that Act regardless of what has happened to the Scholarships Bill.
– The Commonwealth Office of Education still has an existence in law, although not in substance. I had not expected that this debate would be resumed in these circumstances. I suggest that it be adjourned until after the Scholarships Bill has been disposed of.
– There does not seem to me to be any need to postpone the debate on this Bill which is not dependent on the other Bill that we have been discussing. A copy of the Australian Universities Commission Act is being brought in to me. That Act provides that some functions may be performed by the Commonwealth Office of Education. It is not appropriate for that provision to remain in the Act even if the Commonwealth Office of Education remains in existence as a result of the Scholarships Bill not being passed. All that is required is the removal from the Act of the words that give the Commonwealth Office of Education some functions concerned with universities, which it does not need.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I had not intended to offer any opposition to this Bill. 1 was concerned only about the consequences of disposing of this Bill before the Scholarships Bill. But 1 am content. I know that the Commonwealth Office of Education now has no independent existence. So what I was concerned about does not matter. We do not oppose the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 17 May (vide page 1654), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I had not expected that this Bill would come up for debate at this hour. I wish to deal briefly with some of its features and to indicate that, although the Opposition will not oppose it, at the Committee stage we will move an amendment in respect of a matter that does not relate to any of the clauses. However, the title of the Bill is: A Bill for an Act to Amend the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1966’. It deals with a number of questions which, for the most part, are unrelated.
Firstly, it increases the number of commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission from seven to nine. It makes some provision for the staggering of the dates of retirement of persons who are appointed commissioners as a result of this Bill being passed. The Bill also deals with certain questions relating to appointments and fixes a salary beyond which no appointment may be made without the approval of the Minister. It makes provision for regulations covering the position of officers training for particular duties under conditions which require professional, technical or other knowledge, and for officers to be appointed to particular positions or offices after they have completed their courses of training.
The Bill repeals section 53 of the principal Act, which is the present provision discriminating - and that is not too strong a word - against married women in the service of the Commission. We certainly support the elimination of a section that provides that a married woman shall not be appointed to the service of the Commission except in special cases and that every female officer shall cease to be an officer on her marriage unless the Commission is satisfied that there are special circumstances which make it desirable that she should continue in the service of the Commission.
In addition, the Bill seeks to make certain persons eligible for concessions in broadcast listeners licence fees and in television viewers licence fees consequent upon the amendment to the Social Services Act providing for persons in sheltered employment, which was recently passed by this Parliament. Clauses 9 and 10 contain provisions which were inserted by the House of Representatives as the result of amendments proposed by the Opposition. Proposed new section 78a and proposed new section 105a deal with the broadcasting or televising of material which the Minister directs to be broadcast or televised in the public interest and with occasions when the Minister by his order prohibits the broadcasting or televising of any matter. We are pleased that the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) accepted those amendments, which will become part of the statute. 1 suggest that the most important question raised by this Bill is the increase in the number of commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission from seven to nine. The Opposition supports this. We have indicated our support for the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. In that report the Vincent Committee, as it has come to be known after its chairman, the late Senator Vincent, proposed an increase up to ten in the number of commissioners and insisted very firmly that what was important was the type of commissioner appointed. I believe that it is in the highest degree important that those who are appointed to office as commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission shall be men of standing in the public eye whose appointment will enhance the status and prestige of the national broadcasting network and will not make it a subject of criticism on the ground of appointments being openly political. I know that some of my colleagues intend to speak on this matter during this debate. I am merely indicating that this is an extremely important question.
Another question which is raised fairly and squarely by the Bill is the independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission from political control. The Minister himself betrays his awareness of that problem by indicating that the Bill does not, in his view, make any inroads upon that independence. Without traversing the whole of the ground at this stage. I make the point that from time to time we have had very real misgivings about the type of pressure that on occasions has been exerted on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. They relate to an occasion not so many years ago when the late Senator Sir William Spooner. who was Minister in charge of housing at the time, insisted upon being given time on the ‘Four Corners’ programme. They relate to the removal of persons like Michael Charlton and Alan Ashbolt from positions of close association with the ‘Four Corners’ programme, a controversial public affairs programme. They relate to the incident of the Bidault film some years ago. These are matters that I do not want to go over again in detail. I merely remind the Senate that this is an extremely sensitive area. It is an extremely important question.
When men are appointed to the Australian Broadcasting Commission it is expected of them that they will perform their duties in a conscientious and public spirited manner, that they will do their best to raise the standards of television and broadcasting in the community and that simultaneously they will be entitled to be left free of either direct or indirect political pressure from authority. I believe that this is an important issue which is raised by the Bill. We indicate to the Minister that we shall maintain proper vigilance on this subject.
In Committee we shall move an amendment to deal with the broadcasting or televising of election matter during an election period, to make it a requirement that the broadcasting and television licensees - the commercial stations - during an election period provide reasonable opportunities to the political parties to put their case. The political parties will be defined as parties represented at a time before the election in either House of the Parliament to put their case. At the moment that is not a matter on which the parties can insist. If they do insist they do not get the time free of charge. We will move an amendment to require licensees to afford reasonable opportunities to all the parties to put their case free of charge. We shall move for the deletion of the relevant sub-section of section 116. I indicate that we regardthis as a very important matter on which we shall ask honourable senators to vote. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. It raises a number of important issues which I am sure will be canvassed further during the debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 468), on the following paper presented by Senator Henry:
Offshore Petroleum - Development of Gas and Oil Discoveries in Bass Strait - Ministerial Statement, 4 April 1967 - and on the motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– The statement by the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) on behalf of the Government is most important. It is fitting that at this stage the Opposition should present to the Senate its views and the attitude which should be taken in the interests of the nation towards these discoveries of natural resources. I now present the views of the Opposition and of the Australian Labor Party in relation to this important matter. The discovery of natural gas in Australia must in the long term be of major importance and benefit to Australia. In the short term it poses constitutional, legal and economic problems in its exploitation and use. These problems are associated with the following matters: Federal and/or State ownership; granting of production licences and royalties payable thereon; licence periods, licence areas and rights of renewal; sale prices of natural gas and the transmission of the gas by intrastate and interstate pipelines; the regulation of uneconomic competition with existing sources of heat and energy; and the development of an integrated petrochemical industry with natural gas as an exclusive feedstock. In addition to the inexperience and ineptitude of the Federal and certain of the State Governments in dealing with these matters, there are also the overriding handicaps of the lack of a national fuel policy, the major scale of finances needed for transmission and reticulating pipelines, and interstate parochial rivalries. Public thinking has been clouded by over-optimistic projections of the use and benefits of natural gas by certain sections of the metropolitan Press which have a penchant for dramatic predictions.
It can be broadly accepted that existing discoveries of natural gas are in total adequate to meet Australia’s aggregate usage for at least a generation, even for very much farther into the foreseeable future, lt would appear that the Federal Government, with its sovereignty over the continental shelf and the Northern Territory, has sovereignty over approximately 50% of proven resources. Natural gas consists mostly of methane, one of the simplest members of the hydrocarbon family. Its sale price is generally quoted in price per therm. One therm consists of approximately one hundred cubic feet of gas, with a total heating value of one hundred thousand British thermal units. Its heating value is roughly twice that of a similar volume of town gas.
– When the honourable seator refers to town gas, does he mean coal gas?
– Yes. In addition to its use for heating it can also be used as a feedstock’ for a chemical industry. Major derivative chemical products are nitrogenous fertilizers, carbon black, carbon tetrachloride and, most importantly, the versatile chemical ‘building block’, ethylene. The end products from these cover the major fields of plastics, synthetic rubber, textile fibres, explosives, solvents, paints and detergents. In considering the proportion of the national fuel and energy market likely to be captured by natural gas we find that the United States of America after over a generation of sales and development now supplies 30% to 35% of total energy requirements to 36 million consumers through pipelines and mains over 740,000 miles in length. In Canada natural gas now supplies 15% of the total energy demand, compared with 3% fifteen years ago. Town gas in Australia now supplies only 2% of our total heat and energy market. As a very large proportion of town gas - excepting in Melbourne - uses as ‘feedstock’ the middle-distillates and tail gases of local oil refineries, this market is capable of immediate capture, as evidenced by the conversion planning activities of the Australian Gas Light Company and Colonial Gas Association Ltd, which together account for over 65% of Australian town gas production. Projections have been made which are, at best, informed guesswork, that in the years to come natural gas will supply the following proportions of the Australian natural gas market: 1970, 10%; 1975, 15%; 1985 18%. To justify the cost of construction of pipelines and ancillary treatment works natural gas must capture a substantial energy market now held by oil and coal.
In 1964-65 the Australian fuel and energy market was divided as follows: Black coal, 37%; brown coal, 12%; petroleum products, 43%; hydro-electric power, 7%; and firewood, 1%. In 1954-55 the relative figures were: black coal, 53%; brown coal, 10%; petroleum products, 30%; hydro-electric power, 4%; and firewood, 3%. It should be remembered that the Australian energy market is fragmented by geography, and that Australian industry is dissimilar in its pattern of distribution and requirements to industry in the United States of America and Canada. Only the Gippsland Shelf deposits - the Barracouta and Marlin fields - are in immediate proximity to major potential customers in Melbourne and adjoining areas. The main market for natural gas on all projections remains in the SydneyNewcastleWollongong conurbation, and a heavy industrial complex which all projections agree represents 50% of the total national energy requirements. Most authorities agree that three quarters of the ultimate market for natural gas lies in the needs of industry.
As is well publicised, the Gippsland Shelf deposits are by far the largest proven in Australia. The Federal Government has significantly failed to assert its sovereignty over the deposits on the continental shelf, and to act in the national interest. Territorial waters formerly extended three miles, and now exlend twelve miles, under the general control of adjacent States. The continental shelf area extends beyond the territorial water limits to a water depth of 200 metres. The sovereign rights of Australia over the sea bed and subsoil of the continental shelf were proclaimed in the ‘Gazette’ by Sir Robert Menzies, former Prime Minister, on the 11th September 1953, and further confirmed by Australia’s joining as a party to the United Nations ‘Convention on the Continental Shelf on 29th April 1958.
– Would that acknowledge Australia’s right to minerals found in the sea within those limits?
– ft is an assertion of sovereign right over the sea-bed and subsoil. I think the answer to what the honourable senator says is yes. For some years there have been repeated conferences of Federal and State Attorneys-General, the Minister lor National Development, and State Ministers for Mines on the legal problems of petroleum exploitation with the stated purpose of evolving a common national code. Such a code has not yet been created. The statements made following the recent Sydney conference are merely ‘cutting up the turkey’. Since the discovery of the Gippsland Shelf resources the Victorian State Premier has been actively engaged in negotiations with the Esso/B.H.P. (Haematite) Group on the supply of natural gas to Victoria and its pricing. A framework of Victorian legislation has emerged which has obviously been created in collusion with the Federal Government, to be used as a pattern for development and control of natural gas in other States. Despite the obvious competence and experience of the Victorian Gas and Fuel Corporation, Sir Henry Bolte induced the Victorian Parliament to enact the Victorian Pipelines Commission Act of 1966. This Act established a separate Pipelines Commission to act as a common carrier of natural gas only - defined as ‘hydrocarbons in a gaseous state’. The Commission has powers to operate and maintain pipelines, and to buy and sell hydrocarbons.
The price negotiations mentioned were conducted by Sir Henry Bolte on behalf of the Victorian Pipelines Commission, which in turn, will sell the gas to the Victorian Gas and Fuel Corporation. The Gas and Fuel Corporation has been strongly opposed to the pricing arrangements. Having settled the question of the sale of natural gas through this means Sir Henry Bolte broke new ground by enacting a Pipelines Act of 1966, excluding from its terms any pipeline owned or to be established by the Victorian Pipelines Commission. In this Act hydrocarbons are defined as ‘a compound of hydrogen and carbon in a solid, liquid, or gaseous state’. Permits from the Minister for Forests are to be obtained for pipelines to traverse Crown land, and from the Minister for Fuel and Power or other appropriate Minister at his discretion in respect of crossing private property. Under section 21 of that Act ‘the committee may, with the written permission of the appropriate Minister take compulsorily any easement over any required private land’. Compensation is payable under the Lands Compensation Act. Prior to this legislation a special Act of Parliament was required for the establishment of any pipeline. These Acts combine to confine to the Gas and Fuel Corporation the transport of natural gas to Melbourne and other existing sources of consumption now supplied by them. Pipelines for oil or gas to any other area can be constructed by private enterprise anywhere across the area of Victoria. The final legislation was the Petroleum (Barracouta and Marlin Fields Agreement) Act of February 1967. This Act purports to ratify an agreement between Sir Henry Bolte and Esso/B.H.P. in respect of ‘certain areas of submerged land adjacent to the State’ in respect of which B.H.P. (Haematite) held exploration permits under the Victorian Petroleum Act of 1958 to explore for petroleum and natural gas. The agreement provides for the granting of petroleum production licences in respect of 340 square miles of sea-bed on the continental shelf off the coast of Gippsland.
The petroleum production licence is to be for a period of twenty-one years from its date, with the right of renewal for a further period of twenty-one years. Even further renewals of the licence may be given from time to time by the Minister for Mines for such periods each not exceeding twenty-one years as the Minister in his discretion may determine. A royalty of 10% of the value at the wellhead of the product, plus an over-riding royalty of 1%, is to be paid to the Victorian Minister for Mines. This royalty is below that Dayable by producers in either the United Kingdom or the United States of America.
In late December last and early January news items appeared that the Prime Minister himself had been involved in the negotiations. Reference should be made to the exchange of correspondence between the Prime Minister and Sir Henry Bolte on 16th, 21 st and 23 rd of February last as attached to the ministerial statement on offshore petroleum tabled by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) in the House of Representatives on 28th February last. Mr Holt’s letter of 16th February 1967 stated:
We are agreed that Victoria should not be required to approve any transaction for the sale of natural gas interstate which would have the effect of putting Victoria at a disadvantage in relation to that interstate purchaser having regard to . . . the conditions of such sale and their relation to sales already effective in Victoria, and the effect of the cost of transmission to any such interstate market . . .’ For your part you agree that, subject to the conditions stated above being observed, Victoria will not withhold consent to any such transaction.
Sir Henry Bolte in his letter to Mr Holt of 21st February 1967 assured Mr Holt that he regarded it as implicit in the agreement reached between them that the Federal Government would be fully informed of any negotiations entered into with the producers for sale to another State, and that Mr Holt would be acquainted of the details of any agreement arising therefrom before it was finalised.
The operation of the Victorian Petroleum Act of 1958 was expressly excluded from the last mentioned legislation. The normal production licence period granted under the Petroleum Act 1958 is fifteen years. The agreement and legislation also completely flouted an agreed formula, for the granting of leases by the various States on a graticular area basis. The graticular principle was evolved within the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and provided that the area in respect of which exploratory operations had resulted in the discovery of natural gas was to be divided into nine equal parts four years after a discovery. Five of these parts were to be retained by the holder of the production licence, and the remainder were to be submitted for sale by tender.
The licensee had the full right to bid and buy back the four lots on offer. This principle was designed to give the respective governments a reasonable opportunity to at least participate in the appreciated value of the licensed area following on the discovery of natural gas or petroleum. In the original price negotiations with Esso/B.H.P. these companies sought originally nol only to retain the right to distribute natural gas throughout Victoria, but also to market natural gas to industrial users. At the same time they sought to confine the marketing rights of the Victorian Gas and Fuel Corporation to residential and small commercial users. Undoubtedly similar attempts will be made by the group in New South Wales.
In March 1966 a report was received by the Victorian Government from Dr Charles Hetherington entitled ‘The Orderly Development of Petroleum in Victoria, Australia’. A number of his major recommendations were adopted by the Victorian Government, particularly the establishment of a separate pipeline authority, but even Sir Henry Bolte baulked at his recommendation to sell to private enterprise the Gas and Fuel Corporation. The ultimate price for natural gas agreed to by Sir Henry Bolte was 20% above Dr Hetherington’s recommendation. Reference should be made for details to Hansard reports of the Victorian Legislative Assembly debates on the foregoing legislation. The final price of 3c per therm at the wellhead - twenty miles out in the Bass Strait - has been criticised by both the Labor Opposition and Country Party in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Originally Esso/BHP sought a price as high as 5c per therm at the wellhead.
An authoritative examination of the Victorian natural gas pricing structure was made by Dr Alex Hunter of the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, in a paper delivered by him to the conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science during last December and January entitled ‘Natural Gas in Victoria’. Hunter stated that, in physical terms, the yield of natural gas for every foot drilled in Australia is extremely high, being at least twelve times that of the United States of America. The field price for gas is 1.4 cents per therm in Canada, and 1.5 cents per therm for interstate supplies in the United States of America.
The United States Federal Power Commission controls the price of interstate natural gas, and the planning of gas transmission lines going beyond the boundaries of any one State.
– What controls it?
– The United States Federal Power Commission. This is an authority set up by Congress. The Victorian wellhead price of 3c per therm is increased by 0.57c for after-treatment or field price, and a further 0.33c for pipeline and general transmission costs. This makes the total citygate price at Melbourne approximately 3.9c per therm. The city-gate price exceeds by two-thirds of a cent the maximum price of 3.3c recommended by Dr Hetherington in his report to the Victorian State Government. In the United Kingdom the Gas Council is paying for its supplies from North Sea producers 3c per therm for the first 100 million cubic feet daily, and 1.5c for each subsequent 100 million cubic feet. The estimated daily consumption in Melbourne and Geelong will exceed 175 million cubic feet after five years. In the opinion of Dr Hunter, Bolte has agreed to pay twice the correct price for natural gas.
– What does the honourable senator say is the correct price?
– Let me run through the details for the honourable senator. The correct price is the one arrived at if one accepts the international standards that are being applied. If one considers the thermal content of the gas produced here and takes the cost of pipeline and general transmission and works those out on the economics which would be applied internationally the estimation of this eminent Professor of Economics is that Sir Henry Bolte has, for some reason, agreed to pay twice the appropriate price for natural gas.
– Is the honourable senator referring to Professor Hunter?
– Yes. The honourable senator may recall him as the general editor of that famous publication ‘The Economics and Structure of Australian Industry’. In the light of the Bolte-Holt correspondence these prices have special significance for New South Wales. Dr Hunter gives several reasons for overpricing of natural gas in Victoria.
He points to a bilateral-monopoly situation with a sole seller facing a sole buyer. The sole seller in this case was a large international oil company, well experienced in negotiations with Governments of all sizes, political complexions and national origin. The Victorian Government as sole buyer was in a less strong position, being in financial difficulties, and unable easily to discover further additions to State revenues, was attracted by the prospect of early royalty payments. The Victorian Government also, with the advent of State elections last month, wished to profit politically from the general popular excitement based on over optimistic forecast of reductions in the price of gas to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers. Dr Hunter also suggests that there could have been long range political motivation behind the final price accepted. This was due to an understandable desire to delay the day when natural gas would begin to compete directly with brown coal as a fuel for electricity generation. The agreed price could have been based on a price strategy which left the older industry with some scope to manoeuvre without endangering seriously the prospects of the new industry. It is of great significance that the price of Victorian brown coal varies from 3c to 4c per therm according to locality, and the Victorian price of furnace oil similarly varies from 3c to 4.8c per therm. There are significant overtones in a statement by Sir Henry Bolte reported in the ‘Financial Review’ of 27th February 1967 that he intended to charge New South Wales for natural gas whatever the market would bear’.
In general it would appear that natural gas cannot compete with existing brown and black coal fuels for electricity generation in Victoria and New South Wales respectively. In the operation of a blast furnace for the reduction of iron ore, existing technology requires the use of coke as fuel. Whilst low quality blast furnace gas is stored and used for the firing of open hearth furnaces for steel production, conceivably a supplementary market for natural gas may exist in this sector of the steel industry. Undoubtedly the first impact of natural gas will be on the residential and commercial markets for space heating, cooking and hot water supplies. In the case of small industries it will undoubtedly compete with coal, coke, furnace oil and electricity in respect of space heating, processes needing heat, small foundries and furnaces. In larger industries it will undoubtedly attack the same fuel and energy sources by competitive contracts for major bulk consumption. Another common use in the United States of America is for a total energy concept where natural gas is fed into a boiler of a large undertaking which generates its own power, and supplies its own space heating.
The cost of transmission lines for natural gas is an appreciable factor in city gate prices. The pipeline construction cost for delivery to Melbourne from Gippsland is, for each one million cubic feet daily of natural gas delivered, $80,000, for Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, $200,000, for Adelaide, from Gidgealpa, $363,000, for Brisbane, from Gilmore, $400,000, and for Perth, from Barrow Island, $733,000. Special storage facilities must be established onshore to guard against interruption of supplies by possible storm damage to offshore pipelines and wellhead, lt is obvious that, after a certain point in market, expansion, new industries capable of consuming natural gas must be developed. In the case of Brisbane even the construction of a 290- mile pipeline from Roma was not economically viable without the establishment of a petro-chemical industry by a mixed consortium. Unless the use of nitrogenous fertilisers in Australia is enormously increased there can obviously be over production in this field. This was discussed in an article in the Australian “Financial Review’ of 13th March 1967.
– It is increasing enormously, of course.
– I thank the honourable senator for that observation. Consideration can, however, be given to the use of Australian natural gas as a feedstock for the Australian chemical industry in place of certain residual fractions from the distillation of imported crude oil. The South Australian Government, because of the limitations and quality of its coal resources, is to use natural gas from Gidgealpa as a fuel for direct electricity generation. The Victorian State investment of some $600m in electricity generation from brown coal, and an at least equal investment in black coal fired thermal power stations in New South Wales raise formidable economic and political obstacles to the intrusion of natural gas into this field, apart from price differential.
In Western Australia because of the proximity of Barrow Island to the enormous iron ore deposits of the north west it would seem that the most obvious use of natural gas in its first stage of development would be for iron ore beneficiation and pelletising
The recent limited announcement of the decisions of the various States and the Commonwealth at their conference can be summarised as follows:
A most important statement was made by Mr Nixon at the Victorian Country Party Conference in Mildura recently. He said that the Minister for National Development had assured him that he would allow EssoBHP to negotiate directly with the Australian Gas Light Company for its supply to Sydney. Of equal significance was his comment that Sir Henry Bolte liked to think that he was the kingpin in the gas negotiations, but that he was not. However, he admitted that Sir Henry Bolte would have some control over the price of gas sold to New South Wales and the piping of gas to the State border. Of equal importance was Mr Anthony’s statement at the same Conference that it was unfortunate that. Victoria’s offshore gas reserves were being developed largely by overseas capital, lt has been estimated that the value of gas and oil so far discovered is $2,355m and the cost to discover, develop and produce it is $500m. The surplus over a twenty year production period will be about $ 1,855m. At a conference of local government representatives at Albury on 17th March 1967 it was resolved that distribution of natural gas be controlled as a national responsibility, not on an individual State basis, and that a national commission be established for the bulk distribution of natural gas. The utilisation of national assets for the general national welfare and development can be achieved only by the exercise of national sovereign responsibility.
The present policy of the Opposition is:
– Is the honourable senator saying that a pipeline should be constructed from Onslow to Perth, or is somebody else saying it?
– It is the Opposition’s view that this ought to be done.
– When the honourable senator rose he said that he would make a policy statement on behalf of the Australian Labor Party.
– I shall complete the matter for the Leader of the Government if he wants me to. My statement of policy continues:
I have made this statement on behalf of the Opposition so that the matter may be considered by the Senate, lt is obvious that in doing so a great number of matters has been traversed. It is intended that the statement be subjected to analysis, lt is a great tragedy that a national resource such as our natural gas reserves has been dealt with mostly behind closed doors, especially in the case of the great corporations that seem to be controlling the Government and deriving a major part of th: benefit of this natural resource. We of the Australian Labor Party believe that the matter ought to be discussed openly. The statement of policy that 1 have made is before the Senate for discussion. We put it forward in order that anything that may need to be modified may be considered. If this statement needs to be strengthened, it is there to be strengthened. If it needs to be corrected, it is there to be corrected, lt is time that decisions on these great matters were made in the two Houses of the Parliament. Too often have the resources of the nation been dealt with by negotiations between this Government and private interests, or between private interests themselves with the Government being presented with a fait accompli.
I trust that the statement will be fully considered and that constructive discussion on these matters will ensue so that honourable senators on all sides may be able to join in a worthwhile debate on the matter in order that in the national interest we may evolve a proper fuel policy for Australia, especially with respect to natural gas. lt is a tragedy that this nation has not been given by the present Government a national fuel policy. The strength of any nation depends on the maximum utilisation of its energy resources. One has only to consider the nations of the world to see that those that are the greatest have the greatest consumption of energy. If one plots a curve to show the situation graphically, one will see that the power and the standard of living of nations are iri almost exact proportion to the consumption of energy per head of population. If we are to progress, if we are to become a great nation, we must learn to utilise to the full our own resources of energy. Therefore, this statement is presented for consideration by the Senate so that we may assist in the formulation of a proper policy on behalf of the nation.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, I have listened with great interest to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) read his statement on the Opposition’s proposed policy on fuel, gas and oil in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition stated what the Opposition thought should be done regarding this matter. It is a remarkable thing that the Australian Labor Party - Senator Murphy was speaking for that Party - should come forward with such a document which embodies amazing statements that any individual or government with any responsibility at all would throw out at first glance.
I remind honourable senators that the Leader of the Opposition, in his statement, said that the Australian Labor Party, if elected to office, would set up a Federal authority that would have control in this field, manufacture gas, and provide a gas pipeline from Gidgealpa to Mereenie and taken approximately 800 miles to 1,000 miles lo Adelaide. I wish to inform the Senate that the building of gas pipelines is so expensive that, if this gas were delivered to a thermal power station in Adelaide, the cost of the power instead of being about .4c per unit as it is at the moment would be nearly double that amount. Yet the honourable senator went on to say that a nation must provide cheap fuel if it is to develop its electricity supplies and so that the standard of living can be high. The Leader of the Opposition suggested the construction of a pipeline from Gidgealpa and Mereenie over a distance of some 800 miles to Adelaide, which has a population of between 500,000 and 550,000 people. It would be very difficult for a small city such as Adelaide to pay the interest and sinking fund moneys out of the revenue derived from the sale of power that was used in such a venture
– That is purely an expression of opinion, I take it?
– No. It is an authoritative statement. Anybody who has been in the Senate as long as the honourable senator and I have been here should know this to be fact. If the honourable senator thinks that a gas pipeline could be constructed from Mereenie and Gidgealpa to Adelaide to supply power for that city at a price less than the price that I have stated, I suggest that the honourable senator have another think about the matter.
The Leader of the Opposition has studied the statements concerning the matter. If the Leader of the Opposition had said that Australia as a nation should investigate the sources of the cheapest power that is available to it and then get on to develop that power, I would have been 100% behind him. But I do not believe in the suggestion that the Government should step in and provide a pipeline to convey gas from Gidgealpa and Mereenie to Adelaide and from Barrow Island, some 900 to 1,000 miles north of Perth, to that city for the production of cheap electrical power for the consumers of Adelaide and Perth respectively.
– Why pick the hardest places first?
– I am replying to what the Leader of the Opposition read in the Senate from a document not ten minutes ago.
– Did he mention Barrow Island?
– He said that the national gas authority which the Labor Party would set up would construct a pipeline lo convey gas from Barrow Island to Perth, a distance of not less than 900 miles and probably about 1,000 miles. That is a remarkable statement, suggesting the construction of a pipeline to convey gas over 1 ,000 miles.
– Are there any big towns between the sources of the oil supply?
– Yes. The towns between Barrow Island and Perth include Onslow with a population of from 300 to 400 people. A pipeline could be put in to satisfy their demands and no doubt a power station could be built and its fuel provided by gas so that a cheap electricity supply could be developed for the residents of Onslow. If we care to travel a little further - the small distance of 330 miles - we strike the town of Carnarvon situated on the Gascoyne River. The township has a large population - not exceeding 3,500 people. Of course, Madam Acting Deputy President, no problem would arise there concerning the erection of another power station which could produce cheap electricity for these residents from gas fuel. Having satisfied those two towns, we then come down to Geraldton. The population of the Geraldton district is approximately 16,000 people. No doubt another power station could be built for the production of electricity to satisfy the demands of that district. Then we come another 300 miles lo Perth.
The interesting thing about the statement that the Leader of the Opposition read concerning this area is the fact that about 100 miles south of Geraldton and 100 miles north of Perth there are terrific fields with a greater amount of gas than has been discovered at Barrow Island. I refer to the fields at Gin Gin. I believe that those fields are expected to produce some scores of millions of cubic feet of gas per day. Yet, those fields would be bypassed by this marvellous pipeline described by the Leader of the Opposition. According to Labor’s policy, the large gas fields would be bypassed in Western Australia so that the Barrow Island field, which mostly produces oil, can be connected to the metropolitan area of Perth in Western Australia. This is a fantastic statement, as is the one which referred to the Gidgealpa and Mereenie fields. I think it is quite safe to say that the largest gas field in Australia at the present time, which is giving the greatest production of gas from the one field, is at Mereenie. Of course it is in central Australia. These fields may be needed at some future time, but it is absolutely fantastic to ask the Australian taxpayers to come to the party and to find the $100m or $200m that is required for the construction of the two pipelines which I have mentioned without considering all the economics of the position, it is unrealistic, lt is complete stupidity. Anybody who knows anything at all about the cost-
– The honourable senator is only talking words. He is giving us nothing to support his contention. Other authorities in the world have a different view to that of the honourable senator.
– If the honourable senator thinks that other authorities in the world have a different view to mine, then he can speak for the other authorities, but I am speaking for some of them. I would like the honourable senator to know that people in countries in Europe including England and in the United States are not looking to large gas fields for the production of electricity. They are looking to nuclear energy for the development of power stations in their various countries.
– They are about ten times more expensive than the proposal that the honourable senator is condemning.
– I will make a statement and the honourable senator can contradict me if he likes. The Tennessee Valley Authority is now erecting two power stations of a combined total output of 2,100 megawatts. These stations will be fueled with uranium. In other words, nuclear reactors will be producing electricity. These stations are situated right on top of a coal field. It is estimated that in the first twenty years of their life they will save the authority approximately $100m as compared with the cost of producing the same quantity of power by the construction of power stations using the coal from the fields on which the power stations are built.
– Why is not this Government doing that?
– The honourable senator is doing the arguing. 1 do not want to contradict him, but this is the fact. It is estimated that these power stations will produce electricity with a saving of 20% in cost as compared with electricity produced from coal burning stations. We must recognise that coal burning stations have reached their maximum efficiency. Nuclear reactors are only in their infancy. We can expect further reduction in the price of electricity produced by nuclear reactors. For the sake of comparison, at the present time the cost of power produced from coal is in the vicinity of 0.5c to 0.55c per unit. Power produced by coal burning stations is in the vicinity of 0.4c to 0.46c per unit. lt could get down to 0.4c per unit if the station is situated on top of a coal field where the expense of deep mining operations is not incurred. Let us compare the price with the latest price for producing power by a nuclear reactor. Taking all costs into consideration, including depreciation on the plant over its life of twenty-odd years, the price per unit is a little over 0.3c per unit. Of course, this is very cheap. I think it is rather ridiculous for members of a political party to get up and talk about what they could do and what they will recommend that the Government should do when they know full well that the cost of producing power from gas is approximately 50% greater than the cost of producing power from a modern nuclear reactor.
Of course, gas has its uses. We know that Australia has very large gas supplies. There are the recently discovered fields of gas at the Barracouta and Martin fields which contain, I understand, very large quantities of gas and oil. We know that an agreement has been concluded recently between the Victorian Government and the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd together with the Esso Exploration Australia Incorporated group regarding the supply of gas to Victoria. It is expected that the price of gas delivered to Victoria will be a little less than the price of gas delivered to towns on the way to
Sydney, lt is a very strange thing that members of the Labor Party should stand up and proclaim that they have a fuel policy. Many members of the Labor Party have been in this chamber as long as 1 have - probably some of them have been here longer. When I came into Parliament in 1949 after having helped to throw the Labor Party out of office we found that Labor had a marvellous fuel policy. The Labor Party realised that it was essential for Australia to find adequate supplies of oil and gas in the then near future, so back in 1947 the Chifley Government decided to lay down a fuel policy. What did it do?
– lt started the Joint Coal Board.
– Very well, we may as well talk about coal because it is a very good subject. Let us talk about Glen Davis. Do honourable senators opposite remember it? That is where the Labor Government produced large quantities of petrol from shale at a cost then of 5s 6d a gallon, when petrol could be bought on the open market for 2s 6d a gallon.
– What year was that?
– I am talking about the time when the Chifley Labor Government was in office, lt is so long ago that it is hard to remember the exact year, so I will not specify years, but I am sure honourable senators opposite remember the Glen Davis field and the great losses sustained by the Chifley Labor Government in its production of oil from shale. As I have said, that petrol cost about 55c a gallon to produce and it had to be sold on the open market in competition with the product of the oil companies which was selling at something like 25c a gallon. That is the great fuel policy that the Labor Government had.
– The honourable senator is being a little uncharitable.
– I do not know about being uncharitable. I am only endeavouring to give the background of the wonderful fuel policy that has been spelt out in this chamber by the Leader of the Opposition and carried out by the Labor Government when it was in office. No wonder honourable senators opposite squeal; this must hurt. I am not surprised at that, because in fact the Labor Party does not have a clue on how to develop fuel resources in Australia.
The Labor Party had such a marvellous fuel policy back in 1948 that it decided that Australia must have an oil industry of its own in the interests of the Australian people.
– The Liberal Government did not destroy the Joint Coal Board, which was a monument to Labor.
– I am not talking about what my Government did, 1 am talking now about what the Labor Government did. Back in those dark old days the Chifley Labor Government said: ‘We know very well that Australia has large quantities of petroleum. We will find it ourselves.’ What did Labor do? It told the Bureau of Mineral Resources to buy an oil rig.
– Who started that organisation?
– I cannot remember.
– Who sold the oil rig?
– We did. The Labor Government told the Bureau of Mineral Resources to buy an oil rig and in 1947-48 the Bureau moved to assemble the rig at, I think, Corio in Victoria. When we became the government that oil rig, which was going to discover oil in Australia for this great Labor Government, was still in greaseproof paper. We looked at Labor’s fuel policy-
– The Government has been looking at it ever since.
– If the honourable senator wan Ls to be nasty I will tell him something more about Labor’s fuel policy. We have pretty good memories. Honourable senators opposite have talked about coal. How did Labor manage the coal situation? At the time we became the government Labor could not supply sufficient coal for Australia’s needs.
– Labor was importing coal then from South Africa.
– I do not know whether Labor was importing coal from South Africa, but 1 do know that it could not supply Australia’s needs from within Australia. What did we do? The first thing we did was to negotiate contracts with South Africa for the purchase of coal for use in our furnaces until such time as we could mechanise the coal fields.
– The Liberal Government closed them down in New South Wales.
– The honourable senator is wrong. We did not close them down. The Labor Government closed down the coal fields in June 1949 when there was a coal strike that it could not control. The honourable senator has not been in this place very long so I will tell him that in June 1949 the Labor Government, because of the coal strike at Newcastle in New South Wales, had a record unemployment problem.
– It was not as big as the problem Joe Lyons had.
– In the June quarter of 1949 some 5.6% of the work force was unemployed. We have been in office for 17 or 18 years and we have never had more than a little over one half that percentage unemployed.
– The Liberal Government had 4.6% in 1961.
– I challenge the honourable senator to produce that information from any ‘Year Book’. He would never be able to find it, because it is not there. The most I remember was 3.1% of the work force unemployed in one year, but it was never 4.6%. Do not forget that in 1949 it was 5.6%. It is terrible for a government which believes in full employment to have such a high percentage of the work force unemployed. I was talking about what the Labor Government did to encourage the development of oil supplies in Australia. I have said that Labor bought an oil rig in 1947-48 and that it was still in greaseproof paper at Corio in Victoria when we became the Government. It had not drilled a hole. We have looked at the problems inherent in the search for oil in Australia but we have not said that we would start constructing pipelines as Labor is now talking of doing. What, did we do?
– Well, what did the Liberal Government do?
– The honourable senator can have his say later. I am trying to make my speech interesting.
– It is not even interesting.
– 1 am sorry. I will continue anyhow. I am talking now about our realistic fuel policy - not a policy wrapped in greaseproof paper but a policy designed to produce oil in Australia.
– And it has.
– Yes, and we can see the results. Back in the early 1950s we said: ‘We will encourage private enterprise to explore for oil in Australia’. We brought down a Bill which gave a drilling subsidy of up to 50% on approved sites in any part of Australia. What happened?
– The American companies came here.
– They came here and took advantage of the drilling subsidy, and so did our own Australian companies. We found oil at Rough Range in 1954.
– On 1st October 1953.
– It might have been in 1953. I will not argue about the date. I thought it was in 1954. It could have been in October 1953. I take it that what Senator Cant said is right, ls that so? Let us say that it was in 1953 or 1954.
– I do not think Senator Cant is too sure.
– 1 do not know whether he is or not. If he says that it was in 1953, he must know. I thought it was in 1954. That was the first large oil strike in Australia. 1 do not know, but I think that the hole was drilled by the oil drilling rig which was purchased by the Labor Government in 1947 and which remained in greaseproof paper until we came to office. We sold it to a firm called WAPET- West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd.
– What was the price? Can the honourable senator remember?
– The price was the one that was paid by the Labor Government, or a little more. I think a profit of about £60,000 was made on it. Speaking from memory, the price was in the vicinity of £300,000. That strike to which I have just referred was the first one in Australia. Unfortunately for the shareholders and the Australian public-
– They all lost their money.
– Yes. It happened to be a lucky strike. It was the first hole drilled in the area. Oil was struck at a little over 5,000 feet. The hole was a gusher. Everybody in Australia was buying Ampol Exploration Ltd shares, which prior to the oil strike could have been purchased for a couple of shillings each.
– They went up from 4s to £13 a share.
– Yes, they did, and then they came back. Many people lost money. That was unfortunate. But that sort of thing happens in all sorts of industries. Another eight or nine wells were drilled in a ring around the Rough Range No. 1 well. Not one of the other holes drilled struck commercial quantities of oil, except one that was drilled 50 feet from the original hole. The exploration company then went north of Rough Range to Cape Range. It drilled several holes there. It struck gas in one place, but did not strike any quantities of payable oil. The next commercial oil strike was at Cabawin in Queensland. That was followed by the discovery of oil at Moonee, also in Queensland. This happened a couple of years afterwards.
During this period the Government was still giving a drilling subsidy. It also decided to subsidise approved seismographic programmes. That subsidy encouraged overseas companies to join in the search for oil in Australia. The result is that we have found large quantities of gas at Mereenie and Gidgealpa, in Bass Strait, in Queensland around Roma and in Western Australia. It is interesting to note the difference between the policy of the Government and the proposed policy of the Labor Party on pipelines in Australia. The Labor Party would set up an authority to handle the transportation of gas from these distant areas to the metropolitan areas of the various States.
The Government has said: ‘We want people to venture into the oil and gas search industry in Australia. We will encourage private investors in Australia to invest in the search for oil or gas. We will do that not by setting up fantastic national authorities to construct pipelines here, there and everywhere, but by giving the Australian taxpayers -a full deduction for taxation purposes in respect of money subscribed in the form of application, allotment and call moneys to oil search companies floated in
Australia.’ The result is that people in Australia, if they so desire, can now subscribe their money to oil search companies and obtain a full deduction for taxation purposes in respect of that money. Consequently, many people in Australia have a large number of shares in the Australian oil search industry. This has encouraged exploration. With the help of overseas companies, it has enabled the discovery of deposits of oil and gas in most of the Australian States. We have encouraged private enterprise to come to the party and look for oil in Australia. It is these private enterprise companies which have ventured large amounts of capital in oil search that have made it possible for us as a nation to find in large quantities oil and gas which will be of great assistance to the Australian economy in the future.
– How many Australian shareholders are there in the companies that are operating at the moment?
– I am sorry that I cannot tell the honourable senator the amount subscribed, although 1 know that it is large. 1 do know that if we encourage private capital to join in the search for oil and gas in Australia we have a chance of getting it, whereas if we use taxpayers’ money in the search for oil, as the Labor Government did in 1947, we finish up with a rig in greaseproof paper three years after we purchase it, and this does not find oil. There is not a drilling rig that has been made yet that will find oil in any part of the world if it is allowed to remain in greaseproof paper.
– That is a profound statement.
– I worked this out; it took a long time. This illustrates the decadent policy of the Socialists. They get terribly keen to do things. They plan everything. They say: ‘We will plan this. We will get oil. What do we do to get oil? We cannot get oil unless we buy an oil rig. You have to get an oil rig. How can you get oil without an oil rig?’ And they buy an oil rig. That is how the planners work. Unfortunately for this nation and the taxpayers, that oil rig remained in greaseproof paper for this period, which I think is tremendous.
– The same as the Fill.
– We do not want to get on to that subject. I am not worried about it. I think we have adopted the right policy, but the honourable senator does not expect me to answer an interjection in relation to defence and aircraft when we are talking about oil and fuel. I want to cover this subject pretty fully because it is tremendously important, when the Opposition, as a political party, is asking the taxpayers of Australia to build pipelines so that gas can be transported 1,000 miles from Onslow to Perth and almost 1,000 miles from Mereenie to Adelaide. The cost of the power produced by gas transported through pipelines over this distance to generating stations would be twice the cost of power developed by nuclear reactors. I mentioned this before and I do not intend to cover it further.
– The honourable senator is not giving any authority to support his contention.
– Oh, yes, I have an authority, lt is a report issued by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission covering 102 pages. I do not propose to read it tonight. It shows the cost of producing power by using nuclear reactors. Even members of the Australian Labor Party, I think, would know the cost of producing power by using gas. From the way the Leader of the Opposition spoke, I do not think that he knew. I do not think he gave a lot of thought to his speech.
– Did he write it?
– I do not know whether he wrote it, but no responsible government would erect a pipeline 1,000 miles long from Barrow Island to Perth.
– I agree with the honourable senator.
– The Leader of the Opposition suggested this. I know that Senator Cant agrees, because we both come from the same State and we would be too interested to allow that to happen if it were supported by either of our parties. I am saying what the Leader of the Opposition said in the Senate not an hour ago. I want to get back to the problems that the Commonwealth has faced and that the States are facing in relation to a joint fuel policy covering the Australian offshore oil fields.
Most of the States thought that it was their prerogative and right to control and manage and make laws in respect of drilling rights in areas adjacent to their shores. There have been long periods of negotiations between the various State Departments of Mines and the Commonwealth Department of National Development, through the Bureau of Mineral Resources, in an endeavour to obtain arrangements satisfactory to the States, the Commonwealth and the companies involved. I was amazed some twelve months ago to read in the Press that some of the State governments believed that they should participate by way of revenue collection in some of the oil finds in Australia. I am not talking now of royalties.
Some skilful persons in charge of the Departments of Mines in one or two States suggested that the States should have a uniform system of encouragement of the oil industry and laws governing it. In those laws it was provided that companies could obtain licences to prospect for a period over areas 100 miles by 100 miles, or 10,000 square miles: that in five years or so this area would be divided by half; and that in a further five years the remaining area would be divided by half. If a company found oil or gas it could then take out a production licence. The production licence would be under what we call the graticule system and would cover an area of roughly fifteen miles by fifteen miles. Each such area would have two lines drawn down it and two lines drawn across it, dividing the area into nine squares. The States said that if oil were found these conditions would apply: The oil prospecting company would be entitled to retain five graticules and the other four would be sold by tender. The company that found the oil would be allowed the right to take up the four graticules providing it was prepared to meet the highest tender. The oil companies were very loath to accept. That is why negotiations have taken so long. At last a satisfactory arrangement has been worked out. The royalty has been increased by 1 % , which is paid to the State. The Commonwealth takes a proportion. The oil prospecting company has the option to take up the whole of the production licence. 1 think this is a reasonable situation which is satisfactory both to the oil companies and to the Australian governments. The arrange ment was worked out over a long period. It is designed to encourage overseas companies to establish offshore drilling rigs in Australia. Senator Ormonde is interjecting, but I cannot hear what he is saying.
– 1 thought the honourable senator was asking me whether he might stop.
– I am sorry if I am taking too long but 1 feel that I must tell the Opposition a little more about fuel policies. It seems to have been a long time since the Opposition has had an opportunity to study the fuel situation in Australia. I was amazed at some of the ridiculous statements and promises made by the Leader of the Opposition tonight that could never be fulfilled by any government. I say that in all good faith. A system has now been established in Australia under which prospecting licences and production licences can be granted to companies who wish lo search for oil here. This is more or less a uniform system adopted by the States and the Commonwealth. I understand that the Commonwealth Government will introduce the necessary legislation in the next sessional period.
We are discussing a ministerial statement on th; Bass Strait gas and oil discovery. The Leader of the Opposition ranged much wider afield than Bass Strait. 1 wish to devote my remarks to the Bass Strait area. The Leader of the Opposition roved all around Australia, so I have to some extent followed him in that. My views are quite opposed to the views of the Leader of the Opposition. Almost at the conclusion of his speech he recommended a national fuel policy for Australia and the establishment of a federal authority to provide pipelines for gas and the necessary finance to locate oil in Australia. This is of course a Socialist attitude which is supported by all honourable senators opposite. The Government has a policy to encourage the finding of greater quantities of fuel and gas. We believe that a higher standard of living will be developed if we allow private enterprise to provide these facilities for the Australian people so that we can obtain the cheapest power available. It does not matter whether it is produced from oil, gas, uranium, coal, or by water - hydro-electric power. We want the cheapest power that can be supplied so that our people can continue to enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Cheap power will allow us to compete with our goods in the world’s markets.
– f want to say a very few words. Normally I would enjoy a speech by Senator Scott on the matters he has been discussing tonight, because he is well informed. He is too well informed to be serious in the remarks he made in the first quarter hour of his speech. He quoted out of context pieces of Senator Murphy’s very intelligent and thoughtful address. I do not have the time now to cover all of Senator Scott’s remarks. In the first quarter hour of his speech he discussed Senator Murphy’s idea, as he put it, of having pipelines running all over Western Australia. According to Sena.tor Scott, Senator Murphy would even have a long pipeline running for a thousand miles over the natural gas field from Geraldton down to the south and across to the west. Of course. Senator Murphy did not say that at all, as is proved by Senator Scott’s concluding remarks. He had to come back to the truth about what Senator Murphy had said about Labor’s policy. Labor believes in a national fuel policy and in the establishment of a national ministry for fuel. That proposal was included in Labor’s last policy speech. We believe that a national fuel policy would help to solve the problems related to overproduction of oil - which certainly occurs when the production of the oil companies is grouped - and the problems associated with natural gas, coal and atomic energy.
I remind Senator Scott that the late Sir William Spooner used to talk about the same things in the Senate, but he was never bie to convince the Government of the necessity for a national organisation. Unless a national ministry for fuel is established - as proposed in Labor’s policy speech before the last elections - the competition in the power set-up will continue to the detriment of all sources of fuel supply in Australia. The proposed ministry could establish prioritics. I could not imagine for one moment that Labor would allot a priority for oil distribution in the State with the fewest people. I would think that most oil distribution would be in the areas where the people reside - on the east coast of Australia, lt is the natural thing to happen. Senator Scott was not serious, but he should have given a more faithful description and undertaken a more intelligent discussion of Senator Murphy’s very fine address tonight.
– I had not intended to speak in this debate tonight and I am not properly prepared to do so. I dislike speaking in debates at any time without proper preparation. I have listened to Senator Scott talking about Barrow Island gas. lt is true that in Western Australia there is a reservoir of oil and gas, at Barrow Island. If I am correctly informed, that field has been largely extended over the last few days through the occurrence of a flow of oil approximately five miles south of Barrow Island. This is of considerable importance not only to Western Australia but to Australia as a whole, because it tends to prove the existence of a much bigger reservoir of oil and gas than was generally thought to exist in this particular area.
Before proceeding to discuss this subject I shall make a few remarks concerning some of the matters raised by Senator Scott. He was particularly critical of the Australian Labor Party in respect of the Glen Davis shale oil deposits in New South Wales. There is no doubt that the oil that was being produced at Glen Davis was of a rather high quality, but Senator Scott like so many other people today fails to realise that at the time the Labor Government of the Commonwealth of Australia developed the Glen Davis shale oil deposits this country was at war and the Government was using the nation’s resources to make Australia somewhat independent of world supplies, which were likely to be cut off at any time. In other words, we were in the process of trying to provide Australia’s needs in a time of war. in an effort to protect the interests of the Australian people and to preserve the profits of those who are now so critical of the Labor Party’s policy at that time. I have no regard for the people whose skins were saved by the efforts of the Australian Labor Party, and who now want to rot on the back of free enterprise.
– The Labor Government had an oil refinery at Corio, did it not?
– In 1926 we joined with the British Labour Government to establish the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd. But what happened to that organisation, which had given Australia independence from the monopolies and the great oil cartels? It was sold by the free enterprise government immediately it came into office.
– Hear, hear!
– It was sold, Senator Scott, to the Anglo-Iranian oil company, which established a refinery in Western Australia, to create a monopoly supply to part of this continent. This is the protection that the free enterprise government of Australia gives to the people of Australia. The independence that flowed from Australia’s having its own oil refinery was immediately sacrificed by a free enterprise government.
– It sold out a lot of public enterprises.
– As many as it could, at the least price it could. It did not sell them; it gave them away in order to get rid of them. It is so angry at the success of Socialist enterprises that it cannot get out of them quickly enough. Senator Scott should study the whole* history of the sale of Commonwealth Oil Refineries. If he does, he will understand. The honourable senator talks about the Australian Labor Party and the 5.1% of unemployment in 1949.
– No, 5.6%.
– I shall take the honourable senator’s figure of 5.6%. But he went on to say that never in the history of Australia since 1949 have the unemployment statistics - and I emphasise the word statistics - risen above half of that.
– About half.
– But in 1961-62 the figure was 3.4%
– 1 said that.
– It is all right to say that now. The honourable senator did say half before and he forgot the word about’. The honourable senator should stay in the chamber and listen to the debate; then he would know what goes on. Of course, he fails to realise that in 1949 the Australian Labor Party, as the Government of Australia-
– Went out of office. It was kicked out, and it will never get back.
– I appreciate that it was kicked out, but it did not let down the people of Australia as the Menzies Government did in 1941. Any other man who ran away in the face of the enemy would have been shot at dawn, but the Liberal Government was not shot at dawn, as it should have been. If Senator Scott wishes to argue this, I am prepared to argue it with him.
– What has that to do with fuel?
– The honourable senator introduced the subject, and he spoke about unemployment. However, he did not give the Senate the average unemployment figures under Joe Lyons and Mr Menzies, as he then was, prior to World War II. When the war broke out in 1939 the unemployment in Australia was 8%; it was a regular 8%. This was the effect of eight years of United Australian Party rule. I emphasise United Australian Party because it was another one of the aliases of the party to which honourable members opposite belong. Senator Scott should not talk about unemployment because in 1949 it was a Commonwealth Labor Government that was able to put this country on a basis that permitted the absorption into the labor force of the men returning from service overseas. However, in a time of full employment the present Government in 1961-62 was able to create an unemployment figure of 3.4%, at a lime when there was a much bigger population. Statistics do not mean very much to me. What does 3.4% mean to the man who has no pay packet on Friday? It does not mean a thing. It is all very well to reduce these things to statistics.
– What about the 5.6%?
– I refer Senator Scott to the fact that the Australian public has invested approximately $64m in the oil search industry of Australia, but it has no share in the oil that is produced - not one penny’s worth. These are free grants made to the people who are searching for oil - the overseas monopolies and cartels who come into this country, find oil and are subsidised by the Australian taxpayer to the extent of $64m. After paying that, the Australian taxpayer has not one share in the oil that is produced. If Senator Scott wants to look at the statistics of oil search, oil refinery and oil distribution in Australia he will find that it is 95% overseas owned. It is owned by the people for whom Senator Scott wants to stand up.
About eighteen months or two years ago an agreement was entered into between the States and the Commonwealth Government for oil search areas to be divided into what are known as graticules. A graticule under this scheme is an area of approximately 25 square miles. On the discovery of a commercial oil field or gas field, in one of these areas the company concerned was to surrender four graticules and hold five. Four graticules were to return to the people of Australia. But what has happened? What happened at Bass Strait? For the sake of a 1% royalty, the four graticules that should have belonged to the people of Australia have been returned to the oil cartels and the oil monopolies. If we move into the Western Australian area, we find that the four graticules of the area at Barrow Island were returned to WAPET for nothing - not even 1% royalty.
– WAPET spent $80m there. What is the honourable senator going to do about that? Is he going to return some of that?
– And what is WAPET getting back out of Barrow?
– The honourable senator does not know.
– The Minister does not know. It is the biggest oilfield in Australia and it is estimated that WAPET will take $400m out of Barrow Island.
– That is gross.
– It is for an investment of $80m. The four graticules that belonged to the people of Australia were handed back to that company on a golden platter. And the honourable senator talks about a free enterprise government. Why, it is giving away the assets of the people all the time.
– We sold the oil drill. We did not give it away.
– Please tell me what this Government did not sell. It sold everything that belonged to the people. It would sell the people if it had the chance. In fact, I think it did sell the people when it adopted the slogan ‘All the way with LBJ’. I do not know whether the Government is still all the way with LBJ because it is now rushing over trying to be all the way with Wilson in connection with the European Common Market. The Government is grizzling and groaning. It wants it both ways. Reference was made to the cost of construction of pipelines from distant oil fields. It was suggested that it was unrealistic to expect this. But what does the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) say? Let me read what appeared in the South Australian Advertiser’ of today’s date:
A question of interest to South Australia is raised by the assurance given this week by the Minister for National Development that the Federal Government will consider sympathetically the Slates’ requests-
This is not one State; there are six of them - for aid in building gas pipelines which will assist decentralisation.
– We had a question on that yesterday.
– I am not talking about yesterday. The honourable senator should bring himself up to date. I am talking about today. I am referring to what the Minister said. Yet Senator Scott says it is complete foolishness to expect any government, let alone the Commonwealth Government, to engage in the construction of 1 ,000 miles of pipeline. But a superior bloke in the Government, not on a back bench, says that the Government will come to the party.
– What are we charging for the money?
– If the Government’s sheer piracy in connection with its charges for the capitalisation of the Post Office is any guide, I do not know how much interest it will charge. I take it that the Minister for National Development was expressing the policy of the Government. He said that the Government is prepared to come to the party and assist in the construction of pipelines.
– With loans.
– I commend the ‘policy* of the Government that gathers from the taxpayer, at no cost, the revenue that assists us to carry on and then lends back to the taxpayer his own money, at a certain rate of interest. That is a pretty good policy for a government to adopt - the policy of getting something for nothing and lending it for as much as it can get! And the Australian people suffer. Senator Scott talks about the construction of a pipeline from Barrow Island to Perth.
– Senator Murphy said this.
– I was about to get into the honourable senator’s corner. I am only halfway in. It is true that in Western Australia, about fifty-five miles north of Perth, at Gin Gin, there is a potentially large gasfield. I suppose when it suits the combines, the monopolies and the oil cartels, that will be properly surveyed and the gas will be pumped into Perth. One of the things that one must be critical of in the State of Western Australia is that West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd, or Wapet, as it is commonly called, has a monopoly of the leases of potential oil bearing areas in that State. As the legislation stands at the present time, having declared a commercial oilfield, Wapet must surrender the leases in the area concerned. So that, having found oil or gas in a particular area, Wapet goes on to survey in other areas without proving the area that has first been discovered. Under this policy, of course, although gas was discovered at Gin Gin, there has been no attempt to develop it because once development begins it has to be declared a commercial possibility. Then, of course, the area surrounding it must be surrendered.
But the area at Gin Gin is only 55 miles from Perth, and my opinion is that it is a potentially large deposit. About 30 miles south of Geraldton we have the Yardarino oil and gasfields which have been shown to be rather extensive fields. About 125 miles south of Geraldton is a very large deposit of medium grade iron ore that can be shipped to Geralton, treated with gas from Yardarino and pelletised for shipment overseas. But the Japanese company that has control of the iron ore deposits has not yet made up its mind whether it will ship the iron ore through Geraldton or whether it will ship it through Fremantle. Nevertheless, energy to treat the iron ore is within 30 miles of Geraldton.
Geralton suffers from two disadvantages, both related to water. Firstly, it is short of domestic water and secondly, there is not enough water in the harbour to allow large tankers to come in and take away high tonnages of ore to overseas countries. These are problems that have to be solved if this Government believes in decentralisation. If we get back to Barrow Island-
– Before the honourable senator does that, I remind him that they have a Government in Western Australia that is solving a great many of the problems that exist in that State, and doing a very good job, too.
– I am not one who reads everything that is published in the Press about development in Western Australia. I am one who gets around the State and views what is being done. I state emphatically that there have been great developments in Western Australia, but not all those developments are directed towards an economic return for the State or for the Commonwealth, which will eventually receive a great deal of benefit from the development of Western Australia. Many mistakes are being made.
– We all make mistakes.
– That is so, but too many mistakes are being made in Western Australia. Let me depart a little from the statement made by Senator Murphy, which we are supposed to be debating, to point out that many hundreds of thousands of pounds are being spent in the town of Port Hedland on projects that will be scrapped within five years. The State Government has spent £270,000 on additions to the public hospital there, though it will have to be pulled down within five years. This is the sort of mistake that is being made in the North West. I could continue for perhaps three or four days enumerating the mistakes that are being made, but 1 shall not do so because I want to return to the subject of the Barrow Island oil field.
– 1 wish the honourable senator would.
– I suppose that Senator Prowse would wish for anything. He would even wish that Father Christmas would visit him, though 1 do not suppose he would go to the honourable senator.
– Does not the honourable senator agree with the policy expounded by bis Leader?
– Honourable senators opposite kept a debate on education going all day. 1 am entitled to keep this debate going all night if I wish.
– Do not do that.
– Just get off my back. A lol of tommy rot has been talked, Mr Acting Deputy President.
Se,mmr Henty - We have just been listening to it.
– I am glad to know that the Minister can hear. Most of the time he appears not to be able to. A lot of tommy rot has been talked about the piping of natural gas from Barrow Island to various places. Some say that it should be piped to Perth. Some say that it should be piped to the mainland nearby. Most of the people who say these things do not understand the significance of the combination of gas and oil in a field. 1 doubt whether in the next twenty years any gas will be produced at Barrow Island. We have in combination there an oil field and a gas field. If one. first takes the gas from the ground one removes the energy that produces the oil at the surface. So we can take our pick, if we take the gas first we may have to leave the oil behind. If we take the oil first we can take the gas later. We cannot have it both ways.
– The honourable senator has just said that we can have it both ways.
– I said that we could if wc took the oil first, but we cannot if we lake the gas first, for if we do that we destroy the energy that produces the oil al the surface. We remove the pressures below the surface that force the oil to the top.
– The pressures do not produce the oil. They bring it to the surface.
– The pressures force the oil to the surface. If the gas is taken first it may be replaced by either water or air lo force the oil to the surface. If we remove the natural energy that is in the field by taking the gas before we lake the solids, we may lose the solids. For this reason I do not think that any gas will be produced within the next twenty years. That is the estimated life of the Barrow Island field, which is the largest in Australia. The show of oil within the last few days indicates that its capacity is much greater than it was first estimated to be. If this is a proven fact, there is a fairly large reservoir of oil there. If we pipe the gas away, whether to Perth or to the nearby mainland for use for the production of pelletised iron ore, we shall run the risk of losing the oil or at least incurring the high cost of using other energy to force the oil to the surface for commercial production. So this story about the use of gas from Barrow Island has to be reassessed on a practical basis. I think that much the same considerations will apply to the Bass Strait field. I noticed in the Press the other day-
– I thought the honourable senator did not read the newspapers.
– Unlike the Minister, I am able lo read sometimes. I do not have to look at the comic strips all the time, and I do not have to wait for a cartoonist to draw me something. Sometimes I understand the words that 1 see printed. I hope that at some time in the future the Minister also will be able to understand the printed word.
– 1 must confess that the honourable senator seems to me to have made an admission.
– The honourable senator apparently studies the pictures in the books about which Senator Wheeldon has spoken. We shall probably find that we cannot take as much gas out of the Bass Strait field ds we would l ike. A certain amount of energy will have to be left if we are to take out the solids. I believe that the Government, in its search for quick profits from oil and gas fields, is not giving this matter the consideration that it deserves. I think it should reassess and redetermine its policy on the use of the gas and oil reserves that are lo be found on the Australian mainland and just offshore around our coast.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) this evening has put before us a document that purports to present the views of the Australian Labor Party on a natural gas, fuel and energy policy for Australia. Before the honourable senator sat down I asked him whether this was the policy of the Labor Party. When he rose to present it he had said that it was, but he then hedged a bit and said that it was a statement made on behalf of the Labor Party for debate in this House. Having listened to him and having studied the document in the short time that has been available to me since, 1 conclude that it is a great Socialist document.
– It is.
– I knew that Senator Wheeldon would appreciate that observation and that it would receive his full support. 1 would like to reply to one or two of the points that were made by Senator Cant who talked about Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd and the assistance that it was to this country during the war in producing petrol. Its plant was closed all through the war and did not produce any. COR was sold. If any honourable senator speaks to members of the staff of COR who were transferred lo private enterprise, they will say that working for private enterprise brought them higher wages and salaries, better superannuation and better opportunities to develop the industry. These people would not go back lo the system of government ownership of their industry in any circumstances. The members of the staff who work for this company are the people who are the best judges in this field.
The honourable senator had a great deal to say about the largest oil field in Australia, Barrow Island. I remind the honourable senator that the Barrow Island field was discovered and developed through subsidies provided by the present Government under its policy of subsidising the search for oil. That is how the Barrow Island field was discovered. It is being developed by private enterprise subsidised by a private enterprise Government. I point out to Senator Cant that the subsidies are repayable in respect of the wells that strike oil. The areas adjacent to the areas in which oil has been struck are not subsidised. Senator Cant said that private enterprise spent $80m in the search for oil on Barrow Island. He asked what the companies concerned would make out of the discovery. Surely they are entitled to the reward for the risk that they took. They risked $80m and might have received nothing in return. That is why this great Socialist doctrine fails. Nobody will undertake any project unless he is given a reward. These companies are entitled to a reward for the risks that they take.
– They take a big risk.
– They take enormous risks. Of course they do. The honourable senator also spoke about the Bass Strait oil fields. These fields are shared by two companies, one of them a great Australian company that has 50% of the area involved. Great developments are taking place regarding natural gas in this area.
Now, because the boot is on the other foot and Victoria has come home with the bacon as it were - natural gas - that has been discovered in Bass Strait, New South Wales is pleading that it should be given some preference in price so that it can receive its supplies at the same price as applies in Victoria. But New South Wales did not apply this principle regarding its coal, lt is a one way traffic. I recall that in Tasmania a shipping strike occurred almost every Christmas. It was an annual event. Tasmania was short of coal and had to pay tribute to New South Wales. Tasmania had no power and no ships loaded with coal came to it. We had to overcome the problem. We overcame the problem by the development of hydro-electric power in our State produced from our own resources. This problem has been overcome further recently by the importation of crude oil. This has enabled our industries to compete with industries in the rest of Australia.
But New South Wales, through the Leader of the Opposition, now wants to impose a tax on crude oil. Tasmania receives crude oil directly into its ports. This crude oil feeds our industries and keeps them going so that they can compete with industries in mainland Australia. 1 see nothing in this document to indicate that the Australian Labor Party proposes to pipe gas to Tasmania. Oh no. The great things are for the north island of Australia. The Australian Labor Party has a great plan in which a natural gas pipeline will link the Mereenie, Gidgealpa, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sale, Sydney, Brisbane, Roma and Gilmore areas. I do not think that the Opposition could think of any other places to include. But I do not see any mention of Tasmania in that list. The Labor Party is not prepared to have Tasmania connected to that proposed pipeline but it is prepared to impose greater duties on crude oil supplies that come to Tasmania at a price that enables the paper industry and other industries of my State to compete with the industries of the rest of Australia.
– Tasmania would put a lot of them out of business.
– A lot of them would go out of business? I did not see any sign of worry on the part of New South Wales about the Tasmanians that it put out of business when it had the monopoly of our fuel supplies. New South Wales did not care about that, not in the slightest.
– That is the point that 1 was making.
– I have not had time to study thoroughly this great Socialist document. It will be a great joy to me when I have (he opportunity really to study these proposals. 1 understand from the Leader of the Opposition that he has set out the Australian Labor Party’s national fuel and energy policy. This has been presented to the Senate. Of course the Australian Labor Party has been led by the nose. As I understand it, the ALP is trying to get off the hook and is trying to establish that it can do something on ils own. I would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Whitlam, would have introduced this policy in that chamber. But it has been introduced in the Senate, lt is described as a national fuel and energy policy to be formulated, enacted and administered by a Federal ministry of fuel and power. This is the great Socialist dream of having all power in Canberra and of centralisation. The State governments become puppet municipal councils. Under this Socialist policy that is what the State government would become while all power to socialise is concentrated in Canberra.
The statement read by the Leader of the Opposition commences with an oil policy. This is most interesting. Let me continue by quoting what the Leader of the Opposition said. His statement reads:
Such a policy would be to use and distribute, from a national point of view-
Tasmania is omitted from that national point of view: and on an integrated basis, coal, fuel, oil. natural gas and all other Australian sources of heat and energy. It would plan long term production patterns, avoid overproduction-
That is the plan of the Australian Labor Party - to avoid overproduction. It was the planning of the Labor Party, about which Senator Scott spoke, to avoid overproduction which meant that Australia had to turn around and import because it had not produced enough. Labor was so sure about the matter that Australia did not overproduce. But Australia did not produce enough. Consequently Australia had to import. The Leader of the Opposition continued by saying that the policy of the Australian Labor Party included this paragraph:
That a national pipeline commission be established to act as an interstate common carrier of natural gas, crude oil or hydrocarbons in any form.
I remind the Opposition that these must be found first.
The Australian Labor Party will drive private enterprise out of Australia. Companies involved in oil search will not continue to their operations because the ALP will tax them. It proposes to tax them on their rewards. If that is to be the case, they will not search for oil in Australia. Senator Scott reminded the Opposition that the situation in which it will find itself if ever it introduces this policy will be this: it will buy oil rigs but it will leave them in their cases. The cases will never be opened. Not one drop of oil will be found. Nothing will be found. This is because the Australian Labor Party would socialise this industry. It would not work. The system of private enterprise cannot be beaten. I invite honourable senators opposite to look at other countries that have developed by providing rewards to those who have taken risks in this field. Look at the great manufacturing countries of the world like the United States of America, Canada, Great Britain and Australia. They were not developed by socialism. They were not developed by governments that purchased oil rigs and then left them wrapped in grease proof paper, never opened them, and finally had to sell them. This is the difference between the Socialist policy and the policy of private enterprise.
A great deal was made of the fact that companies searching for oil in Australia are subsidised. Assistance is provided to them by way of subsidy. I repeat what I said earlier: when the companies strike oil they must repay the subsidies that they have received. Further, companies are not subsidised in respect of land that is adjacent to the land on which they have struck oil. If they have sunk dud wells on this land, the companies concerned must continue to pay for this out of their own pockets. They takethe risk that they may not discover oil on that land.
I am interested to see that this great national pipeline commission that the Labor Party intends to set up will run this pipeline throughout Australia. Apparently it will bring about uniformity. The Socialist loves the word ‘uniformity’. He loves to have everything uniform throughout Australia - so uniform that he cannot get anything done. This commission will run this great natural gas pipeline from Mereenie to Gidgealpa. Does anyone know how far Gidgealpa is from Adelaide? I understand that it is 1,300 miles.
– It is 500 miles.
– Is that from Adelaide?
– Yes. I walked there the other weekend.
– The honourable senator looks as though he did, too. He had to come back. There must have been a Post Office Bill about. This national pipeline commission will construct a natural gas pipeline from Barrow Island to Perth. The cost of the system is to be provided by the revenues derived. This is very interesting.
I do not like to leave this great Socialist document at this stage without providing an opportunity to comment further on it when I have had an opportunity to have it studied by some authorities. Senator Cant proved to be a great authority on the production of oil and natural gas. After listening to himI wondered why we had bothered to bring in the American experts at such a high cost when we had an expert at our own door who could tell us all about it. I think that this document requires much closer analysis than I have been able to give to it.
– I think that is right.
-I am sure it is. When a closer analysis has been given to it, I want to be able to come to the Senate and to speak on it. The document was given to us without any forewarning. We could not get up and deal with it on the basis of having been able to analyse it. The Leader of the Opposition has been a bit prone to make these individual statements lately. There must be something going on in New South Wales. I do not know what it is. But I reckon that I have been here long enough to he able to guess that there is an election coming on. The number of times thatthe Leader of the Opposition has been before the microphone in the last couple of weeks means that he must be there for something and I do not think that it is for our good. There must be an election coming on in New South Wales. I would have thought that he would have given us a chance to have had a good look at this document and to analyse it if he were serious about it. But he just walked in and presented this long Socialist documentto us, which contains all these wonderful promises of what Labor would do, without having given us an opportunity to analyse it.I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) - by leave - agreed to:
That further consideration of General Business be postponed until after the consideration of Government Business.
Debate resumed (vide page 1743).
– The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) in his second reading speech on the Broadcasting and Television Bill said that it was a Bill brought to the Parliament to make certain adjustments regarding the structure of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Bill provides for the number of Commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to be increased from seven to nine. It also makes some amendments to the existing Act in order to improve the administrative arrangements of the Commission relating to variations in salaries. The Bill refers to the permanent employment of married women in the employ of the Commission. It also makes consequential amendments to the Act. having regard to recent social services legislation introduced into this chamber and enacted by the Parliament.
This is a very important Bill. Indeed, it could well be regarded as a quite historic one. After four years of battling in this chamber to have some recognition given by the Government to the findings of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television which was established in 1962 and which reported to this chamber in, I think, October 1963, we find that one half of one recommendation of a total of seventy-nine recommendations is being implemented in this Bill. I say to the Government that in some small way the Opposition gets some satisfaction from this measure.
During the course of his second reading speech the Minister pointed out that recommendations had been made from time to time for an increase in the size of the Commission. He referred to the Royal Commission on Television of 1954- 55 and then to the findings of the Senate Select Committee. I and my colleagues who were members of the Senate Select Committee find some consolation in the fact that after a period of four years at least one half of one recommendation of a total ot seventy-nine recommendations is to be implemented by this Government. As Senator Cohen said when he led for the Opposition in this debate, we on this side of the chamber do not oppose the Bill although an amendment will be moved at the Committee stage. It will not be relevant to the terms of the Broadcasting and Television Act relating to the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
The Bill now before the chamber gives us an opportunity to raise a number of matters that are of importance to the Australian people. Mass media of communications must be of vital importance, having regard to the overall effect that it has on the Australian community generally. Generally speaking, I think it is fair to say that the Commission, which is charged with the responsibility of providing a national television and broadcasting service, carries out an effective job for the Australian people. After all is said and done, the building and maintaining of a modern system of communications is no easy task. A vast land like Austrafia which has large distances and sparse population and in which the densities of population differ considerably and development is taking place, must throw great difficulties on the administrative machinery of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
According to the last annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board - not the Commission - at the time of the tabling of the report in this Parliament some thirty-eight television stations were under the operation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Since that report was tabled another one or two stations have come into existence.
Television has come within the purview of the Commission only since 1956 when the television industry commenced in Australia. Apart from its overall responsibility to provide a national broadcasting service, the Commission’s talks in relation to television have assumed what might be called herculean proportions. When one realises that the number of commissioners was set at its present level of seven in 1948 and appreciates the growth since then of the Australian Broadcasting Commission one can see that the time is long overdue for the establishment of the Commission to be increased.
It is interesting to note that the Senate select committee recommended in 1963 that the number of commissioners be increased from seven to ten. Although the Government has not agreed to that increase at long last it has seen its way clear to increase the number to nine.
The Senate select committee commonly referred to as the Vincent Committee went further than the recommendation that is now embodied in the Bill and suggested that the additional commissioners to be appointed should be representative of the cultural life of Australia and should be either men or women of the highest reputation and experience in this field. We urge the Government, when it is appointing the additional commissioners, to take cognisance of that second part of the recommendation, the part of the recommendation that is now being implemented by the Bill.
Seventy-nine recommendations were made by the Vincent Committee - the Committee’s report was tabled in the Parliament in 1963 - and it has taken the Government some four years to implement one-half of one recommendation. I do not suppose beggars can be choosers but I sincerely hope that all the other recommendations will be considered and, where possible, implemented. Again I urge the Government, on behalf of the Opposition, to take cognisance of the recommendation that the additional commissioners be experienced in the cultural life of Australia, because we believe that the task ahead of the Commission is an important and responsible one.
– Has any indication been given as to what interests the additional commissioners will represent?
– To my knowledge no indication has yet been given by the Government. On 12th April I posed a question relating to this matter to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Senator Anderson, who represents the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) in this chamber, and who is now at the table, told me on 18th April that the PostmasterGeneral had stated at his Press conference on Tuesday 11th April that many factors, including age, would be taken into consideration in recommending appointments. The Postmaster-General, he said, went on to say that other factors were of equal or, perhaps greater, importance. I emphasise the use of the word ‘perhaps’ by the Minister. He said it was also stated that retiring members and other persons would be considered for appointment, which was the usual procedure in appointments of this nature.
I do not know, nor do I suppose Senator Wright knows, who the appointees will be but no doubt he, being one of my colleagues on the Senate select committee - I am sure he will agree with me that that committee’s work is an everlasting monument to the hard work and sincerity of the late Senator Viencent - would believe that his second part of the recommendation should be implemented.
– What second part?
– The second part of the recommendation of the Senate select committee to the effect that the number of commissioners of the Australian Broadcasting Commission be increased from seven to ten.
– 1 asked the honourable senator that question because I want to be on the record as still dissenting from that recommendation.
– Senator Wright dissented from that recommendation. Six of the seven senators on the Committee recommended that the number of commissioners be increased from seven to ten. Let me now refer to the desire that further use be made of Australians in the mass communications field of this nation. The Postmaster-General now imposes an obligation on commercial television licencees to devote 50% of their total transmission time to programmes of Australian origin. As 1 have pointed out in this chamber time after time, this 50% is just an overall figure. No quota is fixed as to variety programmes, other entertainment programmes, drama programmes and the rest. Therefore we find gardening talks, cooking demonstrations, sporting fixtures and things of that nature being taken into account in the overall assessment of the 50% Australian content. [t is fair to say that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as distinct from commercial licencees, is making an attempt, as far as is humanly possible within its framework and having regard to the finances made available to it, to promote Australian talent. 1 am not saying that it has reached the millenium - far from it - but I was pleased to see in the last report of the
Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Dr Darling, to the PostmasterGeneral - it was laid on the table of this House - the following statement:
The Commission supports the endeavours of those who believe that there should be an everincreasing percentage of television and radio programmes produced in Australia. We are proud to report that in this year we have achieved 51.59% of Australian programme material in our total television output.
When I see the Commission making a genuine attempt to increase the percentage of Australian content, having regard to its finances and its framework, I ask the rhetorical question: fs the attempt really good enough bearing in mind especially that television has been in operation in Australia for the last eleven years? The Australian Playhouse series, which is referred to in the Commission’s annual report, has provided some small outlet for Australian script writers and Australian artists.
If the ABC is to play its proper role in producing Australian programmes, obviously more finance has to be made available to it and the commissioners have to show a certain amount of commercial enterprise. The simple fact of the matter is that after eleven years of television in Australia there is still no quota of Australian drama for either ABC or commercial television stations. In no real sense, in comparison with overseas countries, can it be said that there are indigenous dramatic programmes. That is not because we have not the actors, the artists, the script writers or the technicians; it is purely and simply because the Australian Government has failed to carry out its responsibilities in this field.
I well remember the Postmaster-General saying in the House of Representatives towards the end of a sessional period a couple of years ago that the principal problem in Australia in this regard was the shortage of Australian script writers. He went on to say that he did not think we had many good script writers in Australia and we did not have many good actors in Australia. He said: ‘We do not find people who will practise, practise, practise, to become good actors and writers unless they have some worthwhile instruction.’ Whose fault is it that people with great skills and talents, as yet unexploited and unable to be exploited in Australia, are unable, to use the Postmaster-General’s words, to practise, practise, practise? I suggest that it is certainly the fault of this Government. It has done nothing at all to develop a really effective indigenous industry. Australian artists and writers have no outlet in Australia in which to practise their skills and professions.
Not long ago the Chairman of the ABC, Dr Darling, gave an address to graduates at the University of Sydney. It was entitled The Dilemmas of a National Broadcasting Authority’. It has since been published by the Commission in pamphlet form. In that address Dr Darling said that in radio broadcasting the ABC had succeeded to a large extent in achieving all that should be expected of a national broadcasting organisation. He went on to say that the Commission was a statutory authority with restrictions in respect of the employment of staff and finance and a degree of independence linked with special responsibility and programming. He added:
We are instructed to provide adequate and comprehensive programmes, and this presumably means covering as far as possible the whole range of taste of the community. Public money must be spent in the public interest. Is it in the public interest to leave the whole field of light entertainment lo the commercial stations? The dilemma of the ABC in the programme area is that it has a rather small and select clientele of ils own. We have to admit that there are many people in this country who very rarely listen to the ABC or look at its programmes.
Very little is being spent by the ABC on the production of Australian dramatic programmes, compared with its large expenditure on musical programmes. An enormous audience could be available to it if it really devoted itself to this task. In London recently there were in one week twelve West End stage productions, six television shows and numerous nationally released cinema films featuring Australian actors, actresses and variety artists, and the great bulk of them were written by Australian script writers. More than a dozen Australian writers have secured for themselves a future and a reputation in writing for the British market and adapting scripts for the British Broadcasting Corporation. When we realise those facts and the enormous amount of talent that is leaving Australia, we must really be aware that there is something wrong with the Government’s policy.
Recently I read in a newsletter published by the Producers and Directors Guild of Australia that the British Broadcasting Corporation employs more than seventy Australians in film and television. As that newsletter fairly stated, something must be radically wrong when Australians with this great wealth of talent are going overseas to make their names as international artists. Lel me mention a few Australians who have made their names abroad: Peter Finch, Ron Randell, Ray Taylor, Ed Devereaux, Rolf Harris and Shirley Abicair. Those Australians all went overseas and are now top line international stars with international reputations. There must be thousands of other people in this country with skills and talents to be developed. Surely something should be done by the Government to assist those people.
Only last Saturday I saw Ron Randell and Ray Taylor in a play at the Theatre Royal in Sydney. Apart from the fact that the show was excellent and thai they displayed their marvellous skills and talents, I was proud to think that these two Australians had gone abroad, made outstanding names for themselves in their profession and had come back to Australia to display their skills and talents to Australian people. So much for the actors. Let me turn now to the writers.
I have already mentioned that a great number of writers, including Mike Noonan, arc making a secure living in England. Let me make a comparison between the rates paid by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Commission for scripts submitted to them by writers. For a thirty-minute script submitted to the BBC, a writer receives a fee of £A2I8. For a thirty-minute script submitted to the ABC, a writer receives a mere £115 - nearly half the amount paid by the BBC. For a sixty-minute show the British Broadcasting Corporation pays script writers £A450. For a sixty-minute show the Australian Broadcasting Corporation pays the equivalent of £A230. In addition to the initial fee paid by the British Broadcasting Corporation to script writers who successfully submit a television script to it, a repeat of a play, series or serial carries an additional 50% fee. For the right to sell telerecordings abroad additional payments are made in the form of percentages of the initial fee, varying according to the area of use. This is 150% in Germany, 25% in Italy, 10% in every other European country, 100% in the United States, 35% in Canada and 25% in Australasia. The situation could well be that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in purchasing a film from Britain, is paying more to purchase a script written by an Australian in London than it would pay for a script bought in our own country. The booklet issued by the British Broadcasting Corporation goes on to state:
Established writers would get much more and very well known writers perhaps double the above rates.
As I. have said, the situation could probably arise and probably has arisen in which the Australian Broadcasting Commission has. in effect, paid a British writer more for the residual rights of a play than it would have to pay an Australian writer for a script bought and sold in Australia. 1 do not wish it to be thought that I. am denigrating anything that has been done to date by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for Australian artists and Australian writers. I want to encourage it to do more. I think the time has arrived to encourage productions for television as it has encouraged music and other broadcasting material.
The latest annual report of the ABC under the heading ‘Music and Concerts’ states that the outstanding event of the year was the overseas tour by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In addition to performances at the Commonwealth Arts Festival in Britain, the orchestra gave highly successful concerts in Manila, Tokyo and Hong Kong. The concerts were conducted by John Hopkins and Joseph Post, except for one London concert in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen which was under the direction of Dean Dixon. If I recollect correctly, evidence given to the Senate Select Committee by Sir Charles Moses, who was then chairman of the Commission, showed that the Commission was spending six times as much on musical productions as it was spending on television programmes. I notice that the Commission is engaged in a joint enterprise with the British Broadcasting Corporation to produce a broadcasting series. The report states that during the year the number of drama and feature radio programmes was maintained virtually at pre-television strength. It continues:
The high standard reached in our best drama broadcasts was indicated by the fact that the BBC transcription service continued to buy ABC productions, and more particularly when these had a definite Australion character, for distribution to virtually all English speaking countries.
The- report gives a number of examples of Australian radio programmes that have been purchased by the BBC and distributed to a large number of English speaking countries.
– ‘You Can’t See Round Corners’ by Jon Cleary is the sort of script that they want.
– It may well be one of the scripts that is wanted. The ABC is encouraging music, lt sent the Sydney Symphony Orchestra abroad to play before Her Majesty. I am not denigrating this activity. It is a splendid thing. It is advertising and promoting Australia. The Commission is also producing radio programmes and selling them to the BBC which in turn is distributing them to all English speaking countries. If this can be done with musical productions and with radio dramatic productions, surely it can be done wilh Australian television productions. I am certain that if this sort of activity is encouraged the Australian Broadcasting Commission will really be doing a very effective job for this great nation. Frankly, I think that the Commission, because of the great markets that are open to it and because of the talent that is available for use in Australia, should set out to produce at least one really good indigenous programme, the script to be written by an Australian and the artists to be Australian, even if it has to bring back from abroad one or a number of those who have made their names on the international market. I am as certain as 1 am of the fact that night follows day that if a person looks at the ratings of Australian shows on commercial stations he will find that they are now the most popular. 1 am certain that if the required finance is to be put into this sort of production by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and if the best brains and talent that are available arc used for it, not only will the programme receive top rating here in Australia - I understand that the Commission is after higher ratings - but also there will be a ready market abroad for the programme.
– All of the middle class European countries are doing that.
– Finland is doing it and Denmark is doing it. Canada, with a population somewhat similar to ours is now doing it and it is much closer to the US market from which it is cheaper to send programmes to Canada than it is to sent them here. The ABC could make a dramatic programme, a variety programme or a family entertainment programme. I do not care what it is. It could bring Rolf Harris to Australia. He is now representing Australia at Expo 67. He has made a programme for the British Broadcasting Corporation which the ABC is now using for the entertainment of children at 5.30 p.m. on week days. The Commission could bring back Peter Finch and Ron Randell. Randell is in Australia now. Ray Taylor also is in Australia now. Certainly the success of such a production would be assured not only in Australia but also overseas. 1 have been speaking for half an hour. I have said sufficient on television services merely to emphasise once again, as has been emphasised by so many of us on this side of the Senate, that Australians who are anxious to develop their skills and talents in this industry are entitled to a fair go. They have not received a fair go as yet. They are still anxiously awaiting, as we are, further consideration of the other recommendations of the Senate select committee.
I wish now to deal briefly with the broadcasting services of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I shall refer particularly to country broadcasting services. In the last annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Dr Darling, the Chairman, when dealing with news sessions, said that it had been the policy of the Commission to preserve a fair balance between opposing viewpoints so far as Government and Opposition policies were concerned, especially in international affairs. He said that the ABC had done everything possible to ensure that both points of view were represented, free of prejudice and emotion, to the Australian public. That is a fair enough policy and I hope it will always be pursued by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, irrespective of the Government that is in office.
The Commission does a pretty good job in presenting news, views and information to landholders in country areas. As an example 1 shall cite the national broadcasting station at Albury. Between Monday and Friday of each week 98 minutes of transmission time is devoted wholly and solely to the interests of the man on the land. I do not criticise that in any way. A local marketing summary is broadcast for five minutes at 6.40 a.m. The country breakfast session, which is a local show, is broadcast between 7 a.m. and 7.15 a.m. The country hour, a session dealing with fanning and grazing, is broadcast between 12 noon and 12.30 p.m. An agricultural talk is broadcast between 12.50 and 1.02p.m. Stock exchange prices are broadcast between 1.23 and 1.30 p.m. From 1.48 to 2 p.m. weather reports and river heights are broadcast. Stock exchange prices are again broadcast between 5.45 and 6 p.m. and a local market service is broadcast between 6.35 and 6.45 p.m. A total of 98 minutes is devoted principally to people engaged in agricultural pursuits. That is typical of country broadcasting stations.
I do not object to the type of material broadcast. They are very interesting and informative programmes for the section of the community which is most likely to listen to them. But the Australian Broadcasting Commission should not overlook that the majority of people who live in country areas are employees. They are working class people who do not own land. Unfortunately they are not wealthy enough to be engaged in agricultural pursuits or to be particularly worried about stock exchange prices. They are white collar or blue collar workers employed in offices, shops, factories and on farms. Most, if not all of them, are wireless licence holders. I suggest that if the ABC intends to strike a fair balance between opposing points of view it should consider the points of view of the people who live and work in country areas. Programmes relating to the rights of the people in respect of compensation should be broadcast. A programme could be devoted to pensions and other social service benefits. Exservicemen would be interested in a programme on repatriation. Education and such subjects could form the basis of programmes. I think it is fair to say that employees in country areas would far outnumber - probably by a ratio of 70 to 30 - the employing and landholding sections. Almost all of these people are licence holders and this section of the Australian community is equally entitled with others to a personalised service.
I wish to place on record my appreciation of the assistance rendered to me from time to time by Mr Duckmanton the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the officers of the Commission, and of the courtesy that has always been extended to me in my dealings with them. They have always been most obliging and considerate and have gone out of their way to give assistance. I hope that my criticism tonight of the Commission is seen to be of a constructive nature, because in my opinion and in the opinion of the Labor movement the Australian Broadcasting Commission should be consolidated, built up and made more forward looking. It should become more flexible and dynamic in its approach to the important question of mass communication if it is to serve effectively the real interests of the Australian people.
– in reply - 1 thank the Senate for the quick passage of the second reading stage of this debate. I listened with considerable interest to what Senator McClelland said. I am sure that he appreciates that his remarks do not come within the framework of the Bill. Nevertheless, they bear upon the general procedures of the Broadcasting and Television Act. The Bill proposes to increase the membership of the Commission and to improve administrative arrangements within the Commission. At present, when the Commission creates a position in its service it must, when determining the salary to be paid, have the approval of the Public Service Board. When the salary exceeds $5,000 a year the concurrence of the Minister must be obtained. It is proposed by this legislation to set a higher limit of $7,500 to replace the present limit of $5,000.
The Bill also provides that the Commission may advance specially trained officers automatically to the positions for which they have been trained and that the positions to which this procedure shall apply will be prescribed by regulation. The Public Service Act was recently amended to provide that married women may be employed as permanent officers of the Service. I am sure that we all heartily agree with that. This Bill removes the present restrictions on the permanent employment of married women under the Broadcasting and Television Act. The Bill also provides for an amendment to include in the definition of a pensioner for concessional licence purposes persons who are in receipt of a sheltered employment allowance under Part VII of the Social Services Act. Recognition is given of changes in social service benefits for pensioners so that the Broadcasting and Television Act may be adjusted to the current position set out in the Social Services Act. Senator Cohen has foreshadowed that he will move an amendment at the Committee stage. I thank the Senate for giving its support to the second reading of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Senator COHEN (Victoria) [11.101- I move:
Thai the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- 10a. - Section 116 of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (3.) the words “ If, during an election period, a licensee broadcasts or televises election matter, he shall afford reasonable opportunities “ and inserting in their stead the words “ During an election period, a licensee shall afford free of charge reasonable opportunities “; and
by deleting sub-section (5.).’.
The purpose of this amendment is to require commercial broadcasting or television licensees to afford reasonable time during an election campaign to all political parties contesting the election; that is, the parties that are represented in either House of Parliament for which an election is to be held at the time of its last meeting before the election. Section 116(1.) of the Principal Act provides:
Subject only to this section, the Commission may determine to what extent and in what manner political matter or controversial matter will be broadcast or televised by the Commission.
In practice it is well known that the Australian Broadcasting Commission extends a fair and reasonable amount of time to the main political parties to permit them to present their viewpoint during an election campaign. That time is made available free of charge. In moving this amendment I wish to point out that there is no obligation on the commercial licencees to afford any such opportunities to the political parties and, further, there is nothing in the Act that requires a licencee to broadcast or televise any matter free of charge.
Section 64 of the Act refers to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and provides:
Subject to this Act, the Commission shall broadcast or televise free of charge from all the national broadcasting stations or national television stations, or from such of them as the Minister specifics, any matter the broadcasting or televising of which is directed by the Minister in writing as being in the national interest.
Section 77 of the Act also refers to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in these terms:
Subject to this Act, the Minister may, from time to time, by telegram or in writing, prohibit the Commission from broadcasting or televising any matter, or matter of any class or character, specified in the notice, or may require the Commission to refrain from broadcasting or televising any such matter.
Section 99 of the Act deals with commercial licensees and provides the following in sub-section (3):
The Minister may, from time to time, by notice given by telegram or in writing, prohibit a licensee from broadcasting or televising any matter, or matter of any class or character specified in the notice, or may require the licensee to refrain from broadcasting or televising any such matter.
That sub-section empowers the Minister, in certain circumstances, to compel commercial licensees to refrain from broadcasting or televising certain matters, but there is no provision for these licensees to broadcast or televise free of charge except as provided in section 104 in respect of items of national interest.
– Did the honourable senator say that there is power?
– Yes, there is in the sections I have just read. I have just read sections of the Act that relate to this matter. Sections 64 and 77 relate to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and section 99(3) and section 104 relate to broadcasting and television licensees, lt might be suggested that it would be an imposition on the licensees if they were compelled to broadcast or televise some items without being able to charge a fee for it. Neither I nor the Opposition accepts that view. It has long been held - and 1 believe it should be held universally - that this position should obtain.
It was certainly the view of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television that commercial licensees secure their licences at the expense of other applicants who, after the granting of a licence, cannot run a television station, if a person has a spare million dollars and wishes to risk it, he may set up his own newspaper. However, if he has $10,n but has no television licence, he cannot start his own television station. There is competition between applicants for commercial television licences, and sometimes it is fierce competition. The person who wins the licence wins it against other applicants and thereby acquires a status that is somewhat public in character. He gets all the advantages of all that the public can offer and all that the channels can offer by way of privilege. His is a quasi-monopolistic situation because competition has been excluded except from the people who already have licences. We believe that this is fair and we do not suggest that the licensees should be obliged to televise as much material as the parties supply; but we believe that’ the parties should be afforded reasonable opportunities to make their points of view known to the public.
Having canvassed the matter in this sketchy way, I believe the argument is made. I am not confident that the Government intends to accept the amendment, having in mind that it did not do so in another place. But I suggest this is a reasonable amendment, which meets the views of a very wide section of the community who believe that these stations, which make very large profits, should occasionally - and then only during an election campaign - be obliged to make some of their time available. We submit that it should be not a protracted time, but a reasonable time that can be used for this purpose.
– I wish to discuss this amendment only briefly and to ask the Minister to express a view on whether he thinks the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as constituted, is an efficient organisation, having in mind the modern world and the modern demands on the mcn who comprise the Commission. An extract from a little booklet that was printed in 1932 when the Commission was established states:
On t July, I9J2, the carty morning announcers on twelve stations in each State capital city and some country centres used for the first time a new name, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, a name which is often shortened to ABC. Why Commission? What is a Commission? The answer to this question gives a lead to all the activities in the history and development of the ABC. The Commission is a small committee of men and women who have earned the respect and confidence of the nation’s Government .md have been appointed by Order in Council to watch over the interests of the Australian people in the field of broadcasting. They are not members of the staff and do not prepare or present programmes. In the first Annua] Report of the A. B.C. this is quite clearly indicated in the following passage:
That passage is much the same. The point I am making is that that Commission of people individually appointed by the Government of the day for various reasons, some of them political and others social, might have been quite suitable for the period when the Australian Broadcasting Commission was an organisation the staff and income of which could be counted in tens and twenties, not thousands as can be done today, yet the same system exists today. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is an organisation in which there has been a good deal of disruption and trouble.
The present members of the Commission are Dr J. R. Darling of Victoria, who is Chairman; Mr E. R. Dawes, of South Australia, who is Vice-Chairman; Mr J. T. Reid of Victoria; Mr A. G. Lawndes of New South Wales; Mr H. B. Halvorsen of Western Australia; Miss Rhoda Felgate of Queensland; and Mrs Dorothy Edwards of Tasmania. Not one of those people has been appointed for special knowledge of broadcasting, television or radio. This is an interstate setup with absolutely no relation to the qualifications of its members to fill the positions they hold. That this is so is borne out ‘by the salaries paid to the members. For example, Dr Darling is paid a salary of $5,000 a year and is very much underpaid, in my view. The Vice-Chairman receives $2,000 and the five members each receive $1,500. The Commission meets once a month. The ABC has an almost continuous scries of crises as will be seen from a perusal of the newspapers. Its members are representative of all States although State representation is not required. The Act slates thai at least one member must be a woman. Membership of the Commission is not a full-time occupation and all seven members have other jobs.
The point I make is that whilst that set-up might have been all right back in I93J when it was introduced - il has not been altered since - it is surely nol reasonable to suggest that this is the way in which the Commission ought to be constituted to-day. Surely more than part-time employees and people who have other interests - some of the present members are in retirement - is required today. I think the system is wrong. Probably if it could be altered and constituted on modern lines, the ABC would be a different organisation. Here we have part-time directors in charge of a multi-million dollar business. It employs nearly six thousand people and has an annual budget of $36m. It has a board of directors which costs only $14,000 a year. Just imagine a private business with a turnover of $36m a year being run by a board of directors, the total cost of which is S 14,000. I think the whole position is anomalous and out of date, and something ought to be done about it.
I do not want to mention names, but quite a lot of people have been appointed to the Commission because of their political affiliations. I should think that some attempt should be made to reorganise the ABC. I am not suggesting that there are not companies thai have part-time directors. There are. But the modern trend in major businesses is to have directors specialising in sections of the business of which they are directors. This is being done everywhere. But not in the ABC. Here we still have the same system of directorship as we had in 1931 when the revenue would total about £100,000 a year. I ask the Minister to give me his opinion. I should like to know whether he thinks something ought to be done to bring the management of the ABC into line with modern business methods.
– I listened with interest to Senator Cohen’s few opening words where he used the charming words ‘reasonable’. There may be some connotation in common law as to what is meant by ‘reasonable lime’ or reasonable opportunities’ but it seems to me that the proposed amendment should not be accepted on the basis that Parliament’s function is to define what is reasonable.
– lt is already in the Aci.
– It is still undefined. The reference here is to reasonable time. Not only does Senator Cohen advocate that there should be reasonable time but, by the mere fact of his amendment, he introduces the most novel concept in the interest of politicians that I have ever heard. What he requires is that there shall be reasonable time made available by commercial broadcasting or television stations in order that politicians, at election time, can present themselves to the public and obtain from the licensee - that is his second word - some privileges not available to other citizens.
Let us examine this new principle for a moment. If we accept the quality of reasonableness in this, and if we accept the principle that, a licence having once been granted by the Crown, members of Parliament, candidates, and members of political parties must have reasonable access to facilities of the licensee, we can extend this principle to a whole range of needs that politicians either existing or putative might have. I suggest that the Senate might look at this because it enlarges a charming form of privilege for parliamentarians. I wish Senator Gair were here because he makes frequent references to the overprivileged members of Parliament in his vote No case. We might encourage the States to grant licences to pub keepers, hotel keepers and saloon keepers and require that as part of the privilege that they have of obtaining a licence from the Crown to conduct the purveyance of liquors-
– lt is political patronage.
– It is political patronage of the worst type. We could require that at election time politicians should have reasonable access to the bars of pubs, whether they are members of Parliament or whether in fact they are candidates standing for election. This is a novel situation. It is one that might appeal to some members of Parliament as a useful method by which the Crown can put some requirements of members of Parliament on the licence holders. Again, what about doctors? Doctors are licensed. What about requiring that at election time all doctors must provide facilities so that members of Parliament and candidates might have free medical attention?
For some honourable senators on the other side - not here, I hasten to add - this provides an opportunity by which nurses who are licensed by the Crown might be compelled to provide nursing attention for candidates. Let us go on. There are some members of Parliament who are interested in going to race meetings and betting on race horses. Bookmakers are licensed. So let us put the squeeze on the bookmakers and say that at election time members of Parliament should have reasonable access to the bookmaker’s book so that they will get favourable odds when backing horses. This is the argument that Senator Cohen is advancing. There is more in this philosophy that, licences being granted by the Crown, the licensees should at election time return some sort of privilege to members of Parliament.
Hairdressers are also licensed. So here again at election time we could provide that candidates and members of Parliament should be allowed to put the squeeze on hairdressers and ask for reasonable opportunities of having their hair cut at no expense to themselves. Motor car owners, too, have to be licensed to have their motor cars on the roads. This provides an additional opportunity by which the Australian Capital Territory, for example, members of Parliament and candidates standing for Parliament could get free rides in motor cars in return for the privilege the individual has of holding a licence from the Crown. Another example that comes to my mind without my thinking very much-
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly).
Business of the Senate
The PRESIDENT (Senator ihe Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr President, I want to raise a matter that is disturbing to Opposition senators and perhaps to some others. I refer to the uncertainty about the sitting times of the Senate. I do not want to express any criticism of the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty), because I think he has been as helpful as he could be and, in the light of his circumstances, has given as much information as possible and also has given it as early as he could under the existing arrangements so that senators would know where they stood. But the existing arrangements are just not good enough. We on this side of the chamber consider that the arrangements for the sittings of the Senate ought to be determined with some certainty much further ahead. As Senator Henty has just entered the chamber, I repeat that I am not expressing any criticism of him. He has endeavoured to be as helpful as he could be. However, senators are entitled to know, for instance, whether they will be here next week. The information was such - I am not suggesting that it was absolutely definite - as to lead senators to expect that we would be sitting here next week.
Irrespective of any lack of information, or incorrectness in the information available, the point that I want to make is that there ought to be certainty and definiteness. We ought to know at least a week ahead when we shall be sitting. Why should the Senate go on day after day with senators quite uncertain, for instance, about whether we would sit on Friday? I am aware of the motion that was agreed to. I am not concerned about the formalities of the matter. 1 am talking about the realities of the matter. Honourable senators were not really aware whether the Senate would be sitting on Friday or whether it would sit next week. This disturbs not only their arrangements but also the arrangements of other people who depend upon them to honour arrangements to speak to various bodies. Constituents are affected also. One can readily see that many persons and many interests are affected. The referendum campaign, for example, is affected. The kind of uncertainty that I have described means that proper arrangements cannot be made for senators to speak in the referendum campaign.
I see no reason why sensible arrangements cannot be made to enable us to know for some time ahead when the Senate will be sitting. Mr President. Nor can I see any reason why such arrangements cannot be adhered to. Why should not we in this chamber be able to determine for a reasonable period ahead just when we shall sir. instead of having, at the end of every legislative per od. a situation in which the Senate, having stalled for the first few weeks, has lo ileal with a rush of Hills at. the end of the sessional period, with this great uncertainty about when we are to sit and for how long we are to sit? In these circumstances, the Senate is faced with a situation in which Bills cannot be given proper consideration. lt is apparent that we shall not be able lo give lo the measures that will come to us tomorrow the consideration that they deserve. This means that we cannot properly do our duty to the people. This situation is very disturbing lo senators themselves as well as to tho:e who depend on them to honour arrangements that they should bc free to make.
I ask the Leader of the Government to see whether better arrangements can be made. 1 do nol make this request by way of criticism of him. I repeat that he has endeavoured to be helpful. He has given as much information as he could and I am sure that such changes in our arrangements as have occurred are not his fault. But the situation is not satisfactory. Cannot we as a Senate get together and make some belter arrangements so that we shall have moi* certainty in our affairs, so that the arrangements of other people will not be disrupted and they will not be harassed at the end of a sessional period, and so that we may dispatch our business with more efficiency than we have achieved in the past?
– Mr President, 1 have given heed to what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has said. I take into account the fact that he is very new in the Parliament. I have had eighteen years here. 1 do not know how one can regulate a parliament when one does not know how long people will talk. One does not deny those who wish to speak an opportunity to talk for as long as they require. They are entitled to have the length of time that they wish to have. Furthermore, Bills have to come to us from another place and one docs not know how long they will take to go through that House before they come to us. This sort of thing is the normal practice in parliaments throughout the world. If one could find out exactly the length of time that a debate on any Bill or any other matter would take, one could regulate the arrangements. But one cannot do this. Senator Murphy put a theoretical argument. As he knows, I named the times and the clays on which we would be sitting. I gave fair notice of the arrangements. With great respect to him, I point out that we are here to do business while it is to be done.
– That is what we are paid for.
– That is our first duty. Our first duty is to the Senate and to our electors, and we must do our duty when there is business to be done. If a senator makes appointments elsewhere for times when he should be here in the Parliament, that is entirely his own personal business. I make no commitments when the Parliament is meeting except subject to my parliamentary duties. This is the first duty of anybody in the Parliament. A senator should bc here in this place to debate matters and to vote as he believes he should.
– That is what we want.
– The Leader of the Opposition does not want it. He says that it disrupts his appointments elsewhere.
– The Minister said that we would sit next week. Now we are not to sit next week.
– I said nothing of the sort. The honourable senator knows full well that I said: ‘I can give you nothing definite until I know how the House .if
Representatives is progressing. When I know what Bills are to come from the House of Representatives and when I know how long they will take to come to the Senate I shall be able to tell you when we shall be sitting.’ I made no definite commitment to the honourable senator and he knows that. Very well he knows it.
– The Minister knows that he said that he expected the Senate to sit next week.
– If the Leader of the Opposition disputes this-
– I did not say that the Minister gave any absolute assurance. But he said that he expected the Senate to sit next week.
– I gave no such undertaking. I know that the honourable senator is new in leadership and new in the Senate. If this is the position that he intends to take up, these matters will be dealt with in writing in the future and there will be no discussions between him and me. These matters will be dealt with in writing so that there can be no mistake and no misunderstanding. No undertaking such as he has suggested was given. I completely and emphatically deny that it was given. I told the honourable senator that until I wis aware what Bills were to come from the other House and when they were to come, I was not in a position to give him any firm indication of where we would stand. It is the Government’s job to conduct the business of this House. It is the Government’s job to get its legislation through. It is the duty of senators not to complain that they cannot keep commitments elsewhere. They are not paid to keep commitments elsewhere. They are paid to be here while the Senate is meeting.
– The Government brought on the referendum.
– And the sittings of the Senate are on. They represent a far greater responsibility for those who are elected to the Senate than do other commitments, in my opinion. It is far more important for senators to be here where we are paid to bs, doing our duty and carrying out our job.
– Is the referendum a secondary matter?
– No. I did not say that. I say that our work here is our first responsibility. Having said that to the Leader of the Opposition, I think that I can fairly claim that it is a long, long time since we have had a late sitting in the Senate. When 1 first came to the Senate we used to sit all night just as the other House does now. Bills were introduced and were jammed through. We have-
– We are going to sit after midnight?
– We do not. The honourable senator cannot say that. I deny that.
– If the Minister does not keep quiet we will do so.
– I am quite happy about that. Do not worry about that. I can deal all right with the honourable senator or anybody else. We have been able to conduct the affairs of the Senate in the normal, ordinary way that we have over the last two or three years without any late night sittings. In the normal, proper way we have sat an additional sixteen hours a week in the last fortnight to make sure that we do not get into a position where we must sit late. When we are dependent on what comes from another place, how can our sittings be any more regular and orderly than they have been during the last few weeks?
The Leader of the Opposition said that he did not have any personal criticism of me. I am not taking any personal criticism over this matter. I am putting it to the Leader of the Opposition that what we have done has been done in a more orderly fashion than the Senate has ever experienced in the eighteen years that I have been a member here.
– Mr President, having heard the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty), I rise for one purpose only. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) was completely courteous to the Leader of the Government. He did not at any time claim that the Leader of the Government had entered into any firm arrangement with him. Nevertheless, the members of this Senate were led to believe that we would finish the sitting week tonight and come back next week. It is all very well for the Leader of the Government to stand in his place and say that he makes no commitments whilst the Senate is sitting.
– How does the honourable senator know? He is talking through his neck. I have never had a conversation with him. I never would.
– The Minister has said it. He has said it in public. What he said is in Hansard. If he wants to deny it-
– I will deny it. Of course I do.
– The Minister can do that in his Hansard ‘pinks’. He can please himself. His Hansard ‘pinks’ are supposed to be a record of what he said.
– When did I say that we were sitting next week? Did I commit the Senate to sitting next week? Of course not. Do not talk nonsense.
– Of course the Minister did.
– We were led to believe that.
– Who led the honourable senator to believe that?
– The Minister led us to believe it.
– That is right.
– Very well. The Leader of the Opposition will have it in writing next time. He will get nothing from me.
– What I want to protest against arethe actions of the Government in constantly bringing a whole heap of legislation before the Senate in the last week of the Parliament. It is not satisfactory to say that this happens in other democratic parliaments. It is not satisfactory to say that this happened when the Australia Labor Party was in government. There has been a big shift since then. What we are opposing tonight is the introduction of important legislation at the end of the session. This is a designed move by the Executive and the hierarchy of the Public Service to endeavour to see that their legislation is not critically examined and it is put before the Parliament at a time when the members of the Senate arc unable to examine it critically. This is a form of government by the Executive and the heirarchy of the Public Service.
I say to the Leader of the Government that, irrespective of what he says to my leader to the effect that everything is to be put in writing in the future, if this is the way that he wants to conduct the business of this Senate, this Senate will not operate. There has to be some arrangement made between the leaders on both sides of the Senate. There has to be confidence between those two leaders. There has to be confidence between all of us. If we are to be pinned down to crossing every’t’ and dotting every ‘i’ this Senate will not work.
– The honourable senator wants to pin me down but he does not want to be pinned down.
– I do not want to pin the Minister down. I have not said anything about him other than what he has said himself. I deplore the state that the Senate has got into in recent years. It is a complete display of arrogance by the Executive when it brings important questions into this Parliament in the last days of the session and expects the legislation tobe rushed through. I do not think that this is justice to members of the Senate on the Government side; nor is it justice to members of the Senate on the Opposition side. We come here at the commencement of a session and do nothing for weeks after which important legislation is brought before us in a rush. If the Senate cannot arrange its business a whole lot better we should review the times of sitting.
The Opposition meets the Government. My leader called a meeting of the members of the Opposition in the Senate and put certain propositions to us. These included sitting for a longer time each day, reducing the number of minutes that we speak and sitting on Friday, to try to meet the wishes of the Government.
– Who originated that?
-I do not know who originated it.
– No. Of course the honourable senator does not.
– But I know that the Labor Party senators tried to co-operate by agreeing to the proposals and tried to assist the Government to carry on the business of the Senate in an orderly way. Now we are faced with probably a very late sitting tomorrow and important legislation brought before this Parliament will not be critically examined. I think that this is quite wrong. This is a negation of so-called democracy. I rose only to protest about what the Government is doing. I ask each honourable senator in this place to examine critically what is going on. Honourable senators will find that they might just as well not be here, that there is government of this country but it is only executive government.
– Mr President, I want to have one word on this matter. 1 believe that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) has been most unfairly and improperly attacked on this matter in this place. It is one thing for complaints to be made that Bills are brought in towards the end of the session. We are used to these complaints. This is a sort of regular ploy on the part of any Leader of the Opposition towards the end of any parliamentary session. It comes. lt is expected. It is done as a matter of routine. Whether there is anything in the complaints or not this practice is followed as a matter of routine. It is another thing altogether to suggest that the Leader of the Government in the Senate somehow misled the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) on this matter of the sittings of the Senate. What was it that the Leader of the Opposition himself told us?
– Nobody said that he misled us.
– Yes. the Leader of the Opposition did.
– There was no question whatsoever, as the Leader of the Opposition agreed, of any commitment from the Leader of the Government that the Senate was to sit next week. There was no question of any agreement that we were to sit next week. How could there be? How could the Leader of the Government in the Senate know how long members of the Opposition wanted to speak on particular matters before this House? Or, for that matter, how could the Leader of the Government know how long members of the Government Parties wanted to speak on particular matters before the Senate? As Sena tor Cant said, it will be very difficult to run this Senate if a conversation - and 1 was not present at it - to the effect: it is quite possible we might be sitting next week; we cannot tell; we do not know because there are a lot of factors about which we do not know’, is to be translated into something which has misled the. members of the Opposition so that their appointments elsewhere - not in this chamber - might in some way be interfered with. I believe that if that kind of thing is to come out of a conversation, then what is necessary is a tape recorder or for things to be put in writing so that everybody will know exactly what is the position.
– 1 wish to make- a personal explanation.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. 1 rose to ask that better arrangements be made for the conduct of the business-
– What is the claim of misrepresentation?
– I think that the Leader of the Opposition is coming to that. He is making a personal explanation because he claims to have been misrepresented.
– I rose to ask that better arrangements be made for the conduct of the business so that honourable senators might know at least a week ahead what the sitting times will be. I made no attack upon the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I think that I was scrupulous in saying that the Leader of the Government in the Senate had broken no undertaking because he had given no absolute undertaking. I say this and I think that if he is fair he will recall it-
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition is debating the issue.
– I claim to have been misrepresented, because 1 said only that the Leader of he Government in the Senate had said that he expected that we would not be sitting tomorrow and that we would be sitting next week. I did not say that he had given an undertaking to that effect. I understood that this arrangement might be subject to disruption. I have not accused the Leader of the Government in the Senate of any breach of any undertaking. Instead, I have suggested that he gave us the best information that he could. My complaint was not an attack upon him. It was thatthe arrangements which have been made are not good enough.
– I accept the explanation of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I may have been led into error in what I have said. If that is so, then I withdraw it. But if I was led into error it was because Senator Murphy, by interjection, said: ‘The Minister led us to believe that we would be sitting next week.’
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1 1.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 May 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670518_senate_26_s34/>.