27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Honourable Sir MAGNUS CORMACK) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
The Honourable the President, and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster-General’s Department Central Office policy of centralising Post Office affairs and activities under the various titles of Area Management, Area Mail Centres, Area Parcel Centres and similar titles is resulting in both loss of service and lowering of the standards of service to the public, directly resulting in the closing of Post Offices, which is detrimental to the public interest.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I would like to make it clear that I too have received petitions. They were presented yesterday in the normal way by Senator Carrick in my name. They dealt with the same subject matter.
– The remarks of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson will be noted in the journals of the Senate.
– I present the following petition:
The Honourable the President, and Senators in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster-General’s Department Central Office policy, of centralising Post Office affairs and activities under the various titles of Area Management, Area Mail Centres, Area Parcel Centres and similar titles is resulting in both loss of service and lowering of the standards of service to the public, directly resulting in the closing of Post Offices, which is detrimental to the public interest.
You petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I give notice that 10 sitting days after today I will move that the Electricity Ordinance 1971 as contained in the Australian Capital Territory Ordinance 1971 No. 30 and made under the Seat of Government Administration Act 1910-1970 be disallowed. I ask leave to make a short statement concerning this notice of motion.
– ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted
– The Regulations and Ordinances Committee is concerned with certain aspects of this Ordinance and has corresponded with the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). The Committee wishes to discuss further the Ordinance with the Minister. As this is the last day for giving notice I have done so to allow the Committee time to pursue its inquiry.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he can give the Senate information as to when the new trade practices legislation is to be introduced and whether it is proposed that the recommendations to be included in that legislation be presented to both Houses of the Parliament before the introduction of the Bill?
– I am unable to say when legislation will be introduced because, that is dependent, firstly, upon the reaction to a statement which will be made outlining the Government’s proposals and, secondly, when tha work of drafting the legislation can be completed. But it is certainly proposed that as soon as possible - I anticipate it will be within a matter of weeks - a full statement outlining what the Government is proposing will be made not only in this place but also in the House of Representatives.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior been drawn to an article which appeared in this morning’s “Canberra Times’ and which criticised the Government’s refusal to help Aborigines in the Northern Territory to testify at an inquiry into health services in the Territory? Will the Minister instigate inquiries into this matter to ensure that Aborigines in the Northern Territory are given government assistance in order to make a contribution to this allimportant inquiry?
– The Minister for the Interior rang me this morning and drew my attention to this matter, and he asked me to make certain comments if it was raised in the Senate today. He said it is a well established practice that persons who wish to appear on a voluntary basis before commissions or committees of inquiry do so on the basis that they meet their own costs of attendance but the commission or committee can arrange to hear evidence at different places to meet the convenience of people wishing to appear. The Department of the Interior will be discussing with the chairman of the board of inquiry the special arrangements which might be necessary for hearing evidence from people in remote communities. If the board of inquiry considers that it is more practicable to hear representatives from those areas at a more central point the Minister is quite sure that this will be able to be arranged.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Why has
Australia permitted oil companies to carry out off-shore oil exploration between the island of Timor and north Australia when the area in question is still subject to negotiations between Australia and Indonesia? What is the name of the foreign oil company whose interests apparently are rated as being more important than friendly relations between Australia and Indonesia?
– The honourable senator’s question relates to the difference, still unresolved, between Indonesia and Australia with regard to that portion of the Timor Sea which divides the 2 countries. An agreement with regard to the Arafura Sea was tabled in recent months. It is true, as implied in the honourable senator’s question, that the Australian Embassy in Djakarta has received a note from the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs in which the Indonesian Government draws the attention of the Australian Government to continued exploration activity by Australian companies in the area that I have mentioned. I point out that there has been no violation of the agreement to which I have referred, nor does Indonesia make any allegation to that effect. The exploratory drilling to which the Indonesian note refers is drilling which occurred under titles extending back to 1964 and no useful purpose would be served by suspending those activities at this date. Australia, of course, shares the very keen purpose of resolving any differences between our 2 countries by negotiation at an early date.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to a statement last week by the Chief Secretary of the Labor Government of Western Australia that Gary Cook, who is undergoing a sentence imposed by a Western Australian court for a breach of the National Service Act, has been permitted leave each Wednesday to attend the University of Western Australia as a student? Is this study release in accordance with the prison regulations which apply to prisoners generally in Western Australia or is this special treatment being given to this prisoner in accordance with Labor policy that, draft resisting is not a crime? Are national servicemen permitted study leave of at least one day a week while undergoing their period of national service?
– I have become aware of the decision of a Western Australian Minister - it may have been the decision of the Western Australian Government - and I find the position to be one which gives me concern. Mr Cook was sentenced to imprisonment last August, I think, because he had failed to obey a callup notice under the National Service Act. He is at present in prison in Western Australia. It is a fact as stated that he has been released from prison to attend the University of Western Australia to undertake certain studies. He does that unaccompanied. The position at law is that, under the Constitution, the State gaols must accommodate persons who have offended against Commonwealth laws. The practice has always been that no special advantages or disadvantages should occur with respect to a person who is in a State gaol because he has been in breach of a Commonwealth law. All that is required is that he be treated along with other prisoners in accordance with the law of the State and in accordance with the prison regulations. In this case my examination has indicated, and it would appear, that Mr Cook has been released from prison contrary to the prison regulations and to the procedures which have been laid down for the custody of prisoners.
It is a fact that persons who are engaged in national service training are not, in the ordinary course of events, allowed leave from their national service duties to attend regularly at a university, as is being done by Mr Cook. It must be appreciated that the purpose of the penalty to which the Parliament, including the Australian Labor Party, agreed at the time the legislation was passed was ito achieve equity with those persons who are required to undergo national service training. I propose to write to the Chief Secretary in Western Australia seeking from him some indication as to why this has occurred. It does appear that if there is a policy to be pursued by the Australian Labor Party throughout this country of not treating certain offences against Commonwealth law as offences then it will have very alarming consequences, following so closely as it does on the attitude which has been taken by the Party with regard to Mr Johnston in Victoria. I can only repeat that the matter is of grave concern and is most alarming to me.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Treasurer considered the report of Mr Caffin, the Commonwealth Actuary, on his investigation of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowance Fund and his statement that to overcome a deficit in the Fund the relevant Act should be amended to permit a wider field of investment of the Fund and power of investment in securities of a longer period of maturity? Did the Actuary report that the alternative to such an amendment would be increased contributions by members to overcome a deficit of some $115,000? What is the Government doing about the report?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIt is axiomatic that the first thing the Commonwealth Actuary would have done is to provide the Treasurer with the report to which the honourable senator has referred. On the assumption that Senator Cavanagh obtained this information in the normal way, I would say that the Treasurer has received the report. I can only add that it will be under scrutiny and examination by the Treasurer. I think we are all aware of certain elements of the parliamentary retiring allowance scheme which on their face value need close scrutiny. I assure the Senate that they are being given close scrutiny.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen reports of the meeting of the Australian Labor Party Federal Executive held in Adeliade last week stating that discussion on the endorsement of Mr Barry Johnston, an ALP Federal candidate, was deferred to avoid rocking the boat? Is the Attorney-General able to say whether he has received any information from any member of the ALP which would assist the police in locating Mr Johnston? If not, does he propose to initiate any action to see whether such assistance can be obtained?
– May I ask-
– Order! Before I call on the Attorney-General to answer the question addressed to him by Senator Young, I point out that question time is not to be an occasion when a questioner may be interrupted or a Minister attempting to reply may be interrupted. I say this in the interests of the people who wish to listen to the rebroadcast of question time. I call Senator Greenwood.
– May I ask for the question to be repeated? I did not hear the whole of the question.
– On a point of order, Mr President: I direct the attention of the Attorney-General in answering this question to standing order 100.
– I will look at standing order 100 to refresh my mind. Having considered standing order 100, I will hear Senator Greenwood and see whether he offends against it.
– The noise was such that I was unable to hear the question.
– I did not hear the original statement made by the AttorneyGeneral either. Did you ask that the question be repeated?
– Yes, because I did not hear it adequately.
– I call Senator Young.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen reports of the meeting of the Australian Labor Party Federal Executive held in Adelaide last week stating that discussion on the endorsement of Mr Barry Johnston, an ALP Federal candidate, was deferred to avoid rocking the boat? Is the Attorney-General able to say whether he has received any information from any member of the ALP which would assist the police in locating Mr Johnston? If not, does he propose to initiate any action to see whether such assistance can be obtained?
– I call the AttorneyGeneral. I hope that he will bear in mind Senator Cant’s keen interest in standing order 100.
– I have seen the reports of the Federal Executive meeting of the Australian Labor Party. What I have noticed also is that no statement was made by any of the spokesmen at that conference - the Secretary, the President or the Federal Leader - which would indicate what the attitude of the Executive was with respect to the endorsement by the Victorian Branch of Mr Johnston. I did note however - this was referred to earlier this week in the Senate - that a member of the Executive, a Mr Hartley, wrote to the newspapers challenging the account which had been given in the Press that no decision was taken because of the fear of rocking the boat.
– Do you know that Mr Harley wrote that letter?
– I can only say that Mr Hartley’s letter appeared above the signature of Mr Hartley.
– That does not mean he wrote it.
– I have not seen any statement from Mr Hartley that he denies writing it. The tenor of the letter would be consistent with Mr Hartley’s views otherwise expressed. Mr Hartley’s letter indicated that the Federal Executive without resolution had generally endorsed the attitude that all support should be given and by each branch of the Party in its own way to Mr Johnston and another man, Mr Dal ton, who were resisting the National Service Act. As to whether I can take any action in this regard, I am unable to say, because after all it is within the province of the Australian Labor Partyas to whether it will assist the police or whether it will not assist the police. Judging from what has been occurring in the past, there does not appear to be any indication that when the Labor Party is supporting Mr Johnston and Mr Dalton-
– Hear, hear!
– . . . and I notice Senator Poyser’s interjection confirms that I am right - there is not likely to be any assistance from members of the Labor Party in this area.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it a fact that a publication known as the ‘Little Red School Book’, the admitted aim of which is to promote the overthrow of the present system and to enlist and train the children in doing so, has been released by the Department of Customs and Excise? Is it a fact that the ‘Little Red School Book’ asa first step in preparing the child for enlistment in revolutionary activities sets out to undermine respect for every form of traditional and accepted authority - the authority of those who wield power in politics, industry and education; the authority of parents and teachers; the authority of the inherited Christian norms of western civilisation? Is it true that in a section on sex in which all restraint is abandoned and the crudest language used the child reader is told that pornography is a harmless pleasure? Is it a fact that the publication has been outlawed in both Britain and France? Is it also a fact that already one students’ representative council in Australia plans to publish and distribute the booklet?
– I am sure it will ‘be appreciated that one could not take down all the points involved in that fairly broad question. I would share the apprehension of the honourable senator if the book is released and it is as harmful as he says it is. I shall have to ask the responsible Minister whether he can let me have information which will bear on the question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the low percentage use of long distance telephone equipment after 6 p.m. each day as detailed in the Minister’s reply to me yesterday, will the Minister urgently consider reducing the cost of calls after 10 p.m. and before 6 a.m. so that people living in outlying parts of Australia such as Tasmania and country areas may have the benefit of being able to communicate over long distances at a more reasonable cost?
-I am unable to say what the costs of telephone calls are at particular times of the day. However, I appreciate the point which has been made by the honourable senator. I undertake to convey it to the Postmaster-General for his consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Is it a fact that an infant under 10 days of age who is an in-patient of a hospital at the same time as its mother is an in-patient attracts no health insurance benefit for this hospitalisation? Is it also a fact that in the case of a mother having a difficult delivery in which complications lead to her being admitted to an intensive care unit and the infant being admitted to another section of the hospital at the same time, very expensive costs can be incurred for the treatment of the infant when intensive care is required and no medical benefits are paid for the child? What steps does the Minister propose to take to eliminate mis anomaly?
– It is true that in the case of a birth at a hospital the 10-day rule applies. As the honourable senator says, the child is regarded as being linked to the mother in terms of hospitalisation for that time. Senator McAuliffe raises the situation of when complications set in and asks whether the 10-day rule should not have some variation in relation to the claim for hospital benefits. I can say to him that this matter is being examined at the present time.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Are a number of overseas airlines at present offering underthecounter discounts on fares for scheduled services to and from Australia? Have a number of International Air Transport Association investigators recently examined this situation in Australia? If so, what has been the result of their investigations?
– It is always in a situation like this where there has been over capacity in the world international air fleets that some people will seek to cut prices to attract business. This situation is being watched carefully. Inquiries are being made. I have no further information to give to the honourable senator but when I do have it I shall see that he obtains it.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to the five-power defence arrangements which involve Britain, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Has the Minister seen reports that the Singapore Government is particularly concerned about the attacks made by Austalian Labor Party spokesmen on the five-power pact and the indication by the Labor Party that if elected to office it would withdraw from the pact? Does the Minister agree that the five-power pact is of great significance to the peace and stability of South East Asia and to the goodwill of Australia in that vital region?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes, I did see a Press report this morning, which I read with considerable interest. I think it was a contribution by Denis Warner from Singapore. In it reference was made to the concern expressed about the challenge to the five-power pact. The Australian Labor Party’s attitude was referred to also. Yes, I do agree that the five-power pact is of great significance to peace and stability in South East Asia. I shall give the background and in doing so. I shall not offend, I am sure, standing order 100. The five-power arrangements are a practical demonstration of the Government’s willingness to contribute to regional security and confidence.
The United States has made it quite clear, following the Nixon visit to the People’s Republic of China, that it has no intention of abandoning its military arrangements in South East Asia and the Pacific. The Prime Minister of Malaysia has stated publicly that the five-power defence arrangements and other arrangements are not inconsistent with Malaysia’s general policy of non-alignment or with her objective of the neutralisation of South East Asia. The Commonwealth Government feels that the presence of Australian forces in Malaysia and Singapore is valued and there would be concern - indeed, grave concern - in Malaysia and Singapore if it were thought that these forces were to be withdrawn prematurely. Nothing that the Government has heard has changed its evaluation of the five-power arrangement or has led it to believe that others have changed their evaluation of the arrangement.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General as Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will the Attorney-General draw to the attention of the Postmaster-General the fact that a young professional boxer was almost killed in a bout which was shown on Channel 7 on 31st January and that he is still in a semi-conscious state in a Melbourne hospital after being in a coma for several weeks? As the Australian Broadcasting Control Board censors violence in many television programmes, will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to take steps to prevent the horrifying possibility that a boxer will be killed in such a televised bout, thus causing great shock and dismay to a great number of viewers?
– I do not know whether the regrettable incident to which the honourable senator referred flows more from the fact that boxing is permitted and less from the fact that boxing is permitted to be shown on television. The question does raise a lot of problems. I will refer the question to the Postmaster-General for his consideration. However, I think that, realistically, the matter is one for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board as to whether it feels that this type of violence, with the unfortunate results that might flow from it, should be shown on television.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer consider having the Commonwealth and State authorities co-operate in the early production of a guide on State and Federal death duties? I suggest a guide similar to the income tax guide for primary producers which, in the past,has been produced by the Treasury with the co-operation of the Department of Primary Industry. Such a publication could explain legislation and special concessions available particularly to primary producers, so that everybody would have an opportunity - as is their right - to minimise the incidence of estate and probate duties.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI will refer the proposal to the Treasurer. I can understand that it is desirable that everybody should have available, in thenown interests, in the interests of their beneficiaries and in the interests of the whole structure of their home life, as much information in relation to probate and death duties as is possible. As I understand the proposal, it is that information covering the whole area should be issued. But we have to bear in mind that there would be variations from State to State. There are State death duties, with greater and lesser impacts as between the States, as well as Commonwealth death duties. Some complications may be involved in issuing a code that is virtually a CommonwealthState document. Those are some of the basic problems that I can foresee in implementing the proposal. I think the short answer is that a person should go to his legal adviser on these matters at an early date, because there can be many pitfalls in accepting principles from a guide book and those pitfalls may not be revealed until expert legal advice has been sought. Nevertheless, the matter has been raised. I do not want to appear to be pouring cold water on the proposal. I can see some of the dangers that may be inherent in it. But I will refer it to the Treasurer.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware of a recent poll indicating that only 5 per cent of Australians believe that young men who refuse to register for national service should be gaoled? Does the Commonwealth Constitution provide for the States to accommodate prisioners gaoled under a Commonwealth law that is distasteful and unpopular in the State, where the State Government is required to detain the prisoners on behalf of the Commonwealth?
– The position with regard to the custody of offenders is that the Constitution requires the States to provide in their gaols accommodation for persons who have offended against Commonwealth law. In our federation that must be the way in which the laws of the Commonwealth are enforced. With regard to the first point of the honourable senator’s question, I have seen the results of the recent gallup poll. I draw attention to the fact that the questions asked posed a number of alternatives, and if one examines all those alternatives one sees that there is an overwhelming majority of the community who feel that some penalty, deprivation or compulsion should be imposed upon persons who do not undertake their national service. The fact that only 5 per cent preferred gaol was, I am sure, in the light of the other alternatives which were posed and the imposition of which in many respects is not within the constitutional power of the Commonwealth.
The significant point, as I indicated, was that most people in this country believe that if a person is not prepared to undergo national service he ought to have a penalty or deprivation imposed upon him in some way. In regard to that aspect I can only say that it was the opinion of this Parliament, to which the Australian Labor Party subscribed, when the imprisonment provisions were introduced in 1963, that there should be the alternative of imprisonment for a person who defied the National Service Act, and I understand that that provision also is contained in the Bill which the Labor Party currently has on the notice paper in the other place.
– I direct to ‘he Minister for Civil Aviation a question that concerns the serving of imported brandy in the bars a’ our major airports. Is it a fact that it is the practice in a number of these bars to serve the imported spirit unless the Aus ralian spirit is specifically requested and insisted upon? If so, does not this constitute a blatant promotion of imported brandy in an area where the local product logically should be right in the forefront and readily available to both Australian and overseas travellers? Will the Minister have this matter investigated?
– Yes, I certainly will. 1 have my own particular preference in brandy. I have not done a lot of brandy drinking in Australian airport bars, but I have noticed that imported brandy is offered. When it is offered to us we look at it and say to ourselves: ‘Why should I drink this instead of Australian brandy, which is amongst the world’s best?’ We look at the bottle and see that it has on it a label indicating that it is imported, but in fact it has been bottled in Australia. My assumption - probably not correctly based - has been that a lot of imported brandy is sold in Australia as Australian brandy under an imported label.I shall certainly look into the matter for the honourable senator.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior by saying that some years ago I asked whether the Commonwealth would set a lead by setting up a boxing commission to eliminate, as far as possible, those obvious hazards in boxing brought about by lack of condition and all those other things about which we know so well. Because of the upsurge of boxing in Australia over the last couple of years I ask again whether the Commonwealth will examine the possibility of setting up a boxing commission in those territories under its control as a lead to the rest of Australia.
– I think there is much merit in that suggestion. I do not know what the capacity of the Commonwealth is, but as a person who did some boxing in his early days and who has given it up as a sport which is much too tough, I think it would be a great pity if boxing as such were to come under a cloud. It is a good sport for people and it is a good thing to engage in so long as a person is not put in a harmful position. I welcome the suggestion and I shall pursue it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the obvious benefits which would accrue from the adoption of the 24- hour clock system which is used in many services and spheres of activity here and abroad, and particularly because Qantas Airways Ltd and other airlines overseas use this system, will the Minister give favourable consideration to urging that the system be introduced for all airline schedules in Australia? Does he not agree that if this forward step were taken it would be a helpful move towards the gradual total adoption of the 24-hour clock system.
– I welcome the suggestion. My impression of the 24-hour clock system is that those people who were in the Services have a much better feeling and understanding of it than those who were not. Many people are confused when one uses the 24-hourclock system. Nonetheless it is a suggestion that I think we should take seriously. I shall find out what canbe done about it.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Government aware of the very grave situation caused by over-production in certain fruit growing areas of the Murrumbidgee in New South Wales and the Goulburn River in Victoria? Does it know that a number of growers have uprooted their trees to seek other forms of production and that others contemplate this action? As the farmers are in many cases taking this action because they are financially embarrassed, has the Government given consideration, or will it give consideration, to assisting them in the in-between period to tide them over until the new form of production becomes profitable for them?
– Yes, the Government is aware of this problem, and I think that honourable senators also are aware of it. This matter was raised in the Senate last year on a number of occasions, I think specifically with reference to the pear crop in the Goulburn Valley. The matter was taken up seriously by honourable senators and it was pointed out to us that part of the problem was that the water levels made it difficult to grow one particular type of fruit and that pear plantings had been increased substantially. Equally a problem has arisen in access to a new market in the European Economic Community as against a perhaps shrinking market in the United Kingdom. The Government is well aware of the problem and the Minister is aware of the problem. I shall do what I can to find out more for the honourable senator.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply provide information to the Senate regarding the future of the aircraft industry in Australia, particularly in relation to the matters which I now mention? Have any orders been received for aircraft Project N2? Has the Government placed any orders for this aircraft? Is the Minister or the Government yet in a position to advise the Parliament of the stage that discussions have reached in regard to the proposed amalgamation of the Government Aircraft Factories and Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation? If not, when will the Parliament receive an authoritative statement on this matter?
– The honourable senator has posed 3 or 4 questions in relation to the aircraft industry in Australia. I would need to refer these matters to the Minister. Even if I were Minister for Supply I would not be in a position to answer the questions without notice because they involve matters of Government policy and would certainly be linked with the Department of Defence. One of the questions posed by the honourable senator was whether any orders had been placed for the project N2 aircraft. That would be a matter which would be linked with the Service departments. Dealing with the state of negotiations between the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, I do not know personally what stage the negotiations have reached. I do know that they were initiated during my term as Minister for Supply, but I have not been informed what stage they have now reached. The honourable senator has asked relevant questions. I think I should attempt to obtain answers for him. Because of the slight delay which may occur before we reassemble, I would hope that some communication would be made to Senator Poyser when I obtain the information for him.
– Do you ask me to place the question on notice?
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has he read the reported statement by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Whitlam, when in Ade laide attending the unusually quiet Australian Labor Party Federal Executive meeting, that Labor would try very hard - I believe this is significant enough to repeat - labor would try very hard - to raise a volunteer army and do away with conscription if it won the Federal election? Is it a fact that the present Government tried very hard to maintain Australia’s armed forces by voluntary means? Is it also a fact that this effort failed in spite of increased pay and improved conditions and that in order to meet Service requirements the Government was obliged to introduce national service.
– I rise to order. The purpose of question time is surely to seek information. The honourable senator has made a small speech putting a point of view and surely has not asked for information. It is a distortion of question time when a question such as this is asked.
– Honourable senators will acknowledge that sinceI have had the honour to sit in the chair I have attempted to curb the asking of questions of a propaganda nature and questions that contain an element of speech making. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that question time should be used for the seeking of information. I will attempt to apply this standard in the asking of questions and see that they relate to the Standing Orders as effectively and in as disciplined a manner as I can. But I cannot do that without the co-operation of all honourable senators - those on my left as well as those on my right. I call the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– As you would anticipate, Mr President, I concur completely with your interpretation of the use of question time. I feel bound to say that one is not unaware that sometimes questions are banded around on pieces of green paper prior to the commencement of proceedings. It also does not go unnoticed that sometimes I give a reply to a question about which I have been alerted. This process of alerting is not peculiar to one side of the House. I would like to have a comprehensive reply prepared to the honourable senator’s question. In general the points he made about the attitude of the Australian Labor Party are true. I do not think that can be challenged by its members. It is equally true that since 1964 wideranging steps have been taken to make the conditions of the Services as attractive as possible. These steps have been taken over a very wide field of activities and are related also to national service. Some regard has been paid to family life. This has been looked at very critically in terms of allowances and accommodation. The steps have met with a degree of success. It is true that our voluntary forces have increased. But it is also apparent that for Australia’s defence protection - I am sure that effects all of us here - we must have a certain quantum of forces. The gap in the forces that we need cannot be filled by voluntary recruiting. I do not want to transgress any more on your ruling, Mr President, but may I say that I will give a detailed and considered answer to the honourable senator’s question. Our attitude on this side of the chamber is clear and the attitude of the Opposition is clear.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDHas the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a recent report of a survey conducted by the ANZ banking group which indicates that the number of job vacancies fell and that unemployment continued to rise in February? Is the Minister aware that a number of firms in the Parramatta district of New South Wales put off some hundreds of workers last week and that unemployment is particularly severe in the outer western suburbs of Sydney? Will the Minister investigate the unemployment position, particularly in the outer urban areas of Sydney, to see whether it is necessary to make specific funds available to local government organisations in those areas in an endeavour to overcome the growing unemployment problem?
– I have no particular recollection of seeing the ANZ banking group report referred to although I have seen several, including one to the effect mentioned by the honourable senator. I take note of what he said about the particular circumstances in Parramatta and west Sydney. I have no doubt that in view of his request, the Minister will give the matter special attention.
– Does the Minister for Health support the concept that general practitioners who are charging the common fee and are allowing discounts for cash for home and surgery visits and therefore are reducing the amount payable by the patient after medical benefits have been refunded should be encouraged?
– My view, and that of the Government, is that the common fee concept should be maintained and preserved.
– How about adhered to?
– And I hope adhered to. It is a common fee concept. I will not be drawn into this any further in view of the circumstances in which I am placed at the moment.
– I believe my question is appropriately directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is important that I make a brief preamble. As it would appear that a serious international dispute may eventuate over the status of the Strait of Malacca, and having regard to the importance to our nation of free and unimpeded waterways for the transport of Australian export produce in the most expeditious and economic way possible, I ask: What steps have been taken or are being taken by the Government to have this critically important matter clarified?
– I agree with the honourable senator’s assessment of the importance of this matter. It is my recollection that in 1969 Malaysia and Indonesia, relying upon the extension to 12 miles of their claim to territorial waters, claimed the Strait referred to was territorial waters. Of course, that conflicts with the interests of Soviet Russia and Japan, which I think would contend that it is an international waterway. There is to be a conference on the law of the sea in 1973. Australia is busily engaged in discussions with the countries concerned and in preparation of the necessary material and brief to go for decision to that conference.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask: Will he expedite a reply to question No. 1781 I asked of him on 9th December last relating to the excise duty derived from alcoholic beverages?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am sorry that question has not been answered. I should have thought that an answer to it would have had to come from the Department of Customs and Excise rather than the Department of the Treasury. I will make inquiries as to the reason for the bottleneck in providing an answer to that question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I ask: Is Australia to be represented at the United Nations sponsored Conference on the Human Environment which is to be held in Stockholm next June? If so, can the Minister say when the announcement of the Australian delegation is expected?
– I shall consult with my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, as to any announcement concerning the delegation to that conference. The conference is being considered very carefully by the relevant agencies of the Australian Government, which will of course be represented.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is it a fact that, despite rapid inflation in recent years, war pensions have not been increased in the past 7 years? Will the Minister take some action to rectify that injustice to some 194,000 deserving recipients?
– Involved in the honourable senator’s question are matters of policy. All questions as to rates of pension must be regarded as relating to matters of policy. I will convey the honourable senator’s interest in this matter to the Minister for Repatriation.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. What were the reasons for the sudden decision to expel the United States actor Stephen de Ghelder from Australia when he was on the verge of portraying Jesus Christ in the production ‘Godspell’?
– There has been some reference in the Press to this matter. I understand the facts are that Mr de Ghelder arrived in Australia from Singapore last November on a one month visitor’s visa and that subsequently he was permitted to extend his visa. I think that the current visa is to expire on 24th March. Of course, if he were to make any further application for an extension it would be considered. As a visitor he is not permitted to work in Australia.
– Nor should he be when Australian actors are out of work.
– I understand that he made application to work in Australia and that, in accordance with the policy which the Department of Immigration follows, consultations took place with the Department of Labour and National Service and with the particular organisation - I think it was the Actors Equity Association of Australia - concerned and that on an examination of all the facts it appeared that there was no particular reason why this person should be preferred in terms of employment over Australians who were able to take the position. In those circumstances he was not given a work visa. He has been here for quite a number of months on a visitor’s visa, which is shortly to expire but which would be considered afresh if he were to make application for that to be done.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a statement made by Professor D. Winston, a professor of town planning at Sydney University, who is reported to have said that the population growth in the 6 capital cities was causing increased crime, pollution, road congestion and higher land costs, and was worsening the backlog in housing and public services? Does the Minister acknowledge that this problem has been developing over many years? As at the beginning of this year of enlightenment we find that each State government is planning for larger capital cities -
– Order! Senator Webster, you are giving information in great gobbets. I wish you would ask your question.
– Does the Minister believe that any action referred to can be taken by the Federal Government to alleviate the problem referred to by the professor?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe question is built around the problem of decentralisation. Many of the things that the honourable senator has said or prophesies in his question would go unchallenged. Concentrations of city and urban growth develop the very issues to which he has referred. These things are not new in Australia. Many of us noting the concentrations of population illustrated in geography books know that to be true. I believe that the Commonwealth is making a real contribution towards decentralisation. So are the States. The Commonwealth and the States are working in co-operation in this field. I will need to refer the question to the appropriate deparment to obtain a response on the particularity of the question.
– I refer to the trial, presently proceeding in New Guinea, of a number of New Guineans on charges of murder of an Australian white official. I ask the Attorney-General: Is this trial regarded as one in which Australia has a considerable interest to see that the administration of justice is duly carried out? Is he aware that appeals are being made by the legal advisers of the New Guineans charged for assistance to finance their defence? In these circumstances, will the Attorney-General make inquiries with a view to seeing whether financial assistance -
– I wonder whether this question would be longer than mine?
– . . . or legal aid should be provided for the person charged in order that there may be no suggestion that in any way the defence has been impeded by lack of proper legal aid?
– Order! I have taken some cognisance of Senator Webster’s interjection. I address myself to the Leader of the Opposition: I listened to his earnest appeal earlier about the phrasing of questions. I wish he would heed his own remarks.
– You have addressed that statement to me, Mr President. May I say that I consider that I did not supply information, but that I asked the Attorney-General a question about a number of matters. I pressed him to take action. I understand that that is strictly in conformity with the rules of this chamber.
– Yes. I extend some latitude to leaders of parties. But, in general, honourable senators have adopted the habit of padding questions.
– I am aware that a trial is proceeding - it has been going for some time - and that there are a number of defendants. I was unaware that there was any problem about financial assistance. I am quite sure that if any application for legal aid is made that application will be considered. But this is a matter not so much for the AttorneyGeneral as for the Department of External Territories. I assure the honourable senator that I will convey his question to the Minister for his consideration.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. This morning, on the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘A.M.’ reference was made to arrangements which are well under way for a national conference on the Commonwealth Constitution. I ask the Attorney-General: Will he inform the Senate whether any progress is being made by his Department or himself in preparing a paper for the forthcoming conference on the role of the Federal Government?
– I think it is well known because the Prime Minister announced it earlier this week that the
Prime Minister has requested me to prepare for the Government a statement on the issues involved in any proposed changes in the Constitution and also what is involved in ways and means by which changes can be effected. That work is well advanced but it is work which the Government has asked for. I will be supplying it to the Government as soon as possible. With regard to the convention, this is a matter in which the States have taken the initiative. I have not received any indication from the States as to what role they anticipate the Commonwealth is to play or should play. I have information about the matter only from the newspapers. As to whether I will prepare a paper, I have indicated that I am doing that for the Government.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether his attention has been drawn to the recent warning by the United States Defence Secretary, Mr Melvin Laird, that the Soviet Union is aiming to achieve overall military supremacy by the late 1970s and that the existing, dwindling margin of military superiority of the United States on present trends will disappear within the next 2 or 3 years? Does not this armaments race present a serious threat to world peace and does it not indicate a tragic failure of the United Nations Committee on Disarmament? Will the Government give consideration to the preparation of a paper setting out the basic facts and implications of this critical situation?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI understand that the Minister for Defence is going to put down a paper. He may be putting it down in another place today but if it is not done today it will certainly be done on the next day of sitting. Naturally I shall be putting the paper down here under the normal process. It may well be - I believe it will be - that some of the implications of the very issues which Senator Carrick raises will be dealt with in depth by the Minister for Defence. But with more particularity in response to the question I think I should say that in Australia we follow closely statements made from time to time by the United States Defence Secretary, Mr Laird, on matters of relevant strength of the United States and the Soviet Union. Naturally we are aware that some changes are taking place in military capabilities. We are watching these developments very carefully. We would not describe the military preparedness being undertaken by these countries as necessarily an armaments race. We hope that the competition in armaments will be reduced as a result of the bilateral discussions which are proceeding in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, commonly known as ‘SALT’.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts investigate an allegation of cruelty on the Yarrabah Reserve as it has been stated that a male resident had his hands handcuffed behind bis back and was then assaulted? At the same time will the Minister also undertake to advise the Queensland Aboriginal and Island Affairs Department that such practices must cease on Queensland reserves?
– I notice that the honourable senator in his question makes the assertion that certain things have been stated. He does not indicate by whom they have been stated. Nevertheless, so that the matter can be investigated I suggest thatthe appropriate course is for the question to be put on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. It refers to question No. 1250 on the notice paper, which is the longest standing question on notice. It seeks information about amenities available to 2 former Prime Ministers, Sir Robert Menzies and Sir John McEwen. May I expect an answer to this question in a relatively short time?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI will refer the question, which is linked with question No. 1250,to the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Is it true that theOronulla marine laboratory of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Division of Fisheries and Oceanography faces eviction in August? Where does the Minister expect the laboratory to be transferred to? Is it a fact that considerable delay has occurred in the procurement of a ship for the field operations of the laboratory?
– The permissive occupancy that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Division of Fisheries and Oceanography had at the Cronulla site is due to expire on 31st July this year. Discussions as to arrangements after that date are being held between the State Government and the Commonwealth Government. Pending the outcome of the talks with the New South Wales Government as to the Cronulla site, discussions in relation to several alernative sites outside New South Wales have taken place. A proposal for the acquisition of an oceanographic research vessel was submitted in July 1971 and the necessary detailed investigation of the proposal is proceeding at present.
(Question No. 1823)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What are the general principles of the fairness doctrine’ of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States of America?
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The ‘fairness doctrine’ of the United States Federal Communications Commission was developed in 1949 and restated in 1969. It can be described as follows:
The doctrine requires that the broadcast licensee -
encourage, implement and foster the carriage of programming designed to expose public issues; and
afford a reasonable opportunity for all sides of important controversial issues to be aired by the licensee’s station.
In practice the doctrine has been difficult to interpret. The Commission stated that it was within the discretion of the licensee, acting reasonably and in good faith, to choose the precise means of achieving ‘fairness’. This ruling is in doubt following a decision in 1971 by the United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia which in effect interpreted the doctrine as meaning that a broadcaster cannot refuse to sell advertising time to groups or individuals wishing to speak out on controversial public issues.
It is understood that the present position is that the Commission and broadcasters are endeavouring to develop regulations which would rationalise these 2 approaches.
(Question No. 1832)
asked the Minister representing the Post master-General, upon notice:
Why did the Australian Broadcasting Control Board call for the tapes of the ‘Brian White Show’ in the first 2 weeks of this year.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board called for a copy of the record of the Brian White programme broadcast on station 2GB for the period of 2 weeks in early February for the Board’s purposes in accordance with its functions under the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 1971.
(Question No. 1906)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Queensland - 90
New South Wales- 23
Victoria - 15
South Australia - 38
Western Australia/Northern Territory 67
Dent Island - 30 acres
Lady Elliot Island - 73 acres (approx.)
North Reef - 10 acres
Pine Islet - 60 acres
Booby Island - 15 acres
Low Isles - 50 acres
Goods Island - 100 acres
Albany Rock - 5 acres 2 roods
Bailey Islet- 40 acres
Bay Rock - 5 acres
South Brook Island - 20 acres
Clerke Island - 20 perches (rock to South East of Clerke Island proper)
Coppersmith Rock - 2 roods
Eborac Island - 11 acres
Eshelby Island - 35 acres
Hammond Rock - 1 rood 24 perches
Hannah Island - 5 acres
East Hannibal Island - 2 acres
High Peak Islet - 4 acres
Little Fitzroy Island - 1 acre
North Barnard Island- 40 acres
Restoration Rock - 2 roods
Rocky Islet - 15 acres
Rundle Island - 50 acres
New South Wales:
Montagu Island - 285 acres
South Solitary Island - 50 acres approx. (not surveyed)
Cliffy Island- 15 acres
Deal Island - 3,900 acres approx. (not surveyed)
Gabo Island - 382 acres
Citadel Island - 32 acres
Maatsuyker Island - 500 acres
Tasman Island - 240 acres
Swan Island - 590 acres
Goose Island - 241 acres
South Australia: (none of these Islands, except Althorpe Island, have been surveyed)
Evans Island - 300 acres approx.
Four Hummocks - 65 acres approx. (Southernmost Island in the group)
South Neptune - 200 acres approx. (Southern Island of South group of Islands)
Pearson Island - 510 acres approx. (Northernmost Island in group)
Troubridge Shoal - 30 acres approx.
Williams Island - 350 acres approx.
Dangerous Reef - 280 acres approx.
Althorpe Reef - 226 acres 30 perches
Eclipse Island - 245 acres
Troughton Island - 178 acres
Airlie Island - 80 acres
Anchor Island - 135 acres
Escape Island - 68 acres
Jarman Island 40 acres
Mary Anne Reef - 2 acres
North Sandy Island - 50 acres
Tanner Island - 3 acres
(Question No. 1818)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1828)
asked the Minister representing the Post master-General, upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Relief projects costing about $27,500 scheduled for completion later this year, will allow these deferred applications to be satisfied.
At Port Macquarie, 32 applications are deferred. Relief projects costing about $33,000, scheduled for completion about October next, will enable these applications to be met.
In Wauchope district, 2 applications are deferred. One of these is at Ellenborough and the other at Byabana. Both applications should be satisfied by June next following completion of relief projects estimated to cost $3,250
In Forster/Tuncurry district, 2 applications are deferred. One of these, at Wallis Island, will be satisfied about August and the other, at Souter, about November when a large project at Pacific Palms is completed.
(Question No. 1842)
asked the Minister representing the Minis ter for Supply, upon notice:
– The Minister for Supply has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Following invitation of tenders extended to all Australian companies considered capable of fulfilling the Commonwealth’s requirements, contracts were arranged with the lowest, lower, or only, suitable tenderer for each requirement at each location.
There were substantial differences in the prices tendered by competing companies. The degree of effective competition between the tenders varied from place to place and from item to item, depending mainly on the distance between each tenderer’s supply sources (refinery) and the location at which the Commonwealth required supplies.
The prices accepted were all subject to variation in respect of movements in market prices of raw materials, freight rates, exchange rates, etc.
The contracts are all of the period variety in which the Commonwealth does not commit itself to ordering any particular quantity but only such quantities as may be required from time to time by several user departments.
(Question No. 1851)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) The principles that have been followed since 1947 were applied in determining eligibility for unemployment benefit of persons who became unemployed as a result of the recent SEC dispute in Victoria. Members of the unions who sponsored this strike are ineligible for unemployment benefit for any period of unemployment resulting from that sponsorship. A statement was made to this effect.
(Question No. 1859)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) I understand that an article appeared in ‘The Review’ of 19th-25th February last containing allegations that certain persons had paid for the opportunity to work at the Nabalco bauxite Township on the Gove Peninsula. I am advised by my Department that, during the course of its investigations, Mr John. Quinn, an Organiser for the North Australian Workern Union and the union official referred to in the article, denied that he has said that Commonwealth officers are involved. This removes any possible implication that may have been raised in the report referred to in the honourable senator’s question concerning officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service, or for that matter any other Commonwealth officers. It is understood that the Criminal Investigation Branch of the Northern Territory Police is also making investigations.
(Question No. 1894)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
In view of the fact that the Australian Post Office Annual Report for 1971 provides the total number of STD calls made throughout Australia during the year, will the Postmaster-General give consideration to providing a statement on each subscriber’s telephone account of the number of STD calls made from the subscriber’s phone during the period of the account.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Only one meter is associated with each subscriber’s service and it is used to record both local and STD call charges. It is therefore not possible to provide a separate statement for STD calls in the periodical telephone accounts.
The number of STD calls quoted in the Australian Post Office Annual Report was obtained by using special metering equipment in the various automatic trunk exchanges. However, this information cannot be related to individual subscriber’s services.
– Mr President, I present the thirty-ninth report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, being a report upon certain regulations rendered invalid by a judgment of the High Court of Australia.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Mr President - In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the Thirty-fourth general report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Motion (By Senator Greenwood) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Capital Territory Evidence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1971.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to extend for 12 months the operation of the Australian Capital Territory Evidence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1971. Honourable senators will recall that, when the Evidence Ordinance 1971 of the Australian Capital Territory was disallowed by the Senate in August last year, the Australian Capital Territory Evidence (Temporary Provisions) Act 1971 was passed by the Parliament to prevent there being an hiatus in the law of evidence in the Australian Capital Territory. The legislation had the effect of enacting the Ordinance in statutory form but only until 31st March 1972 - the date decided by the Senate as being the date upon which the temporary provisions should cease to be in force.
I am sure that all honourable senators are aware that a Bill - the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1972 - was introduced on 24th February to provide for the law of evidence in this Territory. That Bill is still in Committee and there is now no possibility of it being passed before 31st March. Therefore it is necessary to extend the time for a period to enable the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill to be passed. The debate in Committee on that Bill has raised many issues of considerably complexity, and I think it is generally accepted by those senators who have interested themselves in the Bill that there would be benefit if those issues could be considered by the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. I have in mind moving a motion to the effect that the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill be referred to that Committee, which must be given adequate time to give proper consideration to that Bill. Therefore, the purpose of this Bill, which is now about to be read a second time, is to extend the operation of the temporary legislation until 31st March 1973.
– We offer no opposition to this Bill. All honourable senators will recall the events that occurred last year. I think it may fairly be said that what has happened demonstrates the wisdom of the Senate in disallowing the Evidence Ordinance and taking the view that a matter as important as this ought to be the subject of consideration and debate in the Parliament, when the opportunity might be given for amendments and perhaps more consideration by the legislative body than could be given by the Attorney-General and his advisers.
– The only place in which it may be said to have erred is in the time it would take.
– I shall say no more. We thinkthat time and events have proved the wisdom of the course we took. It is good to see that the Attorney-General has acknowledgedthis. We support the proposal.
– I rise to indicate that the Democratic Labor Party concurs with the proposal.
– I am concerned about this matter. I do not wish to say anything contrary to what my leader has said because I support his attitude. We are in the position now where we have to support it. However, in my view a disgraceful state of affairs is being perpetuated. The provisions to which we have been referring were introduced as an ordinance and the Senate decided that they were matters for substantive legislation. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) then tried to have the decision of the Senate changed by rescinding the Senate’s decision disallowing the ordinance because, as there was then no evidence ordinance operating in the Australian Capital Territory, the Supreme Court of the Territory could not function. At that stage Senator Murphy came to the Minister’s rescue and introduced a Bill to provide temporary provisions. It is now proposed to extend the time limit for the operation of those provisions. The original Bill con tained all the objectionable features which had been contained in the regulations on which the Senate wanted discussion.
When the Bill was debated in the Senate, Senator Murphy was very vocal and quite informative in stating that some clauses of the Bill could not be entertained as provisions of an evidence Act. We heard also expressions from the Democratic Labor Party on many of the clauses. It was apparent that the whole Senate was of the opinion that some provisions of the Bill were undesirable and that, because they could act to the detriment of a defendant in a particular case, they should not be included as provisions of an evidence Act. The Attorney-General has had since August last year to correct this situation.I suggest that in postponing consideration of some provisions of the Bill the Attorney-General was indicating that he also was of the opinion that the measure could contain undesirable features which need to be investigated. The proposal to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs would suggest, as the Minister has stated, that further consideration of the provisions is required. We are left with the situation where we are to continue with some of these undesirable provisions in the legislation. I repeat that the Minister had from August last year until 31st March this year to correct the situation, and the Evidence, (Australian Capital Territory) Bill was not introduced until March this year.
The proposition now is that we extend for 12 months the operation of an Act containing provisions which we have found to be undesirable and which could act to the detriment of a defendant. It is hoped that in extending the operation of the provisions for 12 months no-one will be caught up by the provisions and convicted on evidence which the Senate and possibly the Committee will find is such that it should not be permitted to be used in a court. I have no doubt that we will cary the second reading of the Bill, but I think there should be some attempt to speed up the process and to introduce for the Australian Capital Territory an evidence Act which the Parliament agrees will be proper for use in trying people in our courts.
– in reply - 1 thank the Senate for the approach which has been taken in this matter. 1 appreciate Senator Cavanagh’s feelings on the matter but I suggest to him that we have to make a choice between 2 courses, neither of which is wholly satisfac’ory. If this action is not taken now then the Senate will not be able to take steps to have ‘he matter dealt with in time to ensure that legislation dealing wi h evidence is in force in the Australian Capital Territory. In the light of the fact that this ordinance has now operated - -albei first as an ordinance and secondly as a statute - for approximately 12 months, I think it is fair to say that, while ‘he Senate is giving consideration to the matters which have been raised and which do cause concern to many people, it is appropriate to allow that law to continue for a fur’ her period. The fact is that the Senate will in due course have an opporunity to consider these matters, but I think everyone will be aided by the opportunity which can be taken in the more conversational, inquiring attitude of the Committee to deal with the many issues which have been raised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Perhaps ‘he few remarks that 1 propose to make should have been made in the debate on the second reading, but I was not here. I merely say that last week the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) was in Brisbane where he was to meet with practising members of the Queensland Bar. He did this and very valuable consultations took place. Those distinguished gentlemen raised matters which indicated a concern as to the contents of the Bill. They welcomed the proposal which the Attorney has now placed before this chamber that the Bill should be referred to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. I do not believe that the reference should be in any particular formal sense; it should be rather to give the committee an opportunity to consult - nor to call evidence or interrogate witnesses - the learned gentlemen who propounded the report from which the evidence code emerges. It would have the opportunity also to consult members of the private Bar and of the Law Councils of Australia. This could be fruitful and it is a very sane and wise way to approach this important matter. What happens here could become an evidentiary code for the whole of Australia, including the States. Therefore it is vital that it be considered now in ‘he best atmosphere possible and given the greatest possible examination. I welcome the approach now proposed by the Attorney-General.
– I ask in all temerity that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) look at clause 3 of the Bill in the light of remarks that I made during the debate on the second reading and the possibility of convictions being obtained on evidence which the Senate may later decide was not proper or should not have been admitted. I do not know how long this exclusive body, the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, will take to consider the question, but with the greatest respect I ask whether it is necessary to extend the operation of the Act for 12 months to enable this consideration to be given.
– I can only assure the Committee that .the date proposed was discussed beforehand with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and with Senator Byrne. It is felt that only one alternative to the course proposed is available. That is to fix a date some time in the Budget session, which might be reasonable, in the expectation that the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs could work on this Bill in the future remaining weeks of this session plus the interval when the House and the Senate are not sitting. I think we all appreciate that the Budget session will be a fairly hard and probably short session in which matters of necessary public interest will be extensively canvassed. Consideration will need to be given to this Bill in some depth by the Senate, even after the Committee has looked at it. It was felt that there might be a risk that there would not be time for proper consideration to be given. Therefore, it was felt that the prudent course was to indicate that the matter must be resolved by early next year. I can only say that that seems to me to be the, prudent course and that others have concurred with it.
– Further to what has been said may I remind honourable senators that the proposal in the Bill is merely to put a time limit on the operation of the temporary provisions? Strictly, there is nothing to stop the Committee dealing with item No. 13 on the notice paper - that is, the Evidence (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1972- which we are considering. If we can dispose of it, say, within 6 weeks it would become law and, as I understand its operation, replace the temporary provisions which are the subject of the Bill we are now considering. It is merely a time limit which has been placed there. If it is referred to a special standing committee the matter might be expedited. If it does not go to the committee and we continued to consider it in the Committee of the Whole, it might well go through earlier.
I think there is a great deal of force in some of the observations which were made by Senator Cavanagh. Perhaps if something emerges which is agreed on all hands ought to be altered in that respect, even on not beyond our ability to say that the law ought to bealtered in that respect, even on an interim basis. That may meet the point which Senator Cavanagh is very wisely bringing to the attention of the Senate, that if it were felt that there were something undesirable, that ought to be altered. Of course, if such a view were held it would require the concurrence of the other House. It seems to me - honourable senators are aware that I have a very strong view on the matter - not unreasonable in the circumstances that the date which is suggested should be put there to cover all eventualities.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Greenwood) read a third time.
– Is it desired to re arrange the business of the Senate?
– I ask for leave to make a statement before moving a motion.
– Is leave granted? There, being no objection leave is granted.
– Senator Murphy asked me a question several days ago about the anticipated programme of the Senate. I indicated that it was anticipated that if we did not receive any other messages to deal with by the time we concluded this afternoon, we would be able to deal with general business tonight and that I would then move that we rise until 11th April. The situation is that we have 2 Bills on the notice paper which I would want us to deal with today. 1 anticipate that we would be able to dispose of them this afternoon. If that were so, I would move to adjourn the Senate until 11th April, unless otherwise ordered. If, in fact, we. cannot dispose of these 2 Bills I will move another motion for the purpose of re-assembling next Tuesday. I want to dispose of the Bills today. I think most honourable senators feel that we would be able to dispose of them this afternoon or tonight.
– What are the Bills?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThey are the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill 1972 and the States Grants (Capital Assistance Bill) 1972. They are complementary Bills.
– They are on the notice paper.
– They are 2 Bills that we received yesterday.
– Will they be, dealt with in a cognate debate?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes. That will bring us to the stage of dealing with general business tonight. If it is proposed to deal with general business, we will debate the proposed appointment of a joint select committee to deal with Commonwealth and State revenue. That is an adjourned debate and I understand that Senator Durack would resume the debate. Perhaps that is a matter that could be left for discussion between the leaders of the parties this afternoon.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Ander son) agreed to:
That unless otherwise ordered the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday, 11th April 1972 at 3 p.m.
With the concurrence of honourable senators, I would now like to deal with some of the orders of the day. I intend to put the question on a series of them if honourable senators have no objection to that course being followed. If an honourable senator does not wish this to be done, he would indicate and I would withdraw my motion. I am merely trying to remove a series of notices of motion which have been on the notice paper for a long time. I can dispose of them simply by putting the question in each case. If there is an objection, the honourable senator concerned should say so and I will withdraw the motion.
No. 3 Commonwealth Assistance for Nursing Home Patients - Ministerial Statement
Adjourned debate on the motion: That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
No. 5 Australian Forces in Vietnam - Ministerial Statement
Adjourned debate on the motion: That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
No. 6 International Affairs - Ministerial Statement
Adjourned debate on the motion: That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
No. 7 Australian Military Forces in Vietnam - Ministerial Statement
Adjourned debate on the motion: That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
No. 8 Employment Training Scheme for Persons Displaced by Technological Change - Ministerial Statement - Paper
Adjourned debate on the motion: That the Senate take note of the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
No. 10 International Affairs - Ministerial Statement
Adjourned debate on the motion: That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
No. 12 Great Barrier Reef - Royal Commissions - Ministerial Statement
Adjourned debate on the motion: That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement concerning the business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 1, set down for 10 sitting days after 2nd March 1972.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Regulations and Ordinances Committee was concerned with certain aspects of the Australian Capital Territory-Canberra Retail Market Trust Ordinance 1971. The Committee has heard evidence from officers of the Department of the Interior and has corresponded with the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). As a result of these discussions the Minister has proposed amendments to the Ordinance that will meet the points raised by the Committee. Accordingly, I withdraw business of the Senate notice of motion No. 1 for 2nd March 1972 standing in my name. In so doing, I wish to express the Committee’s sincere appreciation of the excellent co-operation which it has received from the Minister in this matter.
Debate resumed from 22 March (vide page 806), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I take it, Mr President, that the Senate will be dealing with both this Bill and the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1972.
– Is it agreed that the 2 Bills be debated together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– There are 2 Bills now before the Senate. One Bill amends the States Grants (Independent Schools) Act of 1969 and the other is the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill 1972. Both Bills relate to grants from the Commonwealth to the States in connection with schools conducted within the States. The first Bill deals with independent schools and the second Bill deals primarily with government schools. I am aware of the desire of honourable senators on both sides of the chamber that the debate on these 2 Bills be not unduly prolonged and I certainly shall bear that in mind. I think I may do this with some impunity because although these Bills relate to very serious matters they are matters which have been canvassed frequently within the Senate. The amendment I propose to move is in the same terms, or very similar terms, as amendments which I have moved on behalf of the Opposition over recent months when similar Bills have been before the Senate.
I believe that most of the matters which need to be dealt with in considering this amendment already have been dealt with, that most of the views of honourable senators representing the different parties in this chamber already have been expressed. Indeed, there probably is not a great deal new that can be said at this stage because these Bills are in line with previous legislation which has come before the chamber. I think we all are well aware of our own attitudes and those of our fellow senators in regard to the general questions raised by the Bills.
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert ‘the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide -
That the Commonwealth establish an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in Government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools and recommend grants which the Commonwealth should make to the States to assist in meeting the requirements of all school-age children on the basis of needs and priorities, and in making recommendations for such grants to the States, the Commission shall have regard to -
the primary obligation of governments to provide and maintain government school systems of the highest standard open to all children;
the numbers of students enrolled in the various schools;
‘the need to bring all schools up to acceptable standards; and
the need to ensure optimum use of resources in the establishment, maintenance and extension of schools;
That the Commonwearth review secondary and technical scholarships to ensure that every student who has successfully completed all but the last 2 years of his full course will receive financial assistance to enable and encourage him to proceed with his education. The value of such scholarship to be the same, regardless of the school attended by the student; and
That the Commonwealth review and adjust annually all living allowances to students to accord with rises in the cost of living’.
As honourable senators would be aware, the amendment is taken directly from the federal policy of the Australian Labor Party on education as it relates to the Commonwealth’s relationship to the financing of education by the States and by independent schools.
The policy is set out in the amendment in some detail because it is the opinion of the Australian Labor Party that it is impossible to reach a reasoned conclusion on the requirements of education without looking at all the aspects mentioned in this amendment even though some of the matters mentioned in the amendement, particularly those relating to technical scholarships mentioned in the second paragraph, are not directly dealt with by these Bills.
The States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill provides for the expenditure of $34.3m by the Commonwealth by way of grants to independent schools. It follows a statement made late last year by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) about an increase in grants to private primary and secondary schools. It provides for an increase from $35 to $50 for each pupil receiving primary education, of the annual per capita grant and an increase from $50 to $68 in the case of secondary school pupils. The States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill provides for the payment of $6.66m by the Commonwealth by way of grants to the States to deal with capital expenditure on primary and secondary schools conducted by the States. The general purposes of the Bills were outlined in the Senate last night in the second reading speeches made by the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson).
The crux of the whole argument put by the Opposition and the fundamental division between the Australian Labor Party and other parties represented in this chamber on the question of education are set out on page 3 of the Minister’s second reading speech on the Bill relating to independent schools. The Minister said:
Those who argue for a means test to be applied to assistance with recurrent expenditure in independent schools have not been able to establish principles or criteria which can clearly be applied with equity and justice to the range of independent schools and to their students and parents. Various possible methods have been suggested, such as basing payments on pupil/teacher ratios, on the level of fees charged, or on academic standards at particular schools; but these methods would be difficult to put into practice objectively, and without running the risk of encouraging schools to maintain standards at a lower level than would otherwise be the case to attract grants.
It seems rather strange that a Government which has argued for the retention of the means test for social services, despite the strong case put forward by the Australian Labor Party and other citizens over the years for its abolition, should in this case be saying that it is virtually impossible to apply a means test without inflicting injustices. One hopes that when next we are debating social services in this Parliament someone will pay great heed to the second reading speech of the Minister on this Bill and his reference to the inadequacy and difficulty of applying a means test. This is something which we have been telling the Government for decades but the Government has strenuously resisted the proposition. It has conveniently discovered this point when dealing with the Bills now before the Senate.
The term ‘means test’ does not adequately convey what is intended by the amendment I have moved. It does not convey what is proposed by the Australian Labor Party in its policy on education. We are not talking about a means test; we are talking about criteria being established whereby one may assess the needs of various schools.
– Prior o the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the amendment which has been proposed by the Opposition to the mo ion that the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill be read a second time. I think I have already dealt with most of the substance of what the Opposition would wish to put forward with regard to its amendment, that is, ‘hat it is the Opposition’s belief as expressed in the amendment tha” an Austraiian schools commission should be established to assess the needs of all schools and that there should not be a spasmodic day-to-day series of handouts by ‘he Commonwealth, based on no recognisable method of determination. The Minister for Health, in his second reading speech on the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill, rejected the proposition that there should be any means of assessment of the needs of schools. He said that that would be very difficult to do. He described - erroneously I believe - as a means test the proposition which the Australian Labor Party supports. It is rather ironical, to note that in his second reading speech on the second Bill the Senate is considering - the Sta es Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill - the Minister said:
The Prime Minister explained in his statement that the Government had decided to make the grants to the States for capital expenditure on Government schools in recognition of the needs expressed by the States for additional expenditure in this area.
Apparently the Government does in fact claim that there was some assessment of the need. If what is claimed by the Minister for Health in his second reading speech on the independent schools Bill is true, that is, that it is impossible to assess the needs, one can only wonder how on earth an assessment was made to arrive at the amount of $6.66m which is to be allocated under the capital assis’ance Bill because the Minister for Health claimed in that respect that there was an assessment of needs. I repeat that the proposition of the Australian Labor Party is that a schools commission should be established to inquire into the needs of all schools.
We are once again dealing with Bills which are a part of a series of spasms which occur periodically throughout ‘he year and in which the Government gives bits and pieces by way of grants to the State and the independent schools. An amount of $34.3m is to be made available to the independent schools and an amount of $6.66m is to be made available to the States toy way of assistance to finance capital expenditure on State schools. One can search the Bills and one can search the second reading speeches of the Minister for Health on the Bills to determine how these amounts were arrived at, but I challenge anyone to say how they were arrived at. As I have said, there is some reference to needs in the Minister’s second reading speech on the capital assistance Bill, but how these amounts were calculated is not revealed.
What criteria are used by the Government in assessing the needs of either the State or independent schools has never been put to the Parliament or the people of Australia by the Government. Only recently, as Senator Wriedt has reminded me, a committee of inquiry recommended that the sum of $ 1,400m be allocated to education and the needs of schools throughout Australia. No recognition is given to that or to the claims of bodies of teachers and of parents and citizens of the State schools throughout Australia in either of these Bills or in either of the second reading speeches of the Minister. The sum of almost $41m which is to be provided under this legislation bears no relation to the $ 1,400m which was recommended by a responsible group of people with which we are all familiar nor, indeed, is there any indication as to what proportion this amount of almost $41m is of the whole amount which the Commonwealth Government eventually intends to give to education.
The Australian Labor Party has repeatedly told this Parliament that it believes that there are gross inequalities in the education system in Australia. It is no use the Minister saying that it is impossible to assess the needs of schools and that all private schools, whatever the situation of the parents and whatever the standards of those schools may be, should be receiving exactly the same per capita annual contribution for the pupils who are attending those schools. There are clear and blatant inequalities not only between the private system and the State system but also within the various systems - within the independent systems and between the various schools within the state systems as well as between the States. I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by my labouring these points. They have been dealt with repeatedly in the Parliament. In fact, only a few months have elapsed since I myself spoke on a similar proposition put forward by the Australian Labor Party in which it drew attention to its own policy on this matter. I feel that all that can be done at this stage is to say that the Australian Labor Party is committed to removing these inequalities and that when, in the near future, a Labor government is in office in Australia it will be taking the appropriate action to remove them.
Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) (2.21)- ‘The 2 Bills that are being discussed in this cognate debate cover the whole spectrum of education. They cover the dual streams. One Bill seeks to add, by an additional $20m of capital appropriation to June 1973, to the amount which is provided by the Commonwealth to the States for capital building at State schools. The other Bill seeks to increase the rates of the direct per capita grants to primary schools from $35 to $50 and to secondary schools from $50 to $68. The Bills do so against the background that the Commonwealth and the States have, over the past decade, increased enormously their expenditure throughout the whole range of the field of education. In the last 9 years the Commonwealth has increased its expenditure sixfold from $59m in 1962-63 to $357m at present. The States jointly have increased their spending in that period by threefold from $430m to $ 1,284m. There is now a total expenditure throughout the Commonwealth of almost $ 1,700m a year. That amount represents by far, and rightly so, the largest single item of expenditure by .the Commonwealth or the States.
In my view it is enormously appropriate that we should debate these 2 Bills together because if there is one principle which should shine out it is that governments, States and Federal, are responsible equally in terms of the independent schools and the State schools for every school student in this country. In other words - I wish to make this clear - government must provide education for all and not for one section of the community. Therefore, I think it is enormously appropriate that the Senate should be debating these 2 Bills together. I agree that these Bills should be debated also in the atmosphere that there are many things still to be, done. Indeed, I accept that there are some inequalities to be ironed out and many reforms to be made. I would like to see improvements made in our approach to pre-school education, to deprived schools, to education of the Aborigine and, in particular, to education of the handicapped. I believe that the principle to be applied to all those things is that there should be for all Australians, irrespective of income, an equality of opportunity. I point out that that is the Government’s policy. But that equality of opportunity must be, of course, consistent with the ability of the individual student at a particular level of education to discharge his or her role.
Against the 2 intentions of these Bills the Australian Labor Party seeks to intervene an amendment which is of massive significance and massive intention by way of alteration of the whole concept of education as it exists today in the Commonwealth and in the States. The amendment as it is spelt out in the words circulated, in the printed words of the Australian Labor Party platform and in the spoken words of the Labor Party’s leaders aims, in my view - and I hope to demonstrate it - at the nationalisation and unification of education, first in the, centralising of the control of State education in Canberra and the destruction of the 6 individual systems of State education as they exist today and, secondly, by limitation, restriction and control of the commission and the destruction of the independent system and its nationalisation. Therefore, I think it important that we should look at the philosophy of what is now being done against the philosophy of what is intended.
The fundamentals of our approach to education are contained, I think, and are best spelt out in the Declaration of Human Rights in the United Nations Charter. I think it is important to note Article 18 of the Charter which provides:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 26 (2) provides:
Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
I draw specific attention to Article 26 (3) because it is most relevant. It provides:
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
I and my Government would accept the inherent principles as stated in the Declaration of Human Rights. It is from these principles and philosophies that our own policies have evolved. The right to choose in education as in any other fundamental action in life is of vital importance. This is where we, differ from the Opposition. But if we are to have freedom of choice, that freedom must be real and not restricted to a minority of the affluent or the rich. Freedom of choice must be freedom for all. All parents, rich or poor, must have the, opportunity to decide whether they shall send their child to a State school or an independent school.
It is important that I should spell out what happened under the education Acts of the States following the introduction of compulsory education because those who have opposed consistently the idea of the independent system of education and any government support for it have in fact mixed goals and methods. I remind the Senate that until the end of the 19th century education in Australia was voluntary and was conducted by independent and religious schools. Independent and religious schools were the norm. The governments of the day very rightly decided that every child, irrespective of means, was entitled to a minimum standard of education. The governments of the day decided that the minimum should be measured in 2 ways, that is, by a range of age with an entry age and a minimum leaving age for each child, and by a minimum standard of curricula. Nothing in the intention of those Acts set as goals that children should be forced to use government buildings, government teachers or secular education. What was compelled was a range of ages and a range of curricula. The government schools emerged as alternatives to the independent schools. Any attempt to destroy the freedom of choice must inevitably under these conditions be a socialisation or a nationalisation of education. This I claim is inherent in Labor Party policy and I hope to demonstrate it.
There has been over the years fairly strong argument by the opponents of State aid as though the principles of State aid were some unique principles which cut across the general attitude of governments and the community to religion. But I remind you, Mr President, that quite the reverse of that proposition is true. Throughout the whole of our community, governments and the community have recognised that many people express the desire throughout their day in various occupations to absorb and to associate with religious doctrines as well as with secular action. It is the bounden duty of all governments to respect those rights of people. So that we may understand that there is nothing unusual in this, I remind the Senate that governments for decades have subsidised hospitals, including independent hospitals and religious hospitals. They have subsidised them equally with public hospitals. There was no discrimination between the subsidisation of a religious hospital or an independent hospital on the one hand and a secular government hospital on the other. The community was entitled to believe, if it wanted to, that the hand that held the scalpel might indeed be better in both its spiritual and its medical philosophy if it had within the 24 hours of the day a concept of religion as well. Might I quote Byron who understood these things and who said:
Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart, Tis woman’s whole existence.
Many people choose to take their religion on Sundays or in private; others regard religion as their whole existence. This community is bound to observe these rights whether they be in relation to hospitals or whether money is provided for homes for the aged, for child welfare or for social welfare. We understand that we give money to an institution so that that institution shall discharge a principle according to our standards. We recognise the right of the institution to add to it non-secular ingredients if it so desires. So, I say to you, Mr President, that education stands with health, help for the aged, and welfare in a similar principle; it is a principle that I completely uphold.
The independent system of education should not be used in a divisive way by its critics. It is and must be complementary to the State system. I am a product of the State system of education and an immense advocate of its qualities and achievements and an immense advocate of methods to improve it as well as the independent system. So, I stand here not as a partisan at all except as a partisan for education itself and indeed as a partisan who opposes monopoly in education or in anything else. We are dealing with a whole community. We are dealing with an independent system which educates 22 per cent of the community and, in doing so, saves <he State and the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars by the voluntary contribution of parents to the independent system. I remind those who hold prejudice that in the primary system - this should not be an argument anyhow - there is a predominant Catholic as against non-Catholic ingredient. In the secondary system of the independent schools the Catholic and non-Catholic ingredient is 50 per cent. I support the independent system’s right to separate existence irrespective, of the percentage of involvement of any religion. Traditionally the Labor Party has been opposed to the existence of the independent system. Let nobody argue against that, lt is only in modern times that the .Labor Party has removed from its platform an implacable opposition to assistance by the Government to independent schools. The normal has been opposition.
– It has changed since 1957.
– Yes. The norm for over a century or more was opposition. After the negative clause was removed the practice has been again a negative one. It has been one of obstruction, and advocacy and adoption of policies which, I suggest, will destroy the independent system.
– It had always been Labor Party tradition up to 1957.
– Tradition or not, one thing is certain: Performance was virtually nil. It is no good saying that we have the power in our locker to do these things because that only compounds the felony.
– That applies to both Parties.
– Let me say this: The Liberal Party is some 25 years old. Throughout its journey from the mid- 1950s onwards 1 have been walking in parallel with the development and the pioneering of State aid to independent schools from the first start which was made here in the Capital by paying interest on capital. That is not a bad journey because it is three-quarters of the journey of the existing life of the Liberal Party which has proudly advocated the right and supported practically the right of the twin system of education. But apart from traditional opposition, the Labor Party - if honourable senators will pardon the phrase - has been thoroughly wrong-headed in its approach. It has always taken the view that the Government has a primary obligation to the State system. This situation is compounded in the wording of the platform of the Labor Party which underlies the present proposed amendment which in part slates:
I reject that amendment. Any government has as its primary right the responsibility for the highest possible education for all students in Australia, whether they attend government or independent schools. I reject the fundamentals of this proposed, amendment as being, as I say, wrong in concept, narrow and prejudiced as, indeed, Labor’s policies have been. In Hansard of 1st December last year there is a statement by the Leader of the Labor Party in this House, Senator Murphy.
– Order! I wish to interpolate. There has grown a custom both in question time and debates to refer to the Leader of the Australian Labor Party. I only acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party by nomination. I cannot accept that honourable senators should be singled out to be leaders of particular parties. Inside the parliament they are leaders of the formed areas of the Parliament.
– Thank you, Mr President. It was not my intention to be discriminatory. That was inadvertent. I repeat that on 1st December 1971 Senator Murphy is recorded in Hansard as saying in relation to the proposition that the primary obligation of governments is to provide state schools:
That means government schools first.
I reject that statement. Again, that is a fundamental reason why we should reject the amendment and support the Bill. But the Labor Party has decided in its State aid policies to interpolate a means test or, as Senator Wheeldon says in his amendment, a ‘needs or priorities’ test. Senator Wheeldon convicted himself with his own argument both ways. I propose to examine it. It is a strange situation that a party which in its platform advocates in many other fields - as 1 will demonstrate - the abolition of the means test because it is discriminatory, advocates a means test in this field and this field exclusively. In the other major field of education, that is tertiary education or university education, the Labor Party platform explicitly says that education at the university level shall be provided for all students at no fee so that the rich man’s son or daughter can without fear or favour receive education to (he university level equally with the poor man’s son and daughter. I ask why that application should be correct for a university but not for a primary school, a parochial school of a high school? That question remains to be answered because the answer is inherently inside Labor Party philosophy. Using Senator Wheeldon’s remarks, why does the Labor Party advocate the abolition of the means test for age pensions? Personally, if I may say so, I think that this is a very proper goal and desire. Yet by advocating it and advocating that the richest person in the land shall receive a retirement allowance along with the poorest person in the land why does the Labor Party pick out and discriminate against the parents and children of the independent school sector?
– It perpetuates class distinction.
– If there is class distinction there is removal of it in the Labor Party platform in relation to universities and in the abolition of the means test. If the Labor Party is to be consistent this policy must remain now. The means test is punitive. It is discriminatory. It is a blunt instrument. It is an ugly thing wherever it applies, and it applies to social services. It is bureaucratic. In this case it costs as much as or more than it could possibly save. It is grossly unfair. It does not discriminate between the provident and the improvident. It would encourage the improvident and discourage the provident. To me that is a rejection of a sound philosophy.
If we were to apply a means test as proposed by the Labor Party, and as education is not compulsory beyond the age of 15 - I think in all States - why not apply that same means test in relation to high schools run by the State? Those high schools are providing a free service which, under the relevant Acts, is not compulsory for children whose parents are as affluent as or more affluent than the parents of other children who go to independent schools. Where is the equity in this? If the Labor Party wants to be consistent why does it not apply that principle to both levels? Of course the aim is very simple. It is to centralise. I remind you, Sir, that all independent school bodies from the National Council of Independent Schools and the Catholic Schools Committee to the Australian Parents Council have all advocated - I have in front of me their written advocacies - the need for per capita grants to independent schools free of means tests. The spokesmen for all the bodies of the independent schools, whether parochial or otherwise, whether underprivileged or otherwise, have asked in the words of the National Council of Independent Schools, to which Council virtually all subscribe that ‘no means test, of school or parent, should be associated with these per pupil grants’. Therefore the Labor Party’s policy is seen to be an aim at monopoly and an aim at discrimination. I believe that that is consistent with its desire to have the independent schools wither on the vine - to die out - so that there can be only one school system.
The Labor Party says that it will set up a commission. It is instructive to look at what the commission will do. Firstly we should look at Senator Murphy’s statement, but more particularly we should look at the statement made, by the. Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Barnard, in another place. He has spelt out very clearly that the schools commission will not be an advisory body but will be an authoritative body. It will have direct control of and will be able to intervene, in the State, local and grass roots area of education, probing and controlling even the supply of chalk and blackboards. Mr Barnard has made it clear that the kind of things that a schools commission will do will be to look at the source of inequality ‘in the allocation of teachers’. He said:
A schools commission could look at ways of getting a better spread of more experienced and talented teachers.
The purport of his statement is that the commission could send one teacher to one place and another teacher to another place. Imprinted clearly in Hansard is the intention of the Labor Party to control the movement of teachers in all States: He continued:
It could look at the physical environment of schools to cull out those with inadequate buildings and facilities, and insufficient teaching aids.
Will we have the socialistic concept that from Canberra the chalk, the school boards, the projectors and the exercise books will be allocated? That is socialism gone absolutely mad. That is not a statement which I devised. It is the clear interpretation of Mr Barnard. He continued:
It could review the present system of Commonwealth subsidies and find ways of getting funds to the schools so all essential items now supplied by parental contribution could be supplied by the Commonwealth.
I have been and I still am actively associated with a parents and citizens association. Everybody associated with parents and citizens associations knows the struggles and heartbreaks of parents and knows that the aim of having governments assist is a noteworthy one, but I wonder whether the 6 State Premiers, including the Western Australian Labor Premier and the South Australian Labor Premier, and the 6 State Education Ministers will agree with this policy which aims to take to the centre everything which now lies within the State sovereignty. Those are Mr Barnard’s words. Under such a system anything is possible.
Backing up this part of the Labor Party’s policy is the aim to centralise, to nationalise and to destroy the independent system. Throughout the attempts and the practical achievements of the Commonwealth Government and the State governments to bring in per capita payments for schools the Labor Party has opposed the system and has asserted a system which primarily is one of subsidising teachers’ salaries. If I wanted a short cut to the nationalisation of independent schools the first thing I would do would be to implement a system of subsiding teachers’ salaries. Once the Commonwealth has them on the book it has them standardised. The Commonwealth would subsidise at one level today and at another level tomorrow. Soon it would be in virtual control of all the teachers. Soon there would be compulsory unionism, with the independent teachers and the Teachers Federation joined together, and the philosophy of teaching would be nationalised. The control of teaching through the control of the purse - through the control of salaries - would be nationalised. I am sure that the Labor Party would not argue that it has not advocated as its primary intention the subsidising of teachers’ salaries. I say that would cause the destruction of the system.
It is envisaged that the commission will intervene - I say disastrously - not only in the independent system but also in the State system. Mr Barnard was at length and at pains to say that it was wrong to think that a centralised commission could not intervene - to use his words - in the 10,000 schools in Australia. He sees intervention by the commission at all levels of the affairs of all schools. The device of approaching this matter on the basis of the needs and priorities of schools is an insidious device because, if a government has the power to discriminate between schools and to determine which ones shall be encouraged and which shall wither on the vine, that government has the power to wipe out the freedom of choice in education. The position would be the same as with bank nationalisation. I say that the principle of priorities and needs as applied to schools is one that would corrupt and ultimately destroy the dual system. I reject the principle.
I again test the principles of the Australian Labor Party. Only recently the Australian Labor Party members of the
Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, when reporting on the Commonwealth’s role in regard to teacher education, presented a dissenting report on the proposal to treat independent teachers colleges on the same basis as other teachers colleges. In essence, the aim of the majority report was this: Where an independent teachers college can qualify by standards, by practice and by performing parallel with other teachers colleges it should be entitled to be treated as a college of advanced education and it should receive the recurrent and capital funds that other colleges of advanced education do. That appeared to be an eminently fair proposition to sustain. I say that the Labor Party’s desire to destroy the assistance to independent schools has been demonstrated by this report. It is fair to say that no Labor member in this place or in another place has risen as yet either in Parliament or in public to oppose the dissenting report.
I wonder whether we will see another parallel in another commission - the Australian hospitals commission. In accordance with the Labor Party’s policy the Australian hospitals commission would aim to standardise hospitals in the same way as the Australian schools commission would aim to standardise schools. Under rationalisation, a wonderfully euphemistic word, the rights and the roles of the independent hospitals would go.
If it is right for a government to subsidise teaching hospitals today, whether they are independent or government hospitals, it is right for a government to subsidise independent teachers colleges. There can be no difference between the teaching college concept that is installed in a teaching hospital and the one that is installed in another academic area. Therefore, if the Labor Party were to agree to one it should agree to the other. It has rejected the teachers colleges for the independent sector. In another debate I will assert with proof that the Labor Party aims also to destroy the independent hospitals and the independent teaching hospitals.
The whole argument of the Labor Party is that its aim with regard to priorities and needs - wonderful euphemisms - which governments and bureaucrats determine is that the poorer sector will receive more and the richer sector will receive less. This is wonderful, except that the Labor Party’s practice has always differed from its theory. In practice today in South Australia, where there is a needs and priorities test, the fact is that the poorest schools in the primary sector are receiving very considerably less than other schools - poorer or otherwise - in 3 other States, and altogether in South Australia on a per capita basis the independent system is receiving less. So, by test the scheme has failed in its implementation. It has failed altogether because it has failed to attack the essentials of things.
The whole scheme reeks of paternalism, or the idea that the government knows best. The aim is, by needs and priorities, to destroy the flexibility and independence of the schools. I assert that the per capita grant system is of great importance because the grant is paid directly to the school and is paid uniformly per capita to the school. The school has a flexibility within it and the grant is paid equally to all schools so that there is no discrimination. If we withdraw that and subsidise needs and priorities, we destroy flexibility and freedom of choice. The independent system dies the day individual schools are stopped from competing, one against the other, and from being different. When we destroy the right to experimentation, the right to innovation and the right to choice, the independent system has gone.
The Labor Party’s arguments have always been that we should not pour money into systems to which the wealthy send their children. Strangely enough, as I have said, members of the Labor Party do not seem too sorry if the wealthy send their children to State high schools in their final years. Because that is secular, monopolistic and socialistic, that is all right by the Labor Party test. But they do object if it happens that some few children in the independent schools come from independent families. It is fair to say that the great majority of parents who choose to send their children to independent schools are of moderate to poor means, are provident and make enormous sacrifices so to do.
It is an ugly and wrong principle which says that the price of a service or commodity should not be common to all, irres pective of income, but should be geared by a means test. Are we to have a pound of butter or a suit on a hook in a shop dearer to a wealthy person than to a poorer person? How far do we extend this? This is the very corruption of things. Education is a service. It should be available to all. All should be free to choose.
The one place in which the Government intervenes to establish equality of opportunity is in the field of income tax. Let anyone deny that this Government has not been brave and courageous in this field, with half the community breathing down our necks and saying that the tax scale today is too high. The way to take from the rich and share with the poor is through the income tax scale. When I sit here day after day and hear members of the Labor Party arguing that it is wrong that in the field of taxation deductions the wealthier person receives more by way of taxation rebate than does a poorer person, whether in respect of education expenses or hospital and medical expenses, I simply say to myself: ‘How can anyone fail to understand that in the first place the person about whom they are talking is paying 5, 10 or 20 times the amount of tax that the other person with whom they are comparing him is paying, and that in fact the relatively small amount he receives by way of rebate is as nothing compared with that?’ I demonstrate the point by saying that the sum of $ 1,700m currently being spent on education is equal to about $316 for each of the 5.2 million taxpayers in Australia today. Obviously the taxpayers in the medium to higher groups are paying for the taxpayers in the lower group.
I have spoken al length, but I thought it important, because of the amendment, to state what I believe to be the philosophy of the Government, what I believe to be the philosophy underlying the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what I believe to be the principles underlying equality of opportunity. In so doing I have sought to show - I believe that I have shown - that the Labor Party has introduced not something innocent or simply a little new policy point but a proposal which, if implemented, would create in Australia a centralised and unified monopoly of education which would be controlled from Canberra - all of this is agreed by Mr Barnard and others - and which, whether quickly or slowly, would cause the independent system to atrophy and to die. I reject the amendment. I commend the Bills.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party welcomes the spirit of justice in the allocation of Commonwealth moneys for education which is embodied in these Bills. We commend the Minister for Education and Science, Mr Malcolm Fraser, on the manner in which he is administering his Department in this respect. In our view, he shows an admirable conception of the need to treat children in this community not as 2 separate groups according to the type of school they attend but rather as young Australians who are all entitled to fair play. We admire Mr Fraser for that reason. Whilst therefore we welcome the Bills, we shall attempt to improve them somewhat by 2 amendments that have been circulated. In respect of the first Bill - the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill - we intend to move the following amendment to the motion ‘That the Bill be now read a second time’:
At end of motion add - ‘, but the Senate is of opinion that the Commonwealth grants to independent school students should be at least 50 per cent of the average cost to the State of a student at a government school whether primary or secondary and this be regarded as a step to eventual equality.
In respect of the second Bill - the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill - we intend to move the following amendment to the motion ‘That the Bill be now read a second time’:
At end of motion add - ‘, but the Senate is of opinion that the Federal Government’s capital grants to States should be extended to nongovernment schools according to priorities based on genuine needs’.
In order to clear the decks let me indicate what we propose to do in regard to the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition. It has 3 clauses. The first clause refers to the establishment of an Australian schools commission. We shall oppose that. But we see merit in the second and third clauses. So, if it is possible for them to be put separately, we shall vote for those 2 clauses. I have advised the Opposition Whip. Senator OByrne, of our intentions in that regard.
It is only natural that as these Bills relate, to a degree, to both sections of our dual system of education a good deal of this debate is centring around the general and much debated question of aid to independent schools. This is a question which has had a chequered career over the years. I can recall a time prior to the advent of the Democratic Labor Party when little or no opportunity would have been given for this question to be debated in any Australian Parliament. Apparently in those days there was a lack of trust among political leaders in the fair mindedness of the Australian community. I can remember times when the question of assistance - I prefer to call it justice - to independent schools was brought up. I can recall repeated warnings that it was a matter to be put under the carpet, that it would give rise to sectarian brawling, that it was unwise to advocate it and, worst of all, in the eyes of political leaders, that it might lead to loss of votes. The advent of the Democratic Labor Party on the political scene changed that ou-look.
For the first time there was a Party that was prepared to go before the people and make aid to independent schools a political issue. Apparently it was soon felt in the ranks of the Government parties that there was a case for it. As a result we had the first break through when, in the period of Sir Robert Menzies and the Treasurership of Sir Arthur Fadden, who I know had a great deal to do with it, the first moves were made to give some assistance, small though it was, to independent schools in Commonwealth territories. Further assistance followed. The interesting thing is that the reaction of overwhelming sectarian bitterness that we were promised did not eventuate. There has been some opposition, particularly in the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, an opposition which Mr Whitlam has attempted to dampen down, but which is there just as strong as ever it was. 1 am prepared to say that in my State the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party is as completely and totally opposed to any form of justice for independent schools as ever it was. As examples I refer to its present president, Mr Crawford, and I mention also its former secretary, Mr Hartley, who is. a member of the Federal body of the Australian Labor Party. The main reaction has been from the Defence of Government Schools organisation which calls itself the DOGS organisation - I make no comment on the appropriateness or otherwise of that title. So far as the general body of the community is concerned, gall up polls have shown that the great bulk of the Australian people are fairminded enough to endorse the principle that independent schools should obtain justice. Even parliamentarians and economists who are not entirely in favour of it as a principle have recognised that economically it is necessary for the state because, as they have seen, unless justice and assistance are given to the independent schools to keep them in being, governments would be in the position of having to pay the full cost of students who attend the independent schools instead of, as at present, only a portion of the cost.
If governments were forced to find the thousands of teachers and the thousands of dollars that would be needed if the children in the independent schools were forced into the government schools there would be little hope of any advancement for the government schools in Australia for SO years to come. However, thanks to the pioneering of the Democratic Labor Party, thanks to the decision made by the Government parties to follow in the same strain and thanks to the final agreement of the Australian Labor Party - but only with considerable blood, sweat and tears - to recognise the electoral significance of this question, we reached a stage some time ago when it could be claimed and it was claimed that all parties were in favour of justice or aid for independent schools. The only difference was as to how much should be given and in what way it should –be given.
Mr Whitlam, in his anxiety to cross over to the other side, like John Bunyan, has endeavoured to give the impression that his Party is solidly for the principle of aid, that being the common term which has been used. However, I am afraid that those people who study this question will say to themselves that whilst Mr Whitlam in a Labor government might be the titular leader, the trend of events in the Australian’ Labor Party for the last 15 years has been such as to indicate that the real leadership in a Labor government would not rest with him but with the Federal Executive and the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party. Knowing the composition of those 2 bodies by virtue of my own considerable previous experience in those spheres, I have no hesitation in saying that the bodies that will give the orders - the Federal Conference and the Federal Executive of the ALP - are as firmly opposed to aid for independent schools as ever they were. They have merely dampened down their opposition temporarily for electoral reasons.
In order to some degree to reconcile the conflicting points of view in the Australian Labor Party between what might be called the ‘hard liners’, who still say that they are against independent schools, and the more opportunistically inclined, who say that they have to put up a show of being in favour of them, even if they do not mean it, the Australian Labor Party has evolved a gimmick. Its gimmick is that although it is in favour, of aid for schools, it thinks the aid should be handed over in accordance with the formula which it says is based on the needs of particular schools.
We have heard it said with great eloquence that there is a vast gap between the situation of some schools and others. It has been asserted that it is wrong, therefore, to give students in schools, whatever the type, the same per capita grant. Therefore the Australian Labor Party suggests that we should set up what it refers to as an Australian commission which will go through the independent schools with a fine-tooth comb, work out a system of priorities and make an assessment of wealth and, having done that, see that those who need it most receive most. The Australian Labor Party, while opposing means tests in a vast variety of other fields, insists that it favours a means test in the field of education. Some people may find that attractive on the surface. The difficulty for some time in assessing that proposal was to know exactly how it would work out, but we have been fortunate that in one State which has a Labor government it has been put into effect. I should like to quote the words of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, in August 1971 when he said:
There has been some criticism of the needs concept of the ALP educational policy of Commonwealth assistance for schools.
He went on to say:
South Australia has provided on the Slate level a model of how the needs policy would work on the Federal level and in March this year a committee in South Australia reported to the Minister of Education on the distribution of $250,000.
I interjected with the American expression: Big deal. He mentions $250,000 in additional aid for primary schools, but there would be well over 100 of those. If South Australia is the yardstick - if it is the example of how this commission will work - I hope that the Australian people never give the Australian Labor Party the opportunity to put this system into effect. I have no doubt that if the system, as practised in South Australia under the Dunstan Labor Government, were brought into being in the Commonwealth sphere by a Whitlam government it would destroy the whole principle of justice which has been evolved under the present Government. 1 have not looked at the matter from a biased point of view or from my own point of view. I communicated with leaders of the educational system in the independent schools in South Australia. T asked them whether it was true that this system was as admirable as Mr Whitlam suggested. I received replies from them which indicated that in their views it was a travesty of a system. It offered no justice to the independent schools and it had given them an amount of money which could be described only as humiliating while at the same time concentrating the immense volume of money available for education on government schools. I say advisedly that what Mr Dunstan did in South Australia was to put over a confidence trick. What he did was to set up a committee and said that it would look after the independent schools. Then he saw to it that the amount of money that it received to operate was such that independent schools were almost completely denied justice. Let me relate some of the criticisms that have been offered to me by the head of an independent secondary school. It is not one of the wealthy ones but what could be described as’ an average secondary school in South Australia. Firstly, he said that the committee found it was impossible to assess needs on any regular basis. His school was placed in the same class as St Peters College, although it is regarded as one of the elite schools. The fees of his school are many times lower than the fees of St Peters College. But because the committee had to jam the school into some kind of category, it was put in with St Peters College. It was determined that because St Peters College was regarded as a wealthy school, this other school would receive nothing in the same way as St Peters College received nothing.
Secondly, the sum of $250,000 was made available. In regard to present day costs in Australia, that is almost a laughably humiliating sum. It can be applied only to the parish schools and was available to be spread over some 100 or more schools. In effect, the results were negligible. The schools concerned were overwhelmed by a flood of paper and questionnaires. All kinds of questions were asked and all kinds of answers were demanded. The schools were informed that the questions had to be answered in a certain way because it was proposed to computerise them. Just imagine computerising education. The result was that the committee was unhappy, the schools were unhappy and nobody was satisfied.
One of the principles on which the committee was told to operate was this: It is well known that there are many schools which have old boys associations and associations of parents which work for the school in a spirit of helpfulness. Because their children attend that school the parents like to help. Some people in Australia resent that. There are people in my State who are campaigning against any proposal that parents pay a small composition fee to assist in paying for sporting and other facilities for the schools. They adopt the attitude that the State should pay for everything. But in Great Britain, the United States of America and other countries, parents regard it as a privilege to help the school that their children attend. Associations of parents and old boys go to considerable trouble to raise money for their schools to provide them with additional facilities such as swimming pools and libraries. Under the proposal of the Dunstan Committee - the Labor Party’s commission - it is proposed that if the parents of children at a particular school work hard and provide certain facilities that will be taken as an excuse to give the school nothing and to give the money to schools where the parents say: ‘We are not going to give a penny; let the State do that’.
In other words, it is a proposal to encourage parents to regard the State as being completely in charge of education and its financing and to have absolutely no interest in the school that their children attend. In other cases, schools have entered into debt in order to provide certain facilities. There are schools in South Australia which are considerably in debt because the parents and the people in charge of these schools took the risk of borrowing money to provide certain facilities for the children.
– There are many parents who place themselves in debt to send their children to a good school.
– That is so. What is the position under the Dunstan Labor Committee? Those schools which have gone into debt in order to provide the facilities will be told: ‘You have libraries and swimming pools. Therefore, our committees will give the money to the schools where the parents were not prepared to go into debt and were not prepared to take risks in order to improve the quality of education available to their children’. I have been informed that the amount which has been made available for education in secondary schools in South Australia this year is $110,000. That amount is for the whole State. As 1 said before, this could be regarded only, to use the graphic American phrase, as a big deal. I say without any hesitation that what Mr Dunstan has done is to put over a shrewd confidence trick. He has established a committee. He can say: ‘I have a committee to help the independent schools. What are they growling about?’ Then he gives them hardly any money to spend. He imposes a considerable amount of governmental supervision on them. In other words, he destroys the principle of fairness and justice which ought to be the basis of any arrangement in regard to these schools. As I said before, Mr Whitlam says that this committee is a model of what he will do if he becomes the Prime Minister. For the sake of the independent school system, if this is what he intends to do I hope he never becomes Prime Minister.
I want to refer to one or two other matters. There has been a great deal of talk about one independent school having better facilities than others. I taught at State schools. There are plenty of State schools which have, infinitely better facilities than others. I ask honourable senators to go to Victoria, the State I represent, and look at the libraries, swimming pools and rowing sheds available at the Melbourne Boys High School. They are all paid for by the State. Does the State say: ‘We will have, a needs commission and we will work out needs. The Melbourne Boys High School will not receive anything because we want to give the money to some school at Fitzroy.’ Not on your life. The Government intends to treat all students in government schools alike, whether they attend the high class ones such as University High School and Melbourne Boys School or whether they attend the less privileged ones. There will not be any commission. If the Government is sincere, why does it not propose that it should have this type of commission in the other forms of schools.
– The honourable senator said ‘government’. Did he mean this Government? Which government was he referring to?
– I was referring to a Labor government if it came into power. Having examined the proposal of the Australian Labor Party for a needs commission and having discussed it with a number of people who are closely associated with independent schools throughout Australia, I feel - I say this with conviction- that the Australian Labor Party is not honest in its attitude to aid for independent schools. I believe it is merely putting up a smokescreen for electoral purposes because of its desire to obtain votes in November. I believe that if the Australian Labor Party won an election on this basis action would be taken by the Federal body, which is the boss, to ensure that its own real views of intense antagonism to the independent schools would be put into effect. I have shown how, under the proposed commission, the independent schools could almost be destroyed while the Australian Labor Party was professing, on the face of it, that it really was trying to help them.
I think there was an indication of this on a committee connected with teacher training of which I was a member. The Australian Labor Party representatives - knowing them I am sure they would not have advocated anything that was not the policy of their Party - came came out strongly in a minority report and opposed any assistance for the training of teachers for independent schools. Anybody who has had any association with education knows that the training of teachers is vital. It affects the whole lifeblood of the independent schools system. If the policy of the Australian Labor Party is as was suggested in the minority report - its representatives on that committee not only opposed anything being given to the independent schools; they went further and advocated a constitutional challenge to the right of the Commonwealth to assist independent schools - I think one is justified in coming to the conclusion that its attitude on this matter is entirely opportunistic and is designed entirely for electoral purposes and that if it ever got power over the independent schools it would use that power to drain off their lifeblood and eventually eliminate them. 1 shall conclude by setting out 6 points of principle on which I oppose entirely this proposition for an independent schools commission which Mr Whitlam says is one of the big issues on which he will fight the November election. I welcome the proposal. I would like to fight the election against him on that basis. I hope the Australian Labor Party does not forget about this as it forgot about a lot of contentious items of policy recently at its Federal meeting in Adelaide. Not even a Press conference was held after that meeting, lt appears to me that those who were once faceless men have now become wordless men.
My criticisms of the proposed commission are these: Firstly, an education needs commission would increase government control over non-government schools and would increase interference in the administration and financial affairs of such schools. Secondly, it would expand bureaucracy without reason. Bureaucratic machinery exists already to redistribute the nation’s wealth which is collected in the Taxation Office. What already is done at the collection end, where taxation is scaled according to income, would have to be repeated at the other end, according to this proposed system, when distributing it for education. Thirdly, because of the unreliability of forecasting income from a needs commission, different decisions could be made from year to year and future planning by government schools would be impossible. Fourthly, a needs commission would force the private schools which are a little better off than others to become more and more financially exclusive, as their fees would continue to rise and only wealthier parents could afford to use them. Fifthly, a needs commission would promote class division, even warfare, among non-government school parents. Sixthly, moneys allocated by governments in a lump sum can much more readily be reduced in times of recession than can per capita payments, as each individual elector would watch for a reduction in the allowance for his or her child.
For those reasons my Party is intensely opposed to any proposal for a commission upon the lines suggested. We can see some merit in it in connection with capital works, as we have shown in the second amendment we have proposed. When you are dealing with buildings and so on it is possible to make some assessment along these lines but we are entirely opposed to attempting to do this when dealing with human beings, children. For those reasons we support the principle upon which the Government bases its per capita grants. We are grateful for the grants. All we would like the Government to do is to consider being a little more generous.
– This afternoon the Senate is considering 2 Bills - and I suppose 2 amendments to the motion for the second reading of those Bills. The main Bill is an amending Bill which relates to the States Grants (Independent Schools) Act of 1969. The principal purpose of this Bill is to implement ‘he Government’s undertaking to independent schools. I think honourable senators will be well aware that the Bill provides for an increase in the per capita payments made in respect of each pupil enrolled in independent schools. In the sphere of primary schools the payments are to rise from the present rate of $35 per annum to the proposed rate of $50 per annum. For secondary schools it is proposed to increase it from $50 per annum to $68 per annum.
An amendment has been moved by the spokesman for the Opposition. The amendment is in terms identical with those of amendments put forward and debated not only in another place but also as a matter of public interest. As has been indicated, the wording of the amendment comes from the Labor Party platform and policy on education. Basically the amendment revolves around the proposal to establish an Australian schools commission which will examine and determine the needs of students in government and nongovernment schools. Then the amendment sets out a great range of detail indicating how such a proposal might be implemented.
This Bill follows a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in, I think, early December 1971 when he announced proposed increases in the rate of Commonwealth assistance to independent schools. Also before us today is this second Bill which provides for a further grant totalling $20m to be paid to the States up to 30th June next year for financing capital expenditure on government primary and secondary schools. Honourable senators will recall that the Government decided to make this particular grant to the States for capital expenditure on government schools in recognition of the needs expressed by the States to the Commonwealth for additional expenditure in this area.
I think it is important to emphasise for the record in a discussion of this kind that the grants are additional to the other capital grants which the Gommonwealth is now making annually to the States in connection with works, housing and other undertakings of the States. The Prime Minister also made it clear when speaking in December that the Government expected the States to continue at least with their planned levels of capital expenditure in primary and secondary schools. These grants therefore will result in additions to the levels of expenditure on education.
I want to lay some emphasis on this particular point: The Commonwealth has expressed the view that the grants should be used for purposes other than science laboratories and libraries, 2 areas for which the Commonwealth already is providing. It has provided direct assistance for these purposes. It is important to note that the grants we are discussing today are not only for specific purposes, not only for extending and intensifying the area of education, but are part of the Commonwealth’s total and comprehensive education programme.
I suppose it is pertinent to mention that in recent years the Commonwealth has played an increasing and significant role in the field of education. Honourable senators will be well aware that the Constitution does not mention education as an area in which the Commonwealth has particular powers or responsibilities. Those powers and responsibilities reside specifically with the States. But within, for example, section 51 of the Constitution there is provision for, among other things, the Parliament to make laws in respect to benefits to students. Honourable senators also will be well aware that in section 96 of the Constitution there is provision for the making of grants to the States for use for any purpose, including education, at the discretion of the States. The Commonwealth has made increasing use of those powers, as the Constitution has allowed it to do, and has provided a growing measure of assistance to the States for the purposes of education.
It is also equally important to affirm again that the programme of education grants to the States over the period of years since the Commonwealth first became actively involved in this field has been marked by a consistent policy of consultation, conversation and communication with the State education authorities. So, all grants have been considered on the basis of the highest priority needs. I think it could be said that the Commonwealth’s objectives have been to direct its grants to the areas of greatest need where they will be put to the greatest use. Its grants also have been allocated to ensure that the Commonwealth’s aid was additional to that which was carried out by the States and not a replacement for it. It is particularly important to emphasise that the Commonwealth’s aid has not been meant to be a replacement for the normal support from the States. Another very strong objective of the Commonwealth in entering into the field of education in a very big way has been its desire to encourage the development of standards and to develop the total education quality and quantity throughout the country.
Expenditure does not always indicate the total picture of progress, development or even growth. But I think it is not without significance to observe that the projected expenditure on education by the Commonwealth this financial year is running to the measure of some $350m. I give weight to that statement by pointing out, as honourable senators will know, that that represents an increase of some 14 per cent on the expenditure in the previous year. Perhaps some indication of the growth in the involvement by the Commonwealth in the field of education can be gauged from the fact that the expenditure this year will represent a doubling of the Commonwealth’s contribution in the last 5 years. In other words the Commonwealth’s expenditure has been increased by some 100 per cent in those 5 years. That gives an indication of the emphasis and importance which the Commonwealth has placed on education. That emphasis and importance has found expression in practical support and, indeed, the widening of interest over the total range of the field of education, which is undoubtedly producing a higher quality of education and, more importantly, making better education available to a greater number of people.
When quoting figures of expenditure, when referring to the co-operation and consultation that exist between the Commonwealth and the States and when inferring that that is contributing to the total quality of Australian education it is also very important to point out that the States themselves are spending increasing and substantial amounts on education. I think that their total expenditure runs into something like $ 1,200m a year. The increased amounts that the Commonwealth is making available each year for education are in confirmation of its recognition of the importance of education and of the development of educational services at all points. As all honourable senators know, there has been a programme of assistance in providing scholarships, science blocks, libraries, colleges of advanced education, research programmes and a wide range of other procedures. Education has assumed a considerable proportion of Commonwealth Government interest and contribution. It is against that background that these Bills, which continue the policy of the Commonwealth’s involvement in the field of education, have been introduced. On the one hand we have a Bill which refers to a grant to the States for government schools and on the other hand we have a Bill which provides for a grant to independent schools and which is, of course, attracting the greatest amount of interest and debate. That Bill is proof of the fact that the Government’s total support includes aid for independent schools.
Other speakers have said here and elsewhere, but it needs to be said again, that the Administration is supporting what we will call the dual system of education, which allows parents the choice of sending their children to government or independent schools. When one has a choice one also has to take risks. But there .is a high quality of government schools in our community and a high standard of scholarship which is available to the students per medium of their teachers. While, of course, no system can be complete and excellent in every sphere in every place at any given time the new schools and the new developments that are taking place in education at a government school level provide plenty of opportunities for students. Indeed, the increasing attendance by students from all walks of life, from all backgrounds and from all social strata of society indicates that there is a widespread recognition of the value of government schools. But there is also in the independent school system the element of choice, elements of experimentation, elements of innovation and backgrounds of tradition, religious teaching and other connections which provide for some sections of the community the opportunity for a variation in expression and a variation of association as well as a greater range of subjects of learning and extra curricular activities.
As other speakers have said and as we all know from experience there are many parents in this country who are making sacrifices not only to keep the independent school system going but also to provide for their own sons and daughters to attend such a school. The State governments allocate about 25 per cent of their revenue funds to government schools. My information is that the government schools in this country educate some 78 per cent of the school pupils. One per cent of the revenue of the State governments is spent in various ways on the independent schools which educate the remaining 22 per cent of the school pupils, lt is impossible to assess accurately the costs per pupil of all the forms of state aid that non-government schools are eligible to receive, but it is unlikely that the state as an instrumentality bears even half the total cost of educating a child. The State school systems would have very great difficulty in absorbing the children who attend non-government schools. The pupil-teacher ratio could be worsened if there was any extensive closing of the independent schools. The standard of teacher education comes into its own relationship here. The pressures of increased enrolments and the higher retention rates would cause a growing strain on the government system if there were any withdrawal or retardation of the nongovernment or independent school system.
I would argue that the independent school system represents a parallel stream of education. It does not act in any way as a divisive influence. In this respect I draw the attention of honourable senators to the amendment which has been proposed by the Opposition. If it was carried it would undoubtedly make for contention and divisiveness within the community, particularly within the schools. After all, the system that exists at present has to respond and be responsible to the community at large and it has to measure up to the same kinds of State requirements and the same kinds of public examinations. Independent schools assist in the total development and evolution of the education programme by attracting to them people and students who, unable to exercise their enterprise, growth and diversity within the State system, are able to do it within the independent school system.
So, I look at the Bills and I look at the amendment and I am interested to note the suggestion of a needs or a means test. I question whether this would achieve in the end the kind of levelling which obviously the amendment seeks to do. However much a Labor government may wish to reduce students in all education systems to a common level, there is a desire on the part of a considerable section of the community that there should be within our education system this opportunity for the expression of an independent line of education and an independent administration of education.
The amendment in my view would completely destroy the value of the education system which we have in Australia, lt would have the tendency to centralise administration, lt would build an enormous bureaucracy. It would nationalise the system so that there would be a tendency to destroy initiative and opportunity and to take away from people that which they value most, that is. the freedom to arrange their own expression and to develop the characteristics of their children.
I have looked at some of the items within this amendment and the results which would flow from its acceptance. I wish to underline the value of the per capita grant which is referred to in the Bill and in the second reading speech of the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). This avoids the test, be it called a means test or some 0 her type of test. No effective criterion has been put forward as to how this means test would be worked out. Some people have suggested that a test could be worked out in terms of examination of fees. It does not take much thinking for anyone to realise that, if this were done, there would be pressure by certain people who are attached to the independent schools system for the maintaining of a level which would attract support, and therefore, we would get an independent schools system that would not be. working towards progress and advancement but endeavouring to adjust and even to lower its standards in order that it might describe itself according to any Act which may be passed as deserving of or attracting support. There is a danger in the suggestion that academic standards may be used as a means to establish needs. After all, who fixes the standard or who determines what the standard may be? The first thing that would happen would be that there would be a great number of people who would be denied opportunities to go forward and to receive the advantage of a beneficial education system. It is important to observe that the method of assistance which is proposed in the Bill receives the considered and publicly stated support of the National Council of Independent Schools, the Federal Catholic Schools Committee and the Australian Parents’ Council. As the Minister said in his speech, it is also the policy of most S’ate governments. So the measure which is before us is one which needs to have the complete support of the Senate. I am sure that it has the support of the Senate because I have not yet seen or discerned a great deal of enthusiasm for the Labor Party’s amendment. Indeed, I draw attention to the interest (hat is being displayed in the Bills and I draw attention to the lack of interest that is being displayed in the amendment which the Opposition has put forward.
I refer also to the fact that great play has been made of this amendment introduced into another place by the Opposition. I have said that the amendment is lifted out of Labor Party policy. Its acceptance would mean, according to the Opposition, that there would be this emphasis on needs and means tests. Emphasis has been given this afternoon to this matter by referring to the situation in South Australia. I think that I can do no better than to bring to the Senate an extract from the speech delivered by the Minister for Education and Science, Mr Malcolm Fraser, in summing up the debate in the other place yesterday. At page 1003 of Hansard for the House of Representatives, the Minister stated:
I think it needs to be noted with some importance that only one State and the Opposition in the Commonwealth have chosen to go outside the generally preferred method of payment to independent school bodies. South Australia and the Federal Opposition have their own particular axis in that area. It is worth noting also that less per capita grants are made available to independent schools in South Australia than to independent schools in any other State. The statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), whian is on record in. Hansard, that the neediest schools in South Australia get more per capita funds from the South Australian Government than do the schools of the other States, just is not correct. The neediest schools in South Australia attract a total of $34 per pupil in the primary sector and this is less than what is paid to children in schools in at least 3 other States. There are only 22 of these schools in the most needy category in South Australia. So this provides some measure of the paucity of the funds that are provided for the independent sector under the needs basis in South Australia.
I remind the Senate, as other speakers have done, that if this part of Labor Party policy eventually should become law an indication is given of how the system will work and how the Labor Party, in my view, is misleading the public in relation to the independent school system within the Australian education system.
I close on one other point. I refer to what I believe to be one of the most important areas in relation to independent schools and their relationship to the total education system in this country. This is the area of community interest. 1 pay tribute to those auxiliary bodies attached to government schools, including the parents and friends organisations, which work for government schools and for the facilities which they help to provide for those schools. But I also pay most high tribute to those organisations attached to independent schools. We must bear in mind that they are taxpayers also and that they therefore contribute to the Government school system. But, in addition to this, they undertake responsibility to maintain and perform yet another stream of education which not only turns out educated young people but also contributes materially to raising the standard of educational thinking throughout the Commonwealth.
Only a few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of opening a complex of buildings at an independent school in Adelaide. That complex cost $250,000. Among the buildings was a library which was supplied by the Commonwealth. The remainder of the. buildings, which included a number of facilities, had been provided by the parent body and auxiliary body over a period of a few years. It was the best evidence that I have seen in recent times of community interest, co-operation and personal sacrifice not only to the members of their own families but also to the education community at large. It is assistance in diversity; it is assistance in enterprise, in growth, in educational development and in research. These things will be encouraged by the Bill that the Senate is debating this afternoon. A greater number of opportunities to diversify are provided. We will not be tied to a central authority or to a particular standard according to the authority or the government of the day. If this amendment is passed, this freedom of choice will be destroyed, as will this freedom of expression. We will destroy all that is latent and good in young people who wish to develop to the full their minds and thought processes.
I have been a member of a Senate committee which has been carrying out a study of teacher education. As you know, Sir, it was my privilege to put down the report relating to the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education in the Senate earlier this sessional period. According to the notice paper I am still in continuation in the, debate. 1 hope that as opportunity presents itself in due course I will be able to say something more about the details of that report. But now I give my support to the Bill.
(3.55) - in reply - This debate is a cognate debate for 2 Bills, the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill and the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill. The situation is that an amendment has been moved to the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill by Senator Wheeldon so a vote will be taken separately on the 2 Bills at the second reading stage. On the other hand Senator McManus has foreshadowed amendments to the 2 Bills. I suggest that I explain the procedure to the Senate. First of ail we will dispose of the amendment moved by Senator Wheeldon. Then Senator McManus will have an opportunity formally to present his amendment to the first Bill - that is the States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill. We will dispose ot that amendment and I expect that that will take the Bill to the Committee stage. Then a vote will be taken on the second Bill to which Senator McManus has also foreshadowed an amendment. I indicate at this time that the Government will not be in a position to support those amendments. First of all the Government will resist - if I may make a distinction - with everything at its command the amendment proposed by the Australian Labor Party. On a different basis, the Government will not support the amendments proposed by Senator McManus. But if necessary I shall come to that matter by way of explanation.
The most important thing which has to be understood in relation to this Bill - I am speaking now about the amendment proposed by the Labor Party - is that there has been one speaker for the Opposition. In fairness I point out that Senator O’Byrne contemplated coming into the debate. But I feel I am under an obligation to say that apart from that no attempt has been made to speak by any honourable senator on the Opposition side. Indeed, most of them have not been here. It is true and it is significant that the arguments which have been put by Senator Carrick, Senator McManus and Senator Davidson have been strong and forceful. I believe that they completely destroyed the concept of the conditions which have been put in paragraph 1, 2 and 3 of the Labor Party’s amendment. They have completely demolished in a magnificent way the most significant points in this proposed amendment which is an amendment to defeat the Bill. That is the point honourable senators have to remember. The attitude of the official Labor Party in relation to assistance to independent schools is hammered on to the wall for all time. Let there be no doubt about that. This amendment states:
Leave out all words after “That* . . .
The rest of the amendment is a nice appendage or a nice dressing up. If the amendment to leave out all words after that’ is carried we do not go any further with the Bill because the Bill is defeated. The Labor Party is saying in its own documented words - not words as we interpret them - that it is opposed to giving assistance in the form of State grants to independent schools in the terms of the Bill. That is a basic, fundamental policy decision which the Labor Party has made. It has skirmished around it in the past. In the past they have used semantics. When the Bill was introduced in another place the Labor Party did not do that. But it has hammered itself to the wall. I gather that the Labor Party has made a decision now that it is opposed to independent school aid.
– That is in terms of the Bill.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONBy defeating the Bill.
– No. In the terms of the Bill.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Bill gives additional assistance. It seems to me that that is the issue with Which we are dealing. I do not think I need go very much further. As I say, the appendage in the amendment about the Australian Schools Commission and its implications have been magnificently pointed out by Senator Carrick, Senator McManus and Senator Davidson. That part of the amendment has a clear message of nationalisation of education in Australia. One of the extraordinary things is that we have an amendment which points out that the Labor Party is not going to support independent schools but then in the trunk of the amendment there is a message about what the Labor Party is going to put up in place thereof. I believe we should simply come to the vote. The Government will not accept the amendment. The Government is very proud of what it is doing in the Bill. It is doing what it believes is right and proper in terms of justice and assistance to independent schools. I do not think there is any necessity for me to go beyond what I have said. We should now let the amendment with which we are confronted be put to the vote.
– I ask leave to propose a rephrasing of the amendment in order to ascertain the sense of the Senate so that items may be put separately on the matter.
– I have a written amendment before me which is now the business of the Senate. I think I must be given notice of any further amendment.
– If I may do so, I ask for leave to reframe the amendment.
– Before I formally deal with the matter I must accord an option to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as to whether he is agreeable.
– The situation is that we have had a debate during which Government senators have addressed themselves to the amendment with great vigour.
– I ask the Minister to hear Senator Murphy’s comment and then I think the Minister’s comment will be different.
– Perhaps if I deal with what I intend to do?
– That rather suggests some arrangement between the Opposition parties, does it not? I wonder which side Senator Byrne is on.
– I think the Minister would like the alternative words.
– The President is not the chamber manager. I can only deal with matters which conform with the Standing Orders of the Senate. The Leader of the Government is in charge of Government business. I shall not take any action until I have obtained total clarity.
– Thank you, Mr President. I should like to finish what I was about to say, if I may. The situation is that I have assaulted the amendment in fairly categorical language. I would be a little distressed if Senator Murphy’s altered amendment were to destroy my argument which was so impressive.
– The Minister is embarrassed.
– I am really embarrassed about the matter but there is a certain degree of spirit in these situations.
– I do not mind. I can do this another way. I will not press the matter. I shall move what I want to move later.
– I would be grateful if you would concede that. I think I am bound to rule that the substantive amendment before the Senate must be dealt with before I can deal with anything else.
– I will be as co-operative as I can.
– I will move it in another way.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate made the suggestion that there seemed to be some arrangement going on. I think I should point out that everything has been clean and above board.In the first few sentences of my speech I said that we would not support clause 1 of the Labor Party’s amendment dealing with the commission but that if the Labor Party could find a way of moving clauses 2 and 3 separately we would support such an amendment. I presume that is what Senator Murphy has in mind.
– J will move clauses 2 and 3 afterwards in a way which will not offend.
– Order! The consensus among leaders - I assume that it will be confirmed subsequently by honourable senators - is that I should put the amendment as it stands at present.
– I indicate that I would be content to let the amendment proceed to its fate. In due course I could move an amendment which contained clauses 2 and 3 only.
– I suggest that a vote be taken on the amendment.
Thatthe words proposed to be left out (Senator Wheeldon’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 6
– Mr President–
– May I speak?
– Yes, if Senator Murphy yields to you.
– It is in relation to procedure.
– I was about to speak in relation to procedure.I think Senator McManus should move his amendment. Depending on its fateI could move an amendment which would be a simple one.
– I am quite agreeable to that procedure. That is the proper procedure. I did not want to do that unless everyone was happy. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, are you agreeable to that procedure?
– As the Minister in charge of the Bill and having all the power and glory of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, that was what I was about to propose.
- Senator McManus, your foreshadowed amendment is now under discussion.
At end of motion add - but the Senate is of opinion that the Commonwealth grants to independent school students should be at least SO per cent of the average cost to the State of a student at a government school whether primary or secondary and this be regarded as a step to eventual equality’.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (4.14) - The Government intends to oppose the amendment, but if there is a foreshadowed amendment and if it is suggested that Senator McManus may agree to the foreshadowed amendment, I think that the foreshadowed amendment should be canvassed.
– This is the only amendment. The foreshadowed amendment is in relation to the other Bill.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. Unlike the amendment we have dealt with already, this amendment, would not lose the Bill. I make that distinction quite clearly. It is not suggested by Senator McManus that his Party’s amendment would lose the Bill.
– That is why we moved it in this way.
– It is in the form of an expression of opinion which would not inhibit the Bill in any way. In fairness it should be said that the Democratic Labor Party has given support to the resistance of the amendment which would have lost the Bill. In essence, it would be a policy opinion of the Government that the grant should be fixed at ‘at least 50 per cent of the average cost to the State of a student at a government school’. It is not in the nature of things for governments to give support to an opinion in advance of a policy decision. I think that would be completely understood. Let me repeat what the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said in a debate in another place in December 1971:
My Government will continue to co-operate with the States in measures both direct and indirect to expand and improve education services in government schools. Our policy for the independent schools is that, relying on their own efforts and with assistance from governments, they should be able to continue to provide places at a reasonable standard for that proportion of the school population which in the past has sought education in non-government schools. The action we are now talcing is a further indication of our determination to assist those directly concerned to improve the standards in all types of schools.
That is a broad statement which is reflected in the very legislation that we have before us this afternoon. I do not believe that this amendment, which is really an addendum, is one that we as a government could accept at this point of time. In essence, to accept it would be to make a commitment before the Government had even looked at the matter, that the grants would be increased to the 50 per cent level. I think that in the nature of things that is unreal. In a sense, it. is inappropriate to the Bill in respect of which it is moved. Therefore, the Government cannot support it.
– Opposition will oppose this amendment. The wording should be emphasised. It says in part: . . the Senate is of the opinion that the Commonwealth grants to independent school students should be at least50 per cent of the average cost to the State of a student at a government school whether primary or secondary and this be regarded as a step to eventual equality.
I wish to refer to the position that exists in Tasmania at the present time. Over the last few years we have seen an ever increasing amount of public money being diverted to private schools independent of public control. Most of this money has been provided by the Commonwealth Treasury. At the same time we have heard this continual plea for the ‘rights and freedoms of parental choice’ and charges of educational injustice.
When we examine the actual figures for Tasmania we find that in August 1970 there were 77.447 pupils in government schools, representing 84.4 per cent of the total, and 14,399 pupils in non-government schools, representing 15.6 per cent ofthe total. Of the library grant, $216,200. or 74.3 per cent of the total, went to government schools and $74,700, or 25.7 per cent, went to non-government schools. Of the science grant, $235,500. or 57.6 per cent, went to governmet schools and $173,600, or 42.4 per cent, went to nongovernment schools. Of the secondary scholarships, 202, at $250 each, or 51.4 per cent of the total amount, went to government schools and 119, at $400 each, or 48.6 per cent of the total amount, went to non-government schools. Of the per capita grant, none went to government schools and $560,330 went to non-government schools. So, 100 per cent of the per capita grant went to non-government schools.
– What about the tax reimbursement that went to the State Government for State schools?
– Plus the tax reimbursement that went to the nongovernment schools, or to the parents of pupils at non-government schools.
– What is your authority for those figures?
– These are figures that have been taken out of official records.
– But what is the document from which you are reading?
– The document from which I am reading is called ‘The DLP and Education in Australia’.
– Who put it out?
– It was put out by the Movement for the Defence of Government Schools, or the DOGS.
– The DOGS. Thank you.
– That is right. What is wrong with quoting the DOGS? They are involved-
– It is a matter of opinion.
– It is an opinion that I am expressing, and I have every right to express it.
– Mr Bethune will not–
– Order! I would be grateful if honourable senators would acknowledge that the forms and customs of the Senate provide that they should address themselves to the Presiding Officer.
– I offer my apologies, Mr President. Mr Bethune’s name was mentioned. If I recall correctly, Mr Maisey, a Country Party member from Western Australia, stated in his speech on the Budget last year that the odds were 100 to 1 on that Mr Bethune’s Government in Tasmania would fall mainly because of his attitude towards the government and nongovernment schools there. The increased grants for education announced by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) comprised $1.4m as a capital grant to the State system and additional per capita grants to non-State schools amounting to $220,000 per annum. So we see that the 50 per cent mentioned in the amendment is more than matched already. I think members of the
Democratic Labor Party have been complaining a little too much and have exceeded their aims.
If we analyse this matter a little more we see that there is a more or less continual sop to the DLP from which pressure is being exerted on the Government all the time and which is virtually keeping the Government in power with its preferences. By asking for 50 per cent, members of the DLP have shown quite clearly that they are not equipped with the relevant information, which shows that in the State of Tasmania the non-government schools are already receiving much more than the 50 per cent. The position is becoming even worse. By June 1973 the grant that has been made to Tasmania for capital works will have petered out; whereas the amount of $220,000 per annum that goes to the non-government schools will continue. By 1974 the amount will be $440,000 and by 1980 the total additional grants will have reached $1,760,000 - and that is for 15.6 per cent of the child population of Tasmania. So the children in the nongovernment schools are not progressing too badly. The $560,000 which already is being provided annually as a per capita grant to schools in the non-state sector before any amount is made available in pursuance of the announcement of 10th September is additional to the other amounts I have mentioned.
The result of all this is that the injustice is on the government school students and on the parents who send their children to government schools. The charges which are required to be met by children attending State schools at the beginning of every term are equal in some respects to the amounts paid each quarter for children attending non-government schools. Often a child attending a government school will have to find $35 to $40 for books and the like. The situation has developed where the State school children are being treated as second class citizens. This remark would apply to 84 per cent of these children in Tasmania. I suggest that the. Democratic Labor Party has just about reached the end of its tether so far as sympathy is concerned. It is asking for 50 per cent of the funds when already independent schools in Tasmania are receiving that proportion of the funds available.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator McManus’ amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 37
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move a further amendment which incorporates part of the amendment which was proposed by Senator Wheel don and defeated. To the motion ‘That the Bill be now read a second time’ I move:
I put the motion in that way as it has been indicated that although there are 3 parts of our policy which were advanced by Senator Wheeldon, a majority of the Senate would not be prepared to accept those 3 parts but would be prepared to express an opinion in relation to the second and third parts. It is in order to allow that expression to be made that I am moving in this way. I have no doubt it will be understood that we are not thereby abandoning the Opposition’s view in relation to the schools commission and the other matters. But in order to allow this opinion to be expressed I have formally moved this amendment. As I have said, the second and third paragraphs are the same as those contained in Senator Wheeldon’s amendment which was earlier defeated.
– I rise to order. I would have to resist this motion. In fact, I would suggest to you, Mr President, that the amendment in truth is out of order to the extent that both parts refer to matters that are not part of the Bill. I ask you, Sir, to give your judgment on that because the Bill has nothing to do with scholarships. The States Grants (Independent Schools) Bill deals with special per capita payments. It is true that the amendment is only an expression of opinion, but if passed it would increase the charge oh the revenue of the Commonwealth. At the present time the Commonwealth is providing annually approximately $8m for scholarships. Labor’s proposal would increase to about $50m. Scholarships have nothing to do with the Bill. To place an opinion - I acknowledge that it is only an opinion - which has nothing to do with scholarships at the end of the motion for the second reading is completely meaningless. I would suggest to the honourable senator that he could move his motion in the form of a notice of motion next time the Senate meets if he wants to do something about scholarships. He can bring in a private members Bill. We would deal with it very expeditiously in the way we normally deal with them.
– It was part of the previous amendment.
– The honourable senator was endeavouring to defeat the Bill with his earlier amendment. I suggest that the amendment is out of order. I ask you, Mr President, to rule on it. The Government could not support an opinion being expressed in the terms that are advanced.
– I suppose that by a process of reasoning that would not be altogether too tortuous this amendment could be made quite relevant to the concept of this type of Bill. The purport of a Bill such as this is to facilitate by the grant of money to schools the availability of education to the widest possible section of the Australian people. If this is so, an alternative way of doing this is by the provision of scholarships. That is the intent of this Bill and it is the intent of the amendment. Therefore, there is a common intent. Admittedly, it does not go precisely to the form of assistance and encouragement given by this Bill. But it does definitely deal with the total encouragement to all education and its availability to children.
– That is so in the technical and secondary scholarships referred to, but there is no exclusive reference to independent schools.
– That does not matter. That is not the point. The point is the availability of education generally and independent schools being part of the totality of the education system and the availability of education as a national and universal concept. I think it would be a refinement of opposition to rule this amendment out of order. If one applied the most strict technical test it may be out of order. But applying the intent of the amendment to the concept of the principal Act and the concept of the Bill, I feel it can quite simply be brought within the ambit and found to be in order in terms of the Bill.
– If one accepts Senator Byrne’s argument, as well as the arguments already raised by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson one finds that standing order 133 becomes a matter for consideration. If what is to be done is to regard the motion moved by Senator Murphy as being one which is directly relevant to the Bill which we have before us in the way explained by Senator Byrne, it becomes a matter similar in substance to that amendment which has already been voted upon. Standing order 133 states:
No Question or Amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any Question or Amendment which, during the same Session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the Order, Resolution, or Vote on such Question Or Amendment has been rescinded.
I suggest, Mr President, that the speakers who have supported the motion are on the horns of a dilemma. Either Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s point is correct or my point is correct. Whichever is correct, in my submission the Opposition cannot proceed.
– I have listened to what both Senator Byrne and Senator Rae have had to say. The matter raised an arcane point in Senate procedure which is a hangover from earlier days. Perhaps the Senate is embarking upon unexplored areas at the present moment. I would be grateful to hear other honourable senators express an opinion on this matter.
– May I speak to the point of order?
– The point which Senator Rae has raised is that no question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which during the same session has been resolved in the affirmative or negative unless the other has been rescinded. It seems to me that there is quite a simple answer to that argument. This amendment is not the same in substance as the one which Senator Wheeldon put forward. Quite clearly, it is not the same in substance because the proposition which Senator Wheeldon put forward differed in 2 ways. Firstly, it sought to withdraw the bill and redraft it, and this amendment does not. Secondly, it included the matter dealing with the schools commission. It is so different in substance that while the second opposition Party in this place was prepared to vote against Senator Wheeldon’s amendment, it is prepared to vote for this one. That shows clearly how different it is in substance.
– The Party has not said it will vote for it.
– Let us say this: A senator could reasonably take the view that this is altogether different. He could say that in his opinion if he voted for what Senator Wheeldon was putting forward the Bill would be taken away and redrafted. If he voted for this amendment, that would not happen. He would be allowing the Bill to go through. He could say: ‘If I voted for Senator Wheeldon’s amendment I would be expressing agreement with the proposition about the schools commission.
If I vote for this amendment I am not’. That shows that there is an enormous difference in substance. It is quite clear that on the matters of substance there is a considerable difference of opinion between what was expressed by Senator McManus and what was expressed by Senator Wheeldon. But it happens that in certain respects there is an overlapping and a concurrence of ideas on a fraction of the matter. It cannot be said that therefore this is the same in substance. Obviously it is different. With respect to you, Mr President, I suggest that the point raised under standing order 133 is not well-founded.
As to the other point raised, I submit that the motion moved as an amendment of the original motion aims at the expression of an opinion of the Senate. It is proper that the Senate should be able to express an opinion going beyond the subject of the Bill. Why should not the Senate say that this Bil] is fair enough as a first step but all sorts of other things ought to be done. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) suggested that in some way expenditure of finance is involved in this motion. That is not the case. The motion would not be operative in causing expenditure. The motton merely calls for an expression of opinion by the Senate as to what should be done.
– What about if it were implemented?
– This is not a motion calling for the expenditure of money. The motion calls merely for an expression of opinion. I submit that the motion does not come within the constitutional prohibition. It merely is an expression of opinion and it is consonant with the proper functions of the Senate that the motion should be put. If there is any doubt - I submit there is not - I suggest it would be wiser for a legislative body not to confine itself in any way when a mere expression of opinion is sought. It would be more in accordance with the spirit, tradition and the way in which the Senate operates to permit the motion to be held to be in order. I submit there is no doubt that the motion is in order.
– Mr President, 2 points have been raised and I want to raise a further point. The first is that it is suggested that the Opposition has raised a question of opinion. I suggest that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) was drawing a long bow when he said that passage of the motion would mean increasing the charge. In the last year or two, Mr President, the Senate has established the practice of expressing opinions on all sorts of things. If those opinions were taken literally they would result in increased charges for all sorts of people. I do not want to argue that point any further because I think the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) covered it. Under standing order 133, Senator Rae argued as to whether this motion dealt with the substance of the original motion. Firstly, T do not think it does. Secondly, if it did and you held accordingly, Mr President, we would finally be led into concentric circles whereby the will of the Senate would be hamstrung.
I turn now to a point which has not been raised. 1 respectfully ask you, Mr President, to direct your attention to the title of the Bill which states that the measure relates to the grant of financial assistance to the States in relation to independent schools. The precedents in this place show that the title of a Bill can be either very restrictive or the opposite. I suggest to you that the title of this Bill is quite the opposite. The Bill relates to the granting of financial assistance. I do not need to read to you the first and second clauses in this motion, which were the second and third clauses of the original motion moved by Senator Wheeldon, but we are saying that in our opinion the words contained in them relate to the granting of financial assistance to schools. If you direct yourself to the very broad title, of the Bill I suggest that the point of order must be rejected.
– Mr President, I would like to say firstly that the principle should be that Parliament should address itself to the items on its agenda with such a degree of relevance that every member of the chamber can encompass the matters that are relevant and not be confronted with irrelevant debate. Senator Willesee quite appropriately drew attention to the title of the Bill. It is a Bill to grant money to the States for certain purposes. I suggest that in the mind of anybody who knows the scope of legislation in this country the subject matter of this Bill is entirely different from a review of technical and secondary scholarships provided by the Commonwealth. Those scholarships involve direct expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth and do not affect the States in any way; they have nothing to do with revenue grants to the States. Secondary scholarships and technical scholarships are provided to students irrespective of whether they go to state schools or independent schools. Thus is denned a subject matter entirely different from the grants to the States for independent schools which are dealt with in this Bill.
I submit that those 2 considerations are irrefutable. For anybody to suggest that there is any relevance between grants to States for independent schools and an expression of an opinion about the amount that the Commonwealth should provide directly for scholarships betokens to me a complete misunderstanding of the whole educational structure that this Parliament has accepted. I suggest that it is the long title of the Bill together with the subject matter of the Bill which defines the subject matter to which any amendment must be relevant. How stupid we could become if honourable senators were permitted to move all sorts of fantastic motions calling for expressions of opinion just because a Bill was before the Senate. I suggest that as in most responsible meetings honourable senators come here to discuss the business on the agenda. Honourable senators cannot be expected adequately to discuss Commonwealth scholarships when we are dealing with grants to the States for independent schools.
The point raised by Senator Rae is based upon a piece of formal logic - that is whether or not the whole includes the part. On this occasion Senator Wheeldon and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) fell into the not often encountered trap of putting the whole of their motion and now they wish to put part of it. If they had wished to put the motion in parts and so avoid the negative vote that has been registered already in connection with clauses 2 and 3 of the original motion, they could have done so as a matter of procedure.
– Have you not overlooked the fact that the opening parts of the original motion were different? That was the reason.
– No, I have not overlooked it. I listened in silence to Senator Murphy. I am familiar with the old technique of trying to interrupt the theme of an argument by interjection on the assumption that any understanding of a particular matter is the exclusive prerogative of the interjector. I am putting a point based on formal logic. A 3-pronged motion has already been put to the Senate and been negatived. It was competent for the Opposition to save the 2nd and 3rd points mentioned in the original motion and to have an individual vote on them. That method was not adopted.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the operative words of the original motion were that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted in order to provide for 2 matters. Now the Opposition seeks to gain an expression of opinion. The question is whether the matters contained in this motion are the same in substance as in the original motion. That is the language that has been used. It is precisely so that we will not have to deal with these distinctions between operative amendments and advisory amendments that the words ‘in substance’ are used in the Standing Order. I would suggest that the factor upon which the Senate’s decision should depend is the relevance of direct expenditure by the Commonwealth on its own scholarships to a Bill the subject matter of which is grants to independent schools in the States.
– I wish to deal first of all with Senator Rae’s point of order, which was based on standing order 133. I have had a good look at that standing order and I have consulted the learned Clerks at the Table about it. I consider that standing order 133 is not relevant to this matter for several reasons. For example, I have noted that the Senate has not voted on the subject matter of the amendment; it has voted only on whether to leave out certain words. So I do not uphold the point of order which was raised by Senator Rae on the basis of standing order 133. I have listened to the arguments of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, Senator
Wright, Senator Murphy and Senator Willesee. I rest my presidential opinion on the basis that over the last 2 years or so the Senate has adopted the practice of expressing an opinion and I regard the Senate as being entitled to express an opinion irrespective of whether the ambit of the relevant Bill comes within the financial powers of the Senate. I must uphold the right of the Senate to consider amendments of this nature. Senator Murphy could, of course, seek leave to move his amendment and allow the Senate to settle the matter but, in the circumstances, I consider that that would be wasting time. As I have said, I am willing to accept the amendment which is now before the Senate.
– Then I suggest that the amendment ought to be put to a vote and disposed of in that way.
– I propose to do that, but first I wish to provide an opportunity for honourable senators to express their opinions.
– I am not in any way being disrespectful Sir. I abide by the ruling you have given.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22 March (vide page 807), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I move:
At the end of the motion add - but the Senate is of opinion that the Federal Government’s capital grants for education to the States should be extended to non-Government schools.’
I should indicate to the Senate that this amendment is shorter than the amendment that I said in an earlier debate I proposed to move. This is the only amendment that I move.
(5.7) - Mr President, I am having a really difficult day. I had prepared a speech on the amendment that I believed would be moved. I discover now that the amendment that has been moved is different from that proposed.
– We are saving you a lot of trouble.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe point that I make is that just as I contended that the amendment proposed to the earlier Bill was invalid I believe that this amendment should be ruled out of order. The States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill relates to government primary and secondary schools. The amendment moved proposes that these capital grants should be extended to non-government schools. It is in complete conflict with the Bill. Again, a difference of opinion arises. You may rule that it is in order without seeking much advice as to the opinion of the Senate, but I submit Mr President that the amendment is out of order. It would be wonderful to go home this week and to say that I had had one victory, however occasional it may be, in relation to the Standing Orders. I suggest this is an inappropriate amendment to move to the Bill. The Government cannot support it, no matter how you rule, Mr President. We cannot be seen to be supporting it in the form in which it is presented.
– I uphold the point of view expressed in my earlier ruling. This amendment is in order. Do any honourable senators desire to address themselves to the Bill? If not, the question will be put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy, appointing Senator Primmer to the Senate Standing Committee on Primary Industry, Secondary Industry and Trade in place of Senator Poyser.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
(5.10) - Earlier today I moved that, unless otherwise ordered, the Senate would adjourn till Tuesday, 11th April 1972 at 3 p.m. I see no reason to alter that motion. I do not propose to alter it. I would like the Senate to decide whether we should continue sitting. I am proposing to move a motion which would bring on General Business for discussion. We would discuss General Business Order of the Day No. 1. That would take us to 5.45 p.m. If the Senate wishes, we could continue the debate tonight. I am in the hands and at the will of the Senate. I would be perfectly happy to move now that the Senate adjourn.
– Is the next speaker on the General Business matter ready to proceed?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI think the Senate should make up its mind. May I explain? If we are not to sit tonight, we should rise now. If we in fact do not sit tonight some people can get away. But if they stay until 5.45 p.m., they will not get away at all.
-I suggest that the Leader of the House move a motion.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I advised the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) in his capacity asMinister representing the Postmaster-General that I would be speaking on the adjournment of the House this evening in connection with an answer that was given to me by him on behalf of the Postmaster-General. When the Parliament assembled in February, I placed a question on the notice paper asking:
Why did the Australian Broadcasting Control Board call for the tapes of the ‘Brian White Show’ in the first 2 weeks of this year?
Brian White is a very well known radio commentator on radio station 2GB in New South Wales. In fairness to the station and to the show, I should state that it is an excellent public affairs programme which informs and educates as well as entertains. If all commercial broadcasting stations adopted the type of programming arranged in the Brian White programme, the Australian community would be very well served by the commercial broadcasting system.
My complaint concerns the perfunctory nature of the reply which was given to me by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) which I assume came through him from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. This morning, in reply to my question, the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral said:
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board called for a copy of the record of the Brian White programme broadcast on station 2GB for the period of 2 weeks in early February for the Board’s purposes in accordance with its functions under the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 71.
Frankly I do not regard that as an answer. Indeed, I regard it as an insult not only to me but also to the Senate as part of this Parliament. More importantly, it is an insult to the Australian people who are concerned at the manner in which the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is administering its responsibilities under the Broadcasting and Television Act. 1 do not know why the Broadcasting Control Board will not come to this Parliament with clean hands and tell us why it is interfering with programmes of this nature. I believe that coercion was adopted by the Government and by the Control Board to try to stop Brian White making some of the utterances which he has been making. I suggest that the reason why the Control Board called for the tapes of the Brian White show was that the PostmasterGeneral had been carpeted by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) over his handling of the postal dispute which was then in train in relation to the decision by the Postal Telecommunication Technicians Association not to connect business telephones.
The fact is that Mr White went away on holidays, I think some time in December. He resumed duty some time in February. At about that time an article appeared in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’complaining that the Government was doing nothing to settle the postal dispute and saying, thank goodness, there is Mr Hawke who is at least doing something to handle it. Mr White, immediately upon his return from holidays, went on record as saying that it was about time that the Postmaster-General showed some energy towards settling the dispute. The information given to me is that the Prime Minister sought the attendance of the Postmaster-General-
– Who gave the honourable senator the information?
– It is common rumour among journalists.
– We denigrate people by rumour in this place, do we?
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDLet the rumour be denied. I am not denigrating anyone. I am saying that it was a political fact. I assume that the Prime Minister would call in the PostmasterGeneral at any’ time he wished. But then suddenly the tapes of these programmes are called for. I make the allegation now. I ask the Broadcasting Control Board and the Postmaster-General to deny it. The Broadcasting Control Board and the PostmasterGeneral were given the opportunity to state the reason on 22nd February when I put the question on the notice paper. It took them until 23rd March to give me an answer. The answer was merely that the Control Board called for the tapes for the Board’s purposes in accordance with its functions under the Broadcasting and Television Act. I regard this as a very serious matter. These broadcasting stations are licensed under the Broadcasting and Television Act to provide adequate and comprehensive programmes serving the best interests of the Australian public. When tapes of this nature are called for by the Control Board and when questions are asked in this Parliament I suggest that the Control Board has a responsibility to state the reasons to the Parliament.
– I know the answer which was provided for me by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) to the question asked by Senator Douglas McClelland. I appreciate that the answer was short and that it indicated that the reason why the tapes were called for by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was for the Board’s purposes under the Broadcasting and Television Act. Of course those purposes are stated in the Act. The Broadcasting Control Board has a general overall obligation with regard to the administration of the broadcasting system of this country. For the Board to be able to discharge that function it is necessary that it should know what is being done and what programmes are being carried out. How can it do that unless it has this power which it may exercise from time to time to call for the tapes in the case of broadcasting and to ensure that it has the information which it requires? Senator Douglas McClelland makes a preposterous suggestion that the Broadcasting Control
Board is in some way acting under Government direction if it ever asks a station or a licensee to provide information as to what is being said over one of the broadcasting stations. Yet that is the position which Senator Douglas McClelland is using as the basis for his objection and for his quite unfounded charges against the Prime Minister, the Postmaster-General and the Government.
I think we have reached a stage where the. sort of statements which are being made represent a dishonest, unscrupulous political tactic. What has Senator Douglas McClelland said today? He has said that calling for the tapes amounted to a coercion by the Broadcasting Control Board and by the Government. Where is the evidence of that? It is simply an allegation which is made. Nothing is given to support it and there has been a call for a denial of the allegation. We find that Senator Douglas McClelland, by way of supposed support for what he is saying, says that the reason why these particular tapes were called for was that the Prime Minister had carpeted the Postmaster-General. Where is the evidence of that? Who knows what the Prime Minister says to one of his Ministers? I know from my experience that the Prime Minister is not the type of person who carpets Ministers. This is emotive political double talk by people who do not know and who, once again, seek cheap political headlines by making an allegation without any knowledge whatsoever in the hope that a little bit of the mud which is thrown will stick.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) interjected during the course of what was being said by Senator Douglas McClelland and asked where was the basis for the allegation. What did Senator Douglas McClelland say after he had indicated that he had information on this matter? He said that it was a rumour. He then went on to suggest that it was a political fact as if a political fact is different from other facts which one regards as either provable or not provable. That is the type of thing which is being aired from time to time as a basis upon which a person has to make a denial. Without consulting the PostmasterGeneral I am not in a position to say what he has been told by the Prime Minister or what he said to the Prime Minister or to other Ministers. At this time I’ am not in a position to know the reasons of the Broadcasting Control Board, or whether the Postmaster-General played any part in this matter. I would not believe that the PostmasterGeneral had any part in what the Broadcasting Control Board did. I believe that after Senator Douglas McClelland reflects upon this he will also believe that the Postmaster-General had no part in the matter.
But when an allegation is made of the character made by Senator Douglas McClelland it goes throughout the land if the Press seeks to publicise it. The allegation is made and no one can’ deny it until one reaches the person involved to find out what has been said. By that time people have lost interest. We have heard the allegations which were made by Senator Keeffe in this chamber earlier this year about matters which Senator Bonner raised in the chamber last night. When Senator Keeffe made his allegations they were given the widest publicity. What sort of publicity is given in the Press of .this land this morning to what Senator Bonner said last night? There was scarcely a mention because the issue has died down. The initial allegation has had its fling and the fact of a denial is not regarded as relatively newsworthy. This is the type of tactic which is being engaged in and these things should be pointed out. That is what T am doing. There is absolutely no basis to the sort of allegations being made by Senator Douglas McClelland today. He just comes along with a generalised statement. He has no facts and no evidence to back it up. He then asks why the allegation is not denied. In these circumstances, I will pass on to the Postmaster-General what the honourable senator has said. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will disdain to give Senator Douglas McClelland any further information unless there is something to back up what he has said.
– I do not think that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) should get away with what he has just said. He has promised to pass on to the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) what has been said. But firstly he does not know what has been said so how can he pass it on? Originally, the complaint was that there was no reply to a question asked by an honourable senator who was seeking genuine information. The Postmaster-General was asked why the Australian Broadcasting Control Board called for the tapes of the Brian White show. After all this discussion and all the utterance from the AttorneyGeneral we still do not have a reply to the information sought. In the questioner’s mind there could be a sinister motive behind the Board’s seeking the tapes. The answer that the honourable senator got was that the tapes were called for under the relevant section of the Broadcasting and Television Act. We do not know why the Board wanted the tapes. The honourable senator deserves information. Senator Douglas McClelland has sought information. The matter will not rest until he gets the information that he respectfully asked for but which was not supplied by the Attorney-General.
-I ask for leave to give notice of a motion.
– Is there any objection? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I give notice now so that honourable senators might give consideration to the matter between now and when the Senate sits again. I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That on Thursday, unless otherwise ordered:
That this Senate:
– It was not my intention to bring this matter before the Senate today because honourable senators wanted to finish early. 1 intended to raise it when the Senate resumed. Because of a reply given by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland in which the Attorney-General accused Senator Douglas McClelland of seeking cheap political headlines, I feel that I must now raise the matter which I had intended to raise when the Senate resumed. I want to make reference to the cheap political headlines that Senator Young and Senator Jessop have been endeavouring to capture in the Senate for some time now, particularly this week. They have used question time as a platform for the Attorney-General to launch a daily attack on the Australian Labor Party and on the conduct of its domestic affairs.
– Order! Senator McLaren, are you referring to questions asked this morning?
– I am referring to things that have taken place over a period of weeks.
– Are you referring to matters which took place today?
– No. I am referring to the fact that those 2 senators have been very vocal in this respect, particularly during the first 2 sitting days this week. The reason why they have asked questions is to endeavour to draw attention away from what has taken place in the LiberalCountry League in South Australia this week. A deep split has taken place.
– That is a cheap political gibe.
– What happened in South Australia?
– I will tell the honourable senator what happened in South Australia. The cheap political gibe would not have been raised if the AttorneyGeneral had not seen fit to make accusations against Senator Douglas McClelland who asked a genuine question and who did not get an answer. I shall continue my remarks. I was saying that Senators Young and Jessop have been endeavouring to cover up what has taken place in the LCIin South Australia this week. The LCL in South Australia is split deeply down the middle, lt is split into 2 factions - one faction supporting Mr Steele Hall the exPremier and former Leader of the Opposition and the other faction supporting Mr DeGaris. We have not been told which faction either of the 2 senators supports. We know that Senator Young has preselection problems which have been complicated further by the possibility of Mr Hall seeking a berth on the Senate ticket for the next election. Mr Hall was interviewed on radio last week after the debacle which took place. The Press statement that he released said that there was a festering sore between members of the Assembly and the Legislative Council and thai he had had to look over his shoulder for the past 3 years to guard his own back. Senator Young finds himself in a somewhat similar position and seeks to use the Australian Labor Party as a whipping horse to bolster his chance of pre-selection. He uses the case of Barry Johnston as his launching pad.
– I wish to raise a point of order. I draw your attention, Mr President, to the standing order which deals with the reading of speeches.
– What is its number?
– 1 will refer to the number. Senator McLaren has been reading his speech for quite some time.
– It was very obvious that he was reading it. I refer to standing order 406.
– Standing order 406 states:
No Senator shall read his speech.
Senator Rae, do you wish to address yourself to the standing order?
– No. I simply draw your attention to it and to what was happening.
- Senator McLaren, I have already addressed myself to you earlier this session because of what I assumed to be a habit that you have of reading speeches. I want to address myself further to you. I have always believed that the Chair should lean kindly towards senators who have taken their place here for the first time. Making speeches in a parliamentary chamber is a task that certainly creates tension on senators and, I assume* on members in another place. I have been through the experience. Therefore I have not placed any restrictions on inexperienced senators reading - to use a phrase you used recently and which is quite well known in the Senate - from copious notes. It is obvious from the fire which you are now bringing into the debate - I think it is a good thing in a senator - that you are really in touch with the atmosphere of the Senate. 1 think you are perfectly capable now of presenting your speech to the Senate without reading it.
– That should apply to all senators.
– It applies to all senators.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr President. I would like to pass the comment that I have not been the only senator to read his speech. I have, noticed many members on the Government side reading their speeches.
– Order? Let me attend to the matter. The relevant Standing Order has been mentioned and I now apply it.
– Senator Gair and Senator Kane read their speeches.
– Senator Murphy reads his, too.
– I grant an exception to leaders of parties.
– The electorate at large is vitally concerned about what has been taking place among the ranks of Government members. They are trying to use the Barry Johnston issue as a whipping horse for the Labor Party. I hope I am not prevented from quoting a letter which appeared in the Murray Bridge ‘Murray Valley Standard’ of 16th March 1972. lt is headed ‘Law and order bogey?’. The letter is addressed to the Editor, lt reads: Sir,
The Federal Government at every opportunity is raising the suggestion that law and order is at stake and is apparently intending to create a bogey to bolster its chances of winning the next Federal election.
This is evident in Federal Parliamentary debates. Il is also evident in the action by the Attorney-General in .stepping up prosecutions against national service objectors in this the election year while some of these prosecutions may well have been effected two years ago.
Liberal Party manoeuvres reek wilh suppression and political expediency over the approval of an objector lo the National Service Act as a candidate for a Federal seat in Victoria.
Consider the then brave words of Mr 0”H. Giles, Liberal Member for Angas, quoted in the “Murray Valley Standard” May 30, 1968, from a radio broadcast which the member made concerning the National Service Act and reactions to it:
If they did not like the law, then they should throw their members of Parliament out and put in people whose views actively coincided with the majority view of the electorate’.
Mr Giles of course was democratically, correct, except that those whom the law affected did not have a vote.
Now that a man is old enough to vote and is prepared to offer himself as a candidate, Mr Giles and his party-
Of course, that includes Senators Young and Jessop - arc not prepared lo stand by their much publicised conviction. They now seek to secure their position by pressing for a court conviction.
In (he final analysis, it is the electors who are being denied their democratic right in this instance.
The danger of law and order myth as even a semblance of an issue lies in the re-election of a Government which could then claim a mandate for more and more repressive laws as did the Nazi Party in Germany. Then the first to feel the crunch would be the news media, quickly followed by the churches.
Need one say, then, anything about dissenting individual or minority groups?
That letter was signed by Mr J. A. Bignall of 68 Eleanor Terrace, Murray Bridge. I wish to inform the Senate that Mr Bignall was a member of the Aus’ralian Imperial Force in the last war. He fought for his country and he is very concerned at the way the Government is now trying to prevent a man from standing for Parliament so that he can do the very thing that Mr Giles said he ought to do, namely, get in here and try to repeal these offensive and oppressive laws . which were invoked because of an illegal war in . South Vietnam.
– 1 feel that I have to rise, as my name was taken in vain by Senator McLaren while I was in my office. I can understand the sensitivity with which he spoke because it is quite obvious to me that he resents the fact that on this side of the chamber there are some people who are pointing to significant weaknesses in the Australian Labor Party. We on this side of the chamber believe that we have an obligation to the people of Australia to point out just how many weaknesses there happen (o be in the Opposition Party. (Opposition senators interjecting) -
- Mr President, if I may have your protection against the manifestations of the obvious sensitivity of the Opposition side, I wish to make this point: Members of the Labor Party are rejoicing in the fact that the Liberal and Country League in South Australia has a minor internal problem and that the public media have chosen to give headlines to it. No doubt members of the Opposition have been very grateful for this because it has effectively directed the attention of the Press away from the inadequacies and ineffectiveness of their Party’s Federal Executive meeting in Adelaide. Like Senator Young, I feel that it is our responsibility to demand that some declaration come from members of the Labor Party with regard to their condoning of law breaking in Australia and their condoning and support of a draft resisting ALP candidate. This type of issue has been effectively evaded, and I believe that I have a responsibility to bring these things out. Another point is that members of the Labor Party have side-stepped quite effectively the embarrassment they are experiencing with regard to a preselection in New South Wales. (Opposition senators interjecting) -
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. 1 am interested in what Senator Jessop is saying, but I am unable to follow what he is saying because of the noise coming from the Opposition benches. I ask that you quieten it.
– Speaking to the point of order, I also am interested in what SenatorJessop has to say. I also think that we should have silence for the purpose of hearing the debate on the divisions that are occurring between Steele Hall and other members of the LiberalCountry League.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cant) - Order! I ask honourable senators to give Senator Jessop, who has the call, a fair go.
-I thank you for your protection, Mr Acting Deputy President. Recently we heard a classic speech from Senator McLaren in which he endeavoured to gain political capital by mentioning the position of Steele Hall in South Australia. He is seeking to gain political capital out of a situation which, in fact, is very similar in every way to the practices employed in the Australian Labor Party. I will continue to do my duty to the Australian people and to point out the weaknesses in the Opposition. If question time happens to be the medium to do that, I shall continue the practice of asking questions.
– I shall not take much of the time of the Senate. I wish to reply to the comments and criticisms that have been made by Senator McLaren merely by saying that I support the remarks that Senator Jessop has made. In replying personally to what Senator McLaren has said about me,I merely say that if he cares to make assumptions or to draw conclusions and to relate them to ulterior motives, that is his view, and only his as far as I am concerned. In regard to any question I ask, I am certain that the Chair, in its discretion, will either allow it or rule it out of order. I will continue to operate as effectively and as fairly as I can as a senator on this side of the chamber, for as long as I can.
– I will take the lead from Senator Young and be brief, too. Recently, particularly this week, many questions have been asked and many innuendoes have been made about the meeting of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party that was held in Adelaide last week.
– Tell us what happened.
– I have no intention of telling the honourable senator what happens within the confines of the Labor Party, just as he will not tell me what has happened in Tasmania and the South Australian Government senators will not tell me what has happened and what is happening in that State. I respect their views in that regard. I wish to say one or two things to help my young colleague. Let me say in passing that I regret very much that our young friend from South Australia, Senator Jessop, has come into this place and chosen to speak at the level at which he does. I like to see young members come here. I like to see them apply themselves to what is a grand opportunity to do something for Australia. But, when this young man gets into his muck-raking, I genuinely say to him that I feel very sorry and I make an appeal to him to lift himself out of that.
– Are you talking about Senator Greenwood?
– I have appealed to Senator Greenwood. From time to time he listens to me, and from time to time, I am afraid, he does not. The Federal Executive meeting has been described as being an unusually quiet one. I do not know how honourable senators opposite know about it. I am one of the 2 members of this chamber who are members of the Federal Executive and I assure honourable senators opposite that it was not unusually quiet. It was par for the course and, for a Federal Executive meeting, that is not unusually quiet. The other thing honourable senators opposite keep saying is that we dodged this issue or that issue. Let me explain to them that the Federal Executive is not the policy making body of the Australian Labor Party.
– Who is?
– The Federal Conference. I thought that even Senator Webster would know that. Let me make one correction: There are 4 members of this chamber who are members of the Federal Executive. I am sure that the other 3 will bear me out when I say that the meeting was not unusually quiet; it was par for the course - and those 2 statements are not incompatible with each other. The next point is that the agenda for our Federal
Executive meetings come from the constituent bodies of the Australian Labor Party. Senator Greenwood was counselling us to deal with things that he would put forward; but however important they might seem I must assure him, as well as Senators Young and Jessop and other people, that within the Australian Labor Party we do not deal with matters from outside the Party. If those honourable senators would like to join the Australian Labor Party and have matters put on the agenda we will deal with those matters.
– Tell us about Tasmania.
– Be a little reasonable about this. The Liberal Party has problems in Tasmania and problems in South Australia and, brother, it has problems in Canberra. The Liberal Party will not have on its agendas matters coming from the Australian Labor Party or matters coming from outside the constituent bodies of the Party. When the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party meets about 4 times a year it deals with matters from constituent bodies of the Party. Whatever good advice we might receive or whatever matters others might like us to deal with, we will deal only with those things that come from the constituent bodies of our Party. If political parties want to go outside this method then God help party politics in Australia. Not one of our political parties - the Liberal Party, the
Labor Party or any other party - will allow itself to be run by propaganda, even on the eve of an election. The matters that we dealt with were things coming from our constituent bodies. It was not an unusually quiet meeting. In spite of my friend Senator Rae saying ‘tell us what happened’, I am not going to tell him what happened - it is not of his business. In the same way, it is none of my business what happens within the Liberal Party in Tasmania and none of by business what happens in the Liberal-Country League in South Australia. But it is my business when it comes to what is happening in the Liberal Party and Country Party in Canberra. I am looking forward to the verdict.
(5.46) -I rise only to close the debate. I suggest that this has been a long week. The strain of the work that we have done and have attempted to do is reflected in the adjournment debate tonight. I do not think this debate has done any credit to the Senate. I suggest that accusations and counter-accusations do not add to our prestige as a Senate. I hope that when we next meet we will all be refreshed so that we will not have a repetition of what we have had today.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 March 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720323_senate_27_s51/>.