28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– I am sure honourable senators would allow me the indulgence of remarking the return to the Senate of Senator Bishop, who is sitting in his place.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
– I present the following petition from 20 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme.
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a General Practitioner, Specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners thereby humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That unless otherwise ordered for the remainder of the present period of sittings, firstly, the days and times of meetings of the Senate be Tuesday, 1 1 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday, 1 1.30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 1 1 p.m.; Thursday, 10. IS a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and secondly, the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate have effect at the terminating time each day.
– In dealing with some domestic matters I make the following statement for the benefit of honourable senators:
I have been examining senators’ entitlement to complimentary copies of Hansard. The present quota of 35 copies was fixed as long ago as 1912, and I propose to increase the number to 50, of which 10 may be the daily Hansard. Since that time, the average representation has increased so substantially as to warrant the increase on arithmetical grounds alone, but another factor that has influenced my decision is the great interest that is being shown, both in Australia and overseas, in the debates of the Senate. At the same time, I ask senators to examine their mailing lists- I shall be grateful if honourable senators would remark this- to ensure that all the recipients still want to have the Hansard publications and that they have not changed their addresses, because this adds substantially to the cost of the distribution of Hansard.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It refers to the increase of 6 per cent being sought by General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd, for car prices. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate would be aware, General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd must justify its proposed increase before the Prices Justification Tribunal. I ask: Will Qantas Airways Ltd be required to justify the proposed 6 per cent increase in air fares which is being recommended by that well known international cartel, the International Air Transport Association?
-I am not sure of the answer to this very interesting question. I think that everyone in the community would like to see price rises contained and, particularly price rises by some substantial corporations, justified. But I am not quite sure of the answer to the honourable senator’s question. I will endeavour to find out the answer for him because I am sure that everyone will be interested in it.
– It was reported this morning that the Government has reached a decision on the aid and adjustment assistance that will be given under the Tariff Board Act in respect of colour television sets, and it appears from that report that there has been some change by the Government of the recommendation of the Tariff Board. I say once again that it is unfortunate that the Parliament should learn of these events from the daily Press without being paid the courtesy of being told as a Parliament. Can the responsible Minister tell us when the Parliament will get a statement on this matter which it can look at thoroughly and debate properly?
-Far from the honourable senator criticising the Government in this instance, he should be praising it because once a decision was arrived at that decision was announced promptly. I think that this was the course that was taken by his Government when it was in office. It is important that if a decision is made it be made available to all as promptly as possible. It is true that the decision ought to be brought before the Parliament in some formal manner. I would hope that would be done without delay.
-In view of the lack of demand on Australian foundries to cast church bells on the pre-selected tones of E, G, and A, is the Minister for Customs and Excise prepared to deal sympathetically with church groups which have to import such bells? Further, could the Minister give expeditious attention to the request of St Raphael’s Slovene Mission which has imported 3 bells from the Ferralit foundry at Zalec in the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia?
– I call the Minister for Customs and Excise. I do not know whether he is being asked to ring matins or the angelus.
– I am able to say confidently that I will give favourable consideration to such requests. There is no Australian manufacturer of tuned bells of this kind. Requests have been made for duty free importation, in particular by the St Raphael’s Slovene Mission. I am happy to inform the honourable senator that, in accordance with the by-law policy which I have enunciated, a decision has been made to admit the bells free of duty under by-law. It is interesting to note that, despite the suggestion of some honourable senators that trade between Australia and Yugoslavia would not prosper, here is an indication of the opening up of an area of trade which is only one example of the harmonious relations that exist between our 2 friendly countries.
-I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Following the Government’s change of policy in relation to the gold tax, will the Government give consideration to revising its taxation policies for the rural industries, including those on such matters as depreciation and the reintroduction of the investment allowance?
-There is no doubt that the Government will have the taxation situation as it affects all sections of the community under constant surveillance and if it thinks changes should be made they will be made.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security aware of public reaction in favour of the Government’s White Paper on its health insurance program? Does the reaction indicate that the changes incorporated in the White Paper should satisfy legitimate and reasonable critics of the scheme?
– I have seen comments in recent times by a number of organisations and people. I can assure the honourable senator that the Government has been greatly encouraged by the favourable reaction that appears to be developing to its White Paper. I am sure honourable senators would have read with interest this morning the statements of support made by 9 Anglican bishops and the favourable editorial comments in last Friday’s Melbourne ‘Age’. The Melbourne Age’ stated that it would be a tragedy if the proposed legislation were to die in the Senate. To the Government also that would be a tragedy and I suggest to honourable senators that they would do well to contemplate the reasoned arguments advanced in the White Paper on this matter.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health concerns the free community health centre in Melba, Australian Capital Territory. How many doctors are employed at the centre and how many patients do they see each day?
– I ask the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer the Minister to news reports on papers delivered at the recent conference of the Ergonomics Society of Australia and New Zealand which claimed that measurements of carbon monoxide in Sydney show that the recommended safe limits have been exceeded and that noise from transport affects more people for more time than noise from any other source. In view of the fact that the Government is attempting to tackle the massive problems associated with road safety, will the Minister see whether something can be done to minimise the obvious health hazards derived from our national transport system?
-The Minister for Transport is very concerned with this problem and points out that possibly we have been concentrating on deaths as a result of accidents on roads rather than on the possible higher death rate or the discomfort caused to people as a result of some of the by-products from the use of motor cars. It is of vital concern that we have proper standards for controlling emissions, noise and safety of motor vehicles of Australian design. Already there are certain proposals. For instance, limitations will be placed on motor cars with respect to the emission of carbon monoxide during idling. Also cars manufactured after 1 January 1974 will have to comply with certain standards relating to the emission of hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide under city traffic conditions. More stringent control will apply to the emission of oxides of nitrogen from cars manufactured after July 1976. Another design rule will limit vehicle noise. This rule will apply to new vehicles after 1 January 1974 and progressively to trucks and motor cycles after 1 July 1975. So the matter is well under control and we hope for less poisonous gases and less noise from cars in the future,
– Will the Minister for the Media inform the Senate when the television transmitters based at towns west of Rockhampton will commence transmission, and what is the reason for the delay in the commencement of transmission?
– I assume that the honourable senator is referring to a number of towns in the Maranoa and Kennedy electorates which are represented by his colleagues in another place, Mr Corbett and Mr Katter. A number of timetables are involved in the development of translators at the towns. For instance, one was to go in at Miles in September last and one at Roma some time this month. If they are the types of towns to which the honourable senator’s question refers, I can tell him that there was initially a delay in the availability of material being supplied from abroad to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The latest information available to me is that that delay has now been overcome, and it is likely that the timetable for the other stations which has been set out by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board will be met. I have already mentioned Miles and Roma. If the honourable senator will see me later, I shall give him details of the rest of the timetable.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. Is it a fact that the National Capital Development Commission is proposing that the Tuggeranong Freeway be linked with Canberra city by means of a major road around the northern edge of Lake Burley Griffin? If so, does the Government intend arranging for an impact study of the proposal?
– All new proposals must be the subject of an environmental impact study. The Government has knowledge of the Molonglo Parkway. This matter has been referred by the National Capital Development Commission which has invited public comments on the proposal. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development has agreed with the Minister for the Environment and Conservation that there shall be an inquiry as to whether any adverse effect will result from the road being so close to the Lake. A public inquiry on the environmental impact will be held in Canberra. The outcome of the hearing will be included in the Government’s consideration of the proposal. So there will be a good study of the proposed freeway.
– I naturally join with other senators and you, Mr President, in welcoming back Senator Bishop, the Minister for Repatriation. I direct a question to him in his capacity as Minister assisting the Minister for Defence. Will he make inquiries, and advise the Senate when the information is available, as to whether it is true, as indicated in the Launceston ‘Examiner’ of Monday, 19 November, that the Prime Minister travelled, presumably by Royal Australian Air Force VIP aircraft, on Saturday, 1 7 November, from Adelaide to Sydney to record his vote at the State election and continued to Launceston, arriving one hour late for his appointment at an agricultural show? What was the cost to the taxpayer of this excursion, if it took place? Are not postal votes available to New South Wales electors who wake up in time?
-I do not know the details of the case upon which Senator Marriott builds what seems to me to be a criticism of the Prime Minister. I will find out for him, certainly, As everybody knows, the Prime Minister has very heavy commitments in all States. Like, for example, the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, he frequently uses VIP aircraft. I will get and give to the Senate the precise reasons for the visits back and forth.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health. It concerns the matter of free milk for school children which, the Minister will remember, I raised by way of questions on other occasions. Is it a fact that no national nutritional surveys have been carried out since 1948 and that in 1948 nutritionists regarded school milk as a tremendously important aid to good national nutrition? Is it a fact that statistics on national food consumption show only a marginal change in milk consumption since 1948? Finally, is the Minister aware that in many areas children are subsisting on a less than adequate diet, that the removal of the free milk scheme next year will be to the further detriment of their diet, and that the statement that there is no longer any justification for this scheme on a nutritional basis is incorrect and cannot be justified?
-The matters raised by the honourable senator obviously require the attention of my colleague in another place. I ask the honourable senator to place the question on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs whether many Aborigines entitled to vote have not enrolled for the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee elections. If so, to what does the Minister ascribe this situation? Can he indicate the number of Aborigines who have enrolled to date?
-The figure of those who had enrolled was given in an answer to a question by Senator Bonner. From memory, I think it was 37,000. It will be realised that a lot of Aborigines entitled to enrol have not done so. The reason for their non-enrolment could well be that they have no knowledge of their entitlement to enrol although we have done everything possible to get field officers to visit all sections of Aborigines. One section is opposed to the formation of the NACC and will not participate in the ballot. Whether they are true Aborigines or of other descent I do not know. I think that that is all the information it is possible to give on this question.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Works. Is it a fact that the Stokes Hill power station at Darwin is still being repaired and that full generating capacity still is not available to the people of that city? Is the Minister aware that despite all emergency diesel plants being put into use there are still substantial area disconnections to Darwin and its suburbs which means extreme discomfort because of Darwin’s climate? Can the Minister tell the Senate how long it will be before full power can be supplied to Darwin residents and what steps are being undertaken by the Department of Works to ensure that this is being done with all possible urgency?
-AU I have on this matter is a Press statement dated 15 November issued by the Minister for Works. It is true that at the present time, through I believe the breakdown of 2 generators, it is possible to meet only 75 per cent of the electricity requirements of Darwin. Efforts are being made to overcome the problem. A Swedish engineer is being brought out to try to hurry up the repair work. It is thought that by getting a 16-egawatt generator into operation it will be possible to meet all loads by the end of next week. In an effort to overcome this problem we have sought to obtain a 126-ton gas turbine generator from Tasmania but it has to be broken down to modules of 33 tons or 38 tons in order for it to be taken onto aircraft. Efforts have been made even to the extent of endeavouring to get an American plane to help us out. It is hoped to break this generator down to modules of between 33 tons and 38 tons. If necessary it will be sent by ship to Darwin. It is hoped that by the end of next week we will be able to overcome the crisis that has developed in Darwin.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral agree that the wave of particularly bestial murders over the past few months is due partly to the relegation of the crime of murder over most of Australia to being just another gaoling offence? In short, the penalty in no way fits the crime committed. Does he not believe that in these circumstances the position will grow worse?
-No. I think that no one can draw that conclusion from the fact that this Parliament has abolished the death penalty for murder in its area. I know that it has been abolished in other areas. I think that the latest indication was given by the Premier of New South Wales, namely, that there would be no capital punishment for murder, or perhaps at all, in that State. I do not think that the honourable senator’s conclusions can be justified. He certainly ought not to describe murder as just another gaoling offence. Murder is a very serious crime. It has always been so regarded. As I indicated, the notion that the penalty for murder will always be some short period of imprisonment is not correct and can be demonstrated to be not correct.
-Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs make a statement on the situation in Vietnam? Are reports correct that the scale of fighting has increased? Are predictions correct that shortly full scale warfare is likely to be resumed? Does the Australian Government have in mind any initiative to try to control the situation and to ensure that there is a real cease fire?
– From time to time there is a flare-up of fighting in Vietnam. It is a very uneasy peace. Nobody is completely happy about it. Whether Vietnam is on the verge of full scale fighting I do not know. I do not think that anybody else does. The people to whom I have talked when I have been overseas do not seem to know any more about the matter than we do, and I even talked to representatives of South Vietnam on one occasion. We certainly would take initiatives where we saw that we could take them. But, as I have explained before, we were not in Vietnam at the time of the cease fire; the previous Government had withdrawn the troops. Therefore, we were not a party to any of the accords in Paris. Those people who were have a greater lien on taking initiatives than we have. I share all the worries of Senator McManus. It is an uneasy peace. Fighting is breaking out from time to time. I have talked to many people about the matter and they cannot tell me very much more than that. A lot of manoeuvring is going on. Whether this will break out into full scale fighting or what the result will be nobody seems to be able to tell.
-Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to an item on the first page of this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’ reporting the resignation of the Solicitor-General, Mr Ellicott, Q.C., and mentioning his intention to practise at the Canberra
Bar? The newspaper report went on to state that the Attorney-General’s Department would welcome the addition of an experienced and competent barrister to the Canberra Bar as it had been unhappy with the situation in Canberra, where it usually has to import counsel to act for the Crown in important cases before the ACT Supreme Court’. Is it not a fact that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department has drawn freely on the services of members of the Australian Capital Territory Bar in important cases before the ACT Supreme Court? Will the Attorney-General dissociate himself from the unwarranted slur on the Canberra Bar implicit in the report in the ‘Canberra Times’?
-What the honourable senator says is correct. I certainly will dissociate myself from the remarks. The remarks in the newspaper purport to refer to the views not of myself but of the Attorney-General’s Department. I spoke to the Department this morning about the article and I am advised that the Department did not make any comment whatever to the ‘Canberra Times’ regarding the competence of counsel in Canberra nor did it make any comment to the ‘Canberra Times’ about where Mr Ellicott would be carrying on his practice as a barrister and Queen’s Counsel. No observations were made and the Department is in no way responsible for the item. It is purely newspaper speculation and comment and has no basis in anything the Department has ever said about Mr Ellicott. That is the advice I have been given.
-My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence. Has a request for a royal commission into Australia’s defence requirements been brought to the Minister’s attention? Was the request made by the Thirty-Niners Association of Australia in an attempt to ensure that defence efficiency and preparedness have not been avoided or overlooked? As this is a very serious call by the Association, can the Minister inform the Senate what consideration has been given by the Government to the request and whether a reply has been sent to the Association?
– I am not aware of any such request by an association. I would think that if the request had any substantial support it might have been raised in this place or in the other place, because the defence situation has been debated recently and the spokesmen for the Opposition have put their points of view. The Opposition has not made any such suggestion; in fact, it has tested its view of the defence situation on the basis of what the Government and the defence advisers of the Government have stated to be the position. That test is based on assessments which the Government has made and which can be contested or considered by the Opposition. I will find out about the request but I would think that because it has not been mentioned by any substantial group or by the spokesman for the party which the honourable senator represents it would have to be considered as one of those odd requests. But I will find out and give the details to the honourable senator.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister or the Treasurer or the Minister for Primary Industry, whichever is appropriate. I ask the Minister whether this Government professes a policy of decentralisation? Is it aware that, in the 80-year old established apple industry in Australia, far from the industry being maintained it is in a substantial degree being grubbed out because of want of perception of any economic prospect for this year’s marketing? Did the Prime Minister visit Hobart during the weekend and was the point of view that the Premier would make representations for assistance to the industry highly publicised? Has the Prime Minister or the Government made any decision to assist the industry?
– I call Senator Murphy as Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– The honourable senator has asked a considerable number of questions. As to the first one which dealt with decentralisation, of course the Government has a policy directed towards decentralisation. I suppose the most conspicuous example that comes to my mind is the establishment of the AlburyWodonga complex in which the Government took the initiative with the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales and whereby, as a result of this 3-party arrangement, a great new city is to be developed. That is an indicationthere are numerous others -of the endeavours of the Government to promote wise development in areas away from the present large capital cities. As to the specific matters which the honourable senator has raised about assistance to primary industry, in particular to apple growers, I am unable to assist the honourable senator now. I will endeavour to get an answer for him at an early date.
– I ask the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs whether he is aware that there is still a fair amount of illegal liquor running between the mainland and the Aboriginal Reserve on Palm Island and that during the last month 4 bottles of methylated spirits, 6 bottles of rum and more than 40 gallons of various types of wine and sherry have been confiscated? Will the Minister take up with the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs the possibility of extending the trading hours of the canteen, and will he also examine the possibility of allowing residents to take liquor from the canteen to consume in their own homes?
– I do not know of the illegal liquor supplies to the island. I intend to have a conference at the first opportunity with the Queensland Minister for Aboriginal and Island Affairs to see whether we can iron out some of the differences in that area and some of the problems I have encountered in reports about Queensland Aborigines. Among the matters I will take up with the Minister will be whether we can find some solution to the problem to which the honourable senator refers.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory convey to the Senate the answer to my question without notice, which he has already given to me in writing, concerning the valuation of freehold agricultural land adjacent to cities, and particularly that adjacent to Canberra which was the subject of a recent attempt at acquisitions at less than ruling market rates? In the light of the attitude of the Commissioner of Taxation in relation to this matter, will he concede that the Government was trying to apply a double standard to the value of lands proposed to be acquired in the Australian Capital Territory? As this question was asked in the Senate, will the Minister give the answer in the Senate?
– Yes, certainly. I just thought I was helping by sending the honourable senator a letter containing the latest information. Would the honourable senator like to table it? He could do that if he likes or, if he would rather, he can give it to me and I will read it out. We can follow any course the honourable senator likes. All he seems to want is the answer to a question when that answer has already been supplied.
– Read it out.
-Senator Lawrie had asked me what was the attitude of the Commissioner of Taxation when dealing with the estate of a deceased person. The honourable senator wanted to know whether the Commissioner would value the land at the rural rate or whether he would take into account what I took to be the potential of the land for urban development. I see that the honourable senator agrees with that. Although that inference could be drawn because of something that happened the other night, the honourable senator did not say in his question that that is what he meant, but makes clear now that that is what was in his mind. My letter to the honourable senator reads as follows:
Dear Senator Lawrie,
On 8 November, 1973 you asked in the Senate whether rural freehold land in the Australian Capital Territory is valued for death duty purposes at what it is considered to be worth as an agricultural proposition or at what it would bring in the open market as a future urban proposition, that is, at market value as determined by sales evidence.
The Treasurer has now advised me that under the provisions of the Estate Duty Assessment Act, duty is assessed on the value of assets owned by a deceased person, the courts having held over the years that ‘value ‘ in the context of this Act means the market value at the date of death.
It follows then that a property, whether it be a rural freeholding in the Australian Capital Territory or any other property, must be assessed at its market value as determined by reliable sales evidence at the date of death. Such sales evidence will of course be an expression of the market place assessment of all the future benefits of ownership.
It is very nicely signed ‘ D. R. Willesee ‘.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware that a proposed Australian national anthem called ‘God Bless Australia’ and composed by Wing Commander Whitehead, an Englishman, was played on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s radio program ‘AM’ last Friday? Is the Minister aware that the proposed anthem has created more than ordinary interest and support? Without in any way criticising the present Australian anthem, will the Minister hear the proposed anthem- I will sing it for him if necessary -
– Order! That would be out of order.
-Will the Minister hear it and allow this English composition to be entered in the current ballot, despite the composer’s place of birth, as I understand the words of the present anthem were also composed by an Englishman?
-I regret that I am unaware of any of the matters to which the honourable senator refers. As to hearing the honourable senator sing the song to which he referred, I do not see why that burden should be added to the other burdens of office.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Some months ago I asked whether it was the Government’s intention to upgrade a number of airports in Western Australia to enable TransAustralia Airlines to operate DC9 aircraft over the Perth to Darwin route. I was told that the Government did not intend to do so. In view of statements now being made that $1.5m will be required to bring certain airports- Kununurra and Broome have been mentioned- to DC9 standard I ask whether it is now the intention of the Government to spend this sum on upgrading airports for the use of DC9 aircraft?
– I do not know. I do not know from where the figure of $ 1.5m comes. If I gave the answer before that the Government did not intend to spend money on upgrading the airports to take jet aircraft, that was the Government’s decision. Apparently something has happened today and someone has come up with a figure of $1.5m. I will find out whether the Government has considered this and whether it makes any difference to the Government’s attitude on the question. I will find out the opinion of the Minister as a result of this figure of $1.5m having been brought forward.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate following upon a disgraceful incident which took place last week in the other House when the Prime Minister stated that people, by their conduct, were infringing on the hospitality which he extended at a function in Parliament House last week. Is that hospitality not paid for by the taxpayers of this country, not by the Prime Ministerthe impression which he gave? Is the rumour which is circulating correct, namely, that 200 gallons of champagne were drunk on the trip to China and was it French champagne?
-I assume that the hospitality which is referred to would be provided out of public funds. I think that that has always been the rule. I think that no one would have really thought otherwise. The way in which the expression was used indicated, I think, that it was a function given by the Prime Minister in the same way as other Prime Ministers have given functions I do not think that we should go further into a matter which occurred and expressions which were used in the other House. As to what occurred on the trip to China, I am unable to answer the honourable senator. But if he wants to pursue the matter I will take it up with the Prime Minister to see whether an answer can be obtained.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, concerns the sanctions on both the volume and price of oil being imposed by the Arab States on importing countries, particularly the Common Market and Japan, and the very drastic consequences to those importing countries of that action? Does he recognise the serious dangers to world peace and to individual living standards inherent in such actions? Does the Government support the use of economic sanctions, often euphemistically called ‘resources diplomacy’, to achieved political ends? If not, will the Government initiate a resolution at the United Nations condemning this wrong and perilous principle?
-Of course the Government is quite aware of what is going on in the oil world. Because of that, we have appointed a special envoy, Mr Ian Haig, to attend to such matters. He has returned to this country and we are awaiting a report from him. I think that it would be premature to make any decisions or forecasts until we have that report from Mr Haig.
-Does the Minister representing the Treasurer recall that the former Government from time to time published for the guidance of primary producers a booklet known as ‘Taxation for Farmers and Graziers’?. Does the Minister acknowledge that the Labor Government has proposed and is introducing significant changes to the income tax structure so as to withdraw from farmers benefits which previously encouraged modernisation of equipment, conservation of fodder and water, and productivity? Is it not a fact that the incidence of income tax will escalate under Labor Party policy? As a guide to primary producers, will the Treasurer or the Minister for Primary Industry quickly consolidate the facts into a booklet to advise rural dwellers on taxation of farmers and graziers under Labor?
– The question seems to boil down to this: Evidently a book in relation to previous years is in existence and the honourable senator would like it brought up to date. I will refer the question to the Treasurer.
– My question, which is directed to the Acting Minister for Primary Industry, refers to the apple industry. While not being able to offer any new assistance to the industry, does he recall that when revaluation was decided upon the compensation to the industry was limited to exports of 5,000 cases per individual? Does he realise that that excludes about 75 per cent of the exports from compensation? Does he realise that that carries with it responsibility for a great proportion of the employment in the industry? Will he reconsider that limitation so as to accord justice to the exporters of last season in the form of proper unlimited compensation for revaluation at so much per case?
– I think this question has been asked and answered previously. There is an attempt to rehash it for political reasons and to show grievances that do not exist. If I recall the previous answer correctly, the Government has agreed to give compensation to all those who suffered real hardship as a result of revaluation. My reply last week was that 90 per cent of the applications made for compensation had been processed and approved. No other applications are outstanding which meet the requirements in order to qualify for aid. Fictitious figures are being brought up by saying that something was not paid for apples where no request was made for payment for those apples. It is more for political reasons, I think, than for the purpose of getting justice for someone who is deprived of some payment.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Secondary Industry say whether the Government’s decision to reduce tariffs on imported parts for colour television sets will create unemployment among the 40,000 people currently employed in the electronics industry in Australia? Is the Minister aware that Australian electronic companies could now profitably transfer operations to countries such as Mexico, Argentina and Singapore to carry out technical production, leaving cabinet filling and packaging to be undertaken in Australia? Does the Federal Government realise the importance of retaining in this country people who are highly qualified in electronic science? What does the Government intend to do to offset the possible drift of such people overseas? As the present inflationary trend is continually eroding the effects of tariffs and as the rate of sales tax on television appliances is 27.5 per cent, will the Government give serious consideration to reducing the sales tax on television sets?
– This is another example of someone trying to create a situation that does not exist. Possibly for the whole day yesterday we examined all of the possibilities that may result from a reduction in the rate of tariff on electronic equipment. Firstly, we found that companies producing electronic equipment in Australia are profitable and that they do not need the extent of protection that they have received in the past. In the future these companies will receive some protection against imported items. Secondly, we think they receive subsidies on the manufacture of some items which possibly could be phased out and the companies could concentrate on the manufacture of products which can be produced profitably, Thirdly, the Government is determined to see that there is an effective electronics industry in Australia to meet the requirements of defence and other areas.
The question arises whether if necessary the Government would buy equity in such an outfit as Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. The Government has agreed, as set out in the announcement on tariffs, to give a subsidy if necessary to maintain the industry. So there is no question of the industry being phased out. Lastly, the Department of Labour has given consideration to the possible retrenchment of mainly unskilled people from the electronics industry if there is some reduction in output. The Department would engage in the retraining of staff for other areas of the electronics industry where employment is available. As was the case when the last decision was taken to reduce tariffs, the Department on this occasion will compensate these people for loss of earnings while they are being retrained. So there is no threat of unemployment or of the industry closing down. Also, there is no threat of any of the other dire consequences which the Opposition is trying to manufacture. They are not there.
– My question is directed to Senator James McClelland in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. I ask: How many meetings of the Committee have been held this year for the purpose of considering the reference by the Senate on 7 December 1971, namely, the law and administration of divorce, custody and family matters. Is it a fact that only one meeting of the Committee has been held? If so, when will the Committee present to the Senate its report on this term of reference?
– Order! I have previously ruled that a question may be answered by a senator who is Chairman of a committee in charge of some business of the Senate only on the basis that the committee authorises him to make a statement. If Senator James McClelland has been authorised by the Committee to give an answer on these matters which have been raised by Senator Greenwood, he may do so.
– I have not been so authorised, Mr President. However, I would have no objection to answering the question if you rule that this is permissible.
– You must take it to your Committee. That is my ruling.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr President.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that his colleague the Postmaster-General in another place has set up a metric schedule for weights for postage, being 7c for 20 grams, and that above that weight the price increases in a number of steps? Is the Minister aware that in order to check whether the weight of a letter exceeds 20 grams, and hence needs extra postage, commercial houses and others are required to purchase a 1- gram weight? Is the Minister aware that weights of this size are unobtainable except at scientific instrument dealers where the price is $38? Will the Minister investigate this matter, which is another example of the inflationary tendencies of the metric system, and do what he can to stop the practice that I have outlined?
-The details of the increase in postage charges were laid down in a White Paper that was introduced by the Postmaster-General in another place at the time of the presentation of the Budget and which, on his behalf, I introduced at that time in the Senate. I am unaware of the details enunciated in the other portions of the honourable senator’s question. I shall refer them to my colleague in another place.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Among the matters which he produced in response to my request in Estimates Committee A with relation to the payment of $62,900 in lieu of long service leave to Sir Richard Kirby on his retirement, was a letter from Mr Harders, the Secretary of the AttorneyGeneral ‘s Department, in which he said to Sir Richard:
I have arranged for office accommodation to be available for you and your Associate at 99 Queen Street, Melbourne. 1 ask: For what period, at what cost and for the performance of what duties?
– I have a recollection of sending a letter to Estimates Committee A in connection with this matter in the last few days. However, I shall try to recall what was in it. I think the period was 6 months and the purpose was to enable Sir Richard Kirby to attend to matters which might be outstanding. A similar course was taken in regard to the former Chief Justice of the High Court, the late Sir Owen Dixon, if my recollection of the answer I sent is correct. I understand that no cost is involved in the provision of the office as it was already available. I am not absolutely certain of these details but that is my recollection of them. In any event the information, I feel almost certain, has been conveyed to Estimates Committee A.
Prime Minister’s Visit to China (Question No. 533)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The 60 names are set out.
– Is there a reason for obscuring the names?
– If the Senate wishes me to read out the names I will, but the document will be circulated.
– A favourite device.
– The honourable senator who has asked the question has not requested the names to be read out.
– Order! The question was asked by Senator Hannan. He is the senator to take objection.
– I ask for the benefit of the Senate.
- Senator Murphy can ask for leave to incorporate the list in Hansard.
– I ask for leave to incorporate the list in Hansard. It is in accordance with Senator Hannah’s indication that that would satisfy him.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The Honourable Frank Crean, M.P.- Treasurer. Mrs F. Crean.
The Honourable Rex Patterson, M.P.- Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory.
Mr T. J. Burns, M.L.A. Member of Australian Labor
Party delegation to China which I led in July 1971. Dr H. C. Coombs- Consultant to the Prime Minister. Mrs Coombs.
Dr J. F. Hammett, Consultant Physician.
Dr P. Wilenski, Principal Private Secretary.
MrG. Freudenberg- Special Adviser.
Mr J. Spigelman Senior Adviser.
Mr E. Williams Press Secretary.
Miss C. Summerhayes Personal Secretary.
Miss B. Stuart Personal Secretary to Mrs Whitlam.
Mrs L. Dwyer Assistant to the Press Secretary.
Mr R. Freney Private Secretary to Mr Crean.
Miss B. McLennan Private Secretary to Dr Patterson.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Sir John Bunting, C.B.E. Secretary.
Mr K.. W. Pearson First Assistant Secretary.
Mr W. G. N. Orr, C.V.O., M.B.E., E.D.-Deputy Director, Government Ceremonial and Hospitality Office.
Mr R. F. Millar Driver.
Miss J. Robinson Stenographer.
Department of Foreign Affairs
Sir Keith Waller, C.B.E. Secretary.
Mr A. P. Renouf, O.B.E. Secretary Designate.
Mr H. D. Anderson, O.B.E. First Assistant Secretary.
Mr R. A. Woolcott First Assistant Secretary.
Mr P. J. Flood Assistant Secretary.
Mr D. Ashman, Senior Technical Officer.
Miss S. Arthur Senior Machine Operator.
Miss D. Thomas Stenographer.
Department of Overseas Trade
Mr D. H. McKay, O.B.E. Secretary.
Department of the Treasury
Mr J. H. Garrett, O.B.E. Deputy Secretary.
Mr G. A, Brennan Special Assistant in Public International Law.
Sergeant B. Brown-Commonwealth Police Officer.
Sergeant R. Massey- Commonwealth Police Officer.
Australian Information Service
Mr S. H. Fitzpatrick Senior Photographer.
Mr A. Barnes.
Mr P. Barron.
Mr K. Begg.
Mr A. Bray.
Mr F. Brenchley.
Mr R. Colvill.
Mr P. Harvey.
Mr B. Johns.
Mr D. Johnston.
Mr J. Menadue.
Mr J. Penlington.
Mr D. Solomon.
Mr P. South.
Mr A. Wood
– The remainder of the answer is:
That is the answer which has been supplied and which is available for circulation.
– I wish to direct the attention of honourable senators to the matter of replies to questions on notice. If a senator wishes to orally ask a question on notice he indicates his wish to the Deputy Clerk of the Senate who informs me and I then call the honourable senator concerned. The reverse situation is the normal practice where Ministers have answers to questions. Their officers indicate to the Deputy Clerk of the Senate that they have those answers available and I then call those Ministers. I wish that practice to be observed.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Supply Bill (No. 3) 1973-74
Public Works Committee Bill 1973
– I present the report by the Tariff Board on consumer electronic equipment and components. I understand that a motion for the printing of the report will be moved in the House of Representatives by the Minister representing me as Minister for Customs and Excise.
– Pursuant to section 28 of the Australian Film Development Corporation Act 1970, I present the third annual report of the Australian Film Development Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 39 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act 1956-1969,I present the annual report on the operations of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
-Mr President, since coming into the Senate this afternoon I have had a brief conversation with the Special Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) and I understand that he wishes to make some remarks to the Senate. After he makes those remarks I propose to seek leave to make a further statement.
Senator WILLESEE (Western AustraliaSpecial Minister of State and Minister for
Foreign Affairs)- by leave- The papers dealing with this matter came to me fairly late today. I called for them when I saw this matter on the notice paper. I had a discussion with the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), whom I represent in this chamber, about the motion which Senator Devitt proposes to move as Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. He is moving to disallow this ordinance. As I understand the position after reading the papers and discussing the matter with Senator Devitt and the Minister, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee complained about the way in which the ordinance was drawn up. It was offending well known criteria of the Committee. In reply, the Minister suggested that the ordinance ought to be altered in certain ways. It seemed to me that both sides were agreeing that the ordinance was not all that it should be. As the Minister intends either to amend or to rewrite the ordinance, we agree that this ordinance ought to be repealed. I inform the Senate that the Minister will be taking steps to repeal this ordinance and in due course will be taking other action to obtain what he wants in this regard.
– Order! I would like some indication from members of the Committee as to whether they are agreeable to this move. This is the last day on which the motion for disallowance can be moved.
- Mr President, I speak on behalf of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. I imagine that having spoken earlier I need leave to speak again. Is that the situation?
– The situation is that a notice of motion exists on the notice paper under business of the Senate for the disallowance of an ordinance and that this is the last day for resolving it. The Senate has to make up its mind whether it will disallow the ordinance or accept an undertaking. That is what the situation amounts to.
– I take it I am in order in speaking?
-As I indicated earlier, I had a very brief opportunity to speak to Senator Willesee on this matter. The circumstances which he has just outlined to the Senate are the terms which we discussed. I indicate to the Senate that, naturally, I have not had an opportunity to convene a meeting of the Committee. But immediately the circumstances were communicated to me by Senator Willesee I took the liberty of quickly canvassing the opinions of members of the Committee present in the Senate chamber. As honourable senators know Senator Brown is not here and I was not able immediately to contact Senator Durack. But, Mr President, the general consensus of those whom I contacted was that they would be quite agreeable for me to make a statement on their behalf in relation to this matter. The requirements of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances would be well met by the situation which Senator Willesee has outlined. As I have said, I have not had an opportunity to convene a meeting of the Committee but I have canvassed the members present in the chamber. They have been good enough to authorise me to indicate that the undertaking given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) to repeal offending section 12 of the Australian Capital Territory Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (No. 2) 1973 is acceptable. I now ask for leave to withdraw notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name. I thank the Government for its sensible attitude towards this matter.
-by leave- The Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, Senator Devitt, was good enough to refer this matter to me. I think Senator Willesee ‘s undertaking that the Minister will repeal this ordinance satisfies the requirements of the Committee, unclouded by any implications whatever by reference to previous correspondence which I wish had not been referred to by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee). It should be quite clearly understood that proposals in that correspondence failed to meet acceptance by the Committee.
Notice of motion withdrawn.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I mo ve:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I introduce a Bill to alter the Constitution so as to ensure that Senate elections are held at the same time as elections for the House of Representatives. This is one of 5 measures which the Government intends to put before the people by way of referendum at the time of the next Seriate elections. In the national Parliament in the 1 1 year period December 1961 to December 1972 we have had 8 national elections. They are too frequent by all tests- too frequent for the people, too frequent for the good working of the parliament, and too costly. Only one of these electionsthat in December 1961- was an election for the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. We do not for one moment question the electoral process. On the contrary, we be believe it to be of the essence of our democracy. It is the fair, simple and authentic way of letting the people speak, as indeed they did on 2 December last year. But we do fundamentally question the present out of phase state of our electoral process, requiring us to conduct in each 3-year period one House of Representatives election and one separate Senate election. This is to the detriment of the public purse certainly, but also and very important, to the detriment of the Parliament and the people. The elections were put out of phase in 1963. They have not been brought back. For the reason given, it is time they were- and permanently.
Our simple proposition is that, as a general aim, elections for the national Parliament should be held every 3 years- for the Senate, as to that half of it which is due to retire, and the House of Representatives simultaneously. There is no derogation in this proposal from the authority or responsibility of either House. But there are great benefits in public convenience and worthwhile savings of expenditure. Most of all, there is the benefit to the Parliament- the reflection in both Houses simultaneously of the people’s will so that the Government and the Parliament may get on with the job.
This Bill honours an election commitment by the Australian Labor Party. Also, it takes up the proposal foreshadowed by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at the recent Constitutional Convention in Sydney, and it takes up the recommendation, dating back as far as 1958, of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Review. The 1958 and 1959 reports recommended that the terms of senators should be changed from 6 years, as they now are, to 2 terms of the House of Representatives, so that the elections for both Houses could take place simultaneously. This is the basic change we want to make and for which we seek authority. The principle of the rotation of senators will, of course, be preserved. The proposal is simply that at each House of Representatives election, be it at the normal 3-year interval or earlier, half the Senate will also face the electors.
The key provision in this BDI is a proposal for a new section in the Constitution. Let me give the details briefly. The new section will give senators a term of service equal to 2 terms of the House of Representatives. This is the general proposition. There are 2 exceptions. One concerns a double dissolution where the normal term of a senator can be cut short, as is the case now. The other is a special provision for senators whose terms, as to half, commenced on 1 July 1971 and as to the other half will commence on 1 July 1 974, each of whom would in accordance with the existing constitutional provisions have a 6-year term. It is purely a transitional arrangement designed to adjust to the new system the terms of those existing senators whose terms expire on 30 June 1977 and the terms of those who will be elected at the forthcoming Senate election. In normal circumstances, there will be elections for the House of Representatives in 1975, 1978 and 1981.
It is proposed under the transitional arrangement that a currently sitting senator, whose term began in 1971 and would in accordance with present constitutional provision expire in 1977, will continue in office until the second House of Representatives election after the constitutional alteration comes into force, that is, until 1978 unless there is a double dissolution or early election for the House of Representatives. Further, a senator elected at the forthcoming Senate elections for service from 1 July 1974 will have a term running until the 1981 House of Representatives election- again unless there is a double dissolution or earlier election for the House of Representatives. This will mean, in normal circumstances and, of course, excluding any senators elected to fill casual vacancies, that the senators serving when the constitutional alteration becomes law could have a term of up to about seven and a half years.
It might be said that these senators will be advantaged by having an extended period of service without facing the electors. But we think that the alternative of reducing their term of service to certainly less than 6 years would be less than in accordance with the terms of their election. A third course would have been to let them serve for a 6-year term under the old arrangement. This would, however, almost certainly mean that it would take longer to get to the point of simultaneous elections.
I should add that when a double dissolution occurs under the new arrangement, the senators then elected will be divided by the Senate into 2 classes as at present, but their terms will be equal to 2 House of Representatives terms in the one case and one House of Representatives term in the other.
There is a further point. In future, under this legislation, the Australian Parliament will have the authority to make laws for determining the times and places of election of senators. This is a logical consequence of bringing elections for both Houses of the Australian Parliament together. There are also some amendments of a consequential nature which can be found in clauses 2 and 5 of the Bill.
These reforms are long overdue. I am confident they will have the support of the Australian people. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) I move:
– I know it is unusual to speak at this stage but I would just like to indicate to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) that the Opposition is of course prepared to deal with the Bills but we want a reasonable time in which to do so, especially in relation to the Bill which has just been introduced as so many senators have a very deep interest in it. I just suggest to Senator Murphy, or put him on notice, whichever way we like to have it, that we would not want this Bill brought on too early for debate but that we would like some time- some weeks- before it comes on. A number of matters are on the notice paper and I hope he would not be bringing these Bills on for debate too early. Next week would be too early, because we do want more time so that some of our senators may have a real debate on this matter.
– In reply- I will take into account what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). There are other important matters. The only thing that would really concern us is having these Bills dealt with in some way in order that if there were a rejection -
– They must be dealt with before the Senate rises.
-Yes. They should be dealt with in such a way that if there were a rejection the constitutional processes could operate so that the Government could then bring them into the House of Representatives again in ample time before the Senate election. Subject to that, I accede to what has been put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
At the Australian Constitutional Convention held in September this year in Sydney, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said on behalf of the Australian Government that we would propose to the Parliament, for decision by the people, an amendment of the Constitution which would write into it the principle of substantial equality of electoral divisions for all the Parliaments of Australia. There is no such equality to-day. It is time there was. This Bill therefore seeks an alteration to the Constitution so as to establish electorates within each state in which the number of people is, as nearly as practicable, the same. The Prime Minister also said that the Government would want to include a provision that the State Houses of Parliament be elected directly by the people. There is to-day no uniformity of practice in the Australian States in this. It is time there was. We propose also a new provision for this purpose.
The Bill therefore, simply stated, is a Bill for an act ‘to alter the Constitution so as to ensure that the members of the House of Representatives and of the Parliaments of the States are chosen directly and democratically by the people’. I remind honourable senators that on 10 April of this year, I brought before the Senate the equality of electorates question in the course of debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973. That Bill could not, for practical reasons, include any proposal to change the basis of representation from numbers of electors to numbers of people. But in very clear terms, I referred to the provision in the Australian Labor Party’s Platform that in electorates the number of people should be as nearly as practicable the same. I went on to say:
Section 24 of the Constitution requires the number of members in the several States to be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. The Constitution thus ensures equitable representation of the people in the House of Representatives, State by State. Applying similar constitutional provisions, the United States Supreme Court has, for the last 9 years and more, declared any form of malapportionment within a state to be unconstitutional. We should not accept regional discrimination for or against particular regions within States any more than the Constitution allows us to accept discrimination as between States. Honourable senators will know of very great variations in the numbers of people in the different electoral divisions. For example, Aborigines, migrants and electors with young children are not uniformly dispersed throughout the various regions.
The principle was there proclaimed- that representation should be based on numbers of people, not on numbers of electors. The Prime Minister has in the past also drawn attention to the inequality of electorates. In 1968, for instance, in a submission to the Chairman of the Distribution Commissioners for New South Wales he gave an example of what had happened in the far western and southern suburbs. He said then:
The two post-war groups of Distribution Commissioners have failed to anticipate the growth of population in the far western and southern suburbs. In each distribution they have recommended divisions with enrolments only slightly smaller than the quota; but the maximum permissible number at each distribution has been exceeded before half the rime has elapsed for the next distribution; and by the time of the next distribution the enrolment has been grossly in excess of the new quota and the permissible margin of allowance.
Honourable senators may recall that in 1 968 in the Senate, in my capacity then as Leader of the Opposition in this House, I initiated legislation to provide for the establishment of electorates within each State in which the number of people is, as nearly as practicable, the same, and to democratise the election of the members of all Houses of State Parliaments.
I referred earlier in this speech to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973 which honourable senators will also recall I introduced in this House first in April of this year to moderate the blatant malapportionment of electorates. These measures have twice been frustrated by those sitting opposite. Now it is proposed that the people should decide- by referendum at the time of the Senate election. As things stand today we have no reasonable equality amongst electorates. At the time of the last census- 30 June 1971- the Division of Werriwa in the House of Representatives had a population of 142,568; Chifley, 138,665; Kalgoorlie, 135,790; Burke, 135,547; and Melbourne, 131,127. At the other extreme, and excluding Tasmanian divisions, the Division of Wakefield had a population of 77,195; Wimmera, 77,526; Lyne, 80,475; Maranoa, 81,500; and Hume, 82,365. Between censuses, the malapportionment of electorates can be readily discerned from the number of electors enrolled. For example, the Divisions of Diamond Valley and Macpherson currently have enrolments of 83,970 and 81,835. Maranoa has 45,800 electors and Darling has 46,8 1 5.
We propose that the new provision in the Constitution should deal with State Parliaments also. In the States, unfair malapportionment is no less rife. Let me cite examples based on recent enrolments for State lower Houses. In New South Wales the average enrolment is 26,980 with variations between 32,977-23 per cent above- and 19,0 1 1-29 per cent below. In Victoria the average enrolment is 29,192 with variations between 63,396-1 17 percent above-and 17,825-39 per cent below. In Queensland the average enrolment is 12,692 with variations between 20,062-58 per cent above-and 6,391-50 per cent below. In South Australia the average enrolment is 15,646 with variations between 27,197-74 per cent above- and 8,510-46 per cent below. In Western Australia the average enrolment is 11,617 with variations between 19,971-72 per cent above and excluding the north west zone 6,935-40 per cent below. Similarly, in those States with upper Houses elected directly by the people very large inequalities exist as the following examples show.
In Victoria the average enrolment is 1 18,391 with variations between 200,868-70 per cent above- and 50,621-57 per cent below. In Western Australia the average enrolment is 39,497 with variations between 84,999-115 per cent above- and 5,457-86 per cent below. In Tasmania the average enrolment is 10,7 1 8 with variations between 18,760-75 per cent above- and 5,362-50 per cent below. The New South Wales upper House is elected not by the people but by the existing members of the 2 Houses.
The Bill also proposes an amendment of the Constitution so that each House of each State Parliament will be elected directly by the people of the State. Thus the amendment will require New South Wales to alter the voting system for its Legislative Council so that all of its members are elected by the ordinary voters of the State. Also, it will make it necessary for States to do away with the remaining cases where election of members is by only a privileged class of voters. These reforms which the Government proposes to put to the people will require action in the
Australian and the State Parliament. For that reason- to allow time for this action to be taken- the date when the new arrangements will come into operation is proposed to be 1 July 1976.
Mr President, section 25 of the Constitution provides that if by the law of any State all persons of any race are disqualified from voting at elections for the more numerous House of the State, then in reckoning the number of people of the State or of the Commonwealth, persons of that race resident in that State shall not be counted. This is an archaic provision and not within the spirit of the amendments we are proposing, and the Bill provides for the repeal of that section. By these measure, Mr President, I believe we will add much to the durability of our parliamentary systems, and remove injustices which have lived too long.
Before closing, I draw the attention of honourable senators to a further provision in the Bill. It is designed to ensure that cases can be brought before the High Court in relation to matters arising in the electoral provisions of State or Australian law. The way in which this is done is to include a new section of the Constitution that will permit an elector of the Commonwealth to bring a relevant matter before the High Court, and an elector in a State to raise a matter relating to that State. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
I introduce a Bill to alter the Constitution in relation to borrowings for, and financial assistance to, local government bodies. The aim of the proposed amendment to the constitution which will be submitted to a referendum at the time of the next Senate election is to make funds available direct to the local government, both by way of grants and by loans at lower interest rates, so that urban and rural councils and other local government bodies can be freed from the straitened circumstances of the past. It is part of the Government’s policy, not only to ease the increasing burden of rates on the people of Australia but also to make possible significant improvements in municipal services which for 23 years under previous Australian Governments have been shamefully neglected. It is therefore a matter of importance to every Australian including every home owner and aspiring home owner in the country.
It is high time an Australian Government used its authority and its resources to make it easier for local governments to have access to the funds they need to help the people in relation to their streets, drains, sewerage and all other local services to which as taxpayers they are entitled. The Australian Government is wholly committed to this. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said in the Australian Labor Party’s policy speech last year:
Let there be no mistake about Labor’s determination to make local government a genuine partner in the federal system.
At the more recent Constitutional Convention in Sydney he said:
If the financial agreement were being drawn up today it would be inconceivable that these authorities- that is, local government authorities- would be overlooked.
In may of this year, the Australian Government asked this Parliament to pass the Grants Commission Act which empowers the Commission to inquire into, and report on, applications from approved local government bodies for grants. This was one of our election undertakings and one of the first to be honoured.
In October- just a month ago- at a meeting with the heads of government of the States the Government took new initiatives on behalf of local government. We made 2 proposals. One was that elected local government should have both a voice and a vote in the loan council. The other was that the Australian Government be empowered to borrow on behalf of elected local government. The meeting was abortive. There was no consensus to enable the Australian Government to proceed without delay.
This Bill, therefore, is designed to deal with one of those .proposals- that is, to add a new placitum to section 51 empowering the Commonwealth to borrow on behalf of local governmentand at the same time to add a new section 96a empowering the Parliament to make grants of financial assistance direct to local government. It will take us another step along the road towards giving local government its rightful place in our affairs.
At present the local government authorities raise loan funds themselves, subject to the gentlemen’s agreement, or obtain loan funds from the States. The loan funds from the States are raised as part of the ordinary loan programs of the States under the financial agreement. The Bill will give local government an additional source of funds. It will give the Australian Parliament express authority to make provision for the borrowing of loan funds by the Australian Government on behalf of local government bodies.
At the recent Constitutional Convention the Prime Minister said perhaps the most important amendment that could be achieved for 1973 and beyond would be an amendment to do just thismake it possible for the Australian Government to borrow directly on behalf of local government bodies. The Bill will also give this Parliament power to grant funds to these bodies in the same way as it does to the States. The intention is to grant financial assistance only to elected local government bodies. This access to public funds on better conditions and in a more direct way has been a facility sought by local governments through the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. The Government considers the need to be both real and urgent. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Suspension of Standing Orders: Call of the Senate
– Pursuant to contingent notice of motion, I move:
Motion (by Senator Withers) proposed:
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I have no objection to the debates being adjourned, but if for some reason the motion were not acceded to, the matter would have to stand over for 2 1 days.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 14 November (vide page 1808).
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears-
Australian Capital Territory’ includes the Jervis Bay Territory; school system’ means an educational system that provides education at schools or, if an educational system provides education at schools and also at institutions other than schools, that system in so far as it relates to schools.
– I believe that when this Bill was last before the Committee it was requested that consideration of clause 3 be deferred until after consideration of clause 4. Therefore, we proceed to clause 4.
– No. We should proceed to amendment No. 2 which seeks to amend clause 3. 1 understand that it will be moved by the Minister for the Media.
– I understand that when consideration of this Bill was adjourned in the Committee stage last Wednesday it was agreed that the first amendment to be moved by Senator Rae which was considered to be consequential upon his proposed amendment No. 5 to clause 4 should be deferred until the discussion on amendment No. 3 was concluded. That was agreed to amongst all parties. That being so, I wish to move on behalf of the Government the second amendment to clause 3, page 2. 1 move:
At the end of clause add the following sub-clause: (2) Any reference in a provision of this Act to schools shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be read as a reference both to government schools and to non-government schools. ‘.
The purpose of my moving that amendment on behalf of the Government is to remove any possibility of doubt about the Government’s intention to concern itself with the needs of all schools, both Government and nonGovernment. The Schools Commission will be free to recommend the measures it regards as appropriate, for instance, to particular types of schools within the standards and priorities that it will lay down. The words ‘unless the contrary intention appears’, relate to clause 13.(3) (a) on page 7 where the Bill reflects the Government’s recognition of the responsibility which it and all of the State governments have to accept. It is a primary obligation to provide government school systems of the highest standards open to all children without fees or religious tests. Because the Government feels that such an amendment would stengthen the Bill and be in better explanation of its term I have moved that amendment.
– The Opposition will not oppose this amendment. In fact, we are delighted to see that the Government recognises one of the numerous defects which exist in the Bill as presented to this chamber. We are glad to see that there is a clear recognition of this position and that there is not to be a segregation or separation in relation to government schools and non-government schools unless that is specifically provided for within a particular part of the Bill. In the circumstances I wish to draw attention to only one other matter and that is the fact that there is still this emphasis by the Government upon schools and not students. The Government’s amendment fails to acknowledge that what we are really dealing with in relation to education in Australia is the question of the education of students and not the interests of schools. It is unfortunate that the Government, notwithstanding the remarks which have been made from time to time in the debate in this chamber and in the House of Representatives and in the Press for that matter, still has not seen fit to refer to students rather than to schools or to students and schools. With those comments we are delighted to support the amendment moved by the Minister in this chamber.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Rae) agreed to:
That further consideration of clause 3 be postponed.
The Commission shall consist of-
The Chairman and each other full-time member shall be appointed for a term not exceeding seven years, and each parttime member shall be appointed for a term not exceeding three years.
– Clause 4 of the Bill provides: 4. (1) There shall be a Commission by the name of the Schools Commission.
) The Commission shall consist of-
) A member shall be appointed by the Governor-General.
I pause there to draw attention to the fact that that means that a member of the Commission as proposed by this Bill is a person who is, in effect, appointed by the Minister at the total discretion of the Minister. Clause 4 continues:
In summary the clause with which we are concerned is one of the fundamental clauses of the Bill before the Committee. The clause provides for the creation of a schools commission consisting of a chairman and between 4 and 1 1 other members appointed totally at the discretion of the Commonwealth Minister for Education. As we understand it, the Commonwealth Minister has already indicated to the members of the reconstituted Interim Schools Committee that they will in fact be appointed as members of the Schools Commission. The Minister has indicated to them that when this legislation has been passed by the Parliament they will be appointed as members of the Schools Commission.
I remind everybody that the second reading of the Bill was supported unanimously in this chamber. So in regard to all this rubbish which has been coming from people with particular barrows to push, personal interests to secure, perhaps a little malice to give expression to when talking about the Opposition in this chamber opposing the legislation and saying that the Senate is killing the Bill and other like comments, the fact is that the Bill has now achieved its second reading. The only question remaining relates to some of the amendments which are to be moved in relation to it. I remind the Committee that the original speech made by me on behalf of the Opposition when the Bill first came on for debate indicated that the Opposition would certainly support the creation of a schools commission. I indicated further that we accepted that although there had been debate last year as to whether it was appropriate in Australia, with the division of power that existed with the desirability of decentralisation in education and with all of the other arguments which were put forward at that time, to have a centralised schools commission, that debate is now over.
We accept that the Government has a mandate to carry out the general policy which was put forward at the time of the last election. I think it would help the consideration of the Committee if I were to remind honourable senators of the contents of the promise. I think it is particularly relevant in relation to the amendments which I shall be moving. The now Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), then Leader of the Opposition, said in his policy speech:
The Australian Labor Party believes that the Commonwealth should adopt the same methods to assist schools as it has adopted to assist universities and colleges of advanced education- through a Commission. We will establish an Australian Schools Commission to examine and determine the needs of students in Government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools. I propose to prepare for the statutory Schools Commission as Sir Robert Menzies prepared for the Universities Commission.
He went on to say what Sir Robert Menzies did. The Prime Minister continued:
I shall write before Christmas to a small group of leading educationists, including representatives of the State and Catholic systems. I shall write in precisely the same terms as Sir Robert, requesting for the schools, as he did for universities, recommendations upon ‘their financial needs and appropriate means of providing for these needs ‘.
He went on to say that it would not be necessary to delay the appointment of the commission and that the report would be promptly published and that this would help in the making of his Party’s plans. The Prime Minister continued:
A Federal Labor Government will:
Continue all grants under Commonwealth legislation throughout 1973;
Remove the ceiling imposed by Commonwealth legislation on grants in 1 974 and subsequent years;
Paragraph 3, the important part, apropos the amendment which I propose to move in relation to this clause, states:
I simply re-emphasise those words used by the Prime Minister in his policy speech- that the schools commission to be created by a Labor government would include persons familiar with and representative of- I wish to underline the words ‘representative of- the State departments, the Catholic system and the teaching profession. That was the promise made. That is the mandate, if one accepts the mandate theory. For the purposes of this matter we accept that there is a clear mandate to create a schools commission. We now wish to see it work. We will do what we can to make suggestions to the Government which, no doubt, if they are passed by the Government, will be taken back to the Minister for Education, or if he is still unwell to the Acting Minister for Education, and back to those in the Government who will consider them.
If in the normal development of the processes of constitutional democracy and the processes of parliamentary democracy the wishes of one chamber are not acceded to by the other chamber then the other chamber has its options as to what it does. I remind the Committee that there has been a certain amount of publicity and statements by the Minister for Education and statements even by the Prime Minister as to what will happen if the Senate dares to exercise its parliamentary right of reviewing legislation put forward by the executive government. This chamber has a right to amend, if it sees fit to do so; it has a right to review. These are not rights to be taken away by those who would petulantly threaten to take their bat and ball home if they are not elected captain. To put it in other terms, unless this chamber is prepared to rubber stamp entirely that which the Minister requires, the Minister will not go on with what is regarded by the Australian people and apparently by the lower House- and this would be the majority view of this chamber- as something which is desirable in the interests of education of Australia, that is, the creation of a schools commission.
I wish to emphasise again that the stories, the misapprehensions and the concerns which have been deliberately developed among various sections of the community in regard to the Opposition’s intentions on this legislation have been mischievous, deceptive and totally wrong. One finds repetition after repetition of these deceptive statements which have created considerable confusion in the minds of the Australian people. For that reason I repeat that the Opposition does not wish to destroy the Schools Commission and the Opposition does not wish to argue that the Schools Commission should not be created. The Opposition, however, does have constructive suggestions and proposals to put before this chamber for its consideration.
I would like to support some of the comments that were made by the Minister in his second reading speech in regard to the importance of the job which the Schools Commission can do for the future of education in Australia. The Opposition has taken this matter very seriously. In my experience as a member of this Parliament I cannot recall another matter which has involved a greater amount of discussion. I recall that Senator McManus referred in his speech on the second reading to the amount of time which the Australian Democratic Labor Party had spent in considering this Bill and the questions and proposals relating to the amendments. I simply restate that I cannot recall a matter which has received more consideration and discussion with community groups and in the Party committees and Party rooms.
There has been very widespread discussion and communication between the Liberal and Country Party Education Committee and community groups on this matter. This discussion has not been limited to any sector of the community. In fact it has included both government and nongovernment schools sectors. In addition, university people have been able to discuss their ideas on education as have various other experts from a wide cross section of educational fields in relation to primary and secondary school children. The Committee has met on a number of occasions to discuss the proposed amendments to the legislation. It considered a number of drafts. The amendments which have been circulated to honourable senators in this chamber are the product of those discussions, that consideration, that research and the development of a policy attitude over a considerable period of time. The Opposition has also taken into account, and put forward as a relevant consideration to this chamber when considering the amendmentsthe remarks made by the Prime Minster in his policy speech which gives the Government the mandate- if one accepts the mandate theory- to create the Schools Commission. The Prime Minister said that the Commission would include representatives of State education departments, the Catholic system and teachers. The Opposition would add, of course, that the area of representation is a little limited. But the Prime Minister accepted the principle that the Schools Commission should be comprised of people who were familiar with and representative of particular areas of education.
As I pointed out earlier, the Bill does not give any such guarantee. There is no provision in the Bill which would guarantee the right of representation to parents, teachers or any of the other groups referred to, including State education departments. As the Bill is drafted at this stage representation will be made at the whim of the Minister for Education. What the Opposition sees as being desirable is an amendment which will increase the number on the Schools Commission from a total of 12, which is the number set out in the Bill, to a total of 15 which would be 14 members plus a Chairman. I would like to draw attention to what the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, which has become known as the Karmel Committee report, had to say on this matter. In chapter 13 (4) the Committee stated:
The Committee suggests that a Commission comprising a Chairman and three or four full-time commissioners with, say, six part-rime commissioners, would be an appropriate structure.
But the Committee did not say that the Schools Commission must in its scheme of things comprise only that number. The Committee was referring to an approximate number, and its approximate number would be a number comprising a Chairman, three or four full time commissionerssay 4 full time commissioners- making a total of 5 full time members, and 6 part time commissioners which makes a total of 1 1 members on the Commission. The Minister in his wisdom has thought it fit to make provision for 12 members. As a result of consideration and discussion the Opposition believes that it would be desirable to have 15 members.
We believe that this amendment should be considered in the light of other amendments which will be moved later but which, because we are dealing with the Bill clause by clause, I shall not debate at length at this stage. But what we propose is that -
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, I rise in order to allow Senator Rae to continue his remarks.
– I thank the Committee. With the indulgence of the Committee I propose to make a number of remarks at this stage which will not be made at later stages and which do gather up a number of aspects of the debate.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, might I interpose by way of interjection? Do I take it from what has just been said by Senator Rae that he is now really addressing his remarks to proposed amendments Nos 4 and 5?
– To explain amendment No. 3 it is desirable to make some reference to amendments Nos. 4 and 5. 1 am bringing these amendments together at this stage although I will explain them in more detail when we come to to them. But I wish at this stage to refer to them all so as to give some explanation as to why the Opposition wants to increase the number of members on the Schools Commission to 15 members.
– Again, for the sake of clarity, might I interrupt with your permission, Mr Temporary Chairman? Is Senator Rae suggesting that debate on amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5 be taken together?
– I was not suggesting that. But if the Government wishes that these amendments be taken together, that is a matter which -
– They are your amendments.
– I did propose to take these amendments separately because it is possible that someone else in the chamber may wish to move an amendment to the first, second or third amendment.
– I see.
– But in explanation of amendment No. 3 I think it is desirable to make some reference to amendments Nos 4 and 5.
– Amendments Nos 6 and 7 are also part and parcel of the same thing.
– Yes, but they are consequential. We suggest that regard should be paid to the fact that the Schools Commission will have to deal with 10,000 schools in Australia and it will have to give consideration to seven different government school administrative systems, one of which can be regarded as the Commonwealth school system- although in many ways the systems in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are separate- and the others are the 6 State administrative systems throughout Australia. It must also have regard to the varied non-government or independent school systems or individual schools throughout Australia and the administration associated with them.
The net result is that the Schools Commission will have a job which is far more extensive than the job undertaken by the Australian Universities Commission. It will involve this very wide variety of interests and wide and diverse administrative practices and the Opposition believes that it will need to have a sufficient number of members to be able to have sub-committees which can operate within the States. It needs to have sub-committees which can liaise in the various States. It needs to ensure that the professed ideas of the Karmel Committee, and even of the Government, that there shall be decentralised administration, diversity and innovation can be implemented. What the Opposition sees is a desirability that there should not be simply an hierarchy leading up to a few who make the ultimate decisions but rather that there should be a sufficient number which is representative of the various interest groups, although not answerable to those interest groups, throughout the community.
At later stages the Opposition will be moving amendments to include on the Commission a variety of people drawn from various areas of education in Australia so that the Commission will number in all 15. When we come to that stage I will be making some further reference to the actual constitution of the Commission and the interest areas from which members are drawn. However, I would like to take this opportunity to re-emphasise that the Opposition has not at any time opposed the general concept of the Karmel Committee’s report. It has not at any time done other than applaud the addition of extra funds for education in Australia. I remind the Senate that on 23 August this year in this chamber I said: 1 also remind the Senate that in speaking to the motion which I moved I referred to the fact that we did noi oppose- I emphasise the word ‘not’- in any way at all but rather applauded the steps which had been taken to make further funds available for education in Australia. The Liberal Party- I am sure I speak for the Country Party as well- applauds the granting of further funds to education. We believe that there are areas where it is necessary to take steps to overcome disadvantages and to bring up the standards available to the children of Australia.
That is a quote from page 1 84 of the Senate Hansard of 23 August 1973. 1 repeat that the Opposition has been unfairly maligned in relation to this legislation as a result of a deceptive publicity campaign conducted against the Opposition and against the proposals which it would wish to place for the consideration of this chamber.
– You brought a lot of it on yourselves.
- Senator Devitt wishes to intervene, but as he knows nothing about education I will not bother to answer him. I was challenged at an earlier stage to indentify what I would term the greatest hoax in political history and that is the claim of a huge increase of $404m in the amount of money provided in the Budget for education. I will do so but as I have not the time while dealing with this aspect of the Bill I will keep my reply until an amendment is moved.
- Senator Rae, you should keep to the amendment you are now moving.
– Yes, I will. The previous Temporary Chairman accepted that there were certain general comments I should make at this stage to cover a number of amendments. However, in relation to that aspect I simply indicate that at an appropriate stage during the debate I would like the opportunity to make some comments. I move:
Clause 4 would then read:
The Commission shall consist of-
Clause 4 then would go on to provide for those aspects to which I referred in opening my remarks. I commend the amendment to the Senate and seek the support of the Senate for the extension of the Commission from a membership of twelve to a membership of fifteen.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the amendment. We believe in the principle of representation that has been enunciated by Senator Rae, although when it comes to the discussion of the amendment we will propose in certain instances a different basis of representation. I will not at this stage go into all the issues that could be raised. I think the major debate should take place upon the amendments to be moved later. We support the increase in the membership of the Schools Commission to fourteen because we in the Democratic Labor Party intend to move an amendment of our own in regard to the basis of representation.
– Clause 4 which we are debating in Committee relates to the structure of the Schools Commission. I reiterate what Senator Rae has said. The Opposition throughout the second reading debate and by voting to support the second reading of the Bill supports the establishment of an Australian Schools Commission and recognises that the Australian Government on 2 December last received a mandate for establishing that Commission. In my speech during the second reading stage I drew attention to the fact that not only did the Government in its policy speech indicate that it would set up a commission that was so structured as to have representation of various bodies but also throughout the election campaign it received representations from parent and teacher associations seeking their direct representation on such a body. Furthermore, I made the point that I had heard on many platforms Australian Labor Party spokesmen, including the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), indicate that such representation would be given. I therefore made the point that the Government not only had a mandate but also had indicated, as shown in the passage from its policy speech that Senator Rae drew attention to, that it would put on the Schools Commission ‘people familiar with and representative of State education departments, the catholic system and the teaching profession’.
Subsequently a great number of parent and teacher organisations made representations to the Government and to Opposition members urging such representation. I remind the Senate that by letter of 27 March this year to the Prime Minister the Australian Council of State School Organisations said:
The purpose of this letter is to request you to agree to the representation of parents and of teachers organisations on the Schools Commission.
I remind the Senate that in the Karmel Committee report under the heading ‘Structure of Schools Commission’ the following appeared:
In submissions to and discussions with the Committee, the Australian Teachers Federation and the Australian Council of State School Organisations argued strongly for the right to nominate representatives as members of the Commission.
I emphasise ‘argued strongly for the right to nominate representatives as members of the Commission’.
– How about the next sentence?
– I am perfectly happy to read it but it is quite irrelevant to the point. The next sentence is:
The Committee feels that the Commission should be able to conduct its proceedings on the merits of the business before it, with its members not bound to any particular point of view on specific questions.
If the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) is seeking to say that the Karmel Committee received this request for direct nomination of organisations but decided against it, I acknowledge that. I also acknowledge that nevertheless at every level on the advisory committees, the Karmel Committee specified that there ought to be direct nomination of specific categories. I think the Minister may well acknowledge that point if he peruses the report a little further. I acknowledge his help on this matter. The points which I wish to make are, firstly, that there was a mandate; secondly, that there was a specific undertaking by the Government to make representative categories; and, thirdly, that the various parent and school organisations made representations to the Karmel Committee, to the Prime Minister and to ourselves.
In my contribution to the second reading debate I read out a part of a letter written by Mrs Susan Ryan, Executive Officer of the Australian Council of State School Organisations. The letter was dated 13 November. Because of a subsequent telegram which I have received from Mrs Ryan I propose, with the indulgence of the Committee, to read out the whole of the letter. It reads:
On behalf of the Australian Council of State School Organisations, I would like to clarify for you our position in regard to nominees for the Australian Schools Commission.
As you will see from the (2) enclosed copies of past correspondence, our Council has never argued for direct representation. It is our view that the proposed commission must be a completely independent body, capable of making recommendations on the basis of need alone. We consider that a Commission composed of direct nominees of groups with report back obligations to those groups would not be able to function in this way.
Like the Australian Teachers Federation, ACSSO submitted to the Minister a panel of nominees from which one was chosen as a pan-time commissioner. It is our view that if every group represented on the Commission were required to do the same, the result would be a Commission properly representative of the education community, but free enough from sectional pressures to be able to function was an expert objective body.
I trust you will take ACSSO ‘s views into account when the Schools Commission debate is resumed in the Senate.
Previously I quoted only the third paragraph which states specifically that the 2 bodies nominated to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) a panel of nominees from which one person was chosen as a part-time commissioner. The Council’s letter also said that if every group did the same- that is, if every group represented on the Commission were required to nominate a panel from which the Government would choose one person- the result would be a properly constituted and properly representative Schools Commission. That is plain language. The following day I received this telegram, which was signed Ryan Executive Officer ACSSO ‘:
Distressed by your interpretation of ACSSO letter 13 November. ACSSO supports Government’s Schools Commission Bill. ACSSO rejects Opposition amendments to Bill. ACSSO rejects direct nomination by groups.
Senator Milliner finds something humorous in this. The Committee will agree that in my speech I read out the factual content of Mrs Ryan’s letter. It was capable of only one interpretation, and that interpretation was that her organisationperhaps Senator Milliner will cease chuckling and note what she said- thought that the right idea would be achieved if each organisation, including hers, were asked to submit a panel from which the Minister would choose one person. That is exactly what the Opposition’s amendment to clause 4 seeks- a panel from which the Minister can choose not one person but two. So the Opposition is putting forward an amendment that is directly in line with the third paragraph of her letter. If there is a lack of interpretation, it cannot be in terms of the plain language of that letter. However, I read it out to acknowledge the fact that she had presented a different viewpoint.
I must say that repeatedly in recent weeks members of her organisation have come to this
Parliament and have approached members of the Opposition. All of them have said- this is a precis of their viewpoint- that they want the right of direct nomination; they do not want the Opposition’s amendment because it does not go far enough, it seeks a panel of five from which two can be nominated by the Minister; they want the right of direct nomination and if there are two they want to nominate the two. That was the view of members of the organisation for which Mrs Ryan speaks. The people who came here in recent weeks spoke for direct nomination. Mrs Ryan’s letter spoke for panel nomination. I think the Australian Democratic Labor Party’s foreshadowed amendment reflects the more direct nomination.
I have pointed out that the Government is confronted with an amendment which is in line with its specific election promise- no matter what kind of wording it may seek to use nowwhich is in line with its specific promise based on a policy platform at election time and which is in line with the various parent and teacher organisations’ representations. I believe that the amendment is a sensible one because it does not alter fundamentally the concept of the Commission. The Bill envisages that the Commission will comprise the Chairman and not more than 1 1 members. That is 12 as a possibility. The Opposition’s amendment envisages fifteen. So, the Opposition’s concept of the Commission is scarcely much larger than the Government’s concept, but it gives a much wider area of representation. Incidentally, it gives to the Minister a greater freedom of movement; only a minority of the people are specified according to nominated categories. It discharges the promise made at election time. It gives to the state school and parent organisations a substantial majority of viewpoint. It gives to the non-government sector a viewpoint which is in no way exaggerated as a viewpoint. Therefore, it gives the exact representations which have been asked for by the community. As such, it makes good sense. Therefore, the Opposition supports the amendment and commends it to the Committee.
– I think it is a fair comment on the various contributions which Senator Carrick has made to the debate on this Bill so far, both in the second reading debate and in the debate today, that he has proved himself to be a very selective quoter. It was only after he was jolted by the Minister for the Media (Senator
Douglas McClelland) today that he acknowledged that the sentence which followed his quotation in the second reading debate altered the total effect of that quotation.
– He did not acknoledge that.
-That is the way I heard it.
– He stated the very opposite.
-That is my interpretation. There will be a lot about interpretations. Even more importantly, it would be interesting to know why he needed a telegram from Mrs Ryan before he acknowledged that the letter, a portion of which he read out the other day, contained a paragraph which was directly in conflict with the paragraph which he chose to take out of context.
– Again it is a matter of interpretation.
– I do not think there can be any doubt about the meaning of these words which we have heard for the first time from Senator Carrick today. I understand that what we are talking about, what the argument is about, is the meaning of the word representation’. If we are to have literal High Court interpretations of mandates, such as we had from Senator Carrick today and the other day- if we are to have misrepresentation of what I said in the second reading debate, which I shall also demonstrate to Senator Carrick and the Senate- it is necessary that we examine the plain meaning of the paragraph which Senator Carrick read to the Senate only after his memory was jolted by a telegram. He has this letter in his hand the other day when he chose to omit this paragraph which I shall repeat:
As you will see from the (2) enclosed copies of past correspondence, our Council has never argued for direct representation.
– Which Council is that?
-This is the Australian Council of State School Organisations. Senator Carrick did not see fit to tell the Senate that until he received a telegram from Mrs Ryan suggesting that the whole story should be told to the Senate. Mrs Ryan went on to say:
It is our view that the proposed commission must be a completely independent body, capable of making recommendations on the basis of need alone. We consider that a Commission composed of direct nominees of groups with report back obligations to those groups would not be able to function in this way.
She then went on to add the paragraph which Senator Carrick did read the other day.
– And what does it mean?
– I suggest, senator, that in the first place honesty and completeness required you to read that sentence as well in order that the Senate -
– I rise to take a point of order. There has been an interpretative reflection on the honesty and veracity of a senator made by Senator James McClelland which I think is completely out of order.
– It is not unusual for him to doit.
– He is suggesting that Senator Carrick was not honest in what he said.
– We get used to it from Senator James McClelland.
-Can we have some suggestions from you, senator, instead of your usual absurd abuse?
-Order! I think the point of order raised by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has substance to the extent that there appeared to be an imputed reflection in the words used. I consider that they should be put in a more parliamentary form.
– I withdraw any suggestion that Senator Carrick was dishonest. I suggest, however, that this sort of partial quotation from a letter, even if not calculated to do so, has the effect of misleading the Senate and is no help to debate. Senator Carrick challenged me to make the paragraph he did quote fit with the one that he has just quoted and which I have just quoted. Whether or not such an obligation devolves on me, I will shoulder it. Senator Carrick reads into this paragraph a request or a demand from this organisation that it be directly represented on a schools commission. It has said in the previous sentence that that is not what it wanted but let us see what it said in this sentence. I quote:
Like the Australian Teachers Federation, ACSSO submitted to the Minister a panel of nominees from which one was chosen as a part-time commissioner.
This is not a panel from which the organisation demanded that one should be chosen. Surely the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), in looking for people to put on this Committee or Commission, would not go round looking for people expert in animal husbandry, water and sewerage, or something like that. Naturally he would be looking for people who know something about education. He would go as widely as he could across the spectrum. That is precisely what the Minister did in setting up the Committee.
– Keep on reading.
– I will keep on reading, certainly. The letter states:
It is our view that if every group represented on the Commission were required to do the same, the result would be a Commission properly representative of the education community, but free enough from sectional pressures to be able to function as an expert, objective body.
Nowhere in that entire paragraph is there a demand that from the panels submitted to the Minister a representative should be chosen in the way that, for example, a senator is chosen or a man from a constituency is chosen for the House of Representatives. If the letter is read as a whole, how is it possible to imagine that Mrs Ryan could have written the paragraph that I have read today if in fact she had intended by the other paragraph the narrow meaning that Senator Carrick puts upon it?
– If the policy had been changed in the meantime she may have had some difficulty of expression.
-This takes us back to what the policy was. It is interesting, by the way, to read of these latter day converts to the idea of a schools commission complaining that they have been misrepresented when it is suggested to the public that they are not in favour of a schools commission. We know how reluctant their conversion has been. I suggest that the purpose of these amendments is, because they know we have this mandate, to emasculate the proposition as far as they can and to turn the Schools Commission into an inflexible and schematic body which will primarily be representative, in the direct and narrow sense, of the interests of the States. This is not a pure and well motivated idea to get a better Commission; this is the Opposition’s way of saying that if we have to have a commission- and obviously we have to have one because the electors said that they wanted one- let us have one totally different to what the Government has said it wants in this Bill and let us have one which will hamstring the Minister and which as far as possible will be subservient to the States.
I illustrate the absurdity of trying to set up a Commission based on such inflexible yardsticks as is suggested by the Opposition- that certain specified bodies should elect or nominate.
- Mr Chairman, I take a point of order. I was brought back to the particular clause before the Committee. I suggest that the honourable senator be directed to come back to that clause. Basically we are debating the increase in the number to a total of fifteen. I have not yet moved the amendments to which the whole of Senator James McClelland ‘s speech has been directed. I know that I referred to them in general terms but only in the broadest sense. I was then brought back to the clause and was not able to continue and make reference to this matter.
– In reply to Senator Rae, he spoke for 15 minutes and after that Senator Carrick rose to enable Senator Rae to conclude his remarks. It was at that time, after Senator Rae again rose to complete his remarks, that by way of interjection I asked Senator Rae whether he was confining his remarks to his proposed amendment No. 3 or whether he was directing them in the generality to include his proposed amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 5. He said, if I recollect him correctly, that he intended to speak in the generality at that stage, but he agreed that amendment No. 3 would be consequential upon the vote on amendment No. 5 and therefore, in amplification of his remarks on amendment No. 3, it was necessary for him to refer to the effect of proposed amendments Nos 3, 4 and 5. 1 seek clarity on the same matter because I, on behalf of the Government, eventually will have to reply and conclude this part of the debate. I am still speaking on the point of order. I think that, fairly, Senator James McClelland is using rebuttal argument to the statements made by Senators Rae and Carrick. If it be the desire of the Opposition to agree that proposed amendments Nos 3 and 4 are consequential upon what happens in the vote on proposed amendment No. 5, 1 suggest at this stage that we should seek postponement of a debate on proposed amendments Nos 3 and 4 to enable the debate in the generality to proceed.
-Order! I think it is better not to confuse the issue. A point of order has been taken and I intend to make a ruling on that point of order.
– Could I be heard on the point of order!
– In suggesting that the proposed Commission should number fifteen the argument inevitably becomes interwoven with the so called representation of various bodies. What is the point of the added number except to bolster the argument put by the mover of the amendment that certain interests in the community connected with education should be represented?
– But I did not say that. That is the whole trouble. The honourable senator is misquoting me.
– I did not say that Senator Rae said that. I suggest that the honourable senator listen. I said that the inescapable conclusion from that argument is that we have to consider the 2 amendments together. I suggest that they are so interwoven that it is quite artificial to try to compartmentise the debate in this matter. We will get nowhere unless we have a general discussion amalgamating the amendments which are connected with the number and the composition of the proposed Commission. Otherwise the debate becomes quite artificial and pedantic.
– Are you rising to speak to the point of order, Senator Carrick?
– Yes. I speak to the point of order with deference to Senator Rae. If the point of order were upheld I would have been guilty of ranging very widely because in my remarks on clause 4 I ranged beyond numbers. Mr Chairman, I urge upon you, in fairness to Senator James McClelland, that he should be entitled to range at least as widely as I did. I hope that you will agree with me.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I point out that my remarks were very brief because I believed that this discussion must take place on the specific amendment which is No. 3, 1 think. I think that the suggestion of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) is the one which ought be be adopted. Let us hold over these 2 amendments which are consequential. Let us have a big, wide ranging debate on the very amendment which will determine the issue. Mr Chairman, I would like you to uphold the point of order and perhaps adopt the suggestion made by the Minister. Then perhaps we will get somewhere and have one debate instead of two.
– I rule on the point of order. The experience in this debate is that it has been fairly wide ranging. I remind honourable senators that it is much more expeditious and progress is much more rapid in handling a Bill in Committee if objective remarks are made without trying to obtain political points. It would facilitate debate if we stuck more closely to the practice of the Senate in relation to Committee debates. Senator Douglas McClelland has made a suggestion which may be considered. He will have an opportunity, after Senator James McClelland has completed his remarks, of raising his points.
-the point I was making was in relation to the fundamental error in naming a particular organisation as a nominator of a person for appointment to a statutory advisory body such as the Schools Commission. The example which I was about to use to illustrate that point is that it has come to my knowledge that on 14 November a meeting of the Sydney Federation of Catholic Parents and Friends Associations decided it would not reaffiliate with the Australian Parents Council. The Sydney Federation of Catholic Parents and Friends Associations is the largest and oldest organisation of Catholic parents in Australia.
– That is questioned very much. It is a claim without foundation.
– Surely it would be conceded, at least by Senator McManus, that it is a substantial body representative, if one may how use that term of art -
– The honourable senator said that it was the most representative and the largest, which it is not.
-Senator McManus would be better informed than I am on that. My point does not depend on whether it is the most representative or the largest.
-Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired. I suggest that Senator Douglas McClelland should make his suggestion and then enable you, Senator James McClelland, to complete your remarks.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) proposed:
That proposed amendment No. 3 and proposed amendment No. 4 to clause 4, by Senator Rae, be postponed until after consideration by the Committee of the Whole of proposed amendment No. 3 to clause 4 by Senator Rae.
– I would not want to be taken as in any way wishing to confine the right of Senator James McClelland to speak in relation to any of the matters which are involved in this Bill. It was an attempt to have the debate follow a particular course. Perhaps I should not have tried to explain what this amendment was all about by referring to some of the other amendments. I completely agree with what Senator Douglas McClelland has suggested, that we go on to a major debate, bearing in mind that the effect of this amendment will be an increase in the size of the proposed Schools Commission to fifteen. We deal with this by dealing with amendment No. 5 at this stage, and then we would go back to the preceding amendments.
- Mr Chairman, I ask your indulgence and that of honourable senators opposite to request that Senator James McClelland be extended the same courtesy of an extension of time as was extended to Senator Carrick.
-That is quite unnecessary in a Committee debate.
– Let me hasten to add that I was at no time suggesting that either Senator Carrick or Senator Rae -
– Is the honourable senator speaking to the motion before the Chair?
– No. I am sorry, I forgot there was a motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– It occurs to me that there is perhaps one unfortunate aspect of the procedure which has been adopted and that is that the remarks that I wish to make are of necessity fairly lengthy to explain the various aspects of amendment No. 5 and will interrupt Senator James McClelland. Therefore I shall formally move the amendment and enable Senator James McClelland to make the reply which he was in the process of making and then I will join in the debate once it has been opened up. I move:
-I thank Senator Rae. I hasten to assure him that I, at no stage, thought that he was trying to curtail what I was saying. But I thought that this was a more appropriate way of dealing with the subject matter. The point
I was making was that to be bound to this inflexible system which the amendment moved by the Opposition seeks to impose on the Government is to lay ourselves open to having representatives, in this direct sense, of various organisations that may cease to be representative in any true sense if there is a hiving off of some of the most im portant elements in the organisation such as we see in the case which I have quoted. The argument between us, really, is whether the Commission should be what we seek to make it, which is a flexible body reflecting as widely as possible the views of people across the education spectrum but not consisting of representatives, in the literal sense, of people who represent pressure groups. I do not use the term ‘pressure groups’ in a pejorative sense. I do not see anything wrong with the existence of pressure groups especially in a field as contentious as education. In any event, whether I saw anything wrong or not they would still exist. But the Opposition by its amendment seeks an inflexible directly representative body which, I suggest, is undesirable from many points of view, among them being that it limits the opportunity for the Government of the day to choose the best people who are offering. It is not suggested that if some people from various groups are excluded their voices will not be heard. If we look at the whole structure of the Bill it will be seen that clause 16 specifically provides for the setting up of advisory boards both in the States and in the Territories which can put the point of view of these people who, the Opposition says, should have every opportunity of putting their position and their arguments. There is no intention on the part of the Government of closing its ears to the blandishments or the arguments of anybody with a point of view to put, but we do not want to have our hands tied.
In the debate at the second reading stage Senator Carrick thought that he saw in what I had done in reading out a list of the present members of the Committee some sort of illogicality or some sort of concession that the Opposition amendments were really the sort of thing we should agree to because, he said, I had argued that they ought to be on the Committee because they are in special categories. He said that with only one exception these people were nominated for categories exactly as the amendment being put forward by the Opposition proposes. He returned to this theme on the second day. The suggestion was- and he went through the list of people on the Committee- that the Goverment had admitted and that I had admitted in stating the qualifications and the backgrounds of these people that the sort of inflexible composition for which he was arguing was the desirable one and it was one that we accepted. I have had a look through this and I am convinced that this is wholly inaccurate and represents a complete misreading of what I said and of the qualifications and the backgrounds of the people at present on the Committee.
Where, for instance, on the present Committee are the 6 representatives of the Australian Education Council? I cannot find them on the Committee. I can find only one who could fit into that category, and that is a man called Albert Jones. We do not want to be stuck with 6 representatives of the State bureaucracies. We consider that this unnecessarily restricts our field of choice. Of course, we then go to the next suggestion that there should be one representative of the Episcopal Conference of Australia. Again, if we look through the list that I read we see that there are 2 people there who may be put into this categorybut only if being a Roman Catholic fits the bill. The Roman Catholics on this Committee were not nominated by the Episcopal Conference. They are there because the Government in its wisdom wanted to hear the whole of the people from that part of the educational spectrum but it did not want to have its choice limited to the nominations of the Episcopal Conference, quite apart from any constitutional difficulties which might arise under section 1 16 of the Constitution. There is one on the Committe who might be said to speak for the independent schools- that is a Mr Moyes- but he is not in any sense a representative of these schools, accountable to them in any way. There is one from the Teachers’ Federation- a Mr Costello- not two as Senator Carrick suggested in his speech. No one can be said to represent the Australian Parents Council. Then come the others. McKinnon does not fit into any of the categories which Senator Carrick suggests should be directly represented; the same goes for Mr Bennett, Mr Wood, Mrs Kirner, Dr Tannock and Mrs Blackburn.
- Mrs Kirner is on the Parents Council.
-She is not on the Parents Council, as I understand it. If she is, I will stand corrected.
– Would you take my assurance that she is the President of the Victorian Federation of State School Mothers ‘ Clubs?
– If I am wrong about that, I withdraw it. But after examining the list of the Committee people whose names I have read out it is very difficult to find any support for Senator Carrick ‘s argument that we had conceded the Opposition’s point because, in fact, we had a committee that was almost entirely representative of the categories which he had asked should be represented. Another great contradiction, as I see it, in the argument advanced by Senator Carrick the last time he spoke is where he seemed to be suggesting that there was this flexibility in the arrangements which he put forward for which we are contending. For instance, the language which is to be found on page 1 7 1 9 of the daily Hansard of 13 November suggests that he is constantly wanting a discretion to reside in the Minister. For instance, he said:
The Opposition in the Senate has recognised the desirability of submitting a panel to the Minister from which the Minister may select members. The relevant amendment, as circulated, concerning the teacher organisations says this:
And it is curious to find that there is no word may’ in the amendment but the word ‘shall’ occurs. A little further down he says:
I pause here to say that the Opposition envisages not one nominee representative of the teachers, but two. It has put forward a panel of five from which the Minister can accept two.
But the words of the amendment are quite clear: That the Minister shall accept two from the panel ‘. So to use an old legal expression, Senator Carrick cannot both approbate and reprobate. He cannot suggest that it is wrong of us to ask for ministerial discretion, that it is undemocratic, as Senator McManus suggests, to have a selection by the Minister and at the same time to suggest, as he did in the debate the other day, that he is prepared to allow that discretion. As I read the Opposition’s amendments, if they are carried the only members of the Commission in relation to whom the Minister would have absolute discretion in the matter of appointment would be the chairman and 3 others. Apart from that two would have to be appointed from a panel presented by the Teachers Federation and six would have to be appointed- not ‘may’ but shall’- on the recommendation of the Australian Education Council.
– With respect, you have not read that quite correctly. The Minister shall have discretion in relation to five, and two, not three, shall be appointed.
-There is no discretion there either, if you read it closely.
– You did not read it quite clearly. It says: ‘the Chairman and 5 others on the recommendation of the Minister’, not three.
-To what are we referring?
– Five other members.
-‘ The Chairman and 5 other members . . .’
– You said three.
-Read it more closely. I stick to what I said and I will explain to you why I stick to what I said. It states:
The members of the Commission shall be appointed as follows:
the Chairman and five other members upon the recommendation of the Minister and of whom two shall be members of teacher organisations selected by the Minister from a panel of not less than S persons’ names submitted by the Australian Teachers’ Federation and one shall be a person involved in research in relation to education;
Where is the discretion in the Minister there? It is mandatory upon him to make at least two of those five selections from a panel that is presented to him. There is no discretion in him to appoint any more, I repeat, than the chairman and 3 others. Then, two shall be from a panel presented by the Teachers Federation and six on the recommendation of the Australian Education Council- that is, in effect, the State Ministers for Education who must, by definition, dominate that Council; and 3 others, one from the Episcopal Conference, one from the National Council of Independent Schools and one from the Australian Parents Council. The pious reservation contained in the proposed clause 4b is in my respectful submission an acknowledgment by the Opposition that the effect of this manner of appointment would be that we would have a series of direct representatives of pressure groups who would come together on this Commission representing the points of view of their pressure groups and not looking at the subject objectively or in a general way. Otherwise the Opposition would not have considered it necessary to include in its amendment proposed new clause 4b which reads:
A member shall not be responsible to the body or organisation which recommended the member or submitted the member’s name in a panel of names.
That, I suggest, is a pious expression of hope. If we get a Commission constituted in this way, what we will get in place of what Senator Carrick suggests is a collection of Government stooges will be a collection of warring contenders for their own special interests.
As I said earlier, the Government’s performance in its selection of the members of the Interim Committee indicates that it is cognisant of the interests of the various groups across the educational spectrum. There is no desire on the part of the Government, even if we disregard proposed section 16, to exclude the interests of any one of these groups; but the Government says that it does not want to have its hands tied in the way in which the opposition’s amendment proposes, because if its hands are tied in that way we will not get the best possible Commission. Certainly we have no objection to panels being put forward by people who are interested. I submit that if we look again at the letter to which we were referring a little earlier we will see that this position is accepted by the organisation that wrote that letter. It says, in effect: ‘We are not contending for direct representation. We do, however, claim that we should have a right to put up a panel to you and we suggest that all other groups in the community should put up a panel to you and that you should consider those panels’. The Government will consider those panels, but it does not want to be bound in the inflexible way in which it would be bound if the Opposition’s amendment were carried.
– The Committee will recall that I indicated that because perhaps of some misunderstanding Senator James McClelland was interrupted and I wanted him to complete what he had to say. But I feel that he did get a little to the stage of the cart going before the horse. I shall refer, first of all, to the provisions of the Bill before us and then to the specific amendment which I wish to move. The position is that the Bill provides for a Commission, as I said, of up to 12 people appointed totally at the discretion of the Commonwealth Minister for Education. For reasons which I have not yet had any real opportunity to outline, it is the Opposition’s view that after clause 4, about which there has been discussion already, there should be inserted a new clause 4A and a new clause 4B. Accordingly I have moved: 4A. The members of the Commission shall be appointed as follows:
What the Opposition has in mind is to comprehend a number of what we believe have been strongly held views of a variety of people, including even the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) as expressed in past statements and actions, of the Labor Party in its approved policy speech, and of a number of organisations throughout Australia which are interested in education, and basically supported by the Constitution.
The position in Australia is this: There are 3 administrative power areas in relation to primary and secondary school education. We believe that it is totally unreal to approach the question of primary and secondary school education in Australia from the point of view of a failure to recognise the existence of those 3 major administrative power areas. Those areas are as follows- and not necessarily in order of importance. The first is the Commonwealth area administered by the Commonwealth Minister for Education, in relation to which he has the responsibility of the administration of schools in the Territories- the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. There is also the administrative aspect in relation to the expenditure of Commonwealth funds in the state and non-government school areas.
The second administrative power area which must be recognised, in my suggestion to honourable senators, not only is in existence but is the major administrative power area in Australia. This is a fact recognised by the Minister in his second reading speech and also recognised by the Acting Minister for Education (Mr Lionel Bowen) in the second reading speech which he made on the States Grants (Schools) Bill 1973 that was introduced into the House of Representatives last Thursday. That major administrative power area is the State government area. Under the Constitution, the States clearly have the overall education responsibility but certainly have responsibility in relation to primary and secondary schools which are the ones with which we are concerned here. Thirdly, the non-government school sector, although diverse, can be regarded collectively as an administrative power area. An attempt to set up an Australian Schools Commission which fails to recognise the existence of the administrative power areas is, in our submission, a Schools Commission which is bound to fail.
We all know the problems which have arisen already in relation to the recommendations of the Interim Committee- the Karmel Committeebecause of this very point. There was an inadequacy of communication between the nongovernment schools which were categorised by the Karmel Committee and the Committee itself. I do not wish to re-open in detail the debate that has taken place already in that regard. I just wish to make this point: Much of the problem which arose in relation to those schools and the fact that so many appeals were upheld are, I believe, proof of my point that there was a lack of communication and that problems did arise. Let us hope that they do not arise on the massive scale on which they could arise through a failure of adequate communication between the various administrative power areas involved in primary and secondary education in Australia. If the Minister genuinely believes in the creation of a body which does not have a direct liaison with all of those major administrative power areas and if it is not felt in those major administrative power areas that they have some say in the creation of the body, the Minister is indulging in Alice in Wonderland type thoughts if he thinks the body will work. It prospects of working as at present constructed are dim, in our view. We see it as important that it should work.
I deny emphatically the suggestions made by Senator James McClelland that this is an attempt to destroy the Bill. I repeat that we see it as desirable and necessary that if there is to be a Schools Commission, it should be a Schools Commission with a prospect of working. We also see it as desirable to start from the point of view of considering its constitution and identification and therefore the involvement of the major power areas. Therefore, we propose a Schools Commission of 15 members. Six of the members will be appointed by the Commonwealth Minister and six will be appointed by the Australian Education Council which is, of course, that body of State ministers responsible for education and the Commonwealth Minister for Education meeting together. I take the opportunity to point out that, of course, the Commonwealth Minister is a member of the Australian Education Council and would have an opportunity to have his say in the deliberations of that body as to the persons to be appointed by it to the Schools Commission. So if there were some person that the Australian Education Council was considering to appoint that the Minister thought was totally unsuitable for one reason or another, he has the opportunity to argue that this is so and to put forward his reasons to have them taken into account by the other ministers before they make their nominations for appointment.
Then, we would suggest that upon a pro rata basis of the number of children who are involved in government schools and the number of children involved in non-government schools, the representation of the non-government school area would be appropriately a 20 per cent basis. The number of children involved in this area of education represents slightly more than 20 per cent of the total number. But the closest percentage one can obtain on the basis of 3 out of 15 children is 20 per cent as the appropriate representation of the non-government school area. That is the first stage of my explanation of the Opposition’s view in relation to the constitution of the Schools Commission. I take this opportunity to read again the Labor Party view on this matter as expressed in the policy speech of the Prime Minister, the then Leader of the Opposition. He said:
Education is the prime example of community service which should involve the entire community- not just the Education departments and the Catholic school authorities and the Headmasters ‘ Conference, not just parents and teachers, but the taxpayers as a whole. The quality of the community’s response to the needs of the education system will determine the quality of the system. But the community must first know and understand the needs. We reject the proposition that administrative convenience should over-ride the real needs of schools. We reject the argument that well-endowed schools should get as much help from the Commonwealth as the poorest state or parish school, just because it is easier to count heads than to measure needs.
I read the latter part of that paragraph not because I regard it as relevant to the point to which I wanted to address my remarks but for the sake of completeness. I point out that the Prime Minister then went on with that part which I have already quoted and in which he talks about representatives of the State departments, the Catholic system and the teaching profession. So what we are suggesting is quite in line with the policy speech of the Prime Minister delivered before the general election in December last year. What we are proposing goes a little further than the first outline which I have given. I remind the Senate that it is based upon a recognition of the 3 administrative power areas that must be drawn together to act co-operatively and with a feeling of involvement if the Schools Commission is to work. We then propose to recognise certain other aspects which we regard as desirable aspects of involvement in a Schools Commission. That is that there should be representation from the area of teachers in primary and secondary schools. We accept that the Australian Teachers Federation represents the largest body of teachers in primary and secondary government schools.
– It is a pressure group.
- Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson says that it is a pressure group. He is making reference to what was said earlier this afternoon by Senator James McClelland.
– I was merely re-quoting the honourable senator. It is not my opinion.
– This is so. I wanted to make it clear that that is what the honourable senator was doing. I suppose that after the experience of the past few weeks one could but agree with the comment. Notwithstanding that, we believe that the Australian Teachers Federation is representative of the teachers of Australia in its constitution. We believe that many of the teachers of Australia should take a more active interest in the affairs of the Australian Teachers Federation. But that is a second question. We believe that it is the body most representative of teachers and we would be content that it should be the body represented on the Schools Commission. I will outline the meaning of the word ‘represented ‘ as I use it there in a moment.
We also believe that there should be one person selected totally at the discretion of the Commonwealth Minister. That person should be involved in the research area of education. This would mean that recognition of the Commonwealth power area would give to the Commonwealth Minister a total discretion to appoint 3 people. The only limitation on the fourth person is that he must be involved in research. The Minister would also have the right to select 2 teachers from a panel of five submitted by the body which I am sure is generally accepted as being representative of the Australian Government primary and secondary school teachers- the Australian Teachers Federation.
In using the word ‘representative’ what we have accepted- we have had many discussions about this and I am sure that other honourable senators have also had many discussions about this- is that bodies such as ACSSO- the Australian Council of State School Organisationsthe 3 New South Wales federations which have expressed their views to us on many occasions, the Victorian Federation of State School Mothers Clubs and various other organisations all of which I could refer to in detail are keen to have what they call representation of parents and teachers on the Australian Schools Commission.
-Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (5.12)- I do not want to speak for very long because I feel a little conscious of the fact that I interrupted Senator James McClelland when he was speaking in the debate during the committee stage. I am intrigued at his argument that he put in relation to this clause. The Government ‘s recommendation is that its members on this Schools Commission could number anything from 6 to 13, as I read it, and in the case of the amendment which has been circulated by the Opposition the number is 15. So the margin between the Government ‘s proposal -
– I make it 10 or 12.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThere are contingencies there that I suggest the Minister wants to read again very carefully. However, I am sure that he and I will not come to very much grief over the mathematics of the proposals. I want to come to the matter of substance concerning which I heard Senator James McClelland advance a point of view during the second reading debate and again today. I am sorry to say that he has repeated some of the things that he said during the second reading debate which, on reflection, I thought that he would not have wanted to say. However, as I say, he said them again. What he is suggesting really is that the people who come from special organisations represent pressure groups. He puts this in a context to suggest that there is impropriety in the fact that they are pressure groups and that there would be impropriety in relation to how such people would function as members of the Schools Commission. I find that staggering. The whole of our concept of committees, commissions and various other bodies, not only in political life but also outside it, is that people with special knowledge are brought in. They do not prejudice their soul when they do that. If they are sent because they are members of some organisation, they do not immediately say: ‘All right, I will look at things in a narrow view’. That is a denial of their lifetime and a denial of everything that they have done. For instance, if educationalists are members of the Australian Teachers Federation, that does not mean that they will have, as members of the Schools Commission, a narrow, mean and selfish outlook. After all, they are educationalists. The fact that they are chosen from a panel- not necessarily a narrow panel, but a wide panel- automatically suggests that they are people who will give good service to the cause of education, not to the Teachers Federation.
I refer now to the other amendment which deals with 5 persons from the Australian Council of State School Organisations. Will the people who are appointed by that organisation- in language which I think is a fair interpretation of what Senator James McClelland has put- be completely narrow and prejudiced in their approach to the problem of the education of all Australian children?
– Quarrelsome, too.
– And quarrelsome, too. I cannot accept the concept at all. If we did accept it we would never be able to put anybody on a committee if they were associated with the field into which the committee was inquiring because they might have a narrow, prejudiced view. I do not understand it. To me it is a negation of everything. I, for instance, am very ecumenical. I have been in organisations of one church and I have found going along to its meetings people of a different persuasion, prepared to give service to the good cause. I belong to some charitable bodies composed of members who belong to other organisations but when they attend the meetings they do not say that they are Labor blokes, Liberal or Country Party blokes and therefore are going to take only one sort of view. Those people attend for the cause.
Certain of us from different political organisations belonging to the same organisation are trying to achieve some good. We are not prejudiced.
I find it a complete negation of everything that we stand for in a democracy to suggest that people cannot be put into a job to do something for the community at large when they have special knowledge and a lifetime of training and experience. It is said that such people should not be put onto this Commission because they are prejudiced and narrow in their views and they will not take the wide national outlook. I just do not understand it.. I think that the argument produced by Senator James McClelland is really -
– It worries you.
-Yes, it worries the life out of me to think that he could imagine it. I have always looked upon him as a man who has a broad horizon. The world does not go on like that. This is a different world where we can agree to differ, where we can sit on a committee and say: ‘I might think this and you might think that. You are a member of the bush whackers and I am a member of something else, but let us think about what is good for the cause.
– Why did your Government not put trade unionists on commissions?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONLook, what is being suggested is a very negation of conciliation. Where somebody is appointed to a committee he is not appointed because he will represent a certain view. A person is placed on a committee from a panel to give a wide canvass of opinion -
– With experience and training.
-With experience and training of a lifetime. A committee needs a wide canvass to get the best for the community, for the Government and for the people. To suggest that we cannot alter the number from thirteen to fifteen and we cannot suggest that certain groups should submit to the Minister a panel of five from which he can choose two because he wants a particular group to be able to make a contribution to the all-over good of the community, is wrong. Frankly, I suggest that because of some fear in the minds of the Government, indeed in Senator James McClelland because he has expressed it, that this amendment is calculated to destroy the concept of the commission it is being opposed. I suggest that Senator James McClelland has overreached himself in his opposition. The phrase pressure group’ was a singularly unfortunate expression in the concept of this amendment. I hope that in the debate the honourable senator will be able to convince me that he did not mean it in the context in which I understood it.
– I should like to take the earliest possible opportunity to clear up any confusion that I have created in the mind of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. First of all, I thought I had made it clear that I do not impute any impropriety to belonging to a pressure group. I said that several times. It is in the nature of a pluralist society that we should have pressure groups. Pressure groups are entitled to be heard. At no stage did I say that being a member of a pressure group would disqualify a man or woman from membership of the Schools Commission. At no stage did I say that I disapproved of panels being submitted to the Minister in order to guide him in the selection of members of the Commission. In fact I specifically stated that I thought that is the way the Commission should function and that is the way it would function. I think that the distinction is really to be found in the distinction between the words ‘may’ and shall’. It is highly instructive that Senator Carrick in the debate fell into some confusion himself over these words.
I believe that panels of experts should be submitted by the various groups- I shall leave out the word ‘pressure’ if it is offensive- to the Minister. I believe the Minister should consider them and of course that is what he has done in setting up the Committee which at present exists.
– The interim committee.
-The interim committee, that is right. I see nothing wrong with this. I see it as the only way in which the commission can function. On the other hand I see nothing dictatorial in the Government’s looking at all the talent available in the education field and while paying regard to the desirability of availing itself of expert advice from the panel submitted to it and from the education field at large, reserving the right to choose what it considers the most balanced and competent commission.
Our object really comes down to this: We are not quarrelling with the idea that everybody’s voice should be heard. As I pointed out earlier, the specific purpose of clause 16 of the Bill is to enable the setting up of boards in the various States and Territories in order to put all these views before the Commission which may, if it is elected on the basis that we suggest, not have people representing various groups. Somebody may miss out, but I suggest we will have a much more competent, a much more skilful and a much more expert commission if the Government is entitled in manning this Commission to look across the whole field and not to have its hands tied but of course to be responsible. I suggest that our method of selecting the Commission, allied with what we propose in clause 16 will secure the representation of the ecumenical approach which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson rightly espouses, but that we will have a better functioning Commission and a Commission more likely to achieve those ends.
– I call Senator Davidson. He has been trying to catch my eye for a long time.
– I think Senator Davidson is not trying to catch your eye at the moment, Sir; I am trying to.
– I have already extended to you precedence over Senator Davidson. If Senator Davidson cares to intimate to the Chair that he does not want to speak at this time -
– Not at this stage, Mr Chairman.
– I call Senator Rae.
– I formally notify you, Mr Chairman, that I have an amendment to move. If we are to go over the full area of the debate I hope that I shall soon get an opportunity to move my amendment.
– Because this is the major point of the whole of the debate which will take place I had anticipated that I would take half an hour in 2 parts to enable me to explain fully. I had designed what I was to say on that basis. I wish to go on and explain the second half of what I was going to say which is the basic reason which the Opposition wishes to move amendment No. 5. In speaking earlier I had reached the stage where I was referring to the meaning to be given to the word ‘representation’ as used by us. It is a limited meaning, the same meaning as was given in a number of submissions from a variety of interested groups throughout the community, which is that persons should be drawn from a particular area, that there should be a guarantee that the persons can be drawn from that area but that they should not be answerable to the organisations of which they are members. There should be a guarantee that they are not on the Commission because they have received particular directions from their committee or organisation and that they are not answerable to that organisation on a reporting back basis. It is for that reason that we included the proposed clause 4b. This amendment gives a guarantee sought by a wide variety of organisations in Australia that they shall be given representation. It is a guarantee that their areas will be represented or, to put it another way, that the people on the Commission shall be drawn from the areas set out in the amendment. This is as opposed to the total discretion of a Minister who may not be the present Minister for Education. There may be a reshuffle in the present Cabinet or there may be a change of government. There is no way in which we can tell who will be the Minister at any particular time.
The fact that the present Minister has indicated that he will appoint a group of people is no argument to say that that type of people will always be appointed. Therefore no one who is interested in ensuring that his parent group, teacher group or whatever type of” group it may be will be represented on the Commission can draw comfort from any assurance given by Mr
Beazley. The position at the moment is not a permanent one. Accordingly we would see as desirable some guarantee written into the Bill that persons would be drawn from these areas and included on the panel. We would therefore see as desirable the inclusion of 4 persons recommended by the Australian Education Council who would represent the interests as seen by the State area of administrative power. These people may or may not be representatives from the State education departments. There may be people who in fact come from a variety of areas. The Australian Education Council would be required also to select 2 people from a panel of 5 names put forward by the Australian Council of State School Organisations. The Council should also, in the forum in which it has total discretion, appoint one person who is involved in the special education of handicapped children or children with special learning difficulties. Again, this is not something unusual; this is not something for which there is no precedent in education.
We have also put forward the suggestion that one member should be appointed on the recommendation of the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference of Australia. I pause at this point to say that in the Catholic system of education the Education Executive is the ultimate body concerned with the direction of Catholic education in Australia. We suggest also that one member should be appointed on the recommendation of the National Council of Independent Schools which is a body comprised of representatives of the non-government school area, including catholic order schools, Protestant schools, non-religious schools and independent modern schools or progressive schools. Almost all schools in this category are members of the National Council of Independent Schools. To ensure that there is representation of the parent group coming from the independent sector we have suggested that a member should be appointed to the Schools Commission on the recommendation of the Australian Parents’ Council, which is a body open to both Catholic and non-Catholic independent school parent bodies. Although the Council is in fact comprised of a large crosssection of parents who have children attending Catholic and non-Catholic schools, it is made up primarily of Catholic parents because most of the children who attend non-government schools go to Catholic schools. In my home State of Tasmania, for instance, parents and friends groups of some of the non-Catholic independent schools are represented on the Australian Parents’ Council. Therefore the Education Executive of the
Episcopal Conference of Australia and the Australian Parents’ Council are 2 bodies which are primarily representative, although not exclusively, of the Catholic area and another body is primarily representative of the non-Catholic independent schools although it does include Catholic order schools.
Senator James McClelland has suggested that it is monstrous for us to say that we should draw people in this way from a number of areas of education. Senator James McClelland would do well to remember that his own Minister has just set up the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority on an interim basis apparently with the intention of making it a permanent body. It is interesting to note the structure of the A.C.T. Schools Authority because it includes people nominated as follows: two by parents’ councils, three by the Australian Capital Territory teachers, one by the Canberra Pre-School Society, one by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council and two by the Minister for Education. I remind the Senate that all of these people are nominated directly by those organisations. In other words, the structure accepted by Mr Beazley in relation to the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority, which is an authority directly within his administrative area has been based on the same type of ‘representation’ which we propose for the Australian Schools Commission. If it is good enough for Canberra it is good enough for Australia. We fail to see why the Labor Party should attack our proposals upon some monstrous basis when its own Minister is using exactly the same scheme for the Australian Capital Territory. There are certain other aspects which can be referred to at a later stage.
One point I want to make is that perhaps all of us have been neglectful for not seeing that the promise made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his policy speech has been carried out because provision has not been made in the structure of the Schools Commission to include a direct representative of the taxpayers. This was referred to in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. However, the Opposition wishes to ensure that there is community involvement in the Commission. It wishes to ensure that there is a guarantee in the structure of the Commission that representatives of parent interest groups, teacher interest groups, areas of research in education, State administration interests and the area of special education for the handicapped will be included in the membership of the Commission. We believe that we should not have a Minister who upon a whim can appoint, for instance, a Commission of 12 teachers, 12 State administrators, or whatever else it may be. We believe it is desirable that the group represented by its Secretary, Mrs Ryan, which has been referred to on a number of occasions, should be represented on the Commission, together with the parents of children attending government schools in Australia, with the right to have their say in the development of education in Australia. This is what we propose. We want an assurance that this is what will happen in the future and that the decision will not simply be left to the whim of a Minister.
Some effort has been made to compare the Schools Commission with the Australian Universities Commission. Some Government speakers and the Minister have laid great stress on the comparison between the Universities Commission and the Schools Commission. But how can one make such a comparison? How can one properly compare a commission which deals with between 10 and 20 universities- and this number has grown at various times- with a commission which deals with 10,000 schools? How can one compare schools which are administered by the States in State school systems with universities which have always been autonomous? Nevertheless, as I have said, great stress has been laid by Mr Beazley, Mr Whitlam and others on the great job that has been done by the Universities Commission. I simply point out that the net result has been that there is now a takeover or handover of university and tertiary administration to the Commonwealth Government. I ask the Minister whether the underlying intention of the Government is that there should be a takeover or handover of the administration of all schools in Australia to the Commonwealth. I have moved the amendment on behalf of the Opposition in the interests of Australian education. We do so in the hope that the Government will give proper consideration to this matter which does after all basically carry out the Government’s own promise of representation to people who are drawn from the various areas of education. It accords with the general wishes of a wide variety of groups in Australia which are interested in education. In our view, it ensures that the 3 major administrative areas are recognised and provides some real prospect of their feeling involved and being prepared to contribute to and work with the Commission in the development of education in Australia.
- Mr Chairman -
-Order! Senator McManus has notified that he proposes to move an amendment. I am wondering whether it would facilitate the debate if honourable senators were aware of that amendment before they heard other speakers. If the Committee is agreeable, I will call Senator McManus.
(5.36)- I am grateful to the Committee for its forbearance, and it probably will save time because otherwise honourable senators would be in the position of perhaps having to rise again to debate the particular points which I make. I intend to move on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party the following amendment:
After clause 4, insert the following new clauses: 4a. The members of the Commission shall be appointed as follows-
the Chairman and three other members upon the recommendation of the Minister of whom one shall be a person involved in research in relation to education;
four other members upon the recommendation of the Australian Education Council of whom one shall be a person involved in special education of handicapped children or children with special learning difficulties;
three other members of whom one shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference of Australia, one shall be upon the recommendation of the National Council of Independent Schools and one shall be upon the recommendation of the Australian Parents ‘ Council;
two other members who shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the Australia Teachers’ Federation; and
two other members who shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the Australian Council of State School Organisations. ‘
Under this amendment every one of the members of the Schools Commission, with the exception of the Chairman and the 3 members whom the Minister shall recommend, shall be appointed upon the recommendations of the bodies concerned. Therefore, the difference between my amendment and that moved by Senator Rae is that he envisages that certain representatives shall be appointed from a panel whilst my amendment envisages that the representatives shall all be nominated direct by the organisations concerned. Under Senator Rae’s amendment the representatives of the independent schools would be nominated direct and others, such as teacher representatives, would be nominated from the panel. My Party thinks that it would be undesirable to have a distinction between the methods of selection of the representatives of teachers and state school parents and the representatives of the independent schools. We propose that they all be nominated direct- other than the Chairman and the 3 other members who are to be appointed on the recommendation of the Minister.
I will move that amendment because I think that this Schools Commission- we supported the Commission and voted for the second reading of the Bill, as my Party has supported every progressive move that has been brought forward in respect of education in this Senate and in this Parliament- ought to have a reasonable degree of independence and for the life of me I cannot understand how the claim can be made that a commission, every member of which is appointed by the Government, will be an independent commission. If the people who are to be on this Commission are all to be appointed by the Government and to be reappointed by the Government there cannot be any independence about this Commission because, as everybody knows, governments tend to appoint people who will play ball. Therefore, if a large number of the members of this Commission represent organisations interested in education I believe that it will be a more independent Commission than one whose members’ tenure of office depends entirely upon the will of the Minister. I believe that such a commission will be flexible as well as independent. It will be flexible because people will not be chosen for it on the basis that they will all play the same tune.
I point out that there has been totally unfair propaganda in regard to this Commission. It has appeared in some of the communications and even through some of the deputations that I have received. I do not know of any Bill in respect of which my Party has received more deputations and more representations. I personally have interviewed 32 deputations on this Bill. I have had a long discussion with the Minister for Education, Mr Beazley- I stop to say that I deeply regret his illness; we all have the utmost regard for him and hope that he will make a very speedy recovery- and with a large number of people associated with education in order to reach a right opinion in regard to this matter. Most of the representations were fair, but it was obvious to me that many of the people making representations had been misled in a most reprehensible way. They told me that they were under the impression that if we moved and carried our amendments in respect of representation the whole Bill would be dropped and millions of dollars which were to be made available for education would not be made available. I have been told by people who know- I have heard the Minister say this-that, obviously if the Government does not accept a Bill amended in the way we desire to amend this Bill, the Government has the power to reappoint a Karmel-type committee which will proceed to do all the work which the permanent or semi-permanent commission could do.
Therefore, all these stories to the effect that unless the Senate passes the Bill just as it is there will not be any commission or any money represent false and malicious propaganda of the worst possible type, because the Government was able without legislation to appoint the Karmel Committee and it can, if it wants to, without legislation appoint another committee of the Karmel type to do the job.
– Who put that story about?
– I would like to know.
– I think you will agree that the Minister has never said that there would not be any money.
-If the Minister has not said it I will withdraw that comment; but it has been said in many circles, let me put it that wayand in many authoritative circles. I ask the Government senators here: Is it a fact that if this Bill goes through as we want to amend it the Government can refuse to implement the Bill and can appoint a Karmel-type committee which can do practically all the things which the Commission could do? There is silence. That indicates that it is untrue that this is a question of a commission or no commission. This is a question of a commission wholely appointed by the Government or a commission containing representatives of bodies interested in education.
I found that many of the people on the deputations which I received were surprised when I told them that if we carried this Bill as we desired to amend it, it would not mean the end of the Commission or of the money which was to be made available for education. They told me that they had definitely been led to believe that not lc of the $400m or $500m would be made available. When I pointed out that the Government could, if it wished, appoint another Karmel-type committee to do a similar job, they were pleasantly surprised. I received a very large deputation on the day that the motion for the second reading of the Bill was being debated. It represented, I was told, the teachers organisation from each State and also the parents of state school children. I said: ‘For 19.5 years I was a teacher, and I was an active unionist. The great battle in those 19.5 years was a battle by the teachers to get the right to appoint their representatives to government education bodies. I helped to win that battle. I am amazed that the wheel has now turned full circle. After I battled, as a unionist, for 19.5 years to get the right for teachers to be represented by their own people on government education bodies, I now find teachers coming to me and saying that they do not want to appoint their representatives; they would like the Government to appoint people for them’. They said: ‘We would like to nominate our representatives’. The representatives of the parents of state school children said: ‘It would do us if we could nominate our representatives’. I said: ‘That is strange. If you are happy to be represented by your people rather than by people appointed by the Government, why do I have all these representations asking me to pass the Bill?’ Afterwards one of them said to me: ‘The reason, Senator, is that we were told that we had to accept the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill and that we might lose everything if we did not accept the Government’s point of view’. I was informed by the teachers’ representative and by a prominent representative of parents of state school children that they would like to appoint their representatives but that they had been told from some source that if they did so they would not get the Bill. Is that not an attack on their independence?
– Do you not think Mr Beazley is competent to do this?
– I will not bring him into this discussion. I have the highest respect for him, and he is not well. I do not allege any misleading by Mr Beazley. When these people left me they told me that they would be very happy to appoint their own representatives. A few hours after they left I heard a Press statement from one who was connected with them to the effect that some of them had changed their minds or had had their minds changed for them because, they said, on thinking it over they intended to return to the old principle that the Minister should appoint all the members.
We all know what happens in such cases. I have been a senator for 14 years. I often hear Ministers, when they want to get their way on matters involving credit unions, old peoples homes and the like, say to the people concerned: If you attempt to interfere with the Bill at all you will lose the lot’. Ministers from each of the major political parties have done it. That tactic has been used on this occasion, and an attempt has been made to high pressure the Opposition. As a result of my experiences in the trade union movement and in the Labor movement I became a connoisseur of high pressure tactics. In this case neither I nor my Party will be pressured. We believe in the principle of people selecting their representatives. If the Government does not accept that principle, it has the remedy in its hands. It can appoint another Karmel-type committee, but it cannot expect members on this side of the chamber to sacrifice a principle in which they believe just to suit the convenience of the Government.
One group wishes to select its representatives because it was not given any voice and was not even allowed to put up a panel on the last occasion. A statement was made that the representative of that group had approved the whole of the Karmel Committee’s report so far as the per capita grants were concerned, but he certainly did not represent the views of that group when he made that statement.
-Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise merely to allow Senator McManus to continue.
– I thank the honourable senator. I will be very brief because I realise that Senator Davidson has been rather frustrated in his attempts to get the call. One organisation which has made representations to me knows the 2 representatives who are supposed to represent its point of view on the commission. Everybody knows who they will be. It wants to appoint is own representatives. I believe that is democracy.
– Who are the two?
– The honourable senator knows who the 2 people are- Father Martin and Mr McNamara.
– What was wrong with their efforts?
-I am not saying anything is wrong with them. I am saying that they do not represent the organisations which we were told they were representing. They were appointed by the Government. Is that not true? Everybody knows that they will be appointed this time. Is there anything undemocratic in the organisations which they are supposed to represent being allowed to nominate them? I do not see anything wrong with that. In union affairs, do not the unions agitate for the right to nominate their people? Of course they do. Why is it right for unionists and wrong for educationists?
– You would say that a man who was appointed to a commission by a union could not carry out his duties satisfactorily.
– I can only say this: When I was a member of the Australian Labor
Party I was responsible for quite a number of people being appointed to boards of different government instrumentalities as union representatives, but I always insisted that they be chosen by their union, not by the government.
– Has every commission a union representative on it?
– I wish to continue. I promised to be brief, and I will be. I see nothing wrong in people being nominated by the organisations which they are supposed to represent. Under this Bill there is no obligation on the Government to give representation to any organisation. It can please itself. It can pick and choose. I do not think that is democratic. For 26 years I was on the Victorian Board of Adult Education. Each member of the Board, except two, was nominated by an organisation. If that is good enough for the Victorian Board of Adult Education, why is not it good enough for this Commission.
– The Committee now has turned its attention exclusively to amendment No. 5 which deals with the structure of the proposed Australian Schools Commission. We of the Opposition are placing before the Committee and the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) our arguments as to why, in accordance with the terms of the amendment which Senator Rae has moved today, we think that the proposed structure set out in amendment No. 5 is a better arrangement than what is proposed in the Bill. Senator Rae’s amendment incorporates a number of important principles, one of which is that the proposed structure which he has suggested will be characterised by a widespread community involvement. There is in this proposed structure what I think I called in my speech on the second reading a freedom of movement. Secondly, there is the principle that those in the involvement will not be direct representatives of organisations as such but will come, by selection, from a number of areas of education and community interest. This is clearly evident in Senator Rae’s amendment and it draws a distinction from a Commission totally appointed by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) and therefore responsible in a very direct way to him.
Because members are to be totally appointed by the Minister the process of appointment naturally and unavoidably will become subject to pressures brought upon the Minister. Appointment will become subject to political influences and political grouping as well as other sets of circumstances. The distinction between that and the structure of the Commission outlined by Senator Rae is such that the proposed structure of the Commission is one in which members are not direct representatives. I draw the attention of the Committee to proposed clause 4b in amendment No. 5 which states:
A member shall not be responsible to the body or organisation which recommended the member or submitted the member’s name in a panel of names.
The proposed structure provides for the inclusion of people who are involved in areas of education and community operation and who, by reason of their selection, would have a degree of personal and educational flexibility and who stand a much greater chance of resisting the pressures to which I have referred already. In short, they would come from a wide range of community interests and activities. Indeed, this is in line with what has evolved from the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). This matter has been referred to before. I mentioned it in my speech in the second reading debate and I refer to it again. The Prime Minister said:
Education is the prime example of a community service which should involve the entire community- not just the Education Departments and the Catholic school authorities and the Headmasters’ Conference, not just parents and teachers, but the taxpayers as a whole.
In laying down in definite lines what he proposed to do if his Party became the Government he said:
A Federal Labor Government will; . . .
Allocate the increased grants for 1974 and subsequent years on the basis of recommendations prepared and published by the Infant Schools Commission which will include persons familiar with and representative of the State departments, the Catholic system and the teaching profession.
In developing that theme during the course of my speech in the second reading debate I went on to point out that it needed to be observed that in recent years the Australian community had ploughed into the quality and quantity of education not only an enormous amount of money but also an increasing amount of effort and personal concern, but also a tremendous amount of student involvement, community involvement and parent and teacher involvement. Therefore it seemed to me to be a realistic process to look at the amendment moved by Senator Rae. Because of the involvement in education in recent years which has characterised the Australian community it is altogether appropriate that there should be on the Australian Schools Commission people who had an association not only with education but also with that area where education impinges upon the whole range of our community life.
It is important also to recognise that in any national education advisory body- and the proposed commission will be a national education advisory body- it is essential that the membership of that body should have sufficient relationship with the various areas of education and community involvement in education. If they do not have this relationship the Commission runs the risk of losing a considerable amount of support and interest. Indeed, it runs the risk of being an unsuccessful organisation. It is tremendously important that any advisory body in relation to education contains people who have an involvement with community interest in education. I am constrained to underline this emphasis on community involvement by quoting from a letter, dated 16 May 1973, from Mr John Riddell, President of the Australian Council of State School Organisations. This letter was written to the Prime Minister and the writer underlines this very important fact. He said:
The needs and priorities of students are a community matter. They can be dealt with adequately only by a Commission fully in touch with the effects on the student, his family and the community of education policies. We submit that this expert and necessary knowledge is not only the domain of the educational theorists. The parents and teachers of students are equally a part of the education community.
So the proposals put down by Senator Rae in his amendment underline the importance of this community involvement.
I also point out that in having this community involvement the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has a considerable amount of discretion in the appointment of the Commission. The amendment states:
The members of the Commission shall be appointed as follows:
the Chairman and five other members upon the recom mendation of the Minister and of whom two shall be members of teacher organisations selected by the Minister from a panel of not less than five persons’ names submitted by the Australian Teachers’ Federation and one shall be a person involved in research in relation to education;
six other members upon the recommendation of the Australian Education Council . . .
The Minister for Education is a member of the Australian Education Council and therefore not without a sphere of influence in the selection of members of the Commission.
I draw attention to the importance of the inclusion of one or two of the areas of education. In particular I look first at the area of teacher involvement. A great deal has been said about representations put forward by teacher organisations; all honourable senators have received representations from teacher organisations. I refer back a little further to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on the Commonwealth role in teacher education. I propose not to refer in detail to that document but to draw attention to the fact that throughout it there was increasing and repeated reference to the importance of the teaching profession in the total Australian community and the importance of the influence of the teaching profession on the total education structure. The Senate Standing Committee became very much aware of the role of teacher organisation in the overall situation.
In this quite historical development of the Australian Schools Commission the place of the teaching profession should be ensured. Those who will be chosen will not represent an organisation but generally speaking will represent a discipline and an area of involvement in education. Teachers have among their number a variety of people who are involved not only in teacher education but also in administration and, more importantly, as I see the Schools Commission, there will be others involved in education planning for the future. Senator Rae’s amendment gives the profession an involvement which is an extremely valuable one and at the same time allows freedom of movement and flexibility. Other areas which are set out in the amendment refer to someone involved in the important matter of research and to other members recommended by the Australian Education Council, one of whom shall have an involvement in the special education of handicapped people. Again this raises in my mind another Senate committee which drew attention to the importance of this field as far as total Australian education is concerned.
In moving further through the clauses proposed by Senator Rae’s amendment, in paragraph (c) there is a reference to that sector of the community which, in broad terms, we know as independent schools. These schools were referred to in a number of the speeches made during the debate on the second reading. I referred to them myself. That day I drew the attention of the Senate to the importance of their maintenance and their interdependence with the Government school system to provide for the total education system a scheme which developed the community to its maximum capacity and ability. The thing to be stated very briefly is that paragraph (c) is concerned with 3 people who will represent about 20 per cent of the total proposed commission. This percentage agrees with the percentage of the number of children in independent schools compared with the total number of school children in Australia. The emphasis in the debate on this clause is for an extension in terms of numbers and for the inclusion of a variety of people who can bring to the proposed commission not only ideas but also a wide variety of talent. I submit that the important difference is that the role of the Minister, his influence and his involvement in the commission are preserved to an adequate degree. There is not a system of direct representation by which members will be subject to pressure from those to whom they have to report and for whom they exercise responsibility. Rather they come on a selection basis representing areas of educational involvement. Therefore because of their numbers and the variety of areas from which they are chosen there is everything in Senator Rae’s amendment which commends itself to the Senate. I hope that it is successful.
– I say at the outset to make my position very clear that I believe there should be representation from people in industry who are skilled in the occupation which they follow. Having said that, I want to oppose the amendment for the very reasons which have been outlined in its support. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson said that Senator James McClelland was denying expertise. That was not so at all. I think that we must look back at some parts of history and its relevance to Senator Poyser ‘s interjection in relation to the trade union movement. On innumerable occasions I have seen governments comprised of Liberal Party and Australian Country Party supporters reject the proposal which the Opposition now espouses. Let me take an incident in relation to the Public Service. The Government in Queensland was to appoint a Public Service Board. The State Service Union which is the Public Service Union- I believe honourable senators will agree that that is a very respectable union- was asked to nominate a representative from the union to go on the Board. The union took a secret ballot of its members after calling nominations. There were 3 nominees and one person won rather handsomely. His name was submitted to the Government but it rejected that nomination in favour of someone who had been defeated. We come to another issue on which I speak with some knowledge. Others in this chamber will know it equally as well. It relates to a replacement in the Senate. The Australian Labor Party nominated a replacement but the
Government in Queensland said: ‘No, we will not have that person. Put up a panel of 2 or 3 people and we will select the replacement. ‘
– Who was the Premier then?
– He is not the Premier at present so it does not matter. I do not want to use names. Of course, if I have to I can quite easily.
– That did not happen in my time.
– No, I know. It is nothing to that Premier’s discredit, I suppose. It was Sir Francis Nicklin. It is all right for honourable senators opposite to say what shall be done in relation to matters which this Government proposes but their Party when in government did precisely the opposite. Let me take one or two matters which have been referred to today. For instance, Senator Rae criticised the Karmel Committee report and the fact that in it there was opportunity for schools to appeal.
– No, I did not.
-With respect, that is in effect what you said.
– Wait a moment. The honourable senator said that the Karmel Committee report must have been wrong because so many schools were appealing. Surely that is what the Karmel Committee set out to do. It sought to bring out a recommendation and to make reservation for somebody who felt that he had been harshly treated. That type of criticism does not lend itself to a debate of this nature. We heard Senator McManus interject when Senator James McClelland was speaking about the appropriate parents’ association from which a representative should be selected. Senator James McClelland said that he was with these people last Friday night and that they said the representative should be from their organisation. Senator McManus said that that is not the appropriate body from which the representative should come. So as honourable senators can see, we have those difficulties. Senator McManus in his amendment goes a little further. He says that the members shall be the direct representatives of the people who sponsor their nomination. At least Senator Rae ‘s amendment give a choice to the Government as to who the representative shall be.
Having stated that I believe that people representing an organisation and who have expertise should be selected on the broad basis, let me ask: ‘Would that not be the opinion of 100 per cent of Government members and will that not be adopted ‘? It will be adopted eventually. I submit with respect that to tie this down to the precise details which we have before us in the amendment makes the whole situation ridiculous. Senator Rae, to fortify the arguments which he advanced, referred to the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority. He said that there were specific nominees for that Authority. Of course there are, because it is a body in a specific area. This legislation applies to the whole of Australia and not to one comparatively minor part of Australia. To try to fortify fallacious arguments of that nature does nothing to support the amendment moved by Senator Rae.
– I do not know that anybody ever congratulated the honourable senator so I am one up on him. Let me look at some of the provisions of amendment No. 5. It states: a panel of not less than 5 persons’ names submitted by the Australian Teachers ‘Federation . . .
From that Federation one member is selected. Does everybody know that not all members of the teaching profession are members of the Federation? What about a teacher who has religious beliefs which preclude him from joining a union? That provision is found in the great majority of industrial legislation of which I am aware. I know numerous people in industry who have religious beliefs which preclude them from joining an association. In those circumstances, no matter how brilliant such a person may be he cannot be selected because he has not been nominated by the Teachers Federation. Also, head teachers are not always members of the Teachers Federation. In one of the States of the Commonwealth there may be an outstanding headmaster who cannot be appointed to the Commission by the Government because the Teachers Federation will not nominate him.
We heard Senator McManus, in his closing remarks, deny entirely what the Opposition is saying. He said that he had been a member of the Adult Education Association of Victoria for an extended period. I just forget for how long he was a member- 20 years, I think he said. No member of that Adult Education Association, whether he be a teacher, an educationist or whatever he may be, can qualify for appointment to this Commission if he is not a member of any of the organisations to which the Opposition has referred. I go back again to what Senator James McClelland was saying about last Friday night, when he instanced the organisations which had been cited and Senator McManus disagreed with him as to which was the appropriate body that should be consulted in this direction. I have no quarrel with what Senator James McClelland said or with what Senator McManus said; that will be worked out eventually, I suppose. But the fact remains that this amendment refers in (b) to a panel from the Australian Council of State School Organisations and in (c) to a panel from the National Council of Independent Schools.
If the Opposition cannot agree here on which is the appropriate body from which the selection will be made, how is the Government going to do it? How does the Opposition know that there are not more organisations than the Australian Parents Council? I know that there are several organisations concerned with schools which do not go by that name. They are to be denied any opportunity to have representatives appointed to the Commission. Consider paragraph (b), which states in the last 2 lines:
Say, for instance, that the Australian Council of State School Organisations nominates a person who has qualifications in special education of handicapped children as its nominee for a position. He may come from, shall we say, New South Wales. But in Tasmania there is a very well qualified person who has special education qualifications in respect of handicapped children and children with special learning difficulties. The Opposition says that the person nominated by the Australian Council of State School Organisations must be chosen; but someone whom it has not nominated but whom the Minister or the education authorities know to be far superior to the person put forward by that Council may not be appointed.
– Of course he can be nominated.
-No, with respect, he cannot.
– He can.
-Let me read that paragraph to the honourable senator again.
So the organisation submits a panel of names. It may, in its honest belief, say that person A is the best man for this job because he is highly qualified in special education of handicapped children. The Government may know of somebody in some other State who is qualified in both those fields of special education- handicapped children and children with special learning difficulties.
– You are misreading it.
– The honourable senator cannot get away from his own amendment.
– You are misreading it.
– Let me now read to him an extract from Hansard of 6 March 1973. It is a report of a speech by one of his own members on this issue. He said- I had better read it all in case I am accused of not reading the whole paragraph- as reported at page 255:
As I said, the Government’s priorities in regard to education appear to be wrong. If the Government wants to give equal opportunity in schooling to every child in Australia, it should concentrate on the primary field because it is there that the child takes his first steps up the education ladder. It is a well known statistical fact that 20 per cent of all primary school children have some specific learning defect, whether it is an inability to leant to read or an inability to do sums. However, only approximately S per cent have a severe learning difficulty.
The Opposition is suggesting that that 5 per cent should have complete preference over others who have a far greater difficulty and a far greater need for education. I do not accept what Senator Rae’s colleague in the other place said. Perhaps he knows more about it than I do. But my association with SPELD indicates to me that it takes quite a substantial part of any kiddie’s primary school education to learn of his special difficulties. I believe that the Opposition can leave it to the Government to be fair and honest about these things. The Government has indicated its honesty and its sincerity of purpose by setting up the Karmel Committee to bring in this recommendationat very short notice- and I believe that it has done a very good job. True, it is not a perfect job; nevertheless, it is a good job and a pointer to what education in Australia shall be in the future.
There are other matters to which I could refer. I do not propose to do so. I ask the chamber to accept that the Government is sincere in wanting the best people available to do the job on the Schools Commission. Leave it to the Government. If it does not do a good job in that direction, then it is the Opposition’s responsibility to point that out. But Opposition senators cannot point it out in advance because I submit with respect that all the sincerity has been exhibited by the Government in the first place. I could make some further references to what Senator McManus said about withholding the whole Schools Commission. The Minister for the Media challenged Senator McManus and said: ‘You did no hear the Minister say that’. Senator McManus replied: ‘No, I did not hear him say that, but others have said it’. ‘Others’ can cover a great multitude of people. I do not know who are the others’. I ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Normally, I do not speak on education, but I must say that, when Senator McManus referred to all the lobbying that has gone on, that is correct. Like every other senator, I think, I was approached by people with various points of view. My approach has been consistent from the start. I have always believed in the dictum of G. H. D. Cole about preferring a little for the many to a lot for the few, and it is on that needs concept that I would always argue. With that background I take up the dialogue that ensued between Senator James McClelland and Senator McManus about representation, and particularly the fragmentation among independent school supporters. I refer to the Federation of Parents and Friends in New South Wales.
The most outstanding feature of the last 12 months has been the number of people who have had honest differences of opinion with the present Government on what we propose to do about education. My good friend and Senate colleague Senator O ‘Byrne would know of a statement made by Archbishop Guilford Young of Hobart. I notice that he once said that a tribute, not a niggardly unappreciative reaction, should be paid to the Karmel report. I marry that with the initial remarks of Senator Rae. I sensed even from Senator Rae an acceptance that overall the legislation was good.
I want to refer to the principle of this amendment which concerns the method of selection. To take the New South Wales situation, there is a cleavage of opinion between the Federation of Catholic Parents and Friends Associations in New South Wales and others. Senator McManus would appreciate this next remark which I make as a comradely criticism. The general idea that taunts people seems to be that no one in those groups was supporting the present Government. But when Mrs Turner, of all people, went on record as differing from other groups, I think it is fair to ask: Who does Mrs Turner represent? She is an extremely talented woman. In the 1969 elections and in the elections up to 1972-1 do not say this in a disparaging way- I am certain that she was identified with the Democratic Labor Party, and she had every right to be. As a matter of fact, during the election in which Senator Kane was successful I was cruising in my car around the electorate of Lowe and she was handing out Democratic Labor Party how-to-vote cards. I met her afterwards and I said: ‘I do not know whether you will get a political dividend from the result’. To the credit of that woman, despite the advent of Senator Kane to this chamber, what has happened? Mrs Turner is supporting what we are doing. Senator James McClelland is nodding his head in agreement. Senator Kane has been churlish in his Party. What is the position? If we appoint Mr McNamara and Father Martin to the Commission we will get a continuation of the policy that Mrs Turner is eulogising. I do not know what all this hubbub is about. I think that if the Opposition withdrew its amendments and Mr Beazley said: ‘All right we will return to the status quo’, Mr McNamara and Father Martin, as far as I can see, will be seen to have followed the socialist concept of G. H. D. Cole of a little for many rather than a lot for a few. That is my contribution to the debate.
– It is interesting to note the way in which the loss of office deepens and sharpens the democratic principles of honourable senators opposite. In a way this is an historic occasion in the Senate because we have heard enunciated a new democratic principle which seems to be that a government should not appoint commissions without making them directly representative, by nomination, of the various groups which will be affected by their decisions. If this is a new principle to which we have to become accustomed from the Opposition I think we are entitled to ask it why it has just discovered it. For instance, throughout its long term of office we had the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Did we see any rush from these people when they were in office to appoint trade unionists, or representatives of the consumers, or representatives of any particular groups to the Australian Broadcasting Commission? If we did I cannot recall it. Then, of course, in the various States we have Commissioners of Railways. I understand that Victoria has three. I do not know quite how many New South Wales has. Is it suggested that one of these commissioners should represent the shunters, another should represent the locomotive engine drivers and another should represent the porters?
– What has that got to do with representation on the Commission?
-What is the suggestion- that a commission cannot function or that a commission is not democratic unless the Government abrogates its authority to appoint members to such a commission but goes out and asks the various groups to nominate members who are fit to sit on it? Let me remind honourable senators opposite that the Government which does the appointing is not some tyranny imposed on the community. The government is a government which has been elected in a democratic election and it is entitled to make such decisions. It certainly ignores at its peril the interests of the various groups such as we are discussing here today. Honourable senators opposite can rest assured that we will not be so lacking in political astuteness as to ignore the interests of the various groups for which the Opposition claims to be the democratic spokesmen.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is another organisation which is similar in its constitution to a commission. Is it suggested that the governing body of the CSIRO should have as its managing directorate representatives of all of the scientific disciplines with which it is concerned? Of course, despite what honourable senators opposite have said, we have one outstanding example of the way in which they acted when they set up a commission in the sphere of education. I am referring to the Universities Commission. No matter what Senator Carrick may have said and no matter what Senator Rae may have said, there is a startling resemblance between the functions of the Universities Commission and the functions of this Commission. I appeal to no other authority in that regard than to the late Mr Harold Holt who, on 2 1 April, delivered the second reading speech in the absence of the then Prime Minister, Mr Robert Menzies, whose baby it was but who happened to be sick.
– What year was that?
– I commend to all honourable senators the reading of the second reading speech delivered on 2 1 April 1959 by Mr Harold Holt. In many ways the words could be almost the words that were used by Mr Beazley in the other place in defining the functions of this Commission. This body of senators which has now discovered this new democratic principle that all commissions must be chosen from people nominated from various groups did not see fit to adopt that principle when it was setting up the body which is nearest in its functions to the one we are talking about today. So they are belated converts to this notion, and I suggest that their conversion has nothing to do with principle but everything to do with political expediency. There is just one other matter to which I would like to advert.
– Do you call a request from several organisations to have direct representation or representation political expediency on their part?
-That is a childish analogy, and I suggest that if the honourable senator wishes to take part in this debate he would assist us by being here throughout the debate so that he would spare himself such fatuous interjections. I want to advert now to the proposition advanced by Senator Rae both when he was on his feet and by way of interjection to Senator Milliner, namely, that somehow or other our argument is shot down in flames by the fact that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has set up in the Australian Capital Territory a schools authority consisting of people nominated by groups. To quote Senator Rae- I think I took him down correctly- he said: ‘If it is good enough for Canberra, it is good enough for Australia’. I remind him of a very similar utterance which was made by a very prominent member of President Eisenhower’s Cabinet, a Mr Wilson, who had previously been president of the General Motors company. He had enunciated the startling principle that what is good for General Motors is good enough for the United States of America. The simple answer in both instances is that General Motors is not the United States of America and the Australian Capital Territory is not Australia.
We are not suggesting that under no circumstances should any body be constituted in the way in which the Opposition is suggesting a schools commission should be constituted. In a local area like the Australian Capital Territory that may be the appropriate method, but the very fact that at the grass roots there are organisations charged with administering local educational needs constitutes a very good reason why that sort of constitution of the overriding body- the Schools Commission- should not be done in the same way. If at the grass roots level we have direct representatives from the various interested groups, why do we need at the summit a body constituted in exactly the same way? I suggest that this sort of analogy is a very oversimple one, and that far from being illogical we are being completely consistent in accepting the fact that at that level the sort of body that Mr Beazley set up is appropriate but at the level of the summit it is not appropriate because there we want to take advantage of the best that is offering in the entire country. As I said before, we do not wish to have our hands tied by having dictated to us which representatives, which nominees, shall be on this Commission. For that reason, I find the amendment moved by Senator McManus even more inappropriate than the amendment moved by Senator Rae. It is subject to the same vice. That is that it represents an attempt to hamstring the Government. I repeat that there is nothing dogmatic, doctrinaire or authoritarian about a Government which has been elected by the people exercising its power by appointing a Commission as important as this. As it has showed by its record it does not ride roughshod over the groups and interests which the Opposition wants directly represented.
– The debate on clause 5 has revolved around one essential point of principle and argument. That is, the presentation of an amendment by the Opposition to have certain categories of interests represented. The argument put forward by the Government and propounded specifically by Senator James McClelland is that any such board representing a series of interests and having some representation back to its interests could not work because it would be in eternal conflict. Therefore, he says that it would be bad to have such a board. I hope I do not misrepresent his argument in any way. I think that that is an argument that has run through the Government’s whole train of thought this afternoon. If this is so, then the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) if he wishes to reply, must draw attention to the fact that at the Federal Government level and the State Government level there are some hundreds of boards and commissions. If we take them one by one we find that the principle, rather than the exception, is that they represent specific interests and in many cases representatives of groups are elected to them. For example, in the whole of the sphere of primary industry we will find board after board on which there are representatives of special, conflicting groups who are frequently elected to such boards. For example, the wheat growers are elected to an Australian Wheat Board or in the case of a state milk board there are the producers’ representatives and the consumers’ representatives.
– There is a dried fruits board.
– Yes. I can name literally dozens of boards and commissions on which the normal, rather than the exception, is the principle of interest group representation. I have not heard Government senators say that they propose to restructure all these boards because this is a bad principle. I have not heard them say that none of these boards is workable because these interests conflict. After all, the Parliament works with the conflicting interests of interest groups and obtains a consensus out of that. This is the very essence of democracy that these groups work in this way. In fact, the Government’s proposition is in direct conflict with the normal principle involved throughout the community. I think that if we examined the state education we would find a variety of educational bodies set up with interest groups represented on them. I think that if we look at political parties- I hope that I do not misrepresent the Labor Party- we would find the Australian Labor Party state conference structured by representatives of particular groups being nominated or voted to the conference. Does this, in fact, cause such conflict as to make the conference inoperable? If so, why are they structured in this way? In fact, the very diversity- the very conflict of interests- is the reason they are so structured. Out of this exchange of views comes good. Al l experience of boards and commissions operating on the Federal and State levels proves that this principle works. Therefore, the Opposition’s amendment is eminently sensible and the Government’s argument in opposition to it falls to the ground.
– I wish to respond to the mention of another amendment which has been foreshadowed. As I understand it, Senator McManus has foreshadowed that if the amendment moved by me is defeated then he will move a further amendment.
– That is correct.
– I simply indicate on behalf of the Opposition that we shall pursue our amendment. But if it is not accepted by the Senate, then as a second best, so far as the Liberal and Country Party Opposition parties are concerned, we will support the amendment to be moved by Senator McManus, whilst still asserting that the suggested structuring we have advanced is believed to be the best. I also mention that this type of community involvement is not something new on the part of Liberals as has been suggested by one or two Government speakers. In fact, the Minister for Education in New South Wales, Mr Willis, and the Minister for Education in Victoria, Mr Thompson, have taken active steps in relation to the development of community involvement in those States in relation to education.
Senator Milliner made an interpretation of one of the amendments which, perhaps, is academic if we are not likely to achieve the passage of our amendment. But he misread our amendment which provides in paragraph (b) that the Australian Education Council should select 6 members, of whom 2 shall be from the parent group and 1 shall be a person involved in the special education of handicapped children. I think that Senator Milliner just misread that. Senator Mulvihill misquoted what was said by Archbishop Young, perhaps because he did not have the full text of what was said with him. I would like to read the full context of what Archbishop Young said at that part of his remarks which Senator Mulvihill quoted:
– When was this said?
– It was said in Launceston some 2 or 3 weeks ago on 27 October. The full context of what Archbishop Young said is as follows:
I was present-
I read with interest Hansard’s report of your recent contribution to the debate and I thank you for the principles and proposals you voiced.
Then he went on immediately to say:
Now the exercise of analysis and amendment going forward is a tribute, not a niggardly, unappreciative reaction, to the importance, value and many excellencies of the Report and of the subsequent Cabinet decisions.
What he was doing was commending the debate. I think that there is a significant difference between that report and the impression that was given in the newspaper from which no doubt Senator Mulvihill was quoting. Throughout the newspaper report, almost in its entirety, there was misquotation, quotation out of context or unattributed quotation. I do not blame Senator Mulvihill. I just wanted to have those remarks recorded in Hansard. Finally, I would like to refer to the fact that quite a bit of misunderstanding has arisen in the way that it arose- I use this as an example- with the Blackburn Technical School Mothers Club. They wrote a letter to me dated 2 December. It was received by me during the first few days of November so I take it it was meant to be dated 2 November. It is stated in the letter:
For this to be effectively and practically achieved, it is imperative that representation on the Commission comes from parent teacher organisations, which have to deal with problems at classroom level- and therefore have first hand knowledge of them, and the effect they have on our children.
We are deeply concerned that the Bill faces defeat or amendment in the Senate, and that our parent organisations, which could contribute a great deal in resourceful ideas to education administration, will be denied representation if this happens.
This misunderstanding was generated throughout Australia. I use that as but one example. I received telegrams from teachers organisation and parent groups all over Australia which thought and were induced to think that our amendments were going to deny them representation. In fact, we guarantee them representation by our amendment.
I shall not at this stage refer to the various other bodies for which representation has been called. But the Victorian Federation of State School Mothers’ Clubs, the New South Wales Federation of Parent and Citizens Associations and the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation all wanted involvement. They used the word representation’ in many of their journals and letters earlier this year in expressing a desire for representation on these bodies. I wished to make those points in response to the remarks that had been made about the amendments I have moved.
– This debate has now been going for some 3 hours and 45 minutes and it is quite obvious that the members of the Senate cannot agree on what should be the composition of the Schools Commission. Because these are the first words that I have uttered during the course of the Committee stage of the debate I am sure that everyone will agree that I have certainly exhibited my patience. Despite all the claims that have been made by the Opposition, particularly the Liberal Party and the Democratic Labor Party, that they are moving these amendments in an earnest wish to see the Commission work we, the Government, see the results of the amendments if carried as a complete emasculation of the Schools Commission Bill, as a restriction in ambit on the part of the Minister’s making appointments to the Commission and indeed, if not deliberately calculated to restrict and inhibit the Commission in its workings, certainly they could result in people, brilliantly qualified to contribute to such a commission, not being able to be appointed to the Commission. We as the Government say that the proposed amendments are unsatisfactory.
Despite Senator Rae’s positive assertion the amendments, as we see them, are not in line with the policy objectives of the Government as set out by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during the course of the last election campaign. I assure Senator Rae- using his earlier words- that there is no petulance on the part of the Government or the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) and that there is no desire on the part of the Government or the Minister to take the bat and ball home. Indeed, the reverse is the case. The Minister for Education and the Government are anxious to pad up and to get on with the game.
One of the first acts of the Labor Governmentwithin 9 days of having been elected- was to appoint the Interim Schools Committee. Now, as part of the legislative process, we wish to see the Schools Commission set up in earnest. I was saying earlier that the amendments as moved by Senator Rae are not in line with the policy objectives of the Government. Let me quote the education policy of the Labor Party as enunciated by Mr Whitlam at the last Federal elections. He said:
The Australian Labor Party believes that the Commonwealth should adopt the same methods- and I re-emphasise the words ‘the same methods’- to assist schools as it has adopted to assist universities and colleges of advanced eduction . . .
What happened concerning the establishment of a universities commission? What happened so far as the colleges of advanced education were concerned? They were organisations that were established by an Act of Parliament as a result of the initiatives of conservative governments. Did those governments in putting forward their legislation then say to the Minister for Education at the time or to whomever was the responsible Minister in making appointments to the Australian Universities Commission or the Australian Commission on Advanced Education, You shall restrict your appointments to nominees from this organisation, that organisation or another organisation’? Indeed, in this very legislation that the Government has brought down we have set out to legislate along the same lines, using the same methods, to use the Prime Minister’s words in his policy speech, as were used by the previous Government.
We have heard a lot said about past practice and custom. Senator James McClelland was right, I think, when he said that this is an historic occasion. This is the first time in 12 years that I have been a member of the Senate that I have seen any political party trying to restrict a Minister as to whom he should appoint to a commission.
- Senator Carrick referred to numerous examples.
-What were they?
– He referred to the numerous industry -
-They were corporations and boards, not advisory organisations. They were administrative organisations. Using the same analogy I can remember that when a proposition was put forward here by way of legislation to establish a meat board my colleague, Senator Mulvihill, moved an amendment saying that of the appointments that were to be made by the Minister one should be appointed by the Minister from the trade unions represented in the meat industry. That amendment, as moved by Senator Mulvihill, was rejected by the combined weight of the then Government parties.
-And by the DLP.
Senator Mulvihill reminds me, they were supported by the DLP. I think that the answer, so far as the ACT Schools Authority is concerned, already has been given by Senator Milliner and by Senator James McClelland. The Schools Authority will administer education in government schools in the ACT. It will have powers of decision and is of corporate status. It is an operating agency at the local level. The Schools Commission is a national advisory body on measures to assist all schools throughout Australia.
There are a number of matters to which I need to refer but I am hoping, because I think most of that which has to be said already has been said, that we will be able to get a vote on these amendments this evening. The Opposition’s proposal to specify particular institutions, authorities and groups of people which will have a right of nominating either persons or panels of names is not in accordance with the practice adopted by the Opposition when it was in Government in establishing advisory bodies in education. Such an approach would limit flexibility of action in the future. It needs to be remembered that the Schools Commission will have a continuing existence and that as measures to improve the quality of education in Australian schools take effect and as new priorities emerge circumstances could require a change in membership.
The Government believes that it must retain flexibility in the choice of persons to serve on the Commission. Members of the Commission, whether full time or part time, will be selected to serve as individuals who can apply their background of experience, knowledge and personal qualities to the Commission’s task. They are not intended to be delegates. There is a very real danger that if they are nominated in the way suggested by the Opposition they would think they should become delegates to the Commission. Everywhere it is proposed that the Minister be able to choose a number of members from a panel containing a greater number of names. The combination of 2 principal amendments, the first to limit the flexibility of the Minister in his choice of people to serve on the commission and the second the exclusion of the Schools Commission advisory boards- I indicate that that is contemplated in an amendment to be proposed by Senator Rae- can be intended only to frustrate the Government’s intention to create an expert advisory body in this most important area of education just as is already being done for universities and colleges of advanced education.
The Government’s intentions were put to the electorate in quite precise terms in the 1972 House of Representatives elections and the Government has a clear mandate to establish a Schools Commission as set out in the Bill. There are a number of other matters to which I would normally allude but because of the lateness of the hour and because of our desire to see a vote taken on this matter I suggest that the Senate should reject the amendment moved by Senator Rae and the amendment proposed to be moved by Senator McManus in the event of Senator Rae’s amendment being defeated. I suggest that the general contention now maintained by the Government of the Minister’s exercising ministerial responsibility on the part of the Governmentthe Government having a mandate from the people- should be upheld by the Senate.
That the amendment (Senator Rae’s) be agreed to:
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I formally move the amendment which I foreshadowed in my previous speech, namely:
After Clause 4, insert the following new clauses: 4a. The members of the Commission shall be appointed as follows:
the Chairman and three other members upon the recom mendation of the Minister of whom one shall be a person involved in research in relation to education;
four other members upon the recommendation of the Australian Education Council of whom one shall be a person involved in special education of handicapped children or children with special learning difficulties;
three other members of whom one shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the Education Executive of the Episcopal Conference of Australia, one shall be upon the recommendation of the National Council of Independent Schools and one shall be upon the recommendation of the Australian Parents’ Council;
two other members who shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the Australian Teachers’ Federation; and
two other members who shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the Australian Council of State School Organisations. 4b. A member shall not be responsible to the person, body or organisation which recommended the member’s appointment. ‘
That the amendment (Senator McManus’) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I remind honourable senators that Estimates Committee F will be meeting at 8 o’clock this evening.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 7.9 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
Yanchep Sun City Development
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In each case Mr Enderby when Minister declared the goods or service as a necessary prerequisite to enable the Controller of Prices to fix a maximum price in respect of that good or service.
This action was taken in accordance with the Government’s policy of price justification.
Undistributed Profits Tax
-On 24 October 1973 Senator Webster asked Senator Murphy a question without notice concerning undistributed profits tax of private companies. The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Treasurer announced on 14 September 1973 that he proposes a flat retention allowance of 50 per cent for trading income, rather than have the allowance in respect of that income decrease as at present to 45 per cent on the second $10,000 of income and 40 per cent thereafter. The Income Tax Assessment Bill to give effect to Budget income tax measures provides for this change. It is not proposed to change the 10 per cent retention allowance for property income or the rule that there be no retention allowance for dividends that a private company receives from other private companies.
There is no simple inverse relationship between the tax rate on private companies and the desirable levels of the retention allowance and the rate of tax on undistributed income. So far as the latter is concerned, its purpose is not, in the normal course of events, to collect additional revenue from private companies; its purpose rather is to discourage the use of private companies to avoid the appropriate level of personal income tax on income to which shareholders are ultimately entitled and from which they benefit.
asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
d ) what is the cost to date (or some recent convenient date )
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
b) The terms of reference are as follows:
the ecological and biological aspects of life in the area?
asked the Special Minister of State, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– I am advised that the answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– I am advised that the answer to the Honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
Convicted and fined $30- appeal lodged- date of appeal to be fixed.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
What are the terms and conditions, fixed by the AttorneyGeneral and applicable to each State, on which the Government is providing a sum of $2m for legal aid.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Australian Government approved a grant of $2m to be made to State Governments on a per capita basis to supplement the legal aid services in the States and to be expended in a manner to be approved by the Attorney-General.
In response to a request by me, the State Attorneys-General submitted proposals for approval concerning the manner in which the respective grants would be applied.
I approved the expenditure of the grants on the following terms and conditions:
In each case the grant was to be paid to the State concerned to be used to supplement existing legal aid schemes.
Proper accounts were to be kept of the federal funds expended for the purpose of accounting to the Australian Parliament for the moneys granted.
Except in the case of New South Wales, aid was to be granted in federal matters including matrimonial causes matters on the same terms and conditions as aid was granted under the State Schemes.
In the case of New South Wales, at the request of the Law Society and the State Government, no condition was imposed concerning aid in Federal matters. The Society and the State Government advised that aid would be granted in federal matters, except matrimonial causes matters, on the same terms and conditions as aid was granted under the State scheme in matrimonial causes matters, a contribution not exceeding $100 would be imposed upon a person eligible for aid in civil matters under the Legal Assistance Act; persons not eligible under the Legal Assistance Act but eligible under the Society’s Legal Act Scheme would be required to pay a contribution not less than $ 100 and not more than $200.
Raids upon Croatians (Question No. 277)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– I am advised that the answer to the honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
– On 8 November 1973, Senator Lillico asked a question without notice concerning the exclusion of ‘God Save the Queen’ from the list of songs in the poll to determine a new National Anthem for Australia. The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I refer the honourable senator to my answer to a question without notice on 7 November 1973 (House of Representatives Hansard p. 2881).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In this connection, in the course of his Budget speech, the Treasurer stated that in abolishing the exemption the Government stood ready to provide such funds as may be necessary to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruitgrowing industry that may be effected.
Senator Wriedt reaffirmed the Government undertaking in an announcement made in September of Government assistance to lemon growers in New South Wales who had been adversely affected by the decision.
He has been in touch with the Australian Apple and Pear Growers’ Association to suggest that it might consider taking the role of co-ordinating any industry claim for assistance arising from the decision.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question: (1)12 November 1973.
Note- On the basis of figures collected since July, 1972 16.1 per cent of movements are heavy aircraft i.e. above 12,500 lbs all up weight, 81.9 per cent are light aircraft and the remaining 2 per cent are helicopters.
Although the Unit played an important early role in maintaining communication with aircraft operating between Tasmania and the mainland, the facilities at the main Melbourne and Launceston Airways Operations Centres have been improved to the extent that the Flinders Island Flight Service Unit is no longer required.
Under the circumstances and in the interests of keeping Government expenditure down to the minimum consistent with both safety and public convenience, it has been decided to close down the Flinders Island Flight Service Unit.
The facilities in the Flight Service Unit will not be dismantled for a period of at least twelve months.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
National Aboriginal Consultative Committee
– On 8 November 1973, Senator Bonner asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the following question, without notice:
My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Why have candidates for the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee election on 24 November not been informed whether their nominations have been accepted? Will candidates be permitted to solicit funds from political parties, organisations and/or individuals to assist them in the financing of their campaigns? When will candidates be informed of the actual method of marking ballot papers, thus enabling them to prepare how to vote material?
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The need to advise candidates in the forthcoming National Aboriginal Consultative Committee elections that their nominations have been accepted was overlooked. Telegrams have now been sent to all persons who lodged nominations, including those whose nominations failed to comply with the conditions and which have therefore not been accepted. 1 93 candidates are standing for election.
Candidates are free to seek financial or other support to assist their campaigns from whichever sources they choose.
Information on voting procedures, in the form of posters, press statements and written instructions, is now being given wide distribution to enrollers, candidates, state co-ordinators, Aboriginal voluntary organisations and to individuals who request such information. Distribution of ballot papers commenced on Monday 12 November.
The election will begin on Saturday 17 November with roving ballot boxes. Static polling booths will be open on Saturday 24 November and the election will end on Saturday 1 December.
– On Tuesday 23 October 1973, Senator Young directed a question to me on whether doctors’ fees might come within the general concept of price control. He repeated this question on 7 November and 14 November. I undertook to answer as soon as possible.
Although Senator Young’s question was put in the context of a decision of the Supreme Court of South Australia that doctors’ fees in that State were subject to price control under the South Australian Prices Act, the tenor of his question was clearly directed in more general terms to the forthcoming referendum on Commonwealth Legislative power over prices. It will be recalled that I adverted to this matter in the debate on the Constitutional Alteration (Prices) Bill on 26 September last. The particular passage to which I am referring is on page 894 of Hansard. I there drew attention to the distinction between a contract of service, which encompasses regular employment and wages, and a contract for services, which encompasses a temporary short term arrangement for the provision of a specific service.
There is some legal opinion that the word prices’ is capable of extending to both classes of contracts, but my view is that it does not do so and that it only covers contracts for specific services rendered. The payment made for a particular service can without straining language be described as the price of that service, but in my view it would be a misuse of the ordinary connotations of the word ‘prices’ to extend it to the remuneration for regular employment which is normally and more properly called ‘ wages ‘.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731120_senate_28_s58/>.