27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Does the Minister feel that his anti-hijacking protection methods are as good as he hoped, in view of the details revealed of Monday’s case involving one named McLeod?
– Firstof all, who is McLeod? Is McLeod the person who was caught in the lavatory and put off the aircraft, or is McLeod the person who was convicted when caught trying to do something smart in hijacking and got 5 years? All 1 can say is that we feel we are doing our best to control these activities. A view which has been expressed, which has some credence, is that the less said about hijacking in genera] the better. Talk about hijacking tends to encourage people who have irrational views.
– My question to the Minister for Supply refers to a report today that a Government sponsored industry group is going to Asia to investigate the market possibilities of’ the proposed utility-type aircraft now being considered by the Government. Does the development of this project in aircraft depend only upon the market possibilities that might develop from the group now visiting Asia, or has the Government already decided to develop a production cycle for the aircraft rather than wait for any market potentials outside whatever Australia’s armed forces require?
– The short answer - I may need to develop it later - is that we are building the prototypes, as we know. It is hoped that we will attract a market outside Australia. It is equally hoped that the Services will, at the appropriate time, recognise and accept that they have a requirement for the aircraft. So we have not only a potential market in relation to the Services but a potential market in terms of exports. That is the short answer. It may be that the answer will need some refinement a little later.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration give any further details of the background and work classification of United Kingdom migrant Turner, who is at present domiciled in Darwin, who claims that he was grossly misled in regard to his successful integration into the Australian work force?
-I have already replied to the honourable senator concerning this case. I think it was the day before yesterday. I have nothing further to add to the information I then gave, but should 1 get anything further during the day I shall certainly advise him.
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
When it introduced the present national service scheme the Government acted in accordance with the powers conferred on it by the Constitution and it did so after an exhaustive review of defence policy and several years experience had indicated it was the only way to increase the strength of the Regular Army to the extent necessary. The service required of national servicemen is as provided for in the relevant provisions of the Defence Act and the National Service Act; there are no constitutional difficulties.
(Question No. 775)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Hospital treatment, at repatriation expense, may also be provided for disabilities which have not been accepted as related to war service for prescribed classes of beneficiaries, such as those ex-servicemen seriously disabled by accepted disabilities, service pensioners, 1914-18 War nurses and war widows. However, once these conditions have reached a chronic stage, there is no authority to retain the patient in hospital at departmental expense.
Where hospital treatment of non-war caused disabilities only is involved, sustenance is not payable.
No separate statistics are maintained of those in-patients discharged from departmental hospitals to other institutions at their own expense or retained in non-departmental hospitals at their own expense in the circumstances already mentioned above.
(Question No. 708)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
On being imprisoned for failure to obey a notice calling him up for service with the military forces, Mr Ross had no further liability for national service.In view of the report of Mr Justice Smithers the remainder ofthesentence imposed by the court was remitted and he was released. He was not exempted from national service.
The recent amendment to the National Service Regulations empowers the Minister to refer cases to the courts in order to provide an opportunity and a procedure by which men, who refuse to apply themselves for recognition as conscientious objectors, may have the beliefs they claim to hold heard and determined by a court. The essential requirement in such cases is that the man shall have raised the question envisaged in the legislation as to whether he is entitled to exemption from military service or from combatant military duties.It is for the court to determine the nature of the beliefs which the man holds and the depth and sincerity with which he holds them. Men who on being referred satisfy the courts as to their entitlement to exemption will be recognised in the same way as other men who made an application; those who do not remain liable for service and to prosecution for any breach of the National Service Act.
(Question No. 787)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice: ls it a fact as reported in the press on 2 1st October that drivers, batmen and mess stewards, many of whom have no real military training, will now be required for forward patrol work with the infante; if so, will the Minister take appropriate measures to ensure that the order is cancelled, and thereby protect the lives of untrained Army personnel.
Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
All soldiers are expected to be available for the type of duty mentioned; in fact it is not a new development for base staff to undertake patrolling, picquet duty and wire surveillance.
All soldiers including drivers, batmen and mess stewards undergo about ten weeks basic infantry training on entry to the Army. In addition Army policy is that all those posted to Vietnam attend a battle efficiency course at the jungle training centre Canungra prior to going overseas.
– On 17th September, Senator O’Byrne asked the Minister for Supply the following question without notice:
Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the result of the latest gallup poll which indicates a continued hardening of public opinion against the gaoling of people who refuse to register for national service? The poll revealed that only 4 per cent approved of the present penalty of a gaol sentence. In view of the widespread dissatisfaction . with the present provisions of the National Service Act, which dissatisfaction is being expressed in protests and demonstrations which in turn create clashes with law enforcement authorities, will the Minister for Labour and National Service give urgent consideration to amending the hateful parts of the National Service Act and to providing an alternative to young men so that they may perform duties other than combat duties?
The Minister for Labour and National Service has now provided me with the following to supplement the infomation already provided in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The poll to which the honourable senator’s question refers is based on an incorrect premise. Men who fail to register for national service and who are convicted of that offence are not liable under the National Service Act to a penalty involving imprisonment. The only penalty provided for this offence is a fine. A penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment, which the poll stated as the penalty for failing to register for national service is imposed only in the case of men who are convicted of failing to report for service with the military forces when required to do so and who, on being convicted, refuse to enter into an undertaking to obey a notice calling them up for such service. The most that can be judged from the results of the poll, therefore, is the marked impression that most people believe that men who fail to meet their obligations should be required to render some form of service and that in the armed services. 1 do not believe that the poll results in this light warrant consideration of amendment of the National Service Act.
– I lay on the Table the transcript of evidence taken by the Australian Capital Territory Committee of the previous Parliament in its breathalyser inquiry. The transcript is tabled at the request of the present Committee and with a view to the printing of the evidence.
Ordered that the evidence be printed. (
– The Senate will recall that, on 13th October, Senator Greenwood asked me a question concerning standards of conduct and dress required to be observed by persons who are admitted to the Press gallery in the Senate chamber. The circumstance leading to the question was the presence in the gallery of two persons who did not observe customary standards. I have had correspondence with the Press Gallery Committee regarding the incident and can now inform the Senate that the two persons involved were not members of the Press gallery and the officers of the gallery were not aware of their presence in the Senate chamber.
It is proposed that representatives of the Press gallery will confer with officers of the Parliament to ensure that standards of conduct are maintained by all people who might be admitted to the Press gallery. In making this announcement, I wish it to be clear that there is no reflection on the conduct of gallery members themselves, whose standards of conduct in the gallery have always been exemplary.
– I move:
That after consideration of Government Business, Order of the Day No. 1, intervening business be postponed until after consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 5, 17, 18 and 22.
The purpose of moving this motion is to deal with those Bills for which there are circulated amendments by the Opposition. This has been arranged in collaboration with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. After we deal with the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) we will then deal with these Bills which have amendments and this will, we think, enable amore reasonable procedure for the remainder of the day. At this time I am proposing that we deal with the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) in the normal way but as expeditiously aspossible. I do not think there is any secret of my desire and the Government’s desire that we should conclude the business today before the Senate adjourns. I ask that honourable senators, despite hard words that may have been said, concentrate on the items in the Bill that they want to deal with. It is now only 10.15 and I just want to say that we will deal with the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) in the usual way and I hope that we can dispose of it very quickly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1, standing in the name of Senator Murphy be postponed until the next day of sitting.
SenatorMulvihill - I ask leave to make a statement.
– Are there any objections? There being no objections, leave is granted.
– I only intervene to ask for an assurance from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) that the Navigation Bill which deals with the vital question of oil pollution will be dealt with fully. I know the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has indicated a fairly tight schedule and I hope that the discussion of this Bill will not be too confined. I presume that if the replies given by the Minister to some of the questions raised by Senator Keeffe, Senator Georges and myself leave something a little obscure in our minds when we go into Committee we can question the Minister further on these points.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition appointing Senator Wriedt to be a member of the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade in place of Senator Milliner and appointing SenatorMulvihill to be a member of the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare in place of Senator Brown.
Debate resumed from 28 October (vide page 1621), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I think that there should be more clarification of some items. I hope that the responsible Ministers will be able to supply me with the information that I am seeking. Firstly, I refer to the Parliament, Division 800, subdivision 1, item 01 which relates toDisplay - Exhibition Area, Parliament House for which an appropriation of $20,400 is provided. I have read the Hansard report of the Senate- Estimates Committee which considered this matter and know that it is intended to have a display area in the basement of Parliament House, but I am concerned with the overall expenditure on the Parliament. I have always had the impression that at an early date extensions would be built on the Senate side of Parliament House. From the particulars that have been supplied it appears that no expenditure is proposed for such extensions during the coming 12 months. This is unfortunate because the Parliament is working under congested conditions at present and if it is intended to build additions to Parliament House why should such work be delayed, particularly as it is proposed to spend $20,400 on a display area which is not for the convenience of members of the Parliament? Will the Minister provide me with some information on this matter?
In relation to the Department of Customs and Excise, it is proposed, in Division 820, subdivision 1, item 04 to spend $21,600 on film censorship equipment. What is film censorship equipment? I thought that film censorship was applied as a result of viewing of films but apparently some equipment is necessary. What equipment does one need to censor films? Last year $8,300 was provided for such equipment so apparently it is becoming costly to determine what people should not see on film. I refer next to the Department of the Interior, Division 855 sub-division 1, items 12 and 13. Under this Division the vote for the Department of Housing last year was $508,600 but this year it is to be reduced to $283,500. Is this for the Department? What is the expenditure? Is it for some building for the Department of Housing or does it in any way reflect the housing activities under the control of the Department of the Interior?
Item 13 - Department of Immigration - calls for an explanation. Last year a small appropriation of $2,000 was made which was not spent. Why do we appropriate money which is not spent during the year? Apparently we are making that appropriation again this year, whatever it was intended for. As I said last night, the Auditor-General’s report contained some criticism of this practice. On that occasion the criticism, which was in relation to the Department of the Army, referred to payment before delivery. Apparently last year we appropriated money which, for some reason or other, was not spent. I think the Parliament is entitled to an explanation of why that money was not spent.
(10.21) - Senator Cavanagh has dealt with 4 departments. If he would pause now I could reply to the first one and we could keep it flowing in that way. The honourable senator asked about items under Parliament. He said that he was aware that the $20,400 was for a display exhibition area at Parliament House. He was not so much concerned with that, because he has read the transcript of what occurred in another place and in the Estimates Committee; he was more concerned with the question of the extensions to Parliament House and what was happening in relation to that matter. There are two things that I need to say to the honourable senator. The first thing is that there is an item under Division 925, subdivision 1, for an estimate of $85,000 which may attract some information.
As to the other matter about which the honourable senator spoke, I am sure that we are all interested in the extensions to Parliament House. The only information available to me is that they are still under consideration. For that reason they do not appear in the estimates of the Parliament in the Appropriation Bill (No. 2). If other Ministers are not ready to comment on the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Immigration, then we can come back to that later on.
– Senator Cavanagh asked a question about the Department of Customs and Excise. I hold the responsibility here for this Department on behalf of the Minister in the other place. The honourable senator directs attention to Division 820, subdivision 1, item 04 - Film Censorship Equipment. The information I have on this is that the expenditure in 1969-70 was $7,891. The estimate for 1970-71 is $21,600, an increase of about $13,700, to which Senator Cavanagh referred. Provision is made under this item for the purchase of all capital equipment used in film censorship operations. It is estimated that an amount of $21,600 will be required to purchase the equipment programmed for the current year. Major equipment purchases are as follows:
Beyond that I am unable to comment on any policy implications to which the honourable senator has made reference, because it is not within my capacity to do so. I imagine various processes of updating the equipment are necessary to maintain some vigilance on this matter.
My attention was directed to Division 855, subdivision 1, items 12 and 13 for the Department of the Interior. Item 12 refers to the Department of Housing. The informamation T have is as follows: $96,650 has been- provided for incomplete acquisitions brought forward from 1969-70. The individual proposals for migrant flats are as follows: New South Wales, $83,000; South Australia, $11,500; Western Australia, $74,000; and Tasmania, $18,500. The information 1 have does not give details beyond those.
Senator Cavanagh referred to item 13 ; Department of Immigration. The information that 1 have indicates that this item provides for the acquisition of an area for the exentsion of the migrant hostel at Springvale, Victoria. I will undertake to ask both Departments to refer to me answers to these questions. If extra information can be made available, to aid the inquiries of the honourable senator, I will see that he gets it.
-r-I am satisfied with all of the answers given by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) except for the last one. He did not say why the appropriation made last year was not spent. We are now told that this appropriation is for the purpose of acquiring land. But why is there a delay in spending this money? We should perhaps be careful in making appropriations that are only for the purpose of obtaining money for something which is never intended to be put into operation. When the Minister is seeking further information I ask him to find out the reason why this appropriation was not spent last year.
I would now like to refer to the Department of Labour and National Service. In particular I draw the attention of the Committee to Division 861 - Other Services. Item 01 refers to the employment training scheme for women, and the amount of the appropriation is $350,000. As I recall, such a scheme was announced in the Budget Speech. It has been stated that it is the policy of the Department to train women for re-employment after they have advanced their family to a certain stage. I would like to know the method of training that is proposed. What are the women to be trained for? Are training schools to be established? Will the women who are retrained go into various industries? Will the Department be training them for a particular industry or will the training allow them to go into other industries? I am at a loss to know how women will be trained to re-enter industry. We might be training women for a type of employment which is not available or which they are unable to undertake. I think that the Committee ls entitled to details of the proposed method of training and the type of training.
I now refer to Division 872 which concerns the Postmaster-General’s Department. This division contains 4 subdivisions. Subdivision 2. is ‘Australian Broadcasting Commission - For expenditure under the Broadcasting and Television Act’. Subdivision 3. is ‘Australian Broadcasting Commission - For expenditure under the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act’, and subdivision 4. is ‘Australian Broadcasting Control Board - For expenditure under the Broadcasting and Television Act’. I cannot recall what expenditure is necessary in compliance with the Act. Perhaps the Minister could supply me with some details. I turn now to the Department of Shipping and Transport. Division 891, Subdivision 4. is ‘Eyre and Barkly Highways - Contribution to maintenance, $64,000’. The same amount was expended in 1969-70. From questions that have been answered in previous years I believe that, at least in regard to the Eyre Highway, the amount covers an annual contribution which is paid by the Commonwealth towards the maintenance of the Highway.
Repeated appeals have been made to the Federal Government for financial assistance for the purpose of sealing the Eyre Highway. There remains a length of about 300 miles from Penong to the border between South Australia and Western Australia which is still unsealed. This is the only unsealed length in a continuous highway from about Townsville on the east coast to Port Hedland on the west coast. The South Australian Government certainly wishes to seal this road but so far has not been able to do so, and it has made repeated requests to the Commonwealth. Every year the Commonwealth votes a sum of money for repairs to this highway. This permits the filling of potholes in a dirt road which is damaged as soon as it is repaired. This seems a waste of money when the sealing of the road could probably bring the maintenance of it within the financial capabilities of South Australia. If the Federal Government would make money available in one lump to make and seal this length of road it
Would save ihe recurring vote every year, i ask the Minister whether there is any prospect of this money being made available, thus saving the seemingly wasteful annual expenditure on repairs. At present the road is criticised by everyone who travels on it.
- Senator Cavanagh, I suggest that you give the Minister an opportunity to answer those questions before you proceed.
– I rise in response to Senator Cavanagh’s inquiry about the vote of $350,000 for the training of women under Division 861, item 01. of the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service. This is a new policy announced within the last two or three months. The employment training scheme for women came into effect in September 1970. lt is designed to provide an opportunity for married and adult single women to enter or re-enter the work force by giving the necessary vocational skills. Trainees must have lived continuously in Australia for the previous 2 years and must have been restricted from taking up regular employment by domestic responsibilities commencing more than 2 years previously. They must have the ability to complete the training and perform the duties of the chosen occupation. The main features of the scheme are, firstly, a maintenance allowance for. those women who, but for their attendance at an approved course of full time training at an educational or training institution under this scheme, would be ineligible to claim the unemployment benefit; secondly, a contribution towards a living away from home expense for women in country towns who have to move to another place to undertake approved training; thirdly, financial assistance for trainees in educational and training institutions for fees and essential books and equipment; fourthly, an incidental expense allowance for full time studies to cover additional out of pocket expenditure; fifthly, a subsidy to employers who, at the request of the Department, provide on the job training for trainees whose preferred occupation can only be obtained by guided experience in the industry.
(10.34) - Senator Cavanagh referred, as I under stood it, to the Broadcasting arrangements for the Parliament. I inform the honourable senator that there was quite considerable comment on this in the Estimates Committee where Senator Lawrie inquired about this matter. The departmental officer present at the Committee hearing said that he would advise Senator Lawrie when he had had a further look at the points which had been raised. I also inform the honourable senator that this is a matter which is being considered at present by the Joint Standing Committee on Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings with officers of the ABC’s Technical Services Division. This comes under the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act and not the Broadcasting and Television Act. However, the matter is under consideration and I shall certainly ensure that the honourable senator is given any further information which is made available by those officers who were asked similar questions in Senate Estimates Committee B.
– Senator Cavanagh directed his attention to subdivision 4 under Division 891 within the Department of Shipping and Transport. He referred to the Eyre Highway and the Barkly Highway. The explanatory note which I have is that the expenditure in 1969-70 was $64,000 and it is estimated that a similar expenditure will be incurred in 1970-71 the honourable senator will recall that Senator Laucke has taken a great interest in this matter. ] addressed to Senator Laucke a long letter in reply from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) about a week ago which made it fairly clear that there was some responsibility on the South Australian Government to involve itself in an application for the surfacing of the road. I will ensure that a copy of that letter is sent to Senator Cavanagh. The explanatory note states that the Commonwealth contributes to the expenditure on maintaining that portion to the Barkly Highway within Queensland of 127 miles and the Eyre Highway from Penong in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia of 723 miles. An expenditure of $50,000 is provided for on that section of the Eyre Highway. Beyond that I do not have any information that would assist the honourable senator
However as I said I will provide the honourable senator with a copy of the letter and he can take the matter up by correspondence with the appropriate Minister.
– I wish to refer to 2 items under Division 872, which has already been referred to by my colleague Senator Cavanagh. The total appropriation for 1970-71 under Division 872 is §5,735,000. I also wish to refer to the Department of Works under Division 925, subdivision 6, for which an amount of $4,880,000 is to be appropriated. In that amount the sum of $900,000 will be appropriated for television studios. I take it that the expenditure of $4,880,000 is related to the extension of sound broadcasting and television in Australia and that the expenditure of $900,000 in relation to television studios is in connection with the construction of studio facilities for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
I hope that this expenditure will enable more Australians to be employed in this very vital media of communications. It is not my intention to take up unnecessarily the time of the Committee this morning but during the course of the proceedings of the Senate Estimates Committee B I dealt at length with many of the matters which come under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I wish now to raise a matter which I will continue to raise at every opportunity available to me-
– is it in fact a capital works item?
– It is related because it is an extension of studios. I want to know what is involved and what benefit will accrue to the Australian industry as a result. If the Minister will be a little tolerant I will take about 5 minutes in exposition of the case that I intend putting. This situation involves the right of every Australian to work in an industry of his or her chosen calling. Frankly, I deplore the failure of the Government to date to lay down new Australian programme standards. It was said as long ago as June that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was embarking upon this proposal but apparently, while Australian artists, writers, actors and musicians are finding it extremely difficult to get any work with commercial television stations, the Board has had other more important things to do. I trust the Government in this expenditure is involving itself in expenditure which will give the opportunity to Australians to be engaged further in this industry.
At the same time, I point out to the Government that at the present time there is what might be known as a revolution - a cassette or cartridge revolution - taking place particularly in the United States of America. For the expenditure of a reasonably small amount of money one can buy a device to record on tape various programmes and show them in their own homes through their own television sets when and where they like. I would like to know in connection with this area of expenditure just what attitude the Government is taking as far as watching developments in this technological industry is concerned. I could make a speech at considerable length on these subjects, but I have made my point. I urge the Government to take heed of my remarks and, certainly before the Senate election, to bring down recommendations regarding Australian content in television programmes because I believe that Australians engaged in this vital communications industry have not been given a fair go to date by this Government.
– My query is very brief. I refer to Division 925 - Capital Works and Services - in the appropriation for the Department of Works and mention specifically sub-division 1, item 01 relating to the Parliament. I note that $85,000 is allocated for capital works and services associated with the Parliament this financial year. Does this mean that no extensions will be made on this House in the foreseeable future to overcome the crowded conditions that are being suffered not only by members but also by staff, particularly in the Parliamentary Library, at the present time? I understand that there were plans for extensions to the Senate side wing to accommodate members, the Committee system that has been established and also to alleviate the problems of over crowding that exist in many of the sections of the House where staff are employed. It would appear from this allocation which is $1 4,946 below actual expenditure in 1969-70 that no immediate plans have been made for an extension of the facilities in this building. Is this so-
– Senator, 1 gave an answer, before you entered the Committee, on this point to Senator Cavanagh.
– I do not think you did.
– May I interpose that there is nothing in the Estimates on this point. The matter is under consideration. That is the only information that I have.
– The other query that I have is in relation to forward planning of a new and permanent parliament house. Has that matter been discussed in relation to the Estimates also? Has there been any allocation for forward planning for the building of a new and permanent parliament house which will take probably 10 to 1 2 years to complete?
– The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) may respond to the line of the Estimates that the honourable senator has mentioned.
– Yes. lt comes under the Department of Works.
– I wish to raise 2 matters under the Appropriation Bill (No. 2). I refer firstly to Division 861, item 01, employment training scheme for women. It is noted that this is the first year that an appropriation has been allocated for this purpose. I was under the impression that this department had been established for some time. Apparently if it has been operating in the past it has been operating under another appropriation. If I am incorrect in saying that it has been established for some time it appears to me that the Department of Labour and National Service has been rather tardy in its approach to an employment training scheme for women. The International Labour Organisation in 1964 laid down the guidelines for employment for women in the changing world. It did this, I believe, quite successfully, and I am surprised that this is the first occasion on which there has been a specific amount allocated for that purpose. The Minister may be able to explain why. I was under the impression that during the sittings of the Estimates Committee; Dr Cook said that the scheme had been operating for some time. i refer next to Division 855, subdivision 1, item 04, which relates to the Department of Civil Aviation. There is an allocation of $1,274,300. Does this comprehend that we will be proceeding with resumptions of land for the Eagle Farm Airport in Brisbane? I know that there have been discussions by the property officer in Queensland with residents in that area. I pay a tribute to the way he has approached this question of the resumption of properties. He has gone to the people concerned and discussed the matter with them. I believe that as a result of that the way will be paved for a much smoother resumption of properties than is usually the case in matters of this nature. I draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that for so long have we in Brisbane put up with the igloo type of airport buildings. They are a joke. Over the past 3 years there have been alterations to the airport, and the Department of Works is in the process of again making substantial alterations to the Eagle Farm Airport. This has caused considerable inconvenience to the staff at the airport. My principal concern is for them. But it has caused considerable inconvenience to passengers also. The Minister may be able to explain how far we have advanced with the resumption of properties for the extension of Eagle Farm and when we can hope to get into the building operations for that purpose.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (10.48) -In reply to Senator McClelland, it is quite true that, as he said, the matter he raised was very intensively discussed in the Estimates Committee. During the Committee bearings he received a lot of information of which I know he was appreciative. He mentioned the Australian content of radio and television programmes. I think it would be worthwhile to remind him of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s contribution to Australian drama and Australian programmes generally. In the year 1969-70 the ABC’s transmission of Australian programmes amounted to 52.5 per cent of its total output. A summary of these matters is contained on page 53 of the ABC’s annual report to the Parliament.
Senator McCelland also asked for details of the amount of $900,000 provided for television studios under Division 925, subdivision 6, item 04. This programme includes: Gore Hill, Sydney, $686,000; Ripponlea studio, Melbourne, $143,000; Darwin, Northern Territory, $145,000; minor works all States, $70,000. The cash required during 1970-71 for these works and works commenced in 1969-70 is $900,000. The complete programme regarding television studios is set out on page 72 of the document entitled ‘Civil Works Programme 1970-1971’. Works in progress account for $776,637 and proposed new works are expected to cost $1,044,000. Estimated expenditure for 1970-71 is $900,000. The appropriation is controlled by the Department of Works.
– I rise to respond to the question asked by Senator Poyser regarding the appropriation of $85,000 for the Parliament under Division 925. There is a programme of $81,000 for new works for this Parliament House this year, consisting of $37,000 for an extension to the reading room of the Library, $8,000 for partitioning in the Senate Office, $11,700 for renovations to non-members’ facilities and $24,300 for various minor works - each costing less than $7,000 - making a total of $81,000. The whole of that expenditure will not be incurred this year but that, together with expenditure on projects commenced last year amounting to $25,974, constitutes a figure of $85,000. There is no item in the Estimates which refers to expenditure on the new parliament house because no decision has been made on that matter. Senator Poyser also referred to the question of the making of extensive extensions to the present Parliament House. No decision has been made on that matter, so I cannot give him any particulars about it at this stage.
– I am grateful to you, Mr Chairman, for giving me the call. I think it would be better if we answered the questions as they are asked rather than have the questions build up too much. Perhaps we can do a better job in this way. I have had passed to me by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Immi gration (Mr Lynch) some additional notes regarding Division 855, subdivision 1, items 12 and 13. The additional note regarding item 12, for Senator Cavanagh’s information, is that expenditure of $527,395 exceeded the appropriation by $18,795. It is not always possible at the time the annual Appropriation Bills are being prepared to make realistic estimates of all acquisitions that may be made during the year. For this reason it is customary, as the honourable senator may know, to obtain approval during the year for expenditure on the purchase of property on an ad hoc basis.
In the present case, the Treasurer’s approval was obtained in May 1970 to purchase for $19,500 a block of land at Wayville, in South Australia, for the erection of migrant flats. It was known at that stage of the financial year that there was a small adjustment of $705 in the acquisition programme for the year, and the net additional amount of $18,795- that is $19,500 less $705 - was provided from the Treasurer’s Advance. The additional information in response to his query regarding item 13 is that the acquisition formalities were not completed in 1969-70 and the money was re-voted. The appropriation is for a small piece of land to complete the site of the Springvale hostel.
Senator Milliner referred to the appropriation under Division 855 for the acquisition of sites and buildings for the Department of Civil Aviation. He also made a number of comments about it. The general explanatory note is to be found in relation to the estimates for the Department of the Interior which, of course, is the responsible authority for acquiring sites and buildings. The situation is simply that the Department of the Interior is the chief property authority for all Commonwealth departments. It acquires land, it sells surplus land and it negotiates for new sites. In effect, it is the responsible authority. The note is that the greater part of this provision is for incomplete acquisitions brought forward from 1969-70 amounting to $784,953. The new proposals are mainly for acquisitions in New South Wales totalling $168,200, in Queensland totalling $184,400, and in Western Australia totalling $113,300. There is a tremendous amount of information in relation to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation but it goes into great detail and does not really help on the point the honourable senator makes. But I will get the information from the Department and Jet the honourable senator have it. The honourable senator made some comments about the problems at Eagle Farm and the development of Brisbane Airport. I am well aware of these problems and have them in hand. The honourable senator is probably aware of the fact that there was a proposal some little while ago for a substantial land development scheme to what 1 might call the north-east of Brisbane Airport, and this, in conjunction with recently developed ability to estimate the noise problem, has really created a need for a very complete and accurate study of Brisbane Airport. That study is going on at present in conjunction with the State Government and the other responsible people.It is really an attempt to make perfectly sure that the development of that airport in its fullest sense takes full regard for the comfort and convenience of the people of Brisbane.
Some acquisitions have taken place in the Pinkenba area in view of the need for extra land there for a new terminal, but we have no actual cash appropriated at the present time. We do have an undertaking from the Treasury that as we negotiate - and 1 agree with the honourable senator that the Department of the Interior has done this well and fairly - and make reasonable arrangements with people to acquire the necessary land the money will be approved stage by stage as we go along. T am hoping that next year we will see some substantial progress towards getting the full acquisition in our hands. But there are some problems at Brisbane Airport to be taken in hand by the whole governmental group. Some of them relate to access to the airport and road and transport arrangements. It is a huge development plan in the fullest sense. I do not think I can say any more than that to the honourable senator except that we are very conscious of the need for development and equally conscious that it will be clone very properly when it is done.
– I refer to one other item in the Estimates which comes under the heading of the Department of Primary Industry. I refer to. Division 876, Item 01 - Wine re search, $50,000. I note that there was no expenditure on this item last year. The wine industry is a very important primary industry for Australia, particularly for New South Wales. It is important for the Hunter Valley district and the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area. The wine industry is very concerned about the increased production that is taking place within the industry. At the same time that there has been an increase in production there has also been a fail off in consumption and it is suggested that a lot of the reduction in local consumption has been connected wilh heavy additional excise charges imposed in the recent Budget.
I should like to know just what is really involved in connection with this expenditure. The Viticultural Section of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture does very fine work in wine research in association with the Wine Industry Research Council and I hope that this expenditure of $50,000 will not mean a duplication of the work that is already being carried out but rather will mean an extension of the type of activity that is already being carried out by those authorities. In short, what is the type of research envisaged in this expenditure? Where is it contemplated that the work will be done, and if it is work of a practical nature within the industry itself, why is it being undertaken by the Department of Primary Industry and not by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation?
– The only other question that I had intended to ask has already been asked by Senator Poyser and,I think, effectively answered. But I just want to comment on the additions that are to be made to Parliament House. Honourable senators will recall some criticism of mine of the Department of Works which brought forth the reply that the Department could not, on the score of economy and efficiency, compete with private contractors.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, will you nominate what Division you are discussing?
– Division 925. ft is understandable that the Department of Works cannot compete with private contractors when we realise that $8,000 is proposed for the construction of a parti l ion in an office. This is an incredible cost.I look forward to seeing the completed job because, for that cost, I would envisage a partition studded with rubies. It is no wonder that the Deparment cannot compere in economy and efficiency with private contractors. Honourable senators will view the completed partition with interest, particularly knowing that it cost $8,000. The work of his Department obviously needs some scrutiny by the Senate to ensure that money is not being wasted on minor repairs and minor work.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to comment on this matter now. I wish only to acknowledge Senator Cavanagh’s remarks and to invite his closest scrutiny of the work when it is completed. I would appreciate his comments, based on his experience.
– I do not know whether my experience would be involved. I would not know current prices. I am not of Jewish or Scottish extraction but for $8,000 1 would want more than a partition.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, discussion of the Bill enables senators to seek information. You must direct your remarks to seeking information.
– I conclude my remarks on this matter by saying that I appreciate the Minister’s offer to discuss with him the work when it is completed. J had asked the Minister some questions relating to Division 872 concerning capital works for broadcasting and television services. The Minister replied to my question concerning subdivision 3 relating to expenditure in respect of the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings. I suppose that had I read the details concerning this matter more closely I would have realised that the subdivision was self-explanatory. However, I am curious to know details of the proposed capital works for the Postmaster-General’s Department in respect of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission which, under the Broadcasting and Television Act, incur expenditure on work of a capital nature.
In respect of the Department of Labour and National Service, item 01 of Division 861 relates to an employment training scheme for women to fit them with industrial skills. I favour an attempt to train women and I gather from the Minister’s earlier reply on this matter that established schools and institutions will be used for training purposes. I presume that this scheme will be conducted in conjunction with the States and that the allocation proposed is for the purpose of repaying the States for the cost involved. The Minister said also that a subsidy would be paid to industry where there is an absence of other training facilities for women. Women would be placed direct in industry and a subsidy would be paid to employers for training them. I think this scheme needs more and serious consideration because in the past we have had dilutee schemes that have created considerable trouble. I was active in a post-war rehabilitation scheme which was, I think, the most effective training scheme we have had for adult trainees, but the whole operation of that scheme involved trade union participation. These bodies consisted of trade unions and employers organisations working in a voluntary capacity.
The proficiency of a particular trainee has to be assessed to see that the proper subsidy, and not an excess subsidy, is paid. Assurance must be given to those who work in the industry that this is not a system designed to take employment normally occupied by a trade union member away from the trade union’s and to give it to some dilutee who is subsidised by the Federal Government. We have to avoid the exploitation that can occur. There has to bc strict supervision of this system. I think that industrial trouble would occur if a woman was engaged particularly in manufacture and she was not receiving the appropriate award wage for the occupation she was carrying out.
Under the trainee scheme all trainees receive the appropriate award wage and the subsidy, where there is some subsidy of that wage from the Government. All these problems arise when a dilutee is placed in industry. Either the scheme is doomed to failure or there will be many critical periods for the scheme if the closest cooperation of the trade union movement is not obtained and used at such time as it is sought to place trainee women into industry.
– I have taken note of what Senator Cavanagh has said. Had he been present at the proceedings of Estimates Committee C he would have seen the degree to which committee members examined the apprenticeship scheme which has similar features to the scheme he was discussing, where subsidy arrangements in part exist for the purpose of training country apprentices. I have taken full note of what he said about theseed to watch a subsidy proposal such as this. 1 invite the honourable senator’s closest scrutiny when the expenditure is before us next year. I have noted also what he said with regard to these trainees conforming to trade union principles. I have every confidence that the Department will keep that well in mind and that the whole scheme will be one in consonance with the spirit of the trade unions.
– Senator McClelland referred to Division 876 item 01 - wine research. The estimate for that item is $50,000. He referred generally to the wine industry and made some remarks on production and consumption. I would like to say to him that this week a meeting of the Wine Advisory Committee is to be held. This committee was set up at the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to look at this aspect of the industry. The Committee will be meeting today or tomorrow and probably at other times before February, when it will report back to the Agricultural Council. The Division to which the honourable senator referred is a new one for which funds have not previously been appropriated. In this instance the Commonwealth agreed to match contributions by the Australian Wine Board and the Australian Wine Research Institute on a dollar for dollar basis for a 5-year period commencing on 1st July 1970. The amount of the Commonwealth’s contribution for 1970-71 will be $50,000.
The reason for this is that the Australian wine industry has grown rapidly over the past decade. With the rapid expansion of wine production and greater emphasis on table wines there has been a corresponding increase in the need for research into problems associated with wine production and the quality of wine and in the need for technical advisory services to the industry. So the Government has agreed to contribute on a dollar for dollar basis with the Australian Wine Board and the Austraiian Wine Research Institute.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (11.10) - I would like to reply to some questions that were asked by Senator Cavanagh about the Postmaster-General’s Department. The provision of $320,080 in respect of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board relates to technical equipment for broadcasting and television purposes. The Board’s capital works funds are for technical equipment,for broadcasting and television and for the development and enforcement of technical standards governing broadcasting and television stations. Of the amount of $320,000, $212,000 is in respect of equipment necessary for the conduct of technical inspections of broadcasting stations. This duty was previously undertaken by the Postmaster-General’s Department on behalf of the Board. The Board is in the process of taking over this duty from the Post Office. Under the Broadcasting and Television Act the Postmaster-General’s Department is responsible for the installation of broadcasting and television transmitters. These are very extensive in number. I think that what 1 have said covers the points that were raised by the honourable senator.
-I would likeclarification on a matter which I raise every year when speaking to the estimates of the Postmaster-General’s Department I refer to the single line entry item 01 which is contained in Division 870 - Capital Works and Services. This single line entry has appeared in the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) ever since the Post Office Trust Account was established. Under this item we are to provide $240m to the Post Office. 1 have been trying to find out what this amount will be used for. I notice that when Estimates Committee B discussed the accounts of the Postmaster-General’s Department no mention was made of the use to which this money would be put. We do not know how the money will be used in the field of capital works and services. I have had a look at the Post Office prospects and capital programme for 1970-71 and I ask the Minister whether what I am about to say is the explanation of this amount. On page 9 of the pamphlet dealing with prospects and capital programme the estimated capital investment for 1969-70 and plant for 1970-71 is shown. This pamphlet states that the cost of telecommunication plant, which is of course the major item, is anticipated to be $328m. The pamphlet also indicates the allocation for other engineering and movable plant and so on, which makes up the balance. The total is $404m.
If we go to the source of funds we find that the Postmaster-General proposes to borrow $240m. I take it that this is the $240m we are talking about. This leaves $164m to be available from the resources mf the Post Office which are made up from ordinary day to day incomings and outgoings. I think I am right up to this point because I have seen a few heads nodding. Apparently I am not too far out. The next question is: What will be done with this $404m? On pages 11, 12 and 13, in statements C and D, of the pamphlet dealing with prospects the programme of capital investment is set out A list is given of capital to be allocated for telecommunication installations, broad band bearer systems, and so on, throughout Australia. Although the expenditure has not been totalled, I gather that it amounts to the $404m that we are talking about. Is this the explanation of how the money referred to in the Post Office accounts is to be used?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (11.15) - The first part of the honourable senator’s comment was quite correct He was right In suggesting that up to that point of time the answer was ‘yes’. I have a little further information which I can give him. The total overall expenditure is $ 1,000m and the estimated receipts $760m. The statement is only indicative of projects over $500,000.
– This is not quite the information I was after because in referring to $ 1,000m the Minister is including the amounts that come under documents A and B, that is, in Appropriation Bill No. 1 and Appropriation Bill No. 2. AH I can ask the Minister is what comes under this amount of $240m in Appropriation Bill No. 2? The only items that I could find to indicate what the amount of $404m is to be spent on are those indicated in the document ‘Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme’ for 1970-71. Perhaps the Minister can give me a fuller explanation on this point because we are dealing with a large amount of money and I do not like to see the sum of S404m going through without some query. It was not queried in Estimates Committee B. This is one of the drawbacks that we found with our Estimates Committees in their introduction. I very much wanted to get to this Committee but I was involved in another committee to which I paid particular attention as it was dealing with primary industry. Consequently I could not get to Estimates Committee B when this matter was discussed. As the Minister knows, I tried to get there but when I arrived consideration of this matter had been completed. If the Minister could give me this information I would be grateful.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) (11.18) - I appreciate the point that the honourable senator has made and I am aware that he endeavoured to get information when the Estimates Committee was sitting but was involved with another Committee. I am seeking further information concerning the matter he has raised. I would again say that the honourable senator’s reference in the first part of his question was correct and we are now seeking further detailed information which I think might be helpful. I have known over a period of time that the honourable senator has always been interested in this item and has been anxious to have these details provided a little more fully. I know this is very important and if I have not got all the information he wants I shall be only too pleased to get further information for him. The amount of $240m represents the amount that the Post Office cannot fund from its own resources. The setting up of the Post Office Trust Account required that the Postmaster-General’s Department issue a White Paper and an annual report This is all the further information that has been made available to me this morning. I think there may be more information the honourable senator would wish to have and I will ask the departmental officers whether this can be given to him at an early date.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Ander son) put:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27 October (vide page 1531), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– On behalf of the Opposition, as an amendment to the motion that the Bill be read a second time, I move:
At end of motion add: but the Senate is of opinion that it should state a total programme required to meet the needs of the Aboriginal people and provide now a larger amount of money towards meeting that programme, and a better allocation of the funds between existing needs; and that the Common wealth request the States of Queensland and Western Australia to take immediate legislative action to abolish all discriminatory Acts and Regulations in both States.’
In view of the fact that we are now at the end of a parliamentary session it is my intention to be very brief in my remarks but I wish to emphasise the reasons why the Opposition has moved this amendment to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. The first part of the amendment states that a total programme should be evaluated so that funds which are now becoming available in larger amounts maybe put to better use.If a total programme is evaluated and the amount of money now made available is insufficient, additional funds should be made available to correct the situation in which the Aboriginal people find themselves in various parts of Australia. At present a considerable amount of money is expended for the welfare of the Aboriginal. In this financial year the States and the Commonwealth will expend about $25m in assistance for the Aboriginal people. That amount does not include other forms of assistance given to Aboriginal people by way of social services and unemployment benefits. That amount of $25m is an increase on the amount expended in this direction in 1969-70. It seems strange to those people who move in areas where Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders live that there is no evidence of expenditure of a nature which reaches the individual Aboriginal.
No-one would question the intentions or the motives of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. I would say that it has endeavoured with good intention, in terms of ideas and expenditure, to improve the lot of the Aboriginal, but for some reason, despite the increased expenditure and the good intentions of that Office, the individual Aboriginal is still not receiving any visible practical assistance. It is for this reason that we believe it is necessary to have a total programme evaluated so that money now being expended on Aboriginal advancement will in the future be expended with the greatest possible effect.
The second part of the amendment states that the Opposition is of the belief that the Commonwealth should request the States of Queensland and Western Australia to take immediate legislative action to abolish all discriminatory Acts and regulations in both States. The Opposition believes that this is a most important step because discriminatory legislation is the greatest barrier confronting the Commonwealth in its attempts to improve the lot of the Aboriginal. Many Aboriginals still exist under the control of laws which are repressive, oppressive and discriminatory. While they exist under these laws it is not possible to advance the cause of the Aboriginal or the Torres Strait Islander as much as we would like to do. The Office of Aboriginal Affairs is continually confronted by discriminatory legislation in Western Australia and in Queensland and it is unable to break through this barrier in order to give the effective assistance which it desires to give to the Aboriginal. To enable this assistance to be given we on this side feel that these Acts in Queensland and in Western Australia should be repealed or that the Commonwealth should use its powers to transcend State powers. However, it is the vievv of the Opposition that it would be more effective if the States took the action which this amendment seeks and that is to abolish all discriminatory Acts and regulations in Queensland and in Western Australia.
I will briefly indicate how discriminatory the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders’ Affairs Act 1965 is. In a petition which was circulated in Queensland these questions were asked:
Would you want the Government to have these powers over you?
Transfer you from one part of Queensland to another against your will.
The Aboriginals who live under this Act in Queensland are not free to move about as they have said themselves, and they are subject to this imposition. The next item states:
There are many Aboriginals who are in this position. The next states:
Could you feed and clothe a family (as Aborigines on Reserves are expected to do) on wages ranging from $10 to $25 a week?
That is a power which is exercised in many areas of Queensland. The petition continues:
This is your punishment if you, for example:
Attempt to leave or escape from a Reserve.
Fail to obey any lawful instruction of the Manager.
Are idle, negligent or careless at work.
This is, of course, at the discretion or interpretation of the manager of a reserve. The article continues:
In any other way offend against discipline or good order of the Reserve.
The . Government has all of these powers over Aborigines and Islanders on Reserves.
It is the opinion of those responsible for circulating this petition that the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders’ Affairs Act 1965 oppresses the Aboriginals of Queensland and that it is a denial of human rights. They demand that the Act be abolished. This is the purpose of our amendment. It must be realised that people who live under such a restrictive Act are unable to respond to the assistance which the Commonwealth is endeavouring to provide. Their limited education makes it almost impossible for Aboriginals te take advantage of legislation which provides them with opportunities for appeal against restrictions, lt is with concern that we approach this subject.
I have with me a summary with an appendix attached of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders’ Affairs Act 1965. It sets out the conditions of remuneration available to Aboriginals on reserves and the conditions under which payments are made. The summary consists of 4 pages but I think that it is important for me to read from it. This document was prepared by Abschol, a group which works on behalf of Aboriginals. This document comes from that group at the University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland. With the concurrence of honourable senators. I incorporate this document in Hansard. It reads:
THE ABORIGINAL AND ISLANDAFFAIRS ACT OF 1965
The following summary does not cover all of this act. It is intended to deal only with those parts which are very important or particularly objectionable. Emphasis is given to those provisions which cause most complaints among Aborigines.
The basic philosophy of this act seems to be that the Aborigines it covers must be closely controlled by the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs (hereafter referred to as the department). No meaningful form of self-determation is permitted. Apparent attempts at this are aborted by the close departmental control exerted.
In reading the act, or this summary, it is important to bear in mind the people with whom it deals. Aborigines on reserves have grown up believing that they had no rights at all and that they must always obey the white staff on the reserve. Under the previous acts and other directors this belief was very close to being correct. Even if this is no longer so this upbringing ensures that the Aborigine is unlikely to argue with any decision of the manager and is very unlikely to go as far as to appeal against his decision. This becomes more apparent when we consider the possible penalties for any such opposition - removal from the reserve, transfer to the other end of Queensland, complete loss of income and thus food (other than what can be obtained from friends) or house arrest for an indeterminate period. The Aborigine knows these things can occur because he has seen them happen or knows ot some-one to whom they have happened. Some of these do not occur often but the threat is always there. lt is also important to realise that the Aborigine on the reserve has very little formal education - perhaps 5 years of schooling would be the average for the adults. Thus even where the act does give him some rights, e.g., the right to appeal, he is unlikely to know this and is probably unable to use them. The difficulty of access to the reserves for outsiders ensures that he does not learn to exercise these rights. Thus while it may be true that the Queensland Full Court will take action against abuses of power by the administrators of the act it is highly unlikely that any Aborigine will bring before them a complaint. 30,000 Aborigines and Islanders are subject to this act.
In this summary ‘The Manager’ refers to the official of the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs who is in charge of a reserve or settlement.
The District Officer’ refers to the official of the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs who is in charge of one of the districts of Queensland. This may or may not include one or more reserves.
The Director’ refers to the official in charge of the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. He is subject only to the Minister of Aboriginal and Island Affairs, the political head.
Declaration under and exemption from the act
The 1965 act differentiates between those Aborigines to be assisted and those not requiring aid. A period of twelve months was set aside during which the director could ‘declare any Aborigine, part-Aborigine or person having a strain of Aboriginal blood to be an assisted Aborigine’ (Sect. 17). With this went the power to declare under the act any of the children of assisted Aborigines if they hadnot attained or not apparently attained 17 years of age (S.19).
After the transitory twelve months, admission to the act was, if voluntary, by an application to the Director (S.18). Also included in the act are provisions for compulsory entry under the act. Thus if the Director or any authorised officer finds a personhas a strain of Aboriginal blood’ and should in his best interest be declared’ he may require him to appear in court and ‘to answer the complaint and to be further dealt with according to law’ (S.20). The court may declare the Aborigine as needing assistance and put him under the act. In addition when an Aborigine or partAborigine comes before a court the presiding officer may declare the Aborigine to need assistance and put him under the act ‘whether or not such person was convicted of the offence with which he was charged’ (S.21).
Exemption from the act may be declared by the Director at his own discretion or upon receipt of an application for exemption. If such application is refused an appeal can be made to a magistrate’s court as discussed later.
Two important points should be made to clarify the situation. Members of Parliament continuuously receive requests for help to get out from under the act. lt is also notable that Aborigines refer to the ‘unassisted’ as ‘free men’ and talk about getting their freedom when making application for exemptions. This shows the degree to which they feel oppressed by the act.
This is not to say that all assisted Aborigines want to be exempted from the act. As things stand exemption means that the Aborigine must leave the reserve. Many Aborigines have lived there all their lives and still want to. They don’t like the restrictions under which they live but prefer them to being forced to leave their home. The restrictions after all, are only what they are used to.
Within the preliminary to the 1965 act, Parliament specified that all existing reserves were to continue as such (S.4 (11)).It is important to examine the extent and generality of the powers assigned to the Manager and to the department.
The most general powers are contained in Regulations 10-13 and apply to ‘every resident on or visitor to’ the reserve. Thus all must ‘conform to a reasonable standard of good conduct’ (R.10), must ‘obey all lawful instructions of the Director. District Officer, Manager, Councillors or other officers of such Reserve’ CR.il) and must not do any act subversive of good order or discipline on a Reserve’ (R.12). Even when a non-resident is authorised to bc on the reserve,he may not interfere with the normal duties or activities of any assisted person’ (R.16). Naturally the Manager as the senior officer would be the one to decide, at least in the first instance, on what is a reasonable standard of conduct, what acts subvert good order and what interferes with normal duties.
The wide scope of these powers is easily susceptible to misuse and gives to the manager almost absolute power over the actions of all on the reserve. Colin Tatz, in his article ‘Queensland Aborigines, Natural Justice and the Rule of Law’ (Australian Quarterly, Sept. 1963) quotes many documented cases of breaches of similar regulations in the act then in force. He shows how they were used to deal with such diverse topics as arson, assault, bribery, drunkenness, theft and trespass.
The regulations not only authorise the manager to eject anyone ‘who enters or remains on a Reserve without the Manager’s authority (R.13) but also make it an offence for anyone to bring onto a reserve ‘anything which in the opinion of the Manager’ is likely ‘to disturb the peace, harmony, order or discipline of such reserve’ (R 17).
Section 34 gives the Director power to forcibly move an assisted Aborigine not living on a reserve onto any reserve in Queensland. The Director may remove an assisted Aborigine from the reserve by cancelling his certificate of entitlement (R.24) or may, on the recommendation of an Aboriginal Court, transfer him from one reserve to another (S.34). The wishes of the assisted Aborigine need not be considered. Appeals against each of these decisions may be made as discussed below. No non-resident of a reserve can enter it without permisison of the manager (R.13). This means that a non-resident Aborigine, born on a reserve with perhaps parents still living there, cannot enter without permission. Nor can the parents leave the reserve to visit the son without permission (R.70). These two provisions cause more complaints than any other in the act.
Detention in a dormitory can be enforced by the Manager, Aboriginal Court or Visiting Justice (R.70). Acts which are punishable by detention include attempts to escape or illegally leave the Reserve; ‘failure to carry out instruction in hygiene, sanitation or infant welfare’, being guilty of immoral conduct or committing an offence against discipline. The basic philosophy of the act, that of control of the people it covers, is shown by the definition offered as an offence against discipline (R.70). Breaches are seenas failing to obey ‘lawful instructions’, behaviour which is offensive, threatening, insolent, insulting, disorderly, obscene or indecent’, wilful damage, being either idle, careless or negligent al work or ‘IN ANY OTHER WAY OFFENDS AGAINST DISCIPLINE OR GOOD ORDER OF THE RESERVE OR COMMUNITY’.
The maximum term of detention before review is six months. Further detention requires a report to the Director. If the Director and Manager so wish there is no limit to the period of detention. The Manager has the power to release the detained person at any time (R.70).
The Aboriginal Councils seem a liberal attempt to develop self-management on the Reserves. R.21 defines their role as that of ‘local government of the Reserve’ and, as such they are responsible for the ‘good rule and government’ of the Reserve or Community. The most pleasing aspect is the acknowlegement of cultural influences - such government is to be ‘in accordance with Aboriginal customs and practices’. Furthermore, the Council is given the power and authority to make By-laws, such as ‘regulating and controlling peace (R.22), including setting maximum penalties which can be used in the Aboriginal Court (maximum of $40 and/or 14 days imprisonment).
Other powers include passing By-laws to determine ‘the direction, administration and control of the working and business of the local government of the Reserve’. R.22 (See also R.23), it can also pass resolutions (R.20) and levy fees, rents and dues. (R.2S). Despite the apparently wide powers assigned to it, the Council is continually subject to the Director. No By-Law can have effect until approved by the Director (R.28), and each order or resolution is subject to the will of the Manager, who may suspend it, ‘either for an indefinite period or for such a period as he may specify’. R.31 (1). The normal appeal mechanism applies.
All communal income (rents, fines, dues) is paid into a Community Fund (R.45) and ‘A disbursement shall not be made from a Community Fund unless the manager approves’ (R.46). Thus the manager controls all the council’s finance and has another effective method of blocking any of its actions that he wishes to. No appeal mechanism exists.
The council consist of 4 assisted Aborigines only 2 of whom are elected. The other 2 are appointed by the Director.
Any assisted Aborigine who has been convicted of an offence against the Act, Regulations or By-Laws in the previous two years is not eligible to stand for election (R.33). The scope of the powers allotted to the manager give him a considerable degree of control over such convictions and thus over who is eligible to stand for election.
The Director may remove any of the members of an Aboriginal Council (R.19).
The courts are to consist of at least two Aboriginal Justices of the Peace (if the community does nol have 2 J.P.’s then at least three members of the Aboriginal Council will then form the Court). (R.48). Its power is defined as (a) bearing and determining complaints for offences against any By-Law or regulation and imposing penalties and (b) hearing and determining any action set out in “The Magistrates Court Act of 1921” in which the amount involved does not exceed two hundred dollars. The Court can only act in relation to assisted Aborigines and only within the reserve in which it is constituted.
The members of the court receive no training in their duties. Usually they do not fully comprehend the proceedings and are easily influenced by anyone who does. This, plus their natural desire not to get into the bad books of the Manager givesto him considerable control over their activities. Aboriginal Police.
Regulations 67-69 allow for the establishment of such a force. Their role is seen as that of assisting the maintenance of good order and discipline on and supervision of a Reserve or community’. The Manager nol only may make the rules regarding the Police Force but can also ‘promote, disrate, suspend or dismiss any policeman’ (R.69).
The power of the police is to ‘arrest and bring before an Aboriginal Court any assisted Aborigine who breaches the act or the regulations, or a ‘lawful command’ of the Manager. The police also have the power to arrest any assisted person who is to be removed (S.34) by the order of the Director. No effective training is given to the Aboriginal Police.
Appeals to a magistrates court are available for more decisions which the act allows the department to make on behalf of the assisted Aborigine. This appeal must be made in writing. Considering the high rate of illiteracy of Aboriginal adults (average education is about 5 years at school) this implies the heavy dependence they must place on white employees of the department for assistance in their appeal against decisions of the department.
Perhaps the most telling argument against the effectiveness of the appeal mechanism against administrative decisions is that it is very rarely used. This is despite continued complaints about these decisions. It may be that the basic reason for this is that since the Manager controls every aspect of the reserve and the life of its residents, accepting his decisions is a small price to pay to avoid antagonising him.
Appeals are also available against decisions of the Aboriginal Court. The procedure is similar except that the first court of appeal is the District Officer, and the second, the Visiting Justice.
The sense of control over nearly every aspect of the assisted Aborigines life Ls further extended in the financial sector with the provision of a series of Funds.
In addition to the Community fund already mentioned, the Aboriginal Welfare Fund is set up, which is to be ‘maintained for the general benefit of persons having a strain of Aboriginal blood’ fR.4). The money is derived from the proceeds of any transactions by the reserve e.g. produce such as cattle. At no stage is there any indication as to what form ‘general benefit’ might take.
The department can take complete control of the financial affairs of an assisted Aborigine, exercising all powers which he himself would otherwise have (S.38). All his income is then paid into a trust fund account which is operated on by the Director or his delegate who allocates to the Aborigine such funds as he (the Director) decides ‘are required by the said assisted person or are necessary for pay. ment of his just debts’.
It has been claimed by some that the discretion allowed to the director or manager of a reserve are not unusual and that various officials have similar discretion over while citizens. Thus the governor can dismiss a white council just as the director can dismiss Aboriginal councillors. The difference is that the governor has no direct connection with, say, the town council of Toowoomba and will act only if something very unusual occurs while the manager is the administrator of the reserve and may act to prevent opposition to his policies.
The list below gives powers the department can exercise over the assisted Aborigine that no official has over the white community without court intervention.
Transfer from one part of Queensland to another.
Full control over the income of the person.
House arrest for an indeterminate period without trial.
Wages set by government regulations rather than by the industrial courts or by agreement.
The Department can force a man to leave his job.
Form No. 15 - Queensland.
The Aborigines’ and Torres Strait Islanders’ Affairs Acts, 1965 to 1967’ Regulation 74.
The minimum rate of wages payable to assisted persons employed under ‘The Aborigines’ and Torres Strait Islanders’ Regulations 1966’ in addition to food and accommodation shall be as follows:
Drover in charge, head stockman or stockman in charge of out-stations, general station hands, drovers, musterers and stockmen - In accordance with the Station Hands’ Award.
Experience - In accordance with the Station Hands’ Award.
Inexperienced Trainees -
During first year of employment - $13 per week
During second year of employment - $15.00 per week
During third year of employment - $17.00 per week
Adults - $23.00 per week
Under 21 years - $19 per week
Under 20 years - $17.00 per week
Under 19 years - $15.00 per week
Under 18 years - $13.00 per week
Abuses of this power are common. The following Memorandum was written by the District Officer in Chillagoe to the District Officers in Cairns and Mareeba, and was dated 16th April, 1969.
D …. D …. of Chillagoe is travelling to both Cairns and Mareeba and is expected back in Chillagoe in approximately 6 weeks time.
D …. is a waster and it would bc appreciated if only small amounts were given for pocket money.
A/c. as at 31/2/69- $1,981.72.
Yours faithfully….. District Officer,
Chillagoc. lt is frequently not possible for an assisted Aborigine to obtain record of his bank account. Requests for such a record are simply not answered or are answered with incomplete information.
The power to take control of the finances of an assisted Aborigine can be a powerful method of punishment. Thus in Normanton as a result of a brawl in a hotel, the two combatants had their allowance witheld for a month. As this was their only source of cash income for the families, the persons concerned were left to fend as best they were able, off the charity of the rest of the community.
Any assisted Aborigine working outside a reserve can be withdrawn from this work by the Director (R.72).
The District Officer or Manager can demand that the employer of an assisted Aborigine pay the wages, in full or in part, directly to said District Officer or Manager (R.73).
The wages rations and accommodation paid to the assisted Aborigine other than in those cases covered by an award arc laid down by the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs and are set out in schedule 15 (R.75) Appendix B.
Examples of the wages paid on reserves are the following figures for Yarrabah in 1969.
Yarrabah was then on a cash economy so everything must be provided from the wages -
Truck Driver- $18.00
Tractor Driver- $10.00-$ 16.00
Labourer- $8.00-$ 16.00
Carpenter- $1 8.00 (probably trained on Police Constable- $10.00-$16.00
It is difficult to see how a man can keep his wife and, perhaps six children on $10.00 a week. That malnutrition is so widespread on Queensland reserves (e.g. see Dr Stewart, Department of Childrens Health) is hardly surprising. It is also difficult to understand why a labourer on a reserve is only worth one-third as much as a labourer elsewhere.
Cooks - Male (cooking for 13 persons or more) - In accordance with Station Hands’ Award
Cooks - Male (having less than three years’ expereicne-$24.00perweek Cooks - Female (cooking for 10 persons or more) - In accordance with Station Hands’ Award
Cooks - Female (having less than three years’ experience) (cooking for 10 persons or more) - $18.00 per week
Having three years’ experience (over 18) - $15.00 per week
Not having three years’ experience (over 18)- $11.00 per week 15 to 18 years- $10.00 per week
Youths under 21 - $14.00 per week
Or such rale as shall be determined by the District
Officer is writing with the approval in writing of the Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs first obtained.
Husbands in accordance with regulation scale of wages for particular occupation in which engaged. Wife at regulation rates,
Notwithstanding anything herein contained, a District Officer shall claim higher rates than the rates hereby prescribed when he is satisfied that the ability of the assisted person warrants such higher payment.
In order that the Senate may be given some idea of how the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs reacts to the activities of organisations such as Abschol, I desire to read the words of the Director of this Department as set out in his annual report. 1 think honourable senators will agree with me that the petition presented by Abschol is a reasonable one. I think that it is in keeping with the comments of the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) and members of his Office when they have spoken of the discriminatory attitude of the Queensland Government.
It is interesting to read the way in which the Director of the Queensland Department in his annual report refers to these people who endeavour to assist Aboriginals and their cause. Many, many people do endeavour to assist them. Perhaps this is because of some conscious or unconscious guilt that we all have when we consider the position of the Aboriginal people. This feeling was reflected in the tremendous vote at the referendum in 1967. Perhaps it is this which causes so many group, organisations and individuals to work for the Aboriginal people. The Director of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in his annual report dated 30th June 1970 states:
The year, however, has not been uneventful. It has been significant that an increase has occurred in the numbers who seek to attain notoriety by advocating an ‘Aboriginal cause’.
These advocacies have been generally of a pressure group’ nature, some of their most vocal proponents being from other States, and without any real responsibility or indeed consideration for the persons affected by the doctrines espoused.
Those most vociferous have generally also been noticeable by a lack of any real personal contribution or involvement particularly in the welfare field.
While introduction of new ideas is both welcome and beneficial, it is considered that such ideas should be constructive; however, some performances experienced during the year can only be described as regrettable, unconcerned and mischievous.
People of Aboriginal ancestry, as a result of a lack of public interest in the past, have enough difficulties of their own and these, together with those arising out of an apparently remorseful public conscience, are more than sufficient. The introduction of radical and subversive activities do little other than add to this burden and can constitute a definite hindrance to the progress of Aboriginal Queenslanders.
So we see that immediately considerable criticism is directed against the Queensland Act and the Queensland Department, that criticism is described as being the introduction of radical and subversive activities which do little to assist. That is the interpretation of the activities and endeavours by groups such as Abschol and many others to assist Aboriginals. I would say that, in his description, the Director would need to include the activity of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. It would fall within that classification because the approach of the Office in many ways has been radical when compared with the conservatism of the past and, for example, the attitude of the Department of the Interior in the Northern Territory as expressed, I believe, in a debate last night.
The Director continues in his annual report:
It would seem also that the period has confirmed the emergence of an ‘elite’ group who might be described as ‘professional’ and/or Pseudo’ Aborigines, many of whom advocate particular doctrines but who have either become isolated from tha main stream of Aboriginal people or have, in fact, never been in close contact or consultation with the wider segment of Aboriginal Queenslanders who consider themselves truly Aborigines. 1 leave the Senate to judge the statements by this man who is responsible for the control of the many large Aboriginal reserves in Queensland. This man considers all or most activities on behalf of people from the south as subversive activities. He considers those engaged in such activities as ‘pseudo Aboriginals’ - whatever that may mean. I believe that the failure of the Queensland Government - or its inability - to become aware immediately of the discriminatory measures in the Act is due to the attitudes - the old reactionary attitudes - of the man in Queensland who is responsible for the Administration of the Act. For this purpose, I have moved my amendment and I strongly advocate that it be supported.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator Georges. I refer specifically to that section of the amendment which seeks a better allocation of the funds between existing needs and which calls for the Commonwealth to request the States of Queensland and Western Australia to take immediate legislative action to abolish all discriminatory Acts and Regulations in both States. In Queensland, the State with which we are most familiar, this is one of the great bones of contention not only with people living on the reserves but also with those supposedly not under the Act who live in daily fear of being put under the Act.
I wish to refer to the second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). I think this highlights the point that has been raised in this place. These are the words that were used:
Nevertheless Mr Wentworth is somewhat disappointed at the pace of our advance in our efforts to involve Aboriginals in providing their own housing, and he is asking his officers to continue to confer with the officers of the Department of the Interior, to see whether any improved plans towards this objective can be devised. I realise, of course, that all Aboriginals do riot have all the necessary skills, and am well aware that complete success cannot be expected overnight. I am, nevertheless, disappointed at the amount of work which is still being done on Aboriginal housing and associated work on settlements and missions and, indeed, elsewhere by labour which is being brought up from the south, while Aboriginals too often are allowed to sit around at a loose end. Tt does seem to me that the Queensland authorities, for example, sometimes achieve better results than we do in the Northern Territory in this particular field.
In the next paragraph, the Minister states: . . both the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and myself are fully alive to the overriding importance of involving Northern Territory Aboriginals in their own building programmes, and we will continue to work towards this end.
Perhaps more can be achieved by studies of house design and by finding ways of adapting our designs to local skills and the available local materials.
I think that this is a way to get around the situation. It is an apology for a situation that should nol exist in the first place.
A long time ago, a referendum relating to Aboriginals was held. As a result of that referendum, the Australian people gave this Parliament and the Commonwealth Government the right to carry out certain drastic reforms. There has been a certain timidity that is hard to understand. I suppose that part of the reason for this timidity has been the duplication of responsibilities and probably even the division of responsibilities because we find that the Office of Aboriginal Affairs is kept tightly under the control of Ihe Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). We find that the Minister who is responsible for Aboriginal affairs is not given a free reign. The 5 mainland States have their areas of responsibility divided up. So, when a confrontation occurs over a particular issue, instead of it being between the responsible Commonwealth Minister and the State Government or State Minister concerned, we find that the dead hand of the Prime Ministers Department rules over the problem.
Before I deal with some of the matters at which I believe we ought to be looking I wish to make some quotations from Hansard to prove the point that I am making. On 22nd October of this year, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) replied to a question asked by Mr Beazley, the honourable member for Fremantle in the other place, in relation to the allocation of a licence for an hotel in the Northern Territory. The Minister for the Interior was very coy about it all; yet, prior to this, he was able to make certain fairly adamant statements about the subject. The honourable member for Fremantle asked the Minister for the Interior:
Was the request for premises to be licensed to sell spirituous liquor on an Aboriginal reserve one which emanated from the Aboriginals themselves or from the people who desired to open the business? Was the Office of Aboriginal Affairs or the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration consulted before the licence was granted?
The Minister replied:
The situation in respect of the granting of a hotel licence at Nhulunbuy is that the matter is presently before the court at Nhulunbuy and the decision whether or not a hotel licence will be granted will be made by that court. It really would bc quite improper for me to say anything about it at this time.
The Minister, in a further explanation, had this to say - I will quote only two or three paragraphs because they highlight the very point I am endeavouring to make: He wanted to turn his attention to a matter which had been causing a great deal of concern. He claimed that there had been a good deal of misunderstanding throughout the community. Then the Minister went on: lt relates to the Aboriginal people at Wattie Creek in the Northern Territory. The picture most frequently presented is of a valiant band of people, united by tribal ties, lighting the all powerful Government and influential vested interests for the right to establish themselves in an area of land to which they have some tribal attachment deeply tooled in their ancient history.
Further on he said:
The Government believes that it is wholly wrong to encourage Aboriginals to think that because their ancestors have had a long association with a particular piece of land, Aboriginals of the present day have the right to demand ownership of it.
In any race, if someone owns a piece of land, it is handed on through the generations. Because these people are black they should not be deprived of the same right. But nowhere in the Northern Territory, Western Australia or Queensland is any tribe in possession of its own property. The Minister then said:
But the Government believes they should secure land ownership under the system that applied to the Australian community and nol outside it.
In other words, he says that any claim to tribal land that has been put up by the Gurindjis or any other tribe certainly will not be granted. Because it is the policy of the Government, under no circumstances will they get the land which they claim. We heard - it was fairly widely publicised at the time - that the Vesteys firm desired to give these people some of the land that they had been using for many years, but again the hand of the Government was applied and the firm was not allowed to co-operate in letting some of the land it held go back to the tribe that originally owned it. Then the Minister said finally - I suppose this is probably his killing shot:
Would granting land at Wattie Creek assist the people who are living there towards this objective? It might if, as sometimes seems to be
Inferred, possession of a land title somehow transforms people’s personality and instantly develops in them initiative, confidence and capacity to advance themselves socially and economically. In practice, a land title of itself has no such magic effect.
That was virtually the Minister’s final word on the matter. Last night we moved an amendment in relation to Aboriginals. I am not proposing now to refer to a debate that is closed, but I merely want to indicate that we moved in this chamber yesterday for some sort of public trust to be established to give Aboriginals a fair go. We lost the division on that amendment because the Democratic Labor Party decided lo support the Government and to deny the Aboriginals their right. We have claimed in our amendment first of all that a larger amount of money should be made available for the advancement of Aboriginals. lt is interesting to note that the Minister at the beginning of her second reading speech made reference to the amounts of money that we are now spending. She said:
The total for 1968-69 was $4m; for 1969-70 it was $5,410,000. and the proposal for this year 1970-71 is $7m.
I venture to suggest lhat if we allocated $20m it would not even scratch the surface of the needs of these people we have neglected for 200 years.
– Spending it indiscriminately might destroy them.
– We know that Senator Little voted to make sure Aboriginals do not get anything, and he will probably do the same thing today. The DLP has the Government over a rack, ft has its members booked out of this place. They are more concerned about going home than silling down here debating what should be done in the interests of Australians generally. I suggest that Senator Little not waste my lime with stupid interjections. The allocation has been made on a slightly different basis this year from the programme that was adopted last year. But we maintain there are a number of important issues, all of which should have a greater allocation of cash. Not the least of these is the health of not only those Aboriginals on the reserves - their health is well below par - but those who are classified as the fringe dwellers. One only has to visit the areas in which the Aboriginals live to see the health problem. There are plenty of such areas in Queensland. We realise that the Aboriginal population of Victoria is somewhat smaller than it is in most other States. New South Wales has a fairly large Aboriginal population, but most of the full blood and many of the mixed blood Aboriginals are concentrated in the area north of the Tropic of Capricorn right across Australia.
In the so-called settlement areas that are allocated to Aboriginals outside most Queensland country towns, particularly in the western areas, we find fairly large numbers of children. For instance, the Cunnamulla reserve has a population of 300 or 400 people. I notice that somebody has been there recently and has said that the Government is doing all it can. 1 was there a few weeks ago, and what I saw is a disgrace to the Australian community. It is a disgrace to the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government, because the people are expected to live in shanties without proper facilities to carry out ordinary personal hygiene. A percentage of the children, probably as high as 60 per cent, show signs of either malnutrition or all the other kiddies’ disease that catch up with youngsters who are forced to live in ill-ventilated homes. This is an area where there is a tremendous amount of cold weather and hot, dry summers. Flies and all the diseases they bring are rampant. We need 30 houses in that area alone to overcome the housing shortage. We can multiply this number of houses by virtually every western and northern town in Queensland, and if one made a survey of the Northern Territory one would find that the need is even greater.
There is a major job to be clone in those parts of Australia to which I have referred in order to bring these people up to the health standards we require as normal. But it will not bc done under the Government’s piecemeal approach to the problem. We need some sort of planned programme. The interjection a while ago that the money would be wasted is so much piffle because it would not be wasted if we had a properly planned programme. The amount of $7m that will be made available for Aboriginal advancement this year will not hit the deck. It will do nothing to alleviate much of the distress now being caused. I ask the Minister whether she, if she were the breadwinner in a family, would be able to look after four or five kiddies if she were living in a substandard house and on a weekly income of $8 or $10. That is what many of these people have to do. In the Northern Territory what they receive is classified by respectable words. It is called a training allowance. In Queensland it is the wage they receive on the reserves. There are many, of course, who do not get this much. So naturally the first thing that happens is that the kiddies go without the vitamin rich vegetables and fruit. They cannot get them. ( complained about Bamaga recently. There is an area there that could provide the essential vegetables and fruit if it were properly farmed. The kiddies in the Torres Strait area seldom see an apple. They seldom see even any tropical fruit, and this is an area where it should be grown and where everybody should have plenty of it. But they do not see it. Palm Island is just as bad, so is Woorabinda and so is Cherbourg. I am talking now about the bigger reserves. There are smaller ones too where the people are not getting an adequate supply of food. If the Minister thinks that $8 plus child endowment is enough to keep a family of five or six kiddies in proper health, I would ask her to draw up a diet chart showing what they are required to eat and how much they can purchase with this amount of money.
A moment ago I referred briefly to homes. The fringe dwellers are probably as badly off as anyone else. I know that a housing programme is being undertaken, but if one looks al the reserve at Burketown, where there are only 4 or 5 Aboriginal families, one sees that these people live in shanties. There is a transient hostel on the reserve but pieces are broken out of the wall of the hostel. As a result of representations made recently, some improvements are being made to the hostel. As a matter of fact, some land is now being bought in the Burketown area in order to provide homes for Aboriginals.
But if one really wants to see the shocking conditions under which Aboriginals live one should go to the reserve at Normanton in the Gulf country. There the local Aboriginals are expected to live at standards which are below those under which domestic animals live. The Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government glibly say: ‘We are doing all we can.’ Honourable senators should go out and have a look at the conditions under which Aboriginals live so that they can see these things for themselves. I would suggest to the Minister for Housing that this would be a worthwhile trip for her to undertake during the summer recess. 1 will make my time available to travel around some of these areas with her to show her at first hand the shocking conditions under which Aboriginal people are required to live in these places.
Probably one of the biggest failings in the shanty town areas is lack of hygiene. I know that some local authorities try to do their best, but they just cannot cope with the problem with the budgets they receive. Some people say that Aboriginals do nol look after their homes. I have yet to find one Aboriginal family which has been installed in a home of standard design which has not looked after the home as well as, or even better than, many white people. I have been into the homes of some people of European descent and the homes have looked like pig sties. I have been into the homes of many Aboriginal people and I have yet to find one home that has been neglected.
People say that there is no problem concerning Aboriginals in Georgetown, which is another town in the Gulf country. The reason why there is no problem is that as soon as Aboriginals get near the town they are hunted away and they go back to the bush or to Normanton or to Kurumba or wherever they came from originally. On a recent tour of this area 1 encounted a pure blood Aboriginal, a fine old man, who had had his social service benefits taken away from him. He had not received them for several weeks. The reason they had been taken away was that the pink form had been sent to him but as he could not read or write he did not know what to do with it and he could not find anybody whom he could approach about it. When I talked to him he said that he had not had an adequate diet for several weeks, and he was a man of about 80 years of age. We were able to get his pension restored. But how many of these people are told to leave the reserve, and wander off into the bush? Palm Island is a typical example of this. If youngsters play up on Palm Island they are turfed off on to the mainland. What happens to them when they get there? If they are able to get a job. well and good, but most of them cannot find employment because the Department, the Commonwealth Government and other people do not believe that they require a standard of education similar to that enjoyed by the average Australian. 1 know that attempts are now being made to do something for these Aboriginal people, and I want to pay a tribute to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and to the people who staff it. They are a fantastic group of people and they are doing a tremendous job, but they have to have the money to do the job. Turning to the question of job opportunities, we have heard the story of the troubles we are experiencing with immigration. We cannot find enough people to bring to this country. We argued this matter in this chamber the other night and f. do not propose to go over it again now. But thousands of Aboriginal people require just the basic wage in order to keep their families in some sort of dignity and to live like human beings. Money could be diverted from the vote provided for immigration so that theseAboriginal people could be trained. This would be a worthwhile proposition. But the Government cannot see the sense of this, and [ do not know why that is so. Instead of this, Aboriginal people on reserves are living on a training allowance in the Northern Territory and on a weekly wage in Quensland. They live under a set of rules, and that is why we have asked that the Western Australian Government and the Queensland Government should be requested to abolish the discriminatory Acts that are in existence in both States.
Law and order is the only sort of language that the managers or supervisors of these reserves know. Aboriginal people can be charged for the most trifling offence. The Minister would remember the question that was asked of her a week or two ago about an Aboriginal at Yarrabah who was charged with a number of offences. The Minister will recall the list of offences. The charges in respect of some of the offences were doubled up. so that the man in question served a total of 70-odd days in gaol. The ordinances and the regulations under the Quensland Act allow the manager of a reserve virtually uncontrolled powers of discipline. He is responsible almost to, nobody because the Director does not visit the reserves as often as he should, nor do those officers who are directly responsible to him.
A majority of the employees of the Department are very fine people and they try to do the best they can under a horse and buggy set of rules and regulations, but some of the managers are quite ruthless, lt would be interesting to examine the background of some of the people who have been appointed by the Department in Queensland. Recently I had cause to look into the backgrounds of a limited number of these people, and I propose to go deeper into this matter. I found that some of these people did not even have training to do the job. They have come from a diverse number of occupations and they are not trained to do the job in -the manner in which it ought to be done while shocking conditions still exist in these reserves.
If we are going to look at this matter in a humane light, I think that our amendment ought to be carried. At least, it would make a start. It would mean that over a period of 10 years we could lay down a programme which probably would overcome many of the problems. First of all, we could improve the health of Aboriginal children. An Aboriginal youngster who suffers from a lack of food or a lack of proper food obviously has a handicap at school. That has been proved, and 1 do not propose to go through all the documents relating to it today. There will be other opportunities in this Senate when I will be able to do so. Obviously, this is one of the big problems. Aboriginal children just cannot keep up with white children in the school or with other Aboriginal children who are receiving a better diet. This is where the first problem starts.
Secondly, having provided Aboriginal children with some sort of an education, the next big problem is to provide job opportunities for them, because they are not being provided. The number of Aboriginal youngsters undergoing secondary education represents a very tiny fraction of the total number of Aboriginal children who ought to be receiving lt. I think that throughout Australia, only 5 or 6 Aboriginal children are undergoing university education, and this is a disgrace to this country and to the Government. I hope that the amendment will be carried.
– 1 want to add a few words to what has been said regarding this amendment from the viewpoint of Western Australia. In my State, we have been fortunate, to a point, in the amount of financial assistance that has been provided by the State Government and by the Federal Government and also by the very thoughtful approaches which have been adopted to overcome the problems facing Aboriginals in Western Australia. I give credit to the present Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) who does not happen to be of the same political persuasion as myself but who is recognised to be doing a very worthwhile job within the limits of the powers that he has. The Commonwealth also has been very generous in making finance available for Aboriginal welfare. The Aboriginal Welfare Council as it is known in Western Australia, has been very grateful for this assistance. But the problem in Western Australia is that the assistance that is given from time to time comes without planning; it comes without those concerned expecting it. The other day an amount of §75,000 was made available by the Commonwealth - I think from memory that was the amount - but it came out of the blue. It is not known when another amount of this nature will be provided. There is no planning. A lot more could be done if there was a reason.ble understanding given of the assistance that was to be provided and if the type of programme that could be entered into was known.
– Was this $75,000 for a specific purpose?
– I think it was for assistance in setting up a community centre. It was very gratefully received but it really did come out of the blue. It was not anticipated at all. The Aboriginals themselves are taking a very keen interest in their welfare. At one time the Aboriginal Welfare Council was composed almost entirely of white Australians but it is now composed almost entirely of Aboriginals^ - and they are doing a very good job.
The Aboriginal centre in Perth is being run entirely by the Aboriginals themselves. This centre is performing a very worthwhile function. Considerable assistance was received from the State Government in order to set it up. I have emphasised the point that I feel that this amendment which asks for a planned programme so that we can advance along a more reasonable line in doing something for the development of the Aboriginals should be accepted. The other point 1 want to raise is the question of discriminatory Acts and regulations throughout Australia. There is such legislation in Western Australia. For some reason or other there appears to be difficulty in removing these Acts from the statute book, but I think–
– What are they?
– I cannot cite them because I did not anticipate speaking in this debate, but there are a number of defects in the system which could be removed. For instance, neither Senator Gair nor I can walk on to a native reserve. We are just not allowed to go there unless we have permission from the Minister.
– That is not a discriminatory Act against the Aboriginals, that is one against us.
– This could be a discriminatory Act and it could work out that it is not to the benefit of the Aboriginals. I am only citing one point. There are others, but this is the first one that came to my mind.
– There could be a protective motive.
– It is there as a protective measure but the Act does not have to be applied so that there is this complete opposition to anyone visiting a reserve. I was not introducing this point, Mr Acting Deputy President; this was raised by Senator Gair. I am not pressing it. What I am saying is that there are some areas which 1 feel should be looked at. This amendment asks the Commonwealth to request the States to have a look at this situation and see if something can be done. I think that this would be a very worthwhile objective. We are progressing a long way in our attitude to Aboriginals in really absorbing them as part of our community. I think we can go even further and faster without it costing very much more but with a lot more of the attitude of understanding these people and so assimilating them. I have very much pleasure in supporting this amendment.
– My interest in the Aboriginal people, particularly those in Queensland, dates back very many years, firstly as a citizen of the State and secondly as a Minister of the Government of Queensland for 15 years. Unlike Senator Keeffe my interest in Aboriginals dates back to the time before they were granted the franchise. It is remarkable, indeed significant, just how many people have become interested in the welfare of Aboriginals since they were granted the franchise. The activities of some of these people wilh a view to obtaining political advantage is startling, to say the least. I. have a lot of contacts with Aboriginal people. Only a few weeks ago I was in Murgon and met a lot of them who knew me personally. 1 propose to support this amendment because 1 believe that if it is possible for the Commonwealth to aid the States in making additional funds available and if that money is properly expended in the interests of Aboriginals, I am in favour of it. But if the money is to be wasted then I will oppose the amendment.
The handing out of money to Aboriginals is not the solution to all their problems. The answer is in the judicious expenditure of the money that is available, in ihe provision of the opportunity of establishing their own homes, living under more favourable and hygienic conditions. The availability of education facilities is vital because until we get the Aboriginal children and train and educate them they will continue to behave as they have done in the past. My wife and I have taken them into our home and protected them. My wife particularly has taken a great interest in young women who have been in our service. She has always emphasised how important it was for them to be among the best of their people and not to associate with the cheap class hanging around the Adelaide Hotel, South Brisbane in great numbers misconducting themselves in public view.
– There are plenty of white people who do that too.
– That is true, but we are dealing with these people at the moment. They have a responsibility to themselves. These people, particularly in their teenage years, need some guidelines and protection from the evils of the world today because they are regarded as easy prey by a lot of unscrupulous people. I have seen them come to Brisbane from Cherbourg into the service of various people, and unless those girls are given some maternal protection and advice and not allowed to roam the streets until all hours at night it is not long before the majority of them return to Cherbourg in a pregnant condition. There they have their babies who again become a responsibility on the State and on the Commonwealth. Education is vital if we are to train these people to a state of responsibility that will enable them to take their place in any phase of our community life. Much has been written and said about making land available to them - giving them grazing properties to conduct. Some Aboriginals are quite bright. Most of them may be reasonably good stockmen but I question whether they have the business acumen to manage a cattle station or a sheep property.
– Is that not our fault?
– I agree. Education is the important thing, lt may be found necessary for many years that they have to operate such properties with the guidance and direction of persons qualified to conduct the business side of such undertakings. If young men, particularly those who have applied themselves in school and who show promise, are taken in hand by the authorities and trained in the management of a station or any other business for which Aboriginals are naturally fitted and which will enable them to live in the country, something could be done. However they must be young enough to be trained. I. feel that all governments have failed to a great measure because of their inclination to adopt a paternal attitude to these people, as instanced on settlements where they are given foodstuffs sufficient to enable the maintenance of a family without requiring them to accept any responsibility. Few have been asked to take on a responsible job. I exclude those who have joined the police force at Cherbourg or other settlements. Others carry out a miscellany of jobs. No-one will tell me that anyone at Cherbourg, which is the place I know most about, is in want of food or starving, because that would be a gross exaggeration.
The Government endeavours to create social functions for the Aboriginals who have their own public halls, radios and television sets. They have school balls, adult balls and debutante balls. I remember an occasion when a little girl who worked for us was decked out by Mrs Gair and sent to a debutante ball where she was received by Mr W. M. Moore who was then Minister for Health and Home Affairs. The people at Cherbourg live happily and I sometimes wonder whether we have not been too paternal and too protective. It may have been better had some of these people been discharged from the settlement and left to work out their own destiny. If we have erred at all it is only because of our solicitude for these people. No government wants to regiment them but to protect them.
If finance is to be made available let us hope that it will be expended judiciously and in the interests of these people. I support that part of the amendment which refers to the abolition of all discriminatory Acts which operate against the Aboriginals. However if some provisions which appear to be discriminatory are designed to protect the Aboriginals I would be opposed to their repeal particularly while the Aboriginals are in settlements in charge of the government. Senator Wilkinson asked why it is that there is a provision which makes it necessary for a person to get a permit to go onto a settlement. The answer is obvious. Without the need for a permit we would have every Tom, Dick and Harry entering settlements, poking in here and there, creating disorder and mischief, searching for young women and making a general nuisance of themselves. A person is not permitted to go into a lot of institutions. He cannot go into a hospital at any time of the day or night. Visiting hours are prescribed when a person is permitted to see sick relatives and friends. These institutions must be conducted in an orderly fashion. They cannot be thrown open to the public. After all, a lot of white pople are not very desirable characters and if they had an open entree to these settle ments it would not be in the best interests of these settlements or those who are living there.
– We should make it so that the Aboriginals have the same sort of rights as an ordinary person in his home. If they invite you in, you can go in. At present you cannot be invited in.
– Even so I think that the management of a settlement should be required to have some knowledge of the visitor. I am in favour of the amendment to abolish all discriminatory provisions. The Aboriginals now have the adult franchise. We have lifted the embargo on their drinking. I sometimes wonder whether that was wise, but nevertheless they must have equal rights although, indisputably, for some reason or other, they do not seem to handle their grog as well as they might.
On the question of land rights I point out that land rights are given to naturalised British subjects from almost all countries. There is no prohibition on their owning land. Italians and others who come here permanently enjoy such rights. It would be unjust and unfair to suggest that the Aboriginals, the descendants of the original people of Australia, should not have equal rights. My colleagues and I will support the amendment because we favour the provision of additional money if it can be obtained and if it is properly and judiciously expended in the interests of the Aboriginals. We favour also the elimination of any section of any Act that discriminates against the Aboriginal as a citizen of Australia, but we do not favour the repeal of sections of Acts that are designed obviously for the protection of these people. That is the phase of the case that we have to watch. The amendments ask. for the Commonwealth to request the States of Queensland and Western Australia to take immediate legislative action to abolish all discriminatory legislation in both States. Those Acts can be classified in 2 categories. One category is of discriminatory Acts which operate against the Aboriginal and make him a lesser citizen than his white friends. The other is of Acts which appear to be discriminatory but which are there for the protection of the Aboriginal. That is how I classify them.
I am very keen to see -more done for the young girls and boys when they reach their teens to give them the opportunity to express whatever aptitudes or talents they may have. 1 know of a young fellow who is the brother of a girl who worked for us for a number of years. He is quite a good landscape painter. He has a gift. He has been encouraged by the State Department of Native Affairs and Island Affairs to show his work at Brisbane exhibitions for many years., with some measure of success. Other Aboriginals have been trained as nurses. Provided they have the application and the desire to do something worth while in life and not go along with the tide of the past, I believe that no-one is going to object to giving them a little more aid. But money in the hands of these people is not the solution. They should be given the facilities for living as normal people. Their children should be given equal opportunities. It is the children that we can look to with hope and confidence to do something worth while.
Many of the older Aboriginal people unfortunately have got into a groove and are beyond rescuing. Let us apply ourselves in the main to the younger generation and let us do the best we can so that they might fit into the way of life of our States and Commonwealth and play a part which is equally important as the part played by white people.
(12.28) - I rise to reply to the speakers on the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill which is now before the Senate and to speak to the amendment which has been moved by Senator Georges. First of all I should like to speak to some of the points that have been raised and to reply to some of the comments that have been made. Senator Georges plucked a figure out of the air when he spoke about $25m which was being spent on the Aboriginal people. I would inform the honourable senator that this is for direct assistance. All the State allocations for 1970-71 have not yet been analysed, but it is thought that the amount which is now being spent will probably be more than that. This information will be given when all of the reports have been received.
These sums are allocated and must be spread right around the continent. They must include the remote areas as well as the more highly populated areas. Aboriginal advancement cannot be hurried, lt is necessary to maintain and sustain many remote missions and settlements, which are doing a very helpful job in the programme of work for our Aboriginal people. Senator Georges and Senator Keeffe used the expression, as I understand it, that there should be a better allocation of funds. I think we all agree that the basic needs are housing, health and education.
– And employment.
– And training for employment. I think we recognise that all these matters are being given the most careful consideration and assistance by the Government. Within the availability of funds the Government is devoting 68 per cent of its grants to the States for housing, which is a basic need. In the legislation before the Senate today are special allocations. We see that a particular amount is being made available for the States in this area. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the words below the Second Schedule: ‘Minimum financial assistance for housing’. The total amount of assistance is $4. 8m. New South Wales will receive $1,350,000, Victoria will receive $265,000, Queensland will receive $1,770,000, South Australia will receive $300,000. Western Australia will receive $1,080,000 and Tasmania will receive $35,000. These amounts will be of tremendous assistance in the field of housing. We realise that other needs exist. The Commonwealth hopes to increase its allocations in all these other fields.
Amongst his other comments Senator Keeffe mentioned the conditions in Cunnamulla. He spoke of the need for housing and health requirements. I am sure that he will be interested to know that next week Dr Coombs, Chairman of the Council, and Mr Dexter, who is the Director of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, will be paying a visit there to see the conditions at first hand and to assess what help can be given. Senator Keeffe also spoke about the problems of health of Aboriginals in Queensland. The Queensland programme for 1970-71 includes health education programmes on settlements and reserves. It also includes supplementary food assistance in settlements and reserves. The amount of assistance for the former is $38,500 and for the latter $60,000 which, I believe, will be of tremendous assistance.
Senator Keeffe referred to the bad conditions of living at Normanton but he did not mention that, as are there for all to see, 6 houses have been made available. I am sorry that he was not present at the Estimates Committee meeting when Senator Lawrie spoke about how well these houses were cared for and what a difference they had made to those who are living in them. Eight more houses are to be built in 1970-71. The Government has provided $30,000 for a pre-school child centre at Normanton which we expect to be built early next year. I believe that this benefit, too, will be of tremendous assistance to the people in the area and to the young children who are the ones who, we believe, are so important to help their people face the future. Senator Keeffe also raised the problems of the older Aboriginals. I appreciate his point very much because it is one that concerns me. He referred to the non-payment of social service benefits, because the person involved was not able to fill in a form, did not understand it and needed some particular assistance. If this is a case which has not yet been attended to and if there is anything that the Department can do about it I would ask the honourable senator to give me that information.
– lt has been fixed up.
– J am very glad to hear that the man is receiving his pension. The Government has already made many more Aboriginals aware of their rights. This has enabled them to be paid benefits to which they are entitled. But there are problems faced by Aboriginals in handling and filling out social services forms. If honourable senators have individual cases 1 suggest they supply the necessary information and the Department will see what can be done.
Senator Wilkinson said that there was not a planned programme. If I may say so. his remarks rather gave the impression that $75,000 was suddenly to be spent on something in Western Australia and that no-one knew that this was to happen. While the honourable senator said how much this assistance was appreciated, I understood the honourable senator to say - and ( hope 1 am not interpreting his remarks incorrectly - that the people in Western Australia were not aware that this money would be allocated. I want to inform the honourable senator that the Aboriginal Advancement Council of Western Australia requested these funds so that a nearby building could be acquired and converted into a community centre. The $75,000 which has been paid was the estimated cost of their project. This was the cost of the building the Council wanted. 1 join with Senator Wilkinson in saying how good it is that this money has been made available.
Senator Wilkinson made the interesting point that initially in this programme for the Aboriginal people in this part of Western Australia the people in charge of the committee were white Australians. Senator Wilkinson said that the committee is now being run by Aboriginal people and not white Australians. 1 think that this shows exactly how much assistance this programme is giving and how rauch work is being done by the Government in this area. We see at first hand that people who needed assistance are doing something for themselves. The Aboriginal people are now able to run such a programme by themselves. I believe that this is a great step forward. 1 would like to wish them good fortune and I hope that this centre will be a very great success and that the Aboriginal people will get much pleasure from it. lt was said that there is a lack of planning. This brings me to the amendment moved by Senator Georges, about which I shall be speaking a little later. I think I have said that a great deal of planning and programming has taken place. This has been demonstrated in the areas I have mentioned. 1 think that this is particularly so in the field of education. In 1970-71, S2.3m is provided in the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account for study grants in tertiary education and secondary grants to enable students to continue their secondary education. The Government is developing a very decided programme of pre-school education for implementation in this financial year. Therefore, we are looking to all the areas of education. Our assistance goes right down to the pre-school level, which we all agree is tremendously important, and up through the education of children of older ages. I want to make one or two other points because it was implied that while there is a need for education and assistance in employment - and of course this is accepted - nothing was being done. This is not true. Work is being done to assist young people or older people to train so that they engage in the kind of occupation in which they wish to engage.
I was interested in the point that was raised by Senator Gair as to whether or not an Aboriginal could run a station property. I would like to mention something on a personal plane. I have a very good Aboriginal friend who managed a station for many, many years while members of the family who owned the station were away serving in the Services. He carried out his job splendidly, in fact, I do not think there could have been higher praise for what he achieved. He has shown what can be done and has proved the point that was made by Senator Gair. 1 draw the attention of the Senate to what was said by the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) when this Bill was introduced in this chamber. The Minister’s second reading speech records the assistance which is being given to Aboriginals. I believe that this is most important, lt is a record of- assistance that has been given in such a variety of areas. For example, the Government is assisting Aboriginals in the field of housing, to which I have referred, and this is a most important area. Assistance is also given in the field of health services. I draw the attention of the Senate to this because assistance is being provided in the remote areas of Australia in a variety of places where it is so vitally needed. The services of community health nurses are being provided at Bourke, Moree, Dareton and Wilcannia. There are areas which itinerant nurses visit. Subsidies are given to Bush Nursing, the Far West Children’s Health Scheme, the Western Shires Dental Scheme and to charitable organisations which are doing so much. Assistance is also given in the field of education by way of grants in aid. The Government provides assistance by subsidising the running of school buses. The Government also provides assistance to pre-schools, which I mentioned earlier.
All of this assistance is being given to the individual. Therefore, I contradict the point that was made by Senator Georges that nothing is being done for the individual.
– I did not say that.
– That is what I understood you to say. However, if I misunderstood you I apologise. Aboriginals are also assisted by special work projects which help them to obtain continuing employment which is so important. Special adult education projects have been set up and this of course must assist Aboriginals tremendously in the employment field. Further, assistance is given to students who live in hostels and those who attend manual training centres. I believe that this contradicts the point that was made that there is not a planned programme.
I wish to inform the Senate that the Government opposes the amendment which has been moved by Senator Georges on behalf of the Opposition. Id opposing the amendment I would like to repeat what the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) said in his second reading speech. In this amendment the Opposition proposes that the Commonwealth request the States of Queensland and Western Australia to take immediate legislative action to abolish all discriminatory Acts and regulations in those States. 1 remind the Senate that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) promised that all legislation which discriminated against Aboriginals whether on a State or Federal basis would be eliminated in the lifetime of this Parliament, f endorse the words of the Leader of the Government when he said:
This promise, will, of course, be kept but I know that the Senate will share my desire that in keeping it we should to the greatest possible extent co-operate with the States . . . 1 know that the Senate will be interested to know that further talks concerning this very matter will be taking place very shortly. In fact, I think they might take place as early as next week. The Government is carrying out a programme which will assist the Aboriginal people. It is a programme which is sympathetic to their needs. I believe that this programme will equip them to live happily in the community. Because the Prime Minister has promised that this discriminatory legislation will be eliminated I say to you, Sir, and to the Senate, that the Government opposes the amendment moved by the Opposition.
That the amendment (Senator Georges’) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 October (vide page 1 748), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I move:
At the end of motion add: ‘, but the Senate is of opinion that the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education should be a statutory body reporting its principles, actions and recommendationsannually to Parliament.’
The Opposition does not wish to prevent the passage of this Bill as it stands because at least it involves an advance, a small advance, whereby there is recognition of the need for overall research into the problems of advanced education to be undertaken by the Government. This accords, if only in very small part, with the principles put forward by the Opposition in the amendments which were moved yesterday in this Parliament to the estimates of the Department of Education and Science. However, if one compares the Bill which is now before the Senate and which has been passed in another place with the second reading speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) and that of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), representing him in this chamber, one finds what is quite a significant gap.
In the Minister’s second reading speech considerable reference is made to the establishment of a body to be known as the Australian Advisory Commitee on Research and Development in Education. The purpose of the Commitee, as set out in the Minister’s spech, is to receive submissions from various persons who are interested in research into higher education and to make recommendations on the submissions of persons who are concerned with such research that they should receive grants to assist them with such research, and generally to advise the Minister on what research projects should be undertaken by those persons qualified to engage in research into higher education. Insofar as it goes, this is indeed admirable.It is desirable that there should be a co-ordinated approach by the Commonwealth to the problems of education and there can only be this co-ordinated approach in any form of intelligent manner if there is coordination of research because the purpose of research into education, as is the purpose of research into any other field of activity, is to ascertain facts. Without the ascertainment of the relevant facts in the matter of advanced education, it is impossible to lay down any guidelines or take any consistent action directed towards the future development of advanced education.
In the second reading speech quite con siderable mention is made of the Committee and the Minister for Education and Science has undertaken that the Committee will make recommendations to the Minister and the Minister may accept or reject these recommendations. No doubt the Parliament will subsequently be informed of what the Minister has done. I do not believe, and I do not think the Opposition believes, that there is anything wrong with this. It is clear that a committee of this nature would have to act on an advisory basis and it would certainly be wrong if the conduct of the nation’s affairs, whether in education or any other matter, were to be taken out of the hands of the elected representatives of the people and handed over to a committee, however responsible, however erudite and conscientious the members of the committee may be. A very grave weakness in this Bill is that there is no reference whatsoever to the existence of the Committee. The Committee itself will have no statutory authority under the provisions of this Bill.
The Opposition, while conceding that the ultimate lines of policy should be in the hands of the Government and particularly the Minister for Education and Science, believes that this Committee, which clearly will play a very important role in determining what sort of research is to be undertaken into advanced education, should be constituted by statute. It should be the type of committee which regularly presents reports to Parliament on the nature of its activities. It may well be that there will be a substantial divergence of approach and of opinion on matters in general and/or particular matters, between the Committee and the Minister. I do not think it follows from this by any means that the Minister would be wrong to disagree with the Committee but at the same time if a committee of this nature is giving advice to the Minister, the Parliament and the people of Australia are entitled to know precisely what is being recommended to the Minister, why the Committee is making certain recommendations to the Minister and why the Minister rejects if he does, the recommendations of the Committee.
Despite what was said by the Minister in his second reading speech there is, as I understand it, no need to constitute such a committee at all. The Minister could merely go around and have a chat with a few people whom he happens to know are interested in education and after having a talk with them he could make up his mind to do something which one or other or all suggested he ought to do or not do something which one or other or all suggested he ought not do. Despite the very much vaunted advance in the establishment of this Committee and the undoubted distinction of the members of the Committee, as far as the Parliament is concerned we are completely in the dark as to what this Committee will do. The amendment which I have moved states precisely what the Opposition thinks should be done. The Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education should be a statutory body. It should be constituted by an Act of Parliament.
This Committee, having certain principles which guide its deliberations, will presumably have some consistency in its actions and these should be reported regularly to the Parliament so that we may have the benefit of knowing what these outstandingly qualified persons believe ought to be done in the field of advanced education. Furthermore, we believe that the recommendations which are made by the Committee should be reported to the Parliament. It may well be that if the Minister does reject certain recommendations made by the Committee the Opposition would agree that the Minister ought to reject them. But on a matter which is arousing such controversy and such interest amongst the Australian people and something which is of such tremendous importance to the Australian people as the future of advanced education, it is the view of the Opposition that the body which deliberates on these matters should have a standing beyond the rather ephemeral standing which is given to it in the terms of the Minister’s second reading speech. We believe it should be established by statute and that there should be regular reports to Parliament on its principles, actions and recommendations. I commend the amendment to the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I rise to support the amendment submitted by my colleague, Senator Wheeldon. While the amendment is a little weak because it says ‘the Senate is of opinion’, it does provide that at the end of the motion the following words should be added: but the Senate is of opinion that the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education should be a statutory body reporting its principles, actions and recommendations annually to Parliament.’
The thing that caught my eye when I was reading the second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) is the fact that this will be just another body to look into the subject of research in education. We seem to have a multiplicity of bodies which are researching in this field. The Minister said:
The Commonwealth is already assisting educational research in a number of ways. Some examples of this are the assistance given to selected educational research projects through the Australian Research Grants Committee and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee o’n Advanced Education.
The Minister did not stop there. He continued:
In addition there are special grants to the Australian Council for Educational Research for individual projects such as the Australian Science Education Project and the Tertiary Education Entrance Project. There are also special grants for the purposes of research and research training in the programme of assistance to Universities. As shown in Appropriation Bill No. 1, Division 230 5, there are Grants-in-Aid to various bodies such as the Australian-American Educational Foundation, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Council for Educational Research, the Social Science Research Council of Australia, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Lady Gowrie Child Centres, some parts of which are applied for the purposes of research.
One can say that if one aspect of the education system has been looked after it is educational research. I have yet to know of any other walk of life in which one can find as many bodies which are supposed to have as one of their principal objects research into education. I wonder whether the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) or the Government at some time will think of combining all these bodies. It seems to me that with such a multiplicity of bodies some overlapping must occur. I would be more than surprised if there was not a great deal of overlapping.
No-one is opposed to education itself. Some of us who perhaps were not fortunate enough to be able to have a good education in some fields do feel a lack of it. But the most remarkable thing in the political life of this country is that extremely few people have made the big grade with any academic qualifications of note. 1 go back in my thinking to 1908 to 1910. If one looks at those who may be claimed to have made the grade in a big way one finds that one cannot count them on more fingers than one has on one hand. To trace them, I would mention first the late Hon. S. M. Bruce. Stretching it a little bit, one could include the Hon. J. G. Latham. I suppose that if a degree was given to anyone for knowing how to pick the pulse of the people and knowing what he had to do to win an election, the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Menzies would be included. But, going through all those who have really made the grade, I do not know how much of this research helped those who have been in this sphere of life.
I am extremely interested in this subject but not perhaps with the research dealt with by this Bill as I understand it. I have often sought a research council to inquire into the educational needs of the nation. Let me illustrate what I mean by that remark. An officer of the Department of Education and Science was very kind at short notice, just, before the suspension of the sitting in fact, to provide me with information as to the total expenditure embracing education. This expenditure is approximately $l,272m. With all the money that is being spent on education, I do not see why - and I wonder about this - we do not ask some of these research bodies: Will you tell us what this nation will need in 10 or more years?’ Everyone knows that today we are short of doctors, dentists and many other people in certain spheres. I believe this is because of a lack of educational facilities. Yet, on the other hand, I am told that recently an advertisement was placed seeking scientists with a high degree of education. A multiplicity of candidates applied for the position.
It seems that people who are spending many years of their lives studying or obtaining degrees - up to the age of 25 years or 26 years - are finding it extremely hard to obtain worthwhile occupations to suit the talents and the educational standards that they have attained through their hard work. So, one wonders whether we are getting value for the money that we are spending. I believe that excellent research would be performed if the Government would ask one of these bodies to determine what the needs of this nation will be in 10 years time. 1 think that we ought to give special encouragement to students to study in avenues of education through which, when they qualify, they will be of great advantage to the nation. I have said here before, and I want it to be clearly understood, that I am not opposed to young ladies going to the various universities to get arts degrees. I hope that is the only purpose for which they go there, but 1 doubt it. T think a lot of them go there to find a husband and that the mother says over morning coffee; ‘My daughter is a first year arts student and what is more she has met a very charming young man. Better still, his people are financially comfortable.’
I do not decry even that girl getting an arts degree. But for the money we are spending - it is a fair sum - are we getting in our universities the best candidates for higher education? lt would be a different thing if the nation could afford to allow every charming young lady to go to university to get an arts degree. In my time it was commonly acknowledged that if you could send your daughter into the nursing profession the future looked good for her. We read recently in the Press about a young lady who was an extremely good motor cycle driver. I think T showed this article to the Minister not long ago while we were both on an aircraft. 1 think she was reported as having driven a motor cycle at 120 miles an hour. Whether that was good or bad, it was contrary to the law. I read also that the charming young lady, although she had an arts degree, could not get a job except as a messenger for some firm. I am not decrying that occupation, but her talents seem to have driven her to ride her bike as I have described.
Education is important and we should set our mind to it and give a higher education to as many as we can. I have been a bit worried about another aspect If everyone had a degree, who would perform the more earthy occupations, if I may use that term? But if people are fitted to go to the universities we should entice them as much as we can to go into the professions that the nation needs. Some 12 months ago I asked a question about the number of young ladies in our universities. 1 do not have a grudge against young ladies. Although I. am getting on in years, to me they are still very nice and beautiful creatures. But are we doing the right thing by cluttering up the space in our universities with large numbers of young women? The Minister was good enough to give me the number of young ladies who were doing an arts course at Monash University, Latrobe University and the University of Melbourne, and we tried to find out how many of them went further and did their diploma of education. The percentage was very small. I will not say that for a young girl who has an arts degree education is the only avenue in which she can employ her talents. But it is not uncommon today to read about young ladies, no doubt brilliant who have graduated from university having to go back to school, as we put it in my time, and learn typing and shorthand in order to get a job as a commercial stenographer. 1 will not say that because nf their degree they would be better than those who never had a degree, but 1 do want to say that the degrees these young ladies have are not helping the nation.
Some people may say that in order to help the nation everyone should have a degree. I would not mind that if it were possible to do it. We are a very wealthy nation and no doubt we can afford the money that we are spending, and no doubt as the years go on and the population grows and the urge for education is as great as or greater than it is today, more money will be spent. As far as I am concerned it would not matter what money was spent. I believe it is not wasted. Bw let us look to what the nation needs. Let us do a little bit of planning. When the Minister mentioned in his second reading speech all the research bodies I thought to myself: ‘We are getting research plus.” I ask whether there is any hope of getting all these bodies together. If they have to work in different spheres of research, those who know more about the educational desires or wants will be better off. But I cannot understand why we keep on adding another body to those already mentioned by the Minister when we have no planned education scheme for the good of the nation. The Minister could say to me that we want a body that will look into what the nation needs in 5 or 10 years and that we will then go into vocational guidance and get young boys and young women to enter the universities to fill the vacancies that exist in the professions. I think if we did that we would be spending our money better. The amendment asks for a statutory body which will report its principles, actions and recommendations on a yearly basis to Parliament. I think one clause in the Bill says something about a report to the Parliament.
– It is clause 8.
– That is right. Clause 8 states:
The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after each 30th day of June, cause to be laid before each House of the Parliament a report . . .
Be that as it may, it is not what we want. We want a statutory body. I will not go into the arguments whether that will be better or otherwise. I will leave that for somebody else. But I do say that we have a multiplicity of research bodies. I am not decrying the contention that everybody should have a university education. I think the country people and a lot of people in the metropolitan areas know how hard it is to get a doctor when their wife and kiddies are sick. There is a scarcity of doctors. I think everyone would be much happier if we could fill that vacuum and the vacuums in the other professions that are sorely understaffed.
– in reply - I think very few would share Senator Kennelly’s point of view that it is a time for restriction on expenditure in education. I think most people would agree that it is a time when as much as possible of the Budget should be expended on education. Senator Kennelly pointed out that today the Commonwealth and the States are expending $l,272m on education. I have referred to the fact that the Commonwealth’s direct expenditure on education has increased from S54m in 1961 to $312m this year. I have not the time, nor would it be appropriate, to go through the various fields that we have supplemented and assisted by that expanded expenditure. But the point I make is that with the challenges of modern life, a much greater proportion of our community will be assisted vastly by this expanded expenditure on education than was the case in the days when Senator Kennelly and I were youths. It may be of interest to Senator Kennelly to know - and
I shall repeat a figure which 1 gave last night in another debate - that whereas 10 years ago, in 1960, 500 out of every 100,000 young folk in the population obtained degrees, today 1,200 out of every 100,000 obtain degrees.
We are dealing with a Bill which does not identify the specialist research bodies to which Senator Kennelly referred. They are mentioned in my second reading speech. In order to remind honourable senators, especially the members of the sub-committee which had occasion to examine the rather insignificant voles provided for these specialist bodies, I point out that arising out of a meeting of high educationalists in Canberra last year the Commonwealth Government accepted the proposal that there should be a general vote for research in education. The Budget has quantified that at $250,000. The Bill with which we are dealing now is to give statutory effect to the way in which that money should be administered. The Bill provides that the Minister shall grant to the States or to institutions moneys for particular research projects and also assist the research training courses. The important part of the Bill is clause 8, which provides that the Minister shall undertake the responsibility to report to the Parliament in a much more detailed form than most statutes provide. Clause 8 provides that the Minister shall include in his report the following particulars:
Sub-clause (2.) states:
Each report shall include a statement of the principles and procedures followed by the Minister during the year to which the report relates in approving research projects.
That brings me to the question that is involved in the amendment which the Labor Party has moved. The Labor Party proposes to the Senate that the advisory committee on the administration of this research should be a statutory body. Senator Kennelly was particularly careful to refrain from affirming that he saw an advantage in the establishment of a statutory body for such a purpose. I submit that in the administration of an annual vote of $250,000 it is much more satisfactory to rely upon ministerial responsibility supported by a detailed annual report, such as I have mentioned, than to give the direction to an independent statutory body. I should have thought that we encounter few functions in the course of our political careers which were less suited to the establishment of a statutory body than the administration of research grants such as those provided in this Bill.
The Minister is bound to report to the Parliament. He takes the ultimate responsibility for the expenditure of the money, and we are capable of examining that expenditure. I should have thought that one could rely on the fact that the research would be directed to those fields in which, as Senator Kennelly mentioned, people will be required to have a special knowledge, ft will assist the people he mentioned to get employment of a higher economic value than would be the case if they did not receive the advantage of the research and knowledge. lt was suggested that we have referred to the appointment of an advisory committee in the second reading speech but not in the Bill. The point is that the Minister does not act tin instructed upon special matters of research like this nor does he rely only upon the advice of the very eminent officers in his Department. When we gel to the stage of direct control of $250,000 for general research in education, surely it is prudent to constitute an advisory committee of an informal nature to advise the Minister as to the fields to which he should accord priority and in which money should be expended. As I have pointed out, the Minister will take advice from that committee and then indicate in his annual report to the Parliament not only the principles upon which he has administered the funds but also the proce dures which he has followed in approving research grants.
Many continuing informal advisory committees have been established by the Commonwealth in the education field. I have for the information of the Senate a list which contains no fewer than 8 committees. They are the Australian National Advisory Committee for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation; the Committee on Education of Aboriginal and Disadvantaged Children in the Northern Territory Community Schools; the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Schools; the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Library Committee; the Australian Research Grants Committee to Administer Scholarships; ihe Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship Committee; the Queen’s Fellowship Committee; and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. Those advisory committees with their special knowledge and experience are available to give advice to the Minister.
The Minister referred to the setting up of an advisory committee and I have referred to these other committees in order to assure the Senate that the Minister will have a generally based expert and experienced committee behind him in this project. I suggest that all those considerations will persuade the Senate to accept the view that the appropriate form of the committee is an informal advisory committee, similar to those which 1 have mentioned, and that a statutory body, as proposed in the amendment, would be quite inappropriate. I ask the Senate to accept the Bill and to reject the amendment.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Wheeldon’!* amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I do not want to detain the Committee at any length but 1 understand that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said - and I do not want to offend the learned gentleman - that the Australian Advisory Committee on Research and Development in Education would take into consideration the question that I. raised of people getting degrees and then not being able to find gainful employment. The reason I mentioned this is that I read in the ‘Financial Review’ recently of highly trained physicists and chemists, people with post-graduate degrees, people with doctorates in philosophy and people with master’sdegreesin science, having no prospects of employment, and their professors complaining about lack of employment opportunities for them. I take it that we have the Minister’s assurance that this Committee will look into these things; if so I will be very happy about it.
– I only rise to say that it is fair to accept that this Committee will advise fields of research that will be appropriate in assisting subsequent employment.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30 October (vide page 1750), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is to amend the principal Act which was passed in 1967. It established the Canberra College of Advanced Education and although the provisions of the Bill which is now before the Senate are not in themselves very wide they are of some significance when consid ered in conjunction with the second reading speech made by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bo wen). In his speech the Minister has given some indication that the proposed development of the Canberra College of Advanced Education will lead to the establishment of a degree-conferring institution in Canberra. It may well lead to the establishment of a university of Canberra - a separate university for undergraduate studies and not part of the Australian National University. It may well lead to the establishment of other tertiary educational bodies in the Australian Capital Territory, such as a teachers’ training college. Also there has been some discussion by the Minister of a national co-ordinating body to make provision for the qualifications awarded by and the requirements of similar colleges of advanced education throughout Australia. For this reason the Canberra College of Advanced Education Act can become something of a model of what it is anticipated will happen in Australia as regards the Commonwealth’s attitude to colleges of advanced education.
The Australian Labor Party will not oppose the second reading ofthe Bill, but, as has been indicated in the notice which I have given, I shall move some amendments during the Committee stages to several clauses of the Bill. The purpose of these amendments will be to give to the Council of the Canberra College of Advanced Education the same sort of status as is at present given to the Council of the Australian National University by allowing for representation of both Houses of the national Parliament, on the governing body of the College: to make provision for the representation of the citizens of Canberra, by election, on the Council of the College; and also to make some minor provisions relating to the prescribing of regulations by the Governor-General.
At this stage 1 do not intend to speak at any length on the Bill. I merely indicate that the Opposition believes that the future of the Canberra College of Advanced Education is of extreme importance to the educational system of Australia. The establishment of colleges of advanced education has been quite a radical departure in the field of tertiary education from what Australia and, indeed, most countries have been used to in the past where one has either had universities or what were loosely known as technical schools or technical colleges which were, generally speaking, of a much lower standard than universities. The concept of a college of advanced education which has a status somewhat similar to, although not quite identical with, a university is new and, in many respects, it is a great advance. We believe that anything which is done in Canberra with regard to the Canberra College of Advanced Education is of importance because, although the colleges of advanced education in the Slates will be under the control of the State parliaments, there can be no doubt that what is done in the national capital could well serve as a model and guideline for development within the States. It is for this reason that we regard the Bill as of considerable importance and we have given much consideration to the amendments which it is proposed will be moved in the Committee stages.
– in reply- The only thing that 1 wish to say in reply to the debate is that although the Canberra College of Advanced Education may, in the course of years, grow to look more and more like a university, the intention is that the College shall always be a separate institution from a university. There is no analogy between this College and the Australian National University. The College is the college for the Australian Capital Territory, not for the Commonwealth, whereas the Australian National University is the central national research university for the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section 8 of the Principal Act is repealed and Lhe following section inserted in its stead: “8. - (1.) The Council shall consist of -
– I move:
I listened with attention to what the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said in his reply to the debate on the second reading. Although it may well be agreed that there is some difference in function between the Canberra College of Advanced Education and the Australian National University insofar as the Canberra College of Advanced Education presumably is meant to deal specifically with the Australian Capital Territory whereas the Australian National University does have a national status, I do not think that this is a complete answer to the arguments which could be put forward on the amendment that I have just moved. What the Minister said is correct in respect of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Australian
National University. That certainly has the role of fulfilling a need for advanced research and advanced scholarship for the whole of the Commonwealth of Australia. ButI think it could be said that the function of the School of General Studies within the Australian National University is no different to that of the undergraduate schools of study in any of the universities in the States. One council governs the entire Australian National University and at present there are representatives of both Houses of Parliament on the Council of the Australian National University deliberating on those matters which refer solely to the undergraduate students within the School of General Studies, very many of whom, and probably a majority, are residents of the Australian Capital Territory. In any event it is the view of the Opposition that as the Canberra College of Advanced Education is an institute of higher learning conducted by the national Government and constituted by Act of the national Parliament there should be some representation of this Parliament on the governing body of the college. That is why I have moved the amendment which I have outlined.
– I would suggest that there is no analogy between the Australian National University, which has part representation on its Council from this Parliament, and the Canberra College of Advanced Education. The University is a national body - the research university for the whole nation - and it is appropriate that there should be parliamentary representation on its Council. This follows the theme of most of the Australian State universities which, from their origin, have had representatives of the parliaments on their councils. But the College here is not a national institution. It is an institution appropriate to the Territory. There again it follows a pattern which has prevailed in the States, where technical colleges and colleges of advanced education do not have parliamentary representation as such on their boards. It would be inadvisable to make the innovation that is proposed.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Wheelden’s amendment; be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Laucke)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move:
Clause 5 provides that section 8 of the Act shall be amended so that the Council of the College shall consist of the Principal, the Vice-Chancellor, 3 members of the teaching staff, 2 students of the college elected by the students of the college, persons not exceeding 8 in number appointed by the Governor-General, persons not exceeding 4 in number appointed by the Council and, if a person other than a person who is already a member of the Council is appointed, in accordance with section 13 of the Act, to be the Chairman of the Council, the person so appointed. The Opposition’s amendment is a very modest one. On a Council of quite substantial numbers it is our proposal that there be some representation - I do not think one could say over large representation - of the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory.
It is our view that education is part of a total process which involves the whole community in which that education is taking place. The members of the community at large, whether or not they are versed in the sciences or the arts of education, are entitled to have a substantial voice in the education which is being given by the institutions which are controlled by their government in the city in which they live.
There is a large number of persons provided for in clause 5 of the Bill to be appointed to theCouncil. In fact there are persons not exceeding 8 in number appointed by the Governor-General without any requirement as to qualifications or experience being imposed on these 8 persons whom the Governor-General may appoint to the Council of the College. It is our view that even if, as it may happen, some or all of those persons whom the Governor-General appoints may be residents of the Australian Capital Territory, for the people of Canberra to feel that they are really participating in the life and the development of this College the people of Canberra are entitled to be represented upon the Council of the College by persons elected by the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory. There must be democratic participation in every form of government, and particularly in a field such as education. It is our view that a great wrong will be done to the people of this Territory if they do not have such direct representation on the Council of their College. For that reason I move the proposed amendment to the clause now before the Committee.
– The proposal that elected members of the community should be a component of the board of a college of advanced education is quite anomalous, because this is not a provision which prevails in the general pattern of colleges of advanced education throughout the country. Furthermore, it may be noted that the constitution of the Council when this Bill is passed will provide for persons, not exceeding 8 in number, to be appointed by the Governor-General. That could embrace representatives of the community who had a particular interest in the College or a particular competence to be members of the board. Also, paragraph (f) of clause 5 provides that there shall be on the Council persons, not exceeding 4 in number, appointed by the Council itself. Again, there is ample scope for the Council itself to co-opt or appoint members of the community to the board.
In looking at the present membership of the Council and those appointed by the Governor-General and the Council it should be borne in mind that during the initial stages of the development of the College there has been a need to concentrate special attention on academic questions, the establishment of effective working relations with the Australian National University and the capital development of the College. These factors have influenced decisions on present Council membership. However, the present provisions of the Act permit flexibility and leave the way open for community representation of whatever type seems most appropriate at a particular stage of the development of the College. I ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Wheeldon’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Laucke)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The other proposed amendments of which I had given notice were consequent upon the amendments which have been rejected by the Committee. Consequently I shall not be proceeding with the other amendments.
Amendments - by leave - withdrawn.
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 Wright) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 November (vide page 1 854), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the Senate arises out of a the High Court decision in the Worthing case. It is fairly well known that Mr Cyril Worthing was employed at the Royal Australian Air Force Base at Richmond, which is a Commonwealth establishment, where he alleges he fell while working and was injured. He proceeded against his employers and the defence was that as it was a Commonwealth place and had been acquired by the Commonwealth, State law did not apply. He was proceeding under the Scaffolding and Lifts Act. The court having upheld that, it left a tremendous gap in the law. It meant that anybody working in any Commonwealth place, such as a customs house, post office, airport or Royal Australian Air Force station could not be proceeded against, or could not proceed, as Mr Cyril Worthing did, under the State law. I understand that legally there had been some doubts about this for years but the premise had been accepted that the State law did operate.
The Commowealth had to do one of two things quickly because very obviously this gap could not be left in the law. The Commonwealth could have passed laws, brought down Acts, which would cover every individual case, but what it chose to do, and it certainly looks the best thing to do, was get the agreement of the States and put the principle quickly into operation and this is what this Bill does. Nobody could have any objection to the general principle of the Bill, but embodied in clause 4 are the words:
The provisions of the laws of a State as iri force at the time (whether before or after the commencement of this Act) -
This has the effect of giving retrospectivity to the provisions of this Bill. In Committee 1 will move on behalf of the Opposition an amendment to provide that this retrospectivity does not apply to criminal cases. If it applied to all cases Mr Worthing would be one of the people who would be affected. The principle in this amendment - I understand it is a general principle which is accepted in the general legal field - is that one should not go back before a certain date to make illegal something that was then legal.
The High Court gave a legal right by its decision to Mr Worthing and other people in the same position as he. The Opposition believes a very sound principle could be broken and it could be dangerous to move back beyond a certain date and say: ‘Before a certain date you did something which was legal; we are now going to say it was illegal. No matter how long ago you did it, whether I, 2 or 3 years, we are going to throw out the dragnet and bring you in’. I content myself with those comments because, apart from that, we have no opposition to the second reading of this Bill. It is well known that the Bill is to provide quickly a sewing up of the gap which has been created by the High Court decision. I understand cases are lining up in the courts to take advantage of the Worthing decision and this Bill is to put the position beyond all doubt as quickly as possible. The Opposition wants to give it a speedy passage, but we want to test the feeling of the Committee because we are uneasy about a situation which takes us back into retrospectivity. We propose to confine the measure so that it will not include the criminal field and I will move an amendment to that effect in the Committee stage.
– As Senator Willesee intends to move his amendment in committee, I will reply to the matters raised at that stage. Otherwise, according to the Opposition, the Bill is unobjectionable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 4 which reads in part:
The provisions of the laws of a Stale as in force at a time (whether before or after the commencement of this Act) apply, or shall be deemed to have applied, in accordance with their tenor, at that time in and in relation to each place in that State that is or was a Commonwealth place at that time. 1 move:
At end of sub-clause (1.) add:
Provided that no criminal prosecution under the applied provisions of this Act shall be instituted after the date on which it receives the Royal Assent in respect of acts or omissions occuring before it receives that assent.
All this amendment does is take away the effect of retrospectivity in the application of this Bill to criminal cases.I have stated the reasons for this amendment and do not need to repeat them.
– I. submit that the principle referred to by the honourable senator has been misconceived. The principle is that rights and liabilities should not be retrospectively created. In this case we are considering liabilities and the point is that an act which was lawful before a statute was passed should not be made unlawful retrospectively. The State law with regard to stealing, rape or murder in, say, a post office has been assumed by Commonwealth and State governments to be applicable from the time of the enactment of the State law until the decision in Worthing’s case. It still may be, and has yet to be decided, that crime committed in those places is punishable under State law. But what an oddity it would be, Worthing’s case having been decided last May or June, if persons who have committed murder, rape or theft in Commonwealth places up to the date on which this statute goes to the Governor-General and gets his assent were immune from punishment, whereas every Parliament and every public person in the country has assumed, and every criminal ought to have assumed, that murder, rape and theft in those places was punishable. We are simply infusing Federal life into the statute which the High Court may have said ceased to be operative by virtue of State authority up to date. So I submit that it would be a ghastly consequence of the High Court decision if we created a gap of immunity from crime between the date of that decision and the dale of this enactment, however serious or insignificant a crime may be. I ask that the amendment be rejected.
-I want to raise with the Minister the question of the application of laws to Commonwealth places and 1 ask whether the off-shore areas of Australia are regarded as Commonwealth places, either from the low water mark or from the furthest extent of what is termed territorial waters. There is great controversy within the Australian community as to whether the provisions of section 9 of the Petroleum Submerged Lands Act in fact extend the laws of the States to off-shore areas. There has been some attempt to clarify the position by an amendment to the South Australian Acts and an amendment proceeding in Western Australia to sections 1 1 and 14 of that State’s Act. Whilst the position is insecure and there are attempts by the Commonwealth to extend State laws to the off-shore areas I would ask the Minister what effect this Bill would have on those areas if they are regarded as Commonwealthareas? As the Minister will know, I have been a member of the OffShore Petroleum Resources Committee for nearly 3 years and this has been one of the big controversial matters put before this Committee.
In regardto Commonwealth jurisdiction to extend laws at least beyond territorial waters, either by the provisions of the Convention to which the Commonwealth is a party or by the use of the external affairs power, many learned people in Australia are. of the opinion that there is a grey area in this field and that the States are unable to legislate extra-territorially. This may be an area -I emphasise the words ‘may be’ - in which laws cannot be applied without some amendment to the statute which creates the Commonwealth. I ask the Minister whether this legislation or the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act, or both, will extend to this area the provisions of the law as the Commonwealth wants it to.
-I would say with a fair degree of confidence that it is quite clear that under this Bill the application of State laws applies only to a Commonwealth place - that is, a place that has been acquired by the Commonwealth for Commonwealth purposes. In respect of offshore areas the Commonwealth has not acquired any right or interest in the areas but the same function to be performed by this Bill in respect of Commonwealth places is performed by the joint off-shore legislation in anticipation of any dispute with regard to off-shore areas. There are specific provisions for this in the off-shore legislation. Although I have not had a chance to check the text of the legislation I am advised and it is my recollection that it is provided in both State and Federal Acts that the laws prevailing in the land mass of the Commonwealth shall apply to these places. I take it that the honourable senator is concerned particularly with the criminal law at the present time.
– And/or the industrial laws.
-Whatever is the industrial law or the criminal law in Victoria, it would, by virtue of the off-shore legislation - not by this Act - be applicable to an oil rig in Bass Strait.
– Has the Minister any idea of the number of cases involved between the date of the Worthing case and the passing of this legislation? Are any cases likely to be retried? Is there any case in which a person who has been tried and acquitted is likely to be brought to trial again.
– No, I have no information on this for the reason which I submitted before. My view was that this was immaterial and I think that special consideration would be given to any particular case on the question of a further trial. That is to say, the seriousness of the crime would be of special importance. The Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) has not advised me of any such case.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Willesee’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Laucke)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 November (vide page 1 853), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks parliamentary approval to borrowings by the Commonwealth of up to $US125m for the purchase of defence equipment in United States of America. It has been mentioned that, under the Loan (Defence) Act 1966, the Commonwealth arranged borrowings of $US450m. This money has now been committed almost completely by orders placed up to the end of December 1969. Under the Loan (Defence) Act 1970, which was passed earlier this year, the Commonwealth arranged borrowings of $US89m. Orders approximately equivalent to the amount of that credit had been placed in the United States by the end of June. We are in the situation where a successive number of Bills have been introduced for borrowings in the United States related to credit arrangements with that country. These Bills have authorised a part of the borrowings necessary to purchase equipment from the United States.
In 1968, as honourable senators may remember, the Australian Labor Party opposed a Loan Bill which was related to the Fill. The view of the Labor Party then was related not only to the question of borrowing but also to the issue of whether or not the Fill at that time was the sort of aircraft which Australia ought to purchase. In 1968 the Opposition moved to the effect that the House was of opinion that the passage of the Bill should be delayed until the House reassembled next year to enable the Government to reassess the capabilities of the FI 1 1. As a matter of fact, the loan which was raised as a result of the passage of the relevant Bill in 1968 as yet has had no drawings upon it in respect of the Fill. Although at that time the full problems associated with the Fill had not developed, the Opposition took the view that some stay should occur in the purchase procedures so that the aircraft might be re-examined. We can say with some sense of certainty that at that stage the Australian Labor Party was not confident that the purchase of this aircraft was necessary.
We certainly dealt also with the wider issue of purchasing United States defence equipment in this period. Most of our previous loan borrowings were at a much lower rate of interest than is the case in this proposal, although the full arrangements and terms have not been stated. Australia is to borrow this $US125m at an interest rate of 7.375 per cent. That is very high. In fact, it is extremely high. The Labor Party does not agree with the remarks of the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who said in the other place that this is a favourable opportunity for borrowing overseas. As a matter of fact, in respect of the cost of this bor rowing, we say that we ought as a first step to ask ourselves whether the borrowing arrangements are necessary.
That is not the only reason why we oppose the Bill. The Opposition opposes the Bill also because we consider that it is not necessary to purchase all of these items from the United States. We are not confident that all of the purchases are necessary ones because the list of items to be purchased contains a number of items in which Australian content should be greater. The list contains a number of items which in our opinion could be manufactured easily in Australia if appropriate notice was given to Australian manufacturers. Another argument is that borrowings should not be raised externally while Australia can obtain these out of its current international reserves.
An urgent need certainly exists for a re-examination of the items to be purchased. As 1 have mentioned, the Minister for Defence in another place quite belatedly provided a list of the items which will be covered by this purchase. The extent to which the purchases will he made promptly or not is not known. We know that some of the items which are indicated as necessary defence requirements are items which, if proposed to Australian industry, could be manufactured in whole or in part by Australian manufacturers.
In the Annual Report of the AuditorGeneral for the financial year ended 1969-70 we see that the amounts made available during that year and the total borrowings under the Act as at 30th June 1970 were as follows: The total borrowings were $US407,808,870. Of this amount, SUS3 10,629.229 was raised at 4* per cent interest. So, we have this general heavy interest charge. In addition, a very important argument relating to these purchases is whether Australia should continue to bc so dependent upon United States suppliers for this equipment much of which can be produced in Australia.
Other background to this matter has been ventilated in the Senate. It is quite obvious that despite pressures from the Opposition and despite some recognition by the Government that there has to be a certain sharing by Australian manufacturers in the production of the defence items being purchased, not enough progress has been made in this desirable direction. It will be noticed too that this heavy commitment is a great liability on the Australian economy. The national accounting estimates for public authority, receipts and expenditure, shows that in these years the overseas outlays for war and defence in the following years were: In 1965-66. $15lm; in 1966-67. $220m: in 1967-68. $3 13m; in 1968-69. $292m; in 1969-70, $187m; and in 1970-71, the figure is estimated to be $186m. The total, covering a period of 6 years, is approximately $1 .200m.
I turn now to physical imports. The Research Service of the Parliamentary Library has collated these figures for me. These figures relate to the import of munitions and war stores between the period 1965-66 to 1969-70. In 1965-66, the amount was $85,907,000- In 1966-67 it was $118,629,000; in 1967-68 it was $125,232,000; in 1968-69 it was $174,139,000; in 1969-70 it was $95,757,000, which of course is still an extremely heavy expenditure in view of the acceptance, as I have said, as far back as the time when Sir Allen Fairhall was Minister for Defence, of the principle that we should produce as much as we can within Australia and as far as possible get co-production arrangements or offset orders. We should ask ourselves what we are getting in the way of offset orders. I suggest that we are not getting the amount of work which we should be at a time when it is patent that the Australian aircraft industry is still struggling to increase productivity and to get orders for the future. We are also not using the manufacturing resources which we have in Australia, particularly in light and heavy engineering and in the automobile industry, to produce goods that we need. We have given to the electronic industry in Australia what I would call scraps in relation to orders. But the Government has not been organised to the extent that it believes it should influence industry. It does not have a positive policy, in my opinion.
We have a related question which has emerged in recent years. It has been posed by none other than the former Secretary of the Department of Defence, Sir Henry Bland, who was also at one time the Secretary of the Department of Labour and
National Service. He is a man of long and experienced service who knows industry and technology well. As honourable senators will remember, after he left the Public Service he recently posed in a series of articles the question whether we should have such demands for sophisticated weaponry produced overseas when, within our own shores, we have organisations which could produce perhaps less complex machines of war, devices of war and aircraft but which we are not engaging to the extent we might. He has posed questions which honourable senators have posed here. So far, in my opinion, they have not been answered.
The matter has been brought to the notice of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) on a number of occasions and he has evaded the issue by saying that he recognises the position. I think he does recognise the position, but I am suggesting that, whilst he is not particularly responsible, it seems to me that the Australian Government has to take the sort of attitude which today, in other fields, the Japanese Government Ls taking. The Japanese Government is initiating policies like the major American defence policies. It has initiated a major government policy which goes down the line into industry and commerce. We should do the same thing. We have done some small things. It is true that some time ago, as a result of the new policy advanced by Sir Allen Fairhall, we gained some small offset orders for Australia. For instance, orders with the Boeing company amounted to $40m or $50m worth of equipment being imported by Australia. As a result of our then stated principle that we should get offset orders related to the purchase of such equipment we finally got a sub-contract worth $500,000. We on this side of the Parliament have pointed out on a number of occasions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) the need for the application of the same sort of principle when the domestic airline operators are ordering their requirements for the future. We have asked what the Government will do about seeing that there is Australian participation in the supply of these requirements. I think we now have an acceptance of this principle.
I have referred to Sir Henry Bland. It has been stated that this very competent ex-Government official lit a number of fires during his term of office in the Department of Defence. I am quite sure that all of us are pleased that these things are getting stronger consideration and will be of some service to the community. He wrote about this general position of defence competence in Australia:
Perhaps the outsiders will accelerate the Uend to independent and novel Australian solutions to defence equipment needs. As is well known, compatibility of weapons and equipment with those of the USA has been a cardinal principle of Australian defence policy for some time. There is room for wondering whether habit has led this policy to be interpreted to Australia’s long term disadvantage. True, it is less risky to buy off the shelf, whether from the US, or from the UK: Others will have eliminated the bugs; spare parts will be readily available. Yet there are, as well, great risks in this and perhaps, in today’s world, great opportunities are being overlooked . . .
Opportunities are being overlooked and the sorts of initiatives which should be taken are not being taken. We are continuing to be dependent upon overseas sources for most of our defence equipment. We are not achieving the joint ventures, the share of co-production orders and the percentage of offset orders that we are arguing should be achieved. In addition, it is fair to say that our dependence goes further than just the supply of these complex weapon systems. In a grave crisis, where a device is not available to Australia the only thing we have here is the ability to service and to make some alterations to the device. But we do not have the general power and knowledge to manufacture the device. So we are limited also in this regard. I suggest that the position has not changed much since August 1969 when, as honourable senators may remember, Mr Fairhall, as he then was, tried to make this an issue in the United States when he was visiting there. At an American chamber of commerce luncheon he said:
It would help this country of your commercial adoption if you could arrange for some major American defence company to bring sub-contract work here.
We are not getting enough of it. May 1 quickly point out the position with respect to domestic airlines which has been raised on a number of occasions by myself and other honourable senators, and which is of course an issue. I have some figures in relation to the imports of aircraft and parts into Australia between 1967-68 and 1969-70. The figures have been produced by the Legislative Research Service of the Parliament. They include imports of aeroplanes of various weights, helicopters and parts for flying machines. In 1967-68 we imported $136,286,000 worth of equipment. In 1968-69 we imported $131,590,000 worth of equipment. In 1969-70 we imported $127,014,000 worth of flying machines and parts. In 1967-68 we imported $59m worth of parts; in 1968-69 we imported 587m worth of parts; in 1969-70 we imported $7 6m worth of parts. I am trying to be as brief as possible in view of the time.
I come back to the items we intend to purchase with this loan. In my opinion many of them could be produced in Australia. We have been seeking to get subcontract work in relation to some of these orders to ensure that once again Australian industry will have the opportunity to be co-ordinated into the supply of our own defence equipment. I refer to page 12 of the ‘Defence Report 1970’, in which the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said:
Progress on major projects announced in the last 12 months is as follows:
. the design and construction of the logistic cargo ship, the fast combat support ship, the oceanographic ship and the hydrographic ship will be carried out in Australia.
That is one job. He continued:
The eight heavy landing craft have been designed and are being built locally.
That is an Australian job, but it is a minor one. Then he said:
Offset orders are being sought in connection with the procurement of the two additional Oberon Class submarines, which are being ordered from the UK.
I should like to know the value of the offset orders, if any, which we have obtained. The Minister continued:
A local contract will be placed for the design and supply of the Submarine Command Team Trainer.The contractor will have the benefit of support from overseas associates.
That is another small job. Then he said:
Offset proposals were invited from the US tenderers and were taken into account in the selection of the 12CH47C Boeing Vertol medium lift helicopters.
How many offset orders did we obtain? He continued:
Interested overseas and local firms have been invited to submit offers for the supply of 84 light observation helicopters, with a substantial Australian content.
Obviously those helicopters could be built in Australia. How many orders were obtained by Australian firms? Then the Minister referred to the Australian aircraft industry. This morning I asked a question about the Project N aircraft. We believe that this is an important project and we support it, but the order is worth only S3m. We do not know whether the Australian aircraft industry will be used to produce these aircraft. I suggest that if one goes through the lists of items which were purchased this year or last year one can relate them to the issue about which 1 am speaking. We believe that a more positive policy should be adopted towards this matter, and that a major part of our defence requirements ought to be produced within Australia. There are 2 issues in the Bill. We think that they are important enough to oppose the Bill. We intend to oppose it for the reasons I have given.
(4.7) - In reply - The Opposition has indicated that it will oppose the second reading of this Bill which seeks parliamentary approval for borrowings by the Commonwealth of up to $US125m for the purchase of defence equipment in the United States of America. Senator Bishop has dealt with a whole variety of matters. First of all, his opposition to the Bill, as I understood him, was on the basis: Why borrow overseas? Why not use our own internal reserves? I think that the answer to that is fairly clear cut. The essential point which needs to be borne in mind in this issue is that Australia is a substantial net importer of capital, and to the extent that we can import capital we make more capital of our own generation in Australia available for our own use in Australia. Whilst 90 per cent of domestic savings finance in recent years has been used for domestic capital purposes, to the extent that we can borrow successfully overseas SUS 125m with which to purchase the equipment which we will require - and that is another issue to which I will come in a moment - we enhance our own capital position by that amount.
I do not intend to develop a major argument and, in fairness to Senator Bishop, neither did he. He dealt with a very wide subject which we have debated in this chamber fairly often. In the past he has asked questions and 1 have given answers on this matter. He referred to the loan situation. The Government’s argument is that since we have determined to purchase defence equipment overseas, if we can borrow at a reasonable rate of interest and if we can borrow on advantageous terms, then to the extent that we do borrow overseas for our requirements we improve our own domestic capital position. Let us face it: Australia is still a capital hungry nation. We in Australia cannot generate from our own resources or our own earning capacity the type of loan money that we need for the multiplicity of purposes which a young, developing, thriving and thrusting country requires. That is why at Budget time we all have a look at our overseas reserves and see the movement in them.
Senator Bishop then referred to the interest rate of the loan. The rate for defence loans is determined by the cost of money to the United States Government at the time the loan is negotiated. Although the rate of 7i per cent is higher than the rates for previous loans, it is considered, on the advice of Australia’s best advisers, that it is considerably lower than the general level of interest rates overseas. One cannot go into the question of interest rates without receiving the benefit of some good advice. The international loan market and the interest rates which are charged by the financiers in the world are matters on which the Government, as well as anybody else, needs the best possible advice. The advice which has been given to the Government is that the rate of the present loan is considerably lower than the general level of interest rates overseas.
I think that the main part of Senator Bishop’s argument was related to the fact that, firstly, Australia should manufacture its own defence requirements and, secondly, that where we do go overseas to purchase defence equipment or, for that matter, civil equipment, we should at all times seek to get a flow back of offset orders. This is a very difficult task. It is true, as Senator Bishop said, that tremendous impetus was given to this matter during the period when Sir Allen Fairhall was Minister for Defence and when Sir Henry Bland was head of the Department of Defence. To a lesser extent, I and the head of my Department have been involved in this matter. In fact, the head of my Department only recently returned from a visit to the United States and to Europe, and one of his prime functions in the United States was to seek a flow back of offset orders.
But industry itself has a big responsibility in this matter. Before Australia is able to obtain offset orders the Australian manufacturer has to gear himself to the American scene in terms of his capacity to tender. It is not a question of charity. Before he can obtain offset orders he has to submit a reasonable and competitive tender. The Australian manufacturer is small when compared with the colossus of American industry. First of all, the Australian manufacturer is confronted with interpretative problems. He needs to have know-how before he can tender on the American or British scene. It is not easy. A tremendous amount of work has been done on this matter. I have had documents cross my table in recent times which indicate the size of the problem. The Australian manufacturer has to have the capacity before he can tender.
– Do you know that we are not using our own aircraft industry as we should be using it?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI will come to the aircraft industry in a moment. I am pointing out that the problem of obtaining offset orders is not capable of quick solution. As I said in this chamber some time ago - I think in response to a question by Senator Bishop - we are in the early days of obtaining offset orders. It is true that in more recent times we obtained an order of approximately $500,000. This was a joy to my heart and to my Department because it was evidence of movement in this field. Often we hear people talking about this question of offset orders. Opportunities are coming up for us to obtain offset orders. But we will not have an open ticket for these orders. Australian industry, with all the aid that it can receive from the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Supply and the Service departments, still will have to make a real contribution itself before it can obtain offset orders. We have to help to educate Australian industry to get it into the position where it is able to obtain offset orders. This process is continuing.
The case that was stated by Senator Bishop for more offset orders is a real one and my response to it is that the Government is very aware of it and within its capacity is trying very hard to get some advantage for Australia. The question of the Australian aircraft industry has been raised. 1 have made the point so often here that we have a real capacity in the aircraft industry. We have something like 3,500 people employed in the aircraft industry at the Government Aircraft Factories, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd in Sydney, and it is a big part of my task as the Minister for Supply to try to see to it that they remain a viable force in this industry. We have a real capacity. We are building a prototype Project N at the moment. We built the Mirage and Macchi under licence. So we have a real capacity, but we have not yet the capacity to build a Phantom, an Fill or a sophisticated type of civil aircraft such as the DC9. We are in a competitive world and a ion, way from the centre of gravity in terms of those people who want aircraft.
One does not build an aircraft unless one has something in the order book. It is sheer economic madness to say that we will build an aircraft and spend SI 5m, $20m or $30m and then discover when we have built it that it is a first class aircraft but we have no market for it. Our own local requirement is too modest - of the order of 10, 20 or so aircraft - and to build an aircraft one needs an order to start with of something like a minimum of 50 or 100 aircraft. That is part of our problem. Getting away from the aircraft industry, although there is a problem there - I am trying to be brief as Senator Bishop was brief - as far as our defence equipment is concerned our needs may be very small for some type of equipment and it would just be sheer folly for us to say: Right, we need this particular type of equipment so we will manufacture it in Australia.’ I am constantly talking to honourable senators who have served a lifetime in industry and who know the tooling up and the blue prints that are required, the time factor and the learning curve, which all have to be taken into account. If we are buying some sophisticated piece of equipment which we will use only in a minimal sense but nevertheless must have, we have to make a judgment as to whether or not, although we want work to be done here, we can really afford to be manufacturing such equipment. We have to decide whether, because of the cost associated with tooling up, the learning curve and so on we can afford to manufacture here some piece of equipment for which the need, although real, is only marginal.
A judgment has to be made here. Sometimes the wrong judgments are made and sometimes judgments are made which are in the grey area - but they have to be made. As far as the Service departments are concerned, and as far as the Department of Supply is concerned, of which I have the responsibility as Minister for the time being - I hope for quite a long time yet - we are conscious at all times of the need for Australia to have a capacity, and within our economic realism we look for that capacity in Australia. As I say, we built the Mirage and the Macchi and other equipment. In some cases we could have bought the equipment off the shelf, possibly at a lower cost, but because it was in Australia’s interest to have a capacity we manufactured them in Australia. As far as the costs of the Mirage and Macchi are concerned, I think they were quite reasonable but we did have to go and buy the licences and that cost money. All I can say is that I am sorry the Opposition is opposing the Bill. I believe that it is essential in the interests of Australia’s security that this Bill be passed.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . .1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 29 October (vide page 1726), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When we were last debating this measure we were considering provisions to prevent the effects of pollution by oil of the Australian coast, Australian coastal waters and Australian reefs. There are one or two remarks only that I want to make in conclusion. I was directing the Minister’s attention to the habit that coastal tankers, in particular, have of cleansing their tanks as they move inside the Great Barrier Reef. This practice is called Butterworthing. I trust that in relation to preventing pollution by oil the Minister will examine this practice to see whether the provisions relating to overseas vessels can be applied to vessels operating off the Australian coast so that the cleansing of tanks, by pumping water into the tank and discharging the oil and the water, can be undertaken at the place where the oil is refined.
I would like the Minister to look carefuly at the type of dispersant that is used and to seek advice to ensure that such material used in cleansing does not cause more damage than the oil itself. It is important that this aspect be considered. I was somewhat concerned about an answer I received to a question about the advisability of tankers moving outside the Great Barrier Reef area. The reply indicated that such a course was commercially unattractive to the companies. The whole of the Great Barrier Reef area should not be exposed to threat simply because of the extra cost imposed on companies in operating their tankers outside the Reef area and further out to sea. If this is commercially unattractive it should be made even more commercially unattractive for vessels to travel between the Reef and the coast. With these remarks I indicate that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill and I commend its speedy passage.
– in reply - Although it is late in the day and late in the session, and we are due shortly to terminate our work for the year, nonetheless I am sure that honourable senators will appreciate that there are members on both sides of the Senate who have a concern in this matter. They have expressed their concern, and accordingly, I have had quite a lengthy reply prepared by the Department of Shipping and Transport so that honourable senators will have the advantage of it.
– Incorporate it in Hansard.
– I am prepared to do so, if the honourable senator wishes it. It will take me 7 to 10 minutes to read but I think I should do so in deference to Senators Mulvihill and Georges who might like to have this information before we rise. Senator Cant asked me a number of questions regarding the planning that exists for dealing with marine oil pollution. For some time the Commonwealth has been involved with the States and port authorities in dealing with oil spills on an ad hoc basis and has convened a number of meetings on various aspects of marine pollution. It has been realised by all concerned that this ad hoc approach .had to be replaced by a national plan that delineated responsibilities and set out the action to be taken in the case of an oil spill. Accordingly, since early this year Commonwealth and State officials have been working in close co-operation on a national plan to deal with marine oil pollution. At the latest meeting held in Canberra on 29th and 30th September good progress was made in agreeing to such important matters as basic responsibility to deal with incidents, control of cleaning up operations, resources available, communications, transport, technical advice, operational organisations and plans. All of these matters must be settled before a detailed overall planning document can be drawn up. A further meeting on this matter is to be held on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
In the course of their examination officials are taking into account the many companies involved in the manufacture of dispersants or detergents and other chemicals which could be used to combat oil pollution. The types of suitable chemicals, the quantities available at any time and the quite considerable manufacturing potential of companies to produce specific types of chemicals at short notice, should an emergency arise, are also matters which have been catalogued and which are currently being closely examined. The stockpiling of detergents creates many difficulties not only in their location but in their access for the purposes of air transportation. There is also the difficulty of stockpiling when there seems to be differences in the character of detergents and dispersants. This means that if one stockpiled a particular detergent it might- not be the type required for a calamity in a particular region. For this reason - not only in Australia but in every other country I am told - there have been some difficulties in determining just what sort of national resources are necessary to cope with contingencies. In Australia at this stage we are relying largely on the lists we have compiled of manufacturers, agents and private companies who in various centres around Australia, particularly in the State capitals, hold quite substantial stocks. Some of these stocks are supplemented by those held by port authorities and our own armed Services and these, of course, could be availed of in emergencies.
– Was this statement not given to a Senate Estimates Committee?
– I am not sure. Considerable research has been done in Australia and overseas on the toxicity and effectiveness of various detergents. The expert assessments undertaken so far of the effectiveness and likely effect on surface and submarine life of any detergent are available so that the persons most likely to be dealing with any oil pollution incident can make the correct decision in the light of all circumstances.
Apart from the question of dispersants and detergents, the question of stockpiling other material and equipment at strategic places throughout Australia and the types and quantities of materials and equipment which might be stored at various locations are other matters being dealt with at the Commonwealth-State level. In addition, discussions are taking place with fisheries experts and marine biologists to ensure that any action to control oil spills will have due regard to effects on marine life. The Department of Shipping and Transport has also made arrangements with other Commonwealth departments to ensure that efficient communications and transport means are available at short notice for all areas. Details of facilities likely to be available from commercial firms and private owners to secure their services and for the use of aircraft, small boats and other specialist equipment have been prepared and are being catalogued.
Most port authorities throughout Australia already have plans for dealing with oil pollution incidents which occur or are likely to occur within their harbours. These port authorities, in general, are selfsufficient with specialist equipment and material to deal with all incidents other than major emergencies. For any major emergency which could not be met by the resources of a port authority, the States and the Commonwealth would be called in to assist. The Department maintains close liaison with the States and port authorities to make certain that all these facilities are understood so that action can be taken quickly. As I have already pointed out. possible ways in which the Commonwealth and States respectively would deal with any oil spill are under discussion with the States. In addition I can assure honourable senators that Australia has certainly learnt from previous oil tanker casualties and the Santa Barbara disaster and we are continuing to learn. There is no need to say how much we are aware of the serious pollution which could occur following a tanker casualty on our coastline.
Senator Cant also asked whether Australia has given effect to the 1954 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, and the 1962 amendments. I can assure the honourable senator that this is so. The 1954 Conven tion did not come into force internationally for all vessels until July 1961 and Australia became a party to it in October 1962. Australia gave effect to the 1962 amendments of the convention in June 1967, on the same day as they came into force internationally.
Senator Mulvihill referred to the claim of the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments in the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ case. I am advised that the Queensland Government has submitted a claim on the P & I Club for an amount of approximately $124,500, covering Commonwealth and State costs associated with this incident. The P & I Club is now examining the claim and has queried one or two minor aspects. Subject to clarification of those points, the Government has no reason to think that the claim will not be met in the very near future.
Senator Mulvihills concern in relation to small craft is appreciated but unfortunately it has not been possible to deal with the claims against shipowners by persons or authorities other than the Commonwealth Government in this legislation. These matters will be fully covered when the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, negotiated at Brussels last year, comes into force internationally and is given effect to in Australian legislation. This is a sort of step ladder arrangement. Incidentally I can advise the honourable senator that the Government has taken the decision to sign both the International Conventions dealing with legal aspects of marine pollution damage which were drawn up in Brussels last year. One convention deals with the action a government can take on the high seas to prevent or reduce pollution of its coastline in the event of a casualty to a ship. The other one, to which I just referred, deals with the civil liability of tanker owners for oil pollution damage suffered by anyone within a signatory country. Some 20 countries have already signed these conventions subject to later acceptance. Like these countries Australia proposes to sign subject to acceptance.
Before the conventions are finally accepted by Australia it will be necessary for discussions to take place with the States and for legislation to be prepared for presentation to Parliament. So ample opportunity lies ahead. The Government has considered the honourable senator’s proposal to impose a levy on all oil imports but does not favour the proposal at this stage due to a variety of factors, including the fact that any such levy, if it is to produce a worthwhile fund, must have an effect on the cost of refined petroleum products. In any circumstances in which the Commonwealth or a State has authority in relation to clean-up operations, the honourable senator can be assured that either the Commonwealth or the State, depending on which is actually in charge of the clean-up operations, would be in a position to direct that the most suitable dispersant or detergent be used. This assumes, of course, that it is necessary to use detergent in all the circumstances. So far as the Bill is concerned the Minister would have power to direct by notice that a particular detergent be used, if he thinks it necessary, but this power does not extend beyond action to be taken in relation to the ship or oil that is escaping from a ship.
On the question of the establishment of a coast guard, the departments concerned are currently examining the whole aspect of coastal surveillance. The surveillance of marine oil pollution is a matter which is included in this examination. In connection with the relative limits of liability under the United States of America and the proposed Australian legislation dealing with marine pollution, I am informed that the position is that the maximum liability in each case is on a par, to all intents and purposes. The United States of America’s overall limit is $US14m while the Australian is $A12.6m. The equation comes about because of the exchange variation. On conversion, these can be taken to be approximately the same. However, in dealing with the limits of liability in the case of vessels where the overall maximum is not likely to be involved, the Australian and USA legislations differ slightly on matters other than the actual rate per ton. For example I understand that the USA legislation operates on the gross tonnage of a ship while the Australian law operates on an adjusted net tonnage. The important thing is that any difference that results is of little consequence for all practical purposes. They are practically identical. Senator Mulvihill also referred to the ques tion of liaison between the Commonwealth and the Queensland and New South Wales State governments. From earlier references honourable senators will see that this is taking place most effectively.
Senator Georges is assured that the Commonwealth and State officials also meet to consider ways and means of reducing the possibility of oil spillages. Matters such as tanker separation routes, navigational equipment, construction features of tankers and similar matters are under review. The honourable senator also referred at the close of his remarks, and again today, to the question of tankers clearing out their bunkers and their tanks at sea. This is a matter that comes under the 1954 International Convention for Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, to which I referred earlier. Under that Convention, discharge of any oil or oily mixtures is not permitted within 150 miles of the Queensland coast. If the honourable senator has any case he wishes to be directed to the Minister through me I will see that it is taken up.
To sum up, I think that honourable senators should have regard to the comments of the Minister. They may feel sure that, like themselves, the Minister regards this matter seriously and is taking appropriate action.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– If we are taking the Bill in its entirety I want 2 points clarified quickly. I noticed in today’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ a reference to an organisation known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Committee on the Challenge of Modern Society. This body is looking at the problem that Senator Georges mentioned. I want to know, with all due respect to the legislation, in view of the fact that we live adjacent to Japan and other maritime powers are there any other equivalent consultative bodies as distinct from this NATO group through which we can discuss with Japan and other countries the elimination of certain oil tanker practices? My second point is that I understood what the Minister was saying about liability; but in theory, if there was an oil spillage, say, along the New South Wales north coast at Byron Bay, and there was heavy beach pollution, as I understand it, under the proposed legislation the Commonwealth Government would take action against the offending oil company. Would that mean that the Commonwealth would collect any secondary cost from the oil company or would the ratepayers of Byron Bay - I use that area as an example - have to meet some of the cost?
– I draw the Minister’s attention to proposed new section 329k subsection (3.). I will not read the whole subsection, but it contains the following words:
I want to know the meaning of the word privity’. I have asked some of the legal people around here, and I think I know the meaning of it, but we are not making a law for legal people. We are making a law for the community of Australia. Words used in Acts of this Parliament should be as much as possible words in common usage that people understand. We are told that ignorance of the law is no excuse in a charge of breach of the law. If the Government is going to use these abstruse terms in laws that it produces then it cannot expect people to understand what the law means. Even if they know what the word means they may not be able to understand what the Government is publishing. I would like the Minister to tell me exactly what that means and whether words in common usage could not have been used instead.
I appreciate that the draftsmen frequently draft legislation with brevity in mind as far as possible. But this legislation is for the general public. When I first read the Bill I did not know what the word meant. I went to the Oxford Dictionary to find out what it meant. In its context here it did not mean anything to me, so I discussed it with some trained legal men and I found out the meaning of it then. People should not have to go to so much trouble to find out what a Bill or an Act of this Parliament means. If the Minister could tell me what the word means and whether other words could be used that would be understandable to the general community, I should be pleased.
– Senator Mulvihill raised the question of what happens in regard to a suppositious case of pollution of a beach. He gave for an example a northern New South Wales area with which we are both familiar. I am informed that a State claim under the State Act could cover the local council’s costs, or the council could claim on the shipowner independently. This is where 1 think it becomes extremely important that the Commonwealth work closely with the State people in relation to these matters. This is really part of the reason for the existing close co-operation, and why they are working closely together and drafting a kind of uniform position, which I think is totally the right thing to do. The honourable senator referred to the fact that a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation body is meeting in Brussels from 2nd to 6th November for a colloquium on the subject of marine oil pollution. For Senator Cant’s edification and mine I am assuming the word ‘colloquium’ to mean an assembly, a gathering or a conference. It is one of these rather lengthy words that springs with difficulty from my tongue. New ideas have been put forward, some of which are radical, and the Department will have observers at this conference studying these ideas. We will be looking at avenues of discussion equally with Japan.
I think it can be taken that within the Australian scene the Commonwealth and the States are being very careful to make sure that they are working closely together, with all of the means and the ability they have to control this position. Equally, in the international sense the Commonwealth as the responsible national body in international conferences, makes perfectly sure that its representatives join in the discussions. We take our part and we pick up international arrangements that may be made to protect this situation. I do not think one could really do more in this case than we are doing.
Senator Cant referred to the use of the word ‘privity’. I must say that this is a new word to me. I have not heard of it before. As a matter of fact, I do not wish to hear of it again for a while. The word ‘privity’ does not mean what I and perhaps Senator
Cant thought it meant. The word ‘privity’ meansprivy to or a party to’. It has been used in this sense because it picks up the language used in international conventions and therefore we have adopted this word to be consistent. I do not think there is much more than I can say. As I said earlier, the Minister has a very genuine concern in this matter and a genuine feeling for his responsibility. It is his wish to do everything possible in this field. If honourable senators have cases which they feel are worth raising, or if they think that there are matters which are worthy of consideration the Minister will be happy to consider them and 1 shall be pleased to send them on to him.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26 October (vide page 1457), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When this Bill was introduced by the Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) who represents the Treasurer it was felt that we needed to hurry through our business and the Minister asked for leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard on the grounds that a considerable quantity of that speech consisted of figures. At that time we did not have the speech in our hands. After the speech was made available it was found that the speech contained only one long table and one short table. Had the Bill been supported by a reading of the second reading speech it would have been of considerable value.
A great many people throughout the world and a large number of similar bodies in Australia, particularly those connected with the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Eucumenical Commission on Peace and Justice, believe that one of the principal methods of improving the living standards of people is through trade. They believe that trade between countries enhances their development and leads to an increase in productivity. Such an increase means that a country can participate to a greater extent in trade and this has a snowballing effect. When one looks at the principle behind the establishment of the Asian Development Bank one can see that this is a measure which can be of considerable value in helping to promote such a situation.
The Asian Development Bank commenced its operations in 1966, at Manila. There are now 35 member countries. Of this number,I think 21 are in the Asian area and 14 outside that area. The capital proposed for the Bank is $ 1, 004m, of which 50 per cent has already been subscribed. At present it is not proposed to call up more capital and this is the reason why the level of capital is remaining at $502m. Australia’s contribution is $85m of which 50 per cent has been subscribed. This amount was subscribed as recently as August of this year. The purpose of the Bill isto assist with a special fund contribution. The capital of the Bank is used generally as a guarantee for borrowings which are made to enable work to be carried out in various Asian countries. Some of the capital has been made available directly to the countries concerned, but in the main it is used as security.
Special purpose funds have been requested so that other work may be carried on. Australia has decided that it will grant$US10m to these funds over a period of 3 years. I regret that Australia has not decided to make a greater con tribution. I believe that we could contribute more towards these special funds than an amount which will be in the region of only $US3m a year over this year and the two following years. Of this$US10m some $US9.75m will be allocated to the multi-purposes special fund and the balance of$US250,000 will be allocated to the technical assistance special fund.I think, and the Opposition agrees, that Australia is supporting a very worthwhile project. As I said a moment ago, we regret that the amount which is to be contributed is not greater than it is. But even so we welcome this contribution. We support (he assistance that has been given by way of contribution to the special funds.I hope that perhaps the Government might consider, if it still is the Government when the next Budget is introduced-
-It will be.
– It is possible But I hope that the Government will consider increasing its contribution and give the Asian area greater assistance, as other countries are doing. 1 might mention that with a contribution of $85m, Australia is the third highest contributor to the fund. I think that this is a very good position to be in. With these few remarks, the Opposition supports the measure.
(4.55) - I thank the honourable senator for the comments he has made concerning this very important Bill and for the support of the Opposition. There is just one point I would like to refer to. He mentioned the sum of $10m saying that he would like it to be more. The $10m compares favourably with the contributions of other countries to special funds. I think this is a very important point. The honourable senator himself made the important point that ours in the third highest contribution of the various countries. This is a very important piece of legislation and 1 thank the Opposition for its support.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 26 October (vide page 1457), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill amends the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act. An increase of the bounty by $4 a ton from $8 to $12 was made in August last year but this bounty applied only to stocks that were held by manufacturers. This Bill provides for unsold stocks that were held by merchants and resellers. It makes this bounty retrospective to 13th August 1969 and will overcome the financial disadvantage that resellers experienced in meeting the price of the phosphate fertiliser which was lowered by that bounty. It also provides that payment of a bounty in future will be made to both manufacturers and resellers at the same time that any change takes place in the bounty on phosphate fertilisers. This Bill is not controversial, although we can expect in the future as a result of Tariff Board reports on nitrogenous fertilisers that there could be quite a degree of adjustment in Government assistance in this direction. However, this does not arise at the moment and the Opposition supports the Bill.
– in reply - This is an occasion when f could easily incorporate my speech in Hansard becauseI am not going to make one. I thank members of the Opposition for their courtesy in not opposing the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 28 October (vide page 1624), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the States over the next 3 financial years grants to investigate the discharge of rivers and the measurement of underground waters. Clause 4 contains the provision for grants to be used for the measurement of the discharge of rivers, and clause 5 provides for grants in respect of expenditure on underground water investigations. The Bill contains 2 schedules, one of which sets out the amounts to be paid to the States for expenditure on the measurement of the discharge of rivers; the other schedule sets out the amounts to be paid to the States to carry out the invesigation and measurement of underground water resources.
The Opposition does not oppose this Bill, although I am personally very critical of the amounts allocated to South Australia, particularly in the Second Schedule. For the investigation and measurement of underground water resources in the next 3 years South Australia is to receive annually only $134,900. South Australia is the driest State in the driest continent in the world. About 90 per cent of South Australia has an average annual rainfall of less than 15 inches. Therefore I believe that the amounts allocated to South Australia should be considerably increased to enable more extensive investigation of underground water supplies.
In providing finance for the measurement of water resources it is necessary to bear in mind that the area of Australia is nearly 3 million square miles. Of that area 39 per cent has an average annual rainfall of less than 10 inches; a further 20 per cent has an average annual rainfall of between 10 and 15 inches. As I have mentioned. South Australia is by far the driest State having an average rainfall of less than 15 inches a year over 92 per cent of the State whereas Western Australia has an average rainfall of less than 15 inches a year over 80 per cent of its area. Having regard to the low rainfall it is imperative to our national development that all of our water resources be investigated thoroughly. To obtain the necessary information, various measurements have to be taken at points on rivers and our underground resources have to be calculated so that we can learn as much as possible about our water resources which, in most cases, are flowing out to sea.
The river systems in Australia comprise mostly rivers which are connected to the coastline and are outward flowing. There is one exception, of course, and it is by far the biggest river system in Australia. I refer to the Murray-Darling river system, the tributaries of which cover a basin of approximately 400,000 square miles and which has a catchment area of only 158,000 square miles. The Murray River extends into 3 States. In South Australia it is the only source of water from rivers. The remainder of the rivers flow only in winter and for the rest of the year are dry. Although we regard the Murray River as a big water system, it is only a trickle when compared with river systems in other parts of the world. Therefore it is vital that every effort be made to take regular measurements not only on the Murray River but also on other rivers in those States which rely mainly on rivers for their water supply to ensure that there is a regular supply of water and that the water is of good quality.
The Murray River is probably unique in that it flows over vast areas of level country. This has led to many irrigation schemes being implemented along the river, particularly in South Australia where vast areas on which are grown the fruits that form the basis of our dried fruits industry are under irrigation. It is essential, particularly for the dried fruits industry, that the water bc of good quality and that it be kept at good quality otherwise the long years of work put in by the veterans of the 2 world wars would be lost because of salinity and poor quality water.
This Bill provides the major portion of the finance required to measure our underground water resources. Australia probably has more underground water than has any other country in the world. In fact, approximately 1 million square miles of Australia has underlying it artesian and sub-artesian waters. That is practically onethird of the area of continental Australia. Our underground water supplies vary considerably. Some cover only a few hundred square miles whereas others cover thousands of square miles. The largest of these underground water basins is the Great Artesian Basin. It is the biggest underground water supply in the world, ft covers about two-thirds of Queensland and extends into New South Wales, South Australia and central Australia. Pastoral properties in the arid areas rely quite a lot on the underground artesian supplies in those areas for water for their stock.
The quantity and quality of the water in these underground supplies vary very considerably. In some parts of Australia the salt content of the water is as low as 6 grains to the gallon. In parts of South Australia the salt content rises to 3 oz to the gallon, although in most areas it is less than 100 grains to the gallon. One bore in particular in the Murray River area of South Australia has an extremely high salinity of 10J oz to the gallon. Throughout Australia thousands of bores have been sunk over the years and vast water supplies have been drawn from them, lt is estimated that in the Great Artesian Basin there are 2,500 flowing bores and more than 5,000 sub-artesian bores. Several of those bores had an initial flow of 1 million gallons a day, whilst others have been reported to have yields of about 5 million gallons a day.
For many years this water apparently had no value. I have travelled extensively throughout Australia, including the outer pastoral areas. I have seen bores put down and the water just allowed to run to waste at the rate of millions of gallons a day. There were no restrictions whatsoever. The water was running to waste over wastelands, evaporating or being absorbed into the ground over which it passed. ] believe that to some extent that situation has been improved, and nowadays proper casing is put down and the water supplies from the artesian areas can be regulated or even cut off completely while they are not in use. Vast areas in which there is low effective rainfall and in which surface water supplies are inadequate rely on the underground supplies mainly for the raising of sheep and cattle but also for domestic supplies and in some places for town supplies. In some cases the railways rely a lot on underground water supplies.
In South Australia - the State I represent - there are several small underground water supplies which are very vital in augmenting our limited supplies of water. Over the last few years, owing to the exorbitant cost of land in the inner metropolitan area and increased water rates and council rates, growers of vegetables and fruit have found it necessary for economic reasons to move to the outer metropolitan area where they can grow their products far more economically than in the inner metropolitan area where, as I have said, the land costs are extremely high and the rates are high. Therefore they have had to rely on an area with a small underground water supply. This supply in South Australia is essential. Without it water would have to come from the Engineering and Water Supply Department at a cost of about 44c per thousand gallons. This would mean that the cost of producing vegetables in that State would be increased considerably. We in South Australia believe that we grow not only the best vegetables in the Commonwealth but the cheapest. For us to continue doing this it is essential that we continue taking various measurements of underground water sup plies in order to ensure that the flow is regular and of good” quality.
There has been concern in South Australia over the water supply in the north of the State. A number of bores were put down and the State Government found it necessary to introduce controlling legislation. An Act known as the Underground Waters Preservation Act was introduced in South Australia some time back. Its purpose is to regulate the taking of water from this underground supply. Meters have been put on a lot of bores so that users are limited. This step was essential to prevent the supply being depleted and the area concerned being without water.
I mentioned previously that for the next 3 years South Australia is to receive SI 30.000 a year for the measurement of underground water supplies. 1 said that that was not sufficient to meet its requirements. As a matter of fact the South Australian Mines Department spent $337,987 for this purpose in the last financial year. That was a vastly greater sum than that provided in this Bill.
This Bill does assist the States in the field of measurement of water supplies and water resources but we of the Opposition believe that it does not go far enough. We believe it is necessary to establish a national water resources authority for the purpose of planning, co-ordinating and developing the surface and sub-surface water resources throughout Australia on Federal, State and regional levels. However, Mr Acting Deputy President, this Bill does make some provision and I noticed that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), representing the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), said in his second reading speech that this matter is to be reviewed in, I think, 2 years time. It is possible that the allocations to the States will be increased when the matter is reviewed.
– in reply - Mr Acting Deputy President, I think one has detected in the Senate in the last half an hour or so tremendous approval of the particularly short speeches made by Ministers and I would hate to break that tradition. I do not propose to do so. I want to make only a couple of comments.
The Senate, as a body of legislators, for quite a long time, on any occasion when the question of Australia’s water supplies has come up, has taken a very deep interest. That is the sort of thing one would expect the Senate to do as the custodian of the long term interests of the Australian people. One of the notable things it did was to direct a committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Davidson, to a study of water pollution. 1 feel that this step in particular represented a commendable contribution to Australia’s knowledge. Equally I think that on occasions like this it is very useful to have an examination of Australia’s water resource position and the means taken to ascertain it and protect it. This is what this Bill seeks to do.
Senator Donald Cameron has spoken to the measure and has indicated that the Opposition has no objection to it, does not intend to oppose it and in fact supports it. I think the concern that he has as a South Australian senator is about the amount of money made available to his own State. The only comment 1 can make here is to say that the amounts of the grants State by State that are given by the Commonwealth are based upon the request made by each State when the programme is being drawn up. 1 am glad that the Opposition is prepared to support the Bill. I think it is a good piece of legislation and one which we should support and should approve.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) - 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 four Bills relating to statutory salaries and allowances being put in one motion at each stage and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Debate resumed from 28 October (vide pages 1624 and 1625), on motions by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the passage of these Bills, but for the purpose of the record I shall deal with them seriatum during the course of my remarks. The first measure with which I shall deal is the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill (No. 2) which provides for the insertion of the following new sub-section (1.) in section 8:
For each day on which a member attends a meeting of the Corporation, he shall be paid -
in the case of a member being the Chairman -
If the duration of the meeting is not less than 3 hours - Forty dollars; or
if the duration of the meeting is less than 3 hours - Twenty-five dollars; or
In the case of a member not being the Chairman -
if the duration of the meeting is not less than 3 hours - Thirty-five dollars; or
if the duration of the meeting is less than 3 hours - Twenty dollars.
I understand that these are the fees payable on a daily sitting basis to part time statutory office holders who do not receive an annual salary. I note that proposed new sub-section (1a.) provides:
The last preceding sub-section does not apply in relation to a member who -
is an officer of, or is employed by, an authority of the Commonwealth and is required by the terms of his employment to give the whole of his time to the duties of his employment.
The members of the Film Development Corporation are Mr John Darling, who is the chairman; Mr R. S. Elliott, who is otherwise the General Manager of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia; Mr T. S. Duckmanton, Australian Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission; Mr D. E. Brown, who is from the Australian News and information Bureau; and Mr. B. Jones who is a member of the Australian Council for the Arts.
I just wish to make one short observation on this Bill before 1 deal with the oilier Bills, lt will be recalled that when the original Bill was first being debated in this Parliament we of the Opposition moved that people with a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in the business of film making or film exhibiting should be eligible for appointment to this Corporation. Of course, the Government did not accede to our amendment. Throughout the world today, as 1 have mentioned previously, what is known as the cassette revolution is taking place. I referred to it in a speech I made in this Parliament a month or two ago, and I also mentioned it during the Estimates debate. A lot of other publicity has been given to it in recent times. As part of the electronic age people will be able to tape a record or a programme that they wish to see at any time by the use of a piece of equipment which is not costly, lt is just as easy as going to a library and taking out a book. There will be a real revolution in its effect on feature film production and the television industry, lt will have a tremendous impact on the entertainment habits of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Australians. lt will have a great economic effect on people engaged in the motion picture industry also, particularly those who run theatres in country towns. Already these people are having some difficulties in connection with the R classifiction of films. 1 have made submissions already to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) in this direction. In short, the problem is that the trend abroad these days is to produce R classification films rather than general exhibition films. This trend will very much limit the type of programme that can be shown and will attract customers, particularly in country areas. I will not weary the Senate with a dissertation on this matter at this stage by setting out the many problems ahead of the industry. I. merely suggest that the Government should give close consideration to the appointment to the Corporation of a representative of exhibitors, particularly country exhibitors. Of course, we of the Opposition also should like to see representatives of the trade unions involved in the industry on the Corporation. But I suppose the opening up of that subject at this stage could provoke a wide ranging and con troversial debate. As 1 have said, the Opposition does noi oppose the passage of the Australian Film Development Corporation Bill.
The next Bill before us is the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill. This Bill relates to the salaries of the Commissioner and an Acting Commissioner of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. The Commissioner is to be paid under this Bill at the rate of $16,931 a year. 1 understand that this is commensurate with the salary payable to the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Chairman of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. The Opposition does not oppose the passage of this Bill but, as was pointed out in another place, the salary set out is some $7,500 more than that payable to a back bench member of the Parliament.
The next Bill before us is the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill, lt relates to the salary payable to the Assistant Directors of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation who, under the terms of the Bill, are to be paid at the rate of $15,592 a year. The remuneration of the Director of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is set out in the Bill as being at such a rate and with such an annual allowance, if any, as the Parliament provides. I understand the salary for the Director has to be fixed when he comes into office in a sole capacity. I take advantage of this Bill to pay tribute to the services that have been rendered to Australia by the Chairman of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, as it was called, Mr Howard Dann. Australia has been indeed fortunate to have had men like Sir William Hudson and Mr Dann at the helm of this great and world recognised organisation.We all know the tremendous engineering, administrative and organisational capacity of Sir William Hudson in the early days of the great Authority. Mr Dann to his great credit and with distinction to Australia has carried on the task in an equally efficient manner. All Australians must be indebted to the great service that he has rendered in his capacity of Chairman to the Australian nation.
The final Bill of the 4 which have been mentioned is the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill (No. 2) 1970. In this Bill provision is made for the salary of the Director of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to be fixed at $11,822 a year and for an allowance to be paid to the Director as prescribed. When the Senate amended the original legislation we made a requirement that Parliament should determine the salary payable. Now the salary rate is being fixed. I understand that the amount involved does not come out of Consolidated Revenue. The Senate also required that allowances for the occupant of the position would be fixed by way of prescription. This means that a regulation has to be made to say what, if any, travelling allowyance should be paid and what that amount might be. Of course such a regulation is capable of being disallowed.
For the life of me 1 cannot understand why the Government has chosen to award a salary to the Director of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority which is much less than that payable to the Commissioner of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. After all the person occupying the position of Director of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will be responsible for the maintenance of industrial peace on the Australian waterfront. Frankly I do not think that the amount which has been determined by the Government and which is provided for in this Bill, $11,822 a year, is commensurate with the enormous responsibility that that person will have to undertake when one considers, understands and appreciates ° the industrial anomaly resulting from a comparison of like with like. However the Australian Labor Party does not oppose the Bill. I suggest the Government should look closely at the rate of salary set out in this legislation having regard to the comparable salaries payable to the office holders named in the previous 3 Bills. As I have said on behalf of the Opposition it does not oppose the passage of the 4 Bills. We hope that they will have a speedy passage.
(5.34) - T thank Senator McClelland for the comments he has made. I am aware of his particular interest in the Australian Film Development Corporation. I have noted the points he has raised concerning the other 3 Bills. As the honourable senator has said it is quite correct that the salary of the Director of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority does not come out of Consolidated Revenue. The honourable senator raised the point of the difference between the salary paid to that Director and the salaries set out in the other Bills. These points will be noted by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) who is responsible for this legislation. I thank the Opposition for its support of the Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) - 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 Bill 1970, the States Grants (Debt Charges Assistance) Bill 1970, the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1970, and the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1970 being put in one motion at each stage of the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
Debate resumed from 29 October (vide pages 1655, 1656, 1657 and 1658), on motions by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read. a second time.
– I indicate at the outset that the Australian Labor Party does not oppose these Bills. However, I would like to comment on the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill, which provides for the payment of a special grant of $5m to South Australia and St 3. 68m to Tasmania. I wish to refer in particular to the reason for this special grant of $5m to South Australia.
When Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, applied at the Premiers
Conference in June of this year for extra financial assistance it was denied to him. He said that he had been unfairly treated by the Commonwealth. Mr Dunstan had made a claim to the Commonwealth for the provision of $3m for specific purposes. His main reason for applying for this extra money was to meet education needs as well as to help to some extent the building trade, which was in a state of decline at that time in South Australia’. The money sought for education purposes was to be used to replace by more solid constructions the unsatisfactory temporary timber classrooms which dot many of the schools in South Australia. At that time Mr Dunstan also pointed out that he was making his claim at a time when the Commonwealth had allowed its public works programme in South Australia to fall to a fairly low level. In fact, it represented only 5 per cent of the total works programme for Australia. At that time the building industry in South Australia was on the decline. The South Australian industry was affected by the decision of the Commonwealth Government in 1969 to increase interest rates. It is history that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton’) refused South Australia’s request for extra money and told the State that it should go to the Commonwealth Grants Commission if it needed extra money. This meant that if South Australia were to approach the Grants Commission, the South Australian Government would have to introduce the same kind of taxes and local charges as prevail in New South Wales and Victoria, the two standard States.
– It would be treated like Oliver Twist.
– That is right. There was a remark in one of the newspapers about South Australia being treated like Oliver Twist. Moreover South Australia would have to adjust expenditure on services to the level of those two Slates. When one looks at all the circumstances and sees the repercussion that an application to the Commission would have, one realises that it would remove from South Australia its flexibility. South Australia has a sounder than average Public Service and a government with a very active social policy.
When the South Australian Government approached the Federal Government at the
Premiers Conference it was the only Stale with a Labor Government. It was the only State that had been refused additional assistance by the Commonwealth. Was this refusal a political one? The South Australian Government believes that it was. My colleagues in the Federal Parliament also believe that it was refused on political grounds. From information that Mr Dunstan received prior to or during the Premiers Conference, the indications were that South Australia would receive an extra $3m. This was refused. An article in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of 29th June bears out the fact that the refusal was on political grounds. Referring to Mr Dunstan, the article states:
The Premier said he did not expect cuts in public works, but the Government would have a tight Budget.
He was satisfied that the Federal Cabinet had vetoed the extra $3m allowance for South Australia which had been recommended by the Federal Treasury.
Mc had been told of this recommendation by Treasury officials and by journalists who had been informed of it by Federal Cabinet Ministers.
He knew that certain allocations had been made to some States that had not been recommended by the Federal Treasury.
He knew there had been Federal Cabinet discussion on the matter and that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) had made ‘a good deal of remarks’ on what had happened at the election 3 weeks before. lt was dastardly that Mr Gorton, having given South Australia a poor deal previously to which the Slate had reacted at the poll, should now demonstrate his disapproval further.
He felt Mr Gorton’s attitude to South Australia had been one made in a fit of pique.
– Who said that?
– I am quoting what the South Australian Premier, Mr Dunstan, said. The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of 27th June contained an article about statements made by Mr Hall the ex-Premier of South Australia. The article states:
So far as South Australia is concerned, it looks as if Mr Dunstan was unable to get a big enough slice of the cake’, Mr Hall said. ‘1 do not know the reason for Ibis. It may be that the South Australian case suffered because the election has meant a change of horses at the last stage of the presentation of our case.”
– Is he the Leader of the Liberal Country League in South Australia?
– Is he still its Leader?
– 1 understand that he is. Arising out of that situation, on 6th July South Australia was obliged to approach the Commonwealth Government for a special grant for financial assistance for 1970-71, under section 96 of the Constitution. Honourable senators will remember that in 1960 South Australia ceased to be a claimant State. It has been forced again to become a claimant State because of the parsimonious attitude of the Federal Government. The Commonwealth Grants Commission upheld the application of the South Australian Government and ordered an advance of $5m to be made to South Australia in 1970-71. That sum of S5m is about S2m more than Mr Dunstan as Premier of South Australia asked for at the Premiers Conference. In this context I shall quote from an article headed ‘An Umpire to Balance the States’ which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 3rd September. It states:
The Commonwealth Grants Commission has substantiated a charge by the South Australian Premier Mr Dunstan that he was unfairly treated by the Commonwealth at the Premiers Conference in Canberra last June. At the time Mr Dunstan claimed that South Australia, the only State wilh a Labor Government, was ihe only State noi to receive some additional financial help from the Commonwealth. He was only after S2m to $3m extra but he was unable to convince Mr Gorton, who suggested that if he was unhappy he ought to approach the Grants Commission for it to judge, by comparison with the finances of New South Wales and Victoria, whether the State deserved extra assistance. Mr Dunstan took the advice and lnc Grants Commission has now delivered its verdict: an extra 55m for South Australia this year, a conservative amount which more detailed arguments could push up next year.
It appears from the articles 1 have quoted that the refusal of the Prime Minister at the Premiers Conference to give extra assistance to South Australia was a political move. We do not oppose these Bills, but I am sure that the political atmosphere will have to be removed from any future Premiers Conference. Articles similar to those 1 have quoted appeared in other Australian newspapers. The article in the Australian’ of 3rd September to which I have referred went on:
As a result of Mr Gorton’s decision not lo give Mr Dunstan the money he deserved, the Commonwealth is now paying out more money that il would have, and Mr Dunstan’s Government has lost much budgetary freedom. This demonstrates the practical problems which result from the Premiers Conference being used for political purposes. Yet this is a problem of which Mr Gorton was aware at the conference . . . Referring the distribution of the grants to a neutral umpire would certainly avoid future charges of politic** bias-
– That is a very sound suggestion.
– Yes, it is. The article went on: - whether of the kind which South Australia seemed to suffer this time or the more frequent deals which the Commonwealth arranges wilh a few States. lt would mean the Commonwealth and the States could confine their arguments at Premiers Conferences to establishing an overall level for Commonwealth grants. Most of (lie bitterness at ihe Conferences is now over the distribution of less than 1 per cent of the total.
That is all I wish to say. I believe that the Prime Minister dealt unfairly with South Australia, and 1 hope that in future a different attitude wiill be adopted lo the States - not only South Australia - when they approach the Prime Minister or the Treasurer (Mr Bury) for additional financial assistance. We support the Bills.
– I regret very much lhat Senator Drury has spoken in such derogatory terms of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Commonwealth Government in respect of the funds made available to South Australia. He said in his concluding remarks that the political atmosphere should be taken out of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. In this I agree with him. However, from the attitude that he has adopted in this matter I believe that if bias is present it has been fomented and promoted in an unfair manner by the Premier of South Australia, and not by the Prime Minister.
– Do you think that South Australia has had a fair go?
– Yes. I and my colleagues at all times are seeking 10 obtain ihe best possible allocation of funds for South Australia to meet its various requirements. We seek always to achieve that objective. That is the reason for our being here. The main purpose of the Slates Grants (Special Assistance) Bill which is one of those now before us is to authorise the payment in 1970-71 of a special grant of S5m to South Australia and of SI 3.680m to Tasmania. Those payments are in accordance wilh (he recommendations contained in the 37th report of the Commonwealth
Grants Commission which was before us recently. It is a good thing to look at the history leading to the present need for South Australia to revert to its status of a claimant State. In 1959-60 South Australia ceased to be a claimant State. I recall to the Senate a statement made by the former Prime Minister, Mr Chifley, to the effect that South Australia would never be other than a mendicant State.
– In what year was that?
– I cannot recall the year but the statement was made that South Australia, because of its lack of natural resources, would be unable to emerge into a position of complete financial independence. I recall that in 1938 the Premier of South Australia, Mr Tom Playford as he then was, when taking office said something to this effect: ‘We in this State must cut our coat in accordance with the cloth that we have. We shall do all that we can to attract industry to South Australia. We shall do all that we can to make the fullest use of our natural resources. We shall administer the finances of the State carefully.’ Following that statement in 1938 South Australia had its first experience of decentralisation of industry as between States when Philips Industries Ltd came to South Australia and set up our second major secondary industry. The first was the motor vehicle industry. Thereafter our economy, both industrial and rural, improved to the stage at which we were attracting to Australia more migrants per capita of the former population than was any other State in Australia.
– And were paying the penalty for it in a way, too.
– We certainly had many costs arising from that rapid increase in our population. But we were able to absorb that very high degree of migrant intake, to have full employment and to have the economy rising very nicely. However, it has to be realised that South Australia has its limitations in natural resources. With the best of endeavours over a couple of decades, with a rising economy and with that realisation of the State having to cut its coat in accordance with the cloth available to it, we held costs down in our State to such a degree that we were behind other States in certain services, although through this careful atten tion to the financial structure of the State we were able to have a wage rate slightly lower than that of other States but a more effective pay packet, which attracted industry to the State.
So, we had a situation of a contented populace, a strengthening economy and an. ability, within our limited resources, to do those things which led us to emergence from a position which was described by Mr Chifley when he was Prime Minister in this way: ‘South Australia can never be other than a State receiving special financial treatment from the Commonwealth’. With the increase in the level of services in Australia, it was necessary a couple of years ago to review our situation and our ability to maintain services at a level in parallel with other States without assistance additional to that which we were receiving under the normal arrangements for financial payments to the States exclusive of Commonwealth Grants Commission payments.
– Do you not think that sales tax and the wine levy have a greater incidence and bear more heavily on the economy of South Australia than those of other States?
– We certainly are most sensitive in our secondary industries to any charge which has an effect on the motor industry, in the first place. Similarly, as we produce the bulk of the wines produced in Australia, I have expressed my concern at the possible effects of an impost which could be detrimental to that sector of industry. The motor industry and the wine industry are very important industries in South Australia.
I wish to proceed to refer to the need to bear in mind that in South Australia we were able to have a certain level of services which was not in accord with the level of services being provided in other States. Now we have reached the stage where we need this extra money again. I believe that the whole background to this Commonwealth Grants Commission provision of S5m to South Australia is summed up neatly in the following words which appear in the Commonwealth Grants Commission report under the heading ‘Inequalities among the States’:
The economies of the Australian States differ from one another in way which have an important bearing on the relative capacity of the several
Slate governments to provide services for individuals and businesses. Among these differences are those of area, climate, topography, natural resources, size and distribution of population arid productive capacity, and levels of income and expenditure . . .
These differences among the economies of the States give rise to fiscal inequalities. In general the fiscal inequalities take the form of differences in relative capacity to raise revenue from State taxes and other charges, in the relative cost of providing State government services and meeting public debt charges, and in the budgetary impact of the operations of State business undertakings.
Sitting suspended from fi to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting of the Senate was suspended for dinner I was speaking of the bases for determining applications for financial assistance grants to the States under section 96 of the Consitution. I was speaking of the inequalities which do exist among the States. Their differences in total may be described as differences in fiscal capacity and may be partly or wholly offset by the pattern of distribution of Commonwealth financial assistance to the States. The Commonwealth Grants Commission takes this into account in assessing the need for a special grant. A State may be said to have below average fiscal capacity if, in the absence of the Commonwealth financial assistance to the Slate, the revenue obtained from taxes and charges of average overall severity would not be sufficient to enable that State to provide services of average overall scope and standard. Herein we have one of the finest instances of the value of federalism. The nation as a whole is viewed and its component parts are sought to be so assisted that standards may be common to ail States, taking into account disadvantages which are present in certain of the States.
Earlier 1 referred to the basic difficulties which beset my State of South Australia, a large State in area and one not especially endowed with natural resources. For instance, in respect to power generation we have in the past had only one source although now we have two. Basically that power source is derived from the Leigh Creek coal fields. These coal fields are of quite low grade brown coal. By very excellent application to mining and transport to the power houses at Port Augusta, this coal provides South Australia with power at rates which are indeed most comparable in cost with any power generated from beat sources in Australia. But coal is a wasting asset and looking into the future it leads us in South Australia to feel that there is a very strong case - bearing in mind that we have no power source other than natural gas and the coal deposits to which 1 have referred - for South Australia to be given due consideration for the provision of a nuclear reactor to feed power into the State grids. This is vitally important for South Australia. At the same lime a nuclear reactor could deal with the other disadvantage from which we suffer and that is that we have only one major waterway to provide water over the bulk of the Stale.
– Would you say that the Jervis Bay nuclear power project should be transferred to South Australia?
– I would like to see that power station erected in South Australia to ensure to us a source of energy for industry and domestic requirements and also for the desalination of water. Power could be fed not only into our grids but also to users of power beyond our State.
– Senator Willesee suggested yesterday that we could stall that until your views were heard.
– I would be very interested to see the plans of the Atomic Energy Commission in respect of locations of future nuclear reactors. I can see that these could well be a source of energy in South Australia and that nuclear energy could be a basic and major factor in our maintaining a viable place in the scheme of things as part of the nation. The allocation of moneys to South Australia from Federal sources through the years has been vital to our ability to advance to our present situation. 1 remind honourable senators of a point to which 1 referred earlier - that it was only because of the requirement to build up our level of services and the general provision of those things which were common to other States that we found need to have recourse to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. 1 am very pleased that the Grants Commission, in determining South Australia’s requirements as being beyond that which it received from the normal reimbursements and grants, is putting South Australia’s economy into a condition which compares very favourably with that of other parts of Australia. I decry the reference of my friend Senator Drury to the parsimonious attitude of the Federal Government to South Australia. To describe this Government’s attitude in that way is completely wrong. We in South Australia are appreciative of that which has been done for our State following the presentation of a case for means to meet certain of our requirements. In this matter of finance, which is so basic and vital to any State or nation, political footballing should never be allowed to intrude. I have every respect for the degree of fairness and consideration which has been displayed in determining what the nation requires overall, and I have no doubt that the impartiality which is applied reflects very creditably on the responsibility of the Government.
– Do you think Sir Henry Bolte plays it fair, as the other Premiers do, or is he the bad boy in this concept of federalism? He will not play to the rules.
– My view of politics in other States of Australia is that that which is done in those States is their business. My concern is for my own State. But if I may say so, I admire the attitudes of the Victorian Premier in many ways. He has brought that State into a condition of economic prosperity which has been given to few States. That condition arises from a very purposeful and able administration of the affairs of that State. In South Australia we seek, and always shall seek, a fair slice of the cake. I honestly feel that a fair slice has been given to us. When, for reasons of inequality, such as those to which I have referred, we present cases for further slices, when credence is given to our situation and we then view our treatment calmly, coldly and fairly, I think we will all realise that there is a good future for our federation of States and for our nation. In my opinion we cannot afford to emphasise political aspects unduly and to decry the need for purposeful national development while seeking an expedient that will be of temporary advantage.
In this document now before us we see the very foundation of a system which is doing a great deal for our overall economy. On this basis I feel we can look forward with confidence to the future position as between the States and within the States. I have every confidence in the situation now applying. 1 appreciate our ability to have recourse to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for consideration. Here we have $5m being granted to us not on the basis of political expediency or of yelling out for a certain thing but on the basis of a proven requirement determined by those who will determine what is required beyond what is now being granted to South Australia to enable that State to reach approximately the standards applying in other States in education, hospital and social services and in general wages. So I have pleasure indeed in supporting this Bill. I trust that the system now applying will be carried on with purposeful national planning and consideration not unduly influenced by short term political expediency. I support the Bill.
– Under the Stales Grants (Special Assistance) Bill I refer to a matter that has come to my attention in relation to grants for the construction of (he Whyalla to Port Augusta railway. Money was allocated by the Commonwealth Government for the construction of this railway line, and since then tenders have been called for not only the construction but also the supply of materials. I have received today information that a number of tenders were received from South Australia to supply 125,000 concrete sleepers and also the iron fastenings which are built into the sleepers. Both the Chief Civil Engineer of the Commonwealth Railways and the Commissioner recommend that concrete sleepers be supplied for this project. Although initially concrete sleepers are slightly dearer than the ordinary wooden sleepers, they have a life expectancy of 50 years compared with approximately 20 years for wooden sleepers. As we know, wooden sleepers need maintenance after about 10 or 15 years. So the overall cost of concrete sleepers over a period would work out to be lower than that of wooden sleepers.
I have received information from a fairly reliable source that some political pressure has been used against the contractors in relation to the tenders which have been called for the sleepers. The sleepers could be manufactured either at Whyalla or Port Augusta which are the 2 cities between which the railway is to be constructed. This would mean employment to the State of South Australia of some 40 people and it would give to that State this extra work which is vitally needed.
The other matter 1 wish to discuss is the fastenings which are to be built into the concrete sleepers. A manufacturing firm in South Australia, David Shearer Ltd of Mannum, manufactures mainly agricultural implements. Due to the plight of the rural industry it has had to retrench a lot of its employees. This firm has placed a tender for the supply of these iron fastenings. If the contract is awarded to that firm it will give that small town some work to keep the industry going. We, and the people in South Australia, are concerned that political pressure is being used which could take this work away from South Australia. The railway is to be built in South Australia and if possible the sleepers to be used should be provided from a firm in that State.
I understand that the tender price is the lowest tender ever submitted in the Commonwealth for concrete sleepers. If the contract for the supply of 125,000 sleepers is not awarded to that firm the reason cannot be that the price is too high. It must be some other reason. Perhaps a reason could be that South Australia had the audacity to elect a Labor Party Government in May this year, or perhaps, because the Federal members from the Government parties were annihilated at the Commonwealth election held last year, the Gorton Government is going to take it out on South Australia and deprive our State of this vital industry. I would like the Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) to investigate this matter. The chief civil engineer and the Commissioner for Commonwealth Railways both recommended that concrete sleepers should be used. I would think that with their knowledge of railways their opinion would be accepted and that a substitute such as wooden sleepers would not be used. I hope that the Minister will make investigations and that if the tenders for this project are not let he will give consideration to the lenders submitted from South Australia for the supply of not only the malleable iron fastenings but also the 125,000 concrete sleepers.
– In speaking to the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill it is important to recall that when the Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) was putting down the Bill in this place reference was made to the history of special grants leading up to the situation as it exists at the moment. In earlier days when special grants were first made they constituted the only regular form of general revenue assistance to what are sometimes described as the financially weaker States for this purpose. The main way in which special assistance is provided today is through what the Minister for Supply described as a higher per capita financial assistance grant which is paid to the 4 less populous States. The purpose of paying special giants to the financially weaker States is to compensate them for such factors as a lower capacity to raise revenue front their own resources and by the same token the higher costs of providing government services of a comparable standard to those which exist in other States.
South Australia is a State which has peculiar difficulties, placed as it is in the centre of the Commonwealth so to speak. It is also, as has been pointed out earlier, the driest State in the Commonwealth. South Australia is, unfortunately, completely lacking in natural resources, which makes it extremely difficult for it to carry on in the same way as other States with natural resources and greater assets. Yet it needs to be placed very firmly on the record that, in spite of these handicaps, South Australia has over a period of years brought itself to a situation where it has developed a manufacturing ability and capacity far in excess of what its population percentage and its natural resources might lead one to expect from it. It is not without significance, of course, that this progress was made over many years under the able administration of successive Playford governments. However, the situation throughout Australia has changed and is changing. Various other capacities of movement, communication. manufacturing., development and, of course, the discovery of natural resources in other areas have caused some problems as far as South Australia is concerned.
The States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill will give effect to the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission for the payment of a special grant to South Australia. Although the current report of the Commission has already been referred to tonight, I want again to refer to that section dealing with the budgets of the States. Under the heading ‘South Australia’ it states:
The Budget result for 1968-69 was a surplus of $0.5m. This followed a deficit of $2.9m in 1967-68 and a surplus of $0.1m in 1966-67. Total revenue increased by $23. 8m or 9.2 per cent in 1968-69 compared with a rise of $1 1.3m or 4.6 per cent in 1967-68. General revenue grants from the Commonwealth rose by $ 11.7m or 11.2 per cent in 1968-69 compared with an increase of $10.lm or 10.7 per cent in 1967-68.
At the end of its report the Grants Commission reviewed the application made by South Australia for a special grant in 1970-71. It concluded by recommending the payment of an advance grant of $5m to the State of South Australia this year. So there has been a recognition through the years of the particular needs of South Australia from time to time. The Commonwealth, having come forward with this grant this year, will provide South Australia with an opportunity to make some considerable progress. The Premier of South Australia, in receiving news of this grant, expressed himself as being very gratified with the recommendation for the payment of a $5m special grant. He went on to point out, as is set out in the report of the Grants Commission, that the matter will be the subject of a further examination and, indeed, that if would not surprise him if the role of the Grants Commission emerged in quite a different way from its role in the past and it assumed greater responsibility as far as, shall I say, State finances or federal financial arrangements are concerned.
I draw attention to an article that appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’ at about the time that the grant was made. The article referred to the grant as limelight for the Commonwealth Grants Commission. It may well be that the Grants Commission is assuming not only a new responsibility but a new role. Tt may well be that it will avoid what other speakers have described as the cutting up of the cake. One would hope that it would take away from the process of the division of funds the political emphases that sometimes come into distribution and discussion. The article in the ‘Canberra Times’ stated that perhaps not one Australian in 10 knew that the Commission is a three-man advisory body that has been around since 1933. Tasmanians probably would enjoy an advantage in this respect. In 1969-70 their Government received from the Commonwealth, through the Commission’s intercession, $2lm over and above the sum supplied under the regular financial agreement. South Australia has received an amount in addition to that which was made available earlier. It is well to record these facts, but what is most important is how this money will be used, the advantage it will be to South Australia, what the result of the accounting will be, how we will look at it one year from now, how the Grants Commission will look at it then, how the people of South Australia will look at it, and how we, members of the Commonwealth Parliament, will look at it.
One would hope that there would be some emphasis on transportation needs in South Australia. I know that special funds are available for roads such as the Eyre Highway, which has been the subject of discussion here, but surely that is the responsibility of the South Australian Government. One would hope also that there would not be any further and extended delays on the necessary Adelaide to Port Pirie railway line. One would hope also to find an improvement in services to the growing and changing style of the metropolitan area. We have heard a lot about the importance of water to South Australia. The present reticence and disposition of the South Australian Premier not to proceed with the agreement that was well set in train by the Hall Administration, while it may not be directly involved with the legislation with which we are dealing, is part of the total pattern of administration. The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of today’s date did well when it described the Premier’s attitude as an attempt to exert an hypnosis in South Australia. The Administration in South Australia has the responsibility of using this money to the best of its ability and for the welfare and benefit of the people of South Australia.
I was interested to hear the reference to the need for concrete sleepers on the Whyalla-Port Augusta railway. Whilst this matter may not be involved in this legislation, the development of industry - whether it be at Whyalla, Port August or elsewhere - also is an issue of considerable importance and significance. I think all of us have had varying reports on this subject. Senator Donald Cameron has put his views. 1 have had some reports on it. I imagine that other senators have, too. Tt will be in our interests to present a case for the acceptance of a tender which will provide for an increase, an improvement and a stepping up of industrial activity in South Australia.
The matter before us comes down to two main headings, namely, the import and significance of the Grants Commission - not only in this distribution of funds but also in relation to the future distribution of financial grants to the States - more particularly as far as South Australians are concerned, the use to which this money is put for the welfare of the State and its instrumentalities.
– I wish to respond briefly to Senator Davidson’s remarks about the issues in South Australia. He referred to South Australia’s ability to recover from a situation of great disability. I agree that South Australian governments, and I include the Playford Government, the Walsh Government and the Dunstan Government, have been able to increase South Australia’s ability to produce goods. I refer particularly to the production of consumer goods and the motor car manufacturing industry in South Australia which has made South Australia an important Australian unit of productivity. However South Australia is faced with 2 important disabilities to which Senator Davidson referred. The first disability is the shortage of water supplies, and the second disability is transportation difficulties.
In a rather hurried way Senator Davidson referred to South Australia’s disability in respect of water supplies. I thought that he imputed to the South Australian Labor Government incompetence in concluding negotiations for the construction of a dam at Chowilla or Dartmouth. As I have followed the arguments about construction of a dam at Chowilla it has seemed to me that the South Australian Government bases soundly its arguments in favour of that project. Whatever may be the arguments in favour of a dam at Dartmouth, the South Australian Government simply wishes to preserve the concept of a dam at Chowilla. The Chowilla project concerns the South Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government and the other governments which are members of the River Murray Commission. When discussions were held between the South Australian Government and the other member governments of the River Murray Commission the South Australian Government argued that the concept of a dam at Chowilla should be preserved. That is all that it sought. Previously Mr Dunstan had asked the former Minister for National Development to initiate discussions between member governments of the River Murray Commission on preservation of the Chowilla concept. Mr Dunstan is not arguing that the Chowilla project has to be started straight away. He is saying only that it ought to be preserved as a concept of water conservation.
I am surprised that senators from South Australia should say that in sonic way Mr Dunstan is now advocating something which cannot be achieved. I and other Labor senators, notably Senator Laucke, have been advocates of the Chowilla project. Our object is to ensure that the intentions once held by the Commonwealth Government in respect of Chowilla should be preserved irrespective of the commencement of the Dartmouth project. ] wish now to refer to the stand taken by Mr Corcoran the South Australian Minister who attended the discussions on Chowilla. Mr Corcoran proposed to delete the provision that completion of the construction of the Chowilla reservoir should be deferred until the contracting governments agreed that work should proceed. He wanted to ensure the preservation of the Chowilla concept. He also proposed that for the purpose of the study, so far as it related to the proposed Chowilla reservoir and in estimating its cost, no account should be taken of the cost of the work referred to in paragraph (JJ) of clause 20 of the 1970 Agreement or of the cost of dismantling or flooding those works. I remind honourable senators of the proposal to flood Lake Victoria. All we have asked for is an assurance that whatever the cost of the flooding might be, it should not be held against the Chowilla concept.
It boils down to this: South Australia’s Labor Government wants to ensure that the agreement in relation to the building of a dam at Chowilla is preserved. On the other hand certain governments, including the Commonwealth Government, now want to make sure that the concept of Chowilla shall be lost for all time. The South Australian Government’s action should be endorsed and supported. I believe that there are honourable senators on the other side of the chamber who will support that proposition.
– Senator Laucke will.
– I am sure that he will.
– He has indicated clearly that he will.
– He has, and 1 think that he will continue to do so. That is all I have to say in response to what Senator Davidson has said. I turn now to the other question which relates to the railways. In 1949 the Commonwealth Government and the South Australian Government agreed to convert the whole of the South Australian railway system, except that part in the Eyre Peninsula, to standard gauge. This meant that in addition to the system connecting with Adelaide, the northern part of the system, with the exception of that part in the Eyre Peninsula, would be connected to the east-west system. Despite that agreement nothing was clone. Now, with the completion of the east-west standard line Adelaide is still not connected to it, nor is the northern part of the South Australian railway system. The Commonwealth Government has repudiated the agreement that it made in 1949, and has proposed to the South Australian Government that consultants should be employed to ascertain the most economical method of connecting Adelaide to the east-west standard gauge tine.
The firm of Maunsell and Partners which had done some work on the Snowy Mountains scheme and on other projects in Australia was engaged. After investigation the firm said that the most economical thing to do was to connect Adelaide with Port Pirie and to leave the northern part of the State untouched. However, the
South Australian Government of the day did not agree with that, nor did the subsequent Labor Government or the government led by Premier Hall. They believed that conversion to the standard gauge should take place in the northern part of the system. Finally, the Liberal Government in South Australia knuckled under to the request of the Commonwealth Government and agreed to accept the proposition advanced by Maunsell and Partners to connect Adelaide to Port Pirie and to leave the northern part of the State untouched. The Dunstan Labor Government supported the views which had been expressed by the Playford and Walsh governments and said that if any part of the South Australian railway system was to be converted to the standard gauge, not only should the line between Adelaide and Port Pirie be standardised but also that the work should be extended to the northern part of the railway system.
– The Commissioner for Railways also supported that idea.
– As Senator Toohey has reminded me, Mr Fitch, the Commissioner for Commonwealth Railways in South Australia, who previously had been an engineer with the Commonwealth Railways and knew all about railway systems and the standardisation of railway guauges, urged that conversion should be extended to the northern part of the State. That is the issue in South Australia. I refute the statements which have been made by Senator Davidson. What the South Australian Labor Government is arguing is different in no way from what the governments under Sir Thomas Playford and Mr Walsh argued. That is that in addition to the connection between Adelaide and Port Pirie the northern part of the railway system should be converted to the standard gauge, otherwise the problem of duplication of railway gauges would exist at all of the northern terminals. We want the Commonwealth Government to agree to our proposal.
I rose only to point out the attitude of the South Australian Government. There is no doubt in my mind that what it is arguing is no different from what has been argued over the years by earlier Liberal Governments. The Commonwealth Government should take notice of them and try to resolve this matter.
(8.40) - I rise to close the debate on the States Giants (Special Assistance) Bill, to which honourable senators have been speaking, and the other 3 Bills that we have taken with it at the second reading stage. My colleagues Senator Laucke and Senator Davidson have replied very ably to points that have been raised by the Opposition. I shall not traverse the areas that they have covered.
There is just I point that 1 should like to clear up. It relates to what Senator Drury said about South Australia and the Commonwealth Grants Commission. At the June Premiers Conference the South Australian Premier asked for grants over and above what was being made available to all the States. The Commonwealth did not accept that request, but it did say that South Australia and any of the other less wealthy States could apply to the Grants Commission if the State thought its share of the grants was inadequate. The Grants Commission is an expert and independent body. It received submissions by the State of South Australia and recommended a grant of $5m for 1970-71. That is the matter that we are discussing in connection with the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill. This grant is based on a preliminary assessment which could be subject to adjustment after a detailed examination. The Grants Commission leaves the States free to impose taxes and to spend as they themselves decide. I believe that in the speech made late this afternoon a very wrong impression was given concerning this matter. I felt that I should clear up that point.
Senator Donald Cameron spoke, as also did Senator Davidson, about concrete sleepers for the railway between Whyalla and Port Augusta. That is a matter which can be given consideration only by the Minister concerned. I shall certainly see that it is placed before him. I thank honourable senators for the interest they have taken in this debate. T hope that we can now complete it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 October (vide page 1749), on motion by Senator Wright:
Thai the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill deals with grants that are being made by the Commonwealth to various institutions of tertiary education in Australia. The Opposition does not intend to oppose it. Clearly, it would be foolish for us to oppose a Bill that provides for additional grants to be made to the impoverished tertiary education institutions of Australia. However, the Australian Labor Party is of the opinion that introducing this piecemeal legislation, which periodically comes before the Parliament to provide a grant to one institution or a grant to another institution, is not the proper way of dealing with the problems of Australian education, whether it be tertiary education or primary, secondary or pre-school education. For that reason the Opposition last night in the debate on the estimates presented certain propositions to the Parliament. lt is our opinion - an opinion reinforced by the fact that the standards of education at all levels in Australia are at present in a most deplorable situation - that countries which only 2 or 3 decades ago were well behind Australia as far as the level of education is concerned are now well in advance of Australia. I refer to countries like Yugoslavia, for example, which some 20 or 30 years ago would have been a long way behind Australia not only in the number of university students and graduates but in the number of primary and secondary school students. Even on the question of literacy it was well behind Australia. Now it is so far ahead of Australia in this field of education that this is one of the major obstacles to us getting migrants from there to come to Australia. The parents of children who may be attending school at some time in the future are reluctant to leave their home country, even though economically it may be much poorer than Australia because they are aware of the hardships they will have to endure if they are to give their children the sort of education which is available to them in their homeland. We find now that countries such as Albania, which until some 20 years ago did not have a university, now has a higher percentage of university students in its population than there is in Australia. lt would be impossible almost to talk about a brain drain from Australia because there is practically nobody to drain. We are so far behind foreign countries in the number of people graduating, not only in the humanities but in the various applied sciences, that we are finding it necessary in many fields, including the academic staffs in our universities, to import instructors from overseas universities.
The Opposition has made its position clear on the matter of education. The Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, is making our policy perfectly clear in the current Senate election campaign. There is no doubt in our minds that the people of Australia will be endorsing the policy put forward by him. One of the reasons for their acceptance is their growing awareness of the inadequacies of the Australian education system. At the present time it is so inadequate that shortly 19,000 school teachers in New South Wales will go on strike, lt is a system which in no sense can be regarded as being adequate for the Australian people. We are losing teachers to Canada and we are not attracting people to enter the teaching profession. Our percentages of university trainees and university graduates are well behind those of other countries.
There is one particular matter within the Bill to which I wish to make specific reference. It is the proposal contained in the fourth part of the Bill relating to a grant by the Commonwealth of $200,000 to the Western Australian School of Mines at Kalgoorlie to assist in the establishment of a residential college at that School. The Opposition welcomes the fact that this grant is being made. It has long been a problem for students of mining at the Kalgoorlie School of Mines to find satisfactory accommodation. This grant certainly will be of some assistance to them to enable them to pursue their studies at the School. The School has a very high reputation among those concerned with mining. This institution has done a great deal for Western Australia.
While speaking on this subject I want to make a suggestion. My suggestion does not reflect a policy decision of the Australian Labor Party but 1 put it to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Minister for Education (Mr N. H. Bowen), as a subject for consideration. My suggestion is that in due course the Kalgoorlie School of Mines should be adapted in such a way as to lead it to becoming a university college, if not a university in its own right. Despite the present fluctuating fortunes of the gold mining industry it does seem that in the long run Kalgoorlie will have a reasonable bright future as the centre of other mining industries, such as nickel mining. Presumably there will be quite a substantial population living in the eastern gold fields area of Western Australia in and around Kalgoorlie. It is the largest centre of population outside the metropolitan area of Perth and Fremantle. In my view it could well warrant the establishment of a university college. There would no doubt be a great deal of benefit for the education of people engaged in mining in Western Australia if the Kalgoorlie School of Mines were able to award university degrees.
There are other quite noted universities which have developed out of schools of mines. For instance, in the United States of America the Colorado School of Mines which began purely as a school of mines is a university which teaches a vast variety of subjects other than those strictly related to mining. The University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg was at one stage the Johannesburg School of Mines. It has developed into the largest English language university in the Republic of South Africa. On the basis of the existing Kalgoorlie School of Mines it seems to me - this certainly is the view of a great many Western Australians - that consideration should be given to developing it into a university college or into a separate university with other faculties available so that the people living in the gold fields and in areas closer to them than they are to Perth would be able to receive the benefits of a better tertiary education than is presently available to them. The Opposition does not oppose this Bill.
– In reply- The Bill before the Senate relates to the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act of 1969 and has 4 parts. The major part is that which gives assistance to meet the increase in salaries of academic staffs of colleges of advanced education following the Sweeney and Eggleston reports. Senator Wheeldon, who represents Western Australia, concluded his speech by referring to the fourth part of the Bill which relates to the residential college established at the Western Australian School of Mines at Kalgoorlie. The Government made provision in the original Act to match $1 for $1, up to a total of $200,000, the cost of erecting an affiliated college at the Kalgoorlie School of Mines in conjunction with the Western Australian Chamber of Mines. I am sure that the Senate was pleased to know from my second reading speech that the mining industry has raised a considerable portion of the total capital costs of the college and as a result of this it is expected that this will enable it to function earlier than anticipated in the year 1971. Due to that positive co-operation programme it will come into operation next year. This Bill takes up the theme and immediately keys into the need for assistance for the recurrent programme. In other words our assistance begins in 1971 instead of 1973 which was anticipated enabling the moneys to be provided whereby the earlier recurrent expenditure shall be met.
I join with Senator Wheeldon in saying that I am delighted that the Kalgoorlie School of Mines is part of the advanced education programme. It is one of the important colleges of advanced education as a result of the co-operative effort of the Commonwealth Government, the State Government and the industry which is of unique importance in that decentralised area. At the same time, having regard to what the spokesman for the Opposition said with regard to Australian education in general, it is my duty to refute the imputation that we are falling behind countries which hitherto were thought to be primitive but now are considered, in the blinded outlook of the Australian Labor Party, to be advanced in relation to Australia’s performance. It is proper that the Senate, which is representative of the people of Australia who are the taxpayers yielding their taxes for this purpose, should know that this Federal Government in Canberra, operating a policy to supplement the endeavours of the States which have the primary responsibility in this field, has, so far from allowing education to fall into discard, as Senator Wheeldon implies, increased direct Commonwealth expenditure on education from $54m 10 years ago to S3 12m under this year’s Budget.
As an indication of how we have ensured that sections of that expenditure shall grow and accrue to scholars who are prepared to study, I invite honourable senators to consider the Commonwealth scholarship scheme which 10 years ago attracted an expenditure from the Commonwealth of $7.9m but this year has attracted assistance amounting to $37. 4m. These things refute completely the suggestions of the Opposition that we regard education as something to be relegated to insignificance. An Opposition spokesman referred to Yugoslavia as a country which is in advance of Australia in relation to education. We in this Commonwealth Parliament, with no direct responsibility for the field of education but seeing the need for supplementary assistance have increased that assistance I repeat from $S4m in 1961 to $3 12m this year and have distributed among scholars who have earned Commonwealth scholarships §37.4m this year compared with $7.9m 10 years ago. I add those general remarks following what was said by the honourable senator who led for the Opposition. I do not dispute the relevance of his generalised denigration of Australia’s performance in respect of education. I join him on the ground that he took and say that the Government is prepared to stand by its record. I ask the Senate to accept the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 October (vide page 1746), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is a fairly simple one.
– So is the Minister.
– He should be able lo handle it then.
– There seems to be some conjecture as to whether, because this is a simple measure, it is appropriate for the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) to introduce it or for me to speak to it on behalf of the Opposition. In any event I repeat, whatever the explanation may be for the participation of others in this drama, that it is a simple Bill which provides for grants to the States by the Commonwealth.
– lt has to be simple; otherwise you would not be able to handle it.
- Senator Gair has just repeated the joke which everybody else has already uttered twice. This Bill provides for additional payments to the States in order to provide for increased salaries for academic staff at universities as a result of the recommendations made by Mr Justice Eggleston. The Australian Labor Party supports the proposal and consequently does not oppose the Bill. However, if I may say a few words on the subject - I think this is the view of the Australian Labor Party, and it is certainly not an argument for not raising or for reducing university academic salaries - it becomes rather distressing when one compares the levels of salaries paid to teachers at tertiary institutions such as universities with the level of salaries paid to teachers at secondary schools and primary schools. As I have said already, this is certainly no argument for not having adequate competitive salaries at Australian universities, but it does show in a very sharp relief the appalling salaries and conditions under which teachers in our secondary and primary schools system have to work, a system without which it would be impossible to retain any tertiary education.
The Opposition, like the Government, feels generous towards the members of academic staffs. In fact, we allow a senior lecturer a salary of $10,500 a year, which is $1,000 in excess of the salary paid to a member of the national Parliament. I think it is encouraging to all of us, when we receive a questionnaire from a lecturer in political science at some university asking what prompted us to go into politics, to know that the question should be well drafted because the person who has come around to see us is being paid $1,000 a year more than we are to find out why we are here. If I may digress, only recently I received from a gentleman who undoubtedly is receiving this salary a questionnaire in which he asked me to explain my presence in this place. He wanted to know whether I had come here because I had been asked to do so by a friend or whether it was in response to an advertisement. The only answer that immediately occurred to me was that I was here because of popular demand.
– You had no qualifications to take on any other job.
– Of course, that is one answer. As Senator Cavanagh has suggested, if we were to write articles about ourselves we would be paid at least $1,000 a year more than we are getting now for doing the things about which the articles are written. This, of course, is only a minor aspect. On the whole the politics departments comprise only a small section of the entire university work force, if that is how one describes it. It is certainly appropriate that salaries should be commensurate with those in comparable institutions in other parts of the world. The Australian Labor Party believes that Mr Justice Eggleston’s reports obviously would he soundly based, well considered and wise. The Government which has never been noted in the past for being unduly generous, clearly must also have been compelled by Mr Justice Eggleston’s arguments, otherwise it would not have introduced this Bill. For that reason, the Opposition can see no reason for opposing the measure now before us.
– I rise with no purpose to graduate to any degree of acceptance by expressing a point of view on behalf of a government which is unduly generous with other people’s money. I rise on behalf of a government which has determined to be just to all sections, to dissipate the obvious spirit of hilarity that pervades the Opposition, when we are discussing the important subject of remuneration of those people who work earnestly - as to 80 per cent - in the field of university endeavour. They are an important integer in our community life and so long as they accept responsibility to maintain a community the members of which have an opportunity for advancement by access to knowledge that they should provide this Bill is an earnest of our resolution to support them. 1 note the remarks of the spokesman of the Labor Opposition. As I inferred there was a grudging assent to the levels of remuneration that Mr Justice Eggleston recommended and we approved for the university community of this country: a professor, $14,400; an associate professor, $11,880; a senior lecturer, maximum $10,500; and a lecturer, maximum $8,760, minimum $6,318.
I do not wish to be provocative especially in reply, having regard to the fact that I am closing the debate, but I ask honourable senators to hearken to this statement: When I state the minimum salary of a lecturer to be $6,318, I believe that an abled bodied seaman graduating after an apprenticeship and1 year’s employment receives $6,400 per annum on a basis that he is on a ship for something like 30 to 32 weeks out of 52’. I just say that in the mildest and most unprovocative manner because all honourable senators when considering this Bill ought to remind themselves of the real essentialities of this life. A man who puts a long period of his life into an apprenticeship qualifying himself to teach as a lecturer in a university will receive a salary, as recommended by Mr Justice Eggleston - this Bill is a recognition and the Commonwealth supports that recommendation - of $6,318 per year. I say that in no other spirit than to ask this chamber, dealing with the legislation of the Commonwealth, to take an expansive view of relativities and consider the remuneration that one can earn after 3 years aboard a merchant ship in relation to what one can earn applying oneself to a university course of 3 or 5 years plus a post graduate experience of 3 or 4 years, and then experience that accredits him for acceptance as a university lecturer for which the minimum remuneration is $6,318. I am not an expert in this field of comparative remuneration but I am most grateful for the silence in which these stunning facts were listened to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I rise only because of the rather risky statements made by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) without reference to any facts or figures. He said that seamen earn an income of over $6,000 after 12 months.
– Three years plus 1 year aboard a ship.
– The honourable senator is now saying something different from what he said earlier. If he wants to be provocative, we do not mind, and if he wants the sitting to continue we do not mind that either.
– If the honourable senator wants to get back to Queensland he can go. The Minister said that he did not want to be provocative because he was speaking in reply and therefore closing the debate.
– You should be careful of your heart.
– I will leave the honourable senator alone. I was kind to him a few weeks ago in a certain State, but if he wants it he will get it. It ill becomes the Minister to make statements that cannot be substantiated. Not one senator on this side of the chamber opposed the remuneration that Mr Justice Eggleston laid down. When there is no opposition to a Bill such as this, it is best not to deride what somebody else in another class of work receives as remuneration. Even that is open to very great argument, because no proof at all was submitted of the hours that men at sea work, whether it is a 40-hour week, a 50-hour week or a 60-hour week. Senator Wright has been in politics quite a long time. I regret when replying to a Bill he has taken the opportunity to have what I would call a ‘shot’ at people by saying something which has nothing to do with the Bill at all. He attempts to deride them in the occupation or the profession that they follow.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 30 October (vide page 1751), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Australian Labor Party is not opposing the Papua and New Guinea Loan (International Bank) Bill 1970 but I feel 1 ought to take the opportunity to pass a few remarks. The Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in his second reading speech set out the details of the Bill. He said: . . the approval of Parliament to the guarantee by the Commonwealth of . . . ($A4m) borrowing by the administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea from the International Bank for reconstruction arid development. The proceeds of the loan, together with the proceeds of a credit of similar amount from the International Development Association, will assist in the financing of a major highways project in the highlands of New Guinea.
Honourable senators will recall that in 1967 a report was presented from the International Bank mission making certain recommendations as to how the Territory of Papua and New Guinea should be developed. Over a long period of time the Government has been reluctant to accept many of these recommendations. Those who are familiar with the Territory will realise that because of its mountainous nature, particularly in the highland areas or the areas away from the immediate vicinity of the coast, the construction of roads is a major task. Today the people of this country do a lot of their construction work by the method we disposed of 40 or 50 years ago, that is with the aid of shovels, picks and other hand implements.
This loan is not going to cover a great deal of work but nevertheless it is a step in the right direction. We have constantly maintained over a long period of time that the moneys made available for the development of the Territory are at all times insufficient, particularly when it comes to organising transport, whether it be by ship, road or air. There is a tremendous reluc- tance on the part of the Government to face up to the real responsibilities of the development of the Territory. For this reason we have never sought to oppose any measures passed through this chamber which will help this country. We say that under these circumstances the amount probably could have been much larger but at least it is a step in the right direction. Yesterday I talked at length about many of the other problems which this country faces. I do not want to go over that ground again tonight because it is not particularly relevant to the Bill. But 1 do make this plea, that at the first available opportunity the Government should look again at the prospect of assisting the development of the Territory by granting further loans.
For a long time the Government refused to seek outside aid even for health purposes. There was a reluctance on the part of the Government to accept outside aid. The Government has to face up to reality. 1 am sure honourable senators will agree that in the future for development of all types, whether it be transport, health or other services, additional money must be found from somewhere. If long term reasonable interest loans can be obtained then this is the type of finance which the Government should be looking to for the more rapid development of the Territory. I hope that on this occasion the Minister does not adopt the same attitude as a Minister has on the last 2 occasions when we on this side of the chamber have said that we do not oppose the Bill. The Minister has got up for the sake of theatricals or something else and decided to oppose the Bill from the Government benches. We are anxious to co-operate in any way which is for the good of the Territory. Consequently I hope that the same remarks will not be passed in relation to this Bill.
(9.21) - As has been said, this Bill is concerned with the International Bank loan for Papua and New Guinea. I am pleased with the support we have received from the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 October (vide page 1753), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of the Bankruptcy Bill 1970 is to preserve or revive the effective operation of rural debt adjustment schemes. It provides for a stay of proceedings of any bankruptcy petition where there is a subsisting arrangement. I propose to address myself to some of the difficulties which the rural industries are facing and put forward some remedies which the Government should offer to the rural industries to relieve a lot of their difficulties. Earlier tonight I heard the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) addressing the Australian nation. In that address, preparatory for a Senate election, the Prime Minister dealt extensively with rural industries - I thought rather ineffectively because in my opinion he did not offer any worthwhile suggestions or remedies for the difficulties the rural industries face. All he said was that the Government would establish a rural debt insurance scheme similar to the housing loans insurance scheme to provide some protection for those farmers who are in distress. He emphasised that the rural debt insurance scheme would not apply to those who were in a hopeless position - I wonder who is to be the judge of that - nor would it apply to those who are-
– 1 rise on a point of order. I would be at a great disadvantage if the discussion of this legislation were allowed to be turned into a debate on a speech which the Prime Minister made tonight. 1 believe that the remarks of the honourable senator should be relevant to the provisions of the Bill which is before the Senate. I object to Senator Cant’s remarks. They are irrelevant to the provisions of the Bill which is before the Senate.
– 1 do not think that the Senate should debate this bill in association with a statement which has just been made by the Prime Minister. I ask you to confine your remarks to the provisions of the Bill, Senator Cant.
– ] am relating my remarks to the provisions of the Bill. The purpose of this Bill is not to allow the Bankruptcy Act to apply with respect to-
– Debt adjustment schemes.
– Yes. My remarks are relevant to the fact that the Prime Minister has said that a debt insurance scheme will be set up for farmers. To that extent they are right on the mark of the purpose of this Bill. Its purpose is to preserve or refine the effective operation of the rural debt adjustment schemes of the various Slates. Nothing could be closer to that than the proposed rural debts insurance scheme. Senator Webster is trying to interject. He was very interested in the subject of education a little while ago. No doubt that is a subject in which farmers would be interested. I must emphasise the fact that the legislation is to apply to only a certain section of the rural industry. Who is to be the judge of which people are in a hopeless position and which farmers are uneconomic? I hope to deal with this a little more as I go along. A provision in the Bankruptcy Act which was repeated recently - section 57a - was inserted by the Parliament in 1933 to provide relief for farmers when the rural industries were in somewhat a similar position to than in which they are in today except that the rural industries are in a depressed condition today whilst the rest of the community is in a state of so-called affluence. To that extent there is no similarity between what is happening in the rural industries today and what happened during the depression years.
The Australian Labor Party will not oppose the Bill because it will allow the rural debt adjustment schemes to operate in the States. We think that this Bill is a step in the right direction. It is a very feeble step; nevertheless it is a step in the right direction. Although grants under ihe State Acts were discontinued in 1943, an amount of approximately S7.7m is included in the funds which will be made available to the various States. I do not know how far this will go towards relieving the distressed conditions of those in the industry. I think a great deal more than that will be required. Calls have been made for funds as high as $100m to be made available. An amount of $133m was provided under the Australian Wool Commission Bill which was debated in this chamber a few days ago. More will be provided if the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industry think it is necessary. Nevertheless this Bill will allow the States access to an amount of $7.7m under their own schemes. Debt reconstruction goes hand in hand with farm rehabilitation.
– The expressions ought to be ‘farm reconstruction’ and ‘debt adjustment’.
– 1 am using my own expressions. 1 say that debt reconstruction should go hand in hand with farm rehabilitation and I do so for a particular purpose. Something has to be done about the debts which are in existence in the industry, lt is of no use to a farmer to compound his debts and leave him wilh nothing to live on.
– It is not much good reconstructing them either.
– The honourable senator will have an opportunity to enter into this debate later if he wants to do so. Composition of the debts is of little advantage to a farmer if he is left with no financial means to develop and re-stock his property. A farmer has no prospect whatsoever of being able to get his head above water if his cash flow is taken away from him. Tt is known to the Opposition that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics is examining the whole question of rural indebtedness. 1 do not know how long it has been examining this matter, but it is an urgent matter and a report should be presented at the earliest possible opportunity because the Senate will rise tonight and if the Prime Minister adopts his usual practice the Parliament will be closed for as long as it is possible to keep it closed. The Prime Minister believes in executive government and not parliamentary government.
– Who does?
– The Prime Minister does.
– What rot.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull)- Order!
– I suppose the Minister for Works will not agree with me when I say that the closure of this Parliament on 26th September of last year and the reopening of it in March of this year with a 1-day meeting in between is evidence that the Prime Minister wants Executive government. I suppose this fact has escaped the mind of the Minister for Works. The report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics will give the Government an opportunity to devise ways and means of assisting rural industries; that is, if the Government is willing to adopt any recommendations which the Bureau of Agricultural Economics makes to it. lt is well known - it should be well known to everyone in this Parliament - that there has been a massive increase in farmers’ debts over the past 5 years. The figures have been published. The net rural debts have risen from a total of $120m 5 years ago to SI, 250m today. The gross indebtedness of the rural industries today is S2,080m. The difference between the net indebtedness and the gross indebtedness reveals the weight that is being put around the necks of those who are engaged in the rural industries.
The Government should be taking urgent action to find solutions to the problems of the rural industries. A farmers’ debts insurance scheme or corporation is not the answer, lt may provide part of the answer, but the industry requires a great deal more assistance than that proposed by the Prime Minister tonight. The increase in farm debts has been caused by circumstances largely outside the control of the farmers. Included in the factors is the effect of drought in some States but not in all States. We are aware that the Government has made available over the past few years $64m for drought relief. This is a commendable effort on the part of the Government. 1 do not disregard what the Government has done in this field.
– What is the reason for introducing this Bill?
– I could not tell the honourable senator because he would not understand.
– You do not know.
– The honourable senator would not understand. He would be about the least intelligent person in the Senate.
– How insulting can you be?
– Let him shut up. I am not to be interrupted when I am on my feet. If the Minister wants to take a point of order, he should take it.
– You are insulting.
– Yes, as insulting as the Minister is quite frequently.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Cant, direct your remarks to the Chair.
– Tell the others to direct their remarks to the Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I will not be spoken to in that way. Senator Cant, direct your remarks to the Chair.
– Mr Deputy President, restrictions on production are not the answer to the problems of the rural industries, although they are the answers that the Government finds most suitable for its purposes. With the introduction of quotas in the wheat industry, growers, irrespective of the season - we can forget about the drought because this happens in the best of seasons - are unable to grow themselves out of their disabilities. They are limited to the amount of wheat that they can grow and sell. Therefore, they are unable to finance their indebtedness or the interest that is owing on their indebtedness. There are many new land farmers in Western Australia Who have been able to develop their farms to the extent that they have become viable units. Now they will be required to diversify their production. They will require economic assistance to do this. If the Government wants these people to remain on the land it will have to come to their assistance in some way or another. It is not for me to provide the answers. I know what the Australian Labor Party’s policy is to assist these people. Surely the Government, after 20 years in’ office, should be able to find some of the answers to assist these people.
– The ALP’s policy is to introduce the 35-hour week.
– I have heard many honourable senators opposite refer to the 35-hour week. I have asked the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) to provide me with a schedue of awards operating in the rural industries that provide even for a 40-hour week.
– Ancient shibboleths.
– They are probably ancient to the ancient senator, but it is less than 3 months ago that the Australian Workers Union made an application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for a 40-hour week in the pastoral industry. That application was refused. If the Minister thinks that these matters are ancient history, he should be prepared to tell us where the 40-hour week applies. If the award relating to shearers is taken out of the awards that deal with rural industries, very few of the remaining awards would provide for a 40-hour week, let alone a 35-hour week. On several occasions courts have refused to apply a 40-hour week in the rural industries. The Minister should not indulge in a dissertation on industrial relationships, because it is a subject on which he is very weak.
– My name is Wright; your name is Cant.
– That is right. I am well aware of that. I am well aware of how right the Minister was in the Hursey case. I am well aware of what his action was when the Hurseys wanted assistance at the Privy Council.
– Did you throw in two bob?
– I know someone who donated not two bob but £6,000. I wonder what the Minister’s share of that was, in his legal capacity. 1 think he should stick to being Wright. Very often he will find that he is wrong. Today in the rural industries we have reached the stage where many of the farmers’ wives are running the farms while the farmers work to keep the family farms together. Is this the kind of condition that should be tolerated in Australia? Is this part of the policy of the Government of a two income economy? Today the two income economy is insufficient to maintain a family. Those are the factors that are operating in this industry today. The fall in world prices for rural products is a source of very great concern to the whole Australian community. I remind the Senate that there are not 2 communities in Australia. As far as the Australian workers are concerned, there is only one community and each and every member of it relies upon the others. The farmers are just as reliant upon the industrial workers as the industrial workers are reliant upon the farmers. The sooner that this devisive element is removed from the political arena, the better off this country will be.
The Government will have to adopt a vigorous sales promotion policy, lt is not doing so now. Our trade posts overseas should be expanded. We should have a roving trade commission able to move quickly into areas of new markets so that we can sell our products more easily. We should have more trade posts in densely populated Asia in order to encourage the Asian people to use our products. On 13th October about 200 farmers assembled in front of this Parliament House as a protest against the Government’s policies with respect to the rural industries. Many farmers to whom I spoke asked me when the Australian Government is to recognise mainland China, and how much longer this Government is to ignore the huge market that exists there. I am not referring to members of the Labor Party who are constantly being told that we cannot recognise mainland China because it has a Communist Government. I was speaking to people who belong to the most conservative community in Australia. They are farmers who are in desperate straits and who know where markets exist. They want this Government to recognise that those markets do exist and to go out and get them for us.
Only a few days ago reports appeared in the Australian Press that Canada has recognised and established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China. A few days after those reports were published Canada negotiated the sale to the Republic of China of wheat valued at $160m. We had that market. It is in our area of influence but it is being allowed to drift away from us because of a political gimmick that this Government produced for the people at the time of an election. The time has long past when we should have recognised the Government of the Republic of China. We should be more active in trade promotion right throughout Asia. This is the area of influence in which we have to live and in which we can trade most economically. The Government should be considering ways of reducing rural costs of production.
– Mr Deputy President, this has nothing to do with the Bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Senator Cant, you had better come back to the terms of the Bill.
– I am dealing with the Bill. It is concerned with the difficulties of existing conditions in the rural industries. The Bill sets out one way to alleviate some of those difficulties. I am putting to the Government other ways in which it should be willing to act to relieve those conditions. It should be taking much more action than it is taking. Why should we as one of the top 10 trading nations of the world not have our own national shipping line? Why should we have 2 charter vessels and then join the Conference Line?
– I rise to a point of order. All this has nothing to do with the Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Bankruptcy Act by adding a couple of clauses. The honourable senator is on a Cooks tour around the world dealing with things that have nothing to do with the Bill. He should stick to the subject of the Bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Cant, you must come back to the machinery of the Bill.
– Mr Deputy President, this is a Bill relating to bankruptcy. Of course, Senator Lawrie may not think that there are many farmers today who are on the verge of bankruptcy and who require an amendment of the Bankruptcy Act in order that the States may assist them. I am afraid that like other members of the Country Party he is completely out of touch with the industries they misrepresent in this Parliament.
– That is a brilliant statement.
– Yes, very brilliant. I might have the pleasure one day of reading to Senator Webster one of his speeches to see whether he can understand what he has said. The matters with which I am dealing are relevant to the rural industries and this Bill is relevant to assistance to the rural industries. Ways and means should be sought to try to alleviate the conditions of people in the rural industries. Senator Lawrie may be satisfied that only one form of assistance is required; that is to allow the States to have access to $7. 7m to assist at least 40,000 woo! growers who have an annual income of less than $2,000. If that is all the assistance the Country Party wants to give to the rural industries, that is all right with me, but I hope its supporters will go out on the hustings during the Senate election campaign and tell the people that that is all the assistance they should get. This Government should be acting to reduce rural costs of production. Whether Senator Lawrie likes it or not, freight rates are a burden upon the rural industries. I am referring to both overseas shipping freights and internal freights. The Government should be looking at ways and means of establishing a national shipping line that will reduce freight rates.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Cant, you must come back to the provisions of this Bill. I cannot allow you to continue in this way.
– 1 agree with you, Mr Deputy President, but this is a speech that the Government does not want to hear. It is a criticism of the Government’s policies which have operated for 20 years and the Government does not like to hear it. This is one time when the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) cannot stand and say what a wonderful job the Government has done because farmers are going bankrupt every day. That is her stock answer.
– It is a jolly good one because it is correct.
– I hope she is able to convince the farmers that it is the correct one on this occasion. Seeing that the Government is so concerned not to have its weaknesses with regard to the assistance it has given to rural industries exposed, because we happen to be on the air, I am unable to complete what I wanted to say. Therefore I will say it in a more public forum later.
– Mr Deputy President-
– 1 hope you move just one step outside the ambit of the Bill so that we can see what the Deputy President does.
– I never thought that I would live to see the day when any honourable senator would depart so far from the subject of a Bill as did Senator Cant.
This Bill very largely is the result of representations that have been made to the Government by honourable senators from Queensland - mainly by Senator Maunsell and myself - because this matter concerns that State. We realise the position in which the primary producers in our State are placed and we have worked to have the Bankruptcy Act amended to assist them, despite what Senator Cant has said. This Bill will replace in the Bankruptcy Act much the same form of words as those in the old section 57a which was taken out of the Bankruptcy Act in 1966. I was a member of the Parliament at that time. When I inquired why the section was being taken from the Act I was told that it dated from the depression days of the 1930s and that it was unlikely that it would ever be required again. As I understand it, the old section 57a was designed to enable the Queensland Rural Reconstruction Board to take over the properties of farmers and graziers and to run them and rehabilitate them without the necessity of the farmers and graziers going through the Bankruptcy Court. I understand that that is the full and only purpose behind the Bill now before us. Of course some details connected with it will be tidied up.
There has been mention of other funds being made available. Funds were made available previously because they were used to repay the debts of farmers which had been owing for a long time, and those funds have been held in trust ever since. The Queensland Rural Reconstruction Board, which is in the process of being appointed, will be able to function without any legal difficulties, and the Queensland Government will be able to put into effect its rural reconstruction policies and help the people whom we know are in trouble. We do not need to be reminded that the farmers are in trouble.
The Minister has mentioned the effects of the prolonged drought in Queensland which has brought about the circumstances that have given rise to the introduction of this Bill. We made many representations to the Commonwealth Government to have the Bill introduced, and now that we have achieved that objective we want to see its provisions put into effect so that the Queensland Government can get on with the job. We know that, apart from the drought, the farmers have been most adversely affected by the collapse in wool prices. That point too was mentioned in the Minister’s speech. Recently the Australian Wool Commission Bill, which was designed to rehabilitate the wool industry, was before us.
– How much money is in the fund for Queensland?
– About $1.5m.
– How far will that go towards rehabilitation?
– We are not suggesting that it will solve all of the difficulties. Much more has to be made available. Other provisions in the Bill relate to arrangements made by a farmer for the administration of his property after he dies. As I have said, this Bill merely amends the Bankruptcy Act. In no sense does it take us on a world tour of rural industries and tell us what should be done about them. We know all about the problems confronting the rural industries. We have talked about them and we are working towards their solution. That is much more effective than mere talk.
With the passage of this Bill the Queensland Rural Reconstruction Board - I have mentioned already that some members have been appointed - will be able to get under way. I assume that it will ask for additional funds. When the Board is fully constituted we hope that it will be able to help the farmers along the road back to prosperity from the depths to which they have fallen as a result of the long period of drought, the collapse of wool prices and the other troubles from which they have suffered.
– I enter this debate only because of the statements made by Senator Cant. As Senator Lawrie has said, Senator Cant took us on a Cook’s tour and went completely outside the ambit of primary industry. The sole purpose of this Bill is to enable the State governments to operate their rural reconstruction boards or similar bodies. Senator Cant has completely forgotten that the States have a big say in the prosperity of rural industries. After all, they have complete control over land tenure, land development-
– What has that to do with the Bill?
– That relates exactly to the purpose of the Bill. We are enabling the States to operate their rural reconstruction boards. I will not travel all over the world as the honourable senator did. As I have said, the object of the Bill is to enable State governments, which control land policies, living areas and transport - very important parts of efficient primary production - to set up their rural reconstruction boards. Obviously there is no rural reconstruction board in Western Australia otherwise Senator Cant might know a little more about this subject, and I point out that there were Labor governments in Western Australia for a long time. The most effective Rural Reconstruction Board in Australia is in New South Wales. It has not received lc of Commonwealth aid since 1931 but it has been operating effectively. Senator Cant and some of his colleagues should try to learn the functions of rural reconstruction boards and the effect that they have in the field of primary industry. They have nothing to do with the overall problem of helping primary industry.
Today the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) announced an investigation as a result of which the Government will present a complete system of help for primary industry. But in Queensland today we have a drought that has lasted for 10 years. The conditions of Queensland’s 10-year drought do not apply over the whole of Australia. There is a special set of circumstances in Queensland. It is a matter for the Queensland Government to handle. Whatever is done federally applies to every State. Queensland has a special set of circumstances because of its drought position. All this Bill is designed to do is to enable the Queensland reconstruction board to operate. Despite that, Senator Cant has ranged all over the world. He brought China into the matter. I note that he did not mention South Africa or Rhodesia as places to which we could send some wheat. But that is another issue. Let us forget about those things and get down to the Bill.
The Bill is designed to allow reconstruction boards within the States to operate.
As Senator Lawrie has said, this is something for which we have asked. 1 compliment the Government, the Minister for Primary Industry and the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) in particular on bringing this legislation before the Parliament. Without this legislation it would be very difficult for the Queensland reconstruction board to operate. The Queensland Government has already appointed the chairman of the board, and the members will be appointed within the next few days. By passing this Bill tonight we will allow the Queensland board to operate without any fear of it being sabotaged. Senator Cant wanted to know what the introduction of the 35-hour week would do to primary industry. I suggest to him that instead of asking the Minister for Primary Industry he should ask the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, with whom he probably has a closer liaison, what he thinks about Ihe 35-hour week. I support the Bill.
– in reply - Senator Cant, who was the spokesman for the Opposition on this Bill, entered upon wide and widespread fields quite apart from the Bill. As stated in the second reading speech, the Bill is simply designed to amend the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act which contains rigid provisions governing any scheme of arrangement or composition by any person with his creditors, so as to provide for State schemes for debt adjustment in relation to the rural industries to operate independently of and unrestricted by the general bankruptcy provisions. As my colleague Senator Lawrie said, the purpose is to enable any person to have reconstruction or debt adjustment implemented under State legislation without undergoing the processes and stigma of bankruptcy and to readjust debt liability without being compelled to cease his operations.
The fact of that being understood does not relieve me of the obligation of refuting in one or two simple sentences the obvious propaganda in which Senator Cant indulged. He started off by suggesting that Ihe Prime Minister, in operating the Parliament during this year, had sought to prevent parliamentary debate. The fact is that this year the Parliament has operated for a much greater number of hours than has the average Parliament since federation. It is recognised that the parliamentary programme that was put before the Parliament by the Government in the autumn session was a record for positive performance. Senator Cant then said that in order to avert being engaged in arid processes such as bankruptcy or debt adjustment we should promote markets for primary products. He beggars description for poverty of understanding of the processes of this Government over the last 20 years.
One of the outstanding achievements of this Government is the creation of the Department of Trade in 1956 with the exclusive responsibility of promoting just such markets and with special emphasis upon our primary products. It will live as an everlasting tribute to John McEwen, who has exercised responsibility for that Department since 1956, that, foreseeing the gathering storm of the European Economic Community, he has been able to obtain access to Pacific markets to such an extent that more than 50 per cent of our export markets at the present time are in the Pacific area as a substitute for European markets. I make that passing remark in order to refute what was said by the honourable senator who led for the Opposition.
That enables me to say, just to round off my proposition, that, although he accuses members of the Country Party of misrepresenting the people by whom they are elected, the statements that we have heard here tonight on the initiative they have taken in this regard and the initiative Mr Anthony has taken with regard to the Australian Wool Commission show that, so far from their lacking initiative in making representations, it is the Labor spokesmen who are so misguided as to be incapable of understanding any problem in relation to the rural industries.
All I wish to say in conclusion is that unfortunately this legislation is a necessity at the present time, lt is necessary that the general bankruptcy provisions be amended to enable special provisions to be made by the States - possibly with Commonwealth co-operation - for debt adjustment in order to relieve the undue debt load on farmers which results from the depressed prices that they are receiving at present and the fact that they are caught in the cost-price structure which is produced by all those activities that the Australian Labor Party Opposition generates, which increase costs for secondary processes, which denude the ultimate return the farmer receives for his products and which, in the cases that come within the ambit of this Bill, reduce his return to a figure lower than cost. That puts this Bill in perspective. It is only one activity - and not the most fertile activity - in which the Government will engage in order to ensure that the rural industries shall survive. I ask the Senate to accept the Bill in that spirit.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle
Rankin) agreed to:
That the Senate at ils rising adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President which time of meeting shall be notified to each Senator by telegram or letter.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1970.
Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1970.
Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1970.
Fisheries Bill 1970.
– We are now very close to the end of the proceedings of this session. Although it is a little early for Christmas it is in that vein that I would like to offer best wishes to honourable senators and express my thanks and appreciation to them for their co-operation in the work of the Senate during this session. It has been a heavy session. A lot of legislation has been passed and there has been quite a demand on your time and much study in order to make your contribution to the debates on the legislation before us.
In addition to thanking honourable senators for their assistance I want to express my thanks to the staff of the Senate, the Clerk and the other clerks right down the line who have made it possible for the Senate to work as thoroughly as it has. The Parliamentary Library has played an important part this year. More and more we see evidence of the work of the Legislative Research Section. This fully justifies the ambitions we had when we started moving the Library in that direction. Today big demands are made on that section. They are of such a nature that if we had sufficient room in this building we would have added further sections to the Library. At present we are actively canvassing the possibility of adding 2 more sections to the Library.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the dining room staff and people of that nature, the messengers and the staff around this building, the people who keep the boilers going or do something else, many of whom we do not see often but who all play their part right down the line. We owe them gratitude for their courtesy. We always have experienced this courtesy whenever we come in contact with them. As for the gentlemen of the Press, the relationship between the Press and the Senate is good and I think its representatives do a very fair reporting job.
– It is a bit sketchy. I think they play noughts and crosses up there in the gallery most of the time.
– I suppose that that can be understood if the speeches are not interesting. Thank you all very much for this pleasant opportunity of speaking to you tonight and to wish you well for the coming season. I offer my very best wishes to those honourable senators who will be candidates for election on 21st November.
– Mr President, 1 rise to speak on behalf of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) who, as you know, is absent this evening attending a very important engagement. It is on his behalf that I speak. Firstly, on behalf of my colleagues, I thank you, Sir, for your guidance during the year, for your wisdom when we needed it, for your support when we wanted it and for your assistance when we required help in time of difficulty. We thank you for that and we appreciate all that you have done. Your task has not been easy and we recognise that the long hours of this long sitting have added to your work.
I know that my Leader would particularly like me to convey his thanks to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and to members of the Opposition for their co-operation. I especially thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee) for his co-operation. I think that today he and I have worked very well in handling the problems that we have had to face. I also would like to thank the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and his members for what they have done. Our special thanks go to the Party Whips. I speak in this regard with great feeling because I was a Whip for a record term of office and I know the problems they face when numbers are close.
I offer thanks also to the Deputy President and Chairman of Committees, the Temporary Chairmen, the Clerk of the Senate and his assistants, the other officers of the Senate staff, the attendants and those who care for us in the dining room, the people on the maintenance and cleaning staff, our Hansard reporters who deal with what we have said and make it read better, the Parliamentary Library staff who are always so very helpful when we need assistance, and to our friends in the Press. I have not seen the representatives of the Press playing noughts and crosses. Senator Gair must have a better view.
T convey thanks above all to my ministerial colleagues and other colleagues in the chamber who work in the wonderful spirit of a team. I speak not only personally of my appreciation but I convey to them the appreciation of Sir Kenneth Anderson who is not here to speak on this occasion. May T say to each and every one that our wishes are that you will have a happy Christmas, although it seems quite early to be doing so, and that the New Year may be a good one for us all and for Australia. I convey our most sincere thanks to all who have worked with us during the year.
– Mr President, might I add my remarks to the nice thoughts being expressed tonight. 1, with Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, thank you for your guidance and for the help given by the Clerk of the Senate and his staff throughout the year. The fact that we have rarely accepted your guidance makes no difference to our gratitude, lt is true that I have got on very well with Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin and even in view of my advancing age the reason is quite obvious. 1 want to thank the attendants, particularly the gentleman who sits in the broadcasting box off the chamber. Having some sort of technical background, I watch him very carefully. Very few of us realise what he does. Sometimes, though not often in this chamber, people raise their voices and if it were not for his quick thinking and knowledge of the electronic equipment which he operates their voices would be broadcast to the people in a very much less acceptable way than does happen. Obviously it is the Parliamentary Library people who make our speeches and the Hansard people who put them in such readable form. When at school I often used to marvel when reading Hansard - the only time I abandoned reading it was when I came into this place - at the wonderful speeches made by members of Parliament. lt was not until I came here that I realised why they were so wonderful. It is some solace to us that our words go down and that some young fellow at school is admiring our speeches. I hope that young fellow does not get off the track and do what I did - forget his studies and come here.
I do not worry about the Press people playing noughts and crosses. The only worry 1 have is whether they get on to the doublecross. So long as they have some noughts among the crosses I think wc are pretty safe. Mr President, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, and I am sure every honourable senator, I particularly want to convey our thanks to the attendants in this chamber for their cheerfulness and their way of doing things for us when we are under pressure. They are a grand bunch of chaps. I marvel at the standard that has been maintained over the years. I notice a new face among the attendants from time to time but they all seem to fit into place with the others, with their cheerfulness and obliging manner.
This makes life so much more pleasant. As you realise, Mr President, some honourable senators, although I am not one, have to go out and perform important duties to ascertain whether they will be with us in the next financial year. To some of them I wish good political health, but to all of them I wish good physical health, lt is early in the season but I ask you, Sir, to convey, on our behalf, the very best wishes for the festive season to those people who are employed in this place and to their wives, children and loved ones from whom we keep them away so very late at night. The Opposition always tries to get them home earlier, but it is sad that we do not always succeed. Thank you, Mr President, and thanks to the staff who have helped us.
– On behalf of the Democratic Labor Party I accept with gratitude your good wishes, Mr President, which I reciprocate very readily. This session has been a heavy one, and I believe that the last week has been the heaviest part of it. I cannot remember a time in my long political life when there has been so much long and unnecessary talk as I have endured in the last week. The first thing I do when I leave here is to consult my ear, nose and throat specialist. I am sure that 1 am developing mastoids from the earbashing that I have had, on many innocuous matters, from people who have been practising for the election campaign or who have introduced political propaganda into a session the primary purpose of which is to dispose of Bills that have come here from the House of Representatives. Those propaganda speeches could have been made throughout the year.
– This is not the time for these criticisms.
– The brook still runs on. If anyone has been a monopolist in this last week it has been my friend who is normally on the left but who in this case is on my right. He cannot be quiet even on an occasion like this until I have had a few words to say. 1 appreciate the expressions of goodwill from Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, who is acting as Leader of the Government in the Senate, and from Senator Willesee. The honourable senator performed a few verbal acrobatics about good wishes by wishing this and wishing that. As far as I am concerned wishes will not matter. It is votes that I am concerned about, and I will have sufficient to be back here next year, in spite of what the Australian Labor Party might hope. Members of the Labor Party have gone out of their way to delay me in my campaign. It is noteworthy that I am still here but that Senator Keeffe is not here.
– Yes, he is.
– He is not in the chamber. The fact remains that wishes matter little to me. The votes are what concern me, and votes 1 shall get because f believe 1 have devoted myself to the job that the people elected me to do and that I have done it well and conscientiously. My record is as good as the best and better than most.
– On behalf of the Australian Country Party I support the remarks made by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin in offering good wishes and thanks to you, Mr President, and to the staff and all those who have made this session the success that perhaps it has been. On behalf of the Country Party I wish everyone the compliments of the season.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by the President
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 November 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19701104_senate_27_s46/>.