26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for the Navy: Did the civilian employees of the naval dockyard at Garden Island go on strike yesterday? Did the civilian employees of the Williamstown dockyard go on strike this morning? Was strike action taken because of reclassifications of positions, with a consequential reduction in wages, and as a protest against the Naval Defence Bill now before the Senate?
– I am not aware whether the facts as outlined by the honourable senator are correct. However, I will make inquiries and, if the information is still relevant, I will let him have the answer.
– Is the Minister who represents the Minister for National Development aware that an oil exploration team has driven a very heavy oil rig from Alice Springs to Wilson Cliffs, 150 miles west of the Western Australian and Northern Territory border? Is he aware that the road used for this purpose ends only about 100 miles from good roads constructed in Western Australia by another oil company? Does the Minister agree that this situation could provide the opportunity for a direct road link from the eastern States to the booming Pilbara iron ore region of north western Australia?
– I am aware of the situation referred to by the honourable senator, that an oil rig has been transported by road from Adelaide to Alice Springs and thence to Wilson Cliffs. This task was performed by Oil Drilling and Exploration Pty Ltd in order to drill an oil hole for Australian Aquitaine Petroleum Pty Ltd, a company which has a farm-out from Beach Petroleum N.L. West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd drilled a hole in the south eastern section of its territory, adjacent to the Northern Territory border. The roads constructed to each of these oil holes will leave a distance of only 100 miles between Alice
Springs and Port Hedland, in the north west of Western Australia, not traversed by a road. This is of great significance and illustrates the extent of the development programme of the Commonwealth Government through the granting of subsidies to oil companies in Australia so that they may drill for oil at approved sites.
The latest instance of oil drilling is occurring in the centre of Australia where very few white people have ever been. The construction of roads to these areas has been aided by the provision of oil drilling subsidies to enable oil companies to locate oil in Australia. Eventually this will lead to a vast number of people travelling from eastern Australia to Alice Springs and through to the rich mineral fields in the Pilbara adjacent to the main port of Port Hedland. It also will be of great assistance to people and companies searching for other minerals in the central area of Western Australia along the route of this road.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. In view of the impressive contribution to the North Vietnamese cause made by the pro- Vietcong propaganda campaign in Australia, will the Government consider reconstituting the Ministry of Information, which could at least answer such propaganda and ensure that Australia’s case was presented on the Vietnamese issue and similar issues?
– The honourable senator asks whether the Government will consider reconstituting the Ministry of Information. That is a matter of Government policy, and naturally I would have to refer the question to the Government. On the question of the distribution or propagation of North Vietnamese news, I make the point that everybody, including every honourable senator, has a responsibility to ensure that wherever he is confronted with that type of propaganda he uses the knowledge, experience and information that he has as to the truth of the position in order to nail this type of improper campaigning.
– Hear, hear! The false propaganda should be counteracted.
– It is false propaganda. As Australia is involved, and Australian men and boys are fighting for Australia’s ultimate defence in Vietnam, every one of us has a very real responsibility to ensure that the truth is promulgated at all times. When one does see public evidence of blatant propaganda from the enemy, the opportunity should be taken to deny it.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, ls it a fact that the implementation of the scheme for the issue of hearing aids for rental to pensioners is being held up because the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories are unable to supply the number required unless additional finance is made available by the Government? Is it also a fact that private enterprise companies which manufacture hearing aids have made representations to the Government requesting that the scheme for the hiring of hearing aids to pensioners be not proceeded with? Can the Minister confirm that the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories can manufacture hearing aids for about $7, whereas similar aids produced by private enterprise are retailing for up to $90?
– I draw the honourable senator’s attention to a statement made by the Minister for Health announcing that the Government’s scheme to provide hearing aids for pensioners and their dependants would begin in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Perth, Brisbane, Townsville and Canberra on 20th May. As I recall, there was a previous statement which referred to other areas in which the scheme had commenced. The honourable senator raised some other points concerning private enterprise companies and costing. I suggest that those sections of his question be placed on the notice paper so that T may obtain a considered reply for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. When can the Senate expect from the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs a statement on the grant of ownership of the land that the Aboriginal people of Australia traditionally occupy and the provision of the necessary economic assistance to enable them to attain social justice and wage, employment, hous ing and educational opportunities equal to those of other Australians?
– 1 lake the opportunity to reply to the honourable senator and to give him an assurance that, in line with the usual energy and enlightened outlook of the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, this matter is now under earnest consideration by the Government. I would think that the time involved would not bo long.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation whether consideration has been given, or will be given, by the appropriate Commonwealth authorities to the matter of conducting cloud seeding operations over the major catchment areas of the River Murray system, either directly as a Commonwealth project or in association with the relevant States.
– The Senate will be well aware that, as a general matter, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has taken a very active interest in this subject for many years. The Organisation takes the view that its function is research. The material evolved from research is made available to the appropriate authorities. If, for example, it is in relation to agriculture the material is made available to the State Departments of Agriculture, and if Ft is in relation to the .River Murray valley it is made available to the River Murray Commission. It is then a matter for those authorities actually to carry out any operations that they think are appropriate. I am not aware whether an application has been made to tha Organisation in relation to the River Murray valley, but in view of the need for water in that area I have no doubt that the results of the Organisation’s research have been made available to the authorities whose duties lie in that direction.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration add anything to a statement made several weeks ago in relation to delays associated with the signing of an immigration agreement with Yugoslavia?
– 1 recall that Senator Mulvihill asked this question earlier this year and that I replied to the effect that Australia was waiting to receive further advice from Yugoslavia. I have received no additional information from the Minister, but 1 shall make further inquiry on the honourable senator’s behalf to see whether any additional information is available.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities, ls he aware that the German magazine ‘Scala’ has included Tasmania in its World Hunger Map as among countries with a daily diet of below 2,200 calories where disease, undernourishment, hunger and death begin? Will the Minister, in the interests of the Australian nation and of his own State of Tasmania, make haste to disabuse the minds of the people who read this publication?
– 1 regret to say that my reading interests have not been directed to a magazine which, if there is any basis of fact in the honourable senator’s reference, reveals an abysmal ignorance that I would not wish to consult. I am a living specimen from Tasmania and 1 go on record denying (hat Tasmania is a victim of hunger and disease and is nigh unto death.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. In view of repeated statements by the former Prime Minister, the late Mr Harold Holt, and the present Prime Minister. Mr Gorton, that aid will be given to school libraries, wilt the Minister advise whether any such aid has been given? if it has not, when is it proposed to give such aid? Are there any conditions for the granting of the aid?
– It will be recalled that this was a new development which was the subject of reference in the policy speech of the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, at the time of the Senate election, and that it was referred to again,
14653/68- A’- -(33)
if my recollection is correct, in the Governor-General’s Speech. The programme for its implementation is being generated at the present time. As the honourable senator will know, in making arrangements of this sort with six States, it takes some time to allocate the money and to get the arrangements on to a basis that is acceptable to all six. lt would be undesirable to indicate the difficulties at this stage, but the honourable senator can be well assured that the matter is proceeding towards completion.
– J ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Government is happy about being granted observer rights only at the coming peace conference in Paris.
– I suggest tha! this question should go on notice since 1 am sure that, as it is framed, it is inaccurate. There will be an Australian representative at the conference. So that all the facts may be revealed, I ask that the question be put on notice and I hope to be able to give the honourable senator an answer tomorrow.
– I address a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Can the Minister now answer the question asked of him yesterday as to whether Australian war correspondents and/or their dependants are eligible to receive repatriation benefits from the Commonwealth?
– A somewhat similar question was asked by Senator Fitzgerald yesterday. I fell that I should have anticipated the question yesterday and had the required information available. I have had an opportunity since then to refresh my memory. The only difference between Senator Fitzgerald’s question and Senator Mcclellands question is that Senator Fitzgerald also asked about the availability of repatriation benefits to people who work in Vietnam or other theatres of war and who are nol members of the armed services. The position is that the Government has approved benefits on the same, scale as under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act for members of philanthropic organisations and employees of the Commonwealth, whose service in association with the armed forces is certified by the appropriate Service authority as comparable with the allotment to special duty of a member of the forces. This follows the practice established in earlier wars. Thus, the provision is available to cover, for example, people such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army personnel and war correspondents employed by the Commonwealth. As in the past, the provision does not apply to war correspondents who are employees of private organisations, ft does not apply to civil aid workers whose service does not correspond with allotted service by members of the forces. Army chaplains, to whom Senator Fitzgerald referred, are members of the forces and have cover under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act.
– -I address a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Minister seen newspaper reports that TVW Ltd has completed negotiations to purchase all the issued shares in the radio stations 6PM Perth, 6AM Northam and 6KG Kalgoorlie and a controlling interest in the radio station 6GE Geraldton? ls the Minister aware that 44% of the capital of TVW Ltd is held by West Australian Newspapers Ltd, which also owns WA Broadcasters Pty Ltd which operates the radio stations 6IX Perth, 6WB Katanning, 6M.D Merredin and 6BY Bridgetown? Will the Postmaster-General examine the situation and inform the Parliament whether there is any breach of the Broadcasting and Television Act involved in these most recent negotiations by TVW Ltd?
– Because of the great amount of detail in the question, I suggest to the honourable senator that it be put on the notice paper so that I may obtain a considered reply from the Postmaster-General.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to a question that I raised with the Minister on Wednesday of last week concerning organ transplant operations. Has the Minister seen a Press report today of an announcement by the Victorian Minister for Health that Victoria had set up a committee to examine the legal, medical and ethical aspects of heart transplants, to look at the position as it applied to Victoria and to consider whether any legislation was necessary? I ask the Minister: As this seems to be subject matter in which there is obvious nationwide public interest, will the Minister raise it for discussion between Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health?
– I have noted the comments made by Senator Cohen. I fully agree with him that this is a matter of great importance. I feel quite certain that this matter will be discussed between Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health. I am sure that the honourable senator has noted in the Press, as I have, that the World Health Organisation also is discussing this matter at its conference. I will place the matters that the honourable senator has raised before the Minister.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs a question. As the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs is reported to be considered apportioning certain pastoral lands to Aboriginal tribes in the Northern Territory, will the Minister seek out the descendants of the native people who originally occupied the land on which the city of Sydney stands so that their rights in regard to such land may now be safeguarded? Will the Minister pay particular attention to land in the Newport area?
– I have noted the question asked by the honourable senator. I shall convey it to my colleague, the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs.
(Question No. 68)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 91)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Will the Minister arrange for an investigation into the claim made in the latest issue of the Journal of the Soil Conservation Service of New South Wales’ of the strong possibility ofsiltation in Lake Burley Griffin?
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The problem of siltation in Lake Burley Griffin, and any other similar body of water, has long been recognised. Soil conservation works in the catchment area have been in progress since before construction of the lake commenced and will continue for many years. The extent of siltation in the lake is under constant examination and such remedial work as may be necessary, should not present major difficulties.
(Question No. 147)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
(Question No. 194)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer: 1 and 2. The amending National Service Bill, which 1 introduced into the House of Representatives on 1st May, provides that a national service man who is serving in the Regular Army Supplement under such a re-engagement may be discharged on the same grounds as any other member of the permanent forces.
(Question No. 205)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
When a medical practitioner refers a patient to a psychologist as distinct from a psychiatrist, does the fee charged by the psychologist become an allowable taxation deduction; if not, why not?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The income tax law allows a concessional deduction for medical expenses which, as defined, include payments:
To a legally qualified medical practitioner, nurse, chemist or hospital in respect of an illness or operation: or
For therapeutic treatment administered by direction of a legally qualified medical practitioner.
Psychologists, as such, are not legally qualified medical practitioners. Accordingly, a deduction would normally be allowable only if a patient was referred by a medical practitioner to a psychologist for therapeutic treatment to be administered under the direction of the medical practitioner. Whether a deduction is allowable or not. therefore, depends upon the facts of each case.
The services provided by psychologists cover a wide range. Aptitude testing or intelligence testing, for example, would not normally be regarded as therapeutic treatment. However, the cost of psychological tests would be deductible if the tests to be administered had been prescribed by a medical practitioner and were intended to be the basis for subsequent treatment of the patient by the medical practitioner. There may be other cases in which the psychologist himself administers treatment to a patient which could fairly be described as therapeutic. For deductions to be allowable, it would have to be demonstrated that the particular form of treatment had been administered at the direction of a medical practitioner.
– On 2 1st March, Senator McClelland asked the following questions relating to the Commonwealth Literary Fund:
The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s questions:
– by leave. - The following statement is made on behalf of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), to whom the first person singular pronoun refers:
The Immigration Advisory Council which represents a broad cross-section of the Australian community recommended to me that some form of second assistance towards passage costs should be given to carefully selected migrants. The Government considered this recommendation and decided that the serious human problems which confront many migrants who have returned to their homelands should be relieved by the provision of second passage assistance where this is justified . on the merits of the case. The decision is designed to meet human problems and not to add to the quantity of migrants, in which respect we are already doing very well. The decision follows strong appeal on humanitarian grounds in letters written to myself and the Department of Immigration and the many inquiries made to our overseas posts from people who left Australia for compelling reasons beyond their control. These are not those who left because they were disgruntled or dissatisfied with this country, but people of quality who represent an asset to Australia.
Second assistance will be given only in carefully selected cases where the migrants have demonstrated their potential to settle satisfactorily in Australia but who returned home in circumstances which are unlikely to recur. The assistance will, of course, be available only to those who do not have the financial resources to pay their own way back to Australia. It is expected that under the conditions which are to be applied many of those who would seek financial assistance from the Australian Government will not qualify for it. For example, a migrant who departed solely because of homesickness, the persuasion of relatives still living and similar factors, will not be eligible for second assistance, and people in the higher age groups, or who have been repatriated at Government expense will be excluded. Academic studies and the experience of other governments indicate that in this age of international mobility many migrants who return home become successful settlers on second migration. These studies also indicate that many clearly desirable migrants who left Australia and wish to come here a second time are unable to do so because they cannot meet the full travel1 costs.
I believe that the availability of second assistance to carefully selected families will give us the opportunity to regain these people as valuable settlers. Appropriate safeguards will be applied, however, to ensure that these arrangements do not encourage departures from Australia for a visit in anticipation of second time assistance or result in abuses. People of the type we need here wilt not uproot their families on an unconfirmed expectation of some assistance to return in the future. Second assistance will be granted only to married couples and families. Single people, besides being more prone to use the original passage assistance for a working holiday, can reasonably be expected personally to finance second migration if they decide to come back.
Applications for second assistance will be approved only after investigation to establish: Firstly, the reasons for applicants returning to their country of origin; secondly, their experience since returning to that country; thirdly, their reason for seeking to re-migrate; fourthly, their ^dividual prospects for employment and settlement generally if they were to return to Australia; fifthly, their need for financial assistance; sixthly, that there has been a demonstrable change in the conditions which prompted their departure from Australia.
In explanation of the last point, you may have a situation in which a person, perhaps an only child in Australia who is married here with a family, has migrated and then an elderly parent is left widowed or poor in England and in need of attention. There may bc very compelling human reasons which require that son or daughter in Australia most reluctantly to return to the home country to look after those people or that aged parent. Then, after a period of time, the aged parent has died and that person who was formerly here - happy here - would like very desperately to come back. This is the nature of many of the letters 1 have had. In dealing with these applications more restrictive criteria than those which relate to first assisted passages will be applied strictly. I emphasise the word strictly.
Where second time passage assistance is approved the migrants will be required to pay more towards the passage costs than under the first assistance. Persons 19 years of age and over will contribute $180 each; family members under 19 years of age will, however, still make no contribution. Upon being granted second assistance, migrants will have to sign an undertaking to repay the amount of the passage assistance if they depart from Australia within 5 years of their arrival - compared with the 2 year period for those who receive first assistance.
In summary the Government has decided, for essentially human reasons, to give financial help to selected migrants who, although assisted previously, have shown that they are the kind of migrants Australia is anxious to have, that their success upon return here should be assured and that they intend to remain with us, given this second opportunity. We do not see this as a decision which will give us large numbers of returning migrants. Rather we expect only limited numbers, but those who do qualify should be people of undoubted quality at present confronted with problems of a very real human kind precipitated by circumstances over which they had very little control.
The Government has also recognised that the general case for granting second time assistance to migrants should also apply in certain instances to Australian families who, in the past, settled overseas and who would like to resume their lives in their home country but who cannot afford the fares to achieve this. Accordingly, in selected cases where otherwise these people would remain lost to Australia, passage assistance will be granted to them.
This decision by the Government in respect of Australian citizens will also apply only to married couples and families. It will apply both to Australian born and to Australians by naturalisation or registration.
An example of the type of case in which we would be prepared to assist would be that of the young Australian who goes overseas, marries, has a family and is subject to the same influences and attractions to return to Australia as his neighbours in the community. He is no less entitled to the opportunity to do so. One cannot say how long he would have to be away. As the policy is adopted and applied it will be a case of whether or not that person has taken up permanent residence away from Australia and lives in a community in which his neighbours may be eligible for assisted passage to Australia but he, because in fact, he is Australian, is denied. That is the problem we are seeking to meet. To establish that he has taken up residence in another country is the criteria.
Factors to be taken into account in considering applications from Australians will include: Whether their reasons for remaining away from Australia establish that they may otherwise be lost to Australia; their record abroad; their reasons for return to Australia and their bona fide intention to settle permanently; their need for financial assistance from official sources.
As in the case of migrants for second time assistance, Australians will be required to contribute $180 if 19 years of age or over and family members under 19 will not be required to contribute towards passage costs. Special consideration can be given, however, to meet hardship cases. Australians granted this assistance will also be required to sign an undertaking to repay the amount of assistance if they leave Australia again within 5 years. People who come to Australia as assisted migrants, acquire Australian citizenship by naturalisation or registration, and then depart for permanent residence abroad, will come under the conditions applying to migrants who receive a second assisted passage.
I emphasise that the special arrangement for Australians is only for people who need assistance to return and who would otherwise be lost to Australia. I believe that the adoption of this policy will lead to solving some very real human problems which have been exposed by letters I have received addressed to me by name from England and countries of the Continent. I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Anderson) adjourned.
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.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[3.42] - I move:
Mr President, the purpose of this Bill is to bring certain provisions of the Post and Telegraph Act into accord with present day conditions and practices. Since its inception in 1901 the Act has, of course, been amended from time to time as needs have changed and technology has progressed. This Bill is a continuation of that process.
An important amendment deals with the carriage of mails by sea. The provisions fall basically into two broad categories dealing firstly with the arrival of mails in this country and their delivery and secondly with the obligations to carry outward bound mails from a port. The Department has always had the authority to take delivery of mails on the arrival in Australia of vessels. However the existing Act lays down conditions under which the delivery of the mail must be effected and many of these conditions are unreal in the light of modern arrangements. Almost total responsibility is placed on the master of the vessel and the provisions generally are geared to the conditions pertaining when the original State Acts were drawn up.
In this Bill, proposed new section 66 is designed to ensure that incoming mail is offloaded at the appropriate port and that it is made available to a suitably authorised officer. It is also designed to recognise aircraft as a mail transportation medium. With the growth in international airports in Australia and in the number of mail dispatches made up by overseas administrations for the various capital cities, provision is being made to ensure their delivery at the appropriate airport at which the international aircraft may land. In regard to outgoing mails, the authority to require vessels to take mail loadings is traditional amongst governments. It has existed in Australia since the New South Wales Postage Act of 1867. It existed in other State legislation too and was translated into the Post and Telegraph Act in 1901. The same statutory provisions have applied also for many years in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and various European countries. The Bill retains this authority but is designed also to overcome certain weaknesses which were highlighted recently when a vessel departed from an Australian port leaving behind quite substantial quantities of mail. This was Christmas mail for the United Kingdom and Europe and the ship concerned was the last sailing in time to allow delivery before Christmas. The Post Office was unable to take effective action because of the outdated provisions of the Act. The new sections 67 and 68 introduce a statutory authority for the detention of a vessel for up to 24 hours, except where the safety of the vessel is involved, where there is reason to believe that it may depart without the full complement of mail. A penalty of $1,000 is proposed for an offence against these provisions.
At the same time, certain other outmoded provisions are being removed with the object of facilitating the transportation of mail. For example, it would no longer be necessary to have lockers specially provided for mail, a requirement clearly unrealistic in view of the huge mail consignments made today, many of which run into thousands of bags from individual ports. Similarly, the requirement that a ship’s master offload the mails before reporting to customs is out of date. Today, customs officers board vessels before they enter port. The carriage of outgoing mails by air is not provided for. External airmail carriage is a highly competitive business. Carriers operate not only under special agreements with the Post Office but also within the framework of broader intergovernmental agreements which give individuals rights to uplift mail and cargo from Australia.
I turn now to damage done to departmental plant by other persons or authorities. Currently, this damage is costing about $3m each year. I am referring particularly to cases such as road making equipment damaging departmental cables. Because there is no statutory liability unless damage is the result of wilful, negligent or unlawful activity, the recovery of costs is very difficult. The new section 139b, therefore, introduces a statutory liability to pay compensation, applicable to any person who damages Post Office property in the course of any activity. The intention of the provisions is to encourage co-operation with the Post Office with a view to ensuring the safety of the Department’s very costly assets. Thus the statutory liability is qualified if the person concerned notified the Department that work was being done and permitted an authorised officer to be in attendance while the work is being carried out.
In similar vein, a good deal of work is necessary each year as a result of road widening and kindred activity. The Act provides that the necessary removal or realignment of the telegraph line in these cases shall be paid for by the local authority concerned. The difficulty here is that a large percentage of road making activity today is undertaken by authorities which are under no statutory obligation to meet the cost of consequent alterations to Post Office plant. Section 139c makes provision to remedy this situation. The Bill takes the opportunity, too, in clause 4, to amend the definition of telegraph line’ to ensure that all important items of plant are recognised. This would include such items as manholes and cable ducts, which are integral parts of departmental plant. The titles of the State Directors are also amended to Director of Posts and Telegraphs, in the interests of uniformity with other Commonwealth legislation.
In addition, the minimum height at which telegraph lines may be erected above a public thoroughfare is reduced from 18 ft to 16 ft. This will save on construction costs without interfering with traffic as the maximum legal height for vehicles in State law is 14 ft 6 in.
Finally, one other change is made. The imposition of fines up to $200 and imprisonment up to 12 months is proposed by an amendment to section 97. This is designed essentially to provide a penalty as a means of curbing the incidence of obscene telephone calls and to enable magistrates to commit offenders to an institution for treatment. Frequently, magistrates have been concerned that it has been possible to impose only monetary penalties in circumstances where the offender is in need of medical treatment. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annahelle Rankin) read a first time.
[3.51] - I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946- 1966 by introducing some administrative and financial changes in the Commission’s activities. First, reference to the Island of Nauru in the Commission’s charter to estalish and operate communications stations must be deleted from the Act following the granting of Nauru’s independence. Provision has been made in clause 4 for a Commissioner who replaces one who has served only a portion of his statutory period to be appointed for 3 years rather than for the unexpired portion of the outgoing Commissioner’s term, as at present. This will avoid the need for unduly short term appointments.
The salary level for a position beyond which the Minister’s authority is required before payment can be authorised has remained unchanged since 1958. It is proposed that the level at which the Minister’s approval is necessary should be raised from $5,000 to $7,500, and in line with other Commonwealth legislation it is proposed that a higher amount may be prescribed by regulation to facilitate administration. Clause 6 of the Bill removes the present restrictions on the Commission employing married women as permanent officers. This is in line with the action taken in regard to the Commonwealth Public Service, and similar action has been proceeding for other instrumentalities.
Section 35 of the Act requires the Commission to pay to the Post Office revenue received from terminal charges on international messages handled by stations controlled by the Commission. However, to recognise the work performed by the Commission in handling this traffic, in fact the Post Office and the Commission have, over the years, entered into net settlement arrangements for distribution of revenue. The legislation proposes to recognise this situation by having the Postmaster-General approve of the Commission retaining such amounts as are determined in consultation with the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs.
Clause 12 raises the financial limits on the Commission’s authority for the acquisition and disposal of property. The limit is being varied from $40,000 to $100,000 and to facilitate administration it is intended that at the appropriate time, a higher amount may be prescribed by regulation.
In future, this financial limit will apply also for the procurement of supplies and equipment both in Australia and oversea. The period for which the Commission may enter into a lease of land without the approval of the Minister has been extended from 5 to 10 years.
Clauses 13, 14 and 15 bring the Act into line with Commonwealth banking legislation by deleting the reference to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The Commission is required to bank with the Reserve Bank, or with a bank approved by the Treasurer. In line with other legislation clause 15 introduces’ flexibility in investment by enabling the Commission to invest moneys held, but not immediately required, on the short term money market in accordance with determinations of the Treasurer. These are funds which are available for such short periods that it would not be possible to leave them on fixed deposit with a bank for the normal 3 months minimum period, or to obtain Commonwealth securities of the appropriate maturity.
Clause 16 has remade section 77. Ft retains the Commission’s entitlement to have service telegrams within Australia relating to international communications transmitted free of charge by the Post Office. The definition of service messages is being confined to those messages relating to public international communications in accordance with normal practices between administrations. Transmission by telegram will include those service messages despatched by the recently developed telex service. The Commission will still be obliged to handle telegrams within Australia when requested by the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs when there is a breakdown in Post Office facilities. In future the Commission will receive the appropriate payment for the work it perforins in these circumstances, I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 1 May (vide page 737), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill bs now read a second time.
– This Bill is largely a machinery measure which seeks to rearrange an existing allocation of moneys to two universities - the University of Newcastle and the La Trobe University - because of alterations in previously approved building proposals. I say that the measure is of a machinery character because it does not increase the financial allocation or the Commonwealth’s commitment. It arises out of what seem to us to be sensible changes made within the universities’ own authority to decide on changes, and we see no reason to do anything but support the measure. However. I should like to refer briefly to what is proposed.
With respect, to the University of Newcastle there are some simple changes. Of a total allocation of $782,000, there is a rearrangement as between a building for the Faculty of Applied Science and buildings for the Departments of Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering and of Architecture. What has happened apparently is that the university has itself transferred out of the Faculty of Applied Science to the Faculty of Engineering the Department of Chemical Engineering. This has meant looking to the requirements of the two faculties as reconstituted, and it becomes necessary now to increase the allocations to the buildings for the Departments of Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering and of Architecture and lo make a consequential reduction in the amount available for the building for the Faculty of Applied Science.
The amount involved is $124,404, which is deducted from the previous allocation of $282,000 for the building for the Faculty of Applied Science and added to the allocation for the building for the Departments of Mechanical, Civil and Electrical Engineering and of Architecture. The university must be entitled to make up its own mind as to how it arranges the work between faculties. The proposed alteration is approved by both the Australian Universities Commission and the New South Wales Government, and we support what is proposed in the Bill.
Concerning the La Trobe University, there are two different proposals that have been the subject of alteration and require the rearrangement of finance that is proposed in this measure. Originally a sum of $2,875,000 was provided for the erection of buildings for first year science, later year science and biological science in the Faculty of Agriculture. What has been proposed now is that instead of the three buildings in the original proposal there will be four buildings - one for first year science, one for physics, one for chemistry and one for biological science and agriculture. The total sum of $2,875,000 is rearranged between the four proposed buildings instead of the original proposal of three buildings. Again, this is something that is essentially a matter for the judgment of the University as to which arrangement will provide the better facilities for its purposes. We see no reason to do anything other than support that proposal.
One further change is involved at La Trobe. The original proposal was for the sum of $346,000 for the erection of a science lecture theatre block. That block now becomes a lecture block for the humanities and social sciences. The amount allocated remains the same - $346,000. Apparently La Trobe University had some plans for a science block but found that enrolments in the schools of social science and the humanities have changed the University’s order of priority. So what was to be a science lecture theatre block becomes a lecture theatre block for the humanities and social sciences. Again these proposals in relation to the La Trobe University have the approval of the Universities Commission and the Victorian Government. The Bill is an acceptable measure aimed at giving effect to these arrangements that have been reached by agreement. I think that it is right and proper that these matters, even when they are merely subjects for rearrangement within a fixed allocation, should be brought forward for specific approval by the Parliament. The Government has done this. We give the proposal our blessing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1 May (vide page 736), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy President, the purpose of the Northern Territory Representation Bill 1968, which is now before the Senate, is to give to the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives the same voting rights as are enjoyed by other members in the House of Representatives. It has taken a long battle by successive members for the Northern Territory for this important stage in the history of the development of this outback part of Australia to be achieved. A similar problem confronts other parts of the north of Australia. We can view this legislation as representing an important milestone in the development of a more democratic form of government for the. whole of Australia.
I wish to pay a special tribute to the former member for the Northern Territory, Mr Jock Nelson. Over the years that he was a member of the other place he continually put before members of our Party in the party room and before people wherever he went to speak the wish and hope of the people of the Northern Territory that their status in and attitude towards the Commonwealth might be consummated by the achievement of this goal, the granting of full and equal status for their member in the Federal Parliament. I can remember petitions being sent to the Parliament on this subject. Of course they have gone the way of all petitions. They have gone into a pigeonhole. I recall that on one occasion a petition even came from the Aboriginals on a piece of bark. I do not know whether that petition shares the occupancy of the pigeonhole. After that long and arduous struggle to get the Government into a receptive frame of mind, we now have before us this legislation to grant that representation to the member for the Northern Territory.
During the long battle we have come up against the expanding amount of authority, that has been delegated to or assumed by the Public Service. One of the big problems that confronts this country today is the power that goes from the Treasury into the Public Service. With power goes status. With status goes position in the community which often is used for personal purposes rather than for community purposes. I feel that this applies very much to the Northern Territory, because of its distance from the national capital. We are a bit inclined to encourage our public servants to ensconce themselves in an ivory tower. Yet the work is being done. Frontiersmen in those distant areas of Australia come under similar types of regulations and under the strict discipline that apply in the more comfortable confines of Canberra. I think that this is a matter that should be very carefully guarded. We should ensure that in the many fields of administration in the Public Service we get the right man in the right place, understanding the conditions where those people are working and living.
No doubt exists concerning the fact that the Northern Territory has entered a new era with the discovery of valuable deposits of copper, gold and bauxite and with the improvement of tick resistant cattle herds and the like. We can see the Northern Territory expanding quite rapidly from this point to the stage where the economy will be much better balanced and the people will not be dependent entirely on the relatively primitive economy of huge areas of land in which communications and transport facilities are poor. From this stage onwards development, will take place at a greater speed. Added responsibility will be placed on the Commonwealth Parliament to see that it is kept, abreast of the facts of new development in the Northern Territory.
Along with the move to give full voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory is a claim for a greater measure of self-government in the Northern Territory. There is no doubt that government is finance. If a Stale or Territory such as the Northern Territory is not able to find sufficient funds from its own resources it must obtain them from the Commonwealth Treasury. That is the nature of things. We have to accept that fact. At this stage it is impossible for the Northern Territory to finance its own affairs. But, on the other hand, serious consideration has to be given to encouraging the people in the Northern Territory to participate in the tasks of governing their own affairs. One of the important problems which face a modern community is the people’s lack of incentive to participate in the tasks of governing the affairs of their own community and of their own nation. We should not frustrate the outgoing and outgiving people in the community who want to help their fellow men at the same time as they are progressing themselves, and who make suggestions for the improvement of their own society in order to get the message through to the powers that control the Treasury. The methods of consultation and discussion should be streamlined. We should strive to obtain the best that can bc realised from this method of participation by the people in the affairs of their own community.
Part and parcel of the development towards greater economic viability and expansion in the Northern Territory is a growing demand to make people feel as though they are a living part of the Territory. In my visits to Darwin over the years I found that members of the Public Service and people in private business in the Territory never really felt as though they would be permanently in the Territory. They seemed to live under the impression that they could be transferred from the area or that their life in the Territory lacked basic security, that they had to be ready to pull up camp and move on. This is a very bad foundation on which to build a community. I believe that recently that situation has changed considerably. One of our great responsibilities is to try to encourage the feeling amongst the residents of the Northern Territory that the Territory is the place where they themselves will carve out their future and that their children and grandchildren will carry on after them in developing this great land. So, whilst we can praise the Government for this milestone, the granting of full voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory, we must not overlook the fact that many basic problems have to be overcome in this area which at the present time is the Commonwealth’s direct responsibility.
We must encourage the people of the Northern Territory to participate in government, not only on the federal level, which is the matter we are discussing, but also on the local level, that is, in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. I believe that there must be very bad public relations somewhere along the line in respect of this body of men in the Legislative Council, who are interested not only in their own future but also in the future of the Northern Territory. They believe that they have something to offer, that they can help the Commonwealth Government to help the Northern Territory. But unfortunately, friction seems to exist and the spirit of cooperation is ceasing. This matter should be closely looked at by those who are responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory. I am not quite certain whether this friction arose through a lack of understanding of this on-the-spot feeling among Territorians, who experience frustration because of the written regulations of the Public Service, or through the fact that the people who make decisions concerning the Northern Territory are not familiar enough with the way of life in the Northern Territory. But, on the face of it, it appears that friction exists between those who want to participate in local government in the Northern Territory and the Department of the Inferior, which took over the administration of the Northern Territory from the Department of Territories. T hope that the change in administration will result in greater co-operation and a more harmonious relationship between the local residents and the Commonwealth Government.
The Commonwealth Government is also confronted with greater responsibility concerning Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. This position arises not only from the recent referendum but also from the working of the national conscience. The problems of Aboriginals will have to be thoroughly examined. Just as there was a need for the member for the Northern Territory to be given equal voting rights in the Parliament pf this country, there is a growing need for a re-evaluation of the attitude of the Commonwealth Government and the Australian people towards the basic rights of Aboriginals* Over the years the Territory has been slumbering along. During the years of early settlement huge areas of land were given to absentee landlords who, in many instances, lived overseas. People who were not connected with the cattle industry or with kindred industries were not even welcome in the Territory. That position should now be challenged. The full use of these vast areas of land should be assured. The owners of these vast areas should give an assurance to the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth should give an assurance to the Australian people, that the best use will bc made of the land.
Over the years the owners of these vast areas have, willy nilly, encroached onto the tribal lands of the Aboriginals and have dispossessed them of the land. The Aboriginals have been forced into smaller reserve areas. We have closed our eyes to the plight of the Aboriginals. Today a more enlightened community is challenging the traditional attitude towards members of this branch of our family that they are not even second class citizens and have no status at all. My experience amongst Aboriginals in the west of Queensland was that they lived on the banks of rivers, sometimes in close proximity to townships, out on the common far enough away to be out of sight and out of mind of residents of the townships. On sheep stations or cattle stations they lived in a very small reservation area in the most primitive type of humpy on the same standard as that of the ordinary station dog. The attitude was that as they did not in their tribal state have houses, furniture or property they did not need these things now. Living, as they possibly still do, in these conditions, they were a source of seasonal labour. At branding time, at special musterings, at lamb marking and at shearing time they were available. After that the responsibility of the station owners ceased and the Aboriginals were relegated to their very primitive way of life in the humpies on the river bank.
I suppose one could become accustomed to seeing this type of thing, yet when we examine it deeply we realise that it is a very great reflection not only upon the individuals concerned but also upon everyone else that this state of affairs continues. Even when Aboriginal people receive some education via the radio or at small schools and learn to read and write, they immediately meet the barrier of inferior status when they move into the community. In some way or other the conscience of the whole nation must be directed to the matter, particularly in relation to the Aboriginals of the Northern Territory because they are even less sophisticated than those who have come closer in to live on the outskirts of white society. In the Northern Territory they have remained in bigger units on their reserves. They have no rights such as ownership, and little by little commercial interests are encroaching further and further upon traditional tribal lands. This has gone too far and it must be stopped now. The people of Australia were given an opportunity in the recent referendum to say where certain things should stop. A similar approach must be made to the recognition and rehabilitation of Aboriginals as members of the Australian community with rights equal to those of other Australians.
It is my sincere wish that the searchlight that has now been focused on the Northern
Territory as a result of the legislation to give voting rights to its parliamentary representative will illuminate the very seamy aspects of Aboriginal life in that area. This is a most important national problem and one that can be solved. Its solution would be not only a humanitarian project but also an economic project. Eventually these people will have to be brought completely into the fellowship of the community as Australians with rights equal to those of other Australians. Because of the growing world opinion against segregation we will not. have the dubious privilege of being able to separate them. We will be forced to turn within to solve our problem which is not as bad, I must admit, as similar problems in other parts of the world. Perhaps the background is not quite as bad. Other countries have imported people of different colour and blood purely for economic purposes and they are now faced with this great problem of segregation. When we came to this country the Aboriginals were already here. Even though more than 150 years have elapsed since we came we have been able until now to sweep the problem under the carpet. The time for its solution has arrived. T hope that this Bill will be the forerunner of many other pieces of legislation to lift the status of the Northern Territory, not only in Commonwealth government affairs but also in local government affairs. I hope that land use will be brought up to modern standards, with development and, if necessary, subdivision and re-allocation. I hope that decentralisation will proceed and that we will tackle all of the problems of the Northern Territory which are a national responsibility and a burden that has to be shared by all of the people. The Opposition supports this measure. We are seeing an historic piece of legislation being enacted and we are assisting in it. We hope that it will be the forerunner of many more progressive Acts that will be passed through the Federal Parliament for the better government and advancement of the Northern Territory.
– The Senate is discussing the Northern Territory Representation Bill. It gives me and every other member of the Federal Parliament great satisfaction that we have before us a Bill which will grant full voting rights lo the member for the Northern
Territory, such rights having been given to the representative of the other Territory of this great nation - the Australian Capital Territory - some 12 months ago. We are now completing the provision of full voting rights for all members of our Federal Parliament. Naturally, as a member of the Country Party, it gives me immense satisfaction that the honourable member for the Northern Territory at this time is a member of my Party. This Bill brings this proposition about by repealing sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Northern Territory Representation Act 1922-59 and inserting a new section 6, which reads:
The member representing the North Territory has all the powers, immunities and privileges of a member representing an Electoral Division of a State and the representation of the Northern Territory shall be on the same terms as the representation of such an Electoral Division.
With the proclamation of this Bill members of the Parliament will have achieved a marked step for Australia and for the Northern Territory in particular.
I would like the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), when he replies to the second reading debate, to make some comment about the fact that section 8 of the original Act still stands. At least I take it that that section is not varied by this Bill. Section 8 of the Act states:
An election of a member representing the Northern Territory shall be held as nearly as practicable at the same time as each general election of members of the House of Representatives and on any other occasion upon which the place of the member representing the Northern Territory becomes vacant.
I ask the Minister to make some comment, about this because previously I read that section to mean that an election for the Northern Territory seat may take place as near as practicable to that of a normal House of Representatives election but that this need not necessarily occur. I wonder why we have retained that distinction at this time.
I note in the Minister’s second reading speech that talks took place in May 1967 with members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and it was agreed to recommend that following the next election for the House of Representatives the member for the Northern Territory should receive full voting rights. I want to congratulate those people, again the present member for the Northern Territory in particular, who induced the Government to bring this matter to fruition at this time, well before any election and certainly not, as was originally agreed, after the next election. It is noticeable also in speeches made in another place, and also in the comments made by Senator O’Byrne, that there is no assertion that the Government is endeavouring to make any political capital out of this move. Certainly the timing of the move is most opportune.
I doubt that there is a more important area of Australia than the Northern Territory. This Bill recognises forcefully the proposition that the Northern Territory has enormous potential. Honourable senators and members in another place may recognise the problems associated with the adequate representation of the area when they realise that it embraces some 523,000 square miles. That is the size of the electorate of the honourable member for the Northern Territory. Whilst the present honourable member has his electoral office in Darwin, he lives in Alice Springs and therefore when he is at home he is about 960 miles from his office. It is very difficult for many who are associated with smaller States and smaller electorates to realise the great problems that beset those who endeavour to represent large States and large electorates such as that of the honourable member for the Northern Territory. lt is interesting to consider the arguments that bring about the granting of full voting rights for a member for a particular area. One can quickly realise the disproportionate weight of influence that a vote of a member may have had in the House of Representatives when the population of his area was quite small. Should the House of Representatives be evenly divided - this certainly does not appear to be possible for quite a number of years - and the member for the Northern Territory have full voting rights, then his vote, representing a small population, and a smaller voting population, may be very disproportionate.
There have been strong moves toward bringing about a basic essential for statehood as far as the Northern Territory is concerned. The population of the Northern Territory today is in the vicinity of 60,000. The Minister for Customs and Excise is checking his notes but 1 think that figure is approximately right. Of that number there are some 20,000 Aboriginals. This certainly gives rise to reflections that that section of the community should demand and will now receive, great respect and great attention as their member in the House of Representatives will now have full voting rights. It is interesting to note that the present voting population of the Territory is approximately 18,300. This gives rise to the thought that the population of the area must be increased in order to gain parity in population with other electorates and the size which was proposed as a result of the recent referendum at which the people rejected moves to alter representation.
– The honourable senator is not the one to raise the question of one vote one value, is he?
– The Minister for Works has raised a very interesting point. I know that he has a very free mind about what one vote one value should mean. I do not doubt that he is not one who would say that the vote of one of the 18,300 electors in the Northern Territory, who lives at the furthest end of this electorate covering 523,000 square miles, should be considered by any intelligent person as having the same weight of influence as the vote of a person living in the capital city of this Territory. The Minister has raised a very important issue - one that is very dear to the heart of my Party. It is that proper consideration must be given to this very important principle of one vote one value about which we hear so often, if I may say so, from members of the Opposition. Indeed, members of the Opposition appear to be running a campaign these days in an endeavour to argue this point, I do not know how, in the Northern Territory.
– The honourable senator thinks that the person in the Northern Territry is inferior and that he is less important than the person in a big metropolitan area.
– No. But I know that the honourable senator thinks that the voter far removed from the metropolitan area of Darwin, or some other metropolitan area, has the same weight of influence, the same access to his member of Parliament, or that the member of Parliament has the same access to the voter. I know this not to be the fact. This is the unequal strength that the honourable senator is putting on that far removed individual’s vote. The matter mentioned by the Minister for Works is a most important one and I thank him for bringing it forward. It has probably helped Senator Bishop’s thinking about this matter.
The potential of the Northern Territory certainly appears unlimited. This has been the result of the great influence of the people in that area - the resolve of hardworking men of strength who have lived in the Territory. They have enabled the Territory to develop to its present stage. Government agencies have added to what we have seen in the way of growth. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has added greatly to the potential of agricultural pursuits in the Northern Territory. 1 believe that investment that has taken place in mining could not have been raised purely from local resources. Help was needed from overseas, i stand by the proposition that as a nation we must encourage overseas investment to assist our development when we do not have sufficient funds in this country. Whether mining is viewed from the stock exchange angle or the Northern Territory angle it is a glamorous industry today, although it is also a very hard worked industry. It is an industry not without hardship but it will bring the Northern Territory to bc one of the most important areas of Australia. The manganese operations taking place on Groote Eylandt are most important to Australia’s future. The operation taking place at Gove at present will prove to bc the largest single mining venture in Australia. We should reflect upon the establishment of mining concerns throughout Australia in recent years.
– Even the Gove deposits will be worked out.
– That is so. The nature of all mining ventures is such that at one time they must all come to an end. Decisions of the Federal Government have greatly aided the growth which has taken place but requirements still exist in the area. The Federal Government must give immediate assistance following requests for better access and exit routes to and from the Territory, and for better communications there. Honourable senators will have read of the difficulties experienced in the last year or so on the railway line from Port Augusta to Alice Springs. It seems to me that a diversion is necessary if the faults that have occurred regularly in the past arc to be avoided. The road links with the Northern Territory certainly need to be upgraded. The Stuart and Barkly Highways need to be built to a strength adequate to withstand the wet season. Ways must be found to prevent the cutting of communications which occurs so regularly. The pastoral roads in the Northern Territory nearly all require up-grading. An enormous amount of work is required in that respect. At present, following rains the water runs down the middle of some roads. Grading is urgently required so that at least the water may run alongside the roads and not down the middle of them.
– The honourable senator should give credit to the Department of Works for having done some work.
– I do give that credit. I have commented that the decisions of the Federal Government and of its departments have greatly aided the growth of the area. Expansion of the port facilities at Darwin is necessary. When in Darwin last year I noted the layout of industries in the area of Darwin Harbour. It appears to me that a survey is necessary to determine the requirements of that area in the next 20 or 30 years. If the Department of Shipping and Transport or the Department of Works is involved I hope the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) will ensure that something is done.
Darwin will become one of the focal points of trade for Australia. The transport of minerals, the outflow of primary or secondary products through the port and the servicing of goods make it certain that Darwin will become one of our most important terminals as the Territory develops. I have said several times before that the Department of Defence should be securing and developing defence establishments in the Northern Territory. They are not great at the present time but they have been adequate. Darwin, and indeed the Northern Territory, require defence establishments as our first line of defence. It may be felt that the Fill aircraft can fly so fast that it can safely be located at Amberley in Queensland whence it could reach the forward areas in a short time. It seems to me that it would be wiser to locate at least some Fills at the wonderful Darwin airport.
Schools, particularly trade schools, in the Northern Territory need attention. The Bill dealt with by the Senate immediately before this Bill and that to be dealt with immediately after it relate to Commonwealth allocations of finance. J hope that a survey is made of what is required in this very important area of education and that attention is drawn to the fact that trade schools are essential in an area such as the Northern Territory. I am aware that the Commonwealth Government has placed some emphasis on the development of such schools in one or two areas.
I wish now to comment on the position of Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. This subject is important. This will be appreciated by honourable senators who have noticed the presence in and around Parliament House today of university students who have taken part in the Aboriginals land rights march. The considerations that they have raised which are sensible - and some are senseless - deserve to be noted. We have an obligation to the Aboriginals of Australia to see that they are adequately encouraged to develop their private interests. In my view their private interests donot extend to the granting of enormous areas of land so that they may become station owners. With due respect. I do not know where men are to be found who are capable of conducting large operations with the efficiency required by a large commercial undertaking.
I believe that consideration should be given to granting areas of land for industries such as fishing, forestry, and market gardening to supply vegetables for the metropolitan areas. Where mining can be developed, rights should be granted and preference given to the Aboriginals of the area. In some aspects of farming I believe that the 20,000 Aboriginals who represent onethird of the population of the Territory certainly should be given consideration. Our Aboriginals have many other requirements. I congratulate the people in the community who draw attention to this very important matter at present.
I wish to say a few words about the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). 1 believe all members of this Parliament would agree that there has been no more colourful member of the House of Representatives than Mr Calder. He has resided in the electorate ne represents for more than 30 years. If ever a man has had the background required to represent the Territory, gained through working in all the areas essential to that background of knowledge, it is he. Mr Calder has worked as a labourer and slock man. He has been a station owner and an overseer on the very large Brunette Downs Station and the King Ranch. He has owned several stations and is familiar with the running of them. I am advised that he has had business interests through which he has gained first hand knowledge of the economic needs’ of the business community in the areas which are developing so rapidly in Alice Springs and Darwin.
– He is a qualified pilot.
– Yes. he is. He has flown all over the Northern Territory.
– Is he coming up for reelection?
– Not in the immediate future, but I do not doubt that many former supporters of the Labor Party will vote for him whenthe time comes. Senator O’Byrne made one or two comments about the Territory. He said that for years it had been slumbering along. He may not have meant to do so, but he put in a very poor light the people who have represented the Territory previously. Perhaps it would be agreed that it had been slumbering along, but today there is a feeling in the breast of every member of this Parliament that the Northern Territory is destined for great things. We in this Federal Parliament hope that this Bill, when it is passed today, as I am certain it will be, will lead to the greater development of the Territory and its better representation in this Parliament.
– I congratulate the people responsible for extending full voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory. The Government desires that the Territory move to statehood as soon as is reasonably possible. It docs not want control from Canberra forever, as has been suggested by some members of the Opposition in another place. As a first step it has agreed to give full voting rights and responsibilities - I emphasise the responsibilities - to the member for the Northern Territory. In the long run, as the Territory develops into a Stale, this must bring Senate representation. The member for the Territory, whoever he may be - 1 hope he will be Mr Calder for a long while to come - must be able to speak, vote and accept responsibility on many matters affecting that part of our great Commonwealth. It is one part of Australia, one electorate, in which we will not have redistribution problems, despite all that has been said about the value of a vote and other things. The boundaries are fixed and look like being fixed indefinitely.
I have been to the Northern Territory quite often in the last few years. One cannot help being impressed by the fast rate of growth there. The member for the Territory, who now will have full voting rights, has to talk, work and represent the people on many projects. A point that impresses people when they go to the Territory is the number of young people who come from the southern States to obtain jobs and to get a bit of money together quickly, so they think. Many young people say: ‘We came here to do a stretch. We thought we would be here for about 2 years; that we would accumulate a bit of money and then go back south.’ But that stretch has become a real Kathleen Mavourneen. It seems that these young people are there for the duration now. They are so impressed with the Territory and have so much faith in its future thai they are prepared to make it their home, apparently, for the rest of their lives.
Something that impresses me about the Territory is the amount of mining that is going on there. Mining is easily the No. I source of income for the Territory. At Tennant Creek (here are big mines of various kinds, and more and more are being developed. Not many weeks ago I was able to see a mine about 30 miles out of Tennant Creek being put down to a very great depth and having a very large sum of money spent on its development. On Groote Eylandt manganese ore is being mined. At Gove bauxite is being mined. I have looked over Rum Jungle, where the mine is still working and producing uranium. I am impressed by the amount of iron ore being produced from two mines and exported from Darwin. The export of this iron ore has made it necessary to recondition about 90 miles of the railway. The Territory is very rich in minerals, lt looks like developin” more in that field than in others.
Tourism is the No. 2 income earner for the Territory. Darwin is the gateway for passengers from the north. Alice Springs and Ayers Rock seem to have captured the imagination of many overseas tourists, particularly those from the United States of America. Ayers Rock in particular is a very big attraction and a big income earner for the Territory. The pastoral industry, which was the main source of income for years, is now only the No. 3 income earner. In the north prawning and other types of fishing are developing in the same way as in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef areas. A new industry that people in the Northern Territory arc endeavouring lo build up is the wood chip industry. Practically all paris of the trees which grow on the seafront - except for the leaves and the twigs - which otherwise would be useless, are finding or will find a ready sale overseas. This industry could provide much local employment.
The member for the Northern Territory, with his new responsibilities, will’ have to talk, vote and represent the people on many other matters. Communications have been mentioned. I believe that the growth rate of the Territory has outstripped the communications. The road lo Adelaide must surely be sealed in the not too distant future. There are problems in that respect because all of the road, except for about ISO miles, is in South Australia. The railway to Adelaide has been flooded, lt will have to be moved to higher ground and converted to the standard gauge right into Alice Springs. Much development is required in Darwin to handle exports and imports. Exports, particularly of iron ore, are increasing. It is hoped that large quantities of grain sorghum will be exported. The air services are very good, particularly to the southern parts of Australia. Connellan Airways Ltd provides an excellent internal service.
One problem which is very acute and which must be solved is that a shortage of surveyors is holding up the subdivision of land and closer settlement, particularly in the wetter northern parts. I found this problem at many places to which I went. People were wanting land, but the Administration could not get it subdivided quickly enough because of a shortage of surveyors. On my recent visit I was very impressed with the development of the meat works al Katherine and Darwin, but particularly at Katherine. The meat works there are now almost competitive as to price with those in Queensland and Adelaide. The cattle growers in that area are doing very well. They have the help of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in the development of pasture species and in the general development of the whole area around Katherine. There is a very big experimental farm of about 6,000 acres, where the scientists are endeavouring to show what can be done.
On Tipperary station the first crop of sorghum is just coming to fruition. I have been told that the area under sorghum this year is expected to be about 12,000 acres and that it will be increased to a maximum of about 190,000 acres. At that stage it is proposed to subdivide the area and to sell it to smaller growers for closer settlement. There will be a new concept of living in that nobody will live on his own farm. All the farmers will live in a community centre and commute to work. It will be interesting to see whether this scheme can be made to work in that part of Australia. 1 agree with the honourable senator who said that higher education must come to the Northern Territory. I believe that ultimately there must be a university college in Darwin. I was impressed by some of the work being done for Aboriginals in the Territory, particularly around Alice Springs where a school has been erected which specialises in the education of Aboriginal children, and where facilities for the medical care of Aboriginal mothers and their children have been provided. That is a worthwhile project.
The Northern Territory does suffer from certain disabilities. There is a high freight component in the cost of many of the commodities used there and, of course, there are too few people in that part of Australia which is nearest to our foreign neighbours. We need many more people there. It has been stated that there is a population of 60,000 but that is not nearly enough. I believe that the population will increase but the Government must do more to increase the present rate of development.
There is no local government activity in the Northern Territory and it is strange to travel the area without seeing the shire councils and local government authorities that we know so well in other parts of Australia. Darwin has a city council which operates on much the same lines as do similar bodies in Australia. Alice Springs has been offered a town council on what, to my mind, are very good terms. As yet the local people have not decided whether to accept a council for Alice Springs but I believe that Alice Springs, and Tennant Creek and Katherine as well, eventually must have town councils.
I commend this Bill to the Senate. I believe the Territory has a bright future and that the honourable members for the Northern Territory in the future, whoever they may be, will have to work hard to ensure the development of their electorates and to increase the rate of progress that is in evidence at present. Measures such as the one before us must play their part in making the Territory a better and richer place for all, and make the Territorians feel that they are Australians and not outsiders living far away from Canberra, Melbourne. Sydney and the other State capitals.
– in reply - I have listened with a great deal of interest to the debate on this Bill and I am very pleased that the Opposition is not opposing it. Some very interesting topics were raised. The debate wandered rather wide of the original intention of the Bill, which relates to the representation of the Northern Territory and seeks to give the honourable member for the Northern Territory in another place full voting rights. To date the honourable member for the Northern Territory has been permitted to vote only on matters relating solely to the Northern Territory. When this Bill is passed he will have the same voting rights as any other honourable member in another place. I was interested to hear that there are now only about 18,000 voters in the Territory, including Aboriginals and white people. When this Bill is passed those 18,000 voters will have the same representation and voice in the Parliament as do the 100,000 or more voters in certain electorates in the more populated areas of Australia. That indicates the attention that the Government has given to the Northern Territory, that far flung area of the Commonwealth.
It is true to say that under the present Government there has been rapid development of the area, particularly in latter years. That development has taken shape on the lines planned by the Commonwealth and as a result of concessions granted by the Commonwealth to people and organisations endeavouring to open up the northern part of Australia. This development might not have taken place if other governments had been in office.
– Does the Minister expect that to happen?
– We expect development lo take place when concessions are granted, and development has taken place because concessions have been granted. I mention only the great help and encouragement that the Commonwealth gives, by means of taxation concessions, to companies and/or prospectors searching for minerals in the area. Senator O’Byrne said that we were cramming the Aboriginals into a continually decreasing area of the Territory. I should like the honourable senator to know that the Aboriginals control in excess of 95,000 square miles out of total area of 500,000 square miles in the Northern Territory. Only about 1 76 million acres have been alienated. Senator Webster raised some interesting points. He congratulated the Territorians on having such an able representative in the Parliament.
– Quite so.
– 1 agree, and I certainly hope that Mr Calder will continue to look after the area for a long time. The honourable senator also referred to section 8 of the principal Act which provides that the election of a member representing the Northern Territory shall be held, as nearly as practicable, at the same time as a general election for each member of the House of Representatives and on any other occasion on which the place of the member representing the Northern Territory becomes vacant. Senator Webster asked me to explain the meaning of that section and to tell him why it was not being repealed by the legislation before us. I have been advised by my officers that, in practice, over recent years the election of the member representing the Northern Territory has been held at the same time as the election of other members of the House of Representatives. The section is mainly historical. The election must take place between the date on which the writ is issued and the dale on which the writ must be returned.
In earlier years the wet season could have presented travel difficulties, necessitating an extension of the time for return of the writ.
– Does the Minister think that it is sound to allow that section to remain in the legislation?
– 1 shall not comment on that aspect. The honourable senator asked me to reply to a question and 1 have replied. I will not state the reasons for that reply. Senator Webster also referred to the roads in the Northern Territory and said that large gullies of water run along the roads constructed by the Department of Works. It must be realised that some of those areas are subject to flood and that sometimes rain in excess of 8 and 9 inches falls overnight. We have a plan for the development of roads in the Northern Territory. A sum of $3m is to be allocated to this work. Up to 28th February, $2.1 57m of this amount had been spent.
Honourable senators have suggested that the Government should do more for the Aboriginals. I should like honourable senators on both sides of the chamber to know that in 1962 we passed legislation giving those Aboriginals who desired it, an opportunity to enroll. We also provided that, having enrolled as electors, it became necessary for them to vote at elections. Similar legislation was passed in the States. Aboriginals who enroll have also the right to go further and stand for election to local government bodies and other bodies.
I think it was Senator O’Byrne who suggested that we ought to take more notice of and give more power to the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. I remind the honourable senator that in the Legislative Council there are at the moment 8 elected members, 3 appointed non-official members and 6 official members. Therefore, if the elected members and the nonofficial members combine, they may on any particular matter outvote the official members appointed by the Governor-General.
– Are not those nonofficial members also appointed? Are not 9 appointed?
– There are 8 elected members, 3 appointed non-official members and 6 official members. If the non-official members join with the elected members, they have a majority. In some cases they do join with the elected members. So they have the opportunity now to vote against the official members appointed by the Government if they wish to do so.
Senator Lawrie advocated the rerouting of the railway line from Adelaide to avoid delays duc to flooding and to provide a more continuous rail service to the north. He also referred to the problem of transporting ore from Frances Creek and the need for the development of port facilities at Darwin. These matters are receiving attention. A survey of the port facilities at Darwin is being carried out at the present time. The volume of exports passing through Darwin is increasing each year and, as Senator Lawrie knows, only yesterday, because of the growing importance of the area, I introduced into the Senate a Bill to provide for the establishment of a Collectorate of Customs at Darwin. Darwin, therefore, will be in the same position as any other place at which a Collectorate of Customs is established.
I thank honourable senators for the interesting points of view that have been raised here this afternoon. I hope that the Bill has a speedy passage through Committee and that it becomes law shortly afterwards in order with the least possible delay to give the member for the Northern Territory the same voting rights as are enjoyed by every other member of the House of Representatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
DEFENCE (RE-ESTABLISHMENT) I BILL 1968
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 759). on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
– Although this is a short Bill, it does three very important things, ft deals with amendments to the Defence (Re-establishment) Act under which servicemen have certain rights after being discharged from the Services. lt has particular reference to the right of a discharged serviceman to reengagement in his former employment, it improves conditions for former casual employees in civil1 employment and it deals with compensation payable to an employee where the employer contravenes the civil employment provisions of the Act.
The first proposal in the Bill is to extend the period of national service by 3 months to 2 years and 3 months in certain cases. Whilst the reason for this has not been made clear, the Minister has said “hat this arbitrary period fits the practical situation where a serviceman wants to remain in the Services. A serviceman may want to remain in Vietnam a little longer in order to enjoy the benefits available under the war service homes legislation. This necessitates a period of service of 2 years and 3 months. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) pointed out that the Minister in another place had staled that the period coul’d be longer. He mentioned, for example, the former employee of a large factory. He stated that where no objection was raised by the employer the period could be extended to ensure that the continuity rights of the servicemen were safeguarded. lt. could happen that at some later stage it might be necessary to extend the period to something even beyond 2 years and 3 months.
The Opposition does not propose to oppose the legislation. We strongly support this particular form of legislation which seeks to protect servicemen in finding their way back into their former civilian employment. We want to see them given every possible guarantee of reinstatement without any loss in either pay or status because of their service in the defence forces. Indeed, because of their service, many of these young people could become more efficient employees. We agree to the proposal although I do suggest to the Minister that at some future time it might be necessary for the Department of Labour and National Service to consider extending the period even further in the interests of servicemen where to do this would cause no great hardship to the civilian employer. J understand that the attitude the Minister takes is that the present proposed extension of 3 months is adequate for the present.
The second proposal in the Bil) is also a good one. It relates to casual workers. Hitherto, men who previously were casual employees were not provided for. The Bill proposes the setting up of a register upon which will be noted the names of casual employees as they are taken into the Services and thereafter, casual employees will be in a position equivalent to that occupied by others engaged in particular jobs at the time of enlistment. We therefore see no objection to the proposal, lt is a good one. It is difficult for casual workers to establish their right to re-employment, and it seems to me that the proposed amendment does exactly that.
A third amendment is proposed to alter the existing Act. The right exists under the present Act for a court order to be made for fines to be imposed upon an employer for failure to abide by the provisions of sections 9, 10, 12 and 14 of the Act. The existing provision allows these fines to be allocated to the ex-serviceman concerned. This provision has been taken out. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) has stated that the reason for this change is that as there is power for the court to compensate the ex-serviceman concerned no reason exists why the fine should nol revert to the Crown. Again, we do not object to the amendment proposed.
Mr Deputy President, while these proposed amendments will clearly alter existing provisions to the benefit of ex-servicemen and those who are to be discharged, I wish to draw to the attention of the Minister a situation which apparently exists now but which is not covered by legislation. This is a matter which might be considered by the Minister’s departmental officers to determine whether legislation should be introduced to meet these circumstances. I refer lo the situation where young people are refused employment or cannot secure employment just prior to being called up for national service training, lt is argued that some employers will not engage them because upon their discharge they would be entitled to these re-establishment rights to which the Bill relates. 1 wish to refer in this context to a statement made in the annual report of the Service to Youth Council, Incorporated which is a pretty important social body in South Australia. At page 7 of the report for 1965-66, the directors of this body - a most reputable group - had this to say.
Inevitably in the field of social work certain trends imprint themselves on the minds of workers dealing with people under stress. Several trends that have been noticed during the year by SYC staff are worthy of some notation. One matter that has frequently arisen is in the area of employment where there appears to be difficulties in relation to obtaining employment for young people who are nearly 20 years of age and who employers, apparently, are unwilling to consider employing in case they are shortly drafted for national service in which instance the employer becomes obligated to re-employ them on discharge under the terms of the National Service Act.
In the Act now under discussion certain obligations are placed on employers. Fines can be imposed on employers. I merely bring to the attention of the Minister this report. I hope that he will ask officers of his Department to examine this matter and determine whether this state of affairs has grown since the report from which I quoted was presented. If this is found to be the case some need may exist for legislation covering the matter. With those few comments, I reiterate that we do not intend to oppose the proposed amendments.
– in reply - Mr Deputy President, I am pleased to know that the Australian Labor Party has given its approval to this Bill which, as Senator Bishop has said, provides re-establishment rights to people who extend their service beyond the normal period of 2 years lor national service, apparently - some say - for the purpose of giving themselves reestablishment rights but I say in respect of many cases so that they will have the satisfaction of serving overseas in the tradition of their forefathers. I am pleased also that we have approval to accommodate the casually listed persons, of whom waterside workers are a special example, as persons employed for re-establishment rights.
With regard to the variation that the Bill makes concerning the allocation of fines imposed upon an employer, I am pleased, too, that no objection is expressed with regard to the proposed amendment, based as it is. I think, upon the very logical principle that if compensation is provided that is the full content of the compensation and the existence of a fine that may be devoted to the serviceman also might confuse the whole issue of compensation and induce a court to rely upon that fine as compensation whereas compensation should be in truly adequate measure. Those remarks are in recapitulation of the provisions of the Bill to which Senator Bishop referred.
I would not have risen but for the other matter to which the honourable senator has made reference. He has called our attention to the fact that in some instances employers evince a reluctance to take into their employment youths who may become liable for national service. I wish to inform the honourable senator and the Senate that some instances of this practice have come to the attention of the Department of Labour and National Service. Consideration has been given to the matter at the highest level. I want to inform the Senate that although we are not quite satisfied with the fact that instances of this sort do occur, legislative provision is not being suggested at the present time. But I can offer some reassurance to honourable senators. In other instances where this practice has occurred the Department of Labour and National Service has been able to arrange alternative employment for the person concerned. I thank honourable senators for supporting 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 2 May (vide page 758), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill b: now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy President, before speaking to the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill 1968, I wish to congratulate the former Minister for the Army in another place (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on his appointment as Minister for Education and Science. I have had the pleasure of serving with the Minister for some time on the Council of the Australian National University. I know that in the new Minister for Education and Science we have a man who is dedicated to his task. I think that we have evidence of this fact in the papers that were placed before us last week with the presentation of this and other Bills. These most detailed statements show what grants have been given to the various States and even to the various schools. This detailed information has enabled us to understand much more readily the pro visions of the measure now before the Senate. So, I wish to thank the Minister on that account.
Whenever a Bill which provides for a greater measure of Commonwealth assistance in the field of education comes before the Senate, all of us, naturally, are very pleased. I can remember that, many years ago now, the only people in the community who received any assistance from the Commonwealth in the realm of education were pre-school children, who were helped through the Lady Gowrie child welfare centres, and ex-servicemen, who were helped under the rehabilitation scheme. Then the Government entered the field of university education. At that time, in the mid- 1940s, the proportion of school children who matriculated and went on to university was in the vicinity of only 2% to 3%. The proportion has increased considerably over the years. But that was the only section in the education field in which, according to the Government, the Commonwealth was able to take any part.
When the Commonwealth Government decided to establish the Australian National University in Canberra there was a great deal of opposition to the proposal. It was felt that the Commonwealth was thereby interfering in the functions of the States and that it was not within the ambit of its powers to establish the University. There was a great deal of discussion about the proposal and it met a lot of opposition before it was finally accepted. Previously in the Senate I have referred to the fact that some honourable senators who if they were still here, would be on the Government side of the chamber, stated that the establishment of the Australian National University would only mean the building of a few wooden huts in a cow paddock. How surprised they would be if they could see the magnificent buildings that have been erected for the Australian National University in Canberra. More particularly, how surprised they would be at the very high status which the University has achieved, particularly in the fields of science and research.
It is useless for universities to spend a great deal of their time and money on training science teachers if they do not have the proper facilities, in the universities, for science teaching or they do not have a sufficient number of students to train. We have gone wildly ahead with the building of science laboratories in secondary schools. But we have not taken the next step forward which, I think, is a vital one; that is, we have not given the same impetus to the training of science teachers for the schools. It is no use having science laboratories and equipment if there are no teachers to train children in the laboratories. At a seminar held in Canberra only last week it was stated that there was a deficiency in the number of science teachers in Australia today. I should like the Minister to look at this aspect of the training of teachers in the science field as well as in other fields.
I think that we, as the Commonwealth Parliament, are taking too narrow a view of our responsibilities in education. I have stated this point before and I have been supported by other honourable senators. It is particularly important that I should stress it tonight, because we happen to be right in the middle of Library Week in Australia. Every newspaper this week has carried headlines referring to the lack of library facilities in Australia. Nowhere is this lack of library facilities more evident than in our schools. I remember that when I was a teacher, which was quite a long time ago, the only way in which I could get books for the library was to make cocoa for the children and sell it to them for Id per cup. I would do that during the winter months, and at the end of winter I might have made a few pounds which I could spend on purchasing library books. I do not think that the position has improved a great deal since those dark days.
We also find that there is a great disparity in the types of buildings that are being erected today. The problems of education are such that nothing less than a parliamentary inquiry into education at all levels - primary, secondary and tertiary - will meet public demands for a better educational system. Some people may say that inquiries do not do a great deal of good. But inquiries do a great deal of good if they are backed by public opinion. A society cannot call itself a democracy unless it is an educated society. It cannot call itself a democracy unless it gives alt of its citizens the chance to enjoy the best educational facilities available. I can speak on this matter with great sincerity, because, for some years I taught in a State school. 1 attended as a pupil what is called an independent school, lt was not very flash. It charged 6d per child per week, but because there were three children in my family attending the school at the same time, the charge was 4d for each of us. Despite the fact that it did not cost my family a great deal of money to send us to the school, the education was of a very high standard.
So I know what happens in both State schools and independent schools. I know of the work that is performed in both types of schools by people who must be dedicated to the job. You cannot be a good teacher unless you like the job you are doing. Over many years I have seen the sacrifices that teachers have had to make in order to give their pupils the best teaching. They do not do this for themselves. They do it for the sake of the children, in order to give them a better chance in life. The children who take a science course and probably go on to university are generally those who are better mentally equipped. A great number of the children in our schools will receive nothing from this large expenditure of money by the Commonwealth Government. I refer to those who are physically or mentally handicapped. The Government docs not provide anything for them. It does not provide assistance to train teachers to help these children overcome their handicap. I appeal to the Minister to have some regard to children who are mentally or physically handicapped, who are blind, deaf or dumb, and to give them something so that they, too, can get the very best out of life through education. I should like to see something done in this regard in the next few years. I will not be here to see it, but other honourable senators will. I should like to see the Government make money available for the training of teachers to help children who are mentally or physically afflicted.
I used to teach children who were supposed to be a bit backward. I do not know whether they were backward or whether I was backward, but we got on very well together. The first thing I had to do was to try to provide some decent surroundings for them. The provision of science laboratories has made it necessary to build a very high standard of building to house the laboratories and the scientific equipment. Tn the days about which I am speaking there were no buildings of that type. When you saw the most dilapidated building in town, and the one that needed a coat of paint, you knew that it was the local State school. I was given an old pavilion room in which to try to carry out an experiment with some children who were supposed to be mentally backward. For those who do not know much about pavilion rooms, I point out that it was an outside room with canvas shutters. The room had not had a coat, of paint since it was constructed in the early 1900s. When I applied for some paint for the classroom I was told that there was no money, so I could not get it. painted. I asked the Department of Education whether we could set to and paint the room if 1 could get: the paint. You can imagine the joy in my class at the thought of painting the classroom. But the Department held up its hands in holy horror and said: ‘Good heavens, no, you cannot do that’. This is beside the point, but it illustrates the conditions under which some teachers work. I appealed to the children, I asked them whether they could bring along some paint from home. I was shocked at the variety of paint which the children brought the next day. If I had gone on with the job and painted the classroom with it there would have been so many colours that it would have resembled Joseph’s coat. The only paint that was brought in any quantity was a large tin of bright red paint. With my political beliefs it would have been absolute disaster to start splashing red paint about in the classrooms. 1 put a little red edge around the blackboard, painted a few flower pots and stones in a rockery outside the door and put the red paint away. The sequel came a couple of weeks later when the little girl came to me and said: ‘Hey Miss, do you want any more red paint?’ Miss, having put seven-eighths of it out of sight, said: ‘No thank you, dear, we have hardly used any yet’. She said: ‘Well Miss, Dad said if you do, just tip him the wink because he works for the PMG and they haven’t missed it yet’. Every time I pass the school I wonder whether my ill-gotten paint is still adorning the walls. Both the Postmaster-General of the day and the donor of the paint have gone to their reward, so T do not mind telling the story now.
That was typical of the makeshift way in which we had to cope with educational problems. When 1 came to Canberra I became quite envious of the beautiful schools which the Commonwealth Government had erected in this Territory. Every time I look at the schools in Canberra I remember the types of school in which I. taught and in many of which my colleagues are still teaching, because for years the education portfolio was regarded by most State governments as being a Cinderella. It was generally affixed to something else and was not a portfolio on its own. lt was just something that had to be done. Somebody had to do it and it was given either to the person who was the best natured or to one who was not game to answer back, lt was difficult to get people interested in education. But the wheel has turned full circle. Now governments realise that one of their chief functions is to assist in education programmes. This applies also to the Commonwealth Government.
But just catering for science does not fill the bill as a whole. As 1 said earlier, not all students who go through our secondary schools are able to take a science course. I never did any science and I. pay tribute to those who can do it. Quite a number do not undertake a science course. It <s not the be-all and end-all of existence. Statistics of entrants to universities for the last 12 months are rather enlightening in ,hiS respect. The universities are now complaining that more students are enrolling in the humanities than in the scientific faculties. I was rather surprised to read this because over the last few years so much assistance has been given to students in secondary schools in the way of scientific education that I thought this would be reflected in university enrolments.
What is missing in schools mostly, I think, is a decent library. I was pleased today when Senator Turnbull once again raised the question that 1 have raised here several times with regard to the provision of libraries for secondary schools and for other schools, too. One item that I was pleased to read in the report in regard to my own State was the amount of money being given to the little schools out in country districts. Some people are complaining about the amount of money that is going to independent schools, saying that they are wealthy and can look after themselves, that they provide for students who are privileged and so on. This is a very, very stupid attitude because many of these independent schools are not wealthy and do not cater for the wealthy sections of the community. In my own State there are about six or seven little country schools that are struggling along and have struggled for years. They have been given grants under this legislation and have erected for the first time science laboratories enabling children in those outback districts to get an education in science.
– I can count on you for support of my Bill.
– I do not know yet what the honourable senator’s Bill will contain. 1 know that the Sisters of St Joseph in my own State and throughout Australia are constructing these very small schools ind have been fighting an uphill battle for nearly a century. I am glad that they are now getting some help.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the grants to be made under this Act to various schools throughout the Commonwealth and complimenting the Minister for Science and Education on the fact that so many of the grants were to be made to small country schools which up to the present time had been outside the ambit of any Commonwealth legislation. I am pleased to note the extent of assistance given in the field of science education since 1964. Between 1964 and 1968 nearly $40m has been allocated to Stale and independent schools throughout the Commonwealth. The amount covered under the legislation we arc discussing is over $37m. From the inception of this scheme until the end of this triennium nearly $80m will have been allocated for the building of science laboratories.
We of the Opposition heartily agree with this. But. as I said earlier we disagree with the limitation on federal aid to education. We feel that this aid should go beyond the science Held into other branches of education which are no less important and which would cover so many more students in our schools. Why is there not some help given for home science? This is a very important subject. 1 know some girls who are bachelors of science but: who cannot cook an egg. In the future it will be much more important for them to know how to cook an egg and to run a home properly than to know all about scientific data, the exploration of outer space, and so on.
– What are their mothers doing?
– Looking alter their fathers. Mothers are pretty busy these days too. Commonwealth assistance to education is very lopsided because it stops short at science. Also, while this money is being used to erect fine scientific laboratories and to equip them with the best equipment, they are not being staffed with the best teachers. The Commonwealth Government is not making any provision in its legislation Ibr the training of science teachers or. in fact, for the training of teachers generally. 1 want to refer to one field of education which is very necessary and which does affect an important section of the community - that is, the education of the physically and mentally handicapped child. I may be wrong- - and I speak subject to correction by the Minister - but lo my knowledge there is no training college or teachers college in Australia catering especially for teachers of handicapped children such as blind children, deaf children and so on. I think people who take up this work simply learn as they go. They arc making a very good job of it but they could do much more if there was more scientific training in this field. I appeal :o the Minister to see. when the whole question of education comes up for discussion, whether something can be done, to assisi in the training of teachers in general but. if this is beyond the compass of the Government, at least in the training of physically handicapped and mentally handicapped children.
Some people say that many children cannot be educated. These handicapped children may not be capable of absorbing education up to the university standard but how many people in the community have reached university standard? If we are to judge by some of the things involving universities that have happened lately it would not take much to educate these handicapped children to that standard anyhow. Speaking academically. I say that many handicapped children will never be university students but they are human beings and it is up to us to give them the opportunity to develop what capabilities they have. 1 know what backward children can do when there is someone to guide them.
It is not merely a matter of examination results. I think we in Australia have become slaves to the examination system. Everything works on examination results. This system is all right in business and we must have examinations. But in the field of education we cannot deal with results in exactly the same way because there is no one yardstick for all fields of education.
The whole field of education is a very big one for the States to tackle alone, except for the assistance they get from the Commonwealth in the provision of science laboratories. It has become much more difficult because of this Government’s policy. The States have felt the effect of the increase in migration over the last 20 years, and various problems have arisen with the development of outback areas. These developments arc most striking in some States. For instance, in my own State of Western Australia, which embraces onethird of the Australian continent, although we do not have a very big population it is impossible to carry out an effective educational policy, social service policy, development policy and so on from our own resources. That is why Western Australia has to come to the Australian Loan Council for financial help for so much of its development. The number of children progressing to high school has increased beyond what one could have imagined 10 or .15 years ago. In Western Australia and in other States it is difficult to keep pace with this growth in the school population and to give every child a fair go. 1 do not mean that Western Australia is going to educate all its children to be scientists. As 1 said earlier we want our children to develop to the best of their ability the various technical skills they have.
Australia is on the perimeter of a circle which includes such industrial nations as the United States of America and Japan and we have to compete with them in the industrial field, ft is just as important to be good at other jobs, whatever they are, as it is to be a good scientist. Therefore this other aspect of education has to be considered. I know that the Commonwealth has shown an interest in institutes of technology and so on. But the whole field of education is being dealt with piecemeal. There is a bit being done in one direction and a lot in another, but the Commonwealth is doing nothing in the realm of primary education. When an urgent necessity crops up in one field of education something is done but there is no concerted plan for the entire educational system. While education is being dealt with piecemeal there will be a lot of waste. That is why we on the Opposition side think it is time that all problems in the field of education were looked at by the Commonwealth Government and the Commonwealth Parliament in order to see how we can do the most to help the entire programme. I am not decrying for one moment the fact that the Commonwealth will have spent $80m on science laboratories by the end of 1971. What I am saying is that there are other aspects of education which demand attention and which form part of the whole pattern. We must ascertain the needs.
I have with me a copy of the ‘Teachers Journal’ from Western Australia which deals, to a great extent, with the needs of housing for country teachers. This is a vital problem in Western Australia. We cannot expect young teachers to go to our country areas unless decent accommodation is available for them. Other State departments provide adequate housing for their employees but not the Education Department. Teachers who go to our country areas do a mighty job for education. I think we in this Parliament have started the wrong way round. I am not much of a- tradesman. I am not a carpenter but if I tried to build a house I would commence with the foundations and build upward from them. We are trying to put the roof on first, before we have anything on which to put it. We are putting the lid on the educational world by giving aid to universities and providing science laboratories without having laid the proper foundations. We are missing out on the bigger section of the school population, in the primary schools.
– Is not that a matter for the State governments?
– It is, but the State governments are doing the best they can while not being in control of the purse strings.
– The training of teachers is essential.
– I have mentioned that. Teachers must be trained before a service can be given at all in the primary schools. That is now a State responsibility and will remain so, but finance must be supplied by the Commonwealth Government. Once proper and adequate teacher training is established quite a lot of the other difficulties and problems associated with education will disappear. In Western Australia for some years a second teachers training college has operated in old, disused Army huts. I refer to Graylands Teachers College. For years it has been turning out fine types of young teachers who have been trained in makeshift buildings. Very good attempts have been made to beautify the surroundings of the College. Graylands is not regarded as the main teachers college in the west but its trainees have developed a high sense of responsibility to their profession. They have accomplished much in inadequate surroundings. At present a teachers training college is being erected near the university in order to train teachers for secondary schools, lt will be a very fine college but 1 am sure that its students will not enjoy their training as much as 1 enjoyed mine in a residential college.
Another aspect of education which raises problems is the accommodation of students who must live away from home during their period of schooling in State and other schools. For students whose parents can afford to send them to residential colleges there is no difficulty. For other country students who attend teacher training schools in cities the Western Australian Government provides a fairly good allowance. The Western Australian Government in this respect is doing an excellent job with the minimum funds at its command. However, students in training must find accommodation anywhere they can in the vicinity of the training colleges. Quite often they are victimised by landladies who insist upon their pound of flesh from the students. They do not have proper facilities for study. At Graylands Teachers College there is very little provision for private study.
The period of 12 months that I spent in residence at a teachers training college was just about the happiest and most fruitful time of my life. Teachers during their training days are meeting other people and obtaining co-operation in various areas. At a residential college they are able to study in a good atmosphere, if they are prepared to study. On the whole, they get as much advantage from the experience of giving and taking in the college itself as they gain in the lecture rooms. More should be done to provide residential training colleges for student teachers, particularly those who come from country areas.
We do not oppose this legislation but we would like to improve it. For instance, we would like to see money provided for school libraries. All honourable senators will be aware that this is library week. The Press has carried reports of the shortage of libraries throughout communities. That shortage can be increased by 100% to reach the extent of the lack of libraries in schools. Language laboratories are needed. In Australia we are rather lazy about languages. Because we have felt we are remote from the other centres of the world we have thought that as we speak English, everybody else should. 1 have been a victim of that pitfall.
I thought I knew a little about a couple of languages, but I found that the languages I had learned were not the languages being spoken in the countries concerned. T once entered a shop in Yugoslavia to buy a tin of condensed milk. 1 know nothing of the Yugoslav language and the shop assistant knew no English. We had a battle of the signs. Finally 1 saw a vin showing on its outside a drawing of a cow, as 1 thought. I bought it and returned to my hotel where with the aid of a nail file - in the absence of a tin opener - and the heel of my shoe 1 managed to make two holes in the top of the tin. 1 tried to pour out the milk but nothing happened. I borrowed a pocket knife and opened the tin that I thought contained condensed milk. However, I found .1 was dealing with the wrong sex because f had bought a tin of corned beef instead of condensed milk.
Since that time I have had the greatest sympathy for people with language difficulties, and particularly for new Australians who are expected to know English as soon as they arrive. We have a need for language laboratories not only to educate our people who travel abroad. Our need of a knowledge of Asiatic languages is being more and more forcibly -brought to our notice because of the part Australia has to play in this area of the world. Asiatic languages should be included in the curricula of the schools, and the best way to accomplish that would be to provide language laboratories. The cost would not be great as they could be used in conjunction with school libraries and other facilities.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said last year that perhaps by the end of 1971 most schools needing science laboratories would be built and equipped. The need would remain only in respect of schools being constructed. Therefore the outlay of the Federal Government on science laboratories should not remain at its present level. 1 wish to know whether a plan has been made, similar to that used for the construction of science laboratories, for the provision of school libraries. They could be used by all children right from the time of their admission to primary schools. I will not be here to see that happen, but others will carry on the campaign I have waged in the Senate for greater recognition of the humanities of education. 1 do not for one moment decry the value of science teaching. I have always envied people who know anything about science, but I believe that a study of the humanities can teach one so much about life outside his usual sphere. It helps to broaden the mind. The provision of adequate reading facilities for children possibly could help in preventing the problems that at present confront many of our youth, and to which they have no solution.
The problems of education are meeting with greater realisation by the community as a whole. There is a public consciousness of the needs of education. I ask the Minister to consider the setting up of a committee, not necessarily of the Parliament - perhaps a committee along the lines of the Martin Committee or the Murray Committee - to deal with all facets of the problem of education and with the needs of the Australian community so that the Commonwealth Government might better carry out its duties in this important field. I believe that education is one of the most important social services that this Parliament can give to the nation.
– I was very interested in Senator Tangney’s remarks. I pay tribute to her for her great interest in and knowledge of all education matters. She has had a very long experience of educating young Australians. I was intrigued by her reference to her experiences at the teacher training college. May I say that I accept her offer to tell me about those experiences confidentially some time.
Whether she was or was not advocating Commonwealth control of education, she certainly covered a wide range of education needs. I hope that I am not doing her an injustice when I say that I believe she was advocating that the Commonwealth enter all of those fields. None of us denies the need for more advanced education in Australia. But I remind Senator Tangney that the cake is only so big and that it cannot be made very much bigger. There are always priorities on which a government must make decisions. It is only right that people who are interested in a particular field should regard their field - whether it be education, social services or something else - as the most important one and should exert all the pressure that they possibly can in advancing their cause. I say to Senator Tangney that, whilst what she says is true, a government’s responsibility is to decide on the size of the cake and that decision must be made in the light of what the economy and the taxpayers can afford to pay at any one time. If we impose too heavy a taxation load we’ will see a decline in the economy because we will destroy initiative and enterprise. So at any one time there is a limit to what any government can do or provide.
I suggest that this Commonwealth Government has nothing to be ashamed of in the field of education. Let me quote the latest figures on the direct Commonwealth contribution to education in Australia. In 1961-62 it was $54m. In 1966-67 it had risen to $143m. It is estimated that in 1967-68 it will be just under $194m. So in this financial year it has risen by no less than $50m. Senator Tangney mentioned the shortage of teachers, particularly science teachers, in Australia. She wanted to know what was being done about that shortage. As she and other honourable senators know, the Commonwealth Government is to provide in the next triennium $24m in unmatched grants to the States for the provision of teacher training colleges. In the State from which Senator Tangney and I come we can see the result of the provision of that money in a very fine teacher training college which is nearing completion. I also point out that teachers will be able to be trained in the new colleges of advanced education, particularly in the fields of science and technology. The Commonwealth Government is making a substantial contribution towards the establishment of these new colleges.
So I believe that within reason the problem of the shortage of teachers is being met, largely through the initiative of the Commonwealth Government. In reply to people who say that the Martin Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education recommended Commonwealth assistance for teacher training, 1 point out that that Committee recommended the provision of a sum of $5m a year, of which the Commonwealth was to contribute 50% and the Stales 50%, if my memory is correct. The Commonwealth has gone far beyond the recommendation of that Committee. It will make unmatched grants of $8m a year over the next 3 years for the provision of facilities for teacher training. The Commonwealth is also making a substantial grant to all States for technical education. In Western Australia, largely as a result of the provision of Commonwealth funds, a new technical college is being constructed at Fremantle. So I believe that the Commonwealth Government has nothing to be ashamed of in these fields.
We must remember that education has always been the tight preserve of the State governments. Many of the State governments still wish to maintain that preserve. It is easy to say that the Commonwealth has entered all of these fields and that it should enter others; but it cannot do that without paying regard to the attitude of the State governments. People speak of appointing a committee of the Parliament or of the Senate to inquire into education needs. I suggest that that is not the correct approach. I believe that the State governments are the ones who best understand the education needs of their own States. No matter what findings a Commonwealth committee brought forward, if the States did not agree wilh those findings the efforts of the committee would largely be wasted. The present system under which the States place before the Commonwealth education requirements remains the best way of handling this problem. 1 turn now to the Bill that we are discussing. lt seeks authority for the Government to continue until 1971 the system of grants for the construction and equipping of science laboratories in secondary schools. This scheme was introduced in 1964-65 by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. Since then $42,291,200 has been provided towards the upgrading of science teaching facilities in secondary schools. Of that sum, $28,951,200 has been made available to government schools, lt is interesting to note that 383 government high school’s have had completely new laboratories built under the scheme and that every government high school that teaches science has had additional equipment made available to it. Independent schools have received $13,340,000. By 30th June this year, 508 independent schools will have been assisted. So, more than 900 secondary schools have received assistance from the Commonwealth under this scheme.
The Bill proposes that in the next triennium, which will end on 30th June 1971, a further $37,721,400 will be made available. As Senator Tangney reminded us, that will make a total of $80m since 1964-65. That is no mean sum. Of the amount to be provided in the next triennium, $21,713,400 is for government schools and $16,008,000 is for independent schools. As honourable senators will recall, the late Prime Minister, Mr Holt, promised in his last policy speech that the amount for independent schools in the next triennium would be double that in the present triennium. So the amount of $16,008,000 represents the fulfilment of that promise. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), said in his second reading speech that the opportunity was being taken to revise the allocation of funds on the basis of population figures obtained from the 1966 census, both as between States and as between schools - that is, government schools and Roman Catholic and other independent schools. So the figures for the next triennium are on a basis that is right up to date.
As Senator Tangney reminded us, the Minister said that at the end of this triennium the needs of both government and independent schools for science laboratories and equipment would be largely met, and that for the further period assistance only on a reduced scale would be required to complete the scheme. That must be most satisfactory to all those interested in education in Australia. Following completion of the scheme in 1971 there will be a need to look at other areas of assistance. Having referred to that aspect, I shall leave it until later in my remarks.
The decision in 1964 was significant. It was the first time that the Commonwealth Government had moved into the field of secondary education which, as I remarked’ earlier, had always been regarded as the rather tight preserve of State governments. It was significant, too, because it recognised the high cost of the modern educational system and the importance of scientific and technological training in a modern society. I do not wish to introduce any discordant note into this debate and I digress for only a moment to say something about the attitude of the Opposition in another place. I do not believe there is much use in discussing past attitudes but it appeared to me that Dr Cairns, the honourable member for Yarra, questioned the funds being made available to independent schools and said that the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, pulled this scheme out of his hat. Dr Cairns expressed surprise that the provision of aid to independent schools had not been discussed in Liberal Party circles and that members of the Liberal Party, on hearing the proposal for the first time, threw up their hands and, lo and behold, like obedient boys, followed the Prime Minister.
Dr Cairns should make sure of his facts. I happen to know something about this matter. In 1963 I was chairman of the policy committee of the Liberal Party in Western Australia and can claim some credit for having steered the principle that the Commonwealth should give aid to independent schools. The matter was discussed and accepted in principle by the standing committee on policy, by the Federal committee of the Liberal Party and, in 1963-64, by the Federal Executive of the Liberal Parry. When Sir Robert Menzies introduced the scheme he was merely following the established policy of the Liberal Party which saw justice arid equity in providing aid for independent schools.
– And he did not have to follow that, either.
– That is right. It was not a direction. It. is interesting to note that when the legislation was introduced and the principle was put into practice by Sir Robert Menzies’ Government Mr Chamberlain, who is no mean power in the Labor Party, made a statement about it. He said:
The establishment by the Federal Government of science blocks and the provision of science facilities in private schools is quite obviously contrary to Federal party policy.
He was referring to Labor Party policy. At that time the Liberal Party had accepted the principle of aid to private schools but it was not part of Labor Party policy. However, I shall not go into the birth pangs of the acceptance of this principle by the Labor Party. There is strong justification for aid to private schools. It is ali very well to speak, as Dr Cairns did, of what he termed the wealthy private schools. 1 do not know of any wealthy private schools.
– When did he make that speech?
– Last week, during the debate on this Bill in the other place.
– Then the honourable senator is out of order.
– I am merely referring to it. We must not overlook the fact that aid of this kind is of great benefit to many small Roman Catholic schools which serve the less favoured areas. Without this assistance they could never provide these facilities. We must not forget also that the independent schools take a burden off the State education system. They provide the type of education that many families want and do an excellent job educating many thousands of our young people. I am concerned principally, not so much with the so-called wealthy schools, but with the independent schools which have not the funds to provide these expensive facilities.
In my time I have visited many such schools and, indeed, have had the pleasure of opening some of the science laboratories in them. I can only pay a great tribute to the work, not only of the Commonwealth Government but also of the standards organisation which helps to plan the science blocks. I have been most impressed by the initiative and enterprise of the young students making use of them and I never cease to be amazed at the knowledge of science that the young people of today have. The provision of these funds has had an indirect effect in assisting State governments because it certainly has relieved them of a financial burden and has enabled them to provide more resources to meet the educational needs of the children in their States.
There is great advantage in concentrating upon scientific training because if Australia, as a nation, is to continue to develop and expand it must provide adequate facilities for the training of our scientists and technologists. 1 know it is trite to say that we live in a scientific age, but indeed we do and there is a responsibility on our schools to develop the interests and talents of our young people in the fields of science and technology. In saying that, I am conscious of the need to provide also for the humanities. We do not want to turn out robots; we want to turn out young people with a broad education. Young people who are not interested in making a career in the sciences will find that a knowledge of science is broadening and most desirable in the complex society in which we live. The Commonwealth Government is assisting the schools of Australia, both government and independent, to meet the challenge of our age. Another factor - Senator Tangney referred to this also - is that the provision of science facilities in schools makes it much easier for students who intend to do so to enter this field in the Universities. Better training facilities in secondary schools turn out students much better equipped to enter universities and give them far greater chances of success than they had in the past.
Australia is a vast country with a small population. If we are to advance as a nation and meet the problems of high costs of production that arise in a country with a small population and a low volume of production, it is essential to provide the scientific and technological training that will enable us to overcome this handicap. It is all very well to complain about what other countries have been able to produce at a lower cost than we can, but many of those countries - Japan is a striking example - have laid great emphasis upon scientific and technological training, and today they are reaping the rewards of their concentration upon those fields. If we are to meet competition, from other countries in agriculture and in other fields, it is most essential for us to ensure that we have an adequate number of highly skilled scientists and technologists who are able to advise us and assist us to do so. This assistance by the Commonwealth and the concentration by the Commonwealth on the field of scientific training have, I believe, gone a long way towards enabling us to achieve this end.
I refer now briefly to some other areas of need to which reference was made by
Senator Tangney. I completely agree with what she said. The Commonwealth should now look at other fields of great need. I presume that the Government now has under active consideration the matter of libraries and language laboratories. We need people who are trained to use reference sources. I believe that school libraries assist in this training. They also inculcate in the young people of Australia a love of reading which, in its turn, leads to knowledge. Therefore I believe that libraries should have a high priority in any future planning by the Commonwealth Government. So also should language laboratories.
We live in an area where it is essential that we understand at least some of the languages of our neighbours for this leads to a better understanding and less misunderstanding of their problems. One of the greatest aids we can give to underdeveloped countries is the assistance of trained personnel in the fields of science and technology because their need is very great. Therefore an understanding by the young people of Australia who are trained in the fields of science and technology of the languages of these countries will help considerably in this work. I hope that in its planning to meet future needs the Commonwealth Government will give high priorities to the provision of school libraries and language laboratories. I believe it will.
I give the Bill my wholehearted support. I believe that the aid given so far by the Commonwealth in this field has been of great benefit to Australian education. I welcome the provision of assistance for a further triennium and, of course, I look forward to the day shortly after 1971 when all the secondary schools in Australia will have all the science laboratories and equipment they need. If this is achieved, then it will be thanks to the foresight of Sir Robert Menzies and his Government in 1964 who thought out this scheme which, I repeat, has proved of great benefit to Australia and from which I am confident that we shall reap even further benefit in the years that lie ahead.
– I wish to make only a few short comments on this Bill because the case on behalf of the Opposition has been put quite adequately by my colleague, Senator Tangney. As Senator Tangney was speaking, and, when the Minister for Works (Senator
Wright) was making his second-reading speech in this chamber last week, I could not help but compare the amount of money that is being deVoted by the Commonwealth to the establishment of science laboratories in all types of secondary schools throughout Australia with the great amount of money that is being spent on the purchase of FI 1 1 bombers and with the expenditure by the Commonwealth on the war in Vietnam to date. Nor could I help but think that if the expenditures were in reverse how much better off this nation, and indeed the world would be. Let me devote the few short remarks that I have to make to the subject covered by the Bill under discussion. First 1 wish to highlight some of the aspects which are causing anxiety and concern to a large section of the Australian people. I speak of those people whose children arc attending State schools which are drastically short of sufficient funds to meet the educational standards of the younger generation of Australians.
When we read the Ministers secondreading speech we learn that a sum of $42m will have been provided between 1st July 1964 and 30th June of this year for assistance in the provision of science facilities in all types of secondary schools. We also note that by the end of this financial year the sum of $28,951,000 will have been provided to Government secondary schools and that payments totalling some $27nt have already been made to them for the purpose under consideration. We note also that this $29m, in round figures, has been devoted to assisting 383 government high schools throughout Australia in the construction of science laboratories. Conversely, we find that some $13m has been provided to independent schools, to Roman Catholic and other denominational schools to help with the construction of science laboratories. All in all, of the total amount of money that has been made available to date by the Commonwealth for the establishment of science facilities, about one-third has been provided for the establishment of science facilities at independent schools.
On examining the annexures to the Minister’s second-reading speech we note the amounts of money that have been made available or are to be made available to independent schools other than Roman Catholic schools and when one sees the size of the amount that is being made available, one must call into question this aspect of Government policy. On perusing the figures relating to New South Wales, the State that I represent. I note for example that between 1964 and (he end of this financial year, Abbotsleigh School at Wahroonga will have received the sum of $106,000. When one realises that this is a school which charges students a high attendance fee, well outside the economics of ordinary people, one must really question this sort of expenditure.
– To what school did tha honourable senator refer?
– -To Abbotsleigh at Wahroonga, the first school on the list. The Minister will see that in 1964 this school received an amount of $4,484. In 1965-66 it received §48,000 and, according to the list of proposed allocations for this financial year, it is to receive the sunt of $54,700. 1 cite that one only as one illustration. One sees on going through the list of the various schools to benefit that substantial sums of money are being devoted by the Commonwealth to the ‘have’ section of the community whilst a great number of publicschools throughout New South Wales are drastically short of funds for libraries, assembly halls, class accommodation and so on. Let us face it. The schools to which I refer are Abbotsleigh at Wahroonga and others in the list provided by the Minister - the Greater Public Schools. These are the schools which, in the main, have their gymnasiums, their swimming pools, their tennis courts and their libraries. And, through taxation by way of this sort of legislation, people in very humble circumstances who are sending their children to State schools and doing all they possibly can to give them a fuller education see substantial sums of money of this nature going towards the erection of science laboratories at these wealthy independent schools.
If honourable senators look at the second reading speech of the Minister they will see that he states:
In relation to independent schools it has been decided that part of the total amount available will be used, in the first place, to meet the balance of the reasonable cost of science buildings already assisted and then to make grants to schools which have built science laboratories to plans approved by the Minister on the advice of the Standards Committee but for which they have not received any assistance. The other part will be available for allocation on the recommendations of State Advisory Committees for completely new projects at independent secondary schools.
I suggest that when the ordinary schools of the community are going short of necessary and adequate funds required for the proper education of the children of the more humble section of the community it is basically wrong that mothers clubs and parents and citizens associations should have to work day and night in order to provide reasonable amenities and facilities at those schools while this sort of grant is going to the wealthier sections of the Australian community.
Let me suggest to the Minister also that whilst it is all very well to be constructing science laboratories and buildings of that nature for educational purposes, I agree with Senator Tangney when she says that we should begin with the basic foundations. It is all very well to have buildings and facilities for the adequate training of children in science, but if properly qualified teachers or necessary teaching facilities are not available the expenditure is not very sensible at this stage. Therefore, I contend very strongly that, although a great deal of money is being devoted to establishing these buildings and making schools look more salubrious and pleasing in appearance, the fact remains that while there is a shortage of teachers generally and an insufficient number of teachers of suitable standard available to meet the educational needs of the younger generation something is sadly lacking in the present educational system.
In 1966, the very year before an additional educational year of secondary schooling was added to the New South Wales curriculum, the New South Wales Teachers Federation prepared a survey of the conditions of the secondary schools of that State. The survey was conducted over some 182 high schools throughout the Sydney metropolitan area and some 70 central schools. If one reads that document, appreciating that since that time an additional year’s schooling has been added to the curriculum demanded by the New South Wales Department of Education and realising that the conditions pertaining in 1966 are even more drastic today, one can see that the educational system of Australia is in a pretty serious condition.
For instance, the survey showed that in 1966 approximately 500 teachers were taking classes in subjects in which they had not been trained. The survey pointed out that accommodation was so inadequate in some of the first form classes that the first form classes in secondary schools would need to be rehoused in the primary school’s from which the children had come and that many more specialist rooms were needed for the provision not only of science training but also of specialist training in music, art, needlework, cookery, commercial science and courses of that nature. The survey indicated how mothers clubs and parents and citizens associations, of necessity, were providing by their own efforts in the interests of the children, $9,000 to $10,000 a year at each school in order to make available adequate text books for the needs of the children. It is a report worthy of study.
Whilst the Government might be providing funds for science laboratories - let me be quite frank about this - and whilst we all appreciate that in order to keep up with the scientific and technological! advances that have taken place it is necessary for a great proportion of our funds to be spent on science training, nonetheless from the point of view of the general overall educational system it is very wrong to compartmentise this aspect of education by isolating it from other aspects of education in our secondary schools. I suggest that our educational system certainly is not keeping pace with the demands and the requirements of the arts and the humanities. One might ask rhetorically: How many of our secondary school children are studying Asian languages and cultures? After all the study of human beings and their histories is one of the great sources of education and one of the fascinating studies of our time.
Because of the inadequacy of our overall educational system a great deal of wastage is taking place in secondary schools in the field of human effort. How well I know this because two of my three children are at this stage of their education. Only last year a young girl who had sat for and passed her higher school certificate examination in New South Wales, who had set her mind on becoming a teacher and who had obtained second level passes in English, modern history, ancient history and economics, and a third level pass in science, sought admission to a teachers college in that State. Because her parents were in humble circumstances and were unable to meet privately the cost of training her as a teacher through a teachers college, and because she had been unfortunate enough not to secure a teachers college scholarship, that young girl is working now as a clerical officer in a government instrumentality. From the country areas of New South Wales, many, many inquiries were made of my colleagues and myself, after the results of the higher school certificate examination came out in January of last year, as to whether it would be possible for a young person to secure additional training in a particular subject in order to qualify for the quota for a university.
The Wyndham scheme in New South Wales, which has added an additional year to the curriculum of that State, is throwing a very great burden indeed on working class people who now find that they have to meet the educational costs of their children staying at school for another 12 months instead of those children leaving school at 16 years of age and then going on to a technical college, a teachers college or, indeed, a university. If they are unlucky not to qualify for a teachers college scholarship or a Commonwealth university or tertiary college scholarship they are thrown out onto the labour market after an additional hard year’s work at the secondary level. I ask the Commonwealth Government not to get caught up in the rush to satisfy only the demands of the future science needs of this community. Only today in the metropolitan Press throughout Australia there were advertisements seeking young men who wish to make careers in the Australian diplomatic service. Careers are available to university students selected for appointment as officers of the Department of External Affairs. The qualifications are as follows:
University degree preferably in Arts, Economics or Law. Honours standards preferred. Knowledge of a modern Asian or European language desirable.
Although every opportunity is made available to children attending secondary schools to study French, Latin and sometimes German, very little opportunity is given to Australian children to study an Asian language. I cannot help but compare the Australian system with the situation I saw in 1965 when I, together with some other members of my Party, inspected schools in Singapore and Malaysia. There I saw kiddies aged 6, 7 and 8 years learning not only Chinese, Malaysian and in some instances Hindi, but also English. When we realise that a child in Australia has to wait until he is at least 12 years old before he can start to acquire at school a knowledge of French, German or Latin, and that very rarely is he able to acquire a knowledge of an Asian language until such time as he reaches a university, then I submit that our standards in the studies of the arts and of the humanities generally are in many respects sadly lacking.
I put these views to the Minister hoping that they will not fall on deaf ears. I hope the Government will realise that not only the needs of science education have to be fulfilled, and adequately fulfilled - and I am not suggesting that they are adequately fulfilled by this measure - but also, and more importantly, a great deal of attention and a large amount of public funds have to be devoted to the proper educational pursuits of the arts and cultures and the study of the humanities generally. Great problems are ahead of Australia. The great bulk of our problems can be fully satisfied only if the younger generation in the Australian community today is given adequate and comprehensive education now.
I hope that in the near future the Commonwealth Government will agree to a general overall inquiry into all aspects of education in order to co-ordinate all thought on the various problems that confront Australia. I believe that until there is a general sorting out of all aspects of education :n Australia we will proceed along in this higgledy-piggledy way, merely satisfying the needs of a particular section at a particular time. However, because there is progress in the measure which is before the chamber we of the Opposition do not oppose it. Indeed, we welcome it insofar as it gives additional aid to educational pursuits today. However, we believe that many other matters require the immediate attention of the Government, and we hope they will not be overlooked when the Budget is presented next August.
Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) [9.5J - I welcome the Bill and commend the Government on its introduction. It provides for a continuation over the next 3 years of grants for the construction and equipping of science laboratories in both State and independent schools. The large amount of $37.7m is involved, of which $21.7m will be allocated to State schools and SI 6m to independent schools. Of this total, South Australia is to receive $3,607,500 during the triennium ‘beginning 1st July of this year, or $1,202,500 in each year. This I acknowledge as a major contribution to meeting our problems of financing everincreasing requirements in education. The magnificent assistance provided since the inception of the scheme in 1964-65 - no less than $42. 2m to 30th June of this year, of which State schools will have received $28.9m and independent schools $13.3m - bas been a boon to education in a vitally important area of it and in which the need, having regard to the whole spectrum of educational requirement, was deemed to be the greatest. In this regard I refer to the remarks of Senator McClelland. I think that the decision to apply moneys to this particular gap in education was a very timely one. The benefits have been widely dispersed in the scheme thus far. No fewer than 891 schools have received assistance.
I was very pleased to note that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in another place referred to the fact that there were few, if any, secondary schools throughout Australia which had not in some way or other received benefit from this excellent legislation. There is a very important principle inherent in the Commonwealth Government’s action. The Government saw a special need, in this age of science and technology, for facilities to be provided to ensure adequate background for higher education in these particular fields. The recognition of the need to fill the science gap will, I hope, flow on to the acceptance of another major area in education which may require special consideration and assistance after the completion of the ensuing triennium. I appreciate that the grants are being made without strings attached. This leaves the States free to conduct their educational programmes as they wish. In my opinion, this is desirable. At the Premiers Conference of 2 years ago, I understand, it was the consensus that the States themselves should determine their individual needs and that they should retain sovereign rights in respect of education. Whilst they greatly appreciated the grants from the Commonwealth they retained the freedom to use the grants as they desired. Naturally, where grants are made for a specific purpose, but without tags attached, this does reserve freedom to the State.
I can see merit in the system of meeting a need as it arises, and in the process leaving the State authorities supreme in the direction of affairs of education within the States. 1 believe very firmly that the best administration is always that which is closest to the people involved. This is a splendid example of Commonwealth and State cooperation which I hope will continue to flourish. In regard to further requirements mention has been made in the Senate and in another place of the fact that library facilities provide the foundation for a proper and wide appreciation of subjects. After the completion of the triennium which is now ahead of us there will1 be, in effect, as stated in the Minister’s second-reading speech, a mopping up era. I hope that at that point consideration will be given to the filling of another vacuum. I join with those honourable senators who have referred to the desirability of extending library facilities throughout the whole gamut of education and particularly in secondary schools. Only by the use of reference books after training in their use may the full benefits of education be achieved. The old days of cramming have gone. Education now is more a search for knowledge. The availability of the requisite books and references is indeed of great assistance in this search.
There is also a need for consideration to be given to the promotion of studies in languages, especially those of our near neighbours. It is incongruous that we in this country are, in the main, without any knowledge of the languages of those who live so near to us. If we are to achieve those objectives to which we aspire in good relations with our neighbours and acceptance of one another, surely a basic requirement is knowledge of their languages. I trust that language laboratories will soon be a major feature of Australian education. Finally, I should like to pay a tribute to the standards committees in the various States, especially to those in South Australia of which I have had experience. They have given selfless service in inspecting and advising independent schools on their requirements. The personal interest that has been shown by members of those committees has been magnificent. It has ensured that moneys have been spent to the best advantage and in the most economical way, whilst keeping abreast of up to the moment requirements. I have very much pleasure indeed in supporting this excellent legislation.
– I am very happy to associate myself with Senator Laucke in congratulating the Government upon this legislation. Some years ago the Government determined that Commonwealth money should be made available to equip schools with science laboratories. That was a statesmanlike decision to meet what was undoubtedly a vital need in our education system.
– It had something to do with an approaching election, too.
– Whether there was an election or not - and we all know what politics are - we are all glad that the schools have been assisted in this way.
– I was only querying the statesmanship.
– There are some who say that having regard to electoral possibilities is an example of statesmanship and I would not quarrel with the honourable senator on that. Everybody knows that in the home the kitchen is the room wherein there is the greatest expenditure. In the same way, in the school the science laboratory is the room which costs the most. For that reason, not only in the case of independent schools - where, of course, there was a particular need - but also in the case of government schools, there was difficulty in satisfactorily equipping science laboratories, and the action that the Government has taken has to a big extent eliminated that difficulty. Whether that stemmed from statesmanship or electoral sense, the Government is entitled to the credit. Studies of science, of course, are vital in any developing community such as our own. I read the other day a study of the present situation in Japan, where the rate of development is extraordinary. I was impressed by the fact that one of the principal reasons for Japan’s remarkable progress is the extent to which science teaching has been developed on the best possible lines. It is quite obvious that in any progressive country today great regard must be paid to science teaching. I am glad that our
Government has had regard to this and as a result has brought forward this legislation.
I am pleased to read in the second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) that he believes that within a very short period the need for science laboratories will have largely been supplied. Of course, new schools will always be built and there will always be fresh requirements but the lag in the provision of science laboratories will soon have been largely overcome by the finance that has been made available. Senator Tangney was very wise in turning her attention to that fact and offering some suggestions to the Government as to where the money which will no longer be required for this purpose should be applied. Nobody could oppose her suggestion that particular regard should be had to the needs of underprivileged people, people who are physically handicapped or handicapped in one of a number of ways. I am one who would say that the Government should give the utmost consideration to Senator Tangney’s suggestion. These people have great handicaps in facing life. Her suggestion that when the need for science laboratories has been adequately dealt with we should pay particular attention to the physically handicapped in our community commends itself, I think, to every member of the Senate.
Apart from that, one of the principal avenues that I should like the Government to explore is teacher training. I would suggest two particular angles: Firstly, that money be made available to Government and to independent schools for the ordinary training of teachers and for the provision of buildings, which are extremely costly; and secondly, that the Government should have some regard to the excessive cost of maintenance allowances for those who intend to become teachers in both Government and independent schools. One of the chief problems that the independent schools face today is that it has become almost impossible, because of the financial burden, for them to offer adequate maintenance allowances to young people who desire to teach in independent schools. Therefore, one of the most important avenues I should like the Government to explore is teacher training and the provision of adequate maintenance allowances for those who intend to teach later.
Another matter which has been mentioned and which has particular appeal to me is school libraries. In any school the library is one of the most important rooms. I hope the Government will give particular attention to the suggestions made by a number of senators that money be made available for the extension of library facilities.
Those of us who know something about education will agree that when money for science laboratories was first mooted, the idea could have presented considerable problems to the Government. There were problems of the relationship between government institutions and church institutions and there could have been problems about the relationship between some church institutions and other church institutions. Leaving politics aside, I want to pay tribute to the former Leader of the Government in the Senate, the former Minister for Education and Science, Senator Gorton as he then was, for the way in which he handled whit could have been a very difficult and very sticky problem. I appreciated at the time that he could have been faced with a lot of problems and difficulties. He seemed to steer himself between the difficulties with considerable skill. I believe - and I think we could say this without entering into politics because education ought to be above politics - that a great deal of the credit for the success of the legislation providing grants for science laboratories ought to be given to our Prime Minister for the work he did when he was a senator and Minister for Education and Science.
I am very happy about the attitude which has developed in regard to education in Australia in the last 5 or 6 years. There was a time when efforts were made in certain circles to divide the people on the issue of education. There were times when it was suggested that there should be bitter antagonism between the Government schools and the independent schools. I have been very pleased to see that there is a happier and more tolerant attitude now throughout the community in general. If one examines the policy speeches of the political parties represented in the Senate one will find that every party has been prepared to support an attitude of justice in education to some degree. My own party, I believe, possibly has supported a stronger attitude about assistance for independent schools than have other parties. But every party, the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Australian Labor Party has to some degree declared that today it should recognise that assistance should be given to all forms of education. I think this is as it should be. Every parent in the community pays the taxes from which the cost of education is met and therefore the children of every parent are entitled to share in the spending of that money.
I have been a little surprised to note in my own State what appears to be a division of opinion in the Australian Labor Party. I was under the impression that at its Surfers Paradise Federal Conference it adopted a Federal policy of reasonable justice for independent schools. I was somewhat surprised to see two articles by the Victorian ALP Secretary, Mr Hartley - one in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ and one in the official paper ‘Fact’ - attacking that policy. I assume that this difference of opinion will be dealt with by the ALP. I hope so because it would be for the good of Australia if we could achieve a situation in which every party supported justice for education - justice for Government schools and justice for independent schools.
I conclude by saying that I am very happy to see this Bill brought forward to provide this assistance again. I am glad that the legislation appears to have support from all sections of the community and from all parties. This is as it should be because education is so vital in our community that it should be above politics. I know that parties have their own views on matters and policies and this kind of thing, but the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Gair, has brought forward a further proposition in regard to education. I hope that the same spirit of co-operation and tolerance shown about this present legislation will be shown when Senator Gair presents his Bill to the Parliament.
– I would like to make some observations about this important measure before the Senate tonight. I want to be associated with what other honourable senators have said about the former Minister for Education and Science, Senator Gorton, as we knew him, who is now Prime Minister of Australia. The pioneering work of the Prime Minister when he was a senator and
Minister for Education and Science should be placed on record. Until fairly recently, education, so far as administration was concerned, was exclusively the preserve of the State education authorities. But because of the development of our Federal system and other things pertaining to it, it stands to reason that the Commonwealth should come into this field in the same way that it has entered the fields of so many facets of our national development. This, I should point out, while it may be very welcome as far as any authorities are concerned in the field of education, also poses special problems of administration and relationships. Perhaps I should not call them problems but rather refer to them as circumstances. The Prime Minister, when in his former position as Minister for Education and Science, entered this field with his own enthusiasm, his own brand of ideas and his own particular ability to be able not only to bring together the States and the Commonwealth in their attitude to the important matter of education at a national level but also to blend the various systems of education so far as Government schools and independent schools were concerned. He also blended the communities, the families and the constituencies which are made up by the people who are concerned with government schools and independent schools, and State authorities and Commonwealth authorities. Therefore, when the Senate meets to pass this legislation these things need to be said, and perhaps said again, not merely for the record record but also for the purpose of paying tribute and, at least, appreciation.
As the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said when speaking here on behalf of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr- Malcolm Fraser), this legislation seeks authority to continue certain grants for the construction and equipping of science laboratories. The Minister added that it represented just one part of what can be regarded as an overall Government programme to upgrade scientific skills in Australia. In commenting upon this I want to refer to what I said a moment ago about upgrading skills in Australia. If one thing stands out as to the Commonwealth’s role in the sphere of education today it is the general upgrading of skill, equipment and opportunity. I hope that as this programme continues there will be upgrading of the diversity of opportunity and expression. The
Government has long recognised that if Australia is to develop at all and we are to make any use whatsoever of our resources, not only must there be an increasing number of scientists and people with technological skill, but there must also be people who have been well-trained in Australia and throughout the world.
Standards of training are very important. They are related to leadership and teacher training. They are also related to the quality of equipment, but above all they are related to the dedication of teachers and students. I am convinced that certainly there is a standard of education, so far as this training is concerned, as it is related to leaders of the Government and of departments. The Government has provided through legislation funds to fulfil its policy of upgrading, extending and diversifying equipment and opportunity. Three or four years ago the Commonwealth commenced to give support to the construction and equipping of science laboratories. I imagine that most honourable senators, like myself, have had an opportunity to open new science laboratories. I have had opportunities in Adelaide, Whyalla and elsewhere, of being associated with the opening and development of science laboratories attached to a variety of schools. I have seen the measure of co-operation between teachers and staff and the people who control schools, and also the reactions of students. It is very satisfying to move into a laboratory or classroom amongst a group of students and to share with them their sense of adventure and of being able to do things and go places simply because they have around them a lot of equipment and facilities to enable them to express themselves, and to put their thoughts into effect.
In talking of the development of science we should pause for a moment to reflect on some of the fields in which it works. We think of many complicated and wonderful achievements in the international context, but we should not forget the role of science in industry, in large-scale and heavy production and in the domestic field. We should not overlook the relationship of education to agriculture and primary production. Honourable senators will recall that last night we discussed the relationship of pure water supplies to our national development. Science is important in that field of activity. This legislation certainly has farreaching effects on our Australian way of life.
The Minister drew attention to the fact that by 30th June next under existing legislation grants of about $42m will have been provided since 1964. He added that by that time a total of about $29m will have been provided to Government schools and that grants of about $27m have already been made. Those grants have been used to build laboratories at approximately 400 government high schools throughout Australia. As we are representatives of the States, naturally each of us takes an interest in his own State. I suppose we all have examined, albeit quickly, the various lists of schools in the States with which we are associated, showing those that have received benefits under this legislation or are listed to receive them. The list of South Australian high schools and independent schools has interested me. It includes schools ranging from the metropolitan area of Adelaide to those in the Upper Murray area. I saw listed the Strathalbyn High School, with which I have had some connection. The same personal interest applies to independent schools.
This Bill proposes that a further amount of $37,721,400 will be made available in the next 3 years; $21,713,400 is for science assistance in government schools and $16,008,000 for independent schools. The Minister has claimed that as a result of the grants now proposed, by 1971 substantial inroads will have been made into what he calls the backlog of needs. It appears that in future trienniums reduced funds will be sufficient to complete the exercise with respect to existing schools. Do I gather correctly from that statement that there is an element of completeness about this programme of money to be made available for scientific education and science laboratories in the educational institutions of this country?
I imagine that all honourable senators would agree with my supposition that there is no completeness in the world of science. As science develops, multiplies and extends surely it will never reach finality or completeness. I hope that as the Government and the Department of Education and Science approach this matter they will not regard it as completing a certain era of contribution but will examine ways and means by which further grants will be made available for the next step in scientific education. This does not mean that the next step has to be the same as the present step, lt may be that in the 1970s the whole approach to science laboratories and education - I emphasise education as a whole - will be quite different from what we understand it to be at present. I hope that the Commonwealth will take the developing factors into account. New generations will be taught at the secondary and tertiary levels in the mid-1970s and the money invested in the important field of education should be used wisely to produce citizens of the first grade.
I have been pleased to note appreciative references to the standards committees in the various States. Probably every honourable senator has had some relationship with these committees, whether by close contact or simply by observing them at work. I have had an opportunity to observe members of a standards committee at work and I have been most impressed with their sense of dedication. They have devoted time and talent to this particular work as senior members in the field of education in addition to carrying out their normal duties. The schools have co-operated to the greatest possible degree in assisting so that this legislation could be implemented functionally, actively and efficiently.
– Does the honourable senator know who appointed the members of the standards committees?
– I understand that they were appointed by the Minister. Having obtained their acquiescence, he has worked with them and received reports from them. From those reports he has been able to make such arrangements and such progress as was totally and effectively acceptable to a given situation in a given State under certain circumstances.
While the Bill specifically refers to science laboratories, it also refers to the complete relationship of the Commonwealth with education. I put forward the point of view that, whilst I applaud and endorse everything in this legislation and have the highest possible regard for any development in relation to the establishment of science laboratories, it may be true to say that this is dealing with only part of the total education problem. Many leaders in the education sphere in Australia have made observations on what the next step might be and where the Commonwealth might go in the field of education. At present education is under the authority of the States and there is a relationship between them and the Commonwealth in regard to carrying out this work. But, if the States are to execute a total education programme so that the maximum number of people receive the best possible education, some new policy or some new relationship may need to be worked out.
For example, independent schools throughout the country are gravely concerned, as anybody would be, at the salary situation that they have to meet. I am not arguing the matter of salaries at the moment. We need good teachers; we need teachers who have the best skills, and we need teachers who are recompensed adequately for the work that they do. But it stands to reason that if we are prepared to have an education system in which we have government schools and independent schools this matter must surely receive attention at some level. Most of the States - maybe all of the States - are offering funds to independent schools today. Should I interpret that to mean that there is now widespread endorsement of the principle that the retention of independent schools in our community is a wise and worthy one in our total education programme?
I believe it is true to say that the policy of the Commonwealth Government, over recent years anyway, has been to avoid monopolies and at least to preserve a situation in which particular organisations in particular fields can operate so that there is a contrast between one and the other, a freedom of choice and maybe even some kind of competition, but certainly a dialogue. In the sphere of education that is at least desirable. In view of the problems facing the independent schools, the whole matter of the financing of future programmes must surely receive attention soon.
The second reading speech indicates that science laboratories, with which we are dealing specifically at the moment, have reached a situation of completeness. What is the next sphere for the Commonwealth? I do not propose to canvass that question.
Nor do I expect the Minister to provide the answer at this stage. I put this forward as something to which the Department of Education and Science might well give some attention in the near future. Points of view have been put forward tonight. Libraries, which are so essential in the total education programme, have been suggested. I have suggested previously the study of the humanities - philosophy, history and things of that kind, not excluding the relationship of religion to our total life. All of these subjects make up a complex sphere of education.
As we are moving into an era in which so much will be demanded of the rising generation in the next 2 decades, it is essential that governments and people concerned with them provide not only money for education but also leads so that the minds, hearts and souls of the rising generation will be totally developed, ful’ly flexible and able to cope with the many demands that will be made upon them. I hope that, as they emerge fully trained from the science laboratories that this legislation promotes and provides, they will be able to live with the results of their training and to handle the results of the training of people who have come through those science laboratories. For a variety of reasons, I am very pleased to support this measure.
– We are debating a Bill for an Act to grant financial assistance to the States for science laboratories and equipment in schools. Of course, an Act of the Parliament is necessary because a very considerable sum of money is being appropriated for this purpose. I support the measure. It is apparent from all that has been said, both as to the need for science laboratories and equipment and as to the advantages of having them, that this is a measure that demands support. But I also believe that there are aspects of it to which it is proper that attention be drawn. I support what Senator McManus said with regard to the way in which the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), when he was a senator and in his capacity as Minister for Education and Science, administered the provisions of those Acts, similar to this measure, which have been in operation over the past 3 years.
For the purposes of what I have to say it is relevant to consider the history of this legislation. The Commonwealth activity in the provision of financial assistance for science laboratories and equipment commenced in 1964. It is history that in 1963 it was a plank in the policy which Sir Robert Menzies announced and upon which the Liberal Party, with its ally, the Country Party, was returned to office. I was interested to hear what Senator Sim said in the course of this debate, namely, that this was a policy plank that grew up from the grass roots of the Liberal Party and became part of the policy of the Government. The Act that was passed in 1964 following upon the policy speech promise was one which, in its terms, was much the same as the measure that is before the Senate tonight. It lasted for 1 year. In 1965 a further measure was introduced into the Parliament. It continued the grant for the purpose of science laboratories and equipment in schools - to be provided through the States, of course - for a further period of 3 years. That period will expire on 30th June this year. This measure has been introduced so that the grant may be extended for a further period of 3 years. 1 draw the attention of the Senate to the way in which this Bill is expressed. There is nothing novel about it. The same expressions appeared in the measures of 1964 and 1965. Clause 3 provides: (1.) The Minister-
That would be the Minister for Education and Science -
There is a provision that the Minister is not entitled to pay more than $37,721,400 of Commonwealth revenue and that he is to apply that money in certain amounts each year. However, sub-clause (3.) of clause 3 provides:
Payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to the condition that the amount will be applied by the State, as approved by the Minister, for purposes in connection with laboratories and equipment for use in the teaching of science in schools at the secondary level of education.
The words to which I believe emphasis should be given are, ‘as approved by the Minister’. They indicate that the sum of $37,721,400, which is to be applied in certain specific proportions in each of the States, as stated in the Bill, is to be applied by the Minister in the way that the Minister determines, even though the Constitution requires that this money be in the form of a grant to the States.
This is a matter which should give concern to the Senate, not only because the Senate is a House constituted, as far as its membership is concerned, by representatives elected under State boundaries but also because I think it goes to the very heart of our federal system and is a matter which, in the future, should receive very serious consideration. How long is this subterfuge - I think that is a fair word to use - to continue? It is a subterfuge because the provision of moneys for purposes of education is not a Commonwealth function under the Constitution. It is essentially a State function.
When we consider the Constitution under which we operate we find that section 51 sets out the matters in respect of which the Commonwealth has power to legislate. The Constitution does not give to the Commonwealth any power to legislate with respect to matters of education, nor does it give the Commonwealth any power to legislate with respect to the grant of financial assistance to the States for science laboratories and equipment in schools. Over the last 40 or 45 years the practice has developed of utilising section 96 of the Constitution to make grants to the States on conditions. The full significance of that section of the Constitution has not been the subject of the study that I think it should receive. Section 96, in its relevant parts, provides:
The Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
So over the years grants of tremendous sums of money for education have been made to the States on terms and conditions. If I recall Senator Sim’s figures correctly, the sum of $194m this year and other sums, have been paid to the States over the past 8 years in regard to matters of education. That money has been advanced under the power exercised by the Commonwealth to make grants to the States on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit. That power gives to the Commonwealth Parliament not only a tremendous range but also an exceptional degree of control.
In this context it is interesting to recall the subjects over which the debate has ranged this evening. We have had suggestions from various quarters that the Commonwealth should interest itself not only in the provision of science laboratories and equipment but also in teacher training, the provision of language laboratories and libraries, and in the development of facilities for teaching the humanities - all fields that are essentially at the heart of a system of education which, under our Constitution, is the province of the States. That is merely indicative of the ready assumptions into which people fall that the Commonwealth has control over these matters that we have discussed this evening.
It is clear that the matters which the Minister may approve are matters over which the Parliament has no control. The Bill simply states that there shall be appropriated out of Consolidated Revenue the amount of $37,721,400. It is equally clear that this sum of money must be applied by the State, as approved by the Minister, for purposes in connection with laboratories and equipment for use in the teaching of science in schools. There is nothing in that to indicate that this Parliament is determining the terms and conditions on which the money must be spent, but it is apparent that the money is to be spent on certain terms and conditions. Senator Wright, in his second reading speech, said:
The Bill proposes that a further amount of $37,721,400 be available over the next 3 years. Of this amount, $21,713,400 is for assistance for science facilities in government schools and $16,008,000 for independent schools.
Apparently that is an indication of the policy which will be followed by the Minister. Presumably a term or condition will be imposed upon the States as to how that money shall be applied. The Minister also said:
In relation to independent schools it has been decided that part of the total amount available will be used, in the first place, to meet the balance of the reasonable cost of science buildings already assisted and then to make grants to schools which have built science laboratories to plans approved by the Minister on the advice of the Standards Committee but for which they have not received any assistance.
Apparently this is another indication of the policy which the Minister will follow but it is not a term or condition that the Parlia ment has laid down. Later in his second reading speech the Minister stated:
I am pleased to report that the Commonwealth and States have co-operated fully in improving the science facilities available to students attending government schools and that the scheme has been most successful in providing such facilities.
He proceeded thereafter to pay tribute to the members of the Standards Committee who, as Senator Davidson informed me, were appointed by the Minister for Education and Science in another place. I have no doubt that the States are co-operative. They are very pleased to receive this money from the Commonwealth, but it is the cooperation and the pleasure that come from a person who knows that unless he shows co-operation, and perforce admits some pleasure, he will not receive the money because the terms and conditions upon which it is granted are laid down by the Com mon wealth .
– Does the honourable senator support or oppose the proposition?
– I support the proposition because the money is needed for the purposes for which it is intended, but I am concerned at the way in which the States and their functions in the matter of education apparently are ignored. After all, a vast proportion of the money spent on education in Australia is spent by the States. In comparison with that amount, the money spent by the Commonwealth is insignificant. Accordingly it appears to mc relevant to bear in mind that education, as a State matter, should be controlled by the States. They have the overall control of their education system. Here the Commonwealth is seeking to make inroads but we must keep in mind that the money is needed, that it will be put to good use and that advantages will flow from it. Therefore it is obvious that the proposition must be supported.
– Will the honourable senator agree that the State Premiers are asking for more money for, among other things, education?
– That is obvious, and the legislation now before us is in response to that demand. That opens up the wide question of Federal and State financial relations into which I do not want to go beyond the point to which I have gone already. This measure indicates in a very significant way the manner in which our federal system is being eroded. I agree with the remarks made by Senator Laucke this evening. We should not forget that the best education system is one which is close to the people with whom it is most intimately concerned. There is great difficulty in the Commonwealth arrogating to itself power in respect of matters of education because it lacks that close and constant touch that I think is essential to the proper functioning of an educational system. It is all right, as I see it, whilst the Commonwealth has the purse strings, to be able to provide moneys which the States may use, but I think it is a negation of the States’ own responsibilities that the Minister should be able, by a term or condition which he seeks to impose, to determine how a State Minister should operate. It is the sort of thing that exacerbates relations between the States and the Commonwealth, that the responsible State Government should be subject to the whim of a Commonwealth Minister. I have no doubt that the Commonwealth Ministers for Education and Science, first Senator Gorton, as he used to be, and now Mr Malcolm Fraser, have exercised their powers in this field after giving due regard and consideration to the various matters which they considered needed to be looked at. But that is not to say that they are in a better position to do this than are the relevant State Ministers.
I feel that when these matters are considered we ought to be concerned because there is a breaking down of the federal system and a development of the rivalry between the States and the Commonwealth, which is not good for our constitutional and political development. I go further and say it is not in the best interests of the education system which we are seeking to develop. These are matters which I mention by way of comment because I feel strongly that this measure does indicate a pattern of development which I think ought to be stopped. I feel there ought to be some effort to alter the way in which these moneys are being provided. Generally, I support the measure because it does provide money which can be used and the use to which that money can be put has been adequately and capably demonstrated by those who have preceded me.
– I want to make just a few brief remarks on this measure. The Bill has the support of all Parties and is being considered in an atmosphere of comparative calm. This subject has not always been as noncontroversial as it is tonight. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that the science laboratories scheme was born in controversy. It was born in 1963 just prior to a federal election, when the present Government considered itself to be in difficulty. A former distinguished Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, pulled this one out of the hat on election eve as one of three new planks in the educational sphere of the Party’s platform. For the first time, the Commonwealth was entering the field of secondary education, by these preelection promises, in the form of secondary scholarships. For the first time, the Commonwealth was entering the field of technical education in the form of technical scholarships. Then there was this proposal for grants for science laboratories in both government and non-government schools. This Bill is one of a series relating to that proposal.
I want to say that I heard for the first time tonight, with some surprise, from a previous speaker, that this Bill grew up from the grass roots of the Liberal Party. I should think that nobody would be more surprised than were the members of the Liberal Party to hear, some time in October 1963, that these matters had become immediate subjects of Federal Government policy. But we have forgotten this. It is nice to forget it, and I do not want to rake up old scores because we are supporting the Bill. The position was perfectly plain. This was an election gimmick, and everybody knew it. It was a very successful election gimmick at that.
We have looked at the matter with the hindsight of experience and it is obvious that many students and many schools have been assisted by this scheme. To the extent to which it has made substantial contributions to the advancement of science and the learning of science in schools, it has always been supported by my Party. As the scheme has developed, some questions have properly been raised. Is the money being spent in the most advantageous way? Is some of it going to schools which would have built the laboratories, anyway, without the grant?
I am certainly not going to particularise or point the finger at individual schools. I do not see any profit in doing that. But I do think it is fair, when one surveys the list of schools, to question whether some of them would have been building the laboratories anyway. I leave that question on one side because other important questions have been raised.
One important question that was raised right at the outset of this debate by Senator Tangney was whether full value can be gained from a scheme like this in the absence of a proper supply of adequately trained science teachers. It seems to me that the two go hand in hand. Whilst the present Bill and the science laboratories scheme are proper to be considered in the education context they are also proper to be considered in the science context. We of the Australian Labor Party have always placed strong emphasis on the training of science teachers with adequate science education at every level and the need to train more graduates, especially graduates with higher degrees, so that the very considerable sums that are being spent on these laboratories may be used to the best advantage and so that students may be guided by teachers who are adequately and properly trained. 1 do not think this Government really appreciates the full extent of the challenge that it has before it. Without debunking what has been done so far on this level, I do not believe that this Government has a science policy worthy of the name. The only political party in Australia with a well thought out and well developed science policy is. the Australian Labor Party. For the benefit of the Senate, I propose to quote the Australian Labor Party’s policy because it seems to me to epitomise the sort of things we have to appreciate as a necessary background to a consideration of a scheme like this. Our platform states:
Science must not be regarded as a compartment, separate from other aspects of life. It is a fountainhead of human progress, the source from which technological and social changes spring, and it affects all aspects of life.
Australia desperately needs national scientific policies which will embrace not only planning for scientific research and development, but also enable the results of scientific research and development in Australia and elsewhere to be applied in every aspect of Australia’s industries and its culture.
I would suggest that it is very important to have these broad social objectives in mind in considering whether what is being done is adequate to meet the challenge of the time. These are matters to which I think the present Australian Government has given very little attention. On many occasions we have put forward proposals for science foundations and proposals concerning different ways of tackling Australia’s scientific problems and of developing Australia’s resources. I would like to think that any extension of science education will be set in that context so that we will in future get great benefit from what we put into science education in terms of laboratories and in terms of training of science teachers.
I want to say only one more thing. There has been some reference to the ways in which this scheme may be expanded. I asked the former Minister, the present Prime Minister, on a number of occasions in this chamber whether he saw any difference in principle between a science laboratories scheme covering both government and non-government schools and a libraries scheme inaugurated in both government and non-government schools. He said that in principle there was no difference; it was only a question of whether the money was available. I am not suggesting that the money that is available for science laboratories should be reduced, but I am saying that when the needs come to be more adequately met, as has been suggested by the Minister in his second reading speech, perhaps after 1971, we should be in a position to be spending money on the development of schemes like library schemes. The problem of adequately trained teachers and adequately trained librarians will call for attention. The position of librarians in Australia is bordering on the scandalous. So few trained librarians are available today to do the work that has to be done if proper standards are to be maintained. I am not saying this in any carping way. I have made the comment on previous occasions - and professional bodies of librarians agree with the view - that much more attention should be given to the training of librarians. The kind of system of libraries that we want will never be developed until we have good librarians. With those remarks, some of which are close to the heart of this Bill and others are of a more general character, I indicate, as was indicated by Senator Tangney in opening the debate on this Bill for the Opposition, that we give it our support.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, the Senate tonight is dealing with the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill 1968. What this really amounts to is that we have under review the activities in this field over the last few years. The Bill deals with a proposal for the future 3 years and a little extension in thinking beyond that time while not providing any money beyond requirements for the coming 3-year period. Very properly, the Bill seeks authority from this Senate and, indeed, from the Parliament for the Government to continue during the next 3 financial years grants for the construction and equipping of science laboratories. I think that it would be proper for me to observe in passing that here is a further illustration of the foresight, wisdom and ability of the Australian Government to look after the needs of the Australian people so adequately and so very satisfactorily. I note from the silence on the Opposition benches that my proposition is met with total agreement.
– Is the honourable senator inviting interjections?
– Anything is welcome here tonight. I also wish to comment to you, Sir, that substantially this is a Bill concerning a matter that deals with the upgrading in the Australian society of the scientific skills that are available to us in our community. But this is only one part of the subject. It has been said properly by speakers on the Government side and on the Opposition side of the Senate that much remains to be done. We accept this statement. But I think in fairness we might agree also that very much has been done.
When we talk about these matters we are talking about one of the most important subjects that we can ever consider in Australia. Our country is one of great opportunity. It has great responsibilities and increasing independence. It is a country of great resource material. But all those things will count for very little in life as it passes us by if the human resource of the Australian people is not adequately developed and given full opportunity both to grow and to flower. So, it is in this field that I am interested. What this Bill does and what the Act which it amends has really done is to give the opportunity to everybody in the Australian society who has scientific ability to express that ability, to grow to the fullness of his own ability but, at the same time, to do something to aid his country, which will be a great country if human ability is given every opportunity to grow and prosper.
One also notes with great satisfaction that this legislation, like so many features of other legislation enacted by this Government, tries to utilise the maximum abilities of the Australian people under our Federal system through the co-operation that exists between the Federal Government and the State governments. This legislation brings to bear on the whole problem the combined resources of Commonwealth and State governments. The co-operation that exists between the Commonwealth and the States again has found full expression in the way in which this legislation has been drawn. Honourable senators find in this legislation a good example of the way in which Australia ought to operate under the Federal system with co-operation between the State governments and the Federal Government.
The Minister has indicated in his second reading speech that this Bill seeks to deal with three different levels in the education field. First the legislation deals with schools including government high schools and independent schools conducted by various religious authorities and non-religious authorities. Secondly, the Bill deals with universities. But the Bill deals also with a third factor or level which is ‘becoming of increasing importance. This is the ability to engender development in postgraduate research work and in scientific training that flows out of this work. Might I make this observation in this context: Australia has a great opportunity in the field of postgraduate research work. Australia is placed in the Pacific area. It is in the South East Asian area. Having regard to current events, it is a part of the Indian Ocean. Australia is a country of great resources in which an industrial society is rapidly being developed. The level of technology in this country is being advanced. Agriculturally it is becoming very competent. It is a country to which increasingly the peoples of those regions look for help not only in a monetary sense but also in a training sense. Those countries look to Australia as a place to which they may send their children so that their skills may receive further training here.
Once upon a time a young man living in this region outside Australia who hoped to advance himself in postgraduate studies would find that his chances for further studies would be found in London, Heidelberg, the Sorbonne or at an American university. I do not think that Australians appreciate sufficiently that increasingly the peoples of the South East Asian, Pacific and Indian regions are looking to Australia for postgraduate research work for their students. A postgraduate research degree from Australia now is a degree of world quality. This fact will be of increasingly great importance. The people who take these higher degree courses in Australia in the end will become the people who are the leaders in thinking, science and development in their own countries. If they come to Australia, are happy here, receive a good training and make progress they will go back to their lands with fond and affectionate memories of Australia. What we are dealing with in this regard is a group of people who have been partly trained and who have partly come to understand this country, what it aims to do and what its attitude is towards the world. Australia’s attitude is a good attitude. These people will return to their home countries with an affection for Australia. They will become part of the decision making process of their countries. In the end this can be one of the great contributions that we have made; that is, create a place in the Pacific, South East Asian and Indian regions where postgraduate training of a high order is available. People from these regions can opt to come to Australia. This in itself has become an important factor.
– This was one of the objects behind the work of those who founded the Australian National University.
– I am very glad that Senator Tangney has made that point. I wish to take the opportunity to say now that 1 am one of the people who appreciate the work that Senator Tangney has done at the Australian National University. I appreciate the approach that was brought to bear on this matter by the founders of the ANU.
Senator Tangney is one of those who thought out this matter. The Australian National University provides a high level of education in so many ways particularly in the School of Advanced Studies. Senator Tangney is quite correct in what she says. Irrespective of the difference in philosophical and political views, I can say that Australia can take great pride in the development of the ANU and the postgraduate courses there and in other universities throughout Australia. But we should not forget that the financial help provided by this legislation and the long term thinking on the subject are the products of a government that has been concerned to make sure that the human resources in this country, particularly in the scientific field, should be given every opportunity to be developed.
Reference is made to the assistance that the Government has had through the various committees that it has used to advise it. I refer to the Australian Research Grants Committee, and the Standards Committee, and also to co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth as well as combinations of the various religious organisations involved in operating independent schools. Flowing through this development can be seen the wisdom of a government that has brought to bear on this matter not only its own resource and its thinking but also the combined resource and talent of every other sector of the community that has an interest and a responsibility in this field. Most of the money, but not all of it, has gone to universities. It is made clear in the legislation that an attempt has been made to upgrade, update and provide adequate facilities over the whole field. Figures have been quoted to the Senate on the number of schools which have been assisted in the high school area, the number of grants which have been applied in the independent schools field and the total assistance that has been granted by this legislation.
One of the matters that I was most interested to read was that by the end of the next triennium - in effect, after the 1971 rating, which will be about the same rate as the previous 3 years, which is double the rate of the previous 4 years - we will have a situation in which it is thought that another 3 years will put us very close to the stage when the problem will have been very largely met. So the thinking that it is suggested should be engendered about further development of assistance in respect of libraries, which the Government has already mentioned is taking place, would obviously want to be beginning now.
It looks as though we are beginning to see the day when we will be able to say to ourselves: ‘From a humble beginning, and perhaps from a long way behind, we have caught up.’ This day can be seen. In fact, there are a few honourable senators in this chamber - I hope that I am among them - who will be in the Senate when we will be able to pull the flag up and say: We have caught up totally with the science teaching facilities.’ Honourable senators have been given in the speech the figures showing the distribution of the money between Government schools, Roman Catholic schools and other independent schools and the total sum which has been made available. These figures demonstrate that this Government has tried very hard to be fair. In providing educational assistance of this character to independent and church schools irrespective of denomination the Government has genuinely tried in this specific field to make an attempt to overcome some of the problems in educating our children and our young people. It has, in this sense, lifted part of the financial burden from them.
The only other comment that I wish to make refers to standards. I think it was very good to have a standards committee established and to have it formed on the basis that many people of experience and understanding in this field could advise on the distribution and expenditure of money, lay down adequate standards for laboratories and equipment and make sure that the money went as far as it should go. In this particular area the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has paid a tribute to the many volunteers who gave up time from their normal professional activities to help in this field. Those of us who have seen some of the science laboratories installed in secondary and high schools, as a result of the grants which have been made available, have been highly impressed by the quality of the equipment, by the obvious wisdom in the planning and by the general economy and functional character of the laboratories. The review that is given in the Minister’s second reading speech and the proposal which we have before us to approve of the forward work in this field give me immense satisfaction. I commend the Government very much for what it has done and for what it proposes to do. I also commend the Minister.
– in reply- It would be an understatement on my part were I to content myself with saying that I have found the debate on this subject in the Senate today most interesting. Many speeches have been made from all sections of the chamber which have contributed, I think, to the purposes of the Bill. At the outset of my speech I point out that I am grateful to note the terms used by Senator McManus and the perceptive understanding with which he paid tribute to the administrative skill with which the previous Minister for Education and Science, the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), piloted this scheme through elements which, if not moderately influenced, could have become quite dissident. He was joined, in paying tribute to the present Prime Minister, by Senator Davidson and Senator Greenwood. I am also glad to note that Senator Tangney, with characteristic graciousness, referred to the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) as a man dedicated to the cause of science and education.
The substance of the Bill that we are considering has been adequately discussed in detail. But it is fitting that we should remind ourselves that it is a Bill to appropriate money for the assistance of the States in a special sphere of their educational responsibilities, namely, the provision of science facilities and science buildings in their secondary schools. No less than $37.7m is to be devoted to that purpose in the next 3 years, of which $2 1.7m is to be provided for State government schools and $16m for independent schools. That specific vote for the science functions of schools takes its place in a context in which the Commonwealth Government has provided, for assistance in other fields of education, particularly in university education, advanced education, technical training and teacher training, sums which in 1961-62 commenced at a figure of $54m and in the current year have reached an appropriation of $194m. The mere statement of that position shows the Commonwealth Government believes that, in the discharge of its responsibilities in appropriating, not its moneys, but moneys which have come to it by reason of its taxing powers, and in the exercise of its trust regarding the disbursement of the proceeds of taxation, it has the approval of all sides of the chamber in devoting some $3 8m over the next 3 years to assist the States to improve science facilities and to construct buildings for science teaching.
So successfully has that purpose been achieved that, as the Minister for Education and Science has told us, when we reach the end of this triennium, the backlog in facilities for teaching science in secondary schools will have been overcome, and then it will be necessary or appropriate for the Commonwealth Government to look to other fields for the proper development of education. Why is this? Is it to be suggested that the Commonwealth Government has no responsibility for, or interest in, the education of the growing generation of this nation? It would be a technical proposition to bring constitutional matters into this discussion at this stage, but I point out that, about 1953, Sir Hugh Murray, at the instance of the original Liberal-Country Party Government led by Sir Robert Menzies, at that time Mr Menzies, made a general inquiry into Australian education in the context of the 1950s.
Anybody who reads the Murray report cannot fail to be enthused by the level of erudition and understanding of local conditions and of the need for the nation to develop the education of its youth to meet Australia’s responsibilities in the next decade. One of the features that the Murray report emphasised - not overlooking the claims of the humanities - was the need to provide immediate access for our youth to scientific knowledge. That leads me to make reference to that part of Senator Tangney’s speech wherein she suggested that we should have an overall inquiry into education. I suggest that we can become very idealistic when we start to talk on education but we can become so universal in our ideals as to be impractical. What I am emphasising is that 12 or 14 years ago the Government had a most penetrating and stimulating inquiry by the Murray Committee and the report still bears re-reading today. It was followed immediately by a purposeful and expanding policy which has given strength to our universities such as was then never contemplated. That has been followed by the creation in this Government’s time of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Department of Education and Science. Everybody in that Department under the guidance of the Minister is conducting a continuous inquiry, in day by day discharge of duty, as to the needs of fields in which education should be assisted. Therefore 1 should have thought that perception would credit the Government with having in a most practical way long since had the basic inquiry and with having been working on the building of a structure that is already contributing greatly to the education of the students of this country. Therefore I find little to assist in the suggestion that we should have a general inquiry into other fields of education than are dealt with by this Bill.
Next it was said that the Government was lacking in the stimulus that it had given to teacher training. The fact is that the Government has already voted $24m for the purpose of establishing colleges for teacher training during the period from July 1967 to 1971. When it is said that insufficient attention has been given, in the focus of those colleges for teacher training, to the aspect of science teaching, let me remind the Senate that the State of Victoria, for example, has devoted over half of the Commonwealth appropriation for teacher training colleges to colleges for science teaching. Take Senator Tangney’s own State. The new college at Nedlands is being built with the assistance of $2.7m from the Commonwealth. The proposal is that the whole cost of the structure under construction will be met by the Commonwealth vote, and that college will provide accommodation for no fewer than 800 full-time students for training as teachers.
– Not all for science.
– Not all1 of them for science, but the quota that the Western Australian Government thinks is proper having regard to what is going on in that State in relation to science. I have yet to be informed that Mr Brand and Mr Court will fail to see that an adequate section of the college is set aside for the training of science teachers. Libraries were the next field into which it was suggested we should go when the need for assistance for science teaching is reduced or disappears. The Minister, anticipating reduction or disappearance of this need, has invited constructive debate. We are quite grateful to receive reference to the possibility of assisting libraries in the schools on a proper and practical basis. Why? I remind the Senate that in November 1967 the then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, said in the course of the Liberal and Country Party speech opening the Senate election campaign that the success of the scheme to provide science laboratories and equipment invited the Government to look at the humanities and at school libraries. Senator Turnbull asked in the Senate this afternoon for information concerning the terms and conditions to be applied in relation to those libraries. I want to tell him in particular and the Senate in general that the subject of assisting school libraries is under the active consideration of the Minister and the Government. It is premature to announce actual terms and conditions that will be decided upon but the Senate may have confidence that in line with the structure that was laid down as the basis for science laboratories assistance for school libraries has been adopted as a policy and practical implementation awaits settlement of terms and conditions upon which the money will be put to the appropriate use.
One or two other suggestions, unfortunately, have fallen from speakers in the course of the debate. I refer at this moment to Senator McClelland’s contribution that he devoutly desired that we should divert to education the expenditure that is now going into defence and Vietnam. We all would, most devoutly, if the practical situation of the world would permit us as a people to remain exposed and defenceless to anybody who might choose to infringe our security. I say nothing more about this statement except that I regret the reference when we are speaking here in a thoughtful way. Every effort we put forward in a debate like this should be devoted to a recognition of the fact that we would be recreant to our trust if we did not, in the present condition of the world, make adequate defence one of our prerequisites, and also realise that this nation will always devote an adequate proportion of money to education.
Senator McClelland referred to one school, Abbotsleigh School in New South Wales, which is not known to me. He pointed out that it was an independent school. He said that the appropriation in 1 year for its science laboratories was a matter of $48,000 and in the next year it was $54,700. It is highly unfair and creates an imbalanced impression to give a specific reference such as this. One could go through the list of a great number of State high schools and find among them appropriations of $150,000 to individual State high schools. When one looks at the number of State schools and ascertains how many have been assisted in comparison with the independent schools, one realises that it is an ungenerous and, perhaps, an uneducated approach to select one school and present it as being typical of preference. A proper examination of the whole field will show that, in the past, two-thirds of the triennium vote has been given to State schools solely on the decision by a State Minister for Education as to which schools should receive the money.
In the case of the independent schools, the Minister for Science and Education set up committees, in which great confidence is reposed, and whose function to my knowledge, has never been criticised by anyone, who has spoken on the administration of this scheme, to handle the distribution of the money among independent schools. The fact that there has been agreement between church schools and that the denominational issue has never been raised bespeaks much for the equity with which the money has been distributed.
The next thing I wish to say is that the Senate ought to take the definite statement of Senator Sim, which I now confirm, that this policy stems from no one individual. It was evolved through the policy development processes of the Liberal Party, through all the stages of the councils of the Liberal Party and placed before the Government for consideration. The Government, as one of my colleagues said, was not bound under our Liberal Party constitution to adopt the proposal but it did so out of good sense.
I now want to refer to the matter raised by my colleague Senator Greenwood about the constitutional method adopted for the administration of this scheme. He referred to the terms in which this Bill is couched as being subterfuge. He made statements to the effect that the function of the States in education has been ignored and that the Government is developing fields that should be forbidden to it. Without developing the unexciting issues that lawyers indulge in, and after giving tongue to the exciting issues in which educationists find value, I want to say that for my part I do not look only to section 51 of the Constitution. I look to section 96 also and, following the High Court, I regard education as a field where full implementation is entirely in accordance with the Constitution. If it is good enough to redistribute income tax pursuant to conditions laid down by that section - and I remind my honourable colleague that this was agreed to by all State Premiers in 1959 as a matter of constitutional arrangement - then I think we ought to give credit for the full development in this year and age of the Constitution, albeit through section 96 if not through section 51, where a national government sees fit to supplement those contributions which the States, within the limits of their responsibilities, are able to provide to this field. The national Government, perceiving the urgent demand to develop science laboratories, would be less than responsible to the taxpayers from whom it draws this money if it did not authorise the Minister who is entrusted with this appropriation to lay down the appropriate conditions which he and this Parliament feel should accompany the payment. In considering this Bill the Senate - and I hope when I say this that I am not patronising the Senate - has engaged in a most thoughtful and interesting debate. With those remarks I submit the Bill to the vote.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
The following Bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment:
Customs Bill 1968
Excise Bill 1968
Distillation Bill 1968
Canned Fruit Excise Bill 1968
Coal Excise Bill 1968
Beer Excise Bill 1968.
Senate adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19680508_senate_26_s37/>.