26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the decision of the High Court of Australia which invalidated the Western Australian stamp tax on payments received outside that State been examined to ascertain whether wages and salaries earned outside the States in which similar taxes are operating are exempt from those taxes? Can the Minister advise the Senate whether, under the same decision of the High Court, wages and salaries paid to Commonwealth employees directly from the Australian Capital Territory are also exempt even though such employees may reside in a State in which this type of tax applies?
– The honourable senator will realise that the decision to which he refers involves very important constitutional questions. It is under examination at the present time. I certainly would not undertake to make any statement either on the actual decision or on its application to the field to which the honourable senator refers. But the fact that he has asked this question will enable me to bring the matter to the attention of the Attorney-General so that it will be specifically taken into consideration while the decision is being examined.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen an article in today’s ‘Canberra Times’ reporting the resignation of Senator Poyser from the position of Secretary of the Australian Labor Party’s Rural Committee because of a major split on the Federal ALP’s wool policy? If the article is correct, in the interests of the Australian wool industry I ask the Minister whether this does not indicate a state of confusion within the ALP with regard to another major issue. Can the Minister indicate which of the possible wool policies the ALP intends to pursue and to place before the electors?
– I have not seen the article to which the honourable senator has referred. I must admit that because of the nature of the work I am doing in this place at the present time I have not the time to read of the various manoeuvres and decisions made in the Opposition parties.
– Does the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities feel satisfied with the present concept of group travel concessions relating to air travel, in view of the present dispute between the Amateur Athletic Union of Australia and Ron Clarke as to the latter’s participation in the Tokyo Pacific Conference Games? Would it be correct to say that this impasse could be solved if the travel agency concerned adopted a more flexible attitude?
– It will be satisfying to the honourable senator to know that we in the tourist world are constantly endeavouring to obtain relaxations of travel concession rules from our friends who operate the air services. But the air services are federated on a worldwide basis under the International Air Transport Association. It is that organisation which fixes the terms and conditions upon which concessional arrangements are made. The present rules for a concession of 30% off the fare available to a travel group of this sort requires the group to travel together at all stages of their itinerary. The relaxation therefore could not be made by any travel agency in Australia. Relaxation can only come by inducing IATA to act on the rules. But it will also be satisfying to the honourable senator to know that this distinguished sportsman is being enabled to go to the Games in question by the generosity of the sporting bodies of Japan.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry noted that earlier reports from constituent organisations of the Australian Wool Industry Conference express approval of the Government’s wool marketing proposals? Has the Minister also noted that the reported Labor Party proposals on wool marketing, especially a proposal as to the method of handling 1, 2 or 3-bale lots, and the Party’s opposition to the easing of the merino ram embargo are both in direct conflict with the wool industry’s decisions on both these important matters?
– I rise to order. The question is out of order because it clearly only asks for an expression of opinion by the Minister. This is not a matter which is within the administration of the Minister. The question asks him to comment on things and in effect asks him to enter into a debate on matters of policy. Therefore, Mr Deputy President, 1 ask you to disallow the question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - 1 spoke on this matter last week. I made my views perfectly clear and I stated that it was often difficult for the Chair to decide whether matters come within the responsibility of a Minister or not. I shall let the question go through to the Minister with the suggestion that he answer that portion of it which he believes comes within his responsibility.
– I have to advise the honourable senator that the Government’s recent action in relation to the wool industry, particularly that part of it which granted an increase of $4 per ton in the bounty for superphosphate, has been designed to help this industry because it is going through a bad stage. The Government has also decided that a greater proportion of the amount spent on promotion will be found by the Australian Government. I have noted with great interest that the Wool Industry Conference, or sections of it. are expressing great approval of the recent decision by the Government to look at and to take action in relation to 1, 2 and 3-bale lots in a clip so that a greater price may be obtained for them. I noted the comments of the honourable senator about the policy of the Australian Labor Party and the export of merino rams.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the Prime Minister’s speech to the Austral ian- American Association Executive Committee luncheon in Canberra on 19th September. According to the official transcript of this speech the Prime Minister said:
I believe that the true protection of Australia in the years ahead while it is growing . . depends in the main on the United States and on the ANZUS Treaty . . . If it were not for that … we would probably have to divert far more of our resources than we should to building up to an even greater extent our own defences.
Would not the Leader agree that this excerpt is one of the most significant statements ever made by the Prime Minister for it places on record for the first time the fact that the Australian Government sees the United States presence in Asia as an excuse for only a limited defence expenditure? If Australia’s limited defence expenditure is so dependent upon the United States presence in Asia, how does the Leader explain the recent Budget 5% reduction in defence expenditure at a time when President Nixon and the United States Government have indicated clearly their desire for a reduced United States involvement in Asia and for greater efforts by the countries concerned?
– Senator Gair, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, has taken an excerpt from a speech made by the Prime Minister at an official function on 19th September and has posed a series of questions based on judgments that he has made from it. I will not reflect upon that part of his question because it should go on the notice paper so that I can obtain an answer from the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister’s speech drew attention to Australia’s position and the tremendous importance that Australia places upon the ANZUS Pact and our alliances with the United States Government. I acknowledge the points that the honourable senator raised but I think it would be quite wrong for me, in my position as the Minister representing the Prime Minister in this place, to give defence statements here at question time on matters raised by the honourable senator and on conclusions that he has drawn from certain statements. There can never be any doubt, and the Prime Minister has said so categorically, as to how much Australia depends on and looks to America for assistance in defence matters and as to the tremendous importance that Australia places on the ANZUS Pact.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Attorney-General been drawn to the report of the fact that the Victorian Secretary of the Australian Democratic Labor Party has a full report of a meeting attended by students, Communist and Amalgamated Engineering Union officials at which plans were laid, prior to the violent demonstration which occurred at Williamstown Court House last Friday, to protest at the police action at the demonstration which had not then occurred? Does not this indicate that the union stoppages by left wing rebel unions currently planned and about to take place this week are fraudulent in their inception and based on lies? Does the Minister agree that a report of this character should have the widest publicity? Will the Minister consult with the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party to ascertain whether, in the public interest, the Democratic Labor Party will make this report available for the widest possible public circulation?
– The honourable senator asked whether I would consult with the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party for the purpose of enabling wider circulation of the facts that are disclosed in the report referred to by him. The answer, of course, is yes. The honourable senator drew my attention to the report. I have seen it. It discloses an extraordinary situation of a planned campaign to disrupt court proceedings, followed by industrial dislocation. I think it is quite a significant lead and I shall transmit it immediately to the Attorney-General and the Minister for Labour and National Service for their interest.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to the text of a paper, presented at an industrial relations seminar held in Queensland last weekend, which suggested a revised prescription for hearings and determinations of national wage cases, with emphasis being placed on conciliation rather than on arbitration? Will the Minister examine the contents of the submission to determine whether there is merit in the proposal, with a view to inviting the Australian Council of Trade Unions to consider the Department’s opinion of such revised prescription?
– 1 regret that 1 am not able to say that I have seen the newspaper report to which the honourable senator has referred, but insofar as the question reveals the emphasis placed by the seminar on conciliation as being a preferential step to arbitration, I think that every honourable senator would agree. If the honourable senator will give me a particular reference so that I can obtain a more detailed statement of the views offered at the seminar I have no doubt that the Department of Labour and National Service and the Minister will be most interested to examine it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of members of the Select Committee on Election Laws of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Canada, led by Mr E. Dunlop. On behalf of honourable senators I extend to them a very cordial welcome.
Honourable senators ; Hear, hear.
– Has the Minister for Housing an answer to a question that I asked her in which I sought information relating to the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement? 1 asked whether permission has been granted for blanket use of CommonwealthState Housing Agreement funds for the purpose of providing the reticulation of water and sewerage extension to State housing subdivisions and, if so, whether the Minister could advise me of the date on which the application was made by the State of Tasmania and the date on which the necessary approval was given.
– I inform the honourable senator that this matter is under consideration between the Tasmanian Minister for Housing and myself.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. By way of a brief preface I say that no doubt the Minister is aware that the small group of Royal Australian Navy Air Arm helicopter pilots and gunners is due to return after 12 months most distinguished service in Vietnam. Is the Minister aware that the pilots’ record is so exceptional that they have earned the unstinted admiration of the American, Thai and Vietnamese forces with whom they have been operating in a combat support role? ls the Minister aware that the eight pilots completed among them more than 8,000 hours of operational flying in a 10-month period, which is an almost inordinately high number of flying hours? Will the Minister consider marking their return to Australia with some suitable ceremony and recognition?
– I am most grateful to Senator Rae for calling my attention to this remarkable achievement by this branch of the naval air service. I must say that I had not appreciated to the full the particulars which Senator Rae states in his question, but I shall be glad to take an interest in the matter, and I shall be very glad to convey to the Minister for the Navy the suggestion that some suitable recognition be accorded this group.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he is aware that a directive in the following terms has been issued to Liberal Party candidates in the forthcoming election: . . no television appearances, particularly in debates’ and ‘station sponsored’ programmes shall be entered into without the prior knowledge and approval of the Committee.
The Committee referred to is the Central Campaign Committee of the Liberal Party. Will this directive preclude Liberal candidates from participating in such television programmes as ‘Close-Up’ on Channel 9, Tonight’ and ‘Points North’ on the Australian Broadcasting Commission channel and the open line session run by a Liberal candidate on radio station 4BH Brisbane?
– In truth I do not know that I understand the question but I suggest that the honourable senator should check on his source of information, whoever he is, and tell him that he was given a rather jaundiced view of parliamentary tactics. I am sure that Senator Keeffe, as Federal President of the Australian Labor Party, would realise that the procedure to be adopted is a matter exclusively for the Party concerned. If he wants to bring such matters into this Senate I suggest that in the end result he may. be sorry that he started it.
(Senator Young having addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry) -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! If honourable senators continue in this way I shall have to disallow certain questions. I have made it clear that questions must contain some element which comes within the responsibility of the particular Minister concerned. I disallow this question.
– Did the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents the Prime Minister, hear a statement on the radio this morning by Ray Martin, the New York correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to the effect that he was unable to understand the emphasis placed by the Australian Prime Minister on the October testing of the FI 1 1 aircraft and that in fact these tests would be only part of further testing programmes to be carried out? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the decision to buy the aircraft will rest on next month’s tests?
– No, I did not hear the statement. In any event, of course, the question is completely out of order because this matter is already on the business paper. Senator Murphy will speak to it when the adjourned debate is resumed.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been directed to a report that there is a Japanese move afoot to establish a wool processing venture in Australia with Felt and Textiles of Australia Ltd for the purpose of producing tops for export to the United States and other countries? Is the Minister aware that if the move eventuates it most certainly will mean the closing of two Felt and Textiles Ltd wool processing plants- in Victoria and one major wool scouring plant in New South Wales, resulting in the retrenchment of many hundreds of workers who have years of service in the industry? What action, if any. can and will the Government take to stop the handing over to foreign interests of a complete monopoly of the Australian wool processing industry?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honourable senator has referred and therefore I am not able to answer the question. If he places his question on the notice paper I will obtain an answer for him from the Minister for Primary Industry.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government still maintain that we are not at war in Vietnam? Is it true that no decision has been made to withdraw any of our troops from that conflict, to which the majority of the Australian people are opposed as a conflict which is immoral and unjust and in which the Government should never have involved us?
– The Leader of the Opposition is making statements which have no substance at all in fact; absolutely no substance.
– .Read the recent surveys.
– If the Leader of the Opposition wishes to base his argument on a gallup poll in the categorical language that he uses as Leader of the Opposition, I feel very sorry for him and his future. I can produce results of gallup polls related to the University of New South Wales showing that about 43% of people expressed an opinion. Indeed, as Senator Prowse pointed out last week, a gallup poll was conducted in relation to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, probably one of the most complex matters bedevilling the nations of the world. Judging by the language that the honourable gentleman has used and the conclusion he has apparently drawn from a gallup poll, I suggest that the weakness of the questions he asks is pointed up.
– What about the troops?
– Senator Murphy also asked me whether a decision was to be made for the withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam. It has been made abundantly clear that there is no proposal at this time to withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam. I answered a similar question, as I understood it, last week.
– My question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, concerns events in Vietnam. Is not the position that, far from proving the correctness of the Australian Labor Party’s long held policy of military withdrawal from Vietnam, the present course of events has proved the success of the policies of the Australian Government and other governments in supplying military assistance to the South Vietnamese forces until that country, a victim of Communist aggression and terrorism, can build its military and administrative strength to a stage where it can take over the major role in its own defence against that Communist aggression and terrorism? Has not President Nixon recently reaffirmed that South Vietnam’s right to self-determination is not negotiable?
– It is true that Australia, along with other nations including the United States of America, has provided troops for South Vietnam for the preservation of that country’s independence and freedom. It is equally true that any movement of troops there has been on the basis of the capability of the South Vietnamese forces themselves to take over certain roles in their defence. I would say that it is very undesirable, and in fact contrary to the Standing Orders to which Senator Murphy drew attention earlier in question time, to deal with matter of policy on the one hand and to give expressions of opinion on the other hand in answer to a question without notice. It is quite pointless to pursue a series of questions in that way. The Government’s policy has been made abundantly clear in statements by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for External Affairs.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether it is true to say that a substantial part of the increased cost of the Fill aircraft has arisen from delays and difficulties in the design structure of its new wing concept. If so, does not the fact that we have to pay for the aircraft an additional $36m, a fact of which we have just been informed, make humbug of the statement supplied to the Senate in the last 24 hours that there is to be no increase to the ceiling price under the formula applicable to the purchase of the aircraft?
– The statement that 1 made in this place last night on behalf of the Prime Minister dealt with these matters. I have nothing to add to what is in that statement.
– My question refers to a statement which was reported on 8th August and made by the Minister for Supply that a small pilotless target (drone) called the ‘Rainbow’ would be in service in 2 years replacing an American device. I ask the Minister for Supply: Is this target at present in the developmental stages or is it a current project likely to assist in maintaining the workload of Government aircraft factories and the industry generally? How many of these items will be produced?
– I would like to get a detailed answer for the honourable senator, and it may be possible to do so before question time finishes. This is a technical matter and I think that the Senate is entitled to have a full answer to the question. If .1 do not get the details by the end of question time, I will have the answer circulated during the day.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Minister for
Primary Industry make a statement to the effect that Si Om would be spent by the Australian Wheat Board on the provision of additional storage space for wheat? Does the Wheat Board retain a capital account for purposes of this nature or other purposes? If the Wheat Board does not retain a capital account, where will the $10m come from?
– I understand that the Minister for Primary Industry has made a statement along the lines suggested by the honourable senator. If the honourable senator puts his question on the notice paper, I will get from the Minister the exact details of how this proposition will be financed.
Senate KEEFFE - Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that the former chairman of the Shell group of companies in Australia, Mr Luxton, drew the marbles at the last national service lottery of death? Will the Minister advise why national service ballots have become a social event? Was a social function at taxpayers’ expense held after that ballot? Was Mr Luxton paid a fee to draw the marbles? What was the amount, if any. paid to him?
– That question is beneath contempt.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Can he possibly explain the contradiction in the fact that the Australian Labor Party claims that it has the support of the Australian people on defence and foreign policy yet, at the same time, its leaders, Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard, at the weekend, and Mr F. E. Chamberlain on the Federal Executive are claiming that the election should be fought on domestic policy rather than on foreign policy and defence?
– I said earlier that it is very difficult for one to make objective judgments about the conduct and behaviour of other political parties. But it is significant, as Senator McManus points out. that on the one hand the Australian Labor Party is claiming great support for its policy on the question of defence but on the other hand it does not want to discuss defence. It would seem to me that, in relation to the election, there is a little whistling in the dark going on among persons on the other side.
(Question No. 1466)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN: The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1479)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
In view of recent statements by High Court Justices on off-shore responsibility, are the recent permits issued by the Queensland Government for oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef invalid because they do not have the consent of the Commonwealth.
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator is referred to the comments of the Attorney-General in the House of Representatives on 28 August 1969 (Hansard, pages 861-862).
(Question No. 1485)
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:
Four eminent plant pathologists have been brought from overseas from Sweden, United States of America and two from New Zealand, at different times to study the problem. The Forests Department is conducting planting trials with other tree species in the infected areas in a search for resistant species which can withstand the disease and that Department has also sponsored post-graduate research on the subject at the Australian National University.
No solution to the problem has yet been found but intensive research is continuing. Annual expenditure by the Forestry and Timber Bureau at their Western Regional Station, now transferred from Dwellingup to Kelmscott, is about $55,000. The whole effort of this station is directed to research on jarrah dieback. Laboratory extensions are being provided at the station at a cost of about $57,000, to provide proper facilities for mycological work.
(Question No. 1488)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1)I am unable to add anything to the answers given to the honourable senator by the Minister representing the Minister for the Army to Question No. 211 asked on 11 th June 1968.
(Question No. 1506)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
In view of a decision of a South Australian repatriation tribunal that a report of a specialist, stating that war service may have played an initiating role in an applicant’s complaint, was not material to or had no substantial bearing upon a particular claim, does a specialist’s opinion supporting a claim not come under the definition of something material to or having a substantial bearing on a claim? If not, what type of evidence would be necessary to come within the definition of section 64(7) of the Repatriation Act?
– The Acting Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Section 64(7) of the Repatriation Act provides that the Repatriation Commission shall reconsider a claim previously disallowed on appeal by the final determining authority, a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, if the appellant submits in writing further evidence which, in the opinion of the Commission, is material to and has a substantial bearing upon the appellant’s claim. Both conditions must be met.
This provision, which relates to the nature and weight of the additional evidence, means that it must be evidence not previously submitted, relevant to the claim, and of substantial weight in support of the claim.
A specialist’s opinion, like any other material in writing submitted as further evidence, is considered in the light of these criteria. The decision in relation to a submission of further evidence is taken by the Repatriation Commission under sec- tion 64(7) or, on appeal, by an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal tinder section 64(7AA).
(Question No. 1509)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General - upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 1239)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
From 1 January 1965 to I May 1969, in regard to each of the following unions:
If each fine has not been paid in full:
Registrar for payment by instalments; if so, which fines.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1285)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Is the Government aware that, as a result of Australian press reports, on at least four occasions during the past 3 months, of raids on private homes or offices of Australians by Police officers and/or officers of the Crown, Australians are becoming disturbed about the activities of any Crown official invading the privacy of homes as it is felt that such activity should be undertaken only in extreme circumstances and when all other avenues open to the Crown have been exhausted.
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have caused enquiries to be made into the occasions, during the period of three months mentioned in the question, on which searches were made of private homes or offices by officers of the Commonwealth Police. I am satisfied that on the few occasions on which such searches were made there were good and sufficient reasons for the action taken.
I have also made an enquiry of the Minister for Customs and Excise about searches made by Customs officers. The Minister has informed me he is satisfied that the searches were undertaken for good and sufficient reasons; however, there was a misunderstanding in relation to one search made on 5th March 1969, the circumstances of which have been fully explained to the Senate.
Australians have no cause to be disturbed by recent allegations of unwarranted or unnecessary official invasion of their privacy.
(Question No. 1334)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1365)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice: (!) In view of the Attorney-General’s reply to Question No. 971 that he did suggest, in his address to the Fifth Summer School of Professional Journalism, that consideration should be given to the establishment of a Press Council in Australia, along the lines of the United Kingdom Press Council, with representatives of the newspaper proprietors and a lay Chairman, has he taken any steps to have his suggestion brought before the Government; if not, does he intend doing so.
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
Whilst 1 do believe that consideration should be given to the establishment in Australia of a Press Council along the lines of the United Kingdom Press Council, I do not think it would be desirable or appropriate for me to attempt to bring any pressure to bear upon any of the groups within the press industry to promote the establishment of a Press Council. The United Kingdom Press Council is a voluntary body, the membership of which is drawn from the newspaper and periodical industries and representatives of the public. The Council is chaired by an independent chairman. It seems to me that if a Press Council is to be established in Australia of much the same kind as that in the United Kingdom there should be some spontaneous recognition by the industry itself of a need for such a body. It is, perhaps, pertinent to observe that the discussion at the Fifth Summer School of Professional Journalism proceeded on the footing that a voluntary body was to be preferred to a body established by law.
(Question No. 1415)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Would the Minister indicate what steps the Government is taking to-
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1500)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1507)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Has the order of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, made by Mr Justice Fox, for the return of exhibits, bundles of documents and other materials obtained from Maxwell Newton, been carried out by the Government authority concerned.
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
The exhibits, documents and materials which were the subject of the order, were at the time of the order held by the Court. The effect of the order was to authorise the applicants or their solicitors to collect them from the Court. I am informed that the exhibits, documents and materials have been collected.
(Question No. 1523)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Completion of stipulated periods of training is the basic qualification. During the training year a member must:
(Question No. 1529)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
TARTAR- From the USA in a fully assembled state.
SEACAT- From the UK in respect components. Assembled in Australia.
(Question No. 1531)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Does a ban on flying operations between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. apply to the Adelaide Airport, similar to that applying to operations at the airports at Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne: if so, does the Government intend to continue the ban.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
The scheduling of jet aircraft operations on a regular basis between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. at Adelaide is not permitted. In special circumstances and with the specific approval of competent authority, off-schedule operations and special flights may be authorised - the former to cover cases where a schedule service may be unavoidably delayed and the latter to meet traffic demands of the travelling public during holiday periods such as Christmas, New Year and Easter. These restrictions, which are similar to those at Brisbane, Sydney and Essendon Airports, will remain in force for the foreseeable future and apply to both passenger and freighter services operated by jet aircraft
(Question No. 1532)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
What funds, if any, does the Commonwealth Government make available (a) directly to Municipal Councils, and (b) through State Governments, to assist local government schemes for redevelopment of residential and shopping areas.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Commonwealth does not provide State Governments or Municipal Councils with funds specifically for this purpose but it does make available to the State Governments each year very large amounts of finance which the States are free to use for any purpose, including that mentioned in the Honourable Senator’s question.
(Question No. 1533)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Who will pay the costs of the installation and operation of the computer to be used in the national tally room at the forthcoming election.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No arrangements have been made by the Electoral Office for the installation and operation of a computer in the National Tally Room. I am unaware whether any arrangements have been made by the news media for the installation of a computer.
– I present the following paper:
Libraries programme - ministerial statement, 24 September 1969.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Loan (Canadian Dollars) Bill 1969
Loan (Swiss Francs) Bill1969
Tasmania Grant (Cressy-Longford Irrigation Works) Bill 1969
– by leave - Honourable senators will remember that on 28th May last I made a statement to the Senate outlining the measures which are being taken by the Commonwealth and States together to combat the growing drug problem in Australia. I also informed the Senate at that time that the Government had the drug problem under constant review and would not hesitate to use whatever resources were necessary to combat illicit importation and distribution.
Honourable senators no doubt realise that the problem of narcotics and drug dependence is an international one. It is for this reason that Australia is a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and co-operates with other countries under the auspices of the United Nations in measures aimed at the suppression of the drug traffic. Further, it is apparent that most narcotics illicitly consumed in Australia have their origin overseas and the general pattern of the illicit trade places Australia as a likely trans-shipment area for drugs destined for the United States. President Nixon, in a message to the United States Congress on 14th July 1969, stated that international liaison and co-operation was an essential part of his ten-point programme for control of the illicit narcotic trade.
Bearing these points in mind the Government is extremely conscious of the need to foster co-operation and liaison at the international level and to keep abreast of techniques developed overseas. In this context the Comptroller-General of Customs recently visited the United States, United Kingdom and France and he has reported to me that the problem in those countries is far greater than that which currently exists in Australia. However, we cannot afford to become complacent even though we have recently made important advances in measures of control. The United States authorities have warned that the pattern which currently exists in Australia is very similar to that which existed in the United States of America several years ago.
The problem is very serious in the United States. I will quote from President Nixon’s message to Congress on the drug problem so that honourable senators may get some idea of the scope and degree of illicit drug taking in that country. It states:
The number of narcotics addicts across the United States is now estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. Another estimate is that several million American college students have at least experimented with marihuana, hashish, LSD, amphetamines or barbiturates. It is doubtful that an American parent can send a son or daughter to college today without exposing the young man or woman to drug abuse. Parents must also be concerned about the the availability and use of such drugs in our high schools and junior high schools.
Hounourable senators will agree that we must be prepared to combat a further growth in the importation of narcotic drugs and drugs of dependence into Australia. To this end the Commonwealth and State Health Departments have accelerated the development of programmes of education, research and treatment. In addition the Commonwealth Department of Health in collaboration with the State health authorities is introducing a system to collect, collate and disseminate information on interstate and intra-state movements of narcotics and other drugs of dependence. Such a system will outline trends in drug usage and also minimise the risk of drugs of dependence finding their way into the illicit market.
The State police forces are improving their resources and are stepping up the activity of their drug squads. The Commonwealth Police Force has established a narcotics cell, as part of its Central Crime Intelligence Bureau, which will coordinate the intelligence requirements of the various law enforcement agencies operating in this area.
Steps have also been taken to improve the resources of the Customs Narcotics Bureau along the following lines:
I am satisfied that the measures I have outlined will go a long way towards reducing the drug problem in Australia. The Government will continue to foster co-operation with State authorities and provide for effective international co-operation in its campaign to eliminate progressively abuse of drugs of dependence.
– by leave - I move:
I would like to address a few remarks to the Senate on this subject. I think that all honourable senators will appreciate the statement that has been made by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator
Scott), because clearly a serious problem is developing in Australia, although still in the very early stages, in relation to the provision of drugs to a number of Australians and also the apparent growing addiction of a number of Australians to drugs as is occurring in other parts of the world. All that I have to say on this matter at present - what I say results from such little knowledge as I have been able to acquire from reading and from my observations in other parts of the world - is that it seems that the present problems resulting from drug addiction have social origins which should be considered at the same time as inquiries are being made into the dissemination of drugs throughout the community. Most of the drugs which are being distributed and taken in apparently increasing numbers by people throughout the world have been well known for many years. Marihuana, for example, has been known for at least some centuries. The other so-called hard drugs like heroin also have been well known for a very long time.
The peculiar phenomenon at present seems to be the very rapid growth in the addiction of people to these drugs and the spread of use of these drugs throughout the world. Looking at the results, recognising the fact that drugs are being distributed and taking steps to prevent the distribution of drugs are valuable approaches towards solving the problem. There is nothing in the statement made by the Minister with which I and, I. am sure, other honourable senators would not agree completely. It may well be that we are overlooking a very important feature of the whole problem of drug addiction and that is why, over the past few years, there has been this sudden rapid growth in the dissemination of drugs and the addiction of people to drugs. The drugs have been well known for a very long time. There always have been people of criminal intent who have been prepared to make money from pedalling drugs yet for some reason, which is not by any means fully explained, in recent years the successes of successive drug pedallers has increased and the desire of people to take these drugs has increased also. These are very important social problems. I do not believe that by merely looking at the fact that drugs were smuggled from one point or another and by saying that this person or that person was caught we have dealt with the problem, because if there is some inherent weakness in our society which is causing people to want to take these drugs, these measures can be only temporary ones which will not strike at the heart of the problem. I agree that the problem is not one for the Minister for Customs and Excise to solve. The problem is a much broader social one, but it is a problem which is raised by the presentation of the paper.
There is one other matter which 1 think requires some examination. At this stage I do not want to appear to be an advocate of pot smoking. 1 think some serious examination should be made of the rather loose statements which are made sometimes that there is some logical connection between the taking of so-called soft drugs such as marihuana and a subsequent addiction to the much more damaging hard drugs. Evidence, or what is claimed to be evidence anyway, has been produced by people who apparently can speak with some authority on this matter that marihuana is no more damaging than tobacco or alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol themselves are damaging. I think it could well be argued that if we were back several hundred years and prevented the introduction of tobacco and of alcohol society may well have been wise to have done so.
I believe some study should be made of the relationship between marihuana and the so-called hard drugs and also some study should be made as to what are the consequences of the use of marihuana. Marihuana is relatively easy to produce, lt is smoked by people in many parts of the world, apparently without any serious consequence. Although I certainly would not advocate the introduction of marihuana into this country, it may well be that the resources of the State could be employed better in seeking out the users of barbiturates and hard drugs and preventing the spread of the taking of heroin, LSD and other such obviously damaging drugs than in dealing with something like marihuana which may be no more damaging than nicotine or alcohol.
Speaking on behalf of the Opposition, I commend the statement made by the Minister. The matters to which I have referred are not matters which, strictly speaking, come within the ambit of his Department. Certainly everybody would agree that, whatever long term investigation should be made of this whole problem, steps have to be taken within the present framework of our knowledge to prevent the introduction of drugs into this country and to take the strongest action against those persons who profit by the sale of drugs. Such people, I believe, are among the worst criminals one might find in society. Any action which the Department takes to apprehend them and prevent their activities would be commended, I am sure, by all honourable senators.
– I welcome the statement by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) which is further evidence of the Government’s intention to stamp out, so far as is humanly possible, in co-operation with State governments and other authorities, the growing drug menace. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I desire to inform the Senate that the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Bury, left Australia yesterday to attend, on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ meeting in Barbados and the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Washington. Mr Bury expects to return to Australia on 7th October. During his absence the Treasurer will act as Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Immigration, Mr Snedden, will represent the Minister for Housing, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, in the House of Representatives.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
Senator SCOTT (Western Australia-
Minister for Customs and Excise) . [11.34] - I move:
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to provide assistance to the Australian book manufacturing industry pending receipt of a report by the Tariff Board on the question of long term measures of assistance to the industry. The Bill provides for payment of a bounty to the book manufacturers at the rate of 25% of the cost of production of each book. The bounty will be retrospective to 1st June 1969 and will apply only to books which are of types registerable for transmission through the Post Office as books. That is, the books must be of a literary or educational character. The Government has decided that books produced by or for the Commonwealth or a State will not be eligible for bounty.
Assistance was considered necessary by the Government because increasing numbers of books are being printed overseas for Australian publishers. The loss of business to the book manufacturing industry has caused serious damage. Employment has fallen significantly and the Government is convinced that this trend will continue unless immediate action is taken. Normally requests for immediate and urgent assistance to an industry are referred to the Special Advisory Authority who is empowered to recommend protection by way of increased import duties or restriction of imports. The Special Advisory Authority is not empowered to recommend assistance by way of bounty. It is, however, longstanding Government policy that there should be no tariff or licensing restrictions to impede the free flow of books into Australia. The Government, therefore, after extensive investigation into the industry situation and careful consideration of other methods of assistance, took this decision to introduce an interim bounty. I commend this Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Senator Milliner) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
This is the first of three Bills designed to give legislative effect to the Government’s decision to establish a scheme of drought bonds for the benefit of graziers in arid areas. Before considering the details of the Bills, I think it would be appropriate if I were to outline the whole of the drought bonds scheme. Honourable senators will recall that reference to drought bonds was made in last year’s Budget Speech. On 1st May of this year the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) made a more detailed statement of the Government’s decisions on the main principles of the drought bonds scheme.
The Commonwealth Government has provided considerable assistance to primary producers, partly in the form of Government sponsored research and partly by way of taxation and other incentives to encourage the conservation of water and fodder. However, producers in drier areas cannot easily take advantage of these measures, and the drought bonds scheme has been designed to assist them. Experience has shown that in these areas the appropriate policy for producers to follow is to build up cash reserves in good years in order to reduce the impact of a drought on long term farm profitability. The drought bond scheme is designed to provide producers with an opportunity to follow this policy and also to enable them to make financial provision against damage or loss to livestock or pastures through fire or flood. The incentive to make financial provision under this scheme lies initially in the deduction from taxable income of moneys subscribed to drought bonds by eligible graziers.
For the purpose of the scheme, an eligible grazier is one whose income from grazing sheep and/or beef cattle in an income year represents at least 90% of his gross farm income for that year. Subject to an overall limitation of $50,000, he will be allowed an income tax deduction of the amount of his subscriptions up to a maximum of 20% of his gross income from sheep and/ or beef cattle in any one year. When the grazier experiences drought, or incurs substantial damage or loss to pastures or livestock through fire or flood, he may apply to have his bonds redeemed. In these circumstances, the proceeds of the redemption will be included in his assessable income to the extent of tax deductions allowed. If his bonds become redeemable for any other reason allowed under the scheme, a special income tax will become payable which will equal the tax he originally saved when he subscribed to the bonds.
The income tax advantages of the scheme lie, firstly, in the deferment of an amount of tax payable by the grazier and, secondly, in the fact that the tax saved when subscriptions are made to the bonds in good seasons will in most cases exceed the tax payable on redemption on account of drought, fire or flood. This is because the grazier’s income could generally be expected to be lower in a year when bonds become redeemable, for one of these reasons, than in the year when bonds were purchased.
As I have said, three separate Bills are necessary to provide for drought bonds. The Loan (Drought Bonds) Bill 1969 provides for the creation, issue and redemption of the securities, which will be called drought bonds. The second Bill, the Income Tax (Drought Bonds) Bill 1969, imposes the tax payable when the bonds are redeemed for reasons other than drought, fire or flood. The third Bill, the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1969, covers all other taxation aspects of the drought bonds scheme, including provision for deductions on purchase, and the consequences of redemption.
I shall deal now with the principal features of the Loan (Drought Bonds) Bill. Part I of the Bill provides that it will come into operation on the date of royal assent, and this is also provided in the two associated Bills, lt is proposed to issue the first series of drought bonds on 3rd November 1 969 and the legislation should therefore be operative as early as possible.
Under the provisions of Part II of the Bill, the Governor-General may by order create drought bonds and authorise the Treasurer to issue them. The provisions of Part II of the Bill are very much in line with other loan raising laws except for three aspects of drought bonds which, quite apart from their income tax treatment, distinguish them from other Commonwealth securities. Firstly, the proceeds of sale of drought bonds will be transferred to a new Drought Bonds Trust Account which this Bill establishes. Bonds will be redeemed from funds standing to the credit of the Trust Account. Any moneys in the Trust
Account may be temporarily invested in other Commonwealth securities. Secondly, the bonds will be issued only in the form of inscribed stock, and the appropriate parts of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act will apply to drought bonds.
Thirdly, drought bonds will be inscribed in the name of one person only, except when they are transmitted on death or bankruptcy, and will not be transferable from one person to another. The income tax treatment can be effective only if the bonds are purchased and redeemed by the same person. This rules out the use of bearer bonds and precludes the transfer of bonds by sale or otherwise.
Part III of the Bill deals with the redemption of drought bonds. Since the income tax treatment of the proceeds of redemption of drought bonds is dependent on the circumstances of the redemption, it has been necessary to ensure that the provisions of this Part of the Bill and the proposed income tax legislation are on parallel lines. The Loan (Drought Bonds) Bill appoints the Commissioner of Taxation as the person authorised to determine all requests for the redemption of drought bonds and authorises him to declare, in certain circumstances prescribed by the Bill, that bonds have become redeemable. Bond holders have the right to refer to a Taxation Board of Review a request for redemption which is refused by the Commissioner.
Where drought bonds are redeemed on account of drought, fire or flood, the proceeds of bonds in respect of which tax deductions have been allowed will be included in the taxpayer’s assessable income of the year of income in which they are redeemed. Where drought bonds are redeemed for any other reason, the proceeds of the bonds will be repaid net of the tax which was saved through tax deductions allowed at the time of purchase. These situations will arise: 1. When the bonds mature; 2. When the bond holder suffers serious financial hardship; 3. When the bond holder has permanently ceased to carry on a grazing business; 4. On the death, bankruptcy or, if a company, winding up of the bond holding; 5. Where income tax deductions are not allowed for bonds purchased; and 6. In certain circum stances, on the sale of a grazing business - when the bond holder requests redemption and re-issue of the bonds to the purchaser of the grazing business.
Redemption of bonds on account of drought will be permitted where the area in which the property of the subscriber is located has received inadequate rainfall over a sufficiently long period to have suffered a significant adverse effect on the normal pattern of production, and where this area has been declared a drought area for this purpose by the Minister for Primary Industry through a notice in the ‘Gazette’. When the drought is over, the Minister will revoke his earlier declaration. In addition to publication in the ‘Gazette’, it is intended that such declarations and revocations v/ill be advertised in the area or areas concerned. The total maximum holding of drought bonds and, therefore, the maximum total income tax deduction, at any one time by any one person is to be limited to $50,000. As 1 have indicated, the drought bonds scheme provides certain financial benefits for eligible primary producers, lt is desirable, therefore, that bond holdings should be kept within limits considered reasonable and adequate.
The bill provides for the making of regulations to assist the implementation of the scheme and to allow certain regulations made under the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act to apply to drought bonds.
Prospectuses, application forms, etc., for the first issue of drought bonds on 3rd November 1969 are in course of preparation.
The income tax concessions which the bonds carry for eligible persons mean that the effective return on the bonds will exceed their rate of interest. It is therefore desirable to avoid the bonds being used merely as an investment by persons for whom the income tax concessions are not intended. For these reasons, and because it is not practicable to restrict their purchase to eligible persons only, the rate of interest payable for the first series of bonds is being set at 3% per annum. This rate will be kept under review and could be changed with subsequent series if this is considered appropriate.
It is intended that a new series of bonds will come on issue each 12 months - normally on 1st September. The first series, to be issued on 3rd November 1969, will be succeeded by series 2 on 1st September 1970. The bonds will be issued for a term of 10 years, and the first series will mature on 1st September 1979. Graziers who purchase drought bonds during November and December of this year, and who are eligible for an income tax deduction, may elect to have the deduction made from assessable income for the income year ended 30th June 1969.
The main taxation provisions of the scheme have already been mentioned but I shall now refer briefly to certain other tax aspects which are of practical significance.
Tax deductions will be available for drought bonds purchased by an eligible grazier whether carrying on business as an individual, as a member of a partnership or as a company. For a member of a partnership, eligibility will be determined by reference to any separate operations of his own in addition to his operations through the partnership of which he is a member. For a number of technical reasons associated with the basic concept of the scheme it has not, however, been found practicable to make drought bond deductions available to trustees of trust estates carrying on a grazing business.
There are technical provisions to ensure that, in broad terms, appropriate adjustments are made to assessable income, or an appropriate amount of original tax saving is restored to the revenue, when a holding of drought bonds in respect of which tax deductions have been allowed is redeemed, for any of the various permitted purposes, either at the one time or over a period.
I have explained that, when drought bonds are redeemed for reasons other than the existence of drought or loss by flood or fire, the tax saved from the deduction for the purchase price of the bonds becomes recoverable by the revenue. In these cases, the Commissioner of Taxation will be obliged to issue a determination setting out the amount of the tax saved at the time of purchase that is to be deducted from the proceeds on redemption.
A taxpayer dissatisfied with the Commissioner’s determination will have the same rights of objection and appeal against it as are available in respect of assessments.
I mention also that it is proposed that, where a subscription to drought bonds is not fully deductible in one year of income - for example, because it exceeds 20% of a grazier’s gross receipts from maintaining sheep or beef cattle, or exceeds the amount that would, but for a deduction for the subscription, be his taxable income for the year - the amount not deducted may be carried forward for deduction in a subsequent year of income. Alternatively the subscriber may, without any tax consequences, redeem the amount of the excess investment. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is complementary to the Loan (Drought Bonds) Bill which I have just introduced. Its purpose is to impose the special tax payable when drought bonds, in respect of which tax deductions have been allowed, are redeemed for reasons other than the existence of drought or the incurrence of certain loss or damage through fire or flood. As I explained in my speech on the associated Bill, the tax payable on such redemptions will be an amount equal to the amount of tax saved by income tax deductions allowed for the subscriptions to the bonds subject of the redemption. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is the third of the series of measures to give effect to the drought bonds scheme. It contains the amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act necessary for the purpose of allowing tax deductions for subscriptions to drought bonds, for the inclusion in assessable income of appropriate amounts on redemption of bonds on account of drought, fire or flood, and for the imposition of the special tax payable on redemptions for other reasons. The broad substance of these amendments was explained in my speech on the Loan (Drought Bonds) Bill 1969 and explanations of the finer technical details are contained in a memorandum being made available to honourable senators.I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the States Grants (Petroleum Products) Act 1965. This Act came into force late in 1965 to provide for payments to be made to the States to subsidise the distribution and sale of certain petroleum products sold in country areas. Honourable senators will recall that the purpose of the subsidy scheme is to reduce the costs of petroleum products used for transport purposes in country areas so that their wholesale price does not exceed the relevant capital city wholesale price by more than 3.3c per gallon. Five petroleum products were selected as being eligible for subsidy because of their direct use in transport. These products are motor spirit, power kerosene, automotive distillate, aviation gasoline and aviation turbine fuel. The objective of the subsidy scheme is to reduce transport costs so as to assist people in the more remote localities throughout Australia.
Since the commencement of the scheme payments to the States under the arrangement have totalled $61. 9m, of which $19.3m was paid in the financial year 1968-69. The States in turn have made payments equal to these amounts to oil companies and their associated agents, who are obliged to ensure that the country wholesale prices at which they make each subsidised sale take into account fully the subsidy amount payable. The rate of subsidy for each country area is related to the industry costs of distribution and subsidy is payable where the industry costs of distribution for a particular locality are in excess of 3.3c a gallon of eligible product. The rates of subsidy payable are set out in a schedule, which covers over 5,000 locations. The locations listed are mainly those which were recognised by oil companies as distribution centres at 30th June 1964, though, from time to time since the scheme commenced, additional centres of distribution have been added to the schedule.
The present subsidy rates are based on differentials which are in force as at 3 1st December 1964. Because of the administrative difficulties involved in continuously updating these subsidy rates to take into account day to day variations in freight charges and other costs the rates were fixed on the basis of conditions existing at 3 1st December 1964. In terms of the present legislation the schedule cannot be amended, except to add new centres of distribution, or under certain circumstances correct anomalies in the schedule. The effect of fixing the subsidy on the basis of differentials in force as at 31st December 1964 was that general increases in freight or changes in the distribution costs of petroleum products after that date could result in wholesale prices being more than 3.3c a gallon above capital city wholesale prices although, of course, reduced by the amount of subsidy paid. In the event, the Government undertook to review the operation of the scheme and the rates of subsidy after the scheme had been in operation for 3 years.
This review has now been completed and the Government is satisfied that the scheme has proved worthwhile in that it has significantly lowered the cost of the products covered by the scheme to country dwellers and country industry. Farmers, businessmen, motorists and other users in country areas have all benefited from the scheme. The Government intends to continue the principle of subsidising those petroleum products now covered by the scheme in order to continue to offset part of the cost of moving petroleum products to country areas.
Subsidy payments will continue to be made on the basis of maintaining a margin of 3.3c a gallon above the wholesale price in the relevant capital city in each State. In the Northern Territory the practice of basing the subsidy on the wholesale price obtaining in Sydney will be continued, which ensures the maximum benefit to Northern Territory consumers. As there have been some changes in freight and other distribution costs since the scheme was introduced it is proposed to update the subsidy rates to take these changes into account. The effect of this updating is to restore, in cases where distribution costs for those eligible products increased after December 1964, the difference between the capital city wholesale and country wholesale prices to 3.3c a gallon, which follows the original intention of the scheme.
The legislation now before the Senate proposes to amend the Act to allow the Government to update the schedule of subsidies using the latest available freight differentials. These new schedules using the updated differentials are now being compiled. I might add that the practice of adding new locations to the schedule as they are established as new centres of distribution by the oil industry will continue, subject to the Minister for Customs and Excise approving their inclusion. As it is impracticable to make day to day adjustments to the subsidy rates for changes in distribution costs which may occur in the future it is proposed to again make a general review of the subsidy rates in a further 3 years. In introducing this Bill, I would take the opportunity to mention the considerable co-operation received from the State governments and the oil companies. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cant) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Repre.senatatives
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill has been introduced to authorise special purpose grants to the States for transmission to independent schools as a contribution from the Commonwealth to their running costs. The Government’s decision to make payments of this nature at rates of §35 per annum for each primary pupil and $50 per annum for each secondary pupil in independent schools throughout Australia as from the beginning of 1970 was announced in the Budget Speech. I expanded on the Government’s attitude and its intentions in a statement to the Senate on 13th August last.
Payments at the rates just mentioned will be available to a school in respect of every primary or secondary student enrolled for full time education at the school census date in August of each year. However, schools conducted for the profit of individuals will not be eligible for assistance. The general criteria to be used in defining primary and secondary education for the purpose of these grants will be those accepted in each State for the State’s own schools. Therefore, while there will be some differences from State to State, there will be a consistent attitude to all independent schools within a State. The Bill gives a discretion to the Minister to determine whether particular pupils who are receiving special educational treatment by reason of physical or mental handicap or for other reasons are to be regarded as at the primary or secondary level.
Provision is made for payment of grants by instalments and for subsequent adjustments should these be necessary. The intention is that the principal of a school will make formal application to the Department of Education and Science at or before the beginning of a year and that, with the Ministers approval, the first instalment will be paid early in the year with a final instalment after the census return of school enrolments has been received and examined. Payments will be made for the benefit of each school on two conditions. Firstly, that the whole of the amount will be applied towards meeting the recurrent expenditure of that school in providing primary and secondary education. Secondly, that the school will arrange for the submission to the Commonwealth Minister of a statement by a qualified accountant to the effect that the money has been used for that purpose. The recurrent expenditure of a school will be that normally understood in business accounts. As far as possible, the administration of this programme will be carried out by officers of the Commonwealth. In accepting a grant under the legislation, a State will be required to account for the disposition of the grants, but the observance of the conditions as to their use by the school will not involve any obligation by the State. Every State Premier has indicated the willingness of his State to co-operate with the Commonwealth in this new programme.
Provision is made in the Bill for an annual report to the Parliament showing total payments authorised in respect of a year for each State, together with particulars of the amount authorised for each school. The Bill deals only with per capita grants to independent schools in the States. In the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, the present per capita grants will be increased by amounts equal to the new per capita grants to be made to independent schools in the States. Funds will be provided on the estimates of the Department of Education and Science. The estimated expenditure in respect of the financial year 1969-70 and the calendar year 1970 for independent schools in the States and in the two Territories is shown in a table which, with the concurrence of the Senate, I will have incorporated in Hansard. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate resumed (vide page 1 274).
-I most certainly cannot congratulate the Government on the introduction of the Book Bounty Bill:I say this for two very good reasons: First, because of the procrastination of the Government in relation to the book production industry; and, secondly, because of the Government’s complete lack of knowledge of the requirements of the industry. I do not propose to discuss in great depth the difficulties that have been associated with the industry because the printing of books has been permitted to be undertaken outside this country. Suffice it to say that the industry was in a most parlous condition because of the fact that people were sending printing work to Hong Kong and other areas where books could be printed at a cheaper rate than they can be produced in Australia.
I suggest that this matter should have been tackled far more quickly than it has been. At least 2 years ago the Government was made aware of the difficulties that confronted the industry. It is ironical that the Printing and Kindred Industries Union cooperated with the Government and employers in promoting and encouraging the entry to Australia of skilled migrant tradesmen. Then the industry was faced with the situation that, having co-operated to such an extent, difficulties arose because of the greed of people who were not prepared to support Australia and Australians but who preferred to look at the profit motive and send their printing work outside Australia. I believe that this Union should have taken far more militant action in this matter because it had the support of the whole trade union movement as well as the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the respective trades and labour councils and, indeed, the people generally.
The situation was a complete farce. We are asking Australians to support Australian industries, yet Australians, with the consent of the Government, were sending their printing orders overseas and printed books were being shipped back to Australia for distribution in schools and sale from the shelves of book retailers. Those books were printed overseas to the detriment of the Australian printing industry. It is useless for the Government to say that it was not made aware of these matters. It was made aware of them easily 2 to 2i years ago. It is not until today with the presentation of this Bill that the Government has done anything at all about this problem. With respect, I would suggest that this Book Bounty Bill will not cure the situation. Surely it is ironical that a few people in Australia should deny other Australians their livelihood because they send their work overseas to be produced at a cheap rate and to be returned to Australia as the completed articles?
What will happen as the result of the passage of this Bill? Unless the Government acts very quickly by referring this matter to the Tariff Board, the only result will be that the rich will get richer. The passage of this Bill will mean that the big printing interests of Australia - namely the newspaper offices - will put all their machinery into operation in the commercial printing field more vigorously and so deny to recognised commercial printers their entitlements in the way of work. Therefore, I urge the Government to do something about this matter more speedily in relation to tariff action than it is doing by the introduction of this Book Bounty Bill.
In making my next point, I refer to the fact that a committee of four will advise the Government. This committee is to be made up of a representative of the book publishers - the very ones who caused all this calamity within the industry - 2 representatives of the master printers and one other person. Those members, on a generous estimate, represent in total about 5,000 people in this industry in Australia. Yet, notwithstanding the fact that courteous letters were written to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) asking that a representative of the Printing and Kindred Industries Union be appointed to this panel, the Union was denied that right. So the situation is that four people, representing approximately 5,000 people in the printing trade, will be advising the Government, yet the union which controls the destiny of about 80,000 workers in the printing industry throughout Australia is denied representation on the panel.
I have heard Government supporters say that they are only too willing to co-operate with unions in matters affecting the welfare of this country and yet here is a complete denial of their statements in that direction. It is not as if the Government had not been asked early for representation on the Panel. For instance, on 28th May 1 969 the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), as reported at page 1631 of Hansard, stated:
The bounty will be administered by the Minister for Customs and Excise and will be payable as from 1st June 1969. Enabling legislation will be introduced in the next session of Parliament. An advisory body comprising representatives of publishers, book manufacturers and Government departments will be appointed to maintain a constant review of the situation until the report of the Board is tabled.
As a result of that statement, on 2nd June 1969 I wrote what I believe to be a courteous letter to the Minister for Trade and Industry asking that the Printing and Kindred Industries Union be represented on the Panel. I believed that it was courteous, too, for me to give a copy of the letter to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and also to Senator Scott, who had been mentioned in Senator Anderson’s statement to the Senate on 28th May. I will not weary the Senate by reading out my letter. It is available to anyone who would like to read it. The Secretary of the Printing and Kindred Industries Union wrote at the same time to the Minister. I received no acknowledgment whatsoever of my letter, nor did the Secretary of the Union.I then had to make personal representation as to when I was to get an acknowledgment from the Minister. On 13th August 1969, after Ihad asked for it,I received a reply which read:
Dear Senator Milliner,
Recently you wrote to me requesting that favourable consideration be given to representation of the Printing and Kindred Industries Union on the Book Manufacturing Advisory Panel.
The Secretary of the Union, the honourable Colin Colborne, MLC, has also requested that the Union be represented and I have replied to him explaining the reasons behind the present composition of the Panel.
I have enclosed a copy of my reply to Mr Colborne for your information.
Yours sincerely, (J. McEwen)
What is the Minister’s definition of recently’? I repeat that I wrote on 2nd June and I received a reply on 13th August. If that is not rank discourtesy, I do not know what is. Bear in mind that I had to ask for the reply otherwise probably I would not have received one at this point in time. The reply to the Secretary of the Union was to the effect that the Minister could not appoint to the Advisory Panel a representative of the Union, which represents 80,000 workers, because he had also received requests for representation from bodies such as the Australian Society of Authors - I suppose if we were generous we would say it would have about 500 members; the Graphic Arts Plate Making Employers Federation - representing at the most 200 throughout Australia: and the Australian Booksellers Association - I do not know how many it would represent.
That was the excuse furnished as to why representation of the Union, which represents 80,000 workers throughout Australia, was denied. The flimsy excuse was that if the Union was represented the others would be possibly offended. I suggest that it is a particularly lame excuse and I ask the Minister even at this late stage to reconsider the decision and include in the Panel a representative of the Union. I say with respect that it is entitled to be represented. Any organisation with 80,000 members should be represented on a panel of this nature. It is useless for the Minister or anybody else to try to convince me or the Union that the Panel will not discuss matters connected with the welfare of members of the Union. Obviously if it is to discuss the welfare and future of the industry this must be connected with the affairs of the Union. It is ironic that the Union should have co-operated with government and industry over the years in many, many facets of industrial life, yet now it is completely ignored when it makes a request that it is surely entitled to make and that should have been acceded to.
I could tell the Senate of innumerable occasions when departments have thanked the Union for its co-operation publicly. A representative of the Department of Immigration in Brisbane thanked the Union for its co-operation and publicly stated that if all organisations assisted as the Printing and Kindred Industries Union had done his job would be made so much easier. Yet when the Union asks for representation on a Panel to deal with the welfare of the Industry it is refused. If the Minister only knew the history of the matter he would know that it was the Union that initiated the moves to go to the Government to see what it could do to assist. All that the Government has done is to insult a union that has tried to play its part, by refusing a legitimate request for inclusion on the Panel. What then will be the role of the Union in future? I suggest that it will be to take matters into its own hands. I repeat that we could have corrected this situation long before the introduction of the Book Bounty Bill by the use of our own industrial strength.
– What do you mean by the use of your industrial strength?
– I can tell the honourable senator that we were ready to go and the employers also were co-operating to the point where our members were to refuse to touch any work unless the whole process was done in Australia. That would have caused some consternation throughout Australia but it would have been very effective. But we did not proceed on that line. We adopted more conciliatory methods. I repeat that 2½ years ago the Government knew all of the difficulties. I question whether the Bill will have the advantages that the Government apparently believes it will have. I withhold my congratulations until such time as we see what happens. I foresee that the newspaper companies which have commercial sections associated with the production of their newspapers will move into this field and the very persons that the Government wants to assist will not be assisted because of the efforts of the newspapers. I believe that there was a far easier way to tackle the problem. An excise duty should have been placed on copy and film that was going out of Australia for printed work to be reintroduced to Australia. That, I believe, would have corrected the whole situation. I commend that proposition to the Minister and the Government for future action. I content myself with those remarks. I ask the Government, even at this late stage, to include on the panel to advise the Government on these matters a representative of the Printing and Kindred Industries Union which represents 80,000 workers. I believe that to do so would be of advantage to the panel and to the industry as a whole. Also I commend to the Government for its consideration the proposal that an excise duty be placed on all copy and film going out of Australia for use in any other country for the reproduction of matter to be sold in Australia. I commend those two propositions to the Government and urge upon it the necessity to take further action as speedily as possible.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) (12.6]- The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports this Bill. I share the doubts that have been expressed by Senator Milliner as to whether the Bill goes far enough or will be very effective. In the course of a visit to the East last year I saw something of what has been done in regard to printing. I came to the conclusion that it will be very difficult for a country such as Australia to compete with the facilities for printing at cheap rates that are available in a number of Eastern countries. I think that applies to textiles, footwear and quite a number of other things. I came back with a feeling that if we had to compete with these countries in these products the employment of a large number of good Australians would be very seriously jeopardised.
As Senator Milliner has said, this Bill goes a very short distance only. One could question whether it is the most effective way of dealing with the problem. I could not help feeling while he was speaking that what is really needed is an inquiry into the whole of the printing industry and the print ing of books and papers abroad. If such an inquiry were held I should think it would be essential that membership of the panel be made available to a representative of the printing unions generally. Senator Milliner referred to one union, but there are a number. The one that he referred to obviously would be the one with the largest number of people engaged in the printing trade. I believe that on all these inquiries there should be a representative of the trade union movement.
– Without committing himself in any way, does the honourable senator believe that a Senate committee sitting with some person such as an assessor or someone from the industry would be helpful?
– I think there should be a committee. I can speak only for myself, but I think it would be an excellent thing if there were such a committee. I feel that this is the kind of question that the Senate could inquire into with advantage. Because of the nature of the subject we may feel that we should not confine an inquiry to the printing industry but might give consideration also to some of the other industries which are being very seriously affected in the same way.
– Where would we find senators available for the committee with all the other committees that we now have?
– Honourable senators have to make themselves available for committees. I know that we all were very keen about the institution of committees. We asked the Government to appoint a number of secretaries and other persons to service the committees and we now have those officers. I think we would be letting ourselves and the country down if, having had these people appointed, we left them with nothing to do, mainly because honourable senators felt that they were kept pretty busy by the committees. I have served on a number of committees and I know that they involve quite a deal of time, but my feeling is that there should be more committees. I believe that the work that has been done by the committees has been very valuable for the country and that therefore, even if they involve some sacrifice of time by honourable senators, we should be prepared to accept that sacrifice. I have just had handed to me a copy of today’s newspaper which points out that employers administering Australia’s fourth largest secondary industry have decided to become a national body.
– What is the fourth largest industry.
– Printing, 1 take it. I believe that those concerned have made that decision on the ground that it would enable more effective presentation of the claims of their industry, but I believe also that the decision would reflect a fear for their industry in the future because of competition from abroad. 1 shall say no more on that question other than that I believe it is so big a problem that it should be inquired into very carefully. 1 believe that we have a very serious problem in the printing industry. If one goes to some countries in the East one finds that books are being printed without regard to copyright. In some countries 1 found that they put on the front page of a book ‘Not to be taken out of the country’, but I have never found anybody who has had difficulty in taking them out of the country if he has wished to do so. Here we have the fourth largest industry in our country being subjected to competition from countries where wage rates and conditions are such that it would be almost impossible for the Australian industry to match them. I am one of those who believe that people in other countries have a right to live, but also that we have to be reasonable about the claims of our own people. For that reason I support this Bill. As I have said, I am disappointed that it goes to a very limited degree into the question. What we need is a complete examination of all the problems of the printing industry with all sections, unions and employers, represented. I believe that we should look forward to a just decision on the claims of our own industry which takes into account the right of people abroad to live.
– in reply - I have a few comments to make on suggestions made by honourable senators in their speeches on the second reading of this Bill. Senator Milliner said that the Government knew at least 2i years ago about the problems of the printing industry in Australia. T suppose it would be right to say that the Government might have known something about them, but the fact is that the industry did not approach the Government with its problems until 17th January this year. We have taken notice of the problems. We know very well that of the 23 publishing companies in Australia, 20 publishers, knowing that they can have material printed in low cost countries, have taken advantage of the situation. After examining the industry closely it appeared to us that 1 or 2 of the remaining 3 publishers would probably do likewise. I understand that among those 3 are 2 publishers who produce about 50% of the books that are produced for sale in Australia. Bearing this in mind, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) has recommended to the Government, and the Government has accepted the proposition, that as an interim measure we should grant to the Australian printing industry a bounty at the rate of 25% of the cost of production of each book as invoiced to the publisher. We know very well that this is satisfactory to the printers in Australia. We also know that possibly books can be produced in overseas countries more cheaply than in Australia even with this 25% bounty. But I emphasise that this is only a stop-gap method of handling this situation until such time as the Government has an opportunity to study the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Earlier this year the whole problem of the printing industry, covering all printed matter, whether books or anything else, was placed before the Tariff Board by the Minister for Trade and Industry for its consideration. The Board is expected to make its report available at some time in the ensuing 12 months.
Senator Milliner also mentioned that he would have liked to see a member of the relevant union on the panel that the Minister for Trade and Industry created to advise him on problems associated with the industry. The honourable senator says that he does not know why that was not done. I point out that the whole purpose of the bounty is to ensure that the industry can carry on. A bounty is of enormous help to labour in industry. Any decision taken to improve the health of the industry by the payment of bounty is automatically reflected in improved labour conditions.
The panel appointed by the Minister for Trade and Industry on 27th June 1969 consists of five gentlemen, namely, Mr P. M. Cotton, who is a director of Gillingham and Co. Ltd, Adelaide, and a printer; Mr G. A. Ferguson, C.B.E., who is the Managing Director of Angus and Robertson Ltd, Sydney, and a publisher; Mr S. D. L. Horwitz, who is the Governing Director of Horwitz Publications Incorporated, Sydney, and a publisher; Mr L. O’Neil, who is the President of the Australian Book Publishers Association of Melbourne and a publisher; and Mr D. E. Penman, who is the Managing Director of P. J. Firth (Queensland) Pty Ltd, Brisbane, and a printer. The Commonwealth Government is represented by officers from the following departments: The Department of Trade and Industry, whose officer is the chairman, the Department of the Treasury, the Prime Minister’s Department and the Department of Customs arid Excise.
For the information of Senator Milliner, I mention that the purposes of the panel are to advise the Government on trends in the book manufacturing industry following the introduction of the bounty scheme: to provide a review of the progress of the scheme by detailing orders placed locally and in Hong Kong, employment figures, import statistics etc; and to advise, and assist where necessary, in the introduction of administrative arrangements. The industry nominees are from publishers and printers only. These people control the book industry in all the activities involved in this issue. They wish to keep the panel small, selective and functional. However, there is nothing to prohibit the secondment of a union member to the panel if the Minister for Trade and Industry thinks that is necessary.
Senator Mc M anus has a concern for the industry. He suggested that a committee - a select committee, I think - should look into it. I suggest to him that, as the whole of the industry is being studied by the Tariff Board at the moment, he might wait until its report is made available to the Government and the Senate for their consideration before taking any steps for the formation of a select committee to inquire into the industry. If he is not satisfied with the report of the Tariff Board on this matter it will be up to him to move for the formation of a select committee, if he so desires.
– When will the report be available?
– The matter was placed before the Tariff Board in May this year. I believe that it will be some months before the report is available for consideration. It will probably be available in about the middle of next year. That is why the Government decided, as an interim measure, to give a bounty of 25% to trie book manufacturing industry in order to keep it in business until such time as that report is received.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 23 September (vide page 1257).
– I regret that I had to delay the passage of this Bill last night; but at that time I was not satisfied with the reply given by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth). After consideration and discussion overnight, I think that at last I understand the meaning of clause 3 (2.), where it refers to a State spending an amount equal to the amount approved by the Commonwealth. I have discovered that it means that proof must be presented that the State has spent the money granted by the Commonwealth. It is very unfortunate that the wording used in the clause does not make the meaning clear. If it ever comes to a matter of judicial interpretation, I do not know what will be considered to be the correct interpretation of the clause.
That leaves only one point about which I am concerned. It relates to clause 3 (2.) (b). Honourable senators will recall that under clause 3 (1.) the Minister can decide how much will be paid to a State for a scheme for the advancement of Aboriginal welfare. If a State is paid an amount, then clause 3 (2.) (b) states: . . . if the Minister informs the State that he is satisfied that an amount equal to that amount has not been applied in accordance with the condition specified in the last preceding paragraph, the State will repay that amount to the Commonwealth.
My concern is with the interpretation of the words ‘that amount’. Let me give an illustration. If the Minister decides to pay $500 in respect of a scheme in South Australia and the State’s return shows that in fact it spent only $400 on that scheme, does paragraph (b) mean that the $500 has to be paid back to the Commonwealth or that only the amount that the Commonwealth advanced in excess of the amount the State spent on the scheme has to be paid back to the Commonwealth?
[12.25] - The honourable senator is correct in saying that if the money has not been spent out of the funds for which they applied, that amount would be paid back to the Commonwealth.
– Only the amount that has not been spent?
– Yes. But I do not expect that this is likely to happen. So far it has not.
– I want to make a few general remarks basically for the same reason as that mentioned by Senator Cavanagh. Last evening when I spoke on this subject I felt that I was not adequately answered by the Minister. I made reference to statements about black power and I think these ought to be set down on the record. I also want to set down on the record the history of the legislation that led to the special grants. If I do this in chronological order I will not detain the Senate for very long. In November 1965 the Government introduced legislation for a referendum to repeal section 127 of the Constitution which provided that Aboriginals should not be counted in the census. The Government declined at that stage to accept proposals that advantage should be taken of the opportunity to repeal the words ‘other than the Aboriginal race in any State’ in section 5 1 (xxvi) which read:
The Commonwealth shall . . . have power to make laws . . . with respect to:
The people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws.
Then on 10th March 1966 the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth), who was then a back bencher, introduced a private member’s Bill which contained these three main provisions: Firstly, the repeal of section 127 of the Constitution; secondly, the repeal of section 51 (xxvi) and its replacement by a section giving the Commonwealth power to make laws ‘for the advancement of the Aboriginal natives of the Commonwealth’; and thirdly, the addition of a new section 127a providing that ‘neither the Commonwealth nor any State shall make any law which subjects any person to any discrimination or disability . . by reason of his racial origin!
At that time the Minister said:
We do not need the power for favourable discrimination; we should not have the power for unfavourable discrimination.
I submit that in spite of the powers which have been granted to the Commonwealth by the people of this country the power that we are exercising is unfavourable discrimination, in spite of the manner in which the law has been altered. In the same speech the Minister also said:
Aboriginals are a special people-
– I rise to order. To what clause is the honourable senator referring? We are in Committee. I take it that the honourable senator is making a second reading speech.
– Senator Keeffe, you are making a second reading speech. You must relate your remarks to the clauses in the Bill.
– I do not propose to make a second reading speech. What I am seeking to have done to keep the record straight is to have the relevant sections of the basic legislation incorporated in the record of this debate so that people in the future will be able to get the whole debate in perspective.
– Is the honourable senator asking for leave to do that?
– If that is the way I have to do it I formally ask for leave to read the extra 2 or 3 paragraphs.
– ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Minister also said:
Aboriginals are a special people and they need and deserve some special help . . . Hence, in a sense, some discrimination is still necessary, but it must be discrimination in their favour, not discrimination against them.
Then on 1st March 1967 the then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, introduced the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Bill 1967 which provided for the repeal of section 127 of the Constitution and the repeal of the words ‘other than the Aboriginal race in any State’ from section 51 (XXVI). In support of the Bill he said:
It is the view of the Government that the National Parliament should have power to make special laws for Aboriginals.
If Aboriginals had the power to develop their own projects - Gove is an outstanding example - or had proper title to their own lands a lot of these arguments would not develop. I believe this is where the Government has fallen down. The legislation ought to be subject to a massive review so that the indigenous people themselves have a title to their land and the right to enter into contracts. In fact, severe restrictions are implied, or in fact are incorporated, in the legislation. 1 hope that whatever happens in the future, whichever party is in office, these sorts of things will be reviewed on a grand scale to restore to the people concerned all their rights. This is not the only example; there are plenty of others. I shall not reiterate them all. 1 think 1 covered a large section of them last night when 1 contributed to this debate and others have been covered by my colleagues. The discrimination and unfairness of the legislation, even though it. is probably not implied in the legislation, ought to be sorted out to the extent that these Aboriginal people at least have equal rights. If the Minister was fair dinkum in his original submission, they ought to have something a little in their favour.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [12.32] - I draw the attention of honourable sen ators to the fact that we are in Committee and that this is a Bill designed to grant financial assistance to the States in connection with the welfare and advancement of the Aboriginal people of Australia. We have listened to a speech which, with great respect, I felt was more on the lines of a second reading speech. I make the point again that this legislation is designed to grant financial assistance for the welfare of Aboriginal people. I believe that the Government is doing a very splendid job in this field and I would disagree with the honourable senator when he refers to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) as not being ‘fair dinkum’. I strongly oppose this statement. The Minister is deeply concerned about the welfare of the Aboriginal people. He has already shown this and he will continue to do so.
-I refer to the sum of $2,055,000, which is to be given to Queensland. I wish to ask a question concerning the feeding of Aboriginal children. I want some outline by the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs as to the steps that are being taken in regard to the intravenous feeding of these children. What were the results of the discussions between the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) and Dr Kalokerinos which, I believe, took place yesterday? Is this part of the programme of supplementary feeding or is it a further extension of that programme? Is the Government to take comprehensive action to see that this doctor’s methods are adopted throughout Australia? If a report has been prepared on the results of such research into the malnutrition of Aboriginal children, when will the report be released to general medical practitioners?
– I was most interested in the Minister’s reply to Senator Keeffe in which she stressed the real concern of the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs for the welfare of Aboriginals. I take it that this remark about such concern would ensure, of necessity, a full public inquiry into the allegations I made last night about Yuendumu.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [12.36] - Last night Senator Cavanagh spoke about several matters. I respect his concern for the welfare of Aboriginals. I draw his attention to the fact that the matters raised were the concern of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon). I think the honourable senator’s comments have been placed before the Minister already. I also note the honourable senator’s comment that the matter be taken up with the Minister for Social Services. I assure every honourable senator thatI make certain that every point raised by an honourable senator in a debate is brought to the notice of the Minister concerned. That answers the point raised by Senator Cavanagh.
Senator Georges raised a matter concerning Dr Kalokerinos. He met the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs yesterday. I cannot tell the honourable senator anything about the discussions which took place. If I can obtain any information for the honourable senator, I certainly will. The honourable senator also asked about the intraveneous feeding of Aboriginal children. I do not have any information on that. I will endeavour to obtain that information for him.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 19 Septem ber (vide page 1137), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 18 September (vide page 1018), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– It has been suggested to me that the Senate might find it convenient to adopt the course adopted in another place and take the four Bills dealing with colleges of advanced education and universities together. I indicate that that would be quite agreeable to me if it is agreeable to the Opposition.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Is there any objection? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
– I think the Democratic Labor Party should be asked for its opinion also. We agree that this is an appropriate course.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have asked the Senate. There being no objection, it is so ordered.
– Of the four Bills to be debated, two are of a more or less formal character so far as the Opposition is concerned. I refer to the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill (No. 2) and the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill (No. 2). Each of these Bills makes adjustments within the 1967-69 triennium for colleges of advanced education and universities. They appear to us to be reasonable adjustments in the light of developments that have taken place within the triennium. I do not propose to go into any detail in dealing with them. The case made for support for the Bills is proper and reasonable. We will support the passage of those Bills. I put them on one side.
The other two Bills are very substantial pieces of legislation because they deal with the Government’s proposals for the 1970-72 triennium for universities and colleges of advanced education. Here again there is an enormous field to which one could address observations during this debate. I indicate that the Opposition supports the Bills and has no amendments to offer at any stage. That will clarify, for the purposes of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), what our attitude is.
The Bills make very substantial allocations of funds to universities and to colleges of advanced education. It would be unfair not to acknowledge the very considerable expansion that has taken place at the tertiary level over recent years and particularly during the 1967-69 triennium. The
Bills represent the outcome of the acceptance by the Government of the reports of two bodies - the Australian Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. Each of those bodies gave the Government a very substantial, well documented and well considered report on the problems that each faces in its particular sphere of operation. Each of the bodies drew attention to the concepts underlying the different kinds of institutions - universities and colleges of advanced education. In the course of my remarks 1 want to say something about this aspect because it seems to me that the philosophical concepts have not been developed fully yet. It is obvious that much thinking about the relationship between the two systems and types of institutions remains to be done.
Generally speaking, I think one could say that the colleges of advanced education fare much better under the proposed legislation than will the universities. Overall the universities grant has risen by some 25% for this triennium over the previous triennium and the colleges grant has risen by something like 117%, which is a very considerable advance indeed. One only has to put the different percentage rates of expansion side by side to see that within the system there is a potential for rivalry and dissatisfaction, each with the other, as to the amount that is taken out of the one financial pool.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was dealing with two of the four Bills which the Senate is now debating together, that is to say, the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill which makes provision for the triennium 1970-72 in respect of colleges of advanced education, and the States Grants (Universities) Bill which makes provision for the same triennium in respect of universities. I was dealing with some of the problems which were beginning to show out concerning the relationship between the two types of institution.
I want to say a word or two about the effect of these provisions on the universities particularly. I think it is pretty plain that the squeeze has gone on the universities again. In the previous triennium the Government slashed some $50m off the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission in respect of universities. We were not then at the stage where we were fully operative in the field of advanced education. This time it is the Universities Commission which has come up with the recommendations which have been adopted by the Government and embodied in this legislation. But in spite of the fact that the Government has not interfered with those recommendations as it did on the previous occasion, it is obvious from the two reports that there has been consultation between the Australian Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education as to what the traffic will bear, at any rate at the State level. It is obvious that where you have a matching grants setup the States themselves have a good deal to say in how much they will be able to put up to match the grants that the Commonwealth makes.
Some universities have been hit particularly badly. Four major Australian universities - the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide universities and the University of New South Wales, which between them have over one-half of the country’s university students - all have complained in public statements made by their vicechancellors or other responsible officers about the deal that they have received. Professor Derham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, had this to say:
We are going to be very restricted. The university must be nin very, very economically if we are to keep going.
Melbourne had been granted a 17% increase in recurrent expenditure for the 1970-72 triennium but natural wage increases to non-academic staff and inflationary costs are expected to account for 15% of this at least, leaving al the most only a 2% real increase. This is at a time when the student enrolment at the university is expected to increase from 14,283 this year to 15,180 by 1972, which is the end of the triennium. The University of Adelaide apparently has fared worst, lt will receive only a 16% increase in recurrent expenditure yet it is expected to increase its enrolment from 7,800 this year to 8,900 in 1972. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Professor Badger, said that he was gravely dismayed at the size of the recommended grants for recurrent purposes which was only slightly greater for 1970 than the amount available for 1969.
The University of Sydney is in a somewhat similar position. It has been granted a 21% increase in recurrent expenditure leaving only 6% real increase. Its student population over the period will rise from 15,700 to 16,500. The university will be unable to make any improvement in its very high staff-student ratio. This means that overcrowded classes, and courses will continue. The Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University, Dr Myers, said that La Trobe might have to reduce its intake quota by as much as 10% over the next 3 years. The Universities Commission had recommended that La Trobe cut down its student expansion programme. As Dr Myers said:
We are not obliged to follow University Commissions estimates but we normally do so within reasonable limits.
Wollongong University College, through its Association of Academic Staff, has gone on record as saying that the provision made for it is, to use its own expressions, abysmally low and preposterously low. This means that the hope of the university college to become a fully autonomous institution in a very short time is apparently under substantial threat because its expansion plans have been seriously curtailed. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) made a very strong and documented plea for this university college during the discussion in another place. 1 support that plea because, on the basis of the documentation that I have received, that college has had a very raw deal indeed on this occasion from the Commission and the Government.
I do not propose to deal in particularity with any of the universities, but broadly speaking I must say that there is no ground for complacency. It is perfectly obvious that although large sums of money are involved in these triennial grants, from the point of view of the universities much remains to be done. A good deal of disappointment has been expressed in the universities. The Australian National University, on whose council I have the honour, with Senator Rae, to represent the Senate and on which the late Senator Laught and Senator Dame Dorothy Tangney sat for many years, regards the allocations as disappointing because the funds allocated represent a cut of approximately one-third in the real growth which the University had expected.
So far as colleges of advanced education are concerned, without having any documented evidence of dissatisfaction it is obvious in my own State of Victoria, at any rate, that quotas must be imposed and perhaps increased. I am not without very great appreciation of the splendid work being done in Victoria under the leadership of Dr Law of the Victorian Institute of Colleges. Great strides arc being made in this area of advanced education.
Having said those things, I should like to return to the problem of where higher education - tertiary education - is going both in its aims and purposes and in the administrative machinery that it is necessary to set up - perhaps new machinery is needed - to deal with the problems. Both the Australian Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education have referred to the problem of inter-relationship between the two bodies. As the Universities Commission says quite frankly in its report of May 1969:
The total expenditure on tertiary education is, in Australia, a political decision.
The Commission meant by that a decision to be made by governments, because the private sector of the economy does not spend a significant sum on that form of education. The Commission went on:
The new problem facing the governments is to decide what part of the total funds available for tertiary education should be applied to the universities and what part to the colleges of advanced education.
The Commission is there referring to the Commonwealth and State governments. The Commission suggests that the Minister discuss with his colleagues in the States what steps might be taken to frame a broad policy for the division of funds in future trienniums. It says that the proportion of places available in universities and in colleges of advanced education varies from State to State. That being so, the Commission contends it is not possible to devise a formula applicable throughout the Commonwealth for the future division of the funds that will become available for tertiary education between universities and colleges.
The Universities Commission sounds a rather sombre note when it says in its report, on the basis of which the Government acts in this case, that there is another aspect of the relationship between universities and colleges to which the Commission has given attention. It describes that aspect as follows:
That is the avoidance of genuine overlapping between universities and colleges in the provision of courses. It is the view of the Commission thai the universities have a duty to the community to avoid such overlapping and it does not intend to recommend that financial support should be given to new courses proposed by universities when those courses can more appropriately be offered in the colleges.
The Commission’s report is silent on who makes a decision as to appropriateness in given circumstances, lt seems to me that this is one of the big problems about the division of tertiary education into two separate systems, universities and colleges. When the Martin Committee reported in 1965 we in the Australian Labor Party drew attention to the imprecision of the definition of these new tertiary institutions. I am pleased to note that there has been a good deal of advance since that time, but there is still in the community, including the education conscious group, a serious absence of accurate awareness, or information, as to the precise function of the new institutions. The Second Report of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education, the Wark Committee, states specifically on the question of preciseness:
We emphasise, however, that we arc dealing with an evolving concept not susceptible to close definition.
A very valuable contribution of the Wark Committee was its reference to the very large reservoir of talent in the Australian community that was capable of benefiting from some form of tertiary or further education. At page 81 of its report the Committee said:
Overseas, more than in Australia at present, the populace realises that education is a life-long process and that it is no longer enough to train only the young. In common with other countries, Australia has tremendous unused resources in the large numbers of intelligent men and women who for various reasons did not undertake advanced studies, in those who early chose a field that has become obsolete or that no longer interests them, and in the trained women who ceased to work when they married.
Switzerland in particular provides opportunities for such people but other countries are moving forward rapidly, as for example England with its open university’.
As a nation Australia must give more thought to providing opportunities and courses that will enable mature people to realise their potentialities.
The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has in a number of papers and addresses at gatherings associated with the development of one or other set of institutions - universities or colleges - drawn a distinction in dealing with the concepts of the two types of institution between practically minded and analytically minded students. In his view, speaking broadly, a person with a practical mind is better suited by a college of advanced education where the emphasis is on applied knowledge; a person with an analytical mind is better suited by the training offered at universities.
Recently a conference on planning in higher education was held at the University of New England, conducted by that university in association with the National Union of Australian University Students. There was very impressive representation of bodies concerned with the development of higher education in Australia. Some bodies represented were the National Union of Australian University Students, the Australian Universities Commission, the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education, the Vice-Chancellors Committee, the Conference of Chief Executive Officers in Advanced Education, Commonwealth and State Departments and a number of individual universities and colleges and other institutions of higher education. A number of distinguished overseas consultants also attended. At the end of the conference a statement was issued which tended to confront what the Minister had said on the basis of the distinction he drew. Even here, the language is not precise. The conference said:
The Conference considered that Australia needs a co-ordinated system of higher education. This will best be served by the development of a diversity of institutions offering a multiplicity of courses to cater for a wide range of individual needs and preferences. The system should not be constructed on the basis of two or three narrowly specified types of institutions since students do not fall into simply defined groups such as those with analytical minds and those with practical minds, or those with vocational interests and those with nonvocational interests.
The conference apparently was not on all fours with the thinking of the Minister in his reference in an address to the division between analytically minded and practically minded students. More importantly, the conference suggested some new machinery as being worthy of consideration, and I support that view. Perhaps it involves concepts that may be developed during the next few years. The conference thought that a standing national advisory committee should be established to investigate and to review regularly the needs of education at all levels and to recommend plans for action, support for educational research programmes, facilities for data collection and so on. The conference acknowledged the valuable work being done by the Australian Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. However, it suggested that in addition to the establishment of a standing national advisory committee consideration be given to the replacement of the Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education by a single higher education commission to advise the Commonwealth Government and to consult with State governments on the short and long term needs of all institutions comprising the higher education system. A number of other decisions and recommendations was made by the conference, including a recommendation that consideration be given to the reorganisation of teachers colleges in each State with a view to establishing them as autonomous institutions or to incorporating them in universities or colleges of advanced education.
In short, it was a conference of very senior educators who reached a high degree of agreement on the problems shaping up for decision. I would expect that we would come to those problems over the next few years. Certainly, I think it is important to establish a clearer definition of just where the two types of institutions diverge from each other because, sooner or later, there has to be a genuine judgment, whether it is a political decision made by the Government as a result of a community consensus, as to what proportion of resources is to go to one type of institution and what proportion is to go to another type of institution. It is inevitable that there should be disagreement. It is, I think, critically important that neither set of institutions should suffer as the result of what has proved beneficial for the other. I would not want to see a cut and thrust atmosphere develop in which the universities see all the money that is spent on colleges of advanced education as money taken from them, and vice versa.
The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee met in Canberra last week, and issued a statement on its deliberations. Before I conclude, 1 wish to refer briefly to what the Vice-Chancellors thought about the position as left by this legislation, which arises from the reports and the documents of the Australian Universities Commission. The Vice-Chancellors Committee said that it could not accept the view of the Commission that the recurrent grants recommended would allow the larger universities to reduce their student-staff ratios to 11:1. The Committee expressed grave concern that the built-in provision for inflation would prove inadequate and that more attention was not given to the ViceChancellors’ urgent request arising from unfortunate experiences in this triennium that provision be made for exceptional increases in costs in such manner as to provide a reasonable basis for triennial spending. The Committee expressed disquiet that the Commission’s specific recommendations on staffing could result in the universities adding unduly to the proportion of academic staff below the status of lecturer.
There are many other recommendations. Many aspects of the programme were welcomed by the Vice-Chancellors Committee. It noted, finally, that the recommendations of the Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education will produce very large differences in the opportunities for tertiary education in the different States and suggested that there be improved procedures for making decisions on the size and distribution of resources in tertiary education. That suggestion seems to me to be a very sensible one - that somehow there has to be evolved machinery for dealing with overlapping of jurisdictions and for deciding the allocation of resources.
The last matter with which I wish to deal is the attitude of the Australian Labor Party on some matters of tertiary education. A Labor government, which I hope we will see in not too many weeks, will approach the problems of tertiary education by seeking over not too long a period to assume full responsibility for co-ordinating and fully financing tertiary education, including post-graduate and research, colleges of advanced education, universities, research and teacher training, preferably in autonomous institutions. If we did that over a period, we would be releasing to the States moneys which they could spend on other areas of education. At the moment, the States need to put up matching grants. If they were not required to put up matching grants for tertiary education and the Commonwealth provided the lot, the States would receive welcome relief and have access to funds in larger amounts to spend on areas of education other than tertiary education.
We would hope to see the necessity for students to pay fees at universities eliminated. The cost of that proposal may not be as much as some might expect. I think that it has been estimated to be approximately $10m to $12m a year. If we speak about an education system that ought to be free with the Government having responsibility to provide free education in the primary and secondary areas, we ought to face up to free education in due course in the tertiary area. That is a matter that T leave for the Senate to consider. It is certainly part of the thinking of the Australian Labor Party. We would hope that we would have the opportunity very soon - as I say, within weeks - to start to pour into the Australian education system at all levels - and I do not wish to speak of other than the tertiary level on these Bills - an injection of Commonwealth funds which would alter the face of the Australian education system over a measurable period.
With those observations, I indicate, as 1 did at the beginning, that the Opposition supports the measures that are before the Senate. I think that we all are pleased to see developments over very substantial areas. In recognising what has been done in the tertiary field. I wish to say only that it is a great pity that the interest that the Government has maintained in tertiary education over the years has not been matched by a comparable interest in primary and secondary education. It was not until 1963 that we had any measure of Commonwealth assistance in fields other than tertiary education. I know that other programmes have been developed since then but one would have hoped that some of the application that has gone into the tertiary education field could have been matched in those other fields.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, at the commencement, I wish to reply to certain of the remarks which came from Senator Cohen. He said that, if a Labour government is elected at the forthcoming elections, it will release to the States moneys which they could use in other areas of education and that it will pour into the Australian education system at all levels an injection of Commonwealth funds that will alter the face of education over a reasonable period. I accept that as something which any government would like to do. But what 1 say is that that is precisely what this Government has done in the past few years. This Government has more than achieved an alteration to the face of education over a reasonable period. It has achieved a remarkable alteration. It has achieved a remarkable development - one in which the Bills which we are debating play just a part.
I will be referring in a moment to some of the figures - these figures are well known, 1 think, to the Australian public as they are well known to honourable senators on both sides of the chamber - to show the remarkable development in this regard. The remarkable increase that has taken place has been such that we can only say that it is a credit to the economy of Australia that this has been able to develop in this way. It is a credit to the good administration of this Government that it has been able to work out with all the competing interests - these competing interests include defence, social welfare, health and all the other fields for which the Commonwealth Government is responsible - a series of Budgets which will enable such a massive injection of funds as has taken place in the past 10 years. To give an indication of that injection of funds, I shortly will be referring to some of the figures which apply in relation to education in Australia.
I do not think that Senator Cohen made a remarkable observation when he said that a Labor government would do what I have just quoted him as saying it would do. In fact, this has been done already. These Bills provide for the continuation of this work. This is what is happening so far as the present Federal Government is concerned. But what the present Federal Government is not doing is the 0’her part of what Senator Cohen was talking about and that is taking over entirely and taking away from the States the constitutional rights that the States have to administer education in their areas.
– That has not been suggested. Do not start to put words into my mouth.
– I accept that, as Senator Cohen says, that has not been suggested. 1 must have misunderstood. I noted his words as being that the Labor Government would seek to assume the full responsibility for co-ordinating tertiary education. One who is a realist understands very readily that assuming full responsibility for co-ordinating means taking over. That is what I would think would be the inevitable result of the policy which has been put forward by Senator Cohen in relation to tertiary education and put forward in another place by his Party in relation to a commission to administer education in Australia generally. It is typical of the idea that authority in this field must be centralised and must be taken over by a central government. I do not subscribe to that. Until such time as the Constitution is reviewed, until such time as it becomes the wish of the Australian people generally and of the State governments in particular, I see a role for State governments and I see a role for the Commonwealth to play, but not taking over to the exclusion of the States.
– This is not a serious contribution to the debate on education. This is just, politics.
– Senator Cohen also, as 1 understood him, criticised the work of the Australian Universities Commission. He was in effect criticising this because he was making critical comment on the recommendations which the Commission had made and the effect that they had on the development and growth of universities in Australia. I simply say that if he finds a commission such as the Australian Universities Commission is inadequate and unsuitable I wonder what success can be looked for from the proposed education commission to take over the control of education at the secondary and primary levels. In relation to universities the Bills provide and general plans provide some measure of relief in regard to external studies. 1 believe that this is most important. Even if Senator O’Byrne is not interested in education and wishes to talk all of the time, I am interested in education, I wish to talk about it and I happen to have the floor at the moment.
External studies are a matter which is of great importance to all the States because all of them have outlying areas. The children living in those areas at present have not an equal opportunity to participate in tertiary education. I believe that everything possible should be done to help students who for economic or geographical reasons are not able readily to attend a university. If they are able to commence their studies by way of external studies, if they are able to do at least part of a university course by external studies, we will have opened up to a larger section of the community the opportunity and the advantages of a university education. 1 believe that in particular in Tasmania this is very important. Tasmania has the most decentralised population in Australia. It has a population spread throughout most of the island so that there is only about one-third of the total population living within a daily travel distance of the University of Tasmania.
The development of the Launceston Teachers College will, I believe, provide a further opportunity for tertiary education to become available to a larger section of the community but it would be highly desirable if there were some way in which the extension of that form of tertiary education into that area of Tasmania was able to bc linked with the development of an external studies course at the University of Tasmania. lt would be possible, one would imagine, to link the two functions, to provide some of the supervision and assistance through the existence of this very fine new college which has been provided by the Federal Government to northern Tasmania and to link its work in tertian’ education with the work of the University of Tasmania. If this can be done a large number of people will have available to them an opportunity for a university education which they would not otherwise have.
Looking at what has been achieved, some of the figures which have already been mentioned by Senator Wright and which appear in Hansard are of some significance. Senator Cohen spoke of the disappointment at the Australian National University, and he referred to the fact that he and I are both members, and have the honour to be members, of the University Council. He gave me the impression that there was disappointment at the ANU because the funds were inadequate. I would agree that there is disappointment. The plans for development of the ANU are exciting. They are thorough and they ate most laudable. But I think that there are competing interests in all of the universities and in the colleges of advanced education to achieve growth which is probably more than the economy can stand. When one bears in mind all of the other demands for the fruits of the growth in the economy, it is just not possible to devote all to one place.
I believe that that was recognised by the ANU. I believe that although there was some disappointment there was no criticism as such of the general principles for the development of the university system in Australia. Surely a balanced growth is what is required. If Australia is to continue to develop it must have defence forces and it must have social welfare programmes as well as having an education programme. I believe it would be unreal to say that we should jeopardise all of the other interests of the Australian people to pursue one to the exclusion of the others. What has been done in relation to education is spectacular. The increase in the overall Commonwealth education vote of about 34% this year, following about 19% last year and something over 30% the year before, shows the extent to which the attention of this Government has been directed towards the necessary development of education in Australia.
In the speech of Senator Cohen there seemed to be some concern at the development of the colleges of advanced education. I did not follow what precisely he was directing his remarks to, whether he was simply adding some of the comments which have been made by various people or whether he was actually criticising the concept of colleges of advanced education. But as he would know, and as honourable senators would know, the general concept of colleges of advanced education is a principle advocated by the experts who were entrusted with making recommendations to the Government. It is a principle which has been accepted by the Government and has been pursued by it with vigour and with a vast injection of finance. It is one which has been described many times by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and it is one which my colleague Senator Davidson will be speaking about later. Therefore I do not intend to comment further upon it, other than to point out that one of the provisions which I think is important in one of the Bills which we are debating is the provision that as in the past triennium the Commonwealth will continue the unmatched $500,000 grant to college libraries. This is in addition to the amount which is being made available by the States and is in recognition, as I understand it, of the fact that these colleges, as new institutions, must build up libraries, that special grants and special funds are necessary and that libraries are important. The Government’s recognition of the importance of libraries has been seen in its legislation in relation to school libraries as well as college libraries and university libraries. This grant will help the development of libraries in the colleges.
Another provision in the States Grants (Universities) Bill to which I draw attention is the provision in clause 6 which recognises the problems and the importance of expensive plant and equipment in this computer age. We have reached a stage where universities find it necessary to purchase, at very great expense, particular items of plant and equipment. Consequently, provision has been made for special consideration to be given to single items costing more than $40,000.
In general the Bill authorises a Commonwealth contribution of approximately $227m in the 1970-72 triennium towards a total programme for the State universities of$586m. That latter figure represents an advance of about$119m over the programme for the 1967-69 triennium. Honourable senators will see, if they pause for a moment to calculate these figures, that it is an increase in keeping with the general increase of about one-third in the overall Budget provisions of this Government in respect of education. Of the total Commonwealth contribution, $61. 6m is provided for capital expenditure and $165. lm for recurrent expenditure.
One further matter to which I draw attention is that these figures do not include
Commonwealth grants for the Australian National University as they are provided for in the annual Appropriation Bills. I support the legislation. I applaud ils introduction, it is part of the overall programme of which I spoke earlier, which is a recognition by the Commonwealth Government of the need to provide funds without taking over entirely the function of the Stales in operating their own education systems.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party will support these four Bills. Speaking for myself, I. do so with an uneasy question in my mind: To what extent arc we getting value for what we are spending already, without regard to the very large sums that we will be asked to spend in the future? Much of what has been said here today, and on other occasions when we have been discussing tertiary education, has been directed to the claim that we must get much more finance, that we must get many more scholarships, that we must not charge fees, that we must make it possible for everybody in the community who wants to do so to go to a university or to an institution of tertiary education. In my view, many people who put forward ideas on those lines today are begging the question. They are making a great assumption that if we do that we will get from education everything that we want. I think they are completely missing the point because, in my view, we could send every secondary student to a university or a tertiary institution, we could spend unlimited sums of money upon those institutions and the students, and the only result would be a colossal failure in education.
There are people abroad, not only the somewhat cynical Malcolm Muggeridge but also quite a number of others, who are starting to question whether we are getting value from the immense sums that are being spent on university education. If it is a matter of money, of increasing the staff and of putting in beautiful libraries and all that kind of thing, why is it that today in Japan. France, Germany, Italy, and in quite a number of cases in Britain and the United States, the universities which are most financially well endowed, which have magnificent libraries endowed by captains of industry and by wealthy firms - universities such as Columbia, Wisconsin,
Berkeley and the London School of Economics - tell a uniform story to the effect that as institutions of learning to a large extent they are being destroyed?
The people of Australia generally are today education minded. They want the best possible opportunities for their children. But when they see what is happening abroad, and in some of our institutions in Australia to an increasing degree, can we blame them for asking whether we are getting value? There must be a sense of. doubt in the minds of those who control some of our universities in Australia because I have recently read plain admissions by litem that there is need for an effective system to ensure that those people who go to our universities are calculated to benefit from attendance at such an institution. Those who control our universities are starting to say; Wc must try to find a system that will ensure that the money contributed by the community is not wasted because large numbers of students who are going to our universities are not qualified and, even in the first year, produce an immense failure rate. If they experience doubts, what must be the feeling in the minds of people in the community in general?
I have seen statements by chancellors and vice-chancellors of Australian universities to the effect that we have to find an effective system to ensure that entry to a university is restricted to those who can profit by it. 1 notice them questioning the failure rate, and some of them have pointed out that practically nothing has been done in the face of a failure rate which should be alarming to anybody. In these circumstances I return to my point. A great number of Australian people today, in looking at. the big sums we have spent and the big sums that we are asked to spend, are asking whether we are getting value. The object of a university should be to produce, as someone once said, whole men and women. But when one looks at what is happening in some of our universities today, one wonders. I am not so much concerned about the small anarchistic groups which cause all the trouble in a number of our universities’, what concerns me is the attitude of the great mass of the students who, we are assured, are young people of good type, sensible and not the sort to be influenced by the anarchists. It disturbs me to see the apathy and the lack of sense of responsibility among many of those fine young men and women who apparently are prepared to sit back, to study and to allow the show, from the point of view of the outside community, to be run by a small group who are described as anarchists. lt is fashionable among sections of the Press to describe persons with my views as has-beens or fanatics. So I want to quote some words of the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, Sir John Crawford. He pointed out not so many months ago, when referring to things which are happening at the present time in a number of our universities and which are receiving an extreme amount of publicity, that there were small groups who sought to create demonstrations over Vietnam, selective conscientious objection, city by-laws and membership of university senates. All these are arguable questions which could be argued in a spirit of tolerance and common sense in the community, where people are entitled to demonstrate peaceably.
But what we find is that groups of people associated with our universities seem to regard it as their privilege or duty to engage in demonstrations which are violent, demonstrations which interfere with the rights of the rest of the community, demonstrations which attempt to suppress the right of people who do not agree with them to disagree, and demonstrations which in every sense are opposed to the idea of a university which is supposed to be a place for tolerant discussion and decision upon matters of great public interest. Sir John Crawford pointed out that the main figures are a small group of conscious anarchists who quite specifically use any issue for their real end, namely, to provoke physical clashes of cumulative violence between students and the police. Anybody who talks to sensible students today will hear from them that it is the deliberate object of these people to provoke intervention by police on the campus or in their demonstrations, and that these people contact the various media - the radio, the television and the newspapers - and seek publicity of their actions.
Sir John Crawford says that these people believe quite literally that society has to be destroyed, that the universities which produce society’s technicians have to be smashed and that they alone have the answers. They are not interested in majority votes. They say that they are right and therefore they have the right to impose their views upon the vast majority, if necessary by violence. They are organised in bodies known throughout the world by names such as Students for a Democratic Society. They complain bitterly that they live in a world full of unhappiness. Almost invariably they are the sons of wealthy families, and, fundamentally, it does not matter to them whether they obtain degrees. In some instances they are promoted by the Communist Party; in other instances they are not, because even the Communist Party could not control them.
As I said before, I am quite prepared to believe that this group constitutes only a minority. But I am very concerned about those in the overwhelming majority who apparently ‘are content to allow the name of their university to be smeared by the actions of this small group. When Sir John Crawford and the other vice-chancellors of our universities say these things, surely the situation is serious. What concerns me is the apathy or lack of a sense of responsibility among the great body of students who appear to do little or nothing about it. 1 say therefore that if the universities want more money, more buildings and more staff they have to show that they deserve them.
I believe that some of our troubles today arise from the fact that we rushed in to build universities. I remember the time in Victoria, when I was a high school teacher, when only one new high school was built in about 15 years. Then, after the Second World War, when the money was available, the Government of the day rushed into building high schools everywhere. Then it found that it did not have the necessary teachers.
– The position is the same now.
– The position is much the same today in our universities. We are erecting immense universities. We are increasing the number of students by thousands every year, because it has now become a status symbol for parents to send their sons or daughters to a university. Many parents do not sit down and say: Is the university the place for our son or daughter?’ Instead they say: ‘So-and-so down the road or so-and-so with whom I work has sent his son or daughter to a university. I will be downgraded in the eyes of: the community if 1 do not do the same’. So we have put up immense universities. One of our troubles in Australia today is to rind the effective staffs for our universities. I have heard the statement that some of. the universities are asking for larger sums of money so that they can increase or improve the ratio of students to staff. 1 would like to be assured by them that the staff is available for them to improve the ratio at the present time, when so many of our trained people are taking better paid positions abroad and there is a brain drain in our community.
I believe that in the community there must be a feeling of doubt about our universities. Whatever people think of many of the young people, they can have very little doubt about sections of the staffs of a number of our universities. To me it is appalling that we can read of staff members in some of our universities - people in positions of responsibility in which obviously they would exercise considerable influence on their students - who daily will mock at any moral standards at all and assure the students that religion is dope, that sex is the norm and that pornography is acceptable.
Some people will say that to disagree with those staff members is simply to be old-fashioned. But to mc it is not being old-fashioned. In my view, a person who is a lecturer or professor at a university should have some sense of responsibility. If he himself acknowledges no moral standards, it is not part of his task to adopt the attitude that his students must accept that there arc no such things as moral standards. I blame the larger section of the staffs in many of our universities who, through moral cowardice, are afraid to take a stand against the section which attempts to influence the students against any moral standards at all.
Some of the people in the latter section cash in on the spirit of revolt among the small sections. Staff members lead the violent demonstrations and the violent revolts. Staff members endeavour to use their positions of influence to impose all kinds of way-out programmes upon those whom they are in a position to influence. 1 have no desire to control thought in the universities. But I say that we are not entitled to provide money for people in universities who apparently go there wilh no constructive thoughts in their minds but purely to destroy ordinary standards.
One thing in our universities today which disturbs me is the endeavour to suggest that a university student or staff member is not a citizen in the same way as the rest of us are citizens. We have all read our history. We have read that in the days of Henry II there was an attempt to impose a special status for one section of the community. If a person was able to read or write he could claim before the courts benefit of clergy and his case was transferred to ecclesiastical or other courts where the penalties were frequently less severe than in the ordinary courts. British history discloses a long struggle to divest that section of the community of its privileged position and to ensure that all citizens were equal before the law.
– But is that not one of the claims by these people you are speaking about? As I understand it, the Students for a Democratic Society say that they should be treated exactly as you say they should he treated.
– No, certainly not. The members of the Students for a Democratic Society claim today that they have the right to set up a sanctuary inside the university where the ordinary enforces of law shall not be permitted to enter.
– I seem to remember reading that they agreed with the Premier of New South Wales when he said almost the same as you.
– They certainly do not.
– That they should be dealt with in the ordinary course in the ordinary way.
– They certainly do not in my State and they certainly do not in most of the Australian universities that I read of where statements are made that if any attempt is made by those who enforce the ‘law on the general community to enter into the universities they will immediately take violent action. Not only do these people assert that they have the right to sanctuary in the university but they have set up in some of our universities today what they describe as a sanctuary where people who are not prepared to accept certain of our laws shall be immune from arrest. Then we find, particularly amongst a section of the staff, a claim that in a university any publication shall be immune from the ordinary laws against pornography and obscenity. We find all sorts of claims based on intellectual snobbery - that because these people attend a university they have to be exempt from the ordinary laws that apply to anybody else, I would suggest that if Senator Murphy disagrees with me, as he does, he ought to remember that Sir John Crawford said that this was a body composed of anarchists and that unfortunately the apathy and the lack of a sense of responsibility on the part of many other members of the staff and students is causing this particular attitude to be accepted.
I think this is largely due to the fact that we have these big mass universities. When I went to a university it was a small one and there were traditions attached to it. It was an old university and because it was a small one there was a sense of community amongst most of the students. One of our troubles today is that in a university of 14,000, 16,800, 18,000 or 20,000 students a great number of the students never come in contact with any of the extra-curricular activities of the university but merely go there, hear a lecture, go home to study and sit for an examination. With great respect, that is not attendance at a university. I regret that more cannot be done, even though it. costs money, to extend the resident colleges at universities. I think that students, as experience in the older universities showed, get more out of residence at a university college than they do out of many other things. I therefore say once again that I want to know before we build large numbers of universities, before we put up expensive buildings and increase the number of scholarships and cut out the fees, whether we will get value for our money. I want to know whether Australia is able to provide the qualified and reputable staff who are needed for such universities. I want to know whether we have a proper system - a system which many chancellors are calling for - of ensuring that those who apply to go to the university are qualified in the best sense to go there and will pro fit from such attendance. I want to know what the universities are doing about the failure rate. I want to know what will be done to try to inculcate a stronger sense of responsibility amongst the general mass of the students. Unless we are able to answer these questions we may be putting up a lot of expensive buildings and spending a lot of money without providing education in the proper sense for the community.
– I want to speak for a while on one of the Bills within this group of four that is before the Senate this afternoon. All of them, of course, are styled as States Grants Bills and they deal with universities and colleges of advanced education. I would like for a short time to devote my contribution to the advent, the growth and the relationship of the system known as colleges of advanced education. But looking at the total programme of education within Australia I share the views that have been expressed by previous speakers today about value for money. The cost of education at the Commonwealth level has grown enormously in the last few years. The Commonwealth is prepared, in its programme of concern for the nation as a whole, to increase its allocations and, indeed, to diversify them and to make provision for a variety of applications as far as the education of the community is concerned. But as we review the total financial allocations, we ask ourselves about this matter of value for money. All honourable senators have watched the rapid growth of new buildings such as laboratories and universities in our community. While we see this as part of the developing Australian characteristic, as part of the Government’s response to the people’s needs and, as I do, as one of the ways in which the next generation and the generation after that will be able to contribute to Australia’s life and the life of the world there is always present this question about getting value for the money that has been spent.
In a national outlook that is increasingly education-conscious we ask not only whether we are getting value for money that has been spent but whether the recipients of this education are getting value for their training. Are they getting fulfilment after years of study at secondary and tertiary education institutions? Are they ultimately getting satisfaction from the degrees which they have been brilliant enough to acquire for themselves? Are they getting a sense of personal satisfaction and fulfilment from their period of education? So as departments of education are developed by the Commonwealth and State governments the question of what people do ultimately with their educational achievements will be of greater concern, and this must be closely related to the money which any government is prepared to spend on a total education programme. Today’s expenditure on this programme takes ils place alongside the other amounts of money which the Government must of necessity place in circulation for the development of Australia, lt does nol matter what thai, programme is. because it is all part of the cost which is borne by the Australian people in terms of national development, welfare programmes, immigration, defence and a whole range of oilier things all of which this Government has brought forward in its period of office. especially latterly.
This leads mc to comment on the value of the system of colleges of advanced education. Even though one may bc enthusiastic about them one also has to bear in mind that they need to be constantly held under review so that they remain in a condition of flexibility to meet changing demands thai will be placed upon them in the next iwo decades or beyond. We have to look th nt far ahead. We have to bear in mind that they have been established for only 4 or 5 years. I believe that throughout the country now there are forty-three colleges. Of course there will be more in due course.
I turn now to the second report of the Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. The Chairman of that Committee was Dr Wark. Honourable senators will be familiar with that report. The early paragraphs of it set out, in some well worded sentences, the purposes of colleges of advanced education. The purposes are to train students so that immediately after graduation they may play an effective role in commerce, industry, the Public Service and the arts. The report makes the additional observation that universities also offer vocational training but that they have another function as well and that is the discovery and expansion of knowledge. The report also says that it is the intention of the States and the Commonwealth to encourage the colleges to place their emphasis on the application of knowledge. We are in complete accord with that statement.
When introducing the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill (No. 2), Senator Wright, who represent”! the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), said:
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise adjustments to the programme of colleges of advanced education in iiic Stales Cor the present I9’i7-(i9 triclinium. Provision is made for additional sums for recurrent expenditure and for a few variations in the capital programme . . . ‘Hie level of Commonwealth grunts for recurrent purposes will be increased by $2,014,440.
The table which accompanied the Minister’s speech listed separate figures for each State and the increase in the maximum Commonwealth recurrent grant. Iti New South Wales the increase was some $465,000, bringing the total from $2,069,000 to $2,500,000. In Victoria the figure was S8m, which was an increase of $470,000. in South Australia the total grant increased from $1,800,000 to just over $2,200,000. That was an increase of some $400,000. That increase was similar lo the increases in the Slates which 1 have mentioned. The increase was not worked out on a percentage basis. The figures indicate the increase which will be granted to South Australia. The situation will vary from State to State.
The Government has put forward the view that there are sound reasons for adjusting the levels of recurrent grants to colleges of edvanced education. Among the reasons listed by the Minister were these: First, there were increases in salaries. The colleges are a comparatively recent development and the States have had comparatively little time to prepare estimates for developments for some 5 or more years ahead. Secondly, there is growing autonomy in the college sector with the result that certain charges were revealed as proper charges for colleges of advanced education; also, and I think more importantly, as it appeals to me, is the fact that unlike universities the colleges are multi-level institutions and a great deal of experience will be necessary before appropriate financial arrangements can he worked out for the work done by colleges of advanced education. This Bill provides, among other things, additional benefits in relation to these financial arrangements.
As I said earlier, I am attracted by the concept of colleges of advanced education. They are fulfilling already and will continue to fulfil a continuing ascendancy in their elements of significance as far as the Australian education programme is concerned. 1 repeat, in another way, that 1 think they arc fulfilling a role of significance in the total national development and indeed in the total social development of our people. Having made those observations, I think I should say now that I want to place on record with emphasis that their distinctive role as colleges of advanced education has to be preserved and their distinction has to be maintained. .[ know that reports have stated that their future role will depend on the attitudes of future governments and that in that regard they may depend on political decisions. At the same lime, if guidelines are laid down well at this point of their development, their separate development will be ensured.
Yesterday in another place the Minister for Education and Science said that he wanted them to retain their separate identities in the future. He said that he thought that the universities and the colleges of advanced education each had a clearer purpose. If they are to make a significant contribution in the total education sphere in Australia, this distinction must bc continued. Last month, when the Minister spoke at Armidale, he emphasised the fact that colleges of advanced education will fail unless they retain their identity or if they try to train students for research. He pointed out that education authorities in Australia had tried to meet the particular needs of the two main groups of students - on the one hand, the practical, and on the other, the analytical. On that occasion one speaker at Armidale suggested in another context altogether that certain vocational training such as dentistry, architecture, engineering and law might be subjects well suited to be diverted from universities to other tertiary institutions.
The point which I am making at the moment is that if colleges of advanced education try to become universities, then as more than one speaker has observed, they will not succeed. 1 repeat what others have said. If the colleges grant degrees and carry out research they will hardly be distinguishable from universities. Later there will be an almost irresistible demand that they be described as universities. This certainly was not the original intention and. in my view, still does not seem to be the intention for which they were established.
– This will happen.
– This is one of the points that 1 emphasise. Senator Cormack said that this will happen, i underline the high importance and necessity to ensure that they retain their distinction and their distinctive purposes.
– They do that by results, do they not?
– They may do it by results, but I remind the Senate that they have emerged as a result of a series of inquiries and commissions which the Government set up over a period of years. The inquiries and commissions did not just sir down and rely upon their own knowledge or experience; they had a series of consultations wilh the total field of education, with representatives of the total field of industry and wilh those who knew the needs of the community. They have come lo the conclusion that there dees seem to be a limit on the number of people who will benefit from a university education and that there docs seem to be a limit to the demand in the economy for university graduates. I mentioned this at the outset of my speech. The inquiries and commissions, sensing a definite need for what could be described as an extended tertiary education system, recommended the establishment of colleges of advanced education. They have taken their rightful place in the overall education system. They cater for a particular need and cater, in a very important manner, for what I said earlier was our education conscious community.
As I draw to a close I try to relied on what was said by honourable senators during the course of their contributions to the debate on this Bill. We shall need to watch the growth of the institutions very carefully. We shall do that all the time. 1 suggest that we need to watch that the courses offered are not too narrowly vocational. Indeed, in the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia - the Martin Committee - there is reference that, in addition to the technical subjects that come within the curriculum of colleges of this kind, more attention should be given to the humanities. There are other references, all of which seem to indicate that in the early days the people who were concerned with the pioneering era of these colleges had in mind that the activities should be spread over a wide field to cater for the needs of the students and indeed for the total involvement of the students in the community. It is not without significance, in my view, that the latest report which has come before the Senate in relation to colleges of advanced education - I refer to the second Wark report - has reflected this kind of thing. In paragraph 1.12 of its report the Committee has this to say:
College students wilt benefit in their careers from a reasonable opportunity during their period of specialised education to gain knowledge about their obligations as members of society and to understand broadly the problems of managing a nation and an economy. Each one of us lives in a social system and is an inheritor of an historical past; everyone lives In’ a world in which there are ever increasing interactions between cultural groups wilh differing attitudes and interests. It is especially important in tertiary education that there should be an ingredient which relates these interactions and makes them meaningful for students. For this reason we believe that staff and students of the colleges, as agents of change, should understand the nature of change and the consequence of change. We are anxious therefore that colleges should provide within their curricula sufficient opportunities for students through liberal studies to gain an understanding of their obligations as members of society.
While it is a good thing to have people coming out of colleges and universities, it is also essential that they be able to live in the society around them, to live with others and to make use of their own particular accomplishment because they must make a contribution, not only to the 1970s but also to the 1980s and the 1990s. Perhaps even as they go forward with their particular accomplishment the colleges of advanced education will be able to provide refresher courses for what might be described as continuing education, refresher courses of a limited nature for people who are able to return after, say, 5 or 10 years or more. Colleges of advanced education might be able to provide these refresher courses for graduates from universities. But all of that is a matter in which the elements of change as they arise in our total Australian community will be met by these institutions. I think they are one of the most valuable agencies within our total education programme which have arisen in recent years.
In the first instance, therefore, the Bills provide funds for the education of the Australian people. I hope, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, that the programme will remain sufficiently flexible because the needs of Australian education will change. Our needs will be not only in terms of industrial and commercial life but also in terms of our social and international relationships. To that extent I support the Bills.
– I rise only to support the Bills and to defend university students.
– But they do not vote for your Party.
– At least when they grow up they will have the intelligence to do so. We seem to place university students in a kind of horror atmosphere because they dissent, but when we oppose them are we not doing the very thing that they are doing? Senator McManus complained about the small percentage who are regarded as anarchists because they dissent, but let us not label them all as anarchists. There are just a few of them.
– I thought Sir John Crawford said that.
– I beg your pardon. Sir John Crawford said it through Senator McManus. But we are protesting against their actions.
– No, we are not.
– Yes, we are. We arc saying that they have no right to do this.
– They are law breakers. They have no right to break the law.
– I am not talking about breaking the law.
– They are demonstrating.
– Demonstrating is a different thing altogether from demonstrating with violence.
– Do you think running around the universities in the nude is all right?
– There are stupid people in ail walks of. life, and to label all of them because one does that-
– We do not label them all.
– Very well. But that does not mean that the university student of today will not be a far better man than the university student of 20 years ago turned out to be. Because one or two do things like that it does not mean to say that they will not change in the future. In fact among those who demonstrate today is the future High Court judge, the future surgeon and probably the future Archbishop of Melbourne.
– How do you think he will rule on industrial matters when he is on the High Court?
– 1 do not know. I found in university life that the most radical people become the most conservative when they leave university, so I do not worry in the least about university students.
– They might have been different when you were there.
– Not at all. I remember throwing someone in the lake at the University of Melbourne but I cannot remember what it was about or whether he was a radical. The point is that times change.
– That was very intolerant of you.
– Yes. I come back to the university student. I believe in him.
– Why not come back to the Bills?
– Just wait. 1 will come back to the Bills. Do not be impatient. I know that you are eager to listen to my words, but you just go back to sleep for a little while longer. In my opinion the university student should be given all the support possible. I do not think we are doing enough for him.
– He is getting as much support as is the age pensioner.
– Perhaps he is, but he also has greater problems than has the age pensioner. Many students are not able to get to university. I do not agree with the Commonwealth in saying that it is a privilege to be at university. I maintain that as a university sets a standard for matriculation everyone who reaches matriculation standard should have the right to enter a university, lt should not be a question of privilege because you cannot assess whether one student will become a useful member of the community and another will not. In my book, anyone who matriculates should have that right but many of them do not have the right because they cannot afford to go to university. Therefore I believe that there should be more scholarships.
– What if every student matriculated? Do you think that we should have all of them at university?
– Why not? Give me a reason why not.
– We need people to learn to be carpenters. We cannot have all academics.
– I am not saying that.
– You are asking why not.
– I mean only those who matriculate. A lot of people who do not matriculate will be the carpenters. If you matriculate and reach the standard set down by the university and you want to go to university, we should make sure that you are able to do so. If a student wants to be a carpenter he need not go to university but those who want to go should have the right to go.
The second point is that many of them cannot live away from home because of lack of finance or because there is a means test. In my opinion every university student would be far better off living away from home than living at home, especially where there are dominating parents. It is much better for students to start getting on their own feet when they are changing from being a schoolboy to being a university student. I put to the Government that it should introduce the Canadian system of repayable loans, interest free, which operate until 2 or 3 years after a student has graduated. These loans could be used not only for students living away from home but also for students who cannot get a scholarship. I suggest to the Minister that he take up the proposal with the Government to see that something is done along those lines.
I turn now to the question of control at universities. Much of the trouble at universities has been due to very weak vicechancellors. After all, a vice-chancellor controls the administration of his university. University students should not be blamed altogether, because if the vice-chancellors had put down their respective feet probably there would not have been half the trouble. The university councils, or senates - they have different names in different States - do not understand university students. They live in another generation, as does Sir John Crawford, and cannot understand what is going on. The university students of today have seen the mess we have made of this world.
– What about the mess the world was in when we were attending universities?
– And the world is still in a mess. The youth of today believes that he could make a better world. Irrespective of whether he is right or wrong - time alone will show that - there is a tremendous generation gap which the university councils cannot understand. That is another source of trouble, lt is time we altered the form of the university councils or senates so that the staff have greater representation. The balance of the membership should consist of graduates, and a proportion of about 5% or 10% of a council should be comprised of university students. At present there is a complete lack of understanding of each other’s way of thinking. If students had representation on the councils, at least they could present their points of view. Graduates on a university council would at least be people who were aware of what goes on at universities. In my view the council members should all be under 40 years of age, or at the most 50 years. Very few honourable senators who are university graduates would be aware of what goes on in universities today. The life there is completely different from that which we knew as students. The staff of universities should have far more control through represen tation on university councils, and the balance of membership should comprise graduates and students.
Of course, it is necessary to have at universities people to guide their business administration. Each university should have its own finance committee of business people who would advise but not administer the universities. At present such people are members of university councils, mainly on the ground of business ability, but in many cases they are government nominees or people who are seeking honour and glory. The basic reason for their appointment is to assist in business administration but, unfortunately, once on a council they promptly begin to administer a university, although many of them have themselves never had the benefit of a university education. A separate entity, possibly called a finance advisory council, should be set up only to advise universities in business matters.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation conducts brilliant research but has a very small part to play in the life of universities. I am aware that universities are beginning to attract CSIRO people as visiting lecturers, but a wealth of knowledge in CSIRO is being wasted. These people carry out practical research as against what might be called the academic research conducted in universities. Among university professors and lecturers, each wants to conduct his own research, as a sort of status symbol. They like to say: ‘I am sorry, but I can give only five lectures a week, or a month, because I am doing my research’. It is a very big thing. Most of that research is academic and of little value. On the other hand, members of CSIRO carry out brilliant research but have very little or no contact with universities. 1 suggest to the Minister that the present trend of interlocking CSIRO with universities should be carried a stage further. I think it is the University of New South Wales which invites members of Harvard University as visiting lecturers in its business management course. Such lectures are given once a week. CSIRO could do much the same thing, but on a greater scale. Perhaps it could even be integrated completely, with a director of science to direct a CSIRO section, and a professor of science. That concept might take a little working out, but it is feasible, lt would make available to university students the knowledge of CSIRO lecturers. I put that as another suggestion to improve universities.
J refer now to colleges of advanced education. A couple of years ago 1 said to the Minister: ‘Look, ali you are doing is setting up second grade universities.’ He said: No. no, they will be really technical schools.’ They may start as technical schools, but today the demand by teachers is that they become professors and lecturers instead of teachers. Whether the Government likes it or not, it must put its foot down to make sure that the trend does not spread. Otherwise there will be two grades of diploma or degree. Somebody has suggested that it could apply to all faculties. Why should an engineer gel a diploma at a college of advanced education while another person gets a degree at a university? I. do not mind that particularly, because it happens now. But a time will come when a college of advanced education will claim that its diploma should be a degree.
The danger is that there will be two types of degree in one profession. Some attention must be paid to this matter in order to prevent that happening. I think it would be wrong to have two types of degree for one profession. If degrees are to be given for architecture and engineering by colleges of advanced education, efforts will be made to extend the practice to medicine and other fields. The institutions will become another form of university. I do not mind more universities being established, but lcl us be honest about it and start them as universities and not as colleges of advanced education which suddenly branch forth after they are established with new equipment, classrooms and facilities. I think the Government will have to walch this aspect very intently to make sure that we do not get two types of degree.
Finance for universities is a very sore point, lt is said everywhere that the Australian National University gets sp much and other universities do not gel very much. lt is very difficult to assess who is right and who is wrong. 1 have always given full credit, especially to Sir Robert Menzies, for the introduction by the Government of the Australian Universities Commission. The Government set our tracks in regard to university education. Now we are developing more and more universities. As a result, problems are arising which are difficult to overcome, not only in the field of education but in respect of other fields in which the Government interferes. I refer, for example, to health. But perhaps I should not comment on that aspect, because I am a member of the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. I will try to be discreet for another day until the report comes out. The Government set up the Universities Commission and said: “We will give you so much money.’ The problem is that the Government can at any time stop giving that money. 1 think this is a danger.
– lt is a useful power.
– Yes, but to what purpose? lt is necessary to trust the Universities Commission, lt should not engage in extravagant spending, but apparently we do not worry about extravagant spending in the field of defence. It is equally as important that we have established tertiary education and clamped down on expenditure by saying: ‘You arc not taking enough control. We think there are too many radicals at your university. You are too liberal minded in your thoughts. Therefore, we will cut out your money’. I do nol know how this sort of thing will be overcome. I believe that, unless signs of extravagance can be shown, there should be no cut down in the amounts paid to the Universities Commission.
I support the Bill. I think that the more money we can give to tertiary education the better it will be. This is the age of science. We must have more and more science students. In fact, it would not hurt, if wc wanted money for science education, to cut down on the expenditure on arts courses and put that money so saved into science courses. I did not mind that dangerous arts course in the university that we used to call the ‘marriage course”. This was made up of young girls who were studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree simply to get married. These girls were spending a happy time at the university. There are many of those girls. I think-
– Would not such a girl be a more intelligent helpmate to her husband because of her degree?
– She probably would. She could support her husband too. She has probably a useful background in that regard. Finally, I wish to say this: Do not knock university students because they are the future leaders in this community. Many of them will be. We see this time and time again. I was at the university at Armidale the night before last. A little boy was sitting in the front row with a funny cap on his head. I thought that he must have been a Jew and that it was a day of Jewish atonement. But he wanted to show off his badge. Finally J asked: What is that badge you have on your head?’ It was a National Liberation Front badge. Afterwards he came up and talked to me. He was quite a sound boy doing sociology.
– Oh, yes!
– He was just swept away at the moment. He wanted to talk about participatory democracy. Finally, I said: ‘OK, let us have participatory democracy’. He said: ‘What about the minorities?’ I said: ‘Don’t you believe in majorities?’ He said: ‘Oh, yes, but the minority has to be looked after. How are you going to do that?’ I said: ‘Why don’t you tell me how we are going to do it?’ He said: T don’t know. It is difficult’. I said: I think that it is difficult too’. So, we ended our conversation on that mutual note and, I hope, with rapport.
– I know that the Senate has to rise at some stage at the end of this week, and I have been restraining myself on several Bills that have been before the Senate, but I am encouraged to address myself to honourable senators for only a few brief moments on the four Bills under consideration at the present moment. We have been caught up in what I have called before in the Senate a system of slogans. We are told that the future of this country depends on education and that no upper limit should placed upon the amount of money that is to be spent on education. lt has been said in another place and I have heard it said here by Senator Cohen, for example, that the Parliament has been recreant in seeing how the money is spent. The question is posed as to whether in fact the Parliament having voted the money has the right to see how effectively the money is spent. We have been denied this examination ever since Sir Robert Menzies began to introduce the Commonwealth into the area of tertiary education. I happen to believe that the Parliament represents the taxpayers and that when Parliament votes money it has a right to examine how the money is spent. In this context, Parliament has the right to determine how the money shall be spent and how effectively it is spent in the areas of, education. That is the first thing that I wish to say. I therefore resist any attempt by vice-chancellors or by the great preponderance of polemists who sit behind them to advance the argument that Parliament has one function and one function only, that is, to vote money and not to examine how the money has been applied.
The next thing to which I wish to address myself very briefly is what is meant by education. Some quarter of a century ago, I found myself plucked out of a theatre of operations and brought back to southern Australia. I was plonked on to some sort of Army committee and I protested at finding myself put there. One of the problems that arose for consideration was that of education. Finding myself surrounded by men who had advantages in university terms that 1 never was able to possess, I found myself examining the problem and challenging them to tell me what was meant by education. They could not answer me. So, I had to coin my own definition.
The definition that I then coined across the table is one that I have retained ever since. Education is simply the gaining of knowledge; wisdom is its use. Therefore, having applied this definition I have no objection to allowing the society to participate in the pursuit of knowledge. But how the society uses that knowledge is another matter. What we find to my dismay in large sections of Australian universities at the present moment are people who go on pursuing knowledge and never apply it and who, therefore, have never obtained wisdom. Some years ago I was in New Guinea. I was being conducted through the dormitory of an educational institution. I saw some curious character - curious even 5 years or 6 years ago - looking slightly unkempt, dirty, chewing betel nut and spitting the juice on the floor. He was the only man in the dormitory. I asked the officer conducting me through that dormitory: Who is that?’ He said: ‘He is a professional student’. I said: ‘How old is he?’ He replied: ‘Oh, about 26’. Now, all the other young people who were at this educational institution in New Guinea were out pursuing knowledge. The professional student was lying on his mat chewing betel nut.
– He was like King Robert Bruce and the spider; he was trying again.
– I do not think so. The professional students are not a modern phenomenon. If honourable senators recall their classical history they will find that Athens was filled with them some 2,500 years ago. The situation today is that universities, not in the scientific disciplines but in the general arts courses, tend to have among the students young men and women who are pursuing knowledge not as a preparation for life but as an escape from life. To a substantial extent, our universities are filled with people of this nature. But worse still is the fact that, at the faculty level, universities are filled with people of this nature also. These people are using the universities as an escape from life.
This leads ultimately to the situation that Senator McManus has discussed. Our universities are tending to create within themselves another level of society from which they shall not be subject to the norms of behaviour that society imposes upon itself. Only the other day Flinders University in Adelaide denied that civil authority - the normal order of social hegemony - had any right of entry to the university. The university, it was said, is a protected society which must set up its own norms and its own patterns of behaviour and life apart from and outside of the normal concepts of society as we know it.
I come now to a treacherous word which I have learnt to despise. Parliament must take some notice of it. it is this famous and delightful word that is used with great freedom by intellectuals who refer to themselves as the elitists. They say that they are an elite form of society. They are above and beyond the reach of normal society. They believe that society cannot conduct itself without government by an elite. That elite must come from universities. We see this happening in the Parliament at the present moment.
The Australian Labor Party has grown up with a belief in the totality of participation in the government of this country. It has grown up with the belief that every man is equal, one man is equal to another man and that the vote of one man is equal to the vote of any other man. It has grown up with the belief regarding the conclave of Parliament or local government that the opinion of any man is as good as the opinion of anyone else. But a strange state of affairs is now evolving in which that situation no longer has any application, particularly inside the Labor Party. The Labor Party has to be taken over by an elite element in the Australian Labor Party. The elite element in the Party is the element whose members come from universities. In the Australian Labor Party as I have known it all my life there was equality. There is no equality in it today. Equality depends, it seems to me, on whether you belong to the elite group inside the Australian Labor Parly or whether you do not.
– You have been reading the newspapers.
– I have not been reading the newspapers at all. One has only to look across the chamber to see Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen, who belong to the self-expressed and self-elevated elite group, occupying the front bench while Senator Willesee and Senator Bishop sit on the back bench. This is whatI mean by the creation inside the Australian Labor Party of the concept of an elite group in society. Pursuing this further, this may be some trend that is occurring inside the totality of society. We shall see, perhaps not in my lifetime but in the lifetime of some younger senators, a total historical reversion and this country will be governed by a self-appointed elite group and the generality of the community then becomes the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for the self-appointed elite group who come from the universities and because they come from the universities they are elitists. This is happening in Papua and New Guinea at the present time.
– They are theorists, not realists.
– That is so. Some years ago in Papua and New Guinea 1 had occasion to interview, because it was in the context of the responsibility I had, some of the indigenous members of the House of Assembly. The wisest men that I found amongst the indigenous members were the men who had come from the environment where leadership had to be expressed at the grass roots level, but the most vociferous, the most talkative - and I thought the least able - where those people who had been through the so called elitist schools and universities. We may take Papua and New Guinea as something of a dawn in this concept of the elitist operation, a place where this experiment is being conducted, where the pressure of financial and administrative responsibility has been put on to the young people whom Senator Turnbull regards with so much hope. What we will get is a group of theorists attempting to take over the community, and the natural leaders at the bottom will be suppressed, because there is no place for them in the future society of the elitists. I do not intend to continue along this line but on a subsequent occasion the Senate will have an opportunity to examine how effectively the money we are pushing into the tertiary education systems in Australia has been spent and whether it has been spent as wisely as it should be. I support the Bills but give warning that when the election is over and we have a little more time I shall suggest that the Senate give the closest possible scrutiny to the money that we are pouring into the tertiary education system without any control and without any understanding of what the end result will be.
– The Senate has been discussing in one debate four Bills, two of which are concerned with merely administrative matters authorising adjustment of particular votes in the university field and the field of colleges of advanced education. Those two Bills, I think, can be put aside because nobody has complained at the adjustment of any item. The other two Bills, one relating to universities and the other to colleges of advanced education, seek the authority of Parliament to apply the sums of money which were recommended by the Australian Universities Commission and the
Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. It is desirable, 1 think, to recall that what we are doing here is not based upon our own notions or upon a mere political decision. In the case of the universities it is the result of a direct recommendation of the Australian Universities Commission. Anybody who takes the time to look at the personnel of that Commission and recalls their experience in various fields of life will be impressed, 1 am sure, with the breadth of their experience and, having regard to their status, the reliability of any recommendation that they make.
So too, if one looks at the people who constitute the Advisory Committee on Advanced Education one sees educationists whose advice collectively or individually would be such as this Senate would feel a good degree of confidence ordinarily in accepting. I say that because it is evident from the diversity of view that has been expressed in the course of the debate that there would be a great chance of miscarriage of final resolution if a proposal such as those in these two Bills were left to merely political judgment. We certainly have a very high authority as the people’s representatives in the Parliament but when we are dealing with the development of education it is such a vast subject and of such great importance that we do well to depend upon the experience and judgment of those who have spent their lives in the field and are therefore specialists in the matter.
The next aspect to which T wish to address myself is the fact that this Federal Parliament is now concerned in an appropriation of money for these two fields. Senator Rae referred to the constitutional position in this country. It is a matter of history that some 69 years have passed since that Constitution was written and it can be interpreted only in the light of experience. The Australian Universities Commission had its genesis in the mid-1950s when the Murray report procured by the Menzies Government advised the constitution of that independent Commission. One of the very reasons why that Commission operates as it does is so that with its insight into university and higher educational administration it will attract the confidence of those who have to administer universities and at the same time have audience with the Government so that it can, without the political element that is inseparable from the Parliament, translate the voice and the requirements of the universities to the political arena. So we have had a development from the mid-1950s up to the present time of a growing responsibility of the Commonwealth Government in the field of university education.
This is illustrated by the fact that in the 1967-69 triennium the Commonwealth Government vote for the purposes of universities throughout Australia was $249. 17m and in the triennium with which this Bill deals the Commonwealth commitment has risen to $3 14.86m. That $3 14m is for universities alone, and when we add the State contribution we find that a total of $665m of public money is being proffered to the university system throughout Australia. I say that so as to put it in apposition with one of the comments which fell from Senator Cohen who almost invited acceptance of a view that the universities were in some way being supplied with insufficient money in comparison with the rather rapid increase that was made available for advanced education. I repeat that in the last triennium the Commonwealth’s contribution to universities was S249m and for this triennium it is $3 14m, and that the total money applied for universities by all governments in Australia - State and Federal - during this triennium will be S665m. lt was in more recent years that the Commonwealth Government commenced the development of this further channel of tertiary education. To illustrate the way in which that is being developed, in the last triennium the Commonwealth devoted $47. 89m to colleges of advanced education and our commitment in the present triennium is $106.53m. So the Government has actually achieved an outstanding and unique record in providing money for this purpose.
Then Senator Cohen developed some argument with regard to the criteria by which universities are to be distinguished from colleges of advanced education and the usefulness of the existence of the two forms of education. Other honourable senators, particularly Senator Davidson, devoted themselves to a discussion of that theme. 1 remind honourable senators that the view was expressed quite strongly by Sir Hugh Murray that the technological demands that would be placed upon a developing new country like Australia, with an infinite variety of resources and new people, required not only that the universities should be strengthened but also as a later development that there should be a form of educational institution, such as a college of advanced education, specifically designed to cater for that type of intellect. He was referring to that type of student who has all the talents to develop higher education but has a disposition to develop it in the fields where there are broader educational opportunities to apply the knowledge. I should think it would be true to say that the colleges of advanced education are designed to cater for and to develop the opportunities of those students.
I am aware that recently there was a seminar at Armidale. I am aware also that the Minister has expounded this theme from time to time and that it has been developed in both reports that have given rise to this legislation. But it is not to be understood that there is any contention between the two types of institution. It is not to be understood that because we develop the colleges we will undermine the universities. In our community, with the growing educational opportunities of our era, there are demands for the types of service that both institutions offer. I should think there is force in the view that in many cases it would be a mistake to ask a student to undertake the rather theoretical studies that appertain to many branches of university work and not to give him an opportunity to develop more practical applications in other interests in which he can qualify in a college. So that the Senate will be reminded that there are not two completely divergent systems developing here it is proper that 1 should make a passing reference to the preliminary paragraphs in the Fourth Report of the Australian Universities Commission, at page 4:
It is the view of the Commission that the universities have a duty to the community to avoid such overlapping-
That is as between the colleges and the universities - and it does not intend to recommend that financial support should be given to new courses proposed by universities when those courses can more appropriately be offered in the colleges. The application of the policy is implicit in the recommendation made in Chapter 5, where ‘New Developments’ are discussed. The Commission has begun collaboration with the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education on related topics and has discussed wilh it two matters which arc commended to the notice of universities. These concern entrance requirements and research degree work.
I instance that to show that under the guidance of a single Minister for Education and Science these two advisory bodies do not operate in divergent fields but operate within their own special fields, nevertheless with the wisdom or good sense to know that each other’s views are of advantage from the point of view of proper development of their fields. 1 propose now to make reference to some of the comments that came from Senator McManus. He emphasised, as he has done on previous occasions, that the whole purpose of education is not fulfilled merely by this Parliament providing more ample supplies of money. He quite properly, and 1 should think with great satisfaction to most sections of the Senate, has insisted that what is produced by the use of that money should be represented in the community by a responsible and educated person. For this purpose he drew our attention to such matters of contemporary importance as the efficacy of university government. J think it is most important that we keep our mind concentrated on that for a while, not only today but during this period, because the ineffectiveness of university government can create such a disservice to the students as to allow the institution to fail in its prime function. For my part 1 would venture the suggestion that this is a major factor in the great difficulty that is confronting not only colleges but also some of the universities in Japan, and perhaps also some of the institutions in other countries which were mentioned by the honourable senator. This has not escaped reference by the committees whose advice we are accepting in these Bills. 1 think it would be satisfactory to the Senate if I called its attention to what was said on this matter at page 81 of the Report of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. It reads:
The trend throughout the world is one of dissatisfaction on the part of many students, both with society as they find it and with the tertiary institutions to which they belong. They seek to reform both, but we are here concerned not with the broad sociological implications but with the relations between students and the administrations of their institutions.
The tendency to examine and criticise community activities and social conduct is healthy provided that it is not merely destructive. A small extremist group seems to want educational institutions in their existing forms undermined nml rendered unworkable: However most do not know what they wish to substitute. The mote responsible majority undoubtedly seeks to hasten the pace of change and to participate. lii Australia some tertiary institutions are developing imaginative means of dealing with the problem. Genuine attempts are being made to see the student point of view and a network of communication channels has been set up between responsible student bodies and management. There are many areas, ranging from departmental and faculty committees to the governing body itself, where students are directly represented. So wc may hope to contain the growing cleavage - so evident in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America - between the college managements and activist students.
Senator McManus referred to the apathy of the great body of students. But he did say that the small anarchist element that he deplored had not reached the stage where it was a serious problem. I believe that we should place emphasis on not being deluded by the undue prominence given to this matter in our public Press today. Our knowledge of the members of the general undergraduate body and the response they make to any serious challenge by a minority, together with the watchfulness that is being shown, as evidenced by the passage in that report to which I have just referred, should give us some measure of reassurance.
I have mentioned Senator Davidson’s particular reference to colleges of advanced education. Let me make one reference to
Senator Turnbull’s mention of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I had the impression - as I may do him an injustice, I do not wish to advance this too strongly since he is not in the chamber now - that he advanced the view that the CSIRO might be utilised more by universities as an ad hoc rather than deliberate suggestion that he had studied. I cannot do the university world the discredit of feeling that it would not take full advantage of all the learned papers and experience produced by the CSIRO. On the other hand,I am sure that the Organisation and its scientists keenly watch developments that take place in the research and other fields within the universities.
Despite the references made by my colleague Senator Conuack to matters in which he found disquiet, I say that the Parliament, having the function, has the opportunity and the means to inquire into the efficacy of expenditure in any field of education that may attract the attention of the Parliament for the time being. It is in ourselves not in our stars that any frailty lies which leaves that purpose unfulfilled. Summarising the debate on this occasion, I believe that the Parliament should be grateful to the people who have authorised the Government to expand the education expenditures in the most impressive manner that I mentioned in the early part of my speech. The fact that the Commonwealth is now making such a contribution in these two fields - universities and colleges of advanced education - is only in keeping with the demands of this era in a developing and most resourceful Australia. I am grateful to those honourable senators who participated in the debate. I believe that their attitude of support for the Bills would find general acceptance.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Wright) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the remaining stages for the passage through the Senate of the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1969, States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill (No. 2) 1969, Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill (No. 2) 1969 and States Grants (Universities) Bill 1969 being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1 9 September (vide page 1 1 39), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I think that the presentation of a Bill of this nature shows that Australia is taking a more mature approach to an industry which has been neglected for so long. But what worries many of us is that perhaps we could learn from some of the problems that confront the fishing industry in the United States of America. I draw the attention of honourable senators to a recent thoughtful article in the AFL-CIO journal The Federationist’ where it was stated that the United States fishing industry felt that it was being outmanned and outmodernised by the Soviet Union fishing fleet and other fishing fleets. This is very significant, because we on this side of the House have repeatedly argued that this industry should be assisted to modernise. It is remarkable that the United States, with its maritime policy, has done much more for its industry than we have done for ours. But be that as it may, research is necessary because it is obvious that unless we embark upon such a policy we will find that we wiil be beholden to too many outside interests. It might be argued that with the infusion of foreign capital some people in the industry will feel that they have a right to protect their own equity. Honourable senators from the north know that there have been too many episodes involving Formosan vessels and vessels from other interested countries fishing in our waters. This proves that they regard our ability to protect our industry as being somewhat puny. But that is dealing more with the day to day conflict and competition between those other nations.
When one thinks of research one thinks of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and its functions. lt has always amazed me that when the CSIRO indulges in a particular field of research and the results are given to an industry the industry concerned does not always adopt the advice given. Perhaps it feels that it means a jettisoning of old ideas. I suppose that is something we have to live with. I suppose that many of us remember that in the early flush of the post-war period we sent fishing trawlers to China which was then under a different government. We found an unwillingness on the part of that government to adopt these new types of trawlers because it felt that people who were wedded to the status quo might be put out of work. That is one of the problems that we face, but I think this goes beyond that. With the influx of post-war migrants people compared our performance as a fishing nation with that of the Scandinavian nations and saw how poor our performances were. In fact, we might take it a little further. Inferior nations - 1 do not use that term in a derogatory fashion - like Iceland, which relies very “much on its fishing industry, seem to be able to survive with other big competitors. Country Party supporters might, be a little sceptical about this, but having lived for many years, as it were, on primary industries it is obvious that industries such as fishing can buttress our economy and enable us to deal more effectively with problems like this.
Research has to bc done in a proper modern manner, but I am one of those who asks: Do the beneficiaries of this research put anything back into more research? Perhaps the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for Primary Industry, will answer this question later in the debate. ] recall that when the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was the Minister who administered the CSIRO he gave lengthy answers on this subject and I can recall him admitting that many beneficiaries in other industries were not prepared to endow a particular field of research when it would be to their benefit. So whilst we initially welcome some of the moves that are under way, I feel that the
Government should insist that the major elements of the fishing industry should put something back into research. 1 recall a gentleman in Western Australia who has made a success of crayfishing. When a person gets into big money, how much does he put back into the industry? I will be very curious to know if this gentleman makes some endowment to the CSIRO for fishing research and things like that. He would not be the only person. I may be condemning him out of hand. Although 1 believe in Government intervention in many fields 1 feel that members of an industry which benefits from research should try to help in some practical way by offering scholarships for research or even by putting some of this money back into some foundation. But unfortunately they do not. These are just some views that I am advancing and I know that some of my colleagues from the north will be able to put an even more forceful view on the legislation before us.
– I want to refer briefly to this Bill too, although the Australian Labor Party is not opposing it. I want to take the opportunity of exposing what I believe to be some of the weaknesses of the Government’s attitude to fishing generally in Australian waters. The Bill itself is known as the Fishing Industry Research Bill 1969. When the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) first made an announcement that a sum of money was to be made available for research much drum beating went on. I think it was significant that one of the bigger Northern Territory fishing enterprises immediately protested and said that it felt that the whole decision was quite inadequate. It is quite difficult to ascertain the thinking of the Minister particularly in relation to the fishing industry. I propose in the next few moments to give details of some replies to questions that I have received. The industry generally has been treated as a sort of Cinderella. It has never been given adequate protection and it is only in the last two seasons that our exports of fish and fish products have exceeded our imports. In a country as rich in fishing resources as this one is one would assume that in most circumstances, except in very bad seasons, we would be able to provide more than our own requirements and would have a reasonable export surplus. It is amazing that the difference between the value of fish we import and the value of fish we export is only $2m or S3m. I think our biggest problem has been that the Government has never taken the fishing industry seriously.
The fishermen themselves over a long period have demanded a proper research programme and they have asked for the type of ships that could carry out proper fishing surveys. But it is very strange indeed that most of the surveys seem to have been done by foreign companies. The question that I referred to particularly was question No. 1431. I asked the Minister how many joint venture fishing operators are now fishing in Australian waters, together with other relevant questions. The Minister replied:
The third part of my question was:
Are any of the vessels owned by residents of other countries?
The Minister replied:
Yes, the thirty foreign boats are owned by the Japanese partners in the various joint ventures.
Recently a wholly Australian owned firm endeavoured to set up a venture on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria at Karumba. Representatives of the firm were interrogated at length by officials of the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry and had lengthy discussions with officials of the State Department of Primary Industries. The firm finished up getting exactly nowhere. It had several million dollars to invest in the venture. The firm could not do any good with either government. Finally one exasperated official said that if the firm had entered into a partnership with a foreign firm almost certainly it would have been granted a permit. As far as I know the firm now has given up in complete disgust because it could not get even a landing place at Karumba. I admit that the control of the carrying out or conduct of operations there is the responsibility of the State Government.
This suggestion to make available money for research is not an unusual one. It happens in other industries. I am told that before the suggestion was made people in the industry and the Government contributed a sum of money to carry out research and to look after the general wellbeing and interest of the industry. As far as I am aware, there was no real consultation with the fishermen or those people on the academic side of the industry who would have an interest in the matter prior to any suggestion that such a scheme be implemented. I hope that the scheme contemplated in the Bill does not become bogged down by bureaucracy. I hope it does not lead to a complete shambles in marine science. Perhaps this exists already. The scope of research stations and research institutions in this country is limited.
One would have thought that we would have had more warning of the introduction of the Bill and would have had more opportunity to examine it closely. It should not have been one of the Bills left till the end of the session. I am critical of this. I said this at the end of the session last year and 1 repeat it this year. We are endeavouring to carry out legislation by exhaustion. We are jamming Bills through in the last part of the session. We ought to have been given plenty of time to examine this Bill and carry out the necessary research in order to be able to come to a conclusion that would be in the interests of the fishing industry. Unfortunately, as with a number of other very important Bills, we are expected to debate it with the threat of the guillotine hanging over our heads because the Government has so much other business to get through. The reason given for the rushing through of legislation is that the election date has been brought forward. This might react violently against the Government because a lot of people outside this Parliament are not happy about the way the Government is conducting its business, particularly its handling of important legislation.
Probably one of the big worries we have is foreign intervention in the industry. I hope that the extent of the research will be such that it will enable foreign intervention to be examined in the correct perspective. At the moment most of the major operators around the Australian coast are non-Australian. One Taiwan boat has been caught twice for the same offence - operating in Queensland waters. On the first occasion of fine of something like $2,500 was imposed on the captain and the men. I do not know what the outcome of the present case will be. Al the moment the matter is sub judice. I sincerely hope that the contempt with which other governments treat the Australian Government and the Australian territorial waters will be taken into consideration when the penalty is imposed. Long ago I suggested that the Gulf waters and all that area in and around the Great Barrier Reef ought to be declared Australian territorial waters. I will not reiterate all the arguments advanced in this chamber on the occasion when that matter was raised, but I do believe that we have a historical claim over waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Minister argued the other way. Apparently his submissions were supported by the Government. We cannot claim these waters as territorial waters.
The Australian Labor Party has never said that it would not allow controlled fishing in these areas. We have said that fishing in these waters ought to come under the control of the Australian Government so that at least we would have some kind of supervision or jurisdiction over the area. The only time the matter was in the public spotlight was when the Russian ship ‘Van Gough’ was in the area. Previously I had complained to the Minister, on behalf of the fishermen, that Japanese ships, using similar types of equipment, were in the Gulf area and that in some cases similar standover tactics apparently had been used. The only time that any investigation was carried out properly was when the fishermen expressed some fear of the Russian vessel that was there. Obviously the fishing areas are better known to the Japanese, the Formosans, the Taiwanese and the crews of other fishing vessels that are not Australian owned than they are to the Australians. There has never yet been a proper survey of Queensland waters carried out. Queensland fishermen, wherever they operate, are probably at a greater disadvantage than fishermen operating off the coast of the other States.
There »s no restriction on fishing licences. I have a question on the notice paper seeking some kind of control over the issue of licences. Queensland fishermen have suggested that there ought to be a 12 months period in which no licences are issued and that there should be some kind of control over licences issued interstate which allow fishermen to operate in Queeusland waters. The Queensland Government is quite spineless politically and otherwise in this regard. lt has refused to impose any restrictions. Obviously any industry in any Slate ought to be an orderly industry. We should consider this industry as a primary producing industry in the first place because it supplies fresh fish. We can expand its activities. Perhaps the Minister will be able to enlighten me afterwards as to whether or not some of the money raised in the manner envisaged by the Bill will be used to conduct an examination of the pros and cons of establishing a canning industry not only for fish generally but for particular types of fish which we have not exploited to the extent that we ought to have exploited at. this point of time.
The only other matter I want to mention is a reference to what the Minister said in his second reading speech. 1 do nol disagree with this statement. He said:
Fishing joins the other significant primary industries, such as wheat, wool, dairy, meat, tobacco and poultry, that contribute money for their own research and development which the Government matches in accordance with its longheld policy of aid to primary industries that help themselves.
I do not blame the Government for patting itself on the back, but I hope that the spirit of the legislation will be carried into effect in the same way as the law itself ought to be carried into effect. I ask the Minister to consider the matters that 1 have raised. We are not quite sure why the prawning industry in the Gulf failed this year. No proper investigation has been carried out. The season has been a disastrous one, particularly for some of the small operators. The Minister might supply an explanation. One would tend to think that the disastrous season could have been caused because the area has been over-fished or, to use the correct term, over-prawned. 1 would like some more information on this.
If the research is to be directed to this field, exactly what areas will it encompass? Will it take in only sections of the Australian coastline or will it be a national survey that will be carried out in some detail? If it will be only a sectional survey, I think that one of the first areas which ought to be investigated thoroughly is the Barrier Reef area and, in fact, the Queensland coast generally because a detailed or prepared survey of those waters has never been undertaken. I leave those thoughts with the Minister. As 1 mentioned earlier, we do not oppose the Bill. It is a contribution, however small it may be, which will assist in stabilising the industry. Over a long period of years the Opposition has continually and emphatically requested that such a step be taken.
– I rise to express hearty congratulations to the Government for the excellent piece of legislation which is now before the Senate. I read into this measure, and particularly into the Minister’s second reading speech, that it is designed to provide a research trust account for this important growing primary industry - the fishing industry. The proposal is being implemented in a very acceptable manner. Firstly, the Bill provides that the State governments will collect contributions to the fund and such collections will be matched by the Commonwealth. I believe that economies will be effected by reason of the fact that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has stated in another place that his Department will provide the Fishing Industry Research Committee with the necessary administrative and clerical support to handle the day-to-day management of the fund.
The Government’s proposals in relation to research projects obviously will be of great importance to the fishing industry. It is envisaged that research will be directed towards the rational exploitation of fish stocks in accordance with what we consider to be sound management; towards conservation practices along our coastline; and also to the present methods of technical research and management which, in many areas of primary industry, certainly need to be improved. The Bill will direct Government financial assistance towards improving handling methods, the processing of products and indeed the development of methods of presenting fish products to the consumer. These all will be improved.
The Government’s interest in growing primary industries, particularly the fishing industry, certainly deserves commendation. 1 do not go along with Senator Keeffe who generally seemed to criticise the Government for what had been done. Indeed I would be interested to hear the honourable senator spell out how an undertaking with $2m at its disposal could not get a leg into the fishing industry in Australia. I would be very pleased if the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who is handling this matter in the Senate, would comment on whether that is a fact and whether this usually occurred in relation to industries along the Australian coast. I doubt very much whether that is the case.
Here we have a growing primary industry of great importance, not only in the commercial sense but also in the sense that it provides one of the greatest sporting activities indulged in by the people generally. I believe that research into this industry will result in the Australian community obtaining even greater pleasure from fishing. I suggest to the Minister that the research should take cognisance of what has been done overseas in the construction of artificial reefs. This is a most important aspect of the growth of the fishing industry in some countries overseas, particularly in Japan and in some areas of the west coast of America. The Victorian Government has allocated some funds over the past few years for the construction of artificial reefs in the Port Phillip Bay area. To my knowledge these have been most successful in attracting fish back into an area which perhaps had been denuded in some way because industries have been set up in certain bays. This is happening in all States of the Commonwealth at present. This could be one area of research which would result in encouraging increased close shore fishing. The variety of fish which can be attracted to and held in an area, not only for commercial purposes but certainly for the pleasure of the fishing fraternity, is surprising.
I can do no more than congratulate the Minister and the industry for finally bringing to this Senate a Bill such as the Fishing Industry Research Bill.
– in reply - I thank honourable senators for informing me that they do not intend to oppose the Bill although certain honourable senators have criticised it. They are free to do so, and that is as it should be in the Senate. Let me mention a few of the main points of the Bill. As was stated in my second reading speech, the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account differs in one significant aspect from most other primary industry research accounts. In this case the Commonwealth itself will not collect the industry contribution. This will be done under State legislation. Already several States have enacted legislation to enable them to collect contributions from the industry. Thus the Senate is considering only one Bill instead of three Bills which usually are requiredfor measures of this kind.
Because of the great difference in the organisation of the fishing industry between States, the Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for fisheries matters decided that each State should implement a scheme convenient to its own requirements and to the organisation of: the industry in the particular State to collect the industry contribution. The money so collected will be deposited in trust accounts to be established tinder appropriate State legislation and will be expended within the State concerned.
The Bill provides for the appropriation from Consolidated Revenue of an amount equal to the total amount collected by all States. This appropriation will be paid into the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account. Moneys standing to the credit of the Account will support projects and benefit the fishing industry throughout Australia as a whole. The Account will be administered by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) acting on the advice of the Fishing Industry Research Committee. Clause 1 1 of the Bill relates to the constitution and composition of the Committee. It provides:
– (1.) The Committee shall consist of-
Senator Keeffe and Senator Mulvihill raised some matters in relation to research and the avenues in which the money could be expended. It is assumed that the Fishing Industry Research Trust Account will hold in the vicinity of$1m, one-half of which will have been contributed by the States and one-half by the Commonwealth on a $1 for $1 basis. Research will follow a system by which it will be possible to assess stocks of all swimming fish, including prawns, in each area.
Senator Keeffe mentioned the tragedy which occurred in the Gulf of Carpentaria this year when fishing vessels from the south went there to carry out prawning operations only to find that there were very few prawns in the area. We do not want that kind of thing to happen again. The idea is that the research team will conduct research designed to understand the behaviour of various kinds of fish, including prawns, in different places around Australia. It wants to be able to predict an abundance of prawns in future years. Senator Keeffe mentioned that he believed the Minister was encouraging overseas capital to come to Australia.
– I said that he discourages Australian capital.
– I want to refute that completely because the Minister has said to the industry that he will not allow overseas companies to come to Australia to exploit the fishing industry with their capital, vessels and equipment staffed by their nationalists.
– Have we ever heard anything of Senator Keeffe’s reference to $2m of Australian money being available for investment in our fishing industry, and being disallowed?
– I would like to find that out. I do not believe that it could be established. It must be recognised that: the Australian Government wants the Australian people to get the best out of the Australian fishing industry. As J said earlier, the Minister has taken action to ensure that Australian companies, with their own ships, crews and equipment will receive much better consideration than overseas companies. The Government is continuing to examine the matter of reserves for Australian fishermen, another matter referred to by Senator Keeffe. The Government is examining the matter to determine what action can be taken having regard to international law, so that the greatest possible share of our fishing resources off the Australian coast can be kept for our own fishermen. I think this is reasonable. Senator Keeffe asked why the Government does not declare that the waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria belong to Australia and keep them for ourselves. But cognisance must be taken of international law in these matters. If we were permitted by international law to declare that area to be Australian territorial waters, 1 guess that the Minister would do so. But it is a great area, and although we would like to take that action we must make sure that no stone is left unturned in honouring our obligations under international law.
Monies within the research account will be available to finance projects in all sections of the fishing industry, in areas off the Australian coast. The purposes for which the monies may be used are set out explicitly in respect of research into various projects to help the fishing industry. The basis of the research fund is the contribution to be made by the fishing industry. The fund will be established on a $1 for $1 basis, as 1 mentioned earlier. I think I. have covered most of the points raised by honourable senators.
The total value of production of the fishing industry increased from about $35m in 1963-64 to almost $59m in 1967-68, an increase of about 67%. The estimated value of production for 1968-69 is $66m. Prawn exports have increased considerably. The total value of frozen prawns has increased almost seven-fold in the past 5 years. Most of the increase has occurred in the last 2 years. In the year ended June 1969 prawns weighing over 6 million lb were exported, valued at over $7m, being an increase in weight of 86% over the previous year and of 108% in value. Exports in July 1969 were 1.2 million lb, valued at $1.4m, compared with 0.7 million lb and $0.8m in July 1968.
The value of exports of marine products rose from $36.4m in 1967-68 to $4lm in 1968-69, an increase of about 13%. The value of imported fish products rose by about 10% from $3 1.7m in I967-6S to about .$34m in 1968-69, leaving an excess of exports over imports of about $7m in 1968-69, compared with an excess of about S4.7m in the previous year. The Government believes that the establishment of the research fund will help the industry to increase its production. We feel confident that the fishing industry wm be 100% behind the Government in carrying out research. 1 have no doubt that the Government Will keep in close touch with the industry in respect of any proposals it wishes to put to the Government. 1 thank honourable senators for the passage of the Bill through the second reading stage and 1 hope that it will pass through its remaining stages without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 23 September (vide page 1187), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bil) be now read a second time.
– May 1 suggest to the Senate that this Bill bc taken together with the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1 969? They are very closely related.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– 1 will deal first with the Income Tax Bill. There is no variation in. the rates to be applied in the coming year. The variations - and the same thing applies to the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill - are in respect of the agc allowance provisions, and in changing the shading-in’ rates to become graduated shading-in’ rates. The introduction of these variations is a result of the means test changes that were presented in the Budget. In order to make these new variations possible, the present tax limiting provision which was 45% in respect of aged incomes allowance has been graduated now so that it rises from 165% to 66J%. This becomes one of the important reasons why we must have this variation.
I am disappointed that, in the presentation of this Bill, no opportunity has been taken to vary the income tax rates for the lower income groups. Last year, 1 drew attention to this feature when dealing with Bills similar to those now under consideration. I wish to remind the Senate of what I actually said on that occasion because it is particularly relevant at this time and it is something which is forgotten in our consideration of income tax. As reported at page 1511 of Hansard of 23rd October 1968, 1 said:
I do not think we can make any valid comparison between the tax paid at some time in the past and that paid today until wc get past the stage when the States and the Commonwealth were taxing as separate entities. I believe we must start at about 1945 when the basic wage was $499 per annum. At that time a man on the basic wage with a wife and two children was entitled to an exemption of $422 and was taxed on $77 only. 1 do not intend to complicate the argument by referring to the deductions that would have been allowable for medical and dental expenses
I do not wish to bring those matters into the debate. But, taking the matter further, I said:
In 1945 the statutory exemption from income tax was $422 on a basic wage of $499 and tax was payable on $77. I believe that the tax works out at about 50c, In 1967, the last year in which income tax returns were filed, a person in receipt of the Commonwealth basic wage would have received $1,758 and his allowable deductions for his wife and two children would have been $1,092. I agree that $1,092 is much more than $422, but times have changed and the purchasing power of the dollar has changed. An amount of $2 today is much different from the £1 of 1946. If we exclude all other deductions for medical, dental and other expenses, the person in receipt of the basic wage would be taxed on $666. He would be paying quite an amount in taxation although he is in receipt of the basic wage only.
This is one matter that should be looked at. lt was my considered opinion that this matter should be considered when the income tax legislation for the coming financial year was under discussion. It is interesting to note that the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), when he introduced those income tax Bills at that time, said that serious consideration was being given to the income tax structure but that the proposals had not reached the stage where they could be introduced then. I was hoping that, in the Income Tax Bill 1969, we would find that some assistance had been rendered to the lower income groups. I do know that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has been hinting that he will make some pronouncement in his policy speech very shortly to the effect that variations will be made which will help those in the lower income groups. But these variations will come in next year’s Budget. 1 think that it is tragic that so many years have gone by without such an adjustment. No real variation has taken place in the income tax rate for the last 20 years. The situation becomes worse as incomes rise and, at the same time, the cost of living rises too. Another serious omission from the Bill is a provision to give any assistance or relief to primary producers, particularly those on low incomes from their industry. I drew attention to this last year. I gave at some length details of the problems that we had in respect of primary producers throughout Australia.
I did say, as the Minister will recollect, that some thought should be given to the idea of negative income tax. I added that this was receiving serious consideration in the United States of America and some other countries. Various schemes have been put forward in the United States. The matter was not limited to the enthusiasm of one particular economist. Replying to the second reading debate, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) said that he had found my comments quite interesting. He added:
Recently, a committee of which I am a member has been taking notice of a scheme comparable to the negative income tax scheme referred to by Senator Wilkinson, but described by a different name.
He anticipated that a report would be made shortly by this committee. Having given consideration to these various ideas, 1 looked without result at the income tax legislation that has been brought forward for a reference to any of the considerations of that committee or any results of its deliberations.
I pass now to the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1969. I wish to deal with the Bill very briefly. This Bill does for the legislation previously enacted the same as the Income Tax Bill 1969 before us now does in that it makes allowance for the variations in relation to those who will be taxed under the new arrangements as set out in the Budget speech. It was necessary to introduce this Bill in order to vary the operation of the income tax law relating to partnerships and trusts. The Opposition is not opposing these Bills. It would not be much good if the Opposition did oppose either of these Bills. We give them a speedy passage.
– J do not propose to address myself at any length to these Bills or at all to the ancillary Bill which is to amend the incidence of income tax in. view of the alteration of the pension level and also because of the amelioration of (he application of the means test. In other words, this is a technical Bill and an ancillary Bill. As a result, 1 do not think that the legislation requires a great deal of discussion.
I rise to make this comment only: Some concern is expressed at the present time as to the rate of income tax payable in the middle income groups. As these are a gradually expanding area of taxpayers in the community as costs and wages rise, the amount of tax drawn from these groups is becoming an increasingly important component of the general revenue, lt is increasing. We hope that taxation in this area can be relieved as far and as soon as possible. There has been some indication of that action. Perhaps we could expect in a certain presentation within the next few weeks that some announcement to that effect will be made. We hope also that there will be other announcements of equal importance in the document to which I refer in another field.
I make this final comment: The whole Budget on this occasion undoubtedly is framed in the light of the increasing revenue coming from increased taxation without altering the rate of taxation due to increasing incomes as a result of price and cost increases. Whether this is a very sound economic principle and whether as a result of the application of that principle in the fiscal control of the Commonwealth we are likely to strike in the next year a position which may require supplementary fiscal provision is one of the great notes of interrogation that today lies across the Australian economy. But we welcome this particular piece of legislation because it does carry into effect and give the maximum relief ancillary to the increased provisions which have been given and to the amelioration of the means test. We would only hope that there would be an equal necessity every year for the introduction of similar legislation as pensions are increased at least from year to year and as the means test is gradually phased out until it is totally eliminated. The Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill.
– Because of comments made by Senator Byrne I rise to say that I do not think it is likely or conceivable that there is any need for adjustment to the current Budget because of any revision of taxation scales or any consideration of reassessments. I believe that we are entering into a new phase of understanding in which control of the economy is exercised much more readily and sensibly by control of the money supply than by control of. the taxation base by changes of fiscal policy. I cannot see any case for considering or suspecting that alterations to Budget policy will bc called for in any way other than in the normal sequence of budgeting which is 12-monthly.
– One must support the Bill, of course, but one is disappointed in it, more so because the last lime there was any taxation review was 15 years ago. The Ligertwood Committee made recommendations which were as usual disregarded by the Government, This is normal procedure. We have had the Vernon report of which no-one takes any notice, and so on. Nevertheless the time has come when we must protest and make sure that something is done for the middle income taxpayer. The definition of the middle income group apparently varies but it is accepted that it comprises those who receive incomes of between $2,000 and $12,000. I. do not see that that is a middle income group, but that is how it is defined by various people. This group has had no taxation relief. The Treasury has just sat there getting more and more bloated because although incomes have risen 75% taxation revenue has increased by nearly 150% in the last 1 2 years.
The Government does not have to do anything, lt. can keep on saying that it is not increasing taxes but inflation, which is the direct result of government inactivity, increases the amount of money flowing into the Treasury. T would not be quite so severely critical of the Government if it were not playing politics. It is pretty disgusting when we find that in the Budget, which is the time for taxation talk and taxation relief, and in a Bill in regard to taxation, no relief whatever is being given to the middle income taxpayer. When the Budget was announced it had so many handouts that members of the Government coalition parties felt that they had an election winner and there was no need to worry about taxation. But when the glamour wore off and people realised how petty were the handouts that were given it began to look as if there was disenchantment with the Liberal Party. Then we heard talk about reviewing income tax. Why did the Government not review it at the correct time, that is, before the Budget. It is so much nonsense, so much eyewash, so much hypocrisy, to tell people that the Government will do it. When will it happen? lt will happen in the next Budget. The Government will make a promise because it is absolutely frightened of what will happen in the coming election.
– Then why is the Government doing it? Why do we have all of these handouts, SI Om here, $7m somewhere else? There were many things that the Government said it was not going to do. Now it is so frightened that we are to get taxation relief which should have been provided in this Bill. The Government has no excuse for not providing it in this Bill.
– Perhaps the honourable senator would interject again and tell us why it should not be provided in this Bill. Does he not believe that there should be a taxation review?
– How can you have all of the things on which you want to spend money without increasing taxation?
– The Government has not raised taxation and it is getting increased revenue. It is time taxation was reduced.
– We have given increased benefits.
Senotor TURNBULL- The stupidity of some senators who do not realise what happens in government! Any treasury will say that a government can do whatever it wants to do. It is nonsense to say that the Government cannot reduce taxes. I remember the debate on the first Budget to which I had to listen in this place. The Liberal Party was attacking the Labor Party. I forget what it was about. Perhaps it was a suggestion for the abolition of the means test. The Government said: ‘It would cost $H2m. How could you get the money?’ What happened at the end of the financial year? There was a credit of SI 18m which could have paid for it. Young little boys who know nothing about Treasury matters say that we cannot find money and we cannot do this. You can do whatever you want in the Treasury.
– I would not be too cocky about this little fellow. He might have the same ability as you have.
– He may have more money. He is on the land and I am not. It is blatant political dishonesty that in a Bill such as this no provision is made for the reduction in taxation to which the people are entitled and which is justified by inflation. There are no two ways about it. The middle income group has increased in the last 10 or 12 years from 10% of the population to 31%. The Government is just sitting back, raking in the money, spending it, making handouts everywhere where it thinks this will do it some good. The bulk of the people in Australia have to suffer because the Government will not realise the justice of their case.
– A few points have been raised by honourable senators who seem to think a government can made concessions here and there but does not have to charge for it. Senator Turnbull says that the Treasury can make money available and the Government can do what it likes. The facts of life are that last year the Government budgeted for a deficit of about $380m. This year, after giving tax relief through the tapered means test and otherwise, and after providing increased amounts for education, repatriation and almost anything else one can mention, we are budgeting for a deficit of $30m. This being so, does the honourable senator suggest that we should lower income tax and increase the deficit in a year like this when we are prosperous? What are we to do when hard times come and we have to get the money to keep this up? Honourable senators opposite think that all one has to do is to write out the cheque and away it goes. Somebody has to find the money. This is the problem that faces a responsible government. We have endeavoured in the Budget to help those in need and we have helped them. Whilst doing so we are budgeting for a smaller deficit this year than last year. The difference is about $3 50m. I thank honourable senators for their contributions. We hope to get a speedy passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 23 September (vide page 1 188), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill he now read a second time
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 23 September (vide page 1 1 89), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As one can see from the title, this Bill provides for the validation of customs duties which have been collected since 14th August last in respect of a range of commodities which have been examined by the Tariff Board. Those commodities which were examined and which were the subject of a report presented to the House of Representatives on 14th August included floor and wall coverings, gloves and mittens, jute carpets and carpeting, secateurs, and tractors for road rollers. On the same date a report was presented relating to amendments to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. This was a normal review relating to extensions of the Agreement.
Also on that day a report of the Special Advisory Authority was presented relating to preserved cherries. This matter had been referred to the Special Advisory Authority as one of some urgency. In the course of the report it was pointed out that the processors of cherries in Australia claimed that importations, mainly from France, had enjoyed for some considerable time a price advantage over Australian processed cherries. The industry had requested that a temporary additional duty of 13c per lb be imposed on all goods covered by the reference, lt is of interest perhaps to recall that in support of the request for increased protection the Australian cherry growers’ representatives and the processors submitted a letter from the Australian Sugar Board expressing support for the application. In the letter the Sugar Board stated that the industry was using 2,000 tons of sugar annually and that, from the Board’s point of view, the loss of all or part of this market would be very undesirable. Oilier information available to the Special Advisory Authority suggested that the cost of sugar to French processors for use in commodities for export would be considerably lower than the cost of sugar to Australian processors. So it can be seen that this recommendation to protect the Australian preserved cherries industry was very timely, lt was felt that the protection would counteract a trend that had set in for big stocks to be built up in anticipation of a demand al Christmas for the overseas product.
Other matters dealt with were electric circuit breakers and switch units and also urea used as a fertiliser. Legislation to authorise these tariff changes will be introduced in the next session of Parliament. As was pointed out by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) in his second reading speech, there is not time properly to debate all the reports, but on behalf of the Opposition I. can say, having looked through the reports from the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority, that they support what has been said by the Minister. A debate will take place on them in the new session of the Parliament. Therefore we on this side of the chamber do not oppose the measure.
– in reply - 1 thank the honourable senator for his co-operation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 23 September (vide page 1191), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to grant to the States $25m over a period of 5 years to enable them to erect self contained accommodation for single pensioners and those who qualify for a Service pension by reason of their age. Although the Opposition does not oppose the measure, we feel that certain features of the Bill are not so advantageous as they could be or as is desired by those persons who will benefit under the legislation. It is rather noticeable that this Bill differs considerably from the Aged Persons Homes Bill. All honourable senators will recall that the Aged Persons Homes Bill provided for a subsidy of $2 for $1, but this measure provides for a subsidy of $1 for S»l only, as a result of which the States will find greater difficulty in providing funds to comply with this legislation than they do in complying with the Aged Persons Homes Act.
It was rather enlightening to me to hear the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) on this occasion admit that some pensioners were living in very bad conditions. The fact that pensioners have lived in bad conditions throughout Australia has been mentioned on numerous occasions by members of the Opposition. The Government has always claimed that pensioners generally have not lived in bad conditions .and that no deplorable conditions have existed. I quote the following passage from the speech made by the Minister in introducing this Bill:
Mr President, I think we all would agree that those persons most in need of housing assistance include single elderly pensioners living in miserable accommodation or paying too nigh a proportion of their pensions in rent.
This is something that we members of the Labor Party have endeavoured to get through to the Government over a long period of time. It looks to me - I think most honourable senators on this side of the chamber will agree - as though at last we have got under the skin of the Government on this issue; at last we have driven home a point that we have been endeavouring to drive home for the period of time that I have been in this chamber anyway - and that is slightly in excess of 13 years. The Minister went on to say:
These pensioners are independent people who are capable of looking after themselves and include those who, because they live in deplorable conditions, sometimes suffer an untimely breakdown in their health.
There is the admission that I mentioned a few moments ago. At last the Government has accepted the fact that pensioners live in deplorable conditions. 1 refer now to the report ‘Housing 1968’, which was issued by the Department of Housing. I realise that it has not a lot of relationship to this Bill other than on one or two points, lt contains one or two interesting comments.
Beginning on page 21, it gives the developments in the housing situation in each State and goes on to mention the conditions that exist State by State. I have to admit that the developments mentioned in the report refer mainly to the sale of homes and flats and that very little reference is made to the rental of dwellings. I also have to admit that no mention is made in the report of the type of dwelling envisaged in this Bill. But I believe that the comments are typical of the housing situation throughout Australia. I was interested to read the comment that was made about Tasmania. I suppose that one is interested mainly in the State from which one comes. We are all more interested in our own States than in the other States. The report states in regard to Tasmania:
Overall the demand to buy houses was moderate to strong in the main centres. However, older houses were often hard to sell, though buyers showed some preference for relatively new previously-occupied houses. The market in Launceston and the north-west coast was easing late in the year. The demand for home units was mainly steady and quiet, but in some cases inability to find buyers led to the units being temporarily let.
Rental accommodation, particularly houses, was generally in short supply. The year ended with a scarcity of family dwellings for rent in most areas.
That indicates to me that on this occasion the Government, in making this amount of money available, is doing something that will relieve the situation. But the criticisms that I have offered and will offer as J develop my theme are still valid. 1 wish to refer to page 26 of the same report. 1 realise that it refers mainly to private enterprise, but throughout the Commonwealth there is a lack of housing available for rental, particularly at rents within the reach of the people covered by this legislation. With reference to the cost of building, which naturally puts the rents out of the reach of the people covered by this legislation, the report stales in regard to Tasmania:
During 1)968 the cost of building a home appears to have increased by from 4% to 6%. The increase in the June quarter was particularly marked. The increase in the prices of houses built by large builders was estimated to be about 7%.
There were many cases of rent increases in most parts of the Slate. A growing shortage of rental accommodation in Hobart late in the year resulted in higher rents.
One of the reasons why I said on behalf of the Opposition that we do not oppose the Bill is that we realise that it will do something to assist the people who are finding considerable difficulty in paying the rent that a person is required to pay for a home built by private enterprise. While 1 am on that point let me say (hat today very few houses are built for rental. Most of the houses built today are spec built. Quite naturally, the builder wants to sell them so that he can get his money and go and build other houses. And so it goes on in a vicious circle. I repeat that we approve of the expenditure proposed in the Bill. 1 notice that in the Schedule to the Bill mention is made of the allocation of certain amounts of money to the various States. Quite naturally one would expect the allocation to be on the scale on which it is. New South Wales being the most populous State, one would expect it to receive the largest amount. Tasmania is to receive $650,000 over the 5-year period. That indicates to me that it will receive $130,000 per annum over the 5-year period. 1 would not know what would be the cost of a unit such as those envisaged in this Bill. One has to have regard to the increase in building costs in Tasmania to which I referred a few minutes ago. lt is reasonable to expect that the same kind of increase would occur on the mainland as has occurred in Tasmania, lt is indicated that the increase was from 4% to 7% . Although I am happy to see that §130,000 will go to Tasmania each year, the one thing that concerns me is how the Tasmanian Government will match this sum of $1 30,000.
– That is quite wrong, lt does not have to match it.
– The Minister says that 1 am wrong.
– 1 will explain it to you in due course.
– 1 am afraid that I have not so interpreted the Minister’s second reading speech or studied the Bill to the extent that 1 could find that I am not right. The Minister has something up her sleeve somewhere that 1 am afraid 1 know nothing about. I do not know whether it is the ace of spades or the jack of clubs. The position is that the States - this applies to every State - have to find a matching amount of money, because the Bill does provide for a Si for $1 grant.
– No, it does not.
– Even your friends are with me now.
– However, the States do have to find a certain amount of money.
– That is right.
– At last we have ascertained that under the Agreement the States will have to find a certain amount of money to finance this scheme. One wonders where the newly elected Liberal Government in Tasmania will find this money, because it has done nothing since it has been in office other than to decry what the Labor Government did over the last 30- odd years, lt has said that Labor did nothing but drain the coffers dry. We find that Mr Bethune, having found the coffers dry is putting on a water tax. This is apparently what it amounts to because Mr Bethune has claimed that he will put a tax on the southern part of Tasmania to finance the building of more dams and more water supply equipment. 1 do not know how the
Tasmanian Government will face up to this situation if it cannot find the money to look after the residents and those who pay the rates and taxes in Tasmania. I repeat that the Government has had to levy this water tax. lt may not be known by that name but to me it is a water tax. It is to be levied and we will have to pay it, and it does not matter whether it is called a water tax or any other kind of tax; it will still take the money out of the pocket of the taxpayer. I did indicate that the Opposition does not oppose this measure. I know that there are a number of speakers on this side of the chamber who have’ something to say and I realise also that the Government desires to complete its business at the earliest possible moment so that Government supporters may go home to their own States and take part in the forthcoming election campaign. So I will leave it at that.
– 1 rise to support the Bill and I draw the attention of the Senate to one or two of the observations made by Senator Poke. I for one am pleased that he became aware of certain aspects of the Bill which he had not noticed in his first reading of it. I think it needs to be said fairly firmly that this is a Bill which seeks the Parliament’s approval to pay grants amounting to $25m over 5 years. This was said in the first paragraph of the second reading speech of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). These are grants to be paid to the States for the erection of self-contained accommodation for single aged persons and persons who qualify for Service pensions by reason of age. Later in the Minister’s speech there was reference to the fact that each State has been asked for an assurance that it will spend from funds other than the Commonwealth grant during the 5-year period commencing on 1st July 1969 not less than five times its overall annual expenditure for this purpose during the 3-year period ending 30th June 1969. The Commonwealth, in giving this money for the erection of this kind of housing and accommodation has told the State governments which have already committed themselves over a period of years with varying degrees of intensity to programmes of housing for pensioners that they will be enabled to continue this programme at a much faster rate and to get rid of the backlog of housing for needy citizens.
In presenting this Bill to the Senate the Minister, on behalf of the Government, has confirmed the concern of the Government for aged people. This is not one of those pieces of social service legislation which provide for the housing of elderly people; rather does it provide for a straight out grant to State governments to enable them to carry out building projects to assist needy people. The Bill provides for the States to go ahead readily, quickly and effectively because the purpose of the advance may include not only the carrying out of the building project but also the purchase of the land, the preparation of the land for the erection of a building. The amount of $25m which is to be given to the States will be distributed broadly in the proportion the number of age pensioners receiving supplementary assistance in a State bears to the total number of these pensioners in the six States.
The Bill takes note of the special housing needs of a section of the Australian population which lives in circumstances which are not good enough and in circumstances of loneliness which are peculiar to people of this age group. I do not think that this is any admission whatsoever that there is a great area of total poverty in Australia. Any community which is growing as rapidly as ours will always have pockets of need and areas where people who are elderly live in conditions in which the average person would not like to see them live. I know of cases - and I am sure other honourable senators do too - where people may be eligible to go into one or other of the very splendid homes provided for aged people but because of a sense of independence and a desire to live in an area where they have always lived they prefer to put up with difficult circumstances. This measure takes care of this situation and enables the State authorities, as I said earlier, to go into the matter with efficiency and readiness so that they may catch up with their backlog. In the 5-year programme which the Bill covers it is assumed that the backlog will be reduced.
It is fairly difficult to estimate the number of people who are likely to benefit from the provisions of the Bill in the first instance. It is known that on 30th June 1969 the waiting lists of various State housing authorities contained about 11,000 names of elderly people seeking housing units from the States. This takes no account of the number of people who may be on waiting lists for homes run by churches and charitable organisations. As the State Governments complete more accommodation, aged people in the community will receive more benefits, one way or another, not only through this legislation but also through other legislation. They will be able to live in conditions in which they are unable to live at present. I hope that when the construction of the buildings is undertaken those responsible will take special care to meet the requirements laid down for such buildings so that aged people will be able to live not only in comfort but also in degrees of safety and that areas devoted to stairs and other places requiring safety precautions will be taken into account so that no risk or danger to the aged persons will be involved.
Consideration should be given also to the right of individuals to live in a measure of independence and privacy which only their own homes can give. The South Australian Minister for Housing has expressed his great delight and pleasure with this grant. In common with leaders of all other housing trusts and commissions throughout Australia, he will take advantage of this grant which the Commonwealth has given. This reflects the spirit of compassion - and I use that word again - which the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) used when bringing down the Budget earlier this session. I am pleased to support the measure.
– The Opposition is somewhat concerned that in introducing this legislation the Government has not taken the advice offered by the Opposition and has not had regard to criticisms made by a number of honourable senators to ensure that the Government, through the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), will have a continuing control over this type of legislation. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Social Services, will recall that in recent years honourable senators such as Dame Dorothy Tangney, who is now not a member of the Senate, Senator Cant and the South Australian Labor Party senators have instanced cases of concern to them. Some organisations have compelled aged pensioners to make fairly regular increases in payments to the organisations to offset what is claimed to be increases in maintenance charges.I have stated - and it is a fact - that on several occasions we have had deputations from an organisation calling itself the Aged Cottage Homes Occupants Committee. This goes back to the time when Mr Sinclair was the Minister for Social Services. We approached the Director of Social Services in South Australia, but the information we got from him was that once the arrangements were made for the subsidy that was the end of the Commonwealth Government’s or the Department’s interest. We thereupon went to see the Minister and suggest that the Commonwealth should take a continuing interest in the matter.
The Government has introduced what we accept in principle as a progressive piece of social legislation. The intention of it is to give aged persons some kind of reasonable form of accommodation. It seems to us that if an organisation imposes fairly strict charges or makes arrangements which seem to subvert the intentions of the Act, there is a clear case for the Commonwealth Minister to introduce an amendment to the legislation. The Minister might know that in the Committee stages the Opposition intends to move such an amendment.
– This does not refer to organisations.
– I will name only one.
– There are no organisations.
– I know that. I want to make one point. In other representations on this matter there was some confusion about the titles of the homes. I do not want to discredit anybody by mentioning the name of the organisation because it may be that the description-
– The honourable senator is dealing with the wrong Bill.
– The position is that on several occasions in this Senate the Opposition has raised specific instances. The Minister has done nothing about them. The Minister has heard about a case where what happened was that the pensioners-
– The honourable senator is dealing with the wrong Bill.
– 1 suggest that it is this Bill, lt is the same kind of legislation and the same kind of policy.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cormack) - Order! Senator Bishop is addressing himself to me. If any honourable senator wishes to raise a point of order, he may attract my attention and I will deal with it.
– As mentioned, it is the intention of the Opposition to move, in Committee, an amendment which will provide for a continuing action by the Minister in relation to administration of the Act. We believe that this Act is similar to the Aged Persons Homes Act. The Minister in this chamber has been advised by the representations made and the Minister for Social Services knows that deputations have been made about this anomaly which arises from the grants which the Government makes. We believe that, once the amounts are paid over and the accommodation is built, that should not be the end of the Commonwealth’s interest. The Minister should be able to intervene and issue some instructions so that the administration can ensure that the people who occupy the accommodation will be provided with reasonable accommodation and that they will have some kind of ‘representative’ consideration, which they ought to have. In this respect 1 put it to the Minister that this legislation is the same as the Aged Persons Homes Act. Would the Minister agree?
– It seems to the Opposition that this is so. Accordingly we propose to move an amendment at a later stage. I have mentioned the problems - and the Minister is well aware of them - which have occurred in respect of the Aged Persons Homes Act. One corporation requires tenants of the accommodation to agree in future to a rental1 charge which will amount to 20% of future pension rises. To me, this is quite improper, if it is not illegal. This matter was raised once before. It having been raised, it seems to me that the Government ought to be able to intervene and say precisely that such arrangements to take part of the pension are quite improper and should not be allowed. It seems to me that this subverts the whole intention of welfare legislation.
That is the basic problem with which we are faced. The Government should do something about it.
I have mentioned that over the years we have brought several matters to the attention of the Senate. We have explained those matters and what arose from them We mentioned that in cases under the Aged Persons Homes Act there had been circumstances where the deposits for the initial occupancy of the homes have been paid time after time because of the death of the occupier. Having obtained a grant from the Government for building certain accommodation, and the occupier having died, the organisation requires the same initial deposit of the new occupier as was required in the first instance. This kind of legislation has been perpetuated and allowed to remain on the books. We want to see that the accommodation provided under this Act is the same as that provided under the Aged Persons Homes Act. We want to see the present practice stopped. We put it to the Government and to the Minister that she could have acted to stop this practice. There is no reason why she should not have so acted.
As Senator Cavanagh pointed out in the debate on the other Bill, certain powers, which might be considered to be fairly strong powers, were vested in the Minister, but no powers were vested in the Minister to see that the intentions of the legislation were carried out after the accommodation was built. Every time pensions are increased we receive complaints which arise from the increase in rents that pensioners are charged. The pensioners are disturbed. They call1 on the local M.P. to visit them. We have visited them. The provision of recreational facilities seems to us not to have been considered.
Sitting suspended from 6 to it p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I had referred to the Aged Persons Homes Act and had related to the Senate circumstances which had arisen which to us of the Opposition seemed to subvert the intention of the legislation. The Senate will remember that I had mentioned a number of cases in which Labor senators had approached the Minister and in fact had debated in this chamber the need for the Commonwealth to have a continuing interest in the provision of accommodation for specified purposes. To the Opposition it seems that the same circumstances can arise in the future in regard to the legislation now before us. We are surprised that the Government has not taken our advice and has not included some provision in the Bill to ensure that whatever is intended by the Bill will be continued.
According to the second reading speech, it is obvious that the intention is to provide alternative accommodation of a reasonable standard at a reasonable rent. Although the Minister referred to the States carrying out a number of building projects, I suggest that clause 4 of the Bill does not restrict any such projects to only State authorities. Even if it did, even if the intention of the legislation was to give to the States this sum of money to ensure that accommodation was provided for single pensioners in the circumstances I have mentioned, the argument of the Opposition that even in those circumstances the Government should continue to have consideration for the kind of accommodation which might be continued, for the standard of accommodation that is provided initially and also for the rents which might be charged in the future, is still good.
As I read the Bill there is certainly no restriction on the States arranging for building contractors or for organisations similar to the organisations which were set up under the Aged Persons Homes Act to provide this kind of accommodation. If it is the Government’s intention to restrict the building of this accommodation at reasonable rents to only State authorities, it does not alter the principle of the amendment which we intend to put forward. Instead, 1 should imagine that possibly there would be fewer objections and grievances of the kind now occurring in South Australia to which 1 have referred.
It will be seen from clause 6 of the Bill that there is a requirement on the States only to spend on an approved building scheme an amount equal to the amount approved by the Minister. To me, that means that the States can decide to spend the money directly themselves through State housing authorities or to allocate part of the money to approved organisations which might provide the accommodation. If that is not the case - I suggest that the Bill is drafted fairly loosely - it does not alter the argument that we are putting up. We are saying that under the Bill and according to the Minister’s statement to the Parliament there must be two requirements - that the accommodation is reasonable and proper and is approved in the context of environment, and that it is of a standard which lifts these people out of the circumstances about which we have complained and which the Government now accepts as not being suitable.
– It must be of a standard which reduces them to a single person’s accommodation.
– But it will be seen also that the aim of the legislation is to remove some of the hardships of pensioners by reason of environment and rent. That may result in a reduction in the level of accommodation which certainly is proper. So in this context the Bill is a good piece of legislation. However we say that unless the Commonwealth Government intends to continue its interest in the kind of accommodation provided and in the rental which might be charged to this category of pensioners, the whole purpose of the legislation could be subverted. For example, when the States use the funds to provide accommodation through the State housing authorities the Commonwealth’s first requirement under the Bill is that the standard of accommodation must be approved. The second requirement is that the charges which will be made upon the pensioner occupiers must bc reasonable because if that were not the case there would be no purpose in the legislation.
Our point is that the Commonwealth Government, having approved the initial commitment, says: ‘Yes, the scheme is approved’. We disapprove that final act of the Commonwealth Government because all that is required after that is that there must be a report from the State Government each year relating to the expenditure of the funds which the Commonwealth has provided under the legislation. All the States have to say is: ‘We have spent $x on accommodation. We have built this structure.’ That is the only requirement of the Bill, which we say is quite wrong. We can sec the Government’s intention and we do not disagree with it because it is good, but we suggest that as in the Aged Persons Homes
Act the intention is only the initial part and the whole purpose behind the provision of Commonwealth funds, which is a very important matter for this country, is to have accommodation provided by building organisations or by State housing authorities.
Obviously the money should be expended only if the purposes of the Government or the purposes of the Bill are being obtained. I suggest they are not being obtained because, as I have said, there are instances on record of pensioners suffering hardship. I refer to what we on this side of the House said as recently as 10th September about the other piece of legislation which relates very closely to the legislation before us. The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of 20th September carried a report about the problems now arising in respect of pensioners who may be ejected from accommodation which has been made possible only by Commonwealth grants because they cannot afford to pay increased rents or maintenance charges. So at the Committee stage the Opposition proposes to move an amendment to the effect that the Commonwealth Government, which provides the money, should have a supervising control from the first act to the final act. If the Government does not exercise that, control the State authorities if they so wish can fix rentals and decide the kind of accommodation at the time of contract. As in all building projects, standards of accommodation can decline and become less than is socially necessary for the class of pensioner the Government has in mind. In addition, because of increased charges which might be levied due to the escalation of costs, the State authorities can decide to increase the rents of the pensioners.
– They can take arbitrary steps.
– As Senator Toohey has reminded me, they can decide arbitrarily to do whatever they wish. The only resource that the pensioner occupier has is to argue with the State housing authority, see his local member of Parliament or petition the State Government that the purposes of the Commonwealth Government’s legislation are not being accomplished.
– You would take all control from the State authorities?
– I think that you accept the failures of the Aged Persons Homes Act.
The Government does not mind if charges are increased. It does not mind if the present accommodation for pensioner couples is duplicated on many occasions because of the argument: Mf we get two or three limes the value of the accommodation because of a vacancy through the death of an occupier couple, it goes to provide more accommodation.’ In my opinion that is a great mistake. I have seen the circumstances of people who cannot afford to pay increased charges. I have witnessed the failure of organisations to provide the services they should provide. The Minister referred to a general improvement in housing accommodation. In many of these places I have seen people who do not have recreational facilities. If they want to discuss anything with their friends in the housing estate they must go to the local church hall. We have to change that situation. I believe that the people who promoted this legislation support that view.
After studying the Bill I am quite sure it means that once the Commonwealth Government or the Minister has approved a scheme, that is the final act. If a State housing authority or a group of builders makes a delegation for the construction of homes for pensioners to meet the requirements of the grant, the legislation applies only until the construction is finished and does not apply thereafter. Unless the Government can sustain the purpose of the legislation over the years, obviously it is not worth anything. I put to the Minister that the Government has failed to take notice of the disabilities which arise from legislation of which this Bill is typical.
I have referred to complaints and grievances that have arisen and about which we can do nothing. It is up to the Commonwealth Government. Nobody else can act to right these wrongs because all that the organisations in control have to say is: We fix these rates and charges and that is final.’ Even if a State housing authority - for example, the Housing Trust of South Australia - commissions a particular programme and it is approved by the Commonwealth Government, once the initial construction is completed that is the end of the Commonwealth’s responsibility and whatever the Commonwealth intends to be the result beyond that cannot be achieved. If the accommodation becomes dilapidated, or the standards fall in some other way, I put to the Government that it has failed to do what the legislation intends to be done. For these reasons the Opposition proposes to move at the Committee stage an amendment along the lines on which I have spoken, in order to ensure that the Commonwealth has a continuing interest which will maintain the initial benefit we are seeking. As I understand the Bill, all that is required of a State government is a report upon financial transactions and that is the end of the story.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill and finds itself unable to support the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Eishop. The Bill represents a further step in the extension of the solicitude of public authorities for aged people. But are we really fully aware of the needs of the people in these groups and their numbers? The aid was originally provided for a very clear and definite class. Then we started to categorise aid according to years and conditions. We provided homes in institutions accordingly. This is a further step in the same process. There has been an impatience that the work has not been extended quickly and widely enough. Nevertheless, in the process we find there is provision for a particular type of aged person who is not so ill that he must go into a convalescent home for care but is able substantially to care for himself. However, because of his age and his isolation he finds that he is neglected and not able adequately to care for himself although he is not ill.
The object of the legislation is to provide intermediate homes where such people may find comfort and support and may retain the independence that is necessary to make possible the continuance of their lives. We welcome the Bill and the principle it contains. The proposition put forward by Senator Bishop appears to me to contain implications that are very wide and dangerous. It is the type of legislation in which, in this field, the Commonwealth provides the finance and operates through State authorities for the execution of the work which will follow the provision of th. money for private institutions, either in the hands of individuals for commercial purposes or even for quasi-charitable institutions whose conduct may or may not bc satisfactory.
Their administrative controls may not appeal to us. We are dealing with the provision of money to State authorities and I think the Parliament must accept that the State authorities should enjoy sufficient confidence to be entrusted with the proper disbursement and control of moneys that are given to them in these circumstances, and that they would have no less solicitude and regard for these people who are to receive this beneficence than would this Parliament if it were directly controlling the expenditure and utilisation of these moneys.
I can well imagine that this principle follows the general principle adopted for grants to the States in the field of housing. I am not aware that the States are subject to any sort of Commonwealth parliamentary audit in the execution of the work that is done in pursuance of housing grants.
– They are subject to ministerial audit as to the type of activity in respect of which the money may be expended.
– That is right, It is not improbable that the States might resent such control as is visualised by Senator Bishop and might even refuse to accept the money under those terms. I appreciate the type of concern expressed by Senator Bishop on behalf of the Opposition that the aims and purposes of the legislation should not bc defeated either by exploitation of the individual recipients of the aid indirectly or by depreciation of the standards of accommodation provided. However, I do not think we are entitled to presume that this is likely to happen in the hands of a State government.
For those reasons we support the principle of the Bill and the financial proposals which are implicit in it. I hope that there will be no consequences such as visualised by Senator Bishop and which he is seeking to avoid by the amendment he has foreshadowed. We have confidence that this money in the hands of the States will be properly and adequately expended and controlled, and used to the best advantage of the people covered by this legislation. We oppose the amendment to be moved by the Opposition.
– I must say at the outset that 1 .am amazed at the attitude of the Opposition. I say that, because members of the Opposition have been criticising what has been done with regard to assistance for homes for aged persons. Tonight we are dealing wilh a completely new Bill. As I have said, I am surprised that the Opposition should come forward tonight to criticise legislation designed to provide assistance for aged persons. But we are not dealing wilh previous Bills. We are dealing with a completely new concept in respect of assistance to the aged. When I say ‘assistance to the aged’, let me carry this much further. We are dealing with the area of the greatest need concerning the aged and I think that this in itself is a very important point.
Before I deal with what is proposed in this Bill, I want to say, because the Opposition has been so critical, that since the inception of assistance for aged persons homes in 1954 and up to 30lh June of this year some 1,851 grants of a total value of some $92,422,500 have been made. When the present purchases that have been approved are completed accommodation will have been given to approximately 32,600 people. These figures are very significant. They show that responsibility has been accepted in this field not only by the Government but by charitable and church institutions which have assisted in building homes and shelters for aged persons.
In this Bill, a new concept is introduced. The Federal Government now is making grants to State governments to build homes in addition to those homes that are being built by charitable institutions with the assistance of the Commonwealth Government. on a basis of S2 from the Commonwealth for every Si raised by those institutions. The second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) sets out very clearly what is proposed in this Bill. The Minister states:
The purpose of our offer of advances to the Slates is to assist them to carry out a number of building projects. A project may include the purchase of land, the preparation of land for the erection of a building . . .
The Minister continues to out line other classifications of ‘project’. Later in her speech, we find that the Minister says:
Projects to be built with our advances will only be approved if they are to be provided in localities in which there is a demonstrable need, and if the homes to be erected will be of an adequate size and standard and be offered at reasonable rentals.
These words show clearly that the whole object of this Bill is to assist the building of these homes where they are needed most and, in the most suitable positions. The buildings are to be of a type that will give comfort to these aged people. At the same time, the homes wm be made available to people at cheap or reasonable rents. I think that this Bill is of great significance. I am surprised that the Opposition tonight has not dealt specifically with this Bill. Speakers from the Opposition side have been dealing in this debate in generalities and with previous Bills.
J wish to refer to some other comments that have been made with regard to the way in which this grant is being made and administered. Criticism has been passed by the Opposition tonight to the effect that the Commonwealth should exercise more control in regard to these grants. In other words, the philosophies of the centralised authority have been expounded. To me, this is not progressive thinking. Worse than that, the Opposition is being very critical of and perhaps throwing doubts on the responsibility to be exercised by State governments and State administrative authorities. I point out that the Commonwealth has accepted responsibility with regard to the building of these homes. This fact is set out very clearly for all to see in the Ministers second reading speech. I refer to that part which states:
As early as practicable after the end of each financial year, each State will be required to supply to the Minister a statement certified by the Auditor-General of its expenditure out of advances under the Act for each approved project, and a statement on its expenditure during (he year on the erection of aged persons accommodation from funds other than the Commonwealth grant.
I think the Minister has stated very clearly that the Commonwealth has accepted responsibility to make sure that the money is used in the best possible means to give the greatest advantage to the largest number of people. But the Commonwealth says that the administration or the personal aspects of these grants is to be left to the States. As
Senator Byrne pointed out this evening, it is essential that the administration of the Commonwealth grants should be left to those who are closest to the people concerned. This is a very important point.
Why should the Commonwealth step in and take complete control or complete autonomy away from the States when the States also are making their contributions towards these homes? In the past, the States have always accepted their responsibility to their people. Why should the Commonwealth decide quite suddenly that it will show a lack of confidence in the administrative ability or fairness of State administration? I believe that it is essential that the State governments should be left with the right and authority to administer the various homes for these people. The Commonwealth, as I said, has accepted its responsibility to make sure that its contribution is spent wisely and well. That is where its responsibility stops.
Ever since the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) came into office, we have heard him say very clearly and on many occasions that he is most sympathetic to many of the areas of need in Australia. He has said very clearly, and he also has shown very clearly in his acts, his legislation and his leadership, that he aims to help the aged, the sick and the infirm. Here we see a classic example of the way in which this Government under the leadership of the Prime Minister has been prepared to introduce a completely new concept now to assist aged people. I am certain that, despite the criticism which has been put forward by the Opposition this evening - the Opposition has had to revert to the past tense in order to present its criticism - the people of Australia will be appreciative of the fact that a sincere endeavour is being made to assist some of the very needy areas among the aged people of this country.
For that reason, I support the Bill. I support it very sincerely. I appreciate the sympathy that is shown in the provisions of this Bill. At the same time, I wish to say that I cannot support the amendment that has been foreshadowed by the Opposition because I for one do respect the responsibility that has been shown by State governments. I think that the Commonwealth must accept its responsibility and the State governments likewise must accept their responsibility for the people in their States.
– The Australian Labor Party has been accused of criticising not the States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Bill 1969 but a Bill that is closely associated with it. The Australian Labor Party does not criticise what this Bill proposes to do. We think that the provisions of this Bill are a good thing for the aged. We go along with these sorts of proposals. What we do criticise is the continuing increase in such things as the rates charged for maintenance of the homes which the occupants must pay. As Senator Bishop has pointed out these people have come to members of the Australian Labor Party. Evidently they have not been to see members of the Liberal Party in South Australia.
– It might have been better if they had been.
– I do not think that the honourable senator can substantiate this, because from the way that Government senators are speaking tonight it does not look as if they would have given very much sympathy to the request. These people have come to us. They are not concerned about having had to pay from $2,500 to $3,500 for occupancy of these flats or home units, but they are concerned about the increasing maintenance cost. If one looks back at the original contracts signed by these people-
– You are on the wrong Bill. Talk about this Bill. You are trying to destroy this Bill.
– I am not trying to destroy it. I am trying to compare the two Bills.
– We are not talking about two Bills. We are talking about one Bill.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Kennelly) - Order! Senator Davidson will please cease interjecting.
– As I will point out later in my speech the same problem could arise. There may be a continual increase in costs to these people who are placed in the homes. If the Minister would give a guarantee that this sort of thing will not happen the Australian Labor Party would be quite happy about it. All that we want the Government to do is to safeguard these people against increases in their maintenance charges and rentals from time to time. The main purpose of the Bill is to seek the Parliament’s approval for a grant amounting to $25m over 5 years for payment to the Stales for the erection of selfcontained accommodation for eligible people. Eligible people are defined as single persons in receipt of the age pension and those who qualify for service pensions by reason of agc. all of whom are receiving or are eligible to receive supplementary assistance under section 30a of the Social Services Act or under 98a of the Repatriation Act. To be eligible for supplementary assistance their means as assessed must be less than S3 per week, excluding the amount of pension that they are receiving. In relation to these people the Minister stated in her second reading speech:
They are the most needy, and comprise al least 80% of all single applicants to lease aged persons units from State housing authorities. To meet their needs, there must first be alternative accommodation of a reasonable standard to offer them at. rents they can reasonably be expected to pay.
What is an amount that they can reasonably be expected to pay?
– lt is not specified.
– As Senator Poyser says, there is not a specified amount, although the Minister stated:
Secondly, if they ure not to suffer substantial personal disturbance, the alternative accommodation in the majority of cases needs to be offered in the vicinity of the places where they are now living.
The cost of real estate, particularly in the eastern States, is high. 1 believe that the cost of land in South Australia is the lowest in any State. According to the Minister, the Government must build accommodation in the areas in which these people are living if they are not to suffer personal disturbance. The localities where most of them are living and where they wish to continue to live are the older inner suburbs of our capital cities. Honourable senators know just what the price of land is in the inner suburbs of the capital cities. This means that if a State government acquires land for the building of this accommodation it will have to pay top prices. This will lessen the number of accommodation units that it can build.
This Bill differs from the Aged Persons Homes Act because it provides that the Government will supply money to the States on a $1 for $1 basis, whereas under the Aged Persons Homes Act the Government supplies money to organisations on a $2 for $1 basis for the purpose of erecting homes for single or married persons. As I pointed out previously, under that legislation persons who go into that accommodation for single or married couples have to contribute between $2,500 and §3,500. Those occupants are charged for maintenance on a weekly basis. I believe that this Bill should have gone as far as the other legislation and provided money to the States on a S2 for $1 basis instead of a $1 for $1 basis. The latter basis could handicap the capacity of the States to avail themselves of this proposition. Unless the States can match the grant as proposed in the Bill they will not be eligible for the grant. The Minister stated:
The $25m has been allocated among the States broadly in the proportion that the number of age pensioners receiving supplementary assistance in a Stale bears to the total number of these pensioners in the six States. The proposed legislation does, however, provide that, in the unlikely event that a State does not wish to accept the full amount of its share of the $2Sm, any shortfall may be transferred to another State which is willing and able to spend it on the approved purpose. An amount equal to one-fifth of the S25m will be available to the States for expenditure each year, and any amount available but not advanced during a year will be available for expenditure in the succeeding year.
We do not oppose this grant to the States but we believe that there should be some guarantee that the rent initially charged will continue and will not be increased from time to time. Senator Bishop has mentioned the altitude of the Australian Labor Party to increases in payments for maintenance. He referred to deputations to members of the Labor Party which show that these people are very concerned about this aspect. They have been told not only that maintenance costs will increase but also that they will be subject to an increased charge amounting to 20% of any increase in pensions. This means that a person who receives an increase of $1 in pension under the recent Budget will lose one-fifth or 20c. lt is claimed by the persons that Senator Bishop mentioned that this will have to go to pay for ever-increasing maintenance costs. We do not oppose the granting of money to the States but I believe it should be on the basis of $2 for Si instead of SI for $1.
– It is not $1 for $1.
– lt will be a matching grant. Later in the second reading speech the Minister said:
Clause 4 of the Bill empowers the Minister to approve a building project, and clause 6 provides that the grant may be spent only on approved projects. An approved project may include that part of a building being erected by a State authority that contains specified single person units reserved solely for occupation by pensioners eligible under this scheme. Approved projects may include those whose construction commenced on or after 1st July 1969. Projects to be built with our advances will only be approved if they are to be provided in localities in which there is a demonstrable need, and if the homes to be erected will be of an adequate size and standard and be offered at reasonable rentals.
We believe that the Government should do something to ensure that in future people occupying these homes will not be faced with a continual rise in rentals and that the initial payment that they undertake to meet when they first enter the premises will be the only amount that they must continue to pay.
– I propose to express my impressions of the Bill and of the Government’s treatment of aged persons. I recognise that from lime to time the Government has endeavoured to assist aged persons by making provision for their housing through finance which it makes available from time to time. The Government’s approach to this question has been to provide for those who are not so needy before providing for those who are in need of a home. For some years good accommodation has been provided under the Aged Persons Homes Act for anyone who had $2,000 or $,3000 which they could invest to acquire occupancy of a cottage. On other occasions I have referred to this as key money.
– The honourable senator knows that many thousands of people have been housed without paying any key money.
– I do not know that there are many thousands.
– The honourable senator just does not know the number.
– I shall deal with that later. I do know that as organisations which are not run for profit acquire reserves they permit re-occupancy without a deposit being paid. Whether there would be thousands of cases of this kind I do not know. 1 have complained about the situation by directing a question on this subject to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). I mentioned that not only were organisations being paid lo construct dwellings but also they were making a profit on the construction. The Minister’s justification for this was that an organisation to which I had referred was not being run for profit and that no-one was receiving a profit from it. Although homes might have been made available without the payment of a deposit, there are other matters to be considered.
From time to time I have complained in this place about the Elderly Citizens Homes of South Australia lnc. lt cannot be shown that anyone has made a profit from that venture, but the organisation does employ staff and its directors are closely associated with land agencies. There would have been discussion by the Board of Elderly Citizens Homes about the purchase of land and it is not beyond possibility that some graft has been involved, although the organisation’s balance sheet does not reveal anyone gaining a profit from it. The legislation with which we are dealing does not make grants available to all organisations to provide housing for aged pensioners; rather it provides for grants to the States under section 96 of the Constitution.
In early discussions on this measure I believe that T may have been responsible for some honourable senators on this side of this chamber being mistakenly Icd to believe that the grants would be matched by State contributions. I might have given the impression that the Bill followed the wording of the Slates Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill which provided that the money is refundable by a State if it cannot prove that it has spent on the scheme an amount equal to the grant The effect of that is that they must spend the whole of the Commonwealth grant on a scheme. Why the Bill is not expressed in these terms I do not know. The purpose of this measure is to provide homes. As I have mentioned already, the Aged Persons Homes Act has provided for those who are lucky enough to have $2,000 or $3,000 to enable them to go into a home provided under that scheme.
Subsequently it was realised that there was another area of need for which provision should be made.
Although the Minister in the course of her second reading speech spoke of the bad living conditions of certain pensioners, this Bill does not make provision for housing for those pensioners who are in bad living conditions; it provides for housing for single pensioners who are receiving a rental allowance from the Commonwealth Government. It applies to those who are in a specific classification, whether their present housing conditions are good or bad. If they can qualify under the Bill they are eligible for one of these homes. We may find that someone who qualifies for benefits under other legislation may qualify for assistance under this Bill also. Although he may already have good housing conditions he may be eligible for a dwelling under this legislation. Yet we neglect another big section of deserving people who might be living in more necessitous circumstances but who cannot qualify for a dwelling. I reiterate that this Bill does not make provision for the needy so much as for a section of the community which may include those who already have good accommodation.
During the debate on this Bill in another place it was pointed out that this year 102,642 aged persons receiving supplementary assistance would qualify for assistance under this Bill. It is obvious from the amount to be provided under this legislation that it will take many years to house all those who are eligible for this accommodation. I realise that not all who are entitled to benefit from this measure would need other accommodation, that they may have good accommodation already. The Bill makes no provision for the invalid pensioners who are 46,520 in number and who may be more deserving of accommodation. Nor is provision made for the widowed, of whom at present there are some 20,590 in Australia. They may be deserving of better accommodation, but it is only certain aged pensioners who qualify for supplementary assistance who may benefit from the Act.
– Is the honourable senator talking of widows of all ages?
– Yes. There is no provision for alternative accommodation for the needy. The Bill will provide accommodation for a section of the community, and the allocation of that accommodation which may or may not provide for the needy will be left to the States. In that respect the Bill falls far short of what is required. Clause 4 (3.) states:
In this section, ‘self-contained dwelling’ does not include a dwelling that is designed for occupation by more than one person at a time.
Therefore the person must be a single person. The housing authorities of all the States have been providing some sort of pensioner homes for many years. They have made provision for the pensioner couple as well as the single pensioner. I do not think there has been any difference in the construction of the homes. This has permitted the allocation of homes according to the greatest need; that is, to pensioner couples.
But the only person who can qualify under this legislation is the single person. Senator Little said on one occasion that under the Social Services Act there is more benefit in living in sin than in living legitimately, as we all hope people will live. This Bill does not make provision for two people to live together. The important point is that the States have been providing reasonable homes for either single pensioners or pensioner couples, and the homes have been all the same. But this legislation stipulates that the home must not be a dwelling that is designed for occupation by more than one person at a time. How do we distinguish between a home that is designed for occupation by one person and a home that is designed for occupation by a pensioner couple?
– A woman will not bc able to have her daughter come and visit her and stay the night.
– That will be the position. Of course, the homes that will be erected will be such that they will accommodate two people, but only one person will occupy them. So there is only one way to meet this definition: The rooms must be made smaller. The impossibility of getting a second bed into the bodroom must be an essential factor in this definition. So we see that the Government is taking the attitude of reducing the standard.
In my view Senator Young’s contribution was pathetic. He talked about taking power away from the States. Here is a case of a centralised authority imposing upon the States the standard of house that they must build in order to receive the benefit under this legislation. We are deciding that the States have to erect dwellings that are not designed for occupation by more than one person at a time. The dwellings must be inferior to what we have at the present time. I do not know what they will be classified as when they appear in our various capital cities. Everyone knows of single men’s quarters and dog boxes. There seems to be a habit of attaching names to things, and ‘dog boxes’ seems to be the name that will attach itself to the homes that are proposed to be built under this legislation.
The Labor Party has circulated the amendments that it intends to move. We will seek to amend clause 4 (3.) to read:
In this section, ‘self-contained dwelling’ does not include a dwelling that is designed for occupation by more than two persons at a time.
If a pensioner couple are deserving of better housing, should they be rejected because we have not made provision for them under this legislation? Who will say that the single person who is living in good accommodation at present is more deserving of a home under this legislation than are the pensioner couple who are living in poorer accommodation? What would be the position of an invalid partner who may be a burden on the household? The attitude of the other partner would be: If the powers that be would only accept him, I could then get one of these homes and not live in the slums in which I am living at the present time. This is a humane question that needs consideration.
I refer now to the matter Senator Bishop raised and the amendment the Labor Party will move in that respect. I recognise that these homes will be under State administration. One could expect the States to provide reasonable terms and conditions for the maintenance of the homes. In South Australia at the present time the rent is $2.40 for a single dwelling and $4 for a double unit. These amounts fluctuate from time to time as maintenance costs increase or decrease. Of course, maintenance costs do not decrease, so these amounts must increase. There is some justification for increases from time to time. But how do we know what will be the response of a particular government, no matter what parly is in office? How do we know that one of the six States wilt not decide to supplement its revenue by imposing an exorbitant rental on a particular type of home? Senator Bishop seeks to prevent that by the Commonwealth Minister having a say in the supervision and control of the homes. Whilst we may have faith in the Government, he bases his argument on the fact that the simple granting of money to organisations in the past has been abused. Whilst Senator Marriott can refer to some homes which are deposit free-
– Most homes.
– No, not most homes. That is not right. I ask the Senate to consider matters that I have raised before. I have referred to Elderly Citizens Homes of South Australia Incorporated, which is a private company. We do not know who will own the homes or what will become of them when that company winds up. I say that the transactions and operations of that company warrant investigation. T have also referred to Aged Cottage Homes Incorporated. I do not suggest that there is anything crooked there because the chairman of that company is Sir Keith Wilson, who was a member of this Parliament and who has the respect of quite a few people.
The tenants entered these homes by the payment of $2,000 for entry on the understanding that 20% would be payable as future rents. That was not actually in the agreements that some people signed. These people entered the homes believing full well that their commitment for the homes was to the extent of their $2,000 key money plus a maintenance charge of $2 a week. Because of the increase that has been imposed on these elderly tenants, there is a revolt among them at the present time. It has reached such a stage that a report appeared in the ‘Advertiser’ on Saturday 13 th September to the effect that they had a deputation to the Chief Secretary of South Australia. The report in the ‘Advertiser’, under the heading ‘Rent Raised - Old People Air Their Grievances’, states:
Grievances of tenants of old people’s cottages in Magill and other suburbs would be brought to the attention of the Attorney-General, the Chief Secretary (Mr DeGaris) told representatives of the Aged Cottage Homes Occupants’ Committee yesterday.
These people have formed a committee. Further on the report stated:
About a dozen of the 550 tenants have been given notice to quit by October 10 unless they pay arrears resulting from their refusal to pay a 40c-a-week rent increase, which began on April 1, and sign tenancy agreements.
What is happening? Here we have a revolt by aged persons who thought that the Government was assisting them. We are faced with the fact that an organisation was formed to assist and protect a dozen aged tenants upon whom eviction orders have been served. This is not something of which we can be proud. It is not something which is making homes available, whatever the limited period of occupancy of these homes is. We cannot let this Bill be passed without ensuring that we have some supervision over the control of these homes. The amendment which has been foreshadowed by Senator Bishop is worthy of more consideration than the sneers and ridicule to which it has been subjected in the Senate.
[9.2] - -in reply - I rise as the final speaker in the second reading debate. Firstly, I point out that many honourable senators opposite have confined their remarks not to the Bill we are discussing, but to another Act entirely. Of course, I can reply only to this Bill, because that is the legislation before the chamber. This Bill is new legislation. It is a new form of assistance to those people who are most in need of adequate housing. The Bill is designed to grant financial assistance to the States for the erection of self-contained accommodation for single age pensioners. (Quorum formed.) I also refer to the comment made by Senator Cavanagh, that this legislation did not help those people really in need. This statement is completely ridiculous, it is quite absurd and it is completely distorting the Bill that is before the chamber. Senator Cavanagh should know, not only from my remarks in my second reading speech, but also from his knowledge of this matter, that State housing authorities do not make accommodation available for people who already have suitable and adequate accommodation. The Bill is designed to provide accommodation for single aged persons and for those who do not have adequate and decent housing in which to live. So I contradict sharply the remarks made by Senator Cavanagh.
I deal further with the remarks of the last speaker first. Senator Cavanagh said that this Bill makes available grants for the erection of dwellings for certain single age pensioners. The Bill does in fact do this, because these people constitute the great bulk of the State housing authorities’ waiting lists. Through this Bill we are seeking to channel assistance to the area of greatest need, and I would have thought that that would have been the area to which Senator Cavanagh and other honourable senators would have been directing their attention.
– What about people who live in a brick kiln?
– I have told the honourable senator that these are the areas of greatest need - the single age pensioners living under the most deplorable conditions and receiving only the pension. These are the people who come within this category. This is the area of need which will be assisted by the State housing authorities through this legislation. Senator Cavanagh also referred to invalid pensioners and to age pensioner couples. I say to him in reply that of course we appreciate the problems facing these particular persons. This Government has always shown its concern for invalid pensioners and age pensioner couples who are in need of housing, but they do not present quite the same problem to State housing authorities as do eligible single age pensioners. As they have done in the past, the States will continue to provide more suitable homes for these people from the other funds available to them, including moneys advanced to them under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. The States are doing a considerable amount of work in this field.
Senator Cavanagh also referred to the size of accommodation. Again I thought that his comments were quite unfair and quite unreasonable, because if he had read my second reading speech, which I had imagined he would have done, he would have read these words:
Projects to be built with our advances wm only be approved if they are to be provided in localities in which there is a demonstrable need, and if the homes to be erected will be of an adequate size and standard . .. -
– For one person.
– Of course it is for one person, because we are catering for eligible single people - people in most need; people who require assistance more than anybody else. We are assisting these people, and I am sure that Senator Cavanagh really wants them to be assisted, but he spoke in the fashion in which he did tonight because he wants to play some sort of a game of politics. As I have already mentioned, some of the remarks of Senator Poke, who opened this debate on behalf of the Opposition, dealt with another Act. I cannot deal with those remarks.
– The same problem occurs.
– I have not come to Senator Bishop’s remarks yet.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The Minister does not want any assistance.
– Thank you very much, Mr Deputy President, but 1 am fine. Referring to the matters raised by Senator Poke, f want to clear up some misunderstanding concerning his remarks, because he seems not to understand all the points of the Bill. As 1 said previously, this Bill is designed to provide an entirely new form of assistance by the Commonwealth in the field of housing for the needy aged. Tt is quite distinct from the Aged Persons Homes Act, which is excellent legislation and which has done a tremendous amount to help people throughout the length and breadth of this land. But, as I say, it is a piece of legislation distinct from that. Although 1 interrupted Senator Poke and endeavoured to show him the error of his ways, he still seemed to think that this Bill included the matching provision which is contained in other legislation, whereby the Government makes grants to religious and charitable organisations on the basis of $2 for every $1 contributed by the organisation. This Bill provides for outright grants of $25m to the States over this financial year and the next 4 financial years for the erection of selfcontained units for single age pensioners. The grants are intended to supplement the considerable efforts the States are making and will continue to make. This is very important because this is the way in which we will overcome this problem of housing the needy aged which affects so many people. If we add to the States’ effort the money made available under this grant, the States will then be able to make a concerted attack on the serious plight of these people. So for this reason we are asking the States to undertake not to reduce the level of their expenditure on aged persons units in recent years.
I think that because of clause 6 Senator Poke was mislead a little in reading this legislation, but I think Senator Cavanagh really has already explained it to him and I thank the honourable senator for assisting me in this manner. I would like to explain it again and I want to make it quite clear for those who may not have heard the explanation from the honourable senator that clause 6 does not require the States to make matching contributions from their own resources in order to obtain these grants. Clause 6 simply provides that the States will ensure that the amount of grant they receive under the Bill will be expended on approved building schemes for which the grants were made. In other words, if a State receives a grant of S50.000 for an approved building scheme it must ensure that $50,000 is spent on the approved scheme.
– But it is stupidly worded, is it not?
– No, ] think it is the correct way. and our legal friends have agreed on this. I now turn to Senator Bishop’s queries. He spent most of his speech on another Act, if I may say so, and referred rather briefly to this Bill. But he did make a point which I would like to reply to. He referred to the need for continuing supervision and control over the dwellings erected with the Commonwealth’s grant under this Bill. I believe that as he made this comment he did so with a very real regard and concern for these people who arc to be assisted in this way and he foreshadowed that an amendment would be moved at the Committee stage. I would like to say to Senator Bishop that this Bill will provide grants to the States for the erection of the dwellings by the State housing authorities and their subsequent administration by these authorities.
The States will not be permitted to pass on the moneys to private organisations. By his comment I thought this was one of the matters which concerned him, and as I explained in reply to Senator Poke this Bill is an entirely new measure and is quite distinct from the Aged Persons Homes Act.
– Do you say that clause 4 of the Bill means that it is completely restricted to the State housing authorities?
– This money will be paid to the States.
– The Bill says ‘a building scheme approved by the Minister’.
– And my approval will be given only to the States. I have to approve every project and my approval will not be given to anyone but the State housing authorities.
– It will only be the State housing authority, will it?
-I think we will have all these points dealt with when the amendment is moved at the Committee stage. Honourable senators will be given my assurance on these points. Senator Drury referred to the possibility of the State housing authorities increasing rentals beyond what pensioners can afford. I would say to Senator Drury that his statement is. I think, quite unfair to the housing authorities because they have been providing dwellings for aged pensioners for years and the rentals have been most reasonable. 1 am satisfied that they are as interested as we are in seeing that the rentals continue to be within the capacity of the pensioners to pay. The main concern of the housing authorities is to house people.
– Why does this need still remain?
– Because we want more accommodation for these people and that is just what this Bill is for - to make it possible to have more accommodation built so that there will be more available. Both the States and the Commonwealth are working together for this cause and towards this end. So the main concern of the housing authorities is to house people in decency and in dignity; they are out to ease the burdens of pensioners, not to increase them. They have already done splendid work in this field. 1 thank both Senator Davidson and Senator young, who have both recognised what this Bill will do, for the comments they have made and the interest they have taken. As we now come to the end of the second reading debate I thank honourable senators for the comments they have made and the obvious interest that they have in the housing of aged persons. I believe that this piece of legislation, a new initiative in this area, will bring to eligible pensioners accommodation which will mean in their later years security, happiness and comfortable living. I have much pleasure in supporting the legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4. (1.) Subject to this section, the Minister may, for the purposes of this Act, by instrument in writing, approve a building scheme in connection with the provision of self-contained dwellings for eligible pensioners.
– I move:
I move this amendment in view of the wording of sub-clause (2.). I feel that the amendment which I have moved would give the Minister a continuing control over the money which is to be expended under the Bill.I think it is necessary to make sub-clause (2.) of clause 4 really workable and really effective. In closing the second reading debate the Minister thanked honourable senators for the interest they displayed in aged persons homes whether it be under this Bill or under some other legislation. It is very nice to have the Minister thank us for our interest in such schemes. We on this side of the chamber have displayed as much interest in these
Bills as Government members have displayed. The Minister said that we have taken quite an interest in this Bill. I sincerely hope that the Minister will accept this amendment in the spirit in which we propose it. I have moved the amendment only to ensure that something is done to help the aged persons. The amendment will ensure that the Commonwealth, which, under the provisions of the Bill, will spend the money, will have proper control over the money received under the provisions of the Bill and over the administration of the money. That is the main purpose of the amendment.
– Why is not that covered by clause 7?
– Who said anything about clause 7?
– Why is not that covered by clause 7?
– Does the honourable senator wish to make a speech on this subject?
– No. I am asking for information.
– If the honourable senator wishes to make a speech he can do so after I have completed my remarks. I find it very disconcerting to have to interrupt his interjections. The honourable senator can make his speech after I have concluded mine.
– Order! Senator Poke will address his remarks to the Chair.
– I think the Commonwealth Government, which is responsible for finding most of the money to be provided under this Act, should accept responsibility for the administration of the Act. This is all we ask. I am sorry that the Minister made some mention about us playing politics. No doubt one could put this ball back into the Government’s court. The Government is playing politics also. It is playing politics with this Bill as it did with the Aged Persons Homes Bill. The Government is shivering and shaking in its shoes because it knows what will happen on 25th October. It is giving bits and pieces here and there, a few thousand dollars here and a few million dollars there, something lo help Sir Henry Bolte, something to help Mr Askin, something to help Mr Hall in South Australia and so on. At this point of time the Government is trying to find every dollar that it possibly can to appeal to the electors so that it will be returned on 25th October. This Bill, as with every other Bill introduced during the latter part of the session, will not do the Government any good because it will be defeated anyway. I have moved my amendment. I should not have been lured into a discussion in this vein. I hope that the remarks that I have made do not harm the chances of success of my amendment. 1 ask the Minister to forget some of the things I said and to treat the amendment in all sincerity because I have moved it in all sincerity.
[9.24] - The proposed amendment is not acceptable to the Government because we regard it as both unnecessary and, I would say, offensive to the States. The reason given by Senator Poke for moving this amendment is that the Commonwealth should have legislative powers to prevent the State housing authorities at some time in the future charging rents that the persons occupying the dwellings are unable to afford. Although the Bill does not give specific powers to the Commonwealth regarding rents, in my second reading speech I made it clear that the projects will be approved and the grants made only if the dwellings are to be offered at reasonable rentals. Honourable senators will recall my stating that in my second reading speech. Furthermore, we have stressed to the States that the rentals must be what single aged pensioners can afford to pay. I cannot accept that the Commonwealth needs legislative powers to enforce the States’ compliance with our conditions or that any detailed supervision of this kind will be necessary. I remind honourable senators, who are trying to interject, that the States are providing this form of accommodation already. This legislation will assist them to do more of this.
– In speaking to clause 4, I endorse what Senator Poke has said.
– Not all of it?
– Even to the extent of his prognostication of the election result on 25th October. I am sure he is right. I contradict what Senator Greenwood implied by his interjection. In a vein of frank and intelligent discussion Senator Greenwood would admit that clause 7 does not seek to cover the position that Senator Poke’s amendment seeks to cover. Senator Poke’s amendment seeks to maintain an interest in the supervision of and in the administration of any approved scheme. Clause 7 refers to the Commonwealth Minister having power over construction, etc.
The Minister must have a very short memory. She relies very much on what she said in her second reading speech. Especially solidly constructed houses could last for 100 years. I doubt whether the Minister will be here in 100 years time to say: ‘I said this and I will see that it is carried out’. If she had a better memory she would remember one occasion on which I was let down badly when an Act did not say what the second reading speech did. 1 refer to the Homes Savings Grant Act. My information is that many young people were deprived of the benefits available to them under that Act because I reported to them what the Minister told me in his second reading speech. Second reading speeches do not bind any authority. What binds an authority is what is in the Act.
I ask for some guidance from you, Madam Temporary Chairman, as to my position. Senator Poke has moved an amendment to sub-clause (2.) of Clause 4. He seeks to introduce a new sub-clause (2a.). After the amendment has been dealt with I shall seek to move an amendment to sub-clause (3.) of Clause 4. I indicated that during the second reading debate. As we are dealing with sub-clause (2.), will I leave my amendment until a decision is reached on Senator Poke’s amendment?
– Yes. Senator Poke’s amendment comes first. We will deal with Senator Poke’s amendment.
– I did not want to be excluded from discussing my amendment to sub-clause (3.) of Clause 4.
– I support what Senator Poke said. I do not think the Minister has answered Senator Poke. What Senator Poke has argued, and it seems to me to be the position, is this: The Minister and the Government approve only the initial arrangements. The intention of the Bill is to provide a reasonable accommodation at a reasonable rent, but that is only at the point of the contract. It is only at the point at which the programme put forward by the State Government is approved by the Minister. After that the Commonwealth Government has no further control, except in relation to new projects. That is the position as we see it. I think the Government accepts that. We are quite satisfied that it is a wrong position. As we pointed out in respect of other legislation, a State housing approved scheme can deteriorate and become not the kind of accommodation which the Commonwealth ought to approve when allocating this money. In addition, extra burdens could be imposed on the aged single pensioners by way of increased charges imposed by the State housing authority.
Certainly the Commonwealth expenditure is a large amount. Its expenditure is achieving a purpose which is subverted by State action in relation to accommodation which the State might accept as an approved building scheme. In the light of the experience which the Government has had with the other piece of legislation, it seems to us that the Government should accept the amendment which has been proposed by Senator Poke or say tonight that it accepts the principle and will consider what can be done about it.
I come to my second point. Perhaps some honourable senators with legal experience have ideas that are different from mine. I am not a lawyer but I am sure that some lawyers will agree with certain of my statements and that others will disagree with them. I want a guarantee about the point I am about to raise because the Minister has argued substantially against our proposition that the legislation is at fault in view of the failure of the aged persons homes legislation. She has said that the intention is to approve these schemes in the context of the State housing authorities. Sub-clause 1 of clause 4 provides:
Subject to this section, the Minister may, for the purposes of this Act, by instrument in writing, approve a building scheme . . . lt does not refer to a State housing authority building scheme. In sub-clause 2 the same prescription is restated as follows:
The Minister may, in pursuance of the last preceding sub-section, approve a building scheme formulated. . . .
That means that the Minister may approve a scheme which was on the drawing board but she may not approve a scheme which was commenced. We would be very interested to learn what the legislation intends. Is it intended, and if it is intended why does not the Act so prescribe, that these schemes have to be formulated by the State government and the State housing authority? That is a very important issue. I do not say that the State housing authority cannot give us some trouble because my experience in South Australia has been that members of this Parliament and of the State Parliament have had many occasions to go to the State government about the charges made by the State housing authority, and we have succeeded in having the charges reduced and consideration extended in special cases. We have had the same situation with the railways and other public organisations. It may be that the State housing authority building project may be easier to control but that does not remove the kind of faults which I have mentioned. At any rate, if it is the Government’s intention to do this, it seems to me that there should be a clear expression in the Bill that it is restricted to State housing authorities.
– I rise very willingly to oppose this amendment. It seems to me that the argument which has been put forward by Opposition senators who have participated in the debate is based, first, on a fundamental fallacy in their interpretation of the Bill; secondly, on an assumption that something is necessary which quite clearly is unnecessary; and thirdly, on a basis that is wrong in principle. I would have thought that a perusal of the provisions of the Bill would demonstrate clearly that each of the points I have made could be shown to be true. Senator Bishop said that the Minister may approve a scheme and that once the approval has been given there is no further provision in the Bill by which the Minister can check that the scheme which she approved is being carried out.
– That is right.
– I am glad to have Senator Bishop’s concurrence in my statement of his objection. I think it is completely wrong. Clause 4 (1.) of the Bill, to which an amendment has been proposed, provides:
Subject to this section, the Minister may, for the purposes of this Act, by instrument in writing, approve a building scheme in connection with the provision of self-contained dwellings for eligible pensioners.
That is what the whole Bill is about. By clause 5 the Minister is empowered to authorise payment to a State in relation to an approved building scheme of such amounts as, subject to the Act, the Minister determines. That provides for the payment of money to a State. Clause 6 states:
Payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to the condition that the State will ensure that an amount equal to that amount-
That is, the amount which has been advanced by the Commonwealth - is expended, as approved by the Minister-
I ask Senator Bishop to note the words ‘as approved by the Minister’ - in connection with the approved building scheme in relation to which the payment was authorised.
Once those provisions are in the legislation the Minister has a continuing control over the scheme. In other connections and for other purposes I would be prepared to argue that if a Minister exercised that power in the way that Ministers have exercised it in relation to other Bills, it would represent an unnecessary and undesirable intrusion by a Commonwealth Minister into what are the essential functions of a State instrumentality. But to argue, as I understand Senator Poke, Senator Cavanagh and Senator Bishop argue, that this denies to the Commonwealth Minister any control whatsoever is, I think, to give no meaning to those words. As though that was not necessary, it will be seen that clause 7 gives the Minister power, whenever she wishes, to request a State to report as to the progress of the work and the expected rate of further progress of the work.
– That is right - report as to the progress of the work.
– I appreciate from Senator Bishop’s interjection that he seems to think that a report as to the progress of the work is a rather limited kind of report. 1 challenge that interpretation. If the Minister wants to know how the work is going and how it will go in the future, there is almost no limit on what can be requested under that broad description ‘progress of the work’. It is an added power or authority that the Minister has to keep control of the progress of the work.
As to the third point on this aspect, clause 9 of the Bill indicates that if a State does not do what the Minister requires the State to do in connection with an approved scheme, the Minister may rely upon a condition in the clause requiring the State to repay that amount of money to the Commonwealth. I suppose it is a little unreal to expect that the Commonwealth will take a State to court to get the money back, but. it is a useful sanction and it is the kind of sanction which is contained in many pieces of legislation relating to States grants and is practically effective for the purpose for which it is inserted. Accordingly, I think a perusal of these provisions indicates that the whole of the case built up by the Opposition for this particular amendment is based upon a fallacy.
Because the same arguments apply to the second point I raised, the case which the Opposition makes for this amendment is unnecessary. The power is effectively there to ensure what Senator Poke, by his amendment, is seeking to ensure, namely, that the Minister shall maintain an interest in and supervision of the administration of any approved scheme. My third reason for opposing the amendment takes an entirely different tack from that of the Opposition. I think that the clauses of the Bill are quite adequate to give to the Minister this overall supervision of the scheme to ensure that what she approves as a building scheme is being carried out.
Let us not forget that this is a measure whereby the Commonwealth proposes to give moneys to the States to enable the States to complement their existing activities by building homes which aged single pensioners who are in need can occupy. The States have a great backlog of demand in this area. We have recognised that the backlog is there and are giving some complementary assistance to enable the States to give effect to a desirable objective. That being the objective, I think it has to be recognised that it is the State housing authority which is carrying out the actual provision of a home. Why should the Commonwealth decide that when it makes a grant of this character it can intrude into a State area and rule upon the type of dwelling to be constructed? If any honourable senator opposite is prepared to stand in the Senate and say that he wants the Commonwealth to take over the function of the State housing authorities to further advance Labor’s broad centralist philosophy, let him do so, because that is the tendency Labor is exhibiting at the moment.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder! There are too many interjections.
– I suspect, Madam Temporary Chairman, from the difficulty you have in obtaining order - and I mean no disrespect by that remark - that honourable senators opposite are really caught on this point. With the approaching election, members of the Opposition do not want to suggest that they are trying to establish in Australia a monolithic Socialist policy that all power should be centred in Canberra. But unfortunately, because their masters in the lower House have undoubtedly directed, together with their masters outside Parliament, that this type of amendment be proposed, honourable senators opposite have pursued this essentially centralist philosophy type of amendment.
If honourable senators opposite wanted to be judged by what they say and the type of amendment that they move, there could be no better amendment than has been proposed in this debate, which indicates the authoritarian policy of power centred in Canberra. For my part, I feel that matters such as room sizes and facilities in rooms, and whether the various requirements of the uniform building regulations are to be observed are not matters for the Commonwealth to impose according to the whim or desires of a dedicated Commonwealth officer - and I am prepared so to describe him - centred in Canberra or exercising Commonwealth authority in a capital city.
These are State functions and ought to be so regarded. In accordance with the overall Liberal philosophy in respect of assistance to the States, the Commonwealth Government will provide assistance over a broad area in which money is to be spent, and the carrying out of the details of the application of the money within that broad sphere will be left to the States. But that is not the viewpoint which Senator Bishop and many other spokesmen of the Labor Party have put forward, I believe that the provisions of this Bill are in accordance with what ought to be a desirable relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. The Commonwealth provides moneys to the States to carry out objectives, and this is a reasonable policy. 1 hope that the Senate will reject emphatically the intention of the Labor Party - and thank goodness it will never be given a chance to put it into effect - to institute its broad centralising policy. I believe that the amendment proposed by the Opposition should be rejected.
– I think it is necessary for me to reply to a few of the statements made by Senator Greenwood. In order to be brief I will ignore the political propaganda in which he engaged towards the end of his speech. I think it is below contempt. I also think that Senator Greenwood discredited his natural powers of interpretation by knowingly seeking to misinform the Senate. The amendment proposed by the Opposition seeks to maintain for the Commonwealth an interest in the supervision of the buildings provided under this legislation. Senator Greenwood has pointed out that a Commonwealth Minister has initially full control of the scheme. But after the money has been paid to a State and that State has met the requirements of the Act by saying that it has spent the money provided, the power of the Commonwealth Minister over the scheme ceases. The amendment proposed by the Opposition seeks to maintain supervision by the Commonwealth. As I stated earlier tonight when speaking in support of the proposed amendment, it is desirable in view of the length of time that a building will stand. If I were to sink to the depths plumbed by Senator Greenwood I would say that after 25th October he may be unemployed and could end up as Premier of a State. We must provide safeguards for the future. Senator Greenwood relies for his argument upon the proposed section 4(1.) which provides:
Subject to this section, the Minister may, for the purposes of this Act, by instrument in writing, approve a building scheme in connection with the provision of self-contained dwellings for eligible pensioners.
The proposed section gives to the Commonwealth Minister the right to approve a scheme to be built. The honourable senator went on to refer to the proposed section 5, which states, in part: (2.) The Minister shall not authorise the payment to a State under the last preceding subsection of an amount that exceeds, or of amounts that exceed in the aggregate, the amount specified in the Schedule opposite to the name of that State.
That provision relates only to a restriction on the Minister not to over-allocate to a State. The honourable senator then referred to the proposed section 6, which states:
Payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to the condition that the State will ensure that an amount equal to that amount is expended, as approved by the Minister, in connection with the approved building scheme in relation to which the payment was authorised.
That provision relates only to approval by the Minister of an amount that the Commonwealth is prepared to allocate and has nothing to do with control and supervision. It provides for payment of moneys after construction of a building. The proposed section 7 provides:
In addition to the condition specified in the last preceding section, payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to the condition that the State will, whenever requested by the Minister, furnish to the Minister a report as to the progress of work, and the expected rate of further progress of work, in connection with the approved building scheme in relation to which the payment was authorised-
The whole Bill relates to building construction. In desperation Senator Greenwood finally turned to the proposed section 9, which states:
In addition to the conditions specified in any other provision of this Act, payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to the condition that-
if the Minister informs the Treasurer of the State that he is satisfied that the State has failed to fulfil a condition applicable to that amount, the State will repay that amount to the Commonwealth; and
if that amount exceeds the amount properly payable, the State will repay the excess to the Commonwealth.
Again, that has nothing to do with occupancy of a building.
– Does the honourable senator say the amendment is related to that?
– Yes, that is the whole intention of the amendment. There has been a great deal of discussion on this point and honourable senators on this side of the chamber are disgusted with the treatment meted out to tenants of buildings constructed with finance provided under the Aged Persons Homes Act. We say that that treatment would never be permitted to continue if the Minister had control of the administration of the homes. We may have full confidence in any government that must administer this scheme. These are our homes that the Commonwealth is building. We are looking forward possibly 100 years and what may be the evolution with the State governments within those 100 years. This money is being spent for the relief of a section of the community. Rather than just giving this money away, we should have a continuing interest and duty to see that what is built with the money is maintained in the way in which we believe these homes should be maintained in the spending of this money. The amendment provides that the Commonwealth will maintain an interest in what is made possible by the expenditure of this money. Senator Greenwood has not destroyed the amendment. He went off at a tangent. His remarks were entirely irrelevant to the amendment.
– Perhaps the attention of the Committee might be drawn to clause 8 which relates to ‘Information to be furnished by States’. This clause is preceded by clauses 6 and 7 which lay down certain conditions. Clause 6 states:
Payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to . . . a certain condition. Clause 7 provides:
In addition to the condition specified in the last preceding section, payment of an amount to a State under this Act is subject to . . . a further condition. Tn addition to the conditions specified in clauses 6 and 7, clause 8 also sets out a series of other conditions in regard to the information to be furnished by the States. The interesting one possibly is sub-clause (c) of clause 8 (1 .), which provides: such further information, if any. as the Minister requires in relation to the provision by the States during that financial year of self-contained dwellings for aged persons.
That financial year’ is referred to in clause 8 (1 .) which provides:
In addition to the conditions specified in the last two preceding sections, the grant of financial assistance to a State under this Act in a financial year is subject to the conditions that the State shall furnish to the Minister as soon as practicable after the end of that financial year. . . .
Therefore, 8 (1 .) (c) refers to ‘that financial year’.
– The honourable senator should look at paragraph (a). 1 was referring to construction.
– No. Paragraph (c) states: such further information, if any, as the Minister requires in relation to the provision by the State during that financial year of self-contained dwellings for aged persons.
The paragraph does not necessarily go to construction. It deals with the moneys expended by a State in relation to the provision by that State of self-contained dwellings for aged persons. It could well be interpreted to go far beyond the mere construction. lt could go to repairs and to everything of that character. It could very well go to them. Therefore, a condition is written in by paragraph (c) which means that before the Commonwealth makes a grant for the succeeding year it can ask for information as to how the grant for the former financial year was spent by a State in relation to the provision of homes for aged persons. Therefore the Commonwealth can in relation to this control very substantially-
– How does it control the allocation of rent?
– This paragraph can be very widely interpreted because it is written in very wide terms. Paragraph (c) provides: such further information, if any. as the Minister requires in relation to the provision by the State during that financial year of self-contained dwellings for aged persons.
That can be very widely interpreted to include moneys going beyond sheer construction and to other aspects of the provision of self-contained dwellings for aged persons. Insofar as any control is exercised by the Commonwealth, it could well be in a liberal interpretation of this sub-clause that this is a type of scrutiny - not very strict discipline, but a reasonably and efficiently loose discipline - so that the Commonwealth must be satisfied that certain standards are being observed and that the moneys to be expended are properly allowed for. I would suggest that possibly reasonably adequate power exists here. Even though much more strict discipline is required by the amendment, I think, as I said originally, that it is undesirable. There is a loose scrutiny but a sufficient scrutiny possibly to satisfy the Commonwealth of the underspending or the adequate spending of money.
If we look at clause 8(1. )(a) we see that the State is required to furnish to the Minister: a statement setting out the amounts expended by the State . . . accompanied by a certificate of the Auditor-General. . . .
In other words, the Auditor-General must certify not only that the moneys have been spent but also, no doubt, that they have been put to adequate and proper use. The report of the Auditor-General to this Parliament shows where queries have been raised with departments where this has not been done. So, I suggest that reasonably adequate power is granted by the nature of this legislation and by the manner and the way in which the grants are channelled through to the States. The Commonwealth shows a reluctance to exercise too strict a discipline but confers upon the States the liberty of action in the confidence that in a spirit of mutual co-operation these people will be helped adequately and rapidly.
– It appears to me that the discussion on this amendment has confused two quite salient facts. The first is that, as the title of the Bill indicates, this is a Bill to grant financial assistance to the States in connection with the provision of self-contained dwellings for certain aged pensioners. I interpret the word ‘provision’ in that heading after an examination of all the clauses in the Bill as meaning the construction of self-contained dwellings. Accordingly, the whole concept and purpose of the Bill is related to the construction of buildings. The purpose of the Bill is to grant moneys to the States to enable the States through their existing instrumentalities or, conceivably, through any other way which the Minister for Housing approves, to build houses for certain aged pensioners, That is one fact which is quite important.
The other fact which seems to me to be inherent in what Senator Cavanagh has expounded is that the purpose of the amendment moved by Senator Poke is to give the Commonwealth in some way some control over the occupancy of whatever buildings a State provides. I would say that at the very outset that right is outside the scope and intendment of this provision. I say three things in relation to it. The first is in respect of the argument which Senator Byrne raises. Although I would to a limited degree accede to what he suggests is the meaning of paragraph (c) of clause 8 (1.) in that the Minister may require information in a particular year as to the provision by a State of self-contained dwellings for aged persons, quite obviously ‘self-contained dwellings’ is an expression which is not limited to selfcontained dwellings which have been constructed under the provisions of this Act. It relates to all self-contained dwellings. Therefore, the Minister can get a general impression or a general picture of what the housing position is in a State with regard to single dwellings for aged pensioners.
But I do not know whether this provision would permit - and I believe personally that it would not permit - the Commonwealth in any way to exercise any control over the conditions of occupancy by which a State permits a person to enter into one of these dwellings. The second point that I wish to make is that even if that is the intention of the amendment moved by Senator Poke, I would think with all respect to the draftsman of that amendment that it is not sufficient to give effect to that intention. The amendment provides simply that-
– Do not try to read something into it which is not in it.
– Let me first read what the honourable senator has moved as his amendment. His amendment simply reads:
I make simple points with regard to that. The words ‘approved scheme’ are meaningless. The expression used in the Bill is approved building scheme’. If by the words ‘approved scheme’ it is intended to mean ‘approved building scheme’, the honourable senator is dealing simply with a proposed construction. Accordingly, I think that there would be nothing in the amendment to enable the Minister to maintain control over general occupancy.
The third point that I would make in opposition to this amendment is a repetition of what I said earlier. I apply what I earlier said to the new circumstances.
– The honourable senator has shifted his ground on the other argument.
– I do not say that 1 have shifted my ground. I certainly have altered my argument and this is only in response to what the honourable senator has said. I have argued simply that, if what the Opposition intends by this amendment is to give to the Commonwealth some control over the occupancy provisions, the amendment in its language is not effective to give that power. 1 proceed from that point.
– It extends the power under the Bill.
– I feel that in principle the Minister should not have that control over occupancy. It is not for the Commonwealth to determine whom the States shall allow into one of these dwellings. The State has a variety of housing programmes. The State housing authority will be establishing these homes. The State has its own waiting list and can make its own choices. Why should the Commonwealth endeavour to interfere with the State in the exercise of that function? I am happy to find that the Opposition is not prepared to challenge that point, because once it does challenge that point I suggest it gives some credence to Senator Poke’s amendment. Until the Opposition challenges it, it accepts what I am saying, which is that the State’s function and the Commonwealth’s function in this field are separate. That is what the Bill recognises. That is what the Act is designed to perpetuate and in principle I think it is right. I think that the new interpretation canvassed by Senator Cavanagh falls for the same reason as the old interpretation propounded by Senator Poke.
– I put it to Senator Greenwood that all that he has done is to try to be plausible. On the last occasion when he spoke he argued that this Bill had provisions which would bring about the sort of thing for which Senator Poke is trying to provide, that is, a continuing interest in the operation of the scheme. What is the scheme? The honourable senator may play with words if he likes. Lawyers are famous for this.
– It is a building scheme.
– Let us talk about the scheme as we understand the legislation. The honourable senator is not supporting the intention of the Government. This is what Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin said:
Experience has shown that, when they can be moved into adequate modern’ housing, their health frequently improves and their life expectation is increased. If they are required to pay only a reasonable rent, their financial worries arc reduced and more of their pension is available to provide them with a modest standard of living.
– You read accurately, but what does that get you?
– The honourable senator should listen to me for a change. The objects of the Government as we understand them are to provide, firstly, reasonable accommodation in the sort of environment which would be pleasing and suitable socially and, secondly, reasonable rents. The honourable senator first, tried to argue that this could be done. Once the first building scheme has been constructed, paid for and commissioned, that is the end of Commonwealth influence. The honourable senator may talk as much as he likes. He turned right around and said that this was right. Then he said that this sort of thing represented the federalist idea of the Labor Party, a monolithic centralist control, and he was against it. He said that we could achieve what was sought under the legislation and he read provisions which anybody can read as circumscribing the power of the Minister. Then he said: ‘Anyway, I am against the whole principle’. Senator Byrne did the same thing. He will not vote for the amendment and he does not agree with Commonwealth control. He referred us to clause 8(1.), which relates to information to be furnished by the States and suggested that it means something more than it does. The provision is that in a financial year the States are required to supply details to the Commonwealth Government. Clause 8(1 .)(c) refers to:
What we are seeking - and we thought we had established a pretty good case on the evidence - is a continuing Influence for the good in two respects. We think it is a good thing to have an improved standard of accommodation which is suitable, properly protected from the weather, modern, at reasonable rentals. We think that this accommodation for pensioners is to be preferred.
But when a contract building scheme is finished and the tenants are in, that is the end of the story, because the only control that the Commonwealth then has is in relation to prospective programmes in each of the succeeding 5 years. In each of those years it can say to the State: ‘What are you doing this year? Are you building homes at Clarence Gardens where Bishop lives or at Magill where Mr Wilson lives?’ Senator Byrne and Senator Greenwood first thought that control was a good idea and that it might be provided in the Bill. Once we have established the concept of the legislation, that is, to do these things for pensioners, it is of no use unless we can continue to maintain the standard. It is of no use if the accommodation gets worse over the years because of age, deterioration, bad building standards or bad plumbing, or if the rents go up. We want to avoid deteriorating standards and the subverting of the purposes of the legislation. We have given proof that the intention of the Aged Persons Homes Act has been subverted. This should not happen again. We want the Commonwealth to agree that the Minister should have the right to do something about it.
– I have listened to the debate with a great deal of interest. I have had some dealings in various spheres with the legal fraternity and therefore I prefer at times to have a look at the wording myself. If this Bill is to do what the Minister hopes it will do, how can Senator Greenwood say that the Minister should more or less wash her hands of supervision after she has agreed to a scheme and paid the money? One of the most important aspects of legislation to provide housing for low income groups is the rent that is paid. I am not decrying this scheme by any means. If Victoria is to get $6.5m over a 5-year period it will get §1. 3m a year. As the cost of dwellings with land is to average about $5,000 - I am not certain of what sort of dwelling this would provide - Victoria will get, if my figures are correct, about 260 homes a year.
– It is better than nothing.
– I am not decrying it. I am amused at the inference that this will place in a self-contained dwelling every single pensioner who today lives in rooms. We would all want this. I think that even the honourable senator would want it, particularly now. I do not know what he will do later. He will spend most of his time saying what has been said in this country since 1919: The Corns are coming. I can trace it for him if he wants me to do so but I do not want to in this debate.
– We followed you on that particular issue several years ago.
– Other honourable senators in this place who have known me far more intimately than Senator Greenwood would know that I have never been one who has believed that there is a Com under every chair - even at election time. But let us pass on from that interlude. The Minister said in her second reading speech that if they are required to pay only a reasonable rent their financial worries will be reduced and more of their pension will be available to provide them with a modest standard of living. She went on to say that too often rent is a killer. But unless a provision to implement this expression is put into the Bill, the State authority, quite apart from this Parliament which is approving the grant, will have no say in what rent the occupants of the dwellings will pay.
Let us suppose that they will be required to pay 5% of the cost of a dwelling and $250 a ye~ar is taken from their pension for this purpose. If my figures are correct that will reduce the amount of the pension available to them from $728, which includes the new increase granted in the Budget, to $478. I mention those figures only to show how vital it is that this Parliament, at least, which is responsible for granting the money, should have some say in what these people are to pay as rent. If the scheme is to operate for 5 years and Victoria’s share is to be $6.5m, each year $1.3m would be available for this purpose. I have estimated that this amount will provide about 250 homes each year. That is very good, but it is not nearly as many as the Government would have people infer. I expect that between now and next month they will be asked to draw many more inferences. In her second reading speech the Minister referred to reasonable rent, but how can we give effect to that expression unless the words are written into the Bill? Without a provision of that kind the scheme will be of no good at all, or of little benefit to those whom it is intended to help.
– Would the honourable senator not expect that the Minister, before approving a scheme, would require an indication of what it would cost and what the rental would be after dwellings had been erected?
– That is exactly contrary to what the honourable senator said a while ago.
– lt is not.
– The honourable senator said that State housing commissions are competent bodies. The honourable senator cannot say one thing one moment and then, when he finds that it is a bit untenable, change his mind. I suggest that the reason why the amendment should be accepted is so that we may carry out the wish expressed by the Minister in her second reading speech. Unless we do so we will have no say in what rent is charged. We, as a Parliament, although we grant the money, will have no say in what is the most important thing so far as these pensioners are concerned. Therefore I appeal to my friends of the Democratic Labor Party to reconsider the amendment. We all want this scheme to be introduced, although its effect will be small. I suggest that with the amount provided Victoria will be able to provide only 250 dwellings, even if they can be constructed for $5,000 each. I do not know where they can be built at that price because I am aware of the price of land even a long way out of the city.
– They might try to resume some of Albert Park.
– We will attend to that in our own way and in our own time and to the best of our ability.
– With some profit, perhaps?
– So far as the park is concerned and the State Government, certainly with some profit. 1 appeal to the Senate to carry on with the scheme proposed in this legislation, lt is a beginning, it is good and it will do good. Let us hope that later whoever has control of the Parliament will build on the scheme but will keep control of the essential parts of it. If we are to help the people that we want to help - the age pensioners who are living on their own and need help - we must keep control.
– 1 think that possibly my ego has been given a boost by the change of front on the part of Senator Greenwood.
– There has been no change of front.
– i know it is difficult for the honourable senator to accept, but I. have had to do it at times, lt is embarrassing. Senator Poke introduced an amendment which provides that the Minister shall maintain an interest in the supervision of the administration of an approved scheme. I emphasise the words ‘maintain an interest’. This was opposed by Senator Greenwood who said that the protection that Senator Poke sought was already provided in the Bill. To support his contention he referred to clauses 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9. In effect he was saying that although he recognised that the protection was needed, the amendment was not required because that protection was already in the Bill.
Then Senator Byrne gave us a further legal opinion and suggested that the protection was provided in clause 8. In effect Senator Byrne said that he conceded the necessity of protection, but the amendment was not necessary because the protection was already in the Bill. But then Senator Greenwood sard that it was only a building Bill and that what we sought in the amendment was not in the Bill, contrary to what he had said earlier and contrary to what Senator Byrne had said. He was contradicting himself. I am not opposed to someone having a second thought, but he said that the Bill was to provide for the building construction only. He added that this was the very thing that he had said in referring to the clauses that I mentioned earlier, that the whole Bill was only for the construction of the project.
The amendment seeks to extend the provisions of the Bill so that the Minister will have a continuing interest. Everyone now agrees that that is the situation. Tt is only a building Bill and we seek to extend it. Senator Greenwood now opposes the amendment, suggesting that it will be an interference with State rights. We say that all we want is control to be vested in the Commonwealth Minister. We believe that the Minister has enough control in regard to constructions under the scheme, but we want her to have control over the rents that are charged and in respect of the treatment of the tenants. We feel that this is necessary because of what we have experienced under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Senator Greenwood does not think that the Federal Minister should have control bur we believe that she should. That is the situation at the moment, lt might be suggested that we do not have faith in State governments, but I remind the Committee that the Bill lasts for 5 years only. The amendment seeks to extend the operation of the Bill so that the Minister will have some interest in and control of this scheme while it is in operation and while the buildings exist. We have all reached our conclusions on what the Bill provided originally and we have Senator Byrne’s assurance that there is a need for the protection. If he upholds his legal capabilities above those of Senator Greenwood, he is assured that the protection is there; but if he respects Senator Greenwood’s opinion he may gain the impression that he could be wrong in indicating that the protection is there. So he should support our amendment and take away the uncertainty as to whether the protection is there.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (I0.20] - 1 have listened again to the comments from both sides of the chamber. 1 can only say, as 1 said a little earlier, that the amendment is not acceptable to the Government. We have stressed to the States that the rentals must be what single age pensioners can afford to pay. I cannot accept the view that the Commonwealth needs legislative power to enforce the States’ compliance with our conditions or that any detailed supervision of this kind will be necessary. We rest on the good faith of the States and the State housing authorities which are doing this work in their own areas. 1 make the point that I made earlier: We leave it to them. I cannot accept this amendment.
Senator Bishop was concerned about what approval 1 might give. 1 repeat that as the Commonwealth Minister I have the power to approve the building scheme. I assure him that, because of the very nature of this legislation and the very nature of the purpose for which we are providing the funds, I would not approve a scheme unless the building was to be constructed or acquired and administered by the State housing authority, lt is only in that form that we will approve it, because the payment will bc made to the State housing authority.
Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) (1 0.22] - I rise not so much in self-defence against certain things that have been said but simply because it appears that in the discussion that hits occurred there has been an elaboration of the points that are being made and out of that elaboration some clarification has emerged. I sensed from what Senator Kennelly said that what the Opposition is really concerned about is that under this Bill the Minister should exercise some continuing control as to what the rentals should be. I suspect from what Senator Kennelly said that he holds the view that one of the State housing authorities, after it received the money, erected a unit and allowed an aged pensioner to go into it, might raise the rent to a level which was uneconomic or fail to adjust the rent so that it remained reasonably uneconomic for the person who was occupying the unit. I have sensed, if that be the viewpoint of the Opposition, that it is hoped that Senator Poke’s amendment, if it were accepted, would cure the position.
I have already said that I do not think the words of Senator Poke’s amendment are efficacious to achieve that. All it mentions is that the Minister should maintain an interest in and supervision of the administration of any approved scheme. It does not give any power to control the rents. As I have said, it does not appear to me to be in principle the complete answer. I would have thought that there was an interesting field for some speculation as to what the Minister may do at the time when she approves a building scheme. According to the definition in the Bill: building scheme’ includes -
It is because of the use of these words that I have insisted - I think Senator Cavanagh must concede that there is reason for putting this point of view - that we should consider whether the rent is connected with the construction of the building. Because the Minister has to approve of the construction, an interesting point is whether her discretion as to whether she will approve a scheme permits her to include requirement as to what the rental would be when the building was put up.
This is one of those fields in which no-one will ever challenge the Minister’s discretion because this legislation confers a power to grant money and the States will be happy to receive the money and the conditions upon which the Minister grants the money will be for her to determine. If she decides that the building to be erected is a building that will permit the letting of premises at, say, $8 to $10 a week, or something less than that, and that is what the State has indicated to her, she may well say: ‘That is to be the basis upon which I will give my approval’.
If that is the way the Minister acts - I suspect from her remarks that that is the thought she has - the States will be subject to a condition under clauses 8 and 9. This, of course, is my assessment of how the wheels of the machinery in administration will work. The basic point that I make is that, if the Opposition is contending that once these units have been erected the Commonwealth should have a power to override the State housing authorities and to fix the rentals which some people have to pay and should not have any power to fix the rentals which other people have to pay, this is a very undesirable intrusion for the Commonwealth to undertake.
As I said earlier, I recognise that there is a clear demarcation of function. The State has the housing commission role; the Commonwealth has the role of providing finance. I do not believe that the Com- monwealth should seek to intrude into the field of rental fixing in regard to housing commission units. Yet, fundamentally, that is what the Labor Party is wanting. I make no apology for the point I stressed earlier. It is in line with what I have always believed and what is repeatedly evidenced, namely, that the Labor Party believes essentially in the Canberra control of a number of existing State functions. That I oppose.
– I want to raise one very minor point. It has come to my attention that the Victorian Housing Commission will let several pensioner units only to females. If that is the position, will the Commonwealth support that discrimination in relation to this scheme, or will it insist that both male and female pensioners be given the opportunity to enter these units.
– Male and female pensioners are equally eligible.
– Thank you.
– I do not want to prolong this debate unduly. I trust that the Committee will give me a couple of minutes. I am really amazed at the contention that has been advanced by Senator Greenwood. I often wonder whether all the money that we spend on education in our universities is worth while. Clause 3 states:
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - approved building scheme’ means a building scheme approved by the Minister under the next succeeding section; building scheme’ includes -
the purchase of land, with or without a building;
I do not want to continue reading the clause. I know that honourable senators may be sitting late. They know where I will be. I do not want to keep them here any later than necessary. I regret that a person who has had greater opportunities than many other people will stand up in this chamber and try to convince honourable senators that the words 1 have read and those that he read give the Minister any control at all over or any say in what the rent will be.
The Government wants to do a good job. This legislation is a good job as far as it goes. No-one denies that. So why spoil it? I have worked out some figures. I hope they are right. The State governments will charge the pensioners $5 a week. I cannot see the pensioners getting these units at much less than that. They will have to get them at less than that if people are really to be helped. The rent will represent about $250 out of a pension of $728 per annum. It leaves him with $478. Why do you not do it? You have plenty of time. The House has not much to do. Why spoil the thing? The Government will not even say in this Bill that the rental ought to be 5% of the money expended. It will not say it ought to be 3%. The fact is that the pensioners will not be able to use the houses. They still hare to eat and clothe themselves.
– They have a supplementary allowance.
– How much is it? Is it $1 a week?
– It is $2.
– Is it? Well, even taking that into account the fact is that unless these pensioners are given these houses at a rental that they can afford they will not be able to occupy them. The Minister implies that she cannot do that unless she is given some control.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Poke’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move:
I think that Senator Cavanagh when he was speaking to this Bill earlier put his finger right on the crux of the matter when he said that it is desirable that provision be made that the units which are proposed under this Bill should accommodate two people. I raise the case, first, of an aged person who is capable of looking after himself, who is eligible for one of these dwellings, and who has a relative who comes and spends a night or two or three days with him. Where will the relative sleep? Will he sleep on the floor or do what a lot of us will be doing tonight, that is, try to grab a few minutes sleep in a chair? If no provision such as I have proposed is made in that sub-clause then the Government of the day, of whatever political colour it may be, could insist that the particular dwelling be occupied at one time only by any one person. I commend the amendment and trust that it will be carried.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.40] - The amendment is not acceptable to the Government. 1 return to the legislation that is before us. The Bill is related to single dwellings because single aged pensioners constitute the great bulk of those on the waiting lists of the State housing authorities. This is the reason for the introduction of the Bill. We want to concentrate our assistance in this area, which is the area of greatest need.
As I said earlier, other pensioners who are in need of housing do not present quite the same problem to the State housing authorities because they are not so numerous. As they have done in the past, the States will continue to provide more homes for those people from the funds available to them, including moneys advanced under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. I return to the point that this legislation is related to single dwellings because single aged pensioners constitute the great bulk of those on the waiting lists of the State housing authorities. They are the people in greatest need.
– With respect, I think the Minister’s remarks showed that she did not understand the purpose of the amendment.
– I understood it.
– With all respect, I suggest that the Minister did not. If the Minister were prepared to listen to an explanation she might take a different attitude.
– Is the honourable senator implying that Senator Poke did not put his amendment properly?
– I infer that the Minister did not grasp fully either what Senator Poke said or the wording of the amendment. I appeal not only to the Minister but also to other honourable senators to study what the amendment seeks. During the course of my second reading speech I expressed my opposition to the construction of homes to house single aged pensioners. I said that those in greatest need, the couples, should be housed. This amendment does not seek to provide for them. The amendment makes no alteration as to who occupies the house. Clause 4 of the Bill states:
Subject to this section, the Minister may, for the purposes of this Act, by instrument in writing, approve a building scheme in connexion with the provision of self-contained dwellings for eligible pensioners.
An eligible pensioner is defined as a person who:
No-one seeks to alter that definition. Therefore the homes to be constructed will be for single aged pensioners. No-one seeks to put anyone else in the home. My criticism during my second reading speech was about the only way in which one could qualify under clause 3. The design of the dwelling must be such that it will not house two. Despite the fact that only one will live in the dwelling, its design has to be such as to be impossible to house two. It stops the temporary visit and staying overnight of any relative or friend. The State housing authorities are constructing what they call pensioner flats. These pensioner flats will house two, if they are for a couple, or one. There is no difference in the flats. Obviously the dwellings are not the type envisaged in this Act because they are flats designed to house 2, although only 1 may occupy the flats. Therefore those dwellings which the housing commissions are erecting today do not come within the provisions of this Act.
– The reverse does not follow necessarily.
– Under the Act the very design of the structure must be such that it can be occupied by one; it cannot be for the occupation of more than one person at a time. The design is set out in the Bill. At present the commission homes are designed to accommodate two where two can be accommodated.
– These will continue to be built. This does not stop their construction. This adds another unit for single aged pensioners.
– I agree with the honourable senator. To reach perfect agreement with Senator Marriott is an achievement. We are in complete agreement. The trusts can continue to build homes for couples, whether they are occupied by 2 or by 1, but the Commonwealth insists that the commission construct inferior homes that will meet the requirements of this Act. Therefore the homes can be occupied by only one. What distinguishes a home than cannot be occupied by more than one from a home that can be occupied by more than one? The difference must be in the reduced size of the bedroom. They are self-contained. How does one distinguish between a house that is designed for occupancy by one and a house that is designed for occupancy by more than one? The toilet is the same size, whether there are 1 or 2 occupants. The bathroom and the kitchen are the same. There is only one room left. The bedroom must be reduced in size so that it will only take one bed. a dressing table and a wardrobe.
The States have done a commendable job, as far as their finances will allow, in erecting pensioner Hals, many of them occupied by one person. They now have to erect an inferior type flat, under the direction of the Commonwealth, to achieve the benefit of this grant. The erection of an inferior type cottage is imposing the will of the Commonwealth upon the States. The amendment does not seek to alter who occupies the cottage, lt leaves that the same. The amendment recognises that the occupant is the one person who qualifies under the Act. lt says that the cottage should be built for the occupation of two. The same result could be achieved, and possibly we could surmount any difficulties, if we deleted sub-clause (3.) and left it to the States, which have to obtain the approval of the Minister in relation to these cottages. The insertion of this provision means that the size of the cottage has to be reduced so that two people cannot occupy it.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.48] - I must reply to Senator Cavanagh. Until this moment I thought that he always had a very real and direct interest in the units constructed for aged persons. From his remarks it is obvious that he has not seen the excellent units that have been built by State housing authorities - single units in which there is adequate accommodation for the person for whom they arc built. I have gone through some units built by housing commission authorities in different States and 1 have heard the pleasure expressed by those people who live in them. Again and again I say that this legislation, added to what is being done by the State authorities, will provide excellent accommodation of a good standard and which will enable people to live in the units happily and in comfort. I deplore very much the comments made by Senator Cavanagh that the Government is trying to introduce an inferior type unit.
I contradict that statement because we are not trying to do that. The standard must be adequate before I will approve of these building projects.
– r agree with what the Minister said. I am one who appreciates, and has admired, the excellent single units that have been built by State authorities.
– That is what we are talking about.
– I want a continuation of the construction of those units.
– That is exactly what is being done.
– Those units have not been designed so that they can be occupied by more than one person.
– Nor does this say so. They are not designed for the permanent occupation of more than one person. That is the only possible construction.
– That is not so. The clause provides:
In this section, ‘self-contained dwelling’ doe-, not include a dwelling that is designed for occupation by more than one person at a time.
– But it does not say that it must be designed so that it cannot ever be occupied by more than one person.
– Wait a minute. What I am saying is that the flats thai the Minister says 1 should appreciate more - 1 do appreciate them - were designed so that they could not cope with more than one person.
– They are designed for single persons.
– They are designed as pensioners flats. That is their very purpose. While the Minister might have a full desire to continue this operation, she restricts it by the provisions of the Bill. The Minister denies that but the question of the proper interpretation of sub-clause (3.) must arise. Either the amendment clarifies the whole question or the Minister, even with the deletion of sub-clause (3.), still has authority to approve flats if she so desires. In that case what is the need for sub-clause (3.)? Can anyone tell me the need when there is already the protection of the provision relating to ‘eligible pensioner’ and when we remember that these are homes only for eligible pensioners anyway?
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Poke’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood)
Majority . . . .7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23 September (vide page 1 1 92), on motion by Senator Scott: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition would be prepared to accommodate the Government by discussing this Bill and the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill together because they are associated Bills.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Is it the wish of the Senate that the two Bills be taken together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– Both Bills are designed for the same purpose, namely, to ensure that sufficient funds are available to enable both Trans-Australia Airlines, here referred to as the Australian National Airlines Commission, and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd to purchase an additional Boeing 727 and six additional DC9 aircraft.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The Deputy President- Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed (vide page 1354).
– I am conscious that the decision just taken by the Senate means that we will be debating here until about 3 o’clock tomorrow morning.I do not wish to raise difficulties, but I. think I should point out that there has been an opportunity during the course of this sessional period to introduce Bills of this nature at a much earlier stage, rather than to engage in the practice which seems to have been made commonplace by the Government in recent years; that is, to leave the introduction of important legislation until near the end of a sessional period and then to bulldoze it through. We are human beings who find difficulty in adjusting physically to such conditions, but we are obliged so to deal with important legislation of this nature. We must push it hurriedly through the Parliament even though, as frequently happens, the legislation involves the expenditure of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. It is a sham performance.
However, I shall attempt to make some staccato comments about the measures before the Senate so thatI at least will not be accused of holding up the business of the Senate. The situation is quite remarkable. Over the past 3 years, including this sessional period, honourable senators on this side of the chamber have consistently drawn attention to the inadequacies of the two-airline system - a national airline and a commercial operator as our major domestic airlines. We have consistently pointed out to the responsible Minister the inadequacies of the system. Whilst there is nothing personal in what I have to say, I deplore the fact that on so few occasions has the Minister given reasoned answers to the questions we have put to him. I would be reasonably satisfied if the Minister were able to justify the attitude of the Government to the dual airline system which seems to have got into such a condition that in the next 3 years it will be necessary to increase the capacity of the airlines by 66%, despite the fact that their business has increased each year at the rale of about 10%. If that is not a clear indication of the inadequacies of the systemI do not know what is.
The Opposition does not object to this legislation. However, while the legislation contains the necessary provisions to enable the airlines considerably to increase their capacities, it makes no provision to require them to service the airports which arc not, in the terms of the Bills, front line airports or on main air routes. What we have seen, as I have said before, is a decline in the standards of the performance of the airlines in serving the outlying areas. This, of course, makes a complete farce of the claim of the Government that it looks after people in the outer areas and promotes the concept of decentralisation. It does nothing of the sort. Nor as yet has any decision been made on the application by Trans- Australia Airlines to operate an off-peak flight system. I have asked about this matter on a number of occasions. The application has been with the responsible authorities for a considerable period. Still, no reasonable answer has been given as to whether this system ought or ought not to be introduced.
AsI see it, a problem exists also in connection with the Bills before the Senate in the fact that while we authorise borrowings to enable the airlines to re- equip or to extend their equipment, at this stage a conclusion does not seem to have been reached to the arranging of the borrowings necessary to enable this to be done. 1 notice that, in his second reading speech, the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) referred to the fact that this is the case. In introducing the Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1969, he said:
On this occasion we have not yet been able to settle any firm borrowing arrangements although it appears that some favourable opportunities may arise in the course of the next few months. In the difficult borrowing conditions generally prevailing at present in overseas markets, we must be in a position to take advantage of any such opportunities without delay.
The Minister continued:
At this stage it appears that it may be possible to arrange for up to one half of the amount to be borrowed by a European unit of account loan, which would seek subscriptions from members of the public in seventeen European currencies.
The point is that we have not yet been able to arrange a sufficiency of borrowing to enable the funds to be provided for the purchase of these aircraft. However, it is conceded that the purchases will be made over the next 3 years and, no doubt, some suitable arrangement will be made.
As 1 said when I started my speech, many questions ought to be answered in relation to the Australian airlines system. Despite the fact that requests are made time and time again to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) in this place, the Minister seems not to understand sufficiently the requirements of his office, and understand the questions asked of him or be able to supply reasonable answers to them.
I wish I could have the opportunity some time to examine the whole question of the airlines system of this country. Honourable senators will know that I have pointed out on so many occasions that 1 am very seriously concerned about the fact that the airlines are not able to carry the traffic that is offering for their services. 1 think that these airlines get a pretty good go. Both of them have been operating for a sufficient number of years to be able to make an estimation of the seating requirements that they will need to meet the demands of the system. Despite this fact, I am seriously of the opinion that it is because the Government has not given a lead in this direction that these airlines are not able to meet at this time the demands made upon them and their services. I believe that because of all the protection they receive from the Government they at least ought to be able to estimate the needs of the future and to make sure that they have sufficient capacity, including standby capacity when airliners go out of action, to enable them to continue providing a service without bringing about the considerable disruption to services that takes place in these circumstances today.
I know that the fetters have been put on Trans-Australia Airlines. I know that the business of TAA quite considerably exceeds the business of its competitor. But because of the rationalisation arrangements, TAA is not allowed to have any greater capacity than Ansett-ANA or Ansett Airlines of Australia as I think it calls itself now. The company has changed its name around but it is still the same old system. I am not knocking it. I am just saying this: If one of the airlines operating in Australia is able to do better business and to attract more passengers than the other airline, no impediment ought to be put in the way of that airline having a sufficient capacity to be able to meet the requirements of its business.
This is a situation which, as I have said before, kills incentive. No incentive is presented to an airline to extend its business and to improve its services to the public if, having done so, it is unable to provide the seats that the public demands. When we find that one airline in fact is acting as an unpaid agent for the other airline, we must agree that this makes a farce of the whole system.
– Too much socialisation, eh?
– I beg the honourable senator’s pardon.
– Too much socialisation and not enough incentive?
– Is the honourable senator - the minister for margarine - suggesting that the people of Australia ought not to be the ones considered but that the operators of Ansett Transport Industries, Ansett Airlines of Australia or whatever else they may call their company should be considered? Is that what the honourable senator is suggesting? Does the honourable senator suggest that the requirements of the people of this nation are secondary to the interests of this type of organisation whose accounts are not open for examination by the Parliament?
This brings me to another question. This Parliament is in the rather unique situation that it is guaranteeing or underwriting the borrowing of these funds for Ansett Airlines of Australia. I refer now to the Airlines Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1969. The Minister may be able to clarify this situation for the Senate at a later stage. Bearing in mind the difficulties in arranging the borrowing being encountered by the Australian National Airlines Commission, what happens if the same problem arises with regard to the underwriting of the borrowings of Ansett Airlines? In the event that it cannot raise the funds that it requires, do we then get the opportunity, as the guarantors of the borrowing, to examine the affairs of this company?
I think that it is quite wrong - I have said so before- that we as the Parliament of the nation are required to insure a borrowing for a private airlines organisation when all we see in this Parliament is the annual report of the affairs of that company all mixed up with the operations of television stations, motels, hotels, bus services and the like. Although we only guarantee borrowing in respect of one section of this giant organisation. Ansett Transport Industries, it is completely impossible for us in relation to Ansett Airlines to have an opportunity to examine the question of the viability of that organisation. How do we know, for instance, that we are not subsidising by the Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1969 the operations of a television station but that we in fact are giving our authorisation for the borrowing of this money for Ansett Airlines of Australia?
I turn to the final point that I wish to make. I could go on at some length. 1 have a whole sheaf of questions on the inadequate answers that we are accustomed to receiving on the subject of the Australian airlines system. I do not propose to canvass them at this stage for the reasons that I mentioned earlier. One is conscious of the fact that a tremendous amount of business must be put through this chamber in the next day or so and that we will be involved into sitting into the wee small hours tomorrow morning, I understand, and the morning afterwards in an endeavour to get through business which ought to have been before the Senate from the commencement of this session when we were sitting around waiting for something to do rather than be put before the Senate at this time with the result we are engaged in this completely unparliamentary and undignified operation of belting stuff through this Senate at this time of the day.
The final point that I wish to make at this stage is this: Why is it that we do not ever seem to be able to follow the latest practices in regard to the procurement of equipment either for the Services or for organisations such as those under consideration, as has been done, and done for a number of years, by organisations in other parts of the world? In this particular context, I refer to the practices which have become common in other parts of the world where a country engaged in the purchase of airline equipment ensures that the capacity exists for the appropriate industries of the country placing the order to be used in some way in fulfilling that order.
A fairly high level of sophistication has been reached in Australia in the manufacture of aeronautical and electronic equipment of one kind or another. I think that it is quite within the capabilities of this country, particularly bearing in mind the depressed conditions in certain areas of the Austraiian airline industry, for the Government to insist that we are in a position insofar as the purchase of Boeing 727 aircraft and of DC9 aircraft is concerned for some arrangement to be made whereby the capacity existing here at the present time can be used for the purpose of assisting in the provision of certain parts and components of those aircraft.
That would offset some of the considerable cost which is a drain on the resources of this country. I believe that this proposal ought to be seriously examined. We would then, so to speak, kill two birds with one stone. We would provide further employment for the technicians in the Australian aircraft industry who are, I believe, highly trained, and we would reduce some of the very considerable costs involved in the purchase of airline equipment. I hope that the Minister will take into account my comments in relation to the suitability of the time for introducing important legislation into this Chamber. If his Party happens to be in government after the next election I hope that he will afford the Senate a proper opportunity to express itself on questions of such importance as this which concern the airlines industry. I move:
– What a stupid amendment.
– It would sound stupid to the honourable senator. I am sorry that I cannot reduce it to terms simple enough to enable the honourable senator to understand what I am talking about. I sincerely regret that this is the best that I can do. Senator Sim’s comment seems to be symptomatic of the attitude we have come to expect from an arrogant government over recent years. He does not seem to realise the very simple fact - I wish somebody would acquaint him of it - that what the amendment proposes is a common practice throughout the world. 1 can understand why it is not common in Australia. We are just not with it. Australia has got so used to having a bad government over 20 years that we cannot see any further than the ends of our noses. 1 sincerely hope that the people of Australia will do something about that shortly. I. put to the Senate the practicability of a proposition of this nature, which would give us an opportunity to take some part in the manufacture of components that go into these extremely expensive aircraft which we are introducing to Australia from rime to time. [Quorum formed.]
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - ls the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– I wish to speak for only about I minute. This will be enough, because this must surely be the most ridiculous amendment that has been put before this chamber, lt suggests that some manufacturers should tool up and be prepared to manufacture in Australia components for Boeing 727 and Douglas DC9 aircraft - completely different aircraft. Would any manufacturer be prepared to tool up to produce any type of component for these aircraft to meet the requirements of the Australian aircraft industry, where the numbers of aircraft of one type are limited to 2, 3 or 4? This would be completely uneconomic. No manufacturer would be prepared to enter into such an agreement, simply because of the economics of the situation. I am not opposed to Australian manufacturers entering this field, providing - this is the important part - there is a throughput sufficient to justify the manufacture of the parts. This is a matter of economy. To suggest that the Australian aircraft industry in the foreseeable future would require sufficient aircraft for manufacturers to provide component parts for two different types - the Boeing 727 and the DC9 - is completely ridiculous and this amendment should be rejected by the Senate.
– Senator Devitt made some criticism of the two airline policy not being able to provide sufficient seats to meet the requirements for passenger traffic throughout Australia at the present time. With the amount of traffic now offering and expected in the future each airline will be increasing its DC9 fleet by about 100% within 3 years.
– From six to twelve.
– That is so. The Boeing 727 aircraft of each airline will be increased from four to six when this loan is totally expended. This, I believe, is a pretty good exercise. It will provide for the phasing out of the Viscount aircraft by 1970 and the Electra aircraft by 1971. On the main trunk routes throughout Australia we will have jet aircraft carrying passengers. This is something that we should be proud of.
– That is not correct. We will have turbo-prop aircraft too.
– I cannot make myself any plainer. On the main routes - the intercapita) routes, if the honourable senator likes - we will have jet aircraft carrying by far the majority, if not all. of the passengers.
– What about the lesser routes?
– Other aircraft such as the F28 will be used.
Sitting suspended from 11.30 p.m. to 12 midnight
Thursday, 25 September 1969
– We are discussing the Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill and the Loans Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill. Senator Devitt has moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill, which provides for a guarantee for money borrowed by Ansett Airlines of Australia for the purchase of aircraft. I presume that the Senate will vote on that amendment, then on the second reading of the two Bills and will then take them separately at the Committee stage.
I had been discussing the equipment of both airline companies and had said that the Viscount aircraft would be phased out by 1970 and theElectra aircraft would be phased out by 1971. The effect of this will be that on inter-capital city routes the domestic airlines will be carrying a vast majority of passengers by jet aircraft. There was an interjection to the effect that we would still be using F27 aircraft, but they will be used mainly for the transport of passengers intra-state rather than interstate.
– I suggest that that will be their main use. In referring to the intercapital city routes I have in mind mainly the east-west run and the Sydney to Melbourne run. The F27 aircraft will be used to some extent on some routes, but not to a very large extent. In Western Australia Ansett Airlines of Australia will be operating the F28 aircraft.I understand that the company already has one F28 in operation and that it will purchase more for the Darwin and Port Hedland run. Let me give to the Senate an indication of the increase in passengers carried on domestic routes over the last 3 years. In 1966-67 there was an increase of 7.1% on the previous year; in 1967-68 there was n increase of 9% over the previous year; and last year the increase was almost 10%. There has been an increase also in the carriage of freight. In 1966-67 the amount of freight carried increased by 8.7%; in 1967-68 it increased by 5.9%; and last year it increased by 7.4% It is apparent from those figures that the use of domestic airlines in Australia for the carriage of passengers and freight is increasing rapidly. Senator Devitt has moved an amendment which states:
At the end of the motion add - but the Senate is of the opinion that the Government should negotiate with the manufacturers of the Boeing 727 and the Douglas DC9 for the manufacture in Australia of component parts for these or other aircraft manufactured by these companies in order to promote stability in the Australian aircraft industry.’
Senator Sim, who is from Western Australia, said that he believed the amendment to be quite ridiculous. Although I do not want to use that phrase, 1 must say to Senator Devitt that I could not accept the amendment moved by him. At present we are discussing the way in which the aircraft which are about to be purchased will be financed. Money borrowed by Ansett Airlines will be guaranteed by the Government, whether the loans are made overseas or in Australia. Also the Government will be borrowing $31m overseas to finance aircraft to be purchased by Trans-Australia Airlines and will lend that amount, plus interest, to that organisation.
The amendment proposed by Senator Devitt seeks to provide facilities for the manufacture in Australia of component parts for DC9 and Boeing 727 aircraft. Although we agree to some extent with this concept, I am unable to accept the amendment because it is away from the context of the Bill that we are discussing. 1 understand that the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) and the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) are at present discussing what can be done to improve facilities for the manufacture of aircraft components in Australia, but this has nothing to do with the Bill that we are now discussing. Therefore, I regret that the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment in this context.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Devitt’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 23 September (vide page 1189), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 23 September (vide page 1195). on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to amend section 21 of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, which provides for the establishment and operation of the Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund. Under this section, royalties received by the Commonwealth for minerals or timber taken from the land which has been reserved for the use and benefit of Aboriginals are appropriated out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and paid into the Trust Fund. The Australian Labor Party does not oppose the Bill. It welcomes the changes outlined in the second reading speech made in another place by the Minister for the Interior, Mr Nixon. It is pleasing to see that after 20 years in office this Liberal-Country Party Government has now started to face up to its responsibility for Aboriginals. We on this side of the chamber believe that some of these changes should have taken place many years ago. We support the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 19 September (vide page 1 162).
Proposed expenditure, $39,839,000.
-I refer to the appropriation for equipment and operational expenses in connection with gas turbine research under Division 390. The appropriation last year was $98,000 and the expenditure proved thatthe appropriation was correct. This year there has been a reduction in the appropriation to $79,000.I seek some information on this item. I would also like some information about the Commonwealth’s contribution towards the expenses of the River Murray Commission in view of the publicity that has been given to the Commission over recent months. I want to know what part of the expenses of the Commission the Commonwealth pays. I see that we cannot estimate this expenditure as accurately as we did with the expenditure on gas turbine research. There was an estimated expenditure last year of$16,700, of which we spent only$14,725. This year we are reducing the estimated expenditure to $13,500. As a commencement I would like some information on those two items.
– The amount of $79,000 is the estimated expenditure for gas turbine research, equipment and operational expenses, and is a decrease of$19,000 on the amount provided last year. This item provides funds for a research project aimed at the use of coal as fuel for a gas turbine type engine. The project is administered by an interdepartmental steering committee of representatives of the Department of National Development, the Department of Supply, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Joint Coal Board and private industry. The work is being carried out at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories. The project was initiated because the coal fired open cycle gas turbine showed promise as a means of increasing the usage of cheaply mined Australian coal. Since the inception of the project there have been radical changes in the Australian fuel situation. The coal industry has found new markets overseas, and indigenous oil and natural gas have been discovered. The research programme is now nearing completion and is planned to be concluded in 1969-70. The estimated cost of $79,000 is based on achieving completion of the project at end of March 1970. This target date for completion is dependent upon fulfilment of a programme which includes: (a) Final assembly of a modified engine, using specially manufactured components; (b) Preliminary trials with Greta-seam coal, followed by proving trials; (c) If main trial results are favourable carrying out of engine tests with a low grade bituminous coal such as Callide coal; (d) Analyses and reporting of results. Completion of the programme by March 1970 is based upon the assumption that no mechanical breakdowns will occur and that no serious technical difficulties will be encountered.
– I wish to refer to the amount of money being spent on sirex wasp research. I do not wish to go to any length on this, but we in South Australia - and I have no doubt people in other States too - have a considerable amount of capital tied up in the processing of softwood timber. This wasp has appeared in Tasmania and I know that it is not a very easy task to exterminate it once it appears. We are having a lot of trouble with case timber coming in from such places as Sweden. I saw in the newspapers recently that some sirex wasps were found in Tasmania in wooden cases, and they had not appeared there before. In South Australia now we have approximately 200,000 acres of forests planted which are worth approximately $160m. There is a total commitment of about $52m to process this timber. So it is vital that there be no reduction in the efforts to ensure that the sirex wasp is contained within the areas in which it now occurs and that we make sure that it does not enter the Australian mainland through mischance. I would like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to reduce the amount further or to increase it. I urge the Government to increase it.
– Senator Cavanagh referred to the River Murray Commission. The Commonwealth’s contribution to administrative expenses is calculated at one-quarter of the estimated cost which is prepared by officers of that Commission. Senator Cameron referred to the amount spent on sirex wasp research. The estimated expenditure for 1969-70 is$180,000. In 1968-69 the appropriation was $200,000 and the expenditure was$ 1 99,980. This item provides for a Commonwealth contribution to match State contributions on a $1 for $1 basis up to $200,000 a year for work on the control of the sirex wasp. Contributions by industry are not matched by the Commonwealth. All contributions by the Commonwealth, the States and industry when received are paid to the credit of the National Sirex Fund Trust Account. Funds are allocated by the National Sirex Committee for research and containment. Research is being carried out by the Forest Research Institute, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Waite Agricultural Research Institute. Almost all of the expenditure on containment is incurred by the Forestry Commission of Victoria, which is endeavouring to prevent the spread of the sirex wasp towards the New South Wales and South Australian borders. The contributions expected to be received in 1969-70 from State governments are as follows: New South Wales $42,000; Victoria $37,500; Queensland $23,400; South Australia $52,000; Western Australia $17,000 and Tasmania $8,100, giving a total of $180,000. The Commonwealth matching funds amount to $180,000. The contribution estimated to be received from industry is $10,800, giving a combined total of $370,800.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) put:
That progress be reported.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood)
Majority .. .. 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to raise a number of questions in regard to the estimates for the Department of National Development. For the purpose of my remarks I refer to Division 390 - Administrative. 1 wish to discuss one or two aspects relating to a very important matter concerning the State that 1 represent - New South Wales. The matter concerns the present situation and the future of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. 1 cannot see any other Division in the estimates under which I can discuss this matter.
– Do not bother looking for it: just discuss the matter.
– If Senator McManus is not interested in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the effect of the Government’s policy in relation to it on the southern portion of New South Wales and indeed Victoria, that is a matter for him. Because the matter is one of grave importance to the people of New South Wales, I intend to raise it now. Indeed, if it does not come under Division 390 - Administrative, then it certainly comes under Division 865, which provides for expenditure on capital works and services under the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Act, for which there is an appropriation of $34,462,000, compared with an expenditure last financial year of $32,180,000.
The first thing to which I wish to direct the attention of the Minister and of the Committee is the fall-in which has occurred in the Eucumbene tunnel. If members of the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party, who are treating this matter so lightly, are not interested, at least the members of the Labor movement are very interested in it. As a result of the rock fall in the tunnel from the Eucumbene Dam I understand there has been a reduction of 40% in the flow of water. What proportion of the funds appropriated in these estimates is attributable to the cost of the repair work which will need to be effected to the Eucumbene tunnel?
Although honourable senators of other parties may be facetious, this is a very serious matter so far as the future of the Snowy Mountains scheme is concerned. There is great consternation in the southern portion of New South Wales about the extent of the rock fall which has occurred, the likely effect of the fall on the scheme, the cost of rectifying the fault which has developed and the number of men who will be required to rectify the fault. The tunnel which is affected is the main tunnel which has been driven under the Snowy Mountains. Because this is a matter of great importance to the future of the scheme, and because the estimates for the Department of National Development are now before the Committee, I think it is the responsibility of the Minister to explain to the Parliament and to the people of Australia exactly what is involved in rectifying the fall which has taken place.
Another matter to which I wish to refer when dealing with the estimates for the Department of National Development is the attitude which is being adopted by either the Department or the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority towards the retrenchment of workers who have been employed by the Authority for some considerable time. As a result of the Government’s policy they are facing retrenchment.
– To which Division are you referring?
– -Since the Minister asks me, I suppose I am referring to Division 390 - Administrative. The retrenchment of workers from the Snowy
Mountains Hydro-electric Authority surely relates to the administration of the Authority. If what I am saying does not relate to the administration of the Department of National Development, 1 ask the Minister through you, Madam Chair, under which appropriation provision is made for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Surely this is a matter for the administration of the Department of National Development. Government supporters, members of the Australian Country Party and members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party might not be very interested in the problems of the people who are being retrenched because of the Government’s policy, but I can assure ail members of this Parliament that I speak quite sincerely on this matter, even though it is now in the early hours of the morning. If the Estimates are brought on for debate at 10.30 in the morning I will speak on this matter, despite the interjections from the corner Party. The livelihood of workers and the conditions of their families are involved. Recently I received correspondence from people engaged by the Snowy Mountains Authority. They referred to a number of retrenchments of staff. The Authority has wielded the escape clause - clause 20 - with great gusto, but the usual amount of bias. The industrial principle of first on last off does not apply except when it is convenient to the Authority. Married men with long service are being retrenched; married women with husbands gainfully employed by the Authority are being retained. Areas of activity are as broad or as narrow as the Authority wishes. A man retrenched from a branch is surplus; another person is transferred from group to group. If an area of activity is reduced, to retrench one man and immediately to replace him when he has left seems to be inconsistent.
– What is the date of that letter?
– It is dated 6th January 1969.
– You have kept it for a long time.
– The matter has been taken up with the Minister for National Development. The Minister for National Development says that this is a matter between the industrial unions and the Snowy Mountains Authority. This is a very important matter for a large number of people in the southern part of New South Wales. It is important not only to the people who are immediately affected, but it is also particularly important - I inform Senator Little and members of the Democratic Labor Party - to the future expansion or development of Cooma which is a large and important town in southern New South Wales. It has relied on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme for many years for its development. As a result of the retrenchment of a large number of workers the people in Cooma are wondering about the future of their town. I submit that the Minister has a responsiblity to the Senate and the Australian people, particularly those residing in southern New South Wales, to explain exactly what is the policy for the retrenchment of these employees.
I wish to refer to another matter in discussing the estimates of the Department of National Development. It also relates to the Snowy Mountains scheme. A forest adjacent to the scheme, which is under the control of the Department of National Development, was to be submitted for auction by the Department to those who might be interested. I wish to know of the Minister and the Department whether the forest has yet been submitted for auction. If so, has it been sold and what was the purchase price? This too is an important matter for a very large number of people resident in the southern portion of New South Wales.
– Senator Webster, a member of the Australian Country Party, asks rhetorically why the matter is important. Many workers are engaged on re-afforestation in New South Wales. As a result of the decision of the Government to disband the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, employees are being retrenched. This fact must be taken into account. People are being moved away from the area. The area is becoming economically depressed as a result of the policies of this Government. Senator Webster sits here with a smile on his face and laughs at the question. I suggest that he should visit the area. I am a regular visitor to the area, and I know the problems that are involved for these people. While the honourable senator and other
Government senators sit there with smiles on their faces, I can assure them that very grave and anxious times have arrived for many hundreds of people in the southern portion of the State that I represent. While I am here, I intend to obtain answers from the Minister and the Department of National Development on these matters.
– I propose to reply to one or two questions asked by Senator McClelland. He mentioned problems associated with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and referred to the repair of the EucumbeneIsland Bend tunnel. The preliminary estimates of the cost are being taken out now. These repairs are likely to cost approximately $500,000. Funds are not provided in the estimates for 1969-70 for this purpose. The fall occurred after the estimates were prepared. In any case, the repairs will be carried out with maintenance funds and not as an item of capital expenditure.
The honourable senator also spoke about the retrenchment of staff of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Let me take the figures over the last 5 years. In 1965, the average number of staff was 1,466 and the resignations as a percentage of the average number of staff amounted to 16.23%. In 1966, the average number of staff was 1,479 and the resignations represented 17.98% of that number. The average number of staff in 1967 was 1,434 and resignations were 19.74% of that figure. In 1968, the average number of staff was 1,313 and the resignations as a percentage of that number were 17.14%. In 1969 the average number of staff was 1,178 and the resignations expressed as a percentage were 14.77%, lower than they were for any other year in that comparison. Yet: Senator McClelland is wondering about the problems associated with the reduction of staff within the area.
I wish to inform the honourable senator that the demand for engineering and technical staff remained at a high level and recruitment of these staff continued, but surpluses occurred in other areas of employment, principally administrative and clerical. Retrenchment of surplus staff continued during the year. A further 66 staff were given initial warning of retrenchment, making a total of 83, of whom 60 have left the Authority’s employ. All retrenched staff received the special provisions decided upon by the Government, as announced in last year’s report. Claims for payment of substantial cash compensation and other benefits in the event of retrenchment of the Authority’s professional engineering and scientific staff will now be heard in July 1970 by the Public Service Arbitrator.
– July 1969? It is now September.
– I am reading from the latest report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Previously, the Associations representing the stuff had unsuccessfully sought reference for a hearing by the full bench of the Arbitration Commission. When we look at the industrial problems associated with this matter, we find that during the year the first eighteen retrenchments of Authority wages personnel occurred. Prior to the first retrenchment, agreement was reached between the Authority and the trade unions concerned as to the special conditions which would apply to those who have completed 2 years or more service with the Authority. I will read the principal points covered by the agreement. They are:
These are the conditions that apply to personnel being retrenched by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. The employment position in Australia is very good. The percentage of unemployed has never been as low as it is at present and more positions are vacant than there are men to fill them. The retrenched personnel will have no problem in obtaining other employment in Australia. There are jobs waiting throughout the length and breadth of Australia for anybody seeking work.
– I address myself to Division 398 which relates to the Forestry and Timber Bureau and I refer to the administrative and technical staff of that Bureau. Senator McClelland is naturally concerned about the fate of the citizens of New South Wales, but he is not alone in that respect. Many other people also are concerned. I hope the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) will be able to tell me whether it is intended that the Department of National Development will continue its work in forestry, as 1 believe it will. Is it a fact that the Forestry and Timber Bureau has been responsible for implementing the programme for a substantial pine planting effort in Australia? As part of that programme, is there a plan to plant 1 00,000 acres of forest in the vicinity of the Snowy Mountains? If there is so, how do we reconcile this fact with the remarks of Senator McClelland?
– ‘I refer my remarks to the administrative section of the Department. One problem that always creates grave concern in any section of the Commonwealth Public Service is the call for unnecessary overtime to be worked by employees. Tonight we have had an example of unnecessary overtime being imposed upon the officers of the Department of National Development and other departments by the action of the Party which in the old days claimed with justification that it represented the ordinary worker but which now by its actions shows that it has no regard at ali for the ordinary working man. It is now 12.55 a.m. and Senator Cavanagh and Senator McClelland have been engaged in a deliberate filibuster which can contribute nothing to this Parliament but which is designed merely to keep honourable senators and a number of members of the public service here long after they should be here.
– That is not true. You voted to keep us here.
– I heard Senator Cavanagh say: ‘If they are going to keep us here they are not going to get any of the estimates’. Senator Cavanagh deliber ately said that he was determined that there should be no decision on the estimates. Me is entitled, if he wishes, to keep senators here until all hours of the morning, but if he has any regard for the ordinary man whom he is supposed to represent he would not do so and keep the members of the public service here as well. I think the attitude adopted here tonight by members of the Australian Labor Party is typical of the attitude - the completely irresponsible attitude - that they have adopted generally and which causes the people of Australia to refuse to make them a government. Everybody knows that we wanted to finish the sittings this week because of the election. Last week we listened to Senator McClelland speaking on the Estimates. He produced individual case after individual case in complete defiance of the ordinary principles under which we discuss the Estimates. He read out the letter he had written lo the Minister and the reply the Minister had written. Then he read out the letter he wrote back to the Minister and the letter the Minister wrote back to him. He was engaged in making a complete farce of the whole parliamentary system. Tonight he gets up and says-
– I raise a point of order. To which Division does the honourable senator’s remark refer.
– Order! I ask Senator McManus to relate his remarks directly to the Department of National Development.
– Thank you, Madam Chair. I am referring to Division 390 - Administrative, particularly to the excessive overtime for employees. May I point out that we listened to Senators Cavanagh and McClelland giving intimate details of individual cases. Senator Cavanagh told us the complete life history of one particular individual. The only things he omitted were the size of his boots and whether he had a white handled pocket knife. Senator Cavanagh having done that, hour after hour, ad nauseam, Senator McClelland rose tonight and said: ‘Look, I have to keep you here until 1 o’clock in order to tell you about the Snowy Mountains system.’
– 1 intend to tell you more, too.
– You would. All I can say is that if you had any regard for the ordinary working people you are supposed to represent you would not keep them here tonight. The only thing that you care about-
Order! Senator McManus, would you please return to the estimates before the Committee.
– Yes. I was referring to the question of excessive overtime. I do not mind being here tonight because one honourable senator-
– You would not have got your campaign fund. That is why you have to stay here.
– I wish Senator Keeffe would not be so disorderly. One representative of the Australian Labor Party came to me tonight and said: ‘What time are we going to finish tonight?’ I said: I am informed that it will be 3 o’clock.’
Order! Senator McManus, you must speak to the Estimates. You cannot traverse something else.
– He said to me: Will we be here?’ I said: ‘I think it is wrong’.
– I rise to order. You have just pulled up the honourable senator and, in complete defiance of your ruling he has gone on with what some Labor Party personality said today.
– I remind the honourable senator that I am in control. I shall keep control.
– But you are letting him defy you.
Order! I will keep control.
– But you are not doing it.
– Madam Temporary Chairman, I ask for your protection.
– The honourable senator does not need any protection at the moment.
– When this honourable senator approached me today I said that I regarded this question of staying late at night as a very serious matter related to Division 390 - Administrative. He said: Surely you will not keep these representatives of the departments here after 11 o’clock’. He added: T want to get home, too’. I said to him: ‘Naturally I do not want to keep these representatives of the departments referred to under Division 390 here any longer than they have to be here, but I listened to you last week, engaged in a filibuster for hour after hour, talking tripe. I am prepared to stay here all night and all tomorrow if you want to be here because of your attitude last week. You were prepared to keep here for hour after hour officers covered by Division 390 who would not receive overtime and I think you should get a bit of your own back.’ I suggest that members of the Australian Labor Party who are no interjecting have no regard for the employees of the Public Service who are here. They are prepared to give it but are the worst I have ever known at taking it. They are a steam of grizzlers and criers. I can understand why the people of this country will never allow them to become the Government.
– I want to make a personal explanation as I have been misrepresented. Tonight I came into this chamber to speak on national development and I asked two questions - one about gas turbine research and the other about the River Murray waters. It has been alleged that I described a man, stating everything except the size boots that he wore and the type of pocket knife that he carried. Obviously I wes seeking information as part of my duty as a senator. I do not think I should be denigrated by someone who has been referred to, by interjection, in bad terms in relation to his occupation and his locality. I do not think this was justified and I want to correct the matter.
– I want to touch on a number of points.
– I bet.
– If the honourable senator is going to be facetious I can do exactly the same and the honourable senator will regret that he started it.
Order! We cannot have this crossfire across the chamber. It is lowering the dignity of the chamber.
– We are off the air.
It does not matter whether we are on the air or off the air. The Senate chamber is entitled to dignity from honourable senators. I call Senator Keeffe.
– I asked in this chamber the other day a number of questions on northern development. The Minister either evaded those questions or failed to answer them at all. I asked in particular why the appropriation for this year had been reduced by more than $100,000. 1 asked at the time whether we could draw the conclusion that the Government had given away everything north of Capricorn and felt that no further research was needed. I now seek further information under Division 394, sub-division 2, items 06, 08, 09, 10 and 11. I seek information also under Division 396.
– Could 1 have those divisions again?
– 1 am sorry, Mr Minister, but I have, loudly announced them. Madam Chair, shall I repeat them?
I think it would be courteous to do so.
– Firstly, 1 refer to Division 392 which relates to the Northern Division. I have not yet received a satisfactory answer as to why the allocation for the Northern division has been reduced by over $100,000. I want some detail as to why it has been reduced by that tremendous amount - almost by 25%. The nex matters that I refer to are under Division 394. I will run through these so that we may be able to get some information. 1 am concerned with items 06, 08, 09, 10, and
II of sub-division 2. I also seek information on item 01 of sub-division 1 of Division 398.
Minister would like to clarify the position.
– Look, Madam Chair, I am not yet asking questions. All that I am doing is setting these particulars out. Then I propose to go back and ask questions.
Would you wait until we hear from the Minister?
– I want to co-operate with the honourable senator completely and utterly but I must tell him that it is very, very awkward indeed if he just goes right down the list mentioning numbers. Would the honourable senator please give the number of the division on which he wishes to talk and then talk about it? Then could he go on to the next division and give its number. It would be a great help to me if he could do this.
– This is the first time in history that any Minister has ever risen and said that he could not understand what 1 or any senator on this side of the chamber was talking about. I was merely trying to assist him by giving the symbols in advance so that at least the Minister’s advisers would be given a fair go. If the Minister wishes me to proceed in the way he suggests, 1 will deal with one or two items only. I refer again to Division 392 which relates to the Northern Division. I hope I have made it plain to the Minister that I shall not be satisfied until there is an adequate explanation of why the expenditure on this division has been reduced.
– Who do you think you are?
– Madam Chair, I object to that remark because Senator Branson a few moments ago stated that he would kick me again tonight. I object to his remark and ask that it be withdrawn.
– ‘What about the word ‘bludger’?
– That was used in your group.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder! I ask the Committee to come to order and treat the business before the Senate in the way in which it should be treated.
– I raise a point of order. The Committee does itself little credit by going on like this. We are all under tremendous pressure because we have to finish this business. We want to do so with dignity. We have to complete the business by the weekend. To the extent that we go on with this behaviour we make it more difficult for ourselves in the long run.
– In relation to the point of order, I propose shortly, at the first opportunity, to move again that the Committee report progress. I point out that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) suggested certain sitting times on 28th August and the Opposition agreed entirely to those sitting times. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cohen, said that they were not unreasonable. He went on to say:
We want it understood that we would not be nearly as co-operative if there were any suggestion that we should sit into the early hours of the morning. Such an event is not proposed in this motion and it seems that we will be concluding our business each night at 11 p.m. The Opposition agrees to the proposal to sit on Fridays.
– I gave no assurances.
– I am not suggesting that the Minister has in any way broken his word or done anything in that nature. I am saying that matters should be dealt with in an adult fashion. We have been sitting here since 10.30 this morning. A great deal of work has been done. I think fourteen Bills have been dealt with. Every Bill that the Government was prepared to bring before the Senate today has been dealt with. The Government ran out of Bills. It seems to me to be reasonable, if we are to sit here again in the morning, that we should conclude this sitting now. I suggest to the Leader of the Government in the Senate that, in view of what seems to be developing here - it is not a very co-operative atmosphere to say the least - the sooner we adjourn for the evening the better. I invite him to move that the Committee report progress.
– I would like to make a little more progress. I propose that we adjourn at about half past one. I suggest that the Committee go on until about that time.
Order! I suggest to honourable senators that they maintain order for the rest of the sitting.
– It is unfortunate that all these interruptions take place. I return to the division to which I was referring. I have asked for details of the appropriation for the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys under Division 394. This query was answered in part by the Minister the other day, although he gave more an excuse than an answer. I believe that greater detail should be given of the reasons why this year’s appropriation is almost double the expenditure last year. I want to know the names of the companies from which the aircraft are being hired, unless that is a state secret.
The appropriation for aerial survey and photography is $60,000 in excess of last year’s appropriation. I also ask the Minister for the names of the companies from which any aircraft are hired for use on that work. I ask why there has been a substantial increase in the appropriation for contract mapping and also a substantial increase in the appropriation for hydrographic surveys. It is also significant that the appropriation for the petty cash account has been increased by $10,000. I request, in all sincerity, a detailed statement of how that money has been spent.
Government supporters - Oh!
– If the Government has something to hide and is misappropriating money, for God’s sake let it come out in the open and say so. If money had not been misappropriated it would not object when these details are asked for. So the matter comes back to the Government. With reference to the appropriation for the River Murray Commission, let me say that some people would talk under water. I regret very much that the Government has seen fit to turn this sitting into a farce. Originally we were told that we would sit late to deal with Bills. Now we have come back to the Estimates because the Government hopes that it will be able to put the estimates for about fifteen departments through in half an hour. If that is the intention of the Government, it is not being fair to its own supporters or to members of the Opposition, and it is certainly not being fair to the Australian public. That is the way malpractice and corruption are swept under the rug. The Australian Labor Party will not be party to that even if the Government parties will.
I was very ashamed of members of the Democratic Labor Party tonight. They behaved like idiots. It is significant that the Australian Party is not even represented in the chamber at the moment. The misrepresentation that has taken place in relation to keeping the public servants back is nothing but pure misrepresentation. No member of the Opposition wants legislation by exhaustion. If members of the DLP were fair dinkum, they would not have voted with the Government for the extension of this sitting. But in truly typical fashion they are scared to buck the Government even on one issue.
– 1 seek some information-
– If you thought that was good, Senator Keeffe, it was nol. lt stank.
– Madam Temporary Chairman, is ‘stank’ a parliamentary expression?
– lt is as parliamentary as the word ‘bludger that was used earlier.
Order! I suggest that Senator Cavanagh gel back to the Estimates.
– I am relying on your protection, Madam Chair. I would ask also whether the word ‘bludger’ is parliamentary. Some of the items under Division 392 - Northern Division - need explaining. As Senator Keeffe pointed out, the amount sought this year for the Northern Division is less than the amount spent last year, which suggests that this year there will be even less progress in the north than we have had in past years. The progress in earlier years has not been sufficient to develop this area to its full potential. We see that the expenditure last year of $187,125 on salaries and allowances is to be increased this year to $243,500, which suggests that there will be a big increase in the staff of the Northern Division. The amount sought this year for contract investigations is S6.000 compared wilh an appropriation last year of $160,000 and an expenditure of Si 52.882. What are contract investigations? Why is the amount to be appropriated this year so much less than was spent last year? This year an amount of $350,000 is sought for capital works and services for the Division of National Mapping. We see also that last year the sum of $170,000 was sought for the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys by the Division of National Mapping, while $159,504 was spent. This year the Government seeks to appropriate $300,000 for the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys. Last year $100,000 was sought for survey and mapping work carried out by the States and expenditure amounted to $92,955. The amount sought this year for this item is only $50,000. Is this an indication that the mapping work carried out by the Slates is to be discontinued and taken over by the Commonwealth? What survey and mapping work was done by the States in other years? Why is the Department of National Development seeking to increase its activities in this field this year?
– 1 want to refer to the expenditure of $14,300,000 on oil subsidies. .lust what procedures are carried out to evaluate the work upon which the subsidy is paid? In answer to a question on notice asked by me in relation to Artesian Basin Oil Company Proprietary Limited the Minister said:
The payments are conditional on the operation being carried out efficiently and on the objective being achieved.
Apparently some audit is carried out, but how does the Department assess the value of the work? How does the Department assess the honesty of the company that carries out the work? Is there a possibility that the subsidy paid - sometimes it is as much as 50% of the expenditure on the work - covers the total cost of the work? Can the Minister explain the method of the audit? 1 refer back to the subsidy of $22,906 which was paid to the Artesian Basin Oil Company. I asked this question of the Minister:
Wilh reference to the $22,906 Commonwealth oil subsidy paid lo Artesian Basin Oil Company in Queensland, will the Minister ascertain the total value of exploration for which the subsidy was paid?
I am using this particular case to explain what happens generally. I then asked whether the Minister would relate this amount to the $60,000 received by this company as compensation for exploration work, carried out. It appears to me that what happened was that the company received about $22,000, which is 50% of the total value of the work. If we double the $22,000 we get $44,000, yet this company received compensation to the extent of $60,000 for this exploration work. Is this ethical? Did the Department take any steps to recover any portion or all of the subsidy which was paid and upon which such a colossal profit was made? To recapitulate, how does the Department assess the value of the work and on what figures? ls there a certainty that the total cost of the work is not covered by the subsidy itself? What happens in a situation such as this where a company sells out this exploration work at a considerable and handsome profit?
– I want to go back to one of the first questions asked by Senator McClelland in relation to poplar plantations. The Authority has widely advertised the poplar plantations for sale but as yet has not been able to sell them. In answer to Senator Cotton, the large softwood plantations in the Tumut area are being developed by the Forestry Commission of New South Wales aided by money provided by the Commonwealth Government. The Forestry and Timber Bureau of the Department was responsible for the plan under which the Commonwealth provided funds to the States for increased softwood plantings.
asked some questions concerning contract investigations. I believe 1 dealt with this matter in full last week. The estimates for the Northern Division were reduced by this amount because fewer contract investigations will take place in 1969-70. The amount in the estimates for contract investigations bears no relationship to any of the works under investigation. Contract investigations are carried out by consultants in circumstances where staff or expertise are not available within the Department or within other Commonwealth departments.
– Who were the consultants?
– Maunsell and Partners. Senator Keeffe also asked about the aircraft hiring contracts under Division 394 - Division of National Mapping. Aircraft hiring contracts are let by public tender. 1 do not have details of the operators concerned, but the tenders are let mainly to helicopter and light aircraft operators. An amount of $300,000 is provided for the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys. Provision is made in this amount for the cost of the charter of aircraft, both fixed wing and helicopters, for photography for the production and revision of maps, for survey recon- naissance for the location of and the checking of the intervisibility of sites for trigonometrical stations, for radio altimeter heightings, for barometric heighting by helicopter, and for taking measurements with airborne electronic equipment. This item is treated on a programme basis.
The estimated expenditure in 1969-70 has been calculated as follows: Liabilities brought forward as at 1st July 1969. $415,000; new contracts to be awarded in 1969-70, $229,200; the 1969-70 programme, $644,200; and liabilities carried forward as at 30th June 1970, $344,200; leaving an expenditure for 1969-70 of $300,000. The increase to $300,000 in the 1969-70 estimate in relation to the 1968-69 expenditure of $159,504 against the 1968- 69 appropriation of $170,000 is in the cash requirement to effect payment falling due in 1969-70 for contracts previously let. The new contract proposals for 1969-70 total $229,200 compared with a 1968-69 new contract proposal of $398,150.
For the benefit of honourable senators I shall outline the details of the 1969-70 contract proposals. An amount of $82,800 is provided under the No. 1 helicopter contract in 1970 for helicopter support for the transport of personnel and equipment engaged on the Aerodist station establishment in the 1970 field season. The No. 2 helicopter contract in 1970 is for $69,600. lt provides for helicopter support for the transport of ground personnel and equipment engaged on Aerodist measuring operations in the period June to August 1970. There are a lot of other details in relation to this aspect which 1 seek the Committee’s permission to have incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted?
Leave is not granted.
– An amount of $20,000 is provided for the No. 3 helicopter contract for 1970. It is for helicopter support for aerial inspection, examination and completion of surveys to verify the accuracy of map compilations. An amount of $32,000 is provided for Great Barrier Reef investigation. It is for the hire of aircraft for the inspection and photograph of the reefs in the outer Barrier Reef area. An amount of $10,000 is provided for spot photography No. 1. It is for the aerial photo identification of horizontal and vertical control stations as well as map revision. In relation to spot photography No. 2 - Northern Territory - twoflights of some 25 hours each in twin-engine aircraft in the Northern Territory in AugustSeptember 1969 and in Western Australia in March- April 1970 will cost $2,800. For the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys, under Item 06, which I have already mentioned, the total cost is $300,000. The helicopter contract 1969 No. 5, a charter for 30 days - 120 hours flying - to provide transport of a high precision traverse party in inaccessible country between Cooktown and Townsville in September-October 1969, will cost $12,000, making a total for the contract proposals of $229,200.
– I want to raise a point with the Minister. It is extremely difficult to hear the figures quoted. I ask whether be might speak a little louder.
– I shall repeat the last part of my remarks. I am sorry if the honourable senator could not hear. The helicopter contract 1969 No. 5 was a charter for 30 days - 120 flying hours - to provide transport of a high precision traverse party in inaccessible country between Cooktown and Townsville in September-October 1969, costing$1 2,000, making a total amount for these items of $229,200.
Senate adjourned at 1.33 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 September 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690924_senate_26_s42/>.