26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister Mc.Mullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Are you aware, Mr President, that a considerable number of citizens are in Canberra today to interview senators and members of another place? Are you also aware that some citizens have found it extremely difficult to gain admittance to the building? Will you make prompt arrangements to ensure that lawabiding persons are assisted in having access to the building and, in the case of the Senate, to honourable senators?
– L am very surprised to hear that any senator has been prevented from functioning as a senator, so far as visitors arc concerned. It is the established practice here that when there are demonstrations, a deputation will be admitted to see the person whom the members of the deputation wish to see. At the same time, other persons will be admitted - as they frequently are - on the word of a member of the other place or a senator. Let me say this: Although there are demonstrations - and 1 know that demonstrators have the right to come here to Parliament - the work of Parliament must go on. Just because there is a demonstration around Parliament House does not mean that the work of this institution should be interrupted. Whatever steps we have taken have been taken to ensure that the rights of other people are equally protected. If any honourable senator has been spoken to about bringing people into this building, that is a different matter, and I will make inquiries.
– In directing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I refer to a report in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of Friday last that a survey is being conducted by the Commonwealth Government of all road, rail and air travellers between Port Augusta and Alice Springs. I ask whether this means that the Commonwealth Government is now considering the improvement of road and rail systems between South
Australia and the Northern Territory, which arc so urgently in need of attention.
– I have seen reports in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ that a survey is being carried out. No doubt this is because of the need for transport facilities between Alice Springs and Adelaide that will operate in all weathers. In years of flood, road and rail systems are under water in that area and people are unable to travel there. I believe that the Minister is intensely interested in providing travel facilities for people in the outback and people wishing to travel from South Australian ports to Alice Springs.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry noted the serious losses, stated to be up to S5m, to fruitgrowers in the Mildura and other Murray River areas of Victoria due to recent torrential and unseasonal rains? Will the Government examine the situation with a view to assisting grower’s and, in particular, examine the suggestion from a representative grower for a plan to insure crops in future?
– Yes, I have noted, with very great regret, the conditions as set out by the honourable senator. These conditions were hinted at last week and confirmed this week. I do not know the position regarding insurance against damage by rain. As the honourable senator will know it is possible to insure wheat against damage by hail. I do not know whether it is possible to insure grape crops. I will convey the honourable senator’s request to the Minister for Primary Industry to see whether something can be done.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Is it a fact that under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act ex-national servicemen can obtain a $6,000 loan to establish themselves on farm properties? If so, can the Minister say what is the maximum borrowing term? Are holiday periods given in regard to the repayment of the principal? If so, for how many years are they given?
– It is a fact that loans of up to $6,000 can be obtained by national servicemen returning to civilian life providing they fit into the categories laid down. The term of the repayment varies, but it is a lengthy period. The rate of interest is low. The honourable senator asked whether holiday periods are given in regard to the repayment of the principal. Applications are considered on their merits. Holiday periods apply mainly to loans made to develop land from which income will not be derived for a period after development commences. Where the prescribed authority is satisfied that an efficient and industrious borrower requires some change in the terms and conditions of his loan to obtain major benefit from it the prescribed authority is empowered to vary the terms and conditions in favour of the borrower.
– 1 wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Attorney-General. What charges were laid against a former Commonwealth public servant, Mr Murray Sime? Did such charges relate in any way to Mr Sime’s activities in connection with an anti-conscription rally on 7lh March? Was the penalty imposed a $585 reduction in Mr Sime’s salary? Is it a fact that there was no formal hearing of these charges by any tribunal and that no opportunity was given to Mr Sime to defend himself? If so, is it regular and proper practice that a public servant be the subject of such a severe penalty without the forma) processes of justice?
– The actual charges against Mr Sime were:
That the said Murray Fraser Sime in or about the month of January 1969 was guilty of improper conduct in that, being an officer of the Deputy Crown Solicitor’s Office, Sydney:
That the said Murray Fraser Sime in or about the month of January 1969 committed a breach of the provisions of regulation 34 of the Public Service Act 1922-1968 by publicly commenting, in circulars bearing his signature as ‘convenor of the march against the National Service Act’, upon administrative actions of the Department of Labour and National Sen-ice or the administration of that Department.
Mr President, it is quite obvious that Mr Sime, a professional member of the Attorney-General’s Department; had a confidential duty to advise the AttorneyGeneral’s Department upon the sufficiency of the National Service Act and upon evidence submitted to it from time to time to warrant prosecution. It is quite obvious that that duty was completely inconsistent with any public comment adverting to prosecutions, to the administration of the National Service Act or to the provisions of the Act.
The charges were dealt with, as provided in the Public Service Acf, by the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department who had before him the written explanation of Mr Sime, in the course of which Mr Sime said that he fully believed in the’ protests about which the march was being made. Mr Sime had the opportunity to appeal. He chose not to exercise thai right but to resign - a belated but perhaps wise decision.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise and refers to the seizure of marihuana announced during the weekend. Can the Minister indicate what steps are being taken to prevent further smuggling of this drug into Australia? Does this latest seizure provide evidence of attempts being made to continue smuggling this drug?
– In anticipation of this question I have the following reply: I should like to confirm that about 30 lb of marihuana was seized during a search of the vessel ‘Himalaya’ in Sydney on Saturday morning. The ship was searched by forty customs preventive officers for some 17 hours. The Senate may be interested to know some details of this operation which is a prime example of close co-operation between the New South Wales Police Force and the Department of Customs and Excise in fighting the drug racket. The New South Wales Police recently seized 25 lb of marihuana at a bouse in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. As a result of their investigations the police informed the Department of Customs and Excise that the marihuana had been illegally landed from the ‘Himalaya’. Customs inquiries were made in Sydney as a result of which two customs officers flew to Fiji to meet the ‘Himalaya’ on her arrival on a Pacific cruise. As a result of investigations in Fiji a crew member of the Himalaya’ was arrested by the Fiji police on a provisional warrant. One Customs officer remained in Fiji to continue investigations there. A Special Federal Court sitting on 17th March granted permission to extradite the crew member from Fiji to face charges in respect of illegal importation of the 25 lb of marihuana seized by . the police. Further investigations in Melbourne, Sydney and Fiji led to an intensive search of the Himalaya’ and resulted in the seizure of the 30 lb of marihuana by Customs.
The Customs investigations have uncovered an international syndicate which had planned to land drugs illegally in a number of countries. The crew member held in Fiji is expected lo be extradited to Australia shortly to face customs charges in Sydney. The total seizure of 55 lb of marihuana is worth roughly S44.000 on the drug market. The operation which I have just outlined clearly illustrates the results which can be achieved by co-operation between law enforcement bodies engaged in fighting drug trafficking.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the Minister admitted that Mr Murray Sime, a former barrister employed by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office, was charged with breaching regulations by convening an anticonscription march, and that approval for him to take part in the march was withdrawn? Was Mr Sime obliged to report to his principal legal officer every 15 minutes during the day of the march? ls this treatment of a public servant regarded as normal procedure? What regulation covers this affront to the freedom of the person? Does the Minister agree that Mr Sime has been penalised, without trial, in a heavier manner than the Hoffmans, the O’Briens, the St Johns or the Gortons? Is he not surprised at the gutlessness of the masses of public servants in tolerating this police state? ls private life now considered sacrosanct only in parliamentary circles?
– Having regard to the unparliamentary and extravagant terms of the question I decline to answer it.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister arrange for an officer of the Department of Primary Industry, in conjunction with the Queensland authorities, to make an inspection of the drought areas of that State, as a matter of urgency - this week, if possible - to assess the position and advise what measures are necessary to prevent a national disaster and to relieve the situation as much as possible?
– I raised this matter with the Department of Primary Industry. The reply given to me was that the Department considers that no good purpose would be served by an officer of the Department making an inspection at present because the matter is under consideration and is in hand by the Queensland Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Department of Health has an inspector who is a doctor and a clerk, visiting private hospitals in Victoria. Does this inspector check on elderly patients and in some specific cases state that the patient should be transferred to a nursing home which attracts a lower Commonwealth benefit than that available to patients in private hospitals? If so, is this a direct interference with a private doctor’s management of his patient? If a patient is not transferred, as advised by the inspector, are hospital benefits to the patient slopped?
– The honourable senator has asked a very detailed question concerning local administration in his own State and concerning hospital benefits payable under certain conditions. I think the best course for me to follow is to obtain a reply from the Minister and advise the honourable senator accordingly.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Because of the great importance of our meat export industry, particularly our exports to the United States of America, can the Minister indicate, firstly, whether the United States Government is applying renewed pressure to ensure that Australian abattoirs fulfil immediately all United States quarantine requirements of meat for export? Secondly, is the Minister satisfied that abattoirs operating for export are being speedily brought up to the required standards? Thirdly, as it would appear that difficulty is being experienced in obtaining the services of veterinary officers to supervise slaughtering at abattoirs, will the Government consider extending its scholarship scheme to encourage more students to become veterinarians?
– The Leader of the Government has asked me to reply to this question. The answer to the first part of the question is yes. The answer to the second part of the question is yes. The answer to the third part of the question is yes, with this addendum: At the moment about sixty students are being trained for the purpose mentioned by the honourable senator. As he would know, in Australia during the past 5 or 6 years we have had a lot of trouble meeting the requirements laid down by the United States of America for meat that it will accept from Australia. On more than one occasion the abattoirs have raised their standards to what they thought was required, only to find that those standards were not high enough. They then had to make additional improvements and modifications. Apparently this is the situation once again. As I suppose is natural, this has been brought about by the keen interest being shown by the Cattlemen’s Association in the United States in the import of Australian meat into that country. I can assure the honourable senator that the. Australian Government and those who are engaged in the export of meat from Australia are doing their utmost to ensure that, the regulations, laid down by the United States are being met, so far as it is practicable to do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the many taxation rebates granted to business “executives for expenses incurred by them, will the Minister bring before the Treasurer the many requests from the Australian Labor Party and the trade union movement that fares to and from work be accepted as a taxation deduction when the next Federal Budget is introduced into - the Commonwealth Parliament?
– As; the honourable senator will realise, questions relating to taxation are considered at Budget time. The honourable senator asked that the matter be referred to the Treasurer. I shall be quite happy to do that.
– Last Wednesday the Minister for Customs . and Excise informed me, in reply to a question, that he had directed that a critical1 review be made of the number of warrants on issue to customs officers. Can the. Minister now tell the Senate whether any decision has been made as a result of the review?
– I can’ now tell the honourable senator that, following my directions, action has been taken. The Comptroller-General of Customs has reduced by 50% the number of officers holding continuing warrants. The Collectors have been told that in future the Comptroller-General of Customs will issue all continuing warrants. The Collectors may issue warrants for a period of no more than one week only when ari urgent inquiry is necessary. In al’l cases, except narcotics investigations, a senior officer mast be consulted before a warrant is used. The Collectors have been instructed that all officers are to be reminded of their responsibilities as warrant holders and particularly of the need for preliminary investigation before acting on information received: the necessity to identify themselves properly to the principal occupier of the premises; the necessity to use tact and courtesy to preclude any possible criticism of invasion of a person’s privacy, particularly when the search of private premises is involved; and the need for a full prior briefing of all members of any search party.
– I ask the Leader of the Government a question. Who was responsible today for preventing electors from visiting the democratic institution of the Parliament and from interviewing their representatives at Parliament House? Will whoever was responsible instruct the police to admit to the House any person desiring to interview an elected member?
– Perhaps the honourable senator was not here when the Leader of the Opposition addressed a question to the President in relation to this matter and the President, as is his responsibility, gave an answer. I invite the honourable senator to refer to the President’s answer.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation please consult with his colleague to see whether he can obtain before Thursday, when we adjourn for the Easter recess, an answer to question No. 844 which I placed on the notice paper a month ago today? It is a quite important question.
– I shall have inquiries made in the hope of having an answer from the Minister by Thursday of this week.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General investigate a policy introduced by Commonwealth Portland Cement and Kandos Cement Co. recently whereby they refused to deliver supplies of cement to retailers of builders hardware in the outer western suburbs of Sydney whose retail sale of this commodity in the previous month had been less than 7 tons? Will he see whether the provisions of the Trade Practices Act can be invoked to protect the small traders so affected?
– The matter will be referred to the Attorney-General to see whether any conflict with the Trade Practices Act is involved.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the desperate position of many farmers and graziers in large areas of Queensland following the complete failure of the summer grain crops and the shortage of lucerne in those areas, will the Minister, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, take steps to make available immediately to the people concerned supplies of wheat for stock feed? If the only wheat available is of prime quality will the Government by way of subsidy allow drought relief funds to be used to make this wheat available as slock feed at stock feed quality prices?
– I have obtained information from the Minister for Primary Industry to the effect that the Commonwealth has been fully informed of the drought situation in Queensland and discussions on ways and means of providing assistance to farmers and graziers in the drought areas already have been held between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland. The initiation and administration of relief measures is a matter for the State Government but the Commonwealth has agreed to participate with the Queensland Government in financing drought relief measures on a $1 for $1 basis. The Prime Minister has stated also that if Che present drought continues after the end of this financial year the Commonwealth Government will be prepared to consider giving additional aid in the form of direct grants.
With regard to the supply of wheat for stock feed in Queensland, the Minister for Primary Industry indicated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday last that if there was a shortage of feed wheat in Queensland he would be happy to suggest to the Australian Wheat Board that it have a look at ways and means of getting feed wheat to Queensland and making it available to the farmers. I understand this already has been done.
– I. address ray question to the Minister who represents the Attorney-General and the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware that a great number of citizens are disturbed that young Australians who conscientiously object to the war in Vietnam are subjected to gaol sentences for acting according to their conscience? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the prerogative of mercy which can be extended even to hardened criminals is available to these young persons? If it is, will he request the Government to consider at least extending clemency towards them?
– I am aware, of course, that quite a number of people are in anguish with regard to the obligation of young men to engage in war in defence of the commitments into which Australia has entered. That: is a prospect that no one lives with without continuous anxiety. However the position is that the Parliament, supported by the people at a number of elections now, has committed itself to the National Service Act which imposes a compulsory obligation at home and abroad, in peace and in war. That obligation has been designed to fall most fairly upon the section on which defence relies particularly. (Disorder occurring in the public galleries -
– Order! Will the attendants remove those people from the galleries. These demonstrations are out of order. Clear the demonstrators from the lower galleries as well.
– The obligation to which I referred arises from the terms of the National Service Act and, with respect to anybody who-
– Order! If the people in the galleries do not observe my call to order I will have them put out. They must understand that quite clearly.
– Mr President, I suggest that you suspend the sitting till the ringing of the bells.
– I do not propose to suspend the sitting and draw additional attention to these people. 1 propose that the Senate will continue to carry out its functions. Senator Wright, will you continue? I am sorry to have interrupted you.
– The obligation to which I refer arises under the National Service Act, and any man who defaults in that obligation is liable to imprisonment in a civil prison for 2 years. That provision was specifically debated, and was specifically approved by speakers for the Australian Labor Party when the legislation passed through the Parliament. I. am asked whether or not the prerogative of mercy is available with respect to any person in such circumstances. My own understanding is that the answer to that is yes, but whether or not it would ever be considered appropriate to exercise the prerogative of mercy in a situation of that sort,. I take leave to doubt. , .
-*! address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask the Leader of the Government-
– I rise to’ order. Mr President, what powers does the Senate have to assist our Senate officers in removing people who keep breaking your orders? There is still a lady present ,
– We have the powers, but it is reasonable to’ hope that these people-
– What is wrong with her?
– Senator Hendrickson, I can tell you that it is out of order to demonstrate in the public gallery of the Senate. That is what is wrong with her. There cannot be a - demonstration, and these two galleries are to be cleared.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Does he regard the demonstration which the Senate has just been subjected to in defiance of tradition, proper conduct and the proper working of one of the Houses of the Parliament of this country as justifying some restriction regulating the entrance of persons into this building? Has the Leader of the Government any reason to believe that, in view of the questions asked by members of the Opposition in this chamber prior to the demonstration occurring, those questions were asked with any apprehension that some such demonstration was about to occur?
– The situation is that quite obviously the demonstration in the gallery was organised. I do not think there is any doubt about that. I am sure that the whole of the Parliament and all the people of Australia will deplore such an act of bad behaviour. I am sure that everybody will realise that this cuts across the very fundamentals of our democratic way of government. In regard to the remainder of the question, you, Mr President, have already indicated that if anybody, who conies to the Parliament and seeks to see a senator or member during a demonstration, comes in the normal way and asks for the senator or member he wishes to see, he is able to come into the Parliament. As to the Anal part of the question, 1 am not prepared to say or to suggest that any honourable senator has had in any way any part in the conspiracy for this dreadful performance that we have seen this afternoon.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware that a Mr Francis James has made a claim in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 22nd February that his company recently imported into Australia from Hanoi a shipment of books and paid for them in Australian currency? Is the Minister aware that the same Mr James claims that he has made a deal for further shipments and that these are authorised by both the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry? If these statements are true, will the Minister supply details of the size and value of the shipments? Mr James makes an allegation that a Mr Sayers, who Mr James claims is a member of the Liberal Party, is at this moment in Hanoi for the purpose of arranging the importation into Australia of plywood and cigarettes from North Vietnam. Does the Government propose to allow such imports from North Vietnam?
– The honourable senator has asked a series of questions, the answers to which would not be within my knowledge. Quite properly, I will have them examined immediately. If he cares to place the questions on the notice paper, I would hope to be able to get a very prompt reply to the points he has made.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government been drawn to a Press item that in the United States of America a huge number of vehicles have been recalled by the manufacturers ‘because of defects in design which are said to have caused a number of deaths? Is he aware that the recalling of vehicles has happened quite frequently in the United States of America and that this is due partly to the vigilance and agitation of a person who has now been allocated an important position by the President of the United States? Will the Minister ask the Government to take whatever steps are necessary to see whether action can be taken to provide protection for the public in Australia, in respect of the standards of construction and design of motor vehicles, to ensure that these incidents are not repeated here?
– I have heard and been made aware of certain circumstances in which vehicles have been withdrawn for modifications. I am aware that in Australia the responsibility in relation to motor vehicles is primarily with the States. I am also aware that under a Commonwealth and State agreement in respect of roads there is provision for an organisation which has regard to uniform requirements in relation to standards. That is only background information which is at my disposal. As to the particularity of the honourable senator’s question, I think it should go on the notice paper. It is a very important question. I will refer it to the Minister for Shipping and Transport in the first instance in order to obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware of the findings in the report of the Commonwealth Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance? Is she aware that one major finding is that the contributions have increased to such an extent that they are beyond the capacity of some members of the community and involve considerable hardship for others? Can the Minister assure the Senate that action will be taken to carry out the recommendations of this committee so as to bring an immediate alleviation of this position?
– I have noted the comments made by the honourable senator.
-] direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Under the new Commonwealth Aid Roads proposal, what stabilisations are there on the matching money to be provided by the respective States? ls there any requirement that this money should be spent on any particular road category? What provision is there for future increases in expenditure by the States? Is there any similarity between the matching provision to operate in the next 5- year period and that which existed in the last 5-year period?
– Under the new legislation it is proposed that as a condition of payment of the Commonwealth grants each State will be required to increase its expenditure on roads from its own resources at the same rate as the increase in the number of motor vehicles on the register in that State. It is not proposed that the qualifying States’ expenditure should b’e in any particular road class or category. The matching provisions will be quite dissimilar from the provisions of the existing Act under which the matching requirements relate only to the additional grants under section 4 and not to the basic grants under section 3. Details of the new matching provisions including the base selected are still under discussion with the States.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, ls there any substance in a report which appeared in the ‘West Australian’ of 13th March last to the effect that the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry had issued warnings to officers of the Department not to discuss confidential matters on the telephone as it is feared that the telephones are being tapped, particularly in the International Trade Relations Division, and that as a result of this technicians were called in last month to check every line in the Division? What is the result of the investigations undertaken by the technicians, if in fact such investigations were undertaken? Who was tapping the telephones and what subsequent action has been taken by the Department?
– I certainly know nothing and I am sure that the Minister for Trade and Industry would know nothing of such proposal as is put in the form of a question by the honourable senator. Nevertheless, he is entitled to a reply and I suggest that he put the question on the notice paper.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether the Shoalwater Bay reserve could possibly be used for starving stock. Can he give me any further information yet?
– 1 discussed the request of the honourable senator with the Minister for the Army. He has informed me today that the Army has been exercising in this quite large area of some 1,000 square miles. The area is, I understand, sparsely watered and sparsely grassed and sparsely fenced. He asked me to inform the Senate that he has this matter under consideration.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Government has already committed itself to the nuclear experiment at Cape Keraudren. Is the feasibility programme now being carried out merely to justify a decision already made by the Government?
– As has been made clear in another place and in the Senate a feasibility study is being carried out.
– The question is whether a decision has already been made.
– On the question of decisions, you do not make decisions in advance of feasibility studies.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of a report of a comment by a Professor of Town and Country Planning at Sydney University in an address last weekend that planning has become vital to the psychological and physical condition of the nation, a fact that the United States of America is now discovering almost too late? The Professor also said that only the Federal Government could see the federal picture as a whole, and only it could collect information on a national basis. He added that the Commonwealth is already concerned in these problems of urban development, and that it adds to them daily with decisions on defence, immigration, and the planning of sites for its activities. Does the Minister agree with those comments, or does he suggest that the Commonwealth Government may contribute by supporting the Institute of Urban Studies by a financial grant for its investigation into the avoidance of these problems?
– We live under a federal system. It is inherent in that system that the Commonwealth has responsibilities and the States have responsibilities. 1 do not think the States would be grateful for any proposition which would deny them their sovereignty and their responsibilities in certain fields, which may well move into planning in certain categories. The honourable senator has posed a very wide question indeed. If the purpose of his question is to ascertain whether the Commonwealth Government should be making a grant, I will refer that matter to the Treasurer.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Parliament of the defence allocations that have been set aside for research into chemical and biological warfare since 1960? Are any universities or colleges in Australia receiving government grants, as is the case in the United States of America, for this or other defence weapon research?
– I will seek the information and make it available to the honourable senator. I point out to him that there is within my Department the responsibility which I have acknowledged in replies I have given to Senator Georges and Sena tor Wilkinson on the one hand, and to Senator McManus on the other hand. 1 have pointed out that within the Department of Supply is a small number of scientists who carry the overall responsibility to keep Australia informed in a defensive way - I repeat that it is in a defensive way - of what is happening in this field. However, I take it that the honourable senator’s question goes beyond that and rather suggests that a subsidy may be paid to organisations outside the Services, or revenue may be expended in some other way in relation to this matter. I will get an answer to the honourable senator’s question and make it available to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, ls the Minister aware that, principally because of chaotic conditions existing in the Central Manifest Accounting Section of the Department of Customs and Excise in Sydney, there have been occasions on which goods upon which duty has been paid have been warehoused in the security section of bonds where goods are normally housed only when the duty has not been paid? Can the Minister state whether on several occasions the Collector of Customs has authorised some duty-paid goods to be sold at auction in order to recover duty thought not to have been paid and then, after the auction sale has taken place, been placed in the embarrassing position of having to negotiate a financial settlement with the importer? If the Minister is not aware of any such matters will he order an investigation into these allegations and make a report to the Senate on the detail’s of any transactions of this nature that have occurred?
– The honourable senator starts off his question by alleging that chaotic conditions exist within the Department of Customs and Excise in Sydney. I wish to make it quite clear that the Department of Customs and Excise in Sydney and throughout Australia is most efficient. There are no chaotic conditions anywhere within the Department. If the honourable senator wants specific inquiries made in relation to the claims he is making he should put that part of his question on the notice paper and I will give him an answer tomorrow.
– I wish to £tsk a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise. It has been reported that a member of the staff of the Department of Customs and Excise at Fremantle has been suspended for accepting a $10 bribe from an Italian migrant. If this person is to be dismissed will the Minister ensure that he is given a chance to resign, receives a refund of his superannuation contributions and is given his accrued leave entitlement, as is apparently the practice in his Department?
– As a result of information received, a customs officer was suspended without pay on 21st March this year. Today, he was charged under section 73 of the Crimes Act with accepting a bribe. As the matter is sub judice it would not be proper for me to give the Senate any further details at this stage. However, I can say that an offence of this nature is something that neither I nor the Department of Customs and Excise will ever tolerate. Such offences will be prosecuted in an open court to the full extent permitted by the law.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister grant the request of a number of wool producers and hold a growers’ referendum to seek the views of the wool industry as to whether the embargo on the export of merino rams should be lifted?
– Firstly, I wish to remind the honourable senator that the Government’s decision to lift this embargo was made at the request of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. This conference has been referred to as the parliament of the wool industry. I think the decision was arrived at by 37 votes to 16, with 2 members absent. The honourable senator refers to a request by the wool growers. To the best of my knowledge no wool growers’ organisation has yet made any representations to the Minister for Primary Industry for a referendum to be held. If the majority of those connected with a primary industry ask for a referendum on matters concerning the industry it has been the policy of the Government over the years to agree to it.
– My question ls directed to you, Mr Deputy President. Will you accept the proposition that, in view of the disorderly conduct of a number of demonstrators within the precincts of Parliament House in other years and also today, and the disorderly conduct at certain religious services in Melbourne last week of associates and members of the ragamuffin organisation who have just demonstrated in the galleries, an overwhelming number of members of Parliament support action to ensure that demonstrations at Parliament House are properly regulated and are not permitted to cause disorder or interference with the business of Parliament?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the President of the Senate.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate who is the representative of the Prime Minister. Are the respective States required to spend the money allocated under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement only in the areas defined and as laid down by the formula? What measures are to be adopted to ensure that the formula is adhered to by the respective States?
– It is my understanding that the re-negotiation of a CommonwealthState agreement will need legislation and, if I am correct, concurrent legislation will be required on the part of the States. There is no question about what will happen in those circumstances. Once a State has entered into an arrangement to do certain things then it does so. That is inherent in the federal system under which we work. Where there is a variation of the system, provisions normally are included in the agreement whereby such arrangements can be varied following collaboration between the responsible department and the State concerned. In this instance it is my understanding that the passage of this agreement will come within the portfolio of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. For that reason I will direct the honourable senators question to him.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is the Minister aware of a reported statement by Professor H. M. Carey, Head of the School of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of New South Wales, that 10 qualified doctors are working full time in Sydney doing illegal abortions? Did Professor Carey also state that only 60 legal abortions are carried out in Sydney each year and that the vast majority of abortions performed are illegal operations? Is the Minister aware that Professor Carey has said that two-thirds of the illegal abortions are performed on married women? Will the Minister investigate the matter and consult with State AttorneysGeneral on the question whether existing laws controllingabortions are adequate to cover genuine cases which meet the legal requirements?
– I did see a statement to the effect stated by the honourable senator. All I wish to say is that this is a subject matter dealing with a crime which is essentially and peculiarly within the responsibility of the State government and the State police. It would not be of advantage for me, on behalf of the Commonwealth Attorney-General, to comment in any way.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. In view of the fact that the remarks attributed to Professor Carey by Senator O’Byrne might give the impression that Professor Carey was in favour of an alteration in the abortion law, will the Minister take note that Professor Carey, in making his statement, indicated clearly and definitely that in his view there was no need to alter thelaw?
– I understood the professor’s statement in that sense, too.
(Question No. 747)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Northern Territory in the Forestry Department of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to enable them to gain practical experience and return to Australia to work with the Australian Forestry Commission in the Northern Territory.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 831)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Does the Department of National Development have any involvement in the current dispute between the Kosciusko State Part Trust and the Snow Lessees Association over the latter’s attempt to graze stock illegally in the Kosciusko State Park?
– The Minister for National Developmenthas provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No. I would add, however, that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority contributes $23,000 a year to the Kosciusko National Park in consideration of the loss of revenue from grazing areas withdrawn from lease of land above 4,500 feet. The payment is conditional upon 50% of it being spent on soil conservation measures in the catchment areas. The Authority considers that climatic and other factors’ affecting land above 4,500 feel are such that grazing could lead to further deterioration of an already damaged area and thus to major erosion.
(Question No. 832)
asked the Minister in charge of Tourist Activities, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 852)
– by leave- asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
Will the Minister explain why the Government continues to refuse to supply wheat to North Vietnam while, at the same time, it encourages wheat stiles to China?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answertothe honourable senator’s question:
The Prime Minister recently restated the Government’s long-established policy that there should be no trade, by way of either exports or imports, with North Vietnam. The Government holds firmly to the view that in present circumstances it would be most unfortunate and inappropriate for persons to engage in such trade for private gain while Australian forces were fighting in South Vietnam.
Although the Government has had general powers to prohibit trade with countries such as North Vietnam, regulations specifically prohibiting trade with North Vietnam except with the permission of the Minister for Customs and Excise were promulgated in January 1969.
Australia is not, however, engaged in hostilities with mainland China.
In line with other Western powers, the Government operates controls to prevent the export of strategic materials to Communist China, but does not obstruct the sale by private Australian traders of items not on the list of strategic materials drawn up by the Western powers and which are, therefore, freely available from sources of supply other than Australia. Wheat is not on the list of strategic materials and sales of wheat to mainland China are made by the Australian Wheat Board on a purely commercial basis.
In relation to the food and other requirements of the huge Chinese population, Australian exports are only of marginal significance to the Chinese economy. On the other hand, they are a valuable source of foreign exchange to Australia and to cut off this trade would merely mean that these countries would buy their requirements elsewhere and would not be in any way inconvenienced, whereas Australia would have less foreign exchange to further its economic development and, indeed, for defence needs.
(Question No. 871)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 884)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Services, upon notice:
Will the Minister consider using his influence in an attempt to persuade the Government to implement the International Labour Organisation resolution on the principle of equal pay for the sexes?
– The Minister for Labour and National Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has made it clear that it accepts the principle of equal pay for female employees doing the same work as males or like work, and doing the same range and volume of work and under the same conditions. Successive Governments have taken the view that the determination of equal pay is a matter for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and other arbitral authorities as appropriate. As the honourable senator will be aware, equal pay cases are now before the Commission, which no doubt will consider the various definitions of equal pay including that adopted in the ILO Convention on Equal Pay. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.
(Question No. 886)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: 1. (a) and (b) When, after investigation, it appears that goods are being imported into Australia in contravention of the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act, the matter is referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry. If, after receipt of the Board’s report, the Minister is satisfied that this Act has been contravened, he may impose a dumping duty. The Act does not provide that charges ‘ should be preferred in a court of law in such matters. 2. (a) The following commodities are subject to dumping duty as at 18th March 1969: acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, tartaric axes, ‘Tasmanian’ pattern from F. R. Plumb,
United States of America hags, hot water bed sheets, pillow cases, bolster cases fabrics of a kind suitable for bed sheets, etc. bicycles cement (Portland), from Japan imported at Cairns chemicals, chrome basic chromium sulphate chromic acid chromium oxide potassium bichromate sodium bichromate sodium chr ornate detergent alkylates dichlorphenol dyestuffs, synthetic organic pigment, and colour lakes ethyl acetate ethylene oxide derivatives fasteners, slide of the progressive interlocking type file holders suspension film, X-ray ftoorcoverings, vinyl (roll and tile form) floorcoverings, felt based fluorocarbons foil aluminium garments, knitted (shirts) gherkins glucose, exported from the United Kingdom glycerine gowns, men’s dressing, of terry towelling or man-made fibres hardboard hoods and capelines lamps, tubular fluorescent lounges, collapsible sun meters, single phase AC watt hour paper and paperboards penicillins, their salts and preparations containing penicillins phenol, formaldehyde moulding material photographic sensitised film and paper rod. high speed steel drill sodium tripolyphosphate streptomycin sulphate and preparations containing streptomycin sulphate tapes, woven cotton tiles, glazed ceramic wall yarn, continuous filament secondary acetate yarns of paper. 2. (b) The following commodities are currently before the Tariff Board for inquiry and report: chains choline chloride codeine alkaloid and its salts fluids, silicone linoleum sorbitol solutions yarn, continuous filament polyamide (nylon), raw. 2. (c) The following commodities have been notified for general information as being the subject of anti-dumping inquiries by the Department of Customs and Excise: aluminium powders and pastes benzene, toluene, xylene footwear, leather hydrogen peroxide iron or steel sheets and plates lathes machines cylindrical grinding, surface grinding motor vehicles pipes and tubes, electric resistance welded screening insect, fibreglass sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) transformers, instrument, power, static.
(Question No. 887)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Has favourable consideration yet been given by the Treasurer to the request by the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia, whose value to Western Australian primary industry is well known, that it be granted assistance by the Government by allowing donations to the Society to be accepted as income tax deductions and by the granting to the Society of the same exemption from the payment of sales tax as is allowed in the case of payments made by the Society for printing?
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
A number of representations have been received for amendment of the law to allow deductions for income tax purposes for gifts to agricultural societies, including the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia, and to authorise exemption from sales tax of all goods purchased by these bodies for their own use. It is the Government’s practice to examine the many requests that have been made for taxation concessions when it is preparing the annual Budget. The representations made on behalf of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia will be considered when the 1969-70 Budget is being drawn up.
(Question No. 961)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs upon notice:
With reference to a Press report of 6th March 1969 that the Government will appoint forty-six Australian police as guards in overseas embassies and that they will replace nationals of countries overseas previously employed, has the Government taken this action from a feeling that local employees in overseas embassies may be sometimes unreliable?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The newspaper report reflects matters under frequent consideration rather than decisions that have been taken. The question of the most effective procedure for guarding Australian missions abroad is kept under consideration and this includes, of course, the possibility of wider use of Commonwealth police. Commonwealth police officers are at present being used as guards at four overseas missions.
Question No. 970)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Mr Sime was charged with the commission of offences within the meaning of section 55 of the Public Service Act 1922-1968. The charges were:
invite persons to ring him in business hours on an official telephone (2 0321) to obtain further details of the said march.
(Question No. 976)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The publication ‘Any Wife or Any Husband’ by the late Dr Joan Malleson and published by William Heinemann Medical Books Ltd was prohibited in December 1961.
When books purporting to be clinical treatments of sexual matters are imported it is the practice to refer them to the Director-General of Health to ascertain if they are suitable for unrestricted circulation. This was done in the case of this book and, on the advice of the Director-General, the book has been made available for professional use by medical practitioners, psychologists, social workers, marriage guidance counsellors and the like. The prohibition automatically covered the Penguin Books Ltd edition when it first came under notice in June 1965. An appeal against the prohibition was disallowed in July 1968.
The work is a clinical treatment of physical and emotional sexual problems in the course of which various sexual deviations are described. It is for this reason that the book is considered to offend regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. The publication is currently the subject of a further appeal and I shall inform the honourable senator of my decision when the review has been completed.
(Question No. 984)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Has an application been made to the Prime Minister by the State of Western Australia for a special grant towards the establishment of a new port at Bunbury?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 992)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Has the Department any information that would indicate that the former leader of Algeria, Mr Ben Bella, is to be released from imprisonment provided he leaves the country?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The Government of Algeria has made no announcement of its intentions regarding Mr Ben Bella, and there is no reliable information as to his present whereabouts or future prospects.
(Question No. 994)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 995)
asked the Minis ter for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
-The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 996)
asked the Minis ter for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1009)
– by leave- asked the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question upon notice:
Has the Minister seen the statement submitted by Mr Hoffmann to the Public Service Appeal Board at the time Mr Hoffmann appealed against his dismissal?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes. A copy was attached to the letter Mr Hoffmann sent to me on the 11th November 1968.
(Question No. 1022)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
What finally happened to the eight West Irians who drifted by raft to Australia?
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following answer:
All eight West Irianese are now at Weam in the western district of Papua and have applied for permissive residence in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. According to the procedure established for West Irianese who cross the border into the Territory claiming to be refugees, the case for permissive residency of each individual will now be investigated in the Territory. In due course reports of these investigations will be forwarded to Canberra where decisions concerning the applications of these individuals will be taken by the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for External Territories.
(Question No. 1026)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The following figures relate to completed Part XV cases for the period 1st July 1968 to 3 1st December 1968:
In practically all cases, the goods concerned were forfeited.
(Question No. 1034)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
In view of the Minister’s answer to Senator Withers as to the trivial nature of offences for which customs officers are being or have been charged, is the Senate to understand that there was no neglect of duty or wrongful conduct by officers of the Department of Customs and Excise in relation to the large importation of cigarettes and tobacco and the evasion of import duties or, if breaches by officers permitting this importation were connected, that such breaches have not yet been detected or that charges have not yet been made?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In answer to question942 (3) on 18th March 1969, I informed the Senate that twenty-four officers were charged with offences relating to cigars and cigarettes. This answer was later amplified in response to a question from Senator Greenwood on 20th March 1969 (Hansard, page 517). I said:’ The officers charged under section 55 of the Public Service Act in connection with the short payment of duty on cigars and cigarettes were charged with having failed in their duty as customs officers in that they did not ensure that the full amount of revenue due was collected. There is no evidence to show that any of the officers charged benefitted financially as a result of duty evasion. Had there been a scrap of evidence of this, charges of a very different nature would have been laid.’
(Question No. 1040)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
– On 25th February, Senator Young asked several questions relating to the lamb industry panel that was formed recently to review imports of lamb from New Zealand. The Minister for Trade and Industry has furnished me with the following information in reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The lamb industry panel held its first meeting in Melbourne on 14th March and plans to meet again in Sydney on 8th April.
The main function of the panel is to maintain a constant and continuing review of the Australian lamb market as it might be affected by imports of lamb from New Zealand.
The panel will be in a position to assemble all relevant information and provide advice to the Government on the impact, if any, on the Australian market of future imports of New Zealand lamb. The panel will thus constitute a key channel of communication between the prime lamb producing industry and the Government on questions relating to imports of lamb from New Zealand.
– On 18th March 1969 Senator Bull asked me a question without notice concerning the sale of wheat at below the minimum prices established under the International Grains Arrangement.
The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I understand from reports that certain foreign wheals have been offered and sold in recent weeks at prices below the minimum levels established under the International Grains Arrangement. In particular, there has been a significant reduction in the prices of high quality wheats trading in the European market, due at least in part to increased competition from wheats exported by countries which are non-members of the IGA. Steps are already being taken to hold an early meeting of the major exporters in order to review the situation and to consider what remedial action should be taken.
– by leave - The demonstration that occurred earlier in the galleries was not organised by the Opposition. I did not know it was to occur, and. as far as I am aware, no other senator did. It was no doubt an organised demonstration designed to shows the feeling of those opposed to the imprisonment of Mr Zarb, but I repeat that it was not organised by the Opposition.
– They got the signal from Senator Cavanagh to display their cards.
– I rise to order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - What point are you raising?
– I am rising to ask for a withdrawal of the statement by Senator Gair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- What statement did he make?
– He said that the demonstrators in Parliament House got the signal from Senator Cavanagh.I ask for a withdrawal and apology.I had nothing to do with it.
– Out of respect for this chamber,I. withdraw the statement, but there is no standing order that stops me from believing what I said to be correct.
-I insist on an apology. That is a most damaging statement against a senator and I thinkI am entitled to an apology.
– On the point of order, Mr Deputy President, I would ask that you insist upon a withdrawal without a reservation such as was added to it by Senator Gair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Chair did not hear the interjection that Senator Gair made. Senator Gair has made a statement, and I think that is where the matter rests.
– No. It is conceded by Senator Gair that he made the statement. There is no doubt about that. He made the statement that Senator Cavanagh gave the signal to the demonstrators. Senator Cavanagh has denied that. Senator Gair has withdrawn the statement as he should have done, but he added to the withdrawal a reservation which is intended to destroy the effect of his withdrawal - that is to say, he said that there is no standing order which prevents him from believing what he said. In fairness. I would ask that Senator Gair consider that so that the matter might stop here.
– I have no objection to withdrawing the statement without qualification.
– by leave - For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance. The inquiry was carried out at the request of the Government by a Committee comprising Mr Justice Nimmo (Chairman), Sir Leslie Melville and Mr N. H. Mcintosh.
The main theme in the Committee’s report and its recommendations is that there is a need for a much closer relationship between hospital and medical fees and contributors’ benefit entitlements. The report also recommends special assistance to families on low incomes who find the payment of health insurance contributions a hardship and stresses the need for the elimination of unnecessary complexity in the health insurance scheme. The recommendations include a number of measures designed to make the scheme more economic and efficient.
The Committee has made forty-two specific recommendations and many of these concern not only the Commonwealth Government but the State governments, the medical profession and the health insurance organisations. Examination of the report will be put in hand immediately and the Government will, at the earliest opportunity, initiate discussions with all of the parties concerned to consider the practical implications of the recommendations made by the Committee.
The report of the Committee shows that it has made a most thorough and comprehensive inquiry. It has given a great deal of thought to the 268 submissions made to it by various organisations and individual persons, it has conducted hearings in all States and, in addition, it has carried out a great deal of research. Because of its importance, the report is being tabled at this early date so that honourable senators and the public may know what has been recommended by the Committee and so that all of the parties concerned in health insurance may study its implications. Meanwhile, on behalf of the Government, I wish to thank the members of the Committee for this most thorough study of the problems of health insurance. I present the following paper:
Health Insurance - Report of the Commonwealth Committee of Inquiry, dated March 1969.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales)by leave - I move:
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
– by leave - I rise to inform the Senate that a double taxation agreement with Japan was signed in Canberra last Thursday. Copies are being made available to honourable senators. Before speaking briefly about the contents of the agreement I point out that the fact of its being signed does not complete the action necessary to give it the force of law in Australia. For this purpose legislation will be necessary and a Bill will be brought before the Senate as soon as practicable. Senator will then have an opportunity to debate the scope and effects of the agreement. In common with our recent agreements with the United Kingdom and Singapore, the agreement with Japan is, in substance, very much along the lines of conventional double taxation agreements being entered into in modern times and for this reason I do not propose to give a lengthy exposition of its terms at this stage. Detailed explanations will be provided when the agreement is brought before Parliament for approval.
However, to refer briefly to some of the main points, I mention that the. tax of the country of source on dividends flowing to residents of the other country is to be limited to 15% of the dividends. Tax on interest and royalties is to be similarly limited to 10%. The taxing of business profits under the agreement is to follow the usual principle that the country in which an enterprise has a branch or other permanent establishment is to have the prior right to tax the profits that are attributable to that establishment. Profits from the international operation of ships and aircraft are to be taxed only in the country of residence of the operator.
The agreement will also ensure that double taxation of income is relieved in cases where the country in which income originates and the country of residence both tax the income. This is to be achieved by the country of residence giving credit against its tax for the tax imposed in the other country. For example, Japan will give its residents credit for the Australian tax of 10% on interest and royalties derived in Australia. Australia will, of course, gives its residents a tax credit in converse circumstances. When giving credit to a Japanese company that has at least 10% holding in an Australian company from which it draws dividends, Japan is obliged by the agreement to allow credit in respect of both the. withholding tax on the dividends and the Australian company tax on the profits out of which the dividends are paid.
As I have said, the agreement will come before Parliament for consideration in due course. Japan will also be submitting the agreement to its diet and, on the completion of parliamentary processes in both countries, the agreement will need to be ratified. Assuming that ratification takes place before the end of November the agreement will in general apply for purposes of Australian tax as from 1st July next. Before concluding, may I say that the Government is pleased that the negotiations with Japan have culminated in this agreement? We take the view that it will be beneficial to Australia and will further promote the growth of harmonious relations between Australia and Japan.
– by leave - In the House of Representatives last Thursday the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made the following statement:
A good deal of attention has been focussed lately on the desirability of encouraging the teaching of Asian languages and cultures in Australian schools and other educational institutions. In the last two decades in particular the economic, cultural, political and military links between Australia and Asia have grown steadily. Australia shares membership in a growing number of regional associations, such as the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, the Asian and Pacific Council and the Asian Development Bank. Trade relations in the Asian area are rapidly strengthening. Personal contacts are increasing because of growing political, tourist and business activities. Practices of co-operation have been established in many areas of professional and technical training as a result of the Colombo Plan and other schemes.
Despite these developments, the total number of students studying an Asian language in Australian secondary schools is small. In 1967, for example, only 370 students presented themselves for matriculation examination in an Asian language, compared with more than 15,000 who presented themselves in French and 3,000 in German. These facts illustrate the need for a greater emphasis on Asian affairs in our education systems. It is one thing, however, to recognise a need; it is another matter to translate the need into well planned courses and teaching materials and to provide the necessary teachers.
Following my discussion of these problems with the State Ministers for Education, the Government with the full support of the State Ministers has decided, as an essential first step, to establish an advisory committee to make a comprehensive survey of the situation as it exists at present, including the factors that have tended to restrict the study of Asian languages in our schools and universities. The membership of the committee will be announced shortly, as soon as the necessary arrangements have been completed. The committee will have the following terms of reference:
To determine the factors which tend to give rise to these deficiencies in the teaching of Asian languages and associated studies, with particular reference to:
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Murphy moving a motion relating to the order of General Business after 8 p.m.
– by leave - I move:
Let me explain to you, Mr Deputy President, and to honourable senators that the passage of this motion will mean that we will continue with the debate on the proposed establishment of a select committee on education and then proceed with the matters as they are set down in the orders of the day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 20 March (vide page 545), on motion by Senator Mckellar:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Last Thursday, before the debate was adjourned, 1 expressed the Labor Party’s opposition to the Bill and briefly, in the few minutes that were available, gave some reasons for that opposition. The Opposition supports the activities of the Australian Wine Board and on no account seeks to deny it the income necessary to enable it to operate under the charter set out in the second reading speech and to carry out its responsibilities. Nevertheless, we point out certain difficulties facing the wine industry and question whether the Board should be permitted to increase charges for promotion at a stage when the supply of the product cannot meet the demand. This leads to the possibility of importing wine to meet the demand that is created by the promotion. Whilst it may be beneficial to have demand greater than supply, thus tending to increase the price, any increase in the cost of wine is of particular significance in the export field.
Let us look at the activities of the Australian Wine Board over the last year. The amount available for promotion in the United Kingdom was §62,500 but that was reduced to §60,000 as a result of devaluation. The expenditure on promotion in Canada was increased last year. Including Commonwealth grants, the expenditure was S37.500. The expenditure on publicity in Australia was more than §150,000. So there has been no lack of advertising in the promotion of wine. I cannot see that there is any necessity for greater expenditure this year than last year. The fact is that in only 3 years out of 11 has the Wine Board found it necessary to charge the maximum levy that it is permitted to charge under the existing Act. It would appear that in the majority of those years the Board had no need to exercise its full powers. Only in the last 2 years has it charged a levy of $1.50 a ton on wine grapes. I believe that the Board should justify the need for additional finance this year before the Parliament would be justified in agreeing to this Bill, the purpose of which is to make it possible for more revenue to go to the Board.
The Board’s expenditure last year included $1,225 for the Australian Wine Centre in London. That is not a recurring expenditure. It will not occur again this year. An amount of $33,865 was spent on publicity in Canada. A payment of $18,000 was made to the Australian Wine Research Institute. A payment of $3,000 was made to the Wine Grape Crop Forecasting Service. The report of the Wine Board does not state whether they are recurring payments or what actual work the forecasting service does. Last year the Board had an excess of income over expenditure of $43,581. When we look at the assets of the Board we see that it is by no means an organisation which is broke or which needs extra finance to continue its present rate of activity. It has securities from which to meet its commitments. It has $92,790 invested in Treasury notes and $14,000 invested in Commonwealth Government bonds. As well as an excess of income over expenditure of $43,581 there are reserve funds of some $50,000, which shows that the Board must justify its demand for some increase before it should expect the Parliament to permit an increase in wine grape charges. The Board’s reports refer to the difficulty of overseas sales. The Board states at page 7 of the annual report for the year 1967-68:
Most of Australia’s wine trade in the United Kingdom is in sweet wines such as cream sherries, sweet sherries and ports and almost all of this wine is shipped to the United Kingdom in bulk containers. Where wine exporters wished to receive the same f.o.b. return as before devaluation, the prices of these wines had to be increased by more than 2/- sterling a gallon. This wag a steep increase in prices of wines which had been selling around 14/- sterling a gallon in bulk at UK ports. The worst feature was that two countries which are major suppliers of the above types of wines devalued their own currency and therefore had a much better price advantage than they enjoyed previously.
This is a period during which we are in strong competition with lower cost countries for the United Kingdom trade. If charges are increased we will be put at a greater disadvantage as this wai have the effect of further worsening the position of exports because of the increase in costs which will result. The Board is budgeting on an average crop of 200,000 tons of grapes a year but, as mentioned in the second reading speech, grape yields are greater than they were previously. With an excess of $43,000 of income over expenditure last year, the Board is budgeting on a yield of 200,000 tons for. what it will need next year. It will be an extremely poor year in the future when the yield is not at least 230,000 tons. I believe that last year the yield was 250,000 tons.
On present values the Board is nor in such a position of hardship as to justify an increase and I respectfully submit that the Minister should submit to the Parliament, plans as to the manner in which the Board proposes to utilise the increased revenue. We should not readily permit, at the sacrifice of the growers, an increase to the Board unless it first makes out a case. It is not sufficient to say, as has been said, that the object is to let the Board expand its work in promotion and research. We do not know whether it has any such plants. I am informed by the Wine and Brandy Producers Co-operative Association of South Australia that in its current budget the Board has allocated $20,000, compared with $18,000 last year, to the Australian Wine Research Institute. No details of the need for this additional allocation are available. This is at a time when the industry itself does not know what research is required. An industry committee has been established to investigate and report on what the . industry requires of the Wine Research Institute. It is submitted that until this is known - and it will be some months before the report is available - the allocation of increased amounts is precipitate.
I submit that we cannot justify an increase for research when the industry does not know the nature of the research required or the cost of it. It is an important question in South Australia, which contributes greatly to the grape yield. The Board’s report shows that in 1959 South Australia processed 135,000 tons of a total Commonwealth yield of 178,000 tons, and in 1968 it processed 168,000 tons of a total Commonwealth yield of 250,000 tons. South Australia is prominent in the production of wine. Interested organisations in the State are protesting against the proposed increase in charges. It cannot be said that the industry or the winegrowers want it. I have a letter signed by. the Secretary of the United Farmers and Graziers of
South Australia, Incorporated, Vine Fruits Section, Mr Colin T. Slee. His signature appears under the name of Mr Stott, Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly, who is General Secretary of the United Farmers and Graziers of South Australia, Incorporated. Not only is the association protesting but also the Vine Fruits Section, which is directly involved, is protesting against the proposed increase. The letter states:
It is felt that if and when an increase is absolutely necessary this should be done at that particular time as the maximum usually becomes the minimum in most cases and at the present time there is no need for increased home promotion although there may be some room for export promotion. It should also be pointed out that most of our grower members are associated with co-operatives and the increased costs will be reflected back to the grower at a time when they can least afford it.
This statement appears to be important, coming as it does from those who are actually concerned in the grape growing industry in South Australia. The Wine and Brandy Producers Co-operative Association of South Australia also has expressed its opposition to the measure. A letter from the Secretary of the Association states:
The members of my association are unanimously opposed lo the proposed increase in the maximum grape levy and have instructed me to request yon to consider this association’s arguments and vote against the amending legislation when this is brought before you.
Appreciating the wide membership of this Association and of the United Farmers and Graziers of South Australia, Incorporated, it would be extremely difficult for any South Australian Labor senator to vote for the increase. I am happy to say that my Party is not prepared to vote for the increase until such time as we get detailed figures as to the Board’s need of this money and how it is to be spent, so that those who are interested in the industry may have a look at the proposal and see whether it is justified. The letter from the Wine and Brandy Producers Co-operative Association continues:
It is pointed out that the wine industry has never been so buoyant at home, and further promotional work cun only help increase the consumption of imported wines as supplies of Australian wines are just not available.
Not only is il unnecessary to increase the levy, there is the further disadvantage that greater promotion to be provided by the increased levy could create dangers to the wine industry, in that it coul’d stimulate the demand for imported wines to the detriment of sales of Australian wines. This danger will be more apparent when the Australian wine industry is able fully to meet domestic requirements. At that time Australians may have acquired a taste for imported wines.
It is admitted that the Australian Wine Board’s administration expenses have increased in line with the general’ trend, but we have just received figures of the 1968 vintage grape crush showing that a record of 249,400 tons of grapes were processed. The Australian Wine Board will therefore automatically receive additional income from the increased tonnage processed. It seems unlikely that future vintages will fall below 250,000 tons. Additional known plantings of vines amount to about 10,000 acres and it is suspected that many acres have been planted under vines of which we have no knowledge.
With this situation in mind, the Wine and Brandy Producers Co-operative Association of South Australia sent a deputation to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) to put before him the problems of the Association in respect of the requirements of levies in the industry in future. I think 1 should point out to honourable senators, for the sake of the record, that the Association is representative of all1 cooperative wineries and distilleries in Australia. Member societies are the Barossa Cooperative Winery Ltd, Berri Co-operative Winery and Distillery Ltd, Clarevale Cooperative Winery Ltd, Loxton Co-operative Winery and Distillery Ltd, Renmark Growers Distillery Ltd, Southern Vales Cooperative Winery Ltd and Waikerie Cooperative Distillery Ltd. The member societies are owned exclusively by shareholders who are growers. The shareholders number in excess of 2,263, a considerable and significant proportion of wine growers in South Australia.
South Australian growers who are members of the Association processed 57,024 tons of wine grapes, or 24% of the total Australian vintage for 1967. The 1967 brandy production distilled by members was 533,902 proof gallons, representing 73.1% of the total Australian brandy production of 730,393 proof gallons, according to the report of the Australian Wine Board. It is clear that a big section of the industry is protesting about the possibility of a price increase for their product. This is not just the protest of a political party. In previous years members of the Association have distilled about 80% of the total Australian brandy production. Wine exported by members during 1967, including wine sold in Australia for export overseas, amounted to 1,048,890 gallons, or 58.65% of total exports of Australian wine for 1966-67. These figures are taken from the report of the Australian Wine Board.
Mindful of the need to maintain the volume of export trade, and threatened by the loss of a considerable gallonage of sales in this field, Association members joined forces and formed a new organisation registered as Co-operative Wines (Australia) Ltd. The express purpose of the venture is to provide bulk export wines to the Emu Wine Company Pty Ltd for export to the United Kingdom and Canada. An agreement was negotiated to this effect and the Emu winery premises were leased for the purpose of blending and finishing wines for the Emu Wine Company Pty Ltd.
The Association has pointed out in respect of the imposition of the levy that backyard wine makers escape payment, because the levy is made only on wine makers processing 10 tons or more. This gives further encouragement to backyard wine makers to increase their already widespread activities to the detriment of the industry. It is estimated that between 35,000 and 40,000 tons of wine grapes are processed annually by backyard wine makers. This is another field of competition to be met by commercial wine makers. Backyard wine makers, because of the increased levy, will gain a further incentive to increase production. The Wine and Brandy Producers Co-operative Association of South Australia put to the Minister a proposal that the scheme should be financed by a tax or excise duty on wines sold within Australia, the funds to be used for promotion and so on. The Association pointed out that it is not a new procedure, because that method is already followed in respect of Australian canned fruits.
The returns from exported wines are of benefit to Australia’s overseas reserves. The proposed situation would be even more advantageous as promotion funds would all come from sales of Australian wines. The
Minister replied to the effect that the scheme was impossible because of international trade agreements. On 9th October last I addressed a question on this matter to the Minister and received this reply, in part:
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GAT)”) does not contain any provisions which would prevent a member country from subsidising exports of primary products, which include sugar and butterfat products.
However, if any member of GATT does subsidise exports of any primary product, that Agreement requires the country concerned not to do so in such a way as to obtain more than an equitable share of world export trade in that product.
That is the basis of the Minister’s stand in refusing a subsidy. As no charge would be imposed on export wines, funds for the promotion of Australian wines would be obtained by a charge upon home consumed wines. Even if that could be classified as a subsidy within the meaning of GATT, obviously at this stage it could not be termed a subsidy paid so that a product could obtain more than an equitable share of world export trade. The Wine Board’s report outlines the difficulties associated with increasing overseas trade. Australia has made a very small impression upon the overseas wine market. The industry will have to overcome a lot of difficulties if it is to gain an increased share of the market. When one takes all these factors into consideration one sees the plight of the grape growers at the present time.
The co-operative wineries in South Australia, which make a large contribution to the wine industry, are protesting against the increased levy. As the Wine Board has not made out a case, we should hesitate to increase the levy. The Wine Board wants to increase its finances to intensify its promotional activities. Before imposing an increased levy on the grape growers we should ask the Wine Board for details of its requirements. In that way we would be able to decide whether any increase was justified. We see no justification for an increase at the present time. All we have is the statement by the Minister that the Wine Board wants additional finance to increase its activities in the field in which it operates. I believe that the Senate should give serious consideration to whether an increase is justified at this stage. The attitude of the Opposition to this legislation could be completely changed if a case were made out for increased expenditure by the Wine Board.
– The Wine Grapes Charges Bill 1969 has the effect of making more finance available to the Australian Wine Board to carry out its various administrative processes, particularly its promotional activities. It is said by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) that this increase in the levy on grapes delivered to wineries and distilleries will ensure that the Wine Board has sufficient revenue available to intensify its promotional activities. I support the Bill. 1 listened with great interest to Senator Cavanagh’s remarks. Those growers who oppose an increase in the levy on their products certainly have a basis for complaint. I do not think that there is any primary producing industry in Australia which is not faced with some problem at the moment in relation to increased costs.
Senator Cavanagh said that generally the growers do not accept this increase. He said that it is on that basis that the legislation is not accepted by the Australian Labor Party. Senator Cavanagh’s comments are scarcely correct and are scarcely acceptable to the Senate. I would like to see the promotional costs borne in some other area rather than be a charge on the product concerned. The Minister has pointed out that all areas of the industry have an adequate opportunity to make their views known to the Government through the Australian Wine Board. The Board comprises representatives of the three sections of the industry - the proprietary wine makers, the co-operative wine makers and the grape growers - and a Government member. It is very difficult to accept Senator Cavanagh’s statement that the grape growers in actual fact oppose this Bill. I have been told on authority that the Federal Grapegrowers Council, through its representative on the Board, supports the Bill and that it actually asked for these measures to be taken. Traditionally grape growers find that their market is the dried fruits industry in one season and in the wine industry in another. But I understand that 80% of the crushers are in favour of this move. So, it is reasonable for supporters of the Government to believe that the proposition is generally acceptable in the industry.
I wish to comment on a survey of the industry which was commenced by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics last year. I believe that this is an important move. I understand that the survey has reached the stage where information is being fed through computers to obtain some of the answers sought originally. In August of last year we were advised that the Government hoped that the survey conducted would present a comprehensive picture of the economics of wine production generally in Australia. I must congratulate the Government for taking action to endeavour to establish the future economics of the industry. All too often today we hear that the economic outlook in various primary industries is not particularly bright. This claim has a foundation in the established industries. But with the growing grape industry it can be said that at this stage the economic outlook is particularly bright. I hope that the survey will influence the Commonwealth Government to give some encouragement to the industry so that greater production will be achieved to fulfil the market which is available and to produce an economy within the industry which will offer a good standard of living to those who wish to enter it. South Australia and New South Wales have grape industries which are particularly successful. L believe that the field work for the survey has been completed in South Australia and in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area of New South Wales, ft has been said that it is most difficult to define who fit into the category of wine grape producers in Victoria. 1 advise the industry to do all that is possible to bring about one authority to represent it throughout Australia. At the present time, even in my own State of Victoria, there is no single authority, which is responsible for the wine grape growing industry.
A problem which besets all primary industries these days and to which insufficient attention is paid by producers generally is the level of capital1 expenditure at which to enter an industry. I am concerned that in these times of high prices for land, equipment and so on insufficient attention is paid to the actual relationship of the capital expenditure involved in the first instance to the national benefit and the profit which will be gained from the produce of the land. In almost all primary industries today there is this problem facing people who wish to enter them. This problem besets some areas of the grape growing industry at the moment. In this industry it takes 4 years after planting before the first crop can be brought in. This waiting period does not enable an individual to be sufficiently protected in those years, particularly if he has committed himself to buying land at a very high figure.
This problem of high land prices besets not only the wine grapes industry but many others. Indeed, in some instances primary producers add to the problem because of their competition for land. I hope that inferences can be drawn in the near future from the survey carried out by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics on problems associated with cost of production, capital costs and interest commitments. 1 hope that these things will be known generally and that the information will be of benefit to this industry which has a great future in Australia. I hope that the promotion of this product, carried out under the auspices of the Australian Wine Board, will continue: that we will maintain competition and demand for the product. This competition and demand are missing at present from so many other areas of Australian primary production.
I support the Wine Grapes Charges Bill. I hope that the problems facing some growers will lead them to take a more active interest in their representation on the Australian Wine Board so that their views will be made known and so that the views put forward by the Board to the Commonwealth Government will embrace all aspects of the industry. I have much pleasure in supporting this Bill.
– The Bill that the Senate is discussing at present is entitled ‘A Bill for an Act to amend section 3 of the Wine Grapes Charges Bill 1929-66’. The object of the Bill is to provide additional funds for the Australian Wine Board. Under the existing legislation the Board can impose a levy of only $1.50 per ton for wine grapes and $4.50 per ton for dried grapes. It is intended by this Bill to increase the amounts to $2.50 per ton for wine grapes and $7.50 per ton for dried grapes.
This Bill was very closely examined by the Australian Labor Party’s Rural Committee which came to the unanimous conclusion that it should be opposed. Senator Cavanagh has placed before the Senate tha case of the Australian Labor Party. Without trying to be repetitive I also want to put a case for the Opposition. Opposition senators have received representations - and I dare say Government supporters also have received them - from various organisations interested in wine grape growing and in the production of wine and brandy. It has been brought forcibly to us that we should oppose this Bill because there is nothing in the 1968 report of the Australian Wine Board to indicate that an increase is necessary at this time. If one looks at the report one finds that the assets of the Board are fairly stable. It has a surplus of about $43,000 and In view of the increased acreage sown to grapes, particularly in South Australia, it is considered that there is no necessity to increase the levy at this time. The extra money which will be forthcoming from the increased production will be sufficient to help the industry in promotion of its product.
It has been stated by other honourable senators that Australian wine consumption is over the production figure and therefore money need not be spent on promoting wine for the home market but should be spent on promotion of export markets. It is feared at present that if home consumption of wine is not catered for in some way by increased production then there is a possibility that consumption of imported wine could increase remarkably over the years and that this could have an adverse effect on our horrie market. I think from memory that the figure for consumption of imported wines is about 0.6%. Therefore, the Australian Labor Party believes that at this time there is no necessity to increase the levy.
It has been pointed out that the maximum amount of the levy, $1.50 per ton, has been levied on only three occasions between 195S and 1968. The figure has varied. It seems from the report of the Board that this is sufficient to enable it to carry on with its activities. We do not fail to recognise the work that the Wine Board is doing. If it is essential for the Board to obtain more money for promotion, there are other ways of doing so, as other speakers have pointed out. The Australian Labor Party has received correspondence from the Wine and Brandy Producers Co-operative Association of South Australia. Senator Cavanagh quoted extensively from the letter from Mr Litchfield, the Secretary of that Association, but I would like to read one paragraph. This letter was received by other honourable senators. In it Mr Litchfield stated: lt is pointed out that the wine industry has never been so buoyant at home, and further promotional work can only help increase the consumption of imported wines as supplies of Australian wines are just not available.
That bears out the statement that 1. made earlier. More and more Australians are acquiring a taste for wine, something which was not heard of 20 years ago. In recent years many Australians have taken to drinking wine. If they acquired a taste for imported wine this could have some effect on our home market. If we look at the balance sheet presented in the report of the Australian Wine Board we see that the income from the wine grapes levy in 1966- 67 was $239,049. In 1967-68 this figure increased to 5356,942. That indicates greater production. Other honourable senators have referred to the estimated increase in acreage of some 10,000 acres, although it is widely believed that the increase will be greater than this. Many new acres have already been planted. Just recently a new settlement was established at Nildottie on the River Murray in South Australia. It consists of small holdings of 20 to 25 acres. The whole scheme has been taken up by people desirous of entering the wine grape growing industry. The expected returns from the new plantings will be many thousands of tons. With the increase in acreage and with the increase in production, the levy certainly will increase. A perusal of the wine grape levy figures reveals such a remarkable increase from 1966-67 to 1967-68 that there does not seem to be a case to warrant an increase in the levy at present. Page 6 of the Wine Board report states:
Over the past 2 years the Board has made a careful study of finance required for effective operations and after an alternative method of raising funds was considered, the Board decided to seek an increase in the maximum rates of levy.
The proposal was that the levy for wine grapes be increased by $1 per ton and for dried grapes by $3 per ton. The Australian Labor Party is of the opinion that there is no need to increase the levy at present. That is the reason why we oppose it.
– in reply - I am very glad that at long last I am now able to reply to the second reading speeches. Some 20 days have elapsed since the Bill was introduced. We are now about to complete the second reading stage. On the first reading there were twelve speeches which, as far as f know, constitute a record in this place. The Bill is a fiscal measure on which speeches which do not have to be related to the Bill can be made before the first reading. This procedure has been followed. In the second reading debate about six speeches have been made, and I wish to reply to several points of view which were raised.
After listening to some of the Opposition speakers one would be forgiven for thinking that this measure has been foisted upon the wine growers and the wine industry and that nobody in the industry is in favour of the measure. That is not the case at all. The Australian Wine Board, which has twelve members, has, by a majority decision, asked the Government to introduce the Bill. Some 2 years ago. the Board asked the former Minister for Primary Industry to introduce such a Bill. The Opposition says that now is not the time to introduce the Bill, but that is not the view of the Wine Board. Speakers on both sides have made it clear that the fact that the maximum amounts of the levy are raised does not necessarily mean that the maximum amounts will be imposed immediately. It has been stated clearly that the existing maximum rates have been reached on only two or three occasions during the period in which the Act has been in existence. If the Board thinks that extra money is needed it makes a recommendation to the Minister for Primary Industry who, after full consideration of the case put by the Board, agrees to the recommendation or does not. That is a safeguard for the industry.
The history of the wine industry in Australia is a marvellous success story. I think we can all be proud of the wine industry. Mention has been made of our wines being sold overseas. I have had the experience of sampling our wines overseas. One of the bugbears of the wine industry, to my way of thinking, is that over the years our wine has been exported in bulk and the overseas importers in nine cases out of ten have blended our wines with other wines. That may be all right, the wines are then not sold under their original names. I think the wine drinkers of Australia get very good value for their money. Those of us who have tried overseas wines, which are very much dearer than Australian wines, would agree that in most cases the overseas wines are not much better than the Australian wines. Our wines are improving steadily; there is no question about that. I had the pleasure of hearing a very prominent man in New York say that he heard a French wine buyer tell a French wine grower that the Australian dry champagne was equal to any of the best that France could produce. Year by year production has increased. Seasonal vagaries play their part. Today mention was made of the damage done by the rain in Victoria and, in particular, in the Mildura area. No doubt this will affect the production of wine.
After listening to Senator O’Byrne, who opened for the Opposition, I formed the opinion, rightly or wrongly, that he seemed to be more concerned about the cost to the wine drinker than about the benefits which wine growers will receive from the implementation of this Bill. If the wine grower cannot grow grapes at a profit, obviously be must go out of the industry and there will be no wine for the wine drinker to drink. I think it is apparent that this measure will help the wine grower. The
Board, before deciding to make a recommendation to the Minister that the amounts should be increased, would have to take its budget into account very carefully. The Board might not decide on the maximum amount; it might decide on any level. The Board is composed of representatives of the wine growers and others who are interested in the industry, including brandy producers. I think it is only reasonable to expect that the Board would give very serious consideration to all matters before it made a recommendation to the Minister, knowing that unless the proposition to the Minister was very sound indeed he would not agree to the raising of the levy.
Some of the bodies represented on the Wine Board have raised some opposition to the Bill. As the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) informed the other place when the Bid was debated there, those interests are responsible for only 18% of the wine produced in Australia, but they export 50% of all wine exported from Australia. Those people thought that the amount of money made available for promotion of exports should be increased. I suppose that is fair enough. If 50% of the wine they produce is exported, naturally they are interested in exports. But they are not the bulk of the wine growers. Last year something like $155,000 was spent on promotion in Australia. About $154,000 was spent on overseas promotion. Of that amount $83,000 came from the Board’s own funds. I point out that such payments are matched by the Overseas Trade Promotion Committee, to which the Government subscribes, on a $1 for $1 basis. I think a very conclusive case has been put that the Bill is in the interests of the wine growers and of the wine industry generally. I hope that the Senate will give the Bill1 a speedy passage in Committee.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
– I inform the Senate that on 18th February I led a delegation from the Commonwealth Parliament to attend the opening of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and, on behalf of the Parliament, presented the Council with a pair of bookends for the table of the Council. I have now received a letter from the Clerk of the Council containing the following resolution:
We, the members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, in Council assembled, express our thanks to the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia for the beautiful and functional gift of bookends which they have this day presented to the Council.
The presence of your delegation at the opening of this re-constituted Council and the gift which we have received are accepted as marks of esteem and of the continuing regard of the parent legislature for the welfare of our humble institution.
We reciprocate your warm greetings and expressions of goodwill and look to the continuation of the friendly association that has always existed between our respective Houses.
Debate resumed from 5 March (vide page 328), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– As this is a Bill which the Senate cannot amend, I take this opportunity to use the forms of the House to refer to an incident which occurred this afternoon. I believe that I would be remiss as a senator if I did not make some reference to the incident which occurred here this afternoon and which, I am sure, all honourable senators genuinely regret.
– All honourable senators?
-I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. There seems to be a general move throughout this country to denigrate and to undermine the institution of Parliament and the very democracy in which we live. Today we saw an example of this in an incident the like ofwhichI have not seen sinceI have been a member of this place. I hope that I shall never see it happen again. It is fairly well known that people who come into the galleries of the Senate as guests can be there legitimately only at the invitation of an honourable senator. This places the staff in a most invidious position. When they approach a person sitting in the galleries around the floor of the chamber to question him and they are told that the person is the guest of a certain senator, they can do nothing further about it. It was quite significant to me that the people who were in the gallery today were obviously invited to be there. I did not see any on this side of the chamber.
– There were a couple there.
– I said that I did not see them andI certainly did not see them holding up posters. Perhaps 1 had a blind eye. But that is a matter whichI mention just in passing. Although in talking of this incident I am not laying the blame anywhere, there is no doubt in my mind that some of these people came here with the express wish to be arrested. 1 am quite sure of that.
The thing they would have wished most was that the Senate should adjourn because of the uproar. Sir, I humbly congratulate you on the method you adopted in handling this situation. If you had acted otherwise the Senate would have played right into their hands and they could have been arrested. The President has the right to call on Black Rod and to say: ‘Arrest those people’. Black Rod can call on the attendants in the halls and any police present to arrest them. Then they could have been brought before the Bar of the Senate. I think all honourable senators are aware, although the public may not be, that the Senate has almost unlimited powers in dealing with a person who has been arrested in these circumstances. Thank goodness the President used common sense and did not play into the hands of these people who wanted exactly that. If the Senate had adjourned I can forecast what the headlines would have been - ‘Senate Adjourns for Zarb’. They would have achieved their objective. But that did not happen.
– What would you have done?
– I am pretty jealous of this place. I have been here a darned sight longer than you have. I am jealous of it as an institution. 1 hope it is still here and is conducted as a place of decorum when I and the rest of us are long dead and gone. It is our duly to preserve it. I very seldom speak in this House but 1 am speaking on this occasion because I have very deep feelings about it. With respect 1 suggest to you, Mr President, that you make a statement to the Senate, which we can endorse unanimously, to the effect that we will not tolerate this kind of thing again and that people who do it will not be treated as leniently as they were today. I think senators should look to themselves and ensure that they do not invite demonstrators here as their guests. They should realise that when they invite guests to sit in the galleries of the Senate they accept some responsibility for the conduct of those guests. I ask you, Mr President, to reflect on my request that you make a statement to the Senate, which we could carry unanimously, about the conduct of people invited here in the future by senators.
– In view of the fact that this matter has been raised I think it is essential that I make a few remarks about it because, as will be realised by the interjections which are coming forward, honourable senators on the Government side have decided that 1 am a guilty party.
– I did not mention you.
– When honourable senators say ‘Hear, hear!’ or ‘Here it conies’, they convey the impression that I am a guilty party.
– lt is not you but the fact that you think that someone is guilty.
– They believe so much in justice that 1 am not allowed to submit my protestation at their determination of guilt.
– Chifley knew you.
– We gel these snide remarks from time to time, from irresponsible senators who have no policy, in an attempt to denigrate someone. I support the assembly that was here this morning demonstrating a great cause. When people are emotionally stirred up because the children they have reared are faced with a sacrifice against their conscience, possibly to go to a place where slaughter is the order of the day, can you expect a mother, a father or a relative not to demonstrate about the matter? When you find that the Crimes Act is being used against kids because, in accordance with their beliefs, they have handed out leaflets protesting against the National Service Act and that some are prosecuted for a breach of the law, the viciousness of the Crimes Act can be seen. Accordingly today when they assembled at Parliament House they had my support because 1 believe that people in a democracy have the right to demonstrate in opposition to the Government’s legislation whenever they think it necessary to do so.
– Would you invite anyone-
– I will come to that. I went to the President’s office today and got an invitation for six visitors to sit in the galleries. As I believe that the demonstration was in the top gallery, I am pleased to say-
– Did you not look around you?
– I was not here. 1 accept that, but 1 still do not believe that those whom I permitted into the Senate, although part of the assembly that was here for the purpose of demonstrating, did in fact demonstrate in the House. If they were, 1 can only say that I accepted them as friends, as decent citizens, possibly very worthy citizens, who made the sacrifice of coming to Canberra for a cause, and I had the pleasure of inviting them to this House of the Parliament. 1 asked a question of the Minister about who was stopping them at the front door and he replied that Senator Murphy had asked a similar question of the President and that the President had replied. I then inquired from Senator Murphy what the reply was and, having heard that the reply was to the effect that the President was surprised at this and did not think it should happen, I asked Senator Poyser: :l wonder are they outside still being refused entry in view of that reply?’ Senator Poyser and 1 then walked to the front to see whether some were being refused entry to the Parliament. When coming back we saw more policemen than demonstrators running in all directions and we knew that something had happened. Everyone accepts that my rising and going out was a signal for someone to demonstrate. 1 say definitely that on no account do I support demonstrations within a House of the Parliament, f say, however, that I understand that the emotions of people will go to extremes, and that the actions of these normally law abiding citizens in coming to this House for the purpose of demonstrating indicates that deep’ consideration should be given to the matter about which they demonstrated.
– I should like to add a few words to those of Senator Cavanagh following what Senator Branson had to say. The people who came here came as a result of extreme provocation and I believe that the Government, by its actions and by its legislation, is responsible for that provocation.
– That is a good smear tactic.
– Do you condone their behaviour?
– 1 think that a government which imprisons a young lad for 2 years deserves the full brunt of the demonstration.
– Is he any worse off than the boys who go to Vietnam?
– No, and I am strongly opposed to the boys going to Vietnam, and I do not believe that any young man of 20 years of age who, for reasons of conscience, refuses to go should be imprisoned for 2 years.
– He has broken the law.
– I rose to make an explanation rather than a speech on the subject.
– In that case you should make your personal explanation.
– I sought permission for ten people to enter the gallery today. It is possible that some of them took part in the demonstration but at no time was I aware that they intended to take the action they took. At no time would I seek to justify such action or such a performance, but you must understand that these people came here with a purpose and for a cause. I support their coming here and demonstrating but I think the matter went a little too far. I do not believe they should have taken such action within the Senate chamber. In future, on today’s experience, I shall exercise more care.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) [5.441- lt is almost time for the suspension of the sitting but I must say that I am surprised at the manner in which Senator Bran.son has raised this matter. In his own words he has virtually accused every member of the Opposition of being party to the demonstration that took place in this chamber this afternoon. His choice of words .or, at any rate, to say the least-
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. (General Business Taking Precedence of Government Business)
Debate resumed from 18 March (vide page 433), on motion by Senator Cohen:
– When the debate on this motion from the Opposition to set up a select committee of the Senate was adjourned last week, I had been dealing in an introductory way with the general nature of the problem of meeting the demands of an expanding educational programme. I think that on both sides of the Senate we are aware that, because of its very nature, education is an expanding problem in all countries. The demand for increasing education for living, the demand for increasing education in a technological age and the demand for increasing education in the greater and belter utilisation of the leisure that people quite rightly expect to have in these times is of itself becoming tremendous. This demand, of course, is reflected in the amount of money required to meet it. During the course of his speech, Senator Cohen quoted an extract from the Melbourne Age’ in which it was suggested that perhaps a national review of and inquiry into education would persuade Canberra to loosen the purse strings. Here, of course, there is the implication that Canberra, or the Federal Government, has in some way or other failed to loosen the purse strings.
I should like to examine in some detail the evidence that is readily available to anybody who cares to look for it that in fact over the years Canberra has loosened the purse strings to a very great degree. In his speech, the Minister for Works (Senator
Wright) gave some figures to substantiate this. 1 should like to amplify them to some extent and to comment on some of them. The Parliamentary Library was good enough to make available to me some figures relating to comparative expenditure levels on public health, education, war and defence from the year 1947-48 onwards. These relate to expenditure by all public authorities and enterprises in these spheres. We have often heard the gross national product quoted. In 1948-49, the proportion of the gross national product spent on education was 1.22%. In 1967-68, it had risen to 3.45%. If my arithmetic is correct, this means that there has been an increase of 283% in the proportion of our gross national product devoted’ to education. Compared with that, in 1948-49, .91% of the gross national product was spent on public health compared with 1.57% or an increase of 192% in 1967-68.
The proportion of the gross national product expended on war and defence in 1948-49 was 1.7%. By 1967-68, it had grown to 4.12%, which represents an increase of 242%. So during that period, the increase in expenditure on education has been much greater than the increase in expenditure on the other two items of health and war and defence, and this despite a very rapidly expanding expenditure on war and defence in recent years. I come now to capital expenditure on all buildings. In 1966-67, 7.4% of a total expenditure of $l28m odd on all buildings was expended on buildings for education.
– Are these all buildings throughout Australia?
– Yes. Let me now look at the direct Commonwealth expenditure on education compared to the total budget, from 1961-62 onwards. In 1961-62, the Commonwealth spent on education $54.649m out of a total budget of $3,785m. This represents 1.44% of the total budget expenditure. For 1968-69, it is estimated that the expenditure by the Commonwealth on education will be $210.575m or 3.19% of a total budget of $6,590m. So that over that period of 7 years, an increasing percentage of Commonwealth money has been allocated to the expanding needs of education, and I can see no evidence anywhere to show that the Commonwealth has in any way neglected this very important field.
Tt is very easy to criticise total expenditure and to argue that the purchasing power of money has depreciated. Of course it has. But what I am quoting are the percentages of our total expenditure which have gone towards meeting our educational needs, and on this ground the Commonwealth Government has certainly not been shown to have been neglectful. This problem of deciding on how much money shall be spent on education is not entirely a matter for the Commonwealth because, as we all know, the administrative role is largely in the hands of the States. The States have freedom to allocate to education whatever percentage they think fit of the moneys made available to them under the CommonwealthState financial arrangements. I submit that the Stales are doing >a magnificent joh. They have devoted to the purposes of education something in the vicinity of 30% of the total moneys allocated to them. I have figures of total expenditure by Stale and local governments front I960 onwards. They show that in 1963 the total expenditure was $339m and by 1968 it had increased to $797m.
So the demands and needs of education are being met. But one can still say that what is being done is inadequate. I believe that national housekeeping in this regard is something like domestic housekeeping. We all know the problems that arise at home. Mum wants a new washing machine and Dad wants a new car. Mum might be able to put up u very powerful argument and Dad might lose out on the car. It depends on the circumstances. I cannot see that in the ultimate the problem of deciding how much money can be allocated by governments for any specific purpose is any different from the problems that we meet in business or at home. It is a problem of budgeting.
In this case we have a divided authority or shared responsibility between the Commonwealth and the States. This is where we need to he a little careful. We should not judge our achievements in the field of meeting the needs of education purely and simply on a financial basis. Finance is not the only factor in relation to education. There can be two schools on identical budgets, with one achieving magnificent results and the other not doing so well. All honourable senators can call to mind schools which are not well endowed but which have very great success in the sort of people they turn out. There is a lot more to education than money. We need to look at these matters.
There has to be a public awareness that education is something that has to be earned or to be worked for; it is not something thai can be dropped into a person’s lap. One does not educate a boy; one makes it possible for him to acquire an education. One sends him to school, but it is up to the boy how he makes use of his opportunities. On a national basis, we need to change our attitude somewhat from the undue emphasis on the financial side. We have to look at what can be done in the home in creating a love for learning. Sometimes a false evaluation is made of what constitutes education. We can acquire a narrow, technical learning which may gain us a degree in a particular field but which leaves us vastly ignorant of the things that go to make life what it should be. To me, this is the real purpose of education - to create an awareness of the environment and the world in which a man lives. We can overemphasise the financial side of education. We measure education wrongly when we concentrate on that aspect alone.
The Opposition has proposed the establishment of a select committee to examine the problems in the field of education. I am convinced that Senate select committees can do many things. They can do good work in many fields. But I wonder how effective they can be in this field. Such a select committee would have to accumulate a vast amount of factual material from each State at both State school and private school levels. All this material would have to be co-ordinated and evaluated to provide a basis for policy. But the question is: Whose policy is it to be? The Senate select committee, on the basis of its studies, could suggest lines of policy. But will all the States accept those lines of policy?
Are we to suggest a monolithic structure for education? Are we to suggest common lines for both the independent schools and the State schools? One of the great virtues of our present system is that we have a diversity of approaches. Surely the State sphere is big enough, ft is difficult enough in such a vast organisation to bring in new thinking on educational processes. I believe that to a great degree the independent schools have an advantage because of their greater mobility in this field. They are more able to adapt to new ideas in education.
So what are we to do in respect of this proposed committee? I believe that it could not adequately meet the problems that present themselves to us. What then would remain to the committee but to suggest increased allocations in toto or particular allocations in the various fields of education that have been mentioned? To a certain extent, this would be regarded by the States as an intrusion into their field. Certainly there has not been a request from the States for the Senate or the Commonwealth Government to set up an inquiry of this sort. There is a very good reason why such a request has not been made. The States already have the opportunity to meet together and discuss their problems. They meet with Commonwealth representatives in the Australian Education Council. A meeting of the Council was held in Adelaide only last week. The Council is made up of all the State Ministers for Education and the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science. It has reported on its meeting. Let me take the opportunity to read part of the report which was published in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ on 22nd March. It states:
Each State will take appropriate action to set out the needs of that State for the education of children up to the completion of secondary schooling and for the education of teachers.
To provide a common framework for the several State surveys and to make possible nationwide planning to meet the needs revealed, the States will adopt common terms of reference for their surveys.
When the surveys are completed they will be collated and considered by the council. Action will then be taken to formulate a nation-wide plan for the fulfilment of needs in accordance with priorities determined by the States. The Commonwealth’s co-operation will be sought to put this plan into effect. The Federal Minister for Education and Science (Mr Fraser) took part in yesterday’s discussion but was not available for comment afterwards.
The meeting was attended by State DirectorsGeneral of Education who have been engaged in talks in Adelaide since Monday.
– It is pretty plain that it is necessary, is it not?
– Yes. I have said right from the outset that the needs of education are expanding and need to be reviewed. Here, I am saying, is the modus operandi for that review.
– What would you have said tonight if that meeting had not taken place last Friday?
– Had I not had that information now I would have still said that we had in existence the Australian Education Council that had already been formed and the States, knowing this, I repeat, had not asked us to take the action proposed.
– We have to give the leadership.
– The Commonwealth has given the leadership and also the wherewithal. No Federal Government has taken a greater interest in the field of education than has this Government over the last few years. I will not delay the Senate by reading in detail - because they are available to everyone - the more recent grants for the field of pre-school education, for libraries and for teacher training. The Government is meeting the needs and now we intend to continue to meet the needs with the cooperation of the States.
This is one of the important matters that the Senate has debated. I admit that the Opposition’s action to bring this debate into the Senate is commendable. We have in the Senate debated matters that we should not have been debating. We have devoted a lot of time to trivialities and unimportant things but tonight and last week we have debated important matters. This has given the Opposition the opportunity to express itself and it has given the Government the opportunity to tell the public of Australia what is being done in this field of education which, it is admitted on all sides, is important and demands the closest attention of governments. But I cannot agree that the proposal of the Opposition is the best thing than can be done in the circumstances and I propose to move an amendment. I move:
Leave out all words after That’, insert - bearing in mind:
Nevertheless, the Senate, noting the particularly serious economic situation of the independent school system, strongly supports the principle of aid to independent schools and wishes to see the situation established in which the independent schools, step by step with the Government schools, will be able to improve the quality of education.
The Senate expresses the view that the situation should be established in which the independent schools, by their own efforts and with Government support, will be able both to improve the quality of education they offer and to provide places for those children whose parents prefer to send them to an independent school.’
– Is this moved on behalf ofthe Government?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - Is the motion seconded?
– I second it. I agree with Senator Prowse that it is a pleasure to find the Senate after 3 weeks dealing with the urgent affairs of the country rather than finding itself engrossed in discussing questions which can only damage the reputation of this Parliament. On behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party I say that we will support the amendment which Senator Prowse has moved on behalf of the Government. Our first reason is that we feel thatthe ground was taken away from under the motion which was moved by Senator Cohen by events of last week. As Senator Prowse has said, there was a meeting of the Ministers for Education in each State which was also attended by the Federal Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and that meeting determinedto set on foot an inquiry which would cover practically the same ground as that which has been proposed by Senator Cohen. My first feeling when I read the statement was that this might be a repetition of something that has happened before. We have noticed on two or three occasions that when a motion has been moved for setting up a Senate select committee action has been taken to set up a departmental committee upon similar lines, but I realised upon examination that this was not so.
First of all, the inspiration asI read it, for the action taken by the meeting of State Minister for Education and the Federal Minister for Education and Science came from a request from three well-known educational authorities. These authorities which requested the council of Ministers to take this action were listed as the New South Wales Teachers Federation, the New South Wales Parents and Citizens Association and the New South Wales Infant Schools Clubs Federation. In view of the fact that these three organisations had asked for the action to be taken, I felt that the Government must be exonerated from any suggestion of merely attempting to sidetrack the motion that had been moved by Senator Cohen. I believe, too, that if we were now to agree to the motion of Senator Cohen we would be placed in a most invidious situation. The situation would exist that the Minister for Education in each State has agreed that there shall be a complete survey of education and when each of them has completed the survey it will then be placed before the Australian Council for Educational Research. It will collate the findings and no doubt make recommendations.
I could not for the life of me see anything but embarrassment in an approach to the Ministers, at the very time when they were conducting an inquiry, with the information that the Senate was conducting a parallel inquiry and desired that the Ministers should place the services of their departments at the disposal of the Senate committee. I therefore felt that when this action had been taken, as I have said, at the request of the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation, the New South Wales Parents’ and Citizens’ Association and the New South Wales Infant Schools Clubs Federation, the ground upon which Senator Cohen might have relied to put forward his motion had been taken from him. Frankly,I could not see that it would be proper for us to proceed with the motion that he has moved.
Dealing now with the general question of education,I could not agree more with the statement of Senator Prowse that too many people are inclined to think that education ls only a matter of providing more money. Senator Prowse was quite right when he said that that was unfortunately a mistaken attitude that many people have. One instance, of course, is the habit so many people have of finding out the expenditure per head of population of various countries on education and then saying: ‘One country spends a lot on education, so the education given there must be good. Another country does not spend so much on education, so it is inferior in that field.’ I think the situation was summed up very well by Malcolm Muggeridge, the well-known English commentator, when he referred to places like California, where more money per head of population is spent on education than anywhere else in the world. California is famous in literature and life for crimes of violence, moral depravity of every kind and the highest rate of lunacy in the world, yet that place spends more per head of population on education today than anywhere else in the world. I am not suggesting that by spending a lot of money on education that situation is promoted. I am suggesting that unless money is spent wisely on education - and there is the rub - the danger is that value will not be obtained for what is spent.
– What does the honourable senator think about Berkeley University:
– That is an example of a university which is endowed with money to a degree which should make it the finest university in the world, yet its students seem to be convinced they are worse off than university students in any other part of the world. The situation at Berkeley University has been one of near chaos for a considerable time, yet it is overflowing with money. I intent to repeat what I remember saying 7 or 8 years ago in the Senate on an occasion when the late Senator Spooner was Leader of the Government in the Senate. I said then that the first need for education was not money and not buildings, although of course they played their part. I said that the number one need, in my view, was qualified teachers and more of them. Any government that intends to take action in regard to education should make the number one problem upon which to concentrate the training of qualified teachers.
In Victoria, my own State, that ls the most serious problem of the moment. There grave shortages of teachers have led in some cases to a staggering of school hours. Some Victorian schools commence classes at 7.30 or 8 o’clock in the morning so that they can, as it were, get more out of the science teachers. In other Victorian schools teachers are threatening to go on strike. The secondary teachers’ organisation has announced that it proposes to demand of every teacher appointed to a school a statement of his qualifications, and unless he is qualified the other teachers will threaten not to work with him. In my view the shortage of teachers generally and the lack of qualified teachers constitute the number one problem to be solved.
Some years ago the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia - the Martin Committee - did a sterling job in surveying the educational field. In its report it made the point very strongly when it said: lt is clear that much of the effectiveness of education in this country and any real prospect for educational advance rests on the quality of preparation of teachers.
I do not think it would be out of place for me to quote once again some of the recommendations made by the Martin Committee in respect of the improvement of teacher training. It recommended:
I believe that the recommendations are worthy of repetition because they contain a blueprint of some of the things that must be done to solve the number one problem in the field of education - the provision of sufficient adequately trained teachers. I believe that the committee which is to be set up in the States will undoubtedly make that one of the principal features of its report. A report is to be prepared in each State and sent to the Australian Council of Educational Research, a body which has devoted considerable attention to teacher training. I believe that that matter can be left safely, together with other important problems, for consideration by the body that is to be set up by a council of the Federal Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and State Ministers of Education. J look forward with confidence and hope to a report from them which will place before us the needs of our great educational system. For that reason 1 support the first half of the amendment which has been moved on behalf of the Government. 1 also support the declaration of principle which is contained in the second half of the proposed amendment. The principle of aid for schools has been endorsed by every political party in Australia. It is noticeable that there is no dissent from that proposition by any honourable senator in the Chamber. The difference of opinion lies in the degree to which that aid should be given.
– And in the method.
– There is a difference of opinion as to the degree of aid and, I agree with Senator Ormonde, as to the method by which it is to be given. But the principle has been accepted by every political party in Australia. I claim some credit for the Australian Democratic Labor Party for assisting to bring about that state of affairs. As every honourable senator knows, there was a time before the existence of the DLP when no political party in Australia was prepared even to consider the question of what some people call ‘aid’ and other people call ‘justice’ to independent schools. Members of political parties were told that it was political poison and that it was dangerous to bring it up. The DLP felt that the people of Australia were fair minded enough to treat aid to independent schools on its merits, and brought the matter into the political field. As a result, it is today being examined on the basis of its merits and not on the basis of prejudice. I believe that fair minded people give credit to the DLP for that. I also give credit to the Government because in earlier years it made the first steps in this direction. I think the Government found, despite the gloomy prognostications of people who said that it would pay the penalty for its actions at the elections, that the people of Australia were fair minded enough to treat the matter on its merits. The Government has not suffered in any way because of the fact that in a spirit of justice it took some action in regard to this important question of aid to independent schools.
I am glad for reasons other than mere abstract reasons of justice that the Government has taken this action. As has been said by the Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, on quite a number of occasions, justice for independent schools is a good economic proposition, too. If the independent schools closed down and the 20% or 25% of the children in Australia who attend them were to go to schools conducted by the State there would be educational chaos. Even when the chaos had been ironed out it would be found that so much money would be required by the Government to meet the additional costs of these children that any general improvement in the educational standards of the children who are at present attending government schools would be impossible for the next 20 or 30 years. Any additional money for education would be mopped up in providing for the children who had been forced out of the independent schools. Some years ago an inquiry was conducted into independent schools by the Australian Council of Educational Research. Its findings, a copy of which I have in my hand, were very conclusive.
– What year was that?
– I think it was 1965-66. This inquiry revealed that because of the overwhelming increase in educational costs the percentage of children attending government schools was increasing remarkably and the percentage of children attending independent schools was, for the first time, starling to fall. I wish to quote some of the statements made as a result of that inquiry. These statements were published in the ‘School Bell’, which is the official organ of the Victorian Council of School Organisations. The following point was made in regard to Catholic schools:
During the post war period their proportion of the nation’s total school population remained relatively steady at one-fifth until recent years. The proportion began to decrease in 1965 and last year-
Which was 1967 - showed a significant drop to become 19%. Although the proportion of Catholics in the community has increased more rapidly than other religious groups, only one State, Queensland, shows a rising percentage of enrolments in Catholic schools.
The most striking gains made by government schools have been in the proportions of adolescents in the total population staying on. Between 1956 and 1966 the percentage of 16-year-olds in government schools more than doubled except in Western Australia and Tasmania.
The percentage of 1 6-year-olds in government schools trebled in Victoria while the independent schools improved on their figure by only a few per cent. The article goes on to point out the very significant fact that there is a steady decrease in the percentage of children attending independent schools and a very considerable increase in the number of children attending government schools. This is in spite of the fact that the proportion of parents one would expect to want their children to go to independent schools is increasing. The obvious conclusion is that because of costs it is impossible for the independent school authorities to provide the buildings, teachers and equipment for all children whose parents wish them to go to an independent school. This means that the Government will have to meet increasing costs, ft also means that the Government’s percentage of the educational bill will continue to rise unless some provision is made to assist the independent schools.
Up to date these schools have not asked for complete support. They are asking for considerable aid and it is perfectly obvious from statements made only last week by the bishops in New South Wales that unless they get considerable aid the provision they can make for an expanding school population must show a very great decrease. The situation facing the Government is this: lt must either provide reasonable assistance for those organisations that are prepared to erect and maintain independent schools or lake upon itself the whole burden of providing education for all children. I believe that there is an economic gain for the Government in the present system. Some action along the lines envisaged in the amendment must be taken. I hope that all sections of the Senate will vote for the amendment, lt would surprise me if any honourable senator could see in any decision made by his party a reason why he should vote against it. I hope that the Senate will be unanimous in confirming the principle upon which justice in education in the future must depend.
I am constrained to raise one other matter. I think that something is being attempted at the present time which could cause serious damage to the whole of our educational system. .1 hope that the committee of inquiry of Federal and State Education Ministers will treat very seriously the attempt that is being made by certain organisations of a political character to infiltrate into the schools and use them for purposes for which schools should never be used. I think that with most people there are objections to attempts to politicalise children. Even in trade union rules there are often provisions that junior members are not permitted to take part in strikes. The attitude is that because of their age one should not endeavour to embroil them in the matter or to force them over on to one side. I am emboldened to bring this matter before the Senate because of the serious attempts by certain people to infiltrate into the schools and take action of the most damaging character in regard to children, without the consent of their parents. No organisation is entitled to attempt to influence children in the ways that these organisations are trying to do without the consent of the parents or of the educational authorities.
We have an organisation in the universities. I shall not refer to it other than to say that it calls itself the Students for Democratic Society. The organisation which is endeavouring to influence the school children consists of a mixed group of excitement chasers, mixed up idealists, Communists and Trotskyists. I absolve the Communists from control of the organisation because I think that even they would have found this peculiarly mixed organisation difficult to control. It is a damaging and dangerous organisation. But whatever we think of it, I do not think anybody could have any other opinion than that this organisation, which apparently was spawned in the schools, is one which presents a grave threat to the children of Austrafia and the educational institutions they attend. This organisation which has been set up calls itself Students in Dissent and it exists at the moment in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. For all I know it may exist elsewhere. I know that it is issuing newspapers and is endeavouring to influence children in ali sorts of manners which would be repugnant to any decent citizen but particularly repugnant to parents of school children.
We had an instance of the work of this organisation in Melbourne within recent weeks. The police were called to the East Preston High School and they seized copies of booklets and leaflets which were being distributed to the children by young men. Anybody who has been a teacher, as I have been, knows that there are very strict regulations - and very desirable regulations - stating that nobody shall distribute literature of any kind to children at a school without the consent of the department. The particular booklet which was issued to these children was called ‘Underground’. It stems from this organisation to which I referred. It contained a full page of instructions for a do-it-yourself fire bomb. It listed the chemicals and explained how they should be mixed. There were a number of articles urging the children to establish anticonscription movements. Another page was headed ‘An Intelligent Guide to Sexual Contraception.’ It listed the prices for the pill and other contraceptives. The book was studded with what are commonly known as four-letter words and a note in the booklet said that it is to be circulated in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland, the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Britain. There was a single foolscap page inside which was entitled ‘Pornographic Scandals, Number One.’ All this is being distributed amongst schoolchildren by an organisation set up for this purpose. It is being done in defiance of the teachers and, obviously, in defiance of the authority and consent of the parents.
I make no apology for saying that if we are to have an inquiry into the school system and the way it should operate then one subject of inquiry ought to be how this sort of thing is to be dealt with. I think the Senate may be interested in some of the details about this organisation Students in Dissent which is supposed to cater for the teenagers of Australia. The establishment of Students in Dissent was advertised in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ on 16th August 1968. The meeting to establish the organisation was first advertised in a roneoed sheet called Tabloid Underground’ which purports to be the official organ of Students in Dissent. Tabloid Underground’ gave the address of Students in Dissent as care of 1 Shirley Grove, East St Kilda. No 1 Shirley Grove, East St Kilda, is the address given by two of the demonstrators in the riot at the United States Consulate on 4th July last. The two demonstrators concerned were James Reginald Scannel and William Dowling.
The ‘Sun’ of 20th September 1967 contained a picture and story about Mr Dowling. It said that he was one of three students reprimanded and fined $20 by the Monash Disciplinary Committee, under the chairmanship of Professor Derham, for breaching a university order not to collect funds for the National Liberation Front of Vietnam. This is the gentleman who runs Students in Dissent and who distributes this literature to schools throughout Australia. Those who contacted No. 1 Shirley Grove in order to get information about the meeting were told in Tabloid Underground’ to ‘Ask for Darcy’. This is, or was, the address of Mr Darcy Cassidy who functioned for some time as editor of ‘Print’, another roneoed sheet issued by Monash University Labor Club. This publication, in its issue of March 1967, stated:
At great cost both to itself and certain public utilities, the Labor Chub has acquired Darce Cassidy, foundation editor of the Sydney University Labor Club’s venture into weekly scurrilism and porno-politics - Wednesday Commentary. W. C. caused such a stir in Sydney that both Labor and Liberal Party leaders attacked it. On September 23rd the Premier said in the Legislative Assembly it is the filthiest thing I have ever seen on paper and it makes Lady Chatterley’s Lover look like a very modest publication indeed’.
This is the publication that these people are endeavouring to spread among the children of this country.
– From whom did it emanate?
– It emanated from the people whose names I have given. Students in Dissent exists for high school students. On 15th August last year the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ reported that a Mr Benjamin, President of the Young Labor Association, had prepared ‘Pamphlets listing the price of contraceptives’ for Students For a Democratic Society. The ‘Advertiser’ report added:
The pamphlets are already being circulated among students at Melbourne’s three universities and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and will be distributed among senior pupils of six Melbourne high schools next week.
It was announced that the leaflets listed the wholesale cost, retail cost and profit margin on contraceptives. I do not want anybody to think that this is an isolated case. This is something that is being prepared on an Australia-wide scale. In my view it is an attack upon the educational system, upon the children and upon the parents of Australia.
– It is not an argument against holding an inquiry, though.
– I want an inquiry and I know the methods required to deal with and cope with this kind of thing.
– You do not want an inquiry at all.
– An inquiry is to be held at the request of New South Wales education bodies, as announced last week. Those education bodies asked the State Minister and the Federal Minister for Education and Science to hold an inquiry. Their request has been acceded to. There is no possibility of the State Ministers, when holding their inquiry, saying: ‘Look, we will stop our inquiry because the Senate wants to hold one.’ I think the Senate ought to bow out gracefully because the inquiry decided upon by this particular body, on which was a Labor Minister for Education, is to furnish its report by the beginning of next year and the report is then to be processed by the appropriate body, the Australian Council of Educational Research.
– Would the honourable senator have supported our motion if he had spoken last week?
– Last week I would have put forward what I believe would have been a better proposal. I appreciate the disappointment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I give him credit for having raised this matter. However I suggest to him that there is to be an inquiry which will be conducted by the appropriate authorities. I hope he will be big enough to say: ‘I am getting my inquiry but I will go a step further and vote for the important principle which is enshrined in this amendment.’
– I have listened with interest to this debate on the motion proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). It is quite interesting and constructive to note the absence of bitterness in relation to this subject which is a vital one to Australia and its future and to the children of Australia. We listened with interest to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), when he spoke last week. He was not at his histrionic best. I would say that his speech was not one of his greatest theatrical performances. In past years we have witnessed some magnificent theatrical performances from him. The able barrister front Tasmania knew he had a weak case and he argued accordingly. He condemned Senator Cohen. He dealt with the universities and praised Sir Robert Menzies for what he did following the suggestions made by the Committee chaired by Sir Leslie Martin - and all credit to Sir Robert Menzies for what he did for universities. Certainly they were in a parlous condition at that time. It was his responsibility to do something. He realised that and set up the Martin Committee of Inquiry. Funds were made available to universities, and this in no small measure, meant the reconditioning and rehabilitating of our universities.
The Commonwealth has not seen fit to continue investigations of the universities. Recently Professor Cowan, Vice-Chancellor of the New England University, at an education symposium in Melbourne, said: ‘The teachers at the universities cannot teach. The students are there to learn. A group of people cannot impart knowledge to those who are seeking to absorb knowledge’. What does the Government intend to do? Is it any wonder that only 65% to 70% of those attending universities graduate? Is it any wonder that some people, who have no suggestion of responsibility in their minds, are engaged almost full time in writing books from which they draw royalties and are not particularly interested in what happens to the students who are under their care and tutorage? Senator Wright said that a great deal has been done for the universities. I do not suggest that nothing has been done. I suggest that quite a lot has been done, but not sufficient in relation to the needs of Australia and to the needs of students who attend universities.
Senator Wright challenged Senator Cohen for suggesting the setting up of a Senate select committee. He spoke almost with contempt of Senate select committees. When he was not in the first twenty-six of the Liberal-Country Party Government he was the great champion of Senate select committees. As recently as 1967 he was responsible for the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources. He was the grand champion - a great champion - of Senate select committees. Because the suggestion emanates from Senator Cohen he speaks almost with contempt of it. He said that Senator Cohen was not interested in independent schools. He said that the Australian Labor Party was avoiding the subject because it bad no policy on the matter. As recently as a few minutes ago Senator McManus informed him that all Parties were agreed about aid to independent schools. All Parties accept a dual system of education in Australia. They realise that each child is entitled to all facilities and amenities so that the maximum can be made of the talents with which each child is endowed. Senator Cohen said this, for the information of Senator Wright. We specifically intend the inquiry to include non-government as well as government schools so that the committee may have the fullest information on the facilities available and the standards of education provided for such schools.
Senator Wright said that this year $2 1 Om would be spent, on education by the Commonwealth and $700m odd by the States - something over 4% of the gross national product. Senator McManus was somewhat contemptuous of people speaking in terms of money in relation to providing educational facilities. This is one of the yardsticks by which we must measure our approach to and our effort in the field of education. We are not doing tremendously well. Senator McManus saw fit to compare California with Australia. I agree that a sense of responsibility and a sense of spirit have to be inculcated in all children who are absorbing education. I agree with Senator Prowse, to a great extent, that of necessity we must not identify education with schooling. A person could go to school and leave not educated. A person need not go to school until he is 16, 18 or 26 and still be educated because he has the capacity to read and to think and to be able to build from that base. The Government amendment proposed by Senator Prowse, and apparently accepted by the Democratic Labor Party, through Senator McManus, is not acceptable to my Party. We regard it as almost a direct negative of our motion and merely an attempt to whitewash the attitude of the Federal Government in relation to education and the needs at the particular time. Senator Cohen suggested-
– The honourable senator said that he is in favour of independent schools, yet he intends to vote against the amendment.
– We have accepted a dual system of education. As I said in my introductory remarks, we believe that all reasonable facilities and amenities should be provided to allow the development to the maximum of the talents with which each child is born.
– The honourable senator is like Eddie Ward’s horse.
– The honourable senator should leave the interjections to his elders. He is only a junior. He should not interrupt. The amendment is a direct negative of what we put. Senator McManus suggested that a Senate select committee could not co-exist with the Education Council inquiry. In his absence his party was not opposed to the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs when the Government had already appointed the committee headed by Mr Justice Nimmo to inquire into medical and hospital costs.
– One is a departmental committee only. We would not take any notice of that. This is a ministerial committee on education.
– We will adhere to the right to appoint a Senate select committee. I think Senator Cohen agrees that this is not the ideal, but he is trying to suggest something which he believes, in the circumstances, is the best that could possibly be adopted. That is why he put the motion. I invite honourable senators to study the details of it. He dealt firstly with pre-school education. AH educational authorities throughout the world say that this is an important period in the life of the child from the point of view of the cultivation of the urge for knowledge and the perception of fact. All over Australia we find a marked shortage of trained teachers in the preschool or kindergarten field. We find State governments, justifiably or otherwise, parsimonious in their approach to the allowances made to each teacher to the accommodation provided and to the buildings provided. In each building there is a minimum of equipment. Consequently this field is almost completely neglected. There are many centres where children are available to attend pre-school institutions, but there are no institutions. Where the institutions exist they are not fitted to accept the children who are anxious to attend. The institutions cannot meet the needs of the parents who are anxious to have children educated in the years before primary school. In the primary school field we find teachers not qualified to teach and in many cases old buildings being used as class rooms. In these old class rooms we have large classes. In some cases there are up to 70 or 80 children. The average is well over 40. It is considered that 35 is the ideal in primary school or 25 in secondary school.
In both these fields of educational endeavour there are overcrowded classes. It is not much use saying that in some places there are 25 in secondary school classes and 35 in primary school classes. One has to take the average and has to take cognisance of those areas where there are overcrowded classes. These exist in widespread areas throughout Australia today. This does not refer to one particular State, but it is applicable to. every State. Every year there is a cry from parents. Last week the Minis ter cried that there was no need for an inquiry because so much was being done by the Commonwealth in association with the States. Senator McManus said that he was happy because the State Ministers have met and because the Australian Council of Education has said that it will embark on an inquiry. Up to the present there has been a complete denial of the need for an inquiry. Over the years all over Australia different bodies have met and demanded inquiries. Teachers in every State have demanded an inquiry. Union officials, parents and citizens groups have demanded an inquiry.
– Everyone, except the people who are proposing the amendment.
– As recently as a couple of years ago a gathering of over 4,000 people, representative of all facets of life and endeavour in New South Wales, unanimously demanded an inquiry. What has happened in Canberra over the years? Teachers have lodged applications for inquiries. They lodged applications in the time of Sir Robert Menzies. Every time there is a meeting of teachers they demand an inquiry. The Minister said there was no need for an inquiry. Tonight we are told that the Australian Education Council will hold an Australia-wide inquiry into education. When one thinks in terms of the teachers and in terms of the reaction to the Martin Committee Report on teacher training, one realises the cavalier approach adopted by the Federal Liberal-Country Party Government, when it suited that Government - and when it suited the Government it provided so many million dollars over 3 years for teacher training colleges. One should remember the way in which the Government came in for electoral support in 1963, when it sought to sponsor science laboratories. In many cases those laboratories cannot be utilised today, with the Commonwealth money provided, because properly qualified teachers are not available to teach the students who are ready and willing to be taught. There are no teachers to impart the necessary knowledge to these students. Consequently they are being neglected in a technological and scientific age when there is an increasing demand for technical and scientific knowledge to be imparted to them.
How can honourable senators opposite believe that anything is satisfactory in the educational field when the pre-schools are neglected and when primary schools are not even thought of? According to the education scientists and research people, children between the age of 5 and 9 years are in their period of greatest capacity for the absorption of knowledge, yet the Federal Government has taken not one scrap of interest in the field of primary education. It has done absolutely nothing. This is a field in which the greatest amount of sacrifice is required by parents because it is mostly at this stage that they have a number of children all at school at the one time. Yet the Federal Government will do nothing in this field. It will not make any endeavour to provide teachers at this level and it will not assist in the capital costs of buildings or in the provision of amenities and other facilities.
What do we find in the field of secondary and technical education? For electoral reasons the Federal Government came forward in 1963 and dealt with a triennium. Subsequently it granted money for another triennium to provide laboratories. Irrespective of particular needs, the money was made available, almost on the basis: To the wealthy shall come more wealth and the poor shall be denied. Although the Commonwealth made funds available for laboratories, teachers could not be found because the Federal Government was not sufficiently circumspect in its approach or wise enough in its judgment to realise that, if facilities are to be provided, it is necessary to have instructors to be associated with those facilities. The Government did not see fit to embark on a course of training teachers. I do not know why at that time the Government picked on science.
There were many other fields of secondary education which were just as urgently in need of financial consideration and urgent attention as in the field of science laboratories. An example is the field of the humanities about which the Government did nothing. Admittedly last year it did come into this field and said that over a period of 3 years it would make $27m available for the provision of libraries - all credit to the Government for doing that - but it approached the matter in a haphazard fashion. Why can it not have an overall view of education and its requirements, the needs of the children and the rights of the children? When we think in terms of the human personality and the human being we must realise that there are certain basic requirements that have to be met. First and foremost are probably food and shelter; then would follow health care and then must follow education. The state has a responsibility to provide the means to meet the needs of the people in the field of education. It has a responsibility to the children. Over the years it has ducked this responsibility in no small measure and in some small degree it has accepted responsibility.
The Government has never adopted an overall approach to meet the requirements and the needs, and so we believe that there is still justification for the setting up of a select committee, irrespective of the attitude of the Minister for Works who has shown his contempt for Senate select committees. This is a new feature of the Minister that we have seen revealed in 1968 and 1969. When he was outside the first twenty-six he had great admiration for committees, but 1 suppose views change with the maturing of age and for other reasons. That probably accounts in some measure for his attitude. Perhaps he has become more mature with advancing years and for this reason exhibits contempt for Senate select committees. But we on this side of the chamber see this as a responsibility of the Senate. We believe that an investigation can be carried out by a Senate select committee which can proceed in parallel wilh the committee of inquiry set up in the various States by the Australian Education Council. There is no need for the two bodies to be in conflict. A Senate committee could make a contribution. It could make this Parliament aware of the requirements in this field as the personnel of the committee see them according to the source of information from which they can draw inspiration. I commend to honourable senators the suggestion made by Senator Cohen.
Let us consider the amendment proposed by Senator Prowse, lt begins by referring to:
This is merely a whitewashing of the States for what they have done with the expenditure that they have incurred over the years. The amendment refers next to:
Someone mentioned tonight that education is the responsibility of the States and said that the Commonwealth cannot interfere. This is the first time I. have heard it suggested that the Commonwealth would be hesitant to interfere in a sphere administered by the States, lt comes into every other sphere and is not frightened to provide a meagure amount of money to assist in the development of ils ideas and to force them onto the States. So it is most unusual for anyone to suggest that the Commonwealth is concerned about the rights of the States.
We have found that the Government, although ‘Liberal’, is centralised in its aspirations, lt is seeking unification of power so that it can have the whole control. It does not hesitate to interfere with the States, so it is no use anyone suggesting that it cannot do so in the field of education. The Commonwealth has accepted a responsibility with hospitals and in many other fields, but now it is suggested that it will be loath to interfere in what it is pleased to regard as the rights of the States in the field of education. Apparently the States have rights in no other fields of activity, but is the field of education their activities are sacrosanct.
Let us consider the measure of direct assistance in education that the Commonwealth is now providing. Apart from the tax reimbursements to the States, this year the Commonwealth is spending $21 Om out of a Budget, of $6.5 billion and a gross national product of about $24 billion or $25 billion. This is not an extraordinarily large amount. 1 agree with Senator McManus that it is not always possible to measure the effect in terms of the money spent, but it is something of a guide. Certainly we cannot get results unless we are prepared to spend money in a big and sensible way, with a sense of responsibility in the direction that we are going and in what we hope to achieve. In relation to the second part of the amendment moved by Senator Prowse Senator McManus suggested that we all agree that there is a responsibility to the independent schools in our dual system of education. He said this despite the fact that Senator Wright had suggested that Senator Cohen was dodging the issue. He said that not only once but he repeated it, trying to imply that Senator Cohen had no idea in his mind as to what was Labor’s policy in relation to independent schools. It is obvious that Senator Cohen must have some ideas. The Australian Labor Party also must have ideas. It must be remembered that almost 500,000 students attend independent schools for primary, secondary and technical education, compared with more than 2 million students who attend government schools. We have to pay due regard to the rights of 20% to 25% of the children of this nation.
– What is your policy on that?
– Our policy is to provide the maximum amenities and facilities consistent with the optimum of development of the talents with which each child is endowed. We are not saying that wc preclude assistance to non-government schools. Senator Cohen made it perfectly clear that assistance would be available.
– The Victorian Australian Labor Party precludes assistance.
– I do not give a damn what the Victorian Australian Labor Party does.
– Many Victorians are concerned about it.
– The Victorian ALP conference said no aid at all.
– That might be so in Victoria. That is not done on an Australia-wide basis. We arc bound by the Australian Labor Party as assembled at federal conference and it has said that each State can give as it sees fit through its own political party. They can determine the measure of assistance that they will give to education in all its forms.
– He knows that as well as anyone else.
– As Senator Ormonde has said, Senator McManus knows that as well as anyone else does but he is trying to be parochial and to direct attention to what he believes happens in his own threepenny-bit State. I support the motion moved by Senator Cohen and totally reject the white washing amendment suggested by Senator Prowse which in effect is not an amendment but practically a direct negative of the motion. It should not be received.
– We have heard a number of opinions on this matter and I should like to deal first with the most recent one in one respect only. I refer to the attack made by Senator Dittmer upon Senator Wright who represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
– lt was not an attack. 1 was commending him on his histrionic ability.
– He deprecated the attitude that Senator Wright has adopted in relation to Senate select committees now that the honourable senator has become, to use Senator Dittmer s words, one of the first twenty-six in the Liberal-Country Party coalition. I obtained a copy of Senator Wright’s speech and would like Senator Dittmer to indicate at some stage the parts of the speech which show the attitude that he attacked. It is very hard to find and I would be most interested to see where it appears. I am sure Senator Wright still has the same respect for Senate select committees as he had previously, and I am sure that he will avail himself of the opportunity to speak on this matter if he sees fit to do so.
In my maiden speech I expressed the view that Senate select committees are one of the most important developments in the Senate’s functions and one of the most important expressions in recent times of the increased use of the powers available to the Senate. In the normal course I would applaud heartily the setting up of a select committee for a suitable purpose, but let us look for a few moments at the practicality of setting up a select committee on education as suggested by Senator Cohen. Already we have had the Martin Committee which conducted a very extensive inquiry. Although it was not as extensive as the inquiry which has been suggested, it received 500 submissions and worked for 3 years. I wonder how many submissions a Senate select committee would receive and for what period it would have to work. The Martin Committee consisted of fifteen members and used sub-committees extensively.
If a Senate select committee were to do the work which even the Martin Committee did one would expect it to take 5 years to accomplish the same results because of the necessary limitations on the time available to it. The Murray Committee’s report, which related only to a very limited field of education - not nearly as comprehensive as has been suggested here - took 3 months of apparently very hard work to prepare. And that was on only one aspect of education. Perhaps I could not disagree with Senator Byrne’s interjection that to set up a Senate select committee would delay steps in education for up to 3 years. 1 wonder whether Senator Murphy’s own words on the matter of Senate select com.mittes would be appropriate in this case. 1 am sure that he does not believe any more than I do that Senate select committees are not a most worthwhile procedure; but when dealing with the request of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution for an extension of time in which to present its report he is reported on page 2423 of Hansard on 27th February 1968 in this way:
The matters considered by the Committees are not matters only for members of the Committees. It is a serious thing if a Committee spends a long time on its inquiry because, as we know, the fact that some Committees are operating tends to prejudicially affect the setting up by the Senate of other Committees.
If we have a committee which will be involved for some 3 years or perhaps more on one inquiry-
– Whose assessment is the 3 years?
– I have already mentioned whose assessment it is and why I have accepted it. If we have one committee involved in a very lengthy inquiry - certainly an inquiry much more comprehensive than that of the Martin Committee - I would think, in Senator Murphy’s words, that the setting up of other committees would be prejudiced.
Let us look at some of the statements contained in the Martin Committee’s report to see what information is available already and what information can be pursued by the Australian Education Council. In volume 1 of the report chapter 2 deals with the general scope of the Australian education system including population, student numbers and the pattern of higher education. Chapter 4 deals with the training of teachers. These are all matters that Senator Cohen, who perhaps was the only speaker on the Opposition side who actually got down to the subject, said were necessary for the proposed Senate select committee to look at. Chapter 18 of the report refers to the same subject. Chapter 5 relates to technological education while chapter 6 deals with tertiary education, chapter 17 with education for the sciences and technical college courses, and chapter 20 with libraries and training for librarians. We have had the Wark Committee, the Murray Committee and many State committees, and finally we have the Australian Education Council. What body could be in a better position to collate the information already available to h, as a body of experts, from other expert bodies and to decide for itself, as a responsible body, what it needs to do to overcome the problem?
The existing situation perhaps has not been dealt with specifically by any honourable senator who has participated in the debate and I should like to refer to it briefly. H seems to me that the attitude adopted by the Opposition has been something of an insult to the present State and Federal Ministers concerned with education. The Opposition conducted its case upon a basis which entirely ignored and omitted all reference to the existing planning bodies. We were told that planning was almost absent. We were told that the approach had been of an ad hoc nature. I point out that there is already a co-operative set up to exchange knowledge, information, research, views and aims generally in education. The Australian Education Council has been established for some years. It comprises State Ministers for Education and, by invitation, the Federal Minister. It fixes its own agenda. It discusses anything relating to education and arranges inquiries into and the general lines of educaton. We have heard tonight that it has instituted an inquiry which may bc said to be somewhat similar to the inquiry that the Opposition desires.
Directors of Education in the States, as a further adjunct to the Council, meet at least twice yearly. They get down to the further detailing and planning of education in Australia. Next down the chain come sub-committees for specific projects. There is a continual exchange between State and Commonwealth departments on all matters of concern in relation to education. To sum this up, I would use the words of the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in the Federal Government, who said:
There is a continuous cross-fire of thought and information on matters relating to education, a cross-fire between the States and each other and the Commonwealth.
In summary, therefore, there is a wealth of excellent material available and a vast amount of work being continually done to provide overall planning in education in Australia. I feel that the basis of the attack made by Senator Cohen fails when one looks at the existing situation. On the face of it, it is simply another attempt to take away from the States rights which they at present have. It is an attempt to use the Senate and the vehicle of a select committee to take the task away from a body which has already been set up, and which is doing a good planning job along constitutional lines and to give it to a Federal body alone. I would suggest that the Australian Education Council is in the best position to carry out the inquiry and that it should be left to that body.
I would also like to mention something else which Senator Cohen said. He used an argument which I think probably he did not intend to use because it certainly would not do justice to the principles which 1 am sure he would hold. He said that the Commonwealth should further intrude into the State educational field, that it should force the States to co-operate in a Senate inquiry - not to seek their co-operation in an inquiry, but to force it. He referred to the possibility of using Federal funds as a means by which they could be forced to co-operate. When there is already a voluntary body set up to do the same thing, one wonders why it should be necessary to use force. One other matter which Senator Cohen referred to-
– Does the honourable senator say I suggested force?
– Senator Cohen implied that.
– Would Senator Rae mind reading me the passage in my speech in which I talked about force?
– I will certainly do so in a short time. I said that, in effect, this was what Senator Cohen was saying. I do not say 1 am quoting verbatim from what he said, but I will refer to it.
– The honourable senator had better be careful.
– I said that Senator Cohen may not have meant to say that. One other thing he said was that the field of greatest need was the secondary school area, that the area which has expanded most, was the 15 to 18 years age group and that the rate of expansion has brought about an enormous bulge in the top end of secondary education. I would suggest that this is perhaps the greatest vindication of the Government’s policy in relation to education that could possibly have come forward. This is support from Senator Cohen of the fact that the Government has been directing its attention to that area which is the area of greatest need in his view.
– That is not what I said at all. The honourable senator had better read it again.
– No doubt Senator Cohen has Hansard in front of him and I have in front of me notes which I made from it.
– I said that the problems that Senator Rae has been discussing and the areas of greatest need called for the kind of attention that they had not been getting.
– The honourable senator referred to the population explosion. He referred to the expansion in the numbers in a certain age group. He referred to the enormous rate of expansion which has brought about problems warranting investigation. He referred to the enormous bulge at the top end of secondary education. All of this was directed to the point that this was one of the aspects that needed the greatest attention, and I am saying that this is the area which has received the greatest attention. I refer to Senator Wilkinson’s speech only to say that I think perhaps what he said could best be described as being the evidence which he would have given had the select committee been set up and he had been giving evidence before it. It does not constitute an argument to which I propose to reply here. So far as Senator Ormonde was concerned, he treated us to a very interesting discussion of the situation on the coalfields a quarter of a century ago. It was historically interesting, but again not quite the subject matter of concern expressed by Senator Cohen as to the next 30 years. Senator Dittmer referred to much of what Senator Cohen had said. I have already referred to what
I think perhaps was the only part that needs special reply. That was his attack upon Senator Wright.
Let us have a look at the Opposition’s approach to this matter. Let us take a couple of quotations and see whether the Australian Labor Party has a clear policy in relation to this matter. We can quote, perhaps, a member of the Western Australian Executive of the ALP, Mr Chamberlain, who, in March 1964, said:
The establishment by the Federal Government of science blocks and the provision of science facilities in private schools is quite obviously contrary to the Federal Party policy.
That was quoted in the ‘Courier Mail’ of
I I May 1965. Let us have a look at what was said on another occasion. In the Examiner’ newspaper of 26 November 1965, we find this stated:
Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Sheffield (Tas.) Branch, Mr Duthie criticised the Press for biased’ reporting of Labor’s efforts to help independent schools. Mr Duthie said: ‘In all States more than 50 types of assistance to independent schools are being given by State governments, including Labor governments. All these benefits, including the Federal grant for science laboratories in independent schools, were approved by the last Federal ALP conference.
Let us look now at the Australian Labor Party’s platform and see what it says. I quote from the issue dated August 1967 entitled: ‘Australian Labor Party, Platform, Constitution and Rules’. On page 11, under the heading ‘Education’, we find:
Labor education policy depends on the application to education of the democratic principles of freedom and equality.
One might say: ‘Hurrah, we are going to have some equality of approach,’ but when we turn over the page we find this:
Citizens who do not wish to use the school facilities provided by the State, whether for conscientious or other reasons, shall have the absolute right to develop an independent system of schools of a recognised standard provided that the cost of the capital development of this system is not a charge on any government;
I find it very difficult to know how to reconcile Mr Duthie’s statement with the statement contained in the platform published in August 1967.
– The honourable senator really should have read the lot. He is just taking bits and pieces.
– If Senator Cohen thinks there arc some other more important parts, no doubt Opposition speakers can refer to them. ! stopped at a semi-colon, but I will read the rest. The rest of paragraph 4 (a) reads: further thai the existing policy of a full public inquiry hy the Commonwealth into primary, secondary and technical education in both government and non-government schools be confirmed.
That is the end of the paragraph. Now I think 1 have read the lot.
– Senator Rae did not read Arthur Calwell’s statement.
– I have only picked out some of them. I have not given every one of the conflicting statements. 1 thought it might be interesting to see where the conflict lies. What sort of inquiry do honourable senators opposite want? How extensive an inquiry do I hey want? No detail has been given. No terms of reference have been mentioned. No spelling out of the lines of inquiry which would be followed has been given in any of the speeches. Let us have a look at one or two of the individual arguments that were used. 1 refer first to one that was used by, I think, several speakers from the other side, ft was certainly used by Senator Cohen. He used the comparison of percentages of gross national product. I know that this is often referred to. 1 believe that I am right in saying that he did not maintain that it was 100% accurate at any particular lime.
– The Director-General of Education in Tasmania gave me my figures.
– I do not think that necessarily makes them accurate. I am not saying that they arc inaccurate or accurate. What I am saying is that, unless one knows the exact terms of comparison, comparisons in this field are odious because there are so many different ways of calculating expenditure on education and so many different ways of calculating gross national product. When we start trying to compare one country with another, unless we use the same basis of calculation, no comparison is really possible.
Let us have a very brief look at the extent of the crisis. Without decrying the urgency of the need for all possible developments in education, let us see what has been done. Several speakers have referred to the developments. I want to quote only a few figures because they seem to me to be quite relevant. As Senator Wright said, expenditure by the Commonwealth has increased from S55m 6 or 7 years ago to $2 1 Om. Payments to the Stales for education have increased from $34m to SI 26m in the past 5 years. That indicates that there has been a very substantial increase in expenditure on education and a very determined approach to overcoming the problems that exist.
– Has that had any relationship to elections?
– There has been a variety of State governments. No doubt, some of the Labor governments have adopted the attitude that the honourable senator seems to espouse or to be interested in.
– Where are the Labor governments?
– During the past 5 years I think there have been one or two. But let us get back to facts and figures. I refer now to the improved teacher-pupil ratio. Again this is an indication of the standard of education available in schools. In 1958 in government primary schools there were 32 pupils per teacher; in 1967 there were 28 pupils per teacher. Perhaps that is not the most desirable improvement, but it is certainly an appreciable one. In government secondary schools the reduction was from 21 pupils per teacher to 18 pupils per teacher. These figures indicate that the expenditure has been considerable; that the increase in expenditure has been considerable; and that the improvement, at least in the field of the teacher-pupil ratio, has been quite substantial. Certainly, there has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of people who are now able to attend the universities because they receive an education that enables them to matriculate.
Some time ago - I think in November last year - a question relating to independent schools was before this chamber. A vote was taken then on a motion to amend a Bill to make grants for school libraries. No doubt honourable senators will recall that, first of all, the Opposition attempted to amend that Bill in a way which would have destroyed its effectiveness and which, as I said at the time, would have held up the giving of the advantages that the Bill created to those whom it was intended lo benefit. The amendment was only an irrelevancy. Subsequently there was an attempt by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair), of one of the members of his Party, to make an amendment to the Bill. For reasons of consistency, I voted against that amendment also. 1 explained at the time - 1 do so again here and now - that my opposition to that amendment was based on the fact that, if we objected to the amendment proposed by the Opposition, to be consistent wc had to oppose the other amendment, which also was not germane to the subject matter of the Bill.
– We will accept the honourable senator’s apology.
– lt was not a matter relating to the right or otherwise of independent schools to receive assistance from any government. I make no apology; I make an explanation. 1 support the amendment that has now been moved. As 1 indicated previously, I oppose the original motion. I had hoped that we would receive some support from the Opposition. Legislation has been introduced since its motion was moved and the Australian Education Council has set in motion that which the Opposition hoped to achieve. I thought members of the Opposition might have been prepared to swallow their pride and say: ‘That part has been achieved: now let us get on with the other part of overcoming the needs of education’. Whether they will do that remains to be seen, but the indications are that they will not.
After looking at the Labor Party platform in the publication from which I quoted previously and in which the Labor Party talks about freedom and equality in education policy and says in paragraph 6 of the education section: ‘Equality means, further, that all persons are entitled to have equal efforts spent on their education”, I hoped that that would mean that members of the Opposition would support the types of matters that are envisaged in the amendment we have before us now.
– What are they?
– I am sorry if the honourable senator has not read the amendment. I do not think I should take up the time of the Senate by reading it to him. In relation to the question of capital costs as opposed to operating costs, I wondered whether members of the Opposition would go so far as to support the motion to tha extent that it indicates support for something that has been introduced already by the Liberal governments in Australia and the one Labor government in Australia, although the contribution of that Labor government - the Tasmanian Government - is the second lowest contribution in Australia. I.I: members of the Opposition would indicate that they would go that far, perhaps wc all would feel some satisfaction in having at least cleared the air by this amendment, although we may not have achieved the original objectives of the mover of the motion. I support the amendment and oppose the original motion.
Senator Dame IVY WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [9.48] - I oppose the motion for the setting up of a select committee to inquire into education in Australia’. 1 do so on the ground of the impracticability of the proposition at this point of time. 1 agree with everything that has been said in the past about the value of select committees; but I believe that a select committee must have time if it is lo do its work efficiently and effectively. Previous speakers have adverted to the fact that over recent years every select committee has been obliged to ask for an extension of time in which to present its report. At the present time we have an unprecedented number of select committees in operation. There is only a limited amount of time that any senator or all senators can give to the work of select committees. Therefore, I feci that to appoint another committee charged with the responsibility of inquiring into one of the most important factors in Australian life at the present time is to ask the committee to do the impossible at this time.
Just for our own information 1 would like to enumerate the committees that are operating. This will give some idea of the call upon the time of honourable senators. The Standing Orders Committee consists of the President, the Leader of the Government, and five other senators. The Privileges Committee consists of seven senators. The Library Committee consists of the President and six other senators. The House Committee consists of the President and six other senators. The Printing Committee consists of seven senators. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee consists of seven senators. The Disputed Returns and Qualifications Committee consists of seven senators.
Of the joint statutory committees, the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings Committee includes two senators, the Public Accounts Committee three senators and the Public Works Committee three senators. The Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory includes three senators and the Joint Foreign Affairs Committee includes eight senators. Of the select committees, the Off-shore Petroleum Resources Committee consists of eight senators, the Air Pollution Committee six senators, the Hospital and Medical Costs Committee six senators and the Water Pollution Committee six senators. This gives an indication of the number of senators who are doing extra parliamentary and committee work. To suggest that we could have another committee at the present tome is to my mind unreasonable and not practical. Senate select committees find that their time is occupied not only in collecting evidence and information but also in looking at the transcript of evidence that is given and being able to exercise a critical judgment in relation to that evidence.
For that reason. Sir, I think that the Opposition really could not be expecting any worth while result because we do not have either the senators or the time to undertake such an examination. Four select committees tax the capacity of this Senate, indeed, they overtax it. Other senators have said that there has been no demand for a Senate committee and I would agree with that. I have worked very closely with the Government members education com mittee. Whilst many suggestions have been put to the committee on the need for an overall inquiry into education, there has not been one to the effect that the inquiry should take the form of a Senate select committee. I also agree with what Senators McManus, Rae and Prowse have said with regard to the committee that will be set up by the States to conduct a survey of educational needs. Like Senator Prowse, I have a copy of a newspaper report which reads:
SCHOOL STUDY AGREED ON
A nationwide survey of educational needs up to the end of the secondary school stage was decided on by Education Ministers from all States at a meeting in Adelaide yesterday.
Almost a page is devoted to what this survey will cover. There is also a paragraph which states, as I stated earlier, that many organisations in the States have been pressing for a national education survey and all State Education Ministers have recently received petitions from independent organisations calling for a survey. Not one of them suggested that the survey should take the form of an inquiry by a Senate select committee.
I should like to refer just briefly to the record of the Commonwealth Government in the field of education because I believe it has been a very notable one. Assistance has been given in many areas of education. Some of the most recent departures by the Government from accepted principles in the field of education have been very worth while. Let me refer briefly to the decision made last November, I think, to grant additional assistance of $2. 5m over 3 years to assist in the building and equipping of colleges for teacher training for pre-school education. At the time when this Bill was going through the Senate I challenged Senator Cohen who said that the Government had done nothing previously in this direction, which of course was quite wrong. The Commonwealth Government came into the field of pre-school education in 1940 when it decided to set up centres in all of the capital cities and it has been from the work of those centres that pre-school education has been developed in Australia. As I feel that no good purpose whatsoever could be achieved by setting up a committee of this kind, I find myself completely in opposition to it. I support the amendment that was moved by Senator
Prowse, because the first part of it deals with the survey that is anticipated and the second part of it sets on record the Government’s attitude and policy with regard to education.
Senator COHEN (Victoria) [9.58J- I am pleased, not in anticipation of the result of the vote on this motion, but in appreciation of the discussion that has taken place in the Senate on this proposition about which I remain unrepentant.
– The State Ministers took notice of your suggestion.
– I am pleased to see that the State Ministers are acting in the spheres in which they have some responsibility. The only thing that intrigues me about the whole of this evening’s discussion is what a magnificent coincidence it has been for those who oppose the Opposition’s motion that the State Ministers have decided to take some action in the sphere of their own responsibility, because for the life of me I do not know what senators on the Government side or the Australian Democratic Labor Party would have said if they had not had this lovely little present from the Adelaide meeting last week. I assume that they would have opposed the motion straight out, because in ali the years that educationists have been pressing for an inquiry into education, voices in support have been conspicuously lacking both amongst honourable senators opposite and in the ranks of the Australian Democratic Labor Patty. We made it abundantly clear months ago - years ago - that if we could have achieved the appointment of a Senate select committee, we would have done so. We have also made it clear that our proposal was never anything more than an alternative to a proper Commonwealth initiative in this field.
I venture to think that last week when I put our case, it was properly documented and indicated a crisis at all levels of Australian education. The State Ministers of Education said the other day that sonic attention might be given in the areas where it is most needed - in the primary and secondary fields. Surely this is saying - leaving aside the question of pre-school education on which I think we made a contribution - what we were saying last week in this chamber about this matter. I believe that the Government and those who have failed to support us on this motion have over the years been guilty of a sort of delinquency in their responsibility. It is a scandal that we should have had to wait until 1969 before getting something that looks even remotely like a national inquiry into education, and it has still not been made clear that the Commonwealth is to cooperate in the inquiry. The Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) was present during discussions among State Ministers of Education. It was said that it was hoped to get Commonwealth co-operation in relation to the matter.
The report that Senator Prowse quoted said that the Federal Minister for Education and Science took part in the discussions but was not available for comment afterwards. There is no indication yet that the Commonwealth is backing this conference appointed by State Ministers. There is no indication that the Commonwealth is to contribute to the discussion. 1 remain unconvinced by anything that has been put against the proposal. We advanced the proposal because we thought that a comprehensive inquiry should be conducted into education at pre-school, primary, secondary and technical levels. I am not convinced that that is what will happen. We still think that the Senate is the appropriate body to appoint a select committee to deal with the matter.
The amendment proposed by Senator Prowse is a direct negative of the motion. I do not propose to argue whether it is technically so within the forms of the Senate. I ask Senator Gair who is attempting to interject to stop yapping. I am content to have had a debate upon the motion which I originally proposed and upon the amendment that has been put forward. I think it is significant that it was not proposed by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who represents the Minister for Education and Science in this chamber, when he replied to me last week. He simply rejected the motion. Now, presumably because a committee is to be appointed by State Ministers, and presumably because there has been collusion with the Democratic Labor Party about the form of the amendment, Senator Prowse emerged tonight with an amendment which would make a farce of these proceedings if we were to accept it.
Our motion argued for the appointment of a select committee. The amendment states that we should not have a select committee and adds a rider expressing an opinion which ought to have been part of what would have been covered by the inquiry we suggested. It takes one aspect of the problem and adds a rider to a rejection of the motion that we put forward. How that can be put forward with a straight face I do not know. We do not propose to be a party to making a farce out of this debate. We reject the amendment and we believe that the Senate should proceed to appoint a select committee.
All sorts of arguments have been put tonight, but basically they are put in the context that some little gift has fallen from heaven, out of the blue. The State Ministers have decided to have their little inquiry. I do not belittle it because it is important in the spheres in which it is to operate. It gives Government supporters a chance to slide out and not to say that they are rejecting an inquiry, which they would have done had they been forced to vote on this issue last week. They now have the opportunity to say that it is being looked after. They say: ‘We will not accept the Labor Party’s proposal for a select committee. We will add a little rider of our own and try to make the whole thing a debate about something else altogether.’ Senator McManus wandered into areas tonight that could not possibly have had anything to do with the subject matter of this inquiry. He expressed concern about the distribution of literature about contraceptives in schools as though that were an argument against setting up an inquiry, or for that matter, an argument in favour of the amendment put forward by the Government after collusion with the DLP.
We remind honourable senators that 1970 is to be International Education Year - the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations. We are being called upon, as a member of the United Nations, to make the greatest possible contribution in the field of education, and to examine our resources to see what we can contribute to other countries. We are asked to make sure that we are making the best possible efforts in our own fields of education. I hope that the Australian Parliament will see fit to respond to this challenge. It is a challenge. We have thought of a Senate select committee as the best way in the circumstances to achieve results. I am content that the Senate has debated this issue. Useful contributions have been made in many ways and widely differing points of view have been expressed. It is not to be expected that every person will have exactly the same approach to education problems. If our education systems turned us out as a pack of robots we should have nothing to be proud of. It is understandable that individual senators should have their own point of view on these issues. Sometimes they express them with great fervour, and sometimes intemperately. It is important that we should discuss these issues and I express regret that, if I have read the signs correctly, the motion I have moved will not be carried. I believe it was a worthwhile initiative and that the Senate should see fit, notwithstanding the ominous signs, to carry the motion.It would then make an important contribution to the development of Australian education.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Prowse’s- amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Prowse’s amendment) be inserted.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Senator Cohen’s), as amended, be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - In the Senate this afternoon a number of strangers misconducted themselves by interrupting the proceedings and displaying placards. I was obliged to order their withdrawal. In my long experience, this was the first instance of its kind andit is to be deplored. It can be understood that those who took part in the demonstration had genuine convictions and that they wished to project their viewpoint, butthey must remember that in our free system of parliamentary government they have representatives in this place to speak for them. What happened today, however, was a disrespect to the honourable senators! who represent them and to the Senate itself. I take a serious view of the incident and, if the circumstances are to be repeated, I may have to ask the
Senate to support me in sterner discipline, provision for which is made in the Standing Orders. I hope that that never becomes necessary and that visitors in the galleries will continue to conduct themselves with dignity and a proper respect for the institution of Parliament.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise tonight to make a few observations about the proposed FederalState conference to be held on conservation matters. I do so because in the last 3 years there has been a lot of agitation in the Senate, particularly in respect of section 96 of the Constitution and Federal grants. I would not have risen tonight except for an impression created by a statement made in another place by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). This matter has been ventilated also by Senator Wood and Senator O’Byrne. I think there are one or two submissions that should be given mature consideration by one or two of the authorities concerned when this conference takes place. It is all very well to make surveys. However, many States will find that basically it is a question relating to grants under section 96 for the acquisition of additional national park lands. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a letter from Mr J. R. Tully, the Secretary of the Summerland National Parks and Wildlife Committee. 20th February, 1969.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Commonwealth Parliament Offices, 5 Martin Place, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000.
Your letter of January 16th, 1969 was discussed at the February Meeting of My Committee and I have been asked to express our appreciation of your interest in our endeavours.
Sir, the land you inspected on your visit to this Area was also inspected by Senator Wright and Dr McMichael who expressed interest in its acquisition for the N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service and the owners of theland are still awaiting further word from Dr McMichael. No further information is available at this time in relation to the land at Bentley.
At this time my Committee has one other concrete proposal in relation to 19,300 acres of Coastal land South of Evans Head, the subject of the recent deliberations of the ‘Sim’ Committee, the inter departmental committee of the N.S.W. Department of Lands and Mining. This land is Crown Land fronting the Pacific Ocean and it is our endeavour to have this land a small portion of which is to be maintained by N.S.W. National Parks and Wildlife Service in its natural State, progressively released to the National Parks and Wildlife Service as it is released from the sand mining the companies currently interested in the land from this point of view of the extraction of mineral sands.
At our February Meeting the matter was raised of a National Park within the Richmond River Valley and in reasonably close proximity to our Coastal region.
As you may be aware known proposed subdivision between Broadwater and North of Brunswick Heads (To the Boundary of Byron Shire) will account for the possibility of release of some 20,000 building blocks and with the additional Areas that are under consideration the number of blocks that could become available may be in excess of 25,000 building blocks.
Should these plans be brought to success it will more than double the present population of the Richmond Valley.
At present no National Park exists in the Richmond Valley, we are endeavouring to have Coastal Crown Land between the Evans and Clarence Rivers declared a National Park and the only established National Park anywhere near the Northern Rivers Area of N.S.W. is the Gibraltor Range National Park east of GlenInnes.
In view of the finance being made available by the Federal and State Government for the phasing out of marginal dairy farms in this Area and the amalgamation of smaller farms into larger economical units it now appears feasible that the finance and land now proposed for the reestablishment of the dairy industry could be made available in this region for the establishment of a National Park.
My Committee feels, at this point, that should these proposals be seriously considered they will prove both practical and possible and should be given the most detailed examination.
My Committee, at this point, intends to follow this proposed line of action.
I sincerely hope this may prove of interest to you and any assistance you may be able to give to our proposals would be gratefully appreciated.
This letter is a follow-up to the visit made to this area by the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities (Senator Wright). I want to develop the argument set out in this document. The acquisition of this land in the next 3 years is a pressing matter. Whilst this letter deals with the north coast of New South Wales, there would be similar case histories in other States. [Quorum formed.] Id making these submissions 1 have endeavoured to point out the need for going beyond a mere survey. 1 visualise that ultimately the Commonwealth will have to have some form of Federal secretariat. This could be on the pattern adopted in respect of education. The secretariat would work hand in hand with the various State authorities. I know that most State Ministers for Lands or their equivalent arc somewhat inhibited about receiving federal money which has a specific label on it. I know that this applies to Mr Lewis, the Minister for Lands in New South Wales.
Be that as it may, 1 should like to quote from a letter from Mr Vincent Serventy who is the natural history correspondent for the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’. He deals in detail with the increasing responsibilities in regard to conservation, even in federal territory. Rather than elaborate on that point, with the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard the letter from Mr Serventy.
8 Reiby Road, Hunter’s Hill, N.S.W. Australia, 2110. May 21, 1968.
Thanks for your letter, it was most interesting. It also highlights the need for a Federal National Parks and Wildlife Service since it increases the amount of territory under Commonwealth control considerably. N.T., A.C.T., Jervis Bay, Norfolk Island and now these. These would be important nature reserves in many cases and I feel need a survey, as some would make ideal places to put bird observatories for studying birds on migration. There are a number of famous islands like this around Great Britain. Booby Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria is one which appeals. Cat Island, Bass Strait, also becomes important as here is the only accessible gannetry, almost destroyed by fishermen. With a warden this could become a tremendous tourist attraction as well as place for study. However a few years more will see the entire destruction of the rookery. The problem is to raise the few thousand dollars needed to station a warden there for the four months in summer when the birds are nesting. 1 note that the Prime Minister is taking interest in Wildlife. Any chance of developing an interest in a Federal Wildlife Service to look after these things? I have sent all leaders a copy of my book and views on the Federal sphere of interest.
I have now painted a picture of the case and I want to deal with the matter of how finance can be found. I refer the Senate to Public Law 89-669, known as the ‘Endangered Species Act’, which was signed in the United States Congress on 15th October 1966. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the first page of this document in Hansard.
Public Law 89-669
To provide for the conservation, protection, and propagation of native species of fish and wildlife, including migratory birds, that are threatened with extinction: to consolidate the authorities relating to the administration by the Secretary of the Interior of the National Wildlife Refuge System; and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That (a) the Congress finds and declares that one of the unfortunate consequences of growth and development in the United States has been the extermination of some native species of fish and wildlife; that serious losses in other species of native wild animals with educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value have occurred and arc occurring; and that the United States has pledged itself, pursuant lo migratory bird treaties with Canada and Mexico and the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere, to conserve and protect, where practicable, tha various species of native fish and wildlife, including game and nongame migratory birds, that are threatened with extinction. The purposes of this Act are to provide a program for the conservation, protection, restoration, and propagation of selected species of native fish and wildlife, including migratory birds, that are threatened with extinction, and to consolidate, restate, and modify the present authorities relating to administration by the Secretary of the Interior of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Sec. 2. (a) The Secretary of the Interior shall utilize the land acquisition and other authorities of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, as amended, the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, as amended, and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act to carry out a program in the United States of conserving, protecting, restoring, and propagating selected species of native fish and wildlife that are threatened with extinction.
I want to conclude by speaking about the sources of finance. I know ideas have been suggested bythe authoritiesI have quoted. I appeal respectfully to the Commonwealth Government. I do not make a Utopian approach. I believe there are a number of ways in which the revenue can be found. Senator Jackson, of the United States, has written to me from Washington and told me that the United States recently enacted further legislation whereby a certain amount of the royalties from off-shore gas fields has been earmarked for the land water fund. Under this legislation so much money is funded to the States for the very purposes I have suggested tonight.
We often talk about a bountiful tourist industry. I believe the day will come when organisations like Red Line Buses, Pioneer Tours and others will have to make some contribution to the Commonwealth for the acquisition and preservation of many of our tourist resorts. At the moment they are simply free riders. This is the second suggestion I make in this regard.
In regard to Commonwealth thinking,I have correspondence dating back to the former Prime Minister, the late Harold Holt, and I have correspondence with the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). It is interesting to note that there has been a change in political thinking. I attended a conference at which the New South Wales Minister for Lands, Mr Lewis, Mr Fox, Mr Went worth and others were present. That conference hammered the point about the Commonwealth and the States acting in partnership. The States expressed certain fears. While I welcomethe holding of a conference on fauna conservation it will be insufficient if it simply hears a lot of reports, has surveys made but asks for no parallel Commonwealth action.
The other matter to whichI wish to refer also concerns the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. He is always very diligent in reporting any of these statements to the Minister concerned. (Quorum formed.) I direct Senator Wright’s attention to the continued agitation about the Colong Caves in New South Wales. (Quorum formed.) I refer to the campaign for the preservation of the Colong Caves. Last night over 200 people met in Sydney and continued the agitation. The Commonwealth comes into the matter because the meeting carried a long, draft resolution which, among other things, called upon the Askin Government to have a further independent survey made of the choice of alternative limestone quarries in New South Wales. The appeal I make to the Minister tonight is that he convey to the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) the resolution that, in the event of any such survey being made, his officers departmentally will underwrite the Limestone Bulletin No. 72, which is a public document produced by the Bureau of Mineral Resources and which proves conclusively that there are ample alternative limestone quarries in New South Wales. At the same time, as the Minister knows, the preservation of Colong Caves will save a very valuable tourist resort of the future. I thank the Senate for its attention to my remarks.
– All I need say is that I have taken note of what Senator Mulvihill said about the two matters to which he drew our attention. If it is proper
I will speak at length at a later stage after I have read what he incorporated in Hansard and what he said.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690325_senate_26_s40/>.